” That they may behold my glory” – The Prayer of Jesus 


Gifts of the Ascended Christ

 

The greatest desire that Christ expressed in his prayer was that his people might be with him to behold his glory. It is clear that in this prayer the Lord Christ was referring to his own glory and the actual sight of it.

Only a sight of his glory, and nothing else, will truly satisfy God’s people. One of the greatest privileges the believer has, both in this world and for eternity, is to behold the glory of Christ.

Ever since the name of Christ was known on the earth, there has never been such direct opposition to the uniqueness and glory of Christ as the present day. It is the duty of all those who love the Lord Jesus to testify according to their ability to his uniqueness and glory.

I would therefore try to strengthen the faith of true believers by showing that to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ by faith is the climax of all Christ’s requests for his disciples in this present world. Here in this life, beholding the glory of the Lord, they are changed into his own likeness by his Spirit (2Cor.3:18). Hereafter, they will be like him for they will see him as he is (1 John 3:2). This knowledge of Christ is the continual life and reward of our souls.

If, therefore we would have a more active faith and a greater love to Christ, giving rest and satisfaction to our souls, we must have a greater desire to see more of his glory in this life. We should not look for anything in heaven other than what we have some experience of (by faith) in this life. If we were fully persuaded of this we would be more often thinking about heavenly things than we usually are.

– John Owen (1684) from The Glory of Christ, the theme of the final year of his life (d.1683).

If Owen found it difficult in England in his day, how much more in our day to keep the greatest gift of all our constant priority. The Advent season is the perfect time to evaluate the year and one’s own choices to judge how well we have resisted all the distractions of the world and kept our eyes on this Leader who is both the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

 

Watch ‘Jesu, Joy of man’s desiring’.

For Brazilians: YouTube honoring Nilson Fanini (1932-2009)  “Verei Jesus como Ele e’ ” e tambem “Para Que vejam a minha gloria” http://youtu.be/3HLhhHNDvxg

Related Post: What difference has looking made?

 

 

I frequently tell anyone who will listen, that this is the day of opportunity for those working for peace and unity in our fragmented and increasingly polarized society. Against the usual backdrop of ugliness, almost any demonstration of togetherness across the barriers that divide and separate us from oneanother is bound to shine forth as a candle in the darkness. Here is an example that is just full of implications-

Only about a dozen Jewish residents remain in Natchez, a city of about 16,400 best known for its elaborate plantation homes. As younger generations moved away, the congregation hasn’t had its own full-time rabbi since 1976.

With a circuit-riding rabbi visiting on this Friday night, about 80 Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists joined their Jewish neighbors and helped fill the wooden pews of the 105-year-old temple. Read more. . .

Rabbi Marshal Klaven reads Torah

Lesslie Newbigin, The Household of God 

” IN the present world situation it is natural that mankind should long for some sort of real community, for humanity cannot be human without it. It is especially natural that Christians should reach out after that part of Christian doctrine which speaks of the true, God-given community, the Church of Jesus Christ… It is natural that men should ask with a greater eagerness than ever before such questions as these:
  • Is there in truth a family of God on earth to which I can belong, a place where all humankind can truly be at home?
  • If so, where is it to be found, what are its marks, and how is it related to, and distinguished from, the known communities of family, nation, and culture?
  • What are its boundaries, its structure, its terms of membership?
  • And how comes it that those who claim to be the spokesmen of that one holy fellowship are themselves at war with one another as to the fundamentals of its nature, and unable to agree to live together in unity and concord?

I think there is no more urgent theological task than to try to give them plain and credible answers.” (Household of God, 1953)

Household of God (1953)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Largely unknown in the west, the Ancient Persian empire which pre-dates the Islamic State of Iran by thousands of years, is crucial for understanding the proud heritage of Iranians. I was fortunate enough early in this blog, to discover a blogging mate from Iran who would remind me of this Persian heritage. Tragically, the armed assault on political resistance of large numbers of Iranians this summer has delayed that profitable inter-change.

After observing the veneration on Persia1 blog of Cyrus the Great, I was able to share my own admiration for the one in the Hebrew Bible who is referred to as “Anointed of God”. Now, there is an exposition of Ancient Persia in the British Museum and much available on the internet for all in the west to learn of this heritage and give it the respect that it deserves.

    SOUND FAMILIAR ?

This is a revolutionary age. The hurricane winds of change are howling around the world. The human race seethes with unrest and rebellion. Our political institutions are polarized, divided to the left and right without any common ground in the center. Despite the signs of current prosperity, our debt-ridden, hair-triggered economy seems precariously balanced on the verge of collapse. We have barred and deadbolted our homes, making ourselves prisoners while criminals roam free in our neighborhoods, grafitti-tagging and shooting at random, filling our hearts with fear. With every day’s headlines, with every new atrocity or terrorist attack, we see more evidence that there is a very thin line which separates civilization from anarchy. We seem to be approaching not just a political breakdown, but a cultural meltdown. -Ray Stedman

Things don’t seem to change much. These comments were written in 1972 and as any student of history knows, similiar commentaries on the state-of-the-world have been made throughout time. As we said in a previous post, the basic human situation and the dangers confronting us as well as the work of finding solutions is a given in this present age of right vs.wrong.

So what is our highest priority? What is the one activity that stands above all the others that we can spend time and resources to fight this reality in which we all find ourselves in the middle of? This is my blog and you expect me to say what I believe is the answer to that, don’t you? I must show you that I have studied the question seriously and diligently and have in fact come to an answer that I do not hesitate to sign my name to. I have taken ownership of this as the answer and am spending my life and resources on it as the highest priority. And yes, it comes from the biblical story, the same story where I find the best answers to all my serious questions involving the basic issues of life and death, good and evil.

The two lights                                                      

You are the light of the world! A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” – Jesus, the Light of the world, to his disciples.

So I do not hesitate to declare to all who will listen, for the peace and unity of humankind, for the healing of the nations’ violence and poverty and corruptions of all kinds- the very best thing that can happen is for this light be as bright as it can be; this city of light be set on a hill clearly in every community of the world so that all that may see the light and be enriched.

The only human society I know that claims to be the Society of Jesus, the Jesus of the biblical story, and says their purpose and desire is to follow and obey Him, is the Church. So my answer is that the highest priority is to get the Church healthy and conformed to the original design of her maker so that she can be the source of power in the world against all these woes that cause death and destruction and untold misery. For the answer is not found in the Capitol Building or the city of Washington,D.C., nor in any earthly government, but only in the Prince of Peace and his city, the heavenly Jerusalem, as it is called in the biblical story. As she reflects the true Light and in turn shines it into every human culture and situation in the world, there is real hope. I send out an earnest plea for those of all Faiths not based on this same story, to pray for the churches you might be familiar with and to do all you can to hold them to their God-given mission to be the City of Light to the world. According to my personal faith, it will be the best thing you can do for yourself and for your people.

This is the highest priority for the Church and for the world.

(the quote is from Ray Stedman’s book on the Church-BODY LIFE ) READ the book on-line, another little paper-back classic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         Now we’re cooking baby!

I ran across a post today I’ve been just waiting to find and jump on.

WHAT IS FAITH?  This was originally posted by Stacey Lawson at huffingtonpost.com, but I found a link to it over on newsvine.com where I’ve started a little news blog. That’s where I jumped right in with my two-cents worth. (please read the original post and the very interesting comments at both places)

What Faith Is

Thanks Angel for the “Faith is Not Religion” link. Here is where I have found help from the social sciences and especially in a topic most christians know little about. Faith can be demonstrated to be a “universal” characteristic of humankind. It can be studied in its “generic” manifestations rather than in the more common sense of “ideological content”, for example doctrine (this is where most of the age-long struggle within christendom comes from).

Faith deals with very important human choices and loves, everything we invest our lives in. It not only involves our minds and imaginations but also our emotions and our wills. We usually don’t ask the right questions when it comes to faith in this sense; we ask “what do you believe?” That already takes us down the road to religion and creeds and institutions. Faith is about such questions as, who do you trust for wisdom in navigating the great events of your life?  What do you set your heart on, Give your devotion/worship to? What determines the ‘values’ part of who you are?

And then there are a whole host of other not-so-insignificant questions almost everyone at some point finds herself meditating about: where did I come from? why was I placed in the family/race/country that I was born into? what is the purpose of life? where is civilization going? what happens after we die?

As you can see, these are the kinds of things that faith deals with and it is a universal because of the nature of humankind, the way we were created.(opps, I slipped, and let my own faith system show up) There is such a thing as “faith development” or stages of faith. Perhaps one of the most outstanding contributions to this whole area was the book, “Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and The Quest for Meaning“, by James W.Fowler (1981). (READ the excellent reviews at this Amazon link)I highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in learning more about faith as used in this sense.

When science tries to answer faith questions what you end up with is not pure science but a faith system. For one who answers such questions with statements that turns to the individual within, that too can be seen to be a self-developed faith system. The so-called atheists also have their own kind of faith. This is probably new to many, this concept of faith not being per se a religion. But all religious people can learn a lot about themselves and their faith by learning to study it in its generic sense.

“NO ONE HAS TAUGHT WHITE PEOPLE in AMERICA MORE ABOUT DEATH THAN BLACK AMERICANS”  (See BLOG for The Day)

There is a lot going on this week and it already got off to a bang over the week-end. Did you ever notice all the confusion over a little bitty thing like when do we really end the week and begin a new one? The first time I think I noticed this was way back in college years when I learned what TGIF meant.

This is just one important place the religious soul of America gets into the middle of the act. A great many Americans still observe the Sabbath that begins at sundown on Friday. The majority of Christians, not all, worship on Sunday, the day of the Resurrection of The Christ whom they follow. The country as a whole doesn’t know what to do with any of us religious folks because they are all about doing their shopping, their entertaining, and oh yes, their sports, on the week-end. But that’s another post for another day.

I’m trying to be short- and I’m trying to hit about three themes that’s on my mind as I started my week with just a single post. Here they are – THURSDAY, MAY 1, has been designated by our President as the National Day of Prayer. So I want to mark that occasion in our Nations busy calendar and talk about “Civil Religion” in America.

But we’re also face to face this week with another real and vital part of our country’s religious life – The Black Church in America. We’ve just got to speak out on this issue and I ask the patience of my friends who are not Americans (North Americans) while we do this. I ran across a post this morning on a black blog that boldly made this statement: “No one has taught white Americans more about Christian love than black Americans.” I didn’t have to think long at all to know that I agree with that statement. Because I had put up for my “blog of the day” (you really should check that any time you browse my blog because most of the time it’s a lot more interesting than my own latest post), an amazing essay on the theme of death itself in the black American culture and how it has affected all of us.

Sad to say, but I must in the name of unity say it, I don’t think a lot of us have really understood what the man Dr.Martin Luther King, epitomizes about the racial struggles that continue in this country of ours. Ironically, we are gearing up in Kentucky and the Nation for a gala celebration of the 200 anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth . If you still don’t get the significance of this “lining up of the stars” for the black American as one of their race is daily in the news in the office of the powerful Secretary of State while another is front runner to be our next President, well I would say you need to take time in your busy week to try to see things through the eyes of black Americans.

Remember which site your on here- with great respect and dignity that is due all our fellow human beings. Thank God for the age of the WWW and the miracle by which we can finally listen to others and know them as they would like to be known not as others for their own twisted agendas want to portray them.

NOTE: A site that does more justice to Dr.Jeremiah A.Wright,Jr.

Did you ever hear the old saying,

DYNAMITE SOMETIMES COMES IN SMALL PACKAGES

I’m thinking especially about books that have made an impact on my life. Some of the most powerful books have been little paperbacks. I have a dear friend that is an avid reader, and that’s putting it mildly. He once said to me, “I don’t do paperbacks!” But I said, there are some precious little gems that only come in paperback. “Well”, he said, “I guess I’ll just have to wait until the hardback edition comes out, won’t I.”

Some of my most treasured books over the years are paperback classics, I’ll just name three: Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer,Harper & Row (1954), 122 pages,and The Obedience of Faith, by Paul S.Minear, SCM Press (1971)110 pages. I wish every Christian in America could read these as well as the third one I’ll mention now, regardless of which church tradition they call mother kirk.

The third little treasure is a little book on the church, Body Life, written by Pastor Ray Stedman in 1972, and telling the story of the Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California. The basic message of this little book and what it represents is still dynamite today. The Church, PBC, and their vibrant ministries are a testament to that.  

 He makes this statement in the early part of the book after discussing many of the negative ideas that come to mind when the word “church” is mentioned: 

“Let’s be honest: The church has been all of these things at one time or another. Again and again, it has justified every bitter charge, every gripe and criticism that was ever leveled against it by angry atheists and disillusioned agnostics.

“Yet–despite all its obvious flaws, weaknesses, hypocrisies, sins, and excesses–the church has been the most powerful force for good on the face of the earth, century after century, from the time of the apostles right up to this present moment. It has been light in the midst of the blackest darkness. It has been salt–both a preservative and a delightful seasoning–in a corruption-prone, unsavory society.”

He goes on to ask the obvious question, “How can this be?” And his answer is one we need to ponder very very carefully today when the world desparately needs what only the “True Church” was designed to provide.(see my earlier post on,”I Belong To The One True Church“.

Two Churches

How can we unravel this paradox? How can the church be both sin-ridden and salt and light? How can the church be both a source of disillusionment and a source of illumination at the same time? The answer, as found in the Bible, is this: What we call “the church” is really two churches! One is selfish, power-hungry, and sinful. The other is loving, forgiving, and godly. One has a long history of stirring up hatred, conflict, and bloody persecution, all in the name of God and religion. The other has always sought to heal human hurts, break down barriers of race and class, and deliver men and women from their guilt, shame, fear, and ignorance.

One is a false church, a counterfeit, masquerading as Christianity, but whose head is Satan. The other is the true church, founded by Jesus Christ, mirroring His authentic character through acts of love, self-sacrifice, courage, and truth.

Well there you have the gist of what I really believe about the Church and all of her many different manifestations and the urgent task of unity. To read more of this chapter from the late Dr.Stedman’s book, go here.

AN EXERCISE IN UNDERSTANDING THE FAITH of OTHERS

Today is not like normal Sabbaths for the simple reason that this year Pesach falls on Saturday; at sundown today, Pesach begins.

Of all the Jewish holidays Pesach is the one most commonly observed, even by the otherwise non-observant Jews….(Judaism 101)  http://www.jewfaq.org/holidaya.htm

 

Have you ever thought what a quantum leap we could make if we began to really appreciate and respect our neighbors Faith through their own eyes and not through what we’ve heard- even in a “comparative religion” class?

Join me as I observe the Jewish holy day of Pesach. 

 

 

This post is just too good to pass up!

The blog of the day, a link I have in my permanent column of links, for today is something so crucial that I want to call your attention to it. From Khanya- Steve Hayes

“I think I know what Cat means, and I hope Cat (or someone else) will correct me if I am wrong. In hoping that all pagans eventually end up as Christians, Christians display an arrogance and lack of humility in assuming that “my path is better than your path”, or “my lived spirituality is better than your lived spirituality”. And if that were so, it would of course indeed be a lack of humilty, and it is a lack of humility that Christians are often tempted with and into which they often fall.

But for Christians what is central is not “my path” or “spirituality”, but God.

The blog goes on to state the other side of the equation ; the side of how the pagans (those who do not yet believe in God), in not recognizing this fundamental reality for Christians, and trying to force them to act and speak in some pluralsitic way (as pagans),is expecting them to violate the very nature of who they are. The very same thing could be said substituting Muslim or Jew for Christian; it’s against who they are to deny the reality of God, and God, as my muslim friend Cyrus pointed out, is abosolute.

Understanding our blood relatives

The Bravehearts, be they Jew, Christian, or Muslim, must be committed to understanding their fellow human beings in the world today. Those that reach a level of faith (faith as it is in each of the respective Faiths) that they are comfortable in honest dialogue, will listen with the intent of learning about their fellow humans, their “blood relatives”, because they really do value and esteem them for who they are, not what they hope they will become. I hope to continue along this line for a while, because I’m encouraged by the rest of you who are moving along the same path, pursuing peace with justice and understanding in our ever shrinking world community.

  • understanding the difference between ideology and faith
  • understanding the hard work of wrestling with the big issues of life
  • understanding that your contribution really does matter to the rest of us.
  • understanding the sanctity of the conscience of the individual
  • understanding will involve very real personal risk and due to the human condition, you will hurt and be hurt, there will be conflict.

Related post: Universal Questions that only Faith can answer!