..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

True Church

When the Lord walked on earth, He praised the
"great faith" of a centurion and balmed the
"little faith" of the disciples. He acknowledged
the faith of a sinful woman, a leper, a woman
suffering with a flow of blood, and a blind man
by saying, "your faith has saved you."

In each case no doctrines, institutions or
ceremonies were involved. Those who simply
relied wholly on the Lord Himself were accepted,
their sins forgiven, and thus they were saved.

The only condition was that they have faith
in Christ personally -- that they engage in a
living contact with Him. Where there was this "faith,"
there was the beginning of the Ekklesia. Through
koinonia they became one with Christ, and He
became their Lord.

In a word, Christianity has its center in God
Himself and in the fellowship men have with Him.

This fellowship of God with believers through the
Spirit is the answer to the question of what faith
is. It is also the answer to what the true Ekklesia is.
--Kokiche Kurosaki

Photo: cathedral candles, Ludlow, England

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"People can't see your root system, but God can.
Praying and meditating on the Word of God will
cause your roots to go down deep into His love."
Warren Wiersbe

photo taken near St. Ann's Well, Malvern, England

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life?

"Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.
Are you firmly anchored in Jesus' love?"

lyrics from traditional hymn

rock climbing anchor,
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Devotions from the Heart: Being Filled

by Derek Gitsham

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,
and began to speak with other tongues, as
the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:4

This verse is written in the context of the
events of the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost
was in the calendar of God and the words
of the Apostle Peter, in Acts 11:15,
‘a beginning’; a spiritual starting place.

As much as the Apostles had been used by
the Lord in the three years of His ministry,
they had only known Jesus after the flesh.
Now they were going to know Him after the
Spirit. We are told in the Gospel (John 1:33)
that Jesus was to be the Baptiser in the
Holy Ghost. Peter records this about Jesus in
Acts 2:33: ‘therefore being by the right hand
of God exalted and having received of the
Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath
shed forth this which you now see and hear.’

Our verse in Acts 2:4 does not record that
they were baptized in the Holy Ghost, but we
know they were by Jesus words in Acts 1:5.
‘John truly baptized with water, but you
shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not
many days hence.’ He spoke these words in
His resurrection. The reason for the omission
of the phrase "Baptism in the Spirit" is quite
simple. Baptism is the means, being filled was
the result.

God baptizes men in the Holy Ghost to get them
filled with the Spirit, and then to go on being
continually filled by the Spirit, who now dwells
within them. This could not be possible without
the indwelling of the Spirit in their lives.
Now it was possible to live a life filled with
the Spirit every day. When we think of baptism
in water, we put people in to the water and lift
them out again. These are pictures of death and
burial and resurrection coming up out of the water.

In the Baptism of the Spirit, Jesus baptizes us
into the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost into us.
He immerses us into the Spirit, not to lift us
up out again, but to stay immersed in the Spirit.
This is what is meant by being filled with the
Spirit: staying immersed. Everything began by
men being filled with the Holy Ghost, filled
with God. It took a filling to get everything
moving in the Acts, it will take the same today
in His people. Let God have you, and fill you,
then watch.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I would rather live in a world where
my life is surrounded by mystery than
live in a world so small that my mind
could comprehend it. -- Harry Emerson Fosdick

photo taken at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Monday, February 16, 2009

I asked for wonder,
and He gave it to me. --Brennan Manning

photo taken at Magic Wings Butterfly Sanctuary,
S. Deerfield, Mass.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

There is often wisdom under a shabby cloak - Caecilius Statius

How often are the richest things hidden in a disguise!

photo of an Indian Leaf Butterfly.
note that the dead "leaf" has legs!

it opens to a gorgeous fluroescent coat!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Out of gratitude and love for Him we should
desire to be reckoned fools. Laugh and
grow strong. --Ignatius of Loyola

photo of Patches,
who makes me laugh

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Devotions From the Heart: Finding Favor

by Derek Gitsham

"Noah found grace in the eyes of the
Lord." Genesis 6:8

The Hebrew word grace can be translated
“favor”, as can in the New Testament Greek word
for grace. ‘By grace we are saved’ (Ephesians 2:5).
Noah finding grace in the eyes of the Lord is
not an accidental thing, it was the result of
something that was going on in Noah’s life.

Genesis 6:9 says, ‘Noah was a just man, and
perfect in his generations, and Noah walked
with God.’ Noah was obviously special noted
in the eyes of the God. God saw this man,
he stood out. II Chronicles 16:9 tells us
that the ‘eyes of the Lord run to and fro
throughout the whole earth, to show Himself
strong in the behalf of them whose heart is
perfect towards him.’ Rightly translated
this means “a heart that is right with God.”

God saw Noah standing out, now was the
opportunity for God to show him favor. His
life was exemplary. Now God was going to
include him in a work that was going to save
his family from the worse flood the world has
ever seen or known. Hebrews 11:7 tells us
'by faith Noah, being warned of God of things
not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an
ark to the saving of his house; by which he
condemned the world and became heir of the
righteousness which is by faith.'

Building the ark by faith simply means God
built it. Noah did it but God did it through him.
By showing Noah favour, Noah saved his family.
God shows a man favour that he might be used by
God to the saving of men. If He is smiling upon
your life now, and showing you favor and blessing
you in special ways, it is for others not to be
consumed upon yourself.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:7. ‘that in the ages
to come He might show the exceeding riches of
His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ
Jesus.’ Favor is what Paul is referring to here.
That throughout our days God wants to show us His
continual favour, having shown us His favour in
saving us. He now writes to show us the
exceeding riches of His favour in His kindness
towards us in Christ Jesus.

Oh beloved, let us walk as Noah, living to
please Him, that He might place His favour upon us,
and tell us He is well pleased.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

When the Storm Breaks....

"When the storm breaks, each man acts in
accordance with his own nature. Some are
numb with terror, some flee, some hide,
and some spread their wings like eagles
and soar on the wind..." --from Elizabeth,
the Golden Age

Recently I watched this movie and
was struck to the very depths by this quote
made by the Queen's prognosticator when
she frantically comes to him to help her
see the future and how to act.

We can only hang onto ourselves for
so long. We can only hold up a front so
far, can only pretend to be brave or good
or holy while things are in a manageable
state. It is when the perfect storm
breaks over our bow that we will find
out who we are. It is when our inner
England is besieged by a great Armada
that we shall find out what we are made of.

Dear ones, the perfect storm approaches.
You cannot escape it. It will test who
you are--and you and God, and the devil,
and a great cloud of witnesses will get
to see who you are. Prepare for that day,
but know that you cannot really prepare for
it, certainly not in your own strength.

You must give yourself to preparation, but
it will be bigger than any preparation you
can muster, and more powerful than
anything you can do to oppose its onslaught.
That day may come to us in different ways--
whether singly or corporately--that is up
to God. Either way, throw yourself now
into the arms of God!

Perhaps it will come, as the Day of
the Lord, to all of us, all at once.
Perhaps it will come in persecution or
disaster or terrorism. Perhaps it will
come to you individually in sickness, or
personal meltdown, or grief too heavy to bear.

On that day you will act in accordance
with your true nature. Allow God to
hammar away at your inward parts, allow
Him to purify and cleanse and reinforce.
Allow Him to strip away and to build upon.
Allow Him to tear you down and build you
back up.

He knows what He is doing and He is doing
it so that you will stand in the coming
evil day. You must trust His Hand in your
life. You must trust that He sees what you
do not see, are afraid to see, and that
His judgments are good and true and lead
to life.

He wounds to heal, for we are most
certainly already weak unto death
from our own self-inflicted wounds,
and the wages of sin within and without.

Some day you will meet yourself.
It will be the person that God already
sees and knows you to be. No doubt
it will be a surprise, even a shock.
Turn up the heat and impurities rise.
There is no shame in this, we are
all cut from the same infected stock.

God is our only answer and what He
wants to make of you is glorious:
a candle upon a hill, a light to
the nations, a testimony to
principalities! But first, you
must let Him make you like Himself.
Trust is the key.

Take out of the closet all that
you seek to hide. Even if you cannot
run toward Him, fall toward Him,
Even if your legs feel like cement
blocks, and you cannot move, look
to Him. Even if you feel He has
forgotten you, keep at your post--
He most certainly has not forgotten!

What the devil seeks to destroy
is your simple trust in your
God and His goodness. Think of
how many times you have been
misunderstood, thought poorly
of, unfairly accused of some evil
that was not in your heart. When we
believe that God is not good
and pure and true and a present
Help in time of need, we do
to our Father the same injustice--
meanwhile, the devil laughs with glee.

It is our time to give ourselves
fully to the inseparable Covenant
that Jesus provides for us.
It is time to allow ourselves to
be inexorably united with God.
It is time to allow Him to purge
out anything in us that would make
walking with Him disagreeable.

An evil armada is on the horizon.
Draw near to God. Make use of the
daily insights that He gives you,
however disturbing to your ego,
to look at yourself through His
eyes. He is trying to save you
great embarrassment and shame
by allowing you to experience
small humiliations. See them
as a gift. Allow the daily deaths,
and you shall rise to life indeed.

A difficult day is coming but
a great and marvelous one
is coming, too. Look past the
coming storm to see the Son
rising and calling all those
who are hidden in Him to
rise gloriously with Him.
Therefore, hide yourself in Him.

The pure in heart see,
and shall evermore and
only see,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

G.K. Chesterton on Education....

I am quite prepared to promise the secularists
secular education if they on their side will
promise not to have moral instruction. Secular
education seems to me intellectually clean and
comprehensible. Moral instruction seems to me
unclean, intolerable; I would destroy it with fire.

Teaching the Old Testament by itself means teaching
ancient Hebrew ethics, which are simple, barbaric,
rudimentary, and, to a Christian, unsatisfying.
Teaching moral instruction means teaching modern
London, Birmingham and Boston ethics, which
are not barbaric and rudimentary, but are corrupt,
hysterical and crawling with worms, and which are
to a Christian, not unsatisfying but detestable.

The old Jew who says that you must fight only for
your tribe is inadequate; but the modern
prig who says you must never fight for anything is
substantially and specifically immoral. I know quite
well, of course, that the unreligious ethics
suggested for modern schools do not verbally assert
these things; they only talk about peaceful reform,
true Christianity, and the importance of Count
Tolstoy. It is all a matter of tone and implication--
but then, so is all teaching.

Education is implication. It is not the things you
say which children respect; when you say things,
they very commonly laugh and do the opposite. It
is the things you assume that really sink into them.
It is the things you forget even to teach that they
... G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)in the Illustrated London

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Bliss of Christ

"Our natural will is to have God, and
the good will of God is to have us, and
we may never cease willing or longing
for God until we have him in the fullness
of joy. Christ will never have his full
bliss in us until we have our full bliss
in him."
- Julian of Norwich

sky scene taken on the road to Abergevenny, Wales

Monday, February 02, 2009

"I have a feeling that my boat has struck,
down in the depths, against a very great
thing."--Juan Ramon Jimenez

"For what man knoweth the things of a man,
save the spirit of man which is in him? even
so the things of God knoweth no man, but the
Spirit of God." --1 Cor 2:11