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Would we dare?

The Omega

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:1-2]

The Alpha

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Never, before today, have I thought of Christmas in terms of “shame”. Of Mary’s shame of conceiving out of wedlock, Joseph’s shame to wed a pregnant bride, their family shame to bear their son in a cast off stable, to bed Him in a feed trough…

And what of Jesus Himself? Who can even begin to conceive of the contrast between His glorious throne, and swaddling clothes, nappies, and nipples?

And yet… and yet… He EMBRACED that! ALL of them did! Who can imagine such a thing? Mary dared deadly shame to say “yes” to the Angel Gabriel. Joseph dared to trust Mary when she told him of Jesus’ conception.

And Jesus? Jesus willingly embraced His humanity, placing Himself in the care of this incredible couple. He embraced the shame. He accepted His own weakness, helplessness, dependency.

Doing so… as a puny little infant… His very presence terrified a king, prompting the slaughter of countless boys. His presence inspired other kings, who paid Him homage and presented Him gifts. His danger, and the warning of an angel, uprooted His family to an alien country to preserve His life. Did they travel in secret? Like people ashamed? Traveling by little known routes, not to be seen, moving by night, resting and hiding by day?

How strange does this all seem for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Did they despise the shame? Yet did they all embrace it, for the love of God and those He came to save? Did they love us? Somehow know that somewhere, sometime, you and I would be sitting here praising God for all this?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

All this… all this shame… they took on and embraced, that WE might come to be freed of OUR shame! That our own shames, guilts, sins, be remembered no more. That we stand clean and clear, robed in the righteousness of Christ before the Holy Throne of the Father!

What about us? That’s the question that came to me this morning. That’s the question the Lord confronted me with this morning.

Does “shame”, a concern about what other people will think of me, ever prevent me from doing the right thing, a righteous thing, an action of grace?

It has, Gentle Reader. I must be honest. There are times I have refrained from doing “the right thing”, because it would embarrass me. You too?   * head nods here *   Well, our human frailty gets us all sometimes.

But just let me encourage you, Gentle Reader. Let me ask you to encourage me as well, from time to time. Acts of grace, of compassion, of gentleness… should never be constrained by “how it looks” to others, or whether we will “lose status” by embracing the shame. Do the right, the gentle, the loving… and let onlookers sort themselves out before the Throne.

Jesus’ earthly life began embracing shame. His earthly life ended the same way. But throughout… He is, was, and ever shall be… King of Kings, Lord of Lords…

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Philippians 2:8-11]

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2015 in Advent Devotions, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Ripples and Birthdays

WisdomIn the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. [Genesis 1:1-2]

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,  in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. [Luke 2:4-7]

While I know that technically it is “Christmas Day” as I write, Gentle Reader, for me it is the ending of Christmas Eve for I’ve not yet slept. These several days, I’ve yet been struck with the awesome power of “silence’ and “waiting”. I know there are those who decry the customs and traditions of the Liturgical Year, and the cycle of holidays such as Christmas and Easter in the Christian Church. I realize, with all educated theologians, that the decisions to select the dates we have are more dependent on the incorporation of customs by pagan peoples into Christian practice, than any scriptural seasonal basis. But it has always seemed more to me an apt unification of God’s people, rather than any denial or wrongful compromise.

Paulfg (Just me being curious) speaks often of dropping pebbles and watching the myriad ripples that follow. So much of grace is like that. God, or one who follows Him, drops a pebble, and the Holy Spirit echoes and reverberates among many others like variations on a theme of music. I was recently struck by the rhythmic nature of reality, of the necessity of opposites. In order to know true freedom and choice of good over evil, we MUST of logical necessity, have the capacity to choose evil. In order to know light, we must have the ability to apprehend darkness. For me, limited as I am by my own culture and upbringing, I’m coming to consider this the nature of yin and yang. Even Paul’s ripples have peaks and troughs, a zenith and nadir to define them.

This “silence”, this “fasting”, this preparation for the annual commemoration of the Great Events of the Nativity and the Resurrection that comprise Advent and Lent… these are important, and can do much to enrich our experience of God. Why? Because they are, in and of themselves, some sort of “magic times”? No. Because God takes special note of those who are devout enough to honor these penitential periods, and rewards the faithful with special Brownie Point Blessings? No. Because we have to “purge ourselves of our worldliness and sin”, in order to benefit from these sacred feasts? Well, such exercise may well bear some fruit, yes… but not in such a transactional way, no.

Now, I know you’ve heard this before, but let me say it again. I write from my own experience and subjective perspective. My opinions and conclusions are my own, and if they do not agree with yours I am NOT implying that you are wrong. For you, in your life, your world, your walk with the Lord, these ideas may not fit at all… and if that is the case, please cast them aside without hesitation. But perhaps these reflections will spur a new thought or idea to explore with Him, and that may bring additional grace or blessing. I share to expand our sense of the Possible in the realm of the grace of God.

This night, I’ve been struck with the Ripples of the Nativity. With this transition from Advent into Christmas. From pregnancy to parenthood. I was struck with those TWO texts quoted at the beginning of this post. All of “Not-Yet-Created” waited silently and darkly for “Creation”. The verb there for God “formed” is a word that means “brought forth from nothing at all”. This is not like a conjurer’s trick, the magician who unveils and releases a dove from a handkerchief and his “empty” hand. No, this is vastly more profound. This is God the Father and God the Son and God the Breath of God speaking, extending, and hovering over the expanse of darkness to bring forth… EVERYTHING. Birth!

And then, much later on, we see this scenario play out into our world, our time and space, as the Father sends forth Gabriel and speaks, the Son extends, and the Holy Breath overshadows Mary in her home. Nine months later, according to the rules of biology established in our lives, we have… Birth!

In my own life, this is a night each year when the universe itself holds its collective breath and gazes upon THE miracle of birth. It is God’s glory, God’s act, God’s love, God’s grace. It is entirely and wholly His, and it could well be said that He alone has the right to rejoice in it. But… just as He invited the shepherds and the maji so long ago to take part, to come, to witness, to celebrate… so too, He invites us. Isn’t that wondrous?

But watch this, it gets better! It is not only the celebration of the Birth of Jesus that is going on here.  Jesus said, “you in Me and I in you and together we in the Father.”  John the Apostle calls you a “Child of God”. Paul the Apostle waxes eloquent about “joint-heir with Christ,” including the training and discipline involved. We never see any of these texts grovelling in any sort of “worthless worm theology”, as so often undermines Christians in the name of humility.

The Nativity is not only Jesus’ Birthday… but ours as well. We are here to commemorate a birth… your birth, my birth… as sons and daughters of God… joint heirs… princes and princesses of kingdom… called to do the works of Jesus and greater yet because He is risen to the Father.

God Alone creates something from nothing. God Alone chose to lay down His divinity and become a man like us in all things but sin. God Alone moves the Holy Breath Spirit to dwell within us and among us. Why? Because He chooses to. Because that’s what Love means to Him.

And God Alone could make royalty of you and me. “Holy and Royal Priesthood” is all well and good as long as we speak of it in some vague corporate collective of “The Church”. But people become vastly less comfortable when one points out that means that YOU, are a sacred prince/princess priest/priestess. *I’m* not saying that… Scripture says that.

So… for tonight… let us continue to be silent, waiting, and ready. For, tomorrow, there will be Birth. And there will be a Gift. And the Gift will be an entirely new life… not just a “getting by” life… but a holy and royal life. A life filled with life, love, joy, truth, beauty, goodness, power, authority, and duty. Life that gives itself away and pours itself out for others…

Why? Because that’s what God has chosen to do. Because that’s what Love means to Him.

Happy Birthday, Your Highness.

 

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2014 in Advent Devotions, Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds

 

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No Words Today…

This Gift Box, Ribbon on Top, is accompanied by the Following Note…

This is an unusual day, Gentle Reader.

My town’s churches, CLOSED because of weather and driving danger.

THEREFORE:

  • I got to listen to one of my ministry young people (college seminarian) preach his first sermon on the radio this morning… which was wonderful… THEN…
  • I got to “attend church” with a pastor many hundreds of miles away, listening to this young  (to me) man preach, who I have prayed for all his career, having first heard him give a sermon when he was (I think) 19 years old, or so (more than 20 years ago, now)… as he was giving his life to the Gospel Ministry… and that was wonderful… THEN
  • I got to hear God “put me on notice” that this was Palm Sunday, and that He again (as often in my life) was going to bring about something wonderful in/for me… come Easter Sunday… and that was wonderful.

But somewhere in the course of all that, perhaps in the internet radio portion early on… this song, that I’ve posted here… played. And it absolutely captured me. Moved me to tears, took my heart to the Throne, and took all breath and sensation away.

I have no words to wrap around this moment, this song, these words, this experience for you. All I can say is they rang deeper in me than anything I’ve ever known, and the words “Holy”… and “Glory”… have somehow transformed in me from “words” to “being”. They feel, and felt, like the very blood coursing through my veins, or the air filling my lungs. They were not “Thoughts”… they were “Dimensions in Themselves”.

They were, and are, Beauty Itself! Beyond Beautiful… so far beyond beautiful that there are no words I know to express what they ARE!

This was Gift, Gentle Reader. Jesus, this morning, handed me a wrapped Present, and Inside it, I found this song… these words.

And now, I hand them on to you… wrapped in all my love and care… filled with His Grace… to Gift you for your sacredness. These go to you with all my blessings this day!

Yours, in Him — The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized

 

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What Do You Expect?

Lion AngryYesterday, AGAIN, Don Merritt published a great post that God just grabbed in my heart and ran with. And *cough* AGAIN, I wrote this… erm… well… “comment”. Come to find out, that comment has set Don’s new “record for longest comment ever received”, and it has prompted some very gratifying discussion appended to his post. I decided the comment deserved its own post here, and I’d love to see the discussion continue.

His post is “What do you expect from the Bible?” and was prompted by the recent Creationism/Evolution debates on YouTube. Please look at his post, and then contribute to the dialogue, either here or there! Here are some “critical trigger words” that Don wrote:

What do you expect from the Bible?

Have you ever thought about that?  Are you looking for a science textbook or a history textbook? The end of the world? Sex and violence? Facts, trivia and minutia? The way to follow Jesus? Maybe something else?

It could be argued that you can find all of these in the Bible to one degree or another, and people seem to find what they are looking for in most cases. [Don Merritt, Life Reference]

Here was my response:

What do we Expect?

Expectations!

How incredibly powerful this one little word is. Don’s post, the title itself… the Lord took this in an utterly “unexpected” direction for me as I pondered, and I thought you might enjoy the trip. The title, as read by most people, would seem like… “What do we expect from THE BIBLE. But my reflections sounded more like… “What do WE EXPECT from the bible?” Entirely different syllabic emphasis.

Without getting lost in detail and footnotes, let me just air this thought for consideration. You, as all readers, are welcome either to ponder and affirm this as true in and for your spirit, or totally cast it aside if it does not ring true. But through years of ministry and counseling, I have discovered…

In any and every encounter or relationship, we, as humans, tend only to see, perceive, hear, and experience that which we EXPECT to experience. Events that ‘surprise’ us, tend to be perceived and reported subject to a great deal of factual error (such as accident or crime reports). Emotionally, we experience ‘negative’ emotions (anger, sadness, disappointment, fear) when we hold one set of expectations for an event, and the actual outcome is ‘less, or lower’ than anticipated. We tend to experience ‘positive’ emotions (joy, love, gratitude, awe) when our expectations are exceeded.

Here’s a piece of research that changed my life when I was in my graduate studies as a counselor. There is an 80% correlation between ‘pre-therapeutic expectation of outcome effectiveness’ for any given school or style of treatment, regardless of modality. That is, no matter which of the 15 or so types of dynamic therapies a client undergoes, 8 times out of 10, if they expect to complete treatment with a positive outcome and improvement, they do so; and 8 out of 10 times if they expect counseling to make no difference to their situation, it does not. Didn’t matter if that was Freudian Psychoanalysis, Behavior Modification, Adlerian, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis… didn’t matter. Intake expectation was far and away the strongest predictor of discharge outcome.

As a counselor, for decades, that truth struck deep in me. And I never EVER began actual “work” with any client, until I could determine whether they BELIEVED and EXPECTED that this work would help, and change their situation. Until I had that, my focus was to improve their expectations, rather than begin the work on the specific issue.

That just came leaping to mind today, after reading Don’s post. The old saw,

“For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, none is sufficient.”

Don knows my view on “The Holy Bible” as a document, a book. For me, this fully sacred text is almost what we would think of as “magical”… a “dimensional portal”… where we, as finite, four-dimensional, little creatures as frail and faulty as we are… can encounter and engage FULLY… with the Presence and Person of Infinite Holy God — Omniscient Omnipresent Omnipotent Omnidimensional Omniconscious God — from our universe to His Omniverse. And THAT… I submit… is just plain flat AMAZING.

Why is this so? Because here is this “physical object”… two covers, white paper, black ink marks… this finite simple “book/thing”… that sets down symbolically the Word(s) of God (utterances of Jesus and God through historical revelations of the Holy Spirit)… ALONG WITH HIS PROMISE and ENDORSEMENT that when we “seek Him” here, He Himself will teach and reveal through the Living Word of His Holy Spirit.

So why is it then…

Why is it that some people can “read the Bible” and find nothing more than a series of dead historical reports… fodder for argument on philosophy, comparative theology, history, or literature? And others can enter into this Omnidimensional Portal and experience rhapsodies?

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I believe Don hit the nail on the head. The difference is “What do we expect…”

I hope this offends no one, but the very power of God on earth, among men, can be “limited”… but only by a single thing, a single factor. The factor is: Faith. Look at the 6th chapter of Mark, the very beginning narratives and the ending narratives, and look at the progression through the chapter. Jesus is very very clear here, as is the inspired author of the chapter. Jesus’ “potency” is conditioned by the faith of the people surrounding Him, and grows from “He could only heal a few…” at the beginning, to mighty works at the end. Did Jesus change through the chapter? Of course not. But clearly the “dunamis” changed, and the chapter identifies only one factor to explain that:

The Power of Expectation…

9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” [Luke 11]

Here, it seems Jesus Himself teaches of “expectation”.

Anyway, I thank Don. I think “debates” such as have been discussed, are really an “Apple/Orange” situation. If one approaches the Bible expecting an “encounter with God”… to “seek, ask, knock, know”… God honors that, and the encounter happens. If one does not… well…

But it’s important to note, merely pinning the label “Christian” on one’s lapel before approaching the Bible doesn’t define one’s expectations of encounter. I know countless “Christians” who diligently sit before their Open Bibles, NOT seeking an encounter with Holy God on HIS terms… but rather seeking to “Master the Bible” on their own. They’ve been taught to see scripture verses as “darts”, “weapons”, to be collected and mastered (largely through memorization)… not that the verses CHANGE THEM… but that they learn to “handle and wield them with dexterity” in order to defeat and wound others they define to be “the enemy”… whether that is non-believers, or other Christians not of their culture and traditions.

Approaching the Bible as one would approach caged animals… complete with whip and chair, to “train them to do one’s bidding and obey”… well, the Holy Spirit really has to struggle to get heard in such encounters.

I have found in my own walk, that what I “bring away” from an encounter with God in the Bible depends a lot on how I approached the encounter in the first place. When I go to meet Him, to seek, knock, ask, know Him… on His terms… I come away changed. When I go out of “duty” or “habit”, or to “get some verses down because of an argument I’m in”… or in ANY way… to MASTER the BIBLE… well… at best, there’s “no magic there”, at worst the Father has to pull this Kingdom over for a “little chat in the woods” for a bit.

“What do we expect?”… What a marvelous question. It’s not just “The Book” that is holy… the physical object. It’s not the black marks on the white pages. But rather, it’s that when we sacredly reach THROUGH the black marks of the object, our minds and spirits can encounter the LIVING WORD(S)… the “Speaker” of the utterances, and the “Teacher” of the utterances, and Giver of understanding and wisdom…. ON HIS OWN TURF! But ONLY when we EXPECT to find Him there!

Isn’t that amazing? Wow! Grace to thee! — The Little Monk

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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“Don’t TEST Us!”

Immersion“When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]

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“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6:9-13]

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We are exploring the unfurling of a wondrous Rose, in our gardens of spirit, considering the Lord’s gift to our lives of the Lord’s Prayer. We have acknowledged that there are two iterations of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave an “amplified version” to the Multitudes in Sermon on the Mount, and a much leaner version in the Gospel of Luke to the Disciples. We have noted that “thee, thou, thy” is a more familiar form in older English, than “you, your” as we use the words today.

As we look at the Lord’s Prayer, one phrase per post, today we will consider:

“‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” [Multitude’s Version]

“And lead us not into temptation, (but deliver us from evil.)” [Disciples’ Version]

* The Parenthetic “but deliver us from evil” shown in the Disciples’ (Luke) version, appears in the King James’ Version, while most modern translations omit it right here, noting that the phrase appears there in later manuscripts of this gospel, but not the earliest. I am including it because its inclusion takes nothing from the meaning or significance of these verses, while those who are deeply attached to King James’ rendering may find their absence distracting. *

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We are drawing near to the completion of this mini-journey in time, looking at this incredible gift, this Rose the Lord granted to us, teaching us “how to pray”.  As ever, I am going to make every effort NOT to interpret or comment or read into the verses beyond some very basic observations… just to shine a highlight on the Rose in YOUR hands, so that you yourself can examine, twirl, ponder, and watch it unfurl as the Lord opens it before you.

As to the quick notes here, all the verbs are in that “magic Greek super” form. These are not “commands” or even just “petitions”, but in this form that both makes a statement and an affirmation, covering a wide span of time and circumstance. One interesting thing is that the word “temptation” more refers to a “test, or trial”. I was struck by that, because of how many people I know who think (and preach) that God is doing JUST that all the time… that His commands to us, His recommendations, are PRECISELY “tests”…. lines drawn in the sand to see if we have the “will” and “obedience” to “do what we are told”. (Ask a random Sunday School teacher why God told Adam and Eve to leave the Good/Evil Fruit alone… and see how many tell you He did it “to see what they would do, whether they would obey.” You’ll be amazed.) But here is Jesus saying that to pray properly is to affirm that that is NOT what God does… that in fact He “delivers”… “rescues”… not from “evil” (as some “ethereal mist of badness”)… but the word there is “the evil ONE”… an entity of evil. Jesus doesn’t specify further, or name… but the word isn’t for a “concept”, but for an “entity”.

OK, that’s it for me messing with your Rose. But this is a good point… a good point to pause… Look at this line, look at this layer of petals on your Rose, and keep twirling it for a few moments. Let the Whole Rose speak to you. Let the Whole Rose, all the lines, spiral outwards from the center to this outer layer. When you let it build, one line first, then two lines, then start again — first, second, third lines, then start again — first, second, third, and fourth… the Rose looks different every time.

Isn’t that amazing?

One Rose! The Word doesn’t change. God doesn’t change. He didn’t “tell anything different” to the Multitudes than He did to the Disciples! He speaks the Father’s words… He tells One Truth! But.. but… that Truth can resonate so richly and differently in and with us depending on which way we look, on what we are dealing with, on how long we’ve seen Him…

This Rose NEVER fades, Gentle Reader. It never wilts, dries up, goes stagnant. This will never ever be a “Wood Rose”. This will never be pressed in the pages of The Book, to freeze in time, looking the same in a shadow box on the wall. No… this Rose grows more lovely every day, and wafts that incredible fragrance afresh every time we pick it up.

Enjoy your Rose, Gentle Reader. It cost the life, and death, and Life of God Himself to place it in your hands. How awesome is that?

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Parallel Hearts!

Do you love Jesus? Do you feel, through prayer, worship, scripture study, and the life you live as His follower that you have come richly, wonderfully to know Him?

If someone asked you to tell them about Jesus, do you feel you would have something to say?

Now, what about God the Father? How would your description differ? Is He more strict? Is He more violent? Is He more prone to bouts of anger, to jealousy, to rage, to destruction? Do we gloss over that part with explanations like, “well, remember, He’s really HOLY!”… or “He has to deal with JUSTICE, not just MERCY.”… or “He’s very forgiving, and yes, He loves us, but there’s limits… I mean, there’s severity, not just kindness to God the Father.”

Deep down inside, in your heart of hearts… not anyplace you’d say anything in Sunday School or to your church friends, but deep down in that private place, where you don’t show your heart to anyone but God… if He Himself were to ask how your relationship differs between God the Father, and Jesus, God the Son… would there be the tiniest whisper of… “I love, I embrace, I follow, and I trust Jesus… but Father? I’ll ‘pray’ to You, but You are too scary for me to embrace or come to, except looking down, crawling on my knees. I do not understand You, so I cannot fully trust You.”

Now please don’t misunderstand! That is a QUESTION! Not an accusation. Maybe that feeling has no part of your heart. But I’m here to tell you, it is deep deep deep in the hearts of many believers. The Enemy manages to run a con on so many children… who look at the drama of the Bible… hear faulty explanations of “Grace, BUT!!” as we look at our world, see so much divisiveness and “unlove” where there should only be love and grace and forgiveness. The con, planted as a niggling suspicion so deep we can barely even discern it, let alone admit it… is this: “Jesus may be all that… loving, forgiving, grace… yes. But He is only the Son. And we have to be careful, because the Father is dangerous, abusive, and best avoided as much as possible.”

You know what I mean… that iconic aristocratic, autocratic parent? The cold one? The harsh one? The “children should be seen and not heard” one? The “spare the rod and spoil the child” one? The one you dress for dinner, and sit up straight silently, and eat with the right fork, and crook your pinky… one? The one always waiting, and seeking to “catch you out”, to criticize and rebuke? You know… THAT one!

Lots of non-believers see the Father this way. Sadder, lots of believers see the Father this way. Sadder still, once upon a time… *I* saw the Father this way. Oh, not so’s you’d notice. Not so it would show in my ministry, or teaching, or serving. But, I would speak readily of Jesus… I had no problem at all sharing the tenderness of Jesus… but… but… the Father? Deep down in my heart about the Father, there was fear. Fear of failing Him. Fear of displeasing Him. Fear of disappointing Him. Fear of His wrath, His temper, His punishment.

Perhaps you have never known such feelings.

If that is the case, you have been blessed. But, in case you ever run across anyone who DOES struggle with this lie, this temptation, here is what healed me from this pain. [Empasis is mine.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves”. [John 14:7-11]

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. [Hebrews 1:1-4]

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. We love, because He first loved us. [1 John 4:18-19]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Those were the verses, those were the Truth. And one day, many years ago when I was the parent of a wondrous little girl… I was praying. And this “trusting Jesus… but fearing the Father” thing crept into my heart, and RIGHT THERE… THAT DAY… the Spirit was able to bring my mistrust, my fear, to the surface and confront it.

And I SAW these verses… really SAW them. And I saw, with them, the most ridiculous idea in the world… that I believed that I, as a parent, were more tender, more loving, more compassionate, more understanding, more forgiving… frankly… more gracious to my own child… than God the Father was to me.

I wounded the Father’s heart with my fear. I brought tears to the Father’s face, as I shrank back from His touch, when He reached out to caress me… for fear of being struck for some shortcoming instead. Imagine that of your own child, if you can. Feel the heart of what that would be like, and see what I was doing to the Father of Lights.

I finally SAW these verses, I OWNED them. I FELT them all the way down in my heart.

So, Gentle Reader, I make no claim whatever to understanding how God works out all that justice, fairness, punishment, righteousness, holiness, stuff. I simply know… and I know that I know… and I know that I know that I know… that when I look at Jesus, when I embrace Him, when I hear Him, when I love Him… I am hearing, hugging, loving and following a Father who loves and cares for me with a tenderness I cannot even IMAGINE, let alone express.

I’ve learned that I can TRUST Him. And in that, finally, I can get close enough to KNOW Him.

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life.This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” [John 17:1-3]

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Paul’s Song

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard.

Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world.

I stand at the edge of the Omniverse ask, “Am I? Do I Exist? Am I a Figment?” and wait… silence.

Then Omniverse answers, “You are, because I AM.”

“Why?” I ask.

“That I may Love Thee.”

“What must I do, to be so loved?”

“Continue to exist. To be. To live.”

“What more?”

“Nothing more.”

And from the silence, the darkness, I begin to hear… The music comes, the rhythm comes, the pulses of praise of worship, from hearts and voices without lips or form. The music builds, layer by layer, to a chorus beyond count. Songs without words. Music without notes. The very humming of the IS… the ARE… THEMSELVES.

“What… What is that? What do I hear?”

“You hear the IS… it comes from I AM… this is Worship, this is Life, this is Love, this is to BE!”

I listen… I hum… I vibrate… I AM… I live… I love… No longer just me… Now we… Us…

The Omniverse, and all within hums, vibrates, thrums… Is He/She the Source of the vibration? Or does the hum answer Him/Her?

“Yes… and No… Both!”

“I do not understand.”

“I know. But that does not matter. It is all right.”

“But what IS all this?”

“Love. My love.”

“But Who AM I?”

“Love. My love.”

But WHY is all this?”

“Love. My love.”

“But What is it all about? Why is there life? Why are there others? Why is there freedom? Why can some do good, and others do ill?” and as if in some gigantic canyon, some cosmic canyon of stars and galaxies, I heard my wee small voice echo…

WHY?… WHY?… WHy?… Why?… why?…”

And the Stars, and Galaxies, and Universes, picked up my echo, and all vibrated with…

WHY!… WHY!… WHy!… Why!… why!…” But from THEIR voices, it was not a question, but a statement…

The Omniverse completes the statement… “Love. My LOVE!”

And I see. I know, but not comprehend… the answer to all “Why?”…

“Love. His/Her Love.”…

“Yes.”

The Song… It is so beautiful… I no longer hear it… I no longer sing it…

I am a… a Note. NO! More than a “note”, I am a Harmony WITHIN it! Yes!

The Song is:

Love… MY Love…

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. [Psalm 19]

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized

 

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