Wednesday, September 29, 2010

From Darkness into His Marvelous Light

It's been an entire month since I posted. I have been quite busy helping prepare for a weekend of renewal at my church. The theme of the weekend was 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9.

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . . you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
This is the banner the team made. The theme was shortened to read " . . . like living stones, be yourselves built into a spiritual house . . . that you may declare . . . Him who called you . . . into His marvelous light."

It is amazing how the theme of the weekend came about. It actually started with an image of a pitcher pouring water over stones. The water was to represent God's forgiveness pouring over the ladies on the team. When I saw that image, I immediately thought of 1 Peter 2:5 because the image of a spiritual house has been an important one to me personally. When I mentioned that the picture reminded me of that, the ladies took hold of it. The imaged evolved then to use water that was not stagnant, but living. It is Jesus Who gives us living water. Living water turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh - hearts filled with His life - hearts that are filled with His Spirit.

This was interesting, I thought, because the theme of the previous renewal weekend was Ezekiel 36:26.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

It is by God's grace that we come to have hearts of flesh - hearts filled with His Spirit so that we live our lives as His people, obedient to His laws, and therefore free. True freedom comes when we are not slaves to our own desires, but servants of God Whose Will has our best interests at heart.

The ladies eventually decided to include verse 9 as part of their theme. Verse 9 is really what a renewal weekend is all about - sharing the wonderful works of God in their lives - their personal conversions - conversions that have brought them out of darkness into His marvelous light.

The night before the Renewal Weekend, we had a prayer service to prepare our hearts for the weekend. It included a reflection on the living stones and the mystery of conversion - on the change of heart that takes us from stones to flesh - to lives lived in the Spirit - to hearts that have become living stones.

Living Stones! He calls us to be living stones. How is it that He can turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh – into living stones? How is it that we can turn from those things that harden our hearts to the spiritual things that set us free? It is the mystery of God’s Grace working in us.

This is the mystery of conversion that must take place in every area of your life. It is a journey from vice to victory – from sin to sanctity. Only God can bring about this change we call conversion. And because you have experienced conversion – both before and through CRHP – you have been chosen to spread the gospel – the Good News of Jesus Christ. How? By declaring “the wonderful deeds of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 
This CRHP Renewal Weekend is only the beginning of a new way of life – a building up of the Body of Christ by doing what Jesus asks – to spread the Good News. So how is it that you will spread the Good News – starting with this weekend? You will proclaim the mystery of how God has transformed your life with the Grace of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This weekend is not the end. You are only beginning the journey to continue to spread that Good News. Begin by living the theme of the weekend and the women attending will know what it means to be living stones. Then commit to continue to build up the body of Christ every day of your life.

Tonight, I would like to provide you with an opportunity to offer Him your hearts in a symbolic way. God is a gentleman. He never imposes Himself upon us. He takes our hearts little by little as we are able to offer them to Him. Tonight, offer Him the hardened parts of your heart – the parts of your heart that keep you from being truly free to “declare the wonderful deeds of Him Who brought you out of darkness into His marvelous Light.”

It may be bad habits of laziness or lies – of broken promises or lack of faith. Whatever they are, allow Him to touch those parts of you until they become soft as flesh and you will be living stones.

All take a stone and place it at the foot of the cross with a silent prayer.

You are chosen women, set apart to do His work this weekend. Sow the seeds of faith He has given you. And water them. He will attend to their Growth.

We closed the prayer service with the song by John Michael Talbot.

St. Teresa's Prayer
Christ has no body now but yours
no hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
with compassion on this world
yours are the feet with which He walks to do good
Yours are the hands,
with which He blesses all the world

Yours are the hands,
yours are the feet
yours are the eyes
You are His body

Christ has no body now but yours
no hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks
with compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth
but yours

The Renewal Weekend was off to a great start.


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