Making The Most of The Time

Smartphone, Face, Woman, Old, Baby, Young, Child, Youth
Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

-Ephesians 5:15-17

What does this phrase, \”making the most of the time\”, mean?

A similar line is written by Paul in Colossians 4:5, \”Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.\”

What got me thinking about this was hearing Jim Croce\’s song, Time In A Bottle.  It was a number one hit in 1973.  He wrote the song just after finding out that his wife Ingrid was pregnant, in 1970, with their only child.  It\’s about mortality and the desire to spend time wisely.

Here are the words:

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I\’d like to do
Is to save every day
\’Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I\’d save every day like a treasure and then
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I\’ve looked around enough to know
That you\’re the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I\’ve looked around enough to know
That you\’re the one I want to go
Through time with

Sadly, Jim Croce died in a small plane crash, in 1973, at the age of 30.  From From Song Facts:

This hit #1, 14 weeks after Croce was killed in a plane crash. Croce started touring after he completed I Got A Name. On September 30, 1973 a plane carrying Croce and five other people crashed upon takeoff as he was leaving one college venue to another 70 miles away. No one survived the accident, and among those killed was Maury Muehleisen, who played guitar on Croce\’s albums. Terry Cashman, who produced Croce, told us, \”Jim and Maury got together and all of the sudden Jim started writing these great songs, and Maury came up with these really wonderful guitar parts – the two guitars were like an orchestra.\”

\”Time In A Bottle\” entered the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 1, 1973 and finally reached #1 for the week ending December 29, a little over 3 months after he died.

It is very ironic that he wrote this song three years before dying.

Jim mailed a letter from the road, just before the fatal plane crash, telling his wife that he was sorry for being such a jerk and that he wanted to spend more time at home with her.

In Ephesians, Paul writes about redeeming time.  I opened up Markus Barth\’s commentary, and these are some notes:

What is time redeemed from?(1)

  1. The devil? (John Calvin)
  2. Evil men? (Johann Albrecht Bengel)
  3. The depravity characterizing it because of Adam\’s  and each man\’s own prior sin? (Thomas Aquinas)
  4. Loss and misuse? (Robinson)
Origen wrote that a saint can transform bad days into good ones, but Amos 5:13 says that the wise man keeps silent in evil times.
Paul does not clearly state for us, how to redeem the time.  Barth wrote: \”Only one thing is clear: the transitoriness, deceptiveness, and adversity of the time in which the saints live does not excuse the people of God from using every opportunity and tackling each task they are given.\”(1)

Time here, in Ephesians 5, is kairos, which means \”opportune time\”.  Kairos time is a \”window of opportunity\” time.  A kairos time may be a once in a lifetime set of circumstances or may be something unique that happens in your life, in time.

Chronos is the word for normal time, like when we say, \”what time is is?\”

Most people that are married meet their future spouse in their life time (chronos), but it becomes a special time (kairos), \”the time when we met\”, \”the time when we became engaged\”.  If someone does not ask someone to marry them or someone turns someone down, then the opportunity to become engaged is lost.  And one person may view this as a missed opportunity and another as just an unfortunate circumstance in time (chronos) when one person wanted something that the other did not.

Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of the time, because the days are evil.
-Ephesians 5:16-17

Making the most of time (opportune time) means, \”redeem the time\”.  Or rather, \”redeem the time\”, means, to make the most of the time.

We need to make the most of the time we are given because time is limited.  Our time on earth, our time in time, has a limit.

Make the most of the daily opportunities that come to you, in time.

I want to go back to Jim Croce\’s song, that says:

There never seems to be enough time, to do the things you want to do, once you find them.

I\’ve looked around enough to know, you\’re the one I want to go through time with.

I think that Jim was saying that time goes by and that time is limited, so he said  he wished to spend more time with his loved one.  In the song, he imagines that he would like to save up his time and spend it with his beloved.

But, he says that, \”there never seems to be enough time\”.  That statement is true today.  It is easy to not spend time with the ones you love, because there are a multitude of other things that can take up our time.  The message to parents, and to spouses, it to \”take the time\”, for your loved ones.

Since it is so easy to waste time or squander it, time-management is an issue.

Any Christian\’s priorities should be:

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Vocation/ministry
  4. Recreation/hobbies
It is foolish to conflate God with ministry.  That\’s what happens when a person neglects their family for the ministry.  Spending time with God is the first thing and spending time with family is the second thing.  The rest of life comes after those.

The idea of redeeming the time actually means buying it back.  If you think about the word redeem, it means buying or taking.  Jesus redeems us.  He takes our sin, if we will give it to him.  To get redemption, there has to be an exchange.

Redeem means to make good or settle an account.  We might say that we liked a movie, because it was redemptive or had redeeming qualities.  Redeem means made good.  We are in a redemption process.

What does \”buying back time\” mean?  It might mean becoming aware of opportunities in time that can be missed.  It might mean to actively make the most of opportunities in time that come up.  It might mean to make the most of what comes each day.

After I finished college and did not have a job lined up, my grandma invited me to come and live with her.  My grandpa had died two or three years prior to this, and in that season, I had begun having dinner with my grandma each week.  I was going through my darkest years, at that time, and she was one of the people who was a loving light for me, in the time.

I took the time and said yes to this redemptive relationship and came over for dinner each week.  And from that, she invited me to live with her.  That was very redemptive, for both of us.  And it dawned on me that we would grow closer and it would be more painful for me when she died later.  But the grief from because of the love in relationship, is far better than the sour grief of the missed opportunity to spend with someone who loves you.

1. notes from Makus Barth: Ephesians 4-6, 1974; pp. 578-9

All of Me

He brought me to the banquet hall, and he looked on me with love.
-Song of Songs 2:4

Have you given all of yourself to Jesus?

I was thinking about this song, “All of Me”.  I feel like the Holy Spirit is  encouraging us to give ourselves wholly to Jesus. 

I heard once that many people are ready to die for the Lord, but very few are willing to live for him, dying to themselves.

Bonhoeffer’s famous phrase is, “When Christ calls a man, he calls him to come and die”.

Is dying to self and giving up everything optional in the christian life?  It does not seem so, if you look at Jesus words.

Have you read The Song of Solomon?  An interpretation is that it is an allegory about God and his people.  There is a lot of romantic language in it. 

The idea is that we are designed to have a passionate love towards God.

We were designed to be loved by God and to love God, passionately.  We are to have no other gods before God and He calls those little gods our lovers we are committing adultery with.

Jesus looked at his followers, I mean the people who literally followed him from town to town and showed up where he was; and he said to them, that following him can not be casual, but a serious thing, where we give up everything and love him more than everyone. 

There was the time when he said, metaphorically, that to be his real follower, you have to eat his flesh and drink his blood.  And he turned the people off by saying that.

When I had a personal renewal or revival, after college; I kept hearing, in my heart, “surrender”.  I began in worship, putting my arms up. 

I thought about, “why does my body want to do that?”  I realized it is surrender. 

I think that intimacy with God, passionate love, and surrender are things that must be nurtured.  It is a relationship that has to be cultivated. 

Think about those critiques that Jesus levels at the churches in Revelation.  “You have left your first love.”  “Return to doing those things you did at the beginning.”

Yes, repentance is for Christians. 

Relationship with God, is ongoing and must be renewed and revived and even re-awakened from time to time. 

This is a song from us to God, to Jesus.  Read Song of Songs, if you think words like this are far fetched.  This is the devotion that the Holy Spirit is encouraging believers to have towards Christ.

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you

Take my lips
I want to loose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them

Your goodbye
Left me with eyes that cry
How can I go on dear without you

You took the part
That once was my heart
So why not take all of me

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you

Take my lips
I want to loose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them

Your goodbye
Left me with eyes that cry
How can I go on dear without you

You took the best
So why not take the rest
Baby, take all of me

Dancing as Worship

Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and flute.

-Psalm 150:4

“Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.

-Luke 15:25

I was thinking about a silly song that came out in 1962 and has been made popular twice since, called “The Locomotion”.

The song’s words encourage everybody to learn this dance.  This reminds me of how many Christians have never learned to dance before and to the Lord.  Most of us have learned how to sing, but not to dance.

It is as easy as learning your a, b, c’s, and if you try it you will like it, is what the song says.

Do you know how singing makes you feel better sometimes?  Dancing is the same way.

I’ve had this idea that when I sing to God and to others about God, even when I don’t feel like it, that it is like a sacrifice of praise (Ps. 49:14).  And I always end up feeling better!  It is like how smiling makes you feel better and how laughter is healing.

Dancing to and before God is the same way.  You might not feel like doing it, but when and after you do, you will feel better.  Try it, you’ll like it.

There’s never been a dance that’s so easy to do It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue…

Dancing has always been part and parcel of praise and worship for God’s people.  Yet, I’m pretty sure, that many believers have never danced in worship and praise.

Have you ever thought about how excited people get at sporting events, with cheering, clapping, jumping up and down, and even doing a little dance right there in the one square foot they give you in front of your seat?

How much more is God worthy of our praise?  Yet, many church worship meetings are like singing songs at a funeral.  The singing is serious and dignified, while somewhat happy, and joyous.

But what about jubilation and exhilaration?  What about moving your body, because you can’t be still?

We do rock and sway a little. but what about those feet and legs?  What about whole body movement and motion cut loose to praise God?  This is not weird, but normal.

We have been held back from what is normal, if we never dance when we praise and worship.

Despising dancing to and before God as foolish is the very wrong attitude.  It is much better to just say, “I don’t know how to do that”.

Most believers know how to participate in singing, because we do it together.  We know about prayers, because we do prayers.

Now we might have limited knowledge of prayer, or something else in the Bible, because we don’t do it or experience it little.

Dancing in worship is like that.  It is Biblical and normative for believers, in the Bible, but we are not used to it, so we are unfamiliar with it, and so don’t do it.

Dancing is normal to celebrate and praise God.  When Jesus put dancing into his parable of the two sons and their dad, he was showing us that we will dance.

When Paul says that new covenant believers will participate in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; “psalms” refers to the book of Psalms, and in that book, instruments and dancing is referenced.  Musical instruments and dancing are not forbidden and you can not say that they are forbidden because the New Testament is silent, because it says, “Speak to one another in Psalms”, and the Psalms say to play instruments and dance.

Tie Ephesians 5:19 back to Psalm 150.

“Praise him with tambourine and dance.  Praise him with string and flute.” -Psalm 150:4

Do you have to dance?  No.  But the person that wrote Psalm 150 invites us to.

You Are My Sunshine

See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.

He brought me to the banquet hall, and he looked on me with love.

-1 John 3:1, Song of Solomon 2:4
Loving is what life is about.  Being loved by God, loving God back, and then loving other people.  Every day starts in my life with God loves me.
God loves me no matter what.  When I am feeling like a failure, I feel God’s love.  And when I step into  pride, I step out of feeling the love.
When I wake up, my first sense is that I am loved by God.  God loving me unconditionally is my life.
I know that God is especially fond of me and am astonished by the thought.  The way that parents cherish children, when they look at them and watch them.  I know God is that way with me.
That is the life I was designed to live, being loved and watched over.  My every thought and idea should spring from that love.  From knowing God is like that toward me, I relate to God.
My identity is shaped by God’s love.  And from that place, I ask questions, make plans, and dream.
Being a child, I constantly ask questions and trust.  And I usually don’t get an answer or don’t understand the answer.  But I always trust.

I am always bursting with questions and being encouraged to trust.

Children live in wonder, curiosity, and trust.  Children also forgive and don’t hold grudges.  And children are not perfectionists.
The one who is loved can do great things, achieve, and work hard, without perfectionism and without shame.
The basis for life is that God loves me.  If I forsake that or turn my back on God and live like that is not true, then I get myself in trouble.  And all the while, God still loves me.

Disillusionment: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus himself came near and began to walk along with them. But they were prevented from recognizing him.Then he asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

-Luke 24:13-17

My favorite movie, growing up, was The Wizard of Oz.  And I was also a big fan of Elton John.

Elton John’s song, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, is about disillusionment.  That’s what The Wizard of Oz is about too.

We think that we need to go on a fantastic journey to find something.  But we find out that we we already have it, right at home.  We go on a journey, and get over our illusions.

In The Wizard of Oz, the key phrase is, “There’s no place like home.”  Dorothy had a dream about finding the answers outside her surroundings.  But, everything she needed, was right at home.

I get the idea that I need to be this to be happy.  And it does not do that.  That’s disillusionment.

We also get into a fantasy about how things are when they aren’t that way and that is an illusion.

People who have ‘stars in their eyes’, are people who are overly optimistic and idealistic and naive about set-backs, suffering, human depravity, perseverance, and real love that is sacrificial.  These folks are in for a rude awakening and disillusionment, when reality set in on them.

When disillusionment comes, it is an opportunity the get in touch with reality and grow in authenticity towards yourself, God and others.

We are supposed to dream.  Dreaming is natural.  We are supposed to have passion and follow it.  We do need to find our destiny.

But this is all natural with the supernatural.  Illusion is not natural or supernatural.  Illusion is not real.

Who I am, what God has made me to be, and where God is taking me is real.  My destiny in God is real.  And my inheritance in God is real.  God’s design for me is real.

Same thing with the church.  God’s design for the church is real and authentic, Jesus shaped you could say.

We get into illusions when we use our imaginations outside of God.  When we think about ourselves, the church, or God; outside of interaction with the living God, we might get into illusions.  Illusions are things that are not real and are not true.  They may be well-intentioned, but not real.

The two guys who were walking on the road to Emmaus were disillusioned.  Things did not turn out, they way they had imagined.  They were discouraged.

Jesus asked them why they were discouraged.  Then he was direct with them, calling them foolish and slow.  He taught them through the Old Testament, about how the Messiah had to suffer before his glorification.

Then he asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

The one named Cleopas answered him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked them.

So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people,and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. But we were hoping that he was the one who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third daysince these things happened. Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb, and when they didn’t find his body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see him.”

He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.

-Luke 24:17-27
Their illusion was that Jesus would redeem one way, but the reality was that he redeemed Israel another way.  We have a good goal in mind and think we will get there through a certain way, that becomes an illusion.  But there is another way that is the authentic way, without illusion.
An illusion is when we see something that is not there.  We say, “He fooled himself into thinking…”  That’s an illusion.
We fool ourselves into thinking something about someone that is not true.  We think they are good when they are actually bad.  When we find out the truth, we become disillusioned.
We enter into to a relationship.  Maybe a friendship, maybe a romance, maybe a business relationship.  We assume things are all good, but then something not good happens, maybe even a betrayal.  Then we get disillusioned.
This can happen with church.  We have high hopes and together we are engaged in a very nobel purpose.  Then bad things happen and we get disillusioned and don’t want to play anymore.
I was just thinking about all the pastors out there, who suffer failure, and go into disillusionment with the church.
Disillusionment is painful, but it is actually a good thing.  We need to not be illusioned.  We need to be in touch with reality.
Suffering is reality.  Betrayal is reality.  Love and forgiveness is reality.  Broken people is reality.

God has no illusions about us, so he never gets disillusioned about us. We walk with God without illusions.

There is a paradox in that the path is where we find ourselves, but it is at home where we are our authentic selves.

All of life is a journey towards our ultimate home in and with God.  Life is not a time of just waiting for the event, but becoming the person.  Life is about knowing God and knowing who you are.

To think that we are going on a journey to becoming famous or powerful is a misconception and illusion.

Being the person God created you to be and being loved by God and then loving other people, is the simple calling for everyone.  God can choose to elevate us or not, for a short time or for a long time.

Jesus would not allow himself to be lifted up into the illusions that some people had for him.  Think about it.  Jesus lived in the tension that each of us are called to, to be ourselves and to let God elevate us.

Negative disillusionment goes into cynicism and bitter criticism, that has its root in a distrust of self and a feeling of alienation.

Sometimes a rude awakening precedes a breakthrough into authenticity.  It requires humility.  Humility sometimes only comes through humiliation.

Much of the pain of disillusionment is self-inflicted.  We ran with something that really was a lie, it was not true; and we built our reality around it.

People constantly suffered from disillusionment towards Jesus.  He never caused it, but they did it to themselves.  We have Judas and we have the other eleven misunderstanding him.  We have the fact that at the very end of the gospel account, it says that some people, who had seen and heard him, still did not believe.  And then there is the fact that only a portion of the people that saw him, after the resurrection, made it to the room where the day of pentecost happened.

We can be disillusion with the church.  Jesus has no illusions or fantasies about ideal church life, and neither should we.  If we are idealists, we need to let that go, be disillusioned, and be realists, with Jesus; based on love.

Many of us are disillusioned, disappointed, and distrusting of the church right now.  A great dissatisfaction is out there, among people who are unhappy in church, done with church, or have no regular meeting of the church to call home today.

The danger, which is toxic and poisonous is for us to be overly idealistic, perfectionist, and under an illusion that is elitist about what church has to be like.  I think we have to take people where they are and stand between them and our living God.

The bare bones, simple, and foundation of church life is, Christ, you, and I.  One way or another, we will end up eating and talking together, and then praying together, then being grateful together, and serving each other and then spilling out to serve the world around us and welcome them the table, where Christ is among us.

These are some notes and quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his book about Christian community called Life Together.  Bonhoeffer says that God actually hates our idealist illusions about what church life should be.  These are my thoughts mixed in with what Dietrich wrote.

  • A ‘wishful image’ of church life will shatter Christian community, if that is the basis on which it is lived.  Idealism.
    • Serious Christians bring with them their ideas of what Christian community should be, when they enter into it, and are anxious for it to be realized.  One person says, we need to take communion, another says we must worship together, another says we must pray either laying on hands or interceding, and still another says that we should be evangelizing.
      • I have been in several groups where one member came on very strong about how, in order to be an authentic Christian community, we should be engaged in evangelism.  The majority of the community was not interested in that.  There was a tension around this and it would have been better if the group reached a consensus, but instead, the evangelists felt rejected and ‘vetoed’, instead of enfolded and loved.
  • The grace of God is at odds with our dreams often.  Our dreams often are not God’s dreams, not from God.  God is more concerned with our ‘one another’s’ than our success.  
    • Many church planters have started with a dream, encouraged, supported, and cheered on by others.  When things don’t work, when people resist, they have a lot of frustration.  In their disillusionment, they might get angry at the people, and even bitter with themselves and with God.
      • All through this, God is after something bigger and deeper, in grace.  God wants us to really know him and know his love and to know each other and know each other’s love.
  • God’s desire is for us to be disillusioned.  That means to let go of illusions and walk in the real.
    • Disillusionment is good, if it is riding us of our idealism.  Disillusionment is unpleasant and even appears evil, but it is the pathway to authenticity, reality, and durable community.
    • Every idealism is a hindrance to genuine community and must be broken up.
  • “Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial.”
  • God hates our wishful dreams, that are really idealistic illusions, because they breed pride and pretense.  
    • Idealists carry a delusional sense of entitlement towards God and fellow Christians, demanding that they get on board with their vision.
      • Their ideal replaces the living Christ as the center of community, with themselves as ‘god’.
        • My vision.
        • My way.
        • I am the builder of it, the creator.
    • When things do not work, they accuse others, God, and themselves.
  • Disillusionment with our brothers or sisters should always drive us the Christ, from whom is the only way that we can live and function together.

(From Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible, Bonhoeffer; pp. 34-36)

Imposing your control on others, supposedly as a function of leadership, is the essence of spiritual abuse.  I thought of controlling leaders, as I read Bonhoeffer.  When your leadership goes to controlling, you have moved into the dark side.

I am an idealist.  I have gone through disillusionment over and over.  A number of times in my life, I thought that if I believed the word and prayed hard, I would get results.

No dice.  Disillusionment.  Back to reality and authenticity.  Suffering, cross bearing, death, burial, and resurrection.  Living with the risen Christ.

One of the most painful disillusionments for me was my parents divorce.  My ideal for them was shattered and the hurtful brokenness of that was all I could see or feel.  The only way I could see was escape.

I was praying for God to make the pain go away.  And then I got ministry from a beautiful group of  prayer warriors, who ministered Paul’s word from Jesus to me: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

I never really comprehended that verse before that.

Jesus has proven to me, over and over that in my disillusionment, he has grace for me to experience and be transformed by.  And to receive it, I must go low.  “Little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong.  Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.”

When we try to make the case for our ideal, in the midst of shattering brokenness, that is pride, bitterness, and cynicism.  We blame, complain, and judge; having no grace for others, ourselves, or God.  No gratefulness, no forgiveness, and no happiness.  Just anger, control, and narcissism.

Shattered illusions that do not give way to grace, which is had by humility, becomes cynicism.  Cynical people believe that all of us are only motivated by self-interest.  Cynical people project their own brokenness onto the whole world.

The back-story of a cynical person is a broken heart that did not heal right.  They became deceived, they began to believe a lie.  They made a choice to go on the wrong path, in the wrong direction.

And the only way to get back on the right path is to go back to where you made the wrong turn.

The man who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, was not always like that.  He may have once been a faithful shepherd, or a sheepdog.  But he got his heart broken and it did not heal right.

That is how a wolf is born that ends up hurting and destroying sheep in the church.  Disillusionment that did not give way to grace through humility, but stayed proud and went to cynicism.

Judas is an example of bad disillusionment.  Intimate with Jesus, but had a different ideal or ideal of who Jesus should be.  And in his cynicism, he betrayed Jesus.

When he realized his mistake, he again did not find grace, but judged himself and executed himself.  He made these decisions, for which he has responsibility.  Satan was involved with him, looked for and found a road into his life, from which he could tempt Judas to do wrong.

Every disciple is tempted to sin and betray Christ.  In our disillusionment, we can turn to the dark side or just give up.  That way of Christ is the receive grace, in humility.

God knows that we will be tempted to go for fame, fortune, success; or just finding ourselves or our destiny.  Maybe we just want to go to school, find a job, find a spouse, and have kids.  Maybe we just want to pay the bills and have a decent grocery store to go to.

Along the path of life, we need to stay grounded in reality, under no illusions about ourselves.

What happened next, in the story of the two men and Jesus, on the road to Emmaus?

They came near the village where they were going, and he gave the impression that he was going farther.  But they urged him, “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

 It was as he reclined at the table with them that he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight.

-Luke 24:28-31

There is something profound here, in when Jesus broke the bread and gave it to them, that at that moment, their eyes were opened.  He is the bread of life and his body was broken for our life.  When we receive his life, broken and raised from the dead, for us; we can see him and become disillusioned.

His life and he as the truth, is our reality.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, sung by Casey Crescenzo:

Living In God’s House

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of Armies.
I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home,
And a swallow, a nest for herself
Where she places her young—
Near your altars, Lord of Armies,
My King and my God.
How happy are those who reside in your house,
Who praise you continually.

Happy are the people whose strength is in you,
Whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a source of springwater;
Even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength;
Each appears before God in Zion.

Lord God of Armies, hear my prayer;
Listen, God of Jacob.Selah
Consider our shield, God;
Look on the face of your anointed one.

Better a day in your courts than a thousand anywhere else.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than live in the tents of wicked people.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield.
The Lord grants favor and honor;
He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity.
Happy is the person who trusts in you,
Lord of Armies!

-Psalm 84
We are invited to live in God’s house now in this life.  Our desire to live with God is individual and communal.  We each have to decide for and want it.  And we live in God together.
God’s house is yellow.  God uses all colors, but yellow describes the place we get to live in with God.

For the Lord God is a sun and a shield.

God’s house is a place of sunshine.  A color that describes God’s house is yellow.  God’s place we dwell in is a place of joy, warmth, inspiration and vitality.  Cheerful, happiness, strengthening, friendly and creative; are words that describe the atmosphere of God’s house we get to live in now.
The more time that we spend inside God’s house, the more that our minds are renewed into the mind of Christ.  The more time we spend at God’s place, the more we are aware of our identities.  The more time we spend in God’s house, the more energy we have for life, because awake or asleep, God’s place is a place of rest.
When we spend time inside God’s house, we learn to see.  We get clarity about what we see.  We understand what we see better now, through the truth of Christ.
Spending time in God’s house is renewing.  Restoration happens in God’s place where we get to spend time.  It is a safe place to turn our lives around and get back to becoming the person we have been destined to be.
We get to grow up in the safe space of God’s place, while at the same time, becoming like a child.  No matter what our age is, our youth is renewed in God’s dwelling place.  We get to become wise and child-like at the same time.
God’s house is a place of learning.  Inspiration and curiosity are in the air in God’s space.  Creativity is bubbling in the atmosphere of God’s house and imparted to those who spend time there.
The ability to communicate truth and life is imparted to people who spend time living with God.  Discovery is given to those who dwell with God.  That is the ability to look at things and discover things previously unknown.
Decision makers learn how to become wise rulers in the house of God, in the the light imparted by living with God.
Enthusiasm, confidence and optimism are imparted in the presence of God.
Being with God is a sunny place, full of warmth and happiness.
Frankincense, one of the gifts brought to Jesus, is yellowish in color.  In essential oil therapy, Frankincense is said to offer a variety of health benefits like relieving stress and anxiety, reducing pain and inflammation, boosting immunity and potentially helping fight cancer.
Yellow is the brightest color.  It is the most visible color.  It is the first visible color.  Yellow is the color of seeing.
Yellow is the color of gold.  Golden means of great value.
Yellow the color of one of the twelve foundation stones of the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:19).  And the glory of God, which some people think is yellow in color, like sunshine; will be the light source in the new Jerusalem (Re. 21:23).
Healing light from God (“The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays”) is the promise for those who revere and fear God (Malachi 4:2).  
Living in God’s house is like the, “Yellow Submarine” song.

I Saw The Lord

For David says of him: I saw the Lord ever before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

I always let the Lord guide me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.
-Acts 2:25
-Psalm 16:8
-Isaiah 6:1
-Revelation 1:17-18

Have you seen the Lord?  Do you live in the reality of seeing him?  Does he see you?

Seeing the Lord changes your life.  It changes how you see everything and everyone else.

Have you seen him?

When I have seen him, it changes how I see others.  Seeing him transforms me.

Seeing the Lord is not something abstract or something for later.

Seeing the Lord is not something that only a limited number of people in the Bible got to experience.

Seeing the Lord is something you and I get to do.  Have you seen him?

Do you see the Lord?  Do you know that he sees you?

Can you hear what he is saying to you?  Do you know what he thinks about things, about other people?

Have you been cultivating your relationship with him, seeing him?

When you saw him did it change you?

Do you know his love?

Does seeing him affect how you see others?

Do you have his heart, because you have seen him?

Do you really know that he sees you?

Happy Landings

So, at each stage refreshed, they will reach Sion, and have sight there of the God who is above all gods.
-Psalm 84:7 (Knox Bible)

On the 4th of July, we ran out of gas on the way home.  The gas gauge was reading wrong and it was a complete surprise.

The car sputtered and the warning lights came on.  I had less that ten seconds, more like four or five, to find a spot to pull over.  I pulled right into a spot in the neighborhood, beside the boulevard.

It was the one open spot.  It was as if that spot had been saved for us.  Hours earlier, that neighborhood had been jammed and packed with cars and people, who were there for the block parties.

When something like this happens to me, I don’t jump for joy or yell something out.  I just have a calm peace.

You know the one when people say they prayed for a good parking place at Target and there is it, one saved for them, up front, near the entrance?  I think God is with us even more, when we can’t find a spot or when we have to take the spot in the boonies.

Life is a journey with unexpected challenges.  We navigate each one, growing stronger and stronger.  And God, where God lives, is our destination.

When we ran out of gas, we were on Del Amo, which in Spanish means, “Of the master”.  There’s Del Amo Boulevard and just Del Amo, tucked in side-by-side.  So, we ran out of gas on Del Amo Blvd., and then landed the car, on Del Amo, the street, where there are houses, sidewalks and driveways.

The street that we pulled off on was Autry, named after the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.  And our parking spot was right before Hersholt, named after Jean Hersholt, best known as a humanitarian, who set up a medical relief fund for people in the motion picture industry, who needed medical care, when they lacked funds.  He was an actor, famous for his Dr. Christian radio program, directed by Neil Reagan, Ronald Reagan’s brother.  And he did six Dr. Christian films.  As a side hobby, he translated 160 Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales into English.

I share these things because I like to look up names and their meanings, histories and biographies of people.

Let’s just say that I am happy landing on the road of the master, between the streets named after these two men.  My son remarked that it was his best 4th of July ever and that he enjoyed the adventure.

This song clip below captures the spirit of Gene Autry that I love and also carry.

Born Free

For freedom, Christ set us free.  Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.
-Galatians 5:1

Christians are born free.  We are freed to be free.  To be a Christian means to be set free.

We are set free from the bondage to sin and to religion.  When someone becomes a Christian they are set free to be free, in Christ.

Becoming a Christian is not just about believing the Bible, but about believing in Christ.  Being a Christian is being a person in Christ.

The freedom that Christians are born into, is freedom of conscience.  Christianity is inside-out.  Christ in you.

When we participate in the process of someone coming to Christ, to be be born from above, we are all about leading them to him and not to us.  It is wonderful if we are so immersed in Christ that people see Christ in us.  But our goal is never to make disciples after ourselves or our brand, but of Christ himself and let him take this person where he wills.

The freedom that Christ sets us free to is freedom of conscience.  Jesus works within each one of his followers, enabling them and guiding them to do what is right.

Disciplemaking is not about converting people to our opinions, but making them disciples of Jesus.  There is no program, but Christ.

So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.
-John 8:36

The Son of God has set us free.  What that means is that I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but the life I now live is by the faithfulness of the Son of God (Gal. 2:20).  The freedom of having been set free is only in the work of the Son of God.

Outside of what Jesus did on the cross, I do not have freedom.  With centering my life in the cross of Christ and bearing my own cross, I will be selfish and become enslaved again to sin, religion or both.

Some people say, “I just can’t do that”, or, “It’s too hard”, and live a life of selfish complaining and victimhood, paradoxically, living as slaves in freedom.

Christianity is lived inside out.  When you look for something on the outside of you to feel better, you are not living in freedom, but are looking for a medication.

Jesus gives you life from your inside.

Freedom in Christ is what Christian salvation is.  Galatians 5:1 is a concise statement of what Paul has written in Chapters 1-4.

The gospel is grace, not ‘Jesus plus’.

This is what Richard Longenecker wrote about Galatians, in his closing explanation of chapter 5:1-12:

“Most often Galatians is viewed as the great document of justification by faith.  What Christians all too often fail to realize is that in reality it is a document the sets out a Christ-centered lifestyle— one that stands both in opposition to nomism and libertinism.  Sadly though, applauding justification by faith, Christians frequently renounce their freedom in Christ by espousing either nomism or libertinism and sometimes (like the Galatians) both.  So Paul’s letter to the Galatians, though directly relevant to the Galatian situation, speaks also to our situation today.”  (R. Longenecker, Galatians, p. 245, 1990)

Deck The Halls With Boughs of Holly

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Deck The Halls“, originally called, “Deck The Hall”, is a Christmas Carol, that is for New Year’s Eve.  The idea that Christmas hails the new year, is brought to light in this song.  It was originally a Welsh poem, translated into English by Thomas Oliphant and published in 1862.
The words above are the rendition that I am most familiar with.  My understanding is that these words were not the original, but changes were made in the fifteen years following 1862.  The original has lines in it about drinking:
“Fill the meadcup, drain the barrel”, and, “See the flowing bowl before us”, 
As well as, 
“While I sing of beauty’s treasure”, and, “Laughing, quaffing all together”.
See the wikipedia article, if you are interested in reading about the variations.
I was wondering what this song was all about.  I get it about, ’tis the season to be jolly’.  And that is true right now.  We are in a season of joy.  And the world is trying to convince you otherwise.
Holly symbolizes masculinity.  And ivy symbolizes femininity.  There is another Christmas Carol called, “The Holy and The Ivy”.  But this song is about putting up holly throughout your house.
The word ‘holly’ is not connected to ‘holy’, but ‘prickly’.  Holly has leaves with sharp, prickly ends on it.  The vibrant, red berries on holly are also associated with masculinity and the blood of Jesus.
In ancient times, holly leaves were used as a tea, to treat arthritis, kidney stones and bronchitis.  
Some people believe that the crown of thorns that the Roman soldiers put on Jesus’ head was holly.  This may be a myth, but the symbol of the holly and it’s similarity to the thorny vine used as the crown of thorns put upon Jesus’ head remains.
David Beaulieu, wrote:
“There are hundreds of species of holly plants (Ilex), and the plants come in all sizes, ranging from spreading dwarf holly shrubs 6 inches in height to holly trees 70 feet tall. Their shapes vary from rounded to pyramidal to columnar. Landscaping enthusiasts use this versatile plant in a number of different ways, including as foundation plantings.”
Here is an excerpt from Andy Byfield’s article on Holly, in the Guardian’s Gardening Blog:
“As well as playing a key role in a woodland’s winter ecology, holly has a strong cultural resonance amongst humans. Festive holly imagery on Christmas cards may be a Victorian invention, but the tree’s association with Christmas goes back to pagan times, when it was customary to bring holly boughs in to deck out the house. Holly was seen as a powerful fertility symbol, and was believed to be an effective charm to ward off witches and ill-fortune: for this reason it was often planted close to homes and outbuildings. Conveniently, its thorny foliage and blood-red berries lent themselves to Christian tradition, and the early customs surrounding the species were fully adopted by Christianity. With its intense red berries, the holly was also seen as a very masculine plant – after all, “the holly wears the crown” – though the fact that hollies with berries are always female seems to have been conveniently forgotten by some in society.”
According to Catholic tradition:
“the holly is held by tradition to be of the same plant as the wood of the Cross was said to come from. During Advent and Christmas Christians acknowledge the need for a Savior and holly reminds them of this: the holly bough is one of St. John the Baptist’s symbols; the Saint heralded our Lord’s coming as Isaiah did in the Old Testament.”

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