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Continuity and Conservation

earth beautiful 2In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. ..Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. [Genesis 1:1, 6, 9-10]


God woke me at 4:00 a.m.

Nothing wrong, just a moment suspended in time.

Want to try an experiment? Go get a rock, a little rock, a small stone or large pebble and hold it gently in the palm of your hand. Let it just rest there, calmly and comfortably.

Have you ever wished that you lived in the Gospels? That you lived when Jesus walked the dusty roads of Israel, that you shared His space, breathed His air, heard His voice? Ever wished you were there then? To be one with Him that way would be quite something, no? That oneness, that sense of sharing… how close would you have needed to be to feel it?

Well, this stone in your hand… IT existed then.

I held a roundish, grayish, river stone. This stone witnessed the change of the universe, the rebirth, as Jesus laid down His life on the Cross. The stone didn’t have to “be” there, it simply had to “be”, and it was. God seemed to “replay” this little stone before me… it came from a stream, a river… it was shaped by water… ever… so… slowly. Water rubbed on it, molecule by molecule. Water tumbled it against other rocks and wore it away, molecule by molecule.

But from this, from this stone, God showed me the water… from sky, to drop, to ground, to underground, to stream, to river, to sea, to sky. Side trips through living things… plants… animals… back to earth, to underground, to streams. Over and over, molecules of water… supporting life… insulating the earth in a blanket of warmth… sanding down rocks… tumbling them… Always… always… over and over.

Everything… always… rearranging themselves over and over… but ever present, never destroyed, just rearranged. New relationships of the ever present. The water was here, too… at the Crucifixion, at the Incarnation, at the Exodus, at the Covenant of Abraham, at the Flood, at the Murder of Abel… at the Garden. (Man Science calls this “Principle of Conservation of Matter and Energy”. God just seems to call it “I AM”.)

This stone, this water drop, witnessed all of that… were ever present, in some way or another, through all of that.

Then, God showed me… “Me”. Rearranged matter, rearranged molecules, carbon, water, minerals, lipids… protons, neutrons, electrons, bits bombarded by alpha rays, beta rays, gamma rays, cosmic rays… banged into by neutrinos… yet, yet. I have been always “here”, always “present”, always in “relationship with everything else”.

Why? Because, we were all “born” at the same moment, and we all “came” from the same place. Conscious as myself yet or not? Irrelevant. I was “born”… my protons, neutrons, electrons, energy… I was “born” when God spoke forth Creation and Matter. My “body” came into being, as its substance, in the moment of Creation… with that water drop, with this pebble. With you… with you other… and with you other. With Shakespeare, with Poe, with Abraham, with Cain, with… Adam.

We all… Christian, Moslem, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Obeah… All… are born of the same Divine Womb… born of the Word of God… uttered into Creation in the moment of His utterance.

Our “self-ness”? Our identity? Our “life as we know it”? Our consciousness is born of His consciousness. Our thoughts, our self, by and through the creative force, the praxis, the genesis, innate and inherent in HIS being, HIS assertive love pushing forth “life” and “personhood” from His Person into the Creation as our own.

We are… ALL… FROM Him as source, and “upheld by the power of His word”.

I just had the most amazing awareness of the “irrelevance of time” itself.

That you, I, everyone, rocks, trees, water, all the stars of the heavens, all the microbes of the streams… ALL are one, born of the same womb, brought into physical existence at the Utterance of His Word “in the Beginning”.

And that our AWARENESS of our being… our beingS… is equally in and from Him… source and destination… Him.

We are One. We have ever been One. We will ultimately again be One.

One tradition of worship includes the words…

“Through Him, with Him, in Him… in the unity of the Holy Spirit… One God, Forever and ever. Amen”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This morning, a bit after 4 a.m…. I saw this to be true. I’ve always “believed” by faith, that it is true. Thus, I’ve always “known” it to be true. But, this morning… looking at a small gray stone… I SAW it to be true.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Look at your pebble…

What do YOU see?

 
 

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Truth with Grace

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

“The Word of God”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

Been there?

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

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OK, there’s all that sublime and cosmic.

There’s the challenge brought by James the Apostle.

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

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So here’s the unspeakably mundane and simple…

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

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

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

 

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Journey – Disposing of Shadow Words

camelWords… words… words…

I am a wordsmith. Teaching, preaching, counseling, writing, one way or another the Lord’s primary use of me and my life is through the use of words.

Quite a while ago, I sat in an evening working on something or other, and Jesus interrupted, saying… “Go get your License to Preach and your Ordination Certificate for a moment.” It was an odd request, quite unexpected, but it was easy enough to comply and so I did.

“Now look at what you are…”

And my eyes focused on the center of the two pages… at their most meaningful phrases… “Minister of the Gospel”, “Gospel Ministry”. Then, as I stood and watched, God began to change the words before my eyes. “Minister”, “servant”, “doulos”, “bondservant”, “My servant”… “Gospel”, “Good News”, “Word”, “Word of God”, “My Word(s)”, “Logos”, “Rhema”, “Jesus”, “Holy Spirit”… then all the permutations and combinations of those. “Servant of the Word”, “Doulos Logoi”… for several minutes this went on as within me came the growing awareness that I had been “Renamed”, just as certainly as Simon became Peter, or Saul became Paul, God had now chosen to “rename” me from “whatever I was before”, to “whatever I am now”, and that deep within that was the truth that I was now voluntarily bondservant to the Word of God.

When did that happen? How did that happen? There was this very special moment, in front of a church and congregation, when hands were laid on me, when breath was breathed on me, when sacred words were entoned over me, and something quite… inexpressible… happened. But while that was “IT”, yes… “IT” was not a lone, isolated moment. There were other moments, earlier moments, hands laid on me, words spoken over me, breath breathed on me… other moments as much a part of this one as this one. Very private, very sacred, very intimate, unspeakably powerful.

But whatever that was, whenever that was, however that was… here is now where we had come. Here is now where I stood. Here is now me, in my new and additional name… “Doulos of the Word of God, the Good News”. Yes. But… but… what did that MEAN really? I was stricken quite mute, nearly senseless, as all this unfolded before me, and God had me sit quietly while He continued with a remarkable tableau…

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” [John 1:1-3]

In my prayer, in my mind’s eye, it was as though I stood in the vastness, the silence, of the Void. God the Father was present, though I could not see, or hear, or feel Him. I simply knew He was present. And then He spoke… a single word, but said in “God Language”… beautiful beyond description or music, and… while it was but one word, it said a multitude of things… the Word was…

“Son…”

The word echoed and reverberated, with tones behind it that spoke vast and wondrous other words… Love, Mine, Jesus, Thou… and so beautiful, rendered in God-Speak. As if a word sung, and painted, and dancing, all at once.

From that interchange, from that dialogue, from their relationship, from their harmony and Song, proceeds another… Another Word of God… the Rhema… the Spirit Between Them… Their Love.

THIS… THESE… are the Word(s) of God! Pater, Logos, Rhema, Love, Life!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

But what is a “word” really? Does it “exist”? Now, wait a moment. Stop and think about that for just a moment. What does a “word” weigh? Can you measure it, hold it, feel it? How long and wide is it? What color is it? What does it smell like, taste like? So, I ask again… does a “word” exist? Is it “real”?

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Yes. Yes, “words” are “real”. They are transcendent. They emerge from ideas, which emerge from consciousness, which emerges from the Mind, Heart, Soul, Being of God Himself. God is ultimately the condition of all possibility. Words are amazing, in that they transcend time, space, and person.

Words express a unique human trait, our ability to express an idea from one mind, one person, to another, using words. Words, so uniquely human, are part of our legacy as created “in the image” of God Himself.

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God rolled all of this through me on this incredible morning. I was overwhelmed with the Power, the Dignity, the Holiness of “Words”.

Scripture is replete with warnings. Jesus spoke movingly and pointedly about words and their power.

Words can penetrate and permeate the sacred soul and mind and heart of another.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Where does this lead?

I have a choice of words.

I can use words, select words, release words… that penetrate another person with hurt, judgment, condemnation, false labels or accusations, abandonment… I can wound, denigrate, desecrate, devalue, and demean another. I can choose to do that, with words, if I choose to craft and utter words of darkness and shadow into another sacred person, diminishing them and taking life from them.

OR

I can use, select, and release words that penetrate another person with love, encouragement, edification, walking alongside them, growing them, treasuring and lifting them up into light, and fill them with increasing Life. I can chose to do that with words, if I choose to craft and utter words of Life, Light and Love.

I can utter words of darkness and the enemy, or words of Life, Light, and Jesus. My choice.

This was the challenge. And this was my choice. I go to the pack on my Journey, and separate the words of shadow and selfishness from the words of Light and Love. I leave in the evening fire, all the debris and words that take life from others, that judge and devalue others, that abandon and denigrate others.

I will keep only words of Light, Love, and grace. I will speak only the words that come from the heart of Jesus. I choose to let my voice express only the heart of Jesus. I release and forgive all “shadow words” ever spoken at me. I renounce and release all “shadow words” I’ve ever spoken at others.

I will leave them here, abandoned at the side of this trail, not to be encumbered by them as I move along towards Jerusalem, towards the Temple, towards the Passover, towards the Cross.

 

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