Eleven

I have this recording that I made waaaaay back when I was 11. I had one of those old 70’s cassette recorders, and it was important for me to leave a “witnessing tape” so that if I died my family and friends would listen to it and all come to Jesus. Anyway, there’s this point during the first few minutes when I say, “I lived in sin until I was 11.” That is both hilarious and, in a way, so sad to me now. Because man, was I wrong!! There were 30 years of addiction and pain that lay ahead. My intentions were good, but I had the perspective of an 11 old year old child. Not necessarily good or bad, just limited by my own personal context at the time. I couldn’t see past 11.

When we as men and women chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil over Life and intimacy with our creator, sin invaded like cancer. It warped the very fabric of creation, bringing death and separation from God, and forever altered our perspective about God and ourselves. We fell for the lie that we could be like God without God. And from that time until the present mankind has set up governments, programs, institutions, religions, and whatever else you can think of to fashion himself into the being he has only a distorted notion of that he should be. The way seems good, but the end brings only more death. Enter Jesus. (I have to be honest, when I wrote that I thought of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.)

Through the redemptive work of Jesus: his life, death, and resurrection; we have been reconciled to God. In the person of Jesus, God has provided healing for our brokenness. Salvation is so much more than our proverbial bible-belt prayer, “Lord, I confess I’m a sinner. Please save me now.” It is holistic in its “efficaciousness,” affecting every facet of our being. Through intimacy with Jesus we have been invited to come and take part in the Life and Love of God. In Jesus, we become a “new creation,” all things become new. The Spirit of God actually indwells us and begins to change us, molding us into the image of Jesus. And as we grow in the Lord, our perspective which sin had left warped and distorted begins to give way to a new one. Or at least it should.

Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda…One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well? (John 5: 5,6 NLT)

I used to read this passage and think to myself that it was strange that the Lord would ask the paralyzed man if he wanted to be well. After all, who wouldn’t want to be healed of an infirmity that had rendered them an invalid? What person in their right mind would want to remain in a paralyzed condition? The truth is that sometimes, as crazy as it may seem, even after we come to Jesus we can actually remain at ease with our “disease.” Sadly, many of us are guilty of not allowing Jesus complete access to the pain and hurts we have encountered in life. When this happens, our thoughts and behavior can be dictated by the flesh, and we often feel justified in using our infirmity to manipulate others. I wonder if perhaps that is why Jesus asked the man lying beside the pool of Bethesda that day if he wanted to be healed. Maybe the man had actually begun to see his illness as a way to manipulate others into giving him money. Have you ever met someone who has actually begun to “romance” their pain and hurt? It’s crazy, but sometimes, we can prefer the familiarity of our suffering over the prospect of being made whole.

Maybe part of the reason we as believers are experiencing such angst and frustration in this “kairos moment” in history is due to the fact that we need to allow God to change our perspective from the natural to the spiritual. Perhaps the truth is that while by this time we should be mature sons and daughters of God, we have been held back by desires and thoughts that originate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil- our old, carnal thought patterns and perspectives. Could it be that we, all of us, have been largely deceived by that which seems good, but is in reality a fruit from that old tree? We can’t and shouldn’t be freaked out by the world’s reactions to current events, but our perspectives as lovers of Jesus are to be shaped by his Spirit within us. And I guess ultimately, it is by the Spirit that each of us can discern our own motivation.

When I was a boy, I couldn’t see past 11. I had all kind of thoughts, but my perspective was that of a child. May I ask some questions without coming across as insensitive? Are we as Christians honestly coming before the Lord, laying down our hurt, our pain, and everything we think we know? Are we willing to allow the Spirit to expand our perspective beyond the natural? Are we willing to see beyond our own ethnicity and personal context? It may be impossible with man, but not with God. Let’s grow up in him together!!

 

 

 

 

A Glimpse Behind The Curtain

 

…we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near…

…we hold to the hope that lies before us.  This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

One of the coolest things we get to be a part of as lovers of Jesus is unfortunately  one of the things I think we fail at the most. And that is, providing those around us with a “glimpse behind the curtain,” a “peak and taste” of the One who is our life and love. He who is in fact the One in whom we and all of creation lives and moves and has its being (Acts 17:25-28). No, I’m not advocating universalism or pantheism. But I am saying that the curtain which separated man from intimacy with God has been removed, granting to all men access to the most holy place through Jesus. And we are to be the instruments through whom the world comprehends this reality.

The Church excels in  bringing the world into the “outer courts.” We allow them to see the “place of sacrifice.” We also have no problem with providing them with the “rules and regulations” of worship. We are experts at spouting off our “code of ethics and morality.” But the disconnect lies in the fact that unless one sees behind the curtain, worship becomes ritual, and sin  devolves into some kind of “checklist.” We have become quite proficient in expounding on the “what” they must know, but provide few answers as to the “who” and the “why.” We come across (and portray God) as the proverbial parents who say, “You don’t have to understand. Just do as I say.” But it is only as we ourselves live life behind the curtain, encountering the essence, the energy the “ousia,” the love and holiness of our Abba God that we begin to understand and can subsequently (effectively) be the glory and the fullness of Him who fills all and all.thcnh86v2s

We must remember that as priests our function is not only to minister to the Lord, but to be a liaison between God and man. In Jesus, as we live by his Spirit, we are to be living pictures of the life God has offered to mankind. And as we with unveiled faces behold and reflect the glory of God, we “pull back the curtain” allowing those around us to see expressions of the grace, the mercy, the hope, and the love of God. It is behind the curtain that we realize that holiness is not merely “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not,” but rather the beauty and life of the One who is altogether “other than” and unlike anything else- the One who invites us to come and be like Him. And consequently, the world witnesses the True Light shining off of the faces of those who live life behind the curtain. As we grow in the Love of God and our understanding matures, we communicate the reality of Jesus in words not taught by the world, but by the Spirit. Abiding in the Vine, behind the curtain, we come to rely less on the carnal tree of the knowledge of good and evil and become more complete instruments of the power of God, revealing the good news about Jesus that pierces hearts and minds, that pulls back the veil allowing the people in our lives to see the truth behind the curtain.

Step right up ladies and gentlemen! It won’t cost you a dime!! Step right up, and be amazed as you see the awesome wonders that await you behind the curtain!!

Is anyone thirsty?
    Come and drink—
    even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
    it’s all free!
        Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
    Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
    You will enjoy the finest food.

Come to me with your ears wide open.
    Listen, and you will find life.

Eye Of The Pneuma

He [God] said [to Abraham], “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

[And Jesus said to the Jews who argued with him],”Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

My wife and I are walking through a “strange” time right now. Questions concerning ministry and employment, just what and where God has for us are foremost on our minds. Anyway, we both woke up around 4:30 this morning, and neither of us could go back to sleep. So we prayed, snuggled for a while, and then figured we’d go ahead and get out of bed since it was obvious that we were up for good. I put on a pot of coffee and told her I was heading out for my morning “ralk.” (That’s when you run a little bit and walk a little bit, run a little, walk a little, etc…)

As I made my way through my course, I began to pray and still my heart before the Lord. I was thinking about everything that’s happened over the past little while, the conversations I’d had with my wife and others, wondering what was going on, trying to believe that God was “up to something.” Then, in my heart, I heard the Spirit whisper,” Abraham saw my day and rejoiced.” Now, at first glance, you’re probably wondering what in the world that has to do with the situation at hand. But the statement prompted me to ask a question: “How did Abraham see?” Now we’re getting somewhere.

One of the most challenging things for us who live in physical bodies, who occupy time and space, who walk in the “natural,” and interpret life empirically is to see in the spirit. And so much of what Jesus said/says is multidimensional. During his “earthly ministry” he consistently made statements that could only be interpreted through means of spiritual revelation (“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life..”). Think about it: “Destroy this temple and I’ll raise it up in three days.” Or, “Ask me for the living water and you’ll never thirst again.” Or how about, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” This is a great one, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you.” Was Jesus speaking of the physical temple that stood in Jerusalem at that time? Was “the leaven of the Pharisees some kind of rank bread the disciples needed to avoid? Would he produce this living water from some secret underground spring? Was he offering his body for some kind of weird “Walking Dead” cannibalistic cult ritual? No, these are just a few examples of things we have to “see” by the Spirit.

Jesus is still challenging us to live by the Spirit today. And while it is true that revelation is something that we receive by the Spirit of God, frequently it is in those situations that make absolutely no sense or even run contrary to the natural mind that the Spirit uses to bring understanding. And that’s where the “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced.” took me this morning.

We know from reading the Bible that it never entered into God’s heart to demand human sacrifice from men: “They [ancient Israel]have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” So, God’s testing of Abraham was not to see whether or not Abraham would really sacrifice Isaac. Besides, if God is truly God, he already knew what Abe would do. (Perhaps we need a more complete understanding of God’s “testing” or “tempting” as some translations regretfully put it.) I believe that it was here, in this strange and even hurtful context, that Abraham gained a revelation of what God intended to do through Jesus, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. That which made no sense in the natural brought increased intimacy, illumination, and joy.

So, where does that leave us? What’s the application as they say? As children of God we can rest assured of the kind intentions that the Lord has towards us in Christ Jesus. He is committed to bring us through the entirety of our lives and present us to himself, holy and blameless. His desire is that we might have spiritual wisdom and insight so that we might grow in our knowledge of God, that our hearts will be flooded with light so that we can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called.” And we would do well to remember that wisdom, insight, and knowledge are often derived from revelation that has been produced in patient endurance and trust in the midst of circumstances that make little to no sense in our natural minds. Circumstances that provide us with spiritual eyes through which we may “see and rejoice.”

“Stratego”

After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.

When you’ve been around church and church people for a while you can’t help but become fluent in “Christianese.” You learn all the catch phrases and all the theological presuppositions of the various camps within the Tribe. And sometimes, if you’re not careful, you can ignore a legitimate spiritual principle as a reaction to the abuse of said principle you have witnessed. Reading about King Hezekiah this morning, I was reminded that while no, there is not a demon behind every bush; there is an Enemy, and He does employ definite strategies to attack and discourage God’s people. Let’s talk about one of those.

If you’re not an astute student of the Bible you may have never heard of King Hezekiah. But way back, when Israel had been split into a Northern and Southern Kingdom, Hezekiah ruled the Southern kingdom of Judah(a southern man like me). He had been one of the few good kings who had followed the Lord with all of his heart. He cleansed the temple, organized the priests, and restored temple worship. And there had been, what we call in “christianese,” REVIVAL!! And then, “after these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.

One of the things the Enemy loves to do is to attack immediately following times of spiritual renewal. So often, after God has brought revival into our lives or following a time of spiritual breakthrough or when prophetic words of promise and encouragement have been spoken in/to us; the Enemy will launch immediate “counter measures.” His hatred for God and we who bear his image is provoked when he perceives that spiritual renewal has “fortified our cities.” He comes like Sennacherib and blasphemes God, seeking to bring discouragement, doubt, and eventual demoralization. He tells us that our faith in God is misplaced, that we will fall before him like countless others have before us. But he lies!!

And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.”

Through the cross of our Lord Jesus, God has disarmed all spiritual rulers and authorities. He has already won the victory, and in Him nothing can separate you from God’s love. “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And he will lead you into victory, fulfilling his words spoken in/to your life. Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere!!

And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword.  So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.

“Puttin’ On The Ritz”

Gene Wilder, a childhood favorite of mine, died recently. Social media was inundated with condolences and various memories shared by fans of Mr. Wilder. I also couldn’t help but notice that there were a great many articles and posts which  said things like, “Now, you can go be with Gilda.” Gilda Radner, a brilliant comedienne in her own right, had been married to Gene “back in the day.” For fans, theirs was the romance so many only dream of. The trouble with all those wonderful posthumous sentiments was that Gene had been married a few times after Gilda and had been with his current wife for 25 years.  I had some thoughts and wanted to share them with you.

Our culture is one in which celebrities are “worshipped.” We want to know what kind of clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the food they eat, who they love, etc… We want to feel as if we really know them, that we share some sort of connection with them. We think to ourselves, “If I could only meet _, I know we’d be friends.” But these fantastical meetings rarely if ever take place, and as familiar as we may think we are with them ,we don’t really know them. And yet, we seem drawn to our Idols by some mystical compulsion that resides somewhere deep in our “psyche.”

I believe that celebrity worship is a direct result of the “sin mutation” that affects us all, taking something that God placed inside of us, then twisting it. You see, we have an innate longing to be known and to know someOne larger than life. That’s because we are created to enjoy intimacy with God, the ultimate celebrity if you will. We are meant for something fantastic and “mythical.” We are more than doctors, lawyers, housewives, plumbers, students, etc… We are the direct result of the loving, kind intentions of an all powerful, holy God. A God, perfect and in need of nothing, decided that he would not be God without us. And despite the warping , perversion, and death that sin has wrought  in all of us, we” instinctively” know that we are created for something “more.”

In Gene Wilder’s movie Young Frankenstein, young Dr. Fronk-en-steen continues his legendary grandfather’s work, reanimating a dead body. And the comedy that ensues as Wilder’s character (along with an awesome supporting cast) tries to keep his experiment from going public is classic. But what you and I have been invited to share in by our creator is mind-blowing! Not only has a loving God brought his creation back to life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have been adopted into his family and made participants in the holy Triune love that has eternally belonged to Father, Son, and Spirit. And furthermore, he has made us partakes of his own divine nature and promises that when we see him we shall be LIKE HIM!!

We’re all intrigued by the bigger than life “stars” who shine so brightly in our culture, and I believe we are drawn to celebrity and fame because we are created by God to experience intimacy with the ultimate Superstar- the “bright morning star.” It is Christ alone who can satisfy the desire of the human heart that yearns to know someone greater than ourselves, to be a part of something extraordinary.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Talk about “Puttin’ on the Ritz”!!)

 

 

What About Bob?

I received a text yesterday from someone who, for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call Bob. The text read simply, “I’ve lost my way.” The moment I read it I knew what he meant. You see, Bob has had experiences with God and has as we like to say: “Made a profession of faith.” But his whole life has been in again, out again, in again, out again, and now-he’s pretty much “out.”  Shortly after receiving Bob’s text, we talked on the phone. We talked about many things, and I don’t feel like I did a particularly extraordinary job in giving my counsel. So Bob, if you’re reading; this one’s for you. (And all us other “Bobs” out there as well.)

When it comes to having “lost your way,” you are not alone my friend. I have been EXACTLY where you are!! Even now, after walking with Jesus all these years, I still lose my way. There are times in each of our lives when we blow our own minds and freak our own selves out. We look around and ask ourselves, “Where am I, and how did I get here?” Sometimes, it’s nothing we’ve done or haven’t done, it’s just life. The way gets dark and confusing. It happens to all of us. But there is a reason why He’s called the Good Shepherd Bob- He comes to seek us out! He loves you and desires you to be filled up with His love. The mere fact that you reached out to me proves He’s still working, and that you’re not too for gone. This time in your life is one more instance in which He is saying, “I love you Bob. Follow me.” Let Him, bring you to Himself. He wants to.

So, what about the addiction problem. Bob, you know I KNOW.  I can’t count the times in the past when I threw the drugs away, out the window of the car or whatever and then turned right around to find them. And yes, the complexity of addiction encompasses a lot more than I can go into in a single blog article. But I’ll give you the first thing that comes to mind, from one addict to another if you will. Ready? Here goes: the drugs aren’t your problem. The drugs are the way in which “the problem” manifests itself. And like I said, the complexities of addiction are vast, but allow me to TRY and simplify it.  Our lives are made up of things others have done to us and things we’ve done to ourselves, and in some of us the hurts play out in addiction. But Bob, let me tell you, addiction is no match for the love Jesus has for you.

The Holy Spirit can heal you of the hurt and the pain that has lured you into addiction in the first place. I know it has become a “stronghold” in your life, but he can demolish it, along with all the other strongholds. You don’t have to be ashamed. Let the addiction be a reminder in your life that you so desperately need the grace and love of God. And remember, his grace can shine through your weakness. And as He keeps on freeing you, saving you, and LOVING you, you will be used by Him to show others the way. This brings me to the part where we talked about relationships.

Like I said on the phone, I know the Enemy is whispering in your ears, telling you that if you give yourself to Jesus you’ll have to forfeit the relationship you’re in. I know the deceiver is paralyzing you with fear when it come to this issue. You can’t imagine letting go, and perhaps you’ve told God, “I won’t let go.” Well, whether or not it will come to that, I don’t know. But I have observed in my own life that the things I “instinctively protect” and make off limits to God are definitely areas that need addressing. This may sting a little. The Bible calls it idolatry. Again, I don’t know, but I’ll bet that you do. It would seem that we always do. But I do know that whatever giving yourself to Jesus entails, His love will empower you to do it. Know this: this person can’t fill the place in your heart that was created for the Great Romance. That is a fact.

Lastly, you said on the phone that you didn’t know how to “give it all” to God. Well, it’s really not all that complicated. It’s another lie we tell ourselves. Let me ask you, how have you given yourself to addiction? How have you given yourself to your “person”? Think about it, we all know how. And the cool thing is that He will give you the grace and faith and love required to do it!! He is able to do more than you can even imagine. And believe me, I know first-hand how great an imagination you have.

I love you “Bob.” And any faithfulness, loyalty, compassion, gentleness, etc… that you’ve seen in me is only a small reflection of the perfect LOVE He has for you. You will make it. He is working in you RIGHT NOW. Give yourself over to Him. Just say, “Yes.”

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Homeland

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

No, this is not a review of the upcoming season of the Showtime series “Homeland.” I’m sure that Carrie, Quinn, and Saul will continue to strategize, lie, cheat, seduce, and “disappear” the necessary bad guys in order to preserve homeland security. Instead this article is a result of my pondering on the verses displayed above and how they may apply to us 21st century American Christians, many of whom have forgotten just what/where their homeland is. And nowhere is this “lapse of memory” more evident than when it comes to American politics.thCK82J2W1

It doesn’t take too long a visit to the popular social media sights to figure out that many of us have forgotten who/se we are and where we’re going. I think it’s safe to say that a vast number of American Christians no longer see themselves as “strangers and exiles on the earth” and have fallen in love with the “American Dream.” Instead of being Christians who happen to be Americans, they tend to see themselves more as Americans who happen to be Christians. Consequently, they eagerly support the political candidate they think will best keep the dream intact, i.e., please no one come and take all my stuff. I honestly do think it’s our “stuff” that we are so earnestly trying to guard, and we have forgotten that “strangers and exiles” are transient, rarely holding on to anything too tightly.

One also has to be saddened by the divisiveness politics reveals among Christians. So called leaders will vehemently endorse or oppose different candidates, their acolytes will rally behind the leader, and carnal arguments play out on Face Book for all the world to see. And it seems that nowadays, racism of all colors, shapes, and sizes figure into the arguments, creating further division and bitterness. I even read an article the other day in which a pastor blamed the “Left Behind” series for paving the way for a Donald Trump presidential candidacy. Now while I don’t subscribe to Tim Lahaye’s eschatological paradigm….REALLY!!!!?????  I could go on, but I think you get my point. Brothers and sisters, all of whom love the Lord, arguing the politics of a homeland that is not even their own.

We know that God works through, in and among the nations of this world. He sets up kingdoms and removes them. And the writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that men and women of faith have been used of God to “conquer  kingdoms, enforce justice, obtain promises, stop the mouths of lions, quench the power of fire, escape the edge of the sword, made strong out of weakness, become mighty in war, and put foreign armies to flight.”But I would submit to you that most of what we see happening when American Christians become political today is a result of a people who have ceased walking by faith, looking for “that city whose builder is God” and have instead embraced the United States as their ultimate homeland. And out of a disposition of fear, they desperately desire a political leader who will shore up their treasured kingdom.

So, what is the answer to dilemma? First, we must remember that as Christians, our true Homeland is a “better country, that is, a heavenly one.” While we are of this world, this nation, we are now first and foremost citizens of the kingdom of heaven. But we are not merely holding on, waiting for Jesus to come snatch us away from all this trouble. No, in Christ we are men and women of faith who know that TRUE FAITH sometimes mean that the people of God have also “suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Finally, it is our abiding intimacy with Jesus that ensures our proper understanding of homeland. He who is the author and finisher of our faith, the One who will rule over all the nations of this world, is the overcoming Lord who sits at the right hand of the Father until all his enemies are made into a footstool for his feet. We do not put our trust in political leaders. Nor do we allow nationalism of any kind to separate us from others in the Body of Christ. In fact,  I would say that perhaps it is nationalism itself that we American Christians must lay aside as “a weight and the sin which clings so closely,” hindering our walk with Jesus and his people.

Homeland. Home, the city prepared for us by God himself.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,  and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.  They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb  through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.