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Where Healing Begins March 8, 2009

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: New Testament, Jesus Christ.
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Some people wish they could rewind life and go back to the spot where things went wrong to fix them.

Some people think that “healing” involves returning life to the way it was. This isn’t healing, it’s nostalgia.

Some people simply substitute “holding onto the pain of the past” for living in the present.

Luke 5:17-25 (the familiar story of Jesus healing the paralytic lowered down through the roof of a house by his friends) identifies four places where healing begins. And as a memory device, let’s connect each of these places to personalities in the story.

Personality 1: The Crowd – they didn’t see the need for healing in the man or in their community.

The Miracle: Healing begins with Jesus’ vision for “normal” (wholeness) for our lives.

Repentance: Give up believing your “normal” and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what living could look like.

Personality 2: The Pharisees – were sure only God could know if someone was worthy of forgiveness.

The Miracle: Healing begins with letting go of the past to live responsibly today.

Repentance: Give up the idea that you have the right to know ‘why’/’how’ and ask the Holy Spirit to help you trust God.

Personality 3: The Paralyzed Man – came expecting one kind of healing.

The Miracle: Healing begins with nurturing an attitude of expectancy in relationship with God.

Repentance: Close the distance between you and God and (re)establish that relationship.

Personality 4: The Friends – were content getting nothing personal for their effort.

The Miracle: Healing begins with knowing that wholeness is not a personal matter.

Repentance: Stop believing that someone else’s wholeness is none of your business; and start believing that issues of healing in your life are effecting everyone at Cherry Street.

“The power of the Lord is on Jesus to heal (the sick).” (Luke 5:17)

Where does healing begin for you?

Saying Yes and Saying No February 25, 2009

Posted by dan snyder in art, Bible - Meditation, Bible: New Testament, Jesus Christ.
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a man must choose

he is not a spray of

flowers nor of birdsong

nor the fall of dry twigs

in a rising wind

Francis Sullivan, “Vision with Its Outcome”

Whenever we say “yes” to something or someone, we are saying “no” to something or someone else. “To say yes and no means taking on responsibilities and obligations. Saying yes and saying no are companions in the process of constituting a whole and holy life.” (M. Shawn Copeland as quoted in Practicing Our Faith ed. by Dorothy C. Bass, 1997.)

As you look at the painting below ask yourself, “to what was the person saying ‘no’ or ‘yes’?”

Credits: Tanner, Henry Ossawa The Annunciation 1898. (oil on canvas, Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Henry Ossawa Tanner "The Annunciation"

Henry Ossawa Tanner "The Annunciation"

What sort of support do you and Mary, the mother of Jesus, have to help you to say “yes” or “no”?

The Beatitudes – Dallas Willard style November 16, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible: New Testament, Jesus Christ.
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The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) as from The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard (pp.100, 116-119)

 3        Blessed are the poor in spirit [“the spiritual zeroes- the spiritually bankrupt, deprived and deficient, the spiritual beggars, those without a wisp of ‘religion’”], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4        Blessed are those who mourn [“the weeping ones”], for they will be comforted.

5        Blessed are the meek [“the shy ones, the intimidated, the mild, the unassertive”], for they will inherit the earth.

6        Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [“who burn with desire for things to be made right . . . in themselves” or in others], for they will be filled.

7        Blessed are the merciful [those who are “taken advantage of”], for they will receive mercy.

8        Blessed are the pure in heart [those “for whom nothing is good enough, not even themselves”], for they will see God.

9        Blessed are the peacemakers [the ones “in the middle” where “neither side trusts you”], for they will be called children of God.

10    Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, [those who stand up “for what is right”], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11    Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account [you’ve “gone off” your “rocker and taken up with that Jesus”]. 

12    Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Our life group discussed this text last evening. We were all enthralled at the down to earth simplicity of Jesus’s teaching and astonished at how He opens the doors wide to the Kingdom of the Heavens just for us. Share a comment about how you used to view the Beatitudes and how you view them today.


Peace and joy.

Jesus, The Son (part 2) – North Star 2.4 (Hebrews 1:3) November 14, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible: New Testament, NorthStar 2.0 (Heb 1).
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“And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.”  (Hebrews 1:2-3, NLT)

A son carries the image of his father. So when Jesus becomes God’s Word – to show the world God’s nature and mission – He carries in Himself the essence and image of God making Him the most perfect Messenger. The living, healing message of God won’t any longer get lost in translation for those who honestly and humbly hear the message in the Son.

He is the reflection of God’s glory. His life and words display the fullness of the Creator’s majestic nature. As the Son, not only does He best know about God the Father having been with the Father, but He also has that essence in Him giving way to deeper, inherent knowing. Bearing the God image exactly makes it impossible for Him to not bring glory-charged messages. By reflecting the glory, Jesus keeps none for Himself (glory is reflected fully, not absorbed). And since the Father/Creator is the source of glory, the Son transmits the glory to all creation ensuring that God’s perfections are known, seen and heard.

Seekers (those looking for the God who made them and for what He says about you) can immerse their imaginations in Jesus – to know God, know the Son. Jesus has been sent from the Father so that the greatness of His love will be known. Seeing Jesus gives us knowledge of the nature and mission of God.

Jesus, The Son (part 1) – North Star 2.3 (Hebrews 1:2) November 12, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible: New Testament, NorthStar 2.0 (Heb 1).
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“And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. ” (Hebrews 1:2, NLT)

That God’s mode of salvation, restoration and healing is speaking with His lovely/powerfilled voice is astounding enough. That He doesn’t use mechanical tools or even good listening skills so we can talk things out, that He speaks gently, lovingly, powerfully with intention into those derelict places of our lives and souls, ought give us great hope and comfort.

But, even more, He speaks to us by a Son – His only Son. This Son is a person, so the Voice becomes personal. It takes on flesh and lives before our eyes and imaginations. Not just words on a page that embalm God’s speech, but a living, perfect being.

And as a Son, Jesus has a vested interest in the salvation of Creation. Everything is promised to Him, it will be (or is) His. Also, He created it all – the universe, and you and me. Therefore there is a deep sense of ownership and desire to treat it as precious. He won’t ‘hit the rock when He speaks’ like Moses did, or get frustrated and give up for a season like Jeremiah. He sees the end and will see the saving work through to that end.

Jesus, the Final Word – North Star 2.2 (Hebrews 1:2) November 9, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible: New Testament, NorthStar 2.0 (Heb 1).
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“And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son.” (Hebrews 1:2, NLT)

We are in the ‘last days’. Some interpret this by putting emphasis on our time on earth being short or the increase of evil in our world. But here ‘final days’. refers to a season of time in which God has chosen to speak (and be known) through Jesus. These days are the last, there will be no other days after these. Jesus is God’s final, most complete and perfect way by which to speak. We should not expect another. We have no need to pursue or seek another. The present mode of communion with God is Jesus. And this will be the way from now on.

God has used a wide variety of ways by which to speak to people. Each of them is a grace by which people could know God and His ways. And all of these ways are still at His disposal. But each of the ways that He uses point to Jesus. They always have and always will.

And in these last days Jesus is one of the ways. But He is not one way among many equals. He is the Way, the best Way, by which God speaks. Any other way that He uses to speak is a starting place; while His hope is that people would finally find their way to Jesus.

And those who seek to know God in the fullest way are to seek Him through Jesus Christ. For those who know Him, to not diligently pursue a full knowledge of Jesus is to fall short in our pursuit of God. This negligence begins with sloth and pride and ends in idolatry. But you who listen and know God through Jesus will find the voice that transforms, heals, guides and loves you into the beautiful person God longs for you to be.

North Star 1.5 – Genesis 1:4 November 6, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: Old Testament, NorthStar 1.0 (Gen 1).
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Light is separated from the darkness. The darkness existed prior to light. It was over the face of the deep mingling with formlessness and void of pre-voiced creation. Darkness was a dominant pre-Creation feature. It was not bringing God pleasure. It had ‘cloaking’ qualities that would hide God’s Creation from view. It was dominant to the point that it could not be pushed back or overcome.

Only the voice of God creating a counterpart could conquer darkness. God creates light. And then separates it from darkness. He sets it apart for a God-determined purpose. And, now in its separated condition it fulfills God’s idea. Its holy function now makes a holy opportunity for darkness. By separating light from darkness, darkness can serve a purpose and be given a name – an identity.

Jesus calls us out to be holy – to serve a clear, unique, God-determined purpose. When we do this purpose we make opportunity for others to serve their unique purpose. All Creation is awaiting, even depending upon, our being set-apart for holy service. Jesus separates us – calls us out.

[see entry – Prayer Poem: O Greatest King (a servant’s prayer) category:art]

Jesus is the speech of Now! – North Star 2.1 (Hebrews 1:1) November 6, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: New Testament, Jesus Christ, NorthStar 2.0 (Heb 1).
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“Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son.”

You and I are at the end of a long line of “hearers”.  Hearing is an ancient practice that began the moment God first spoke. [Actually listening is probably the more likely practice of the truly ancient-holy, but that will be a journal entry for another time.] “God spoke”. O, what grace! Transformation from darkness to light, from distortion to wholeness begins (and is sustained) with the voice and speech of God.

His voice has come ‘at many times and in many ways’. His message has come through the prophets in modes that are multi-sensory, personal and active. Thanks be to God that certain key messages have been written down and preserved for us to hear again today. Not read. Heard. A simple, cursory read of the Old Testament Prophets indicates a low priority on the written word as God’s plan for transformational speech (at least the written word to be read alone in silence).

But the ‘many ways and many times’ (i.e. – situations) for the prophets were not sufficient. These, collectively, were not comprehensive enough, full and pregnant enough, to compare with God’s Supreme Revelation, His Final Word, His new, living, perfect, lasting, mode – His Son, Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t replace the “long ago speech of God.” Jesus fulfills and completes what was constricted and limited without His Revelation. That old prophet-speech was ‘long ago’, ‘in ancient times’. But you and I are part of NOW – these days. And, like the wine in Cana (John 2), He has saved the best for now.

North Star 1.6 – Genesis 1:5 November 2, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: Old Testament, Jesus Christ, NorthStar 1.0 (Gen 1).
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God names the light and the darkness. Naming conveys honor and instills value. Day and Night now have a place of honor in the story – God’s meta-narrative. They are declared “intended”. Without names they may go unnoticed. Or, at least, we would wonder if God knows, sees, and intends what is now known and seen by all of us (light and dark are hard to miss). but when god names them He gives them their place in the story.

Naming also establishes God’s place. He is the generative character behind all that He names. He is keeper of what He names. He is above all that He names. He is the idea, the dreamer, behind names.

Most of us were not named by God at birth. Attached to my name is a story (and perhaps the stories of those who share my name). But God will change my name – give me a new name (Rev. 2:17), a name that conveys a new relationship, a new intention, a new place in the story.

Notice the priority in verses 3-5: God creates, God delights, God sets apart, God names. In Jesus each of these actions can be real to us each day. But only naming is expected to be permanent and stable. God will find new voids in which to create, new things to declare his delight over, new tasks to which we will be set apart.

But we are named once. May we listen and live into this name.

North Star 1.4 – Genesis 1:4 November 1, 2007

Posted by dan snyder in Bible - Meditation, Bible: Old Testament, NorthStar 1.0 (Gen 1).
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God declares His Creation “good”. He makes this declaration after “seeing” it. But this “seeing” of good is far more than inspection. This is not simply quality control inspection that results in a pass/fail approval rating. Certainly He does see the quality of His creation; but He looks deep into what He creates and sees its purpose and its future. He sees His Creation being and, therefore, doing what He intends. He sees this in its fullness.

When God says that His Creation is “good” it does indeed imply quality, but even more it implies satisfaction. God delights and is satisfied by and in what He sees. He is pleased with Creation – it gives Him pleasure in this holy, righteous state of fullness and potential.

Jesus delights in His Creation. Declaring and delighting is His priority after the act of creating. He gives created light His focused attention and announces His pleasure and delight. Likewise He gives all of His Creation His focused attention – He “sees” its fullness. And this fullness is pleasing, satisfying and delightful to God/Jesus. May we have ears to hear – “this is good, you are good, I am well pleased.”