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Archive for December, 2009

Silver Bells

The Silver Bell

In 1510, when the tower of St. James’ Church was first erected, three silver bells were hung in it.  Their peals are rung on special occasions such as royal births, coronations and deaths.

In 1540 England, for the annual horse race at Chester, a silver bell was given to the winner in lieu of an embellished wooden ball that had been given prior.

  

Silver Bells

 

Silver bells from bridals hung –

adorn for all to see;

they remind of former races won –

the prize for victory.

Silver bells at Christmas hang –

adorn for all to see;

they remind us of the race He won –

the prize for you and me.

Silver bells from towers rung –

to warn, announce, and call;

with resonate sound their peals rang out –

their message was to all.

Silver bells at Christmas ring –

to rouse the slumb’ring ear;

they call to all who hear the sound –

the need to love is here.

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There is a cross located near the western border of southern Illinois.  It is the tallest cross in the western hemisphere at 111 feet.  At night, when lit, the cross can be seen for 7500 square miles and has attracted visitors from all over the world.  The idea was conceived in 1937 when two ministers wondered of a place where believers of different denominations could worship together.

I had heard from a piece of property I was on in Missouri, just 20 miles away, that the cross could be seen.  One day, while at the best vantage point possible – standing on top of a chimney 30 feet above ground – I looked toward the cross but could not see it.  The thought came to mind, which I yelled for all to hear was, ‘I can’t see the cross from here’.

Later that day, the owner of the property told me that that would make a good story line, and now 6 months later, the application has come to me. 

Even from the best vantage point possible, I could not see the cross.  I wondered and was challenged recently by the same thought in relation to the people I associate with.  From the vantage point they have, will they be able to say the same of me?  How far out does the cross that is supposed to govern my life, project?  Can others even see it?

It has become a thought that is etched in my mind – both the negative and positive version.  I don’t want people to be able to say of me, ‘I can’t see the cross from here’, and then conversely I am challenged by the thought to make sure my actions do reflect the cross and that by it being visible, people would be attracted to it.

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When God Hides His Face

 

I can relate to the ups and downs that David so clearly expressed in the Psalms.  He was utterly dependent on God for everything: guidance, provision, protection . . . even his frame of mind.

I noticed this years ago in a line he wrote; “And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.  LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.”

When you are as utterly dependent on God for everything, as David was, it can be very troubling when He hides His face.  It is like being lost.  You don’t know what to do or how to think.  Nothing makes sense.

I have found when I am troubled, it is because I am trying to figure things out and can’t.  I pray for Him to help me but He doesn’t.  Eventually it occurs to me, He doesn’t want me to figure it out; He wants me to be still and experience the benefit of His being my God. 

It is then, when I still my efforts, that I hear the whisper that sooths my troubled frame of mind.  His way, as simple as it often is, comes into focus.  It is the answer that I had wrestled to find. 

When God hides His face, I think it is His way of saying, ‘I don’t want you to figure it out.  I want to show you what you’re looking for.  I want to show you that I am God’.

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Two-a-days

 

Anyone closely associated with the sport of football will immediately understand what is meant by two-a-days.  In the worst part of summer—in the grueling heat—two times a day—athletes focus all energy on conditioning that will help them in the new football season.  The old season is over, summer as they have known it has ended, and it soon becomes all too obvious that they are not saved from the need of additional conditioning.  

A new season is upon the church.  To be ready for it—to compete in it—it will take additional conditioning.  Two-a-days may very well be the norm for awhile.  The old season is over, summer as we have known it has ended, and it will soon become obvious that we are not saved from the need of additional conditioning.

Last season we focused on Jesus’ instructions to the disciples as recorded by Matthew; that we should go into all the world and make disciples.  This new season we will focus on an overlooked instruction which Luke records.  Luke refers to the instruction that Matthew mentions when he says that Jesus appeared after His resurrection and spoke to them about the kingdom.  Very true that Jesus said to them “Go and make disciples”.

But . . . there was one more bit of instruction: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised”.  This gift would contain the power that would enable them to be His witnesses—that would enable them to “Go and make disciples”.

I believe we have missed the aspect of waiting.  We have gone out in our own power to do His kingdom work.  It has fell short.   

This new season will be marked by a waiting—a tarrying before God—for the power that has been lacking in former seasons.  Sure many have been converted into church goers; they once did not attend church and now they do.  But how many today were blind and now they see?  How many were dead and now they live? 

Jeremiah puts it this way:  “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.”  The church is in much need of two-a-days.

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We Cannot Lift Ourselves

 

In both the young and old is the desire to ‘be’.  The old can feel stuck in the mud and feel that life is going to pass them by.  They can get anxious about that.  The young can feel the old is holding them back and want to go around them.  They can get anxious about that. 

It is in this context that Peter makes this statement: to both he says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.

It is God that lifts us; we cannot lift ourselves.

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