“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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Righteous indignation

I would like to look at the qualities of the phrase, “righteous indignation,” and it’s much more common counterpart and enemy, unrighteous anger. And I would like to look at how the former has been manifested in God.

Does injustice bother you? When you see a theft or an abuse, what is your response toward the perpetrator? Anger or sorrow? Justice or mercy? Both are valid responses, and both are biblically sound. Both are appropriate.

How does God deal with iniquity or in-equity—injustice? With mercy or justice? That is a trick question, because His dealings with sinners have ever been both, merciful and just. Both together constitute the foundation of His actions toward the problem of sin and sinners. Both are the polar aspects of divine love, and from the beginning our Creator has had this basic trait of character, love. God is love—has been and always must be. Forever He is the personification of both justice and mercy.

Often in the scriptures we hear of this united dipolar character of His; and thus we can trust in His faithfulness to have this character union always toward us. Even when all we see is His justice, we can know that deep in His heart dwells fullness of grace and hope toward His erring children.

To the children of Israel He thundered His law from heaven, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20:5,6). And then to Moses alone He declared the definition of His name, Yahweh: “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:6,7).

To the slave nation Israel He explained His government to be heavier on justice than mercy because they had been abused and had become abusive; so they needed to hear of His propensity to justice. But when together with His humble, obedient, and loving servant, Moses, He described Himself to be heavy on mercy. Yet, He could not escape bringing in the other quality of His dipolar love.

Let’s overview His record of balancing justice and mercy. He says, “Come now, and let us reason together.” “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together… Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together.” (Is. 1:18; 45:20,21).

“Our fathers understood not Thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of Thy mercies; but provoked Him at the sea, even at the Red sea.
Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power to be known.
He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up: so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.
And He saved them from the hand of him that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
And the waters covered their enemies: there was not one of them left.
Then believed they His words; they sang His praise.
They soon forgat His works; they waited not for His counsel:
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.
And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD.
The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and covered the company of Abiram.
And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.
They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.
Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.
They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt;
Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.
Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He should destroy them.
Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not His word:
But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord.
Therefore He lifted up His hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness:
To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.
They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.
Thus they provoked Him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.
Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.
And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.
They angered Him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses for their sakes:
Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.
They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the Lord commanded them:
But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.
And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them.
Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,
And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.
Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His people, insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance.
And He gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.
Many times did He deliver them; but they provoked Him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.
Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry:
And He remembered for them His covenant, and repented according to the multitude of His mercies.
He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.” (Ps. 106:7-46).

How did God do? Good or bad? Was He right or wrong? Fair or unfair? Righteous or unrightteous? No honest mind, even the atheistic mind, can deny His perfect management of rebellion. That He kept His favor upon that people for 1500 years tells much for His love, and for His willingness to go overboard on mercy toward sinners.

Through His track record with Israel He has devised a pattern by which we today can look and know that He will deal with us and not reject us for our sins. We must necessarily peruse His word often, repeatedly going over the way He disciplined the people who were receiving a Father’s blessings in order to undo the effects of Satan’s barrage of this mechanical, unfeeling world, bereft of the glory that God wants us to enjoy from His creation.

And what is His glory? To be just and merciful, His “righteousness and peace” (Ps. 85:10). Through Isaiah, He said, “There is no God else beside Me; a just God and a Saviour.” (Is. 45:21). This Peter reiterated shortly after Pentecost, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31). As Prince and Judge, He works in us repentance. Then, as Savior and High Priest, He offers forgiveness.

“He shall be a Priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zech. 6:13). There is no disparity between justice and mercy. They go hand in glove. With God, there has never been the one without the other—ever. From the beginning of the universe, God has dispensed both, even before Lucifer’s great controversy with God. God has always been righteously indignant toward imperfection, even in His intelligent creation, yet lovingly forbearing toward His angelic hosts and the inhabitants of unfallen worlds, who were less than Him in perfection, Him whose infinite beauty and purity cause the glorious heavens to flee away from His presence.

To us He says that He “hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.” (Rom. 11:32). “That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:26).

For our own good, He has steadfastly kept His immutable Law in place as a brick wall against our sinfulness and rebellion. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24).

“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me;”— if we will succumb to the authority of our Father’s laws, then we will be candidates of His grace—“and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37).

We will comprehend the glory of His righteous indignation and we will have it ourselves with plentiful mercy mixed in, as only His imparted love knows how. For therein is “the power of God unto salvation.” (Rom. 1:16). “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (Jn. 1:12).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Job and self-justification

Hi C____,
I hope to see you at the church today.

On the subject of persecution you mentioned: as painful as it may be to think about, it is a reality that we can’t deny. Satan is ever ready to destroy any progress Jesus makes in His people. The devil is an ever vigilant foe. No one is a workaholic like that monster.

But God, who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, knows how to make the best out of everything. He knows how to make something out of nothing. Fiat. And He uses Satan’s destructiveness for His own purposes to purify and cleanse us and glorify us. We are naturally reticent to pain, sinners that we are. Sinners naturally protect self, defend self, etc. When self is under attack, self cries, “Aaahhhh, I’m melting!” But self needs to melt and vanish away. I say this knowing that I don’t like the purification process either. Christ alone knows what it is to be clean to the nth degree. When He was made of no reputation, took upon Himself the form of a servant and became obedient to God unto death, even the death of Gethsemane and the cross, He proved forever what the total loss of self is.

But His followers will taste of the full cup the Bible says He drank, even downing the bitter dregs. “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:
Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (2Pet. 2:20-25).

Yet, God-given suffering is our glory. If He allows Satan to take a whack at us, He must believe in our steadfast love for Him. He has faith in us, as He did Job. Job was definitely attacked by Satan. In that story was the first record of the name, Satan. (Although, Job is older than the book of Genesis because Moses wrote it before writing Genesis.) So Satan was known by Moses. That evil spirit is not just a tradition of religion, but was alive and well to Moses before he wrote about the serpent in the garden. Satan’s presence eclipses God’s rays of life, and death naturally begins, as we see in Job.

But Job, as “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” as he was, was imperfect. He had woven self-righteousness into his “perfectness” and “uprightness.” “Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.” (Job 32:2). He desired to know God; and it was this that kept Christ’s protection over him and blessing him.

But Job’s God and Friend saw that it was time to bring Job up a notch higher and to dissolve that weed of self-exaltation. And He had no choice but to give Job, to a certain degree, into Satan’s hands, because of Job’s propensity to glorifying himself in his good deeds, consciously or subconsciously.

When we use our pretty moral life to recommend God’s love and protection for us, we open ourselves up to Satan’s attacks. And we do this all the time. It’s a life-long habit to unlearn. Self-justification is endemic to being a sinner, which we will be up until Jesus comes. And it destroys the power of the gospel, God’s work of His sacrifice for our sake.

The deepest form of pride comes in denying the need for redemption. And when we fail to surround ourselves with a knowledge of God’s work to save us; when we are not absorbed in His love for us, we fall right into saving ourselves. We have to be saved, somehow. Salvation is the earnest desire of every living being—saved from the gigantic hole in the human heart—an infinite God-sized hole. No one can escape this, it’s the human condition.

So we must be saved. And either we will do the job ourselves, which Satan encourages, or we will give up on that (if we’ve learned how much of a dead-end it is) and will trust God to do it. Through the sacrifice of Himself. He alone is worthy of paying the price for the reclamation of sin. How can finite creatures, unfallen or especially the filthy rebels, ever rate the redemption of sin and the blotting of it from memory? How can an infinitesimally nothing of a creature fill a God-sized hole? He is the only supplier of continuous and eternal life and love. Therefore, He is the highest authority of forgiveness.

So, when we deviate into self-justification for our redemption we walk into Satan’s territory and fall under his dominion, and God must let the consequences follow. As wrenching to His heart as it is, He must abide by the laws of free choice. But He is ready and present to bring us through it and out of it, as we see in the experience of Job. This is what baptism is about.

In the end we see Job a much humbler man. C_____, read the story again and you will see what I mean. And Job was also much happier too. His children were even happier. He finally learned what repentance was all about. And he discovered a deeper surrender, peace, and grace, true prosperity.

Christ said, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Is. 45:7). But His evil is only and ever for the purposes of mercy. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:11).

Blessings, sister.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Email on a global currency

Thanks John,

Shirley told me this last night. She didn’t believe it. But when it happens, she will. I believe Satan has manipulated all this and that the strong delusion God was to send the world (2Thess. 2:11) is simply His giving Satan increasingly freer reign on the world since 1844. It all began right after James and Ellen White re-organized the scattered Millerites in 1848 and were given the great light of our beliefs. Once His people were unified and protected by the Spirit of Prophecy, then Satan could begin his final assault.

In 1849, the word was broadcasted, “Gold in California!” and everything began to move quicker and quicker ever since, science and technology, communications, transportation, centralization of power, etc. First America came out of the caveman era and then the rest of the world has followed.

I read that article and then the comments. It surprised me how many commenters were speaking of last day events and the need to look to God. They may not understand it all perfectly, but there is a growing expectation of an Anti-Christ. I foresee the Papacy soon to raise its head as it comes to save the world from economic dissolution. I have no doubt that it has played a major role in bringing the financial world into the sad shape it’s in. That means it needs only speak to the people it enlisted to do the destructive work, and they will do his bidding. And by timing it all right, each time the Papacy calls its friends to help or punish the non-Catholic world, it and its friends will get wealthier and more powerful, and the common people will get poorer and more enslaved to the wealthy. This was the situation in Europe during the Dark Ages and the Papacy works best in it, as does Satan.

It’s good to hear from you. I hope you can come to the quarterly hike up Old Rag on April 10! I think we need to be getting more familiar with nature. We will need that familiarity so that when its time to flee the cities we won’t talk like Lot, “Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die; behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.” (Gen. 19:19,20).

I hope to hear from you some time. I think of you and your faith often.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The purpose of the Law of God

Hi Daniel,

I finally got home from a trip to see my wife in Georgia. I needed to visit my parents in Florida while I was down south, and also to pay my taxes. I did some work on our leaky roof also. There wasn’t much time to sit and study, but my drive down and back was nice while I listened to the Bible on CD. I played 3 CDs during the 11 hour trip. Each CD I played 3 times to really let it soak in. I was hearing the Psalms and the first 10 chapters of Proverbs.

It amazed me how perfectly David agreed with later prophets, and Ellen White. Every time I heard him speak of the Lord having a special regard for Israel, I realized that He has the same special regard for His remnant church, because we are the depository of present truth at the end before He comes. Literal Israel isn’t the depository any more. They were at one time, but when they rejected their one purpose of declaring to the world the Messiah, they had no more a purpose to fulfill. The divine purposes transferred to the group that accepted the Messiah—the Christian church.

The divine will has changed hands a few times during the Christian dispensation when Providence brought up dividing questions, i.e. Justification by faith, when the divine purpose left the Catholic church and transferred to Protestantism; then 300 years later, Salvation by faith became the dividing question when the time of the end began. The Sabbath rest, the Sanctuary picture, and the Spirit of Prophecy formed the basis for Salvation by faith. The Sanctuary helped us to see that God was expecting the holiest character in His people before He could come. The Sabbath showed us how rest would get us to that holy character. And the Spirit of Prophecy gave us the constant motivation for getting to the Sabbath rest to get that character.

It was the law, constantly being laid on us by the Lord through His servant, that would bring us to Christ for the rest that remaineth for the people of God. No one can come to Christ by himself or herself. None of us have the pure enough motive to come to Christ for His grace. We all need the heavy hand of the Law to make us feel sufficiently needy of a loving Savior. It is the eternal principle, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24).

We SDAs still have the Law; we still have the prophet; therefore we have the best chance of coming to Christ. We have the best chance of a legitimate relationship with Jesus. The work of coming to Christ through the Father has been going on in the other religions around the globe, and even among atheists and folks caught in spiritualism. God is able to get through to people everywhere. But His best method is the clearest one—through the Spirit of Prophecy’s high standard and faithful and clear exaltation of the Law of God. Without conviction, we would never come to Jesus. This is what was going on with you, Daniel, a couple of years ago. You were convicted and terrified. You were humbled and able to be brought to the Judge to see if He would accept you. You trusted in Him to do to you what was fair, and you found out that He accepted you and forgave all your sins. Your relationship is legitimate, so long as you keep coming to Jesus for His mercy and justice.

But there are others who never were humbled by conviction. They refused to be corrected by EGW and humbled. They have yet to come to the Savior. They may talk of a relationship, but its mere talk. Its all dead theory. And let us also not be high-minded, but fear, that our relationship doesn’t go dead. Balaam proved that it can.

This past Sabbath I heard SDAs talking about how its not the Law that gives us power to obey, but a relationship. I barely was able to convince a conference leader of that faulty thinking. The Law is utterly essential for our salvation. Otherwise, the Lord wouldn’t have kept sending EGW continuous messages to scold our consciences. Except for a small respite during the 1888-1892 period, she kept scolding us til she finally was laid in her grave.

That speaks volumes about how important the Law is for our salvation. Without the schoolmaster, we are never brought to Christ to be justified by faith. This is such a point of deception!!!!!!!!! Multitudes of SDAs are dismissing EGW and believing they are coming into a relationship with Jesus. What a delusion!!!!!!!!! What a dangerous deception!!!

Brother, please make this a matter of thought, study, and prayer. If you see this going on in Uganda or Kenya, you need to work against it. It is becoming a growing thing in the U.S. Jesus said, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” That’s good news, for sure! But before He said that, He informed us, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” (Jn. 6:37). Its the Father’s work to convict us through His Law by His Spirit. “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:19).

The news of no one being cast out is only good news for those who have legitimately been brought to the Son by the Father. The vast multitudes following Jesus weren’t really following Jesus (as they thought they were), and He was warning them of that very thing. And when He began using some hard requirements, they were proven unqualified as having a relationship with Him. They left and never followed Him again. But it was in mercy to them that He had to force them to know that they didn’t have a genuine relationship with Him. To not show them that would be misleading them in a false idea of their standing with God.

He didn’t always use harsh statements to others like He did with that self-sufficient crowds. “With the merciful Thou wilt shew Thyself merciful; with an upright man Thou wilt shew Thyself upright; With the pure Thou wilt shew Thyself pure; and with the froward Thou wilt shew Thyself froward.” (Ps. 18:25,26).

He gives us just what we need, in mercy to us. If we are stubborn, He will speak harshly in order to show us that we can’t be tougher than our only hope—the Son of God. He is a King and a High Priest, “to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31).

He works together with His Father in bringing us to a sense of need.

Daniel, thanks for remembering me. I hadn’t forgotten you, but didn’t have access to a computer while at home—just one email when I was at my parents’ home. I hope this was clearly explained. I think I’ll post it on my blog.

Love you, brother.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Preacher

The preacher is a link between heaven and earth; he stands between God and man.

He speaks of God and he speaks of man; he divides his sermon before God’s people between representing God and His interests and also the people and their interests.

This work of connecting divine and human interests is love in action. The typical object lesson also performed this function. It brought to the minds of the audience both heavenly and earthly things. It communicated that the things of God were not the only thing to rejoice in or to love. The things of man were also important and cause for rejoicing; this mixing together of the two by heaven’s representative declared that God cares for man and his interests.

When the preacher can speak of nothing else but God, he soon loses his audience. Although his aim is to connect the listeners with God, he must not focus solely on what God has done—as essential as God’s works are. He must bring into his message experiences of man, generally speaking, and in particular, experiences of the people sitting before him.

They people must be drawn into the message at hand, and this is done through subjects with which they are familiar—earthly things, common things, current events. Jesus did this all the time, as well did all His inspired representatives. And that gave much power to His messages and to those of His designated spokespersons.

I once read the book, The Art of Preaching. One thing I noticed was the author’s adamant thought that the pulpit should never ever be used to say anything funny. Yet, I must disagree. Jesus said some things that were on the light side and delightfully funny. Of course, this was not His constant diet for the listening multitudes. But what we read is that the people heard Him “gladly.”

What spurs me on here is that I’ve seen this in the preaching of Elder Morris Venden, preaching that blended the engaging anecdote and story, even funny antics, with appeals to the heart through the beautiful examples of Jesus’ love for mankind. Whether His dealings with Peter, John, Moses or Aaron, the love of God was blazed on our hearts and minds through the fatherly preaching of that servant of God. Those were glorious days.

But the preaching I hear anymore, even from the denomination’s most sought out preachers, is dead and absent of Jesus. Too often it is suffocating and unwelcoming. Elder Venden’s love for Jesus, his faith in Christ’s acceptance and respect of God’s Law and the Spirit of Prophecy, gave him the confidence to touch touchy subjects as well as bring some light funniness into his talks. He never failed to keep his audience’s attention and to get his message through to them.

My first introduction to Jesus was through this faithful messenger of Jesus. After each of his sermons during that week of prayer, I would just sit, glued to my seat in the college church sanctuary, not wanting to disturb the things I had just learned about God’s love.

As the vitamin and minerals are the keys to open each cell’s door for the entrance of glucose, the cell’s nutrition, so laughter and a family atmosphere paves the way for the entrance of truth to the soul and invites the soul to trust in its Savior.

I know we live in serious times. I know the work of the gospel needs to go to all the world. But, “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6). The preacher cannot force truth upon anyone’s mind. “He that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov. 11:30). The speaker must win the mind, win the faculties, win the allegiance of his hearers’ hearts. And this must be done by condescending to their level, stretching out his hand for them to grasp by speaking to their interests and things familiar to them, and then bringing in the holy things of God.

The work of the servant of God is a weaving together the holy and the mundane, the sinless with the sinner, the Spirit and flesh. This is our only hope. This is Jesus, who was the ladder Jacob dreamed of, stretching from earth to heaven, angels being enabled to do their missionary work for our uplifting, and principalities and powers being subject to Him. Our great Advocate, He is the “The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” (Is. 58:12).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Serving people (the law) instead of God

The following is from another blog from a Christian genuinely seeking God. It exemplifies the damage done when we serve religion (and church people) instead of serving Jesus. If we meet Jesus and serve Him, no man can take us out of His hand. But I’ve seen many examples of serving only people, and it always ended up dismally or abandoned altogether.

The first psalm speaks of both scenarios. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”

Obedience -vs- Cooperation

The vast majority of religions in this world stress the importance of obedience.

The very word "obedience" connotates that there is someone in command and someone in submission. I made sure that I did not promise to "obey" in my marriage vow. Marriage should be a partnership- not a dictatorship.

In Christianity, it is God in control and we, the lowly worms of sinfulness and degredation are to obey and do so gladly & without question. Things are very similar in Islam. Strict adherence to a code- don't think, don't feel or vary from the status quo. I reject the idea that we are to think of ourselves so negatively. Human beings are beautiful, intelligent and complex. Yes, we are certainly capable of mischief, but also of great good.

I prefer the idea of cooperation. This concept promotes equality- a give & take relationship. Is it so awful to think of a relationship with God or those around us in this way?

As a parent, I am not barking commands and demanding my children to follow my whims and be carbon copies of me. I provide for their needs, support their development and encourage them to be responsible. I take a genuine interest in my kids. My heart is closely tied to them and a sense of cooperation has grown from this bond. This is completely different than the approach I was raised with, but I think it's working...

As a Christian, I was intent on being obedient to certain standards, but at what sacrifice? Expected to turn my back on any & all "worldly" pleasures, the list of enjoyment in my life grew quite small. Let's reflect:

No TV, no movies, no popular music, no co-ed swimming, no jeans, no fast cars, no wine, no jewelry, no sensuality, no dancing, no meat in my diet, no sugar, no caffeine.... the "no-no" list kept growing. I viewed God as an entity that takes away all joy and makes us dull. I was BORED to death at several points of my journey!! Sorry, as much as they would like to paint themselves as being more modernized and Gospel focused, there are still large pockets of Adventism that very closely resemble a cult.

Eventually, I broke away from all those restraints. Life is painfully short. A joyless life can be painfully long.

I am NOT opposed to obedience. There comes a time when everyone needs to obey to a certain degree. But I think as much as possible, we need to work toward cooperation.
I cannot MAKE myself be good. I've tried. I'm a decent person, but I make mistakes just like everyone else. I am a black sheep.…

I have done more than my share of pursuit and have searched for a hero most of my life. Amazing people are few & far between. I've had to pull myself up by the bootstraps so many times... not whining, that's just the way it is.

God, if You're up there... if You're by chance still listening to me, I need You to make a move. Find me. Help me feel the love they say You have in Your heart for every soul. I'm waiting... but I won't wait forever. Eventually there may come a time when I, like so many others believe the Bible is just a book of wisdom & fairy-tales.

This person is a very good friend of mine. She was full of energy and faith and love, and I miss her a lot.

The sanctuary of forgiveness

Some things people do seem unforgivable. Yet, Jesus told us to forgive 70 times 7—for the same infraction, every day.

But some things are not personally against me—they are against my faith. During the time when I’m reconnecting with God, they interrupt and sometimes that reconnection doesn’t take place. Do you know how miserable it is to not be connected with Jesus? To not have faith in His love? Without His love I can’t love. And life is miserable.

One thing that interrupts that reconnection is in the middle of the worship service, during a song, the prayer, the preaching, a cell phone rings. Suddenly, the wonderful atmosphere of heavenly love, the peace that comes with faith, is broken and we are brought back to this dark godless world. This makes me angry.

For some who are struggling to have faith and grace for the first time, such a disturbance could mean the postponement of surrender and conversion and peace—a delay for a long time, possibly years.

Bringing a cell phone into the worship service and believing every call is more important than having your faith catch on and meeting with God breaks the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” It is unforgivable, especially when it impacts other’s difficult search for faith.

Yet, though the sin is grievous and unforgivable, the person who was negligent or forgetful about putting the phone on vibrate is forgivable—and always will be. ALWAYS! But what do you do when your heart is twisted in knots between not forgiving the sin and needing to forgive the sinner?

You run to the sanctuary. “For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of Thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God.” “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” (Ps. 73:14-17;77:13).

How many times did trouble erupt in the wilderness and the children of Israel threaten the life of Moses! And what did he do? He fled into the sanctuary and talked it over with God.

“Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” (Is. 26:20). “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps. 23:6). “In the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock…. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say on the Lord.” (Ps. 27:5,14).

There, in the sanctuary we see a God who forgives us 70 septillion times 7! There we see our Redeemer work through us in the uplifting of those around us, all the while having to overlook our rottenness while He uses us. We see the pain that our self-indulgence and self-sufficiency cause Him. We see a Lamb suffering and losing life because of us.

We must run to the sanctuary, and we will find that even the most grievous sins against us, that very relationship with God that someone is stealing from us and from others, is restored anyway simply because trouble drove us to Him. We also find that though sin is unforgivable, sinners must always be forgivable by other sinners.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Holy One

“Now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”
“And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine.”
“And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”
“That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
“And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one.
“I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.”
“O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me.
“And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn. 17:1,5,10,13,21-23,24,25,26). Do you sense the tenderest intimacy Christ had with His Father?

Jesus was the Most Holy One, the Messiah. (Dan. 9:24,25). He was the Prince of peace, “My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
“He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
“A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
“He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.” (Is. 42:1-4).

There have been sons of Adam who walked closely with God—Enoch, whose association with His God was so close that “God took him” to Himself; Abraham, who was “called the Friend of God”; Moses, of whom there was not another “whom the Lord knew face to face”; David, a man after God’s own heart; Daniel, a “man greatly beloved”; Paul, who the love of Christ constrained to go everywhere preaching it, etc. and all of them had known a peace that passed all human comprehension.

But none come near the oneness Christ had with His Father. These men were faithful as stewards in all their house; “but Christ as a Son over His own house.” (Heb. 4:6).

Jesus was God’s little boy, His dear Son (Col 1:13); and Christ knew it. He was the “tender plant” who would grow up under His Father’s purview. Though burdened down with the government upon His shoulders, from the dawning of His intelligence, it rejoiced Him in knowing that the full attention of God, His Father, was continually upon Him. No earthly parent could love Him deeper and yearn for Him more profoundly.

No other relationship in the entire universe is so deep and full. The 40 days Moses spent on Mt. Sinai needing nothing to eat or drink was a type of the relationship the Son of God has had with His King since the days of eternity.

When Jesus prayed in verse 5, “O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was,” He was stating the happiness He had had, His soul knit with His Father’s, since before time began.

In the eons before intelligent creation came into existence, the tight bond was known between divine Father and His only divine Son, “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Mic. 5:2). From the deep timelessness before time, the mutual love of the heavenly Duo was compact more tightly than the covalent bonds in each atom They have created.

From the beginning was the Word, God’s thoughts and wisdom made audible. “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old.
“I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
“When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
“Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
“While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
“When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
“When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth:
“Then I was by Him, as One brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” (Prov. 8:22-30).

Laying down His glory—His reflection of that close proximity to the God of His life—“the holy One of God,” as even the devils knew Him in fear, retained the core of His divine union with His Father, the surrender and attachment that had ever been characteristic of His being. Christ, from conception, was one with His Father, even as He had been in primordial antiquity, since the misty beginnings of time immemorial.

His garment of heavenly brilliance and rainbows, like Joseph’s coat of many colors, was removed—forever—and He donned the nature of the fallen human race, weakened by thousands of years of sin. But one element of His divine status remained unremoved—that His original connection with His Father and the divine nature that resulted from His contact.

This union and communion with His forever Father wouldn’t be denied Him. No complaint Satan could drum up made this holy alliance unfair in the contest of the great controversy. Let the devil and his hosts bring all their charges against this divine arrangement. “Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob…. Behold, ye are of nothing, and your work of nought: an abomination is he that chooseth you…. Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing,” their lofty sophistries “are wind and confusion.” (Is. 41:21,24,29).

No argument could he level against relationship, after all, isn’t that what he claimed to have with his demonic band of rabble-rousers? God challenged him on the fruits of his relationship. Which would overcome the other, Satan’s or God’s?

So, Jesus came walking in the light of His Father’s love. His meditations were of His Father’s divinely inspired scriptures of sacred history and holy principles of His Law and the righteous examples of holy men of old. His constant musings were upon every word that proceeded from the mouth of God as He peered ever deeper into the Holy Writ. In the purity of its righteousness He found the most solid bedrock for long life here and now, and eternal life beyond.

By the age of twelve, He had had many years of this kind of education and training. He knew by experience even more that David, “Thou through Thy commandments hast made Me wiser than Mine enemies: for they are ever with Me. 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. 119:98-100).

Jesus held converse with animal and plant. He studied their chemistry and understood their mechanics; and as He did, ideas flashed into His mind concerning ways and means of uplifting those around Him.

Born in perfect acceptance with God and daily living in the light of His love, young Jesus’ character developed into perfect balance and unwavering firmness to principle. Love was the classroom in which He learned all His lessons. It was thus that He put on the robe of His Father’s righteousness and wore it gladly.

Christ did have an advantage over the rest of us. His birth and life from day one was different from ours. But that is an advantage our father Adam lost, which we may regain through beholding Him, by faith, in His privileged birth and His advantaged holy development and training.

We can be partakers of His birth by receiving another one like His, through the touch of His grace. And we can have His perfect childhood and sanctification, too; by retaining that new birth from God we will naturally “grow up into Him in all things.” (Eph. 4:15). Both our first birth and first life disappear and are blotted out when God forgives us. God will say of us, “All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him.” “The former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Ez. 18:22;Is. 65:17). Under God’s grace, we start with a whole new record.

And if it happens that we stumble, for whatever reason, if we turned against God’s will for us, even knowingly, and we reap the consequences of that negligence; if we turn again to Jesus, the true Jesus shining in all His righteousness and holiness; if we hope in His mercy and love, and repent of our gross rebellion, then we are restored wholly to our second birth relationship and begin again in the same sanctification Jesus knew as He grew up as a tender plant. Walking in the light of His Father’s love and holiness, our Father’s love and holiness, “we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1Jn. 1:7).

We can walk in the same fellowship Jesus continually had. The “daily” at-one-ment (Dan. 8:11) can be ours as it was His. His experience can be ours; we can be able to say, “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” (Jn. 8:28,29). Imagine it!

“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads.
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
“And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
“And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” (Rev. 14:1-5).

“And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” (Rev. 22:4).