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That’s an odd word….

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Devotional Thought of the Day:
17  My strength, I will make music for you, for my stronghold is God, the God who loves me faithfully.   Psalm 59:17 (NJB)

what more canst thou hope for than the fulfillment of this great promise, “I will be their God”? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with his love.

It is Karl Barth’s answer to the questioner who asked him, “Professor Barth, you have written dozens of great books, and many of us think you are the greatest theologian in the world. Of all your many ideas, what is the most profound thought you have ever had?” Without a second’s hesitation, the great theologian replied, “Jesus loves me.”

It is refreshing to read words of pastors from other eras in the church.  Especially when those words haven’t been translated, and even cleansed in recent decades.  Even so, sometimes how things are said are shocking, they set us back, and cause us to process what we read.

Such an occurrence took place as I was reading from Spurgeon this morning.

Ravished?

That seems such an odd word to use regarding the love of God.  Whether it is used in the sense of carrying someone away (after pillaging their village) or causing an incredible level of intense delight (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/ravish ), it just doesn’t seem right or maybe a better word, considering Spurgeon’s roots – proper.

But maybe that is precisely what is missing from Christianity today. We are missing a sense of the incredible idea of being raptured ( a synonym), not in the sense of eschatology. Instead, in the sense that as we realize we are loved by God, everything else is left behind, that the delight, the joy, the wonder of being loved transform where we are, and it is no longer the place we thought we were.

You see that kind of sentiment in the great preachers and saints throughout history.  John Chrysostom, Pascal, Saint Theresa, St Josemaria, Luther, all expressed that kind of experience, as they experienced the love of God. It is what mystics search after, these moments of transcendence, these moments of uncontrollable, heavenly bliss.

It is only from dwelling in that love that we can minister to others.  It is the only hope we have when we have been broken by the sin of the world and shattered by our own sin.  To let our soul be ravished by the love of God, as He takes us out of the brokenness, transforming us and giving us a new perspective on the world in which we dwell.

The world we dwell in, as we live in Him, and He in us. Completely loved and adored, beyond our imagination, beyond our understanding. Rather than trying to figure it out, perhaps it is better to acknowledge it, and the peace we gain from His presence. The Lord loves you! And even as you find delight in that, the realization should hit you, He delights in it as well!

 

C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 34.

Some thoughts about why the Church is Here….

Devotional/Discussion THought of the Day:

10  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11  For the scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. 13  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14  But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? 15  And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring (the) good news!” 16  But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?” 17  Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.  Romans 10:10-17 (NAB) 

196         Rest assured, there are many people there who can understand your way. There are also souls who, whether they know it or not, are looking for Christ and have not found Him. But “How can they hear about Him, if nobody tells them?”

197         Don’t tell me that you care for your interior life, if you are not carrying out an intense and ceaseless apostolate. The Lord— whom you assure me you are close to— wishes all men to be saved.

30 years ago, when I started “officially” studying to become a pastor, I was also dealing with some pretty challenging personal issues because of a genetic disorder.  In one of the discussions, a question was asked.   I can still remember where I was when it was asked, because it got me thinking.

“What is the reason the church is here?”

My thoughts went something like this.  If God’s desire is for us to be with Him, in a place where there is no more sorrow, no more tears, no more suffering, no more Marphan’s Syndrome, then why doesn’t He just take us home like He did with Elijah?  As you get baptised, the chariots of fire come down and whisk you to heaven.  Of course, some pastors, evangelists and ministers would have to remain behind to continue to work to convert people, but hey, God will take care of us.

There have times where I have re-thought this.  When a friend is dealing with cancer, when a mom has to visit her son in jail, when we have to deal with authorities whose works frustrates us (whether those authorities are at work, in government, or the most frustrating type, in the church.  I could go on and on, with the struggles of life, but the question remains.  Why not just take 99 percent of the believers and bring them home to the purest of joy and save them from the crap we go through on earth?  If the doctrine of the rapture was applicable (my college had some pro-rapture – and a lot against it) then no one should struggle, no one should go through any kind of tribulation.  And there is a lot of tribulation out there in life.

This question, “why does God allow us to go through all the stuff we go through?  Why doesn’t He just bring us home?”  Would not that be the loving thing for God to do?  To alleviate our suffering, to save us from the ravages of sin?

My answer is… His Mission.

You see, if ministry is only for pastors and missionaries, then taking the rest of us out of here is logical.  We don’t need to be here, we don’t need to see churches burning in Egypt, the Sudan.  We don’t need to wait for the results of CAT Scans, and colonoscopies, and angiograms.  We don’t need to be there for those grieving, or those struggling with addictions or mental illness, or watching their children deal with their special needs.

But God, as odd as this sounds, needs us all here.   Yes, God needs us here.

For we are those who will minister, who will serve, whose lives are testimonies to His work.  As such, they testify to His presence, in the good times and the bad,   We are the ones sent out – not just the pastors and missionaries – but everyone of us, into every place we go.

God wishes everyone to be saved, and so He sends His people, He apostles us to the world… and our own little corner of it.

And the more we realize how He is with us in this endeavor, the more we realize that He is our life, the more we want people to know this…….the more God’s mission, God’s work becomes our life.

And our devotional life and our understanding of our mission, and our prayer and worship and study all coalesce, for that is who we are in Christ Jesus.

God’s sent people…..

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1028-1033). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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