Thursday, April 30, 2015

THE CHAMBER OF FELLOWSHIP IN CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS



It may be so. All along the Christian's course there is a great and growing love for the world for which He died. But there are times when that love amounts almost to an agony of compassion and desire; and there come sufferings caused by the thorn-crown, the sneer, the mockery, the cross, the spear, the baptism of blood and tears. All these fall to the lot of the followers of the King; and perhaps they come most plentifully to the saintliest, the likest to the Lord. But certain it is that those who suffer thus are they who reign. Their sufferings are not for a moment to be compared to the glory revealed in their lives. And out of their bitter griefs, sweetened by the Cross, gush water-springs to refresh the weary heritage of God, like the waters of Exodus (Exod. xi: 25).

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5558-5563).  . Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

THE CHAMBER OF HEART REST



The King Himself spoke its motto-text: "Take My yoke, and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. xi: 29). Soft strains float on the air; the peace of God stands sentry against intruding care. Of course the soul learnt something of rest at the very outset. But those words of the Master indicate that there are at least two kinds of rest. And so the rest of forgiveness passes into the rest of surrender and satisfaction. We lay our worries and cares where once we only laid our sins. We lose the tumultuous fever and haste of earlier days. We become oblivious to praise on the one hand and censure on the other. Our soul is poised on God, satisfied with God, seeks nothing outside God, regards all things from the standpoint of eternity and of God. The life loses the babble of its earlier course, and sweeps onward to the ocean from which it derived its being, with a stillness which bespeaks its depth, a serenity which foretells its destiny. The very face tells the tale of the sweet, still life within, which is attuned to the everlasting chime of the land where storms come not, nor conflict, nor alarm.

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5549-5557).  . Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

THE CHAMBER OF VICTORY OVER SIN



Above the door are the words:  "Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not" (I John iii: 6).  Around the walls hang various instruments of war (Eph. vi: 13); and frescoes of the overcomers receiving the fair rewards which the King hath promised (Rev. ii, iii).  We must be careful of the order in which we put these things. Many seek victory over sin before yielding themselves entirely to God. But you can never enter this chamber where the palm branch waves unless you have passed through the chamber of consecration. Give yourself wholly up to Jesus, and He will keep you. Will you dare to say that He can hold the oceans in the hollow of His hand, and sustain the arch of heaven, and fill the sun with light for milleniums, but that He can not keep you from being overcome by sin, or filled with the impetuous rush of unholy passion? Can He not deliver His saints from the sword, His children from the power of the dog? Is all power given Him in heaven and on earth, and must He stand paralyzed before the devils that possess you, unable to cast them out? To ask such questions is to answer them. "I am persuaded He is able to keep." (2 Tim. i: 12; I John v: II.) We may expect to be tempted till we die. We certainly shall carry about with us an evil nature, which would manifest itself, unless kept in check by the grace of God. But if we abide in Christ, and He abide in us, if we live under the power of the Holy Spirit, temptation, will excite no fascination in us, but, on the contrary, horror; the least stirring of our self-life will be instantly noticed, and met by the Name and Blood and Spirit of Jesus; the tides of His purity and life will flow so strongly over our being as to sweep away any black drops of ink oozing upward from the sands. You must, however, irrevocably shut the back door as well as the front door, against sin. You must not dally with it as possible in any form. You must see that you are shut up to saintliness by the purpose of God (Rom. viii: 29). You must definitely and forever elect the cross as the destiny of your self-life. And you will find that He will save you from all that you dare to trust Him with, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given unto thee." And His work within is most perfect when it is least apparent, and when the flesh is kept so utterly in abeyance that we begin to think it has been altogether extracted.

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5531-5547).  . Kindle Edition.

Monday, April 27, 2015

THE CHAMBER OF ABIDING IN CHRIST



Around the doorway a vine is sculptured, with trailing branches and pendent grapes; and, entwined among the foliage, these words appear: "Abide in Me, and l in you" (John xv: 4). The Holy Spirit never reveals Himself. Those who have most of His grace, "wist it not." His chosen work is to reveal the Lord. We are not conscious of the Spirit, but of Him who is the Alpha and Omega of our life. Christ's loveliness fills the soul where the Spirit is in full possession, as the odor of the ointment filled the house at Bethany. Our Lord is with us all the days; but often our eyes are holden, that we do not know Him; and if for a radiant moment we discern Him, He vanishes from our sight. There is an experience in which we do not only believe that He is near, but we perceive His presence by the instinct of the heart. He becomes a living, bright reality; sitting over our hearth, walking beside us through the crowded streets, sailing with us across the stormy lake, standing beside the graves that hold our dead, sharing our crosses and our burdens, turning the water of common joys into the wine of holy sacraments. Then the believer leans hard on the ever-present Lord, drawing on His fulness, appropriating His unsearchable riches, claiming for Him grace to turn every temptation into the means of increasing likeness to Himself. And if the branch abide constantly in the Vine, it can not help bearing fruit; nay, the difficulty would be to keep the fruit back. We have to do with the death and not with the life part of our experience (Rom. viii: 13). The oftener we sow ourselves in the clods of daily self-denial, falling into the furrows to die, the more fruit we bear. It is by always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus is made manifest in our mortal flesh. Prune off every bud on the old stock, and all the energy will pass up to the rare flowers and fruits grafted there by Heaven.

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5516-5529).  . Kindle Edition.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

THE CHAMBER OF THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT




And above the entrance glisten the words: "Be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. v: 18). We gladly admit that the Holy Spirit is literally in the heart of every true believer (Rom. viii: 9); and that the whole work of grace in our souls is due to Him, from the first desire to be saved to the last prayer breathed on the threshold of heaven. But it is also true that a period comes in our education, when we become more alive to the necessity of the Holy Spirit, and seek for more of His all-pervading, heart-filling presence. Many of us have been startled to find that we have been content with too little of the Holy Spirit. There has been enough throne-water to cover the stones in the river-bed, but not to fill its channel. Instead of occupying all, our gracious Guest has been confined to one or two back rooms of our hearts; as a poor housekeeper is sometimes put in to keep a mansion, dwelling in attic or cellar, while the suites of splendid apartments are consigned to dust-sheets and cobwebs, shuttered, dismantled and locked. Each Christian has the Holy Spirit; but each Christian needs more and more of Him, until the whole nature is filled. Nay, it would be truer to say, the Holy Spirit wants more and more of us. Let us ask our heavenly Father to give us of His Spirit in ever-enlarging measures; and as we ask, let us yield ourselves incessantly to His indwelling and inworking. Then let us believe that we are filled, not because we feel it, but because we are sure that God is keeping His word with us: "Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water." It is true that the filling of the Spirit involves a separation, a giving up, a going apart, which is keenly bitter to the flesh. The filling of Pentecost is a baptism of fire. But there is joy amid the flames as the bonds shrivel, and the limbs are free, and the Son of God walks beside. But this chamber leads to another of exceeding blessedness,

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5501-5515).  . Kindle Edition.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Chamber of a Surrendered Will


THE CHAMBER OF A SURRENDERED WILL



 Above the doorway stand the words: "From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus,' 'Whose I am, and whom I serve" (Gal. vi: 17, R. V., and Acts xxvii: 23). Consecration is giving Jesus His own. We are His by right, because He bought us with His blood. But, alas! He has not had His money's worth! He paid for all, and He has had but a fragment of our energy, time and earnings. By an act of consecration, let us ask Him to forgive the robbery of the past, and let us profess our desire to be henceforth utterly and only for Him; His slaves, His chattels, owning no master other than Himself. As soon as we say this, He will test our sincerity, as He did the young ruler's, by asking something of us. He will lay His finger on something within us which He wants us to alter, obeying some command, or abstaining from some indulgence. If we instantly give up our will and way to Him, we pass the narrow doorway into the Chamber of Surrender, which has a southern aspect, and is ever warm and radiant with His presence, because obedience is the condition of manifested love (John xiv: 23). This doorway is very narrow, and the entrance is only possible for those who will lay aside weights as well as sins. A weight is anything which, without being essentially wrong or hurtful to others, is yet a hindrance to ourselves. We may always know a weight by three signs: first, we are uneasy about it; second; we argue for it against our conscience; third, we go about asking people's advice, whether we may not keep it without harm. All these things must be laid aside in the strength which Jesus waits to give. Ask Him to deal with them for you, that you may be set in joint in every good work to do His will (Heb. xiii: 2I).

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5487-5499).  . Kindle Edition.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Chamber of Assurance!

THE CHAMBER OF ASSURANCE



 And over that door of entrance, where the King awaits us with beckoning hand. these words are engraved: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (I John iii: 2). In many cases, of course, assurance follows immediately on conversion, as a father's kiss on his words of forgiveness to the penitent child. But it is also true that there are some souls, truly saved, who pass through weeks, months and sometimes years without being sure of their standing in Jesus, or deriving any comfort from it. True assurance comes from the work of the Holy Spirit through the sacred Scriptures. Read the Word, looking for His teaching. Think ten times of Christ for every once of yourself. Dwell much on all references to His finished work. Understand that you are so truly one with Him, that you died in Him, lay with Him in the garden tomb, rose with Him, ascended with Him back to God, and have been already welcomed and accepted in the beloved (Eph. ii: 5, 6). Remember that His Father is your Father; and that you are a son in the Son; and as you dwell in these truths, opening your heart to the Holy Spirit, He will pervade your soul with a blessed conviction that you have eternal life, and that you are a child, not because you feel it, but because God says so (John iii: 36; Rom. viii: 16).

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5476-5485).  . Kindle Edition.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chambers of the King

The Chambers Of The King



CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE MAY be compared to a suite of royal apartments, of which the first opens into the second, and that again into the third, and so on. It is of course true that believers enter on a possession of all as soon as they are born into the royal, divine household. But, as a matter of fact, certain truths stand out more clearly to them at different stages of their history, and thus their successive experiences may be compared to the chambers of a palace, through which they pass into the throne-room and presence-chamber of their King. And the King Himself is waiting at the threshold to act as a guide. The key is in His hand, which opens, and no man shuts; which shuts, and no man opens. Have you entered the first of those chambers? If not, He waits to unlock the first door of all to you at this moment, and to lead you forward from stage to stage, till you have realized all that can be enjoyed by saintly hearts on this side the gates of pearl. Only be sure to follow where Jesus leads the way. "Draw me, we will run after Thee." (Sol. Song i: 4.)

THE FIRST CHAMBER IN THE KING'S HOLY PALACE IS THE CHAMBER OF NEW BIRTH In some cases it is preceded by a portico known as Conviction for Sin. But as the portico is not part of the house, and all do not pass through it, we need not stay further to describe it. Over the door of this chamber are inscribed the words: "Except a man be born again, he can not enter." (John iii: 3, 5.) By nature we are destitute of life-dead in trespasses and sins. We need, therefore, first, not a new creed, but a new life. The prophet's staff is well enough where there is life; but it is useless on the face of a dead babe. The first requisite is Life. This is what the Holy Spirit gives us at the moment of conversion. He comes to us through some truth of the incorruptible Word of God, and implants the first spark of the new life; and we who were dead, live. Thus we enter the first room in our Father's palace, where the new-born babes are welcomed and nursed and fed. We may remember the day and place of our new birth, or we may be as ignorant of them as of the circumstances of our natural birth. But what does it matter that a man can not recall his birthday, so long as he knows that he is alive? As an outstretched hand has two sides-the upper, called the back; the under, called the palm -so there two sides and names for the act of entrance into the Chamber of New Birth. Angels, looking at it from the heaven side, call it being born again. Men, looking at it from the earth side, call it trusting Jesus. "Those that believe in His name are born"; "Those that receive Him have the right to become the sons of God" (John i: 12-13). If you are born again, you will trust. And if you are trusting Jesus, however many your doubts and fears, you are certainly born again, and have entered the palace. If you go no further, you will be saved, but you will miss untold blessedness. From the chamber of birth, where the newborn ones rejoice together, realizing for the first time the throbbing of the life of God, there is a door leading into a second chamber, which may be called

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 5453-5476).  . Kindle Edition.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Marvel's Dardevil Review, "Into the Ring"

First thing I noticed is that the new series is rated TV-MA. Evidently, that lends it some cred for a Netflix series. House of Cards is similarly rated. This breaks ground for Marvel, which has been PG-13 all the way. I'd be surprised if Marvel's Agents of Shield is more than TV-14.

The danger for comic character shows is always that they'll be cheesy or campy. Up to this point, Marvel has shown that it can keep things somewhat light, hit on some deeper issues (such as youthful arrogance and submission to authority, the dangers of a powerful, central government and the unintended consequences of good intentions). Now, it appears they're taking their characters to the street level, away from those larger themes. I was skeptical if it would translate better than the Ben Afleck film from a few years ago (which was horrible, all around. Better luck for the new Batman?).

The opening scene explains the accident that took Matt Murdock/Daredevil's sight. The show gets knocked a bit for what follows: a cliche scene of "confession" to a priest that serves as back-story for his father's life as a boxer. The scene escapes cheesy by a bit. It felt like the whole thing was contrived to tell about his father, throw in some reference to "devil" and then have him "confess" what he was "about to do." At that point, I was hoping the show would get better.

Good news, it did! We don't slog through a transformation story where he decides to become some masked crusader. Rather, he's just there, taking out human trafficking punks. The fight scenes are very well done. They don't make him super-strong and he takes some hard hits. It's still TV fantasy, but it's done well.

To my surprise, the non-Daredevil story was very compelling and well-thought-out. The story felt like a Law & Order episode, more or less. The viewer gets an idea that Matt's senses are keenly attuned, but this isn't over-done during the show.

One gripe, though, was the choice to have their client, a young, blond woman, change shirts in front of Matt. Ha, ha, we get it, he's blind. But the TV nudity is demeaning to women and makes the character become a sex object rather than a complex character that might be more interesting. Of course, this same complaint goes for pretty much all TV and movies out there. Everything gets the sleaze treatment to some extent. I'm sure there's a market survey somewhere that shows viewers like this. I'll gladly be in the minority there.

The first episode ended well. The "big secret" got out, they drew blood for the mysterious bad guy, but evil strikes back and the city is a dangerous place where even the police are on the take. We also get a glimpse of Matt Murdock's super-power hearing, which recalled a scene from Superman Returns (unfortunately). Matt's on a rooftop and he hears all these voices around him, including the voice of a young boy who we watched get kidnapped in the previous montage.

That edged out the "confession" scene for cheese. So, he's got highly attuned hearing, but that doesn't mean he can hear all these voices all over the city! How does he string a sentence together if he walks around hearing all the voices all the time? Or is this something he can turn on and off? Those are the things that push a comic show into cheese and camp territory, no matter how much blood, nudity and swearing (not in this episode) there might be.

We'll see where this goes.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Runaway Talent - Review of Brian Wilson's No Pier Pressure

I'm a bit of an oddball when it comes to music, for my age. I grew up on the mission field in Italy in the early 80s. So, I missed popular American culture at the time. I remember that Elvis was really huge over there. Big TV events were the reruns of old Elvis movies. The Beatles seemed to share that level of contemporary status over there, too.

For me, though, I found instant joy at hearing the Beach Boys' Surfin' Safari album. Then we got a copy of the Beach Boys' Concert. I eventually took my sister's cassette tape of Beach Boys songs (which she titled 'The Beach Boys Live & dead). Long story short, I was hooked on the Beach Boys for the duration.

Fast forward, I was watching a TV show where Brian Wilson was being interviewed (and he's always been a bit awkward in those situations). I asked my dad who that guy was. His reply, "That's Brian Wilson, the guy who basically made the Beach Boys." Take that quote as a loose, living translation of what he actually said.

I had to get this guy's album! So, I got his solo album, which featured Love & Mercy, Melt Away, Rio Grand and several other great arrangements. It wasn't a Beach Boys album, but it still resonated with me. Since then I've bought nearly every album of his. I haven't purchased That Lucky Old Sun. But I have the others, and they each offer high points. For instance, Imagination  had wonderful, catchy songs, but Lay Down Burden stood out as a powerful classic. The way Love & Mercy did on his first solo effort.

But, after several "cover" albums, such as Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin or In the Key of Disney I was beginning to think he'd run out of songs. He was still an expert producer and arranger, but maybe he was out of tunes.

Then the 50th anniversary album came out with the Beach Boys. I was really skeptical. How good could this be? And reports made it sound like he was raiding the vault of unused songs from his work with Joe Thomas back during Imagination. And yet, That's Why God Made The Radio (a title that could have been better) had some great tunes on it and some really fresh arrangements. I loved Shelter and The Private Life of Bill & Sue. The only song I really didn't care for was the title track.

I was encouraged by the rumors that Brian had experienced a flux of creativity while on tour with his old band-mates and was hopeful. Of course, it wouldn't be the Beach Boys without drama, falling out, etc. Then came the "Jeff Beck Sessions" the hype, the articles, the fallout.

Is this guy in his 70s, or is this some new, young artist? I guess "creative differences" know no age bracket.

Fast forward and No Pier Pressure is announced with a slew of guest vocalists. Rumors began that this will be some conspiracy to capitalize (pun not really intended) on Brian's "genius" status and work in younger, hipper artists. I felt that way, too. I'm certain Capital execs like the idea of bankable talent boosting a project they're investing in.

The 30 second samples didn't help me decide to want to pre-order this album. In fact, they were a let down. Runaway Dancer sounded horrible! He's doing disco? What? The Right Time sounded like a turn on Lay Down Burden. Then I heard Sail Away. He obviously samples a melody trill from Sloop John B, but the song unexpectedly grew on me. Suddenly, I loved the lyrics, the arrangement and the song was just plain infectious!

I listened to the live performance of Runaway Dancer and was hit with the fact that Brian combined loungy sax with dance beats and jazz harmony and tempo changes. As a whole, the song is awesome.

The country-tinged I Guess You Had To Be There with Kasey Musgraves is a bouncy tune, easy to get stuck in your head. It also covers ground that the Eagles did with Hotel California, but Brian's not so morose.

Each of these started to show that the 30 second snippets don't give this album any sort of justice. Brian doesn't make songs that allow for a good 30 second sample of the whole. Think about Good Vibrations. If you heard the wrong 30 seconds you'd get the wrong impression of the song.

So, I bought this album. I've listened to it for the past few days. Some parts do NOT sound like something Brian would have done. But, then, neither did the stuff on Wild Honey compare with The Beach Boys Today or Summer Days (and Nights!). Or, for that matter, the songs on Friends resemble stuff from Wild Honey or Pet Sounds. Come to think of it, the Friends album didn't sound very similar to 20/20, which came next. Love You didn't have much resemblance to any of those albums.

I've read some claim that Brian is being trotted out by Capital and Joe Thomas to "collaborate" with folks he doesn't even know. The picture this presents is some addled old man who gets shuffled around to do stuff. I'm not buying that.

This album has a clear Brian Wilson opening with Beautiful Day (an almost Our Prayer type of opening). It weaves through various styles, but always has the trademark Brian Wilson arrangements, harmony and melodies. Standouts include Special Love (which has a middle part that surprises, but the overall feel is very fresh and BW), I'm Feeling Sad (a classic album cut send-up from Brian), Sail Away, Runaway Dancer and Last Song. The album, when listened to from start to finish has a Pet Sounds cohesiveness.

What it suffers from, though, is Joe Thomas. I'm not opposed to autotune for aging singers. That's fine and understandable. But something flattens out the productions so they sound computerized. I'm certain real trumpets are on Don't Worry, but they sound like a keyboard. Brian's work on his last few albums were better produced than this.

Yet, Brian's talent runs through this album and manages to survive the techno crap that Joe Thomas (and Capital) must think it needs.

Enjoy a few samples of this album that I've linked below.