Light Is Come

10 12 2014

glory streaks

Pleasant for eyes to see, truly sweet is the light.      1

But when whitened skies are brushed blue by the breathing breeze,      2

None can gaze e’en with longing at the sun’s star white.      3

Longing fails to linger strong in Light’s awesome feeze;      4

Blindness of blackness comes preferred in our dis-ease.      5

Yet the Sky’s Wind conceived the living, gleaming Word;      6

The shadow of death out to Light it then averred.      7

 

Whence, where, and whither it wills soars and sounds the Breeze      8

Circling one and then another, each to gird      9

With truth revealed, recalled, retold in congeries.     10

Esteem, embrace the wisdom of the Word adjured;     11

Prefer the halo, the crown of glory conferred.     12

The way of the right is a route evermore bright,     13

Enlightening perfectly with dawning daylight.     14

 

Before beginning, beyond ending, is the Word,     15

Commanding out of chaos, “Let there be light!”     16

Shining in darkness what darkness never immured:     17

Grace for grace, full of truth.  Because, despite the night,     18

Love and joy and peace, faith and hope and love unite     19

In one chivalrous, glorious Spirit imprese.     20

This with these announce Life, pronounce death’s obsequies.     21

 

Day dawns; the day star shines white.    22

Glory has risen aright.    23

Arise!  Shine!  It’s come, thy Light!    24

Excerpted from the novel entitled No Shadow of Turning: A Sojourner’s Tale, which is available as an e-book on Amazon.

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Your Fruit

3 12 2014

cypress overstory

 

I myself have answered and looked after you.
I am like a luxuriant cypress;
    your fruit comes from Me.

Hosea 14:8  (LEB)





Farming: An Act of Love

8 09 2014

“How do you take the first step to
become a farmer? You act out of
love.”

This quote appeared at the
end of an article by Shannon Hayes,
and it struck me as absolute truth.
So much of what we do in farming is
an act of love. Bringing milk to the
pigs, cultivating the carrots,
delivering food to our members,
feeding and watering chickens,
cutting hay, harvesting flowers, and
working the soil are all motions that
we go through because we love: we
love the earth, we love real food, we
love working outside, we love
putting food on people’s tables, we
love animals, and we love the fact
many of our decisions are informed
by our values.

Farming keeps us
rooted in the present while
constantly asking us to look back at
what we learned last year. Then,
we are asked to look forward so that
we can prepare for the season to
come. This continual need to view
things from all sides, from past
through future, keeps us focused on
what’s important in the present. In
farming, we need to reflect, to be
humble, to keep learning new things
every single day, to roll with the
punches and to be creative in our
solutions. One would not be up for
this work if LOVE was not at the
root of it! Maybe that’s why I feel
so much. A lovely sky can stop me
in my tracks, overwhelming me
with beauty. It is a gift that makes
me feel love. Therein lies the first
step to becoming a farmer.

Danielle Boerson

Shenandoah

From a photograph, courtesy of the United States National Park Service.





True Love

6 09 2014

Before the JESUS film can be dubbed into any language, the essential work of translation into the mother tongue must occur. Our partners at Wycliffe Bible Translators are instrumental in the work of helping us translate JESUS into new languages. Because nearly every word that Jesus says in the JESUS film is taken from the Biblical book of Luke, we take seriously the importance of communicating clearly and accurately what Scripture says. The pursuit of just the right term for a theological concept is critical for a culture truly to understand the Gospel. Sometimes the treasure is present, but prayer and God’s directing hand reveal the awaiting gem.

Lee Bramlett and his wife are Wycliffe Bible translators in Cameroon who have been working on Scripture and the JESUS film translation into the Hdi language. Lee was confident that God had left His mark on the Hdi culture somewhere *, but though he searched, he could not find it. Where was the footprint of God in the history or daily life of these Cameroonian people? What clue had God planted to let the Hdi know who He is and how He wants to relate to them?

Then one night in a dream, God prompted Lee to look again at the Hdi word for love. Lee and his wife had learned that verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels. For almost every verb, they could find forms ending in i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?

Curious, Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, which included the most influential leaders in the community, “Could you ‘dvi’ your wife?”

“Yes,” they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved, but the love was gone.

“Could you ‘dva’ your wife?” Lee asked.

“Yes,” they said. That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.

“Could you ‘dvu’ your wife?” Lee asked.

Everyone laughed. “Of course not!” they said. “If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say ‘dvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.”

Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, “Could God ‘dvu’ people?”

There was complete silence for three or four minutes, and then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded. “Do you know what this would mean?” they asked. “This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.”

One simple vowel, and the meaning was changed from “I love you based on what you do and who you are,” to “I love you based on who I am. I love you because of Me and not because of you.”

God had encoded the story of His unconditional love right into their language. For centuries, the little word was there—unused but available, grammatically correct and quite understandable. When the word was finally spoken, it called into question their entire belief system. If God was like that, did they need the spirits of the ancestors to intercede for them? Did they need sorcery to relate to the spirits? Many decided the answer was no, and the number of Christ-followers quickly grew from a few hundred to several thousand. One word. One vowel. All the difference.

Praise God for His Unconditional Love.

Reprinted from a prayer letter recently issued by Bryan Augsburger, Cru studio technician for The Jesus Film Project.

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John 3:16  King James Version (KJV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

* For more on this concept, see Don Richardson’s book entitled Eternity In Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World, published by Regal Books in 1981 and in revised form in 1984.

D. Raymond-Wryhte





Unless This Miracle Have Might

16 07 2014

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power, 
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, 
Whose action is no stronger than a flower? 
O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out 
Against the wreckful siege of battering days, 
When rocks impregnable are not so stout, 
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?
O fearful meditation! where, alack, 
Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? 
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid? 
   O, none, unless this miracle have might,
   That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

William Shakespeare

Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will pass away. If there are tongues, they will cease. If there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but whenever the perfect comes, the partial will pass away….  And now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 (1 Corinthians 13: 8, 9, 10, 13 Lexham English Bible)





The Good-Morrow

7 07 2014
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.
John Donne
Light of the World
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
    as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death;
    passion is fierce as Sheol;
its flashes are flashes of fire;
    it is a blazing flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away.
If a man were to give all the wealth of his house for love,
    he would be utterly scorned.
Canticles 8:6-8 (Lexham English Bible)




The Just Shall Live By Faith

2 07 2014

 

If it can be said that the Bible contains a prime directive, it would be this: as Jesus said, and as it is written, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”(1)  It is the Triune God who gives love its existence and its significance. Without the Triune God there is no such thing as love. Our love for God gives us the motivation to love others ― properly ― and to love even ourselves ― properly. Proper love for ourselves and our neighbors proves our love for God.

Love is work; it is action. Such action is enabled by faith, faith in the God who is the fount of love, who is Love itself.

And what is faith? As it is written, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (2)  Faith as revealed to us via the prophets and the apostles is belief, and more than belief; it is also devotion, fidelity, conviction, and fealty. It is trusting obedience and obedient trust.

What else is written about faith?

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” (3)

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (4)

“For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’ ” (5)

“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” (6)

Indeed, one may say that one means of expressing love to and for God is by exercising faith in Him, His Word, His will, and His way.

Here is an illustration.

Casey may say to his young son Henry, “Here. Eat this. It tastes good, and it’s good for you.” And Henry  says, “Of course it is. I know exactly what’s in it. Whole-grain wheat, barley, rye, oats, and corn. Soybeans. Yeast.  Bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly. Curds and whey. Eggs. Sunflower seeds. Nectar.” And he eats it.

Or Casey may say to Henry, “Here. Eat this. It tastes good, and it’s good for you.” And Henry says, “What is it?” Casey says, “That’s exactly what it is: manna. (7) Eat it.” Now Henry has a choice, to eat or not to eat. He doesn’t know what manna is, but because he loves his father, and because love for his father orients on his father’s love and care and provision for him, plus his father’s knowledge and wisdom, plus his father’s talents, skills, and abilities, Henry chooses to eat the manna.

In both scenarios, Casey’s love for his son is expressed in his provision of food for Henry’s health and welfare. In which scenario, though, is Henry’s love for his father better or more meaningfully expressed?

In the first scenario, Henry’s orientation is more on himself as subject than on his father as object. “I know,” he says to himself. “It’s only rational, logical, and sensible of me to eat this food.” Here, leaning on his own understanding, Henry helps himself.

It is written, “We know that ‘We all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.  But whoever loves God is known by God.” An alternate reading of the last two sentences says, “Those who think they have knowledge do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves truly knows.” (8)

In the second scenario, Henry’s orientation is more on his father as object than on himself as subject.  “I don’t know,” he realizes. Nevertheless, because he trusts his father, Henry eats. He accepts the helping offered by his father.

It is written, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (9)  In the first scenario, Henry is more selfish; he receives. In the second scenario, Henry is less selfish; he receives, but he also gives. What does he give? Not just belief, not just assent. It would not have been enough for Henry to say to his father, “I believe you,” and yet refuse to eat. Henry acts on his belief by eating manna. Active trust, it’s something every parent wants in a child. Active trust is an expression of love any child can give.

God wants every one of His children to express love for Him, not just by mere belief, and not just by mere obedience, but by trusting obedience. “Trust Me,” God says.  As Jesus the Son of God says, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (10)

Alas, as the prophets and apostles have taught, we are all like Henry acting according to a third scenario. “No! I won’t eat that, that … whatever it is. I don’t trust you. And I won’t trust you. I can figure this out for myself, and I figure that stuff, whatever it is, is garbage. I don’t want you. I don’t need you. I can provide for myself.” Now, how loving is that?

Faith ―informed, enlightened, existential faith ― persuades Henry to eat what his father provides. In so doing, he comes to know what is in the manna, and he comes to know his father better.

It is written:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord. (11)

Even those who have had close encounters with God, whether once or more than once, must nevertheless continue to exercise faith.  This side of the coming Kingdom, one can never say, “I have graduated from faith; beyond the shadow of a doubt, I know … absolutely.” Such a person is already being deceived and is in danger of dreadful diabolical assault. Such a person is also likely to receive further lessons in faith from God. Think of Job. Think also of Moses, Elijah, Jonah, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah. Think of the entire Hebrew nation after the Exodus.

Remember Simon Peter? With fellow apostles James and John, he witnessed the glorious transfiguration of Christ. (12) Yet what did Jesus say to him later?  “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail….” (13) Simon Peter did fail, but not for long. Jesus’ prayer was answered in a glorious affirmative; in faith, Peter became first among equals.

Consider, too, the prophet John the Baptist. If anyone could say he had a close encounter with God, John could. Indeed, when he baptized his kinsman Jesus of Nazareth in the Jordan River, he was exposed not only to God the Son, but also to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit: the Triune God. Moreover, John proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Lamb of God. But then John was arrested for some unequivocally incorrect political speech. Suffering in prison, he sent two disciples to Jesus with the question, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (14)

Why would John, of all people, ask such a question? Wasn’t he familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah that predicted his own ministry? Hadn’t he already heard? Didn’t he already know?

And what did Jesus do? Did He go to that prison and appear before John as He did to Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration? Did He reveal to John those twelve legions of angels in a manner similar to God’s revealing His army of fire to the prophet Elisha and his servant? Did Jesus then give John a clear and incontrovertible answer, saying, “Yes, I am the Messiah, the Son of man and the Son of God”?

Instead, Jesus says, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (15)

Jesus does not provide John with absolute proof, though He could have done so. If anyone was worthy of such a revelation, based upon what Jesus said about him after his two disciples left, it was John the Baptist. (16)  Jesus rather insists that John consider the evidence, evidence that can be seen and heard in the here and now, evidence that fulfills prophecies recorded in the past.  This is evidence that can convince the mind of the truth of the Gospel and thereby produce belief and induce certainty of judgment.  Jesus insists that John exercise ― that is, continue to exercise ― faith.

Why? Consider another definition of proof: an effort, process, or operation designed to establish or discover a fact or truth; an act of testing; a test; a trial. Faith proves us.  Faith proves the mettle of our love of God while it improves the mettle of our love for God and for our neighbors.

And what of those of us who never have a close encounter with God? As Jesus said to Thomas and the other apostles, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (17)  We, too, consider the evidence, both natural and supernatural, both Biblical and extra-Biblical. We, too, accept on faith the advice of the prophet Azariah, “The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (18)

 

  1. Matthew 22:36-40  Deuteronomy 6:4-5    Leviticus 19:34
  2. Hebrews 11:1
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:7
  4. Hebrews 11:6
  5. Romans 1:17   Habakkuk  2:4   Galatians 3:11
  6. Hebrews 10:38
  7. Exodus 16:14-35
  8. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
  9. Acts 20:35
  10. Matthew 18:3   Mark 10:15   Luke 18:17
  11. Jeremiah 9:23-24
  12. Matthew 17:1-13   Mark 9:2-13   Luke 9:28-36
  13. Luke 22:31-32
  14. Luke 7:19
  15. Luke 7:22-23
  16. Luke 7:24-29
  17. John 20:26-29
  18. 2 Chronicles 15:2   Jeremiah 29:13-14   1 Chronicles 28:9

 

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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