Loving by the Love of the Father

“but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him.” –John Owen

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The Son Ablaze

“Christ dazzles me and stirs within me such feelings of amazement that I can never get over Him.” AW Tozer

Revelation Chapter 1:

Vs 12: “then I turned” It is not until in repentance we turn away from evil and toward the Son that we could see Him.

“To see the voice” A voice is not visible. “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him” 1 Peter 3;8 After hearing the voice, John finally turned to see the One whom he already knew well. “My sheep know my voice”–we can pick it out from a crowd, we can recognize it.

Vs 13: “in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man”

Mid-menorah stands the shamash, the helper candle. The shamash lights all of the wicks of the other candles. They are kindled by its fire.

All of the lampstands are illuminating the Son in their midst. Is the oil that lights the lamps the Holy Spirit?

In this vision, John is alone with Christ. And yet the churches are present–which represent whole multitudes of other believers. There is a sense in which we always encounter Christ solitarily, alone, and there is a sense in which we always encounter Him present with the whole universal Church.

Like a son of man” Christ came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” He looks like us, but He is not like us. Human, but radically not-human. Simultaneously. Its enough to destroy the powers of our reasoning.

“Clothed” no longer naked on the Cross. Or robed as mock royalty. But clothed as regally

“Long robe” why does it matter that the robe was long? Can’t see legs. Much more regal/priestly.

Vs 14: “Like white wool, like snow” atonement imagery. Not a dull white at all. bright or brilliant from whiteness, (dazzling) white: An unreal, shock of white hair. The spotless lamb. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow.” Your hair is glorious (1 Cor 11:15).

Contrast with the scarlet wool of Hebrews 9:19

“His eyes were like a flame of fire” Imagine looking into those eyes. Wild. Dangerous. Mesmerizing. Does the plural of eyes and the singular flame mean that both flickered in sync, as one flame?

Vs 15: “Feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace” Those feet walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego through Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. He walked through fire, that we would not be burned. Contrasting imagery of fire and snow (vs 14). Hot and cold. Fire and water. Phenomenons of nature. https://youtu.be/RDfjXj5EGqI

“Voice was like the roar of many waters” https://youtu.be/OESpc1cN5OU Like the sound of Niagara Falls. Thunderous

Vs 16: Nothing held in his left hand. One hand free.

“From his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword” The sword, which is the Word of God, was not something that he held. It was not a tool that he employed. It was an extension of his being. Another appendage. He is the Word. Every Word He speaks is swordlike.

“Face like the sun shining in full strength” Like looking straight at the sun. Blinding. Could You see his features? God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Like Moses’s face glowed just from a close encounter with God.

Vs 17: “As though dead” Terror struck at the sight of him. Nothing in you. Motionless. Can’t move. Instantaneous collapse

“But he laid his right hand on me” The hand that held the seven stars. You are ever resurrecting the dead.

“First and the last” nothing preceding and nothing succeeding.

Vs 18: “and the living one” You are more alive than any being in the cosmos.

“I died and behold I am alive forevermore” John had already seen Christ once after his resurrection. When he appeared in the midst of the disciples. Lk 24:36, Jn 20:19.

“And I have the keys of death and Hades” You can liberate those imprisoned by death and Hell.

Vs 20: He only discloses part of the mystery. All of the imagery is symbolic, but he only explains the symbolism of what pertains to the next couple chapters–to what John is to write.

“Angels” lit messengers. The word is translated angel throughout revelation. Is he writing to key elders of the church. Why would Christ not give the message directly to an angel? Why write it down through John first? Does each church have only one specific angel? But there are always a multiplicity of elders, and often there is one angel assigned to a specific task. John was writing to angels then.

“Perfection of Beauty” by Shai Linne

“Beauty is sold in exchange for a “dime”
Nothing to attract us to You, yet we worship Your creation as fine
Captivated by its forbidden fruit
Pleasing our senses, so we suppress the truth
And eat the lie
Media’s fig leaf deadening our soul and mind

Sin blinding us to You
The only objective Beauty that’s truly absolute
Hidden in the symmetry of Your goodness, glory and truth
Each attribute working harmoniously
Justice with patience, wrath with graciousness
Omnipotence with humility, long-suffering with faithfulness
Each a note to a sweet melody
The ultimate hymn entitled “God’s Beauty”

Immutable, no change
Because “dimes” get lost daydreaming in dark gutters
Unable to hear the call to wake up
They, the noose, dripping honeysuckle
Lips pasted on with Mac makeup
If they truly beheld Your beauty
You’d make magazines and Mattell go bankrupt
You sent Your Beloved to be lifted up
On a beautiful, seemingly ugly cross
The visible image of Your hiddenness
Only You are beautiful and yet invisible
True beauty is spiritual

Therefore, sanctify our worldly minds
Your complexion is unappealing to lustful eyes
Besides, apart from new birth in Christ
Sinners beholding Your Holy beauty would die
Therefore, beauty residing in the eye of the beholder is a lie
It is found in the Beautiful One- The Most High.”

Mercy



Mercy renames me  Hosea 2:23

Triumphing over judgment James 2:13

It remembers that I am dust Ps 103:14

Remembers that I don’t love him 1 John 4:10

And chooses to anyway Hosea 3:1

Finds His wife in the act of her adultery

Prostituting. Sex slavery. Hosea 1:2 Jeremiah 2:20,

And still wants me

And again

And again

Turns toward me with a face so brilliant with grace my eyes are dazed Rev 1:16

Unlocking my Death and Hades Rev 1:18

And again

Calls the disowned His own Hosea 2:23

Mercilessly bestowing mercy Hosea 2:23

I am my Beloved’s

My betrayed Beloved is yet mine Song of Solomon 6:3


Sealed

blood-on-the-door

Exodus 12:23, “For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.”

When You saw the blood on the frame of the door, the same blood that stained the frame of the Cross, all of Your righteous fury against the sins I hid behind it abated.

That dark night I was about to lose a loved one.

My kid could have died.

Because of me.

Because of my petty disobedience, my fatal mistakes.

But You lost Your Loved One, to spare mine.

Your child was killed, that mine would live.

And this door is no longer a barrier slammed shut in Your face, but a grace-streaked threshold, an entrance to intimacy.

No lock and key could have kept You at bay. No effort of mine could have afforded protection against Your violent vindication.

But now none is needed.

Our home is Yours, what is Yours is ours.

Endless welcomes beckon You “come in, come in,” because I heard Your voice first say the same.

How gracious is the crimson seal of that unexpiring invitation.

21 Memorizing Scripture Hacks

Copy of London March 5, 2017-1-44

“1. I find one of the best things for reviewing is praying through the Scripture I am memorizing. Not only does it keep me going over it but it guards against making it rote memory and really forces me to think through it and work it into my heart.
2. I find memorizing the verse numbers within it helpful. It is surely not necessary, but I think the longer the section, the more helpful it is. It helps you feel a better sense of where you are at, especially when memorizing books.
3. I think we should have a good balance for lofty goals but realistic expectations. He does more than we can imagine, but also sometimes a lot less. It is humbling in a very good way to struggle in memorizing. However, bold faith in tackling huge chunks surely pleases him. Be satisfied however much is retained or not.
4. In regards to specifically review, I really do think it is the more the better. In that I mean both longer set times as well as more frequent times you are looking at it. Even just 5 minutes before or after every meal or bathroom break or waking and sleep or whatnot really make a massive difference. Last summer I memorized the Sermon on the Mount and I would listen to it as I biked. Yes, a lot of the time I was rightly focused on making the right turn and not the Scripture, but it was way better than nothing. Play around with different ways to take in the word. Say it. Sing it. Write it. Listen to it. Read it. Memorize in Community. Try to go through it silently in your head. I think the more the better.
5. One of the best ways to really memorize well is to force yourself to remember. That might sound obvious, but what I mean is that, say you are reviewing 1 Tim 3,16, you nail the first line, “Great indeed we confess is the mystery of godliness” and then you get stuck. You could quickly flip to your Bible, but fight for a solid 20 or 30 seconds to remember it. If you can remember it, the fight there literally strengthens the brain passages in a way a quick glance at the Bible really hurts. Then after your best attempt check to make sure your memory is not faulty
6. A big thing in reviewing is finding out how little you can review and still maintain and progress. If you are doing super in depth review all the time you will lack time to progress. But if you aren’t reviewing enough you aren’t maintaining. I try to go over all the Scripture I have ever memorized every 1-2 weeks, going over the newest stuff more frequently. I am not perfect in that, and there are definitely verses I don’t need to go over that often and others I really struggle will. I could probably find a better system, but it starts to get pretty complex. If you want a better system though, check out Anki. I use it for studying for school. Its a flashcard system that could be utilized for Bible memory I think quite well. 
7. Oh, this is massive, for me at least, as a visual guy. Try to memorize and review with the same Bible, or same notebook, (ie, using a phone is less then ideal). I find it is so much easier to have the structure of the text visually repeated. As I am running through a chapter or book I can run through the page in my mind. Therefore, I think things like highlighting and underlining only aid that. The more visual stimuli the better.”
[Advice from my dear brother Drew Nieveen. Now for my two cents:]
8. PRAY for the self-discipline and staying power it takes to become so well-versed in memorized Scripture.
9. Get accountability. Nuff said.
10. Anticipate backlash from the Enemy. It will be as fierce as it is subtle. The times immediately preceding whatever time you had set aside will be inordinately distracting, and you will be sorely tempted. You have decided to no longer live your life like the path or rocky ground that seed gets thrown on in the parable of the sower, that Satan might no longer snatch away the Word of God as soon as it makes contact with you, and that the roots of the Word might grow down deep in your life, not to be prematurely scorched and withered because of your fair-weather flightiness. Now he will try to choke the Word with life’s worries, the deceitfulness of wealth, and/or desires for other things, so that it would prove unfruitful (Mk 4:8-9). Don’t let him. Determine now, and then, to resist.
11. God will not love you more because you memorize Scripture. You will love God more, if you’re memorizing with the Gospel as your motivator and your hermeneutic. If you discern legalistic motives for memorizing, don’t stop memorizing until your motives change, but do preach the Gospel to yourself to get back to truth.
12. Look how far you’ve come from time to time. Make mental note of the rich, rich fruit borne from this careful seed-sowing of the Word.
13. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
14. Use it, and you won’t lose it. (An emphatic AMEN to what Drew said about praying Scripture), but also quote them in conversation. With Christians, with the Christless, sprinkle them liberally in talking with people. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:6).
15. The app RememberMe is helpful (because why not make playing games on your phone be pneumonic device for storage up the Word of God in your heart that you might not son against Him, Ps 119:11).
16. Navigators also has a fantastic topical memory system and app.
17. If complacency or discouragement is creeping in, slam your Bible open to Psalm 119 and be struck by the Psalmist’s magnificent obsession with Scripture. Beg God to give you that kind of love for His laws.
18. Make disciples that memorize. Teach them not just what you know (of Scripture), but how you learned to learn it (ie how to memorize (ie this post)).
18. Try typography or calligraphy.
19. Meditate on the Scripture you memorize. You’ll find it naturally follows that you remember it more readily, and for longer. Chew the cud of the Word like a big, beefy cow. Memorizing is not the ends, but the means. The purpose is to have a hard-won, holy familiarity with the Scripture.
All that we might love Him more. Because to Him, to love is to obey, and we cannot obey if we don’t know what the Word of God says.
20. Strive to fall in love with the incarnate Word in every word you memorize.

Consider Yourselves Dead

Hebrews_10

Visual exegesis by fullofeyes.com

Romans 6:11, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Once again tonight, a compulsive urge seized my will and my body, and my hand reached around to pick at my eczema, just as it has too many times to remember. In those moments, my movements feel robotic, unnatural, rote. And my mind really doesn’t mind, bc it usually takes a few moments for what is happening to register. Once it does register that I am indulging in my years-old coping mechanism, I flail. Like someone who realizes that what they thought was normal solid ground under their feet is quicksand, and they are sinking. But you can’t quickly extricate yourself from quicksand. And sin is more perilous than quicksand. When I try to jerk my hand away, it feels as if it is physically held fast, immoveable, stuck. It’s not. But boy for all the world it feels like it is. Tonight though, I did jerk my hand away, and jerked my Bible open. Straight to Romans 6:11. I am not so naive anymore as to think it coincidental that the moment of temptation occurred right as I was sitting down and setting out to do my 10 minutes of memorization that I do every day. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” I have read this verse a dozen times, and each time have been equally stumped. It did not make sense. Usually when that happens, the answer is to read back or read on (context is king). Tonight was no different. (Copy vs 1-7). The key verses that opened right up the locked meaning of this verse so beautifully to me were verses 7-10 (word to the wise: if it feels like you’re trying to jimmy the locked meaning by jamming all kinds of interpretations into it that just don’t fit, take a breath, pray, and trust Him to make known to you what He already knows.) They say, “For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now we know that if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again, death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died, he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

Death means deliverance for the Christian–the one “in Christ.” Deliverance from “the body of sin” (vs 6). Get this. No propensity to sin. That means our body will have no more compulsive impulses, enslaving urges. Our mind will no longer be indifferent to what the holy gaze of God views as only evil.

Jesus already died that death that now liberates us, and He already lives that life of always giving his utmost for God’s utmost exaltation without a single sinful exception. Unstartled by subversive temptation. Unfettered by addiction. Immune to death. Certainly not shaken by any fear of backsliding, or slimed by any remembrance of past guilts.

That’s why we are to “consider ourselves dead to sin,” because our present-day flesh and blood bodies are still very much alive to sin. They anticipate, crave, thrill with, and are killed by it. But we are to think about ourselves as if we don’t. That’s not a wishful thinking, but a reassessment in light of the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. The Crucified put us to death, burying our every ungodly action and intent in dead obsolescence, and resurrecting us to undefiled righteousness. For all time, we will no longer love the darkness. We will love our God who is light (John 1:19, 1 John 1:5).

There will one day not be a world in which sin is normal, and holiness is weird. Where everyone is fickle, and loved ones die, and life doesn’t make sense. He is our unfallen Genesis, our coming Revelation. He is our freedom from the penalty, power, and very presence of sin. Come, beautiful Jesus.

The Unseen Overseer

I heard once

That God considers faith that removes mountains

Microscopic (Matt 17:20)

I know not the size of my faith

Only that it was much smaller than that of a mustard seed

And now may not be

Because of what it has seen

We could have been compared with Magdalene

Beside the tomb, beside herself with grief

Unable to hear the voice of the Resurrected over the sound of her sobs. (Jn 20:13-14)

Our senses, too, were dimmed by sorrow inexpressible

It was something beautiful when we saw his stirring

Our own spirits revived when we saw his life returning

A goodness that still feels existentially unsupportable

Because Christ, who upholds the universe by the Word of His power,

Supported my grandfather’s existence when life-support was withdrawn

And turned our mourning into joy (Jer 31:13)

Our funeral into a homecoming

Comforting, replacing gladness for sorrow

Just as ice to an orchid

His Father, His Gardener

Preserved his life by inducing a coma

Effected a revival within his mortal body through His life-giving Spirit (Rom 8:11)

Our blessed hope was outspoken that we would have him again,  (Titus 2:13)

Whether by resurrection or resuscitation

Christ replied, “I am the Lord your God, who heals you”

He heard our prayers (Ps 116:2-4)

The paltry products of our distraught minds

What a healing it has been

Unprecedentedly holistic

Categorically miraculous

Pitiable pleas and far-flung hopes became reality

He remembers just about everything

Far be it from us that we would forget (Ps 103:1-2)

Though we are still in a state of dumbfounded perplexity

He is no longer unable to speak

And so we will together proclaim

The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes (Ps 118:23)

And with His wounds we are healed (Is 53:5)

 

Written after my grandfather, Lyman Roll, recovered from a cardiac arrest on May 18, 2017 which was described by one of his physicians as something that should be “put in the category of the miraculous.” Because his brain was deprived of oxygen for several minutes (the exact time elapsed can’t be determined) and he was given a very low chance of survival, and was expected to pass away within a few minutes of being withdrawn from life support. Not only did he survive, but he suffered no brain damage, passed every recovery milestone and returned home on May 27, 2017 to our inexpressible joy. Even his pre-existing heart condition, arrythmia, was considered by his cardiologist to be significantly improved after the cardiac arrest. “Since the days of his life on earth,” Jesus Christ has never ceased to performs miracles and to heal, for He “is the same yesterday, today and forever,” (Heb 13:8).

Not Once Unloved

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me growing up, “you look like your Mom,” I could loan some money to SallieMae. But while the resemblance was striking to any onlooker, I had difficulty seeing what they saw. The similarities were so few, and the differences so obvious to me. But as I’ve become an adult I am increasingly aware that I resemble my parents and extended family so closely. I see this resemblance most remarkably in how I think, and how I relate to people.

I try to think before I speak. I weigh my words very carefully before setting them into motion, whether by speaking them or through another medium. Words to me can be so poignant, so potent. I’ve inherited this attentiveness to language from my mother’s side of the family. My mother, and her mother, both have a love for linguistics. Moreover, they have always showered their loved ones with terms of endearment and words of affection and affirmation, as has the rest of my family. Because of their early and enduring expressions of love to me, I have never in my life had to question whether or not anyone loved me. However, I don’t take others at their word often–a character trait of both my mother and father, actually. Like my mom, I am compelled to check the facts rather than take something at face value. Like my dad, I am quick to correct others when I hear them misspeaking. Especially if I feel that the statement is not simply a misrepresentation of a fact, but a misrepresentation of a person, or a people. This propensity stems from my fierce desire to see injustice righted. Man of justice, Martin Luther King Jr., said, “Justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” Words hold incredible power–power that when wielded well can make way for love to stand tall. All my life, I’ve seen my family, whether mother, father, grandfather, aunt, etc., speak out and act decisively to thwart injustice, even when the injustice seemed insurmountable to many.

Injustice was not the only thing my mom spoke out about. I affectionately (and amusedly) remember how my mother always spoke her mind. She would never be cowed by anyone; if the Secretary General of the United Nations himself were in the room, she would command his respect. Her unflinching boldness has taught me to find my voice and know the worth of my opinion, though I am also consciously seeking to have a boldness safeguarded by gentleness and humility, so that I do not merely speak, but relate. Another characteristic in the way that I relate to others that I get from family is total sociability. My aunt is a social butterfly, and throughout growing up I spent so much time with her and was so like her in looks and in Energizer bunny extroversion that she and others called me her “mini-me” countless times. She has given me many nicknames since then, but that is one I will always cherish, because I want to love my family, my Savior, and the people I find myself connected with in life as well as she does. My aunt lavishes love on these with a freedom of expression that is as rare as a good chocolate-covered cherry is, apparently (not that I’m bitter or anything).

When I reflect on the love she has so gratuitously given me and untold others, I realize that I would not be where I am today without her. In truth, I would not have made it this far–all the way to Bible college in Chicago–without the love of my family. They have loved me with a loyalty that I, to this day, am unable to comprehend. My absent-mindedness would be exhibit A. I cannot tell you how many times I have left my keys in my car, or left my phone Lord-knows-where, but every time my family has responded with incredible patience. Often have they bailed me out; rarely have they chided me. Trite and cliche as it may sound, the greatest contribution my family has made to me is that of their unconditional support. Even when I have made choices that have inflicted pain, or have caused great mental and relational strain, they have chosen to forgive my self-absorption and immaturity. I look at all that this love, this interpersonal love, has withstood over time, and am simply convinced that even if I, or any of us, were to choose a life of prodigality and abandonment, the familial ties would be inseverable. They would span the continent, if need be.

 

Footstool for the Son–Commentary on Hebrews 1:13

“And to which of the angels has he ever said, ‘Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’?” Hebrews 1:13

“And to which of the angels has he ever said…”

None of them. The angels are completely inferior to the Son.

“Sit at my right hand…”

Christ sits at the Father’s right hand, and at my right hand. Acts 2:25, “for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken.”

“Until I make your enemies…”

The Father is subduing the enemies for the Son.

“A footstool for your feet”

It should be remembered that the earth itself is His footstool! “Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool” (Isaiah 66:1). The imagery of a footstool is a picture of total rest from your enemies. “From” meaning both total rest without any enemies to apprehend or be apprehensive about, and total rest partly because of your enemies. The subdued enemies actually contribute to the comfort and relaxation of the resting One. They won’t be able to put up a fight. Jesus can kick his feet back–without a care in the world. Because all of his enemies pose no threat at all. The metaphor of a ravaging wolf, enemy of sheep and shepherd, tamed into a docile lap dog falls short–because even a lap dog can nip at you. No, a footstool is inanimate and entirely unthreatening–it’s only use is to add to the comfort of the one enjoying it. He did not say “a pillow for your head”–because the Son never sleeps. He always sits with head held erect to survey His kingdom–therefore all who oppose the Son will be made “a footstool” for His feet.