Shine

Shine

Shine when no one has yet to have even seen your light
Or cared about it

Be the brightness in the lack
The voice in the desolate wilderness

Who you really are going up into the openness of the skies
The freedom of truth being released feeding the entire world unawares

Be

The beauty that existed
For beauty’s sake

Be the light in a world of blindness
Your presence the catalyst for the miracle

The True Witness will speak the brightness of your rising
And create the adoration of your beauty

Rage against the darkness, rage against the silence of death
For your being is their end

Even though their consumption is a silent glory you see In the secret of your heart

Before anyone else

 

 "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Matthew 11:11 (ESV)

The Discipleship of the Seed

We, as Christians, are all followers of Jesus, and a result of his life lived, and his death endured. We will all continue to pass away, and be received quietly into glory, until the Lord comes back.

This world may not stop and lament at our passing, nor may it seem like anything has changed. But indeed, the passing of God's faithful saints speaks loudly in the heavens, and the reverberations of their lives lived continue on in the life of the Church still here on earth. The Church is all those in Christ, no matter what time period God chose for them to live in.

We should remember those that have gone before us; the centuries, and millennia of service, the lives lived, the struggles they fought, the continuing on in the midst of the heaviness of the unknown, the likeness of the journey we share with them, the shade we walk in from the seeds God planted through them. It often may seem that in this life, this journey of following Christ in which we live towards fulfilling that which He has called us to fulfill on the earth, there is a never-ending struggle and a cross too heavy to bear.

When we walk this way, the way of Christ, we are constantly dying, in that our lives are like a seed God has planted, and our lives, and our constant losing of them to the causes of God, are birthing something so much greater than our lives: life for others. In this dying, we are actually bringing life into the world. What is it that the Holy Spirit is birthing into the world through your life lived?

We ought to remember that the work we toil in is for the life of those around us, and those that will come after us, no matter if they remember our names or not. Let compassion for them be your strength in enduring! Always remember Christ, let him work his mighty power in you (Colossians 1:29) and give you the strength and supply you need. Remember how he himself endured for the life of the whole world. Be filled with the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) The fruit of the Spirit is the life of Christ in you, as well as the holy incense of the burning of the sacrifice of a life surrendered for God.

The process of the dying of the seeds of our lives is discipleship - and I would like to turn our attention to the example of the Lord Jesus himself that we might meditate upon it and receive the endurance only God can supply. 

Discipleship is becoming like Jesus. Jesus's teaching about the seed of wheat that will remain alone unless it dies was referring to himself, and was also a teaching for us. His life lived and death were both at the same time teachings and examples. He both told us and showed us what it is to follow him.

Jesus walked before us and modeled and fulfilled the way for us. He would never ask us to do anything he himself did not go through or endure. He is both the one who disciples us and our model for how to disciple. He was that true and first seed that gave us life.

In discipleship, in the Christian life, in missions, we cannot give what we have not received from Jesus. However, we can follow his example, die for the glory of God and for the life of others daily, and experience the joy of seeing God's Church and Kingdom growing and flourishing. Perhaps for some this vantage point may only be experienced at Jesus's side in Paradise, along with the brothers and sisters that watched you run your race.

 

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." John 12:24-26 (ESV)

Ignatius to the Romans

Ignatius was the bishop of Antioch in Syria, an early center of Apostolic Christianity and activity on the far northeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea (its land now part of modern-day Turkey). He ultimately also became an early Christian martyr. He is one of the earliest leaders of the Church, and is an early connection and window for us into the Christianity and Christian spirituality of the Apostolic Age. The Apostle John was still alive in Ephesus (also in modern-day Turkey) during some time of Ignatius's ministry, and they more than likely knew each other, Ignatius being a disciple of the apostle. We also know from the Bible that Paul, Barnabas, and Peter ministered in Antioch in Syria.

Ignatius wrote his epistle to the believers in Rome, and other epistles, en route to his own execution.

One of the apparent reasons behind his writing to the Roman Christians on the way to Rome was so that they would not attempt to rescue him, though he knows that it would only be through their love for him that they would do so. His letter to the Romans (and his subsequent death) being dated at around the year 110 AD, Ignatius's faith is an invigorating, refreshing, and challenging view into what it is to truly be a Christian, seen in an early follower of Christ that most likely had believed at the teaching of perhaps an eyewitness to Christ.

It is as if one can sense the burning fire of the Incarnation of Christ and the Gospel resounding in Ignatius,

and this is an encouragement for us, because we ought to be so enthralled in Christ and in love with Him just as he was. The message of the Gospel never changes.

Ignatius lets us see into the heart of a Christian in his epistles written at the end of his life en route to Rome to be martyred by wild beasts at the hands of Imperial Rome. Christians today would be able to truly resonate with the passion he has for Christ in reading his letters, and the beautiful and profound things coming from his pen as his living faith is truly put to the test. This martyrdom, and its very real prospect in his life (he is writing from a situation consisting of being forced to walk on foot in chains to his ultimate death), produces in him an unworldly joy and depth of purpose and assurance of life that is a testimony for all the world of the Gospel.

Nothing in the world could give you this passion faced with such circumstances, as is why I believe Ignatius's Epistle to the Romans is something everyone should read, anyone deep down wanting to read something substantial. I believe this epistle is a Christian testimony or response to postmodern literature as well as first being an expression of faith and a view into Christian martyrdom.

Ignatius' view of Christian martyrdom, as expressed in his epistle to the Romans, is a beautiful one that shows a passion and ardent desire to die and yield for Jesus. One word that comes to mind when I think of his passion in this writing is 'purity'. It seemed that to him, martyrdom was the purist way to be, not just die. He shared Paul's confession that he had died with Christ. His view of martyrdom was it being true and pure discipleship of the Lord Jesus, who perfected obedience and strength dying on the Cross. Having the honor of emulating the Lord in dying was a profound blessing for Ignatius.

"Now I begin to be a disciple, and have no desire after anything visible or invisible, that I may attain to Jesus Christ." (Chapter 5, Ignatius to the Romans)

 

I believe his view of martyrdom shows the way he has discovered the beauty of Christ. It is something that will edify new and more experienced believers alike, in any era, because he seems to remind us all of our first love. He reminds us that living, and indeed, dying for Christ because of faith in His supremacy is something pure because we then are truly identifying with God. Martyrdom is the most beautiful altar, and Ignatius pleaded not to be denied this. ("Pardon me, brethren: do not hinder me in attaining to life" Chapter 6)

You can read a translation of the letter here.

Holy Leaven

“Holy leaven”, this is a concept or term I have been contemplating lately. What a beautiful thing it is, though we often see leaven in a negative light; i.e the forces of the world creeping into our lives and producing waywardness and death, which it indeed is a picture of, as the Bible describes. But also, we are holy leaven in the world we live in, beloved. Also when we think of missions, we are that holy leaven, transporting the knowledge of the kingdom of our God. In nations, peoples, families, the population surrounding us, wherever that is, we bring the the good news of salvation and the true knowledge of God with us. Go, be the good leaven and feet of the Kingdom of God to your surroundings, in your workplace, families, classes, your one on one interlocutions, exchanges in cafes, or in nations and lands where there is little or no knowledge of God. And, teach others that accept the Word, that they too now are holy leaven.

He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened." - Matthew 13:33 (ESV)

 

God has placed you in your surroundings, “hidden you”, in the sense of this parable. He placed you in your city, family, immediate daily surroundings, etc. to be the agent of change. And perhaps He is sending you (or calling you to send) to far-away, outwardly-looking difficult surroundings, into frontiers in which you may very well actually feel you need to be somewhat hidden, still to be the agent of His holy change.

Simply, and purely

It's just so amazing to look up at the sky and see the stars... Things are put into focus, and gratitude and awe come into my heart, in awe of the One who put them there, who put me where I am, and gratitude for God letting me know Him - everything else is so insignificant, the money in the bank, my clothing, the car I drive, etc ... I regain a fervor to know Him more in His word, and know Jesus's teaching because He shows us God and God's realities, God's perspective... and I also have this passion that, simply, other people would know Him too.

This is my passion in this life, for as long as I am here under these stars, I will work so that all human beings under them on earth might be reached by the Gospel, and know the glorious-ness of the one who called out Abram, to know the Creator of heaven and earth.

 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, (Genesis 17:1 ESV)

All I have is yours

Christian, it is right to say to God "All I have is Yours", because it is. But, the heart of God revealed in Christ responds back "All I have is yours!" This is the love of God revealed, and glorious mystery of the Gospel, that we are children of God, co-heirs with Christ, of everything that belongs to our Father. As sons and daughters of God, like in our natural life with our fathers, in a sense all they have is in essence ours, whether or not it has been inherited yet, and likewise with our children, all we have is theirs, because they are our remembrance, our heritage, apart of us. It is not that you are losing all things surrendering them to God, but you are truly discovering the beauty of the oneness in ownership with the Creator, that He has given you in Christ, and you see the beauty of living life freed of the love of things like money and power, like Christ taught us.

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.  1 Corinthians 3:21-23 (ESV)

Read 1 Corinthians here

Who is God?

Many have their opinions. Many have their arguments, objections and doubts. But all of these are rendered irrelevant when one truly encounters the divine for themselves. There are those who have found this unspeakable gift in life that is more precious than existence itself. This gift is a person. To those that believe in His name it is revealed by the Holy Spirit that He is everything. Christ is a taste of living beauty in a world where sometimes it is hard to even go on another day—He is God’s own answer to the above question, for the whole world to know.

Anthemic: The Expression of Divine represents many things. It is a response to the perfection and supremacy of Christ. It is also a document of one’s journey with God. With its pilgrimage between visceral crying out to the Unseen God and deep expressions of eternity and faith, it reflects the unique and sacred relationship humanity has with God in Christ. It unashamedly says to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord, unto the glory of the Father. Prayers, meditations and biblical truth weave together as a modern-day hymnal of fresh and enduring songs for God and His heritage. In all of this is an invitation for the reader to partake in the fulfilled Promise of God that provides for us joy, peace, righteousness, eternal life, and victory—regardless of all earthly circumstances.

 

Anthemic: The Expression of Divine is coming January 2016.