“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Steps to Christ

“Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”... “Thou knowest the commandments….” Then Jesus beholding him loved him.

We can choose to obey God. We should choose to obey God. But we are His workmanship and the true obedience will be His that He puts in us.

To their utter chagrin and joy, the Reformers, the apostles and prophets, and everyone else who have ever come to Christ, have discovered that in spite of all their great acts of righteousness, none of it ever made them feel acceptable to God. None of it ever gave them the assurance of eternal life. Deep down inside, in spite of the wonderful front which everyone saw and praised them for, they were lost and without God.

Yet it was, that without that fledgling obedience they never would have come to God. That sounds like a paradox or even heresy to some Evangelical Christians. But the inside scoop is that the apostolic Christians came to faith through the Law! (Gal. 3:22-24). Now that begs a question! And that question is this: How did they come to Christ through the Law, but the Pharisees didn’t? “I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God,” says the much acclaimed apostle. Through the what? The Law. The Law of God.

Was it through theological convolutions and treatises that Paul was able to rid himself of the curse of the Law of God? No. Paul wasn’t the kind who stayed purely intellectual or the type who did anything half-way. He took upon himself the accomplishment of it, and all of it! And (please excuse me, Evangelicals) the keeping of the Law was his only salvation! It was because he ventured to believe and fear God enough to obey Him and keep all the light he had of God, that Paul was led to the cross. It was because he was genuine, with a sincerity which was God-given. He did all his persecutions out of ignorant unbelief. Jesus forgave him because he didn’t understand what he was doing, but was willing to be corrected.

How could Paul have truly arrived at faith unless he had already been striving with all his heart to keep God’s commandments, standing in terrible awe of God, quaking like Moses, Daniel, and other true greats Paul loved to speak of? It was only thus that he could look up at the real Jesus in vision and immediately learn that he was on the wrong track. And it was his responses to the Holy Spirit up to that point, albeit falsely interpreted, that ultimately prepared him to be instantly submissive and humble before Christ, that saved him from instant destruction for the stoning of holy Stephen, and that allowed him to comprehend the mercy side of godliness, the righteousness of faith.

God expects obedience, whether from the saved or the unsaved. And He will use His Law to bring us to Himself. But it must be obedience to His Law, not one of our own construction. We can’t delete the commandments that aren’t a pleasure to us, or destroy the holy precept and the messengers who bring it to us because it exposes some practice that we were hypocritically trying to appear hateful toward. We can’t substitute the rough-hewn principle of self-sacrifice for a self-indulgent one like this fallen world follows. Any other set of principles except God’s won’t lead us to God because only His has His characteristics. Any other man-made law has the devil’s characteristics. It only makes sense that the latter law will never lead people to God. It simply cannot. But God’s can and will and does every day by their genuine respect for Him and His character.

So let’s choose to serve God, even if we don’t seem to have the spiritual wherewithal to do it. Let’s obey Him, trusting in His grace to see our hoping and desiring to please Him, trusting in His never-ending grace. Let us seek Him with the whole heart by keeping His whole Law and waiting before Him in repentance. And His promise is that He will meet us more than half-way, turn us around on our road to Damascus, and work His grace into us, making our obedience acceptable. (Jer. 29:13,14; Is. 55:7,8)

So let our prayer be, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. I will obey, help my disobedience. Thank You for all your benefits, but help my ingratitude. I worship You, help my presumption and ignorance of real worship.” Always in an attitude of repentance and sorrow for our lack. Always yearning for more of God’s grace. Poor in spirit, yet possessing the kingdom of God, His undeserved, unspeakable gift.

So I'll cherish the old rugged Law,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged Law,
and exchange it some day for a crown.

A recent article in the February issue of National Geographic.


The often strained relationship between science and religion has become particularly combative lately. In one corner we have scientists such as Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker who view religion as a relic of our superstitious, prescientific past that humanity should abandon. In the other corner are religious believers who charge that science is morally nihilistic and inadequate for understanding the wonders of existence. Into this breach steps Francis Collins, who offers himself as proof that science and religion can be reconciled. As leader of Human Genome Project, Collins is among the world’s most important scientists, the head of a multibillion-dollar research program aimed at understanding human nature and healing our innate disorders. And yet in his best-selling book, The Language of God, he recounts how he accepted Christ as his savior in 1978 and has been a devout Christian ever since. “The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome,” he writes. “He can be worshiped in the cathedral or in the laboratory.” Recently Collins discussed his faith with science writer John Horgan, who has explored the boundaries between science and spirituality in his own books The End of Science and Rational Mysticism. Horgan, who has described himself as “an agnostic increasingly disturbed by religion’s influence on human affairs,” directs the Center of Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.

HORGAN: As a scientist who looks for natural explanations of things and demands evidence, how can you also believe in miracles, like the resurrection?

COLLINS: I don’t have a problem with the concept that miracles might occasionally occur at moments of great significance, where there is a message being transmitted to us by God Almighty. But as a scientist I set my standards for miracles very high.

HORGAN: The problem I have with miracles is not just that they violate what science tells us about how the world works. They also make God seem too capricious. For example, many people believe that if they pray hard enough God will interceded to heal them or a loved one. But does that mean that all those who don’t get better aren’t worthy?

COLLINS: In my own experience as a physician, I haven't seen a miraculous healing, and I don’t expect to see one. Also, prayer for me in not a way to manipulate God into doing what we want Him to do. Prayer for me is much more a sense of trying to get into fellowship with God. I’m trying to figure out what I should be doing rather than telling Almighty God what He should be doing. Look at the Lord’s Prayer. It was, “Thy will be done.” It wasn’t, “Our Father who art in Heaven, please get me a parking space.”

HORGAN: I must admit that I’ve become more concerned lately about the harmful effects of religion because of religious terrorism like 9/11 and the growing power of the religious right in the United States.

COLLINS: What faith has not been used by demagogues as a club over somebody’s head? Whether it was the Inquisition or the Crusades on the one hand or the World Trade Center on the other? But we shouldn’t judge the pure truths of faith by the way they are applied any more than we should judge the pure truth of love by an abusive marriage. We as children of God have been given by God this knowledge of right and wrong, this Moral Law, which I see as a particularly compelling signpost to His existence. But we also have this thing called free will, which we exercise all the time to break that law. We shouldn’t blame faith for the ways people distort it and misuse it.

HORGAN: Many people have a hard time believing in God because of the problems of evil. If God loves us, why is life filled with so much suffering?

COLLINS: That is a most fundamental question that all seekers have to wrestle with. First of all, if our ultimate goal is to grow, learn, and discover things about ourselves and things about God, then unfortunately a life of ease is probably not the way to get there. I know I have learned very little about myself or God when everything is going well. Also, a lot of the pain and suffering in the world we cannot lay at God’s feet. God gave us free will, and we may choose to exercise it in ways that end up hurting other people.

HORGAN: Physicist Steven Weinberg, who is an atheist, asks why six million Jews, including his relatives, had to die in the Holocaust so that the Nazis could exercise their free will.

COLLINS: If God had to intervene miraculously every time one of us chose to do something evil, it would be a very strange, chaotic, unpredictable world. Free will leads to people doing terrible things to each other. Innocent people die as a result. You can’t blame anyone except the evildoers for that. So that’s not God’s fault. The harder question is when suffering seems to have come about through no human ill action. A child with cancer, a natural disaster, a tornado or tsunami. Why would God not prevent those things from happening?

HORGAN: Some philosophers, such as Charles Hartshorne, have suggested that maybe God isn’t fully in control of His creation. The poet Annie Dillard expresses this idea in her phrase “God the semi-competent.”

COLLINS: That’s delightful—and probably blasphemous! An alternative is the notion of God being outside of nature and time and having a perspective of our blink-of-an-eye existence that goes both far back and far forward. In some admittedly metaphysical way, that allows me to say that the meaning of suffering may not always be apparent to me. There can be reasons for terrible things happening that I cannot know.

HORGAN: I’m an agnostic, and I was bothered when in your book you called agnotisticism a “cop-out.” Agnosticism doesn’t mean you’re lazy or don’t care. It means you aren’t satisfied with any answers for what after all are ultimate mysteries.

COLLINS: That was a put-down that should not apply to earnest agnostics who have considered the evidence and still don’t find an answer. I was reacting to the agnosticism I see in the scientific community, which has not been arrive at by a careful examination of the evidence. I went through a phase when I was a casual agnostic, and I am perhaps too quick to assume that others have no more depth than I did.

HORGAN: Free will is a very important concept to me, as it is to you. It’s the basis for our morality and search for meaning. Don’t you worry that science in general and genetics in particular—and your work as head of the Genome Project—are undermining belief in free will?

COLLINS: You’re talking about genetic determinism, which implies that we are helpless marionettes being controlled by strings made of double helices. That is so far away from that we know scientifically! Heredity does have an influence not only over medical risks but also over certain behaviors and personality traits. But look at identical twins, which have exactly the same DNA but often don’t behave alike or think alike. They show the importance of learning and experience—and free will. I think we all, whether we are religious or not, recognize that free will is a reality. There are some fringe elements that say, “No, it’s all an illusion, we’re just pawns in some computer model.” But I don’t think that carries you very far.

HORGAN: What do you think of Darwinian explanations of altruism, or what you call agape, totally selfless love and compassion for someone not directly related to you?

COLLINS: It’s been a little of a just-so story so far. Many would argue that altruism has been supported by evolution because it helps the group survive. But some people sacrificially give of themselves to those who are outside their group and with whom they have absolutely nothing in common. Such as Mother Teresa, Oskar Schindler, many others. That is the nobility of humankind in its purist form. That doesn’t seem like it can be explained by a Darwinian model, but I’m not hanging my faith on this.

HORGAN: What do you think about the field of neurotheology, which attempts to identify the neural basis of religious experiences?

COLLINS: I think it’s fascinating but not particularly surprising. We humans are flesh and blood. So it wouldn’t trouble me—if I were to have some mystical experience myself—to discover that my temporal lobe was lit up. That doesn’t mean that this doesn’t have genuine spiritual significance. Those who come at this issue with the presumption that there is nothing outside the natural world will look at this data and say, “Ya see?” Whereas those who come with the presumption that we are spiritual creatures will go, “Cool! There is a natural correlate to this mystical experience! How about that!”

HORGAN: Some scientists have predicted that genetic engineering may give us superhuman intelligence and greatly extended life spans, perhaps even immortality. These are possible long-term consequences of Human Genome Project and other lines of research. If these things happen, what do you think would be the consequences for religious traditions?

COLLINS: That outcome would trouble me. But we’re so far away from that reality that it’s hard to spend a lot of time worrying about it, when you consider all the truly benevolent things we could do in the near term.

HORGAN: I’m really asking, does religion require suffering? Could we reduce suffering to the point where we just won’t need religion?

COLLINS: In spite of the fact that we have achieved all these wonderful medical advances and made it possible to live longer and eradicate diseases, we will probably still figure out ways to argue with each other and sometimes to kill each other, out of our self-righteousness and our determination that we have to be on top. So the death rate will continue to be one per person, whatever the means. We may understand a lot about biology, we may understand a lot about how to prevent illness, and we may understand the life span. But I don’t think we’ll ever figure out how to stop the humans from doing bad things to each other. That will always be our greatest and most distressing experience here on this planet, and that will make us long the most for something more.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Another email to my friend in Uganda

Dear Daniel,

I'm sorry for not writing right back after your previous email. I guess I got busy with other things. Sorry.

I'm glad to hear you are preaching and being asked to preach again. That's a wonderful sign of good things to come. If the Lord be for us, who can be against us? Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature.

Again, you can identify with what Paul said, "But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me." (Gal. 1:23,24). Its coming, dear brother. Its coming. Be patient and wait for it. "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." (Hab. 2:3,4).

To really understand Righteousness by Faith we need to see the hand of God working in our behalf. Then our understanding will be opened to the depths of the Divine philosophy for our salvation. Otherwise, our understanding of Righteousness by Faith remains shallow and legalistic and easily derailed into error by the archdeceiver. Experiential knowledge has always been the requirement by God. Intellectual knowledge has always been subject to deception.

Study out the letter of the truth. Of course that must be the first step. But this is where most people stop. The deeper understanding, the saving understanding, which will bring revival for us and for those we meet, doesn't come until God puts it in us through our battling and wrestling and in the end coming out victorious. Then we receive the crown and helmet of salvation, the blessing which Jacob received, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." And we might even limp too.

"Limping with Jacob," that sounds like a good sermon! Maybe even "Scarred with Jesus." "Suffering together with God." "Yoked together with Christ and His cross." "Crucified together."

The man who truly understood Righteousness by Faith, Paul, also could say, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Phil 3:10,11). "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." (Gal. 6:17).

Talk and discussion is cheap, so don't let it stop there. And don't let the people let it stop there. The true Full Gospel puts the precepts into action in order to really understand them. "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2Pet. 1:8). "I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts." (Ps. 119:99,100). "But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him." (1Jn. 2:27).

The true presentation of the word of God will be done so as to prick the conscience. If the word is handled properly, it will produce an awakening, either in rejoicing for the light, or in anger rejecting the light and the lightbearer. We should always do like Jesus. He never failed to speak the truth but He did it always in love. Mercifully, gently, patiently, He pressed the truth forward. We can come together to share with each other what we've learned. It may and can or maybe even should look and sound like a sword fight! Paul could be fiesty. Christ could be quite pointed! Even to His own disciples! He made them good soldiers, able to cope with difficulty. But they always knew He would be there for them. What Jesus taught Solomon He demonstrated for us all, "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: depart from evil." (Prov. 16:6). That heaven inspired combination--mercy and truth. Truth and mercy always together--never one without the other.

Well, Daniel, I hope this helps in your roundtable on Righteousness by Faith. Let it never become a theory because of the way we preach it or teach it. And make sure Jesus is at the center of all the discussion.

Your brother,

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An email to a friend

Last night at the prayer meeting we read some from Great Controversy in the chapter of the time of trouble. It got me to thinking again how close the end is. I don't want to sound like a fanatic, and actually sometimes I wander from God and begin to think we'll be here, in this world, forever. Then the Holy Spirit and the Bible bring me back on course, after I've really blown it and dishonored God. But there is nothing like the consequences to our sinfulness to help us need a Savior from sin.

But, about the time of trouble. I see signs of it on the horizon. I don't know what's going on in Uganda, but here the Protestant Evangelical denominations are attacking the U.S. Supreme Court. They've already filled many places in Congress and President Bush is very partial to the churches' political force. In America, the Protestants are doing the very work that the Papists do in other countries. That is, weakening the popularity of the government in order to force the government to do their bidding. We've been forewarned that the Protestant denominations would reach across the gulf and unite with the church of Rome. I believe that is well on the way already. At least in America.

But there is another sign. The Rapture theory. It sets the Christian world up for Satan's personation of Christ's second coming. Its the perfect setup, the perfect deception. We are the only ones who see the delusion. According to the Rapture theory, "Christ" comes to set up his kingdom on Earth instead of in heaven where sin cannot harrass. I know you know all this.

My question is, How will it all play out in reality? How does the false eschatology run parallel with the true? We know one event that happens simultaneously--the personation of Christ. Working back from that point, it seems that the so-called Secret Rapture should happen seven years prior to the coming of Satan, or, of course, Satan's delusion that the second coming happened.

So here's a scenario I've come up with in my head.

1) American society and world conditions degrade because of sin.

2) A bitterness in the world builds and the nations get restless because the love of God and His grace is neglected by the preachers and religious leaders and teachers. God brings small disasters all over the world, including the United States.

3) God's people see the signs and wake up. Multitudes find themselves without the faith to stick with the fast-moving events happening, which forces them to leave God's people. Others begin to preach like never before in the outpouring of the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness by Faith is seen by millions who were completely ignorant of it. Faith is seen to be very different to the pervasive presumption in the churches. They turn to their own preachers for answers. The whole world is forced to make its final decision for obedience to or rebellion against heaven, to reject the uneducated, uncredentialed preachers, or to believe the truth and rejoice in it.

4) The small natural, economic, social disasters of all kinds are seen by a united humanity as a sign that heaven is not happy with this world. At the Protestants' political pulling and because they have lost the true power of the Gospel for the uplifting of the world, they co-erce the U.S. government to give them power to enforce religion.

5) America repudiates its Constitution and unites church and state. Every other nation imitates the United States government.

6) Uniting church and state opens the door to the Papacy with all its inherent curses on humanity.

7) The U.S. government invites the Pope to set up the Papacy and Inquisition in America to allow the Vatican to force the whole world into Christianity. The Mark of the Beast is now finalized.

8) The corruption and violence that comes with the church of Rome quickly speeds up the process of social decline.

9) The last plagues from God now fall in great terribleness.

10) People now wake up to thinking that the Tribulation period they were taught in the Rapture theory is happening and that they must have missed the Secret Rapture.

11) They get nervous and very desperate to save themselves. They believe they lost their first chance and only have one chance left to get into heaven. But the door of probation is already closed and Satan has full control of them.

12) The Rapture theory foretells of a secular "Anti-Christ" troublemaker who rises to power half-way through the last 7 year period before Jesus returns. For the lack of any real dictator, Satan inspires the unsettled and scared religious world to accuse the preachers of the Latter Rain of being the Rapture theory's Anti-Christ.

13) Finally Satan impersonates the return of Jesus. Jacob's Trouble begins for God's people. Great Controversy says that the people will be threatened with torture and death. Along with their supplication for evidence of God's acceptance, this must be a real threat that terrorizes them. (I wonder if the Inquisition had already begun torturing and executing God's people before probation closed. Or perhaps it is such a threat to God's people because there will have been wicked people who resisted the Papacy and reaped the wrath of Rome.)

14) At long last Jesus comes to save us from a situation that is horrible, yet necessary for our preparation for heaven. He breaks through the clouds with an entrance of unfathomable proportions, which Satan could never imitate in his impersonation. We are glorified because Jesus has been glorified. One more time, by beholding we become changed. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."

15) We will travel home amidst the glories of the universe. Leaving our home around the Sun, we will traverse our place in our galaxy, the Milky Way. We live in one of the ourcroppings of our spiral galaxy, and Orion, the Creator's home, resides in the very next outcropping over from ours. We actually live in God's back yard. As one website states, "We know that the Sun is on the edge of what is probably a 'spur' called the Orion Spur which seems to merge with the Perseus Spiral arm towards the constellation Cygnus...." But its all part of the same galaxy. That first trip between two of many parts of the Milky Way, will be only the beginning of an eternity in the presence of the King and our Father, and also much space travel to different galaxies where other planets are that are home to God's children.

Daniel, please, let me know how you view the last events of the Great Controversy, especially from your viewpoint from Uganda and the things that are happening there.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mississippi Squirrel Revival

Well when I was a kid I would take a trip
Every summer down to “Mississipp,”
To visit my Granny and her antebellum world.
I’d run barefooted all-day long,
Climbing trees free as a song;
One day I happened to catch myself a squirrel.

Well I stuffed him down in an old shoe box,
And punched a couple holes in the top;
When Sunday came I snuck him in the Church.
I was sittin’ way back on the very last pew
Showin’ ’im to my good buddy Hugh,
When that squirrel got loose and went totally berserk.

Well what happened next is hard to tell;
Some thought it was Heaven others thought it was Hell,
But the fact that something was among us was plain to see.
As the choir sang “I Surrender All,”
The squirrel ran up Harv Newman’s coveralls,
And Harv leaped to his feet and said, “Something’s got a hold on me!”

The day the squirrel went berserk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula.
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival.
They were jumpin’ pews and shoutin’ “Hallelujah!”

Well Harv hit the aisles dancin’ and screamin’,
Some thought he had religion others thought he had a demon,
And Harv thought he had a weed-eater loose in his Fruit-of-the-Looms.
He fell to his knees to plead and beg,
And the squirrel ran out of his britches leg;
Unobserved to the other side of the room.

All the way down to the AMEN pew,
Where sat Sister Bertha Better-than-You,
Who had been watching all of the commotion with sophistic glee.
But shoot, you should have seen the look in her eyes
When that squirrel jumped her garters and crossed her thighs.
And she jumped to her feet and said, “Lord have mercy on me!”

As that squirrel made laps inside her dress
She began to cry and then to confess,
To sins that would make a sailor blush with shame.
She told of gossip, and church dissention,
But the thing that got the most attention
Was when she talked about her love life
and then she started naming names.

The day the squirrel went berserk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula.
It was a fight for survival that broke out in revival.
They were jumpin’ pews and shoutin’ “Hallelujah!”

Well seven deacons and the pastor got saved,
And twenty-five thousand dollars got raised,
And fifty volunteered for missions in the Congo on the spot.
And even without an invitation
There were at least five hundred re-dedications,
and we all got re-baptized whether we needed it or not.

Now you’ve heard the Bible story I guess
Of how He parted the waters for Moses to pass.
Oh the Miracles God has wrought in this old world.
But the one I’ll remember till my dying day
Is how He put that church back on the narrow way
With a half crazed Mississippi squirrel.

The day the squirrel went berserk
In the First Self-Righteous Church
In that sleepy little town of Pascagoula.
It was a fight for survival
That broke out in revival.
They were jumpin’ pews and shoutin’ “Hallelujah!”

(Ray Stevens)

I realize this song was a spoof on religion, but it was done in good humor, and we should be able to take a little ribbing for all our self-righteousness. (Beside that, it was also quite comical.) But don’t you wish sometimes that this story could happen in your church just to give the people an idea of what true religion and real revival could be like?

Actually, I don’t believe true revival would be characterized by all the jumping pews and such. Rather, there will be a new infusing of life into the love and witness of the people and a decided overturning of dissention and the chilling atmosphere so often existing in the churches.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I believe we were meant to fly

We speak of the Holy Spirit because the Bible mentions it sometimes, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Yet, Jesus said, “He shall not speak of Himself; but… He shall glorify Me.” (John 16:13,14 ). Thus we can expect that when the Spirit of God is moving a person, that person will primarily desire to talk about Jesus. When the Spirit becomes the main topic of conversation, we can become a little nervous that that “spirit” isn’t the Holy Spirit.

So let’s be led to discover the glories of Christ, His well-balanced character, His love, His promises. Nevertheless, in this post we will touch on the Holy Ghost because of its central place in the work of God on Earth.

In the beginning, even before creation, Earth had already been selected for the location of an epoch that would hold a special place in the Great Controversy, a controversy that had already begun by the contention and defection of Lucifer and the displacement of a huge multitude of angelic hosts. It is written that on the day of creation, “God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.” (Gen. 1:2) (The Message translation).

This describes a fundamental characteristic of the Holy Spirit: that of loving protection. As God’s leading representative in the forefront of all His enterprises, the Spirit of God was expectant and anxious to begin this most important work of turning this watery, lifeless world into a paradise. It brooded over the future home of teeming millions of species, both of flora and fauna, with the creation of mankind as the crowning work.

Then God (Elohim) drew near. Elohim, a plural Hebrew word, denotes that Father and Son both partook in the work of making our home an exquisite gem in space. John revealed, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made....And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,3,14) So, the Son of God was personally engaged in the birth of this world, yet the Holy Spirit was intimately involved, as well. We get an insight in the Holy Spirit’s work of creation at the conception of Christ. “The angel answered and said unto her (Mary), The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35).

The composite view we get of the work of creation is a three-fold work, possibly even a three-tiered work of delegation. The Father commands the Son, the Son commands the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit makes it happen. This arrangement is also seen in the order of the divine government and chain of command. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1 Cor. 12: 4-7). The Father is ultimately in charge, feeling the full weight of responsibility. The Son makes known the intentions and thoughts of His Father to all His heavenly intelligences throughout the universe; thus He is called “the Word.” The Spirit takes what the Father commands the Son and which the Son commands the Spirit, and actually does the work.

Now let’s turn to the work of recreating the image of God in humanity. That work began in its fullness after Jesus ascended up on high and gave gifts to men. He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Yet another ten days must pass before the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.

What’s interesting is that despite 3 ½ years of walking in the very presence of the Master Teacher, they could not receive the outpouring of the Spirit of God while Christ was with them. At the very end of that period of His earthly ministry, He had this to say to them: “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;…He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (Jn. 14:16-18). “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” (Jn. 16:7)

The point He was making was that as long as He continued with them, their development would be limited. Like an infant who has fed off his mother’s milk must be weaned or physical development will be hampered, the apostles had been baby-fed by Jesus for those wonder-filled years while He walked with them, but now it was time for them to let go of the Messiah’s apron strings.

The mother bird comes and goes from a nest full of chicks in search of food for them. All the while she feeds their gaping mouths and keeps them warm under her wings, she bonds with them. Little does mother know that God gives their little brains the skill of observation. They see her fly away and return many times. Something in them begins to say, “Mother flaps her wings and flies. I must be able to fly too!”

The day arrives that God gives mother the intuition that her babies can fly, and even must fly, in order to lead their own lives and continue the cycle of life she had been a part of. So she pushes them out of her nest. It’s not that she is being mean, but the reality is that they cannot remain in the nest forever. Neither can she continue to feed them forever. They must fly.

Thus Christ must leave His beloved disciples. He had nurtured them, He had drawn them away from the spirit of the world, He had broken the spell that kept them attracted to this life, and taught them life lessons and prepared them to walk by faith. Now they must walk or become crippled. He had prepared them for the new thrill awaiting them of flying on the wings of faith. Now to stay with them would have only staunched the burgeoning potential that He had personally instilled in their new spiritual make-up. He must depart.

That instilled potential led them daily to draw near to the ascended Christ on the throne of heaven, where they looked to Him by a faith that was growing stronger and stronger. It led them to come to terms with their ambitious contempt one for another. They forgave and reconciled with each other. All the lessons of Jesus came to their minds, fresh and new; and they bitterly blamed themselves for not taking better advantage of the amazing lessons their Master had been trying to teach them. They grew closer together, and more and more tightly bonded to one another.

All of that became the recipe for what happened on the day of Pentecost. The Spirit of God swept in, as promised by Christ. They found themselves enabled to speak of His grace and love and righteousness with a boldness and eloquence they had never before known.

That was the Early Rain of the Holy Spirit. Now we await the more abundant Latter Rain. But how can that happen if we haven’t physically walked with the Master Teacher? We must have a personal knowledge of Jesus, being nurtured by Him, being brooded over by His loving attention, mustn’t we? How can we fly without personally seeing Him fly?

I complained to Him in prayer once that we didn’t get to have the privilege that the disciples had, of personally living with Him, of personally being loved and instructed by Him, but rather were stuck with the intangible Holy Spirit instead. I don’t know that He has yet given me a resolution for that complaint.

Somehow He must bring us to the point of flying before He requires us to fly. It’s only reasonable. But, perhaps that is happening today. Perhaps, with the volumes of knowledge handed to us of His divine character and agape love, with the brilliant light of Righteousness by Faith, and through the accelerating mountain of scientific evidence being uncovered that testifies along side of faith and Christ’s prophecies being fulfilled right before our very eyes, perhaps He is doing a work of instructing us through His providential crafting of our life experiences.

Perhaps, we don’t realize that many are learning to fly.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

God's great heart of love

The human heart is an amazing machine, pumping 1 million liters of blood a day and doing that work, moment by moment, 1 billion times during an average lifespan. For an adult, it beats about 72 times per minute, every minute, sending blood throughout the body every two minutes, delivering 11 ounces of its life-giving cargo. The only rest the heart gets is during a 4/10 of a second interval between each 8/10 second pulsation cycle.

The pumping action is created by a jumping action. In other words, two electrical pulses touch the upper and lower sections of the heart and it jumps and says, “Whoa, that tickles!” The “Sinoatrial node” (SA node) initiates the sequence of the heart beat because it is a constant running pacemaker. The Atrioventricular node (AV node) completes the beat by responding to the impulse of the SA node.

The SA node draws in blood and pushes it down past the AV node, which then waits a split second for the closing of a check valve right next to the AV node, and then it fires its pulse which sends the blood out of the heart.

Thus the heart beat is really made up of two component beats; one beat the echo of the other, both making up the pulse of life.

It is heaven to be in God’s presence. It is also a sanctuary, because He is a sanctuary, the Mosaic temple being the small scale and elementary replica of the heavenly, “which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Heb. 8:1,2). The Creator’s sanctuary is the heart of the universe. From it flows blessings and life and joy out to the furthest reaches of infinite space; and from the depths of the illimitable universe return the thankfulness, love and adoration of intelligent life.

Throw a pebble into the center of a pond and see its effects move out to the very shore in moving ringlets. Then watch those rings reflect off the edge of the pond and return to their original source. So does the goodness of God emanate from Him out to the rest of His creation, only to be reflected back—a never ending ebb and flow of life. The one exception to this great and wondrous system is the dust speck called Earth. Those waves of life find hardly an answering echo. That planet just keeps absorbing the blessings from the Creator with little response of thankfulness.

But there is a small response, though barely detectable. Like the tiniest sound from Who Ville, God can hear the cry, “Help! Help! If anyone is out there, Help!” To that voice He has never failed of aiding. He will save, He will nurture, He will create in them the sound of appreciation and gratitude.

Maybe He will be the only one to detect the praise and thanksgiving, but He will be satisfied with what little He can get. Because when the Great Controversy is over, He knows His redeemed children will sing the loudest their love for Him. They will rise up and call Him blessed and, throughout eternity, will be His strongest witnesses.

“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.” 2 Cor. 4:15.