Archive for the ‘My Personal Journey’ Category

Order, Chaos, and Free Will

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Dora Vanderlaan

In honor of Dora Vanderlaan

February 22,1919 to June 20,2015

I awoke on the morning of June 20, 2015 in a restless state.  I had not slept well.  Over and over, like waves rolling in at the beach, my mind kept going through the cycle,

Order, chaos, and free will…

Order

God created a perfect universe out of nothing. That the universe is perfect is undeniable, from the balance of nature here on earth to the rhythm and movement of the stars in the sky, it plays like a symphony without error, until we introduce ourselves into the equation.

Chaos

Just as mankind has dotted the beautiful, self-regenerating earth with islands of filth and squalor, so have we introduced the space around our planet to the junk and leftovers of our attempts to reach beyond. We tend to bring chaos with us wherever we go, and the only reason for it appears to be, because we can.

Free Will

Yes, it all comes down to free will. God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us free will to live His way or our own way, and we in our infinite ignorance, continue to create chaos as we try to force our vision of how things should be on others. As I began to consider this, I began to understand that this one dynamic is at the root of all of the problems in the world around us, and wherever we go, no matter how benign our intentions, we will take the chaos with us.

So now that I have jumped down this rabbit hole, I find myself questioning God’s wisdom…

Free will does not sound like such a great idea after all!

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Some Radical Thoughts on Holy Communion

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

I want to share some thoughts with you on something near and dear to my heart…

Holy Communion

Holy CommunionFrom the account in Luke… “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

I have attended and received Communion in churches of many denominations, and there is no shortage of opinions. Opinions about who is eligible to receive, opinions about whether it is a representation or miraculously becomes the actual body and blood of Christ when we partake, and opinions about how often one should receive the elements…. And guess what… I have a rather radical opinion of my own, but I will spring that on you a little later.

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Effectively Selling the Gospel

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

A friend recently gave me a suggestion to write about how to explain God to someone that has had no religious experience as we know it. I pondered this subject for about a week before it struck me that the question that was troubling me was actually a bit broader. My question was “Why are so many Christians so ineffective at sharing their faith in everyday situations?” Not knowing how to explain God to someone that has no religious point of reference is just one example of how we fail to communicate the love of God and the availability of that love to anyone who will surrender to it.

I wonder if our enthusiasm to share the good news might be at the root of our inability to share it well. I have personally witnessed well-meaning preachers scare seekers away rather than bring them into the light, so I thought it might be worth looking a little closer at basic sales techniques and how we might apply them to spreading the Gospel message more effectively.

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“One Like a Son of Man” Revisited

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

The parallel imagery we find in Daniel and The Revelation are striking, but there has been one phrase troubling me for months as I completed a study of Daniel, then another in The Revelation.

I recently wrote about the interpretation of the phrase one like a son of man” in Daniel 7:13, but was having a hard time reconciling the conclusion I had come to with the obviously different understanding of the same phrase when used in The Revelation.


Now, as I am reviewing my study of the final book of the bible in preparation for a Sunday school class I will be co-leading, I have finally found a resolution to my internal conflict, and put the matter to rest in a most uplifting manner.

Son of ManDaniel 7:13-14 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”


Daniel 7:15-18 “I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me.  I approached one of those standing there and asked him the meaning of all this.  “So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: ‘The four great beasts are four kings that will rise from the earth. But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.’”

So, my bible clearly says the “holy people of the Most High” are who the imagery of “one like the son of man” who received the kingdom is referring to.  In the previous article I wrote, I conceded that as much as I would like to accept the interpretation that Daniel, like a fly on the wall, was witnessing Jesus returning to heaven and being rewarded for a job well done, the citizen of heaven that answers Daniel’s question as to “the meaning of all this” is quite clear that it represents “the holy people of the Most High”.

“one like the son of man”


In The Revelation we see the same phrase, but here it is clearly representing none other than Jesus.  First, we have the name of the book itself, The Revelation of (and from) Jesus Christ, in which Jesus reveals or unveils Himself to John.  This entire book is first and foremost all about Jesus.

Son of ManRevelation 1:12-13 “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was one like a son of man dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.”

Over and over in The Revelation we are offered images and descriptions of the Risen Jesus in all of His Glory – this cannot be confused with the “holy people of the Most High”,  so why in two such parallel visions do we have such opposite conclusions to the meaning of “one like the son of man”?  This was the conflict I was wrestling with and determined to reconcile, and finally, after much prayer and reflection the answer came.


It came when I least expected it!  While I was watching a national news broadcast, Charles Krauthammer commented on what the founding fathers intended our elected officials to do – represent us.  He expounded some on what it means to represent, and suddenly I connected the dots.  According to the dictionary:

re-pre•sent
1. to serve to express, designate, stand for, or denote, as a word, symbol, or the like does; symbolize.
2. to express or designate by some term, character, symbol; to represent musical sounds by notes.
3. to stand or act in the place of, as a substitute, proxy, or agent does.
4. to speak and act for by delegated authority: to represent one’s government in a foreign country.
5. to act for or in behalf of by deputed right in exercising a voice in legislation or government.

“one like the son of man”


In Daniel it refers to “the holy people of the Most High” who are represented in every sense of the word – symbolically, spiritually, and most importantly, before God as faultless – by Jesus Christ.  That is how they became holy people!  In Daniel, we don’t know Him yet, but He represents us none the less.  In The Revelation, we recognize Him, and know that we belong to Him.


So how cool is that?  What I had been struggling to reconcile was reconciliation itself.  Another facet of the person of Jesus has been revealed!


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


Worship Interrupted

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

As the song says, “You and I were made to worship.”, yet most of us are living in a state of worship interrupted… so much so, that worship becomes something we see as separate from our daily lives and try to fit into our spare time and church time.  I imagine Satan is celebrating heartily that he has managed to twist up our priorities so completely.   Worship can be, and should be something we are doing all the time.  It can be, and should be like the background music of a movie, playing subtly around us no matter what we may be doing.

Too many of us have come to understand worship as the ceremonious things we do in church.  Isaiah preached against this attitude of worship long before Christ came and became the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Isaiah 1:11-13 (Gods Word)
11 The LORD asks, “What do your many animal sacrifices mean to me? I’ve had enough of your burnt offerings of rams and enough fat from your fattened calves. I’m not pleased with the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats. 12 When you appear in my presence, who asked you to trample on my courtyards?  13 Don’t bring any more worthless grain offerings. Your incense is disgusting to me, so are your New Moon Festivals, your days of worship, and the assemblies you call. I can’t stand your evil assemblies.

Isaiah also expressed what the true and genuine worship that God desired of us would look like.

Isaiah 1:16-17 (Gods Word)
16 “Wash yourselves! Become clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight. Stop doing evil.  17 Learn to do good.  Seek justice. Arrest oppressors. Defend orphans. Plead the case of widows.”

When we define worship as including all of these things, we can learn to incorporate this attitude of worship into our daily lives.  It all boils down to keeping a “God view” on our daily activities and responding to every interaction with a consciousness that God is always there with us.  It will change the way we think and do things, and it will bring blessings into our lives.

Worship Interrupted - Worship While You Work

I make that last statement with bold authority for a reason…

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Lessons from “a Son of Man”

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

I recently read a commentary on Daniel’s Dream of the Four Beasts (Daniel 7:1-28) and was awestruck at the way the author described verse 13 as Daniel witnessing Christ being glorified by God in the presence of the heavenly multitude, five hundred Son of Man  and fifty some odd years before the sojourn of Jesus on the earth.  It was a beautiful and powerful picture that brought forth feelings of love and worship for our Saviour, yet something was troubling me and I could not put my finger on it.  For several days it was like an itch I could not scratch, so I hit the books to get to the Truth, after praying for God to enlighten me.

My study began with some research on the phrase “son of man” which was central to the basis of the commentary I had read.  Far different from the phrase “son of man” used in other Old Testament passages, which would simply mean human, (more…)

The Changing Face of Web Ministry

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Web Ministry –  The Humble Beginnings


Back in the day… well actually not that long ago, the internet was new and we marvelled at how cool it was to be able to email instead of snail mail. At first it was small businesses that kick started personal use of computers, but as personal computers became more affordable, everything began to change – and it changed very quickly.  I remember the very first email I sent. It was actually in 1980 something when the company I worked for set up inter-office email.  Back then, no one even considered that someday there would be such a thing as Web Ministry.


Fast forward a few years and the middle class yuppies had embraced email as their favorite way to stay in touch with friends and family. I suppose it was because of the speed at which the messages were delivered, that the nature of the message content also changed. This, I believe, was the birthing place of what came to be known as Web Ministry.  There was much concern about the content that would end up flowing through cyberspace, and with good reason. The devil was going pounce upon the opportunity to have a hand in anything that could reach so many people so quickly, and likewise God’s people would respond with something uplifting.  Instead of the long letters we used to write about our summer vacation or the what had been going on at work, play, and school, the masses were sending, and forwarding dirty jokes and inspirational stories at an alarmingly increasing rate.  As the web expanded with business and entertainment content, dirty jokes gave way to a booming porn industry and inspirational stories gave way to the first attempts at real Web Ministry. I am sad to say the the devil got the bigger foothold initially, and God’s people were not yet prepared to battle for souls in this unknown territory.

Web Ministry – Coming of Age


It was early in 2007 when I first began to really engage online for business reasons.  I took a course in web marketing, and started learning about building websites. At this time, most churches had some kind of website to make information about the church available to the seeking public, and most of the big name evangelists had websites that offered some spiritual educational content and sold their books. I suppose we could call that the second phase of Web Ministry.  At the same time however, many individuals, myself included, felt a call to be the hands and feet of Jesus on the web, and that is when Web Ministry really began to take hold.


The project I undertook for my web marketing course, which was in stark contrast to my classmate’s commercial websites and sales funnels, was a 31 day study in The Book of Proverbs, offered via email subscription. That site is still live today, and ranks in the top 200,000 websites in the US, and the top 1.5 million worldwide. Considering there are an estimated 182 million websites worldwide (according to Netcraft), and my novice attempt at web ministry is in the top 1% based on traffic, it seems pretty obvious that Web Ministry works. But how far can we, or should we take it?


Web MinistryWeb MinistryWeb Ministry

Web Ministry – To Fulfil the Great Commission


The United Methodist Church, firmly rooted in the style of John Wesley “going to where the spiritual hunger is” has committed to and meticulously researched the potential for Web Ministry, responding with websites, web content, e-newsletters, and even their own social networking platform at ReThinkChurch.org. I am currently taking their online training to equip leaders for Web Ministry for the future. Ideas being discussed are things like live discipleship webinars, interactive calendars that link to your Google calendar, webcast worship services for the homebound, prayer partners via live chat, facebook pages and groups, online committee meetings, and much, much more.


There is still some push back from the traditionalists that hear the words Web Ministry, and understand that to mean that static informational site, and that response is understandable – change can be hard, but… reality is that prayer chains, worship, study, counselling, spiritual warfare, meetings, small groups, even healing services are all going digital. The face of Web Ministry is evolving and expanding, and that gets me very excited!


Blessings & Adventure,


Lynn “lynnibug” Rios


A Beautiful Thing Happened On the Way to the Benediction

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

We don’t always notice when God does a beautiful thing…

but He is doing them all the time. 

Sometimes we are so caught up in worldly things that we just can’t see the beautiful thing God is doing in the midst of it.  Today I witnessed one of these beautiful moments when everything came together with perfection only God can offer, but even in the midst of it, the enemy was doing his best to beat those being blessed down and cause them to miss their blessing.

The body of Christ has a tendency to forget that Pastors are people too.  They are not above the body or below it, but rather at the center of it, going through the same trials and tribulations we lay people do, often more so because the enemy can do more damage when he causes one of them to doubt their faith or their call.  Pastors, ever conscious that they must lead by example tend to place upon themselves unrealistic expectations of perfection.  That being said, I believe it is the sincere desire of our Pastors to speak what is on God’s agenda rather than their own, but sometimes they can judge what comes out as their failure rather than God’s success. 

The beautiful thing I witnessed this morning was God taking over in real time, and moving the church to an undeniable demonstration of the depth that the sermon DID SINK IN. 

The sermon was not delivered as planned, but the events that unfolded when the sermon was abruptly stifled, became a living, breathing example of what the Pastor intended to convey.  It was as if God was saying to the Pastor, “Don’t tell them, let them!”

The scripture the Pastor was preaching on was 2 Corinthians 3:12 through 4:4, but it was not until I backed up a few verses and read 2 Corinthians 3:9-11 that I clearly saw how God’s perfectly beautiful plan had come together.

2 Corinthians 3:12- 4:4(NKJV)  through the veil

“Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech–  unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.  But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.  But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.   Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.  But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

After reading the passage, the Pastor began to explain the imagery of seeing through the veil that separates the world from knowing God.

through the veilThrough Jesus Christ, and by His grace, the veil has been lifted for the body of Christ and we can know God intimately.  We no longer need to approach God through the veil.  What He desires most is that we clearly keep our eyes on Him.  In the midst of the sermon, the Pastor suddenly lost his place, experienced a moment of confusion, and then silence.  It was one of those awkward moments when nobody knows what to do, and the Pastor was obviously flustered and at a total loss for words.

Then one of the congregation offered a worldly example of what prevents us from keeping our eyes on God the way we should, then another offered an example of how we allow ourselves to only see God through the veil, and then yet another.  As the Pastor, still unable to speak, began to offer an apology for being unable to complete the sermon, one member came forward suggesting that just as a doctor should not perform surgery on a member of his family, maybe the subject matter was hitting a little too close to home.  Then the entire congregation came forward placing hands on the Pastor and each other, praying that the seduction of the enemy be stopped and the veil be lifted for us all, acknowledging that sometimes there is more power in what is not said than in what is said.   The congregation may not have heard the whole sermon with their ears, but indeed they heard it with their hearts and demonstrated that they had understood.  

It was indeed a beautiful thing, a thing that only God can do!

After the prayers ended, the Pastor offered the benediction and the service ended, but the touch of the Holy Spirit that blessed the congregation today, and the wisdom received, will not be soon forgotten.

2 Corinthians 3:9-11 (NKJV)

“For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.  For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.  For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.”

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

And the Light Shines in the Darkness…

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

light

And the light shines also in my darkness.

Recently, I again read John 1:1-5, verses that I have read countless times before, but this time something was different.  A single phrase stood out, calling me to take a closer look.

John 1:1-5 (NKJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was in the beginning  with  God.  3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Strange that phrase had never stood out before… “and the darkness did not comprehend it” lends a trait to darkness I had not previously considered.  Could darkness be capable of intelligence or for that matter thought?  Another curiosity was the change in tense.  The light shines in present tense but the darkness responds in past tense.  I hoped to solve this unusual dilema by comparing several translations… it was like having an itch I could not scratch and I had to get to the bottom of it.

John 1:5 (NLT)
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:5 (KJV)
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:5 (MSG)
5 The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.

John 1:5 (GW)
5 The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.

Two votes for past tense could not comprehend, one vote for past tense could not extinguish, and two votes for past, present and future inability to extinquish.  The word ‘extinguish’ added the mental picture of putting out a fire, as in overcoming or conquering something, and that kind of victory cannot be achieved without first understanding that which we seek to conquer.  So the darkness then, now, and forever, must struggle with the intrusion of light, yet will never prevail against it.  Hmmmm… so far so good.

It was about that time when my friend, Maikel, reminded me of something.  These verses parallel the creation story in Genesis.  Johns writings take us back to creation to teach us that Jesus was present “In the beginning…”, when God separated the light and the darkness.  Maikel’s point was that Jesus and His church are the continuation of this action of separating light from darkness.

light

But wait… If they are separated,

does the light still shine in the darkness?

This was not the rabbit hole I had imagined myself jumping into when I began this journey, but God’s path for me is rarely anything like what I am expecting.  With that in mind, it was time to revisit John 1 verses 1-5 with a fresh perspective.  This time I went to my AENT (Aramaic to English New Testament translation), as I often do when I feel I am getting closer but can’t quite reach it, hoping to acquire a deeper understanding of the intimacy between God and Jesus in the act of creation.

Yochanan 1:1-5 AENT
1 In the beginning was the Miltha. And that Miltha was with Elohim.   And Elohim was that Miltha.
2 This was with Elohim in the beginning.
3 Everything existed through His hands, and without Him, not even one thing existed of the things which have existed.
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And that light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.

The word ‘overtake’ definitely fits in with the idea of overcoming, but wait… there is so much more….

‘Miltha’ is one of those words with multiple meanings.  It can mean word, manifestation, instance, or substance.  Elohim is God the Creator and Judge.  So in the beginning, when God, in the act of creation spoke the words “Let there be…” the manifestation of His substance, Miltha, was with Him.  Jesus is Miltha, the Ruach haKodesh or Spirit of God manifested in substance, the Son of God and man.  WOW!  In verse three we can sense the imagery of the word becoming a creative force in the  literal hands of the Miltha, like a sculptor working under the orders of a king.

It fills in the unfathomable gap between “God said ‘Let there be light'” and “and there was light” with Jesus!

light

Thanks again to Maikel, for pointing out the crucial fact that God only separated light and darkness. He did not destroy the darkness. The darkness is a reality we must contend with.  Jesus has come to bring light into the darkness.  He is the true light!  That, for us, is a message of boundless hope!  It was truth in the past, it is truth in the present, and it will be truth tomorrow!  No matter what kind of darkness we find ourselves in, the light of our Lord can reach us, and the darkness has no power to prevent it.  Amen!

Blessings & Adventure

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

Stan Telchin, September 14, 1924 – June 4, 2012, Rest In Peace

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Stan Telchin, Rest In PeaceI have been struggling for a couple of weeks now, wanting to write a tribute to a wonderful man I considered a mentor and friend.

In researching his life, I discovered  that  in his later years of ministry there was some controversy surrounding the consistency and the validity of his personal testimony and ministry.  This is a side of Stan that I did not know, and it troubles me.  I wonder if  it was intentional or the result of the tricks our minds may play on us as we age.  Still, it is for God, not us, to judge.  In that spirit I have decided to speak only to my personal experience, and the impact he and his books had on my personal journey with the Lord.

I read Stan’s first book, Betrayed!, before I met him.

It was at a time when I wrestled with an inner conflict of my own, trying to reconcile my Jewish roots with my devotion to Christ Jesus and allow two sides of myself to coexist not just in harmony, but purposefully.  When I read Betrayed! it was as if someone had flipped a switch and I was aligned with a fresh and balanced perspective.  I made it a point to go and meet him when he was speaking at a nearby church during the Passover season that year.

At 80 something Stan had the fire, passion, and energy of a much younger man, and we talked for a bit after the service.  He invited me to call him if I wanted to, and a few weeks later I did.  I called him while working on a service I was to lead, and I wanted an English translation of  the Mourner’s Kaddish.  During that conversation, I suggested to Stan that he might want to consider attending a “Walk to Emmaus”, a weekend event where the community of faith demonstrates to the pilgrims (attendees) the amazing love that God has for them.  We continued to discuss the walk from time to time, but Stan did not think it was something he needed to do.

Many months later, I received an email from Stan, saying that he hoped I was not offended, but he had chosen to attend Cursillo, another of the 3 day communities with common roots,  after much discussion with a woman from another state that he was in contact with.  I replied that I was absolutely not offended, and that I would like to speak with her to get the details of their weekend.  When I called Naomi, we talked for a very long time about how we, and another friend of Stan’s from yet another state, had all felt the Spirit calling us to encourage Stan to take this Journey.  Naomi and I, and the other woman whose name escapes me, all met for the serenade to the pilgrims on Stan’s Cursillo weekend.  I will never forget the blessed expression on his face when he saw the three of us arm in arm singing to him.

Whatever mistakes he may have made, and whatever the reason, Stan Telchin was a minister in every sense of the word.

Whether or not he was formally ordained or had a piece of paper to say so, he was a disciple of Christ, who calls us all to minister to one another.  He did much to educate the Christian Community about what it means to be Jewish and fostered unity between two disjointed communities within the body of Christ.

Stan Telchin, Rest In Peace

I captured the image above in my back yard last Saturday.  It is truly amazing what you can see when you look up!  I was, at the time, pondering about what I would write about Stan.  That vision in the sky placed a calm in my spirit, and let me know that the words would come when the time was right.  I have written what I must, and now I will say, “Farewell my friend, you will be missed.”

Blessings & Adventure,

Lynn “lynnibug” Rios

Mourner’s Kaddish

Exalted and honored by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, whose glory transcends, yea, is beyond all blessings and hymns, praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say ye, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life for us and for all Israel; and say ye, Amen.

May He who establisheth peace in the heavens, grant peace unto us and unto all Israel; and say ye, Amen.

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