Smelly Faces

Yesterday was the my wifes first full day back from her missions trip to Haiti.  I had been prepping for her return by doing some reading on how to help them cope with being back in the States, getting ready to just listen, ramping my self up to assure her to take her time not to rush and share what she is not ready for.  I was ready for this.  I knew my strengths and weaknesses but I was ready, or so I thought.

Something that was missing in the articles and advice was something that hit me hard, and kept on hitting.  My wife had a smelly face.  No she did not need a shower because this smell could not be washed off.  It wasn’t just her face though.  All over her she just smelled.  She smelled like Jesus.  I was not ready for it either.  She started with telling some stories, and then showing some pictures.  That was all fine and well, but something started to hit me.  The more she spoke the more it filled the air.  Then she did something that just filled the house with the smell she started putting some stuff away and I do not think her feet hit the ground.  She simply float around the house.  Singing and praising God.

I have seen my wife in a wedding dress, and in pregnancy (the two most common stages of glowing) and neither of these glows could match this one.  It was hard to look at.

See in 2 Corinthians 2:15 is says

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”  

It means that people should be able to smell God on you.  You should stink with so much Jesus that people either hold their nose around you or smell you like a fresh cake to be blunt you should stink.

While 2 Corinthians 3:18 says

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Which just means when people look at us they should see something different.  It is a little harder to explain but think of it like the glow of love.  People look at you and just know there is something there, something different.

Well my wife came back from Haiti fully polished and pungent, and I did not expect it.  I did not expect that her mere presence would make me feel like Peter when he told Jesus to go away because he was a sinful man, or when the leper broke custom and approached Jesus for healing.  I am not saying my wife is the Messiah but I am saying she has Jesus all over her.  It broke me some to be honest.  I knew in an instant that I need to do exactly what God says and exactly how He says it even though I am still not sure what He is saying.

The hard part now is trying to stop the world from trying to cover up the smell on my wife.

Just a thought,

Mike

Reconciliation and other fancy words

Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do. – Mark Twain

I like that quote because it reminds me as I study new things to not to use the words to sound fancy.  However these words exist for a reason, and there are places and times for them.  There seems to be a general consensus that we need to dumb down everything in order to be easy on those that do not know.  To which I reply somethings are inherently difficult to comprehend and refusal to express them to appease those that refuse to learn is ludicrous.

Now that I have given a rant on to the topic.

I love the reconciliation.  I love reconciling my checkbook, and most importantly I love being reconciled to God.  I have been reading a book by an author I will not name and I must say that while I have gleaned a few things from it mostly I am frustrated with every word I read and page I turn.  Why am I doing this to myself you ask?  Am I glutton for punishment?  Do I enjoy wanting to throw a book?  No, it is because I want to better understand his (in general the larger movement) point of view.  I find that the most frustrating thing is not the ideals that are being espoused but the manner in which they are communicated. I have also noticed that the manner in which these particular ideas are communicated is indicative of the movement as a whole.  Chiefly it is arrogant, condescending, and overstating of their opponents views.   I will not name the movement because the very nature of how they label themselves is absurd to me, and I will not name the author because it would start an argument I do not wish to have.  I will however talk about reconciliation.

Again this is a bigger word than I typically like to use but it is very important.

The movement I am referring to likes this word and the 5 verses that contain it very much.  I agree, however as Inigo Montoya said “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

So what is reconciliation?  Reconciliation is the element of salvation that refers to the results of the atonement.  John calvin describes it as the peace between humanity & God that results from expiation of religious sin.  D.M. Loyd Jones says of reconciliation God & man are no longer at war.  Two great verses on reconciliation are 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 (below)

namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

From the verses about I will draw out a few important items.

God has reconciled us to Himself – God is done with the issue on His part.  He was the offended party and has said I forgive you, lets move on.  That is a done deal no questions asked (on my part).  The verses above and others (Rom 5:10-11, Eph 2:14-17, Col 1:19-22) are very clear that God has reconciled the world to Himself and placed all things in Christ.  That is not something I can or wish to argue.  The wall of separation has been removed, and now we can access the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.  No arguments here.

Reconciliation is not relationship – This one is very important as well and cannot be missed.  As we read above, God is reconciled to us but that does not mean we have a relationship with Him.  Some of of the writings I have read will not say this but imply it.  That should not be.  God is no longer counting our sins against us but that does not mean that we have fellowship with Him.  Instead we can have a relationship with Him because He has reconciled the world to Himself.  How about an example.  I have a brother I have never met.  I know he exist, and he knows I exist.  Yet I have never spoken to him, and do not have a relationship with him.  We are reconciled as in there is no hostility there.  If he were to reach out to me (I do not have contact info for him) then I would welcome him with open arms.  One leads to the other but it does not equal the other.  Reconciliation does not equal righteousness (or relationship) as Romans 5:19 points out.

Reconciliation is not sanctification – This is one that gets hot but again they are not synonyms.  They are not the same thing.  Sanctification is both a one time event and an ongoing process.  Quick definition time; Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.  It is being set apart.  We are at the moment of accepting the finished work of Jesus Christ sanctified (set apart, and looked at a holy) in the beloved.  But we must also continue to sanctify our lives as we grow more like our Saviour.  This is what I believe Philippians 2:12 means.  I have seen in my own life how it has become and how I have become different because I have continued to sanctify my life to the Lord.  It has been a process of continual growth and maturity one which I am confident will not stop (Phil 1:6).  Think Romans 12:2.

Reconciliation is not removal of rules – This is the one that might cause the most outrage among my friends.  Some will shout “He’s a legalist!” or “Pharisee!” or possibly (and quite likely) “I am under Grace not Law!”.  Well calm down already, I am not promoting legalism, or some sort of mixed grace message.  What I am saying however is there are certain shoulds and oughts you are supposed to adhere to.  Not for earning or keeping salvation but because you are saved.  For example, love the Lord, love your neighbor.  Thinks these don’t apply?  Jesus disagrees.  He said “If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:16.  What does that mean?  Well He leaves that up to you to for the most part.  But generally speaking don’t be a jerk, help people when you can, treat God with the respect He deserves.  You get the general idea.  Two last points on this one.

First I have been told this analogy a few times.  You do not do things for your spouse (and children) because you have to, you do it because you love them.  I see the logic in that and believed it for a minute or two.  The problem is that it is wrong.  You do things for your spouse (and children) because you love them and are obligated to.  For your spouse, you took a vow to love, honor… sickness, health.. you get the idea.  It is because you love them you keep the vow to love and serve.  Your children come with an implied and legal obligation.  You do it out of love, but you must do it all the same.  It is still something I should and ought to do.

Secondly some claim there is no law that applies to them but yet they confess they still sin (at least on rare occasion).  This I do not understand.  1 John 3:4 defines sin as the breaking of law.  If there is no law there is no sin, therefore you do not sin, therefore cheating on your wife is OK, being a drunk is OK, murder is OK, and so on.  You cannot have one and not the other (as I understand it).  If you sin you break the law, if you break the law there is law.

The question is not is there law, and it is not how do I keep this law, and it is not should I keep this law.  The question is even though I break it what is left for me.  The answer is Jesus.  Jesus came in Grace and Truth.  He is bigger than my ability to fail, and by His working in me I find a removal of desire to sin.  I live by the faith of the Son of God, not I but Christ in me.

Reconciliation is part of the bigger picture.  When I look at a motorcycle, I see many parts working together to create a thing of beauty.  The wheels, the motor, the handlebars, and so forth.  They all work together to make it a motorcycle.  Reconciliation is part of a bigger picture called Salvation.  Lets not put God in a little box and say this is who God is instead lets unwrap His presents and enjoy each of them.

Just a thought,

Mike

St Patrick Day / 1 Cor 15

Last lines of the Lorica of Patrick (Lorica means body armor)

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Thrones,
Through confession of the Oneness
Towards the Creator.

Saint Patrick was a man who served the Irish people until the time of his death on March 17th 460 (or 492).  Now this message is not about Patrick, but I wanted to take this as an opportunity for me to learn a little of him and pass it along.  Patrick was a slave in Ireland from age 16 to 22.  At which point he escaped back to his home in Banna Venta Berniae.  A few years after returning home he had a vision.

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish”. As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

It was not long after this that he returns to Ireland.  In a very real way, he returned to Ireland a slave again.  Formerly a slave to his master who owned his body and now to One who owned his soul.  One may have paid a small price for his labour but the other paid an unimaginable price for his redemption.  I find it very odd that a holiday celebrated under the name of this great servant named Patrick is known outside of the country he loved with drinking and no self-control.

It is ironic to be sure.  Almost as ironic as the false teaching Paul must address in 1 Cor 15.  We are not going to cover the entire chapter but focus first on verses 12-19 and then 20-22. The issue before the Corinthians was a simple one of not taking a thought to its conclusion.  Paul is simply taking their thought to its conclusion here.  If the dead do not raise, then neither did Christ.  If you accept that Christ raised from the dead, then you must accept that there is a resurrection.  There are a few staples of Christianity that you must believe in order to be a Christian and I believe the Apostles Creed sums them up nicely.

Modern Language Version
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

You see the belief in the resurrection of Jesus vital, but why?  Why is this one point so important?  What possible value or meaning do we take away from it?  Paul tells us in verse 17-19 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all the most to be pitied.”

If Christ did not raise you are still dead in your sins.  There is no hope, no future, no possible escape for the pain, suffering, and hurt that you have.  Without the resurrection of Jesus, we are hopeless, and what’s more pathetic.  For this means we understand the gravity of the situation (sin) and know we have no possible way of avoiding the great judgment we have coming against us.  The Muslim thinks he can do enough good to balance the scales in his favor, the Buddhist that he can try again, the Atheist that there is nothing anyway, and so on.  But as believers of the one true God ones that know we have sinned against Him and that His holiness requires perfection to stand before Him we understand that if Christ did not rise from the dead there is truly no hope for the Muslim, or the Buddhist, or the Atheist, or you, or me.  We understand the problem.

So much hinges on the fact that Christ rose from the dead.  It means you will be raised.  In a very real and tangible way if you have accepted Christ then you have received a resurrection.  Colossians 2:13 says You were dead because of your sins and because of your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins.” How can we not rejoice, how can we not say as Patrick said, “If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples.”  The resurrection means God loves you.  It means He has a plan for you, it means He has a purpose for you.  Paul says in verse 14 that if Christ is not raised our preaching is useless, and so is your faith.  That means the resurrection of Jesus Christ does not mean something, it means everything.

We have now gone through the verses 12-19 and seen the importance of the resurrection of Jesus but now I think it only fitting to look at verses 20-22.  If we are going to take a thought to its conclusion as I mentioned earlier then we need to take this thought to its conclusion.  We have seen that if the dead are not raised then Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised then we are still in our sins and pitiful.  But we do not have to worry because we can have confidence that Jesus has been raised from the dead (through History and Scripture), and if we have accepted Him we are as Colossians 3:3 says dead (to sin) and hidden with Christ in God.  Why?  Because as verse 22 says just as all who are in Adam die, but and this is a beautiful thing in Christ all will be made alive.  To know that one day I will stand before my Lord and Father in Heaven leaves me in awe.  To know that I will see my Grandparents, the loved ones lost to death, to stand with Patrick as together we all worship the Lord forever makes me ask why?  Why would someone give me this gift I so greatly do not deserve?  Why would one come for someone as pitiful as me?  For the sake of love.  To redeem what is rightfully His.  I am so thankful there is a resurrection of the dead.  If not, then I would not stand before you today the changed man I am.  But thanks be to God that Christ was raised.

Just a thought,
Mike

*This message has been updated slightly from its original form.