Monday, May 27, 2013

Terra Firma

"I preached that they should repent and turn
to God and demonstrate their
repentance by their deeds.  
That is why some Jews seized me in the temple
courts and tried to kill me.  
But God has helped me to this very day;
so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.
I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets
and Moses said would happen  
that the Messiah would suffer and,
as the first to rise from the dead,
would bring the message of light to
His own people and to the Gentiles.” 
Acts 26:20-23
In considering Paul's discourse to King Agrippa as described above ~ in part ~ I am somewhat amused, if not altogether challenged.  Paul's predicament is not limited to the times in which he lived.  He'd not be welcome in many circles today, either ~ not to mention churches or synagogues. 

Across the doctrinal landscape, I am saddened to see so many "pet sins" minimized and/or rendered perfectly acceptable in today's world.  Or, worse, a Salvation Free Pass granted to anyone & everyone given to niceties, never mind what the scriptures to have say about Jesus being the ONLY way to God.  I'll spare you a rant.  But ...  
  • Repentance?  Whoa ... Whoa ... Whoa ... (which Paul, in essence, says is the purpose of his preaching)
  • Sin?  What else would someone repent of?  Whoa ...
  • Good deeds/works ... as a demonstration of salvation versus the means to it?  Whoa ...
  • Testifying to God's power & grace on a personal level?  Whoa ...
  • Connecting God's promises in the Old Testament to the reality of those promises coming to pass in the New; which begs the questions of whether or not one even reads their Bible to know the linkage?  Whoa ...
  • Dead people actually/literally rising from the dead?   Whoa ...
Not much more I can add to Paul's powerful polemic.  Given an opportunity, he made no attempt to cheapen God's grace.  He stood on terra firma which is, ever-and-always, a good place to stand.    

I felt compelled to write and urge you
to contend for the faith that was once for all
entrusted to God’s holy people. 
 For certain individuals whose condemnation
was written about long ago have secretly
slipped in among you.
They are ungodly people, who pervert the
grace of our God into a license for immorality
and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
~ Jude 3-4


My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Bottom Line

When I saw this picture/quote earlier I grabbed it, thinking what a perfect corollary to Psalm 19:14 ~ that which I've chosen for my life's desire, as well as my header here.  

Amazing how our meditations can take a course all their own, be it for good or for ill.

Sow a thought, reap an action;
Sow an action; reap a habit;
Sow a habit, reap a character;
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Wondering Place

In the days following the disciple Stephen's death, the Lord's people scattered to various parts of the country to avoid persecution & a similar fate.  They certainly didn't disperse & cower in fear, but redeemed the entirety of their experience to further the Gospel. 

So it was in those days that we hear a good deal about Philip.  Following the aforementioned (I love it when I get to use that word) scattering, he settled (sort of) in Samaria, where he flourished in a ministry that was, to say the least, powerful, prolific and productive. 

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed
the Messiah there.  When the crowds heard Philip
and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close
attention to what he said.  For with shrieks,
impure spirits came out of many, and many who
were paralyzed or lame were healed. 
So there was great joy in that city. 
Acts 8:5-8

Even so, God saw fit to pluck Philip from that joyful, fertile place (rather abruptly, I might add) for yet another, as yet undisclosed purpose.  I can but wonder what he was thinking as he steadied his obedient heart, making his way through a forest of cactus & Joshua trees, accompanied by snakes, lizards & scorpions. 

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip,
"Go south to the road—the desert road
that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 
So he started out, and on his way he met
an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official
in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake
(which means “queen of the Ethiopians”).
This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 
and on his way home was sitting in his chariot
reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.
The Spirit told Philip,
“Go to that chariot and stay near it.” 
Acts 8:26-29
Philip seems to have embraced & benefited from such immediate trust & obedience.  No quibbling about Marching Orders (" ... But Lord, I've worked so hard here; and surely You can see how much these people need me.  But surely ...").  

I believe it's safe to say that Philip was ever ready & packed to march. 
The rest, as they say, is history.  But as I consider that story & the history that accompanies it, I wonder how many times I've balked at being transplanted from one place to another ~ literally and/or spiritually?  I wonder if I've esteemed the multitudes & the miracles at the expense of the equally glorious mundane or minuscule?     
Sometimes the greatest ministries are situated squarely in the midst of the ignoble, accompanied by conditions & companions we might never have sought, left to our own devices.   It is often then & there that along comes a opportunity ~ an appointment with destiny ~ which could come by no other means. 
I love the Wondering Place.