Archive for April, 2023

Grow up, speak the truth in love: A more mature expression of Christ

April 30, 2023

The Verse of the Day for Biblegateway.com comes from Ephesians 4:15, but to understand the context more fully, we will take a look at the preceding verse as well which relates to our being members of the Body of Christ in Ephesians 4:14-15 in the New Living Translation:

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

Throughout the New Testament believers are exhorted not only to speak the truth in love but to walk in love, to demonstrate or manifest love, to put on love. Love is to be the guiding principle in all that we say or do. 

A previous blog entry encouraged us to follow the Scriptures, whereby we “put off, put on, and put away.” Here is an excerpt from that post:

Colossians 3:12-14 in the New Living Translation speaks of how believers should behave:

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

Poetically speaking, we are directed to

Put off the old. Put on the new and leave the past behind.

Follow Christ and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

As believers, we are encouraged to change our minds and develop new thinking patterns. We are to put off the old man and put on the new man, as we put away lying or any other ungodly practices.  Instead of continuing in the direction that habitually takes us away from the presence of God, our lives should be moving in this direction:

Toward a Mature Expression of Christ

But speaking the truth in love [in all things—

both our speech and our lives expressing His truth],

let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.

Ephesians 4:13

With the doctrine established in our younger years,

As we live, maturity should be evident,

For perfected love dispels all our doubts and fears,

Having heard God’s Word and then knowing what it meant.

As we fully mature in Christ, we seek to please

The Lord who watches to see what kind of steward

We have become. As our all-wise Father, He sees

Not just the outward appearance but the inward

Thoughts and motives of the hearts of daughters and sons

Who are no longer children looking to be fed

But as new creations in Christ, His chosen ones,

Not as carnal, we choose to speak the truth in love instead.

Toward a mature expression of Christ, we must strive

And pursue it with passion until we arrive.

We close with Ephesians 4:14-15 Lyric Video featuring Songs from the Loop:

He is risen, indeed!

April 9, 2023

As the sun begins to rise on this Resurrection Sunday, April 9, 2023, I reflect upon one of the most memorable accounts of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ found in Luke 24:1-9 ((New Living Translation):

The Resurrection

24 But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened.

In thinking about this account of the women at the empty tomb, this original reflective piece also comes to mind:

Witness

 Luke 24:1-9 (New Living Translation)

 

Though we did not journey with the women

In the dark before dawn that first day,

Nor were we walking, weeping with them when

Two angels spoke, nor did we hear them say,

“He is not here but risen as he said;

Recall that on the third day he should rise;

Why seek you the living among the dead?”

Though we did not see with our naked eyes,

In our hearts, we know God’s desire to bless.

Though we did not touch Christ nor did we see

The open tomb, yet we still bear witness.

We have a more sure word of prophecy.

By the spirit, fruit of our Promised Seed,

We surely know He is risen, risen, indeed.

Listen to this lively rendition of “Risen”:

We are fools for Christ’s sake: Not just on April 1

April 1, 2023

This morning as I completed my Bible reading for the day, I read the account of David who was being pursued by King Saul who was seeking to kill him. As he escaped, David encountered King Achish of Gath, the leader of the Philistines whom David had previously defeated when he killed Goliath. When  David realized he was in enemy territory, he “pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.” King Achish responded, “Must you bring me a madman? We already have enough of them around here. Why should I let someone like this be my guest?” ( 1 Samuel 19:12-15 NLT). Most remarkably, King David escapes from the clutches of the enemy by “playing the fool.”

This passage reminds me of a previous blog entry which I revised and reposted on April Fool’s Day, 2023.

The story is told of a man who wore a sandwich board in New York City as he walked the streets. On the front written in bold letters was this statement:  “I’m a fool for Christ’s  sake!”  People passed and chuckled or snickered, but they changed their expressions when they turned around to read the back of the sign which asked,  “Whose fool are you?”

This story brings to mind the words of the Apostle Paul who reminds believers: “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”

The lyrics to the chorus of the popular song “Everybody Plays the Fool” also remind us of this truth:

Everybody plays the fool sometime

There’s no exception to the rule

Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel

I ain’t lyin’, everybody plays the fool

Since everybody plays the fool sometime in life and in love, many of us have decided that, like the gentleman in New York, we will be fools  for Christ’s sake, since the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men,” so say the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 1:25).

As the weeks unfold leading up to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we encounter a situation that contrasts the ways of men who purport themselves to be wise, and the ways of God who uses foolishness to confound the wise:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written:  “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

The whole idea of being a “fool for Christ’s sake” on April Fool’s Day reminds me of this poetic portrait written in the form a “mad song”:

My Mad Song

We are fools for Christ’s sake,

but you are wise in Christ!

We are weak, but ye are strong!

You are distinguished, but we are dishonored.

I Corinthians 4:10

I am stark raving mad as a gitsy;

I am insane and crazy as a loon.

Though my voice is stronger,

My lyrics are wronger.

My mad song is plainly out of tune

(But all the while I smile).

I am a rare and bizarre exception

Who loves to laugh out loud and cry.

My mind borders hysterical

Each day I see a miracle.

I live on earth with my home in the sky

(And all the while I smile).

I make my point with certainty–

Another fact that clearly shows

That I am deceived or naiver,

With the mind of a child, a believer

Who knows that he knows that he knows

(Why all the while I smile).

So I still dream my dreams and live

My life in such a simple style.

The world wants to eat me for supper,

But I just laugh and keep the upper

Hand and keep walking mile by mile

(As all the while I smile).

They call me kook, fanatic, and fool

Because of my peculiar knack.

Some folks think me still odder

Because I talk with God, my Father,                                

And furthermore, yes, He talks back

(And all the while I smile).

All of this is food for thought on April Fool’s Day, 2023.

Helen Yousaf closes this music reminder: “Fools for Christ”: