holding,…

17 May

Hebrews 11: 7 & 8

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

So, today, I would like to combine Hebrews 11 verses 7 and 8 ( Noah and Abraham as men of faith who ‘went where they did not where they were going’ ) with a reflection inspired by a Tim Keller story—

Tim, in the 1990’s, did night ( and day ) Bible studies around NYC. I went to one when he was going through ‘people of faith’ from Hebrews 11: 7 on Noah building an ark boat though it had never rained before. ( he was sailing ⛵️ into the unknown )

Tim always did Q & A after his speaking so toward the end I asked : Dr Keller how did you know coming to NYC to plant a church ( NYC was at that time a graveyard for church planters: a hard place ) you had 3 young boys – children- a tenured College teaching job & no NY building or City networks- how did decide this was God’s will for you and your family?

Tim: ( as best I can recall what he said & and I am OK in this arena )

Well, I did followed the usual steps:
Kathy and I visited the city together
we sought prayer counsel with friends and advisors

and we moved

Me: but how did you know these were the right steps? Supposed you and Redeemer had failed… would that still have been God’s will for you all?

Tim: yes —we had to trust Romans 8: 28 ‘all’ things work for good for those who love God and are following his steps… if we would have failed, even that would have been part of the Lord’s sovereign plan for us

today, this is a Tim Keller thought I hold to

light… ( a thought )

15 May

light…
a thought, first from
Psalm 97:11, ( with footnote) Light shines[a] on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.Psalm 97:11 [a] from a Hebrew manuscript and other ancient versions (see also Psalm 112:4); … in most Hebrew manuscripts ‘Light’ is sown and in, Psalm 97: 4 ‘ Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. 5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,who conduct their affairs with justice.’


The images here are all about light; light that dawns; light that sows, that plants, as a heart that enriches, that seeds. Light in these Psalms is something that holds and lifts.
It is a generous gift from the Lord. Light lives as one of his greatest gifts. Thus,
‘ I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.” – Isaiah 44:22

In His word, His Light, His life, all darkness and mists are swept away. Only His Light remains.

a moment, please

12 Apr

a moment, please 
for Samuel Allen 

for it only takes/
moment
when she denied that she, black.., married to …
… so I ever loved you, please..,


a moment, please, a pause –
a moment , when a love stops – aligning, when your love in 1972 is called ..,

so,
a moment pleases , please
so I can smile, nod, my head ..,
and say,
smile,
‘yes’

15 Mar

21 Feb

Advent 2021, epilogue ‘he comes; he sings’ from Zephaniah 3

24 Dec

“Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

I can love, for He first loved me


I can pray, for He listens over me


I live, because He was born, lived and died for me


I sing, enjoy beauty, because He first sang over me


Rejoice the season; He still sings

He still sings

Advent 2021, ‘he comes’ an epilogue from Mark 15, “…come down from the cross and save yourself!”

20 Dec
Rembrandt ‘Christ on the Cross’ 1631

As we enter Christmas week 2021, I am both returning to the roots of my first ‘Advent Wonder’ 2014 reflections and reversing, turning over in part, these first starts. From the beginning the thought was to build a short, concise yet deepening thought on Advent over a four week period, twice a week. Focused on brevity as people are quite busy during this season, we opened the week on Mondays and closed the week on Fridays with these reflections.


This year I opened Mondays with Old Testament scriptures concerning the Messiah’s coming ( the 2021 series is entitled ‘his coming’ ) and closed Fridays with a corresponding New Testament scripture that contained and deepen Monday’s share.


So, this week of Christmas 2021, I will keep the focused brevity but share the New Testament Messianic words on Monday and the corresponding Old Testament one on Friday. Why?
Because this week He is no longer ‘coming’ but Jesus is here, He comes. So, we go today, not to a manger but to Jesus on the cross…

29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The last prayers of Jesus’ torturers, his murders is for Him to ‘come down.’
Praying, looking, pleading for a Messiah to come for hundreds of years, without a touch of self awareness and knowledge, they repeat this prayer for Jesus ‘to come.’ But they want him to ‘come down.’ They want a Jesus that fits their preconceived ideas of a Messiah. They say they want ‘to see’ but they are blind.


Blind to the fact that their, our, Messiah has come to a cross, by way of a manger, for all. He walked, ate, taught and spoke with them. He prayed for them. Yet, they still prayed for Him to ‘come down.’

Sadly, they do not see.


He comes, but some cannot see. Sadly, they see not.


My prayer: Lord, my Jesus, help me to see you, more and more, all days. Let me see you more. Come.

Advent 4, his coming: why he comes; why he came

17 Dec
Jesus comes to Paul

from Romans 1:16 ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.’


Why did Jesus come to earth? What do we celebrate, really celebrate, at Christmas, at Advent? What is this, his coming, meaning?


Paul’s writings and life reflect the purpose, the depth and breath, of Advent. His life is Advent’s scope.


A serial murderer; a destroyer of lives, of life; a hater, Paul has a great deal to be ashamed of.But he is not. He believes that his murdering of the innocent is not a good thing but the best of actions. Paul is killing for his Pharisaical beliefs with love. He is killing fo his faith.


Yet, Jesus enters; Paul is spoken to; thrown off his killing Damascus journey; blinded for 3 days; and embraced by a Christian and healed. Paul can know see Jesus and the gospel truth: Jesus came for him.
And what is the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ coming? It is to remove all sin, and all of the shame of sin, from our lives. Both sin and its seemingly enduring shames are totally removed.


Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because he – a serial murderer – is not ashamed of himself.


Jesus comes at Advent for Paul, He comes for me. He comes to remove sin and its shames. He comes as a newborn to create newborns. He comes to create Paul from Saul.
Paul writes on this coming to his adopted son, in 1 Timothy 1:


15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

and…


14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Advent is a time to prepare for His coming, His pouring out of grace, and faith and healing love. And it is poured out ‘abundantly’ or as a previous NIV translation states, in ‘overflow.’


Jesus comes, pours, washes, heals in such overflow that sin and its shames are no more. Advent is a time of reflecting and meditating on His overflow. He comes.

My prayer: Lord, I worship you for you overflow … not just for me, but for all. For even the worst of sinners. Come, overflow, my Lord. Come.

advent 4, his coming ‘O You who listen to prayer, all people will come to You.’ from Psalm 65:2

13 Dec

Each of these past four Mondays our 2021 Advent series ‘advent 4, his coming’ has focused on Old Testament scriptures that specifically reference the Messiah’s coming. Looking to an unknown future time, prophets prayed and spoke as messengers of Him; people waited, in moments patiently and at times in anger. But all looked for a coming. Today I sit with you and meditate on this prayerful desire of the past, for our Saviour ‘to come.’

What does it mean this, 2021 Holiday season, to the church, to people, to expect a ‘coming?’

First, consider, how many family members have not been together for over a year due to the pandemic: untold numbers desire friends and family members to be, to come together. There is pain in silences and absences, in the lack of comings, the invitations not given or accepted. And the pandemic is not the only reason there is no voiced request, ‘come to my house.’ And some families are fractured, broken. There is no invitations; no comings.


I have a friend who has not seen their grandchildren or children in over a year. The pandemic and unforgiving of past hurts has isolated them from family, from friendship. The other day they spoke, prayerfully, of the desire to be invited in. They would drop everything to go in response. Why?
They do desire to be asked to come. To see babies and children. Friends and family.
And yet, think, how much more did the shepherds and the Magi; the angels and the prophets of Jesus’ time desire for the Messiah, the Saviour to come,…?
Deeply, they desire His Advent, His coming. Even more than family or country, as the Magi who left all to see… even more than their sheep and livelihood, as shepherds who left Bethlehem’s fields…and even more than angels who leave heaven for earth to sing of their and our Emmanuel.

Our Lord promises, not just that he will come in response to prayers, but we will also come to him, Psalm 65 states this,
‘O You who listen to prayer, all people will come to You.’ and from another pray filled Psalm,

Psalm 86:9
‘All the nations You have made will come and bow before You, O Lord, and they will glorify Your name.’

Family and friends may be too hurting, or to frightened of Covid to invite others this season to come to them.

But our Lord not only invites us in but also comes down from the heavens to come to us.


He promises to invite us in and to come. Always. He comes in answer to prayers and praise as we glorify his name. He comes.


My prayer: Emmanuel, come. Be with all the uninvited, the hurting, the lonely.
Come.

Advent 3, his coming — ‘Jesus wept.‘ John 11: 35

10 Dec

Advent is a time for the church and its people to prepare. As John the Baptists, we sit in the dark winters of life, meditating and reflecting; praying and preparing. We try to prepare a way to Jesus incarnate, so we can see and hear Him as he comes. As He came.
He, our Messiah, came as a baby. As a child he started life as all children begin: to receive life and love. Yes, babies give joys but in truth, as their lives begin, they really can only receive.
How, what do they receive?
They receive food and milk; love and endearing human touches; they are carried and gently rocked to sleep. They receive and if they need a nappy change, food, or a touch they cry.
The baby Jesus must have cried. Though we see the adult Jesus cry deeply only once. He cries at his friend’s Lazarus’ death. Here is John’s narrative of that moment,


John 11: 32 – 35
“ When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

John just writes, ‘Jesus wept.’ Simple and specific. An action left open to our imaginings, what type of tears? Did our Lord groan, cry out? Or did close His eyes and weep in darkness?

For me it is enough to know that Jesus cried, that He wept.

Though he knows he will raise Lazarus, Jesus still cries because he feels. He feels the brokenness and sorrows death brings; He cries for the loss of fellowship; He weeps gently and angrily, and he cries also for me. His tears are for my hurts and rejections; for my failures and mis steps.

I can love because He first loved me. 1 John 4: 19

I can weep for He first wept over me.

Jesus came to teach us to weep as children cry when they see injustice and evil ; sorrows and lost; the broken and the hurting.

He loves us so, He weeps

My prayer: help me to cry as you cry My Lord…help me to love as you loved