Love Song

©pbs.org

©pbs.org

As the wings of a butterfly thrum the air

And the rhythm of birds’ song bespeaks your voice

Gentle breeze enfolds me in merciful care

Yet I lift up my soul as I make the choice.

To your faithful love there is none to compare;

You’ve given me life, and in that I rejoice.

Oh, this peach hued mercy on your sweet light comes

And your hand of love across my heartstrings strums.

 

With wings of an eagle, your grace lets me soar

Above fleeting burdens, to take the long view,

To cast off old fears, old restraints and explore

To look not at me, but to focus on you,

To look at your Word not as law, but much more.

Let it live bright in me, let your love shine through,

For how else will the lost invite your embrace

Lest your love and compassion shine from our face?

 

The birds are God’s standard for love’s offering

And their song offers joy to sinner and saint

(and our words could follow, removing the sting).

They sing all the day with no legal restraint

(and if we love likewise, we’d be following).

Their love song helps others with God’s love acquaint.

With dry words of law we can never quench thirst.

His love song and grace must forever come first.

Sheol and Gehenna and Hades (Oh My!)

Susan Irene Fox:

Please read this brilliantly, biblically researched article by fellow blogger John. It could be subtitled, “Living in the Freedom of Christ.” He shines light into the Gospel, casting out previously learned fear through truth and the love of Jesus.

Originally posted on Christian INTP:

I read a question somewhere several months ago and have been researching it since. The question was: Is hell a part of the Gospel (Good News)? First, I wanted to define the meaning of hell I’ve been taught most of my life as a reference point, then I’ll state what I’ve found by researching the Bible.
The traditional meaning of hell I was taught centered around: a place of everlasting, conscious fiery torment where any human that dies without becoming a Christian will end up. The exact methodology of this process was always a shifting target though. Even after the initial salvation experience, there was a host of other mandates to follow to increase the coverage of the fire insurance policy. The very word hell became associated with fire and brimstone and feelings of absolute dread and despair. This led to all kinds of confusion for me growing up as I struggled to figure…

View original 1,323 more words

Unveiled

©susanirenefox

©susanirenefox

You called me salt; You called me light.

I pray my heart Your heart delights.

Your Spirit lifts, Your light is mine;

Through unveiled face Your glory shines.

 

With You the darkness flees the night.

Your word my love for You ignites.

I taste the bread and sip the wine;

Through unveiled face Your glory shines.

 

Let me absorb Your meaning right;

Oh, bring Your wisdom and insight.

You are The Branch, I am Your vine.

Through unveiled face Your glory shines.

 

Please help me, Lord, cleanse my own sight

That I might help us all unite

And heart to heart become aligned.

Through unveiled face Your glory shines.

 

Let’s love each other, do not slight.

To all, this message I invite

And welcome Christ’s commands consigned:

Through unveiled faces Glory shines.

 

My Lord

©aps Observer,  Vol.27 No.1 January 2014

©aps Observer,
Vol.27 No.1 January 2014

From outside does desire come for things

above my need. And worries of the world

affect the very thoughts to which I cling.

Please take my heart that my mind be unfurled.

 

This game I play of independence serves

me not, I know. Tight fists, too much control,

my eyes can’t see beyond what I observe.

Please bind me to your heart, transform my soul.

 

Sweet Jesus, Lord of Mercy, bring me near;

I need your might, I’m weary, used up, spent.

Beloved child, take strength, your prayer I hear;

do you not know? Your words are sweetest scent.

 

My love and grace on you I do adorn.

I’m yours – your peace within me – I’m reborn.

No Needy People

sheepandgoatbabies

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. (Acts 4:23-34)

I’ve lived in my affordable senior housing apartment building for just a year now, and I have some anecdotes to share with you.

Just the other evening, I went downstairs to my neighbor Theresa’s house to borrow some soda. My tummy wasn’t feeling up to par and I never drink soda, so never have any in my fridge. She, on the other hand, had just returned from Dotty’s house to borrow soup; she wasn’t feeling well either.

A few days before, Betty, my downstairs neighbor, had come up to my place to borrow two stamps to pay her bills. We’ve all borrowed $10-20 at the end of the month for groceries when money is tight, always paying back the following month, always returning the favor when someone else is in need.

When anyone borrows, it is met with, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m sure I’ll need something next month.” Always, the giver gives in grace and love. We all seem to have surplus when someone else has lack. Eggs, bread, a hug, a listening ear.

There is a table in our community room labeled, “For Give and Take.” There have been clothes given and taken; kitchen appliances, bedding, lamps – you name it, it’s been there. Our own free garage sale, every day of the week.

When someone is sick, there is always an offer of a grocery run, or a trip to the local Vietnam restaurant for a bowl of Phó noodle soup.

Ida and Susan (the other Susan) put together Sunshine Baskets for people getting out of the hospital. They contain a “Welcome Home” card, gender appropriate toiletries, snacks, devotionals and other welcome sundries. We all contribute to the baskets as we can. It’s a tithing for our own church community.

A few months after I moved in the gentleman living across from me died. He wasn’t discovered until a week later. The people in my building knew something was wrong and kept insisting the manager open up his apartment (she refused – didn’t even call the police – and was later fired).

I realized after that incident I am the only person in my building who doesn’t have children. No one to check up on me. Freaked me out. After talking with my neighbors, we exchanged emergency information and told each other where our spare keys are. Now, we all check in with each other and tell each other when we’re going to be gone overnight. (HUGE relief.)

Oh, sure, some among us grumble and gossip Some hang on to petty grievances against each other. Some even get pissed when we pray in public or talk about Jesus.

Yet, there are those among us who check in with each other. Who pray for each other. Who seek out God’s heart below the surface of the ones whose hearts appear to be hardened.

Behind these doors and between these walls, the Holy Spirit is among us doing His work in us. And Jesus is smiling down on us because we feed the hungry among us, and give drink to the thirsty, provide clothing, and offer comfort to those of us in need.

Hallelujah for God’s generous grace.

In Context

©susanirenefox

©susanirenefox

So many times we hear Bible verses quoted out of context. Scripture is exploited to control people, or push them away from God, or applied in hopes of personal gain.

Below are three such Scriptures, here listed in context to better understand their meaning and intent. All emphasis is the author’s.

 

“Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)

Jesus introduces his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Chapters 5, 6 and 7) with the Beatitudes, and explains the natural outcome of this character we receive through abiding in him is being salt and light. Jesus prefaces the remainder of his sermon with the statement above. He speaks about being the fulfillment of Mosaic Law (the Law and the Prophets, the entire Old Testament), yet in the same breath says not a single dot over an “i” or cross over a “t” must be ignored. To what does he refer?

He refers to what he is about to tell us – his commands to us. In this Sermon, Jesus correctly interprets Old Testament law previously misinterpreted and applied by religious leaders. Jesus focuses on the intent and meaning of the God-given Ten Commandments. By doing this, he speaks to our hearts.

He shows us what a disciple of his looks like. He illustrates, not new laws or a moral code, but what kingdom living should be. This is what calls us to be “greater than the scribes and Pharisees.” It is not simply an outward adherence to a list of items to be checked; it is an inner transformation of mind and heart which then leads to the expected outcome: love and action.

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)

Many Christians believe if they evoke these verses, whatever they ask of God should be given simply because they asked! The truth is, Jesus said this in the context of the Sermon on the Mount.

Don’t be angry; do not covet; go the extra mile; love and pray for your enemies; pray, fast and tithe in private.

Honor God’s name. Surrender yourself so God can use you to build His kingdom here on earth. Don’t worry or be anxious about tomorrow; simply ask for provision for today. Ask forgiveness as you forgive others. Pray to be removed from temptation of your own making and to be delivered from the evil one.

Refrain from judging; take a look at yourself and your own condition before you leap to judge another.

And in all this, ask for help from Jesus. Seek power from the Holy Spirit to accomplish this. Continue to knock upon the door of grace and compassion, and you will receive wisdom and strength to do what he has asked of you.

Why? Because the manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth occurs when we love one another.

 

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

Sports figures use it to ensure they win in competition. Salespeople use it to accomplish their goals. Students use it to get “As” on tests. “Ministers” misuse it to teach anyone can be prosperous.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote, “When you ask, you don’t receive anything, because the reason you ask is wrong. You only want to use it for your own pleasure.” (James 4:3)

The truth about these powerful words is the apostle Paul wrote them to encourage members of the church in Philippi to being content. Paul wanted to comfort and inspire them to keep their eyes on Jesus because they were being persecuted for being Christ followers.

Paul explains that Christ helps us to be content whether we have much or little, whether we are in ill or good health, whether we have cause to celebrate or grieve. When he wrote this letter, he was in a Roman prison. Here is his complete thought:

“I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” (4:11-14)

As Christ followers, it is simply not our destiny to have lovely, perfect lives. We will have troubles in this life as we walk the narrow, difficult road behind our Lord and Savior. But it is not about us. It is about absolute loyalty to the eternity of the kingdom of God and absolute trust in the One who abides in our hearts.

“And He said to them all, ‘If any of you wishes to follow me, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23)

On Morning’s Light

©susanirenefox

©susanirenefox

On morning’s light your love arrives,

New strength and mercy to revive.

My heart you mend, my thirst you slake,

You offer peace and I partake. You help me thrive.

 

On morning’s light your ode resounds.

In birdsong your sweet voice abounds.

Your whisper floats on gentle breeze

And hearing puts my soul at ease, on solid ground.

 

On morning’s light your Word is dear;

Though read before, is crystal clear.

When once I struggled, now I see.

My mind, your Spirit’s broken free; I feel you near.

 

On morning’s light your warmth pervades

Like yeast in dough or light in shade,

Surrounding me in quiet calm,

A lovely still-life, real-life psalm, a serenade.

 

On morning’s light you smell so sweet.

My cup is full, I feel complete.

You are my Life, my God, my Friend,

My Savior, Prince until the end, until we meet.

 

On morning’s light I cast a smile

Although it will be quite a while

Until I see you face to face

And run to you in warm embrace, I’ll sit awhile

With you.