Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Church of the Firstborn

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. (Hebrews 3:13).

We talk about our motives, and we say, Our motive was right! We talk about our conscientiousness, we talk about our intentions; but you and I do not know what lies behind what we call our good motives. There is a deceitfulness about this human heart that defies our greatest attempt at tracking it down, and we shall never do it... Here is where the church has become such a confused thing, and such a tragedy; for the prevailing idea is that if you give yourself over to God He will take you up and use you: "Bring over your humanity and consecrate it to the Lord! Consecrate your old man to the Lord, and go out and serve the Lord, with a consecrated old man!" it is utterly contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. The result is that in the work of God all the world over you have people serving the Lord in the energy of the flesh, in the reasoning of the flesh, in the emotions of the flesh. Meet them, counter them, frustrate them, and you meet something evil; you meet with a fight, a division, a schism, a scattering, and wholesale resignations.

Do you see what a havoc the enemy can make in that which is called the church, because people with best intentions, purest motives have come to serve the Lord with all their own intelligence, their own strength, and their own emotion? They have not seen that God has closed the door to the old creation, and that God’s attitude is this: "The only thing that can satisfy Me, that can serve Me is My Son, and if you are going to come into My service, He has to be the energy of everything, the Life of everything, the Wisdom of everything!" He has to be the governing, ruling reality in everything. It is not to be a matter of your impulses, but of His urgings and leadings by the Holy Spirit; not your sitting down to reason out what it would be good to do for the Lord, what ought to be done, what needs to be done, but what He shows you, nothing more... You and I must not bring over our old creation and give it to God, expecting God to use it. God begins with birth. The church of the firstborn is something quite new, and it comes out of a death. That death is the death of an old creation, and the resurrection is of something that is not the resuscitation of an old creation, but the resurrection of something wholly of God.

T.Austin Sparks
From: The Church of the Firstborn - Chapter 1

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I went to a family reunion yesterday. (Above picture is not them, I borrowed it from "Photobucket") It was my dad's side of the family; folks I don't see very often. Every year they get together on Saturday of Labor Day weekend. This year it was held at my cousin Carl's house. My sister Bernie and I went, along with her granddaughter Celci, Celci's half brother Nate, and my son Jess.

Meeting with folks you don't know very well, and may only see every year or two, can feel a bit awkward. That is how I felt yesterday, at first. I suppose everyone feels that way. It's not that you don't want to be friendly, or get to know people. But somehow, you don't know where to start.

I thought we would stay only for an hour or two, but two hours stretched into six. As the day progressed, I think we all began to relax. Two babes in arms and three toddlers gave us all something to share; everyone loves babies. We fussed over the littler ones, four and six months, and were entertained by the toddlers.
I wish I had taken a picture as the youngest was held up close to Uncle Nick, who turned 90 this year. What a beautiful image it made; the family patriarch greeting this youngest family member.
My son Jess, who is a musician, had never met this side of our family. What a nice surprise to discover that cousin Carl played guitar! Jess had brought his along, so the two of them got together for a little jam session. Amy, married to cousin David's son Jonathan, joined in on the piano for a bit. We sang "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "Leavin' on a Jet Plane" and a few other oldies but goodies. Carl was kind to play "Crazy" by Patsy Cline for me, and I tried valiantly to croon out the vocals. Patsy is in no danger from me, that's for sure.

Our gracious hosts, Carl and Janis, laid out a beautiful meal for us. Hamburgers, hot dogs and salads were enjoyed, and I even managed to stay away from the butter tarts for a change, though I hear they were quite yummy.
By the end of the day I felt so relaxed and at home. I wish we got together more often. I wish cousin Tony, and others who couldn't make it, had been there. I wish I knew each one better than I do, and I wish I had the time to get to know them. My dad and his only sibling are gone, and these lovely people are part of him somehow for me. As Janis and I were saying, family is so important. The older you get, the more important they become. Other things in life mean less than they used to, and we look at our families with growing love and appreciation. Maybe it's seeing the generations come and go before our eyes that helps us to realize how precious life is, how precious people are. They are gifts, like the beautifully breezy day we had yesterday, the delightful antics of kids and Jake, the dog, the delicious food, great music, rich snippets of conversation, and safe travel to and from.
Thank you Lord for family. Thank you for how you fashioned each one of us, and how you continue giving life through each generation. Thank you for blessing with babies, husbands, wives, inlaws and pets. I pray you will give more opportunities for us to get to know each other better. Help us to realize your grace in our lives each day.