Category Archives: Occasional Thoughts

12/11/2019 Reflections at Christmas 8

John 1:10-11, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

He bore witness of Himself – a true witness, yet none received Him. He came to reveal the Father, but man “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” We embraced our way rather than His, choosing to remain blind rather than obtain our sight; delighting in sin over holiness.

In His love, the Word that upheld the world condescended to enter it, only to be rejected by those who did not believe and those who claimed the promise but failed to recognize Him when He arrived. Though He was the Light of All and we acknowledged His light in our midst, we denied The Word’s power to change us – nor did we desire it. We wanted our own way and do so still.

What love then the Father has bestowed on us in giving us His Son! What unfailing love that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!

12/9/2019 Reflections at Christmas 7

John 1:9, “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.”

True in every sense of the word. Never false.  Christ’s nature in every point corresponding to His claims. There is nothing defective in His character or person. He is perfectly true; indeed, the Truth. And, in truth, He illuminates all around us, showing us that He is the Way.

He has shown the way to every man, imprinting His image, His law, His life throughout creation, and He has written eternity in our hearts. We are without excuse.  He has made Himself known and cannot be faithless to Himself.

And it is into Himself – the Way, the Truth, and the Light – that He has invited us all. He is no respecter of persons. We are not obligated to accept; however, He has promised that one day we will be confronted with the Truth. Not yours, not mine, but the Truth, pure and unadulterated, in which no darkness can exist. And it is this Truth that shines as an eternal beacon of hope, whispering, “Come home,” to all, beckoning us to follow Him through the shadows of death and into to the reality of His holy light.

12/9/2019 Reflections at Christmas 6

John 1:6-8, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.”

A witness to the Light, who heralded the Light’s entrance into a dark world. An example for us, that we, too, announce the Light, becoming carriers of His glory, to a world in need of Him.

This testimony threatens the darkness. The more we witness of the Light, decreasing that He may increase, the more our world is illuminated with the Truth that sets people free. We are a living, breathing, moving proclamation of the Light’s redeeming, transformative power.

And the Light has commissioned us to be His witnesses. He desires that not any should perish, but all come to repentance. He came that we might have life and that more abundantly. This is what we testify to: that the Word is Truth! We bear witness that He is Light, and in Him is no darkness. In Him, Jesus Christ, we believe. By His blood, we are free, and as we testify to it, we overcome!

12/6/2019 Reflections at Christmas 5

John 1:5, “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

An explosion of light! Not just a twinkle, but THE Light from which emanates all that illuminates. He invades our darkness, and though it tries, darkness cannot seize and overtake Him. No! The Light has entered our world and shines brightly, declaring freedom to the captives, binding up the broken-hearted, and proclaiming God has come to us. He is Emmanuel!

He is the Word; He is Light; He is God, and He is with us! He came that darkness could no longer lay hold of us, but that by living in the Light, we could overcome the dark. The Eternal Light chose to step into time so that all who draw near could experience the fullness of His intent for us, reflecting His glory to others.

The Light came to dispel the darkness, and darkness didn’t have a fighting chance! Joy to the world, the LORD has come!

12/5/2019 Reflections at Christmas 4

John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Death and darkness. The two seem to go hand-in-hand, and accompanying them is fear. It always seems colder in the dark, where not even shadows exist, and determining direction has become a guessing game – left is right, and right is left. Good has become evil, and evil has become good. You long for signs of life and warmth and light.

And then in the distance, a Light appears. As a mere speck on a canvas of black at first, hope ignites your heart. Perhaps somewhere life does exist on this planet. As you begin to focus on the light, you see that it is not only a word but the Word. A living, breathing Word that awakens you and your eyes are opened to the reality of Him in His fulness. You can see! No longer do death and destruction reign. They have been dethroned by life and growth. The Light has given you sight in living-color where fear and shadows flee at His brightness.

Not only can you see, but you are also enveloped in warmth. You are safely ensconced within Him, living in the Word. The cold, frigid places of your being are thawing, and you are tingling with new life. You now know the definition of life – it is Him. This is the place you belong: abiding in the Word.

12/4/2019 Reflections at Christmas 3

John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”

The Word has creative choice. He is not subject to time, matter, or space. He exists outside of them. He is the creative energy that formed the universe and the laws that govern it. He also made you. You are not here by accident, regardless of what you’ve been told. You are uniquely designed, infinitely precious.

And as wonderful as it is that He spoke you into existence, He then breathed His life into you. We, like Him, are spirit beings created for eternity, and it is the eternal in each of us that cries out for our Abba, Father. You may not know it, or you may deny it, but your longing is for your Heavenly Father – a restoration to your origin, a going back to the beginning, a fresh start.

How incredible then that the Word who formed you, is able, by His Word, to do just that. The inspired Word can transform you, no matter where you find yourself, no matter how far you have strayed from home. All you have to do is call out to Him, spirit to Spirit. He is not a God far off. He is near; He is the Word; He is home. And He welcomes you.

12/2/2019 Reflections at Christmas 2

John 1:2, “He was in the beginning with God.”

The intangible Word of God now takes shape before us. The Word is a personality, present and in perfect unity with the Father from eternity past to eternity future. The Lord our God is One, indivisible. The Word that decrees a thing and it is done; the Word that upholds the world; the Word by which all words are judged was present before time and ever lives to make intercession for us.

Right now, the Word is interceding for you. The Word that formed you and knew you before you were born is presenting all of Himself, in all of His creative power, before God on your behalf. As the Word, He is not praying without knowledge. No, He was there at the very beginning. He knows the threads of time that bind you to all that came before, and He is praying with an intimate knowledge of you. You are more than a passing whisper on His lips.

It is a Word that not only speaks existence but abundance. It is a Word of success, not failure; of acceptance, not rejection; a Word that gives a future and a hope. The Word has formed a prayer that encompasses your life and is drawing you to its eternal origin. He is drawing you back to the Father whose love released the Word so that you would not perish but have everlasting life.

12/2/2019 Reflections at Christmas I

John 1:1a, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

We’ve all been there before – yearning for a word that changes and transforms, that encourages and brings hope to our relationships, our circumstances, ourselves. It can’t be just any word. We want it to be specific, intentional, and well-thought-out. A word that, like music, causes us to ascend to a peaceful, holy place, where our spirits are at rest, and all is well with our soul. How beautiful, then, that we worship such an awe-inspiring God.

Before you and I ever were, the Word was – existent and held in the arms of God. The Word that both creates and communicates; the Word that profoundly transforms us and fills the void of our hearts and the longing of our souls. That Word, which gives definition and meaning to our lives, was present long before we ever needed to draw upon it. And that intangible Word was already working on our behalf: available, waiting, and willing. Before our minds were able to form the question, the Word provided our answer. The Word was God, gloriously manifested.

This Word that stands in the heavenlies and cannot be shaken. It is an eternal Word that speaks life over us, bringing stability and peace amid the turmoil. It is not a harsh Word, but one of Good News of great joy for everyone. It is timeless, unchanging, and inerrant. Yes, in the beginning was the Word, and this same Word is present today, speaking to you. Are you listening?

11/29/2019 The Importance of Gratitude

Why is gratitude important? Scripture tells us that those who do not glorify God or give thanks become vain in their thinking, and their hearts are darkened, which according to Rom. 1:21, is the first step in a downward spiral of sin. So thankfulness of heart, counting our blessings, is an essential part of our walk with God.

The Greek word used for thanks in this Scripture and many others is eucharisteo. Sound familiar? It’s the same word we use for communion or partaking of the Lord’s table. Gratitude for Christ’s work on the cross is paramount. Indeed, a study of Christ’s own life will show that He was continually giving thanks, which generally led to a breaking of bread and sharing a cup. In other words, a sharing of Himself (Matt. 15:36, Mark 8:6, Luke 22;17-19, John 6:11).

 

This leads us to the question of how we define gratitude. In a society that has relegated thankfulness to a mere phrase, “Thank you,” we would do well to reexamine our lives and the example of our Lord. While vocalizing our thanks has value, true thanksgiving is reflected in our brokenness – consciously choosing to share our lives and sustenance with others. Take, for instance, Christ’s Parable of the Forgiven Servant. This servant was forgiven much and expressed gratitude in worship to His Lord, but when it came down to his relationships with others, he failed miserably, and for this, he was imprisoned until he paid every cent (Matt. 18:23-35).

As we once again enter this season of holy days, may we reflect on what is essential. Are we grateful in word only, or do our deeds follow our confession? Are we glorifying God and giving thanks His way or our own? Christ’s love for His Father was expressed continuously through giving of thanks and pouring Himself out for others, and if we are to be like Him, our love will be accompanied by a lifestyle of thanksgiving, resulting in our brokenness and being poured.

Thanksgiving is an offering of remembrance of Christ’s love. It’s a tangible expression of our desire to follow in His footsteps, thereby bringing glory to God, and preventing sin from having a foothold in our lives. Yes, we must pass through its gates to access His presence. Ps. 100:4-5 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” NKJV

11/22/2019 Transformation

Rom. 12:2 tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NKJV). Many times we have spoken of this transformation as similar to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Indeed, it is the same word in Greek. But what is the process of this transformation? For the monarch butterfly, it finds an isolated place, sheds its skin into what becomes the chrysalis, hangs upside down a while as its insides turn to goop, and its cells are rearranged to form a butterfly. Once this transformation takes place, there is a fight against the skin of the old self (its chrysalis) to emerge, and only after this takes place can it fly (and yes, I am simplifying a very complex process.)  SIGH!

Many who have prayed for transformation, discontent with the status quo of “church as usual,” are currently finding themselves in a place where they feel isolated and alone, turned inside out, and quite frankly, stuck. Your heart is weary within you, and you feel like a huge pile of nothing who doesn’t have the energy to fight. I know exactly how you feel! Here’s the good news: you’re in the perfect place for transformation! You may not know it yet, but it has already begun! No, it doesn’t feel like anything good or beautiful can come of where you are at this moment. No, it doesn’t feel natural to be stripped of the flesh and allow the Holy Spirit to have His perfect work in you. The truth be told, it feels rather crummy. After all, you feel as though your world has been turned upside down (and quite frankly it has), and you’re just left hanging. However, you must choose to allow the Holy Spirit to have His way by embracing this work and determining within yourself that you will let Him complete it. After all, no caterpillar has ever flown, and no butterfly does so with one wing. You can’t remain in the flesh and fly with the Spirit, and you can’t partially transform. It’s impossible to live in both worlds.

The purpose of isolation is not only to hide away from enemies that would seek to destroy what the Lord is doing in you but also protect you from those well-meaning people who would interrupt the process in their anxiousness to see what you will become in Christ. You are alone because no one can do it for you. Moses sat in the desert for decades, Paul remained blind for days, and we – we must be willing to hang upside down, refusing our impulse to control the process by attempting to “right” our world. We must hang, and in due season, when the Holy Spirit has done His work, there will be a holy unsettling take place within us. We will once again experience the urge to fight. We will begin to be stirred within and battle against the skin of flesh that has encased us, and eventually, break free to soar to greater heights and distances than could ever have been reached in the flesh.

I want you to know that you are not alone. Within the church, many are hanging around just waiting through the process. In our flesh we may feel a bit anxious because in isolation we cannot see all that God is doing, but within, our spirits are joined together in crying out to the Father for change, understanding that something great is on the horizon. Be encouraged. He is transforming us. He is making us more like Him. Our transformation will enable us to see with greater vision and perspective than ever before, and we can begin our great migration to the place God has prepared for us. A warning, though: you can refuse this process, never transform into what God desires you to be, and be left behind as God’s church becomes what He intended. I, for one, am determined to undergo this process, knowing that what God has planned is far greater than what I, in my momentary discomfort, can see. Romans 8:18, “I don’t think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future. The creation waits eagerly for the sons of God to be revealed.” CJB