Repost: The cross bids me come and die…and find I may truly live

photo by Michael Wray

photo by Michael Wray

I would normally add commentary but with a photo this wonderful, this beautiful – only Scripture will do.  So I add these inspired words for your contemplation:

“It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18, NIV)

One True Identity, One True Community

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26a; 27, NASB95)

Photo by Laurence and Annie

Photo by Laurence and Annie

Within these two very first verses speaking of man’s creation so much applicable insight is found to our one true identity and one true community.  Here we see the Godhead Himself as the plural ‘Us’ and further creating man in ‘Our’ image and Our ‘likeness’.  Without attempting a comprehensive analysis of image and likeness here, it will suffice to point out that there exists a sense of community acting in harmony for a creative purpose within God and that that image and likeness was intended to be reflected in created man (comprising both male and female).

That image of God as community, inherent to man, has been fractured as a result of the fall and has resulted in an alienation and separation (death) that spread throughout all of man’s relationships.  The first relationship fractured is with God and then secondarily with all other members of the human race.  While fractured and distorted, all members of the human race, still bear the image of God.  Although broken, God still loves His creation and though under no obligation to His creation, He continues to rebuild our broken relationships and to rebuild a new community rooted and built up in Christ.

In the final analysis, says the Christian ethic, every man must be respected because God loves him.  The worth of an individual does not lie in the measure of his intellect, his racial origin, or his social position.  Human worth lies in relatedness to God.  Whenever this is recognized, “whitness” and “blackness” pass away as determinants in a relationship and “son” and “brother” are substituted.

– Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the defense of a philosophy of integration, 1962

God loves each and every one of us.  We are all members of the one race – the human race.  But the fall makes us prone to identify ourselves first and foremost by whatever we perceive separates us, whether it be color, ethnicity, culture, class, or country, rather than by what unites and unifies us in community.  Rev. Howard Thurman goes further in his reflection on identity and identifying beyond man’s natural distinctions:

To experience oneself as a human being is to know a sense of kinship with one’s total environment and to recognize that it is this structural relationship that makes it possible for one to experience himself as a human being.  Being white or black becomes merely incidental and is of no basic significance….

The impact upon the individual when he experiences himself as a human being is to regard himself as being of infinite worth…

It is total, it is unified and unifying.  It is not the experience of oneself as male or female, as black or white, as American or European.  It is rather the experience of oneself as being.  It is at such a time that one can hear the sound of the genuine in other human beings.  This is to be able to identify with them…

When I identify with a man, I become one with him and in him I see myself…

The religious experience as I have known it seems to swing wide the door, not merely into Life but into lives…Through the years it has driven me more and more to seek to make as a normal part of my relations with men the experiencing of them as human beings.  When this happens love has essential materials with which to work… a man comes into possession of himself more completely when he is free to love another.

– Rev. Howard Thurman, excerpts from The Luminous Darkness (1965) found in A Strange Freedom.

Mark Deymaz in his book “Building Healthy Multi-Ethnic Churchs”, insightfully points out that Christ is exalted when we transcend diversity in our love for one another.  When we transcend the separation and alienation which divides and segregates fallen man and are truly able to come together as one body, one ‘brotherhood’, through the Spirit and love of Jesus Christ, God is glorified.  Deymaz points out that Jesus’ own prayer for the church emphasize this unity as being key for His future witness in the world:

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:20-23, NASB95)

We must learn the discipline of distinguishing between learned relational culture and true identity.  As one with some cross-cultural experience, I have learned that cultures are like clothing within a wardrobe.  The more exposure to cultures that we experience, the larger our wardrobe becomes.  But in the end, the saying is true, clothing does not make the man.  Culture should not make the identity.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB95)

Through Christ we share One true identity, we share One journey, we share One destination – One true community.  It all begins with a restored relationship with Jesus Christ.  To restore right relationships with other human beings, man must first enter into a restored right relationship with God, His creator.  It is freely available – all one must do is repent of sin, receive forgiveness, and walk in reconciliation (more on that to come).

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:19-20, NASB95)

Where is the hope?

photo by KM&G-Morris

photo by KM&G-Morris

“Where is the hope? I meet millions of people who feel demoralized by the decay around us. The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that’s where our hope is in this country. And that’s where our hope is in life.” – Charles Colson

In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face.” (Psalm 11, NIV)

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? This is a question that has not left my mind in sometime. With an all out assault being waged on the sanctity of life, the determination on the part of our government officials to become the indebted servants of China, and the recent judgement handed down by the Iowa Supreme Court redefining marriage, it is clear that the foundations are indeed being destroyed.  A big temptation is to respond in the flesh and seek political solutions to these political problems.  Satan would love for us to devote all of our energy and focus there in a futile attempt to bring about righteousness through political action.  But as a follower of Christ, I know that these are spiritual problems being expressed as political problems.  We mustn’t focus on symptoms, we must go deeper to the disease.  So what can the righteous do?   The best answer I know:

1. pray – pray that God’s people would radically align their lives to Jesus Christ and that God would turn the hearts of our leaders towards righteousness;

2. purify – no more ‘tolerance’ of sin in our own lives; we must search our own camps and cast out all idols – idolatry is as subtle as it is seductive and it has permeated even the church.  A genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, the creator and lover of our souls, and a radical alignment to His will is attractive to those His spirit has prepared.  We must focus less on being attractive to the world and more on a authentic following of the Christ.

3. proclaim truth and repentance – now more than ever we must have the courage to stand boldly and speak truthfully to all those around us, with everyone who will listen.  We must speak as those who know full well the fury of God’s wrath and also as those who know full well the fullness of His mercy.  What we are seeing now is both the hardening of hearts AND a failure of God’s people to make true disciples even within our own families.  There is no such thing as cheap grace as we will soon see.

As citizens of a free country, we do have civic responsibility to engage and seek just laws, that uphold human dignity and protect human life.  We should not neglect these duties, but our first priority must be to proclaim God’s truth with encouragement towards repentance and reconciliation with Jesus Christ.

When asking what can the righteous do – the quote from Charles Colson is excellent grounding.  If we want to restore the foundations, if we want real change, we must be God’s instruments to change hearts.  Church, it’s time to get praying, purifying, and proclaiming like never before!  It is true that “our hope is in God working through the hearts of people.”  Let’s give Him permission to move through our hearts to those of others.  And remember, no matter how ugly it gets, in the end…Jesus wins.

You have made known to me the path of life

A miktam of David. Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16, NIV)

May we Bless the Lord and choose the path of life for ourselves and those who cannot choose it for themselves.  Choose blessing and life today!

Who is this King of Glory?

ps-24

photo by sixsteps

Of David. A psalm. The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.Selah Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.Selah” (Psalm 24, NIV)

I loved reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy and enjoyed it even more when leavingtheshireable to see the movies.  As I read this Psalm this morning I flashed back to them and the mixed emotions of the hobbits in the midst of the battle.  They longed for the comfort and security of their ‘shire’.  Within the shire they were free from worries with a sort of childlike innocence, unaware of the impending conflict around them.  As followers of Christ, we have a similar desire.  God has brought us close to Him through Christ.  Formerly, we did not have clean hands nor pure hearts and we were literally at war with God, seeking after many idols and making idols of ourselves.  But through Christ’s sacrifice, we were washed clean, purified, and brought close to dwell with the One true living God.  Our desire is to simply stay with Him on His mountain, experiencing again that childlike innocence free from worry – and He does provide that.  But there is much more to following.

Psalm 24 also speaks of this King of Glory, the one that lifts our heads, as being mighty in battle, yes mighty in battle.  It speaks of Ancient Gates being lifted up.  I first think of the gates of my own heart allowing Christ’s love to come in to dwell and save me.  But I think it is as much a call to go out into the field of battle with Him.

I have wrestled with this tension between the two greatly.  Especially as I write these posts.  Even within my own soul I feel this dual reality happening.  I see so much darkness on the horizon for our nation and I truly expect increasing antagonism and real persecution in the future for those who stand up and follow Christ.  At the same time, I feel tremendous excitement and encouragement by what I sense God doing within my heart and what I therefore anticipate Him doing within His church.

Just as those hobbits were faced with unpleasant circumstance, so they chose to go out into the battle rather than retreat to the shire.  They could not fully comprehend the difficulties they would face, but realized that they and many others would lose all if they did not risk all.  In the end of course, they completed their perilous journey victoriously.

Some preachers would tell proclaim peace and safety, that the church needn’t worry about such trials and tribulations, and that we’ll be out of here before the real battle.  That would be great!  But, I’m not one of them.  No, the hope that seems quite clear in the Scriptures, is not that we will be spared tribulation, but that we will be sustained through tribulation and on the other side emerge victorious alongside our Mighty King of Glory.

To those who have not yet trusted in Christ, it is time to open the gates and let Him come into your heart – that He might cleanse you and bring you to His holy mountain.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

For those who know Him and have seen Him on His holy mountain, it is time to follow Him down the mountain.  It is time to storm the gates of hell, following our Mighty King of Glory, into the battle to set the captives free reclaiming them for our King.

Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.

You Don’t Have the Right to Remain Silent!

“When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”” (1 Kings 18:17, NIV)

shhh

photo by citizen_poeta

That Phillips, Craig, and Dean song “You Don’t Have the Right to Remain Silent’ could not be more appropriate today.  For a long time the evangelical church has slowly bought into the idea that faith belongs in the private domain and should be ‘separate’ from the public square.  Biblical convictions are converted to individual opinion and considered irrelevant to discussions about public policy and action.

More in reflecting than in leading the white evangelical spirit of his age, Moody, as if in conscious reaction to the political overcommitments of evangelicals during and after the Civil War, guided his audiences away from external and social duties toward a consideration of inner and personal states of being. Along with large segments of the Protestant world, Moody’s heightened stress on personal piety seemed to entail a decrease of interest in social conditions…The end result from shifting theological emphases toward the turn of the century was that the more conservative and pietistic elements of American Protestantism were neutering the social impact of Christian faith even as many evangelicals continued to find manifold resources in traditional Christianity for private devotion and domestic guidance.

Mark A. Noll, God and Race in American Politics: A Short History, 2008, p 79-80

gag-order

photo by gitgat

May we, at the turn of this century, recover our societal duties, while maintaining fervent in our private piety and devotion.  As we pursue and live out our saving relationship with Jesus Christ, our Risen and Reigning Lord, let us become the salt and light in this world that He has called us to be.  When we rightfully reject the deception that faith is to be relegated to the private realm, we are received with the same warmth that Elijah received from a wicked King “Is that you, troubler of America, this is not a theocracy, keep your morality to yourself and Sunday morning’.  Sadly, we have all too often complied.

It is hightime the church found her voice.  We are heading into perilous times and personal piety and devotion are the starting point, but they MUST NOT be the ending point. When one looks back at Nazi Germany, a common question is ‘Where was the church?’  The church had lost her voice. There were exceptions within her of course who stood boldly for truth.  Their time in the prayer closet led them to also stand and proclaim truth boldly in the public square.  They were willing to learn the true cost of discipleship, their lives.  May we be willing to follow their faithful examples and found worthy of their company in the coming Day of our Lord.

“The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.” (Psalm 37:30, NIV)

In order to do so, we must begin to pray less for comfort and pray more for courage.

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8, NIV)
Lord, as we move our faith from private piety and devotion to the public square, to engage the growing darkness, help us to remember that your cause has already won our righteousness and that it will in the end overcome all the evil schemes of man and that Your sovereignty is even more certain than the shining of the sun. Help us as we seek to speak truth into this fallen world, to not do so in the angry arrogance of ‘what we think’, but in the calm confidence of knowing Who You Are.

“For [You] did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

Lord, may Your love  compel us to live our faith boldly and publicly.

When can I go and meet with Him?

I am thirsty for God. I am thirsty for the living God. When can I go and meet with him?” (Psalm 42:2, NIrV)

There have been times when attending worship has been like checking one more thing off of that day’s checklist.  And there have been days when God has spoken, but it has been one voice amongst so many running through my mind even in the middle of the service.  But there have been many more like those of the last couple months, in which, like the verse above, my heart has been prepared and overflowing.  When can I go? I have found myself yearning for the worship service.  Not for lack of God’s presence or His voice, quite the opposite.  As I explained to the boys this evening, God has been giving so much to me during the week through regular devotional times and readings that I look forward to that hour of worship more than any other, as an opportunity simply to lift my soul up to my Savior.  To focus all of my attention, all of my imagination, and all of my adoration upward to the one true lover of my soul.

thoroughbreds

photo by digitalink

I asked my boys why they like to sit on my lap and they responded – because I’m their dad and I love them and I take care of them and they want to be close to me.  It was the simplest way for me to explain why that hour is so special.  It is when I can look up from God’s feet and I can see up to His knees and just beyond His lap, where I want to be – because He loves me and takes care of me and I only want to be close to Him and to enjoy His presence.

satisfied-horse1

photo by deljenphotography

Psalm 42 describes a deer panting for water as a metaphor for that thirst and desire for God.  Honestly, I’ve never seen a deer panting for water and it doesn’t come close to describing the amps running through my soul in anticipation of worship.  On Saturday, I could only think of thoroughbred racehorses primed and ready looking for the gate to fly open, ready to burst through and charge forward toward their prize.  That is the way my soul felt within me in its desire to worship before the throne of God!  To shout out ‘Here is My God – He is my God and My Savior!’  Oh Lord may it always be so – that the cry of my heart be to praise and worship you and you alone, for You alone satisfy and You alone are worthy!

Defending the Status Quo against all odds… or God(s)

Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god.”” (1 Samuel 5:2-4,7, The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.)

You know as I read this passage, I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘what were they thinking?!’   I mean come on – their statue god Dagon falls face down in front of the Ark and they prop him back up – then it falls down and breaks.  Don’t worry Dagon, we’ll get you fixed back up so you can, you know continue being our god.  You would think the reaction would be to throw Dagon out with yesterdays trash and come to terms with the God of Israel!  But no – what do they conclude – this God is picking on us and our god – we must send Him away!  The status quo with its predictable, propped up god was preferred to acknowledging the living God.  Can you believe that?  Of course you can.  Fast forward 3,000 years – Yeah, human behavior towards God hasn’t changed much.  We still prefer that God not ‘mess’ with the status quo!

expelled

Evolution is one of the most ‘propped’ up ‘gods’ of our day.  Evolutionists will cling to simply bizarre explanations to avoid the possibility that the world we experience may have actually been designed.  In fact the holes in the theory are so weak that it must be protected from any and all opposing ideas.  Even when shattered by the laws of probability, evidence, and just plain common sense, the status quo is preferred to acknowledging there is a divine being that not only might but WILL demand an account from us.  Soochinan our motto will be ‘In Dagon We Trust’, we sent the Ark of the Living God away.  I hear China has interest taking it off of our hands – over 150 million baptized followers of Christ  (about half the U.S. population) and still baptizing!  I once heard history goes where the gospel hasn’t (or is soon to go).  Hmmm, makes you think doesn’t it.

Well, human behavior hasn’t ‘evolved’ much in the last 3,000 years.  But neither has the Living God!

It’s the end of the world as I know it…but I feel fine.

in-the-doldrumsMoving to Iowa, clearly the worst financial move I have made yet.  And yet, I feel fine.  Why – some existential or stoic abandonment? – No.  It seems that a number of ingredients have all worked themselves together to to give me the most wonderful taste of fatherhood.  No, not my being a father, but God’s.  Although, my being a father certainly has been an essential ingredient.

It is no wonder at all, that at the same time I have been contemplating the pure love and worship that has been filling my heart these days that Pastor Troy would, after stripping the box away from the parable of the soils (Matthew 13), describe the ‘crop’ of the good soil in a new way.  Not in ‘souls’ harvested nor spiritual fruit exhibited.  Actually, I’m not sure I heard exactly how he explained it – but I knew the spiritual ‘return’ I have been experiencing of late – growth unprecedented since Jesus pulled me up from the grave (Psalm 116), now exactly 20 years ago.  The same day I decided to start the book ‘The Ten most common mistakes made by new church starts’ (before finishing the other 3 books I have also started!).  The first chapter: ‘Neglecting the Great Commandment in Pursuit of the Great Commission’ (Matthew 22 & 28).  OK, while pastoring, I made that first mistake made very well!  Seems simple enough and makes perfect sense.  I know I surely have been guilty – busy doing for God and neglecting the ‘act’ of simply loving God.

First ingredient: Dabbling between cultures (American and Mexican) since 1996 and truly living in them (married in 2000), has been a rewarding, challenging, and often isolating experience.  To live above poverty, below prosperity and yet with both clearly in sight and in family.  Always letting go of the past and forging anew (Philippians 3) with one foot in each world (yet in a world that seems to want to pull those cultures further apart rather than growing them closer together – as we are).  Pressing on knowing that the only true culture that matters is Christ’s culture – all else is transitory and fading.

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 4).

Second ingredient, in 2004, I very reluctantly resigned my bi-vocational pastoral position.  It was clear to me that God has called me to be a pastor and He has given me a pastor’s heart, but it was also clear to me that He would be setting the priorities and to continue would be putting a church mission before the welfare of my marriage and growing family.  Of even greater concern, it would be putting the mission before God Himself.

He was in the whisper that would wake me in the night and tell me quietly and clearly – to let go.  Letting go, surrendering, giving up, are all things quite foreign to me.  Ask anyone who knows me well – tenacity, even stubbornness is a very strong characteristic handed down to me from both sides of my family.  Each morning I would awaken to the conviction – if I simply have more faith – that’s what I’ll DO, I’ll have more faith.  Letting go would surely be a lack of faith!  Just a test – just a test indeed (I had no idea its extent).  And again, that voice in the middle of the night when the body and mind are finally in a state of almost catatonic defenselessness – Let go, I am the one who lifts you up, or brings you down.  You will take up what I tell you take up, AND you must put down what I tell you to put down (1 Peter 5).  You must let go of what you cannot hang on to.  But I just need more faith – yes, just more faith – to let go now could be costly – I have been counseled that it is better to get somewhere from somewhere, meaning it may be difficult to find a pastorate, without one.

Well, teaching me to follow Him even when it seems foolish or will certainly leave me looking foolish (1 Cor 3), has been His favorite lesson so this wasn’t necessarily new.  But I’m a slow and stubborn learner, and this is an essential lesson.

Letting Go.

In clearly one of the most difficult decisions, of obedience, in my life of following Christ, and there have been some biggies, I resigned.  Yet naively, with full confidence that God would open the door for a fulltime pastorate, very soon.  Yes, very soon.  But the months turned to years.  Graduation came and went (after seven years of study!).  I watched as peers found their ‘niches’, albeit not without their struggles, but in their niches nonetheless.

Third ingredient, while I floundered, withered, wrestled with anger, and all the while with nowhere to call home much less a ‘ministerial’ home; my ‘career’ drifted just as aimlessly – with my focus set solely upon ministry.  Alas, in desperation really, the green pastures of Iowa beckoned.  No, not to a pastorate, but for an opportunity to gain some ‘new experience’ (always good to diversify!), pay off debts and achieve a level of financial stability that would better allow us to enter ministry.  Or maybe just try to forget the burden on my heart.

The housing crash dashed those hopes on the rocks, decidedly.  It has turned out to be an accelerated year of letting go.  Letting go of what retirement I had grown (my plan c for being able to fund a future mission ministry) and soon letting go of our home in Phoenix and what had been excellent credit (only matters if you are wanting loans I guess – and I’m not).  Had I simply listened to counsel and let go of the latter earlier – we might not have had to let go of the former.  But that again goes against my nature though (see above) and as I am coming to see, against what God has been doing in my life.  No, He is not against me (although a few times I have wondered).  He is not against me, just against anything and everything that would keep me from Him.

Fourth ingredient, I have lived in Midian for a number of years now.  No, not geography for me.  It was for Moses though (Exodus 2).  I am sure hoping it will be less than 40 years for me though.  No, Midian was a desert (God forsaken I’m sure as far as Moses was concerned).  Moses was a man burdened with a pastor’s heart also – but nothing he could DO worked out so well.  Nonetheless God provided for him a beautiful wife, children, wise counsel, and not his dream job, but a job nonetheless.  I am certain the burden of Moses heart never left him and he often wondered if his choices had led God to discard him for use (not eternally, just for use).

It’s ironic that I left the arid southwest to find myself deeper in the desert desert-springwilderness than ever before!  But it is here that I have set myself down exhausted, next to a small spring to drink (Psalm 63).  And drinking deeply I have been.  I mentioned that my being a father has been an important ingredient and it has.  There is nothing like experiencing the well of love that seems to overflow for our own children – that love that would lead one to readily give up everything, even life itself for your children to be able to experience life, and love.

Lifted Up.

Final ingredient, the spice of life, there is nothing like being a father to show a person, the love God the father has for us.
It has been tremendous to have a time of inner reconciliation with several past chapters of life and to have them unchained in a sense.  But nothing has compared to truly drawing close to my heavenly father who has looked down and called me son.  A son in whom He is well pleased.  A son who can DO nothing to get closer to Him but stretch his arms upward and say ‘Daddy, carry me!’  (Romans 8).  There is no greater high, no greater freedom, no sweeter exhilaration, than that (and I have searched diligently in my day!).  Be still and know that I am God.  It took so much ‘letting go’ to find out that He would never let me go, never.  He doesn’t let go (John 14), and he routinely lifts me to speechless heights I never thought possible.  There are no words for the joy found there in Him.  None.  So simple, and yet so overlooked.

No, circumstances are tough and not what I would have chosen.  I would not have chosen to enter the doldrums (to change metaphors yet again!) that place on the ocean where there are no waves and no wind – the place that drove many sailors mad.  But in the middle of these circumstances and the stillness of the air I have rediscovered my treasure – God Himself.  And wait – is that a breeze I feel?  Yes it surely is…

created-for-worshipLet those who have ears to hear.

Hear – that the Kingdom of Heaven is here now (Matthew 13) if you will simply let go of your sins and yourself and let Jesus Christ take hold of you and free you to be the person He created you to be.   So much more than simply a repentant and saved sinner!  So much more!

Yes it is the end of the world as I know it, but I feel fine….yes, indeed, never finer!