Monday, November 24, 2014

How Can Anyone "Delight in the Fear of the Lord?"

Part 5 – Then the Prophets, and Now the Saints, Adore Jesus

Having fully established Isaiah’s prophetic identification in chapter 11, of the coming Messiah as none other than Jesus of Nazareth, we can now more specifically investigate the core of this passage, regarding the very person and attitude of our divine human Savior, Jesus himself!
Jesus is indeed the Shoot from Jesse’s stump, the Branch that bears much fruit, and also the Stone who grows into a mountain, as revealed to the prophet Daniel, recorded in his second chapter.
Knowing, without any doubt, that we have the prophetic spiritual bona fides of Jesus, unfolded before us here by Isaiah, we can then clearly see our Lord in all His magnificence, and more specifically in His perfect characteristic of “delighting in the fear of the Lord.”
We can then carry on to learn from and to emulate Jesus, as we grow in grace and by the workings of the Holy Spirit, within our own hearts.
With Isaiah, we also choose to gaze lovingly and longingly at our Lord Jesus, who not only fulfilled everything prophetically written about Him hundreds of years before, but was so astounding in His self-revelation of the full Godhead, that He completely reduced the prior conceptualizations of His followers, and totally redirected those who believed in Him, into new dimensions of revelation.
As the apostle Peter wrote so aptly, for all of us who have been called to leave behind our small worlds of self-centered comfort and false fulfillment, to grow more completely in our own following of Jesus unconditionally, unapologetically, unabashedly, unreservedly, and unswervingly:
1 PETER 1:8 Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy. 9  [At the same time] you receive the result (outcome, consummation) of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 The prophets, who prophesied of the grace (divine blessing) which was intended for you, searched and inquired earnestly about this salvation. 11 They sought [to find out] to whom or when this was to come which the Spirit of Christ working within them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow [them]. 12 It was then disclosed to them that the services they were rendering were not meant for themselves and their period of time, but for you. [It is these very] things which have now already been made known plainly to you by those who preached the good news (the Gospel) to you by the [same] Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these things [the very] angels long to look!
Though we are looking at Him from our vantage point centuries in future, just as the prophets did from their place in the long past, yet all seeing one single revelation of who He really is now in glory, and who He was as He walked the earth in His own day, overflowing with love and ministry wherever He went, with whoever He touched.
This focus should bring all of us into the same state of marvelously joyful reverie, as we deepen our true knowledge of Jesus, coming closer together with all those past saints and beings who worship Him face-to-face in the throne room of heaven itself, as believers and children of God, from every time and place!
We are each so privileged and grateful to be enabled, as we joined together with this adoring eternal company of the prophets and the angels, in one company glimpsing our Lord Jesus, through His word and by His Spirit, preparing our hearts to be in His presence forever and forevermore!
Our united, adoring company can also begin to see in some measure just who Jesus is, not only from the outside, but through the Holy Spirit inspired insights of the Prophets and the Apostles, into the very core of His divine human being!
Neil Uniacke
Executive Director

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Closer Look at Marriage (Part 2)

As I wrote in my last blog (September 30), I am looking at the gift of marriage, and now, specifically, about honoring the gift of sex in marriage.
Recently I was prompted by some discussions I've been a part of to think more about the importance of sharing about sexuality in the context of the church. I believe if we can't talk about sex in the context of the church, Scripture, and the fellowship of believers, then where can we talk about it? Where can our young people talk about it? And, of course, we need to learn to talk about sex with our children as well, because if we don't teach them, they will learn it from places we don't feel good about.

So a little more about the gift of sex, because that's really what it is, a gift from God. When God looked at his creation in Genesis 1, after he had made man and woman in his image, he said, "It's VERY good." We are created male and female in God's image...girls have special bodies and boys have special bodies and God planned it that way.

When girls and boys get to be teenagers, something interesting happens. Their bodies change and they start to have a new interest in each other; we call this attraction. Like magnets, they start to feel pulled toward a special person.

When we reach late teenage, young adult years, we zero in on a special person and we eventually want to get married, and we show our love by being together, by being close and touching (hugs and kisses), we get married, and in many cases we begin a family, a further expression of our love as man and woman.

God made us with feelings and the capacity to show our feelings of love to that special man/woman in our lives.

And in God's Word we find the Song of Songs - in our Bibles! The language is about marriage; the language is so beautiful and so descriptive we usually don't read it in church. The text is sexual and it celebrates the gift of sex in marriage. I often suggest to engaged couples that they consider, maybe in the first weeks of marriage, reading this together, taking the lover and the beloved voice parts.

Some theologians over the years have tried to say this book is an allegory of Christ and the Church, but I don't think so. It is much too graphic and suggestive for that. It is about the passionate sexual love between a husband and wife and is blessed by God. Even though it may use imagery that is a bit out of date for us:

      A lover who says his beloved's hair is like a flock of goats, "your teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep...your temples are like the halves of a pomegranate...your neck is like the tower of David...your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle."

      A beloved (the woman) who says of her lover: "His head is purest gold...his eyes are like doves...cheeks like beds of spice...lips like lilies, dripping with myrrh."
Yet this book also teaches the beauty of affirmation, of recognition of beauty in each other, and stating it verbally. This is one thing that so often lacks in marriages - the verbal affirmation of each other and the thankfulness each has for the gift they find in the other.

And so it is important to understand that sex is a gift from God and as married persons, sexual intimacy is a part of our relationship that we naturally expect to enjoy, as is our right and privilege. If we are having difficulties or conflicts in our marriages around the issue of sex, whatever the issue may be, it is good to seek outside help to find answers to our questions.

In my next blog post I will conclude this series on sexuality by looking at some factors that cloud or damage our awareness of others and ourselves as sexual beings, created in God’s image.

Tom Horst, Therapist, New Hope Community Life Ministry

Monday, November 10, 2014


            On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, my pastor was scheduled to speak for the chapel service at Lancaster Bible College. After I arrived there to hear him speak, it was getting closer to the time for the chapel to start and it appeared to me that I was either in the wrong place or maybe there was a change as I did not see him. I asked someone who told me that he had been rescheduled for another day. I felt God leading me to stay anyway and that is what I did.

The speaker that was there changed the rest of my day. His name was Claudio. He was from Brazil. Although he had spoken at many different places around the world, this was his first time speaking in the United States. He was born with a condition that has been described as “with his head upside down”. A power point presentation was given from which we learned that doctors tried to convince his mother to abort the pregnancy when it was known that there were problems. She refused.
            What impacted me most was the fullness of the joy of the Lord within Claudio. He shared his testimony (which included graduating from college), sang a song to us, and drew a picture for the college by using a marker in his mouth. I cried, but not tears of sadness. Instead my tears were a result of the overwhelming joy that I felt to see how someone could be so joyous and bring such glory to God in spite of difficult circumstances.

I thought about how so often when we are asked to do something we respond with a reason why we cannot so quickly. Claudio also reminded me that there is something that all of us can do to be a blessing to others no matter our circumstances.
Submitted by: Ann L. Gantt, Ph.D., LCSW, NEW HOPE counselor
He welcomed getting pictures taken with him: