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Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Seated at the Lord’s feet, Mary had made up her mind that regardless of what duties or obligations presented themselves just then, she was determined to bask in the light of the world while the Lord’s countenance happened to be shining upon her. This moment was the one thing that was needful. As every flower waits expectantly for the rain to fell and refresh and nourish, so had Mary longed for such an intimate time with Rabboni. Mary had chosen what was better and it would not be taken away from her. This Mary of Bethany was a worshiper. In the twelfth chapter of John’s Gospel, this same Mary would push past the onlookers and anoint Jesus’ feet with spikenard, one of the most expensive perfumed oils in the ancient world.
We recognize a trend in the actions of Mary of Bethany in Scripture. She was willing to sacrifice things of value in order to really benefit from her relationship with Jesus. As T.D. Jakes would put it, she was maximizing the moment. She had made a commitment to be in intimate fellowship with Jesus and determined than nothing, no chore, and no other person would be able to deter her from her goal. It’s easy to see why the spirit of Antichrist operating in popular works such as The Davinci Code and other blasphemous attacks on Christianity make a mockery of the relationship between Mary and Jesus. Such love the world cannot understand because it is devoid of avarice, lust and concupiscence. Christ-like love gives devotion and asks not in return. This is a love that is pure fantasy for the world and is a reality that is only spiritually discerned.
In contrast to her sister, Martha, Mary had placed devotion to her beloved far above the list of chores with which Martha busied herself. I heed this as a lesson in ministry. As I think of this, I wonder how many married couples are so busy shopping for gifts this Christmas that they don’t even realize their relationship is suffering for lack of attention. They are vulnerable to the world of others who might give their spouse the attention they are starving for. How sad is it to be locked inside the dinner buffet of Golden Corral and yet remain hungry to the point of starvation?
So I am going to be more like Mary of Bethany today and place that quality time with the Lord atop my list of priorities. This is how I will daily honor Him and be blessed.
© 2007-2010 Brian L Hunter
All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name (Edward Perronet, pub.1780)
Scripture: Philippians 2:9-11
“• Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre,
And as they tune it, fall
Before His face Who tunes their choir,
And crown Him Lord of all;
Before His face Who tunes their choir,
And crown Him Lord of all.
• Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God,
Who from His altar call;
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod,
And crown Him Lord of all;
Extol the Stem of Jesse’s Rod,
And crown Him Lord of all.
All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name”
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
If God has truly begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled according to His abundant mercy (1 Peter 1:3, 4), then who among our accusers, the good, the bad, and the ugly ones, have erred because they know not the scriptures nor the power of God? (Matthew 22:29) If I judge my brother unfavorably according to his sins, am I not operating in unbelief and discounting the power of God, as if God’s arm was too short and could not save? And, in so doubting the power of God and the heavenly intercession of Jesus our high priest to completely deliver my brother from his body of death and save him to the uttermost according to His own sovereignty, faithfulness, and perfect will (Hebrews 7:25), haven’t I undermined my own chance at holiness, giving in rather to the accusatory temptation planted in me by the spirit of Antichrist, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) while exhibiting selfish self righteousness and the opposite of the love Jesus commanded in John 13:34.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, doesn’t the Word of God say that I am nothing? (1 Corinthians 13:2) How many say they are praying for that prostitute or drug addict but yet, in reality, they are loftily sitting in moral judgment and discussing what a shame it is that such people just will not do the right thing. How blind we fools are when we dare to think we are wise. (Romans 1:22) Some of us are measuring ourselves by ourselves, and comparing ourselves among ourselves. (2 Corinthians 10:12) We have either lost the compass or thrown it away altogether while blindly condemning ourselves, ignorant of the fact that we shall be held accountable for every idle word. (Matthew 12:36)
If it is I who is blind, please, rather than discuss my shortcomings among yourselves, help me pray for God to anoint my eyes that I may see more clearly and completely the way, the truth, and the life. One may very well be on the edge of their wilderness or in the middle of their Gethsemane when you see them broken. Yet, if we have no faith to believe God for their complete deliverance, restoration, and redemption, let us at least have the scruples to keep our negativity and discouragement to ourselves, unspoken. Let us be “looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble us, and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:16)
Corrupt communication fuels the enemy's tanks in battle. (Ephesians 4:29) If we have correctly understood the gospel, then let us have a bit more faith in God’s ability to save the lost and deliver those who, like the apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans say, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Now is the time, the daylight hours during which to speak boldly the truth in love rather than mutter faithlessly about the weakness and unfaithfulness of those who are yet climbing Jacob's Ladder on the way to purity and the highway (Isaiah 35:8). In our weakness, the strength of Christ is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9) and Jesus has prayed that we be one body even as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one (John 17:22). Please correct me according to God’s Word if I am mistaken. I thank God for every instance of chastening I received as a child because I would not enjoy prison today. Let us enjoy the liberty that comes bundled with the goodness and mercy inherent in God’s presence and shining countenance. The light of the world dispels the darkness of this world. Amen. May the grace of our Lord be with us now and always, and, may we stay blameless until He returns for the bride He himself has prepared and made worthy though she was an harlot in times past, resurrecting dead and putrid things to an abundant life of prosperity and peace with God Almighty in Heaven. Let it be unto us according to the Word breathed from God's own mouth by the prophets and the apostles as we encourage and inspire each other to fulfill the commission. We indeed have a charge to keep and a Holy God to serve.
If I never say another word, hear this from me: faith is the preeminent, most crucial and absolutely necessary ingredient in a fruitful relationship with God. Have it, sustain it, and guard it as if your eternal life depended upon this one thing alone. You are the apple of God's eye and nothing shall separate us from the the love of Christ. Nothing and nobody... (Romans 8:35-37) Jesus paid it all and He is not leaving the mall without His package. Be encouraged all! This is the good news written in the blood of our passover lamb. Rejoice and be glad! "The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof." (Psalm 97:1) I, for one, am ecstatic about it and moved to action and devotion. Pray with me that all the brethren be so converted that we would dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1) and be that answer to the prayer Jesus so urgently prayed in John 17:22. Let's not be the weak link in the chain of salvation. Let us pull each other up instead of down! One love (Spirit), one heart (body)- let's get together and be (not just feel) alright! Search the Scriptures daily whether these things be so. (Acts 17:11) If you can't encourage, be silent until love makes such positivism possible for you. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
Friday, November 20, 2009
As Jesus was sent by the Father with the means of salvation, now those who received that salvation are sent or commissioned to take that saving grace, love, hope, and charity to those who need it in the entire world. The condition of the lost cannot be overcome without the efficacious grace of God. Without this grace, the lost are condemned by the depravity within them to spend eternity separated and estranged from God. Without grace there is no hope. Without grace there is no improvement of the condition. Without grace there is only darkness without even the possibility of light. Only by God’s grace can the lost be rescued from eternal spiritual death and damnation. Without grace, the unmerited generosity of God directed towards humanity, one would not be capable of desiring to be rescued. By faith in God’s ability to save and in the expectation of the availability of the grace and means by which salvation is made effectual, namely repentance, confessing with the mouth the Lord Jesus, and believing in the heart that God has raised him from the dead, the lost can be saved. (Romans 10:9) Hence the work of salvation is of God through the external means (the “doings” of the church) ordained by Him to those who are in turn entrusted with the responsibility of communicating this grace to the whole world. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
God pursues the lost because of his love for his creation and it is with this perfect love that he gets their attention and begins drawing them to himself. If the church is full of the fruit of the Spirit and walking in God’s love, only then can the church be a truly useful instrument in the service of God’s purpose. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Blossoming even after I was buried, dark, cold,
And waxing old in the wee small hours of a nightmare.
I am so happily not the man I used to be.
Not knowing what the clue was;
Interestingly and amazingly to me,
I could have been who I thought I was, now look at me.
And by His stripes, I am inexorable, and purely healed.
Little children often say, “since you don’t agree with me, I am not going to speak to you.” How infantile and yet, what a natural stage in the development of all who were born into sin and shapen in iniquity (Psalm 51). We are all commanded to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), “as newborn babes, desiring the sincere milk of the Word.” (1 Peter 2:2, 3) By all means, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) And yet, as obedient Disciples of Christ, mature Christians brimming with the fruit of The Holy Spirit, called to isolate ourselves from others and communicate only with those who agree with us? How is that being a witness and how does that minister grace? Ministry is not meant to be comfortable... "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." (Matthew 25:35-37) Let us get off of our high horses and let's get about our Father's business; loving the unlovable and opening our mouths to speak the truth in love to all, no matter how we may differ in doctrine or opinion. Let's grow up saints.
The best is yet to come. For now, let it suffice that we are baptized into Christ in His death (Romans 6:1-4) and resurrected with Him unto newness of life. Therefore we turn the other cheek and persevere with a grateful heart full of the love of Christ as, by God's grace, we are transformed into the image of His Son unto eternal glory. Hebrews 12 denotes the reward for persevering in this race until the end. May the grace of our Lord be with us as we run suffering towards the prize of our inheritance that is stored up for us," incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:4, 5)
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18)
“But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?” (Matthew 12:48)
In kind, I would venture to say that it remains to be seen who our friends are. If it can be said that friends don't let friends drive drunk, how much more should we say that friends don't let friends perish for lack of knowledge? What are we talking about when it is promised that we shall give an account for every idle word?
The eternal condition of those lost without Christ is a death sentence and the Gospel is the only efficacious means of bestowing the grace of God that results in eternal life. Not many of us would fail to act if we saw an infant running towards a road buzzing with heavy traffic or reaching for a boiling pot of water. How much less then can we, as disciples, be driven to evangelism and missions by the knowledge that “Jesus came not to make bad people good, but to make dead people live.” (Ravi Zacharias Sermon, "The Lostness of Humanity")
Jesus alone is the exclusive way to the Father. I make myself a target for the violent terrorism of Jihad extremists and humanistic "good" people alike by stating the truth of God's Word, breathed from His own mouth just as He, Yahweh, breathed life into our nostril's when we became living souls. There is no other life raft. How can the lost not starve to death throughout eternity unless they accept the bread of life, and, how can they accept the truth of God’s Word unless it is offered to them so that they have a chance to be “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8)? “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 NIV) I believe that to the extent one has been fully persuaded of the truth of the gospel message and come to faith in Christ, that is the extent to which one is powerfully motivated to act responsibly in the areas of evangelism and missions. Hence, to Christ’s disciples, the lostness of humanity is to the heart a clarion call to action born of love.
Monday, November 9, 2009
I pray that I have a greater hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God tomorrow than I have had hitherto. This time to focus solely upon spiritual and conscious communion with God is as vital to my existence as oxygen and perhaps more valuable ultimately. In order to integrate a balanced, thoughtful, full-orbed, mature Christian spirituality, I must not get out of bed until I have prayed and acknowledged my complete dependence upon Christ, and inquire what devotional activities might be immediately scheduled into my schedule for this day to insure that I spend more quality time with the Lord. The well organized person manages his time wisely. So should I make certain I have scheduled (spent) my time with the Lord each day and be careful to guard that time jealously, not having neglected to do all else as unto Him in an attitude of selfless love that might please Him. This is the stewardship God desires for me to exercise in this life. God is jealous for His people and I pray to become ever more desirous of His pleasure in my life.
I would also endeavor to meet any and all instances of conflict, pain, or potential confusion, whenever they occur, with the immediate response of prayer, praise, and worship however brief. I will be mindful not to allow worldly entertainment, a career, or even church duties and ministry to outweigh my time in the secret place each day, knowing that God desires to meet and nourish me in that stillness as much as I desire His presence. If it can ever be said that I have completely surrendered to God every hour of any given day, I will ask Him to make me more like Christ more consistently and continually until I am forever in His presence (like Enoch). I pray that I will always pray for a greater hunger and desire to get closer and communicate more consistently with God and that I will progress steadily in this direction. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:25, 27)
I have learned that I must respect the most valuable resource I have and that this resource, namely prayer, must be put to a good use on a daily and hourly basis. This is crucial in order that my faith fail not and that my effectiveness in evangelism and ministry increase and be continually renewed and strengthened. In this way I hope to know Jesus more perfectly and make Him more perfectly known. This is the only way I will be able to say that in Christ I live and move and have my being. This is the only way I will accomplish the coveted goal of remaining more consistently connected to the true vine in my daily life.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I miss hearing from you. Life is so hurried and we are all so busy. May you forgive me if I have ceased to communicate? I renounce now any resentment or feeling of betrayal that may have resulted from the abrupt cutting off of communication. You are a righteous saint of God. He alone is all wise, holy, and the focus of our spiritual disciplines. May the grace of our Lord be with us like a healing stream continuously until the day of the Lord’s return when we shall be perfected in Him. Though I be not worthy of your favor, I desire it. May grace abound. Amen.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Adonirum uses silence as an act of violence against women which makes it as appalling as rape or any other violent act in my eyes. How many suicides born of despondency resulting from such insensitivity might have been prevented by the mere effort of meaningful communication? This gruff man’s auspicious gift of a sound “almost inarticulate as a growl” in response to anything Sarah requests while she works like a slave to provide a home for him and his children is nothing short of evil and, like any evil, his violent disrespect and disregard would take advantage of the situation just as long as it was allowed to continue unchallenged. How sad that this had gone on so long until for Sarah it had become “her most native tongue.”
I see the motivation for the actions of Sarah to be concern for the mental health and well being of her family, as evident from the passage, “Nanny she can’t live with us after she’s married. She’ll have to go somewheres else to live away from us. . . . She wa’n’t ever strong . . . ‘an she ain’t fit to keep house an’ do everything herself. She’ll be all worn out inside of a year.” Sarah was artfully blameless, “a masterly keeper of her box of a house.” This gives some insight into who she was as an individual.
How did Sarah’s seemingly inevitable act of rebellion relate to the community? “[A]ny deviation from the ordinary course of life in quiet town was enough to stop all progress in it.” 40 years of broken promises and despair, not unlike Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness, had culminated in this shocking testament to Sarah’s resolve in an act of rebellion that anyone righteous of heart would have to deem necessary and justified. Adonirum had refused to allow any normative discourse. He had refused to engage in the decency of open communication with Sarah, a hard working and just woman who had to express the injustice she not only felt, but really witnessed and experienced. The only response to silence for a sane person is action, and the sole purpose of any action is, using God’s example, to accomplish that which is intended by the communicator. Defeated by the righteousness of the act, Adonirum could only be transformed by it and moved to tears as he responded with, “I’ll — put up the — partitions, an’ — everything you — want, mother.” Sometimes a man must be forced by a seemingly insane act to think sanely and soberly afterall.
Unchained from religion and social mores, free to roam the landscape of issues from emotional health, human sexuality, base instinct, and vitality, Whitman and his beneficiaries wrought a treasure chest of aesthetic observation and suggestiveness. I , personally and with no documented support, see Whitman’s direction heading towards the sublime and maturing in the works of Herman Hesse (1877- 1962), D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Henry Miller (1891-1980), and Anaïs Nin (1903- 1977), progressing with more and more evil concupiscence until romantic and modern artistic expression gave way to the sublime depths of base carnality, violence, and intellectual erotica. Would realism swing the pendulum back in the other direction, and, if so, how far? The Transcendentalists had let the genie of man’s self-sufficiency out of the box and now the prodigal son was dining with the type of swine representative of the least discriminating beings in Orwell's barn of human experience in the allegorical Animal Farm. Coincidentally, swine most often symbolize devils in the Bible and swine was considered to be an unclean animal by the Israelites under Mosaic law.
This critic is led to consider that, if such developments in literature are indicative of a decline in morals and integrity in American society in its relatively brief history, symbiotically, such developments in literature must have significantly contributed to that historically documented decline. It has been said that Whitman was suspicious of classrooms, and his great poem "Song of Myself" is generated by a child's question; "What is the grass?" (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=7388) He would have done well to open a Bible, turn to John Chapter One, and meditate on the fact that “All things were made by Him (Jesus); and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3 KJV)
© 2009 Brian L Hunter
The enlightenment wanted us to believe that the lack of reason was pure madness, intellectual overload, and empty religious dogma. Romanticism wanted us to believe that madness was the posterior of reason. Both ideologies seemed to exalt reason and the need to place every experience into a box, even if that box was found to contain nothing more than raw emotion. So long as we could define a response to an experience, it seemed as though all was in order, even if our faith in the individual and moral enthusiasm rendered us a bit like Pollyanna. There, nevertheless, seemed to be an urgent need to predict and control man’s neurosis. I might even go further and say that all science holds to this rather mundane purpose. If there is no God, per se, then the universe will experientially prove to be hostile to man. If nature and the trees are the sole source of goodness, then why do tragedies and injustices exist? I propose, for the sake of argument, that theories and conjecture about the nature of reality began to supplant God, Scripture, the centrality of God’s benevolent sovereignty, and the simplicity of Man’s relationship, in order, to his creator. Is there any wonder why there is an epidemic of depression and other mental illness since the Transcendentalist movement? "We have met the enemy and they are us" (Churchill or Pogo?). When we place all of our bets on Man, there is no hope. Sorry Emerson and Thoreau. No God, no peace. There’s no bread, let them eat cake is a moving argument for revolutionaries. However, a reprobate mind is the cunning reward for opening the Pandora’s box of human self sufficiency. Next week's collage opens with the statement that poets Whitman and Dickinson marked the close of the Transcendental Movement. I had not previously considered them in the same boat with Emerson and Thoreau, so I am anxious to examine the continuity of thought amongst the authors and how, collectively, the ideology relates to the Christian world view.
God said “I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; And forgettest the LORD thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?” (Isaiah 51:12, 13)
Friday, July 17, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
The lap of God the Father seek
Henceforth all sin expunge
When those of whom we dare not speak
Shant scarcely scar the tongue
That Jesus urges to withhold
Especially when offended
And unappreciation rules
We snap, we shun, we taunt and bait
Love closest to our core
With crooked straight dishonesty
Court loneliness so poor
The walls erected solemnly
Protecting all that's fresh
Our minds rehearsed and taught and churched
Till lost is tenderness
The lives we live in solitude
Are lives that could have blessed
So many more, including we
Ourselves malnourished nests
Striving to be other
Than souls were meant to be
We finally come to realize
But add it all together
Shall bless us exponentially
God through us meets all need
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
© 2009 Brian L Hunter