Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Dove and the Lamb


The Humility of God (Chapter Five)

Over the last several weeks, we have been blogging through The Calvary Road by Roy Hession. So far, we have learned that revival is personal heart change: confession, repentance, joy, Spirit-baptism, and gospel-driven evangelism (preface). Revival is the restoration of God’s glory in his church. Revival is the manifested presence of the kingdom of God in and among his people actively bringing the lost to salvation and the lukewarm to renewed passionate devotion in Christ. The key: revival starts with me (Isa. 57:15 KJV; Hab. 3:2 KJV). I don’t wait for this big move of God–I get right with God now.

In chapter one,  Christian growth is defined as the Holy Spirit working through people, circumstances, and the Word of God to address self-centeredness still resident in my life. Chapter two reminds us that it’s the little sins that steal our joy. These “little foxes” keep us from enjoying the constant, conscious presence of Christ. Then in chapter three, Hession examines our need for transparency in relationships. If we want to experience on-going personal revival, we should be, as much as it depends on us, in right relationship with our family and friends. In all our struggles, failures, and lapses in holiness, we must go to the Cross for forgiveness of sin, cleansing from sin, renewal in grace, and power for victory. Chapter four points out that daily choices matter: these choices are the difference between sinning and abiding in Christ (John 15:5).

Today begins a reflection from chapter five: the Dove, the Holy Spirit, rested upon the Lamb, Jesus Christ, at his water baptism (Matt. 3:13-17). The Dove speaks of peace and the Lamb is a picture of total submission. When the Dove honors the Lamb, you and I see with our eyes that “the heart of Deity is humility” (pg. 58).

The main lesson of this incident is that the Holy Spirit, as the Dove, could only come upon and remain upon the Lord Jesus because He was the Lamb. Had the Lord Jesus had any other disposition than that of the Lamb – humility, submissiveness and self-surrender – the Dove could never have rested on Him. Being herself so gentle, she would have been frightened away had not Jesus been meek and lowly in heart (pg. 58).

Humility is seeing me as God sees me: dark yet lovely (S.S. 1:5), weak yet strong (2 Cor. 12:9), and poor yet spiritually rich (2 Cor. 9:8). Humility is not thinking less of myself, but thinking less about me (1 Peter 5:5). [Tim Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Leader’s Guide (New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 159.]

God is brilliant, yet he speaks to me in simplicity and with great tenderness. God is all-powerful, yet he waits for a response from me to his love. God is perfect, yet he does not expect perfection from me. God is all knowing, yet he never grows impatience with my ignorance and inability to understand. God is truly humble: he became God incarnate in human flesh in order that you and I might know him.

If God in his essence is humility then we are called to a life of yieldedness and brokenness to his will.

Here, then, we have pictured for us the condition upon which the same Holy Spirit can come upon us and abide upon us. The Dove can only abide upon us as we are willing to be as the Lamb. How impossible that He should rest upon us while self is unbroken! The manifestations of the unbroken self are the direct opposite of the gentleness of the Dove. Read again in Galatians 5, the nine fold fruit of the Spirit (“love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self control”) with which the Dove longs to fill us! Then contrast it with the ugly works of the flesh (the N.T. name for the unbroken self) in the same chapter. It is the contrast of the snarling wolf with the gentle dove! (pg.59).

Being continuously filled with the Holy Spirit (Dove) means that the blood of Christ has cleansed us. We are abiding in Christ (Lamb) in brokenness and yieldedness to his will. The result of a humble heart is a life that enjoys God’s constant peace, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26:3 KJV). “The sign of the Spirit’s presence and fullness will be peace” (pg. 66).

Peace is a rest and repose of the heart that knocks out all disturbing and disruptive forces, which would steal our fulfillment in Christ. This peace pervades my being when I hold steady trusting the faithfulness of the Father. I receive Christ’s peace for he is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) into the deepest recesses of my spirit. I have peace with God through faith in his shed blood (Rom. 5:1), which establishes peace with others (Eph. 2:14), while freeing me to trust his peace (Isa. 26:3), and as a result, I can now walk in peace in the midst of my greatest needs (Phil. 4:7).

Lord, let us be people of peace both inwardly and outwardly. Let our lives reflect the humble God that you are and always will be. Father, Son and Holy Spirit in us, we pray.

My Days in the Agape Force

Agape Force, 1979-1982

Just in case you were wondering that my days in the Agape Force were just a figment of my imagination, here are some pictures to prove that I actually served from 1979 to 1982. Thanks to Shawn Wallace and the technology of Facebook for the last two pictures.


Crystal Springs Institute Class of 1979


Lunch Time in Tacoma, Washington

Daily Choices that Matter

The Daily Choice: Reacting or Responding (Chapter Four)

We continue our study of Roy Hession’s classic work on personal revival, The Calvary Road by examining a major theme found in chapter four: choices. In order to enjoy the constant, conscious loving presence of our Savior, I must make moment-by-moment choices to trust him. Trusting the Lord means laying down my life, my pride, my selfishness, and trusting his goodness, his wisdom, and his sovereign purposes (Phil.1:27-30). I choose to trust my Lord with people and their attitudes, circumstances and their disruptions, and situations and their disappointments (Heb. 11:6).

Holiness consists of daily yielding to God my experiences of the Fallout of the Fall: sinning people, selfish actions, broken things, and disrupted plans (Phil. 3:7-8). The issue of holiness is not what people do to me, but how I respond to their fallenness (Heb. 12:14-15). My choice: respond by thanking the Lord for difficult people and situations or react with burning anger toward God and others over my frustrating circumstances.

Amy Carmichael says that nothing anyone can do to us can injure us unless we allow it to cause a wrong reaction in our spirits. Only our reaction can bless or burn.

Paul Billheimer, Mystery of God’s Providence (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1983), 15.

Hession emphasizes that God sovereignly uses people’s faults to challenge our own unbrokenness. My pride, stubbornness, and selfishness are revealed when I feel slighted and overlooked. Do I get angry when I am not praised? Do I get easily offended when people do not do what I want? Do I harbor ill feelings when others do not recognize my efforts?

Do not let us imagine that we have to be broken only once as we go through the door. Ever after, it will be a constant choice before us. God brings His pressure to bear on us, but we have to make the choice. If someone hurts and slights us, we immediately have the choice of accepting the slight as a means of grace to humble us lower or we can resist it and stiffen our necks again with all the disturbance of spirit that that is bound to bring. Right the way through the day our brokenness will be tested, and it is no use our pretending we are broken before God if we are not broken in our attitude to those around us. God nearly always tests us through other people. There are no second causes for the Christian. God’s will is made known in His providence, and His providences are so often others with their many demands on us. If you find yourself in a patch of unbrokenness, the only way is to go afresh to Calvary and see Christ broken for you and you will come away willing to be broken for Him (Hession, The Calvary Road, pg. 49).

Emotionally reacting to my circumstances resists and rejects God’s working in the midst of my disappointment. My reacting leads to anger deepening into a bitter and unteachable spirit. My frustration and impatience expresses disbelief in God’s sovereign working in my daily affairs.

It is almost terrible to live with these thoughts pressing on one’s heart – that one can never speak a word, never transact a piece of business, that one’s face is never seen lighted up with the radiance of God, or clouded and despondent, without it being harder or easier for other men to live a good life. Every one of us, every day, resembles Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made other men sin; or we are lifting other men into the light, and peace, and joy of God. No man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; but the life of every one is telling upon an increasing number of mankind. What a solemn responsibility it is to live!

F. B. Meyer, Devotional Commentary on Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1979), 116.

Responding is trust. I believe that my Heavenly Father has a divine appointment in my various trials and tribulations. I counter my flesh and believe God’s goodness by trusting his sovereign hand in the baffling and trying times. I may not understand “why,” but I choose to trust God, my Heavenly Father, who is good, loving, and gracious. I believe that my Lord has my best in mind and he is not rejecting me by allowing difficulties. Responding comes forth from a thankful heart drawing me into the Holy Spirit’s wellspring of grace. Responding says “yes” to God in my daily circumstances and looks for opportunities to grow in my intimate love relationship with Christ (James 4:6).

We must see our circumstances through God’s love instead of, as we are prone to do, seeing God’s love through our circumstances.

Jerry Bridges, Christian Quote of the Day website, daily email, May 21, 2005.

It is God’s grace that enables us to make righteous choices throughout the day (2 Cor. 12:9-10, Titus 2:11-14). Sanctifying grace is Jesus being the desire, ability, and power in me to respond to every life situation according to the will of God. Jesus is my desire for he works in me a hunger for holiness. Jesus is my ability for he enables me to make godly decisions and choices. Jesus is my power for he strengthens me to overcome the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil. Grace is the person, Jesus, living his life in and through me empowering me to live a righteous and holy life.

DeVern Fromke, Life’s Ultimate Privilege (Cloverdale, Ind.: Sure Foundation, 1986), 118.

My daily choices matter –my choices are the difference between abiding and sinning.

Converted by Grace

Repentance from Sin and Faith in God

Conversion is a turning way from sin in heart-felt repentance and responding in faith by trusting Christ alone for salvation. My change of heart produces belief in truths of Christianity, a genuine belonging to the community of God, and a commitment to righteous behavior. My conversion is the result of God’s gracious grace. This grace is God’s undeserved, loving commitment to rescue me from his wrath and judgment. In Christ, he delivers me from sin and transports me into his loving kingdom of forgiveness.

If we ask what caused Saul’s conversion, only one answer is possible. What stands out from the narrative is the sovereign grace of God through Jesus Christ.  Saul did not ‘decide for Christ’, as we might say.  On the contrary, he was persecuting Christ.  It was rather Christ who decided for him and intervened in his life.  The evidence for this is indisputable … But sovereign grace is gradual grace and gentle grace.  Gradually, and without violence, Jesus pricked Saul’s mind and conscience with his goads.  Then he revealed himself to him by the light and the voice, not in order to overwhelm him, but in such a way as to enable him to make a free response.

Divine grace does not trample on human personality.  Rather the reverse, for it enables human beings to be truly human.  It is sin which imprisons; it is grace which liberates.  The grace of God so frees us from the bondage of our pride, prejudice and self-centeredness, as to enable us to repent and believe.  One can but magnify the grace of God that he should have mercy on such a rabid bigot as Saul of Tarsus, and indeed on such proud, rebellious and wayward creatures as ourselves.

[John Stott, The Message of Acts, The Bible Speaks Today series (Leicester, England: InterVarsity, 1990), 168, 173.]

First Commandment People

First Commandment People

Matt 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28

Cn. Glenn E. Davis

First Sunday after Epiphany:

The Baptism of Jesus

January 10, 2009

Illustration: The Movie, “Field of Dreams”:

Ray: You guys are guests in my corn.

I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to do.

I didn’t understand, but I’ve done it.

I haven’t once asked what’s in it for me.

Shoeless Joe: So, what are you saying?

Ray: I’m saying, “What’s in it for me?”

Shoeless Joe: Is that why you did this? For you? I think you’d better stay here, Ray

Point: No matter what kind of sacrifices Ray made, he was continually thinking about himself. Self-centeredness is not love. Love is yielding my rights, privileges, and needs for the sake of God and others (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Divine Purpose: The Goal of our lives;

We were created by a passionate God to be a passionate people and are heart-fulfilled only when we passionately love and pursue the passionate God. John 4:23.

Divine Call: The conviction that drives our choices;

Love is the passionate unselfish choice for the highest good of God and others without concern for reward or recognition.

Who would forsake the One they follow if they were bound by chains of love? These chains set free and don’t bind (1 Cor. 13; Matt. 22:34-40).

[Ambrose, “Your Portion,” Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 272.]

Love is NOT simply an emotional warm and fuzzy feeling, but rather the selfless, passionate giving of oneself to God and his commands. Love desires God’s will and cannot imagine living any other way.

Love is NOT niceness: smiling a lot and never hinting that something or someone is wrong.

Love is NOT sentimentality: warm, fuzzy feelings that are supportive of any, all, and every behavior.

Love is NOT mere sexuality; it does not demand immoral behavior.

Love is NOT turning a blind eye.

Love IS obedience to God’s commands.

Love IS hard choices and saying “no” with strong warning.

Love IS calling sin, “sin.”

Love IS selfless, forgiving, unoffending, and serving.

God IS love.

Matthew Chapter Twenty-Three

Verse 34) Love IS not about competition and pride.

Verse 35) Love IS not about “being right.”

Verse 37) Love IS giving oneself passionately and totally to God. Love deliberately prefers God’s commands to our own desires and wants. Nothing less than giving your entire being in love, devotion, obedience and service to the God of Israel.

“Mind, soul, and body” is Jesus way of saying that the entire person is to be sold out to God.

Jesus is quoting the Shema (Mark 12:29-30; Deut. 6:4-5), verses that are recited twice a day by every dedicated first-century Jew. Often by stating the obvious, a speaker is quite profound. In this verse, Jesus reminds the Jews that the essential quality of a relationship with the God is love. The Shema is repeated all day, but its meaning could be forgotten. Jesus points out the obvious-a relationship with God is just that-a relationship.

Verse 39) Love IS about others. Love assists others in their passionate pursuit of God by helping them adjust their lives to God’s plan and purposes. Love is fulfilled when others reap God’s blessing with my assistance.

We already love ourselves-we make sure we have food, shelter, clothing, nurturing relationships, etc. Now, Jesus calls on us to do the same for others.

Love for others . . .

1. Concrete responsibly to care for others needs (James 2:14-17).

2. Putting others first by NOT thinking first and only about “what you are going to get out of it.” (Illustration: Field of Dreams).

3. We naturally already love “ourselves.” Don’t wait for inner healing to love others.

Illustration: As a pastor, I have heard expressed many times, “I love Christ, but I can’t stand people,” or” I love Christ, but I don’t care for his Church.” However, it is not possible to claim that you love Jesus without being in love with his people. First John teaches that my relationships with people reflect my relationship with God (1 John 2:9; 3:14-15; 4:20).

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1John 4:20, ESV).

You love Jesus, in turn, Jesus is in love with people, therefore, you will love people since you love Jesus (1 John 4:10-11).

Everything that comes as a barrier between us another, be it never so small, comes as a barrier between us and God. We have found that where these barriers are not put right immediately, they get thicker and thicker until we find ourselves shut off from God and our brother by what seem to be veritable brick walls. Quite obviously, if we allow New Life to come to us, it will have to manifest itself by a walk of oneness with God and our brother, with nothing between (Roy Hession, The Calvary Road, pg. 36).

Verse 40) Love IS the essence of a relationship with God and the heart of his commands. Loving God and others brings life.

Luke 10:25-28, “Do this and you will live.”

Definition: Eternal life is life and life more abundantly-it is being alive in the realm where God lives. Life is walking with God in unending communion, enjoying his unlimited blessing, experiencing his unconditional love, and receiving his undeserved grace.

Conclusion: We are called to be a first commandment people: we are not fulfilled unless we passionately love our passionate God and serve a passion-driven people. Be passionately in love with your passionate God as you transform your passions into love for others.

We are passionately in love with God because God’s passionate love for us was displayed on the Cross. God’s passionate, transformative love changed our hearts from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, God’s love enables us to love others with his passionate love. First commandment people have their priorities in order: they have fallen in love with God and they love what he loves-people.

You Are a New Creation!

More Sinful than You Imagine!

You are more sinful than you can imagine! The doctrine of Original Sin is true! You cannot reform your flesh! You cannot become a better person by your own strength no matter how hard you try! But cheer up! If you are a Christian, you have come into union with Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ you are forgiven. Through faith in Jesus Christ you are sanctified and made holy. Through Christ, you are a new creation! (2 Cor. 5:17) The Holy Spirit lives in you! Therefore, pursue the life of faith in Christ with all diligence.

Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (updated edition), 13.

HT: The Gospel-Driven Blog

Abiding in Christ Means Being Right with Our Brother/Sister

Personal Revival Means Right Relationships with People (Chapter Three)

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7 NLT)

In Chapter Three of The Calvary Road by Roy Hession, Hession examines my need for transparency in relationships. If I want to experience on-going personal revival, I need to be in right relationship with my family and friends. Remember that personal revival is heart change: confession, repentance, joy, Spirit-baptism, and gospel-driven evangelism. If my heart is really different then the way that I treat people will be different too.

As the spokes get nearer the center of the wheel, they get nearer to one another. But if we have not been brought into vital fellowship with our brother, it is a proof that to that extent we have not been brought into vital fellowship with God (pg.36).

As a pastor, I have heard expressed many times, “I love Christ, but I can’t stand people,” or ” I love Christ, but I don’t care for his Church.” However, it’s not possible to claim that you love Jesus without being in love with his people. First John teaches that my relationships with people reflect my relationship with God (1 John 2:9; 3:14-15; 4:20).

Everything that comes as a barrier between us and another, be it never so small, comes as a barrier between us and God. We have found that where these barriers are not put right immediately, they get thicker and thicker until we find ourselves shut off from God and our brother by what seem to be veritable brick walls. Quite obviously, if we allow New Life to come to us, it will have to manifest itself by a walk of oneness with God and our brother, with nothing between (pg. 36).

First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another . . . .” As Hession states, “Light reveals, darkness hides.” Darkness is sin, it is hiding my true self. It is hypocrisy–my hypocrisy–I act one way toward others, but inside I am faking it. Sin is there, but I pretend to be righteous. “So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth” (1 John 1:6 NLT).

Sin made our first parents hide behind the trees of the garden and it has had the same effect on us ever since. Sin always involves us in being unreal, pretending, duplicity, window dressing, excusing ourselves and blaming others – and we can do all that as much by our silence as by saying or doing something. This is what the previous verse calls “walking in darkness” (1 John 1:6). With some of us, the sin in question may be nothing more than self-consciousness (anything with “I” in it is sin) and the hiding, nothing more than an assumed heartiness to cover that self-consciousness; but it is walking in darkness none the less.

However, there is freedom from personal hypocrisy, freedom to treat others with sincerity and truth, and freedom to love people as Christ loves them. In the most precious words of First John 1:7, ” . . . the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin” (1 John 1:7 KJV). At the Cross, I find-and you find–the forgiveness of sin, the guilt of sin removed, and the power of the Holy Spirit in victory over sin.

Everything that the light of God shows up as sin, we can confess and carry to the Fountain of Blood and it is gone, gone from God’s sight and gone from our hearts. By the power of the precious Blood we can be made more stainless than the driven snow; and thus continually abiding in the light and cleansed by the Blood, we have fellowship with God (pg.39).

At the foot of the Cross, my cleansing from sin is not just about me, but my cleansing is also about others.

In 1 John 1:7, of course, the purpose of “walking in the light” is that we might “have fellowship one with another.” And what fellowship it is when we walk this way together! Obviously, love will flow from one to another, when each is prepared to be known as the repentant sinner he is at the Cross of Jesus. When the barriers are down and the masks are off, God has a chance of making us really one. But there is also the added joy of knowing that in such a fellowship we are “safe” (pg.42).

Lord, I pray that on our journey toward personal revival, you would convict us of our wrongful attitudes and actions toward others. I pray that you would cleanse us, renew us, and restore us. I pray that the newness of life that you generating in us will be seen by others as the work of your gracious grace. Amen.

Ancient Liturgy is Truth

The Ancient Liturgies Clearly Do Truth

Ancient worship . . . does truth. All one has to do is to study the ancient liturgies to see that liturgies clearly do truth by their order and in their substance. This is why so many young people today are now adding ancient elements to their worship. . . . This recovery of ancient practices is not the mere restoration of ritual but a deep, profound, and passionate engagement with truth-truth that forms and shapes the spiritual life into a Christlikeness that issues forth in the call to a godly and holy life and into a deep commitment to justice and to the needs of the poor.

[Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008), 109.]

HT: Robert E. Webber, Quote of the Week

The Little Foxes that Ruin the Vineyard

Respectable Sins that Quench the Anointing of the Holy Spirit (Chapter Two)

Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!

Song of Songs 2:15 NLT

In Chapter Two of The Calvary Road by Roy Hession, Hession furthers his discussion of personal revival by examining the “little or respectable” sins (i.e., foxes) that inhibit the Holy Spirit from blessing our lives and ministries (i.e., vineyard).

Self-pity in trials or difficulties, self-seeking in business or Christian work, self-indulgence in one’s spare time, sensitiveness, touchiness, resentment and self-defense when we are hurt or injured by others, self-consciousness, reserve, worry, fear, all spring from self and all are sin and make our cups unclean (pg. 29).

Jerry Bridges calls these sins, “respectable sins” in that there is no law against them. In fact, many believers would consider these sins harmless. Our friends will not shun us for committing them, and in many instances, no one ever knows that we failed the Lord. However, the sins of self-centeredness: pride, fear, worry, anger, anxiety, discontentment, pride, etc. steal our joy in God and inhibit the Holy Spirit from blessing our work for his kingdom. Instead of a sweetness of spirit, we minister to others a hardness of heart and an emptiness of soul. These “little” sins keep us from enjoying the continual on-going presence of the Holy Spirit: the Lord cannot bless us with his constant, conscious presence because our attitude does not honor his character or his Word. Our failure causes our Christian lives to feel empty and our ministries to lack power and authority.

However, there is hope:

If we are to know continuous Revival, we must learn the way to keep our cups clean. It is never God’s will that a Revival should cease, and be known in history as the Revival of this or that year. When that happens it is due to only one thing – sin, just those little sins that the devil drops into our cup. But if we will go back to Calvary and learn afresh the power of the Blood of Jesus to cleanse moment by moment from the beginnings of sin, then we have learnt the secret of cups constantly cleansed and constantly overflowing. The moment you are conscious of that touch of envy, criticism, irritability, whatever it is -ask Jesus to cover it with His precious Blood and cleanse it away and you will find the reaction gone, your joy and peace restored and your cup running over. And the more you trust the Blood of Jesus in this way, the less will you even have these reactions (pg. 30).

The Word of God reminds us that the blood of Jesus is constantly and continually available to not only cleanse us from sin and cancel the guilt of sin, but also to free us from the power of that same sin (Heb. 9:14, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 1:9-10).

God wants to show us our reactions, and only when we are willing to be cleansed there, will we have His peace. Oh, what a simple but searching thing it is to be ruled by the peace of God, none other than the Holy Spirit Himself! Former selfish ways, which we never bothered about, are now shown to us and we cannot walk in them without the referee blowing his whistle. Grumbling, bossiness, carelessness, down to the smallest thing are all revealed as sins, when we are prepared to let our days be ruled by the peace of God. Many times a day and over the smallest things we shall have to avail ourselves of the cleansing Blood of Jesus, and we shall find ourselves walking the way of brokenness as never before. But Jesus will be manifested in all His loveliness and grace in that brokenness (pg. 32).

Lord, we pray, continually bring us to the Cross that fountain filled with blood where sins are forgiven and our relationship with you is restored.