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2 Apr

his Robe, our clothes

Romans 13: 14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ

Paul speaks of the ‘full’ armour of God in Ephesians 6. Worn on the outside of a light tunic, armour’s basic purpose is to cover and protect from attacks. In prison, chained to a Roman soldier, Paul had the time to pause and think of how this armour would protect a warrior.

But to walk daily, among people in a town or city, a tunic or robe would provide light flexible covering in the arid, hot Mid East. This is what Jesus wore as he walked.

It is also what the soldiers who crucified him gambled for,

The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus’ clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus’ head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

Matthew 27:35-37 NLT

(See also Mark 15)

His clothes were not torn or discarded. Armed soldiers desired, gambled for them.

And His robe especially,

His robe was almost certainly made by his mother; designed and woven for him as a young child to be given to him when he became of age to travel, to walk. It was her blessing for a loved child. Of one seam, it could not be ripped apart.

But our Lord’s body was shredded and torn, wounded and ripped. His clothing was not.

Why?

Paul tells us in Romans to be imitators of Jesus continually; to walk as he walked; to forgive as he forgave; to pray as he worshipped. It are to put on Jesus’ clothes because these robes and tunics are His coverings, His love.

Nothing can tear this , His love, His robe. Nothing can separate us from these clothes as they are more than our flesh itself. His love can never be torn from us.

As Paul states in Romans 8

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,

As Mary chose and designed her baby son‘s swaddling clothes and robe, so has He perfected clothes for us-clothes that can not be torn: Clothes of His love.

Wear His robe today.

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hosannas 2

29 Mar

As Jesus enters Jerusalem the time before his death, he hears ‘Hosannas’ or ‘save’ us.

Hosannas can be seen as a pause, a lifting up of voices. This is what the people in the crowd are doing,

This is what the crowd, his disciples, and we do whenever we approach Him. We sing,

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Psalm 118: 25-27

I pray ‘Hosannas’ multiple times each and everyday. (The crowd does not cry one ‘hosanna’ but multiple ones.) It is my meditation of Him. and for Him in relation to me. Save me from bitterness, angers, resentments. Save me, especially, from myself.

I pause when I pray this way-

a pause…

Verse 8 in Psalm 138 defines the Lord’s purpose for me, for us, as enduring, a forever, love as a Selah. – A pause- a pause over me,

8

‘The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands.Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands.’ ESV

My purpose is in His hands, His loving hands. Hands that touch and hold. My purpose is to understand and know He loves me. It is a love that calls for ‘pause.’ The word ‘selah’ comes with the word ‘purpose in this Psalm. What does this mean? Wikipedia can help illuminate this usage,

From Wikipedia,

The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon shows that the main derivation of the Hebrew word selah is found through the fientive verb root סֶ֜לָה which means “to lift up (voices)” or “to exalt,” and also carries a close connotational relationship to the verb סָלַל, which is similar in meaning: “to lift up” or “to cast up.” The word סֶלָה, which shifts the accent back to the last syllable of the verb form, indicates that in this context, the verb is being used in the imperative mood as somewhat of a directive to the reader. As such, perhaps the most instructive way to view the use of this word, particularly in the context of the Psalms, would be as the writer’s instruction to the us is to

Pause (my emphasis) as we pray.

This day, everyday, try to pause in prayer – pause before, as , after you approach Him.

Lift, sing; pause for Him as He stopped and paused for you.

Hosanna.

hosannas

28 Mar

As Jesus enters Jerusalem the time before his death, he hears ‘hosannas’ or ‘save’ us

‘hosannas’ can be seen as a pause, a lifting up of voices

This is what the crowd, his disciples, we do: we pause to see and we lift voices.

For myself each day, I pray ‘save me’ in accordance with thy purposeful love, thy mercy. I pray this multiple times each and everyday.

I ‘pause’ when I pray this way. This is my internal ‘hosanna’ -my prayer, a pause.

Verse 8 in psalm 138 defines the Lord’s purpose for us as enduring, a forever, love as a Selah. From Wikipedia,

The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon shows that the main derivation of the Hebrew word selah is found through the fientive verb root סֶ֜לָה which means “to lift up (voices)” or “to exalt,” and also carries a close connotational relationship to the verb סָלַל, which is similar in meaning: “to lift up” or “to cast up.” The word סֶלָה, which shifts the accent back to the last syllable of the verb form, indicates that in this context, the verb is being used in the imperative mood as somewhat of a directive to the reader. As such, perhaps the most instructive way to view the use of this word, particularly in the context of the Psalms, would be as the writer’s instruction to the reader to pause and exalt the Lord.[4]

The NIV has ‘Selah’ by ‘purpose’ in Psalm 138 In the the Hebrew

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands. ESV

For me it is an instruction ‘to pause and ‘lift’ voice

advent 2017, an epilogue-Boxing Day

26 Dec

advent epilogue 2017, His touch
my deep darkness, His glorious light 
NAS 1977  “For behold, darkness will cover the earth, 

 And deep darkness the peoples  But the LORD will rise upon you, And His glory will appear upon you.”- Isaiah 60:2

My life was covered with darkness from my birth. A unexpected twin, my mother emotionally overwhelmed at my and my brother’s birth, kept one for the first six months of our lives and gave the other to her sister to care for. That other was me. My mother and I never bonded. I left home at 17 to live.
All of our lifes are broken, ruptured, in disrepair. Deaths; divorces; ill health; social inequality and global injustice ; environmental distress – all these touches all. This, our darkness, my darkness, deeply covers. It especially touches me at this Advent, Christmas time- a time of year of less light. The lack of light during this season always makes me more sensitive, more open to deep darkness.

Yet, from Asian culture and His word, I am washed, covered, and touched. The story of the Japanese art form of “Kintsugi” comforts,

“Kintsugi (金継ぎ, きんつぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, きんつくろい, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. “(Wikipedia)

Isaiah speaks not just of the dark but of as ‘deep darkness.’ He gives us this image in an attempt, as blind John Milton in his description of hell, to make ‘darkness visible.’ (Paradise Lost)
Deep darkness in both these texts is absence- the absence of Light, hope, life and especially of God’s felt presence.

As he does at the end (Isaiah 60: 2); the middle (Isaiah 45:7), Isaiah weaves deep darkness in beginning of his work,

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 (NIV)

My darkness is with me all the time.  Yet, so is my Jesus.

Jesus is my, our, life. His coming is celebrated this time of year by gifts of value for those we value: we give gold as Magi to bless and heal; to touch and be touched; to love those who are hurting.

Today in the U.K. and other countries is “Boxing Day.” It is a day of rest and reflection. Of rethinking and refeeling. A day to put aside darkness and be in light.

My daughter who lives in Florida asked me why is this day called ‘Boxing Day.’ While none are sure, the best story is that on this day in Medieval times the Lord of the Manor placed gifts of food and coin for the servants and poor of the estate to bless and honour them. 
These small boxes must have been like a Magi’s gold: threads of glorious light for those without in this in deep darkness. 
 

Today, plan in the coming days, weeks, months or year to give a box of gold to another: a word; a gift card; a smile; a hello. Without a judgement. Perhaps, receive a present without thinking yourself unworthy. Perhaps, even plan to give to yourself some self care.

But give and give with life, His light. 

His prayer filled touch

23 Dec

His prayer filled touch
In Luke 1:37 ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ (NIV) is spoken by the Angel Gabriel in response to Mary’s troubled query on how she, a virgin, can be with child.
In Mark 9:24 ‘ …all is possible for he who believes’ (NIV) is Jesus’ response to a crying troubled father. 
Jesus’ response in Mark 9:24 echoes the Angel Gabriel’s response to Mary-how? 
Both Jesus and Gabriel, who have been with the Father from the universe’s beginnings, speak to the broken hearted, the deeply troubled, about faith and trust. They, who have been with God the Father from the beginning, know that no word, not a groan or syllable to the Father can not be filled. They speak of what they have seen, touched and experienced. (As John speaks on in 1 John 1)
As eyewitnesses, they testify to the truth: He hears and answers as our prayers touch Him. Jesus and Gabriel tell those who are hurting, questioning or one thing is truly nesseart to touch God: pray. 

When the father in Mark brings his son to Jesus for healing of a possessing spirit. He asks Jesus have ‘pity on us’ and to ‘help us …if you can’

Jesus replied, ‘if you can? …all is possible for he who believes.’

The father speaks in this ‘exclamation’ 
‘I believe, help my unbelief.’ His language switches from using ‘us’ in his first plea to ‘the use of ‘my’ here. 
Why?

Because the father of the possessed child is praying. Now it is personal for the father; it is about his personal response to Jesus. 

The father’s crying out here is prayer. The word describing the words and the person of the father is ‘exclamation.’
“Exclamation” (NIV) should be translated as speaking in tears, a cry. He is crying over his unbelief. Unbelief can be seen as a defective, a flawed, a weak faith. And if unbelief stays unspoken, unshared, it would remain so. Yet moved to tears the father speaks it to Jesus. And by bringing this weakness to Jesus he and his son experience healing belief. He comes to Jesus, torn hurting, un-believing, and yet, paradoxically, also a believing man. 
Mary’s response echoes the Father’s- She is ‘the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you said.’ Luke 1: 38. May it be to ‘me.’ It is now very personal to her. Jesus is to be her child, her son.

Both submit their hearts and doubts; their belief and unbeliefs, prayerfully to Him. And  new life is borne out of the father’s unbelief as his son is healed (Jesus lifts him by hand and restores him to life) and global, eternity saving life comes from the child Mary is to carry, this same spirit healing Jesus.

 Questioning, troubled and hurting people here pray. And their prayers are answered with life. Everlasting life. Belief. 

I am these people , hurting, troubled, believing and awash in unbelief. Their beautiful prayers are also mine- ‘I believe – help my unbelief.’ They model my struggle of belief and unbelief. And they tell me who to take this struggle to: Jesus.

In Mark’s gospel, when Jesus debriefs His disciples on why they couldn’t exorcise the unholy spirit, He tells them that this type of spirit can only come out through prayer. Prayer. 

That is all that is truly needed – a weak, crying, humble prayer- the prayers of a broken man, a loving father, or mother; a prayer that is ever reaching out to Jesus. 
This season: believe; yet if needed, state your unbelief. Prayerfully question and then reach for Him, as a child reaches for a parent. He will touch, reach back, in return. Whether by an Angel, a person, a father or a child, he will respond.
 Reach 

advent 3, to touch His word, His flesh

18 Dec

The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life,which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1: 1-4

A woman I work with believes that where a tattoo is on a body clearly indicates the possessors’s age. Millenniums favour the leg and ankle area; baby boomers arms, and especially for men, chests. People desire to see words on flesh; they desire to have their words touch, join, become part of their flesh. Their desire is for the eternal; for words that will last beyond flesh. 

Advent is, as John tells us in his letters and gospel, when we reflect on God’s word becoming flesh. John tells us that his ‘eyes have seen… and our hands touch’ the Saviour. 

Jesus was sent in the flesh; a metaphorical tattoo for all to see, read and possibly to wear on our hearts and minds. We see and holdin our mind’s eye a baby; and a child in a temple; a teacher, a healer and on across, our Saviour. His life story is the words we internally wear and live for. John can’t stop feeling Jesus in his eyes, his hands and his heart. Why?

Because Jesus takes on flesh in the end to cover our sins. He comes to express in words the Father’s, the Spirit’s and His love for us.  He weeps at Lazarus’ death because He loved His friend so; and then Jesus’ words calls Lazarus forth; He touches the Samaritan woman at the well by sitting and speaking with her; He speaks words that heal, instruct, direct and encourage. His words are loving touches for us. They are joys. He is the word made flesh; a flesh to speak.

This season share His life; His words; a part of His touch, with another. You will make joy on, and into your world as you do.

a video, me- a new birth portrait

12 Dec

advent 2

11 Dec

Ana & Simeon, voices; touching words.

Prophets see and speak with the sight and voice of God. 

They see what and how God sees. They are caretakers of vision and cannot add or take away from the vision, images, or sounds and words given to them, or even dreams. 

 Prophets speak; and they voice what they feel by His Spirit.

 In Luke chapter 2, two prophets, Anna and Simeon, see in a beginning, a fulfilling ending. 

Both have been promised by the Spirit that they would see the Messiah; both are at the end of childless long lives; both have stayed true to a promised vision; and both see the vision fulfilled. 
What do they see, feel?
Redemption, and their rescue, by a new-born babe. Simeon sees and speaks first. But his words only come after he touches, holds our Saviour in his arms:
 “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord …Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout… and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit; he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’”

This child’s coming dismisses the prophet in peace; and, holding the child, touching him, inspires Simeon to speak. Hopeful touch inspires faithful, prophetic and fatherly words.
Anna, a prophetess, sees and feels next. She is in the temple at the same time as Simeon. They speak as one and of one redemption, a child, Jesus:
“There was also a prophetess, Anna. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
 “At that very moment.”- here- ‘at that very moment’- there is no time lag; no time for hearts to think; only a time to feel. Then Anna speaks to all; after His touch she can not stop speaking, feeling. 

What does Anna see in the promise of this baby? 
She sees eternal redemption, a new and full life. A childless widow honoured, blessed, with a beautiful child. A Naomi touched, redeemed.
Anna gives thanks as she speaks about a child, a saviour to everyone. Redemption is here, for all, and especially for her. Waiting exists no more. 
She holds the child, dearly, with all her love, in her heart and words.
 Two older servants, Anna and Simeon, faithful till the endings of their lives. What do their lives mean for them, for us?

They, and we, have had our souls “pierced” with Jesus on the cross. Why? So hearts can speak thoughts in a new way. So our voices can speak in a spirit filled moment; and so what pierces, can also touch, and love us with its harshest touch.
This season look for some faithful people around you. A teacher or a GP; a caregiver or a vicar; a police person or a cleaner. Pray for an opportunity to encourage them, even if it is with just a smile, for their faithfulness. Look for Annas and Simeons, the faithful. 
Touch them with love, words, sight. Touch and speak.

advent 1

3 Dec

Advent, His touch, a prologue 

All our wonders are filled and made thoughtful today, through Jesus who touches 
He was ‘Sent’ to touch and also to be touched. Who does he touch? And How? 
He touches the blind, spits and, then, wipes eyes; he touches lepers with his words and heals; he touches the dead,  Jairus’ child, and gives life; he eats fish; drinks wine. Touching people, food, drinks, hopes and fears with words and hands, Jesus’ love touches, heals. But that is not all.

He also allows himself to be touched. 

The woman with the discharge; Mary with her hair in the gospel of Luke; his parents, mother Mary and father Joesph, as a baby born, who receives; by the soldiers who spat, ‘crowned him’ mocked and whipped Him-
And … in, on a cross, Jesus allows sin to touch, and become Him. 

Why? Because…

Perfect loves casts out imperfect fears; perfect love is a love that touches and allows itself to be touched.
Advent touches. Touch, be touched this season.

Advent voices

29 Oct

Bethlehem, the smallest

Sometimes the smallest voice speaks the truest. And at times it is not people who speak into our lives, but a place.

Prophets were people who speak God’s word, spoke of and for His presence, His being, His character. Yet Bethlehem is as a place of prophecy. It is a place spoken of and sung over. It is a place where God’s voice is heard, from the Father’s words about suffering, to His inspired Pslams by His prophet David; to the first soft cries of the baby Jesus and the lulling of animals. God has chosen Bethlehem to be a place that receives and then echo his voice to His people. It is a special place that holds his voice truly, tenderly and speaks it truthfully.

Micah 5:2 speaks Betlehem’s beginnings,

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me/ one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”

The Messiah is to come from the small, the ancient, the Father’s special place. And He will come for God the Father, for this Father and son love their children. And they come to the smallest to ask us to be the least.

The adult Jesus teaches on the ‘small’ or least principle in Matthew 19: 30 to a rich ruler,

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Here, In Bethlehem, the Lord God began to teach us to reverse what we usually value, expect and have been taught. The least, the small, is the way of our Generous Father God. The world is to be turned upside down through Jesus’ teaching.

And what did Bethlehem speak of from its ancient past before His birth? It speaks of loss, of suffering.

King Herod, in his rage to find and destroy the baby Jesus, orders that all boy children under two be put to the sword. Matthew in his gospel (2:18) quotes the prophet Jeremiah describing this loss,

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

This city where the children died has Rachael’s tomb at it’s entrance (Genesis 35:19 ‘So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem))She died in child birth. Her child would not know her, a life taken, gone, a loss.

He hears sufferings spoken and those unspoken; our Father listens to silent voices. He understands loss.

Bethlehem is also a town of song. The home city of David, the smallest of Jesse’s eight sons, (1 Samuel 16) the shepherd boy David was overlooked, and forgotten as he sang to God tending sheep in the Bethlehem fields,

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘ Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. ( a good looking son of Jesse) The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Hearts are seen, their beats heard by this listening Father. Songs are heard. And he sees and hears them from David of Bethlehem’s boy shepherd and future King.

All these past voices join together, and culminates with a baby’s birth cries. A child who was called Jesus. He is to be our Saviour, our Lord.

This baby is to become ‘a man of sorrow’ ‘; a ‘suffering’ Messiah. (Isaiah 53); and yet He comes to end all sorrows; to ‘wipe away every tear.’ (Revelation 21:4)

Our Lord is a Lord who reverses what man, people, usually value . We value: Queens and Kings; appearances and beauty; power and wealth.

He values the poor and suffering; He values children; the poor; the widow; the weak. People who are born in mangers. The homeless. The refugee. Here, In Bethlehem , He shares His love; and this loving Messiah will heal.

He values all of us. He especially desires us to see the smallest, the most insignificant. He wants to see and hear how ‘little town of Bethlehem’ is our town, our place. His home.

A town with the same name for over 3,500 years. A town, the place of a prophetic voice that says,

“The last, the least, will be first.”

This season hear the smallest, the weakest voice season. Listen to the aged and children; the poor and the powerless. This is the generosity of The Father that Bethlehem embodies: He listens, to the smallest, softest, the most silent of voices. To babies cries. This season, Listen to His heart. Listen to the smallest voice.

It speaks of Bethlehem. His special place; His voice; home.

 

 

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