Friday, December 29, 2006

True Love

For Christmas, my kids gave me a bag of things they either saw in the dollar store and had a dollar for or things they had laying around their bedrooms and thought I might like to have. One thing they gave me is one of those colrful rubber bracelets with a few words molded onto it. The one they gave me came from my daughter. It reads, "HOPE+FAITH+LOVE". (The "+" signs represent Christian crosses.) The reference is to what we recognize as the thirteenth chapter of the first letter we have that Paul wrote to the Corinthians. This chapter can be summed up by the last verse which reads, "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." (I Cor 13:13 NASB)

I can see love being greater than hope. Hope is nice. It's like a warm feeling, right? But who needs it for anything besides quelling despair? Actually, true hope is more than simply a feeling. There is a certainty to the hope of God that goes beyond simple wishful thinking. We may say of the weather as a the big game approaches, "I sure hope is doesn't rain." However, God's hope is akin to the anticipation of what we know will happen: "I have high hopes for this evening. We're going to hear the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and they're always good."

If the highest hope is a certainty that one has salvation, it isn't as important as having what one needs to obtain salvation. This would be faith. What about love? If I lack love for anyone but have faith even still then I may not have assurance that I have eternal life but I may yet have salvation. So by a squeak, I may be inclined to say that faith seems to be of greater importance than love. Even many unbelievers seem to have love for others. If I can have love but not faith, then what good is love if I am yet eternally condemned? This of course begs the question, is love without faith the same as love with faith? What love is Paul talking about?

Other places in scripture the Greek word "agape" (uh-GOP-peh), translated "love", is explicitly defined as sacrificial. While not explicit in this passage, it is heavily implied as Paul expounds on the manner in which this sacrifice can be applied in practical principle. The difference here between love and the other important concepts of faith and hope is that faith and hope are selfish. I cannot have faith or certain hope for another. I cannot have sacrificial love but for another (for if I sacrifice for myself, I only destroy by the sacrifice that for which I sacrifice).

In other words I have faith and hope only for myself and have sacrificial love only for another. Sacrificial love is the greatest because it follows the pattern of Christ who sacrificed even faith and hope for a time (for He cried out from the cross "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?"), and He did this for love.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Faithful Consumation

To the Woman I Love sacrificially:
For Whom I share a unified Purpose;
Through Whom I receive Sustenance;
With Whom I create and cultivate Life.
We are Given to be One,
And Taken to be Set Aside
For the Glory of our Lord.

To She who Consumes my Life:
I Feel her Warmth as she draws Near;
I Smell the Fragrance of her Presence,
And Taste the Spice of her Being;
I Hear the sweet coo of her Voice as she sings in the Morning,
And her gentle Laughter in the Evening;
I See the Vision of her Smile as she returns my Gaze.

It is as though my Soul would fancy itself at Heaven's Gate
And shed this broken Shell.
Sacrifice becomes the Consummation
And the Consumed yearns for Death.
Where even the Faith of my Heart would be relinquished
It is for the Faithfulness of my Spirit
That He offers me abiding Strength.

By Jim Pemberton
Dedicated to Christ, the Holy Bridegroom
Who gave himself to make His bride spotless
Ephesians 5:25

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Carols for the Disturbed

I didn't originate this list, but if you are mildly disturbed like me, you can relate with it and get a laugh out of it.

  1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?
  2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are
  3. Dementia --- I Think I'll be Home for Christmas
  4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
  5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and.....
  6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me
  7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire
  8. Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why
  9. Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oooh look at the Froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?
  10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder --- Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle,Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,

Sunday, December 17, 2006

How Do We Know What an Angel Looks Like?

For Thanksgiving, my 7-year-old daughter, Hope, made a prayer turkey at church. Her class took small loaves of bread, lacquered them, stuck a stylized turkey head in one side and little wooden ice cream spoons in the other side for tail feathers. The bread, head, and one side of each of the "feathers" was somewhat painted to look like a turkey. The other side of each tail feathers had an item for which she could be thankful. On Thanksgiving, with all the family around we passed her turkey and each took a tail feather. Then we prayed giving thanks for what was on our tail feather.

She got the idea to do this for Christmas. She brainstormed and came up with a "prayer tree". With help from my wife, she took a cone of green styrofoam and made an angel out of bead kit to top it. Then she cut out tiny paper ornaments just large enough to write an item to pray for on each one. She attached these to the tree with pins that have colorful heads.

We sat down to eat last night and I noticed the darling little tree with the angel on top. We've been studying "angelology" in David Moss' Sunday School class where we have been covering the scriptures that give us information about angels. There is much information, but not generally the information people have invented or derived about angels. So I asked Hope what that was on top of the tree.

"It's an angel, daddy."

"How do you know it's an angel?"

"It has a halo," she replied.

"How do you know that angels have halos?"

She hesitated realizing she didn't have and answer. "It has wings," she said.

"How do you know angels have wings?"

"Uh. It's white."

"How do you know angels are white?"

"It has a skirt."

"How do you know angels wear skirts?"

She wrinkled her face in quasi-frustration. "Well! It said so on the box!"

After a round of laughter from the family, including my daughter, she said, "I get it from your side of the family, you know."