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Engraved Invitations

Spring is one of those special times of year when invitations are sent out, often for celebrations which are life changing or rites of passage from one phase of life to another – confirmations, graduations, weddings and the like.

As the old greeting card ad used to put it, it is a time of year “when you care enough to send the very best.” That often means taking great pains to have special invitations made to invite guests to these events… gilt edged, beautifully crafted, engraved invitations.

God also cares enough to send the very best, His handiwork in Christ. We are the living invitations God sends out into the world to invite people to His Gospel Feast. These are special invitations, bearing His image and His seal. All the invitations have been engraved.

So, perhaps it is time to consider spiritually what it looks like for Christians to be “en-graved” invitations. This is not going to be a lengthy offering, but simply the provision of a few bullet point Scripture passages to get us pondering this truth in our hearts…

Galatians 5:24 – My flesh is crucified in Christ.

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ. Now He lives in me.

Galatians 6:14 – The world is crucified to me and I to the world.

Romans 6:6 – My old self is crucified, and the body of sin is done away with. I am no longer a slave to sin.

Romans 6:4 – I am buried with Jesus through baptism into His death. (Truly, I have been en-graved!)

Romans 6:5 – I am united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection.

2 Corinthians 4:10 – The death and resurrected life of Christ Jesus is carried about in my body now.

Philippians 3:10 – I have been made one with the suffering, death, and the power of the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:1-3 – I have already been raised up with / in Christ; therefore, in the power of His Holy Spirit, I keep seeking what is above.

Colossians 3:10 – By the power of the Holy Spirit, I put on my new self in Him.

Ephesians 2:6 – God has already seated me with / in Jesus in heavenly places!

These bullet points are some of the most powerful, faith building statements of our truth in Christ that I can think of. They provide a God’s Eye View of His people whom He has created anew in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ – the living invitations He sends out into life to seek those He loves who need to find their way home to the feast.

I chose to briefly affirm them in the first person, since this brings it home for me as a reminder of what I’m supposed to look like as an “engraved” invitation. In this I keep on asking, seeking, and knocking according to the Father’s will. I am His workmanship, His invitation, to the Gospel Feast, the banquet of the Lamb Who takes away the sin of the world.

Certainly these passages are worth contemplating in their context and in the quiet of our hearts, as we receive, rejoice in, and give thanks for the truth of our reality in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Practice of Blessing

Blessing Practice.png

It’s that time of year again. Some people “Bah, humbug!” during the whole time when ’tis the season to be jolly. The insights that follow are for that person, as well as the one who’s habitually “hum bugging” about something or someone. Been there, done that. Still working on it. Preaching to the “inner choir”! Here are some things I’ve discovered about the practice of blessing life, situations, and people that may help you.

At the outset – if it bothers you, bless it. And keep on blessing. Blessing is very creative…

If that person annoys you, don’t criticize or complain; choose instead to bless him or her. And keep on blessing.

If that situation never seems to change, stop complaining about it, railing against it, or cursing it. Just bless it. And keep on blessing.

The reason “it” is still here is because you resist it, and whatever you resist will persist – You put out resistance, it’s what you get back! You are planting seeds of resistance, and a sure harvest you will get. Everything will resist you! Often rather speedily. It’s “the law” of sowing and reaping in action – in a very common form: whining, complaining, gossiping, micromanaging, control freaking… Back out of its way by a choice to change the response to blessing whatever you’re reacting to, and let it pass through.

Keep on blessing! Things will change.

Things may arrive on the scene repeatedly, and you may wonder, “Why does this keep happening to me? Why does this person have to be in my space? Why will no one listen to me?” Did you ever consider that your “litany” of grievances is a form of resisting. It is a negative thought-prayer that works against you. So whatever you’re resisting is persisting. And so it shall – until you learn to bless.

Did you ever consider that “it” may be waiting for your blessing instead of your resistance, so it can go its way, and you can move on too? Otherwise you are stuck in your conundrum.

The blessing response is not natural, no. It’s supernatural! Blessing what we don’t like or what displeases us is God in action working through us.

Could the unpleasant and the annoying be your “Teacher” trying to reveal that life would be better if your responses were different? Consistently. If God is omnipresent, then He is here in this situation or this person. It may be His best disguise.

Otherwise, keep on responding as you always have – complaining, fussing, fuming, being resentful – and you’ll always get what you always got.

It’s up to you.

Christ often asked, “Do you want to be healed?” In order for that to happen, for example, He asked the man beside the pool (John 5:6) to do something different than he’d done before, different than he’d responded to his situation in decades! He had to break the pattern of doing what he’d always done. It may seem like an unreasonable request, but with God all things are possible. It may even have sounded like this: “Stop bemoaning your situation and waiting for someone to do something for you. Now – get up! Pick up that bed you’ve been lying on! And walk out of here!” He couldn’t see that he had the power within himself to change things, so he was in a sense living a lie. Jesus had to get him to see he could get up and walk.

So even learning to bless – rather than criticize and constantly complain – is possible with God! That is if you want to be healed of a critical spirit. Stop doing that and choose to bless. Yes, it will feel really odd at first. But when you notice things changing around you, you will begin to delight in blessing everyone and everything! It positively energizes your life, even your physical body!

We may not have control over what has arrived on the scene – that may have been the result of other seeds planted in the past, but we can choose a holy response to “it” here and now, and we can choose to make those holy responses a habit. Such responses create the future anew! Such responses are God moving through us, so that in blessing we can be blessed!

Did you ever think of it that way?

One wonders what would have happened had Jesus NOT prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”? An unnatural but absolutely supernatural choice at the darkest moment! He chose to bless them with His prayer for forgiveness. It doesn’t get any more noble than that!

The “natural” response – the knee jerk reaction – the anger given a voice every time, is seldom ever going to change anything, except to make it worse, or perpetuate it – although it may be temporarily ego satisfying. (See James 1:20)

Here’s the best guide and reminder on this I can think of: “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)

We can make a prayer – affirmation about it to use and contemplate every day: Let me each day consistently plant the seeds of blessing in all things, all people, all situations, and at all times, for I know that I have been called to bless in order that I may receive a blessing.

Question for contemplation: What are some people or situations where you find yourself consistently rehearsing a litany of grievances, where you could plug in a new response of blessing instead, and make a habit of it – with the Holy Spirit’s help of course?

The Voyage Ahead

This is a word of encouragement on a day when we recall the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) voyage of 1492. Let’s transform the past into our own message – one of a positive outlook now and for the future – beginning here and now.

Attention: The voyage ahead may not be easy. There really may be some doom, gloom, and uncharted space which challenges all our navigational capabilities, and the willingness to move forward undaunted. Yet – we are commissioned, challenged, and charged to boldly go where we have never gone before. The unknown may be before us, but so is the Unlimited.

Everything else up till now has been essentially “Star Fleet Academy”. We’ve been given every opportunity at proficiency for handling all potentialities, including whatever may seem like a Kobiashi Maru! Hopefully we have taken advantage of what has been offered to us on a conscious level. Much of the preparation, however, has been accomplished within, by divine grace – at levels of which we may not have even been aware. We – humanity – are not space cadets any longer. The mission is upon us.

We may think we’re being asked to learn how to sail into the midst of hell’s maelstrom, with Khan starboard, Klingons port, Romulans aft, and the Borg ahead. Hopelessness need not rule the day in spite of appearances. It will only seem so if we insist on spiritual mutiny. Fear not, the True Captain is on the bridge. He is infinitely wise beyond anything we can imagine, and more powerful than any adversary. Therefore let us lighten the load and jettison the cargo of fear. We sail forward in faith. And let us affirm now and always, there is Good in this and it will be shown to us. Indeed Good is, always has been, and ever shall be our destiny!

Therefore, when the Captain says, “Boldly go”, let us make it so!