Monthly Archives: February 2007

February Update 2007

I am now well into my first year of the Virxsys clinical trial. My immune system seems to be stable, and for the most part and am doing quite well. I recently went in to the clinic to participate in a new study that investigates if the product is getting into the digestive track and staying there. They took a biopsy of my colon. The human digestive track tissue replicates every two or three days, and so if VRX496 shows present in those tissues over a sustained period of time, then we will really have an effective treatment that lasts.

My general health is good, other than I have been having more foot pain and trouble in my lower back (from the disk problem). I also developed migraine headaches and am being treated with meds for those.


Back To the Holy Fire 12

“Back To the Holy Fire” – part 12
EPHESIANS 4:7-13 “7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
The Apostle Paul gives a detailed account of the giving of gifts in first Corinthians chapter twelve, verses four through seven, and again in Romans chapter twelve, verses six through eight. Of course, then there is today’s passage found in Ephesians, the focus of our study. Paul gives us three glimpses of gifts from three different angles or views, because of the diversity of the grace of God, and how His charism operates in our lives and in the church. In Corinthians, the gifts Paul mentions are gifts that are resident in the Holy Spirit, who then operates through any believer at the will of the Father. In Romans 12, the gifts there are motivational gifts; those that are innate in people that cause people to be who they are. In today’s passage, the forth chapter of Ephesians, the gifts mentioned here are people who are gifts to the church. Paul clearly states in Corinthians that there are three basic principles to understanding spiritual gifts: first, there are diversities of the kind of gifts, second, there are different ways to administer those gifts, and third, there are different ways that each gift can operate. I love this explanation, because it takes God out of any fabricated box in which humans tend to put Him. It makes the gifts of the Spirit eternal and immense, and it makes anything possible in our world.
Today’s passage reflects this thought when we are told that “we are given grace (charism, or gifts), according to the measure of the gift of Christ. That is big. In another passage, we are told, “IN Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…” -Colossians.
In today’s passage, Paul also reflects that Jesus ascended that He might “fill” all things. This is in reference to His giving grace. The word “might” is there because the result depends on our receiving what He has to give. It is given, but we must receive. Now, the people He gave to us to help us receive are the gifted people ordained to lead us into that grace. The Apostle, (one who is sent), the Prophet, (one who speaks forth truth), the evangelist, (one who gathers in), the pastor, (one who shepherds), and the teacher, (one who gives admonition). These five “offices” are still active today, and are gifted people anointed in the church to help believers received the full measure of Grace from Jesus Christ. In doing so, we begin to grow up into Jesus Christ as mature Christians, and minister our own special gifts to the world.
Not everyone who wears a collar is called, and there are some who are called who do not wear collars who nonetheless walk in this anointing. You see these people come from God the Father. It is great when our human institution recognizes them, and ordains them institutionally, yet, the true gifted person cannot help but be and do the will of the Father. It is equally imperative that we recognize those in ministry who are truly called and who do truly walk in their heavenly vocation, that we acknowledge them as gifts from God the Father, for that is who they really are. They are loving extensions of the arm of God, here to help us along the journey to full measure and stature in Christ.
One more thing is important to note about this passage. It does not say here that they are to do the work of the ministry. It does say that they are gifts given to us to equip us so that we can do the work of the ministry. You see, God left no one out of the mission and intention of kingdom building. Amen.


I love the fact that


     I love the fact that the timing of my work on this chapter has come at the beginning of lent. The topic is one of deep intent of both the Grace of God and of our kingdom responsibility to recipients of that Grace. I echo the words of my minister general in this season,

     “…And to dust you will return. As we contemplate our immortality and heed the warnings in Isaiah 58 to perform, God’s chosen fast, may this small community of sisters and brothers find renewal of faith and the compassion necessary to love the loveless, adopt the abandoned, liberate the oppressed and nullify the efforts of the unjust in our own day. May God inspire each and every one of us to walk humbly with our God and be the people we have been created to be…” David Delacroix

     Intercessions, then, to my mind, is first and foremost something meant to be out side of ourselves, and more about others; less about us. It is the emptying of our own selves for the benefit of others. It is the filling of that emptiness with the Holy Spirit through prayer and action on the behalf of others to bring healing, reconciliation, peace, justice, relief, and love.  It is, in fact, the foundation of God’s response to the rise of sin and iniquity found in humanity, and in the story recapitulated in Genesis. God says to the serpent in the third chapter, “I will put an enmity between you and your seed, and you shall bruise His heel, but He shall crush your head…” To many, this is a clear and first prophesy of the Messiah to come, the great Intercessor. God set out at the very beginning to place great importance on intervention on the behalf of us humans. He has always shown Grace and intent for intercession. Later, in Isaiah, after a few millennia go by, God once again declares His intent for intercession. ”And He saw that there was no one,  And was astonished that there was no one to intercede;  Then His own arm brought salvation to Him,  And His righteousness upheld Him.”   Isaiah 59:16 (NASB) in this passage, the Lord goes on to promise to His children to provide an intercessor Himself who would repair the great breach iniquity had caused between Himself and humanity. This would be Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. Now, what is thrilling to me in the gospel story is the first sermon that Jesus preached. I love the account that Luke gives us in chapter four. Jesus has just returned from the desert fast of forty days, and on this particular Sabbath He enters a synagogue and stands up to read. He selects the text in Isaiah, our chapter 61 and verse one and two (a). He stops at the middle of verse two, (for a reason and another lesson).
     “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD…”
Here, Jesus states His mission and His intent for coming to us. It is the same as the words of the prophet that is read for Lent, Isaiah chapter 58, (my all time favorite passage). His intent is for healing and the setting free of captives. He has come to bring the favorable time of the Lord, God’s Jubilee. Check out chapter fifty-eight:
      “Behold, ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I have chosen? The day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to Jehovah? Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”
Eight commands to bring healing and justice to the world, through our living lives of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. This is the real meaning of intercession. To ask God to do something for someone, when it is in our power to do something about it, is pure laziness and a sin of omission.
     On the other hand, there are times when the situation is beyond human intervention, and that is when we can fast either from food or TV, or in some other way, in order to commit time to gain spiritual connection with the Father in intercession for the person or situation we are praying.
               
Topics:

Seeking Specific Intervention by God in Human Affairs

We need to be specific when we seek God for answers. However, what helps us to be specific is the written word of God and our constant abiding life in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in the book of John, “If you abide in me and I in you, then you may ask of the Father what you will and He will grant it…” The contingency is that we are abiding in the will of God and seeking the will of the Father first. We first seek His counsel through scripture, through the council of our Christian leaders and friends, and through prayer. Then, when we do pray specifically, we will always receive an answer from the Father. Because we are abiding disciples, we are prepared for the answer, whether or not it is the one we want to hear. With joy, we will receive the answer from the Lord because we already know that He has our best interest at heart. He cares for us!
     “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulterers, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:3-8
This is the reconciliation between what we ask and what God answers, abiding in the word of Christ, and living according to His teaching. Living close to God, we can be assured that all thing work for our good. (Romans 8:28)  Understanding life and the times we face is a matter of simple Faith. We are told in Hebrews 11:6 that without Faith it is impossible to please God. When I ask the Father for something in prayer, and do not receive as I ask, I must exercise Faith that what He has for me is best. “Wherefore, what doth it profit a man, if he gaineth the whole world, but loseth his soul?” – Jesus

Prayer for healing that goes seemingly unanswered

I believe that God always heals, but the manifestation may not always be apparent to us the way we want it to be. I can best illustrate this with my own story.
     Not too many years ago, I was playing the piano at Southland Christian Church, a rather large Church here in central Kentucky. That particular Sunday a female soloist was singing, a good friend of mine was playing back up on a synth, and I was playing the Steinway grand. It was a rather elaborate, but moving song. Our church was growing so much, that we had five services, two on Saturday night, and three on Sunday morning. During the third service on Sunday morning, as she sang the song, the Holy Spirit came over me in a unique way. Now, I never get tired of playing music, even in five services in one weekend. As the Lord began to move, tears welled up in my eyes, and I played with extra “interpretation” and emotion. I was probably the best musical conveyance I have given in a long time. After the service was over, a young woman came up to me and said, “God told me while you were playing that ‘I have healed that man’”. Now, most everyone knew that I am HIV pos, because I am very open about it for educational reasons. I looked back at her and said, “I know that.”
     Now, she meant that He had healed me physically. However, I knew that what God was doing was for more important and deeper that what is just on the surface. He had healed my heart from the five stages of rage and reaction to the diagnosis; those things that up to that point had kept me from living my life with purpose. So, the healing was there, but not the way she wanted it to manifest. God always has our best at His attention.
          
Modern Bold intercessors

     An example of modern intercessors would be my good friend Eldon, who has been a missionary in Africa, and lately in central Asia. I cannot name the country for security reasons; even now, that Eldon is back in the states. There are native converts there who would be arrested if found out.
     While Eldon and Jan, his lovely wife were in England, preparing for their missionary journey over ten years ago, a Muslim man had the “dream” that many are reportedly having these days. In his dream a Man clothed in fine white linen, brilliant with light came, and told him of the Gospel. The Muslim man began to have discussion with others in his village about Jesus, and eventually was jailed. While in jail, he began to pray that God would send someone to him to teach him about the man in White, the messiah. Two years later, (the exact length of Eldon and Jan’s training), the man was released from jail. At the same time, Eldon and Jan arrived in the valley and the village where the man lived, in central Asia. This was just the beginning. Eldon was part of many intercessions, both through prayer and fasting, and simple obedient action.



The intercessory list
The souls at St. Michael’s that they may find peace and healing
The Order of Ecumenical Franciscans – spiritual growth, missionary success
World hunger relief
Easter Kentucky – the hungry children
St. Martha’s Episcopal



My personal petitions
Continued strength and good health
The new business – measured growth and success
More patience and a kinder tongue
A gentle spirit
Inspiration for art and composition of music
Continued missionary vision and preparation


Back To the Holy Fire 12

“Back To the Holy Fire” – part 12
EPHESIANS 4:7-13      “7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
     The Apostle Paul gives a detailed account of the giving of gifts in first Corinthians chapter twelve, verses four through seven, and again in Romans chapter twelve, verses six through eight. Of course, then there is today’s passage found in Ephesians, the focus of our study. Paul gives us three glimpses of gifts from three different angles or views, because of the diversity of the grace of God, and how His charism operates in our lives and in the church. In Corinthians, the gifts Paul mentions are gifts that are resident in the Holy Spirit, who then operates through any believer at the will of the Father. In Romans 12, the gifts there are motivational gifts; those that are innate in people that cause people to be who they are. In today’s passage, the forth chapter of Ephesians, the gifts mentioned here are people who are gifts to the church.  Paul clearly states in Corinthians that there are three basic principles to understanding spiritual gifts: first, there are diversities of the kind of gifts, second, there are different ways to administer those gifts, and third, there are different ways that each gift can operate. I love this explanation, because it takes God out of any fabricated box in which humans tend to put Him.  It makes the gifts of the Spirit eternal and immense, and it makes anything possible in our world.
     Today’s passage reflects this thought when we are told that “we are given grace (charism, or gifts), according to the measure of the gift of Christ. That is big. In another passage, we are told, “IN Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…” -Colossians.
     In today’s passage, Paul also reflects that Jesus ascended that He might “fill” all things. This is in reference to His giving grace. The word “might” is there because the result depends on our receiving what He has to give. It is given, but we must receive. Now, the people He gave to us to help us receive are the gifted people ordained to lead us into that grace. The Apostle, (one who is sent), the Prophet, (one who speaks forth truth), the evangelist, (one who gathers in), the pastor, (one who shepherds), and the teacher, (one who gives admonition). These five “offices” are still active today, and are gifted people anointed in the church to help believers received the full measure of Grace from Jesus Christ. In doing so, we begin to grow up into Jesus Christ as mature Christians, and minister our own special gifts to the world.
     Not everyone who wears a collar is called, and there are some who are called who do not wear collars who nonetheless walk in this anointing. You see these people come from God the Father. It is great when our human institution recognizes them, and ordains them institutionally, yet, the true gifted person cannot help but be and do the will of the Father.       It is equally imperative that we recognize those in ministry who are truly called and who do truly walk in their heavenly vocation, that we acknowledge them as gifts from God the Father, for that is who they really are. They are loving extensions of the arm of God, here to help us along the journey to full measure and stature in Christ.  
     One more thing is important to note about this passage. It does not say here that they are to do the work of the ministry. It does say that they are gifts given to us to equip us so that we can do the work of the ministry. You see, God left no one out of the mission and intention of kingdom building.   Amen.


CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 4
Unity of the Spirit
“1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6

It would behoove us all to take a lot more time examining the nature of our calling in Christ, before we take action toward others. I like the picture above, showing the impression of infinity of universe, with one single person’s footsteps heading in that direction. It would be easy for one to keep a proper focus of ego if one could continually look at it. To me, it depicts exactly what Paul told us about in chapter three concerning the depths of Jesus Christ and now, in the beginning of chapter four, it depicts the richness and depth of our calling. Paul thought it so important that he used the word “implore” or “urge”. He was not just wishing for the Ephesians to get this, he expected it. He wanted them to understand the eternal nature of our calling, and that we should reflect that nature now, in the present life.
We are given three great virtues that describe our behavior in this calling. They are humility, gentleness, and patience. Paul just executed my male ego right there! Yet, those three attributes are the crowning jewels of relational behavior. James tells us to “Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God’, (James5) Jesus preached, (Matthew 5), in the sermon on the mount that the meek or gentle would inherit the earth. In addition, patience is found in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Ga 5). What is notable is the relationship of these three virtues to the action word attached to them: the word tolerance. In tolerance is to be found humility, gentleness, and patience. There is no argument to be had here, tolerance is implored and described in every apostolic sense.
     When we are successful at tolerance, then we can move on the rest of the passage, unity. Until perfect tolerance for all is reached, there cannot be true unity, which is our goal. I love the Greek rendering of this passage, because the words “There is” are not in the original. The text literally says, “One Body, One Spirit.” Paul is making it imperative. It is simply a fact in God’s eyes. One body, one spirit. So, there is only one attitude for us to really adapt, and that is tolerance.
     The other phrase that I love in this passage is “the bond of peace.” The way we can keep the unity of the Spirit, once we really get there is to bond in the peace we enjoy. Bonding in the sense of blending of heart and soul, we enter into the covenant relationship that God intends for us.
     If you have not noticed the pattern before, From Genesis to the New Testament, God accomplished His dealings with humanity thru establishing covenants. Each on was specific and was bound by some ritual or sacrifice. Now under the ultimate sacrifice, the cross of Jesus Christ, we are under the New and everlasting covenant of His blood, and are bound to Him and each other.
     As we look to the New Year, and see each other, I pray that we will see our calling for one another in the light of that covenant and in the depths that the artist is depicting in the painting called “Eternity”. May God truly help us to walk worthy of our calling.
     


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