The Divine Romantics

romanticismThe following is a guest post by Yiuman Szeto.

A while back ago, I had the opportunity to read Isaiah Berlin’s The Roots of Romanticism and there I found a quote from Johann Georg Hamann that went like this:

…but if you really wish to enter into contact with human beings, if you really wish to understand what they think, what they feel and what they are, then you must understand every gesture, every nuance, you must watch their eyes, you must observe the movement of their lips, you must hear their words, you must understand their handwriting, and then you come to direct acquaintance with the actual sources of life.

I am most impressed with Hamann’s passion in linguistics. For Hamann, it was not merely a study of human languages by “some anatomical…means,” in other words, an objective, logical study of a means of communication. Of course, there is that aspect, but there is something more with Hamann: an earnest desire to really get underneath the words that are used, to reach the feelings that drive the language.

This passion and desire to know people in such an intimate way should also be replicated in our fellowship with the Lord. That is, to “wish” and “really wish” in our contacts with Christ that we can understand what He thinks, what He feels, and who He is (the emphasis is on Christ). Yet these wishes must be motivated by a burning passion, a love that “many waters cannot quench” (Songs 8:7). With such affections, beauties can be uncovered in the words, and meanings can be found in the nuances expressed on His face. If we are to love, why shouldn’t we love in such a way?

The Apostle Paul said this once, “to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).

Here lies the beauty of incarnation: The fact that the face of a man, Jesus, reflects the content of God’s heart and desires, and that the living of a man on the earth carries out God’s very intention. In such a man, God’s personality, His thoughts, His emotions, and His will are expressed with a man’s face, are embodied in human words, and portrayed by His walk. God has become knowable to man by a man. Without Him man cannot know and would remain ignorant on the earth, and God would remain distanced in unapproachable light. Yet, when God is known, one thing is certain, He is very approachable and human.

The same verse conveys another point, “the face of Jesus Christ” is now “in our hearts.” This means that the privilege to “understand every gesture” and “every nuance” belongs not merely to those who lived in the time of Jesus, but also to those who have received Him into their very being. Now we, His believers, can watch His eyes, observe the movement of His lips, hear His words, and understand Him, because this very wonderful Person is in us.

It is in this manner that the Apostle Paul lived out this life and in his own words, “in the person of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:10). The word “person” is translated from a very rich word in Greek. It denotes the person’s countenance and look, “the face so far forth as it is the organ of sight, and (by it various movements and changes) the index of the inward thoughts and feelings” (Strong Concordance).

Finally, it is through these mysterious encounters with our Savior that we come “to direct acquaintance with the actual sources of [Christ’s] life.” It is true that when we become acquainted with a person we would also come to know the sources of that person’s life. We understand the simplicities and complexities behind the person’s psyche (basically, we know what makes them tick). Furthermore, different ranges of emotions toward the person will begin to foster in us through these interactions.

As we come to know Christ and the life of this person we are also being brought into the source of Christ’s life, God Himself. The life of Christ is not merely a human life, but it is the divine, eternal, uncreated life of God. Our experiences of the depths of Christ’s personality will also transport us into all the various aspects of the magnetic and alleviating God and His mesmeric and soothing attributes. It is such a marvelous blessing to be deep in the midst of Christ and to dive into His extraordinary love, to be lost in His boundless forbearance, to stand on His unparalleled faithfulness, to be sheltered by His absolute humility, to breathe in His utmost purity, to climb across His supreme righteousness and holiness, and to bathe in His brightness and uprightness*.

Ephesians 3:8 To me, less than the least of all saints, was this grace given to announce to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel

Here’s to you all, the divine romantics.

*The virtues listed here are from the book, The Glorious Vision and the Way of the Cross, by Witness Lee

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A Thief In The Night

thiefThe Lord is coming as a thief in the night. This is a very important aspect of Christ’s coming. It is so important it is mentioned 5 times in the New Testament by Peter, Paul, John and Jesus Christ Himself (Matt. 24:43, 1 Thes. 5:2, 2 Pet. 3:10, Rev. 3:3, 16:15).

The charge here is to watch and be ready (Matt. 24:44). The question is, how do we make ourselves ready (Rev. 19:7)? We first need to ask why Christ would compare Himself to a thief.

In John 10:10 Jesus contrasted Himself to a thief coming to steal, kill and destroy and said that He came to give us life. Jesus isn’t contradicting Himself by later calling Himself a thief. He’s giving us an awesome picture into what it means to give us life.

This “life” is Christ Himself growing and maturing in us. It is so precious to us, even more precious than our own life. By denying our life, He is able to give us more of His life. This is part of being watchful and it also makes us precious in His sight. See Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye and Gemesis for more on becoming a precious stone 🙂

We now need to ask, “what is precious in the Lord’s sight?” One person we can learn from is Daniel. He is very precious to the Lord. He is called a man of preciousness (Dan. 10:11,19). He’s even called preciousness itself (Dan. 9:23). What made Daniel precious? There are three characteristics about him we can learn from.

Number 1, he had companions his whole life long. They stood against the tide of that age and stood out from among the rest from their youth. They refused to eat the king’s choice food and worship the king’s idols.

Number 2, he read the Bible which at that time was the prophet Jeremiah. Particularly, the prophecy about Israel being released from captivity in Babylon and returning to Jerusalem after 70 years. He was alive and well during this part of history and even made history
by his prayer which brings us to…

Number 3, he prayed, every day, at least three times a day. What did he pray for? He prayed what he read. He prayed Jeremiah’s prophecy into being. What we learn from this is that God needs man to pray. This is how God moves. Similarly, we have Christ’s prophecy that He will return. He isn’t lying, He will return, He’s just waiting for us to pray, and read, and pray and read some more with more companions.

Why not start right now? Pray “Lord Jesus, I am tired of living for myself and my own interest! Lord, I give myself to You for Your interest! Open Your word to me! Show me what You’re interested in! Remind me to read! Remind me to pray! Teach me to pray Your word back to You like Daniel did! Give me companions like Daniel! Make me a man of preciousness like Daniel! Lord Jesus make me precious enough to steal!”

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Man’s Final Frontier

The following is the first guest post I’ve had. It is by Yiuman Szeto. It is also his first blog post. There will be more to come.

TexasHillCountryIt’s always nice to get out of the city and suburbs, and into country. Recently, I drove through the Texas Hill Country with a friend of mine. Seeing the Hill Country on the long and winding Texas roads gave me a momentary impression that I was in Europe. It was a rainy day; those dark clouds, the light shower of rain, and the mists that hovered high over hills and mountains – transformed the land into a somewhat mystical, dark, gloomy gothic terrain. Observing this had placed in me a desire to see more of this beautiful planet. I want to see all the corners of the world.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of Him, both His eternal power and divine characteristics, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world…

I am a genuine admirer of the magnificence of nature. Although I’m not the type that can watch “Planet Earth” in one entire sitting, I long to be the cameraman behind the mesmerizing footage, as if I would be content in life to see these alluring wonders with my very own eyes and be struck by it with its full impact. What would it to be like to behold these grand spectacles before me? Having these great expanses demanding my very soul, a captivation of all my senses by it’s incomprehensible beauties that may need a life time to hone a worthy appreciation, giving the sensations of insignificance by its gravity, but yet at the same time, a full admiration of its immensity.

For God must be an artist, and man is made to appreciate His works at every level.

Well, to see the world is one thing, but to discover a new world altogether is another. Yet, in an age where our vast world has mostly been explored, discovered, and reduced, a mystery of what is lying beyond our civilization no longer exists. Sometimes, I wonder what was it like for Lewis and Clark, when they braved crossing the Mississippi River and traversed across sea to sea, being the first Americans to experience the unchartered land (coming from the view of the Western Civilization), or the discovery of unknown indigenous civilizations within Central and South America by the Spanish Conquistadors, or Marco Polo, as he journeyed to the East, and saw China for the first time from what was beforehand to him just stories and legends from sailor’s relaying tales of lore. This very aspect: to not only see something for the first time, but to discover that which has yet to be known by man and it’s impacts. The loss of this VERY aspect – I lament. The Earth is no longer a frontier for man’s exploration.

Someone told me that 2012 was the year where man had ascended to the highest sphere, and had descended to the deepest ocean. He was referring to Felix Baumgartner’s feat of dropping 24 miles from the earth’s stratosphere and James Cameron’s dive to the Mariana Trench. A news anchor described the director’s feat as the last frontier on earth. I suppose that would be accurate for now. Yet, there is eternity in my heart – and I am sure this eternal void exists within every man walking on this earth since our very dawning in time. We long for the unknowns and explore the deeps as if it is there that we might find the purpose of our existence. So we build the most powerful telescopes to see into the heavens, and construct atomic colliders to understand the atomic fabrics of our universe (the so called “God particle” has also been discovered in 2012). We have psychology to try to fathom the depths of human hearts. We are always exploring, as if our human lives are a journey in itself, to search every into corner in hope that we can find what we exists to discover.

Nevertheless, the earth, while still profound and marvelous, seems to have lost its sense of mystery. The study of our psyche can only diagnose our problems without many solutions. With space, we see a limitless universe, but we are trapped by our limited resources contained in our small humbled planet. The internet can summon any source of information to be in our hand in an instant. The entertainment industries have been rehashing the same thing over and over again with remakes. The arts can only help us appreciate us what we know from others. What is new anymore? Is there anything left yet to explore? But there is one more remaining:

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not come up in man’s heart; things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Man’s final frontier is not in the realm of sight and sound, neither will it be in the realm of man’s own imaginations. The final frontier is prepared by God in His wisdom as the “final” mystery (v7). It is referred to as the “depths of God”, in which there is need of man’s active research (v10). These depths are like oceans of riches untouched. The depths of what? We are talking about exploring the depths of God Himself. These depths are the regions of the universe belonging not of God’s creation, but the personal, intimate universe of the Creator (v11).

1 Corinthians 2:12 But we have received… the Spirit which is from God, that we may know the things which have been graciously given to us by God;

Our last frontier is not in the physical nor in the psychological realm, and not merely in the spiritual realm, but it is the realm of the Spirit of God. The Spirit has been graciously given to us by God for our ownership, exploration, settlement, and enjoyment. The intangible realm of the Spirit is as real as the planet Earth and our comprehension of it can be just as solid. It is profound that it is not merely God’s interest, but it is His very desire that we would be lost in the vastness of Himself as our final frontier. The final two lines of a hymn have always impressed me in this sentiment:

I have lost myself in Jesus, I am sinking into God.

I believe it is in this exploration that man will finally find what we are created to search for in the journey of our lives. The impacts of our discovery will find us to be much more awestruck, magnificent, immense, significant, long lasting, and beautiful than any other experience of God’s creation. This is the highest work of God for man.

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God’s Move in Eagle Pass

God is moving on the earth! By His mercy we can see it and even be a part of it. In recent years, a few of us from San Marcos and surrounding cities have made several visits to Eagle Pass, Texas, mainly to visit students we know and their friends and families.

This year, we went with the goal of bringing more of these families and intimate friends into the fellowship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

We spent 3 days visiting students and their friends and families with the goal of inviting them to a mini-conference that Saturday. We rented a community center from 10am-4pm and packed it out. At least 60 made it to hear the Bible being unlocked and opened like never before.

The topic was 1 Corinthians. The message titles were Union and Communion with Christ, Eating and Enjoying Christ, and the Body of Christ.

Christ! Christ! Christ!

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The first message introduced God’s economy. God made man in three parts so He could fill man with Himself. When we believe in Christ, we receive Him into us. At that instant, we are joined to Christ and become one with Him.

He who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him – 1 Cor. 6:17

Now we have the way to commune with Christ and stay in fellowship with Him. The way is simple. Just call on the Name of the Lord Jesus.

No one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor. 12:3

I enjoyed calling on the Name of the Lord with all the saints, in EaglePass.

The called saints, who call on the Name of the Lord, in every place – 1 Cor. 1:2

There was a table full of free ministry that got picked over. Some titles included, The Economy of God, The Glorious Church, The Normal Christian Church Life, The Four Major Steps of Christ, The Body of Christ as well as Recovery Versions and The Basic Elements of the Christian Life Vol. 1 and 2.

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After the first message, the Recovery Version was introduced. The footnotes were used to expound Matthew 1:1, John 19:34, and John 6.

In Matthew 1:1, we can see that the subject of the New Testament is Jesus Christ. The first name and last name in the Bible is Jesus Christ. We can also see the subject of Matthew and how it compares to the other gospels. Matthew portrays Christ as the King-Savior, Mark portrays Christ as the Slave-Savior, Luke portrays Christ as the Man-Savior, and John portrays Christ as the God-Savior.

Then in John 19:34 we see that when the soldier pierced Jesus’ side on the cross, out came blood and water. Blood is for purchasing the church and water is for producing the church.

Finally, in John 6, the disciples were in a boat getting tossed around by a storm. Jesus comes to them walking on water and gets into the boat and immediately they get to where they are going. The storm is our human life, full of anxieties and troubles. We need to invite Jesus into our family, occupation, and school and enjoy peace with Him.

After eating lunch together, we started singing more songs together in English and Spanish. These songs included Just taste and See, Drink a River Pure and Clear that’s Flowing from the Throne, Christ Liveth in Me, Life is God the Father in Christ Jesus, Oh, the church of Christ is Glorious and We are Part of it.

The next message on Eating and Enjoying Christ was solid food. It covered a practical example of “keeping the feast”, mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:8. When we go to a home to get fed and nourished, we are then able to meet others and supply them. This has been my experience in the church life wherever I go. This was our experience in EaglePass. There was a mutual benefit in every home, we were supplied and they were too.

This ties into the last message about the church which is His Body. At the end of 1 Corinthians in chapter 16, Paul personally thanks certain brothers and sisters that refreshed him. He then sends a greeting from Aquila and Prisca and the church which is in their house. This is how Christians began meeting together, from house to house. This helps bring all the members into function. One family we visited the next day was touched by this word and expressed their desire to open their home for fellowship. Unfortunately, we had to leave.

There were many touching responses at the end of our trip. One college student from Eagle Pass said, “Nothing like this has ever happened here!” Another woman at the free literature table asked for one of everything. One sister on break from the Full Time Training in Anaheim that just graduated from Texas State was so excited to see God’s move and especially be part of it. Another sister from Kyle, Texas thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the visit and exclaimed, “I could do this again!”

Visits like these are healthy for the Body of Christ. They bring all the members into prayer and then function together to supply other members of the Body of Christ. Personally, it was the best conference I’ve ever attended, probably because of all the prayer that went into it. I really began to understand that this makes the Lord happy, having a group of people in every city as His testimony.

Much more prayer is needed so please pray for Eagle Pass and if you can, join us next time.

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National Parks

national-parks2At the end of a hectic semester, I really enjoy getting away from everything and camping in the mountains and getting recharged. I love the river and breeze and pine trees. Snow’s cool too. Although this is a somewhat strange, new feeling for me, it is common for millions of Americans. According to Ken Burns, this is what makes us American.

I love Ken Burns’ documentaries. He has thoroughly documented everything American from baseball to jazz to the civil war and prohibition. national_parksHis newest series is about the Dust Bowl. I haven’t watched it yet. The last one I watched was about Lewis and Clark. It gave me and many others throughout America’s history a yearning to go on an adventure and rough it like they did. Once the industrial revolution hit and people started going through the grind of long hours in factories and day and night trading on Wall Street, they started getting the itch too. This is what sparked an interest in millions of Americans to ‘go home’ as Burns calls it in his 6 volume series, “National Parks, America’s Best Idea.”

I didn’t get to make it to the mountains this winter but I did watch this documentary that was none the less breathtaking. Not just the images and video that was caught but the stories of those who caught the bug that was spreading rampantly through America’s metropolises.

One amazing explorer and writer was John Muir (1838-1914). His dad was an abusive minister that made him memorize all of the New Testament and most of the Old by age 11. He became a brilliant engineer that increased productivity in many factories on the east coast. An accident in a factory blinded him for months. After regaining his sight, he decided to walk to the Amazon, build a raft and float down it. He got slowed down in Florida after contracting malaria and decided instead to explore America’s rivers and mountains and everything in between.

He was immediately captivated by the beauty of what is now Yosemite. It was love at first sight. He gave his life from that moment to explore more unprotected territory and pass legislation that would protect and preserve America’s parks. He mainly did this by using his vast vocabulary to vividly tell everyone of its beauty and that they should come and see it for themselves. His description “blazes from the page with the authentic force of a conversion experience.” This earned him the title ‘wilderness prophet’.

Many came from all over the world to see “America’s cathedral” and hear Muir “preach”. Why go to Europe to see some fancy building made by men when you can see something whose Architect and Builder is God! Even President Teddy Roosevelt came to hear his message and check out the sights. He was so enthralled that he spent that weekend camping out in the wilderness with Muir only. Muir rapidly won America’s heart and found favor in Congress.

So what’s the problem? According to Muir, anything “dollarable” isn’t safe. Even though legislation was passed to preserve large portions of land, no one was there to protect it. To enforce this legislation known as the American Antiquities act, the government placed buffalo soldiers and eventually, park rangers in each park to protect it from exploiters like farmers, grazers, and especially entrepreneurs building hotels and charging tolls to see the sights. Sadly, big business won when San Francisco flooded the Hetch Hetchy valley to provide water for its citizens.

Ruth Kirk, like Muir was also an explorer and writer. She has climbed mountains, scoped trails, observed the flora and fauna, and then written about all those experiences. Her lifetime was spent paying attention to human history and natural history and interpreting it for readers. Here’s one of her quotes I really liked from the documentary.

“Really experience it, not look at it but experience it.” – Ruth Kirk

Another explorer I admire is Witness Lee. His lifetime was spent experiencing and sharing the spiritual scenery he explored. The Bible talks a lot about the “GoodLand” which is a type of Christ. Christ is vast, immense, scenic, breathtaking and life changing. This was the topic of Lee’s first conference given in America in 1962 that gave many Americans a similar hunger and thirst to explore this vast, uncharted spiritual “land”. You can read about it for free in his book titled The All Inclusive Christ.

This book is based on a number of scriptures. Here are some good passages.

As therefore you have received the Christ, Jesus the Lord, WALK IN HIM – Colossians 2:6

For IN HIM WE LIVE AND MOVE AND ARE, as even some poets among you have said, For we are also His race – Acts 17:28

Many Americans have been content to stay in the hotel at the outskirts of the park, viewing the scenery from the comfort of their bed. Some make it to the base of the mountain and look up, say “whoa” then leave. They saw more than most but were still short of being up in the clouds, “looking through heavens window” as one true explorer described being atop MountMcKinely.

It takes someone very dedicated to be this kind of explorer. This is what John Muir was. This is what Ruth Kirk was. This is what Witness Lee was. This is what we should be, explorers, not exploiters.

So, how can we explore? The Bible says in Ephesians 3:18 that we can apprehend with ALL THE SAINTS what the BREADTH, LENGTH, HEIGHT and DEPTH of Christ are. This is what we call the “church life”. This is what Christians have been doing since the Bible was written. The church life has increased my hunger and thirst for exploring Christ and my appreciation for the explorers who have gone before, whose shoulders we’re standing on.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Muir

http://washingtonwomenshistory.org/events/pacnwhistconf/bentley.aspx

http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?id=1AD4CEE0

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The Wire Diagram- How God Gets From Heaven To You

Have you ever tried to turn on an appliance in your house and it didn’t work? What’s the first thing you do? Find the outlet and plug it in. It’s that easy. Electricians and engineers have done so much to connect us to a power source.

In order for us to receive power right now, an electrician drew a wire diagram to trace the flow of current from the power source all the way to you. The power in the power plant went through a process of transformers, breakers, and circuits to become usable by us.

Here is a simplified wire diagram used by electricians

power1

http://www.justenergy.com/energy-explained/electricity/

God is the same way. He drew up a plan a long long time ago and went through a long long process so he could connect us to Himself as our source.

According to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord – Eph. 3:11

The following wire diagram shows what God went through to get into us.

board1

It’s so quick and easy to get connected. We just have to call on the Lord and ask for it! That’s the fastest and easiest customer service I’ve ever heard of!

The surpassing greatness of His power [is] toward us who believe – Eph. 1:19

On God’s side, everything has been done. All we have to do is believe Him, receive Him, and Enjoy Him! This is similar to enjoying the electricity in our home. Just flip the light switch and immediately start enjoying light.

We don’t need to look around for the switch, debate about it using it, or even study how the electricity is getting from the source. We don’t need to go and see the power plant in person to believe it. We spontaneously, effortlessly, and many times unconsciously flip on the switch any time we need light.

It should be the same with God. We don’t need to see Him or study about Him. Just enjoy Him. When we believe into Him, He comes into our spirit.

The Lord be with your spirit – 2 Tim. 4:22

The switch is in our spirit. The way to switch it on is by saying, “Lord Jesus”!

No one can say ‘Lord Jesus’ except in the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:3

This is an awesome discovery! I would call this the greatest discovery in the universe! We should tell everyone about it! The more we tell others, the more we can experience God as our power and supply!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes – Romans 1:16

Here is a blog that has many real-life experiences and success stories of sharing the good news. It also has a link to a downloadable flyer that explains it all.

http://achristianoncampus.wordpress.com/tag/the-mystery-of-human-life/

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What We Can Learn From Disappearing Honey Bees

Honey bees are disappearing by the millions. Within the past few years, 70% of bees have vanished from the USA. This dilemma has alarmed biologists and economists alike. Bees play a huge role in pollinating plants, a lot of which end up on our plates for dinner. In fact, 2/3 of our diet consists of food pollinated by bees. The phenomenon is making headlines all over the world as is documented in Vanishing of the Bees.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the term coined by experts.

After watching the documentary, the causes I noticed for CCD include not just predators and parasites but toxic pesticides from greedy farmers as well as trickery by greedy bee-keepers. This is similar to what is going on in today’s Christianity.

For centuries, predators like birds and parasites have been the main cause of CCD. But recently, farmers have started using genetically modified crops which contain a toxic nicotine-based pesticide called neonicotinoid. The pesticide coats the seed and gets embedded into the genetics of the plant. This enables farmers to build huge farms that specialize in only one kind of crop, aka monocultures. These monocultures are very susceptible to pest invasions if not checked properly, and regularly. Although these internal pesticides cut down on the farmers cost and labor of having to spray and check each plant, they make the bees go crazy. They become disoriented and lose their sense of direction and purpose to the hive. “Massive numbers of bees get lost and die”.

Additionally, bee-keepers are replacing the honey combs produced by bees with a sugary syrup substitute lacking in nutritional value. They can sell more honey this way. This really hurts the bees because their nutrient rich honey is vital to keeping them strong and healthy. To make matters worse, neonicotinoid based crops are already lacking in nutritional value. Unfortunately, without these vital nutrients, bees can’t make it.  They become susceptible to disease and die.

So what does this have to do with us? In recent years, church goers have similarly been on a steady decline, especially young Christians. Some reports have shown that upwards of 80% of young Christians lose their faith by the time they leave college. The causes are similar.

Many people, especially young people are being drawn away from the church and even their faith by toxic messages hidden inside worldly entertainment. The message behind all the movies, music, and news that we are accessing boils down to doing whatever makes you feel good. Just like the hidden toxins within the greedy farmer’s crops, these messages are causing us to lose our sense of direction and purpose to the church. This attitude has bred a society which advocates tolerance, that is, it allows and even encourages all forms of indulgence. If you resist these temptations, you are labeled “intolerant”.

You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. – 1 Peter 4:3,4 (NLT)

Additionally, many “churches” are adulterating the word of God for profit as in 2 Corinthians 2:17. Just like the bee-keepers, these “pastors”, and especially “youth pastors” are using worldly means to attract more young people. Instead of nourishing them with solid food, or even pure milk, they’re giving them sugar coated gospel messages. Without a “healthy diet”, church goers, especially younger, weaker ones become susceptible to spiritual disease and collapse.

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,  And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions. – 2 Timothy 4:3,4 (AMP)

The Word of God is the honey, the pure milk, and the solid food that is being substituted with junk food. I know this blog isn’t as sweet as some of my past blogs but it’s healthy.

It’s a broccoli blog 🙂

I don’t want to end on a sour note. Since we’re talking about honey bees and the Bible, I’d like to conclude with a sweet verse 🙂

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! – Psalm 119:103 (AMP)

Regularly reading the Word of God feeds us, strengthens us, and protects us from pests and predators. Sharing what we read with others, whether friends or strangers, whether in a church meeting or on the internet gives us purpose. This way the church will be built up, not collapse.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markgibbs/2012/04/26/bayer-pesticide-profits-or-bees/

http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/nicotine-bees-population-restored-with-neonicotinoids-ban.html

http://environment.about.com/od/biodiversityconservation/a/honeybees.htm

http://www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/528-six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church

http://lifeasmission.com/blog/2011/10/the-mega-problems-of-mega-churches/

http://paulbern77.wordpress.com/tag/barna-group/

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On Being A Steward

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I’m currently in an airplane watching very angry passengers board. We all missed our flight (and connecting flights) because of technical difficulties. We waited for hours in lines and on the phone trying to get rerouted. We waited for meal voutures to no avail. We’re  hungry for real food, not junk food. Everyone’s complaining. One lady even told me this was the worst day of her life.

This is what makes being a steward/stewardess challenging. This is also what makes being a steward necessary.

I was reading 1 Corinthians in anticipation of this weeks college conference. The topic is Christ and the church in 1 Corinthians. One word that stuck out was this word steward.

A man should account us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God – 1 Corinthians 4:1

If I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a stewardship – 1 Corinthians 9:17

The word steward is also mentioned in Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Peter and even the gospels.

At this point in the flight, the stewards have ushered all the passengers into the plane. They have told the passengers in the emergency exits their responsibilities and asked for a verbal confirmation that they are willing to help out in case of an emergency.

The stewards have also taught everyone what to do in case of an emergency, where the exits are, where the oxygen masks are etc. The captain’s voice has spoken occasionally to welcome everyone and even warn everyone of upcoming weather and turbulence.

The plane is finally soaring above the clouds and there is a beautiful birds eye view of the smog soup bowl of southern California. I didn’t notice all the pollution while I was down there in it. I needed to get carried away, way up high to see what I was living in.

I’ve leaned my seat back and had an awesome power nap. Everyone is finally starting to calm down and enjoy the flight, especially because the stewards are asking what everyone wants to drink.

As I watch and consider these stewards on this plane, I have a better understanding of what it means to be a steward of God.

Stewards do 3 main things.

They cheer you up and comfort you after racing around trying to make it onto the plane on time.

They warn you and save you by giving instructions.

They nourish you with food and drink.

Stewards of God do this too, in particularly, by their speaking. Pay attention to this in these 3 verses

2 Corinthians 7:7  And not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted because of you, declaring to us your longing, your lamentation, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced the more.

1 Timothy 4:16  Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things; for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

1 Timothy 4:6  If you lay these things before the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, being nourished with the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have closely followed.

Stewards comfort and cheer, save and instruct, and nourish, all by their speaking. Would you like to be trained to be a steward? Sign up today at

http://www.FTTA.org

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My Father’s Wedding Speech

One year ago, today, my Father, Charles David Rodriguez, gave a heart warming speech to our family and intimate friends on the eve of our marriage. I was in awe as dozens of other friends and family followed him to honor my soon to be wife and I. I was so overwhelmed I wasn’t able to sleep that night. It was all a blur. In an attempt to reminisce on that joyful and breathtaking occasion, I started digging through a box from our wedding, full of cards and pictures. I came across my Father’s speech he read then passed me as a baton, telling me to run the race and finish my course…It still brings tears to my eyes.

September 30, 2011 David and Nicole’s Wedding rehearsal dinner at AJ and Suzanne Meade’s Home;
I’d like to thank AJ and Suzanne Meade and family for their gracious hospitality in allowing us into their home to celebrate this grand occasion; Ken and Joann Diller for the opening of their home for the wedding tomorrow and their lifelong support, mentoring, and support for David and my family. To Tym and Karen Seay and all the leading brothers/sisters who have nurtured and helped my family, and a warm welcome to all of you our immediate and extended family members who have traveled great and far to be with us in celebrating this wonderful occasion, the marriage of David and Nicole. And to those cloud of witnesses that we don’t see but who are present nevertheless in spirit; those who could not be with us; and those who’ve gone before; I know you occupy front row seats and are looking down upon us even now with joy in your heart. We acknowledge you and extend our gratitude, especially our forefathers and mothers who have gone before us. Thank you so much for joining us to witness this great occasion. And a grand and divine occasion it is.
God in His divine sovereignty and for His glory has brought us together this evening to celebrate the coming together of David Hesiquio Rodriguez and Nicole Elizabeth Snyder and our two families that have such a rich and storied genealogy. This is truly remarkable and amazingto see how God works in furthering His eternal purpose on this earth. How He mysteriously gathered so many together in a long and convoluted genealogy to bring forth Christ, so it-appears also He has done a similar work in bringing David and Nicole together the product themselves of a long and storied genealogy of great and renown spiritual seekers and lovers of God who sought to further the recovery of His body, the church, His corporate expression and representation upon this earth His bride for all eternity.
Two great men of God who have preceded us in their pursuit of God’s eternal purpose are part of David and Nicole’s genealogy and family heritage; I believe it is important to note this as it truly shows how magnificent is the hand of God in arranging all things unto His ultimate glory;
Part of this genealogy includes:
On David’s side through my mother Annabel Alberts, and my grandmother, Mabel Nickerson, direct descendants of Jonathan Edwards. born oct 5, 1703- died march 22, 1758, Edwards was a preacher, theologian, and missionary to native Americans. Edwards is widely acknowledged to be America’s most important and original philosophical theologian, and one of America’s greatest intellectuals…Edwards grounded his life’s work of conceptions of beauty, harmony, and ethical fittingness, and how central the enlightenment was to his mindset. Edwards played a very critica1role in shaping the first great awakening; Edwards delivered the sermon ‘sinners in the hands of an angry god’ during a wave of revival in 1741 following George Whitefield’s tour in the thirteen colonies. Edwards died of a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the college of New Jersey, later to be named Princeton university and was the grandfather of Aaron burr, 3rd  vice president of the united states; the Edwards family have produced scores of clergyman, thirteen presidents of higher learning, sixty-five professors, and many others of notable achievements; and continues to do so;
On Nicole’s side through her father Mark Snider are, the direct descendants of Roger Williams, born in 1603- died l683; Williams was an English protestant theologian who was an early proponent of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. In 1636, he began the colony of providence plantation, which provided a refuge for religious minorities; he named it providence plantation because he believed that God had brought him and his followers there; he started the first Baptist church in America before leaving to be a seeker. Seekers considered all organized churches of their day to be corrupt and preferred to wait for God’s revelation; he was a student of native American languages and an advocate for fair dealings with the native Americans. Right from the beginning he sounded three principles which were central to his career: separatism, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state. His search for the true church eventually carried him out of Congregationalists, the Baptists, and any visible church. From 1639, he waited for Christ to send a new apostle to reestablish the church, and he saw himself as a witness to Christianity until that time came. He repeatedly made the point that the native Americans were just as good as the English, even superior in some respects:

‘boast not proud English, of thy birth and blood;
Thy brother Indian by birth as good;
Of one blood God made him, and thee and all,
As-wise, as-fair, as strong, as personal.’

By the time of American independence, he was considered a defender of religious freedom and has continued to be praised by generations of historians….

“He waited for Christ to send a new apostle to reestablish the church, and he saw himself as a witness to Christianity until that time came…”

We are blessed to have these great visionaries and servants of God as forerunners for us today; it is no accident that we have been brought together; it is no accident or coincidence that we are here today; or that David and Nicole have been brought together; what a remarkable thing this is and how evident it is of God’s sovereignty and of His heart’s desire and eternal commitment to fulfill His original purpose, a people to express and represent Him corporately; His body, the church which is being recovered at this time; we have been preceded by those who ran the race for God’s prize. We owe our life to these faithful followers of Christ who have passed the baton to us, in our current race for the prize that lies before us; I believe those who preceded us would be glad to know that their work and prayers have not be in vain; in fact, I believe we are their witness at this time and how amazing it is that David and Nicole are currently involved in the work of the Lord, out side of organized religion and denominations to recover the church as it was from the beginning in preparing her for Christ’s return. I believe the anointing is upon them.

Psalm 133 Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Rev. 21:1-7; he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches; to him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God;

Acts 17:24- 31 God hath made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring; forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, it the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Hebrews 12:1 let us therefore having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, laying aside every weight, and sin which so easily entangles us, run with endurance the race that lies before us.

Ephesians 1: 11-23 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will: that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation:
in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the foretaste of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory. Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his might power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all thing under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

Unto Him be the glory for ever and ever, Amen

Matthew 19:6 And what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.

Rev 22:17, 21 And the spirit and the bride say, come; and let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. May you be fruitful and multiply and glorify the Lord in all you do; The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all and may your marriage be a rich and rewarding and bountiful experience of Christ in you , the hope of glory. Amen.

And with this said, I pass the baton to my firstborn son David and admonish you to run as the apostle Paul with endurance the race set before you that you too may gain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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Privileged Planet

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Our Christian youth camp recently watched a documentary called Privileged Planet. It was interesting to hear scientists talk about the universe and how unique the earth is. After hearing about HOW so many complex systems are held together, I was left wondering WHY.

Genesis 1:14 ESV

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years

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