Posted in Spoken Word

Matthew 24:36-44

Matthew 24:36-44

Lord, when You finally come return
Fully revealing Your redemptive plan
When all of creation, swallowed by Love
Including every woman and man

Up until that day, none will be counting
As if they’re knowing the date
Some will have lost all awareness
Yet You call us to actively wait

There will be a disturbing encounter
Love itself meets those living opposed
All false selves will be dissolved as You come
All Truth is then fully exposed

May we be those who remain in Your coming
Love, the very mode of our being
Not blinded by the glory of Your Lordship
Well practiced in such ways of seeing

Make us so aware of Your coming
That here even as we await
We are not those slumbering or watching clock
But those who actively participate

You’ve begun to arrive by Your Spirit
By the ways You’ve already revealed
May we not remain desperate for healing someday
But come as those now being healed

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Posted in Uncategorized

“We are making pianos.”

“In the third chapter (of 1 Thessalonians) Paul prays, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love, one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you : to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father.” He is not praying for something that has been done or for something to be done for unconverted souls, nor for something that is impossible to have done now. And in the fifth chapter he is still praying for the same thing, and that it may be done now. We give you Scripture texts that need not the least twisting or turning to bring them to bear upon this subject. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”

This doctrine is not of man, but is taught in the wondrous words of the Son of God, when He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with an thy heart, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,” and is taught in the catechism: “The chief end of man upon the earth is to glorify God, that he may enjoy Him forever.” Amen.

Noiselessly, stone upon stone, grew this great temple of God, built of stones made ready before they were brought. “There was neither hammer, nor ax, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building.” So is the house on high built of “lively stones,” ”a holy priesthood,” the eternal temple of our God. But the quarry is not a quiet place. There is heard the sound of hammers and chisels. There drills are ringing, and workmen shouting and running and sweating. There goes a blast, and there a great ledge of rock comes thundering down. The quarry is a place of business, and there is the noise and whirl of eager activities, as souls are excavated and fitted for the symmetries and the symphonies of heaven.

A man who had never heard a piano before was so thrilled and enraptured with the wondrous melody that he started off to find the piano factory, expecting there to be ravished by the many, mingling strains of music. But he found only the whirl and buzz of machinery, the rasping sound of saws, the clatter of hammers, the patter of hurrying feet, and dust, and din, and stroke, and shout, with which the work went on. Wait a while; nor chide the din and rush and shout; we are making pianos.

But these “lively stones” after they brought into line, are to be polished. A short time since they were shapeless hard-heads or rough boulders of granite. You can see your features reflect in the massive pillars that rise in front of the court house in Chicago.

God polishes with life’s tests and trials until His saints shine.” – Vivian Dake

These words were just a small part of a message preached by Vivian Dake, Free Methodist founder of the Pentecost Bands in the later 1800’s, as he spoke at a Presbyterian church in Attica, IN. These “Bands” of 4 young men or women were being sent out all over the United States, Europe, and Africa. One of the “Pentecost Bands” of young women sent out by Dake in 1889 was a vital part of founding the Free Methodist Church here in Champaign, IL (originally in Urbana, IL, 1890). Led by Rena Brown, what they found here in Urbana was a famine, as mentioned in Amos 8:11, “Not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

We pray that our lives can be used by God to protect against such a famine returning.  Not only that the words of Scripture would be read aloud & heard, but may they be lived out and actively transforming lives by the power and New Creation Life of the Holy Spirit – setting all people free from that which wounds and oppresses, bringing healing and redemption as it bears fruit for the Kingdom of Jesus.

To read more of the life, ministry, and writings of Vivian Dake, click here.

Posted in Different Scriptures

missing from the “full armor”

As I spent time this morning reflecting on the days’ lectionary passage, I was struck by something for the first time. This passage (Ephesians 6:10-20) I’d grown familiar with, since I was a boy, suddenly contained truth I hadn’t noticed before. More specifically I should say – as I asked God what He wanted me to notice, I became more and more aware of this particular Truth.

I remember learning about Ephesians 6 as a kid. We’d have physical belts, breastplates, shoes, shields, helmets, and even a sword. Putting on these fake pieces of “armor”, and stomping around the Sunday school room like an obnoxious child-soldier, I had opportunity to be the class clown AND teachers’ pet simultaneously. Those moments were always enjoyable for me, as an extrovert who wasn’t always particularly good at answering the teachers’ questions. Thankfully, I’ve matured in some ways since then. (mostly)

As I’ve grown, I’ve come to understand the importance of Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus. Whatever battle scenes I may have imagined Paul painting as a child have faded, and I hear the heart of Jesus in his words. He invites the church to cling to these solid foundations as vital to sustaining our faith in a world that doesn’t yet recognize/know Jesus as Lord fully.

It’s important to know and cling to the Truth of the gospel, no matter what our current experience happens to be, and live in that direction. It’s vital to remember the righteousness (the ways of justice, and right-ness) God desires, that becomes our life as we are found in Christ. We’re called to be people always ready to seek/promote the peace of reconciliation, taking it where Jesus leads us. We’re urged to hold fast to our faith, as a shield capable of deflecting the flaming arrows of the enemy (who is not a person/group, but a spiritual power or force/system). We put on our helmet of salvation, offered by the “head” of the body in Christ. We take up the sword, which is the Word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit (not words from a page, but the teaching of the gospel message).

But even in being fitted with all of this armor, there is usually something incredibly important missing. A crucial piece of being ready, and being able to “stand firm” that we don’t often include when we dress up that student in front of the class. Ready for it?

Paul is speaking with plural Greek words. Not to “you”, but to “ya’ll”.

This is not a battle we are preparing to fight alone. This is not something I can “do on my own”. This was not meant even for my family to seek to do on our own. There is something vitally important about the assumption Paul made to his audience in Ephesus – that all of this was something they were doing collectively. This comes through over and over again in his writing, especially as these words come only a couple chapters after he talks about the uniquely gifted parts of the body in Ephesians 4.

John Wesley even called this aspect of “Christian conference” one of the “Means of Grace”. We don’t discover “what is true for ourselves”, but rather wrestle together about what the Truth means for us all (and in each new season). We are shaped in His “Righteousness” as we come alongside one another, confessing our sins and being shaped vulnerably in His Light together. We promote peace graciously in the context of forgiving community, becoming a living refuge in a world where anxious communities form/bond in response to threats/fears. We lock shields of faith with those surrounding us, believing and testifying to the Love of God that has transformed us (and those before us), even when we feel attacked. We are bound together by our trust in the salvation offered in Jesus Christ, the “head” of which we are made one body. Finally, we wield the sword of God’s Word – not as something I grasp fully and completely on my own. Empowered by the Holy Spirit for understanding, we humbly approach the message of the gospel we have received and joined, with the global Church across all times and places.

May we never forget this incredibly important piece of “putting on the full armor of God”, so that we may “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power”…