Wednesday, December 27, 2006

To More Than I Can Be


I am listening to a very precious song by Selah, You Raise Me Up. The phrase that captures me is "You raise me up to more than I can be." I am not often so captivated by a phrase, but this one is profound. It is true. Our Lord raises us up, to more than we can be. The phrase speaks of spiritual vision. Such vision is not something we mature into, nor is it something we gain as we know more. When the Lord grants vision, it consumes us. Whatever that vision is, it becomes us.

Years ago, when I became responsible for "the vision" that Psalm 19 Ministries would follow, I was overwhelmed. I purchased and read all the current (at the time) books on spiritual vision. Surely these books would tell me how to get such a vision from God. I did not think I had a vision that would be called one. You know the kind that tells the leader how much to do what, and when and where. I prayed, read, sought the Lord. I fasted, prayed more, and listened with all of me. No vision seemed to come.

Then (there is that wonderful word), then I saw and knew! It was not the kind of vision I thought I needed. It was already in me and deeply a part of me -- never to let go. Something so deep that it had consumed me for years. "It" dawned on me when I was reading the verse of Scripture that has governed my life for most of my life. "For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel." Ezra 7:10 NASB That was the vision and that is the vision. I have known I was to study, live, and teach the Word throughout the church of my Lord Jesus. It is my mission, my commission, my passion, and my purpose. What I found out that day, is that it is also my vision.

How this has worked through the years through Psalm 19 Ministries is miracle upon miracle, open door upon open door. I have never asked to be invited anywhere, yet I am allowed to proclaim the truths of our Lord throughout the church. Even those places seemingly closed, have opened and without my effort. The vision is big and wide and endless -- it goes on and on. It is fulfilled each time one of our teachers teaches the Word. Just opens the Bible and lets it talk. It is fulfilled each time our Worship Ensemble leads a group in worship through the Words of Scripture and response. It is fulfilled each time our Singers minister anywhere -- the word in song is still the word.

Our Lord is so very faithful. The point that rises in me, is that He makes us all more than we can be. The vision He gives in each of His is always more than one can be. He makes us full of Himself and releases us on a dark and desperate world. He does all of it. He gives the vision (the books were of no help at all; I finally gave them away) and we just follow. The vision will always flow in faith. Faith is always required. The vision does not grow old with time, nor grow old with me. It just grows and grows me with it and in Him. He has stood me on His shoulders and made me more than I can be. Thank you Selah for such a beautiful and true phrase, and thank you Lord for doing what only You can do.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Alleluia!

Lord to You we sing --
May all our alleluia's when spoken or heard
be heart felts thanks to you Dear Lord
And not just empty words.
And with each passing moment
till the ending of our days
be filled to overflowing
with our never ending praise.
Alleluia
Alleluia
by the Gatling Brothers

Merry Christmas !!!

I pray you enjoy our Lord in this beautiful season! All who know my family will recognize the above lyrics. My husband, Joe, son Kreg, daughter Lauren, and I began singing together as the children were born. When they both lived nearby, we sang together as an A Capella quartet. We have a precious gift in that "ensemble." When we get together, we must sing. So this season when we look forward in hope to what our Lord has in mind for the coming year, we celebrate Him as we lift our voices together (even when apart -- there is a togetherness in the voice for the "ensemble" never leaves) to praise Him and bring Him glory. Such is the delightful purpose in our lives.

Lord, as we celebrate Your coming to us and for us, we give ourselves to you once again. I pray our lives become the reality of the Alleluia -- in You, to You, and for You! Thank you!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

For Me

FOR ME!!! I realize this is an unusual picture to put on my blog at this season of the year. But I am so deeply grateful for my Lord Jesus Christ. I love to celebrate Christmas and all the arguments about His birth being a different time of the year do not really impress me, nor do they deter me. I know about all that stuff, but I am overwhelmingly thankful that He came and He came because He loved me. It is not a pagan holiday in my heart. It is the celebration of His coming and all the dimensions of that coming pile into me and out of me in praise and wonder.

As we gaze at the babe in the manger this season, let us remember that He will come again, and this time He will come as our Victorious King. For that is what He is. Read Revelation 1:9-20 and let that image fill your soul.

1. He is One like the a son of man -- One like me. I am included in Him -- He came like me, He is like me -- only better. So when I see those words, I know He has included me and is for me.

2. He was dressed in a robe extending down to his feet - He is wearing the linen robe of the High Priest. Glory! He is my Intercessor, never sleeping, day and night, keeping vigil for me and over me and mine. What absolute wonder! He is the One who takes care of my affairs. He doesn't make mistakes in those matters. I do, but He straightens the things I have made crooked and takes care of it all. He came for this.

3. He wore a wide golden belt around His chest - He is King, but not just any earthly king, He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He rules in all the affairs of men. They may or may not be aware of His Lordship, but He nonetheless is ruling. In Psalm 2, the Holy Spirit tells us that even though the nations of the earth gather against Him, He laughs at them. How very pitiable our preparations for safety and for government must seem in the light of His all powerful nature.

4. His head and His hair are as white as wool, even as white as snow . All the knowledge and wisdom that exists are His. He knows. He just knows. Whatever it is, He knows and He knows what is best in each and every situation. "If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives generously to all men..." What a wonderful gift you are Lord!

5. His eyes are like a fiery flame. He sees. That is probably enough to say -- He sees. Whatever, whenever, He sees. To be able to know, perceive, and see. Nothing hidden --everything out in the open. He sees.

6. His feet are like polished bronze refined in a furnace. In the Old Testament, bronze is always symbolic of judgment. So here we have the picture of our Lord Jesus with feet as polished bronze. Letting us know that whatever judgment was ours to reap, He has already stood in it, taken, it and pronounced it done. His feet are like bronze -- He stands in judgment for me.

7. His voice is like the roar of many waters. Like Niagara Falls. Oh what a sound. I love to get as close to the Falls as possible and just let the sound of the roar invade my being. That is what His voice is like. Many Christians make the mistake of thinking (and saying) that they do not hear God speak to them. Lie! That is a lie. At least according to the word of the Lord, it is a lie. You see, when this Son of Man speaks -- He sounds like roaring water -- Niagara Falls. In order to miss it you have to be deaf (spiritually deaf), if you are one of His. Now if you do not have the Lord as your Savior and do not have the Holy Spirit inside, then it will be quiet for you. You will not hear. But beloved Christian, you do hear at least according to John 10:27. If you are His, you hear.

8. A sharp double-edge sword extends out of His mouth. We know from Hebrews 4:12, that this two edge-sword is the Word of God. This is indeed the agent that is used to create, to bring life, to deliver, to restore, and to kill. John 3:16 is a double-edge sword. To all who receive -- eternal life; but to all who do not believe, the sword of His love brings the "perishing." He speaks and He has spoken. We have the privilege of reading the utterances of Almighty God, and of knowing His heart as He has written to us. So in voice, and in page. He is amazingly thorough.

9. His face shines like the sun shining at full strength. We do not look at our natural sun for it would literally blind us. Our Lord shines more brightly than any physical sun. Yet in His light we see and know light. If we get energy and life from the physical sun, then how much more from the One who created it all and shines more brightly than any of the creation. In His presence we become healed and restored through the light of that presence. It is better than any earthly day on the beach.

This is a brief summary of the One who describes Himself as "I am the First and the Last, and the One who was dead, but look, now I am alive -- forever and ever -- and I hold the keys of death and of Hades." This is Who we celebrate this season! Let us lift our eyes beyond the babe and greet our conquering King who lives forever more. Soon we will see Him as He is! Now that will really be Christmas!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Grant me most sweet and loving Jesus
to rest in You above every other creature
above all health and beauty
above all glory and honor
above all power and dignity
above all fame and praise
above all sweetness snd consolation
above all hope and promise
above all merit and desire
above all gifts and favors You give and shower upon me
above all happiness and joy that the mind can understand and feel
and finally above all angels and archangels
above all the hosts of heaven
above all things visible and invisible
and above all that is not You my God.
(Thomas `a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Faith Not Circumstance


We are all aware of our circumstances. Much of what we do day in and day out is determined by our circumstances. That is because we are physical and live in a physical world.
We, as Christians, are called to live by faith. Faith is the seeing of things we expect and the knowing of what we cannot comprehend. (That is my own translation -- but I think you will agree it is the substance of Hebrews 11:1) Faith and circumstances seem disconnected most of the time. Most of the teaching we receive on faith is trying by hook or by crook to re-arrange our circumstances. Now it is true that the Word does teach us that does occur. However, I fear most of us get lost in "trying to get something from God" with our faith, instead of resting in what it really is for.
Faith is our "sight" into the realm of the unseen. Today I had the joy of presenting the Word to a group of women in a nearby church. They were having a Ladies Day and in addition to breakfast and the Word and Worship, they included a time of shopping as they had brought their crafts. It was a wonderful time to get some Christmas shopping done. Anyway, the lesson in the Word that the Lord had for us is that faith is the ability to see the finished project when all you have in front of you is the raw material. Regardless of the work of our hands, we all "see" a different arrangement of what we plan. Whether it be housecleaning or car repair, or whatever. We have inside an ability to "know" what we want to occur when we apply our creativity to the raw materials. This simple ability in the natural realm, gives us insight into our "faith ability" in the spirit realm. We do have, in Christ Jesus, the ability to "see" what He has spoken and then wonder of all wonders, He has empowered us with the ability to accomplish what is "seen" regardless of the circumstances in our lives.
He is truly awesome!!!
"For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wisdom and the Word


How very faithful our Lord is!!! After three week-ends of ministry away from home, I am delighted to be "at home" this morning and able to put some thoughts on my blog. I want to share just a bit of what I taught in our ministry's Fall Conference a couple of week-ends ago. The entire conference was on receiving the wisdom of God.

We must always keep in mind that wisdom is always available for the asking, for those who ask in faith. (James 1:5-6) That being understood, there is a wisdom that is developed and given as we spend time with our Lord in His Word. We generally think of wisdom as the ability to use our knowledge correctly and appropriately. (First image) However, when we go to Proverbs 2:1-5 we find it coming out differently. (Second image)

We find that wisdom is given as a gift for those who receive, treasure, listen, cry, shout, dig our Lord's Word, insight, discernment. As we receive His Word and intensify our search and "dig" through it, treasuring it and listening, wisdom is given as a gift. The fear of the Lord is also given. It is as if these are by-products of the treasuring of the Word. (I was first introduced to this concept through a very fine article by Michael Rodhouse at www.biblical-life.com. It is a good place to start looking at this concept).

To discover that wisdom is a gift for loving His word is a wonderful discovery. When I was 9 years old, my Dad told me to begin reading my New Testament through by reading one chapter each evening when I went to bed. He said, "You won't understand a lot of it, and many times the names will be too hard for you to say, but read it anyway. Then by the end of the year you will have read your New Testament completely through." My Dad was very precious to me, and his word was law in my heart. So I began my journey, and I am still on that journey with the Word. I have for most of my adult years read Bible through as my "daily manna." Dad knew something I am just discovering.
If we will diligently read, study, and mediate on the Word, we will have a precious fear of the Lord in our persons, and the wisdom of God has an opportunity to lead and to guide. The Scriptures do say that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, that the Lord is our teacher, and on and on. This kind of "knowledge" does not lead to arrogrance (1 Cor. 8:1) but instead provides guidance for a life in Him. The knowledge that comes first through the brain, is a a part of the transformation process of that very vital and ever to be used tool of the mind. However, it is not the main part of our journey. No matter how "old" we become by His grace in Him, we must always be open to what others in the body have learned -- always be willing to expose the mind to good books and training. However, we have far too long made that the important part of our learning.
I am beginning to be convinced, that the preacher and teacher of the word are basically giving words to things the people should already "know" but not yet have words to express. This is a bit tough to explain in this expression, but I pray you will take Proverbs 2 and let the Lord show you the truth that I am trying to express. It is so encouraging!
I encourage you to read His word. We have for so long stumbled over what we do not understand. Receiving this understanding on the Word, means that we are given of Him on the basis of our choosing to treasure Him through His word. Now how awesome is that! Even when I do not "understand," still He ministers Himself and His wisdom to me.

Grace, grace, grace -- may we breathe it deeply as we read, study, meditate.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Not Forgotten

Isn't that a wonderful title for a post? Well, it will have to wait for a few more days. I have just finished teaching a conference, have a couple of days home and then am away again for a couple -- teaching at a retreat. I will get back here. If you check in regularly, don't give up, I will be back with more on Wisdom...or something in just a few days.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wisdom

I took this picture earlier this fall as my husband and I took a small trip for our 45th wedding anniversary. This waterfall is beautiful. It reminds me of God's abundant wisdom--always available and flowing to whosoever will ask. James 1:5-6 "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." WOW! That is just awesome.

I recently had a very difficult problem to tackle, and I had no idea how best to do it. If I did it one way, it looked like it would end in disaster, if I did it another -- same result. So I took my camera and went away by myself -- just me and my Lord -- and I was just very honest with Him about my need for wisdom in the situation. I wanted to bless all involved, not hurt anyone, yet I had to do what needed to be done. One of my friends' calls times like this "sticky steps." Well it really was just that.

Within an hour the Lord showed me just how to handle the situation. It was clear, yet I never would have thought of that. Indeed it was "wisdom." I knew He would come through for me, but He did so very beautifully that it almost made my head swim it was so precious.

So do you need to know wisdom in a situation? He is the one to talk with. He is so gracious and loving as He gently explains and shows us what to do. His wisdom is like this waterfall -- flowing preciously, full and for any who will ask in faith.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Amazing Faithfulness

Our Lord gives to us His amazing faithfulness. In every corner, in every moment, and as we watch year pile upon year, it is the same abundance of Himself that He showers. What a wonderful Friend!

As a child I sang "What a Friend we have in Jesus," and it has come to mean my life. I am a person who loves friends. Yet, only the Lord Jesus is truly my "Best Friend." I have a wonderful husband, daughter, sons, friends (some very close and dear ones), yet it is the Lord who is always there. It is the Lord who makes my paths straight. It is the Lord who gives me songs in the night. It is the Lord who greets me with Himself each morning. It is the Lord.

When he told us in 2 Peter 1:3 that He has given us all things for life and godliness, He really wasn't kidding. He is the "all things." Now just how wonderful can it get?!!!

Today is a study day, because tonight is our Friday Fellowship night in Psalm 19 Ministries. I am preaching on "Giving Grace," and looking forward to the time both in study and in flight on my feet in the Holy Spirit through the Word.

Overshowed by His presence and His holding -- I turn to digging in the Word. What joy!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tuesdays are Grand

Tuesdays are grand because I get to teach an Institute level Bible Class tonight. Tonight it is Matthew 8-9. What a wonderful passage of Scripture. We (13 adult students and myself) will spend 21/2 hrs. enjoying the Spirit's leading through these chapters. We get to discuss the relationship between authority and faith; sin and disease (ohhh that's a biggie -- it'll be an exciting discussion I imagine); fasting, patching old cloth and filling new wine skins -- another goody; demon possession and the Lord's treatment of it (interesting--no fasting involved--hummmm) and then there is this call to pray for workers for the harvest.

The Lord's Word is so alive and so rich for today. I am amazed as He allows me to work with such precious Words in such precious lives. My study, so far, is exciting to me. The PowerPoint is about ready for both chapters, now after some lunch, I will go further into the passages. I have to watch myself and not let it all "pop" before I get to class.

Hope your day is as special as this one is for me! Blessings.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday Morning

Well, that is what it is -- Monday morning! I am blessed to be up and excited about my activities for the week. Last week (Wed.-Sat.) I was out of commission with a bad cold, and with that now mostly past, I am really looking forward to enjoy participating in this week. (Activities and schedule on ministry web site).

Last evening I attended the play Eternity, which is being produced at my local church. I must say I am impressed with the unvarnished truth of the Gospel that is presented in this production. I am not one to generally "go" for this type of evangelism, but I am blessed by this one. It is a broad "net" which is doing a marvelous job. (First night 37 responses; second night 42). I am a one-on-one type of person when it comes to evangelism, but this is doing a wonderful job. Plus, I do believe the follow up is in place to keep the time effective long after the play closes. Our congregation is not a large one, yet the acting is superb. I am thankful to have gone and thankful my church is producing it.

In the past, I have had a tendency to be critical of such efforts, especially when they are such "in-your-face" efforts. However, I am learning that the Lord uses many and various kinds of outreaches to get people into His Kingdom. I may not be led to be a part of any one kind, but that does not mean it is not to be used. We need to take our "critical caps" off and throw them to the wind. (Repentence -- that is what it is called). If the gospel and love of our Lord is boldly proclaimed, then we need to bless the efforts.

May the Lord continue to bless Eternity!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Check this out...

I urge all my readers to check out the "Piper Friday" article posted by Adrian Warnock on his blog today (www.adrain.warnock.info). (I can't seem to get the link to do it for me -- so google it and you will be there). It is an excellent short artlice on John Piper's position on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. You will be blessed!

Have a wonderful Friday.
Iris

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Strange New World

I am home this morning, with a sore throat and various other cold like symptoms. Not what I had planned for my day, but none-the-less what I have been given. (Each day is a gift -- regardless). So I want to use some time to write.

Last evening I taught Matthew 5-7 (Sermon on the Mount) in my 21/2 hour Bible Institute class. (small break in middle for comforts sake). I am absolutely astounded at the different way of life described there -- different than our American Christian concept of life.

As our Lord Jesus describes for His disciples (and crowds listening) the "ways" of the kingdom of heaven, over and over again I am amazed at what I have not seen. Some teachers say it is impossible to live, some believe we are to try, some think it will only be in heaven -- on and on. I firmly believe, that in the Holy Spirit, the life described in this passage is to be our way of living. Being in this world but not of it means that the world's way of living is not to be mine.

The Lord touches everything in this passage -- my possessions, my treasures, my interior person. His concern is my inward person, not my outward "doing." Those who came saying, "Lord, Lord, did we not ..." describing miracles, wonders, deliverance; His response was, "I never knew you," -- or "I don't know you." Their concentration was their "doing," while His was their "being." Obedience is important, but if the motive or reason for action is not what it needs to be then the obedience does nothing. In fact, the Lord calls these people evil. Interesting isn't it?

The empowerment of the Holy Spirit in our lives is expected to transform our motives to produce the answer to our prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." This means our individual lives are to dwell in this kingdom, not the world. As a result of individuals dwelling and "being" the kingdom of heaven, the church would be empowered to do the same.

I think we all need to study this sermon again and again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Just Busy

I have not forgotten this blog. I will have a new post in a few days. We are just very, very busy with the beginning of a new ministry season. I just returned from Nazareth, PA, and a week-end of ministry with a church there. You will find a praise report about that on my ministry's web site.

Thank you for reading. I know a good number tell me they enjoy it and check it regularly. Hey -- I'd love to have a comment that you came.

Be back soon.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

May The Words of My Mouth . . .


"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14 NIV


These words are often quoted and sung in our churches and they are pregnant with meaning for us. There is much teaching in the church at large about what we say, but unfortunately I find one of two extremes on the subject. The first is that extreme we call "name and claim," and the second extreme is the belief that if a Christian is not cursing (using the Lord's name in vain, etc) then their speech is fine.

I believe the truth is between the two. But please understand what I am not saying. The Christian who believes that as long as they are not cursing, then they are not sinning with their mouth is the worst of the two extremes. Name and claim are closer to the Word. Yet, that too misses the mark and leaves a huge inaccuracy in our understanding of the Word.

I believe it is a matter of influence -- not control. I do not believe the Bible teaches that we control our destiny with our words. I do believe, however, we sow the seeds of the future with our words. Those two statements are not the same. One is trying to control my circumstances by saying the right thing, the other is planting the seeds of the Spirit with our speech and thereby influencing everything around us with the Kingdom of God. As long as our words (and prayers) are mainly concerned with our circumstances (or someone else) we will never be able to do what the word is saying. Our words must be truth (not necessarily fact), kind, filled with grace and peace.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4: 29-32

I believe this is all expressed primarily through the words of our mouth. If we are angry, bitter, etc... it all comes out through our speech. The word in Psalm 19 is a prayer that what we "murmur" (mediation) about in our heart will be pleasing and what we say will be pleasing. All because He is our Rock and our Redeemer. It is not necessary for me to be critical. I usually think it is needful that someone speak up, but really no where (have I found) in Scripture does it tell me to be critical. In fact, it speaks just the opposite.

I see many lining up for prayer, wanting healing, that turn and destroy others with their attitudes and their speech. Healing does not flow in many of our churches, and I think that is in large part because we we violate the Word constantly in our talk. When will be really understand? Our speech is to be positive (Philippians 4:8). We have no other permission.

Let's begin to curb and eradicate this plague of every person saying what is on their mind, and get back to a Biblical form of blessings -- with our words.

Just some thoughts---.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

His Great Faithfulness

"In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun." Psalm 19:4b HCSB This statement in Psalm 19 is often just read and then goes unmarked and unnoticed. Within this small statement is a huge truth.

The God of all creation provided a specific place for a specific created body. The sun has a job to do: to bring all the elements of light to our tiny globe so there can be life. Obvious. However, when we stop and think we realize everything the Lord created is set in its place and there is a provision for that thing -- large or small. The sun was not just created and hurled into space to be wherever. It was designed and created for its place.

He pitched or created a tent or canopy for it. The sun does not do its job part of the time, it is a continuous expression -- just the right orbit to accomplish what is just right for us. It has a tabernacle in which to live -- it is not free to go where it might -- it is assigned a space to fill for a purpose from the heart of the Father. It has full provision for its purpose.

How wonderful this is. Now, when we realize that such purpose was present and is continuing to be present in the creation, it will awe us to realize our lives are also pregnant with His purpose. He did not create me or you to just live and do the best we can. The Bible says that was done in His mind before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 2:4) So it was with great and tender purpose He put me (and you) on this globe at this time.

That "tent" or tabernacle or canopy contains the sun's provision. No child of the Father is left to wander about wherever and perhaps stumble upon purpose and design, and grope for provision. We all come from Him and are cared for in Him. "In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) We are to trust Him and to allow Him to reveal His provision for us.

So let us with firm confidence, relax in His hand and allow our worries to float away in His embrace. With such love we were formed, and in such love we live. His great faithfulness will continue for each of us throughout eternity. It is beyond our understanding, nonetheless, it is.

Come to Jesus He will give us rest -- in His great faithfulness!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Strange New World of the Bible

Tyler F. Williams, Chair, Religion & Theology Department, Assistant Professor of Old Testament, University College, Edmonton, AB Canada has graciously allowed me to copy his post of August 9 on mannaword. Please go to his blog; http://biblical-studies.ca/blog and read his other posts. He is a thinker and has some very good posts and links to Bible material. The following is his post in its entirety. I have not put it in quotes, as there are quotes within his text -- this makes it a bit simpler. Everything in black is his writing.

I believe that one of the greatest hindrances to the proper interpretation of the Bible is a false sense of familiarity. There are a number of things that contribute to this false sense of familiarity, including Bible translations that mistakenly modernize idioms and contexts (A translation should not make its readers think that they understand the Bible better than they actually do). While this may sound counter-productive, one of the first steps to properly in- terpreting the Bible is to create some historical distance between our world and (to echo Barth) the "strange new world within the Bible." If we don't take care to create this historical distance, then we will read our modern presuppositions into the biblical text. Gadamer notes: "If we fail to transpose ourselves into the historical horizon from which the traditionary text speaks, we will misunderstand the significance of what it has to say to us" (Truth and Method, 303). Similarly, "it is constantly necessary to guard against overhasily assimilating the past to our own expectations of meaning. Ony then can we listen to tradition in a way that permits it to make its own meaning heard" (Truth and Method, 305).

One example will suffice for now (I have some ideas about further posts): the impact of the industrial revolution on our understanding of the world around us. This was brought home to me recently as I was reading Bruce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh's excellent Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels (2nd ed; Fortress Press, 2002; Buy from www.Amazon.ca or www.Amazon.com. Malin highlights some of the vast differences between our industrial world and the agrarian world of the Bible in order to remind us how great the transformation really was -- here is a list of examples from Malina (pp. 6-8):

  • In agrarian societies more than 90 percent of the population was rural. In industrial societies more than 90 percent is urban.
  • In agrarian societies 90-95 percent of the population was engaged in what sociologists call the "primary" industries (farming and extracting raw materials). In the United States today it is 4.9 percent.
  • In agrarian societies 2-4 percent of the population was literate. In industrial societies 2-4 percent are not.
  • The birthrate in most agrarian societies was about forty per thousand per year. In the United States, as in most industrial societies, it is less than half that. Yet death rates have dropped even more dramatically than birthrates. We thus have the curious phenomenon of far fewer births and rapidly rising population.
  • Life expectancy in the city of Rome in the first century BCE was about twenty years at birth. If the perilous years of infancy were survived, it rose to about forty, one-half our present expectations.
  • In contrast to the huge cities we know today, the largest city in Europe in the fourteenth century, Venice, had a population of 78,000. London had 35,000. Vienna had 3,800. Though population figures for antiquity are notoriously difficult to come by, recent estimates for Jerusalem are about 35,000. For Capernaum, 1,500. For Nazareth about 200.
  • The Department of Labor currently lists in excess of 20,000 occupations in the United States and hundreds more are added to the list annually. By contrast , the tax rolls for Paris (pop. 59,000) in the year 1313 list only 157.
  • Unlike modern world, in agrarian societies 1-3 percent of the population usually owns one-to-two thirds of the arable land. Since 90 percent or more were peasants, the vast majority owned subsistence plots at best.
  • The size of the federal bureaucracy in the United States in 1816 was 5,000 employees. In 1971 it was 2,852,000 and growing rapidly. While there was a political, administrative, and military apparatus in antiquity, nothing remotely comparable to the modern governmental bureaucracy ever existed. Instead, goods and services were mediated by patrons who operated largely outside governmental control.
  • More than one-half of all families in agrarian societies were broken during the childbearing and child-rearing years by the death of one or both parents. In India at the turn of the twentieth century the figure was 71 percent. Thus widows and orphans were everywhere.
  • In agrarian societies the family was the unity of both production and consumption. Since the industrial revolution, family production or enterprise has nearly disappeared and the unity of production has become the individual worker. Nowadays the family is only a unit of consumption.
  • The largest "factories" in Roman antiquity did not exceed fifty workers. In the records of the medieval craft guilds from London, the largest employed eighteen. The industrial corporation, a modern invention, did not exist.
  • In 1850, the "prime movers" in the United States (i.e., steam engines in factories, sailing vessels, work animals, etc.) had a combined capacity of 8.5 million horsepower. By 1970 this had risen to 20 billion.
  • The cost of moving one ton of goods one mile (measured in U.S. dollars in China at the beginning of the industrial revolution) was: Steamboat 2.4; Wheelbarrow 20.0; Rail 2.7; Pack donkey 24.9; Junk 12.0; Packhorse 30.0; Animal-drawn cart 13.0; Carrying by pole 48.0; Pack mule 17.0. It is little wonder that overland trade at any distance was insubstantial in antiquity.
  • Productive capacity in industrial societies exceeds that in most advanced agrarian societies known by more than one hundredfold.
  • Given the shock and consternation caused by the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the forced resignation of Richard M. Nixon, we sometimes forget that this sort of internal political upheaval is nothing like it was in the agrarian world. Of the 79 Roman emperors, 31 were murdered, 6 driven to suicide, and 4 were deposed by force. Moreover, such upheavals in antiquity were frequently accompanied by civil war and the enslavement of thousands.

This somewhat random list should remind us of the massive changes that occurred as the result of the industrial revolution. To quote Malina; "it [the industrial revolution] has been a watershed unlike any the world has ever seen. Should we be surprised if major changes in our perception of the world have occurred as well? And should we be surprised if that in turn has had a fundamental impact on our ability to read and understand the Bible?"

We need to do as much as we can as readers and interpreters to recognize the gulf between our world and the "strange new world within the Bible" so as to ensure we properly read and interpret and understand the biblical text.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Marvel of Grace



My, my, my -- here it is Friday already, and it has been far too long since I posted something on this blog. My apologies to those of you who so diligently check to see what I have written.

Our Summer Event went very well last Saturday and the day was rich in our Lord's presence. My teachings were on prayer, and I will save that data for further posts -- later. Pictures of the day are posted on www.psalm19ministries.org.

However, right now I want to address an interesting (at least to me) fact. I have been reading many blogs recently and I do enjoy them. The ones I am referring to here are all by people much younger than I, who are really flexing their "spiritual muscles" to try to convince others they are the ones with the right take on such theological questions as: are the gifts of the Holy Spirit for today or not; do the Scriptures forbid women to teach men or not; must the 5 points of Calvinism be believed or is there some middle ground -- a more balanced ground; is the movement know as "the emerging church" a plus or a minus in the overall scheme of things; is the church doing what it should or has it lost its voice, and on and on.

What I find interesting, is that for the most part, these are the same and same type of questions we were asking in our church discussions over 40 years ago. I was getting impatient with my young brothers and sisters, and then I remembered some of my own journey. We must each make our own journeys in the things of our Lord. We must make our own discoveries in the working of the Holy Spirit. We must dig and dig in the Scriptures for the truth we love. We must journey -- not just swallow what we have been taught, or have read. We must read more and pray and listen.

How I praise our Lord for His grace that flows and holds, leads and guides. Not everyone will end up with the same conclusions -- but all who are walking with Him will end up with Him! I think that is marvelous. He knows we will come to differing conclusions and that does not disturb Him at all.

I find it a bit curious that our Heavenly Father would leave so much interpretation up to us. I think He smiles a lot as we search and grope for truth. The journey blesses Him -- so keep searching in His Word and allowing Him to show up in the pages.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Prayer Poem


My husband was recently given a number of very old hymn books. In one of those books was a piece of newsprint paper with a short poem on it. The photo on the reverse of the poem was of a gathering of people whose clothing style says 1920's-1940's. The book itself was copyrighted in 1880. So I imagine the poem was written many, many years ago.

I play to use this poem in my retreat this Saturday, but thought I would also like to post it for any who would enjoy it.

Our Part In Prayer

Some go to God in prayer
As though they would be heard
By merit of their earnestness,
Or power of their word;
As though God did not want to bless,
Or to their crying heed,
If they could prove their need.
Some go to God in prayer
With broken, bleeding hearts,
Craving the peace and victory
Which He alone imparts,
They lay their burdens down
On shoulders that are strong,
Then take them back upon their own
And carry them along.
Some humbly talk with God;
Confess their helplessness,
And having laid their burdens down
Trust Him to do the rest.
Such go away in peace,
And with the victor's shout
To watch with interst, and see
How He will work things out.
---Barbara Ryberg

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Call To Me

These wonderful words from our Heavenly Father to us are so very comforting. He tells us that if we will call to Him, He will answer and will tell us great and wonderful things we do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3 HCSB)

This verse lets us know there is more to prayer than form, or even my asking, seeking, or knocking. There is more to time with Him than what I know. There is more, always more. In this verse, He is very clear about His willingness to tell us things we do not know. In other words, more than the text, beyond the text, and into the person Jesus Christ. There is an essence of life that He so willingly longs to share with us as we commune with Him.

I love Scripture, and everything is through, in, and out of Scripture. I am reminded of a hymn from my childhood, "Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee Lord." The desire for fellowship will lead the believer to Him through the Word. The word can never be just a mental exercise -- not for the converted. For the curious, maybe. But for the fervent believer in Jesus Christ, even a casual reading of Scripture becomes an encounter with Him.

John 14: 21 The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him." WOW -- He will reveal Himself -- not just data -- not just information, but Himself. The action of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, is the interactive agent who empowers all the revealing.

As we call to Him, He does answer, and He does tell us things we do not know. What an absolutely wonderful reason to spend time in prayer with Him.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Scripture Releases Life

Among the blogs I have visited during the past few weeks, there has been much discussion and debate about the role of Scripture in the life of a believer, as well as the extent of inspiration and one and on. Some of those posts were helpful, many were a bit "nit-picky." Our attitudes toward others who differ is not always filled with thankfulness. That is sad. However, that is not really the topic I want to write about today.

Scripture is alive! It is not dead letters on paper. When it enters a life, it has full potential to deliver the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ into the one who has entered. It is awesome! In my study and in my relationship with the Lord, I have been shown a truth that I think might be helpful to many. So I will attempt to write it out in an understandable way.

We are dimensional creatures. We have relationships along dimensional lines. I have a closeness with my husband that I do not have with others. My relationship with my grown daughter is different in dimension than my relationship with my friends. So on and on it goes. This is easy to understand. Our Lord is dimensional as well, and our relationship with Him is dimensional. Paul prayed for the Ephesians (and all who would read that letter) "I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." Ephesians 1:17 HCSB This was to people who were already believers. Paul knew that the Lord wanted to unfold Himself further to them, and so he prayed that would occur. This was not something all had -- not an automatic result of salvation, but rather a dimension of revelation they could have if they so sought.

My present understanding has five (5) dimensions of relationship in the Lord Jesus possible in and through the Word. (There are proably many, many more, but this is all I understand right now). Notice I said "in and through the Word." This is all in relationship with the Word. If Scripture does not become experientially, then it becomes legalism and that will not work love in our hearts toward Him. If I have chosen Jesus Christ, then I have chosen the Word! It is not one or the other.

These dimensions are not like a ladder with steps, so when you climb, you are more mature than those who do not, instead it is a circle of activity in His heart with the Word. We always are faced with #1 even while we fly in #5.

First dimension: Believe the Word. This seems obvious, but it is never ending. We are always being faced with more to believe, more to receive in faith, more to grasp. It is never ending, and thus something to receive with relish. I wish I always just believed what I read in Scripture, but I confess, there are many things I need to constantly bow in faith to receive and believe. All of us work here.

Second dimension: Apply the Word to my life. Again, this seems a bit obvious. This is hard work. It is also never ending. We work very hard to learn how to do this. Most of our Bible studies are developed along these lines. However, this is just #2. It is only the way to something far more rewarding. If this is all we ever do with the word, then obedience becomes a constant chore and a constant failure. Unfortunately a vast number of believers never go further. However, there is more --- praise our Lord.

Third dimension: Apply my life to the Word. This may seem a bit confusing to some, and it seems as if I am just saying the same thing a different way. Not so! There is a huge difference between #2 and #3. In this dimension, we stop working and lay it all down in faith on the Word. Our Lord has never been unfaithful. Indeed, I am not important enough for Him to stop being Himself. Therefore, He will be faithful to me -- according to His Word. I lay me down on His Word, and begin to rest. I call this "slipping into Sabbath." He is the reality of the OT Sabbath, and I can slip into that dimension of His love as I rest my life on and in and through His Word. Obedience here becomes a joy in the heart of the Lord. Oh it doesn't I mean I won't struggle again, but I know there is a way to enter another dimension where I can rest it all. Then my troubles become opportunities to enter -- calls to enter and rest and watch what He will do. He is so much more---.

Fourth dimension: Life interchange and interaction-place of revelation in the Word. As the love between husband and wife produce life, so the life exchange in the "rest" produces a life within the relationship. In a marriage, there is not only the life of each of the partners, but there is the life of the relationship -- a life (the fusion of two lives) produced by the togetherness. There is a great power in this sharing and an unfolding of each partner in ways never known before. Now the Lord can begin to unfold Himself in ways of life not experienced before. The Word becomes alive with meaning, and leaps off the page in meaning never before seen in the mind or heart. This does not eliminate study, but study changes and moves into areas never known before in and through the Word. It is exciting, and life giving. Old things become new, and obedience becomes empowered on a new dimension. (I hesitate to use the term "level," for that might insinuate some are above and some below, but this has nothing to do with anyone except the two in the relationship. It does not enter the arena of human competition or superiority which is really arrogrance in disguise).

Fifth dimension: Live in the power of the unfolding (revelation) in the Word. I am beginning to lose vocabulary to share what happens here. We have Scriptures that talk about our Lord causing us to "ride on the high places," and "rising up on eagle wings," and so forth. This is here. We begin to see our Lord from a here-to-fore unknown perspective and begin to see as He does and what He does, and begin to understand Him, our life, and eternal matters differently. He said it would happen: 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:3 -- when we see Him we become like Him -- we understand so much differently. Therefore, life is different for us.

Now, the circle continues, for we are always challenged to believe and enter. Remember the Scriptures that seem impossible to obey -- you know the ones about rejoicing in trouble and tribulations -- now we can begin to see there is a place (dimension of relationship) in Him through the Word that empowers just such a way of being.

He is so much more than we have ever dreamed!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Scripture -- Ultimate Importance

The Christian Scriptures are the primary text for Christian spirituality.
Christian spirituality is, in its entirety, rooted in and shaped by the
scriptural text. We don't form our personal spiritual lives out of a random
assemblage of favorite texts in combination with individual circumstances;
we are formed by the Holy Spirit in accordance with the text of Holy
Scripture. God does not put us in charge of forming our personal
spirituality. We grow in accordance with the revealed Word implanted in us
by the Spirit. Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book,
p. 15

I am presently reading this book and finding it wonderful. I have read several of Dr. Peterson's books in the past, and am finding this one superb. It hits a real chord in my spirit. Our present lack in the church of effective reading of Scripture, the placing the Scriptures on the "answers for my need" shelf, and such attitudes alarm me.

It is a matter of urgency that interest in our souls be matched by an interest
in our Scriptures -- and for the same reason: they, Scripture and souls, are the
primary fields of operation of the Holy Spirit. p.17

How deeply we need to realize that our lives must be immersed into the Word, and not just use the Word as a little whipped cream on the top of our lives. The Word must define our lives, not our lives define the Word.

"Do you know the Lord?" That is a question that will be answered with a "yes" in many of our churches. Yet, if we begin to work with the Word, many have trouble knowing where to even find the book we are reading from. The current trend to get people and keep people by answering their needs has a limited ability to grow them in Him. We must use any honorable means to bring people to Him, and we must, by all means, use the Word to find answers in His love. However, at some point we must also be drawn to Him in Word -- not just in feeling and in concept. I believe the Lord weeps over His people, when they think they know Him, but never read or study the Word by themselves. We say we love Him, yet have never bothered to discover the dimensions of His love for us through His revealed Word. It is like receiving a love letter from my husband, but never bothering to read it. It just made me feel good to receive it. We would all say "How sad."

Beloved people of the Lord, let us truly love Him in deed -- being purposefully discipled by His Word.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ode to Joe

It is Father's Day in the USA and I am very aware of my Godly heritage through my Mom and Dad. Both have been with the Lord now for many years, and both loved Him and served Him throughout their lives. Dad preached the Word, and Mom read it through every year as she lived it out.

However, this morning, I am supremely thankful for Joe. Joe is my husband of almost 45 years. We have four grown children. His patience, love, provision, support, and on and on, have been one of the greatest pleasures of my heart as I watched him work with our children. He loved completely, counseled, supported, corrected with gentleness, and provided for in a consistent Godly way through-out their years at home. Even beyond that, he remains their most supportive fan.

When we were just friends in college, I saw His gentleness, and thought he would make a wonderful Dad. Indeed, I was right.

I never worried when the children were with him. I remember his gentle patience with both adopted sons, not to just discipline them, but he would spend hours at a time counseling them to help them change the way they were thinking. Later, when as teens they rejected his counsel, he was still there for them. Both natural born children received the same, and have followed in his footsteps in music unto our Lord Jesus Christ.

So Joe, know that your wife is so very thankful you were the father of her children.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

That There Be No Quarrels...

"Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by members of Chloe's household, that there are quarrels among you. What I am saying is this: each of you says, 'I 'm with Paul,' or 'I'm with Apollos,' or 'I'm with Cephas,' or 'I'm with Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul's name? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say you had been baptized in my name. ...For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect." (1 Corinthians 1:10-15, 17 HCSB)

These words written thousand of years ago, certainly could be said our our Lord's Body today. It seems to me we are much more interested in being known for our doctrine than for the love of the Lord who has bled for us. We will argue over every little item, yet, seem powerless to put these matters aside and include one another in His love.

The bottom line of Scripture: "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God--God remains in him and he in God." (1 John 4:15 HCSB)

That is really broad and hard on us. Yet, the way we deal with those who differ in doctrine is a huge indicator of how much we really believe He is Lord over His Body. I sometimes hear and feel the attitude, "Well they may be saved, but they are in error." How sad that we would say such a thing. That is such a "I'm superior" way of thinking, and will have its consequences in my walk with my beloved Lord who has received them in grace, just has he has received me in that same grace.

I am learning here, but it seems that we really do need to get the heart of the gospel in our hearts -- not just the "right" part of doctrine our lives would prefer to feel.

May we all come to a deeper understanding of His marvelous grace and allow our hearts to include.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Truth--About Submission


The truth -- about submission is usually not seen as the Bible is read and applied. But there is a truth that is demonstrated throughout the pages of Scripture that is absolutely wonderful, yet awesome.

In a previous post, I wrote about the fact that submission is a gift and can only be given away -- never forced. Obedience can be forced -- the submission of the heart cannot be. It can be requested and required, but unless one wishes to be submissive, and give that gift of "coming under" to another, it is not done.

Now the "Truth" about submission (Biblically) is that the one who is submitted to is then required to turn and serve the one who has submitted. The same Lord who has required me to be submissive as a wife, has then required my husband to love me, provide for me, and to lay down his life for me. (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is in this passage, where the imagery of husband/ wife to Christ/church is most clearly stated.

When we review the Scriptures regarding the type of leaders the Lord told us to be, we see the same principle -- becoming the least in order to serve those who have submitted to us. This "Truth" is what is most often abused, both in the church and in the home. In fact, when we embrace this truth, then we see the harder part is really laid upon the husband and/or leader.

The imagery of Christ and the church in the Ephesians passage is good to look at over and over again. In fact, when we understand that our Lord Jesus Christ is Lord and we are to submit to Him as such, then we see that if one wants to see Christ in today's world, they must look at His Bride. In fact, if He is not seen (glorified) in her, then He is not seen nor glorified. He is to be the focal point of her love and adoration; He is also the one who empowers her life in every way.

He shows her off at every opportunity. She is the one who is seen. He is only seen in and through her. I wonder what changes would be made in our understanding of church leadership and home relationships, if we really took a good look.

He is our all -- yet He is the one who is our servant in all things. He answers our prayers, heals our bodies, gives us all that is needed, both physically and emotionally -- and is glorified when I am seen as His. When I stand to teach, when I help my neighbor, or whatever, He is seen -- yet I am the one being seen and being touched. He is only seen when His Bride is seen.

To submit is to give ones will to another. To be submitted to is to be required to serve the other in a way their heart is empowered to live in a "seen" way.

Interesting isn't it!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sermon notice

For all who might be interested, I was the guest preacher at the three Mother's Day services at my local church. An audio (MP3) file is available for listening at www.churchoftherez.org.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Submission & Obedience


Today I want to share an insight given to me by another woman of the gospel many years ago. It is the difference between "submission" and "obedience." Being a dutifully submissive wife (and we by all means must be that), I always thought submission and obedience were the same thing. My husband and I were born and raised in a very conservative church setting where women were silent -- except for singing and the training of children.

I can remember often hearing a frustrated friend say about a particular decision she did not agree with her husband and he was insisting upon pushing the point, "Well, I'll be submissive to it, but I don't agree with it." Then in disgruntled fashion and with a tight jaw, sit passively by as the husband insisted and she obeyed. I often was the one experiencing such frustration and guilty of such action.

However, I have learned a real secret that is a tremendous help. Submission is an attitude of heart that can only be given to another in willingness. This attitude of heart is what the Lord requires of a wife in a marriage, and a woman in the church. The above scene describes a totally unsubmissive person being obedient. This does not work the work of God. Submission is a gift to give away and no one can make me give it -- except the Lord. I can give it, but no one can make me give it. Submission is a matter of faith, or trust if you will.

Obedience, on the other hand, is not only commanded, it can be required by another person. However, if I am obedient while all the time unsubmissive in my heart, I have not accomplished the will of the Lord. In fact, I may actually be doing harm through obedience. Our Lord set it up in His word so that it would be a thing of gifting -- not a thing of law.

It is a joy to give submission -- and a joy to obey when love surrounds me. It is harder to give both when the hard edge of oppression (in one form or another) surrounds me. Nevertheless, my Lord requires me to give submission with no manipulation and to obey with joy -- regardless. This is a training of the heart. It is the training of the heart of the Kingdom -- for if we examine the ways of the Kingdom of God in Scripture, we will find that this is the way all is accomplished, whether we are male or female. This training of the heart must be accomplished in our prayer closets. It is a private matter of empowering in the Lord.

The "lines have fallen to me in pleasant places" and my husband and I now worship where I have freedom of expression and so my frustration levels are relatively easy to keep dissolved. However, whether it is my dear husband ordering my steps, or the headship of my church -- all must be received as of the Lord.

Remember, it is the training of the heart -- not what is done or not done -- but why was it done or not done -- that makes all the difference in the Spirit of our Lord.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Entering into Finished -- Part 2

In examining Genesis 2:1-3 and John 19:28-30 we discovered that our Lord entered into rest because all was finished. The concept of the "finished" explored leads us to understand that faith calls us to receive a work done while it is clearly evident that much work is yet ahead.

In our salvation, we understand this, for certainly nothing we can do or add could possibly get any thing done on our behalf. He is all that is necessary and when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ, all the righteousness He is becomes ours. (2 Cor. 5:21) However, as we live our lives in grace, we have a tendency to leave the concept of "finished," and try to work the works of God.

The Scriptures clearly teach that He prepares good work for us to do, and that is neither threatened nor set aside with the understanding of "finished," rather it is enriched.

The "work of God" is clearly stated is faith in Jesus Christ. (John 6:29) So trusting Him is our work. Therefore, when we begin to grasp the concept that all is truly "finished," we begin to experience release. Release from pressure, performance, worry, anxiety, stress, and a multidue of emotions that will damage us both spiritually and physically.

"Rest" in Him is a by-product of "entering into finished." Coming to a point in my heart where I choose to lay everything down, so He might begin to flow in me to such an extent that I begin to see His hand and join His work. Remember, Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. His emphasis was seeing His Father work, and joining Him. (John 5:19)

Our priorities would then be ordered. We would be released from the stress of trying, and be released into the joy of seeing. How awesome that would be.

How? The easiest and at the same time the hardest way possible. Lay me down and give up into Him. All of me, my cleverness, my mental capacity, my education, whatever -- for some it will be jobs, families, etc... Whatever we have been assigned to do in our short time here, is to be laid down -- and then worked in His power. Sounds so simple. It costs me my life -- and it costs you yours.

He calls with an opportunity to "be as He is in this world." (1 John 4:17b)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Entering into Finished


Tonight is our regularly scheduled Psalm 19 Ministries Fellowship Meeting and I am speaking. So I thought I would just put a preview of what I have in my heart to present, and then follow up on it a bit in the next few days. So those of you who choose to read, can have some idea of what I have taught.

"Entering into Finished" is an unfolding from the Scriptures of three passages. First, let me explain what I mean by "unfolding." When the Lord in His graciousness, allows me to see and understand something in Scripture that I have not studied, nor read, then it is an "unfolding." It always just unfolds out of the Word. It is not gained by scholarship, however, if it is a true unfolding, then scholarship will support it and enhance the ability to explain the understanding. It is always out of the Word. It is not a product of a clever mind, or some mystical experience. It is the Word in dimension form. I will try to explain my understanding of that further in the coming days.

There are three passages that have caught my eyes and my heart. The first is Genesis 2: 1-2, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done " Here God rested because He was finished. The creation was complete and nothing needed to be added, so He rested. One of my Bible College teachers said "God rested because He was finished, not because He was tired."

The second passage is an obvious one. John 19:30 "When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished,' and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." Once again we hear "finished" knowing our Lord had many dimensions in mind, but the immediate one is the salvation of our souls. He had done all. Fellowship would now be possible from the Father's heart in my own -- all because He did the work and finished all that needed to be done.

The third passage is Hebrews 3:16-4:13. I will not try to write that one out for you. But do take the time to read it for your own enrichment. Our time tonight will be spent is the discovery of the by-products of "entering into finished." See what the Lord unfolds for you, and then check back for some of what we discovered.

Blessing your day in Him. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Resting


My oh my! It has been a couple of weeks since I have written on my blog! So sorry to those of you who diligently check. Busy, busy would describe the time for me. You too, I imagine. Easter is a very busy time, and then the next week-end I was the main speaker at our Psalm 19 Spring conference. So on and on it goes, and now it is two weeks later. Thanks for "tuning in."

I want to talk about resting for a bit. It seems to me that those of us who speak and teach, have a tendency to teaching a lot about "doing" and "thinking." We have a sincere desire to help those who listen with the how-to's of obedience. However, the more I read our Lord's word and the more I soak in His presence, the more I find an emphasis on "resting." Just plain ole' trust.

In the word, it seems to be more about what we trust, than it is about what we do. Our Lord Jesus said, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls." That is in Matthew, then in Hebrews 4, we are told that there remains a Sabbath rest, for the people of God.

It is a vast subject, but very revealing in our lives. When we rest we trust and rely on His word, then we find there arises an empowering to be. In that "being" we do and that "doing" is always obedience. Obedience ends up as a by-product of the "being" at rest in Him. Stress to obey, somehow leaves grace behind, and places the emphasis on "us" instead of "Him."

It seems to me to be an early revelation of Jesus Christ when the Father rested on the seventh day -- because He was finished. Hebrews 4 carries the same concept about our being finish when we enter the rest of God.

We would probably all agree that happens when we become Christians. However, for some reason, we lose that emphasis when we begin to live in Him. I think we need to re-look, and re-think, and once again, enter into the finished work by coming to rest. It is after all, His work, and His Kingdom, and His life. Or did we forget that in our working?

Just some thoughts. What think ye?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Holy Week

It is a busy week for us, but a good week of remembrance in Jesus Christ. He is remembered throughout the week with various activities in the traditional church, and those of us not considered traditional, enjoy it as well. I say "enjoy," and maybe that is not the best term, but I always enjoy an "on purpose sharing time" with our Lord. He is awesome and ready to allow us to remember and experience a time of concentration in His ways of sacrifice and servant.

I am the CEO of an interdenominational Bible teaching ministry, and as such, am exposed to the multi-dimensional expressions of the larger Body of Christ. On Good Friday, I am one of the presenters in a series (there are 6 of us) on the last 7 sayings of Christ. This will be in a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled, Anglican Church, and then later in the evening my own ministry will present a program involving our classical choir, worship ensemble, and me preaching. I appreciate your prayer for an effective time interdenominationally -- loving the Lord together, and accepting one another in that love -- all of this through the Word.

I love this time of the year. One of the ladies in my local church said to me yesterday, "Iris, Easter is much more exciting to me than Christmas." I agreed with her. If we did not have a resurrection morning, then Christmas would not have the meaning it does for us. Our Lord came to die, to redeem, to give life through and beyond the grave. Our Good Friday times heighten our ability to receive the wonderful good news of Resurrection! How I praise Him!

I pray your week is one of enjoying Him and remembering how deeply and thoroughly He loves.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lacking nothing

It has been way.....too long since I have posted some data on this blog. Well, since my Pastor asked me to teach the mid-week service at church tonight, as he is out of state, I will write a portion of what I will be teaching.

The main body of the teaching is to be the 23rd Psalm, with understandings pulled from the New Testament to see the consistent love our Father provides for us.

"YHWH is my Shepherd (or one who tends or takes care of me). Everything that follows is contained in that concept. The meaning of the Name, YHWH, is expanded into eight separate conceptual understandings as the Psalm progresses. Each of these are usually understood by the "Jehovah"(-"Roi" -- The LORD is my Shepherd") names throughout the Old Testament. Each of the eight revealed here unfold for us YHWH's very nature. He acts out of His nature. (That is the true meaning of Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." NASB He is always consistent -- always doing and moving out of who He is, never contrary to Himself).

"I shall not want." Some recent translations use "I lack nothing" which supplies the true meaning of the passage. With YHWH as my shepherd, I cannot possible lack anything. This is very foreign to our modern understanding. We might teach that we say this by faith, and that is true, we do, however, it is intended to be a way of thinking and a way of "being" for us.

The same thought is used by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:10-14. He is rejoicing that the Philippians have been able to send provisions for him in his ministry, then he makes this statement, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." We spend all kinds of effort trying to learn contentment, and in that process, we have missed the point of the passage. The point he was making was He did not lack anything! He knew how to be without any need, because as he states in 4:13 "I can do all ... through Christ who strengthens me." He understood that with Jesus (YHWH-Saves) He did not have any lack. Contentment is the by-product of not having any needs or want because of Christ.


It is an understanding of believing the Lord -- in the face of circumstances. Everything boils down to who do I trust and who do I believe. With YHWH as my shepherd, that is all. Nothing else needs to be dealt with -- He will do out His abundant nature. This does not mean, we don't communicate with Him about perceived needs, it just means we do that then trust Him and live in the reality of His nature and therefore His provision, not in the reality of our senses. This is a life of faith.

What a marvelous journey this "faith-walk" continues to be to me. I realize there are many journeys of faith to enter into the above with life, not just words, but each time I have made that journey I have found Him more than enough!

Blessed be His wonderful Name!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Well it’s Sunday evening and I have had a wonderful week. Part of its goodness has been the discovery of several very good blogs. I am enjoying the people I am meeting. It is rich to be able to discuss issues that matter with new people. This is especially true when the discussions are by thoughtful, caring, Christian minds.

Our minds are a very great treasure. We are instructed in the Word that the Word will transform them into tools that can and do think with God. That is absolutely awesome! I have several friends whose minds are being transformed, and I am amazed at the quality of their insightful work and the Biblical lives they lead. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the entire Body of Christ got just a little glimpse of what would happen if we really did what we talk about, and read the Word expecting our minds to not only understand, but actually begin to think differently?

Combine that habit with a valid “prayer closet� time with our Beloved Lord, and our behavior would begin to experience Romans 8 instead of Romans 7. Radical Christianity would become the norm as we learned to hear His voice clearly and became invested in the breath of the Spirit. The issues within the Body would evolve into actions that would really address the needs of our lost world while the good news of Jesus Christ would be our first thoughts to talk about with all.

Dreaming? Just a bit. But why not? It is what we teach and supposedly believe. There is really only one answer – might as well bend the knee to Him and begin to do what we talk about in church.

Thanks for reading. I will put some of those good blog addresses on my site, when I learn how. I am such a beginner that it’s a bit scary. But I will learn. At least I will try.

Have a good week. Would love for you to leave a comment.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers." Psalm 24:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Version.

I am always awe-struck with the overwhelming beauty of Niagara Falls, whenever I am there. I took this picture in the winter of '03 from the Canadian side looking down the river. What awesome majesty is displayed in just the grandeur of the creation! How awesome He is to allow us to see just a portion of His wonderful beauty through the creation. Enjoy the picture, and most of all enjoy the Lord Jesus as creator and upholder. For indeed He is all that and much, much more.
 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Obedience a Gateway



Obedience -- a Gateway

As I walk my life out in the love of our Lord, I am noticing an interesting phenomenon. We are taught that “blessings follow obedience� and certainly in the Old Covenant that was a prominent part of the understanding. However, in the New Covenant, I find that we are blessed immeasurably just by being in Jesus Christ, and obedience is empowered in His Spirit. We obey out of blessing. Now, blessing upon blessing flows, but our purpose in obedience should never be to receive, but to enjoy His delight. That is “receiving� in its truest sense.

Now, that “interesting phenomenon� I mentioned above is seen when obedience occurs because of the delight in relationship with our Lord’s heart. Gates begin to open when they had seemed closed. As I choose to obey what is before me to obey, the gates about that open and release more and more empowerment in obedience. This is wonderful, and very interesting to me. It works almost like those computer games, which have “keys� that open to other types of games within the game.

This very morning I was encouraging one of my students on the phone to begin the task that was before them and then the “inspiration� would flow for the completion of the task. This is very true in writing. I may think I know what I am to write, but then just let me begin, and matters begin to unfold that I had no idea would been seen on paper. We think we must have it all mapped out (like our English teachers taught us to do – outline etc…), but really, if we will only sit at the computer and begin, it will flow into manifestation. It may need to be rearranged or rewritten many times, but if we will begin to write, pouring out our heart, it will take a shape of its own, and the Lord Himself oversees the matter.

So as we choose to walk in obedience let’s expect the Lord to empower our movement. It (whatever ‘It� is or needs to be) will begin to flow through open “gates� that lead us to joy in Him. So begin to obey that matter you know you should. Do not discount it as a “shoulda� and refuse to begin. Just begin. Even if there are several starts and stops. Just begin and watch the faithfulness of our Lord deliver for you on every hand. He loves to open gates. Let Him.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Beloved

Walking arms linked through garden
Infused with fragrance of love given

Looking about focusing on
Beloved walking
Everywhere new treasure
Gleams given life
Through the beloved’s eyes
Given depth through
The heart shown shining
With pure radiance out
Of eyes burning flame

Shadows flee
In presence of pure love
Pure joy, pure faithfulness
Beaming about His beloved

Keeping her safe in arms
Of love
Enfolded
Protected
All coming in glorious
Knowledge through Him

All filtering through
Arms encircling
Nothing harms
Nothing maims
All absorbed by
Arms enfolded

Engulfing
Encircling
At rest

This “prophetic prose� comes to us from Tina Hook, a member of the Psalm 19 Ministries’ staff. Our Lord flows through her in such beautiful, streaming prose, I wanted to share a bit of it with you.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Light Be

Light Be!


“Light be!â€� (Heb. Literal)  These are the first words spoken by our God in the beginning, according to the record in Genesis 1:3.  They are words of life, words of prophecy, words of comfort, words of hope and words of revelation.

They are words of life; for we know in the natural, there can be no life, if there is no light. We must have light, and in fact, the light of the sun, for all to be sustained. So the initial words of God are about light. Jesus is our light in the spirit realm. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’â€� (John 8:12) The very first words from our Heavenly Father were in fact, a manifestation of Himself through the person of Jesus Christ. “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.â€�(John 1:2-4)  

So we see that every word of God is prophetic in its very nature. Whatever He says is and will be. It is always a continuum, forever rolling throughout the ages in truth and revelation about Him.

These are words of comfort and words of hope for they are first spoken against a background of darkness and formlessness. The Word, Jesus Christ our Lord, is the hope and comfort of all whose lives are full of emptiness and darkness. He is always the one who will come, fill and bring light to dark places, redeem the hopeless and fill with direction the chaos that constantly and consistently surrounds us.

They are words of revelation for without light there can be no “seeing� and no understanding. All through the Scriptures, our God is constantly opening hearts and minds to perceive Him. He sheds light, first on a formless dark physical world, then into each and every heart that will allow that light to come. His Word is a veiled book. Only with the illumination of His light can we ever begin to know what He is talking about, and how the various “pieces� in Scripture fit together. Even in the Tabernacle of the Old Testament, the lampstand in the Holy Place was to serve as light unto God, to show the glory of the various pieces of furniture in the room (called the Golden Room), and then to provide light for the priest to minister unto God. This was symbolic of the role the Holy Spirit plays in our lives to bring the light of God into our walk before Him.

So as we continue our journey of life in His heart, may we constantly lean into His light within our hearts through the Scriptures, to empower us to see the footsteps before us, and the holding of His hand.

Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.