Posts Tagged ‘lord jesus christ’

A Personal Mission Statement

March 14, 2014

God is love, and calls us all to forgive all offenses and adopt God’s will as our own.

I’ve also discerned that God calls me to preach and exemplify this call to repentance of our selfish ways, and bear witness to the new life that follows on our being forgiven and healed from estrangement from God, which is this common fear-dominated condition called sin. I experience and understand this new life as a life in Jesus Christ, who lives both in God and among us, guiding, directing, warning, empowering, gathering, healing and perfecting all who will come to Him, whether they call Him by that name or some other.

I’ve discerned that I’m called to serve Jesus Christ, in His name and power, as a teacher of His gospel, persuader, comforter, hearer of confessions, and conveyer of His forgiveness and His healing. As I understand my calling, I’m to do this chiefly, but not exclusively, within the Religious Society of Friends.

I ask the help of a spiritual care committee to help me grow in this ministry, and to correct me if I should stray from it.

I just met the Lord in a dream

November 7, 2013

I just saw my Lord, Jesus Christ, for the first time within conscious memory. In my dream He was with three European-looking men, all on the tall side, dressed in simple robes. Though one of them had a grey beard, his eyes twinkled with innocence and youthful eagerness to hear his Lord’s next words and follow His next steps. The setting was nondescript, except for the presence of a round white table. The Lord seemed to welcome me as a familiar friend that He saw often. I had a large book with me, from outside the mainstream Christian tradition: The Yoga Sutras, perhaps, the Bhagavad Gita, A Course in Miracles, or Swedenborg’s Heaven and Hell; seeing it, He nodded and smiled, as if to say “Yes, I know that book; it’s interesting and you’ll learn something from it.” He laid the book on the table top, took out a pen and signed His name in black ink on the cover, a big, strong, sprawling but simple signature in a script unknown to me. I laughed inwardly at the thought that I’d just been given the autograph of the Incarnation of God, but no one else in the world would recognize it for what it was. He then turned His attention to something else and I woke. My wife was just getting into bed. “I just saw the Lord in my dream,” I told her before falling back asleep.

And then I dreamed of Him again. This time He was in a dark grey suit, standing on the curb of a Manhattan sidewalk in a solemn attitude of prayer. Directly across the street, to the south, rose a tall, dark, forbidding-looking monolith. Among the followers around Him was a beautiful, fine-featured blond woman of about twenty who stuck out her elbow to display angry red burn-marks covering the upper half of the inner surface of her right forearm. I recognized them as nuclear radiation burns and felt grieved. Standing near me, my friend A.B. was on her cell phone, calling her teen-aged daughter at home in Queens Village. And then my alarm clock started to give its wake-up warble and I popped awake, only to discover that the alarm had gone off only in my dream. I took it as a signal to get up and waste no time in recording what I could remember of my dream-experiences.

There are dreams, and then there are dreams. I take this one, or rather these two, as carrying messages for me.

Now the first one is that I am indeed His disciple, and one loved by Him. I’d gone to bed unsure whether I were qualified, or called, to write an article on Christian discipleship for publication. The dream relieves my doubt. The second message is that, as I’ve put my study under His guidance, He trusts my discernment as I read widely among books purported to contain spiritual wisdom.

The third message is that He Himself is praying alongside us for a world that’s in deep trouble. My faith echoes Jesus’ words in John 16:33b: “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” But those radiation burns on that young woman’s arm cry out for His healing now. 

I think that this may be the first time I’ve ever blogged about a message I’d received that seemed to have been only for me. But I make it public because something is telling me that it might speak to someone else, too.

We Need a Gospel, Not a Theology

May 14, 2013

So, in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ preach the everlasting gospel, that by his power the sick may be healed, the leprous cleansed, the dead raised, the blind eyes opened, and the devils cast out.
– George Fox, Epistle 114 (1656), in Works, v. 7, p. 114.

We Friends need a theology, some say: perhaps something more modern than the Apology Robert Barclay gave us in the 1670s, when the world was thought to be only thousands of years old and Moses’ history of it accurate. I agree! It would be priceless to have good information about God. For what can we understand about our own condition if we know nothing about the One responsible for our being? Only that we’re walking around in deep ignorance. Is God heartless, cruel, capricious? Then why is there suffering? Does God have a will, or care about human morality? Is there any way for creatures to know their Creator? Why do different scriptures and philosophies disagree about what God wants from us?

But information alone could not cure our ignorance, or our clearly evident bondage to sin and death. And the most perfect theological teaching could not save us from this unhappy exile from the immediately experienced presence of the Source of All Good. “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him” (Job 23:8).

Much more than good information, therefore, do we need good news: words that heal us when they say “be healed,” words that save us when they say “be saved,” words that reveal God when they say “behold your God.” That’s what a gospel does, or is expected to do. A gospel, unlike a mere theology, is a manifestation of divine power. If it doesn’t mend the broken, raise up the fallen, destroy the works of the devil and set free the captive, it’s not a gospel worthy of the name.

“The gospel of Christ,” wrote Paul (Romans 1:16), “is the power of God unto salvation.” The gospel of Christ was but an unfulfilled prophecy in Isaiah 61 until Jesus read it aloud in the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:16-21), then proceeded to do deeds that showed the world He was fulfilling it. What is a gospel? A gospel would not only show me something of the glory and goodness of God, it would allow me to find a Savior and say, “Behold, I’m a corrupt tree that produces only corrupt fruit; make me into a good tree, and I’ll glorify you by producing only good fruit” – and my Savior would do it.

Every human heart yearns for a gospel, a great truth that makes possible a happy ending to our small and disappointing existences, because that’s what the heart seems to have been made to do: but most of us don’t expect such good tidings of great joy in our own time or in our own lives. But why not? Have we forgotten how to imagine the very good, or are we afraid to risk disappointment? Or are we afraid of what a Pearl of Great Price might cost us? Do we want the miracles of Jesus to exist only in a book about long ago and far away? Shall we dismiss His promise to be with us always, even to the end of the world, as something He never really said, or didn’t mean literally, because it can’t be true?

Looking into my own heart for the answer, or everyone’s heart, I find that we’re mostly content with things as they are, and don’t like leaving our comfort zone. Only when we find ourselves tormented by life, and bereft of faith in the fantasy that attacking someone else will relieve the torment, do we become like the disabled and desperate people of long ago that sought out Jesus of Nazareth for healing. Otherwise – why leave the comfort zone?

I find two other things, besides torment, that push us out of our comfort zone: one is love, which makes the torment of others as intolerable as torment to ourselves. The other is the realization that our comfort zone is maintained by illusions and lies, chief among which is that its comfort will last indefinitely. It never does. And then something – torment, love, or disillusionment – makes us feel our crying need for a gospel. One is there waiting for us.

Grant us, Lord, not merely the transforming and awakening power of Your gospel, but the faith and courage to receive it. Have we resistances? We welcome Your sweeping them away.