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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

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Revelation

Skipping to the Ending before Starting the Beginning

imageEver skip to the last page of a novel just to satisfy your curiosity?

Well, I have been known to do that, although I find it harder now that I read most books on my Kindle or listen to audio editions when we drive. As I began to read the Epistle (letter) to the Ephesians, which Paul wrote in around 60 AD from a prison in Rome, I found myself trying to remember when the church was established there, what else does scripture tell us about this city, this church, and what do I know about modern Ephesus? Yes, my random mind began to wander, to explore, and to compile the pieces into a framework to absorb the letter’s content and to apply that content to my life.

In the first century Ephesus was an important port city, active commercially and religiously as home to the Temple of Artemis (Diana), abounding with witchcraft and black arts Christianity brought among other things deliverance from demons. Ephesus was termed “Lumen Asiae” or Light to Asia; it was the Gateway to Asia. According to many accounts it is the city where the Apostle John eventually took the Virgin Mary after Jesus turned her care over to him on the Cross and where both John and Mary ended their earthly existence. It is the city to which John returned after his exile to Patmos where he received the final Revelation from Jesus Christ.

I wonder if John, glimpsing Ephesus from the deck of a ship as he returned from his Patmos exile, carrying with him the glory and the weight of his visions inscribed on papyrus scrolls, I wonder if he returned hoping the letters to the churches from the risen Lord would bring a revival of the hearts. More than 30 years had elapsed since Paul sent his epistle to Ephesus and the letter John had transcribed on Patmos had a different ring to it than Paul’s letter.

Write this to the angel of the church in Ephesus: “The One who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands says this:

I know what you do, how you work hard and never give up.

I know you do not put up with the false teachings of evil people.

You have tested those who say they are apostles but really are not, and you found they are liars.

You have patience and have suffered troubles for my name and have not given up.

“But I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning. So remember where you were before you fell.

Change your hearts and do what you did at first.

If you do not change, I will come to you and will take away your lampstand from its place.

But there is something you do that is right: You hate what the Nicolaitans do, as much as I.

“Every person who has ears should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To those who win the victory I will give the right to eat the fruit from the tree of life, which is in the garden of God. (‭Revelation‬ ‭2‬:‭1-7‬ NCV)

The Lord acknowledged that the ministry actions of the Church; these were hard workers who stood up against false teaching, false teachers, and who demonstrated patience in suffering, but like myself at times they had gotten so involved with the doing to be doing that their relationship with Jesus had become duty not love so they were slipping into a pattern without the light of Love. Yes, they strongly opposed allowing occultism to infect their Christianity, but their hearts were hardening with the plaque of self righteousness.

Whatever John’s revelation to the Ephesus Church, time shows that while Christianity expanded, silt like plaque filled in the river port, land locking Ephesus so that today it stands with ruins of both a pagan and Christian past. The Lumen Asiae was extinguished. Their lamp removed from the lamp stand.

So I must admit as I pondered this I became distracted and sad for the Ephesus Church and for all the churches I have seen dwindle in to nothingness. Sad that so great a love as Christ’s, so great a love for Christ can descend to ritual and duty. I know how easy it is to drift away from the most essential relationship of my life, from the One who loves me more than even my dear husband does, to get busy and spend less and less time in the Word and in Prayer. No Christian, No Church can live without the life blood of Jesus and his love flowing unrestricted flowing both into the believer and out into the world.

And so having leaped forward, I returned to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with new sense of urgency and with a new vision of what this study might accomplish in me. I mean let’s face it “I am not a young chick; I am an old hen.” So I ask myself the question “What if God wrote this letter to me?” “What if I read this letter as if God composed it for me?” What if….

I intend to find out.

What I Believe Makes Me Who I Am–Theology on an Icy Morning

I am not the most succinct person in the whole world, so boiling things down to a few words about something as all encompassing as “My Theology” is mind boggling. I could point to the Bible and say I find it there and be truthful, but even in there I find more to explore about the world, history, and people. God has planted himself everywhere, if only we could see. Paul wrote in Romans that God is evident in all creation, so none of us are without knowledge of Him.

I encountered a Aborigines’ account of creation and the fall of man in which the evil one was a bat! The Biblical account and this tribal story are remarkably parallel. No wonder that the symbol of death is the “Bat”. We also were visited by retired missionaries, the Eubanks, to Thailand, who shared the story of entering a classroom in Thailand to share Jesus with a group of children for the first time. The majority religion in Thailand is Buddhism. As they spoke to the children, Mrs. Eubanks noticed one child who listened closer, her eyes growing brighter and brighter until her body could not contain what she had to say. She waved her hand excitedly and exclaimed, “I know this Jesus! I just didn’t know his name.” The Eubanks expressed how God surprised them by already working in the hearts of the people of Thailand. He was there a long time before they arrived.

So, the enormity of God and of my meager theology cannot be boiled down easily, but as I consider His Scripture, I realize my basics from cover to cover are there. God’s Love, Justice and Mercy with which I form not only by theology, but my worldview. I am a Christian, but I am not the only Christian.

And so on this cold, December morning, Here is my paraphrased theology in a bursting nutshell:

In the beginning God created and it was good. God existed before all creation, before the beginning and in creating used the words, “Let us make….”, so the One God has more than one person. Human beings with free will sinned and while the good God created remained, weeds grew, blood was shed, storms brewed and sickness with death entered history. God chose Abraham to bless ALL the peoples of the earth.

Emmanuel
Emmanuel

At the perfect time in history The Word (Christ Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Out of his life, death and resurrection we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

The Holy Spirit remains within for the believer and in the world to call non-believers to Christ. But this time, this earth has an expiration date known only by God. We are therefore called to be His witnesses to all the World. And until then I pray “Come Lord Jesus, Come.”

I know too that others seeking also to boil things down have done a better job than I. So I turn to “Creed” Rich Mullins’ theology song from the Apostles Creed:

I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ
His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried

CHORUS:
And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man

I believe that He who suffered
Was crucified, buried, and dead
He descended into hell and
On the third day, rose again
He ascended into Heaven where
He sits at God’s mighty right hand
I believe that He’s returning to
Judge the quick and the dead
Of the sons of men

CHORUS

I believe it, I believe it
I believe it
I believe it, I believe it

I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son,
Our Lord
I believe in the Holy Spirit
One Holy Church, the communion of Saints
The forgiveness of sin
I believe in the resurrection
I believe in a life that never ends

CHORUS

I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe it

The Word became Flesh and Embraced me with Grace
The Word became Flesh and Embraced me with Grace

Should have just gone to that first, RIGHT? So At Christmas…Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Here’s the Utube link: http://youtu.be/H-61MaWETiU

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