• UNITY….

    Psa. 133:1 ¶ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is

    For brethren to dwell together in unity! 

    Psa. 133:2 It is like the precious oil upon the head,

    Running down on the beard,

    The beard of Aaron,

    Running down on the edge of his garments. 

    Psa. 133:3 It is like the dew of Hermon,

    Descending upon the mountains of Zion;

    For there the LORD commanded the blessing—

    Life forevermore. 

    Unity! A simple look through the dictionary and the word unity becomes a very important word. It means, ‘a state of being one; oneness, or a whole or totality as combining all parts into one, or the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole.’

    I think the world in which we live could use a little more “good and pleasant.” In the midst of a society that is bombing itself to pieces (both in the middle east and Missouri) maybe unity has come of age. It seems to me that we need some “anointing oil,” some fresh “dew” and a “blessing.” All three of these metaphors describe the results of unity. Unity with God and each other releases the very Presence of God into our lives.

    Only God’s Presence, only His “precious oil” can heal the wounds that have been sustained. Only His “Blessing” can restore all men to their rightful place as children of God.

    Yes, we pray don’t we?  Every flavor, every denomination, every church is praying! But prayer alone will never resolve the issues of this generation.

    Unity! David understood that conquering your enemy was not the end of the assignment, perhaps not even the goal. You can subdue your enemy and own the city, but if you don’t have “unity with brethren” there is an absence of “good and pleasant” or “healing oil” and “blessing.” And quite frankly “Life forevermore.”

    As Jesus was preparing to face the cross He prayed an amazing prayer. A prayer that for many generations has been over looked.

    22And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:22–23 (NKJV)

    It is obvious that the heart of Christ is to see the church united as one body of believers. Perhaps the greatest thing that the church could to in the midst of a world that is in trouble is to love each other. In lieu of being divided over differences perhaps we should be united over the very essentials of our faith.

    It is my heart felt conviction that the churches duty in this generation is to come together. Not in an institutional way but in a spiritual way. We can all agree that we are “saved by grace through faith alone.” We can all agree that it is His Spirit that now lives within us. We are “one body”!

    The lack of unity in the body of Christ must become a priority. Not a unity based on dogma or doctrine or denomination, but a unity of faith and mission. A unity that is the results of the “great commandment” (which I fear we are not so great at).

    If we love the Lord with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength … and our neighbor as ourselves, then the issues that separate us would be overcome by the “unconditional Love” of God.

    According to Scripture, “Love never fails….” perhaps we simply fail to love.

    Lord I want to be a part of the answer of your prayer in my generation. So that Your Glory, your “precious oil” will result in the “blessing of God” being poured out on all people.  Amen.

  • I STAND IN AWE…

    “…my heart stands in awe of Your word.  I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure.” (Psalm 119:161b & 162 nkj)

    The Psalmist says that His Word is better than a “great treasure.” Do we really live in awe-struck wonder of the Word of God? We all rejoice when we receive a great gift, but do we “rejoice” in His Word. Does His word create joy in our lives as if we had already received a huge inheritance?

    Recently I have been reminded to “read the Red.” The recorded words of Jesus are the, in my estimation the most powerful contained in the Scripture.

    “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4) Jesus, ‘the Word made flesh,’ the God-man, says I only live by My Word. His word is Life. It is our life. The life of God is in His Word. In His promise is every thing we need to live. His word is the greatest treasure.

    Just think about a few of these red words. “Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39) In the midst of chaos He speaks and all things are calm. Creation listens to the Voice of the One who created all things. What I need, what you need is to have His voice calm every area of our lives.

    God created billions of galaxies with four words, “Let there be light….” The same voice that spoke order into chaos at the beginning of creation, stood in the midst of creation and spoke “Peace.” He is the same God and He is still speaking order and peace into your chaotic life today.

    We must understand that God uses His voice for more than conversation. His words are filled with power. When He said, “Let there be light…” That light began traveling at 186,000 miles (MILES) per second (according to science). And get this, it still is traveling or moving at 186,000 mps. Or, to put it another way His Light is defeating darkness really, really fast. His voice challenged darkness and light is still winning. His word is light!

    Everything that you can seen came from the voice of God. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made…. For He spoke and it came to be.” (Ps. 33:6,9). Maybe you didn’t hear it, but you can see it, just look around. The Psalmist said, “…my heart stands is awe of Your word.” To behold creation is to hear God. To stand as a creature in this creation is to see what God has already spoken.

    To worship His word, to agree with His word, to cooperate with His word is to live in the reality of a treasure that is better than anything else you could ever discover.

    Today, “My Heart stands in awe of His Word.”

     

  • Friendship

    God is nothing if He is not a relational being. He exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit! From eternity He has existed in and as the celebration of loving friendship. We were created in that likeness and image. We are nothing if we are not living in relationship both with Him and with each other. Adam and Eve were enjoying perfect relationships with God, one another and the world around them, before they rejected God’s authority. The easy intimacy was lost between God and man, but in His amazing grace came seeking, “Where are you?”

    It is the seeking heart of divine love that lies behind the gospel plan to restore people to relationship with himself, and to each other. Throughout the history of the scriptures, God calls those who belong to him friends. The Lord spoke to Mose “as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11) and describes Abraham as “my friend” (Isaiah 41:8).

    The disciples of Jesus were anything but perfect men, however, Jesus called them his “friends” (Luke 12:4). The Pharisees were enraged that Jesus would be a “friend of … sinners” (Matthew 11:19).

    The very goal of God is to be our friend! We are friends of God not because of any innate worthiness in us, but because of Christ’s death for us on the cross.

    God’s plan of salvation is designed not only to restore our vertical relationship with God, but also to create horizontal relationships of loving friendship between human beings in his family. He call us to himself not as individuals, but as members of a new community. Deep relationships, can and should, develop as we grow together in the church into the likeness of Christ, and serve together in mission.

    I have been reminded that friendship is not an optional extra, but is essential to our God-given humanity. Living unfriendly and friendless lives is both a rejection of God’s purpose for us as his image, and a dehumanizing tragedy. Just as God is love, so he commands us to prioritize love in our lives by loving him and our neighbors.

    In his essay on friendship C. S. Lewis points out that while lovers are often seen face to face, delighting in one another, the characteristic pose of friends is side by side or shoulder to shoulder. Friendship begins, he suggests, when people discover a common interest or passion. It is found when we discover those traveling the same road as us, and decide to walk together.

    This week I humbly and sadly honor a friend with whom I shared a common interest and passion. A dream really, or better put a “prayer.” The prayer that Jesus prayed immediately before his death on the cross!

    John 17:20“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; John 17:21that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.John 17:22And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:

    This prayer changed my life. It also brought into a relationship that truly inspired my life. Our friendship grew out of a sense of urgency of this prayer of unity.  A unity that would open the eyes of the world to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus. We shared the same passion for the “lost.” A passion that we both came to understand would require the unity of the Body of Christ that has of yet not been seen. 

    Friendship is not an option to the Christian faith, it is essential! It is the very heart of God revealed in our lives as we walk in the “way of Christ.”

    I loved Bishop Tony Palmer! I will always cherish our friendship and continue to pursue the “Miracle of Unity.” Perhaps others will become friends within the call to “unity.”

  • Just “asking” ???

    “Just saying” … has become one of my favorite fillers! (Not necessarily a good thing) But recently I’ve been asking more than speaking. I hope that’s a good thing.

    Have we become so accustomed to the various walls of division that we no longer view them as detrimental to the cause of Christ? That is a question that has been rolling around in my spirit for the last few weeks. The division that exists between believers is simply considered normal by Christians. I don’t think this should continue.

    The early church fathers warned us of this moment: “He shall also judge those who give rise to schims, who are destitute of the love of God, and who look to their own special advantage than to the unity of the Church; and who for trifling reasons, or any kind of reason which occurs to them, cut in pieces and divide the great and glorious body of Christ…men who prate of peace while they give rise to war, and do in truth strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.” (Bishop Irenaeus, 2nd century).

    In “Farewell to Mars,” Brain Zahnd says, “Jesus Christ and his peaceable Kingdom are the hope of the world.” How, can we “the Church” offer that hope if we are selves are divided? Jesus came to give us the “shalom” of God. If I have understood Him corectly His Church is to convey that “shalom” to the world. We cannot give what we ourselves do not possess.

    My friend Bishop Tony Palmer said, “Diversity is divine, division is diabolical.” If we have received the “peace” of God then we must live in peace with one another. Tolerance is not peace. Hence, the question that I’ve been pondering, “Have we become so accustomed to the various walls of division, (within the Body of Christ) that we no longer view them as detrimental to the cause of Christ?

    We must each answer that question within our own hearts. I believe that there is a fresh anointing not only to live in “tolerance,” but to manifest the very “Peace of God” !!! There is a cry for “unity in our diversity.”

    Unity (John 17) is realized in the Kingdom of Peace. I don’t think we call allow ourselves to call the walls normal any longer.

  • A Friend of A Friend – Tribute to Bishop Tony Palmer

    TONY E FRANCISCO

    I am simply overwhelmed with the news of the passing of my friend and fellow Bishop, Tony Palmer. Bishop Tony was first and foremost a loving husband and proud father. All of our Bishops are surrounding Bishop Tony’s family in prayer and I want to encourage each of you to keep them in your prayers as well.

    Bishop Tony was the founder of The Ark Community of the CEEC (Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches) and served as the ecumenical officer. He has worked with “Acres of Love” (a ministry for orphans in South Africa) for many years.

    Over the last several months Bishop Tony became known as the spiritual son and dear friend of Pope Francis. At the request of Pope Francis, Bishop Tony used his iPhone to record a message entitled “The Miracle of Unity.” This little video has inspired millions of believer around the world.

    Bishop Tony and Pope Francis became friends; friends who shared the hope for unity within the Body of Christ. It is amazing what two friends can do.  A few days ago Bishop Tony wrote these words:

    “People are God’s conduits through which He releases His blessings to us. He blesses us, but uses people to do it. Therefore if we break a relationship or a friendship we are effectively eliminating a possible sacred conduit, through which our prayers could be answered.”

    “This means that respecting, nurturing and even investing in right relationships, is as important as our prayers themselves. Our relationships are vital for our prayers to be effectively answered – People are sacred conduits. But not all see the sanctity of relationships. Many do not honor relationships – some ‘use’ relationships and others even descend to abusing them.”

    “Relationships are sacred. Destruction is the fruit of broken relationships, but respected and nurtured relationships bring us life. Let us commit ourselves to see our relationships with those around us in a new light. Ask God to become aware of the Sacred Conduits in your life.”

    Bishop Tony truly was a “sacred conduit” into our lives. I am personally blessed to have known Bishop Tony as a friend. He truly blessed my life. Today I am reminded of how precious relationships are to each one of us.

    After finishing a conversation with Bishop Tony a few months ago I realized that I was, and still am, “a friend of a friend.” My friend Tony was and still is a “friend” of Pope Francis.

    Due to their friendship many of us have been encouraged that “visible unity” is a real possibility in the Body of Christ. We now must grieve the passing of our friend and brother Bishop. We must work to console and comfort his family. And we must continue to pray and seek the manifestation of the prayer of the dying Messiah: “….that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). 

    If we think about it, we are all “a friend of a friend.” Real friendship is what brings real transformation in the world. Real friendship will manifest the unity that Christ prayed for.

    Please pray for Bishop Tony’s family, for his friend Pope Francis. For those who have been laboring with Tony for the “miracle of unity” and for the Church.

    Again, Bishop Tony’s wife and children deserve our greatest prayers, our deepest intercession and our sincerest thanks. In this moment as the world looks on let us remember their personal pain of this hour.

    I realize that Tony now stands in the Presence of Jesus, and thus at every Eucharist.  And yet my heart is saddened with his departure.

    Grace and Peace, from God the Father, His Son our Lord, and the Holy Spirit….