Alpha’s Journal: Part 7

How can one confuse light for darkness?

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Once again, I need to reiterate that this is not my journal, meaning I did not pick up smoking, if anyone happens to stumble across this blog entry. This poem is from a journal that recently and quite mysteriously showed up in my life.

 

“Every time I smoke I reflect.

The only reflection I see is you.

Mirrors show you what’s behind you,

And I guess I’m stuck in this looking glass.

 

I exhale with hope and exhale in the present.

Faith is a hell of a burden.

No guarantee, No proof, Just believe.

It’s a hard thing to have unless you can feel it. 

Emotions are physical even when not physically present.

Gift. A blessing and a curse.”

 

[Boy, this poem is more confusing than anything. Hell does not pertain to faith; Hell has all to do with fear — a twisted faith deriving from all things not of God. And faith does not have anything to with our power, our will, our feelings; they are a gift of grace by God Himself (when we submit our wills to His purpose), and everyone struggles with faith because we cannot manifest it for ourselves, within ourselves.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Again, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

We all have some growth to do. But it’s important not to confuse punishment (i.e. fear) with love (i.e. faith).]

Alpha’s Journal: Part 4

Love is action; it is not a feeling.

“I was so close to you.

You were so close to me.

Blinded by your light, 

I could barely see,

I’d been in the dark

Just waiting for a match

To light my fuse

And bring me back.

I can’t see a damn thing.

I’ve just been sitting here listening. . .

Wondering. . .

What about True love?

Is it really so hard to find?

Underneath this Georgia Sun,

Yeah, good things come in time.

What about the heartache?

I knew there’d be a price.

Nothing about love’s easy, 

Except the way we feel tonight.

Tonight.”

[I guess that answers my questions about the origin of this mysterious journal. Huh, Georgia. Well, Alpha, as usual, I have a few responses: You want to find True Love? Check out 1 John 4:8. There you’ll find that love, in fact, is not a feeling, but it is an act. And in response to your question, it’s really not that hard to find; just pick up the bible on your coffee table.]

Alpha’s Journal: Part 3

Do not get distracted by the side issues.

“I don’t know why things are this way.

I know I’m meant to shine light in the dark,

But I need to bum a light.

So much potential;

So much love to burn;

Where’s the flame?

I need you to light me.

You burn me, and I’ll burn for you.

We can breathe in the passion.

Never exhale.

Never.”

[One thing I must address to Alpha: Whether or not you smoke does not prove salvation or lack thereof. In fact, in time and trust, God has the power to change you and free you from this addiction. But do not get distracted by the side issues.]

Alpha’s Journal: Part 2

Where do you learn the Truth?

Here is another poem – or thought – from the journal I found in my long-lost hiking backpack:

[Note: These poems do not necessarily echo nor reflect any feelings that I have; they were written by a completely anonymous fellow with the handwriting of a twelve-year-old.]

“Wow.

The world has really done an incredible job justifying Judgment.

These people preaching about love yet belittling someone else’s way of showing worship.

Dance foolishly, 

Sing loud,

And don’t let them change you as they have been changed.

Love hard and hold your tongue unless to give words of connection, family, and understanding.

You preach your mind

While I quiet my heart.

Love always,

Joshua”

Ah, well, I guess this guy isn’t completely anonymous.

[Just a few things to address: The world, as a matter of fact, teaches tolerance, not judgment. And if this fellow were in church, at least a proper one, he would know that pastors preach the Word, not their thoughts. And, well, God’s Word is the standard. Dancing like a fool is a plus, as David danced in the same manner before the tabernacle. Singing loudly is also encouraged in several psalms. If you change in obedience and understanding to the Word, then so be it. But if you remain obstinate, stick it out with the world, and then see where you end up in the end. Also, holding your tongue proves to give the illusion of wisdom even in the reality of a fool. That is all.]

Merciful King: The Promised Herald

Matthew 3

“‘I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'” – Matthew 3: 11

John the Baptist is a popular name among Christians, but the One who came after Him was far greater – and that man is Jesus.

Back in the day, if a king intended to make a proclamation to his people, he did not have television, the internet, cell phones, nor all the fancy gadgets we have today in order to reach people.

No, a king employed a man called a “herald” who would go to public places and project his voice outward to the townspeople while reading from an officiated decree. That way all the people in the land would know the king’s plan.

In God’s world, He is King. So, He obviously intended to have a herald Himself. [John’s birth story can be found in Luke 1; the confirmed prophecy of John as Christ’s herald is Isaiah 40: 3.]

But what did John the herald proclaim?

Repentance: Like all the prophets before him, John desired that his people would turn their hearts back to God and give up habitually practiced sin.

The Kingdom of Heaven (at hand): True salvation through Jesus Christ – the moment by moment life of Jesus on Earth, as He walked among us as a man.

Where did he proclaim these two ideas?

The wilderness/desert: Unlike a traditional herald, John was not dressed up and primped in order to please the masses. He dressed strangely and had a strange diet. In fact, he may have seemed like a lunatic. Whereas a traditional herald would be proclaiming the news for his king in a public and easily accessible place, John obeyed the Lord and went to the Jordan River. God’s Word through this man was so powerful that he didn’t have to go to them; they came to him. Flocks and flocks of people came to this strange man in the middle of nowhere. And their lives were changed forever.

But then trouble came. The snakes. Having heard of the popularity of water baptism, the Pharisees and Sadducees decided to be baptized as well. But John denied them. Why would he do that?

Two reasons:

Pharisees: Once it seemed like “the cool thing to do,” the Pharisees considered adding the sanctity of water baptism to their religious ideas, without considering the serious commitment of their hearts back to God the Father. Religious tradition contradicts the will of God, that we truly desire Him above our own outward appearance of holiness. We are not meant to change ourselves in order to get closer to Him, but we strive to get closer to Him on a relational level, knowing that Jesus changes us by His power and His sacrifice.

Sadducees: First of all, the Sadducees did not even believe in the resurrection (Matthew 22: 23 – 33), let alone anything having to do with spiritual matters. They were well-educated in humanistic tradition as well. With this in mind, let’s look at the purpose of baptism:

“Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” – Romans 6: 3 – 4

Baptism mirrors the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Without belief in Jesus as a once-living man, his death on the cross, his burial in the tomb, and his resurrection and ascension, baptism means nothing. So, like the Pharisees, the Sadducees intended to put on a show, not knowing in their minds what they were meant to do. So much for being well-educated.

But then there was Jesus, at the water’s edge, insisting to be baptized by the man who was unworthy even to hold his sandals. Why would Jesus get baptized if He did not need repentance, if He Himself was the Kingdom Come? Love. Humility. Obedience.

And the Father adored His obedience.

Are you a voice calling out in the wilderness? Do the words of your mouth carry witness to others about whom Jesus is? Would you consider yourself a herald for the King?

“‘The main character in this drama – compared to him I’m a mere stagehand – will ignite the kingdom life within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.'” – The Message

Merciful King: Guiding Light

Matthew 2

“When [King Herod] had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.” – Matthew 2: 4

Chapter 2 of Matthew is a map of prophecies, all leading to Jesus.

In the Old Testament, God (YHWH) set forth a plan, spoke it to specifically chosen men (the prophets), that they would record his plans for the future to the future generations.

With that in mind, we see that King Herod called to himself a group of people who were trained to read the prophetic writings, make sense of them, and then report the prophecies to him in understandable words.

This group of priests and scribes had decided in their hearts not to serve the Almighty Lord but to serve a king of men. Over the years, they dedicated themselves to knowledge in the Old Testament, to recording every letter of the Law, and to adding mystical interpretations and religious notions to the simplicity of scripture. In a sense, these teachers worshipped knowledge and hated the simplicity of scripture.

Here is the map, that with their knowledge they could not decipher:

Micah (5: 2, 4)Straightforward enough, God said that His Son would be born in Judah, in Bethlehem. [I personally enjoy this prophecy, because it speaks volumes about the heart of God. My interpretation: “Although you may feel you are nothing, Bethlehem, I will make you great. My Son will come from you.”]

Hosea (11: 1): “Out of Egypt I called my son.” This refers to the flight from Jesus’s birthplace to Egypt, until the appointed time, which meant they would then need to flee from Egypt. And so they did. [This reveals the omniscience of God and the desire to keep His son concealed until the appointed time.]

Jeremiah (31: 15)Although King Herod had set out to annihilate any hope of the Messiah coming to power, he could not kill the child he so desired to slaughter. He succeeded in murdering almost all children two-years-old or under at the time. Although God knew and empathized with the aching hearts of the women in Ramah, He also knew with certainty that they would have hope again, because His Son would redeem them.

Isaiah (11: 1): “He would be called a Nazarene.” It’s another way of saying that he would be a “netzer” – or “rod.” This refers to the root of Jesse, His lineage. And yet, the prophecy is far more specific. After King Herod died, the family settled in Nazareth of Galilee, and there Jesus grew up.

There are two types of people in the world: those who desire to snuff out the Light (King Herod and the scribes) or those who desire to worship the Light (the magi).

The scribes – teachers of the law – had the answers, but they missed the plan. They had the map but missed the Light.

On the other hand, simple astrologers saw a star, and by faith they knew the birthplace of the Lord. They went to worship Jesus and did not despise Him.

Do you have all the right answers and yet miss the Light? Or do you look at God’s creation and have faith that He holds all things together?

Take a breath and marvel at the skies. Have faith that you don’t need to know everything, that all things come to pass as He has written. He’s the best Author there is. (Hint: In His story, Light prevails in the end.)

 

Come ti chiami?

Why “Rowan Cords”?

So, why Rowan Cords? That’s the first question, and I’ll get to the answer.

What does it mean? That will be answered as well.

Where is this blog headed?

 

All good questions! I respond with more questions:

Is there a Higher Power? Yes. (Gasp! You think, He responded in certainty!)

Is He relational? Yes. (Really?! How come I’ve never heard him?!)

Does He have a name? Yes. In fact, He has many names, but the Ultimate is Jesus. (Perhaps I will get to share more about this Jesus.)

Do we know what Jesus expects of us? We should, because He gives us access to His Word – at least He does in America. (I can’t speak of other countries. . .)

These questions (more specifically, the answers to these questions) are the foundation of this blog post – and prayerfully the foundation of my blog.

 

Okay, with this foundation now laid, let’s look at the other questions again:

The phrase Rowan Cords echoes two concepts that have really touched my heart while studying God’s Word the past two years. And I hope the upcoming posts simply encourage, edify, and entertain you.

[Disclaimer: I am not perfect and definitely do not know everything, and ideas presented here are meant to challenge us – even me, especially me. I have no degree in biblical studies. In fact, I only started reading the bible regularly in April 2015. I enjoy story, and I trust the Author when He shares His with me. So, I enjoy sharing it with others, especially through online webpages like this one.]

 

My life verse: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

(Proverbs 3: 3)

Rowan: 

This comes from two separate ideas.

First, “love and faithfulness” pertain to the Law, the Old Testament Law that we ourselves cannot obey without the power of God Himself. All we can do is continually seek out the Word of the Lord, keep ourselves immersed in it, and meditate on it day and night. We can tie it around our wrists, make posts online about it, keep it in photographs around our homes and workplaces. We need reminders because we are finite and forgetful.

But, that’s just it. Without the power of God, it cannot necessarily be written on our hearts. Religion is empty. But that’s when Jesus comes in. We realize we are weak to obey the Law, and He says, “All you need to do is believe in me.” Believe He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, and He begins to write Love on the tablet of our hearts.

[Thought: The same power that inscribes love and faithfulness on our hearts also erases the junk we’ve inscribed there. (Honestly I cannot remember if that’s a quote or an original thought. . . I’ll give credit to Chris Tiegreen for the heck of it.)]

Second, a Rowan tree, in most myths and legends, is protective, acts as a spiritual guide to keep a traveller on the correct path, and always guides the sojourner home. To me, this echoes the power of God, so I clung to the idea. Without Him, we are lost.

Cords: 

The word for “bind” in Hebrew here literally means, “to tie together,” which further (roughly) translates to “two inseparable ideas when bound together – once and for all.”

Consider Ecclesiastes 4: 12: “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (i.e. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit)

This power is only possible through Christ, by Christ, for the purpose of Christ – for His exaltation.

And the only time the Trinity broke up was when Jesus was on the cross, dying for everyone, because He chose to do so for the sake of the world.

Consider also Isaiah 49: 16. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

This is God speaking, and what would those engravings be but the marks of the nails through His palms as He hung to the cross?!

He broke the cord so that He might have more strands.

God alone has the power to bind, thus the name He allows us to share as His children – Christians.

At the cross, He invited us into fellowship with the Father. His intention is Love, that we would be inseparable from His Word and character, bound to it as with a cord, bound to Him as with a cord. We are stronger together.

 

Thanks for reading! I encourage you to consider His power and mercy.

If you wish to delve in further, leave comments, questions, and the like. Hope you enjoyed.

[Final note: I intend to make regular posts every Friday following this post.]