The Master Builder

By Wally Fry from Truth in Palmyra

The Master Builder

Psalm 127:1

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Mathew 7:24-27

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it

Jesus was a carpenter a long time ago.Joseph taught Him all thingsHe needed to know. He grew up straight and strong, working on the shores of Galilee. He learned to use a hammer, and He learned to drive a nail. We read, in our Bibles, primarily about the ministry of Jesus on this Earth. So, naturally that is what we talk about most, because very little is revealed about His life before the beginning of His ministry. Let’s ponder that some quickly. Although there is debate about exact numbers and such, we know the length of His ministry was around 3 years, and that He lived on this earth for around 33 years. Jesus had much more time on this planet as just a regular guy than he did engaged in His ministry.

We know Jesus was a carpenter, or builder, or whatever term seems right. How do we know this? Well, first and foremost, his adopted earthly father Joseph was. That’s how things worked, you became what your father was. (That’s a point to ponder, for sure). When He preached in the Synagogue in his home town of Nazareth, we hear the people saying the following: Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus was a baby, a young boy, a teenager, and ultimately a man just like any other man. He was fully human, just like any man. He had to be one of us. Why? Let’s recap quickly:

Only a man born under law could redeem those under law. Man had sinned, therefore man had to pay. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Only a living man could shed the blood needed for the forgiveness of sins. Under the Old Testament sacrificial system we learn that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. We can read that even under the New Covenant, blood had to be shed for the remission of our sin and that nothing had changed:  Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. He was one of us: tempted in the same ways, enduring the same hardships as us, being sad and happy as us.

And when He finished building, it served Him mighty well. Cause He started on a building that stretched from sky to sky and sea to sea. Even though Jesus was just as normal, and fully human as you or I, He was also God incarnate in the flesh. He was 100 percent man, and 100 percent God. Not only that, but He was likely living His life knowing His mission was not of this earth.When Mary and Joseph lost track of Jesus when he was 12 years old coming back from feast time in Jerusalem and returned to find the boy teaching with great wisdom in the Temple and inquired about what was going on, Jesus answered as follows:  Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? In Cana, at the famous wedding Jesus showed an understanding of the special nature of his mission on our Earth when His mother asked him for help with the situation at the wedding, responding Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.

Now He’s back in Heaven and He’s building once again. He’s working on a city called the New Jerusalem. It sits on a firm foundation according to the Master Builder’s plan. The streets are lined with mansions for the saints to move right in. It was customary in the day of Jesus that once a man and woman were betrothed to on another, committed to be married in other words, for the Groom to return to his father’s house to begin to prepare a place for he and his bride to live together as husband and wife. It’s no different here. Jesus is the groom and we are the Bride; we are the Bride of Christ. Who is the Bride? Well, we aren’t told any list of requirements believers must meet to be part of the Bride, but we do read that our groom’s expectations of us are similar to what any groom of the day might have had for his betrothed,   For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

And when He’s finished building, He’ll come back again. To take us to that city fashioned by the Master Builder’s hand. Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Jesus is the Master Builder.He built His church upon a rock.He built it upon a firm foundation. When Jesus said to Peter And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Who is the rock? We won’t debate that here, but note some things: Jesus is the foundation and the cornerstone, as we are told This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone, and that no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Master Builder. He takes the old and  makes it new.He can take a life of sin, make it clean and pure within. And He can make a brand new you. Jesus rebuilds us. We all come from a life of sin; we all live lives of sin, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Yet  while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves any better in the eyes of a perfect and Holy God, as all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

We don’t,however, have to stay in the condition. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus is the one who had no sin, made sin by God the Father to pay the price we owed. All we have to do is call, for whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Once we do that,  if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Are you a brand new you?

Jesus was a carpenter a long time ago
Joseph taught Him all things He needed to know
He grew up straight and strong, working on the shores of Galilee
He learned to use a hammer, and He learned to drive a nail
And when He finished building, it served Him mighty well
Cause He started on a building that stretched from sky to sky and sea to sea

Jesus is the Master Builder
He built His church upon a rock
He built it upon a firm foundation
And the work is never gonna stop (no, it never gonna stop)
Jesus is the Master Builder
He takes the old and makes it new
He can take a life of sin, make it clean and pure within
And He can make a brand new you

Now He’s back in Heaven and He’s building once again
He’s working on a city called the New Jerusalem
It sits on a firm foundation according to the Master Builder’s plan
The streets are lined with mansions for the saints to move right in
And when He’s finished building, He’ll come back again
To take us to that city fashioned by the Master Builder’s hand

Written by Dianne Wilkinson

Performed by The Cathedrals

Read more posts by Wally Fry at Truth in Palmyra

Pulling the Heads Off Flies — Part II

Drosophila melanogasterAll righty then…

When last we left our intrepid padawan, Little Monk sat, frustrated and convicted… of “judging others”, by the very act of LOOKING AT THEM! *sigh*..

Best efforts not withstanding, conviction notwithstanding, repentance notwithstanding, even the Lord’s good will and undivided attention notwithstanding… try as I might to pass even one single hour without “judging” anyone or anything… I failed.

I’d asked the Lord to do me the kindness of “buzzing me”, making clear to me and my conscience, when I “looked upon another with measurement”, or “judged” another, and He was kind enough to honor my request. This resulted in hours of His gentle reminders, somewhere from 4 to 6 times an hour, over three or so hours.

The result? Sheer frustration!

After three hours of sheer frustration, I felt so deeply angry at myself, defeated, and futile. I felt weak, helpless, ashamed… totally aggravated… and the ultimate irony. The Lord said, “Little Monk, you’re doing it to YOURSELF now, and I won’t allow that either! Stop it!”

AARRGGHH!!! And in utter rage and futility I flopped down on my couch and said, “I give up! I can’t do it! I hear this, I see this, I know what You want… I am WILLING… in fact, I now passionately WANT to be free of this sin. But it seems WIRED in me. I have no idea how to learn ‘not to see this way’. I give up!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To which, Jesus simply said, “Good! Stay that way, because you cannot fix this, but *I* can. Just hold still, and let Me transform. YOU needed to ‘renew’… you needed to see this, understand this, and renounce this. But YOU cannot fix it. It is beyond your ability. I must transform this in you and your heart. Like any sin, I can take it away… you cannot remove it by your own strength. But I needed to let you try. Now, sit back, be patient with yourself, and give Me some time to work. I have this now.”

So things are. He is working. I don’t know how and won’t try to describe it. But I’m learning, slowly, simply to “gaze, then bless” rather than “gaze, then measure”. It will take time, I know. It’s kind of like feeling a tightness in your chest gradually relaxing.

Well, you can understand, I know… What am I saying really? What’s the affirmation?

I’m saying, “Gosh… I judge others. That’s wrong, that’s sin. I need to stop. Jesus says ‘don’t judge lest ye be judged.’ And I’ve been convicted of this, and repented it.

How has Jesus responded to that?

I, of myself, cannot correct my tendency to fail here, my innate vulnerability is too strong. However, Jesus having brought my attention to His word(s) on this (Matthew 7), and my having surrendered in submission of will to His authority on this (Romans 12:1), my focus and willingness to allow this Truth to “soak into” my mind and rewire my very consciousness (Romans 12:2). opens the way for Jesus Himself to “transform” me.

I’ve found that THAT transformation is (always) beyond my own skill, power, or authority… However, the Lord Himself really needs me to “get out of His way” when He determines to rewire such a thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So… how has this all turned out? Simple… slowly…

I THOUGHT I needed to try some bizarre “custody of the eyes”… that the Lord somehow wanted me to “stop looking” at others with a discerning eye. But, rather… that’s not how it’s been working out…

What has been happening is interesting… I yet look upon others as my mind, heart, or spirit flow in their direction. BUT, rather than my “spiritual hand” extending outwards towards them with my “measurement forceps or calipers” within my fingers… my hand extends outwards towards them, extended flat in benediction and blessing.

This has not been so through an act of my own will, but rather it has been so of its own accord, and I’ve seemed “prompted to observe” the difference between the “now” and the “before”.

So, here’s just an “experiential observation” offered to you for your own “spiritual experimentation”, but I’ve had this happen to me a few times before in my life. It’s like Jesus offering me “training wheels” for a time, as I develop a new way of thinking, perceiving, or behaving. When this becomes “muscle memory”, and its own reliable discipline, no doubt I shall be held accountable for maintaining it… but right now, this is sheer grace gift.

I’d love to hear of any parallel learning you have known in your own walk, Gentle Readers. This isn’t so much “teaching”, as a simple “report along the way of the journey”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jesus concluded with this:

“God Himself wrote with His own hand, ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.’ on the walls of Babylon. Only God can say such a thing. YOU cannot. So, stop doing it, saying it, thinking it, or even feeling it. It is simply and totally My job, not yours… above your pay grade. K?”

I nodded, happily… realizing that I am His child who doesn’t have to carry that responsibility. And He pats me on the head. “Good.”

Pray for me, always! Please! And grace to thee!

Hope

For a few months now, I’ve been struggling to write, at least anything new that’s been on my heart. This isn’t because I don’t have the inspiration, but more because I’m finding it harder to express this overwhelming relationship with Father, with Abba, in human terms. Attempting to write these things in a coherent, understandable way seems quite the feat. When I’ve attempted to write lately, I quickly realize that I’m only scratching the surface of what I desire to express. To explain one concept would require expounding on a dozen others, and the more straightforward I attempt to write, the higher the risk of misunderstanding. I’ve attempted to write some recently in a way that would leave an opening for further consideration on one’s own terms, but this too seems to fall woefully short of my intent.

As I’ve been discussing this more with Father, he seems to keep asking me a question. As I tend to do, I’ve answered this question in a more prepackaged format, then continued on my way. Yet, every time I’ve fallen short in my pursuits, the question reoccurs and I begin to understand a little more what God is asking me.

The question – Why are you trying to explain these thoughts that may not be possible to put into words?

My answers have ranged from “others should know these things,” to “if they don’t understand, they may lose faith,” and even “isn’t it my responsibility to communicate these things?”

After allowing me to ponder my conclusions for awhile, it seems God expressed something along the lines of – Why are you trying to express spiritual things in written, or even spoken, words? Like always, I didn’t quite get this on first pass; it was only through much trial and error that I began to understand little by little.

So what does this have to do with hope, and am I making the same mistake by trying to explain it again? Hopefully not ;). This isn’t so much trying to explain the semantics as just discussing how I’ve come to know it through much difficulty and fumbling.

I’ve always been a fairly logical person, even before I understood that I was. Because of this, I’ve always felt out of place in most settings, especially religious ones. I struggled with doubt. I never understood the concept of hope because it always seemed more like wishful thinking to me. I struggled endlessly with questions that, even when I asked, I got more prepackaged, if not backhanded, responses. Questions became dangerous for me and often got me into more trouble than they seemed to be worth. That being, I never got answers and I was chastised for being doubtful, unfaithful, deceived, etc….even if it was in a “nice” way.

In other words, I never had any hope of becoming a real Christian, but this was more because I was instructed to place hope into faulty or fallible ideals. Standards of belief were mandated to me, and if I couldn’t uphold them, I was at fault. Part of the reason I state these things in such a manner here is that others I’ve come across have given up on God altogether because of being presented with this type of dichotomy. My hope is that some of these expressions will resonate with those that may have given up long ago, and they can begin to discover God who loves them more than they were ever taught was possible. No box that we construct by our human means can contain God’s love—including my own box of logic.

However, logic hasn’t been a completely bad thing for me, but it could only take me so far. After that, I had to rely more heavily on faith, hope, and love. For the most part, I got love, though God continues to expand on that concept daily. I even understood faith to an extent, at least as it pertains to confidence in things unseen. Until recently though, hope had still been a less solidified concept for me.

I’d placed hope, as wishful thinking, into many things in my life. I hoped that I would be successful, find a job, get married, have kids, etc…. Most of these were well within my control though, and it seemed most “successful” people didn’t rely on this type of wishful thinking to obtain their objectives—they did what was necessary to accomplish their goals.

I hoped also that I would get into Heaven, that I’d checked off enough boxes, that I’d confessed all my sins, that I was good enough, that God would understand my heart….that God was really good. These were more of a wishful thinking type of hope though—“hope” that I wasn’t caught at a bad moment and then lost for eternity.

So for a long time, I journeyed without real hope, at least as I’ve come to know it now. As stated before, logic took me to a certain point, but it seems where logic ended, hope began for me. As the Holy Spirit continued to widen the walls of the box I’d constructed, my concept of hope expanded. Hope in God was the assurance of his plan, his love, his promises—all this exceeded the limits of logic and knowledge though.

But how do I explain these things? I think the current answer for me is—I don’t. I live with the hope Father has shown me, and try to reach others where they’re at—not to convince them of my ways or that I’m right, but to show them through this hope how much Father also loves them.

I know this may fall woefully short of an explanation, but that is also the point. Where logic, knowledge, and understanding reach their limits, hope continues on to new depths. Now I would say, instead of hoping that Jesus doesn’t catch me at my worse moment, my hope is that Jesus always catches me at my worst. He understands my heart, he always lovingly picks me back up when I fall, and he never gives up on me. For me, that is hope worth holding on to!

Questions, Answers and Context

I read John’s post entitled Bow and Confess earlier today with great interest and since he ended it with a series of questions, I thought it might helpful if I answer them. (If you haven’t yet read the original post, I suggest you do so now for best results) Before I do, I’d like to make it clear that John’s view is entirely his own and he is certainly entitled to it. Similarly, my view s are entirely mine, and neither of us is speaking for anyone other than ourselves, and I know that John would join me in saying that you, our readers and contributors are free to agree, disagree and freely express your own thoughts.

With that said, here are John’s questions and my answers to them. They are posed immediately after John stated this conclusion:

Here it seems Paul is giving clarification as to how anyone is ever able or confess Jesus is Lord—it is only by the Holy Spirit! It seems God’s plan is that at some point, every single person will willingly, honorably bow and confess Jesus is Lord, to the glory of Father, by the Holy Spirit!

Q: Do we really dare to hope in such a loving God?

A: The short answer would have to be “NO”.  A more complete response would be to point out the fact that this conclusion is based upon a passage that was taken out of its context; that passage is Phil. 2:10-11. When we look at the entire passage, we see something quite different; here it is:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Phil. 5:5-11

When these verses are seen in context, a different picture emerges, a picture that involves Paul’s instruction to the Church in Philippi comprised of those who are followers of Jesus Christ. Paul is telling them that their attitude should be like that of the Lord Himself, who set aside the glories of Heaven to take on the form of a servant and serve His Father’s will, even to death, to redeem humanity from its sin. As a result He has been raised to the highest place, and given all authority, and every knee will bow before Him, for the day is coming when all doubt as to who He is will be gone. It’s interesting to remember that demons, as they were being driven out by Jesus knew exactly who He was, and were terrified of Him, for they were in open and deliberate rebellion against Him. Oh yes, they will all bow down on the last day, and nobody will need to force them, but many on that day will have a serious problem on their hands.

Q: Is God’s plan really to save everyone?

A: God’s desire is to save everyone, as John 3:16 so clearly tells us, and God is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do so in sending His Son to die. Yet He created us with the free will to choose whether or not to follow Him; if we do, He welcomes us with open arms, if we don’t, we have made the choice, and since God is loving and exercises restraint, He respects our choice to reject Him, even though it grieves Him greatly.

 

Q: Is he really that powerful?

A: God is all powerful, but His most amazing attribute is His restraint; He does not force us to love Him.

 

Q: Would God allow someone the indwelling of the Holy Spirit just to bow and confess, then rip it away so they are lost for all eternity?

A: Certainly not! Sadly there is a logical problem in this question, for it is based upon the quotation of 1 Corinthians 12:3:

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

Can you see the problem? It begins with the word “therefore”. When you see the word “therefore” the author is drawing a conclusion, thus the quotation is necessarily taken out of context. In this case, the verse falls within the larger context of 1 Corinthians 11-13 that deals with spiritual gifts, the immediate context looks like this:

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor. 12:1-3

Again, Paul is addressing Christians who are already followers of Christ, reminding them of their former status as Gentiles in a larger discussion of spiritual gifts that are given to Christians when they begin to follow Jesus, not to pagans who refuse to follow Him. We know from Acts 2:38 within its larger context of Acts 2:14 ff. that we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we believe the message of salvation acknowledge our faith in Christ and enter into relationship with Him.

If there is a connection between the Philippians 2 passage and the 1 Corinthians 12 passage, it is this: On the great Day of the Lord, every knee will indeed bow voluntarily, and every tongue will voluntarily have to admit that Jesus Christ is Lord! Those who have already done so in faith will be filled with joy and jubilation, and those who refused will be having a very bad day.

Bow and Confess, in my view, proves us with a wonderful opportunity to explore, to toss out ideas, to ask and to answer, and I want to thank John for posting it, for sharing a point of view and giving us a chance to examine the Scriptures together and come to the realization that our God is simply awesome in His love, and to see and recognize that His love is so great, that He allows us the freedom even to reject His grace.

The Great Questions — The Littlest Question

©1982KatherineBrown
©1982KatherineBrown

“How do I LIVE in Christ, right here, right now, day to day?”

THAT, I call “the littlest question”. That is a question of “how?”, not of “Who?” or of “What?”. That is a question of “little me”, not “All Mighty God”, or “The Mighty Counselor”, or “The Messiah”, or “The Savior”. That is a question of right here, right now, not “In Eternity”, “In the Cosmos”, or “From the Beginning of Time”.

As Christian bloggers, as ministers of the gospel, as church people, as teachers/preachers, we spend much of our time dealing with “The Great Questions!” “Who/What is God and His Nature?”, “What is Truth?”, “What is Forgiveness and how Often?”, “How Should the Bride of Christ, The Church, Run?“, and so on. Those are decidedly GOOD questions. They explore our relationship with God as we seek to know Him intimately and thus experience eternal life. Nothing wrong with such questions. I spend much time in them, as do others.

But, once in a while I am reminded of the fundamental simplicity of Christ. Recently I was reminded, by someone INSISTING that I address a single, very simple question. It shames me to confess, their question was so fundamental and so simple, and I spend so much time “in my head” with the great and mighty questions, that for far too long… I couldn’t even HEAR their question properly.

What was the question?

“HOW… in practical terms… How am I supposed to LIVE, as a Christian?”

Every time I answered, the person shook their head and said, “I HEAR that, but I don’t know how to DO that! I hear that from you, I see that in Scripture, I hear that in Church… but when it comes right down to it, I don’t know what that all MEANS outside of church, prayer and religion. HOW do I DO that?”

I realized that THEY were not the one “not getting it”. THEY weren’t “dense”. *I* was. *I* wasn’t getting it, *I* was being slow on the uptake. I didn’t know why communication wasn’t happening, so I backed up a moment to take my confusion to Jesus, and He showed me the problem. It made me blush then, and it makes me blush now.

I kept giving them “Great Question” answers. You know… “Love God with all your…”, “Love as Jesus loves…”, “Forgive always…” so on and so on. I kept answering the “What?”‘s of Christian living. They weren’t ASKING me about “What?” or “Why?” or “Who?”… they got all that. They knew all that. They were asking “HOW?”, and I was utterly failing to respond. What’s more, truthfully, I didn’t KNOW. I hadn’t “thought about it”. It all seems so complicated… “How do you live a perfect (as Jesus commanded at the end of Sermon on the Mount) Christian life?” So many rules. So many opinions. So many interpretations. So many traditions. What was I to say?

So, as I stopped my speaking, closed my eyes, backed up… and “punted”… I prayed, then shut up and listened. “Lord? What’s wrong here? Why are we not connecting? I’m missing something critical here.”

And, at first, all I could hear was Jesus’ laughter. Rather like we laugh when watching a kitten tie themselves up in a big ball of yarn. Not “making fun” so much as “recognizing the absurdity of the moment”. His laughter calmed me in the sense that I knew I wasn’t “misleading” or “speaking less than Truth” here, but I remained confused for the moment.

“You’re just making things all too complicated,” He said. “HOW do you live out love? If you want to focus on one, single, behavior that will have the greatest impact on letting Me be Me in you… ‘be KIND’! The closest human label and emotion to ‘agape’ in behavior, is ‘kindness’. Tell him to go out tomorrow, and every day, in every encounter, making every decision, in the kindest way and being kind to everyone. He will know, as do you and everyone else, when he is being ‘unkind’ and ‘selfish’. Tell him, simply to ‘be kind’, and then follow up from there with him later.”

And so I did.

That has affected me since. I’ve looked at that aspect of my Crystal Rose now from many angles. It’s true. “Kindness” in the way we mean that, is central to all of the Old Law. Central to the Gospels. If we were to line up all the encounters of Jesus, and ask what central characteristic they hold in common, His kindness would be atop the list.

Kindness… to be consistently Kind… is very very simple.

It is also very very hard!

Want the Scriptural take on all this?

Read over the entirety of 1 Corinthians 13 for a moment. (It’s a comparatively short chapter. Go ahead and look at it… I’ll wait here.)

<<     Hums the Final Jeopardy theme music tune here, waiting patiently….  >>

Finished? Good. Now watch this…

In all that chapter, Paul deals with “love”, and simple behaviors, after opening with matters of Great Questions. After all, Paul’s epistles constantly deal with Great Questions and Weighty Matters… the nature of God, the nature of the Church, the nature of Salvation, discipline in the church, the nature of ministry, the qualifications of ministers… and on… and on… and on. We base much of our Great Question dialogue grounded in the writings of Paul. As I said, nothing wrong with that.

But! We can lose sight of the simple fact that over and over and over, Paul is ALSO “making new believers”! He is evangelizing. He is sharing the SIMPLE Good News of the arrival of Jesus, His Kingdom, and the freedom in our lives of our redemption. Paul doesn’t plunge new believers into heady debate about “to meat or not to meat”, or lots of other things. He speaks of Christ, of His love, of Christ come, and crucified, and risen.

The KEY verse, in all of 1 Corinthians 13, I believe to be Verse Four:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant…”

As I’ve looked and pondered these things, the opening verses deal with the Great Questions! You can have all the “Great Answers”, and do all the “Great Things”… but without this bedrock, this “love” thing… that’s all meaningless. Everything before verse four, seems to lead up to verse four. Everything after verse four, seems only to expand on and refine it.

“Patient, kind, no jealousy or ego…”

To brag and be arrogant are based in pride, and pride (wounded) is part and parcel of jealousy.

So… right here, in front of man and God and everybody, I say openly… “If you want to live out the perfect Christian life, and have the love of Christ flow through you to others, focus behaviors on ‘patient, kind, not ego-bound'”.

There’s HOW!

One last note. Think about, in your own life, those persons… those (usually) handful of persons… who have really “shone Christ” in your own life to you. You know who I mean, the one’s who, when you spend time with them, leave you sensing the nearness and presence of Christ more strongly than you did before. Those ones that just ‘cover you up in’ the Father’s love, the Son’s Forgiveness, the Holy Spirit’s presence. The ones you reach towards when you feel that need for the tangible presence of Jesus.

Now, ask yourself,  “is that person patient? kind? and humble (ego-free)” in their dealings with me?

Let us, then, go and do likewise.

Grace to you, Gentle Reader — The Little Monk

 

It Is Well With My Soul

This is a reworking of a post I have done before on a couple of other blogs.

It Is Well With My Soul

Isaiah 66:12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Horatio Spafford certainly knew a few things about peace like a river, as well as sorrow attending his way. In the mid 19th century, he was a prominent lawyer and real estate investor in the city of Chicago. He was also a good friend with Evangelist D.L Moody and devout man of God. Despite his wealth and prominence, things would not always be a peaceful river for Horatio Spafford; soon things would take a very bad turn for this fellow. First came a serious financial setback. Spafford, having invested heavily in the city of Chicago which was expanding northward, lost most of his substantial investment in the Chicago fire of 1871.

It was two years later when Horatio Spafford’s faith really became tested, it was then that the sorrows began to roll like sea billows in his life. He, his wife Anna, and their four daughters had decided to sail across the Atlantic to be with their friend D. L. Moody as he preached in Europe. Horatio himself was delayed by business, so we sent his wife and daughters on ahead, planning to meet them later. As they traveled across the Atlantic on the steamship  Ville du Havre , it collided with another ship and was sunk. All four daughters died, and only Horatio’s wife Anna survived.

Upon receiving word of his great loss, Horatio Spafford immediately got on a ship of his own and headed across the Atlantic. It is thought that the inspiration for this song was given to him as he was notified that his own ship was passing the very spot where his four daughters had perished.

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,It is well, it is well with my soul. Whatever my lot, through the good times and the bad times. God is with us during all of these. James talked about this when he said, Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. There is a man we are all familiar with who’s story sounds so like the one told above. That man is Job, of course. Faced with the loss of everything: his children, his possessions, and ultimately the loss of his own health. Yet through it all, Job had one thing to say: Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. Job did not know why God was allowing these trials; however, Job knew God. Job knew he had the promise of eternal life with his creator; it was well with his soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,. Time and time again in God’s Word we are told of the simple fact that trial WILL come our way. The words if are never used; trials are a promise and a guarantee. As he began his great writing on living the Christian life, James pointed this out to us when he wrote, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;. He was letting us know that, first of all, trials in this life are simply a part of life. He also instructed us that sometimes trials have a purpose in this life, in that they worketh patience and make us perfect and entire.

Sometimes they are even simply to show us the grace God provides to get us through the tough spots. We all remember Paul and the thorn in his flesh, and how he besought the Lord thrice that he be granted relief; but, the Lord didn’t remove that thorn, instead telling the Apostle, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

 Let this blest assurance control,That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,And hath shed His own blood for my soul. Another great song is Blessed Assurance, where we see the following, Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine, and how true that is. We are his also, as He did shed His blood for our very soul, and we are bought with a price

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—My sin, not in part but the whole, My sin, your sin, and the sin and sins of the entire world. All of us have sinned and transgressed God’s moral law; God Himself inspired Paul to tell us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and there is none righteous, no not one. We can say to our ourselves, “Oh, I’m not THAT bad” or, “Hey, I’m not as bad as THAT guy!” The problem is, we are not evaluated against our own standard of good and bad, or by comparison with any other person; we are evaluated against God’s standard of Holy perfection. Sin, literally means “To miss the mark.” If and archer misses the mark, or the bulls eye, it does not matter if he misses by a tenth of an inch, or by 10 feet, the mark was still missed. That is our problem with God’s standard, we can missed by one “tiny” little sin, or we can be the most heinous criminal who ever lived; we miss the mark either way. Read what James taught us: For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Now, however, comes our problem. God is perfect, and God sets the standard. Holy means perfect and without sin, and it also means God is incapable of abiding  with or tolerating sin. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. It started way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve only had one small thing they could not do, and that is eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for God told them on that day you will surely die. Not only would they die physically, but spiritually, as their disobedience separated them from God. That is our problem as well, for the wages of sin is death.

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! The writer of this song had joy in the face of all of his tribulation, because he know all was well with his soul. He knew despite what he faced during his life here, that his eternity and his future were secure and that his eternity would be with Jesus in Heaven. Because even though the wages of sin is death, we also see the following promise come right after, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What was paid for on that cross? Every sin past, present, and future. My sin, not in part, but the whole.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,The clouds be rolled back as a scroll; And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Some day, no matter what happens in this world, and to us, we can always remember this one thing: The Lord is coming back, and things will be made right. If it is well with our soul, then we are Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,Even so, it is well with my soul. Remember that right after Jesus ascended into Heaven, that the angels promised the staring disciples this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. This world is not our home, and what we may face and endure here is merely temporary, as  our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: If it IS well with our souls, then we can have the hope of all of these things, and always know that the trials of this life are only passing as we prepare for an eternity where no sin, and no death exist anymore.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Is it well with YOUR soul?


When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

By: Horatio G. Spafford

Sung by: The Gaithers featuring David Phelps and Guy Penrod

Are you following Jesus?

“Therefore choose life, so that both you and your offspring may live, and so that you may love the Lord your God, and obey his voice, and cling to him (for he is your life and the length of your days)…”

Deuteronomy 30:19(b)-20(a) CPDV

“It is good to hope in silence for the Lord’s deliverance.” Lamentations 3:26 (NAB Revised Edition)

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…

It is painful to find your life apart from the world. To be torn from the only life you know, the only way you know. We spend our lives searching for the truth and our purpose in this world. And for those of us that have found our way to Jesus, that truth is often times harsh. For in Him we find life. But He tells us as we make our way to him, “You’ve found me, now deny yourself and don’t look back. Come follow me and leave it all behind.”

And life as a Christian if you’re living it the Jesus way (not the world’s way or your church’s way) is not easy. At times you may find yourself asking, “Why am I doing this? Why am I walking this way?”  But the further you walk the more you come to realize that the world is simply desolate. The more you hear what Jesus has to say, the less the world satisfies you. The more you retreat inward, the more you see your neighbor through the eyes of a loving God. The more they hate you, the more you love them. The more despair around you, the more you frequent prayer. Your life, to most, does not make any sense, even to other Christians. And the more I’ve walked with Jesus, the more people do not understand me. But I don’t need them to understand me, I just need them to see that I am living in the way Jesus has taught me.

As we retreat inward in prayer, oftentimes it is our silence that makes for the greatest witness. Why has she gotten quiet? Why is she so deeply devout? What is it that’s different about her? I realize that at all times, it is my life that serves as a witness. I am the candle, and Jesus, He is the flame.

I choose not to post or write about my political affiliations or stances on the issues of the day. I give my opinion when asked, but do not offer it at will. I choose not to alienate people from the love of God. And although yes the gospel is offensive, I am the one who should be offended, I am the Christian, I am the one who should be living in this way. This is about me, my faith, my life, my witness, my love. I know now that turning inward makes for an outward Christian.

And I am not worrying anymore about other Christians, what they say or what they do. I know who I am, and I know where God has called me. I am learning to stay in my space and stop interfering with the work that God is doing in others. I am learning not to be offended. I am learning to shut my mouth. I am learning the gift of silence.

As I change and grow in Him, I pray that you may learn something too. Your words or posts may be alienating people from God. You may be turning outward, rather than inward. You may be pointing someone to darkness rather than light, even other Christians.

I pray that today you will meditate on the scriptures God has given us that I’ve listed above. The themes of being “in” Him, choosing life “in” Him and this idea of prayerful silence. I imagine you may find what I did, a long conversation with God, a refining of the flesh and a fresh perspective on your Christian life. There is so much to just being “in” Him. Let us choose Him this day and let Him lead, and let us reflect on which way we shall walk.

You can learn more about me and my journey as a Jewish follower of Christ and Catholic at There’s Something about Mary.