The superlative beauty of Jesus is all–attracting; it is not so much to be admired as to be loved. He is more than pleasant and fair, He is lovely. Surely the people of God can fully justify the use of this golden word, for He is the object of their warmest love, a love founded on the intrinsic excellence of His person, the complete perfection of His charms. Look, O disciples of Jesus, to your Master’s lips, and say, "Are they not most sweet?" Do not His words cause your hearts to burn within you as He talks with you by the way? Ye worshippers of Immanuel, look up to His head of much fine gold, and tell me, are not His thoughts precious unto you? Is not your adoration sweetened with affection as ye humbly bow before that countenance which is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars? Is there not a charm in His every feature, and is not His whole person fragrant with such a savour of His good ointments, that therefore the virgins love Him? Is there one member of His glorious body which is not attractive?––one portion of His person which is not a fresh loadstone to our souls?––one office which is not a strong cord to bind your heart? Our love is not as a seal set upon His heart of love alone; it is fastened upon His arm of power also; nor is there a single part of Him upon which it does not fix itself. We anoint His whole person with the sweet spikenard of our fervent love. His whole life we would imitate; His whole character we would transcribe. In all other beings we see some lack, in Him there is all perfection. The best even of His favoured saints have had blots upon their garments and wrinkles upon their brows; He is nothing but loveliness. All earthly suns have their spots: the fair world itself hath its wilderness; we cannot love the whole of the most lovely thing; but Christ Jesus is gold without alloy–light without darkness––glory without cloud––"Yea, He is altogether lovely."
Posted by doulos on Monday, August 24, 2009 @ 09:17:07 UTC (4979 reads)
By Pastor Carmen Rizzo
We read these words and understand them to be a stern warning from Christ against pursuing wealth, materialism, and hedonism, to the point where, who we are at the center becomes fragmented and indeed re-defined. Few, have taken the time to see how this very same warning applies to not only individual members of the Body of Christ, but the corporate body as well.
I study sociology and various different subjects that most people find to be very boring, because I have seen something in the Church that has frightened me for many years. So, this study, now in its 21st year has been one that I have undertaken not because as some have said that I have "No life," but because, God's Spirit has not allowed me to rest in what would on the surface seem like a random, disconnected, disjointed, fragmented series of movements and events that are bearing full fruit in the culture that we have come to know as Western Civilization. God's Spirit has driven me to see that indeed everything is connected.
Posted by doulos on Sunday, May 03, 2009 @ 20:58:49 UTC (5367 reads)
From a sermon given on the morning of January 10, 1869, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle
Introduction by Pastor Carmen A. Rizzo (May 3, 2009)
It seems that humanity never learns its lesson and thus is doomed to keep falling into the same ditches time and time again. While we, in our time, over the last several months are witnesses to great financial upheavels and the discovery of greed and treachery in the financial markets, it would be a mistake to conclude that these present events are a first for humanity.
Ultimately, whatever the Bible speaks to, it does so with truth and certainty. When Biblical precepts which are God’ s precepts are violated or ignored, the result will always be the same. Disaster and the increase of the human quotient of misery.
It has always been my hope that one day, we would all begin to take the Bible seriously and understand that what the Bible allows us to do, or not to do is for our benefit. But realistically that day will only come when Messiah returns to set up His kingdom in fullfilment of the Davidic Covenant from Jerusalem. Until that time among others two things will remain true and immovable.
As you read the comments below by the "Prince of Preachers" you will notice the similarities between his time and ours. The similarities follow all the way through to the spiritual realm and the present day condition of the Church. . But in spite of the sadness of this truth, we must keep in mind that the hope that he had, we have, that one day, and we hope soon, Jesus will come for His Church and after a 7 year period of climatic upheavel the restoration of all things will commence!
Until then: "That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which it may be said, "See, this is new?" It has already been in ancient times before us. 11 There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after." (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 NKJ)Read More...
Posted by doulos on Saturday, October 18, 2008 @ 18:33:52 UTC (6002 reads)
By Pastor Carmen Rizzo
I share this with all of you; because I just like everyone else struggle intensely with my formed habits of self-reliance and self sufficiency. I also share with some of you that over the last month, our Father has led me back into the wilderness. The wilderness is a place of great pain and sorrow, because there in that quiet place apart from all the noise and business of life, both God and our own hearts begin to speak loud and clearly to us once again. But it is also a place of great joy and comfort, because God in the wilderness manifests Himself to our hearts in a way that He does not when we are engaged in the business of every day life and the stuff of religion. In this place I have once again discovered that God is not so much interested in what we can do for Him. What He wants the most is that we seek Him out and everyday give Him our hearts. This is so hard for us to do, because there is a conspiracy against us. That conspiracy is such that in the things that this world throws at us, we lose our own hearts. After a time we begin to define ourselves not by what our hearts are screaming for us to see, acknowledge and live out before the world, but by what we do, the jobs we work, the roles we play in society at large. Everything that is acceptable to God must flow out of honesty about how much we need Him and how much we need Him to continue to do heart surgery on each and every one of us. The scriptures tell us that man looks upon that which is external, but God looks into the heart to see what the motives are. Do we do what we do as Christians because we love Him and see that in the end He is the only hope that any of us have of passing though this life and all of its garbage and storms with some assurance of peace? Or do we do what we do out of a sense of doing something to get something?
Posted by doulos on Wednesday, September 05, 2007 @ 18:22:23 UTC (6477 reads)
By Pastor Carmen Rizzo
When the devastating tsunamis that struck the Indian Ocean rim occurred, they impacted primarily three types of people:
I have spent hours reading and listening to the accounts of those who lived through that horrifying event, and what they witnessed, before during and after the waves hit.
In our time, in the Church, there is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith that has been completely disregarded except for occasional lip service in sanctified conversation and theology survey classes. This doctrine was in times past considered as important as any other of the great doctrines of Christianity. The Puritans wrote massive and numerous volumes on the doctrine of “Providence.” This doctrine like the others requires hundreds of hours of study to begin the process of unlocking its implication for our world and the child of God. In the 18th century with the rise of Enlightenment thought, the very subtle shift from a cosmological framework where providence was the guiding and ordering force of not only human life and events, but those of nature and the environment around us began its gradual shift. It’s very important here to understand the ebb and flows that occur during any paradigm shift. The easiest way for me to communicate what and how a paradigm shift occurs is by analogy. Imagine if you will a whirl pool of water circulating in a counter clockwise rotation. This happens because all of the surrounding factors and forces both facilitate this movement and work towards making this counterclockwise movement of water a fairly stable structure. Now imagine a hydraulic engineer being tasked with reversing the flow of the whirlpool without disrupting its motion and flow. The only way that he can accomplish this without at some point bringing the entire flow of water to a complete stop, is by the gradual introduction of numerous counter-currents. This introduces a gradual and increasing tension on the flow of water that eventually reaches a point of critical mass at which time in an instant the flow of water is reversed.
Posted by doulos on Wednesday, August 08, 2007 @ 05:44:08 UTC (8339 reads)
This article came to me by way of email, and is reprinted with permission. It was presented as a response from an Army Reservist, who spent two years in Iraq and was a principal in putting together the first Iraq elections, to a student at the University of Washington, who did not want to honor Medal of Honor winner USMC Colonel Greg (Pappy) Boyington. The addressee and other students (and faculty) do not think those who serve in the U.S. armed services are good role models. While the reply directly speaks to the place and need of sheepdogs in our society to police and protect us, it is even more an exhortation to the body of Christ to be defenders of the Truth in these latter dark days, and to love and appreciate those who keep watch over the sheep.
On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs
(From the book, On Combat, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman)
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.
Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
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