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Posts Tagged ‘new creation’

When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh,
My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me,

My heart will not fear;
Though war arise against me,
In spite of this I shall be confident.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;

In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.  [Psalm 27:2-5, NAS]

enemy proverbI am to walk in confidence and pray so since the promise is plainly spoken, my enemies will fall before and I will dwell safely. But there is no promise of the timetable. And I must remember this. I may be safe in the stronghold, but the outer keeps and lands around my stronghold may suffer pain or loss or injury. There is no promise of a pain-free life, just a promise that no enemy will prevail.

Who are these enemies anyway?

Are there, literally, people out there who want to specifically do “me” harm? Are there people who would intentionally hurt me? I don’t think so, not really. Of course, if I put myself in dangerous places, if I travel in war-torn areas or walk the streets of brutalized neighborhoods, I might indeed become a representative of everything someone hates: while, middle-class, Christian female. For some, that might be enough. I cannot say or expect that I, as an individual, would be excused from misfortune or injury in that situation.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure my biggest enemy is within, that “old self” who continues to look for footing and place where none should be. It is that untamed part of me that kicks against surrender to the Christ Spirit. That part of me continues to behave like a stubborn step child, unwilling to adapt to change, and unwilling to live under spiritual authority.

The prayer, then, makes sense: to remain in the “house” of the Lord (that inner stronghold). For me, this passage has more depth than simply going to church on Sunday mornings. The words ring truer when I consider the house of God within me, that shelter of the most high, where the Spirit meets me willingly and lovingly. This is the place for I have free access to the God of the Universe, where I can see and feel the light ad beauty of God.

The more familiar I become in this place, the more clearly I can experience true peace, and that clamoring enemy and the traps of the worldly concerns have less and less power. Here is the core of worship.

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Throughout the Bible, the imagery of wine is used in a positive light, like Jesus turning water into wine or the Passover cup where it symbolizes the shedding of his own blood. But the winepress itself, the process, that pressure and transformation holds other implications.

Revelation 14:19
So the angel swung his scythe on the earth and stripped the grapes and gathered the vintage from the vines of the earth and cast it into the huge winepress of God’s indignation and wrath.
[Amplified]

It’s not a gentle business, the pressing of grapes, or for that matter, gathering them either. In the case of true wine making, there is a particular pressure applied to avoid smashing the seeds which give a more bitter flavor. Were they as concerned in ancient times? I don’t know since it was done with feet. In any case, once the grapes are smashed, they are no longer good as grapes. They must become something else.

Generally, I have only known the kinder forms of metamorphosis. The Holy Spirit is a gentle craftsman of my heart and soul. I am forgiven daily and given many, many opportunities to try again, to learn, to grow, to change and ultimately, to become a sweet aroma to both humankind and God. I want to translate myself into a creature of love and daring.

But I also understand that kicking against the goads of God’s will for me, fighting the process, forcing my way on the path, only makes it more difficult. And so, challenges and difficulties can arise to bring me back around.

It’s hard to see and understand the God way because it’s a way of mystery and paradox. It’s the path that Indiana Jones couldn’t see over the abyss. It cannot be seen or felt until one takes that step of faith. It’s not the golden chalice but the well-worn, humble one that is the Holy Grail.

Eventually, though, a day does come in the stretch of humankind when God allows the worst to happen. Like the pain of Job who lost everything to find everything, so it will be with Earth: a great shattering.

I don’t like the idea of contemplating such a turn of events nor do I want to be there. I don’t want to be there because of my own stubborn nature. I don’t want to know the winepress of wrath.

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Art by Catherine Andrews

The implication then is this: if the Christ appeared in a more perfect tabernacle not of “this” creation, there must be other creations. Hmm. The psalmists write, Selah, “pause and calmly think of that.”

Hebrews 9:11
But [that appointed time came] when Christ (the Messiah) appeared as a High Priest of the better things that have come and are to come. [Then] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with [human] hands, that is, not a part of this material creation . . .
[Amplified]

Are there other clear references to another creation? I mean, it isn’t necessarily heaven designated in this passage from Hebrews, it could be anywhere. It seems a bit “woohoo” and “new agey,” right? In fact, I find it totally other-worldly, Star Trekian, multi-dimensional, and clearly, we’re “not in Kansas anymore.” We’re outside our human understanding. We don’t know about this other creation(s).

I understand, some commentators still believe the “perfect tabernacle” is in heaven because the human tabernacle was intended to mirror or replicate some heavenly place. But I think that’s simplifying the Spirit realm of God. It’s anthropomorphizing what we don’t understand and trying to put it into human terms.

It’s a similar situation with all the prophets who were given extraordinary visions of things outside their ken such as animals covered with eyes and wings in Revelation or Ezekial’s animals with four faces.

When my children were little, my husband and I liked to have fun with the various holiday characters such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc. We always told them these characters existed in a different dimension. As the kids got older and realized how unbelievable it was that Santa could fly across the world in a single night and deposit gifts in each and every house, we reiterated: different dimension–anything can happen. Of course, our story is not as creative as C. S. Lewis and his world of Narnia, but ultimately, we share the same idea, once anyone goes through a “portal,” things are very different “there” (wherever there is).

The world and words of the Spirit realm are best depicted through the arts I think. Music, visual art, performance art, dance, film, scent, poetry: these are some of the better expressions of God’s kingdom or sphere or neighborhood.

What the Messiah did for Human is not really fathomable in our limited cosmos. One sacrifice for all? One outpouring of blood covers all sins from the beginning to the end of time? Perfection in human form? Covenants, promises, reconciliation, restoration, renewal, all of these possible by the act of one offering? Absurd, right?

Nope. It’s the link between our creation and all the other ones. The ultimate portal. Not science fiction or fantasy, but God business. And the stuff of dreams, imagination, love, resurrection, and transfiguration.

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Do we still honor the builder? I think not. I am as guilty as anyone else. Sometimes, I can’t remember the author of a book, much less an architect. I was terrible at “music memory” in grammar school and worse at signers of the declaration of independence.

Hebrews 3:2b-4
. . . just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Instead, I get absorbed by the end result, the “house,” the object.

This morning, a friend and I spent a couple of hours at Panera Church over latte and coffee discussing how differently she looks at humanity than she did five years ago. For so long, she said, it was still about “us and them”–the believers and the non-believers. “Thems” were a shadow of humanity: they were out and we were in. They were a house without rooms. They were a shell. But now, she finds herself within the teeming masses of people, all built by the hand of God, all sacred in a way that only God can create. She sees the builder behind the human.

There are people who are still building and using their creativity. There are inventors struggling to find a place for their inventions (they even have their own reality show now); creative artists abound, longing for ways to get their work out to the general public, to share their creations. For these people, they are giving out a part of themselves. Painters, writers, composers, craftsmen, architects, and many more creators, are trying to tell us: this is how I see the world, come with me.

God is a creator too. The earth is one aspect of God’s message to humanity. And more, living things are another, animals, fish, and people included.

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and we celebrate the women who carried us within their bodies and nurtured us as best they were able. Together, a female and male parent came together to create another human, endowed with a personal spirit, unique to the world in which we live.

Let us give thanks to the Builder today, the Creator, the Mother/Father of us all. Let us look at everything and everyone and remember the source of that idea, that word, that color, that shape, that sound. Amen.

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Here’s an idea: every time I tell a lie, it does harm to the Body of Christ. That Body requires truth. And anything less diminishes it. Either I have a corporate corporeal responsibility or not. I’ve managed to minimalize the impact. It’s so big after all. Well, time to think again.

Ephesians 4:25
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Another image that comes to mind is one of those psychology experiments in college where small electric shocks are given to someone else based on the subject’s (my) answers or failures (or whatever the testing might entail). If I could see or feel the impact on this “Body,” would I act differently? If I had a chart of the body and every time I sinned or lied or cheated, a red dot representing pain in some other region or area of the Body would light up. Would I stop?

I know that’s silly, but really, am I a unique part of this larger Body or not? And does my place in it make any difference?

Telling the truth is the hardest of all really. I lie with my lips and I lie in my mind. I lie to others (sometimes masked in halves or exaggeration) and I lie to myself.

Sometimes, I get another crazy picture in my head like I’m standing at the “pearly gates” and, as I have been forewarned [Romans 14:12], I begin to give an account of my life. When I get to the lies part of the list, It’s so long, I end up in some kind of purgatory (waiting tank) after all.

Have I placed ALL the lies under the covering of the blood sacrifice? Have I stopped telling them? Really?

I will probably never get very good at the “not telling lies” part. Some of this is my quick mouth and some of it is the way I think and blab at the same time. I sometimes don’t even “hear” something until I say it. This leaves on option for me: silence. Not speaking. Also difficult, but probably a better choice for the sake of the Body.

I am planning another fast. I do these on occasion but this time, it’s as a result of my previous days’ revelations about the superficiality of the “old self” and the power of sensuality to rule. I’m thinking that food and unrelenting appetite fit into the same drama (not just sexuality and violence). And today, I can add lies and too much talking into the mix. Can I fast from so much talking? Something to consider.

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Does it matter–our genealogy? our heritage? our family line? In scripture, it’s recorded in many ways as quite significant, from the “begats” in Matthew to the repetitive list of kings and their fathers and their fathers. Am I a child of the promise, a child of the free woman?

Galatians 4:31
Therefore, brothers [and sisters], we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.

Paul goes into a longish discussion of the “figurative” nature of Hagar (the slave woman) and Sarah (the free), who bore children, one “naturally” and the other as the result of a God-promise and power of the Spirit (a supernatural birth). The slave child (and subsequent generations) is born to a time and place in history, while the implication is that the child (and following generations) is of a “new Jerusalem,” a place out of time.

Despite the fact that Sarah and Abraham are usually considered the “father and mother” of the Jews (who we know followed the law), now the focus is on the next step when the Abrahamic children come into their true inheritance. The long-awaited Messiah was part of the promise, the miracle of Isaac. Christ too was born supernaturally. (Isaac was born from an old woman’s barren womb and Jesus from a very young woman’s virginal womb.)

And just so, because I have accepted that same long-promised Messiah as my Messiah too, I become a child of the free woman, the metaphysical, the kingdom of God. I now have a different genealogy than I did before. This is a truer meaning of “new creation.”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” [II Corinthians 5:17]

I’m not living in this freedom really. It’s positional only, not internalized. It’s head knowledge, not heart knowledge.

It’s like I’m so close to really understanding the enormity of this truth but not quite. It’s a thought butterfly flitting around my head. I can’t quite grab hold of it. But someday I will. And when I do, I will be changed.

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What criteria do I use when I look at other people? I’m sure it’s still that “worldly view.” I’m assessing weight, demeanor, stride, clothing, work, and even neighborhood. Am I looking for the “new creation?” I don’t think so.

II Corinthians 5:16a, 17
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. . . Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

For years, this “new creation” verse has been used to give hope to the believer that he/she has been changed by faith in Christ. We are no longer bound to our old ways, we are transformed. That is true.

But here’s what I never understood before. As the observer, I am supposed to look with new eyes on others. I am charged to look for their new creation. I am to let go of my old way, my “worldly way” of scrutinizing people around me, and affirm their metamorphosis.

So often as people work on themselves, work to change old habits, it’s often the friends and acquaintances around them who sabotage their efforts. Someone goes on a diet and we bring in donuts for the break room. Someone stops drinking alcohol and we offer “just one.” Even in our households, a family member looks to begin a new routine of prayer or walking or study, but there are constant interruptions, the process discounted as authentic or necessary.

Have I sabotaged those around me trying to change? Have I kept looking for grey when they started wearing red?

God forgive me. I am so focused on my own issues, I forget to endorse the efforts of others. I say I am an agent for change but I am insensitive to the small adjustments, the baby steps that others are taking first.

Heighten my mindfulness this day.

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