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Happy Pentecost!

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4 NIV

Church of the Holy Sepulcher 2019

That was 33 AD on this day. Last year on this day I was in Jerusalem with my good friend Joe Carruth. This year with the planet much sequestered by Covid-19, there is a completely different feeling, but then again, not really for the sons and daughters of God. We know He is caring, loving, powerful, and sovereign over creation and the affairs of mankind. So we look to Him, and we look within ourselves.

Why within ourselves? For His Holy Spirit Who came in 33 AD in power and birthed the church fulfilling the prophecies of the prophets Joel (2:28-29) and Isaiah (7:14), among others. That God would come dwell with us and in us.


Temple Mount Jerusalem Pentecost 2019

Like the Wind

And make us like the wind, by faith following His leading, not really knowing where we’re going, but listening and obeying and trusting Him for His good will, helping us fulfill His good purpose for us by His power — an adventure, happy and free.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 NIV

Life In The Spirit

Western Wall Jerusalem Pentecost 2019

I have a nagging thought within me, conflicting thoughts really. One is that the Lord, full of grace, loves me and accepts me just as I am and doesn’t really expect that much of me, because he knows we’re all like dust. That He just wants my company and trust, so we can know each other better. What could I, or any human do for Him really? But two, could it be that I/we don’t really understand the Power and Person of the Holy Spirit that dwells within all believers? That we are living well below our call and station because of this lack of knowledge and experience? And what can I do about that, if it’s true.

Preflighting for a Dawn Flight Pentecost 2020

I’m going to leave you with those thoughts for prayer, mediation and reflection. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more and experiencing more as I pray. And I’ll probably blog some of it. Let me know if you do too!

Mainly I wanted to celebrate the day and give thanks to God for His Masterful plan to redeem us fully by His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, [Jesus — God is Salvation] and then empower us to live, love, and commune with Him by His Power sent to live with us and in us [Immanuel — With us is the Mighty One].

Sunrise Flight with son Joshua

Happy Pentecost!! He is Risen! He has Returned in the form of His Spirit! He’s coming back in Person soon! Glorious Day!! Today and That Day!!

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And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
” Joel 2:28-29 NIV

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means ‘God with us’).”Matthew 1:21-23 NIV

Happy Pentecost from the Cabin

Wait Ten Days

From Ascension Day to the Day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit in power and in Person was ten days we now know. What was happening during those ten days?

In Jerusalem

In Jerusalem, the disciples of Jesus were waiting as instructed.

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49

They had been despondent, since their paradigm of Jesus being the Messiah, a conquering king, was crushed at the crucifixion. The resurrection appearances, and the forty days since with Him appearing to them in intimate situations, and to over 500 at once, had them reenergized and expectant, with their paradigms again in transition to the Truth they beheld and touched and heard from Jesus Himself. Proverbs says, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” But hope had been restored, and the adventure wasn’t over apparently, it was about to shift into a higher gear. Maybe they remembered now Jesus telling them before the crucifixion, “It’s better for you that I leave you, so the Holy Spirit can come.”

“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” John 14:25

They might have even wondered, “Might this power come at the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot—Pentecost)? Our Master often does things on the Jewish feast days!” Indeed His most important life events seemed to be predicted and choreographed to the holy feast days given to Moses by God for the people of Israel some 1600 years before Jesus appearing.

But alas, they wait. For just what, and what it will look like, they do not know.

In Heaven

In Heaven, what was happening? The writer of Hebrews answers this question in part for us at the beginning of his letter. “After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3c) The writer of Romans tells us, “There Jesus is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34) And we’re told from that position of power at the right hand of the Majesty of Heaven, “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3b) Powerfully Jesus continues the work of our redemption from heaven in the earth.

In The Fullness of Time

In the fulness of time, in this case ten days after Jesus Ascension, on the Feast of Weeks, fifty days after Passover, known as Shavuot (weeks) in Hebrew and Pentecost ( fifty days) in English, the promise of Jesus to his disciples would be fulfilled as the Holy Spirit would be sent to tabernacle with Jesus’ disciples, endue them with power, and dwell with them as recorded prophetically centuries earlier by the Prophet Joel, and after the fact by Luke in Acts chapter two.

“This time of year marks the start of the wheat harvest and the end of the barley harvest. Shavuot also marks the time that the Jews were given the Torah on Mount Sinai.” BBC

Without too much difficulty one can see that this first Pentecost after Jesus resurrection was a deeply significant chapter change in God’s plan for man, resulting in a different type harvest and with God giving a new revelation from Heaven for men, this time not from Sinai, the mountain of God, but Jerusalem, the City of the Great King. And writing His laws no longer on stone or parchment, but internally, upon His believer’s hearts, dwelling with them. Immanuel — “With us is the Mighty One.” (Isa 7:14, Col 1:27, Eph 3:20, and many more.)

This first Pentecost would be remembered and celebrated as the birthday of the church.

The over arching lesson might be, that we should all wait for God to endue us with power from on high, and then go forward following Him in that strength instead of our own.

To be continued…


“His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.” John 12:16 NLT

“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me;” Acts 1:4 NASB

“Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” Acts 2:33

Godspeed Ravi

Godspeed seems a funny thing to wish for Ravi Zacharias, age 74, who went to his eternal home May 19, 2020, just eight days ago. He’s certainly been in the actual presence of the Lord for some time now, or no time, for that’s what eternity is. But “Godspeed” comes to me now, as we consider his journey, impact, and continuing legacy in Christ.

Certainly it seems to me and most of the Christian world he can say with Paul at the end of his life:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Tim 4:7-8

Below is a link to get to know and appreciate Ravi Zacharias. I encourage you to sit with your family and tell them we’re going to get to know one of the modern Fathers of the Faith, one of the best known Christian apologists in history, who passed away a few days ago. We need to know who he is, his life message, and a little about the books and YouTube videos he’s produced in his life time, so we can share them with others when the need arises. And we need to thank God for his life, and pray for blessings on his family. 

You and your family will be enriched by hearing this! Because of his testimony, and what the Lord has done with him. It will also serve as an introduction to Eric Metaxas of NYC who is a great author, Christian biographer, and talk show host… a light bearer in our dark times.

Blessings as you watch and receive insights into the King and His Kingdom. 

Ravi Zacharias | The Eric Metaxas Radio Show

Love is the most powerful apologetic. It is the essential component in reaching the whole person in a fragmented world. The need is vast, but it is also imperative that we be willing to follow the example of Jesus and meet the need.
Ravi Zacharias

I might add this as a possible tribute or gift opportunity in memory of Ravi and his life poured out for many. Wellspring

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Ravi Zacharias Memorial Service May 29, 2020

Happy Ascension Day 2020

“Ascension Day is the 40th day of Easter. It occurs 39 days after Easter Sunday. It is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven, according to Christian belief.” timeanddate.com

Honestly it’s hardly thought of or mentioned in most of the largest denominations of the Christian faith in the USA. I grew up in the largest US denomination and it wasn’t mentioned or celebrated. And as I learned this morning, it’s a national holiday in the largely Muslim nation of Indonesia!

How can this be?! 🙂

Anyway, the non denominational Bible Church we attend in our new city as of a year ago has been reading together the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs this year in an organized fashion following the ancient, liturgical church calendar. So we are all aware today is the 40th day of Easter and the end of Eastertide, a period of celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isn’t it amazing, as I pause to think about it, that the Risen Lord, having brought to a close the most important chapter in His redemption-of-mankind story, didn’t just immediately return to the beautiful, glorious, powerful, peaceful side of His All Powerful Father? Wouldn’t you have?

Instead He lingered for forty days and spent some additional special moments with certain followers and groups of followers. I suppose because He loved them. And it was part of His plan that they know for sure He was Risen from the dead, by and in the power of the Holy Spirit Who He promised to send to them as they now waited obediently in Jerusalem. It would be only ten more days, the Day of Pentecost, but I doubt they knew when He would come and what it would look like.

So up until then, 39 days since His Resurrection, He had appeared here and there, and according to some of them, speaking for all of them I’m sure, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He opened the Scriptures to us.”

Very understated, and humble, like He always was, there were 10 times or more in all: in the garden to Mary Magdalene first, to the disciples at supper that same evening, in the Galilee on a certain mountain and by the sea, and finally in Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, from where He ascended up into Heaven and out of their sight.

“Following His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus made a number of appearances to his followers—no less than ten of these are recorded in Scripture. Beginning on Resurrection Sunday, He “showed himself alive . . . by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, KJV) and instructed His apostles and many other followers periodically for forty days. He then ascended from Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem, while the apostles watched (Acts 1:9–12).”

“Paul included a summary statement in 1 Corinthians 15 that provides information about these appearances and others unrecorded in the Gospels or Acts.”

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:3–7)”.

answersingenesis.org

Ascension Day marks the 40th day after Jesus Christ’s resurrection, according to Christian belief.
©iStockphoto.com/Jorisvo

I hope you can take some time today to mediate on these events, and especially the Ascension. They show us much about our Lord, Redeemer, and King. The Lover of our souls.

Happy Ascension Day 2020!!

Why Andrea Bocelli?

I Don’t Know

First let me say I don’t know. Only God knows, and He doesn’t make it the most obvious, as is His Way. I just know I’m intrigued by the man, his apparent faith and life lived in his community, and with His God. I tried very hard to search the web and discover who picked the powerful music for the Easter 2020 “Songs of Hope” Bocelli sang to millions that day live, and many more millions since via YouTube. Apparently he did.

It started with a prayer written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century put to music, asking that the Bread of Heaven (figurative of Jesus the Son of God — our sustenance and power for living) Who Is “the end of all Symbols” Most Highly Exalted, the promised One — come help us on earth, we who are “poor and needy.”

There followed two songs praising Mary, the Mother of God, for responding to God’s messenger angel, “Be it unto me as you have said.” Accepting God’s offer of divine life to be birthed within her, as mysterious as it mush have seemed to her, and to us still.

There is within these two songs, a prayer to Mary, not dead, but living in heaven, that she would pray for us in this time of our very real need.

His fourth song with 4th century lyrics was a powerful anthem of praise and acknowledgment, of worship, to God the King of the Universe and His son Jesus.

“O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
O Lord the only-begotten Son,
The only-begotten, Jesus Christ!”

It ended with “Amazing Grace.” A humble acknowledgement that it’s in Him (by and in His grace) that “we live, and move, and have our being” as Paul told the first century stoic philosophers and men of Athens on Mars Hill (Acts 17). And it’s only by His grace that we behold God and know Him, “see” Him, as the African slave trader and ships captain, John Newton, discovered after almost destroying himself and others — then coming to faith and going on the write this song in England about the time of our Civil War in the U.S.. It’s one of the most telling, insightful, powerfully-true songs of all times. It is a fitting ending to humbly bow and acknowledge how needy we are and how gracious He Is. The ending says it’s only by His Grace we see. Amen.

Snippets from Wikipedia

“Doctors had advised the couple [Bocelli’s parents] to abort him, as they predicted that the child would be born with a disability. It was evident at birth that Bocelli had numerous problems with his sight, and he was eventually diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. He has stated that his mother’s decision to give birth to him and overrule the doctor’s advice was the inspiration for him to oppose abortion”

“Bocelli grew up on his family’s farm where they sold farm machinery and made wine in the small village of La Sterza, Tuscany, Italy, about 25 miles south of Pisa.”

“Bocelli showed a great passion for music as a young boy. His mother has said that music was the only thing that would comfort him. He started piano lessons at age 6 and later learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and drums.”

“At age 12, Bocelli lost his sight completely following an accident during an association football game. He was hit in the eye playing goalkeeper during a match and suffered a brain hemorrhage. Doctors resorted to leeches in a last-ditch effort to save his sight, but they were unsuccessful and he remained blind.”

“Since 1982, Bocelli has recorded 15 solo studio albums of both pop and classical music, … selling over 90 million records worldwide. His first compilation album, Romanza, is one of the best-selling albums of all time, while Sacred Arias is the biggest selling classical album by any solo artist in history.”

“In 1998, Bocelli was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People.”The Prayer” is his duet with Celine Dion for the animated film Quest for Camelot which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.”

“Celine Dion has said that “if God would have a singing voice, he must sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli”, and record producer David Foster has often described Bocelli’s voice as the most beautiful in the world”

In other places I’ve read he was first married ten years with two sons, and since married several years with one daughter. In spite of a normal life in many respects and a good deal of suffering, or because of it, he apparently has a heart of sincere love for people and for God. Although a somewhat reclusive, multi-millionaire, his wife mentioned that he visits local nursing homes and sings for the residents. Telling, isn’t it?

In His Own Words

Bocelli said: “I will cherish the emotion of this unprecedented and profound experience, of this Holy Easter which this emergency has made painful, but at the same time even more fruitful, one that will stay among my dearest memories of all time. That feeling of being at the same time alone – as we all are in the presence of the Most High – yet of expressing the voice of the prayer of millions of voices, has deeply impressed and moved me. Love is a gift. Making it flow is the primary purpose of life itself. And I find myself once again indebted to life. My gratitude goes to all those who made this possible, the City of Milan and the Duomo, and to all those who accepted the invitation and joined in a planetary embrace, gathering that blessing from Heaven that gives us courage, trust, optimism, in the certainty of our faith.”

            kpbs.org

In his own statement, Mayor of Milan Guiseppe Sala said, “I am happy Andrea has accepted our invitation. This year, Easter will be very different for all of us. The joyous serenity that usually comes with this day, has been greatly troubled by the pandemic we are experiencing. I am sure that the extraordinary voice of Bocelli will be the embrace we are missing these days, a strong, special hug, capable of warming the heart of Milan, Italy and the world.”

Once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, Milan, Italy will mark Easter Sunday by staging a very special concert featuring Andrea Bocelli. At the city’s request, the famed opera singer will deliver a solo performance at the historic Duomo cathedral on April 12th. Though it won’t be open to the public due to the countrywide lockdown, the event — titled “Music for Hope” — will be live-streamed globally to promote a message of “love, healing, and hope to Italy and the world.”

Bocelli will be joined by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who will be playing one of the world’s largest pipe organs. The Easter Sunday concert will consist of “carefully selected pieces, specially arranged for solo voice and organ for the occasion,” including “the well-loved Ave Maria setting by Bach/Gounod and Mascagni’s Sancta Maria – uplifting sacred music repertoire on a day symbolic of the renewal of life.”

            kpbs.org

Andrea Bocelli performed a special online concert from the Duomo cathedral in Milan this Easter Sunday (12 April 2020).

Entitled ‘Music for Hope’, Bocelli’s concert was poignantly performed without an audience and instead streamed globally via Bocelli’s YouTube channel, in light of social distancing measures in place across the globe to stem the spread of coronavirus. Bocelli was joined – at distance, of course – by cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, who provided accompaniment for his chosen pieces. Selected to communicate a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the rest of the world during this difficult time, the pieces included the popular Bach/Gounod setting of ‘Ave Maria’ and Mascagni’s ‘Sancta Maria’, as well as an arrangement of John Newton’s enduring ‘Amazing Grace.’

            classicfm.com

DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It is Easter this Sunday. And in Milan, the renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will be sending a message of love and hope to the world, especially Italy, which has seen more death in this pandemic than any country.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “PANIS ANGELICUS”)
ANDREA BOCELLI: (Singing in non-English language).
GREENE: “Panis Angelica” (ph) is one of the songs Bocelli will be performing Sunday at the Milan Cathedral, which is known as the Duomo.
BOCELLI: Many times, I’ve performed this piece also in front of the pope, for example. It’s a beautiful page of music.
GREENE: On Sunday, there will be no audience because of the pandemic, just Bocelli and his organist in the empty cathedral. He’ll livestream this concert on his YouTube channel for free. Bocelli joined me from his home outside Milan, where he and his family have been staying put, mostly. He says he knows how many Italians have been suffering through this. And he feels fortunate.
BOCELLI: For us – it’s very bad to say this, but I dreamed throughout my life to have a period to rest myself, to stay with my family, to speak with my sons, and I had. But anyway, I am privileged because I’m in my house with my families. And I’m – everything’s OK here.
GREENE: He was speaking to me along with his wife, Veronica. And as we were setting up, I could hear the tinkling of their piano. I mean, the idea of Andrea Bocelli playing for us in a moment like we’re in was a wonderful thought. Though, we were warned not to get our hopes up.
Who’s playing the piano?
BOCELLI: Me (laughter). It’s me.
GREENE: Yeah? Have you been playing a lot of piano during – while you’ve been home?
BOCELLI: Yes, yes. Many times during the day, I go to play the piano because it my first…
VERONICA BERTI: Hobby.
BOCELLI: Hobby (laughter).
BERTI: …And work. Work and hobby both go together.
GREENE: That’s great. Well, I want to hear about Easter Sunday. Andrea, you – the mayor of Milan invited you to do this show.
BOCELLI: Correct.
GREENE: Why did you decide to accept the invitation?
BOCELLI: Because I think that, in this moment, music can help. And in this moment, I think it’s very important to do our best to create positivity among the people. My idea – my will will be to help people don’t lose the hope.
GREENE: Well, I know the Duomo in Milan and the square would normally be very crowded on Easter Sunday. Is it going to be strange to be there and performing with almost no one else there?
BOCELLI: No. It’s not strange because this is not a concert. Basically, this is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening my singing can pray with me.

“This is only a prayer. I really hope that people listening … can pray with me.”

Sounds to me like someone who sees…. Amen?

Lord have mercy on our straying nation and world. Show us our blindness — help us see. Amaze us again, please, by your grace. Amen.


“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” II Chron 16:9

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

Beautiful, sincere, and recorded previously in NYC — “The Prayer”

Why Milan?


I Don’t Know

First let me say, “I don’t know.” But as a student of history and the Bible I’ve seen many times that things happen in certain places for a reason. It seems plain to see that it happens that way, but seldom do we see in the spiritual realm, why?

But this Easter 2020 performance, or prayer, as Andrea Bocelli called it, live on YouTube, has so captured my imagination and spiritual hunger, that I’ve tried to look into it as much as I can. To see its fuller meaning, if the Lord would reveal some of it to me.

I know I can’t linger here too much longer. I need to move on to journaling, listening, writing about the next big thing He’s showing me — Grace. In many ways this Easter 2020 event is a good trumpet or launching point for looking at Grace, and its practical work, mystical work, and spiritual work in our lives. It would seem I’ve been blind to how important it is, but now I (am beginning to) see.

“Amazing Grace,” ended Bocelli’s prayer from Milan, Italy, April 12, 2020 — Easter Sunday, in a city and world silenced by a plague called COVID-19.

Snippets from Wikipedia

“Milan, Italy is an ancient city in northern Italy first settled in about 400 BC by Celts. The settlement was conquered by the Romans in 222 BC. Diocletian divided the Roman Empire, choosing the eastern half for himself, making Milan the seat of the western half of the empire, from which Maximian ruled, in the late 3rd and early 4th century AD. In 313 AD Emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milan, which officially ended the persecution of Christians.

“ In 1450 Milan was conquered by Francesco Sforza, which ushered Milan into becoming one of the leading cities of the Italian Renaissance.

In 1629 The Great Plague of Milan killed about 60,000 people out of a total population of about 130,000. This even is considered one of the last great outbreaks of what was a pandemic that ravaged Europe for several centuries, beginning with the Black Death.

Napoleon invaded Italy in 1796, and later declared Milan the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. After Napoleon’s occupation ended the Congress of Vienna returned Lombardy and Milan to Austrian control in 1815. This is the period when Milan became a center for lyric opera.”

“With the unification of the country Milan became the dominant commercial center of northern Italy. In 1919 Benito Mussolini rallied the Blackshirts for the first time in Milan, and later they began their March on Rome from Milan. During World War II Milan was extensively damaged by Allied bombings. Upon the surrender of Italy in 1943 German forces occupied northern Italy until the end of the war in 1945. Members of the Italian resistance in Milan took control of the city and executed Mussolini, his mistress and other leaders of his Fascist government by hanging in Milan.”

Since the end of World War II Italy experienced an economic boom. From 1951 until 1967 the population of Milan grew from 1.3 million to 1.7 million. The city was reconstructed, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s the city suffered from a huge wave of street violence, labor strikes and political terrorism. During the 1980s Milan became one of the world’s fashion capitals.”

In March 2020 Lombardy had the majority of Italy’s cases of Covid-19 during the 2019-2020 worldwide coronavirus pandemic, with the highest rate of death in the world.”

[Bolding for emphasis is mine.]

Duomo — The Cathedral

“Milan Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Milano) is the cathedral church of Milan, Lombardy, Italy.”’

“The cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete: construction began in 1386, and the final details were completed in 1965. It is the largest church in Italy—the larger St. Peter’s Basilica is in the State of Vatican City, a sovereign nation—and the second largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world.”

“At the end of the fifteenth century the greatest architects and artists of the time, including Leonardo da Vinci, tried to accomplish the difficult task of designing the tiburium.”

“The 5-manual, 225-rank pipe-organ, built jointly by the Tamburini and Mascioni Italian organbuilding firms on Mussolini’s command, is currently the largest organ in all of Italy.”

“The American writer and journalist Mark Twain visited Milan in the summer of 1867. He dedicated chapter 18 of ‘Innocents Abroad’ to Milan Cathedral, including many physical and historical details, and a visit to the roof. He describes the Duomo as follows:

What a wonder it is! So grand, so solemn, so vast! And yet so delicate, so airy, so graceful! A very world of solid weight, and yet it seems …a delusion of frostwork that might vanish with a breath!… The central one of its five great doors is bordered with a bas-relief of birds and fruits and beasts and insects, which have been so ingeniously carved out of the marble that they seem like living creatures– and the figures are so numerous and the design so complex, that one might study it a week without exhausting its interest…everywhere that a niche or a perch can be found about the enormous building, from summit to base, there is a marble statue, and every statue is a study in itself…Away above, on the lofty roof, rank on rank of carved and fretted spires spring high in the air, and through their rich tracery one sees the sky beyond. … (Up on) the roof…springing from its broad marble flagstones, were the long files of spires, looking very tall close at hand, but diminishing in the distance…We could see, now, that the statue on the top of each was the size of a large man, though they all looked like dolls from the street… They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter’s at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands.”

I’m struck by many of the Duomo’s features, but especially the very high statue on the spire, and the extremely large crown at the churches center, homage to Christ the reigning and soon coming King. Amen. [Psalm 2]


 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” [Revelation 22:17,21-22]

Amazing Grace

A Christian Easter

A Christian Easter

“So you don’t care about one billion Catholics?” That’s what I heard in the spirit recently — a thought that wasn’t my thought — which I’ve learned to believe is from the Lord. I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking at the time, but I will never forget what I heard.

I have a high view of Catholics, I think, and I’ve always found common ground in Christ when relating to them as friends, in monasteries and retreat centers, and I had a good friend for a time who was the priest at Christ the King Catholic Church in the neighborhood where I lived.

But I didn’t question the thought. I know that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” [I Sam 16:7]. The inference, strong but gentle, was,”I do, and you should too.” That became easier and almost a mandate and passion Easter Sunday 2020 with what I heard from Andrea Bocelli. It peaked my spiritual senses, and I believe it reverberated in the heavens. A prayer birthed in the heart of God, to be answered soon. Mercy for our world.

Protestants & Catholics

There may be something just below the surface in protestant thinking that goes something like this, “Most Catholics don’t read the Bible for themselves, and have at times been discouraged from doing so, so how could they believe? Do they even know what they believe?” Something like that or along those lines. Then some superiority illusions or pride creeps in, because we protestants study the Bible, know the Bible and what we believe it teaches. Pride blinds one to truth and reality.

Protestants beware of blinding pride. Or as Jesus told the Pharisees (the most religious Jews of His day), “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” [John 5:39] That is, they couldn’t see that God in the flesh was standing right in front of them, even though they studied Scripture and its prophecies.

But Bocelli’s simple act of faith, prayer, and worship on the world stage demonstrated simple, childlike faith in doing what he had been invited to do. Child like faith may be a trademark of Catholics? Something akin to the thief on the cross, who sensed his own miserable condition, getting what he deserved, but also sensed that Jesus was the Son of God, asked for mercy, and received the grace of salvation — without much Bible knowledge, as far as we know, like a little child.

That kind of faith may be a Catholic strength?! Yet beware of being somewhat familiar with Jesus, and like the five foolish virgins, not being known by Him, [Matt 25:1-13] putting your faith in saying, “I’m a Catholic or I’m a Christian.” Jesus had something to say to the Pharisees about that too, “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” [Matt 3:9] Or said another way, “You think you’re fine because you’re Jews, but that’s not enough.” Grace received by faith is required, and the resulting relationship.

Christians

I think this pandemic, isolation, and solitude has caused Christ followers around the world to reexamine what they believe. Who and how much they trust? Something along the lines of “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” [Phil 2:12b] And it’s caused Christ followers to minimize their differences and pull together in faith, solidarity, and obedience to Christ.

I’m not talking about universalism here, the teaching or belief that everyone will go to heaven and have eternal life. The Bible doesn’t teach that. And Jesus Himself certainly didn’t. Remember He said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Matt 7:13-14] And, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” [Luke 13:24] He also said it wasn’t His will that any should perish, but that all would come to eternal life.” [2 Peter 3:9] So our wills, wants, desires, actions, and words play a pivotal part in knowing Him.

I’m just saying I’m not the gate keeper. None of us are. Only One is — He Who rose from the dead that first Easter, once for all time, and for all who believe.

So know Him! More importantly, be known by Him.

Amazing Grace — Blind or Seeing

The Bocelli event ended with Amazing Grace, something every believer in Christ can identify with immediately and intensely. A humble acknowledgement we once were blind. And only by His Grace, now we see — the Risen Savior, for Who He Is. The Christ. The King. The Messiah. God’s Son. A loving, powerful One Who hears prayer.

How striking and strong it was to have a blind man with perhaps the best voice in the world standing there singing and seeing in the spiritual realm, while many sighted people watched who were perhaps spiritually blind. Grace was all around, and is there to be found.

Something Changed

I think something changed with that proclamation and prayer Easter Sunday 2020. Many prayers were ascending to God to have mercy and extend grace in our time of global need. More than 2.5 million people watched the powerful event live. As of this post, 38,629,568 have viewed it! Certainly it must have been the largest Christian meeting or spiritual meeting ever experienced at one time. That it included people of all faiths and many nonbelievers is remarkable as well, in the privacy of their own homes, listening in a world quietened by plague. People looking for answers witnessed a global spiritual gathering and event around Christ — facilitated by YouTube, the world wide web, and a humble man with a great voice and sincere faith, moved by compassion for his city, his country, and the world.

So there you have it. There are an estimated 2.3 billion Christians in the world, 1.2 billion Catholics and 1.1 billion protestants — about 30% of the world population. Because of Jesus, we care about each other and our world. Our prayer is that He show us more of His Amazing Grace in this crisis as we love, serve, and worship Him, Who Is Worthy — He is rich in Mercy and abundant in Grace. Amen.

Amazing Grace

Easter Sunday 2020

Trailer for Easter Sunday

A Protestant Easter


Allow me to recount the personal way my wife and I spent Easter 2020 along with some thoughts on how Easter was shared among believers in the protestant world.

I’ll start with an entry from my journal on Saturday before Easter. “It’s sunny with clouds and a cool east wind on a crisp spring day atop of this beautiful mountain as I read another chapter in Dudley Hall’s, Grace Works.” In the latest chapter he notes, “The major sin of God’s covenant people is that of unbelief… since Gods primary requirement is faith.” “In fact, I would dare say that no violation of the law is ever committed without prior unbelief.”

Profound! Grace and Faith. Faith and Grace. The two key issues with God! (Eph 2:8-9)
Then Abide (John 15:5). No boasting ( I Col 1:29, Jeremiah 9:23-24)!

If you fall back into law or works, pray-repent-admit-be restored at once. The price is paid — Easter 2020. Holy Saturday ends the season of Lent. It’s a good day to ponder such truth. Thank you Lord for leading me. Help me to abide more with You, and in You, and You in me. This is my plea, my prayer for holy Saturday, 2020.

April 12, 2020 Easter

On a beautiful, high overcast morning with a sea of pastel greens and blues below… there is thunder in the area on Easter morning — a power display.

I share “He is Risen!” and “He is Risen Indeed!” — the traditional Easter greeting of the early church — with a few close friends and family by text. Now begins a virtual Easter celebration with our present home church, Fayetteville Fellowship. Strange it seems, real and surreal at the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has much of the planet in isolation, so on one of the most church-attended Sundays of the year in Christendom, the faithful are not allowed to meet! So plans have been made, with a few weeks practice under their belts, for most of the planets churches to meet on line, via streaming, Facebook, YouTube, etc. People are forced to be more private and thoughtful about their beliefs, as they ponder them alone, and with their families, or small groups of believers in a time of uncertainty.

This also allows my wife and I to visit the Easter services of friends in Kansas. And of our Fort Smith, AR church for more than thirty years, before we moved last year. Amazing developments all the way around!

As startling as it is, it’s also refreshing in a sense — to break with tradition and consider what it is you really believe? And why you do what you do?

The outline of our pastors message was:
The Fact — of the resurrection
The Implications — of the resurrection
The Meaning — of the resurrection

You assume His death is the end. His disciple did! The most faithful prepared spices. It’s over.

But within days, Peter, arguably the most prone to act in the flesh or his own strength, has a personal meeting with his risen Lord in Galilee, gets a personal commission, and a few days later the inner empowerment to carry it out, being filled with the same Holy Spirit operative in Jesus.

In similar fashion within a few weeks, Paul a violent, angry religious, Jewish bigot, would meet the risen Lord and receive the same Holy Spirit, along with a new identity. The two of them, in that power, would go on to change the known world of their time extending down to our time. Amazing. Grace.

Or in his own words recorded in Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,  and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, promised by the Prophets, Jesus Christ our Lord! News by which everything is changed. A plan to fix and reverse the curse of sin… One Who would come has come.

The implications Paul goes on to say in Romans 8, is that, “We are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

And in Romans 10, “If you declare with your mouth, and trust in your heart, you will be saved.” Declare and believe what? “Jesus was raised from the dead!”

It’s the claim of Easter. The victory we walk in. Celebrate!!


Here are two special worship videos going around in our area this season especially apropos the pandemic and the cultural era in which we live.

This one from our home church.

This one from a group of believers in Nashville TN.

Enjoy! He is risen indeed!

A Catholic Easter

I don’t really know why I’m so enamored with what Andrea Bocelli, the Bishop of Milan, and the mayor or Milan did last Sunday? I wasn’t expecting anything too extraordinary, maybe some inspiring music and beautiful images?

But my spirit was very expectant! Something that I can’t really verbalize well, but I felt I just had to see it, and see it live if we could get it at the cabin. There was something special, historical, and spiritual in store for those with interest and with eyes that see. Thats what I was feeling!

I’m still trying to see into what happened spiritually in those few minutes.

Self disclosure. Even though I have a high view of Catholicism and church history (which was Catholicism for over a thousand years), and appreciate other cultures — certainly Roman and Italian for art, music, architecture, and many of the Renaissance’s advances and masters — some insidious pride, somewhat typical of Americans (whence the common label “Ugly American” is attached with good reason when this unmerited pride surfaces), and I found myself saying, “Some of these lyrics need to be in English so I can understand.”

But constantly flowing was the beauty of the sound, the images of the city and Duomo, the sweeping videography or cinema-photography, accented with the empty street scenes of the world’s major cities. One quickly runs out of words and you simply say to yourself, “This is well done.” And, “There is more here than meets the eye.”

A big part of that “more than meets the eye,” as one might think, would be “What did he sing? And why?”

To answer those questions for those of you who might want to know, I have searched the web for translations into English and provide them below. If you care to listen and watch again, or a few times as I have, you can read as you hear his messages in song. The original lyrics are provided below the YouTube of the event.

As for his motives, I’ve provided what Andrea Bocelli himself provided in the introduction of the event. Tis beautiful and moving — humble, truthful, heartfelt, and strong.

The Lord be magnified and may He hear our prayers for healing. Amen.


Panis Angelicus (from “Messe Solennelle” Op. 12, FWV 61) César Franck

English Translation

May the Bread of Angels
Become bread for mankind;
The Bread of Heaven puts
All foreshadowings to an end;
Oh, thing miraculous!
The body of the Lord will nourish
the poor, the poor,
the servile, and the humble.

           OR

English Translation (more literal)

The angel’s bread becomes the bread of men
The heavenly bread ends all symbols
Oh, miraculous thing! The body of the Lord will nourish
The poor, poor, and humble servant
The poor, poor, and humble servant

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Ave Maria, CG 89a (arr. from Johann Sebastian Bach, “Prelude” no. 1, BWV 846)
Charles-François Gounod

The “Hail Mary” prayer is itself the chief Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary, the mother of God. The text is partially a direct quote from the Archangel Gabriel, when he descends from heaven and appears to the Virgin Mary, telling her she has been blessed to carry the Lord, Jesus Christ, within her womb. [Luke 1:28]

Ave Maria English Translation
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and in the hour of our death. Amen.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Sancta Maria (arr. from “Cavalleria Rusticana”, Intermezzo)
Pietro Mascagni

Hail Mary,
full of grace,
the Lord is with you,
blessed, blessed you are, amongst women,
and blessed is
the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Sancta Maria,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Sancta Maria,
Sancta Maria,
pray for us
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Domine Deus (from “Petite Messe Solennelle”)
Gioachino Antonio Rossini

O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
O Lord the only-begotten Son,
Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!
 
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
O Lord the only-begotten Son,
The only-begotten, Jesus Christ!
 
O Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father.
Son of the Father.
O Lord God, Lamb of God,
Lamb of God,
Son of the Father.
Son of the Father.
 
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
O Lord the only-begotten Son,
Jesus Christ!
Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!
 
O Lord God, heavenly King,
God the Father almighty.
O Lord the only-begotten Son,
The only-begotten, Jesus Christ!
 
O Lord God, Lamb of God,
Son of the Father.
Son of the Father.
Son of the Father.
Son of the Father.
Son of the Father.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Amazing Grace
John Newton
Arr. William Ross

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear 
And grace my fears relieved. 
How precious did that grace appear 
The hour I first believed.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

On the day in which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I’m honored and happy to answer ‘Sì’ to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan. I believe in the strength of praying together; I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone – whether they are believers or not – truly needs right now. Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth’s pulsing heart, this wonderful international forge that is reason for Italian pride. The generous, courageous, proactive Milan and the whole of Italy will be again, and very soon, a winning model, engine of a renaissance that we all hope for. It will be a joy to witness it, in the Duomo, during the Easter celebration which evokes the mystery of birth and rebirth”     Andrea Bocelli

[Bolding and italics mine.]

Easter 2020

I knew it could be special! I’ve heard some of Andrea Bocelli’s songs before. A voice, and seemingly a heart, that turns heads whenever one hears almost any note he sings.

My wife had seen a message on line announcing that Bocelli would be bringing a free concert to the world from Milan Italy at noon our time, live streamed to the world via YouTube. And it happened just like that!

Two and one half million viewers watched it live. During the next forty-eight hours, more than thirty-three million people had watched it. Amazing!

I’ll comment on it later, with the English translations of the songs sung in Italian, but you can watch it here now, and experience it for yourself.

The music, the back story, the architecture , the videography, the choreography, the history, the understated nature of this world-wide communication and prayer to the Almighty will speak to your heart in ways words cannot. Just enjoy it for now, and listen with your heart, to something deeply spiritual, and very special. Music for hope.