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A Night of Worship with Iron Bell

Posted on by Laura Posted in Concerts | Leave a comment

June Newsletter-More Christ-Like God

Posted on by Laura Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

One thing that should have happened when Christ came was that we would be persuaded to see a more Christ-like God.  In some ways that’s a hard thought for our minds to process.  Jesus was God’s direct intervention into the very definition of Who God was and is the mirror image of the face of God.  Jesus was a new wrinkle in the Gospel story, our story.  He was stepping into what had previously been given only to prophet, priest and king.  He spoke uniquely as God spoke, did exactly as God would do. Part of the conversation Jesus had with the world was that He knew the Father better than anyone else- anyone else ever!  Jesus wasn’t the end to this story; he was the bridge to bring us home (to ‘Father’).  Jesus came to reveal God, not just in talk, but in walk.  Jesus told us he only did what he saw the Father doing.  He exposed the heart of God, not just the stone letter of God’s law.  That in turn should have caused us to ‘see’ the nature and characteristics of God more clearly than ever before.

From Adam and Eve forward, we developed a God-view that sometimes misunderstood much of the purpose and function of God.  Adam and Eve developed an eye problem (Gen. 3: 5-7), being persuaded away from their personal relationship with God, moving to an opinion of God that was centered on self-guilt.  They relied on their interpretation of who they thought God was rather than their experience of God.  They moved from a God that walked and talked with them, from a God that encouraged them and made them the focus of the Love of the Creation, an intimate God, to a more suspicious, even angry God.  Simply put, they doubted the goodness of God.  Double-mindedness set in, not simply seeing a God that loves but also a God to be feared.  The truth is they saw a God that was bent on throwing Adam and Eve away as they hid in the Garden, a God of anger, and they failed to see the God that moved toward them with compassion and a plan of reconciliation.  This God stepped further into their world rather than withdrawing or shunning them. They began to see God holding out on them, not being fair to them.  Sometimes, God gets interpreted much the same way today.  While their vision of God was wrong, that vision of God created a suspicion in our minds that resulted in walking away from God’s fellowship and trust.  Their problem was a seeing problem, a perception problem, which resulted in them separating themselves from God and doing that by their own choosing, not His.  Instead of being drawn to the face of God, they (and we) turned away in shame and fear.

Here’s my motivation for this letter.  Jane and I have three adult daughters. If I had the opportunity to share any one thing with them, a significant part of it would be what’s in this letter.  We’re all His children, created to share Life with Him.   We create children for the same reason God did: to share our lives with.  It pleases us to do that, as it pleased Him.  We fill ourselves with hope for our children, we dream about them, pray for them and hopefully we learn to be patient and forgiving as they journey through the life we’ve given them.  Somehow, each of us seems to default to the same vision of God that Adam and Eve so efficiently started.  In effect, we can participate with His Love or go our own way, bite our own apple.

The Bible calls that darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light.  Oh, Adam and Eve believed in God, they just started believing wrong about Him.  In the believer’s world, it’s that kind of darkness that stands as the hindrance to a clear view of Christ, a clear view of His Father.  It’s similar to the moon blocking the light of the sun, an eclipse occurs in which no light passes through.  It’s not that there is no light, it’s just blocked from our eyes.  And just as the moon gets in the way of the sun, so our earthly cares can block our ‘seeing Him’.  As the moon moves away from the sun, more light is revealed.  The same is true of the Gospel.  As we abandon our interests and replace them with His interests, more revealing takes place of the true nature of God.  It’s to be remembered, darkness isn’t a good or evil problem, it’s a vision problem.  Jesus declared that he is the Light, the Life of the world.  He’s not asking us to agree with that for it to be true, He declares that it’s true whether we agree or not.

Not receiving that Truth sometimes leaves us bargaining to get God to do something for us, negotiating to get our plans endorsed rather than trusting in Him.  Rather than celebrating what He has done for us, we can miss so much of what He hopes to share with us.  The process of knowing His Love makes us free.  It’s not freedom to run away, although we can, but a freedom in Him that makes it possible for us to be healed and restored.  It makes us free to care, share and be fearless to love others.  Discovering the truth of belonging to Him is the first step in experiencing a whole and healthy way of living found simply in the knowledge of God’s Love for you.

Our discussions about what’s good and what is evil are all well and good, and indeed, necessary. But that alone is not sufficient for this generation of young people who are looking for what will lead them into Life, a better Life.  Paul teaches in Galatians that the Spirit must supersede the conversion of the flesh. (Gal. 3-3)  Simple rules alone won’t fly with this next generation.  Theirs is a playground where it all boils down to this: will this Gospel truly enrich (not money but relationships) my life or will it fail to do so?  Is the Gospel really able to deliver something better, or is it no better than the promises and pipe dreams of this world’s system?  They’re not looking for God in just our Sunday version but a God that enters into the brokenness of their every day.

 A change occurred in the garden.  What was not distinguishable by Adam and Eve before the fall, their nakedness, their natural fellowship and trust with the Father and their confidence, all disappeared.  Two people who earlier had experienced intimately walking and talking with God suddenly saw the world and God with new eyes.  They saw everything a different way.  Their eye correction prescription became the wrong prescription and prevented them from seeing with original eyes.  This new vision had a sting in it.  At the very moment of their disobedience, their new thinking about God became a self-imposed lie.  In some ways we’re stung by that same bite, influenced by the same lie today.  That’s a default in our birth package; you got that suspicious attitude at the hospital, took it home with you.  The curse of the Tree of Good and Evil caused us to change our minds about how see Him.  And now, just simply by being born, every person has an Adam and Eve moment to overcome.  That’s the original and historical Sin of man, the separation from God of our own making.  The remedy for that is the Light of Christ that comes and dispels that darkness.  We need a renewal of our minds to the understanding of the mind of Christ.  We need a vision to see ‘peace on earth, good will toward men’.  Instead of seeing separation, we need to perceive the God of adoption.

From the human perspective, the cross looked like a place where God was not present. It looked hopeless and a lonely place to those gathered there.  When Jesus cried out ‘where art thou’, in reality, he was not alone at the moment.  [To confirm that simply go to Psalm 22 (prophecy of the crucifixion) and read the next Psalm (23) Jesus is proclaiming.]  In reality it wasn’t a cross of abandonment, but a cross of trust.  Our Gospel encourages us to pick up that cross of Trust and follow Him.  In our worst moments, under the surest pressure, with the faintest of heartbeats, we’re not to doubt or be persuaded away from the Truth of God and His presence.  We’re not to repeat the failure of Adam and Eve but be captured by the vision of Jesus Christ.  We are to know He’s trustworthy, He’s exactly the same God that’s walked and talked to us our whole spiritual lives.  God ran toward them rather than turning away!  Adam and Eve were moved away from what they knew about Him to what they thought.  They saw the wrong picture of Him in their minds and created a wrong picture in the eye of their heart.  It was a mistake then, it’s a mistake now.

Jesus handed us Eternal life.  That Life is both about our everlasting (the next) life and the quality of this one.  The next generation must find Hope in the Gospel and confirm its value for their every life.  With the re-establishment of the Tree of Life (Jesus Christ), this time into the Garden of Gethsemane, and His new Creation through His resurrection, God again walks and talks with us each day, meets us each morning just as He did in that first Garden.  That’s the redemption, the new Life of Christ.  The Garden has been re-opened for ministry and relationship between God and people.  We were all born as blind men.  We need new eyes.  With Jesus, blind men saw instantly. That’s still happening today.   I’m reminded of what C. S. Lewis wrote, ‘Joy is the serious business of Heaven.’  The business of Heaven, the reason for Christ, was to deliver the Joy of a new day, possible by simply opening our eyes to our adoption, through Christ.

Singles as of June 14.

Posted on by Laura Posted in Singles | Leave a comment
Artist (w/Link) Song Album
Rhett Walker Believer Avail Online
Crowder w/Mandisa Let It Rain (Is There Anybody) I Know a Ghost
Russ Taff w/Crowder I Am Believe
Casting Crowns Nobody Only Jesus
Zealand  Yours My Utmost for His Highest (2017)
Hillsong Young & Free Every Little Thing 111
Teressa Mahoney Restore (Psalm 23) Beyond
Planetshakers Only Way Rain Pt 2
Jason Gray I’m Gonna Let It Go Avail Online
Sanctus Real Unstoppable God Avail Online
JJ Weeks Choices Avail Online
Out of the Dust w/The Gray Havens  Come Alive  My Utmost for His Highest (2017)
Tenth Avenue North Greater Than All My Regrets Avail Online
Chris August The Upside Of Down The Upside Of Down (2012)
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