His House is in the Village Though

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow                      Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
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    I have always loved the poetry of Robert Frost, possibly because we both hail from New England. An interesting footnote to our Yankee history is that the first New England towns were settled with a “Green or Commons”  in the center. Around that village green were built the homes and of course the Congregational church. Outside of town each family was assigned a place for plowing and a wood-lot. (His house is in the village).  I say all this not to give a history lesson  but to make the point that the purpose behind the plan was community. Most central to that community was the sharing of experiences of worship, work and trade. At the root of the Ferguson and New York City protests that are shaking the foundations of our country today is the loss of  that community. Where is the church? Churches often have fled for safety to the suburbs but have left behind their purpose. Though we may have forgotten our house in the village, maybe it is not too late to relocate, remember and get involved where God intended. That city on a hill should be right at the center of the action!

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You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14 

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The Thanksgiving snow still falling makes me think of Christmas!

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When men say they love “God’s Country” they usually speak of open spaces, mountains and prairies. But when God so loved the world that He sent Jesus, He came to where God’s country truly is: Dark city streets where He could shine!

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

Change of Perspective

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And after he had taken leave of them,he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them… Mark 6:46

Until we can see beyond the rooftops of our little world we will never see the mountaintops of God or the troubles of others all around us…

A City on a Hill

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“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

    Many years ago our company worked for a powerful man who was a wealthy New York developer. He had a multi-million dollar mansion near the Hudson river,  replete with security cameras, armed guards and spectacular gardens. Not too many years previously he had been in business with another man with whom he had become a bitter enemy.

Then one day our as our client walked through his grounds he noticed another large mansion being built on the hillside above him. When he inquired who was building the home he discovered that it was that of his rival! In that moment all the beauty, security and pomp of his home lost their luster. His enemy had secretly secured the higher ground!

In the warfare between our Lord and the enemy of our souls there has been a similar conflict. The devil once strutted about heaven’s hallways with power, beauty and perfection but when he became proud he was thrown out! The first counter attack of the devil against God was in the garden where he tempted Adam and Eve and through their sin began to build a powerful kingdom in the earth. Then Jesus came. He took the low ground of Bethlehem to be born and the devil smirked. After Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt for their lives he must have felt quite in control of his destiny. Then Jesus grew up in lowly Nazareth and from the carpenter shop he went one day to the Jordan river to be baptized by John. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to begin to build His kingdom and the enemy was puzzled by what he saw. There in the desert was a weak and hungry Jesus who seemed ripe for temptation. “If you are the Son of God” the devil purred, “Command these stones to be made bread!” But Jesus the carpenter knew how the house of God was to be built and he met the devil’s every challenge with His Father’s words.

Blow by blow the battle went throughout the ministry of our Lord. Satan tempted and stole the heart of one of the twelve and turned the mob against Jesus outside of Pilate’s judgement hall. Soldiers were called and after flogging our Lord they sent Jesus out towards Calvary carrying His cross. As the nails pierced the carpenter’s hands the kingdom of darkness rejoiced. They felt that the challenge to their power and control over man was secure forever. Everything seemed to have worked out and played directly into the hands of the devil’s henchmen until early on the third day when the stone rolled away!

At that exact moment, Jesus Christ sat up, set aside his earthly garments and received the name that was above every name. In horror Satan looked up and saw a shining city on a hill far above every principality and power. We, by God’s grace are that city. We must never forget who we are or lose heart when we are facing trials. We need to remember that we are the city set on a hill. God has put us here, not because we are stronger, richer or more important than others. In fact God chose us because we are weaker, less powerful and less important to show that He is greater, higher and stronger and that we belong to Him!

Out of the Salt Shaker

    You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot

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    When Jesus told us to never lose our saltiness; but He didn’t mean we should never use it! Salt only works when it comes out of the salt shaker and interacts with and changes the place where it is shaken. This Summer God has put it on my heart to pray for a way out of my salt shaker and into my neighborhood.

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    After all we want to be sure we are fulfilling Jesus’ prayer that we should be in the world…but not of it. We all need to be very careful of the easy tendancy to be of the world – but not in it!  In the book of Acts, it was only when the disciples began to get out of their shaker that God could truly begin to  shake things up. So who is ready to be shaken?