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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Thing Is Needful

“But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

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

Thanksgiving Truth

Turkey is but a light to us flies in the dark of night. Fear, unbelief, and condemnation; or, faith, hope, and love? From whence are we thinking and speaking on this Thanksgiving Day? A kind word turneth away wrath. (Proverbs 15:1) Win souls today! Goodness makes for a pleasant temporary social bliss, however, goodness does nothing to requite sin and justify us before a holy God who absolutely requires repentance and faith in his Son whose blood alone can cleanse from all iniquity. By our attitudes and example, let us invite the lost and the blind to come to Jesus just now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Am I Wrong?

Have I misunderstood the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of God unto salvation? Who’s report have I believed? Who is really on the Lord’s side? If I judge my brother and look at him sideways because I discover that he has engaged in all manner of sinful activity while professing to be a Christian man of God, then, aren’t I just as guilty of sin? Does the Bible not say, written in red letters no doubt, that I should judge not lest I be judged? (Matthew 7:1) Furthermore, are we saved by grace or by our good works? (Ephesians 2:8, 9) And, does Galatians 6:1 not tell those who are spiritual, whoever they may be, to restore the one who has been overtaken in a fault and to do it in the spirit of meekness lest the restorer also be tempted?

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

The Rescue Mission

Humanity was created in God’s image and enjoyed perfect fellowship in right standing with God until the fall when sin entered in and humanity's condition changed from perfect and blameless to condemned and lost. Humanity would thereafter be separated from God. Yet, God promised in Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent and thus restore humanity to a state of sinless and blameless fellowship with him through this seed that we know to be Christ. God sent his Son to serve as a perfect sinless sacrifice able to satisfy the wrath of God that was due to humanity because of sin. Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)

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

A Short One

I'm breathing in fresh flowers that were planted in my soul by my beloved today.
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.

A Little Prayer

A wonderful change has come over me! I am just a little nicer today, a bit less stubborn, and a tad more aware that I am less than nothing without the grace and mercy of God that I have experienced in my life. I desire more each day to disappear until only the image of Christ, my Lord, remains in this mirror. I have been such a vampire in my life thus far. And yet, because of Christ's love, I am not ashamed. The Gospel of Christ is the powerful detergent that is cleansing me and delivering me from all unrighteousness day by day. It is the glorious power of God and I am growing in grace. I am one day closer to the day I surrender the rest of my life to save another. Hopefully, and in faith, I am fortunate enough to be on my way to being conformed to the image of The One who was sent to pay my ransom. Lord, give me grace in suffering and spare me a life of ease. I accept my mission, Lord. As you were sent, and as you sent the Holy Spirit, so now I accept my marching orders. I will go and do as you have commanded. I will lay down my life and not look back. Like the Boys of Summer with a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac, I won't look back. I can never look back. Thank you for making tomorrow so much more relevant than yesterday. You are my beloved and I am yours. Hallelujah! I am so grateful to be closer to being wholly yours. In faith, believing that you are able to perfect that which concerns me, and, elated to know for sure that you are faithful and perfect in all of your glorious ways, I lay this at your feet and move onward through the night knowing that joy comes in the morning. "Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope." (Psalm 119:116) In Jesus' name, believing that it is so. Amen and amen.

Don't Speak?

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
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 Suffering, The Reward, and The Responsibility

To the extent that we (our gifts) are being used and discarded, misunderstood, maligned, slandered, injured, or ignored by people, especially “friends”, we are suffering with Christ and we should rejoice. The lostness of humanity is an eternal reality and we, Christ's disciples, must be made broken bread and poured our wine in ways that are not so glamorous as standing before a crowd that agrees with us and may even praise us. No, the real work is at the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). Yet, in the process of God's economy, "the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." Hold on.

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

Upholding All Things

According to Colossians 1:15-20, all things were created in order that we know the creator and come to faith in Him. Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus prayed in John 17:17 that God the Father sanctify us through His truth: His word is truth. Jesus states in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that no man cometh unto the Father, but by Him. When a man really loves a woman, he desires that she first notice him and that she would progress to greater levels of intimate knowledge of him until finally they become one. He will sacrifice himself unselfishly for his bride's sake. I see it as being the same with God’s love for us. “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). Oh how I love Jesus, because, He first loved me.

Reflections (Matthew 5:16)

My justification is assured since I have believed on Jesus and my glorification is assured at His return. Sanctification, then, is an ongoing process which requires something of me and is the focus of my spiritual development and maintenance. Thank God I have divine omnipotent help and I am not alone in meeting the task! It is not an easy project and there is no fast track. But God is perfect and cannot fail. My hope is in Jesus Christ.

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

Whip It "Before the Butter Sits Too Long" (DEVO 1980)

“So stir up the gift of God that is in thee” (2 Timothy 1:6, KJV) Or, in the words of DEVO, “now whip it into shape, shape it up, get straight, go forward, move ahead, try to detect it, it's not too late to whip it, whip it good.” Paul said in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal.” My personal experience is that I cannot let down my guard for one moment without it adversely affecting my spiritual life, the absolute top priority. It is not legalism for me to realize that I cannot forgo prayer to watch another repeat of Law & Order, or let the filthy language of anytime television into my ear gate without damage. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:8) Darkness and sin are always at the door actively seeking an entrance. If I am not this moment pushing myself towards righteousness, I am slipping into darkness. Sin is actively killing us whenever we cease to actively mortify the deeds of the body. Let us keep praying, Brethren. The whole point of this race is to finish it, having been declared blameless by our Savior who has risen and is at the right hand of God making intercession for us right now. Devotion is love in action and I believe it naturally leads us outwards to be witnesses unto Jesus, knowing Him and making Him known. Evangelism then is more about multiplication than addition. May God bless the friends I may lose by writing this...

And After He Had Prayed

As we interact with the world of others, we need to divert attention away from ourselves and towards God, His Word, and His will. Also, as the two forces make contact, I want to make sure I am so in touch with the Spirit of God at that moment that I am the spiritually influential one and not the one being spiritually influenced. The meaning of being holy is that as believers we should be set apart from the world. Romans 12:1-2 is a daily instruction and must precede my going therefore into all nations baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In that order and daily nourished, as a living epistle I am then able to be a light to folks still in spiritual darkness. If I am not in the proper spiritual condition and state of mind myself, I am but a blind man trying to lead the blind. That is why constant prayer for my own steadfastness in faith precedes my going out. This does not mean, however, that I never intend to go out, but that I would rather go with as much of God’s leading and empowerment as possible. Once we have daily received the Bread of Life, we interact with all men (as we have opportunity) that we may win some. Moses said unto God, in Exodus 33:15 “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” I pray to be in the right place at the right time always for the right reason. I look to God for this direction lest I lean to my own understanding.

More Living Water Please

A well-rounded spirituality includes realizing that, “The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1). The fear (holy reverence) of the Lord is not only the beginning of wisdom, but is also an aspect of the holy life that will keep me mindful of God’s presence, God’s Word, my total dependency upon His grace, mercy, and omnipotent power in every aspect of my life. This world is not my home. I have to be willing to forego some of the time consuming dainty meats of this world in order to finish this race and hold the beginning of my confidence steadfast unto the end, overcoming stress, unbelief, and the cares of this world. (Hebrews 3:14) I am praying each day for full growth that leads to action, studying to show myself approved unto God (2 Tim 2:15) while realizing that the most important prayer is that my faith never fail. (Luke 22:32) A balanced, full-orbed Christian spirituality would be in vain otherwise. Matthew 7:22, 23 illustrates the ultimate futility of not staying connected to the true vine, abiding in Christ with Christ in me just as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. The Word of God begs for a constant, close, intimate contact throughout our walk with Him. I want to cultivate that more and more in my life, day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute. Not able to live a monastic life, the challenge is greater for me but not impossible. I have achieved a much greater balance just by severely limiting television in the daily routine. I am praying for more and more time in the secret place of prayer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why We Stopped Speaking

Friends communicate. Whether frequently or infrequently, friends communicate. If I cease to text, call, or mail you as I once did, then you would logically have to question whether I was ever really your friend. Perhaps I just needed something from you; some gift, some talent, some self affirmation.

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

Prayer - October 13th, 2009 (Isaiah 35:8)

Lord, I thank you that even though I may be completely unremarkable in every respect in this world, you are always willing to meet me in the secret place and overwhelm me with your glory. Oh Christ my Lord, you ascended to God that you might fill all things, all in all, being the brightness of the glory of the light of the world, and have promised to be a rewarder of them that diligently seek you. If I fail in every other endeavor in this life, there is but one thing I seek first. I beg you never to let the flame of my desire for you wane. You are upholding all things by the Word of your power and even though I, in my often clumsy and imperfect way, may stumble and fall, you assure me that I shall not be utterly cast down. Draw me ever nearer each and every day to the cross where Thou hast died. I pray foremost for more of you and in you I shall hide. I am reaching out for you, my King. I am listening for your whisper, my love. Please keep me on this highway and fill me ever with your Spirit, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer - October 11th, 2009

I give thanks to you, sovereign and preeminent Ancient of Days, for you have bathed my soul in the joyous light of your countenance and set my heart ablaze with such a passionate love for your holiness which so easily eclipses any pleasure of my senses. I pray thee, oh Heavenly Father, that you continue to bind me to the word of your power and never allow me to escape your love. Help me to flee the call of worldly affections so apt to beset at once when I fail to adore you completely. Help me to know you as true love revealed in the perfection of my freedom in Jesus Christ and I pray that thanksgiving and praise will continually serve to mirror your grace oh so obviously in my life. I love you and all that you do, oh wondrous and mercifully creative God, my Lord and lover of my soul. Help me to always blush at the thought of your love for me. Thank you for embracing me eternally and never letting me go. To the three who agree in heaven as one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Help me to continue bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, my Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Journal Entry September 9 at 12:12pm

I don't often have such vivid dreams as the one last night. My Uncle John was driving my father and I home and I could see a scary storm on the horizon. Maybe being in Iowa where you can see storms coming from many miles away because it is so flat here? Oh well, praise God that He has promised to see us through to the other side (Mark 4:35). I won't dwell on it, I just think it's interesting.

Of This God on September 11 at 6:49pm

He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is the Living Water, He is the Bread of Life, He is the Mighty Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace... If I had ten thousand tongues, I still could not utter enough praise to do justice to the Lord, God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. He is preeminent, pre-existant, totally self sufficient, and worthy of my complete adoration. He is as holy as He is benevolent; beautifully perfect in all His ways. He created the heavens and the earth by His great power and outstretched arm and there is nothing too hard for Him. Not unlike Abraham, I am fully persuaded that, what he has promised, he is able also to perform from everlasting to everlasting. I just want to praise Him. Hallelujah! He is just that good to me, praise God! Maybe other people are able to create their own oxygen and they don't need God. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7)... I have encountered this great God, Jehovah. And, He has done great things for me. He has made a way for me when there was no way and I couldn't even have told you which way was up. He took me out of a life of misery and shame and set my foot upon a ROCK. Now I glory in nothing except the fact that in Him I live and move and have my being. You cannot make me doubt Him - I have encountered Him - I have tasted and seen that the Lord is gracious (1 Peter 2:2, 3). Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together! I will not apologize for this joyous outburst. My name is Brian L Hunter and I approve this message!

Journal Entry September 22 at 11:25pm

John 4 - When I reach for my beloved, I am digging deeper and loving even as I am loved by Him. Oh, the living water and how my soul thirsts for Him. I just can't tell it all, but I know I had to tell somebody about my Lord and how His mercy endureth forever! I am going to praise Him for an eternity, so I may as well start now. Hallelujah! ... Something is flowing out of me. Hallelujah! I've got a river of life... Hallelujah! Bless His holy name. I'm trying to let it go and shut my mouth, praise God. Mmm mmm good! That's what Jesus is to me. I'll take this over antidepressants any day. Hallelujah!

“Because I Could Not Stop For Death” by Emily Dickinson

I have just a few thoughts on “Because I Could Not Stop For Death” by Emily Dickinson. It is lighthearted yet not irreverent. It leaves me with the impression that death is not some far off evil in the night, but rather a gentle personality who leads us from one state to another. Now, as Christians we know that death, though our enemy, has been conquered by Christ’s perfect sacrifice. Nonetheless, I appreciate this poem for depicting a woman’s calm acceptance of death. She even appreciates the personification of death just as she might embrace an eligible bachelor she could marry and be content with. Each quatrain lightly skips along like a child on the way to school on a brisk autumn morning, unencumbered and sure of the destination. “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me;” – Who would choose to die? And yet, since we must all die, why not envision death as a friend who will not let us forget our inevitable appointment. I love the fact that this poem can evoke thoughts of death and mortality that are neither depressing nor morose. “The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality.” This causes me to see death as encapsulated by something larger than itself which makes death not as scary and makes me somehow equal to it since both death and I are both held in a carriage with Immortality. The entirety of this poem leaves me with a sense that death is something we must be comfortable with since it is a natural part of nature’s course in this sin sick world we live in. I am absolutely convinced that this was the author’s intent.

Two Brokers of Freedom in Poetry

I would not say that American literature has progressed to show a better way of life, but rather a steady decline in morality and ethics in American society. Why are irreverent comedies and reality shows now all the rave on television? They begin as screenplays and scripts, albeit not on par with Samuel Beckett. Is there any correlation between the women’s rights movement and the increase in pornography as well as other violence against women in our society? I enjoy the poetry of Dickinson and Whitman. I also see artistic merit in the works of French poet Arthur Rimbaud, novelist Arthur Miller, and painter Georgia O’Keeffe. In fact, I struggle now in my personal life with a penchant for vampire movies even though I am spiritually opposed to the very premise of such lore. I believe that all art merely shapes the natural experience, the very real nature experienced by the artist, into something that naturally resonates with those who enjoy that work of art. I keep in mind that we live in a fallen sinful world and that our flesh naturally enjoys the pleasures of sin, self-destructive as they may be. We have to be careful about what we allow into the ear-gate and the eye gate. As artists, being Christians, we have the added responsibility to be careful what we allow to come out of us, whether it be verbally, literarily, musically, or through visual arts. Whitman was instrumental in freeing the heart of the human animal in the art of poetry. No more need expression be limited to the confines of rhyme or meter. With her more richly arcane poetry, Dickinson demonstrated that no matter how dark or unsatisfying the reality we experience, we should dare to express it as honestly as we are able. Whitman and Dickinson both seem to make poetry more approachable, perhaps even a gift of which we are all more capable.

A Few 19th Century Feminist Ideals in Literature

My critical response for this week focuses more on the concepts of human nature, individual, and community as they relate to feminist ideals in literature. These concepts are in the forefront of literature that considers key feminist issues as experienced by individual women in the context of American society. I will discuss here "The Revolt of Mother" by Mary Freeman Wilkins, although "A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Kate Chopin deals with similar issues. I believe that both these works have enjoyed more acclaim in modern times since certain socio-economical and political realities have come to pass than perhaps they had enjoyed at the time they were first published.

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.

A Few Thoughts on Whitman

Progressing from transcendentalism and the trend to have man supplant God in literature, we find that romanticism and modernism seek to fill the subsequently dark abyss of America’s intellectual soul with a shocking infusion of raw, lustful, sensual experience and far removed allegorical descriptions of natural life. Whereas authors in earlier periods sought to explore the mystery of life and man’s relationship to God, romantic and modern authors seemed to have an urgent curiosity about their own place or worth as individuals in the natural order of the universe. I am reminded of Proverbs 14:12 which says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

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 Ana├»s 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?" ( 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)

A Critical Analysis of Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations - Poetry

A Critical Analysis of Edward Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations - Poetry 

Taylor’s Preparatory Meditations, poems composed prior to administering the Lords Supper, seem to me to be quite doctrinal or theological in nature and reveal Taylor's complete emotional investment and devotion to a very relational though transcendent God. Rich with expressions of personal insufficiency and longing, Taylor's imagery at times makes evident a love for the pure sound of lexical expression. The best poetry seems to me able to sing itself. Edwards effectively uses extended metaphor and biblical allusions in Meditation 1 when he writes in stanza one, “What hath thy Godhead, as not satisfide Marri'de our Manhood, making it its Bride?” This makes reference to both the hypostatic union of Christology and the Church as the bride of Christ. Such poetry invites the study of the structure and content of word forms as well as theological inquiry. "Preparatory Meditations before My Approach to the Lord's Supper, " is a collection of 217 poems written between 1682 and 1725 and they are, so far, my favorite of Taylor’s poems. His use of metaphor is at times even sensual. I notice the use of strong action words in Meditation 1 such as Confinde, Conjoyn’d, Marri’de, filling Heaven to the brim!, O’re running it, Overflowing Hell, rose a mighty Tide, though thy Person bleed, To quench those flames, feed, etc. Coupled with a relentless cadence toppling forward with powerful imagery not unlike a freight train wherein the glorious supremacy and sovereignty of God as themes are centrally delivered. Most of the meditations seem to include some expression of inadequacy by Edwards, as if he were not up to the task of expressing accurately anything about this infinite, omnipotent, preeminent God who has created Heaven and earth and all that therein is. “My Fireless Flame! What Chilly Love, and Cold? In measure small! In Manner Chilly! See. Lord blow the Coal: Thy Love Enflame in mee.” But this inadequacy seems to then give way to the anointed preacher in Taylor who will sing a mighty song of worship, praise, and prayerful request to the Almighty triune God with fervor and zeal that could not be contained. In Meditation 1 especially, I find Edwards’ exuberance to be sincere and infectious through the sing song musicality of his verses. These poems do not strike me as having been written to achieve critical acclaim. Similar to the work of Anne Bradstreet in a sense, I believe Taylor’s poetry to primarily be genuine and natural acts of worship; simply doing what his Creator designed and destined him to do. Meditation 1 is introspective and conveys the personal and private relationship of a man born into sin with a very transcendent, holy, and infinitely loving God. 

© 2009 Brian L Hunter 

Emersonian Afterbirth and Depression

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.

On Being Real, Bretheren

Sticks and stones, Saints. Judge, point the finger, and completely disregard what Jesus commanded. Call people crack heads, communists, and whores. Call me what you will. I understand you because every one of us was shapen in sin, in fact, and in sin did our mothers conceive us. (Psalm 51:5) For your sakes, I pray you repent while there is time because Jesus promised, “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36) So, what of all the negative things spoken? In the words of Jesus in response to Pontius Pilate’s accusations, “Thou sayest.” As for what is said of me by relatives, friends, and enemies, so hard it is to differentiate between them all while their mouths are open, I say, excuse my French, “il n ya pas de quoi.”

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

Naked Lunch

It is precisely because we are so imperfect that we find it so difficult to wrap our finite minds around the fact that God’s very essence requires the perfection of all His attributes, that He is perfect in all His ways, and that His knowledge isn’t merely greater than our own, but it is infinitely greater. God knows all things, past, present, and future in totality! Talk about omniscience being absolute… Job 37:16, Psalm 139:2-4; Psalm 147:5, Proverbs 5:21, Isaiah 46:9-10, and 1 John 3:19-20 leave no doubt that God’s knowledge is infinite and that He knows absolutely everything. ( - QOTW - If God knew? Fri 7/17/09 12:24 PM‏) No scientist has ever been able to tell us exactly what gravity is, yet we accept the fact that gravity exists and affects any object in proximity to it. Will we not then acknowledge the sovereignty of a God almighty and righteous upon His creation? Even the most depraved dog seeks to please his master. Any dog narcissistic enough to seek only his own satisfaction would be duly euthanized. Yet God so loved the world…

Friday, May 8, 2009

juste entre nous

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

Relationships resplendent

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

The historicity

But add it all together

Community achieved

Shall bless us exponentially

God through us meets all need

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rule Well

Sometimes politicians fail to see how their personal lives, past and present, might actually damage the very cause they are advocating. "If you are to be a responsible speaker, you cannot escape assessing the ethical soundness of your goals." (p 32 Lucas 2009) Clearly then, one's actions cannot be isolated from one's speech. When we enter the public arena, any skeletons in our closet are fair game for the opposition's case against us. Unfortunately, in politics, it has become accepted by common consensus that winning and the power that comes along with winning is the only important thing. The crooked among us must let our conscience be our guide. However, our conscience must coincide with the public's conscience, that of those whose trust and support we have solicited in the election. Who are we really, and, is our word our bond? This does come up often even in church leadership and lay-ministry. In churches, what qualifies or disqualifies a person for ministry if not the integrity of the "upper management?" And so, in the church setting, leaders take on the responsibility not only for their own integrity, but also the integrity of those who serve under them. The level of accountability, in theory and in Scripture, is much higher in the church. When politicians face the exposure of wrong doing in their cabinet, they merely say, "I had no knowledge of this or that " When you completely separate church and state, you end up with leaders like Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, and Fidel Castro who will murder, rape, and pillage in order to maintain what power they possess over others. There is no better guide to peace and righteousness than the Holy Spirit bearing witness to the correctness of our heart and actions, though Proverbs, in particular, says much about the importance of godly counsel. "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established" (Proverbs 15:22). Considering the sin of pride and the fallibility of the limited finite human mind, we do well to think of safety in numbers with regard to issues of public administration and legislation. Fortunately our American founding fathers thought so as well which is why we have a system of checks and balances in our government. The fact that I trust you does not mean I will not check your work and hold you accountable. If that were the case, we would not even need leadership. Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of the second law of thermodynamics is that anything, your home for example, unmaintained and left to itself, will continue in entropy. Entropy is a measurement of the disorder of a system, a measurement of the unavailability of a system’s energy to do work. Leaders are administrative engineers who constantly assess and manage the available energy at their disposal to achieve specific goals. We need all to be such leaders, even if we only lead ourselves. Left unchecked, we sure can be a mess... I am my brother's keeper, if we are both to succeed. I have to be more concerned with ours than yours or mine. I'm drifting off point here so I'll close. I am praying that God give me a Barnabas type of spirit and ministry, where my first response is always one of encouragement. We are more fragile than society will allow us to admit and we are literally killing each other and hurting each other daily with these pink tornadoes in our mouths. I promised to close so I'll just end here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why Jesus?

I think it is impossible or at least highly improbable that people can ever approach Jesus without seeing Him as a means to an end. As sinners, we all NEED something that is missing from our lives, whether it be a healing, a feeling, a feeding, correction, unconditional love, understanding, etc. We are needy created beings with an inherent insatiable longing for communion with our creator, however unconscious or ignorant we may be of this absolute fact. All people are seekers. Some are seeking the intangible in the bottom of a bottle, some in a career, some in a lifestyle, some in other people, some in the world of academia, some in philosophies and vain imaginations, and some never figure out that they are chasing after something that is imaginary and completely non-existent. It is like the character Prometheus from Greek mythology, experiencing endless physical punishment and perpetual psychological futility. Jesus is the only means to the end of suffering such futility as is found in sinful life and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Sin is a sickness for which Jesus is exclusively the only prescribed cure.

Good Shepherd

Submission, trust, and obedience are the main issues I consider in my response to the Good Shepherd behavior of Jesus in my life. “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). The sheep analogy breaks down at the point where we realize that we are created in the image of God and are expected to become progressively more like Jesus as we follow Him, whereas sheep cannot hope to become like the shepherd. I think we can view discipleship as a relationship that develops, sometimes beginning as adversarial and then progressing through various stages of trust and reliance until, ultimately, we submit our whole lives to His will and purpose for us and thus experience the epitome of intimacy. Another issue is that I think too much, instead of resting in the shepherd’s care. “He is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” (Psalm 95:7). I like what Isaiah wrote which illustrates just how helpless and vulnerable I most often feel, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11). The good thing is that feeling this way causes me to be humble and reliant upon the Good Shepherd who is the lover of my soul and also illustrates how I am to esteem others more highly than myself and be self sacrificing. Self sacrifice is a real challenge for me when I lose sight of the fact that Jesus cares so perfectly for my well being that I am commanded to fret not. Psalm 27 is a favorite reminder to me of Jesus’ perfect care and is most useful in negating my worries.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Unbiblical Anecdote #1

People say, “We do not like the things he is saying. We thought he was with us. However, since we have learned that he does not agree with our politics, our theology, and our traditional religious ideas, he is dead to us. The Lord says, “Where have you laid him?” (John 11:34) Hallelujah! The moral of this quite unbiblical anecdote is simply this. Always put more credence in what God says than in what people say, no matter how righteous the people claim to be.

© 2009 Brian L Hunter