Greetings and Peace to you all,
Because you read… there are two reason I have to give thanks today for those of you who read this publication regularly. I give thanks first of all because many of you responded so positively this past week to the last publication, and some of you have done so in the past. When you do, that lends spiritual support to me. It tells me that I am doing something more than just rambling on. Much of what I write comes from my past experiences living on the campgrounds of Camp calvary, which was, at times, a life of solitude. It was very much a monastic life. I just didn’t realize it at the time. The writings also come from the one church that I pastered as an internim in Bryan, Ohio and from the time I served as an assisting minister, minister of music and youth leader in Ohio. I have lended a hand in church planting a couple of times too. Then, my writings also reflect those times when I didn’t serve Christ, the homeless period, and the rebeliousness I went through. Those times make me appreciate the writings about grace and forgiveness quite a bit. Like the blind man at the gate beautiful who went dancing and leaping when Peter and James passed by, I too, rejoice at what Jesus has done for me. When you respond to something that I have written, I tells me that I matter, and that I am telling you that you matter. That is the goal of the Innerstream. There is another reason to give thanks that you are reading.
The bible states that we are to “desire the sincere milk of the word” and that “all scripure is profitable for teaching, learning..”. Jesus told Satan during His wilderness fast that “humanity shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Another new Testament verse encourages us that “Faith comes to us through hearing, and that hearing is by the word of God…”. So you see, I am thrilled to know that you read, not only this, but hopefully your bibles, and the daily office and other helpful devotionals. When you do, you ensure that you are growing in the Lord and that you are feeding your spirit.
So I give thanks for you, and your hunger for Jesus, the true Word who came down from heaven, the word made flesh.
May God radicalize your life this week with love and power!
Monthly Archives: December 2006
Greetings and Peace to you all,
Greetings, peace, and all good to you all,
It has been more than two weeks since I have written an issue of the Innerstream reflections or insight on the book of Ephesians. To be frank with you, excessively much has been going on, both here at home and at our Parish.
I caught that nasty “bacterial” thing going around about four weeks ago. During my recovery from the Montezuma revenge, and the wheezy chest infection, my 87-year-old grandmother began to get it as I got better. It was not long before her oxygen level dropped so much that she began to hallucinate and I began to get scared. So I took her to the emergency room, and they admitted her to the hospital. She stayed there for four days, getting Levequin pumped into her system. In the meantime, I am still hacking and coughing, and feeling run down.
Finally, the day came when she came home. As I was getting ready to go to the hospital to bring her home, I got a phone call from a friend of mine. He told me that he had been fired from his position at our Parish. A new controversy arose out of this. It has been happening ever since. People are hurt, some are angry, and some have given up altogether. Now, there is a lot to the story, but I am not going to focus on that. What is on my heart is something that came to me last week, as we were sitting in the dinning hall of the Danville Nursing Home. It was family night there. My great aunt who is my granny’s sister resides there because she had two strokes in one day. Those are on top of the breast cancer that she has been fighting for several years.
In the dinning room, the staff had set up tables and put nice reservation labels on each table for the residents and their families. As I sat at my Aunt’s table with her, I looked around the room and noticed a few elderly people sitting at empty tables. They apparently did not have anyone to come on family night and sit with then. They sat there, alone.
I felt my heart getting heavy and a tear coming on at that sight. So many of us are preoccupied with mundane quarrels and bitter disputes, that we are missing our real mission on this earth. “Pure religion is to take care of the widows and the orphans,” says James. That is a universal apostolic principle that we should live by. But as I sat there thinking how unnecessary disunity really is, I began to remember some other instances that were happening while I had been distracted by the quarrel.
I receive an E-mail from a Brother in our Franciscan order asking all of us for a prayer vigil for a friend of his. This friend’s partner overdosed on drugs, after being beaten with a hammer by a drug dealer. Now, the friend of my brother is left behind in a suicidal state. I am grateful that my Franciscan brother is not distracted by the unnecessary strife that seems to distract so many of us.
Then, the other day I turn on the news an see a story about a 12 year old boy in Arizona who is shooting basketball hoops for dollars to raise money for orphans of AIDS patients in Africa. I was so moved by the story, being HIV positive myself that I E-mailed him at his religious organization to thank him, and encourage him to keep up the good work. So for, he has raise six figures, I think, and is now working on building a school house in Zambia for the children.
Austin is just one more reason why none of us should be distracted by quarrels and disunity. These are tools that Satan uses to distract us from accomplishing the work of Christ through us. They also keep us from doing the right thing. When a search for consensus distracts us, we can totally miss what God is saying to us through His Holy Spirit and the written word.
In fact, we do not even need a consensus until we have searched the bible and followed its wisdom, guided by the Holy Spirit.
There is far too much going on in the world that needs our attention, as we are filled with the fruit of the Spirit, and that comes partly by the word of God being made incarnate in us by the Holy Spirit. When that happens, we find that we have a divine consensus created and placed in us by the Godhead, and the light not only comes on, it shines! When it shines, others see and we begin to accomplish the corporate works of the Body of Jesus Christ.
Prayer – Holy and Compassionate Christ, gently lead us to a place of rest and total trust upon you. Help us to love boldly, trust deeply, and live compassionately. Give us a single heart and mind; and souls on fire with the passion to love and serve you in unity with each other. Help us to see the divine Christ in everyone we meet, and teach us to nurture and restore those who cross our paths. In the Holy Name of Jesus We Pray – Amen.
Some Passages to Ponder about Strive, Bickering, and disputes
2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NKJV) 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (NKJV) 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Matthew 18:15 (NKJV) 15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
Proverbs 26:17 (NKJV) 17 He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own Is like one who takes a dog by the ears.
Proverbs 17:14 (HCSB) 14 To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out.
Proverbs 17:14 (NKJV) 14 The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
Proverbs 3:30 (HCSB) 30 Don’t accuse anyone without cause, when he has done you no harm.
May God radicalize your life this week with love and power!
“For This Reason…”Ephesians 3:14-21
When I read verse fourteen of chapter three, a song immediately pops into my head. It is a disco tune with quite a hook, “We are Family…” In this case, it is the kind of family that really hooks me. First, we are all a part of it. Paul says that the family is in heaven and on earth. It is enormous. In addition, it is universal. We are family here and in heaven. We span all that can be spanned. The second awesome thing is that we carry a name given to us by the creator of this family, none other than the Father God, the father of the Lord Jesus Christ, our brother! We are named after him! Yep, Christian. The name means the anointed. Not only is Jesus anointed, but so are we, and it began on the day of Pentecost. By the way, it did not end, as some pretend, in the year 95 AD at the completion of the New Testament Cannon. It is still happening, now, today and tomorrow and until Jesus comes again. Yes, we are Christian in every sense of the word Christ. The Christ incarnate in us, born in us. Now, you think that is a lot for verse fourteen and fifteen, check out the next one.
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner person [man],”
Notice the relationship of the highlighted words for a moment. You may want to take a moment and cross-reference them with chapter one verse nineteen. Another good place to look is Acts chapter two and verse 8, Acts chapter one, verse eight, and once again, John chapters 13 through 15. Romans chapter eight is also another great place to read about the words in highlight. What are the words al about? The word glory is commonly misunderstood. Many lay folk think of it as praise due to God, or some kind of bright light around God, or something. Those things may be true, but are just a small part of a great big picture of the nature of the Almighty. Glory, from the feminine Greek noun doxa, means dignity, honor, and praise. The implication that the Holy Spirit is telling us through Paul here is that God gets praise and honor by working His power through us, when we are willing vessels. In addition, the source of power is endless, and comes from an awesome and glorious site. If we caught just a tiny glimpse of that source, we would be so overcome we could not stand it. In fact, a verse says, “No one shall see my Glory and live”. That Hebrew word has a different meaning, by the way, one referring to visage of God.
Our passage goes on to speak about faith. The way to get all of this is not by reason alone. It is by faith that we can receive. You cannot just merely “think” your way into getting these wonders from God, you must cultivate two basic things the rest of your life, one of them being faith. I will tell you what the other one is in a minute. Hebrews 11:1 states that “Now, (not later and not before) now faith is the substance of hoped for and the evidence of the unseen…” MP and in verse six, “if you do not have faith and live by it you can not please God.” Many reputable scholars think that James, the brother of Jesus wrote this passage. Paul states in our passage that through faith we can be strengthened with power of His might from His glory in our inner being. Wow! Now, about that other basic.
Love. If we want the kind of power that Paul tells us about, we must have the relationship to the source that he describes here. It is the kind of love that roots us and grounds us. That means that we become firmly planted and unmovable in our FAITH. It is the kind of love that has dimensions too.
We can know the “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of the love of Christ. Since Jesus Christ is Eternal, which He has always been and will always be, and He has always loved us… that means our comprehension will always be growing and growing. It is the kind of comprehension that surpasses the Gnostic of this earth. In fact, it surpasses all knowledge and leads us to the fullness of God. Think of it this way. Think of it as being brought to the dinner table of God the father, in a totally happy and joyful environment, and being fed to your hearts content, all the while you are resting in His arms. That is how I picture the fullness of God. Being filled by Him, my sustainer.
The final prayer of this chapter is equally as awesome, and I invite you to make it your prayer this week. It tells us that Jesus is able. That He is able to do more than we could ever imagine, yet He chooses to do those power-filled acts through us! If you want a faith booster, take a moment and pray this prayer with me today:
“20 Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
The Fellowship of the Mystery – Ephesians 3:9-13
“…and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore, I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”
It never ceases to amaze me when I read the passage how God chose to reveal his eternal purpose in us. That’ right, God’s eternal purpose. God has known since Alpha eternity the plan that is to unfold in our lives both individually and corporately as the body of Christ. Moreover, this is somewhat on a universal level. Paul states right way that it is “to make all see” the fellowship. God’s plan is eternally an inclusive plan of fellowship. He wants us to know (gnosis) how things really work together on the spiritual level, even those that have been hidden in God himself. This fellowship, not unlike that of the purpose of the “fellowship of the ring” in JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the rings is God’s eternal purpose. He wants to be in intimate fellowship with us, and for us to be in unity with each other.
The next awesome thought in this passage is our benefits that extend out of that fellowship. Here we find that because of the accomplishment of Christ, we have been given a unique access to God the Father that no one had before. With boldness, we may approach Him now. (See Hebrews 4 for comparison). Not only that, but we can also approach with confidence, which means we can have expectation that our Father in heaven will respond to us exactly the way we need at the time we need Him to. This is why Paul tells his followers not to be sorry for his troubles, being imprisoned for the Gospel, and persecuted as a Christian. Paul knew that the reward for serving Christ was far greater than any earthly gain, and the benefit to those he served would be insurmountable. Their “glory” was their part of the fellowship of the same testimonial and service for Christ, for they would no less be required the same test of faith.