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I Believe… I Can Fly!


When you were little, didn’t you have great dreams? Great ambitions? Great hopes? The line blurs for a child, between “dull reality” and “vibrant creativity”, whether one sees a professional athlete, or astronaut, or the greatest singer EVER, or a knight in shining armor conquering dragons and saving those in distress!

But then, we grow up… We learn… There are limits to the possible. We learn to build our boxes. We learn the myriad of things we “cannot do”. We learn the bumps, the bruises, the batterings of the world and people around us. We learn… all there is… is this. Just little, dull, mundane, me… and you… and them… and this! (With a decidedly NOT “capital T” in “this”.)

But then, one incredible day, Jesus enters our own little, dull, mundane, me-and-you world. And He says things like… “To what shall I liken the Kingdom?” and somewhere, deep inside, there is a heart stirring… a tiny leap of hope… a whisper (too small, too timid, even to be fully “heard” or acknowledged, but still really there)… the child’s heart whisper of… “Maybe… just… maybe…” And old dreams, forgotten dreams of Kingdoms, and knights, and deeds of unrelenting courage and adventure rouse again deep inside…

Beyond this, on just as incredible a day,.. At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said,Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” [Matthew 18:1-4]


What if….

What if your Father were King of the Universe?

What if He had crafted and designed you, from before the beginning of time, to live fully as Prince/Princess in Him, and your perquisites and authority came into play as you learned to embrace and wield them with grace, love, and wisdom?

What if all those “heroic dreams” of your childhood were not simply aspirations TO Him, but hints to your actual nature FROM Him?


What if all the greatest dreams you ever dreamed were the barest inkling, just the slightest hints, of what you truly are and can embrace right here, right now?

Because… I have come to believe that all those dreams of greatness, heroism, adventure… are simply true. I believe I can fly. I believe I once allowed the truth of my humble childhood to be dashed and devastated by those around me who taught of limits, and boundaries, and boxes for Our Father and His embrace. That those same people BELIEVE in “limits”… that there’s only “so much to go around”, and that for ONE person to acknowledge the reality of Infinite Grace… that must somehow “diminish the availability” for others!

This was the error of the disciples noted above. This was what they needed to learn to “see another way”, to “be converted” from…

They wanted to know… “Who would be greatest in His Kingdom?” Because for the answer to be “ONE” of them… the answer could NOT be “ALL” of them.

Little children do not worry about such things. Little children don’t think such questions.

Little children just ask, “Am I? May I be? May I have?”

They haven’t yet learned the shrewd and measuring “sidelong look” at others around them, and begun the calculation that… “If He gives ME this… then THEY won’t get it!”


Can you find and release your Inner Child?

Can you believe?

Can you fly?


He only awaits your testing your wings, for He’s always holding us up, saying… “Trust Me.” We LIVE in the fullness of His Kingdom, called and equipped to rescue, to seek and save, that which is lost. The greatest adventure any can ever know!

Joy and grace to you!

The Little Monk

 

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Pick Your Planet

earth deadSome days, it can seem as if the world is dead. Covered in a  coating of ash and choking dust. The evening news, calls from friends or family about tragedy, painful memories and regret of past decisions, misunderstanding by those we love… Some days, it seems difficult to look about us and see any light at all, see any purpose, see that we are making any difference with our little candle flames against what seems the overwhelming force of darkness and shadow.

Yes, life can seem like that at times.

And if we aren’t careful… if we stay in that posture… if we continue to see only the darkness and shadow… it can seem to leach the very life force from us, and we can find ourselves in a very dark place indeed. A dangerous place. An empty and painful place.

What then? What are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to put on “Rose Colored Glasses”, pretend to be Pollyanna, just ignore all the pain and hurting people around us? Are we supposed to lie? To ourselves, to others, to God? What do we do, to be honest and truthful… and yet not be overwhelmed by the sorrows we open our hearts to?

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We exercise our Super Power. We use our power of Choice and Free Will to see Truth beyond the appearances. We can grasp and embrace a deep spiritual truth, at the same time that we heed the advice of one of the greatest realists of all time… The Apostle Paul.

Paul gave this instruction to the Philippian Church: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9]

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Paul is hardly a “Pollyanna” guy. He’s been chased hither and yon by both Religious Authorities and Romans… he’s been stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, thrown in jail, threatened with execution… you name it, he’s been there, done that. He’s seen friends and co-workers tortured and killed. Nothing “warm and fuzzy” about Paul, or rose-colored to his view of the world.

We all “know” these verses. We could probably recite them. But do we ever really LOOK at them? Do we ever really see what he’s saying here? Let’s do that…

Let’s look at this from the bottom up. Let’s see that Paul is giving a very PRACTICAL instruction here, revealing a very profound spiritual secret, a “technique” here.

We, in general, people, seek “peace”. “Peace of mind”, “peace of heart”, the kind of peace that lets us sleep easily and sit quietly without a thousand worries wrinkling our brow when the noise dies down on a quiet day. Paul says, “the God of peace will be with you…” That’s an extraordinary promise. The number one pharmaceuticals, the biggest money makers in the drug world in the U.S. today, are anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. Astonishing, no?

So… for the “God of peace” to be “with us”… Paul says, “dwell on” and “practice” this dwelling as he’s been observed to do… Dwell on whatever is “excellence and worthy of praise”.

WHAT?

What about all the Bad Stuff? What about the occupation army? What about the Temple Guards breaking into our homes and dragging us off to be flogged or executed? What about our families turning us in? Is Paul CRAZY?

Nonetheless… Paul says for the God of peace to come to us… dwell on the excellent and worthy of praise. He even gives specific examples, whatever is: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute.

Any questions? Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Let’s be even MORE clear. Here’s what NOT to dwell on… Whatever is Untrue, False, Dishonorable, Wrong, Impure and Corrupt, Ugly, and Shameful.

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Gentle Reader, I’m not finger-pointing. This is as much confession as exhortation… But if you want to know “Peace”… DON’T let your mind revolve on all that negative, toxic, “stuff”. Just DON’T. It is poisonous, it is stress-inducing, it will rob us of peace, joy, and love. I’m not saying to ignore it, or deny it. When bad stuff happens, when toxic stuff happens, acknowledge it, embrace it, then release it and let it go. DON:T DWELL ON IT! Don’t ruminate, contemplate, meditate, and cling to it.  Minister in difficult situations as you can, embrace, affirm, encourage, acknowledge, love… and then refocus and re-sensitize to the good, the true, the lovely.

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Here’s the deep spiritual truth underlying this “technique”…

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:5

Jesus taught:“You are the light of the world. A city set on a [hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16]

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Practical Application: Here’s the thing I’ve noticed in/for myself and my own life… When I focus on the “stuff out there”, the darkness and ash, I can lose my peace and joy, lose my center, and grow heartsick and weary. This leads me to a rather pathetic form of self-pity that takes away all my effectiveness. When the Lord gently leads me out of this spiral… when I again heed Paul’s advice… when I focus on Light instead of darkness, then two things happen.

earth beautifulOne, the God of peace joins me, feeds and nurtures me, and I focus again on the “I”… (what I can do, how I can help, how I can love), rather than on the “me” (the situation doesn’t heed me, appreciate me, acknowledge me). I get to bask in the radiance that is God, His love, His care, His glory… rather than the mud and the muck.

Two, (and this may sound a bit strange), but I “see” an entirely different world. I see a world of people doing unexpectedly kind and loving things. I see the flowers growing out of the sidewalk cracks, rather than just the concrete jungle. I see the grace, the joy, the laughter, the redemption and blessings, even in the midst of the most challenging environments and situations.

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I’ve come to realize that my Super Power, this Power of Choice and Will that God has given us, being created in His Image, allows me to “pick my planet”.

I can choose to see, focus, and dwell on that first one at the beginning of this post. I can glue myself to the “all bad news, all the time” channels on my mega-cable boob toob. OR… I can choose to get out amongst people, encouraging love, understanding, grace and embracing one another… whether for better or worse, in good times or bad, sickness or health.

That’s MY Choice! I can pick my planet! So can you. What’ll it be?

Grace to thee!

The Little Monk

 
 

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Free Pass to a Good Day

good dayDo you ever have a “Bad Day”?

You know what I mean. One of those days that doesn’t sink totally to the level of “disaster”, but where everything just feels “off”?

Imagine a dark cloud drifting overhead, casting shadows on your mood and heart. Sounds seem muted, colors seem drab, people seem unfriendly or indifferent, music seems off-key… Even prayer, even prayer just seems to float randomly into the ozone, as if drifting off to some divine “Inbox”, to be dealt with when God gets around to it.

Do you ever have such a day? Oh, not that we would ever clearly THINK such a thought… that would be “irreverent”. We have “faith”, we know what we know, we love God… always have, always will… but in that precise moment, there is no sense of the “experience”. The “feelings” of reverence, faith, devotion, piety, love… all that, is simply not there.

So the day drudges on, second by second, as we find ourselves “clock watching”, just waiting for it to end and move on to tomorrow, trying to take care not to offend anyone else with this debilitating moment of “blue funk”?

Been there? (Happens to me from time to time. Not often, but sometimes.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK, here’s a gift from me to you…

If you’re willing, try this as an experiment next time that happens…

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First off, I’m going to make an assumption… Since you are here reading The Postmodern Mystic in the first place (you’re patiently inflicting this on yourself), then it is your heart’s desire to draw as close as you possibly can to the heart of God. You passionately care about experiencing what I’m coming to call “skin to skin contact” with Holy God. That’s an amazing thought. That’s an incredible ambition. That would be a shocking (maybe horrifying) thing to articulate… I mean… “Me? Plain, little, sinful… ME??? And… and GOD?? Great… Big… Holy… GOD? Who do I think I AM?”

But wait a moment. Think about this… THIS, this intimate, immediate, right here right now relationship… is what GOD HIMSELF WANTS! This is the most clear and obvious biblical revelation of God’s heart from Genesis through Revelation!

Once I saw this simple fact… that God Himself has, from the beginning of time through its end, done EVERYTHING in His power to clear the way for us, as His beloved children, to have this immediate and unfiltered experience of Him, His presence, His love… once this idea struck me, then all of the Old Testament, Gospels, Epistles, Revelation… ALL of it, just screamed this same story, this same revelation, again and again.

God’s greatest heartbreak? That the immediate presence of “sin” (which we carry with us like a stain through the Fall and our frailty), brings forth “death” in from His Person (like lightning attracted to a dynamo). It’s not what He “wants” as much as it is just inherent in the “nature” of things.

God’s solution? Though Jesus, Son of God AND sinless Son of Man, to pave the way to place the Holy Spirit, God Himself, WITHIN us… “equalizing the holiness quotient”… or (in electrical terms) eliminating the “potential difference”. There is no more “spark of death” in the presence of Holy God, because God (through the Redemption, Resurrection, Pentecost) has accomplished a means to place the fullness of Holy God Himself INSIDE of us.

[I’m so sorry, Gentle Reader. That may not have made sense. It’s just such a crucial truth in my life (and to this post), and actually quite simple. But it’s unspeakably difficult for me to wrap words around, so if that didn’t make sense, just forgive my verbal inadequacies and go on.]

Anyway, the point is simply this…

We, as human beings, are people of “will”, of “want”, and of “feel”. That is really a rather amazing distinction. Most organisms, most life on the face of the earth, are driven by feelings (sensation), that drives desire (motivating towards “good” feelings, avoiding what feels “bad”), that drives the will (decisions to take action).

Now, our being made “in the image of God” gives us this astonishing ability. We are not bound by “natural” abilities, by the abilities and processes of every other life form on earth (as far as we know). Our decisions and actions, are NOT simply dictated by either our “sensations” (feelings), or even our “desires” (likes and wants). We are SUPER-natural creatures. We actually have both the freedom and the capacity by WILL to make decisions and take actions that neither make us feel good, nor do we like.

Um… so what? What’s all this about, Little Monk?

Well, when you put these two facts together… that we (joined here on this page right now) WANT, more than anything else, that intimate relationship with God… and that we have the freedom to separate our will from our appetites or feelings… then

We have all that is necessary for an extraordinary experiment!

Required Equipment:

  • One Yucky Day
  • The Actual (not necessarily apparent) Presence of God
  • Our Human Will

Procedure:

  1. Acknowledge that this day is decidedly “gray”. (Technical spiritual-speak for this is “desolation“, as opposed to “consolation“. Simply a “mood” ranging from mildly bleak to dismal)
  2. Try to pray, and realize that all one’s typical “warm, fuzzy, faith-y feelings” are absent. Find prayer dry, dull, seemingly meaningless. Try reading Scripture and watch the words just sit there mute on the page, rather than lighting up and dancing before you as normally they do! Find yourself wondering if this is all just a grand waste of time. Acknowledge and embrace this state of nearly irreverent spiritual dearth…
  3. Notice how much “easier” it is to “experience being Christian”, or do “spiritual exercises” (pray, read Scripture, speak of God, share with grace, love others, worship) when we are feeling good with “consolation”, than it is when we are feeling blah with desolation.
  4. Ask oneself… do we want to worship God, look towards Him, speak with Him, only when… (maybe because)… it makes us “feel good”? Or is the relationship deeper than that? Is the time we pay attention to Him about Him? About Our relationship? About our need for Him and His presence? Or is it about how that time makes us “feel”?

Hypotheses Being Tested:

  1. Whether our time attending to Him is about our relationship with Him, not about how the exercise itself makes us feel?
  2. Whether we can be dissuaded from experiencing our relationship with Him, if the enemy just “dulls our perceptions” of His presence and of sensible graces?
  3. Whether God is all the more “complimented”, and whether our “faith is all the more strengthened” when we persist despite the dryness?

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Now, I’m not going to bias the outcome by predicting your probable results, but just try this the next time you are having a “Dry” day…

  1. Thank Him for the gift and challenge of the “dryness”, the “grayness”.
  2. Remind oneself that devotion is not an “addiction” and we are not here for the “feel-good” side effects. That’s just a “cherry on top” that God is welcome to add or not, at HIS pleasure, not our demand.
  3. Remind oneself that the enemy is deeply interested and invested in whether he can pry your focus away from God, simply by blunting the “warm fuzzies” of that.
  4. Watch what happens!

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When you have the opportunity, and conduct this experiment, please feel free to drop me a comment, an email, an FB message… but let me know the results, if/when you feel so led.

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All of creation around us are “natural” beings. Sensations and needs drive their decisions and actions. We are “supernatural” beings, capable of making decisions and actions contrary to our appetites and sensibilities.

We all have a “Super Power”. Free will, that can detach us from the drives of our sensations and preferences, is a unique human ability. Let me know how things go, when you exercise your Super Power in Him!

Blessings and grace to you!

The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

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Elpis is in the House

arc For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. [Romans 8:18-25]

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The Greek word for “hope”?  ἐλπίς (elpis)

A friend and colleague called me a while back to discuss “hope”. He had encountered a very young man, a 20-something, who, in great anguish disclosed that he felt utterly without hope… that he had lost all hope in life. My friend dealt with this young man and his father, and then phoned me in his own anguish to deal with the question… “How? How can one so young, be living in such a vacuum of hope?”

I’ve worked long and hard with people who have come to lack hope, both through suicide work and a variety of destructive lifestyles… and pointed out how very common this view has become. It is amazing.

  • The singular characteristic recognized in suicide “lists” of signs and symptoms, as pretty much universal, is that the person has lost all hope. “Hopelessness” is usually top of the list.
  • The principal predictor of survival in a disaster or critical situation, is the hope held out by the survivor. Both tales of survivors, and journals of those who survived for a period after the disaster, show that longevity is strongly connected to the degree of hope held by the person.

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“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Romans 15:13]

A couple years ago, a friend prompted me to a serious study of the implications of this verse. That led to a number of realizations. Among them:

  • God Himself, cannot “hope”, because to be omniscient means that all is “seen”. Love can persist, yes. God loves. Yes. But God cannot know either “faith” or “hope”, as He “sees all”. (cf 1 Cor 13:13]
  • Hope may be thought of as “forward-looking faith”. Faith looks primarily to the present, hope looks primarily towards the future.
  • Hope requires trust. If one can no longer trust, one can no longer hope.

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Only one more puzzle piece here, and then I can lay this before you complete…

Over the past few days, I’ve been drawn to consider the season of “Advent”. I’ve been challenged by a question asked of me by the Lord, as this passage buzzed through my mind and spirit…

So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. [Galatians 4:3-5]

The Question: “What made this… this moment of Christ’s Incarnation… the ‘fullness of time’?”

In other word, “Why now?”

Israel was in an horrible state… defeated, occupied, garrisoned by Rome. Northern and Southern kingdoms in shambles. Hardly recovered from the Babylonian captivity. No longer a military force of note against Assyria and other nations of the region. Samaria constituting nearly a “nation within a nation” in their midst. Intrigues everywhere. A half-mad Herod mixing human blood in sacrifices, corruption of the Temple bleeding the devout dry, tax collectors and publicans making the most of Roman law to line their pockets.

And THIS… was the “fullness of time” into which Divine Wisdom and Love had chosen, from before the beginning, to let the Son of God take on the additional name, Son of Man.

I could not fathom it…

But slowly, a niggling thought seemed to inch its way to the surface of my mind. Perhaps this was, itself, the key to the answer. Perhaps it was the very pathetic hopelessness of Israel at the time…

I mean, what seemed ALWAYS to call God forth in the greatness of His power and majesty throughout the Old Testament? The sincere cries for rescue of His children in bondage.

From the flood, through Egyptian Exodus, conquest of the Promised Land, the wars of David and establisment of the Kings, and eventual relief from the Babylonian Captivity…  from the Burning Bush, through Shekinah, and Pillar of Fire/Cloud by Day… God seems to manifest and come forth the most clearly, when His children are in the greatest need of rescue.

So, why should it be different for the Incarnation?

And yet, when Jesus comes, we see an utterly new dimension of rescue occurring. He stated His “agenda” clearly in one of His first moments of public revelation and ministry:

And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [Luke 4:17-21]

The “poor”, “captives”, “blind”, “oppressed”…. these were the focus of Jesus’ mission. This was the purpose of His anointing and the agenda of the Spirit of the Lord. Well, if THIS is the mission, then indeed one could say the fullness of time had come. Israel certainly had these in abundance.

But rather than restoration of Israels military, political, economic greatness among the nations… as so many people of the time anticipated, Jesus arrived as Messiah to work in an entirely other dimension. His concern was to reveal the Father in spirit and in truth.

So, how does this “fullness of time” thing relate to THAT? To the relationship between man and God in prayer and spirit?

Israel had “perfected” religion. Scribes, pharisees, priests, teachers of the law… had so studied what requirements it took, as to custom, tradition, behavior, food, and clothing… that it may be said that the Temple represented the absolute pinnacle of religious attainment. Every move, every sound, every crumb and thread, were legislated and covered by scholarly authority as to how it would be pleasing or displeasing to God.

The Law now permeated every institution of Israel’s life… business, family, education, relationships, worship, care of the old and care of the young… EVERYTHING had been infused with “what the Law requires” for man to be right with God. Every moment of the day, was clearly scripted, as to what would bring about the blessing and good favor of God.

Whatever else could be said of that moment in economic and political history…

“Religion… the Worship of the Law… had attained absolute Perfection by the efforts of man.”

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THIS… I realized…. could be thought of as the hallmark of the “fullness of time”.

It was now time for God become flesh to come and dwell among us… because man’s pride had now attained the ultimate hubris. Religion had now given us management of the means to become righteous before God. Religion… was perfect now.

And, of course, man had quite utterly missed the point. The Law, Religion, can never perfect. Law, in fact, highlights imperfection. The Law is the indicator of hopelessness.

Jesus Alone, Christ, the grace-filled Son of Man/Son of God… came not to bring peace but a sword. He fulfilled utterly the Law. He satisfied the demands of righteousness, and totally defeated Religion. Religion murdered Jesus, but in rising… He defeated it completely. “Religion”, the caring about whether one must worship God in the Temple or on the mountain… cannot stand in the face of the God of spirit and truth.

In the presence of Jesus, such foolishness withers as chaff in the face of a blazing furnace.

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Bottom Line: The fullness of time came when religion believed that the Law could provide righteousness and satisfy God. Jesus came because such a view is not the liberty and freedom that the Father intends for His children, but simply another form of bondage and enslavement to 600+ rules and regulations that would determine one’s immortal fate.

When man’s bondage reached its pinnacle… enslaved not only to other men, but to regulations of men laid down in the Name of God… NOW, Jesus could come, reveal in His person the fullness of God Himself, and redeem all of Creation.

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What is Advent? I’m thinking that Advent is the moment, the season, wherein we realize we are bound up and enthralled to enslavement of any sort… even to religion. When we cry out to God, in our own despair of powerlessness, it seems that it is simply God’s way… to appear, to manifest, and to reveal Himself in great power and majesty…

His is an ongoing mission of rescue of His beloved children… the poor, the blind, the captive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank You that You have come, Lord Jesus!

What is the key to hope? The permanent, life-changing key? To trust to the love and mission of Jesus. To know, beyond all evidence, doubt, and facts that seem to deny it… that God’s very anointing and mission, is to rescue any and all who are trapped and enslaved! Do you, or anyone you know, feel stuck and hopeless? Trust to the mission of Jesus… for He is worthy of our trust!

Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

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When the Stars Grieved

Sunrise CrossHoly Saturday — An Intermission… the space between the tremendous drama of events in the past two days, and the unknown of Jesus’ promise of something more dramatic three days after His death.

We have spent these days walking alongside, or a little behind, the Disciples Party as Jesus directed them into Jerusalem for the Passover. It is regrettable that the vicissitudes of history, politics, and economics have so divorced Christian worship and rhythms from our Jewish roots. Easter is inextricably woven with the Passover, the dramatic high points of Jesus’ ministry are woven with Passover, but unless we are blessed to know and have walked with Jews in our time who love and worship God, we can easily miss all these connections.

Across this day, this quiet day, I have been steeped in the awareness that today I “celebrate” or “commemorate” Death. Not “the dead”, as in the Feast of All Souls or All Saints. And not “Dying”, as in Good Friday, and the Lord’s surrender, willing surrender, to becoming sin and letting darkness come that He might pay the price, collect its wage. But rather, this is the aftermath. This is the silence after the tumult. This is the grief. This… is the Death.

We are disciples, you and I. At least I know that to be true for myself, and for those who have corresponded with me from these pages. We seek eternal life… we have it, and we seek to comprehend it, to cooperate with it, to serve Him… “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” [John 17:3] I don’t know about you, Gentle Reader, but as we approach Easter, my heart seems to settle its pulse into synch with His Companion Disciples, and vicariously I experience much of what I suspect I would feel had I been there and then.

And today… today… just seems to be such a “trembling” day. Were we walking with the Companions, we’d have watched our most terrible nightmare come about. Our Master, Our Teacher, now Our Friend… God, Son of God, this incredible Rabbi… the Messiah from whom we expected such great things… arrested, shamed, tried, condemned, rejected by the multitudes in favor of Barabbus of all people! Finally stripped naked and crucified with criminals!

Did we keep thinking this wasn’t real? Did we think there would be a last minute rescue? Did we think He would pray, and stretch forth His hand, and speak to the Father, (as we have seen Him do so many times), and power come forth from Him to change all of this? And then we were afraid! So very afraid! The Romans, the Temple Guards, the Pharisees, Scribes, and finally even the Mob Itself! It seemed Jesus had just given us over and gone His way! He was being KILLED! Were we to be killed as well? How could everything have gone so very wrong in only the week since He was proclaimed through the streets as “Blessed… who comes in the name of the Lord!”

And our fear rendered all but the most loving of us… fugitives. We melted away from the crowds, and fled for safety and cover. Only the women held the faith. The women who traveled with Him from the beginning, who supported Him with their means, who wiped His feet with their tears, and His bloodied sweating face with their clothing as He stumbled along on His last Journey to the rocks where He would be slain. Are we ashamed of ourselves. we burly Companions, we whom He authorized to travel in His name, heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out the demons, as we see these mere women with the courage to stay alongside Our Lord, where our fear of death turns our knees to water and we slink away to melt into anonymous crowds and shelter?

Yesterday, the Day Jesus Died, was an incredible day of such fear for us! Fear, confusion at what was happening, and Death! When He was taken down, two men stepped forth and did something unthinkable. They were, of all things, Pharisees. Here we are in the Passover, about to enter the Sabbath of the Passover, for which we have spent 5 days of purification and cleansing and preparation… and, as Jesus is lowered from the Cross as a corpse… these men (Nicodemus and Joseph) gain permission to take custody of the body and lay it in a new cut tomb.

BurielNow, publicly, they have become Unclean. They cannot enter the Temple to worship. They cannot sit to the Passover. They cannot traffic with their peers or those they lead and teach. They are now no better than lepers in their community… not until they have purified themselves from handling the dead. They, these religious men, must come and deal with Jesus’ body first, washing him of the blood and the filth, restoring His modesty and dignity, before the women can come and anoint Him with herbs and ointments for proper interment. There is no time! There is so little time! Unclean or not, women or not, they must all be back to their homes before the sun sets.

So it is a hurried job to prepare the Lord’s Body to be sealed up, until the Passover Holy Sabbath is past, and they can return to the Tomb. They do their best. He is washed, anointed, and wrapped in a winding sheet. Sadly, they all leave Him. The stone is rolled into the entrance to seal His grave, and they all go home.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now… there is nothing to do… but wait.

So here we are… waiting. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Just the waiting, feeling the grief, feeling the confusion, feeling the fear. Jesus… is Dead.

This is the “mood” that has pervaded this day in my universe. Rather than “fight it”, I simply “embraced it” and offered it up to the Lord saying, “OK, if this is what I am experiencing… if this is what the Companions experienced… where is the grace here? What purpose, what light, what are You teaching here?”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It seemed that my focus, so tight and intense on the Cross, the Tomb, Jerusalem of that time… “panned outwards” to a visage of the region, the hemisphere, the globe, then onwards out beyond the solar system, galaxy, to encompass all of the universe before me… and all of that… ALL of it… stood poised and silent… frozen in the reality of the Death of Him in whose hand all of this was held together. It was like inhaling, and being unable to exhale. It was a sense of “trembling anticipation”.

This… is a miserable feeling. Don’t you agree? That sense of “this is terrible”, but “something else is fixing to happen”, but “I don’t know what that is”, and “I don’t know if it will be better or worse”. It’s the pain of the present, combined with the fear and uncertainty of the future!

Where I sought that the Lord would RELIEVE my discomfort, I was surprised that He seemed to INTENSIFY it, MAGNIFY it. I knew He was in charge of whatever He was doing, so I did not resist. But it was to be totally immersed in Death, the full experience of the grief, the pain, even the texture and odor. Not pleasant, as learning experiences go, but I could sit still. Now I, Gentle Reader, like most people I know, have a natural revulsion and aversion to death. For many years I despised and “fought” it, feeling a a personal sense of defeat when someone in my care succumbed to death. As I matured, I came more to “accept” death as a necessary transition from here to There. But I still didn’t “like” it. At this point in my walk, I have come to realize that there are times when Death is a welcome relief and release from the intense labor and suffering of captivity in this body. But I cannot say it was ever something I “embraced” with my heart.

That was the challenge of this day.

The Lord challenged me to “embrace” Death altogether. So to enter into Him and His heart, that I could see that He did so… and allow the Him in me to do so again, and take me with Him as He did.

Does this sound strange to you, Gentle Reader? It certainly did to me. After spending an entire day “immersed” in Death… the Lord now asked me to “embrace” that as wholeheartedly as I did Life, Love, or Joy. It made no sense! I could not understand or comprehend this. Still, clearly, He had done this from the Cross… there was nothing to this directive that seemed inconsistent with Him or Love or scripture.

So, given that I’ve found “faith” to be my willingness to embrace a truth I could not comprehend… I obeyed.

I endeavored to “relax” in the immediate intimate presence of death itself. Like learning to “float” in water, it’s not an application of effort… it’s the refusal to apply resistance. It crystallized into ceasing to judge “Death” to be “bad”, just accepting it as a part of the experience of life God grants to us, and thanking and praising Him for making it part of our lives. The very strange instruction to my heart seemed to be to: “Trust Death”. Strange, no?

After yielding into the stream that the Lord seemed to direct, some interesting truths seemed to become apparent. I don’t offer these here as “grand answers to mysteries”. It is all yet quite mysterious to me, but I offer “food for thought” here, as we have spent this extraordinary day… rather like Noah and his family shut up in the Ark, sealed in, days before the Flood began… just waiting… waiting… on a promise… confused… in a box.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jesus did not refuse the Redemption in that He did not refuse or flee from the Death that came for Him. He embraced it. He surrendered to it. He trusted to it, that the Father (who He could no longer feel, hear, or sense), was Sovereign over all… and He could trust to that. Jesus indeed had exercised authority over Death many times in His ministry… but not today.

Jesus had taught strange things about death through His travels…

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Mark 8:34

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:24

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” [Acts 2:22-24]

Here, the truths of this passage, seemed to be where my ponderings brought me.I realized a simple series of things:The great “Tyrant” of our lives, the force that impels people against faith and into selfishness stems from the apparent power of death. Not so much death itself, as the FEAR of death. To acquire things, to bully others, the lie, cheat, steal, kill… all seems to bolster an illusion of our invulnerability, our potency, our power. Why do we need such things so desperately? Because they meet our deepest insecurity… the knowledge of our mortality… and our fear of everything having to do with that. Humans not only fear death because of the implications of the Afterlife… but because of revulsion to Death Itself!

As always, Jesus deals with this head on. He doesn’t do a lot of “teaching about” Death in His 3 years of traveling. But He teaches multitudes by direct confrontation. He raises the Dead. More than once. (Fairly impressive, no?)

He SAYS, simply, “you must die to live.” He instructs His followers to let loose their fear of death, embrace it, take up their cross and follow Him. At the Last Supper He instructs His to eat His body and drink His blood, by which He has earlier taught they will have life within them.

Then, Jesus MODELS His teaching. He surrenders to Death, laying down His life of His own initiative.

Today, this Silent Day Between, it is ever so tempting to sneak a peek forward to the rising of tomorrow’s sun… to “borrow forward” into tomorrow’s joy.

But if we can refrain… if we can hold our self control… an incredible thing happens right here. People are bullied, their whole lives long, by the FEAR of Death. What if we lost that fear? What if we could embrace the whole issue of Death as one the Lord absorbed and now rules, that we are to embrace it, in all ways, in order to follow Him?

What would it be like if the greatest fear in our personal universes, just evaporated? What if we simply trusted Him? Would we find it easier to LIVE in and for Him, not just die? Would we be less shy in our communities about our love for Him, or His for us? Would we be more loving, more giving, less attached to our material possessions? Would we be less concerned about “what other people think?” of whether we are keeping all the rules, and be more attentive to the hungry, the sick, the incarcerated, the sinful?

I’ve said before, we cannot fully love anyone we do not fully trust. As long as we see Death as a thing apart from Him, apart from His love, but yet present in our lives… can we fully trust or love Him? And what happens when we release that?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Were the First Century Christians so extraordinary because they had seen with their own eyes, and lost entirely their fear of Death? Could they openly follow Jesus into the joy, the light, the love, the power of the Holy Spirit, because they had lost all fear of death, persecution, or the power of the state?

What would our days, our walk, be like if we could do the same?

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

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Journey – Spring Cleaning

Desert CaravanAs we approach the halfway point of our journey, my packs are getting a bit lighter. It’s as if the smaller “easy stuff” has gone by the wayside, but the deeper encumbrances are more of a challenge to dig out.

It seems an appropriate time to just sit a moment and ask, “what are we doing here? Really?”

I mean, yes, here we are in “Lent” and all… and so we’re “giving up” stuff… Right… but… but really… WHY?

Is there anything innately “meritorious” about “giving up stuff”? I mean, are we supposed to “impress God” with our “strength of character”, by giving stuff up in this season? Is that what it’s all about?

Of course, when I was quite small I was in a part of the country where most of my classmates were either Roman Catholic or Jewish. (I was actually quite jealous of them… Catholic students got a “half day” of school every Wednesday for “Release Time”, when they went to Church for religious instruction. Jewish Students got like twelve additional “holidays” off school for a variety of their religious observances. It just didn’t hardly seem fair!)

I remember “Lent” quite distinctly, for as Ash Wednesday approached, one of the hottest of conversation topics was… “What are YOU giving up?” There were the “good kids”, from the “proper” homes, who boringly gave up really cool stuf… Ice Cream, Chocolate, Comic Books, one most heroic ascetic actually admitted he was going to give up Television!

Among my own personal CIRCLE of friends, more “creative” choices were likely. Friends who chose to give up things like… homework, liver, vegetables… And, my personal favorite, the young man who tried to swear off “baths” for 40 days. He regretfully reported that he could not sell his parents on this sacrifice.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Of course, my playmates and friends had rather missed the point of the exercise. Many of their examples are simply funny… and I tell these stories here (true stories, btw!)… to share the humor. HOWEVER…….. I’m not sure most adults, religiously sincere beloved people, who engage in Lenten Fasting aren’t themselves just about as confused regarding “what’s it all about?”

Now, I truly want to be careful here. I am NOT being critical of the theology or dogmas of others. I have mine. You have yours. God blesses piety as expression of love for Him. It is vastly above my pay grade, here or anywhere else, to engage in “comparative religions class”. That’s NOT what this is about.

But a meaningful point to look at here… is “Penance”.

Now, before anyone gears up for dispute… (we’re NOT going to go reaching for our spiders or scorpions here… lol)... I’m about to express some principles I have been taught and believe to be true in and of my own background. The fact that these may be principles of worship or piety, does not mean that they are “exclusively true”. That is, just because these may be valuable principles for me in my own prayer life, that does not mean that they are universal… or that if you live by OTHER principles, I imply that you and yours are wrong. Not at all.

Right…

So, I think one of the major “disconnects” among worship cultures such as the Liturgical and the Evangelical, is on this issue of “Penance”, and “formalized contrition”. This tension becomes apparent in consideration of “Confession” or the “Rite of Reconciliation” leading towards sacramental Absolution. It also emerges to a lesser extent in the issues of Fasting, or Lenten or Advent preparations for Easter or Christmas.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9]

I’ve really struggled with how to say this next part without getting all bogged down in theology or comparative religion. I guess I’ll just say it, lay it out there on the table, let ya’ll poke and prod at it to your heart’s content, and have done.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The underlying and mistaken belief of my childhood friends regarding Lent was that it was a season to “do penance”, to suffer, to endure deprivation or perform a sacrifice, to pay for sin and wrongdoing in their lives. It contained a grounding principle that implied Jesus’ need for them to add something more, some degree of “punishment”, to THEIR lives… in order to be clean and purified from sin before God.

This SPECIFIC outlook was itself grounded in a broader worldview that because of our frailties, fallenness, and sins… we are not only unworthy, but UNABLE, to stand transparently and directly before Holy God. That we can only approach Him in a “grovelling, penitent” posture. That, therefore, if we hope to approach God in a near and intimate way at Easter, we must “purify ourselves” all the more strongly through Lenten sacrifice. So, the more horrid one’s Lent, the more joyful and blessed one’s Easter. This is a transaction with God.

THIS is grounded on an even more fundamental belief, usually left unspoken and  unexamined, that the experience of the Immediate and Intimate Presence of God… is to be dreaded as something that will fill us with fear, shame, and guilt. That we worship a “joyless” God, who cannot wait to catch us out and point to all our shortcomings.

Here’s a great commentary on that: A Mardi Gras Season Thought

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But here, today, at this “halfway point” of our Journey through Lent, I would like even to go a bit past that author’s point, past our typical understandings of Lent, past the usual views whether Liturgical OR Evangelical…

What if Lent… indeed what if ALL “Penance”… were nothing more nor less than, “The grand celebration of our freedom from tyranny… even the ultimate tyranny of ourselves.”

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.” [2 Corinthians 10:3-6]

“Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…”

HERE, it seems, is a meaningful reflection of “penance”.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Penance is NOT “punishment for sin”. That was already taken care of, in vastly more capable hands than ours. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” [2 Corinthians 5:12]. “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” [1 John 4:17-18]

Often, Penance is a gestural representation of sorrow and repentance Like one may send a card or give a gift to represent love and esteem on a holiday, the gift given is a “token of representation”. The gift is not designed to “assign value”, or “pay for” the value of the relationship. It is a “gesture”, not the measure of one’s weight in gold or silver. We can affirm our entering into the joy of an occasion (say a birthday, wedding, or anniversary), through offering a gesture of gift.

Penance can be a “gift of godly sorrow”, in the sense that Paul says here…

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” [2 Corinthians 7:9-11]

It’s important here, I think, to distinguish this from a very wrong type of repentance and penance… that which tries to “fix it all”, and “undo the wrong”. This is the repentance of Judas… which flat doesn’t work.

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to that yourself!’ And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.’ And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.” [Matthew 27:3-7]

See that huge difference? I mean, beyond Judas’ suicide, of course. Repentance for Paul is “FORWARD LOOKING”… it is to set a new and more loving godly direction for present and future action. One acknowledges failure of the past, but only for the purpose of present gratitude for grace and future increase in love and godliness. Judas’ remorse however, his “sorrow that leads to death” as Paul would phrase it, is “BACKWARD LOOKING”. It is fixated and obsessed with the wrongful act, seeks to reverse the act, to make reparation and restore the status quo ante. Forgiveness is sought from man, not God. And… bottom line… it doesn’t work. (Far too many Christians get themselves caught in this trap, by the way.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So right here, at what has been our halfway point of this journey, I wanted to state “why I am here”, and invite your comments to do the same.

It’s so simple….

A while back, I came to realize that “I am a Temple”. Not just my “body” or my “soul”, but my ME. My Life. My Being. My Self. I have been fashioned in the very Image of God, with a destiny to house Him and His love and authority in their fullness.

I am the “Keeper”, the “Custodian” of this Temple. I can choose to take into it what I wish, store it as I wish, and keep this environment orderly or messy, as I choose. I can “construct and configure” it as I choose. My free will manages this environment with little constraint. But there’s only so much “room”. I have only so much “attention” and “consciousness” to offer.

If I become a “spiritual hoarder”, an “emotional cripple”, clinging to every shadow and illusion that moves me deeply… I will have no room, no freedom, no space, no attention… with which to receive and house Almighty God in all His Magnificence.

For me, Lent is simply “Spring Cleaning”. Here is this wonderful time available to move through my House, room by room, finding “false treasures” that I thought had value for me… and sweep them away to make room for True Treasure.

Is this “Penance”? Well, I suppose… to the extent that I yet experience foolish desire and attachment to issues, feelings, habits, attitudes that have no truth to them… just by my own habit or willfulness. But if casting away that delicious poison tests my integrity… well GOOD! It’s a good thing for me to “flex those muscles” from time to time.

As I said… Penance? Token gift of affirmation, gratitude, and agreement with the grace and forgiveness of God. But ALSO, a grand celebration of my own freedom from tyranny… even the tyranny of my own appetites and foolishness.

I love being “free in Christ”! How about you?

 

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Journey – It Didn’t Look Heavy

Desert Caravan“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’” [Matthew 11:16-18]

Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” [Matthew 9:10-13]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Our third day of travel was pleasant and productive, though perhaps a bit slower than I’d have liked. My beast of burden seemed to labor more heavily than I thought needful. As we camp for the evening, the Lord walked among us. He drew me aside to my baggage, looked into my pack, and commented that He would like to see the gift I planned to present.

This was awkward, for my gift was a pearl I intended to give. It was a lovely pearl, multicolored, round and smooth. I had sought this pearl long and hard, and offered it as my most treasured possession. But… but… being round and smooth, it had worked its way to the bottom of the pack. I could not reach it. I could not even see it… hidden as it was beneath all my belongings.

The Lord peeked in to my bag, smiled, and said, “You’ve packed too much baggage. These things encumber you. Why not use this journey to rid yourself of these things you have no more need of? Why not learn to travel faster, lighter, more nimbly than you ever have before? These things, this debris between you and your pearl, is a waste of space.”

This seemed harsh to me. I protested, “But Lord! I NEED these things. I’ve always had these things. They are part of me. How can I live if I rid myself of them?”

Gently, smiling, He said, “Little Monk, you don’t need nearly as much as you think you do. ‘I am sufficient for thee’…” He quoted. “And that is TRUE, Little One. Tell you what. I’m not saying to dump out this whole bag right here. I’m not even saying you HAVE to rid yourself of these at all. But how about considering ridding yourself of one piece of this meaningless debris at a time… one item per day… but only as you yourself SEE that you no longer need these things? How’s that?”

Um, Gentle Reader, it rather shames me to admit… but, while I agreed to the Lord’s terms, my tone was not exactly a hearty “hail fellow, well met” about it. It was a bit more timid a whisper of… “Um, sure, Lord. If that’s what You really want… I guess that will be ok.”

Why? Why all that timidity and hesitation? Well, because, strange to say… I didn’t and don’t KNOW exactly what that is in that pack. I know ABOUT it, but not specifics. I know that it’s the “stuff” I consider indispensable to me and my life, my ego. It’s the stuff I think I cannot live without, but which isn’t really needful. Imagine our lives being a Temple of Holy God in our own universe? Well, this stuff is the “clutter”… those items we acquire, collect, and treasure for reasons that satisfy or glorify ourselves, but not Him. See now, my hesitation? These are my “Teddy Bears”… my “Blankies”… my “Binkies”. And we all irrationally cling to and treasure such things.

But Our Lord has asked me, challenged me, to “trust Him” here. He has assured me He will not violate, not “tear anything from my grasp”. Rather He is going to point items out, one at a time, let me ponder them, and see if I still see them as needful. If so, I may keep them. If not, then I alone will choose to release them and cast them out along the path here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

He pointed to a scroll atop the stack of my stuff. I knew this scroll. It is one of my most prized possessions. It is like a certificate, with my name writ large on the top, signed by leaders, friends, persons of stature… proclaiming that “Little Monk is hereby recognized as respectable, orthodox, legitimate in humanity and ministry!” This scroll is my “‘I’m OK’ Certificate”.

The Lord POINTED… at THIS! The Lord bid me GET RID… of THIS! I was horrified. I protested. He answered.

“Little Monk, it is not that this is a BAD thing. But, in you, in your life now, this is a NEEDLESS thing. THIS… this is ‘your reputation’.

The Lord went on, “This was built through the first half of your life, as you had no regard whatever for YOUR reputation, but only for MINE. And you were successful. But suddenly, one day, you received this scroll. And you were proud of it. All right. Not a bad thing in itself. But… but… NOW, you begin to be concerned for this. You begin jealously to guard this. You hear the voices of the hypocrites, who say, ‘Don’t jeopardize your reputation, by going to wrong places, being with wrong people, doing things others may judge to be wrong.’ Little Monk, you are beginning to hear those voices, consider their counsel, and constrain your steps to retain their approval.

“Little Monk, I… when I walked the earth…. never HAD their approval. They tested Me, they tried Me, they tried to trap and catch Me out, ultimately they tried, convicted, and murdered Me. Every moment of My ministry, they tried to constrain My steps, and I would not allow it.

“You are beginning to do so. You have begun to succumb to the siren’s song of specious argument… ‘what would the community think?”… “what example do you set?”… to churchmen, to youth, to the community at large. The answer to those questions is simple and straightforward… the example you are to set is as it has ever been… Me! You are to let Me walk in you, speaking My words, loving with My heart, touching with My hands. I have never changed nor wavered, and I never will. They judged Me as Me in My time. They will judge Me in you the same way.

“Release this, Little Monk. Let go your love of your reputation. Let Me simply be Me in and through you, and stop constraining My steps, My love, or My hands for fear of “what others will think”, or your concern over your reputation among churchmen. Release your reputation, Little Monk. Trust Me, and know, when you love as I love, do as I command, you WILL be rejected, reviled, and persecuted by those who love themselves, their darkness, their control, and their boundaries. They always did, they always have, they always will. That just goes with the mission.

“But it is your own choice. Embrace all that, and release this concern for your reputation. Or, don’t. Hold on to this instead. I’ll not love you less nor think less of you. But know this… this weighs us down, constrains and fetters us. And you will be much happier as My free child, than as their fearful puppet.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This made sense to me. I picked up the scroll with one last look. Realized how empty and meaningless it was, and placed it in our evening fire. As the parchment ignited, glowing red, then curling to black ash… I felt as though a shadow had left my heart, and it felt lighter and more free. Freedom is a wonderful feeling.

My reputation… meaningless… burnt to ash… an empty illusion. Being true to Him… following Him… going where His feet lead me… taking Light into dark places? THAT is real. That is joyful. THAT is free!

This has been a good day on our journey.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyone else have anything for the campfire?

 

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