As previously mentioned, I have moved this blog to a new, more permanent home in order to add some much needed functionality. I value all of your feedback and would love to have you join me at my new home. So, if you are interested in keeping up with the things happening here, please take a moment to journey over to the new place and update your bookmarks or subscriptions. If you haven’t subscribed already, and would like to, you can do so through the sidebar on the new site.
I have spent quite a bit of time planning out things that I want to do better in 2014. Part of my goals includes changing the way that I use this blog. Over the next couple of days I will be moving Liquid Faith from WordPress.com, which has been my faithful host for 7 years, to a new WordPress.org site at http://www.isaachopper.com in order to add some much needed functionality to this space.
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Thanks for sticking with me.
In his Letter to a Roman Catholic, John Wesley called for an end to vitriol and slander in debate between Protestants and Catholics. Though he was known to employ terse language himself in such dialog, his words stand as a thoughtful call to remember that Christians are brothers and sisters, children of God one and all, even (and especially) when we disagree.
Now can nothing be done, even allowing us on both sides to retain our own opinions, for the softening of our hearts towards each other, the giving a check to this flood of unkindness, and restoring at least some small degree of love among our neighbours and countrymen? Do you not wish for this? Are you not fully convinced, that malice, hatred, revenge, bitterness, whether in us or in you, in our hearts or yours, are an abomination to the Lord? Be our opinions right, or be they wrong, these tempers are undeniably wrong. They are the broad road that leads to destruction, to the nethermost hell.
Let us all be thoughtful in our speech and loving in our disagreements. Neither requires us to surrender our convictions. Both require us to surrender our pride.
I stumbled across an awesome music video created by Nathan Smith, a fellow ATS student, over at SonSpring. The video was produced for a class and uses the song Deeper Still by Scott Krippayne. As I sat listening to the music, I awakened to the truth of the words he sings. My heart still stirs with the excitement, joy, and amazement at what it might truly mean to be taken deeper still into the wonderful faithfulness, grace, and mercy of God.
In my excited state I began to think about what a deeper relationship with God, through Christ, really should look like. I am by no means an expert in this area, but if you will bear with me a moment, open your imagination, and paint this picture in your mind I think you may see where I am going with this.
Imagine with me a place of brokeness, hurt, and despair. Hope is an unknown. Healing is unheard of. Loneliness rules the day. Now imagine living in this place, with no hope or even thought of escape. But then one day a visitor comes to this lost and miserable place, and with him comes light. As he nears you, the light expands; overpowering the gloom and reaching even into the deapest shadows. As he draws nearer, you feel fear creep over you. You have never known anything but solitude, pain, and rejection. Why would this one bring anything different. But as he nears, and the light falls at last on you, you realize that this one is different. This one brings healing where there is brokeness, comfort where there is hurt, and hope where there is despair. Through this one, you are changed to a child of light, and the desolate landscape around you is transformed into a beautiful field, radiant and filled with life.
Some of you have been here already. But this is just the beginning. Let’s go deeper still . . .
Now imagine that as the light transforms you, you become so enraptured with its warmth that you long to share it with someone else. So you step back and look into yet another place of darkness and despair; this one belonging to someone else who has yet to feel the light touch their feet. As you approach, the darkness recedes and the warmth of the light descends upon the solitary, broken form of the one you seek to share with. This lonely one no longer feels the pain and rejection, but steps gingerly into the light to fellowship with you and the one who called you.
Some of you have been here too. But this is just the first step of the journey. Let’s go deeper still . . .
Now imagine that you have shared the light time and time again. Offered it as though it were your own. Saw many come into its warmth. As you look around you at the masses of enlightened ones, you feel comfort in what you have done. As you look for the one who called you to seek approval, you find that he is nowhere to be found. In a panic you search, longing once again to feel the first rays of the light that he brings. You see the light all around you, filled with those whom you have shared it with, but the warmth begins to fade. As you look closer at those you have shared with, you see that though all are in the light, some are hungry, some are dressed in rags. Some are standing, looking lost, with nowhere to go. Some are hoarding the light. And the one is nowhere to be found.
Some of you have been here. It is a place of reflection. But let’s go deeper still.
Imagine now that you continue to search for the one, but are unable to find him. You become frantic in your longing to find him, and each minute that passes brings an agony of a sort never experienced in your days before the light touched you. You begin to push past those who you have invited into the light. In your haste you toss them aside as you search endlessly for the one. As you reach a breaking point and fall to your knees in an agony of loss, you see a small child dressed in rags. The child is hungry, with lines of sleepless nights and worry marring the surface of the young face. Your instinct is to push this young one away as you have the others, that you might better see off into the distance as you continue your endless search. But this child is different. As you look at this child with curiosity, your eyes are drawn to the tiny, mud stained hands. The are clasped before the child as though holding something most precious and dear. As you watch with fascination, the hands raise to you and part, revealing a new light. This one brighter than the light surrounding you. This light glows with the essence of the child’s life. Everything the child has is carried in this glow. The warmth is beyond comparison, the brilliance unmatched by any but the light of the one who called you.
With a steady hand the poor, wretched child passes his light to you. Though you try to refuse, he will not be turned away. As you accept the light as your own, the child smiles at you, sinks to the ground, and stirs no more. The child has held nothing of the light back, but has given it entirely to you. As the child sinks to the ground, you see the one standing behind the child. On his face is the look of a father who is beaming with love and pride for his child. And he stares at the now motionless child before you.
He comes forward now, taking the child in his arms and comforting him. Loving him in his sacrifice. As he turns to leave with the child in his loving embrace, he looks at you and says one somple phrase, “the light has been given to you that you may give it all away, saving nothing for yourself. Do not keep that which is not yours, but give it away that others might come to know the light of life in its purest form.”
As you watch the one turn and walk away with the child, you finally understand what you have seen. You have seen the child who has gone deeper still into the light of Christ.
I pray that I will learn to be like this child. That I would find the strength and courage to go deeper still into the light of Christ, until all that I am is given to the light, no longer to be merely shared, but to be passed in its entirety to those in need.
I have been struggling with something the last few weeks. Its not the insane amount of reading, the papers I have to write, the 2 jobs I am working, or the fact that I am getting over a case of the flu. I feel so truly blessed to be at seminary, but I feel like something is missing this semester. Today I finally figured out what it is.
With the exception of my Inductive Bible Study on Mark, we have not opened the Scripture at all in my classes this semester. This is what I am missing, and it really has me thinking about what is most important to my growth and education as I journey toward whatever vocation God is calling me to as his minister in and to the world.
We have so much to learn in the short years that we are here. We must cover theology, philosophy, ethics, preaching, exegesis, ctritical methodology – the list goes on and on. Asbury is such a wonderful place to go through all of this, because our professors really BELIEVE in the Christ of the Bible, and they really LIVE a life transformed by encounter with the living God. I have been so impressed by the simple act of having short devotionals or prayer at the start of every class. It invites God to guide our learning, and brings so much to the experience. But what about daily Scripture reading?
We are told that we must make the time for this in our daily lives. I agree. Now show me when. I have developed a new and surprisingly intense addiction since starting back to school. This addiction comes in the form of wanting to truly KNOW scripture. This is a new experience for me, and it drives much of what I do in my studies. The problem is that with all of the other work and life needs, the time needed to get my fix is no longer present. And I feel at a loss.
This reaffirms to me the need to keep scripture and prayer at the center of all that we do. I catch myself daydreaming sometimes about what it must have been like for the early church, so hungry for the truth, yet having no written Word to feast upon. So they committed it to memory. I dream that I too can accomplish this, but then I curse myself for my limitations of memory, and despair at how little I really know.
It all just makes me wonder if, even in this amazing place of dedication to the God of all creation, we are neglecting and in fact hindering the role of Scripture; even as we learn so much ABOUT it.
Pray for me – that I will have the time and energy to feast upon the Word. I can feel it calling to me. That may sound strange, but to those of you who understand what I mean, you can also understand what it feels like to do without.
He is alive! He is risen!
psssst. here’s a little secret. He’s coming back!