Am I? Are you? #7


Today, we celebrate Easter. I am grateful for the resurrection!

Note to the newcomer to this series. This is a set of meditations and conversations with God about the affirmations for the Christian found on the pictured piece of art by Christy Mitroupoulos.

I Am … The righteousness of God in Christ. — 2 Corinthians 5:21

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Me: Good morning Jesus!

Jesus: Good morning Jon!

Me: Talk about adding insult to injury! Since I have been made more aware of my own depravity, I have a hard time even imagining what it must have been like for You to know no sin – in the sense of personal experience – then to be made to be sin. My sin!

Jesus: The scripture tells you that it was not easy for me to reconcile my flesh to the task of taking on not only your sin and its deadly consequence, but that of all who will accept My salvation. (Luke 22:39-46)

Romans 10:8-10—But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

I want this to be clear to you; 2 Corinthians 5:21 is not talking about righteousness by the best definition of men (or your own definition). What does it say?

Me: It says Your righteousness.

Jesus: Are you there yet?

Me: Clearly not. Yet I have been taught that I need to have to have faith that I am becoming so, and that (eventually) the result is assured because of Your faithfulness. There is the assertion that this passage marks a momentous exchange: You taking on our sin and we taking on Your righteousness by faith. Some say, “God’s not finished with me yet.” But on the cross, You said, “It is finished.”

Jesus: The distinction is that you are, as a matter of position, hidden in Me (since you choose to be). —Colossians 3:3 It is as if you were called into court to answer for many offenses, some of which are capital crimes. Your guilt is not in question. The sentence is spelled out. Then I volunteer to submit to the penalty you are due in your place. This part is finished. I already served your death sentence.

Do not doubt that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Contrary to what the schools teach in your day, that everything living came to its present state through purely natural means over eons of time, with death at every turn; there was no death before sin. (Genesis 2:17) Things degenerated from there…

“… O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (First two sentences are quoted from Hosea 13 by Paul, recalling a lament by God over sin and recognizing that man was in trouble, as the law clearly points out, but now rejoicing at being rescued by Me. )

Having been freed, you still have the practical aspects of “becoming” My righteousness. There is a process of transformation which you know from walking in it.— Romans 12:2

Me: Thank you Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Christy Mitropoulos’ Artwork
Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Am I? Are you? #6


I am grateful for having made Eric’s acquaintance.

This is the sixth affirmation found on the piece of Christy Mitropoulous’ artwork that we have been working though.

I Am … More than a conqueror. Romans 8:37

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39

My life is mercifully devoid of deadly peril most of the time. Hardship? More like occasional inconvenience. Nakedness? Hardly ever in public, except nightmares remembered from childhood where I was a helpless mannequin on display in the J. C. Penney store. I guess I was feeling sorry for the public embarrassment of the mannequins that worked there.

Persecution? Well, that is certainly on the increase. It is a plot by dark powers faithfully executed by those who follow them, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The policies of most companies have been changed to restrict open expression of convictions supporting traditional moral values. They may or may not be regularly enforced, but are a snare waiting for the unwary. Does this documentation mean your company is actually against traditional values? They could be. Probably though, they are just observant and pragmatic. They observe that if a complaint is lodged against you they are open to be sued because of your beliefs, unless they have taken a position against them. The courts have proven repeatedly to come down on the side of anyone but the one who is following convictions based on Christian belief. Christ-believers are now in a condition where one can’t work for a living and vocalize one’s traditional beliefs without taking on significant risk.

Most of this is in a still-trifling state, compared to the full aims of the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This passage in Romans 8 stands ready to console, however bad it gets.

Death? I am convinced, like Paul, that death is no enemy for the Christ-follower. This doesn’t imply my sense of self-preservation has ceased to function normally. Though I know that none of us gets out of this world alive, I am sure that this existence is not all there is. Yesterday, I learned my friend Eric, who had been valiantly fighting cancer, had passed. I watched him battle the symptoms at fairly close range and fervently prayed daily, expecting his restoration. I never talked with him when I did not come away uplifted by his sense of gratitude and grace. There is no doubt in my mind that the attitude he displayed was merely an artifact of the upward road he was walking, right to the end of this phase of life. There in no end of the list of things that Eric was conquering. If you had known him, you would have seen that clearly too. Death is now one of them.

Life is in Paul’s list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God. I need to be reminded at every turn that I am a conqueror over the issues of life. God has given us in the scriptures a perfect life manual, He has given us a reprieve in Jesus from the spiritual death sentence we each had earned. He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to move in the life we are called to live. Why, you might ask, would I need to be reminded that I am a conqueror over life? You can likely answer that question yourself before it is fully formed on your lips. Life is sometimes not a bed of roses. Sometimes if is filled with many of the other troubles in Paul’s list. For me, though, it is my past history as a serial abuser of the free will that God has graciously given me, doing things that I wanted to do that were not in my best interest. Why? Well, inexplicably, because I wanted to. Still, I find Him unfailingly faithful. Unerringly true to His word. Helping me to be more than a conqueror, even over life. And this is the best part, simply because He loves Me.

Christy Mitropoulos Signature

Power of God

I am grateful for the astounding warm-up today; 22F below earlier in the week, 52F now.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

[ This quote is from Isaiah;
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him. – Isaiah 64:4]

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2

Me: Good evening Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening Jon!

Me: This passage is chock full of wisdom and the promise of still more wisdom borne (and born) by You! Thank You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome!

Me: I am mystified by Paul’s comment, which I know he got from You, that the rulers would not have crucified Christ had they understood all. Had they not, where would we be?

Holy Spirit: You have often observed that Jesus did not pull any punches in speaking with the rulers. He consistently told the truth in a way that would inflame their indignation and instinct to protect the sin they imagined was righteousness because it was, well, theirs. They were simply respecters of themselves. Not a humble bone in their bodies. Paul is just observing, matter of fact, that they did not get it. Even when bluntly told the truth.

When Paul uses the words “predestined before the ages” in verse seven, he is pointing out that God knew fully from before He created that man was going to need to be rescued from the power of sin. He knew before there was time. He knew before there was any man. He had always known. Yet, He chose. He chose to create. He chose to create man. He chose to create you. He chose that in the Son, He would bear your sin, that in Me, He, who is holy, would be able then to communicate with you who is only made righteous by faith in the Son. Were it not so, communication would be futile. (2 Corinthians 4:4, John 12:40, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Matthew 13, Isaiah 6:9) You observe this in your day; those who see not and hear not because the truth is foreign to them.

Me: Yes, Holy Spirit! If it were not for You, none of us would ever overcome our blindness.

Thank You for speaking with me about these things! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you! I love the ones that still persist in their not seeing and in their not hearing, but I Am unwilling to override their choice.

Finding

I am grateful for peace with You! I am grateful that You were pleased to go to such extraordinary lengths to bring peace between You and all of us. The most extraordinary lengths that have ever been extended at any time!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. – Luke 2:10-16

Me:
Good morning Jesus!

Jesus:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
The angels said to the shepherds, “… you will find”. Did they have to search many animal shelters in Bethlehem? Did they have to poke around the ox and donkey lots of strangers? Were they risking being accused of being thieves, creeping around in the dark?

Jesus:
I cried for them when they came by. The other shelters were silent.

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

Me:
Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus:
You are welcome! I love you!

Bulwark

I am grateful for the day at home and the chance to reflect on the glorious benefit of the eternal stability of God to those who rely on Him.

He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. Psalm 91:4

Down toward the end of the time before Jesus’ arrest (which, from this,  we know He clearly saw coming) we see this protective heart of God revealed at work in Him on our behalf.

Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:31-35

buildingSevier
Placard: Building Fort Sevier

walkingTrail
You Are Here (Obviously)

Doll Bed 3

I am grateful, Lord, for revelations of Your majesty! In the eyes of the one who dares to examine the smallest part of Your mighty works, You leave no doubt of Your power. Nor will the one who seeks refuge in You fail to understand that You are strong to save! You overcome those who hate us on Your account. You draw us close to You in safety. Blessed are we, in You!

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Keeping a promise, today will complete a short series on making a doll bed for my granddaughter. Here is a link to the previous installment.

Mortised Bed Posts

The four mortised bed posts are seen in the photo above, and four identical cross pieces are required with a matching tenon cut on each end.  I did not capture a picture, but all of these have to have a slot cut on the inside centerline to inset the plywood that makes the closed head- and foot-boards.  It is tempting to want to cut this slot with the dado blade on the table saw, and that could work for the cross pieces where the cut extends from end to end.  For the bed posts, the slot is limited to the area between the mortises.  I cut these slots 3/16″ deep with 1/4″ straight router bit.  Because it is really difficult to get a saw setup to match the router setup exactly, I cut all the slots with the router.  These can be done with only the top and bottom guides to keep the cut in the center of the board.  One just has to be careful not to cut past the mortise on the posts.

Glue-up of foot-board

The picture above shows the glue up of the foot-board with the plywood captured in the slot.  One should always test fit all assemblies without glue.  Once satisfied that it goes together correctly, then add glue to the mortise and tenon joints only.  The plywood inset floats freely in the slots, allowing for expansion and contraction with humidity and temperature without splitting or cracking.

Basic Assembly

The bed rails in my design are painted angle iron.  I welded a bracket on the end to take a screw to hold the whole bed together.  This allows the bed to be broken down flat for storage.  It would be perfectly acceptable to make these out of wood, but then I would not have gotten to practice with my new flux wire welder!  Besides, I had the angle laying around from a previous project. The bottom deck is the same 3/16″ plywood that is inset in the head- and foot-boards.

Finished Doll Bed

The side rails are made from the same 1×2″ oak as the rest, except they are ripped in half to give a 3/4″ by 3/4″ finished cross section.  In between five vertical 3/8″ dowels are glued in to complete the rails.  Holes for the dowels were drilled using a drill press, so the depth is easily controlled.  The rails are mounted to the head- and foot-boards with dowels that are glued into the rails but not into the bed posts.  This arrangement allows for disassembly for flat storage.

Finally, the finish (after some light sanding) consists of two coats of a simple wipe-on poly.  I like this type of finish for items that get wear and tear because it can be refreshed  to deal with scratches with a light sanding and a new coat.

Covered Footbridge over Escanaba River, Gwinn MI

All of 1 Peter 1 is an incredibly rich tapestry of the Life prepared for us: conceived and planned by the Father, purchased in blood by Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, stretching across history, predicted by prophets, and announced by first-century preachers; concerning grace, peace, fullness, mercy, hope, protection, salvation, eternal life, joy, praise, honor, love, glory, revelation, belief, faith, angels, and mysteries.

I am grateful for the grace that enables us to enter in to this magnificent journey with God, and to stay the course, if we are willing.

Bridge

Grace Until…

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? [Micah 6:8]
 
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:2]
 
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him [Hebrews 11:6]
 
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. [Mark 10:18]
 
Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [Matt 5:48]
 
Me: 
Good morning Father!
 
ABBA:
Good morning Jon!
 
Me: 
One could get the impression that You want us to seek to walk with You, having faith that You can change us into what You want us to be.
 
ABBA:
Imagine that…  Have you considered how Jesus’ words about no one but God being good squares with these other verses telling you not only to be good, but to be perfect?
 
Me: 
I believe Jesus was trying to convince us that we are incapable of being good enough on our own to live up to the standard required to have a rewarding relationship with Holy God.  I have often wondered, though, about Jesus question “Why do you call Me good?”, since He is good.
 
ABBA:
The answer to “why” is because He is God and I Am good.  The one he was questioning did not get that, either.  
 
Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy and that is what you are.  [1 Corinthians 3:16-17]  This is the secret to the paradox in these verses we are considering together.  Having accepted Jesus and received the Spirit, you can say with Paul:
 
But if while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.  For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [Galatians 2: 17-21]
 
So then, you have grace to walk with Me while you are submitting your life to the transforming power of the Truth.  You still have the choice today: be transformed by the renewing of your mind, or destroy the temple of God with the things of the world. If you did not have this choice, would I have given you so many helps to aid you on your way?
 
Me: 
Thank You Father, for patiently explaining the scriptures and for sharing Your heart to save us.  Thank You for the grace to walk in Christ that all is not lost at any misstep!  I love You!
 
ABBA:
You are welcome!  I love You!  I have gone to great lengths to show you that I Am your loving Father.

Through Job

Me:
Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit:
Good morning Jon!

Me:
We read in the Bible Gateway “Verse of the Day” from Job 19:25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.”  Some say that Job may be the oldest book in the Bible, that it is marvelous poetically and contains rich words and forms not found anywhere else in scripture.  And, at least Copley in his
Gatherings in Beulah posits that Job may have lived before Abraham. Yet, here You were making known to Job the day of salvation!

Holy Spirit:
The need for a Savior is known to Us.  Was known to Us, from your temporal perspective. Even at the end of time, your need for your Savior will persist.  Even as at the last He will take His stand on the earth, you will be standing in Him, for His redemption, with its focus at the cross on your behalf, sends its power both backward and forward in all eternity such that no one is beyond the reach of the efficacy of the sufferings of the Christ and Jesus’ love makes salvation available to everyone who chooses to seek refuge in Him while he may.

Me:
How can one offer adequate thanks, or all the praise that is due God in light of so great a gift?  Help me to live in such a way as to cast no shadow obscuring the brilliance of what has been presented freely.  Let my short-sighted behaviors be reined in and let my choices be guided and empowered by You!  I love you!  Thank You for seeing to it that we have such a mighty witness to this salvation by God’s word and by Your witness, even within us!  I love! You

Holy Spirit:
You are welcome!  I love You!