October 2021 Conchshell Chronicles
We are all designed differently and uniquely by a Creator God who loves us and has designed us to complete our time here on earth with a definitive purpose and divine satisfaction. I have practiced living in the surf and sea of God wanting to involve His Spirit in my personal life and affairs on a daily basis and it has been a divinely inspired wave that has been the best one to ride.
Whenever God has broken into my existence, Everything changes. From my inner reality in my heart to the outward circumstances in my life.
I really enjoy watching people surf especially those who have practiced many hours to master the art of the sport. It is a poignant illustration of positioning ourselves properly and knowing when to make the move onto the wave, then actually standing, balancing, being in touch not only with yourself but also with this force that is carrying you and thrusting you forward. Once the dynamics are mastered, the surfer’s individuality comes forth with a stylistic finesse and it is a joy to see the beautiful connection and unhindered freedom displayed upon this break of fluidity and force in a wave.
One has to know when to get on, how to stay on and when to get off and even if one knows how to do all the basics, there is the factor of being bruised, broken, crushed, cut up, bashed and/or drowned by the power of the wave and the elements under water.
In life, we all have our “BREAKING POINTS”. The place that we decide to get on the wave, off the wave or figure out how we are staying on that wave to maximize our ride.
After 45 years of being on this Wave, I am finally getting a feel of the process. I still feel the pangs of how amateur and lame I am, but there has been a renewed sense of an overwhelming Intimacy that is occurring divinely with my Creator and Master of the Universe. He has been my Source and constant “Go to”. My One and Only Super Hero that knows, cares and can do something about my every whim, need, desire, care or concern. With God, the impossibilities of life become minute when I compare it to His matchless Presence and omnipotence that is in operation like the waves of the sea rolling constantly. Gods love for me being compared to the seemingly endless vastness of the ocean at large.
It has been a sweet journey of getting in touch with myself in regard to His design and plan for my life. God has spoken to me deeply regarding the details of this house or temple he resides in. There are physical phenomena that reflect inner issues of my heart that need to be addressed in order for balance to come to order in my body. It has been the way of my “paying attention”, taking heed and then the rightful action.
My prayer has been, “Please make me free and heal me from the inside out. Thank you for bringing me to my breaking points so that I get in touch what what you want to change in me so I can be more effective and liberated to do all that I was placed here to do on this planet. I am so thankful for Your Presence in my Life to guide me and help me in and through all things. You are Perfect and Complete. In You I have all my needs, wants and desires met. Thank you. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Laura
A Step Back Into History
We just returned for a few weeks in Turkey. Why Turkey my friends ask? We went for a study tour with our friend Dr Randy Smith and it is one of the most historically rich regions for us who want to understand Roman and Early Christian culture.
Yes, we ate Turkish Delight at the Covered Bazaar and Spice Market in Istanbul, and we drank our share of thick Turkish coffee. There was beautiful scenery, with vineyards and cotton fields everywhere. The locals were very friendly and happy to see us in their hotels and restaurants. We travelled with some of our dearest friends to many Christian and Roman sites through the Southwestern part of the country.
And we learned so much!
Our purpose was to read the letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation Chapters 2 & 3, while standing in the exact locations and understanding the historical and cultural context. What was going on in the culture and political world as well as in the personal lives of those ancient followers of Jesus that would cause our Lord to write such specific letters to each of the seven Christian communities? How were they responding to cultural and political pressures to conform to the Roman mindset, morals, and religions? Is there any relevance to what we are experiencing today in our world?
I was surprised at the specific things those First Century believers were experiencing that I am experiencing as well 2000 years later. Our study group was comprised with believers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, and Israel, and as we studied, we all were suddenly connected to familiar circumstances of life of our brothers & sisters of that ancient time.
Conformity? Tolerance? Moral Relativism? Compromises? Cancel Culture? Believing culture rather than the Word of God? Forgetting the essence of our relationship with God? Forgetting our mission?
Yes to all of the above! These guys experienced much of what we are today. It seems like each of these letters could have been written to me today. I hope over the next few months to share many of the lessons we learned, and post many photos in the online edition that will hopefully make it come alive.
Our first days were spent in Istanbul, a beautiful city which sits on the Bosporus, the waterway that connects the Black Sea with the Aegean Sea (via the small Sea of Marmara). It is where Asia and Europe meet.
Istanbul was formerly known as Constantinople, which was the capital of the Roman/ Byzantium Empire. Founded by Constantine in 324 as the capital of “New Rome”, it was the a center of Christianity for over a millennium, until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The place is dripping with history!
I first visited Istanbul in 1962 when I lived in Yalova Turkey, when my dad was stationed at Karamursel Air Base, which was about 90 miles from the Soviet Union border. My dad spoke Russian and there were big antennas at Base Ops. We were there during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when Nikita Khrushchev was threatening to bomb the American bases in Turkey if we didn't cease with the blockade of Cuba which President John Kennedy imposed to keep Russian nuclear missiles from being based in Cuba. I remember having my bag packed by the front door- we were on a one hour alert to head to the mountains behind Yalova in case of attack.
On one trip to Istanbul in 1963, when my parents took us to the Covered Bazaar where they purchased the big brass tray that sits in our Bedouin Living Room here in Vero Beach, I actually witnessed the filming of the second James Bond movie “From Russian With Love”. Sean Connery was walking through the bazaar, although I had no idea who he was until I saw the movie a few years later. But enough of my irrelevant history....
There are two churches that we visited that are prominent in Christian history: The Hagia Sofia (St Sophia- Holy Wisdom) Church build by Justinian in 537 AD, with at the time the largest interior space and highest dome in the world, 182 feet above the floor. That lasted until the Renaissance, 1000 years later with the building of Il Doumo in Florence.
Many important events occurred in this “Great Church”, including decisions on the recognized Canon of Scripture as well as the 20th Anniversary wedding rededication ceremony for Laura and I which our friend Jason Spence conducted during our visit there in 2008. That was a special moment.
The other church is Hagia Eirene (Holy Peace) which was built by Constantine in 337 AD. It’s a beautiful Roman brick & cement style building that is now used for musical events because of the incredible acoustics.
A very significant event took place in this church in 381 AD, when the bishops gathered to consider the status of the Holy Spirit. At the time there was much controversy over the divinity of Jesus and the place of the Holy Spirit in Christian theology.
The question of Jesus’ divinity was settled at the Council of Nicea in 325, when the bishops decided that Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father- homoousion - from homos, same, and ousia, essence; Jesus was all man and all God. Now the question was what of the Holy Spirit?
The Bishop of Constantinople was Gregory of Nazianzus, who championed the effort to convince the bishops that the Holy Spirit was indeed “homoousin” as God the Father and Jesus the Son. For Gregory it was an important question to address, and for him it was personal.
Was the Holy Spirit which was given to all believers when they received Jesus as their Lord (Ephesians 1:13) indeed a form of God in the same substance as Jesus and God the Father? Or was he a later creation/manifestation? For Gregory, it meant the difference of a God that was separated from His Earthly children, or God who Himself became part of every believer, intimately communicating with each and empowering them to live lives with supernatural wisdom and abilities.
“Now the Spirit Himself dwells among us and makes the manifestation of Himself more certain... Look at these facts: Christ is born, the Holy Spirit is His Forerunner. Christ is baptized, the Spirit bears witness to this... Christ works miracles, the Spirit accompanies them. Christ ascends, the Spirit takes His place. What great things are there in the idea of God which are not in His power? What titles appertaining to God do not apply also to Him, except for Unbegotten and Begotten? “
For Gregory it was all about intimacy with God. That was the crux of the issue. Is the Living God dwelling inside each of us? Paul declares “Yes!” (Colossians 1:27). How is He manifesting Himself in our lives? That is up to us individually.
And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. Ephesians 1:13-14
This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. Colossians 1:26-27
I see it this way: There is a cage called Michael Bagby that is made of his life experiences, his thinking, and his free will. The Holy Spirit is trapped inside this cage, and only when I open the door do I let Him out to touch those around me. When I allow Him out of that cage, amazing things happen. When I refuse to open it and do what I want to do, then He stays trapped inside. Nothing extraordinary takes place. Does this happen to you?
We need to let Him out!
Gregory was passionate about the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and because of him, the entire Christian church took a turn toward “abundant living” rather than simply religious theology at the council which he headed that occurred inside the Hagia Eirene church in 381 AD.
It was pretty sweet to stand in this building where such an important concept was articulated and agreed on. It prompted much mediation of the place and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The lesson for me? Cultivate the presence of the Holy Spirit daily. Talk with Him. Ask Him questions. Tune your ear to His voice. Worship Him. Don't do things to greave Him. Let Him dominate me!. As Paul wrote to his friends in Ephesus:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled (Gr. pleroo) with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18
Pleroo: Figuratively, to fill, supply abundantly with something, impart richly, imbue with.
Let the Holy Spirit constantly fill me and dominate my thoughts. Then I can let Him out of my cage so He can touch those around me! Michael
We have many financial needs these months with our 1700 students and our 50 teachers and staff and the rebuilding that we are doing after the double Category 3 Hurricanes that hit us in 2019.
So many of you have been faithful to give each month and we have made great progress on rebuilding, and we are able to pay our staff a fair salary for their service.
Thank you. Each gift makes a difference.
I especially want to thank those of you who have contributed to Sofia’s house. She is very very happy that she can start the carpentry on her home. You don’t know how much your support means to all of us. Michael & Laura
Rio Coco Beans Coffee
Our roastery has been very busy this past month, even with green coffee prices rising to 30% over what they were at the beginning of this year.
You may have some of our high altitude, hand picked, fresh roasted specialty coffee delivered to your door and support our school project at the same time.
Thanks for spending time with us this month!
For all the Seek The Lamb and Rio Coco Team!
Laura & Michael
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