RSS

Tag Archives: awe

Truth with Grace

DisciplesThis day, Gentle Reader, I’m going to do something a bit radical, a bit different. This will be a precipitous plummet from the unspeakably, incomprehensibly,  sublimely, divine… into the unbelievably mundane and concrete.

“The Word of God”

Just that phrase… alone… In the beginning was the Word… Then God said, “Let there be light…” Upholds all things by the word of His power…

So many… so many references to words. And what are we? What are we doing here? What are we called, expected, commanded to do here? What is our nature, our potency, our purpose?

There was a day, shortly after my own ordination, where somehow God came to me in that “fullness of majesty” form. I was set to trembling, not with fear… oh, it’s so hard to find a “right word” for this. But sometimes, He can come so clothed… so robed in His power and might…. that my “insides” just tremble, like when a booming bass drum passes me at a parade. An Isaiah 6 moment, I call these…

Look there… Look at Isaiah 6 for a moment… just up to the words, “here am I, send me!”

Binding, loosing… blessing, cursing… into the mouth, out of the mouth from the heart come words… over and over, Jesus and scripture proclaim the power intertwined with words spoken into the universe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Power, faith, will, time and space are all woven into our use of words.

You could spend a month, even a year, even more… pondering such things and still not fully plumb their depths.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ordained to the Gospel Ministry”… that’s what the paper said. And suddenly, terribly, all this struck me with the force of a tidal wave. How could I DO this? How could I DARE this? How could I so presume? Minister, servant, messanger… of, to, and for the Word of God… Jesus. I was frozen, deer trapped in headlights paralyzed. I daren’t move, daren’t speak.

How could I ever dare to speak? Had my lips been cleansed? Perhaps so… but… but… I sully them so easily. My heart is frail and fallen, so my words.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Been there? Know these moments? I was struck with the ridiculous notion that now that I was fully equipped, empowered, and commissioned to do precisely what I’d been prepared for since childhood… only now, in this moment, did I feel fully the sense of my own inadequacy to do so.

On my own, from my own head, from my own heart… the words that came would often be those best left unspoken. And yet… my role in Kingdom was to be a “voice in the wilderness”, a voice available for Jesus to speak grace into the moments and connections of my relationships, the universe He crafts around my own timeline.

Been there?

I know you have, in some way, to some extent, some time or other. The Book of James, if nothing else, readily brings such questions to mind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK, there’s all that sublime and cosmic.

There’s the challenge brought by James the Apostle.

There’s (at least) my own sense of utter incapacity to surmount his challenge.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So here’s the unspeakably mundane and simple…

If you, like I, struggle with “taming the tongue” and refraining from ever wounding another with words… try this…

Try to speak only what Jesus said, or WOULD say in public.

Can we not bear with that 24/7? Well perhaps try for one morning, or afternoon, at work. Or one session at Church. Or one hour at home over dinner.

One hour too long? (It has been for me!)

OK, try a half an hour, or ten minutes at a time. Try it for one phone call at a time.

Simple resolution: I will not speak words that Jesus did not, or would not speak publicly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You have no idea how challenging this simple resolution is… or the extent to which it will constantly pull you into His mind, as you devote to Him your voice.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do I succeed all the time!? LOL! Heaven’s no! I have my days, weeks, hours… my frailties, faults, and failures aplenty, yes. But the effort itself is pleasing to Him and draws more grace to your heart than otherwise. AND, this is a transforming exercise that takes this wildly ethereal and brings it nitty-gritty concrete and within our grasp.

Pray for me, Gentle Reader! So a work in progress. Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It All Begins Here: Birth of the Sacred…

sun He has sent redemption to His people;
He has ordained His covenant forever;
Holy and awesome is His name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.  [Psalm 111:9-10]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“It was a dark and stormy night”…

Yes, yes it was. A dark, stormy, Texas summer night… with no stars… no moon… because the sky was filled with thunderclouds. There is nothing… anywhere… like a Texas summer lightning storm. No rain, air barely moving, and it starts…

chain lightning 2Mighty thunderbolts shoot above, below, and through the billowed silhouettes of the thunderheads… flashing blue, and violet, and sometimes even green! Huge, massive, jagged spears of pure power. And the sound… the crashing… like a thousand train wrecks, all in a jumble.

You wait for it. You know it’s coming and you wait… and suddenly there it is… Chain Lightning… It starts in one huge thunderhead, and shoots to the next, then the next, then the next… sometimes as many as six or eight links in the chain…

Magnificent. There are no words for it. It is bechain lightningyond awesome! It is… GLORIOUS!

It is like standing in the midst of angels dancing in all their glory… hearing their footfalls… feeling their rhythms pounding on your chest, not just your ears.

You stand, oddly enough, in the midst of death. You realize you are in the presence of power beyond your imagination… and yet your pulse races with the sense of being immediately, presently, ALIVE, and somehow sharing in the moment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The phrase had been haunting me… haunting me for weeks… it stood, stark, like a rock wall square in the path of my journey. I didn’t understand. I COULDN’T understand. But somehow… I HAD TO understand…

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

How could this be? I sought wisdom. But I knew no fear of Him. A brilliant teacher, an Uncle in the Lord to me, once remarked that speaking to me was like, “speaking to the boy Jesus at the Temple.” That I had no religious training, upbringing, or church… but I knew Jesus and the Bible as if I’d been there. But then he added that there was only one thing wrong… one thing he didn’t understand… “Little Monk, you have no compunction whatever.” Lol… I had to ask him to define the word for me. I’d never heard it. He said, “Filial fear of the Lord.”

I remember pausing to reflect, then answering… “You’re right. I cannot imagine that. Oh, I can fear His anger… but not Him. Never Him. He’s held me on His lap since I was 3. He’s sung to me in the night. Dried my tears, and healed my hurts. How, after all that, how can I begin to ‘fear’ Him now? Can’t be done.” And I couldn’t get it, as I left Uncle’s office.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

Years after that conversation, but still, nearly 40 years ago, now… this line came back to haunt me. I sought the Lord’s face. I trained in ministry. I sought after wisdom diligently. I learned prayer, meditation, contemplation, worship, spiritual disciplines, the art of spiritual direction… all that.

But yet, I did not understand “fear of the Lord”, and I felt that hampered my quest for “wisdom”.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

And yet, “Perfect love casts out fear”…

I could not make sense of it. I prayed to understand. I’d studied the verbiage, I knew about “awe” versus “terror”. But I still couldn’t “GET IT”. I felt I was missing something terribly important, basic, fundamental here. Something I was called to understand, and yet failing to grasp. I prayed, I waited, I listened… God answered…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One glorious night on a flat brown Texas field… no stars… no moon… no streetlights or houselignts. Just the pitch black darkness… and then… then… the Dance of Angels in Chain Lightning.

Louder than a battlefield. Mightier than Niagara. All around me… over me… soaring…

And out of that, God, in a quiet voice saying, “Do you like it? Do you feel it? Do you feel Me here?”

The thrill of it, Gentle Reader. The awe and worship of it… No words for that.

He went on, “This could kill you, you know. This is but a ‘flex’ of My arm. But what would happen if one of these bolts hit you, standing there? Would you survive?”

Clearly not.

“Do you realize the power here? You stand in death. You realize that, don’t you?”

I did. But I was not afraid. (Perhaps I ought to have been, but the prayer, the presence, was so powerful. There was no room for fear.)

“Now, Little Monk, understand forever more… that thrill, the pulse in your chest, this awe, this worship of My very Magificence… you realize the danger here, you are not silly… but you are awestruck, dumbstruck, with the Glory that is Me, and this small illustration of it. This… THIS, Little Monk, This exhilaration that you feel right now… THIS is David’s “fear of the Lord”… and it came from nights very much like this, in his fields, with his sheep. I could make storms like this for him, too.

“This is just an expression of Me. A picture of My power and grandeur. That feeling in your chest, is ‘worship’ and ‘awe’. That is a GOOD thing. Right now, you deeply sense the ‘Sacred’… if I asked you to kneel, right there, you’d fall to your knees in a heartbeat. This is what it is, to feel the Sacred in My presence.

“But the fact that I have such unrestrained power, does not mean I ever would or will, turn it against one of My children. You have it right, Little Monk… you have awe of Me, but no fear of Me, no terror. Never change that. Just worship Me in all things.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The word “sacred” has become very important to me these days. It seems to define the essence of “righteousness” and of “sin”. It summarizes all of the Law, and reflects the Gospel cleanly and clearly.

To be righteous is to treat others as sacred. To sin, is to do otherwise.

Herein lies what seems to be all that is wrong with our lives, with our children, with our families, with our government, with our world.

How has everything seemed to get in such a mess? It happens when we lose our sense of the sacredness of others, of life, of other’s rights to live free and without fear. When people become “objects” rather than sacred others… When we become “users” and “operators” rather than stewards and guardians of the sacred… life loses meaning.

But… but… we cannot, as Christians, as parents, as ministers, as teachers, as friends… promote and nurture the Truth of sacredness in and for other people, or even ourselves, until the Sacred is born in us to begin with.

That’s been an amazing thing I’ve recently discovered. I asked God where I ever got this “sense of the sacred”? For it is deep in me. Deep in the soil of my heart.

And He brought me back to this Texas field on a dark and stormy night…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

God said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

And wisdom begins, when you discover the heart of the “Sacred”…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Where was your dark and stormy night, Gentle Reader?

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: