Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Dayspring, My Morning Star

He is my Dayspring ... my bright Morning Star.  Who am I referring to? The God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth ... Creator and Sustainer, Giver of real life, Transformer of mind, body and soul.  He poured His love into my heart in the month of May 1982. And, over the course of the next year during a kind of "quarter-life crisis" as I was working my way through an MBA education and experiencing a great deal of angst wondering just where all this was going to lead, He worked to cement that love into the very core of my essence. In the midst of trying to make sense of it all, I came to a complete and utter realization of just what this amazing Savior did on my behalf, and what this incredible love really meant for me as I moved forward into the riggers of life. I was changed from the inside out, never to be the same again ... and never looking back. I was re-born.

Though it has been Spring on the calendar for a number of weeks, here in the Northeastern United States the month of May is when Spring really starts to show. The up-and-down temperatures and unsettled weather systems start to moderate into a consistent pattern of warmth, brightness and beauty, and the spectacular blossoming renewal of Spring usually reaches its zenith of splendor.

I count May to be the month of both my natural birth (the 13th) and my spiritual re-birth (the 16th). I've thought often of how appropriate it was that the beginning of my spiritual renewal and inner healing began at this transformational time of year.  Winter loosens its icy cold grip and fades away, nature springs back to life from its quiet stillness, bland grayness turns into spectacular hues of color, and everywhere stagnation is infused with regenerative power ... and so it was with the Creator giving the indwelling life of His Spirit to this broken and repentant man. I'll never forget the start of my wonderful journey of spiritual discovery ... an embracing of what author and psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb coins "The Immanuel Agenda": God with us. His infusion and cultivation of a people who will value Him above all else. God in me, and I in Him. It was a pivot point ... a changing of my life's center from me, myself and I to that of The Creator of the Universe who cared enough and came near enough to take restorative action on my behave ... and on behalf of all humanity, should we all care to recognize and embrace it. What a wild, exhilarating, and many times scary ride ... sometimes hanging on white-knuckled to the safety bar! But what change, growth and opportunity to come to know Him like I never thought possible.

I've embedded a song here that I think encapsulates so well what I felt on the day I found the God-man ... or should I say, He found me. I really felt as if I was seeing for the very first time, with fresh Spirit eyes. He made my heart His home.

I hope you enjoy the freshness and wonder of Spring ... and if you haven't experienced a day of re-birth yet,  my prayer for you is that someday you will on just as fine a Spring day as I did. Shalom!

"... and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." 
- from the apostle Paul's love letter to the Romans, 5:5 (NASB)
"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches.  When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.  Separated, you can't produce a thing."
"I am praying not only for these disciples, but for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father - that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me." 
- Jesus of Nazareth (from the Good News according to John, 15:4-5 MSG and 17:20-21 NLT)

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Last Adam

Every story in the Bible (the Judeo-Christian source documents) whispers the name of its central heroic character ... Jesus Christ. Like a scarlet thread unraveling and stretching from beginning to end, the story of redemption, restoration and transformation unfold in its pages. It traverses many peaks and valleys, but its apex and punctuation is radiantly reached in the life, death and resurrection of the one referred to as the "Last Adam." The Savior of the world is given so many wonderful names and titles in the source record, but this one is particularly striking. Why?

Because it hearkens us back to the beginning, and our connection to it, where the ugliness of the first Adam's defiance and rebellion against an infinite and pure Creator marred and distorted the very image of that Creator stamped within him. That real-life screenplay forever changed the landscape of humanity, changing the course of our destiny, and passing on an inheritance of defiance, rebellion, selfishness and ... separation and death. It was never meant to be that way.

Ahhh ... but the nature, the very essence, of that infinite and pure Creator is also one of goodness and lovingkindness that compels him to seek out and actively set right what had gone so terribly wrong. Which brings us to the work of the Last Adam, Son of the Living God. The Apostle Paul, a major contributor to the Judeo-Christian source documents, says it this way: 1/

"You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in - first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. 
Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man's sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God's gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There's no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was a death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? 
Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said 'no' to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said 'yes' to God and put many in the right."

The first Adam and the Last Adam ... similiar in comparison, but what a contrast in outcomes: 2/
  • The first Adam yielded to temptation in a garden. The Last Adam beat temptation in a garden.
  • The first man, Adam, sought to become like God. The Last Adam was God who became a man.
  • The first Adam was naked and received clothes. The Last Adam had clothes but was stripped.
  • The first Adam tasted death from a tree. The Last Adam tasted death on a tree.
  • The first Adam hid from the face of God, while the Last Adam begged God not to hide His face.
  • The first Adam blamed his bride, while the Last Adam took the blame for His bride.
  • The first Adam earned thorns. The Last Adam wore thorns.
  • The first Adam gained a wife when God opened man’s side, but the Last Adam gained a wife (his "Church," all who choose to believe in Him) when man opened God’s side.
  • The first Adam brought a curse. The Last Adam became a curse.
  • While the first Adam fell by listening when the Serpent said “take and eat,” the Last Adam told His followers, “take and eat, this is my body.”

The Last Adam lived life as it was meant to be. And in His death he did what had to be done, the only way it could be done, to set things right again ... to restore us, to renew us ... to make us whole and connected again.

Don't hurriedly rush through this day referred to as "Good Friday." Take time to think through what took place on this day in history on a lonely hill and upon a rugged cross. THINK about what an infinite Creator, your Creator, did for you and I through the "Last Adam." And, oh by the way ... Friday is not the end ... Sunday's coming! Shalom.

1/ - From The Apostle Paul's love letter to the Romans (5:12-18, MSG).
2/ - From a BreakPoint article entitled Jesus, the Last Adam by John Stonestreet with Shane Morris.