Monthly Archives: May 2007

The Christian Household pt 20 of "Back to the Holy Fire"

The Christian Household
“21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27 so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind–yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33 Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:21-33

I chose to keep the heading from the New Revised Standard Version Today, because when I read this particular version, a question and answer immediately popped into my thinking. “Just what a Christian House-hold” in the sense of Spirituality. This passage is used and abused in the ages of time and still is in many regards. Some focus on the literal subject matter of the finite found in it, and miss the central message, which is Christ, and His example expressed within. It is the attitude of “The Divine Heart of God” as expressed by the artist in today’s painting.
To fully understand the passage, once again let me remind you that we must put the passage into the greater context of the letter, and more specifically, what Paul just said in the last paragraph. He is telling us how to walk toward one-another and God, and how to live Holy Spirit-filled lives that are empowered. Then, he connects those thoughts with this single sentence: “be subject to one-another…out of reverence for Christ.” This is the key; reverence for Christ our motivation in how we treat people, i.e. the Household of God.
You see, Paul is simply taking a cultural tradition of his day, the marriage practices of the Hebrews, and explaining God’s relationship to the people allegorically. He simply did not mean that men should be “the boss” and women the “slave,” with no equality. We know this because when one “rightly divides the word of God” (2Tim 2:15), we read, “There is neither Jew nor gentile, male nor female in Christ, all one…” (Gal 3:28). Therefore, the real household we are concerned with is the total household of all of God’s children, which brings us right back to the first sentence in Paul’s passage today: “be subject to one-another out of reverence for Christ…”
Reverence – respect and awe, a Godly awareness of the Divine in creation. Remember the wristbands and T-shirts that say “W W W D”, the acronym for What Would Jesus Do? I wear one occasionally when my old nature starts to act up. It reminds me to think about what Christ would do in any given situation that I am in if He were standing there; because in essence, He really is. He is standing there in the presence of the person I am with, and hopefully in and through me. Sometimes I am more likely to “act out” as Tim would, than Jesus. I need reminding. I want to be subject to my brother or sister I am with and give reverence to the Divine in the Sacrament of the present moment.
The word today says that Jesus loves the Church so much that He gave Himself to her, wholly. Because of this, the allegory is that the church should submit to Him wholly as the risen savior and Crowned King of Glory.
Note: (wives in Ephesus were apparently being drawn away by other teachers who were not their husbands. 2Timothy 3:1-7 Woman were also, according to some scholars, interrupting the readings in the synagogues, which was not permitted in that culture, so this reference is merely one of cultural meaning; a correction to the church services that were out of order and false prophets who were drawing away people, among whom were women of other “households”)
Paul paints a picture of the Church as a bride of Christ, and in that sense, we give respect to our Lord, who is over us. This is the allegory, based on a cultural setting, but not supporting that setting. There is no getting around this fact, however. Paul is directing a message to families, to husbands, wives, children, and all extended family members: respect Jesus Christ by being properly subject to one another. Yet, the message of the Full Gospel, rightly studied and balanced, places all on equal ground. The leaders and teachers of that day had to work with the culture in which they lived and often started on the cultural level in their letters, to raise people out of the physical understanding into the Christian metaphysical realities. This, I believe, is what Paul is arriving at. He is pointing to the Gospel of liberation in Christ. It is easy for a person to submit to a liberator who comes to set that person into freedom, and that is exactly what Jesus came to do. He preached liberation, equality, and a radical new covenant. Therefore, in essence, we are to submit to each other in that liberation and to set one another free. In fact, the whole letter is heading in that direction in a grand way, as we shall see in chapter six. This is why the husband is to love their wives as Christ loves the church, and the wives to be subjects of their own husbands, as the church is to Jesus. I cannot imagine Jesus having his wife “killed in an honor killing” like some Muslims do in the Middle East because to woman was “seen” with an infidel, or Jesus giving anything but Grace to the Church.
Be subject to one another out of respect [reverence] for the Christ of liberation for in doing so we set humanity free. This is the only Gospel I find in the writings of St. Paul. Amen

Advertisements

The Urban Missions Initiative
Volume 2, Issue 48

Contents in this issue:

Reflections -A Three legged stool

Editorials -Back To The Holy Fire pt 18
Prayer Requests -St Martha’s and OEF

Prayers – Canticle of the creatures
Greetings and Peace to you all,
In our Anglican tradition, we use the phrase “the three legged stool” often when we refer to our system of doctrine, belief, and exploration of Faith. The three legs represent these; reason, tradition, and scripture. The seat of the stool is where our system rests, or sits, and these three legs are the foundation that supports us in our pursuit of truth and of God.
Now, to be sure, no one wants to sit on a wobbly stool, and a stool with only two legs is useless, because it can’t stand upright. This is my reflection today. Our traditions, holy pages, and the reasons why we practice faith are all tied together. It is imperative that when one sits on the stool of faith, that all three legs are working together properly. God said it like this in one passage, “come let us reason together, says the Lord Almighty…”
I cannot immagine the scripture without intelligence, (well, I can, but choose not to, anyway!). Nor can I imagine living again with just pure reason and no Scripture. Not to say the least, tradition alone would be pointless. In fact, most of our tradition is rooted in some form of the bible that has been adpapted, such as the priestly garments, the passover meal, and many rites.
None of these would have any purpose without the cohession of reason and scripture. Balance, then, is the key, and a well balanced stool kept in good condition will serve the owner well for many years.
We must never presume tradition, reason, nor scripture can stand alone, and we must never use any of them without the other in play. Yet, there are some in life who never read the Bible at all, and there are others, who can not see past the KJV and red letters. It is no wonder that Apostolic tradition has slowly become less attractive to folks, and faith in the hearts of humanity wanes when it does. The stool must be strengthened, and each leg carefully examined. If one is weak, then we need to repair it. A good balance serves a stool well! Here is the balance of Faith and Reason. “the just shall live by faith..” and “come let us reason together, says the Lord…”
May God radicalize your life this week with love and power!
Timothy

Back To the Holy Fire pt 19
“15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father…” Ephesians 5:15ff
Pentecost is quickly approaching, the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the believers, as Christ had promised. The story behind Pentecost goes to Jewish tradition. There where five main yearly feasts, (not to mention the lesser ones), each calendar year in the Hebrew system. At the time that Jesus entered Jerusalem to be tried and Crucified, it was the feast of Tabernacles, where they all camped about the city, to remind them of the time in the wilderness when God fed them with manna. Then, came the seven-day feast of Passover, the highlight of course, was when Christ was crucified and then resurrected the third day, (the first day of the new week following Passover). Then, the fifty-day countdown began to Pentecost, the feast of the Harvest. This was the time when the High Priest was to make a grain offering to God, signifying “first fruits” that are given to the most high.
All of this is very symbolic of the coming of the messiah and His redemptive accomplishments in our lives. The coming of the Spirit in essence was the beginning of the Harvest of humanity, the Divine nature of God taking up residence in the hearts of people to bring them into His dynamic presence. It is quite significant.
In our passage today, it begins with the word “therefore…” meaning that the preceding text is a precursor of the important admonishment about to come. What we have read and learned so far is foundational to what is to come. As on country preacher once said, “when I see a ‘therefore’ in the scripture, I always go back and see what it is there for!’ Paul suggests that he has just given us a lesson in wisdom, and that we need to decide to “walk” in wisdom, to choose to be wise. The days are evil, he says. Now, as I read the history of his time, I understand that he was referring to the building anti-Christian climate of Rome, and the impending persecution that would come. Nevertheless, our present day is no different from his when it comes to iniquities of this world. With Ben Laden on the loose, the wars in the Middle East, fascism on the rise, honor killings of innocent women, hedonism running rampant on television, and so on, we all should remain awake; we should walk with wisdom. The admonishment is this: make the most of your time. In other words, use your God-given talents and ever-growing knowledge of Him for purposeful pursuits in the Kingdom. Be aware that the Spirit of God is given to each of us to be present in every moment. Jean-Pierre De Caussade, and 14th century mystic wrote that each moment is a “sacrament.” We are to live in the “Sacrament of the present moment.” In this way, we can accomplish more, and bring ultimate Glory to our Father in Heaven. This passage of scripture contains a lot of meat, and I could spend many pages just on the Spirit, and what it means to be “full” of the Spirit, however I have chosen three sentences that point to living in the moment, and they ultimately lead to continuous infilling of the Spirit. I will say this about the phrase, “be filled” with the Spirit. The Greek text actually states, “be filled and keep being filled…” There are two main reasons for this. One is that we simply run low in life sometimes, and need refreshing, on a regular basis. The other is, we should be running over with living water, as artesian wells, for others to drink from. If we keep giving to others, then we must keep receiving from the Father fresh waters of the Spirit.
How do we get there?
First, Paul says to “understand what the will of the Lord is…” Now to be sure, no one can fully understand the mind of the Almighty, who is infinite, since we are finite. Paul is not speaking metaphysically here, he is speaking on a practical level, which he does most of the time. He is saying, “Seek to understand God in your own life, get to know the Father, and what He wants you to do each day. Read the word and apply it to your emotional well being, and practice the goodness of it toward others…” In other words, understand how to live. So the, one step toward being filled with the Spirit is seeking.
The second statement that helps us is simply “be… filled with the Spirit.” Sounds too easy, huh? Shakespeare is quoted “to be… or not to be…” Paul is giving an imperative here. It is not an option for successful living as Christians. Simply Be… Receive. Jesus made a promise that the Spirit would come to the children of God. (See John 12, 13, 14, 15) I do not think that the Son of God is one to lie, so simply receive.
Finally, there is this: “…’Giving thanks always for all things…” A heart that is cultivated to be gracious and grateful will invoke the presence of God. The key is that we must learn to be thankful for all things. No matter what comes our way, when we make a choice to give praise and adoration to God for what we have, and for one more day, and for the present moment, we can begin to realize the dynamic presence of God in our lives.
Recap: Understand… Be… Give Thanks…

For this and all things, we give you thanks, O God…

For our children who are graduating form high school. For never leaving us alone. For Linda and our family. For the blessings of 36 years with my soul-mate, for 6 children and 4 grandchildren. for all God’s gifts. For all the cleaners and gardeners who came to sweat and pull weeds and till the ground so that the front of the church can be replanted with flowers. For the patience of people who can use a pressure washer to clean years of dirt of the deck… board by board. For tears of joy and tears of sorrow, people who understand and puppies who misbehave. And for the most amazing story of God’s grace among us.

“I was sitting at a stop light waiting to turn onto Man O War. I was singing to myself the St. Columba hymn, The King of Love my Shepherd Is. It’s one of my favorites and I find myself humming or singing it often.

A car on Man O War turned left into the path of another car and they collided right in front of me, and then went out of control in different directions to either side of me. The one car spun and hit the car next to me and then spun off it and hit the car behind me and then went up over the curb. It happened so fast that it was just amazing, but all through it I’m sitting there with nowhere to go and just waiting to get hit and they kept missing me. In all, 5 cars collided all around me; lots of shaking people and some cuts and bruises, but nobody seriously hurt.

I do believe I was being watched over. I highly recommend Hymn 645!”

Thanks be to God!

Please keep the following people in your prayers…

Rose Carol Alice Bays Jean Owens Liz Letton Joshua Morrow Melissa Powers Pauline Bayes Ed Bayes Bill Batsel Leslie LeBlanc Brian Cox Ruby Powers
Georgie Powers Betsy Nowland-Curry Eunice Fairchild Geneva Bays-Cox Lt. John W. Lancaster V Jacob & Brett McClellan Jacqui Lancaster Katheran Wasson Becky & Kelli St. Michael’s Church Jolyn McClure Norma James Shiloh Williams Willie Boddie Amy Haney Jeff Hatfield Dora Sharp

Readings for the 7th Sunday of Easter
Acts 16: 16-34
Psalm 97
Revelation 22: 12-14, 16-17, 20-21
John 17: 20-26

Till all the jails are empty and all the bellies filled;
Till no one hurts or steals or lies, and no more blood is spilled;
Till age and race and gender no longer separate;
Till pulpit, press and politics are free of greed and hate;
God has work for all of us to do.
Suggested Links:

http://www.stmarthaslex.org/
http://www.franciscans.com/
http://www.legacyministry.org/
http://www.cedarhillretreats.org/

Epicopal News:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/

HIV RELATED:
http://www.aidsvolunteers.org/
http://www.poz.com/
http://www.aidsmeds.com/

Into The Innerstream Archives-
http://www.innerstream.blogspot.com/
http://www.innerstreamreflections.blogspot.com/
http://www.hivibe.blogspot.com/
http://www.timsart.blogspot.com/

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.To you alone, Most High, do they belong,and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name. Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,especially Sir Brother Sun,Who is the day through whom You give us light.And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,Of You Most High, he bears the likeness. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair. Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,by which You cherish all that You have made. Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,So useful, humble, precious and pure. Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,through whom You light the nightand he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong. Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,Mother Earth who sustains and governs us,producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardonfor love of You and bear sickness and trial.Blessed are those who endure in peace,By You Most High, they will be crowned. Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,from whom no-one living can escape.Woe to those who die in mortal sin!Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,And serve Him with great humility. Heavenly Father,You gave Your servant Francisgreat love for each of Your creatures.Teach us to see Your design in all of creation.We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.


On Dominion Theology

WE ARE MERELY STEWARDS…

“… Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB77)
Through out my years in the charismatic renewal movement and in the circles of the “full gospel” churches, I learned of an emerging philosophy, sort of a newly constructed theology, if you will, called “dominion theology.” The idea goes something like this; it is based on the Old Testament covenant promise to Israel that the “wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous.” It is also based upon the account in Genesis that God gave dominion to Adam over all the earth. The idea often conveyed in the preaching is that Christians have the “God-given” right to wealth and prosperity, even if it means taking it, and taking it from others.
Recently, I have been in two different minor business transactions with other people who indicated that they were believers, and most probably fundamentalists in their theology. Now, whether they actually hold to dominion theology or not I have not a clue. But my experience with both of them got me to thinking about why we as Christians would treat one another the way we do, and then about how I have observed some in the past who have treated nonbelievers the way they did. My suspicions are that there may some of the dominion theology at play. I hope not.
You see, this theology is, in my opinion, is in direct opposition to what Jesus really taught. One of the first principles I learned about the Old Testament is that it should always be interpreted in light of the New Covenant. Jesus came to reveal the answer to God’s dealing with Israel in the old, and to fulfill the meaning of the lessons of the Old. Christ also exposed new revelation on the Old Testament, amended that covenant, and outright changed many of its precepts and concepts. However, the prosperity and dominion theology proponents of today insist on bringing back concepts of the Old Covenant that just do not fly in the face of the Gospel.
The insistence that one can take dominion over property or cash that belongs to someone else, just because one thinks that the person is evil, is indeed misled. I do not believe it is in our providence to judge the hearts of other people, or where they may be on their own journey in life. They may not be living for Christ, but that does not mean they never will. In fact, how do we know that a person might not be on the brink of some spiritual awakening, just to have a “Christian” insult them, or use them in a business transaction, and then drive them further away from the light? For a Christian leader to insist that it is OK for other Christians to take advantage of others for the sake of the kingdom, or their own personal gain directly opposes the words of Jesus who said “do to others as you would have them to unto you…” and “if you have done unto the least one of these, you have done it unto Me as well.”
I think it best if our brothers and sisters of the dominion clan could lay down this mistaken path, and perhaps adapt another, the one called “surrender theology.” The one calls us all to give into the mercy and compassion of our loving Father, and to convey that eternal love to the lost world; To bring light and life to all, and to give and not take.
“If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:1ff NASB

Part 19

Back To the Holy Fire pt 19
“15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father…” Ephesians 5:15ff
Pentecost is quickly approaching, the day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the believers, as Christ had promised. The story behind Pentecost goes to Jewish tradition. There where five main yearly feasts, (not to mention the lesser ones), each calendar year in the Hebrew system. At the time that Jesus entered Jerusalem to be tried and Crucified, it was the feast of Tabernacles, where they all camped about the city, to remind them of the time in the wilderness when God fed them with manna. Then, came the seven-day feast of Passover, the highlight of course, was when Christ was crucified and then resurrected the third day, (the first day of the new week following Passover). Then, the fifty-day countdown began to Pentecost, the feast of the Harvest. This was the time when the High Priest was to make a grain offering to God, signifying “first fruits” that are given to the most high.
All of this is very symbolic of the coming of the messiah and His redemptive accomplishments in our lives. The coming of the Spirit in essence was the beginning of the Harvest of humanity, the Divine nature of God taking up residence in the hearts of people to bring them into His dynamic presence. It is quite significant.
In our passage today, it begins with the word “therefore…” meaning that the preceding text is a precursor of the important admonishment about to come. What we have read and learned so far is foundational to what is to come. As on country preacher once said, “when I see a ‘therefore’ in the scripture, I always go back and see what it is there for!’ Paul suggests that he has just given us a lesson in wisdom, and that we need to decide to “walk” in wisdom, to choose to be wise. The days are evil, he says. Now, as I read the history of his time, I understand that he was referring to the building anti-Christian climate of Rome, and the impending persecution that would come. Nevertheless, our present day is no different from his when it comes to iniquities of this world. With Ben Laden on the loose, the wars in the Middle East, fascism on the rise, honor killings of innocent women, hedonism running rampant on television, and so on, we all should remain awake; we should walk with wisdom. The admonishment is this: make the most of your time. In other words, use your God-given talents and ever-growing knowledge of Him for purposeful pursuits in the Kingdom. Be aware that the Spirit of God is given to each of us to be present in every moment. Jean-Pierre De Caussade, and 14th century mystic wrote that each moment is a “sacrament.” We are to live in the “Sacrament of the present moment.” In this way, we can accomplish more, and bring ultimate Glory to our Father in Heaven. This passage of scripture contains a lot of meat, and I could spend many pages just on the Spirit, and what it means to be “full” of the Spirit, however I have chosen three sentences that point to living in the moment, and they ultimately lead to continuous infilling of the Spirit. I will say this about the phrase, “be filled” with the Spirit. The Greek text actually states, “be filled and keep being filled…” There are two main reasons for this. One is that we simply run low in life sometimes, and need refreshing, on a regular basis. The other is, we should be running over with living water, as artesian wells, for others to drink from. If we keep giving to others, then we must keep receiving from the Father fresh waters of the Spirit.
How do we get there?
First, Paul says to “understand what the will of the Lord is…” Now to be sure, no one can fully understand the mind of the Almighty, who is infinite, since we are finite. Paul is not speaking metaphysically here, he is speaking on a practical level, which he does most of the time. He is saying, “Seek to understand God in your own life, get to know the Father, and what He wants you to do each day. Read the word and apply it to your emotional well being, and practice the goodness of it toward others…” In other words, understand how to live. So the, one step toward being filled with the Spirit is seeking.
The second statement that helps us is simply “be… filled with the Spirit.” Sounds too easy, huh? Shakespeare is quoted “to be… or not to be…” Paul is giving an imperative here. It is not an option for successful living as Christians. Simply Be… Receive. Jesus made a promise that the Spirit would come to the children of God. (See John 12, 13, 14, 15) I do not think that the Son of God is one to lie, so simply receive.
Finally, there is this: “…’Giving thanks always for all things…” A heart that is cultivated to be gracious and grateful will invoke the presence of God. The key is that we must learn to be thankful for all things. No matter what comes our way, when we make a choice to give praise and adoration to God for what we have, and for one more day, and for the present moment, we can begin to realize the dynamic presence of God in our lives.
Recap: Understand… Be… Give Thanks…

Part 17

CHAPTER 5
Be Imitators of God
“1 …therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” NASB
How appropriate this verse would come up on Good Friday, at this time in our study. Today, I will dwell simply on this one statement and important admonition from Paul.
We are to imitate God. Another word found in the scripture that is equally descriptive is “reflecting” the image of Christ. Philippians 2:5, 4:9, I Co 4:16, I Th 1:6, 2 Th 3:9, He 6:12, 13:7 all speak of imitating Christ, reflecting His character and mindset. In Genesis chapter one verse twenty-six, the very beginning of our story, we are instructed that the Godhead chose that we are created in the Divine image. It is our purpose to reflect the intrinsic goodness and character of God. As we ponder the way of the cross this Easter season, I pray that we are challenged to receive the admonition to become His reflection to our world and our neighbor. Just who is the Christ we are reflecting?
In the letter to the Colossians, Paul states “15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians 1:15 (NASB) Hebrews chapter one and verses one through three are even more elaborate in the written description of Jesus of Nazareth.
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world . 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”
Our passage today states that Jesus gave Himself for us, as the sacrifice for our atonement, as a sweet sacrifice. This implies how God accepted the work of the cross that Jesus accomplished. Jesus was pleasing to God, and in that acceptable work, we are reconciled to the Father. Our relationship restored, we may reflect the image that God intended we reflect. I love Mark’s description of our ability to reflect the love and faith of Christ. Mark 11:23 and 24 in my paraphrase state “…we are to have the faith of God…” This means in the Greek: “echo faith in the essence of the divine. We are a spiritual “sounding board of the faith, i.e.; the nature of God. God speaks, and what God says reverberates through us, by the nature and Spirit of Christ. We are to be open channels, receivers of that nature and Spirit. In the Psalms the writer states that “forever thy word is settled in Heaven…’ which indicates that God’s will and word is eternal and never ending. It continually goes forth, and we can reverberate that eternal continuum. We must be willing. The writer in Hebrews tells us that “faith comes.. by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” John chapter one speaks to our heart and says, “… the word was made flesh, and dwelt amount us, in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Therefore, in this Easter season, we have a choice to make. To reflect the love and mind-set of Christ pictured above, the giving Christ of the cross, we must choose to rehear the word, and then to receive the word, and then to be willing reflections of that word. As we choose “the way”, we then begin to realize the greatest gift that Jesus gave us, that we are the “beloved children” of God.
Amen


Part 16

Back To the Holy Fire pt 16
“…put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. 25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE OF YOU, WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. 26 BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:25-32 NASB
Todays passage… many admonitions for good living, all of these “suggestions” we are told to put on as a new garment, or new clothing, and to put away the old. Paul’s suggestion that we put on new “clothing” or a new being, implies a bit of responsibility and decision-making of our own. One again this week, I will simply break down the admonitions in a list of dos.
Put away falsehood
All of us are to speak truth to our neighbors
We are not to sin in anger
We are not to allow room for the adversary, the devil, to gain a foothold in our lives
Thieves are to quite stealing and work for a living
No evil talk is to come out of our mouths
Useful talk is to come out of our mouths to build up others – there is need for this Paul says.
Our words are to give grace to those who hear them
We are not to grieve the Holy Spirit, (doing the wrong things listed above or failing to do right often does)
Put way bitterness
Put away wrath
Put away anger
Put away wrangling (not minding your own business, but meddling in the affairs of others)
Put away slander
Put away all malice
Be kind to each other
Be tenderhearted to each other
Forgive each other

Wow, eighteen admonitions to follow; this list is enough to keep one busy for quite a while. My challenge this Holy week to you is this: when you think of the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem, do you see the characteristics in Him that Paul has just given us? If so, do you receive that Spirit in your life that made Jesus so unique? He entered Jerusalem with a purpose, the Gospel writer tells us that Jesus set His face “Like a flint” toward the city, because He had a mission to accomplish. That mission was to make the way possible for all of God’s children to achieve the good life, and to “put on the new person” in Christ.


Part 15

“Back To the Holy Fire” pt 15
“…But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:20-24 NASB
Up to this point in the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul has painted for us a picture of the goodness of the intention of God for us. From Chapter one, verse one through chapter three-verse 21, he tells of the eternal plan of old, and how God has named each one of us IN CHRIST to be joint heirs with Him. He tells us that God wishes to fill us with a special knowledge, (gnosis) that comes from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and as we receive that knowledge, we gain inward power from His divine presence.
Then, in the beginning of chapter four, Paul begins the pivotal passage. He begins to convey how we are to receive and function in these wonderful gifts of faith, and that we need to be in community to actualize the gifts God has for us. He gives us the challenge that in this process we are to grow up and become fully functional in the body of Christ.
With the beginning of today’s passage, Paul once again moves to a new level of challenge in the letter. This passage is a pivotal passage leading to our behavior as Spirit-filled Christians.
First, he reminds us that “we have not learned about Christ” in the way the world, thinks. In other words, we do not think like the popular crowd. The “in” crowd is not our measure or standard for living. He pointedly states that our minds our not to be “futile” or empty with useless reasoning. The KJV uses the word “vanity”. I like this word because it describes the attitude of many who follow the “bling” crowd today. It points to a thinking that is self-centered and focused on materialism and self-gain; the “me-first” generation. Many in the entertainment industry today are that way. I cringed the other day when I heard that one such entertainer never wears the same $18,000 dollar dress twice. A friend of mine recently told me that his mission could turn one dollar into ten when feeding the hungry of eastern Kentucky. Think what one of those dresses could do: I already have done the math: $180,000.00 dollars. That is right, one-hundred-eighty-thousand dollars worth of food out of one dress. If that female Hip-Hop artist wears four of five dresses like that a month – well, now you do the math! It is pure vanity. Yet our whole society buys into this stuff, and the irony is that many of the poor are the ones who buy the CDs and support the “Bling” crowd.
Let us move on… We have not so learned Christ. Paul begins to give specific instructions. Let me give you a list. In bible study, sometimes it is helpful to take a pen and piece of paper and simply list commands, directives, and promises you find in scripture. From verse twenty-one through twenty-four, I find:

Ø Put away your former life
Ø Put away your old self
Ø Be renewed in the spirit of your minds
Ø Clothe yourself with the new self
Ø
It is really very simply to ready and yet it is a greater challenge to live, isn’t it? There is a theme in this passage, however, that is found throughout the entire letter – that of inward renewal and power or charism, (gifting and empowerment of the Divine). The first two directives in the list, the “put aways”, are our decisions to choose to receive the inward working of the regenerative power of Christ. We must make conscious choices to be in community, to pray, to read the bible, to fellowship, and to serve. We must be willing to act on God’s word and wisdom for our lives in order to receive. Then, the rest is up to the Holy Spirit.
The third directive is the central point. Be renewed. It is almost as classic as Rene Descartes statement “I think, therefore I am.” Be. Be renewed. As you obey the wisdom of Christ, then He will do what He has promised to do through the office and power of the Holy Spirit. And the first evidentiary change you will notice is in your thinking; the spirit of your mind. Now, this word spirit is the Greek Word: πνεῦμα—pneuma, and is the informal form of the proper noun for the Holy Spirit. In the older texts of scripture, especially the Oxford, KJV, and the Logos International, when you see the word spirit in small case, it usually is in reference to the human spirit, our inner person. Sigmund Fraud called it the “ID”. Check out I Thessalonians 5:23 for a reference to our make-up. We are a spirit, with a soul, in a body. When you see the word spirit capitalized, it is usually in reference to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.
What Paul is saying in this pivotal passage is that we are to be influenced and inspired by a “new refreshing wind” of thought and realization – the kind that comes from the Divine. This is what the source of our charism becomes.
Finally, Paul ends up with three great words to describe this refreshing wind, this new kind of thinking. In verse twenty-four, he tells us “it is created…” a work of God, not of our own, “…in truth”… revelation by the Holy Spirit as Jesus promised, (John 12-16), and it is “in righteousness and holiness.”
Therefore, as we receive this refreshing we are made aware of our reconciliation with God through the process and we begin to see ourselves the way God sees us – holy, in others words, set apart for the Lord. We belong to Him now, and not to the world and its pulls and pressures. Pax E Bonum