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Friday, January 29, 2016

When we don't understand Your dealings

 

 
Lord,
when we don't understand Your dealings,
 
help us,
help us to keep trusting You.
 
When surrounded by falsities, lies, false signs and wonders,
cold dogmatism, aristocratic hypocrisy,
 
When we don't know which way to go,
don't know where to cling to,
overwhelmed by inner and outer darkness,
 
help us,
help us to keep our eyes on You, our Crucified Lord.
 
When night consumes our soul,
wearied, desolated and despaired like dead,
 
Help us,
help us to welcome You to beat out our false lights,
so that only His pure Light will shine.
 
In the midst of the most uncertainties,
O Lord,
Be our everlasting Anchor!
 
 
 
29/Jan/2016
written by Kinuko
 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

To my dear readers; what I've been through recently


Two wild birds eating orange in my father's garden: Japan


Dear my brothers and sisters, thank you for reading my humble blog. I have been blessed by interacting with you and hearing your testimonies from the other side of the globe!

I've been a believer for 16 years, but except the first year of my new-birth, the rest of the years were spent in entanglement of various Christian theologies and ideas. With all my heart, I wanted to be His faithful disciple, but unfortunately, my mind was the exact mirror of the present theological situation; that is chaos. This chaotic situation sometimes tempted me to skepticism, other times to confusion. I used to lament; if Christians could adhere to one simple creed (Apostles' Creed) and not the extra denominational creeds and various post-Constantine dogmas, we could have avoided bitter strife, divisions, schism in the Body of Christ.

Well, what I am going to share with you now might excite some of you and disappoint some of you. Yes, I'd like to talk about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which for all of my Christian walk, I had not thought about it nor felt the necessity of it.

Several years ago, our Bible school took all of us to Benny Hinn Crusade, which the whole atmosphere and stage performance froze me and stumbled me. At that time, I said to myself, "If this is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, then I don't want it."

However, recently, there occurred a lively and serious discussion about this theme and I heard some of the most powerful and convincing testimonies of the Holy Spirit Baptism there. I have known them well. They are not so called emotional people but fairly logical and intellectual people. Having heard these testimonies, I was crushed to the ground, like Paul "fell to the earth" when "suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven" (Acts 9:3,4).

It was a tremendous revelation to me that I have not received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then, from this discovery, I started to understand the possible cause of my "mess" and confusions regarding the Bible interpretations and other issues. For example, I always need to rely on other peoples' interpretations and extra-biblical materials to make me sure that my understanding of this or that verse is valid. And I have never understood what He means when He said; The Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Cor.2:13). So, now, my dear brothers and sisters, I'd like to ask you honestly. Have you received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? If you have, then could you please share with me your testimony? Thank you very much.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Comfort for those who are crying beside the "tomb"


This is my sincere prayer that those who are crying alone beside the "tomb" would hear the gentle voice of Jesus Christ. As He sought to find the weeping Mary Magdalene, He shall reach you, my dear friend, for He is the true Light which lighteth every sphere of your soul. Several weeks ago, I was touched by the following poem written by Thérese de Lisieux and I'd like to share it with you today.

 
 
 
TO THE SACRED HEART.
 
Beside the tomb wept Magdalen at dawn, —
She sought to find the dead and buried Christ;
 
Nothing could fill the void now He was gone,
No one to soothe her burning grief sufficed.
 
Not even you, Archangels heaven-assigned!
To her could bring content that dreary day.
 
Your buried King, alone, she longed to find,
And bear His lifeless body far away.
Beside His tomb she there the last remained,
And there again was she before the sun;
 
There, too, to come to her the Saviour deigned, —
He would not be, by her, in love outdone.
 
 
Gently He showed her then His blessed Face,
And one word sprang from His deep Heart’s recess:
 
Mary! His voice she knew, she knew its grace;
It came with perfect peace her heart to bless.
 
One day, my God! I, too, like Magdalen,
Desired to find Thee, to draw near to Thee;
 
So, over earth’s immense, wide-stretching plain,
I sought its Master and its King to see.
 
Then cried I, though I saw the flowers bloom
In beauty ‘neath green trees and azure skies:
 
O brilliant Nature! thou art one vast tomb,
Unless God’s Face shall greet my longing eyes.”
A heart I need, to soothe me and to bless, —
A strong support that can not pass away, —
 
To love me wholly, e’en my feebleness,
And never leave me through the night or day.
 
There is not one created thing below,
Can love me truly, and can never die.
 
God become man — none else my needs can know;
He, He alone, can understand my cry.
 
Thou comprehendest all I need, dear Lord!
To win my heart, from heaven Thou didst come;
 
For me Thy blood didst shed, O King adored!
And on our altars makest Thy home.
 
So, if I may not here behold Thy Face,
Or catch the heav’nly music of Thy Voice,
 
I still can live, each moment, by Thy grace,
And in Thy Sacred Heart I can rejoice.
 
O Heart of Jesus, wealth of tenderness!
My joy Thou art, in Thee I safely hide.
 
Thou, Who my earliest youth didst charm and bless,
Till my last evening, oh! with me abide,
 
All that I had, to Thee I wholly gave,
To Thee each deep desire of mine is known.
 
Whoso his life shall lose, that life shall save; —
Let mine be ever lost in Thine alone!
 
I know it well, — no righteousness of mine
Hath any value in Thy searching eyes;
 
Its every breath my heart must draw from Thine,
To make of worth my life’s long sacrifice.
 
Thou hast not found Thine angels without taint;
Thy Law amid the thunderbolts was given;
 
And yet, my Jesus! I nor fear nor faint.
For me, on Calvary, Thy Heart was riven.
 
 
 
 
To see Thee in Thy glory face to face, —
I know it well, — the soul must pass through fires.
 
Choose I on earth my purgatorial place, —
The flaming love of Thy great Heart’s desires!
 
So shall my exiled soul, to death’s command,
Make answer with one cry of perfect love;
 
Then flying straight to heaven its Fatherland,
Shall reach with no delay that home above.
 
 
-Thérese de Lisieux, 1895

 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fortify me in this combat eternal, purify, holy, my sin-laden soul!


 
Dark somber vestments… soft gentle singing…
Glowing reflection of red vigil lights…
O God Almighty! Grant me endurance:
Heaven and hell battle deep in my heart…
 
Whisper of prayers… Sternness of faces…
Sonorous censers and pale blue smoke…
O God Almighty! Grant me Thy mercy:
Lightly as incense I rise unto Thee!
 
Out of the church yet again I shall forfeit
Those solemn promises given to Thee –
Fortify me in this combat eternal,
Purify, Holy, my sin-laden soul!
 
Give me resolve to speak bravely and boldly
When I am caught in life’s prickly embrace.
Dark somber vestments… Evening twilight…
Yellow wax candles’ sorrowing flame…
 
 
- Prince Vladimir Paley, The Great Lent
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff

 

about Prince Vladimir Paley

Prince Vladimir Paley, member of the Russian Imperial family and cousin to the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II, spiritually inherited the divine gift of poetry from another royal poet – the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich Romanov. On July 5/18, 1917, together with the latter’s sons – Ioann, Igor and Konstantin Konstantinovichi, and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth and nun Barbara, Prince Vladimir Paley was thrown by the godless into the mine at Alapayevsk, thus earning for himself the crown of a New Martyr. [reference: here]
 
 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ever, only one theme sounding

 



Ever, only one theme sounding,
Bliss, delight and joyousness.
Grace eternal is abounding,
For those clad in "righteousness."
 
Jesus, quite enthralled, is staring
At His lovely transformed bride,
Cleansed, redeemed she now is wearing
Pure white robe her Lord supplied.
 
Jesus, Jesus, You are calling
Sinners by Your side to stand;
O, my Jesus, I am coming,
I will clasp Your pierced hand.
 
O, Your way is full of splendour,
In Your hand of love take me,
May I love and serve with ardour,
Ever faithful to You be.
 
 
-B.Schlink
 
 

How in the Threefold Majesty, Doth Thy Procession shine!

 

 
 
Fountain of Love! Thyself true God!
Who through eternal days 
From Father and from Son hast flowed
In uncreated ways!
 
O Majesty unspeakable!
O Person all divine!
How in the Threefold Majesty,
Doth Thy Procession shine!
 
Fixed in the Godhead’s awful light 
Thy fiery Breath doth move;
Thou art a wonder by Thyself
To worship and to love!
 
Proceeding, yet of equal age 
With those whose love Thou art;
Proceeding, yet distinct, from those 
From whom Thou seem’st to part.
 
An undivided Nature shared
With Father and with Son; 
A Person by Thyself; with Them
Thy simple essence One;
Bond art Thou of the other Twain! 
Omnipotent and free!
 
—Frederick Faber, The Holy Spirit
 
 
 
 
BEHOLD, my God and my all! What more do I wish for; what greater happiness can I desire? O sweet and delicious word! But sweet only to him who loves it, and not to the world or the things that are in the world.
 
O Light eternal, surpassing all created brightness, flash forth the lightning from above and enlighten the inmost recesses of my heart. Cleanse, cheer, enlighten, and vivify my spirit with all its powers, that it may cleave to You in ecstasies of joy.
 
-Imitation of Christ
 
 

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The radical power of "the Spirit" over "the letter": Seeking the living Christ in Psalms

 

 
Psalm were and are of key importance in the daily life of the Christian and in Christian community worship. Both were the basic features of early Christianity, since it was delivered by the early Christians that Jesus Christ himself lived within the Psalms. The early fathers of the church, in contrast to much modern scholarship, rightly believed in the maxim that "Scripture interprets Scripture." The incident of the risen Christ asserting to the two disciples on the Emmaus way the hermeneutical principle that all the Scriptures, including the Psalms, speak of Christ set a basis for the early church thinkers to interpret the Bible as the book about Christ (Luke 24:13-49). The radical power of "the Spirit" over "the letter" introduced the centrality of Christ into apostolic exegesis of the Old Testament--especially in the Psalms--in a totally new way.

    Bruce K. Waltke, The Psalms as Christian Worship

 


Luke 24:44-48

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.

 
Isn't it impressive that right after Jesus said to the two disciples that "all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me", He "opened their understanding (KJV)" ?

O that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph. 1:17a) so that we, too, like early Christians, can see the living Christ in Psalms through the radical power of "the Spirit"! Amen.
 
 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Desert: the place to find the intimacy with God


 

 

My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. Psalm 63:1b

One sister wrote to me, confessing that her current inner life is dry and empty and that , regardless of her sincere desire, there are no rivers of living water flowing out of her belly (John 7:38). Well, I think we can relate to her inner experiences on our past spiritual journey. Or perhaps you are also under such situations at this time of your life.
 
I comforted her and reassured her that her situation is not an abnormal one but it can happen to every follower of Christ at some time or other. I've noticed that for some reasons which He knows, we believers are sometimes guided into the desert.
 
When Hagar was treated harshly by her mistress Sarai, she "fled from her face" (Gen.16:6b) and went into the desert all alone, weeping and lamenting. However, it is in this desert that His angel "found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness" (Gen.16:7a). Maybe in her normal setting, she could not have experienced such a deep encounter with His presence. So, I encourage all of our dear sisters, especially those who feel emptiness and dryness in their souls, to read the following devotional text in order to be comforted and strengthened.

 


 
The Place of Intimacy with God
by James M. Houston

It is not coincidence that the term of "following God" for the Israelites in the Exodus was a desert experience. Our desert is not normally the Sahara or the Gobi, or even the great Australian outback. Our desert is the space to reflect on our shattered dreams, the alienation no touch can connect between even loved ones, the trackless uncertainty of tomorrow, and the experience of inner darkness. There God calls us to Himself, not from our usefulness but for ourselves.

When we say yes to God, He then takes us into the desert. There are no clear directions, nothing systematic, no concrete proposals, no exciting blueprints, no promising opportunities; there is just the promise to be unafraid to be. It is surrender, utterly so. It is docility, whatever the cost. It is divine companionship, regardless of the consequences.

Carlos Carretto acknowledged that the great gift the desert gives us is prayer. The desert is the place of silence before God where the quietness makes the heart's awareness of His presence come closer than our own breathing. In this silence of attentiveness, we listen to God speaking through His Word. Silence becomes stale without the Word, but the Word loses its recreative power without the silence of the desert.

The desert experience is not just an environment for stoicism. It is the place of intimacy with God. It needs the quiet withdrawal--at least temporarily--from the world of men to be alone with God.

It is a reflective dwelling place where one sees things in the light of eternity and therefore in true proportions. It is the removal from agitation, bustle, and speed to see things in stillness. It is where we silence our passions and recede from our tensions.
 
Like a desert wanderer, we learn to discover the oasis where searching is no longer necessary. There we rest, refreshed and renewed. The desert life has a way of reducing needs to the bare essentials of water, food, and shelter. In the desert alone with God we discover He is enough to satisfy every need. Our only remaining need is simply to need Him more. Of all the lessons the desert teaches, none is greater than finding the intimacy of God.
 

 

If Love is Thine attraction, Fear is Thy very touch


 

 
Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. Psalm33:8

 
The Fear of the Lord
 
My fear of Thee, O Lord, exults
Like life within my veins,
A fear which tightly claims to be
One of love’s sacred pains.
 
 There is no joy the soul can meet
Upon life’s various road
Like the sweet fear that sits and shrinks
Under the eye of God.
 
 Oh, Thou art greatly to be feared,
Thou art so prompt to bless!
The dread to miss such love as Thine
Makes fear but love’s excess.
 
But fear is love, and love is fear,
And in and out they move;
But fear is an intenser joy
Than mere unfrightened love.
 
They love Thee little, if at all,
Who do not fear Thee much;
If love is Thine attraction, Lord!
Fear is Thy very touch.
 
 
—F. W. Faber (1814-1863)

 


Blessing, and honour, and glory, and powerbe unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Revelation 5:13b

T καθημέν π το θρόνου κα τ ρνί ελογία κα τιμ κα δόξα κα τ κράτος ες τος αἰῶνας τν αώνων. μήν. ΑΠ.5:13b
 
 
For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. Psalm 135:5,6

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Everywhere that we can be, You, God, are present there!

 

 
Remember the perfections of that God whom you worship, that He is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshipped in spirit and truth; and that He is most great and terrible, and therefore to be worshipped with seriousness and reverence, and not to be dallied with, or served with toys and lifeless lip-service;

And that He is most holy, pure and jealous, and therefore to be purely worshipped; and that He is still present with you, and all things are naked and open to Him with whom we have to do. The knowledge of God, and the remembrance of His all-seeing presence, are the most powerful means against hypocrisy.

-Richard Baxter


I sing the mighty power of God
that made the mountains rise,
that spread the flowing seas abroad
and built the lofty skies.

I sing the wisdom that ordained
the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at his command,
and all the stars obey.
 
 I sing the goodness of the Lord
that filled the earth with food;
he formed the creatures with his word
and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how your wonders are displayed,
where'er I turn our eyes,
if I survey the ground we tread
or gaze upon the skies.
 
 
There's not a plant or flower below
but makes your glories known,
and clouds arise and tempests blow
by order from your throne;
while all that borrows life from you
is ever in your care,
and everywhere that we can be,
you, God, are present there.
 
 
 
Isaac Watts, I sing the mighty power of God, 1715
 
 
 
 

Poem of an unknown soldier: My eyes have opened to the Light


The following poem was found on the body of an unknown soldier killed in one of the fiercest battles during World War II.
 
 
 
 
Listen, God… for never in my life before
Have I spoken with You, but today
I want to greet You. As You know,
From childhood I was always told
That You do not exist…
And I so stupidly believed it.


I never gazed at your creations, but tonight
I looked out from a crater dug by a grenade
At the starry sky above me; and I understood
Quite suddenly, while marveling at the lights,
How cruel a lie can be.


I don’t know, God, if You will stretch Your hand to me?
But I will tell You and You’ll understand –
Is it not marvelous that amid this fiery hell
I’ve suddenly seen the light of knowing You?


That’s all I have to say. Just one more thing…
I’m glad that I have come to know You.
At midnight we are set for an attack,
Yet I’m not scared: You’re looking down upon us.


The signal… Well, I must be off…
How wonderful to talk to You… And I just want to add
That, as You know, the battle will be fierce,
And so perhaps this very night
I will come knocking on Your door.


And though I have not been Your friend before,
Will you allow me to come in?…
But I am crying... O my God… You see,
My eyes have opened to the light.


Farewell, my God… I’m off… and hardly will return.
How strange… but death now holds no fear for me at all.
 
 
Poem of a soldier, source
 
 
As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. Psalm 17:15
 
And he (one of the malefactors who was hanged on the cross) said unto Jesus, "Lord, remember me when comest into Thy Kingdom." And Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke 23:42-43
 
Dear friend, come to Jesus! come to Jesus! In Him, there is life, in Him, there is light of hope and in Him, there is eternal life. Today is your day of salvation.
 
 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Grant me, O Lord, the tears of purest prayer

 

 
 
 
When comprehension dawns of your captivity
By days all filled with worldly vanity,
And of your heart entirely fettered
By melancholy and anxiety;
When fires of doubt and gross deception
Upset your soul’s inner tranquility, –
 
Stand thus in solitude before the Lord
And ask Him then ever so quietly:
Grant me, O Lord,
The tears of purest prayer
.


The humble Visage looks upon you,
And sorrowfully gaze the eyes
Of Him Who taught us that our prayer
Should be simplicity and awe;
 
Then sudden warmth will pierce your heart,
A quiver will constrict your voice,
And quietly your tears will flow,
Engendered by those moving words:
Grant me, O Lord,
The tears of purest prayer
.
 
 
 
- Yuri Bogatkevich
Translated by Natalia Sheniloff, picture here