Archive for July, 2013

“Have no fear”: A word for the day

July 19, 2013

1 John 4 18

This morning as I began my day, I noted the “Verse of the Day” taken from Isaiah 41:10 in the King James Version:

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

This particular verse reminds us  that as believers we are not to fear. The comforting exhortation to “fear not” or “do not fear” occurs 365 times in the Bible, indicating a daily memo from God that we are to have no fear.

Isaiah 41:13 also provides great encouragement with this reminder.

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

When we encounter stressful situations that cause us to respond in fear, we are encouraged to seek the strength to overcome any obstacle that attempts to block our path to success.  Psalm 27, my favorite psalm which I committed to memory as a youngster back in the middle of the 20th Century, still offers great encouragement today.

Psalm 27

1The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

5For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

6And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

7Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

8When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

9Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

11Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

13I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

14Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

In the midst of the perilous times in which we live, we cannot deny that fear seems to abound. We all recognize that fear is a common and natural emotional response to potential danger, but if not properly addressed, it can become a deadly emotion with serious consequences. Excessive fear can become crippling and impact our daily lives in a negative way. Unbridled fear is a toxic emotion that limits and inhibits.

Pastor Rick Warren describes fear as “. . . a self-imposed prison that will keep you from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

In 1 John 4:18 we find the perfect antidote to fear:

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When an individual is “perfected in love” and walks in or demonstrates that love, there no room for fear. The love of God is the key that releases each believer from the bondage of this “self-imposed prison” from which Christ came to set the captives free, as this poem indicates:

Self-imposed Prison

“Fear is a self-imposed prison that will keep you

 from becoming what God intends for you to be.”

– Rick Warren

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,

because fear involves torment. But he who fears

has not been made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

 

This self-imposed prison, not made with bars of steel,

Nor formed with bricks, yet each subtly constructed wall

Restricts the mind, scars the soul and cripples the will

And impounds us to a state of constant free fall.

Held captive by past mistakes that seek to instill

Fear: this deadly acronym binds, confines the heart,

So disguised as “false evidence appearing real”

Keeps us from being all God intends us to be.

But Christ, our sovereign Lord, pardoned each life sentence,

Commuted penalties, declaring not guilty.

With his blood, having blotted out every offense,

Displayed undying love: key to set captives free.

Pure freedom to serve awaits those with ears to hear,

For perfected love destroys all walls built by fear.

 

The acronym used in the poem is a common one for fear as “false evidence appearing real.”  Last year I was introduced to another acronym for fear by Victoria Dunn: “forgetting everything already realized.” That concept inspired another poem containing yet another acronym, as well as another based on the antidote to fear: Love ( Love Overcomes: this Victory we have Every time).

Have No Fear: Remember Love

With gratitude to Victoria Lynn Dunn

 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear:

because fear involves torment. He who fears

has not been made perfect in love

I John 4:18

 

Forgetting Everything Already Realized,

Everything God performs He does with excellence.

Already set before us is every promise.

Realized with each sunrise this eternal truth:

Love Overcomes: this Victory we have Every time.

Only believe, knowing love energizes faith.

Victory is ours each time we trust God and believe,

Ever mindful that perfect love casts out all fear.

God cannot love us more and will not love us any less.

May we never forget but always remember:

Despite the storms and fiery trials, we will not fear,

Knowing nothing can separate us from God’s love.

The Verse of the Day is just a reminder for believers to put on our “no fear gear,” as we walk in the love of God which casts out all fear.

As we reflect upon Psalm 27 and other passages related to having no fear, here is a musical reminder composed by  Andraé Crouch and Michael Omartian;  this version of Psalm 27:1 features vocal soloist El DeBarge.

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No Mirrors in Heaven: Just a thought

July 14, 2013
This song recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock brought caused me to think about whether there are any mirrors in heaven.

This song recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock caused me to think about whether there are any mirrors in heaven.

A number of years ago I heard a song performed by one of my favorite a capella musical groups, Sweet Honey in the Rock, a poignant rendering of a song written by Ysaye Barnwell, a member of the group. Here is an animated version of “No Mirrors in My Nana’s House” recorded on Nick JR:

The song caused me to think that if there are no mirrors in “my Nana’s house,” surely there are no mirrors in “my Father’s house.” How many times have I recited or heard recited the celebrated passage from John 14 at a funeral or “homegoing” service for a friend of family member:

Let not your heart be troubled:

You believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions:

If it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come again,

And receive you unto myself;

That where I am, there you may be also.

 

In thinking about those “bright mansions above,” I pondered, “Will there be any mirrors in heaven?” My thoughts led to this poetic response:

No Mirrors in Heaven

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full into his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his glory and grace.

Traditional Gospel Song

 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory,

even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18

 

The eighth day lies beyond the perfection of seven

With this startling discovery: no mirrors in heaven.

We will not have time to indulge in vanity

When we see ourselves as we were designed to be

In the eyes of the savior when we behold his visage

And see ourselves fashioned like unto Christ’s glorious image.

The wisdom and power of God no one can deny

When we are released from the quarters of the butterfly

To behold full-face the splendor of the Savior:

One glimpse reveals the value of godly behavior.

When the good pleasure of His will has been fully shown,

Then shall we know, even as we are also known,

Transformed from mortal into immortality

To view the fullness of Christ in you and Christ in me.

The closing line of the poem brings to mind a passage of scripture that has long been particularly meaningful to me: Colossians 1:25-27

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

This particular passage was the inspiration for the lyrics to an original song:

Christ in You, Christ in Me

Even before the world began,

God put together His master plan,

Calling Jews and Gentiles into one body,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Enlighten my eyes, help me to see

All that you have called me to be.

Share with me the secrets that you have for me,

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

 

Put on God’s Word, renew your mind.

Seek Him with your whole heart, and you will find

He’ll open your eyes; He’ll let you see

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

I’m no longer bound; I’ve been set free.

I once was so blind, but now I see.

I’m walking into my destiny:

The riches of the glory of this mystery

Which is Christ in me, the hope of glory

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me the hope of glory.

 

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory,

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory,

Christ in me, the hope of glory.

Here is another musical composition inspired by the same passage, “Christ in You the Hope of Glory Song.”

Campaign Kerusso

“It’s all about relationships”: Reflections on the Conference

July 11, 2013
After attending this life-changing conference, I wanted to share some of my thoughts in this blog entry.

After attending this life-changing conference, I wanted to share some of my thoughts in this blog entry.

Almost two weeks have passed since the “It’s All about Relationships” Conference 2013, a powerful life-changing experience that I am still endeavoring to process and understand all that transpired. Hosted by Apostles Eric and Carolyn Warren of Equip U Ministries in Reynoldsburg, OH,  the three-day event offered informative presentations, workshops and forums designed for married couples, singles, friends, co-workers, teens and senior citizens.

In addition to the conference hosts other speakers and workshop leaders included Pastors Michael and Joy Bivens, Apostle Daryl O’Neil of Chicago, IL and Minister Joshua Parker of Akron, OH.

Dane Findley, health writer and wellness coach, commented that “Paying close attention to the relationships in your life is not an extracurricular activity — it’s the reason for life itself.”  Indeed, the conference helped to bring clarity and a greater understanding of the magnitude of the fundamental relationship principles that govern all of life.

Without question, “It’s all about relationships. . . “from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. The opening verse of Bible declares, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” establishing the relationship between the heavens and the earth, between bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial. Genesis further reveals the relationship between God, the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. The expression of the interaction of the three is in revealed in Genesis 1: 26: “And let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness.”

Verse two of Genesis 1 beginnings with conjunction “and,” the most frequently used word in the King James Version of the Bible, being used 28,364 times.  The figure of speech known as polysyndeton involves using “many ands” where is there is emphasis placed on each item listed in any series connected by the conjunction. This figure is particularly noteworthy in Genesis 1:2 and the verses that follow.

The Book of Genesis and subsequent books of the Bible unfold the consequences of the first broken relationship when Lucifer chooses to break fellowship with God, thus becoming the “first murderer” and “the father of lies” who begets an untruth in the very presence of truth. We see the devastating consequences of his deadly influence in the Fall of Man and the degradation of humanity and all of earthly life itself.

The Scriptures reveal God’s ultimate desire for reconciliation and the healing of all broken relationships, expressed through Jesus Christ. As ambassadors or representatives of Christ, we stand in his place, using the word of reconciliation which is part of the ministry of reconciliation, as we endeavor to restore broken relationships, first with God and with others as well (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

The essence of some of the principles that were shared during the Relationship Conference I extracted and incorporated into the following poetic work:

 “It’s All about Relationships”

Inspired by the teaching of Apostle Eric Warren

It’s All about Relationships Conference 2013

 

God floods the eyes of our hearts with light that we might know,

As we discover new depths of our relationships

While we mature, applying the Word that we might grow.

We recognize that “It’s all about relationships.”

Enlightened, we now no longer walk in ignorance,

Being much more aware of vital spiritual matters,

We experience victory, healing and deliverance.

The anointed Word of God breaks all yokes and shatters

Barriers that hinder fellowship with God and others.

When the enemy raises his head, we fight to maintain

Relationships with God and with sisters and brothers,

Returning to “His image” the source that will sustain.

Whether with God, family, friends, co-workers, husband or wife,

“It’s all about relationships,” the foundation of life.