April 30, 2015

Jesus:Our Internal Witness

I was probably eight year old when I learned a song with these lyrics in the chorus: 
Since Jesus came into my heart,
Since Jesus came into my heart,
Floods of joy o’er my soul like the sea billows roll,
Since Jesus came into my heart.
It wasn’t until many years later that I understood the significance of that simple children’s song that celebrates the Spirit of God that lives within each of us.

It was the Apostle Paul who understood that Jesus left us that Spirit as a permanent gift, a gift that Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr refers to as our “Internal Witness.”  The Spirit of Christ is “not out there” someplace. The Spirit is “within us.”

It has been suggested that, “The truth is what God says about a thing.” I believe that truth is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit that lives within us. I also believe that Spirit speaks to us and guides us through life. Some people listen to the voice and act accordingly. Some listen to a different voice. Some don’t listen.

A hymn titled I Serve the Risen Savior celebrates the Internal Witness that dwells within us. This is the chorus:
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
 He lives within my heart. 
”The Spirit joins with our spirit to bear common witness that we                                          are children   of God.”  
Romans 8:16

April 20, 2015

Miracles Inspired by a Loving God

Eric Metaxas is an American author, speaker and TV host who has written a new book entitled Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life Forever. 

Obviously, the definition of a miracle is subjective, but Webster’s dictionary defines it as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”

Metaxas finds miracles in things most people take for granted, for example, Planet Earth which he maintains is exactly the right size to sustain life as we know it. If it were slightly larger or slightly smaller, a stable environment conducive to life would not be possible. 

If our moon were slightly larger or slightly smaller or closer or farther away from Earth, life  would not be possible. In each case, the writer supports his testimony with undisputed scientific evidence.

Metaxas notes that “the number of fine tuned characteristics necessary for life is currently determined to be 150.”  The odds of a planet having those 150 characteristics are less than one in ten to the fiftieth power . . . that’s one followed by fifty zeros! The writer maintains that the chance of our Earth beating those odds is  “an incomprehensible miracle.”

Did God design the Universe? The Big Bang created hundreds of millions of galaxies each containing hundreds of millions of stars and planets. Metaxas calls that  “an explosion that was so extremely and precisely controlled that we cannot really fathom it.” Again, Metaxas goes into detail with the scientific evidence that validates his claim.

Miracles will prompt skeptics and atheists alike to take a fresh look at phenomena beyond their understanding including the miracles of the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and other wonders inspired by a loving God and recorded in Holy Scripture.

Reading Miracles is a thought provoking, inspiring experience, and as I read his book, more than once I found myself following Metaxas suggestion, “Feel free to gulp!” 

April 7, 2015

Don’t Let the Devil Steal Your Joy II

Recently, Nancy and I had breakfast at Simply Crepes in Canandaigua, New York where the menu is especially seductive for anyone who is anxious about being overweight. 

Despite my concerns about the calories, I opted for the oatmeal topped with crème brûlée, banana, strawberries and powered sugar with a cinnamon crisp on the side. For the rest of the day, I was in a guilt funk until a friend reminded me that oatmeal is a good source of fiber, fresh fruit is healthy and breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

My “Gloomy Gus” mood changed, and I began singing, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” which incidentally, in a recent study replaced Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” as the the most popular song, other than hymns, played at funerals.

I ate judiciously for the rest of the day, and when I stepped on the scale the next morning, I discovered I lost weight!

I am grateful to my friend who encouraged me to take a second look at my culinary adventure and treat. The Devil tried to steal the joy I experienced eating my remarkable breakfast at Simply Crepes, but my friend reminded me that my attitude toward any experience is always my choice. 

In his book Strengthening Your Grip, Pastor Charles Swindoll described the power of attitude:
“I believe the single most important decision I can make on a day-to- day basis is my attitude choice . . . Attitude alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope.”