Release the Perfume!

jesusperfume

“And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment.”

Luke 7:37, ESV

“Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.”

Song of Solomon 4:10

“What about you? What precious perfume is locked inside your heart that could be lavished on our Lord? The little treasures you and I struggle to hold on to may hold back opportunities to worship Him with extravagant praise, releasing ministry and service to Him that will bless all those around us.”

-Angela Munizzi

We should know that our simple words really do have a way of blessing Jesus.   Our words spoken will be translated into actions. Our actions become an obedient faith. An obedient faith is the character that moves the hand of God.

We are truly significant.  You have no idea the role you play in His kingdom. What you really do does matter in His realm. The worship we sincerely offer is also duly noted. Furthermore the radiance seen on our faces is the proof we’ve been with Him.

We touch Jesus, somehow, and in some way we’ve blessed Him.  I believe that this must encourage Him, and that He receives our offering.  He then responds and blesses those who are desperately crying out.  God is not capricious, nor is He temperamental. One of the hardest things to grasp it seems, is believing that our worship really does matter to Him.

Worship needs to become extravagantly simple again.  Poured out, ‘good-to-the-last-drop’ kind of worship.  It gives and pours out until there is simply no more.  A praise that is on the lookout for  the needs of others. This level of worship becomes intercessory. It is supercharged praise that  reaches a level of ‘standing-in -the -gap’ for others. Prayer at this level breaks chains and heals the sick.

Intercessory worship will cover the helpless, and turn God’s intervention to the needs of the lost.

When the Holy Spirit tunes us, we become precise instruments of grace and love; that enables us to touch the hearts of many billions who are lost, who have no hope at all. We are never more like Jesus  than when we’re in intercession for the needs of people.

I’m one of many believers who really struggles with clinical depression. The realization that I might be inserted into a challenging situation while I’m severely struggling is an awful possibility. It truly is a frightening prospect for me. I don’t want my issues to ever thwart the work of the Holy Spirit.

But I have learned much of this while laying down at His feet.  I attempted to pour out every bit of perfumed nard,  and I sincerely desired to hold nothing back; to pour out the entire bottle.

This desperation has a way somehow of making me adequate.

It’s showing me how to become competent.  It has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Jesus Christ, and His undisputed authority in the realm of this world.

His desire is to create a flock from the willing, and to bring all that glory home, to His Father.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

A Retrograde Faith

Loveonthewall

ret·ro·grade

  [re-truh greyd]  (ret·ro·grad·ed, ret·ro·grad·ing.)

adjective

1. moving backward; having a backward motion or direction; retiring or retreating.
2. inverse or reversed, as order.
3. Chiefly Biology. exhibiting degeneration or deterioration.
*
Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 16 Jul. 2013. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/retrograde>.
%
flourish1
*

24 “But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.”

–Jeremiah 7:24, NLT
*
I seldom seek out things like this to write about. In my 30 years following the Lord Jesus, I have been bludgeoned more than a few times by people wielding Jeremiah like a cudgel. Mostly, these are good people who I liked and honored. (But maybe they had too much coffee that day, IDK.)
W
But there is a real issue here. Many who start out strong and brave end up on the scrap heap. Somehow, I suppose they were never able to tune their “ear” to His voice. But to be really honest– this can be a hard thing. And many of these dear ones end up with a retrograde walk in the Spirit. They would deny this, but if we look for a passion, we will see that a “first love” it will be absent.
W
That passion is the pulse, the blood pressure of a walk that is so vital and so authentic. We can measure our own walk by this singular means– “first-love.”  Rev. 2:4-5 shouts to us,
w
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” 
w
A retrograde faith may not deny Him, but it can often draw us into the place where our denial isn’t necessary. And that I suppose may be the scariest part of becoming apostate. We just slip; we slip right off of the map into an “almost-discipleship.” We would never dream of speaking an outright denial (never, ever) but we end up in this grey zone, nevertheless.
W
I have no desire to manipulate you through nice sounding words and phrases. But I feel duty bound to tell you up-front. Having a “first-love” will protect you. A “first-love” will cover you and lead you through many diverse issues. Revelation 2 was the Father’s plea to a Church that had seemingly advanced in every way. (As a pastor I would have loved to oversee this Church.) But the Father spoke a clear word of correction to them. And  I’m sure that it was hard to accept.
W
The “retrograde Church” exists. Unfortunately, it is alive and well, but we must share with these dear ones about the true freedom which comes from the “first-love” relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our love for Him, and His love for us will protect us from something that goes “backward” and not forward. I can only say, love Jesus, and make Him your “first-love.”
*
“Whom should we love, if not Him who loved us, and gave himself for us?  –Unknown

*W

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

What Price Vigilance?

stay-alert (1)

There are times in every believer when things become crystal clear. The comes an awareness of things that are real and true. We see in detail the world as it really is; we suddenly understand.

We are specifically called to be watchful.

What that suggests to me is that we have an awareness of “each hour’ of the day. We choose to know the time, no matter our circumstances. We are made alert in hope though the world spins around us.

About 30 years ago I was ‘hitch-hiking’ in Alaska. I was not in the best place spiritually, and wasn’t really listening to the Lord. I had walked a bit and was about a mile from my cabin when I saw a ‘3×5’ card laying off the ground. Picking it up, I turned it over, and read the simple message written on it– “Stay Alert.” Weird. I walked further and saw another. I went and picked up, the same simple message. “Stay Alert.” That same day I was notified of a family emergency. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer. I was not prepared.

“So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”

1 Thessalonians 5:6

 There are three distinct areas that demand and require every believer’s watchful attention:

  1. The Second Coming, Jesus’ return and the signs signaling
  2. Spiritual warfare, against temptation and oppression
  3. the Fellowship of the Saints, others in the Church

“Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: ”Stay awake.”

Mark 13:33-37

‘The Parable of the Ten Virgins’ is Jesus’ cry for awareness for the waiting believer. The verses in Matthew 25 is a description of wise and foolish behavior and the terrible consequences of spiritual inattention.

We know that we must sleep, it is a physical need we all have. I think Jesus is warning us of a spiritual awareness. Vigilance– being watchful can be a challenge. The World offers plenty of “narcotics” that lull the heart. Satan is quite proficient at what he does.

In the Book of Song of Solomon we see the beloved waiting for her lover. She makes the observation–

“I slept, but my heart was awake.
A sound! My beloved is knocking.”

Song of Solomon 5:2

Even sleeping we can be awake. That is a luxury given to those whom the Father loves. We can be ‘cued in’ even as we physically rest. Our hearts are very much awake, even in our pajamas!

In the sport of fencing two opponents face off with foils. The come together with the cry, ‘on guard’ and both become intensely aware of the other. I suggest we become as focused as believers. There is so much at stake. Jesus warns his disciples, and we had best listen.

aabryscript

 

Hidden Doves [Love]

 “My dove is hiding behind the rocks,     

behind an outcrop on the cliff.

Let me see your face; let me hear your voice.

For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely.”

Song of Solomon 2:14, NLT

Jesus really loves people, a lot–  and very deeply the Church that He’s saved from destruction. That dear ones, has never been an matter of debate. But honestly, how much does He love us? Please tell me again and again, because I forget so easily. (Someone, help me remember again.)

The opening verse is spoken by a young man who deeply loves a young woman. But his love seems to be a pale and anemic word, for it doesn’t begin to describe his passion and fervor. He loves this girl, and it’s a crazy, powerful love.

A minor thought, but I must share it, this book of Song of Solomon is frequently misunderstood by many– mostly because it’s not really doctrinal– it’s a Kiss! It is not fully understood because people read with their minds; but this one must be read with the heart. This book is 99.9% potent passion. It tries to explain God’s full heart to us who desperately need a crash course in the vigorous love of God.

Kisses are often reminisced over and seldom forgotten. They’re kept in the heart’s treasure chest. And you really can’t define a kiss– not a real one anyway. It can only be experienced. If you’ve been really kissed, you will understand. It can seem like a cross between being struck by lightning and a four-alarm fire. It can be gentle and soft, like the sun on a still, mountain lake.

The young man needs to see his girl. He delights in her face and voice. He has an incredible love for her. He madly yearns to see her– but she is hiding somewhere in the rocks! The chapter context tells us that she feels unworthy. Perhaps all she perceives is her ugliness and her shortcomings. She avoids him, hiding in her “safe place” of rocks and brush. It seems people still have many strategies, and varied ways to hide from God.

The certain love Jesus has for you is outrageous! It is a lot like drinking from a firehose!  It really isn’t rational. But saints– we have a problem. Somehow many can’t absorb His passion for us. I’ve been told that there are people who cannot absorb certain vitamins or minerals. Doctors step in and must find ways to compensate to help their patient.

There are some among us who really can’t take in God’s real love for them.

They may nod their heads, but it seems like they are impervious to a real, lasting love. They need seasoned brothers, and sisters to help them in this critical matter. From Jude 20-21 we read this:

20 “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.”

God has clearly shown His love for you– over and over. In quiet whispers and also in blasting “fog horns.” The gospel is this:  Jesus, God incarnate, was abused, and then crucified for you and your sins.  When He rose, it meant you were totally forgiven. The greatest action, or decision you can ever take is to repent and then receive this gift. He loves you, and continuously calls out your name. It is time to turn to Him.

2 “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.”

2 Corinthians 11:2

“God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.”  C.S. Lewis

bry-signat (1) cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg &

Pressed Roses

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33, ESV

This world is not our friend. And then we often face issues that create ugly things–  a fight with a spouse, poor choices, money problems– a lengthy list that seems that we’re always adding new entries. And as we each of us work through our tears, as we face sickness, loneliness, fear and misunderstanding.

In this world of woe and trouble, we discover that life is itself often brutal. Myself, I must deal with clinical depression, paranoia and physical pain. It is constant, a barrage of challenging things. Sometimes they swallow me up, and I lose my way.

I was thinking this morning, of a recent find in the pages of an old book– pressed rose petals! The book had been many years on the shelf. When I opened the book they I found them.  Typically, they are fairly well preserved. They still have color and shape. And most of all, they still have a fragrance.

I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do when this happens. Do I just “read” around them, or do I physically remove them? I almost feel that they are sacred or something. Do I find an old jar and store them? But no matter what I do, I always pause and think. Sometimes though, I can even remember the incident that they were given. An anniversary or a birthday maybe? Or sometimes they are given, “just because.”

Two distinct thoughts work in me. I look at the hard, hard things that I have had to process through my past, and present, and most likely, my future. I have to believe, from all that I have read and the preaching I have heard over the years that my pain gets turned into gold (or into roses!) This is exclusively a work of God. The second thought is a little bit harder to think through. But Jesus is the rose. He is the beauty and the fragrance of heaven come to earth.

There is an old fable kept by the believers of the first century; it was said that wherever Jesus stepped while on earth, roses would spring up in His footprints. This is only a legend of course, but that doesn’t mean that it is all false. Some of these stories have more truth in them than we think.

 

Coming to Him is such pleasant thing. It shouldn’t be an agonizing ordeal. It is not a painful or real sacrifice. After all, He is the rose. Roses are beautiful, they have a definite fragrance. There is a symmetry to them, and they are special, people will cultivate them for their beauty. Roses are never a hassle, for some reason we can never send or get too many.

“I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

Songs 2:1, ESV

“A discipleship without flowers, probably isn’t worth having.”

cropped-christiangraffiti1 (2)

Dangerous Thinking

mind

Anne Lamott is a writer and a person who understands mental illness and ‘recovery’ issues.

She is also a ‘brokenbeliever’. I have read several of her books; she writes elegantly on faith and discipleship. She is a rare jewel. She writes carefully and creatively.

Coming across this quote was fortuitous for me, to say the least. This quotation effectively captures a somewhat dangerous mind that prevails among mentally ill people. We should come to the realization that our thinking needs to be ‘supervised.’ I must concur.

I can be patently ‘unsafe’. My thinking will often get distorted. I can get pretty strange at times. The ‘nice people’ who know me first-hand call me ‘eccentric.’ The ‘mean people’ outright ostracize me. Delusions blow through me periodically, with the occasional flare up episode of paranoia. The doctors call this Bipolar disorder.

Like Anne Lamott, I am a Christian believer. But my mind twists things up so much, I must regard it as an enemy. It can be capable of good; but dark things grow there as well. I have given up hope of ever navigating it alone safely. I simply cannot trust it. Mine can be capricious, untrustworthy, and unreliable. I know what it is like to be afraid of your own mind.

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness
    leaning on her beloved?”

Song of Solomon 8:5, NIV

However, if I venture into this steaming fetid jungle, with the Holy Spirit firmly in charge, we can navigate through safely. (But I dare not venture in alone, as things can get ‘scary.’) The Spirit is completely trustworthy and He is always faithful. No matter what I discover, I really try to let Him tell me if the ‘coast is clear.’ Together, we have seen some crazy crap, but He never ever ‘freaks out’ and leaves me alone.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

John 16:13

Dear afflicted one, don’t venture in alone. Look only to Him. He is ready (up on tip-toes!) to be your guide. You don’t have to muscle through the ‘jungle’ all by yourself. Remember that there are others who can help: a spouse, a pastor, or anyone who understands what you’re up against. Only you can know what your mind is doing, but others can help you.

When you find yourself lost in your wilderness, “lean on your beloved.”

bry-signat-1

cropped-christiangraffiti1 (2)

 

 

P.S. Anne Lamott has some very readable books out there. Check her out.

 

The Apple Tree

apple-tree

“Like the finest apple tree in the orchard
    is my lover among other young men.
I sit in his delightful shade
    and taste his delicious fruit.”

Song of Solomon 2:3, NLT

Jesus is the subject of many different metaphors. We know him as a shepherd, a door, and bread. There are many other ‘pictures’ in Scripture, that speak of his ministry and life. There is one that strikes me today, that of Jesus Christ as a life-giving tree— an apple tree. Song of Solomon 2:3 and Revelation 22:1 are the ‘roots’ of this wondrous thought.

“On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”

Rev. 22:2

To think of Jesus as ‘the tree of life’ or an apple tree is both a honor to Him and a strength for us. We can swirl metaphors around all day and never exhaust their truths. Jesus (a.k.a. “the apple tree”) is seen imparting life and healing by his fruit. He is the source of everything good and grand in our lives. Eating his fruit is not only recommended, but  encouraged. (Like most things in God’s Kingdom.)

The young maiden in Song of Solomon has given us her take on Jesus— her shepherd, lover, and king. She sees him as the finest in the forest. He provides shade to her, as she eats the fruit of his branches. Oh what a worthy picture of Jesus our savior. We can look at this all day. As we come to him we can see One who is gifting each of us of his blessings. We do well to consider him this way.  The first few lines set the tone for us.

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.”

 

The song, based on an anonymous poem, first appeared in a New England hymn collection by a New Hampshire preacher in 1784, so it has a history. Many people sing this as a Christmas carol, although there is nothing in the words that refers to Christmas. Go through each stanza. See if it fits for you. Perhaps it will cause you to see Jesus in a new way. Here is the poem in its entirety:

Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
‘Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

 

“Consider Jesus. Know Jesus. Learn what kind of Person it is you say you trust and love and worship. Soak in the shadow of Jesus. Saturate your soul with the ways of Jesus. Watch Him. Listen to Him. Stand in awe of Him. Let Him overwhelm you with the way He is.”   

John Piper

 

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg