Archive for May, 2015

If the Lord tarries: Changing rapture views

May 31, 2015

1 Thessalonians 4_16-17

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 KJV]

The Verse of the Day for May 31, 2015 is a passage that makes reference to the return of Jesus Christ. Some refer to this event as “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” while others may somewhat irreverently call it “the Big Snatch.” The Return of Christ, nonetheless, still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”

For the past almost 50 years, the return of Christ has been a vibrant hope that continues to burn within my soul. Despite the signs of the times that have occurred and that seem to foreshadow Christ’s imminent return, we are still awaiting the blessed hope of his appearing. As time passes, countless other believers and I are still “. . . standing on tiptoe, awaiting the golden note.” As time has passed, I have had to change my position, however.

In an article written in 2009, shortly after becoming a writer for Examiner.com, I outlined three of the traditional views regarding “the rapture” or the return of Christ. Here is an excerpt from that original article:

As prophecies are fulfilled in increasing measure, the question becomes not will Christ return, but when will he return. Various beliefs regarding the Return center on the 7-year period of devastation and persecution, such as the world has never seen, known as the Great Tribulation. Three popularly held positions are represented in the prefixes pre, mid, or post attached to the term Tribulation:

Pre-tribulationists believe that the Lord will return prior to start of that 7-year ordeal.

Mid-tribulationists take the position that Christ will return 3 ½ years after the start of the Tribulation.

Post-tribulationists believe that the Return does not occur until the end of this intense period of calamity.

Over centuries, proponents of the varying positions have used the scriptures and other sources to support their positions. Volumes have been written, and the topic continues to provide material for sermons and position papers, pamphlets and tracks, and lively conversations among Christians across the globe.

Sometime ago I was asked my position with regard to the Return (Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, or Post-Trib). After considerable study of the Scriptures and examining the various positions, I concluded my position to be Pre-Trib with modifications. I concur with Marilyn Agee and others who take the position that there will be “two raptures”:

Pre-Tribulation rapture, spoken of in terms of Noah in Matthew 24:37-39

Herein lies one of the points of difference. Christ will return to gather “his bride,” but in a similar way that Eve, the first bride, was taken from the body of the “First Adam,” so the “Second Eve,” the “Bride of Christ” will be taken from the Body of Christ, the “Second Adam.”

Pre-Wrath rapture, expressed in terms of Lot in Luke 17:27-32

Those believers who remain following the extraction of the “Bride of Christ” will have to endure the Tribulation, but they will be saved from the wrath to come, just as Lot was taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah just before the fire fell.

Obviously the details of these contrasting views and their variation cannot possibly be related in a single brief article. The original article was designed to provide an overview of the rapture and three commonly held positions with regard to the Tribulation. The position that I maintained at that time I have also changed. In thinking about the matter, I recall this poem which I have previously recited numerous times and which certainly speaks to the subject at hand:

“If the Lord tarries. . .”

James 4:13-15

“If the Lord tarries” and “If the Lord will”:

May these phrases ever be my preface.

With each decision may I learn to be still

And never presume to know your desire.

Though I may read your Word and apply

It diligently to my heart to do

All you ask of me, some secrets are not

Mine to know. Once more you tell me to watch,

To prepare my heart and to look above.

Whether I understand or misconstrue,

I cannot deny I have tasted your love.

God is faithful and His word is true.

In my heart the hope continues to burn

As I yearn even more for Christ’s return.

Although views and attitudes may change in light of changing seasons, one thing remains sure: the Return of Christ is closer now that it has ever been. Even so, Maranatha!

Ron Kenoly offers an inspirational reminder that “We Shall Behold Him”

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Psalm 56: In God I have put my trust

May 30, 2015

Psalm-56 4The Verse of Day for May 30, 2015 comes from Psalm 56:4: Here is the verse in the New Living Translation:

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Listen to a musical rendering of Psalm 56:3-4:

Not only is this particular verse and the one preceding it of great comfort, but the entire Psalm can be a reservoir of strength and encouragement:

Psalm 56

For the choir director: A psalm of David, regarding the time the Philistines seized him in Gath. To be sung to the tune “Dove on Distant Oaks.”

O God, have mercy on me,
for people are hounding me.
My foes attack me all day long.
I am constantly hounded by those who slander me,
and many are boldly attacking me.
But when I am afraid,
I will put my trust in you.
I praise God for what he has promised.
I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?

They are always twisting what I say;
they spend their days plotting to harm me.
They come together to spy on me—
watching my every step, eager to kill me.
Don’t let them get away with their wickedness;
in your anger, O God, bring them down.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

My enemies will retreat when I call to you for help.
This I know: God is on my side!
10 I praise God for what he has promised;
yes, I praise the Lord for what he has promised.
11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?
What can mere mortals do to me?

12 I will fulfill my vows to you, O God,
and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help.
13 For you have rescued me from death;
you have kept my feet from slipping.
So now I can walk in your presence, O God,
in your life-giving light.

As believers, we learn to trust in the Lord, as we learn to follow the exhortation and walk

By Faith

Look at the proud; his soul is not straight or right within him,

but the [rigidly] just and the [uncompromisingly] righteous man shall

live by his faith and in his faithfulness.

Habakkuk 2:4 [Amplified Bible]

The practical aspect of faith is a walk, a lifestyle:

Moment by moment, we walk by faith, not by what we see,

Knowing that this kind of faith propels us to victory.

Even though some may misunderstand and seek to revile,

The shield of faith counters fiery darts of the enemy’s thrust.

We trust God, despite all the hinderer might do or say.

Being fully persuaded, we learn to trust and obey.

We persist and obey: signs of our perpetual trust,

For faith directly reflects our relationship with the Lord.

Walking from victory to victory will not seem odd,

For whatever we desire according to the Word,

We shall have when we pray and put our trust in the Lord.

For true faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God.

God is faithful and always comes through, just as the scriptures saith:

Obey, persist and sacrifice—the just shall live by faith.

As we walk by faith and learn to trust God more than ever before, we recall two acronyms to remind us of the meaning of T-R-U-S-T: We proclaim that we will maintain a

Triumphant attitude” with

Rugged determination” and

Unswerving commitment,” as we further develop

Strengthened believing” and

Tremendous confidence.”

In 2015 we are learning to T-R-U-S-T:

Taking Risks Under Stressful Times.

Even as David encouraged himself in the Lord in Psalm 56 and throughout the Psalms, so we too encourage ourselves, as we trust God with all our heart and do not lean to our own understanding, but acknowledge Him in all our ways, knowing that He will direct our paths. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the trustworthy one, our Savior and Lord and soon-coming King.

We close this entry with the Sons of Korah, who offer a musical rendering of Psalm 56:

Keep it moving!

May 27, 2015

Luke 19--13Recently a great word of exhortation was shared with the congregation of Christian Provision Ministries in Sanford, NC during its weekly “Hour of Power” teaching series. Here are highlights from the teaching by Bishop Charles Mellette entitled “Keep it Moving.” This stirring message centered on the “Parable of the Pounds” found in Luke 19:11-27 with emphasis on Luke 19:13 (NLT):

13 Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, ‘Invest this for me while I am gone.’

Notes in the New Living Translation indicate that the amount each servant (doulos—bondslave) received was considerable: the total amount of 10 minas, the equivalent of 100 days’ wages. Each recipient received the money with a command to “occupy” or “invest this for me” or “buy and sell” or “do business” while the Lord went away and returned later.Those who made wise investments were commended and promoted; whereas, those who chose to hoard their resources did not show any profit, but they lost what they had been given and were demoted.

The objective of the teaching was to encourage listeners to be “exceptional”: those who are surpassing what is common or expected; not ordinary but uncommon, rare, better than average, superior.

Following the example of the wise servants who invested wisely and received a notable return on their investments, for which they were commended, as believers we are to see ourselves as “bold, daring, brave, and courageous.” We are to invest our time, our talent, and our treasure in advancing the Kingdom of God, as we strive to be exceptional individuals who “Keep it moving!”

The designation to be ““bold, daring, brave, and courageous” brought to mind the exhortation given to Joshua as he leads the Children of Israel into the Promised Land following the death of Moses:

Joshua 1:6-9

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

A most fitting close to this blog entry is Don Moen’s classic song: “Be Strong and Take Courage.”

Quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to get angry

May 25, 2015

James 1-19Revised and reposted below is a blog entry based on an Examiner.com article related to Positive Attitude Month.

Found in James 1:19, here are two renderings of the Verse of the Day for May 25, 2015:

New Living Translation (NLT):

[Listening and Doing] Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Amplified Bible (AMP):

Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.

The wise advice given brings to mind a comment from writer John Bunyan, who recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys also comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

As guardians of the gates of our heart, we must:

 Watch what we hear: Hear No Evil

Whenever possible, individuals should consciously and consistently make every effort to listen to words and music that edify and encourage rather than words and music that tear down and destroy. Positive generates positive, while negative produces negative. We must learn to listen attentively that we might not only hear but also understand. We should consciously make a concerted effort to listen to hear words of life and hope, for as K. Eubanks noted, “It is faith that breathes life into hope. It is hope that fuels a positive life-giving attitude.”

 Watch what you see: See No Evil

Without question the mind can be flooded with negative images of all sorts, but we can choose to focus our attention on the positive aspects of life as revealed in the Word of God. In the same way that David determined: “I covenant with my eyes to see no evil,” we must determine to dwell upon positive mental images rather than negative ones. We can use visualization techniques to see ourselves successfully completing the tasks set before us. Paul J. Meyer maintains that “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon, must inevitably come to pass.”

Watch what you speak: Speak No Evil

Since “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” we must carefully choose the words that we speak, as this poem states:

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

We are encouraged to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation regarding ourselves and others. The Scriptures remind believers to let our words always be seasoned with salt, that they may minister grace to the hearers.

The essence of the importance of guarding these three gates is captured in a simple children’s song that expresses profound truths: “O Be Careful Little Eyes:

Love one another, honor one another

May 24, 2015

Romans 12 10The Verse of the Day for May 24, 2014 incorporates two of the principles for achieving successful relationships with fellow believers: love and honor. Here are three renderings of this verse expressed as an imperative sentence or a request:

Romans 12:10:

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; [New King James Version]

Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. [Amplified Bible]

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. [Holman Christian Standard Bible]

Listen to this video reminder of this verse:

Each of these principles is expressed as a verb that connotes action when specifically applied in terms of what should be done to “one another,” a phrase that is used 31 times in the Scriptures.

Love one another:

Love is an essential element of life. Jesus Christ is the model, the standard of love who offered this reminder:

John 13:34-35

34 I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another.

35 By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].

Hebrews 13:1 (NLT) reminds us of the attitude that we should maintain toward fellow believers:

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.

Honor one another:

To honor means to place value on, respect, to place esteem upon, to esteem. The word also means “to prefer—to go before, to lead, to be intentional.” Clearly, this is the essence of the latter part of Romans 12:10.

Dr. John Tetsola comments, “Honor produces an exchange, in that when we give honor, we receive honor in return.” He elaborated upon this principle by stating that associated with honor is the “process of welcoming the person you honor in your heart, whereby you celebrate their anointing and receive the individual with gladness.” He calls this the “process of acceptance” which we apply when we honor one another.

Philippians 2:3 provides another reminder:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Song writer Jimmy Scott sings a composition “To Honor You,” a tribute to the memory of a loved one.

Spoken word poet, Amena Brown reads selections from Romans 12, from The Voice, a new Bible translation, from which the Verse of the Day was taken.

What we are supposed to do

May 23, 2015

Romans_15-2Romans 15:2 (New Living Testament, the Verse of the Day for May 23, 2015, makes known what are we supposed to do as Christian believers:

We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord.

We find a similar exhortation in 1 Corinthians 10:33 (NLT):

I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.

Theses verses also bring to mind Micah 6:8 which asks a probing question in the King James Version:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

The New Living Translation renders the verse as this powerful statement:

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.

The following excerpt comes from a blog entry devoted to Micah 6:8 which provides a discussion of three simple requirements, three prerequisites for Godly living expressed in three verbs written as infinitives: to do, to love, and to walk.

Here are references as to what we are “to do”:

To do . . .

This verb brings to mind a similar exhortation from Galatians 6:10:

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

We have a choice to do good or to do evil, but the Word of God reminds us that despite the sinful nature of humanity, our ultimate purpose is to do good:

Ecclesiastes 3:12:

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

This reminder to do justly or to “do good” is echoed in the words of John Wesley, who said:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NLT) offers this sobering reminder:

Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.

Colossians 3:23 also provides the standard by which we should measure whatever we do:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

A scripture memory song of Colossians 3:23-24 in the King James Version puts it this way:

And whatsoever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord,

Knowing that of the Lord, you shall receive your reward.

Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might.

Knowing that of the Lord, you shall receive your reward.

For you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

For you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

The overall expectations that God has for His people seem simple enough: Like the Nike slogan states, we should: “Just do it!” In actuality, “There’s nothing to it but to do it!” We close with this poetic reminder not to procrastinate but to

Do It Now!

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore be ye not unwise, but understanding

what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-16

If you want to live each minute

With the fullest measure in it,

To run your best race and win it

Then start to do it now!

Don’t wait until it’s tomorrow

To look for the time to borrow,

For you may be filled with sorrow

Unless you do it now!

Don’t wait until the time is right.

By then you may have long lost sight

Of work to do with all your might.

Be sure to do it now!

Make up your mind; don’t hesitate.

Now is the time to act, don’t wait.

You’ve got nothing to lose; go straight

Ahead and do it now!

Just put the past behind somehow

And with each moment make a vow:

Now is the time to do it now.

Get up and do it now!

Listen to a musical rendering of Micah 6:8 offered by Maranatha! Singers:

Reflections on 1 Corinthians 1:10

May 21, 2015

1_Corinthians_1-10Today’s blog entry, originally posted a year ago, has been revised  and is re-posted below:

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT):

[Divisions in the Church] I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

In reflecting upon the Verse of the Day for May 21, 2015, my mind goes back to a period of time during the beginning stages of my development as a teacher and writer 44 years ago. E.W. Bullinger in his signature work Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance, notes the importance of the number 40 and its association with a period of probation and trial. As a product of 5 and 8, it points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). With the number 44, Bullinger mentions that four is the number of creation, of man in relation to the world as created by God. These thoughts come to mind as I am reflecting and engaging in the writing process.

In 1971, I remember being asked to produce a writing sample, and I wrote a brief commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10. Since that time, 44 years ago, I have come to appreciate the same verse in the Amplified Bible that renders a more precise definition of the word “judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10 [Amplified]

But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments.

The Darby Bible offers a similar translation:

 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all say the same thing, and that there be not among you divisions; but that ye be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same opinion.

Someone has said that opinions are like noses—everybody has one. Even so, believers are encouraged to hold the same opinion regarding who we are in Christ. The verse from 1 Corinthians also came to mind in response to this statement by Nate Clements: “Don’t let someone else’s opinion become your reality.”

As we continue on our lifelong journey of discovery of who we are, many times we encounter varying opinions, as our identity unfolds through the changing seasons of life. Recently conversations with various individuals have centered on the issue of identity, as everyone struggles to find and maintain his or her “true identity” Among of the principal challenges of the whole of humanity is to find the answer to two of life’s fundamental questions: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” For the believer, God, our Father, the Creator of Life, provides the answers to those questions and every other question anyone may seek to find answers to in the Word of God which becomes the mirror in which we see ourselves clearly revealed.” The following poem expresses what I am learning about who I really am:

My True Identity

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.

II Corinthians 3:18

I look in the mirror of God’s Word and I see,

Not the man I am but the man I shall become,

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

Released from shackles of a slave mentality,

The bondage of Egypt I have now overcome.

I look in the mirror of God’s Word and I see.

I smile as I keep singing of “A Brand New Me.”

In my heart I have prepared for God a new home,

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

“I am what I am” is my new reality:

A first-born son, model of the Father’s Kingdom.

I look in the mirror of God’s Word and I see.

God’s blessings in double measure overtake me,

Flowing by the spirit in knowledge and wisdom,

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

I live to fulfill my prophetic destiny,

As joys unfold with even greater joys to come.

I look in the mirror of God’s Word and I see

Reflected in my eyes, my true identity.

As a believer, the essence of who I am is grounded in God’s opinion of me and not any individual’s assessment of who I am. Israel Houghton and New Breed express this truth in the song “Identity.”

Likeminded: One heart and one mouth

May 20, 2015

Romans 15 5-6

Re-posted below is a revision of a blog entry published a year ago:

The Verse of the Day for May 20, 2015 is found in Romans 15:5-6:

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we find a verse that encourages believers to be “likeminded,” but exactly what does that mean? In addition to its use in Romans 15:5, the phrase is used in Philippians 2:2:

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

In these two instances the expression is derived from a compound word in the Greek: “autophroneo.” Phroneo, as a verb, means to think, “to be minded in a certain way, attitude, disposition of mind.” The prefix “auto” means “the same.” The Jubilee Bible translates the phrase “to be unanimous among yourselves.”

The phrase “likeminded,” however, is used as an adjective in Philippians 2:20 where Paul describes his relationship with his “spiritual son,” Timothy:

For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

Here the term is translated from another compound word: “isopsuchos” with the prefix “isos” meaning “the same” and “psuchos” meaning “soul” In other words, Paul is saying that he and Timothy are “equal souled.”

Verse 6 of Romans 15 exhorts the followers of Christ to be unified with “one mind and with one mouth glorify God. . . .” The one mind that Christians should have is “the mind of Christ” referred to in Philippians 2:5 in the Amplified Bible which offers this reminder:

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]

The Scriptures also encourage us to put on the mind of Christ, to put off the old and put on the new. We are not to be conformed to the world, nor should we think as the world thinks, but the Word of God exhorts us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we, as believers, keep our minds focused or stayed on the Lord, we are kept in perfect peace. Although we endeavor to remain consistent in our efforts to let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus, our thoughts stray from time to time. This poem makes known the reality of our sometimes failing efforts to stay our minds on the Lord:

Mindful

What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

Psalm 8:4

 

Although we croon “You were always on my mind,”

We admit that has not been the reality.

Our thoughts may stray down some distant alley, and we find

Ourselves in places where we do not desire to be.

Those times of wandering are fewer than before,

As we are mindful that you are ever mindful,

We strive to abide in your presence more and more.

Your Word, both spoken and written, is remindful

That your passionate thoughts toward all men are constant,

That your thoughts toward us are endlessly good.

You are ever mindful to keep your covenant,

But we must align our thoughts to be as they should.

We want our lives to speak in all we say and do,

So that others see Christ and say, “God is with you.”

Kim Burrell closes with a musical exhortation: “Let this Mind Be in You.”

Wisdom calls after me

May 19, 2015

James-3--17

Taken from James 3:17-18 in the NIV, the Verse of the Day for May 19, 2015 lists a number of the attributes of the wisdom that descends from above:

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

As I reflected and considered deeply this celebrated section from the Book of James, I thought of a series of blog entries entitled “Words of Wisdom.” Each post could be viewed as a prescription, a daily dose of words to the wise, often poetically and musically expressed from the Book of Proverbs.

In reviewing the comments on wisdom, a particular poem that relates to recognizing the wisdom that comes from God, came to mind: “Wisdom Calls after Me.” I am reposting the poem which was part of the blog entry “Pursuing and being pursued: reflecting on wisdom”:

Wisdom Calls after Me

Listen as Wisdom calls out!
Hear as understanding raises her voice!

Proverbs 8:1 [New Living Testament]

“Wisdom is trying to get your attention!
Understanding is screaming at you!”

Apostle Eric L. Warren

To follow Christ, I must ascend to the mountain top.

As I seek to walk in his steps, where must I begin?

Despite all obstacles that impede my progress, I will not stop.

A bold lover is relentless, as he seeks to win

His beloved’s affection, so I also pursue

Wisdom, first of all, for it is the principal thing.

The seven spirits anoint all that I say and do:

God’s good pleasure is to rejoice over me and sing.

With the fear of the Lord, here is where wisdom starts.

The spirit of the Lord in fullness shall rest upon me,

For God alone has placed wisdom in my inward parts

To enlighten my understanding and help me see:

A lover woos his beloved, calling her name;

Likewise, wisdom calls after me and does the same.

Listen to “Song of Wisdom” adapted from Proverbs, offered by Kurt Benit.

A Reminder: God is faithful

May 18, 2015

Hebrews_6-10

The Verse of the Day for May 18, 2015 is found in Hebrews 6:10 (NIV):

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

While reflecting upon this particular verse, I recall a poem that I had written inspired by verse 10 of Hebrews 6. As I was preparing to send a framed copy of the poem to two of my cousins, I realized that I had also written poems inspired by Hebrews 6:11-12 as well.

These three poems formed what is called a “triptych,” which OxfordDictionaries.com defines as, “a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together.” WordNet 3.6 provides this definition of triptych art, as “art consisting of a painting or carving (especially an altarpiece) on three panels (usually hinged together).” Here is an example of one panel of a triptych carved from wood with three sections on each leaf.

triptych altar

Each of the three poems that form my triptych is also accompanied by a musical selection related to that work.

A Reminder: God Is Faithful

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Hebrews 6:10

The good deeds that you have done may not be extolled

When the fervor of God’s love has long since grown cold.

Some quickly forget all the good that you have done

And fail to recall that you were the only one

To answer the call, seek the Lord and intercede.

Time after time you were the one to meet the need.

When others were busy and chose to walk away,

You were there and remained in the thick of the fray.

In dark times when words of thanks are distant memories,

Recall that God knows all things, for He alone sees

Your labor and saves all the tears that you have shed.

Our Father is ever mindful of how you serve,

And He shall reward you beyond all you deserve.

As you strive to finish your course, have no regret:

Our God is faithful–He will never forget.

Here is a graphic illustration of Hebrews 6:10:

Growing up in the 1950s in Gary, IN, I have fond musical memories from the “Golden Age of Gospel Music.” One of the most popular songs of this period was “We’ve Come This Far by Faith,” a selection often used a processional for morning services at countless black churches across the country. The opening line of the renowned gospel favorite is part of the inspiration for this poem:

This Far by Faith

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence  

to the full assurance of hope until the end,                                                    

Hebrews 6:11

“We have come this far by faith.”  

Traditional Black Gospel Song

 

Though we see truth, there is still the rest of the story,

As we strive to be all that God called us to be,

Created to be to the praise of His glory,

We walk by faith and not by what we can see.

We now rise above to view life from God’s grand scope:

Each day our faith will increase and not diminish.

With diligence to the full assurance of hope,

We will complete our course, striving toward the finish.

A great cloud of witnesses surround us to cheer

Us on from faith to faith and victory to victory.

The mighty hand of our gracious God brought us here,

For such a time as this—behold our destiny.

As we press toward the mark, we must not lose our gait.

Lyrics remind us “We have come this far by faith.”

Voices of Hope, a choir from Los Angeles under the direction of Thurston Frazier, offer a rendition of one of the most popular gospel songs of the Fifties and Sixties.

While working on a teaching related to patience as an illustration of the fruit that was in season at that particular time of my life, I read about an apple orchard that was run by Farmer Johnson in Washington State. Reading about the apples produced by this individual also inspired the following poem:

Farmer Johnson

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who

through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:12

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Lyrics by Joseph H. Gilmore

Farmer Johnson owns orchards in Washington State.

His apples are renowned and said to be the best.

As scriptures remind us to labor and to rest,

This Farmer Johnson is patient and learns to wait

For the bountiful fruit of his harvest season.

Patience now abounds to complete and perfect me,

As I walk by faith, despite all that I may see.

I assess my times and unfold the real reason

For all the trials and seeming setbacks that came.

At times I felt as though being torn asunder

But like Job, I still abide and bear up under.

God yet delivers those who call upon His name.

Committed to go wherever the Lord shall send,

A faithful follower, I endure to the end.

As a youngster I recall singing this hymn “He Leadeth Me” countless times, performed here by the Michael Curb Congregation.