Sunday, July 29, 2012

Psalms for Sunday, LV

I’m here again, the same place I was before. Can I look at your face? Can I behold your beauty? What is this fear? Why cannot I gaze in your direction? The fullness of life is in your eyes. Your words create life or destroy it. I am fragile, yet lovely to you. What a mystery.

“Look at me,” you say.” I want to worship,” my heart replies. “But I am here now, just be. Learn to be in my presence.”

What a mystery, that you love me. It’s no mystery for me to love you. I would not, had you not called to me from my cell on death row. I was meant for death but you gave me life. You gave me your life, and we will have eternity. What a mystery.

My heart sings and my body follows with rejoicing and dancing. There is a wedding and all are invited. Who is the bride? The beautiful bride? We are the bride, get ready to receive the bridegroom. He is strong, greater than the strength of Samson. The  bridegroom is running, running from the hills towards his bride; intensity in his eyes and soft sayings on his lips. How much will we delight together? How much will we rejoice and celebrate? The wedding feast is open, and all are invited.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Patience is a Virtue

My car is nine years old; I bought it new and replaced the brake pads four or five times plus incurred other costs related to brake work. I’ve spent more on my brakes than average drivers because I like speed, or more precisely, I like to get out of the gate quickly. I accelerate and then hit the brakes. I do everything quickly. I eat quickly, I read quickly, and I walk quickly. Patience is not a strong virtue for me, and yet it is a fruit of the Spirit and I want to develop it in my life. The problem is it takes too long to do.

Our entire culture fixates on getting things done more quickly. It’s no surprise we are more stressed than ever before. Patience is closely related to peace. A Greek-English lexicon defines patience as ‘to remain seated in one’s heart’ or to keep one’s heart from jumping. It’s similar to the definition for peace, isn’t it? Peace is sitting with one’s own heart and patience is remaining seated. A patient person is a peaceful person.

Patience is more than passive inaction. In yoga exercise, instructors say continually, “Stay active.” Yoga is a series of poses held for a number of breaths, it’s not what you would call an active sport but the instructor means to stay focussed, be aware of what’s going on in your body and keep your body alert. When patience is mentioned as a virtue in the Bible, the Lord is saying, “Don’t be passive but keep your spirit alert while you rest in me.”

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit because it is part of God’s character which is developed in us through Jesus Christ.

The divine attitude, God’s dealings with men, has become the content indissolubly linked with makrothymia (patience), so that even the human attitude of makrothymia is set in a new light. ~ Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament

Jesus Christ tells us, his disciples, to abide in him to bear fruit. Patience is a fruit but without it, fruit doesn’t produce either. We need patience to have more patience. It seems impossible, until a believer understands, truly understands, apart from Christ we can do nothing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sit Down with One's Own Heart

Peace. Jesus gave us his peace. His peace transcends (is above) logic or reason. In other words, it doesn’t make sense, and it’s a fruit of the Spirit. Strong’s #1515 tells us it’s a set of favourable circumstances involving peace; it also has a meaning to be without trouble, to have no worries and to ‘sit down with one’s own heart’. I love that last phrase – to sit down with one’s own heart.

My Boy sometimes has anxiety; it manifests as anger. I used to react to the anger and fight back with anger. We’d have a yelling match, until eventually I would subdue him because I’m the ‘boss’ and I can threaten him within an inch of his life. As you can imagine it didn’t go well.

In those moments, I’d pray to God and he would start to release his peace to me and he’d tell me to lower my voice, and release the peace I carry. Instead of isolating my son as the problem, I hold onto him tightly and speak softly to him, saying, “Anger must go when peace comes in.” The tension in his little body is released and it’s almost as if I can visually see anger get up from his body and leave. What’s left is a tranquil heart and finally my Boy is calm enough to sit down with his heart and tell me what’s troubling him.

Peace is a powerful battle strategy. The shalom of God dispels anarchy and chaos; the fight simply is over, just like the tension leaving my Boy’s body, the spirits of chaos and anarchy (anything contrary to life and love) must leave when peace is invited to come in. Not only do we invite peace, but it is something we are as we live by the Spirit.

Jesus was a peaceful man; some have taken that to mean he was meek and weak. Not so at all. Peace is a state of being, of living in tranquility. It is internal but it is evident externally. You can’t pick a fight with a man of peace, he or she won’t engage. A woman of peace is not troubled. Proverbs 31 says she can laugh at the days to come because she has no worry for her family. Isn’t that a marvellous picture of peace? It doesn’t mean circumstances are forever pleasant but a man or woman of peace rests above circumstance, sitting down with their own heart with tranquility and contentment.

True peace, the shalom of God, only comes by the Spirit. It’s not as the world gives peace, which is circumstantial, therefore fickle. Peace by the Spirit is a fruit of a mind that rests on the Father (Isaiah 26:3). Amen to that!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Psalms for Sunday, LIV

Your love is intoxicating; it makes me swoon. I am wooed by passion. Teach me with your kisses – the kisses of your mouth. Take me to your chambers and I will discover you there.

Your love is intoxicating; it is better than fine wine. Your love is poured out, open and an invitation. I wonder if my heart might burst but if I die, let me die in your arms where there is no fear but rather love makes me radiant.

Your love is intoxicating; ask me anything and I will say yes. Each whiff of your fragrance is ecstasy for me.  I am drunk with love; your kisses are sweet like fruit picked in season. Your love fills me like a balloon and I drift higher and higher, tethered only to your heart.

Your love is intoxicating; my heart is pierced bit in your arms, in your embrace I am held together. Your heart beats, th-thump th-thump; it is the rhythm of our dance until my heart which is pierced beats with yours.

Your love is intoxicating.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Joy of the Lord

Joy is a valuable commodity in heaven and is one of the three foundational pillars of the Kingdom of God. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit but joy comes quickly. You cannot have joy if love is not first expressed. I’m joyful because I’m loved by God. It’s a mystery. I don’t understand it, I don’t deserve but it makes me happy, exceedingly happy.

Jesus demonstrated joy is worth dying for in Hebrews 12:2, “for the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame.” He also came so his joy would be in us, thus making our joy complete. In other words, Jesus said without him our joy is incomplete but because he came [as a man to die and be resurrected, breaking the curse of death] his joy would be manifested in us. His joy is already complete.

Often we think the totality of joy as a happy emotion. It is that for sure but there has to be more to it because Jesus said his joy was full, complete and not lacking anything but scripture also says he was a man acquainted with many sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). Clearly circumstances cannot dictate whether we have joy.

Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength. Many of us have heard that before. How do you hear/understand it? Is the joy we’ve created about the Lord our strength or is the joy that belongs to the Lord our strength? I used to interpret it the first way – it was my effort to garner up joy about the Lord. The onus was on me to generate joy. Therefore it was easy to get lost in circumstances and become joyless, but [once again] God showed me a better way. It’s not our job to generate joy, just like it’s not his expectation for us to love him first – it always originates in God. The joy that belongs to the Lord is our strength and it’s this joy Jesus was talking about. The head speaks to the heart and the body follows in rejoicing. It’s not the other way around.

Isaiah 40:31 says those who hope in the Lord renew their strength. Our strength comes from his joy, and when we put our hope [an expected positive outcome] in him, our joy is complete (John 15:11) and we are strengthened – in resolve, in action, in attitude. Hallelujah, amen!

But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. ~Isaiah 35:9-10
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