Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sacred Space

The season of Lent brings to the forefront the issue of fasting.  Those who honor this observation choose to abstain from some form of indulgence.  Perhaps chocolate, perhaps TV, perhaps some form of leisure or preferred pasttime...

...And most of us do this with nothing more than a vague idea of why we're doing it...

                           Is it to procure bonus points in heaven?
                           Is it merely tradition?
                           Is it twisting God's arm toward some desired end?
                           Is it some form of self-flagellation?

Matthew 5:6 comes to mind,

"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."

The spirit of this season is to make Space.

At any given moment, we are so stuffed and saturated with food, with drink, our senses soaked with entertainment, and our souls over-stimulated with sundry diversions, that there is barely even a corner left in our lives - or tragically, at times, our churches - for God to fill, to make His presence felt.  No room in the Inn, so to speak...

Fasting allows us to feel the hunger of our soul, of our spirit, then to offer that space to God to fill...

Jesus told the woman at the well,

"Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."*

God isn't some sadist who enjoys watching you suffer; Fasting isn't a punishment, it's a gift.  God wants you to hunger and thirst so He has space to fill; He longs to pour Himself into you and me and then to overflow out of our lives into the lives of those around us.  We stop short if we remain empty; the point is to be FILLED with the Bread of Life and the Living Water!

The words of Isaiah 55:2 ring out from the Father's heart still...

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?  Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance."

In your fasting, may you find yourself filled as never before.

*John 14:4

Just as I am..........

not a lot of commentary from me tonight guys.....Just wanted to pass this on (click on link below)....Hope it buoys your souls as it did mine tonight and points you to the One who's arms are outstretched, waiting for you to fall into them and find release..........Peace....

Just as I am...


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lenten Labor.....

Jesus spent forty days in the womb of the wilderness before being rebirthed into the world; it was the most confinement He would experience until His ultimate confinement on the cross.  He wrestled with the trials He would face during His brief ministry here on earth, and soundly victored over each stumbling block in the spirit...He had little time to win the heart of mankind and needed to clear the path to the cross before setting out...

He trailblazed His trajectory, taking on one obstacle at a time; He triumphed over temptation after temptation till not a stone was left to trip Him up: There was no time to be hindered by hedonism, no space for adulation of any God save One, no place for vainglory or the distraction of self indulgence. 

In this desert battlefield He fought each foe that would flesh out over the next three years, incapacitating every strategem of Satan's.  He had a single eye on the redemption of His people and nothing must be left to prevent His progress toward that end.

This Lenten labor continued till every impediment was rendered impotent, and our Lord was delivered to effect man's deliverance. 

What a privilege this season affords us as we partake of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if by any means we may follow in His footsteps and attain to the ressurection from the dead.*

"...Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but one thing I do: forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
-Philippians 3:12-14

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Take Two...

"One thing I do: forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead..." 
-Philippians 3:13

A friend told me this morning, "Life is how you handle Plan 'B' "


Such a good perspective for when life hits ya outta left field, which, if anyone's noticed, it so often does......

I thought about all the "Plan 'B's" in my life.....All the times the thought occurred to me, "Guess I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque..."...

I have wasted countless hours mulling over the mistakes and missteps of yesteryear, ruminating over regrets and wrong moves, mourning missed opportunities and the mess I've made of some things.......

But God gave us an example to follow into the future, saving us from stagnation and the petrification of the past......

He too, the God of the Universe, had to grieve the loss of His Eden and grapple with "Plan 'B' "....

"ok, then, die on cross, rescue my Beloved."

the original Plan "B"

I find myself staring in disbelief at this self-imposed sentence, reduced to tears at this revelation of my Redeemer, leveled by this lesson of letting go what cannot be...

But He does not leave me empty handed...He places within my grasp hope for the future and His palpable promises...

"For I know the thoughts I think toward you," says the Lord, "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope"  -Jeremiah 29:11

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  -Romans 8:28

"Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.  After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, THAT WE MAY LIVE in His sight.  Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.  His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth."  -Hosea 6:1-3

" 'The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace,' says the LORD of hosts."  -Haggai 2:9

-Job 19:25


Monday, February 15, 2010

In Him we move......

"...a wheel within a wheel..."
-Ezekiel 1:16

Christ is the First cause, the Primum movens, the Source who set everything in motion: from hailing the first heartbeat to triggering the first tick of time.

And it is He who authors and animates our lives.  He moves, we move.  A divine domino effect.  We are either vitally connected to our Creator or we are void of Life entirely. 

Thankfully, the God Who holds our breath in His hand and owns all our ways is not some distant Dictator, doling out commands and leaving us to our own devices.  Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.".  He longs to live and move and have His being in us so that His Person is worked out through us, incarnated into this earth, perpetuated through His posterity. 

"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure".  We were fitted and formed, not to work independently of Him, but to function interdependently with Him...

this sublime symphony,

this intricate intimacy,

this beautiful oneness,

our life an extension of His quickening life within.

"In Him we live and move and have our being."
-Acts 17:28

(Acts 17:28, Daniel 5:23, Phillipians 2:13, Romans 8:11, John 14:19)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Be Mine....

"They shall be Mine," says the LORD of hosts, "on the day that I make them My jewels."
-Malachi 3:17

I ran across this verse this morning, then stopped, and ran back to it......

Those two little words caught my eye,

...Be Mine...

There it was, a little Valentine, tucked in this Book, from Him, to me...exactly where He knew I'd find it this morning...this morning of all mornings,
Valentines Day...

I couldn't have been more touched if I'd gotten a box of Godiva and a dozen red roses....

I took out my pen and drew a little heart around the two words,
then breathed softly,
"I love you too, Lord..."

A Valentine from Almighty God...

He didn't forget.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Let there be Light....

"ARISE, shine; for your light has come!  And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you.  For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.  The Gentiles will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." -Isaiah 60:1-3

As the darkness stretches over this great land of ours, as the light which shone so brightly fades, there are those whom God has placed strategically in various places as lighthouses out of whom He intends to shine...

We are to cleanse ourselves from all "filthiness of flesh and spirit" (2 Corinthians 7:1) so that nothing obstructs His glory...We are to be ready, our lamps full of oil and our wicks trimmed and waiting...(Matt 25:1-13)

Now is not the time to cower in corners hoping to go unnoticed by evil...Now is not the time for averted eyes and downcast spirits....We are His lanterns on this dark night, beacons meant to shine brightly and with great boldness.

Now is the time to "Arise", Now is the time to "Shine"

We have been drenched in the oil of the Spirit, flooded with the Word of God...Now is the time for this fuel to be touched with God's match and set alight for the world to see...
For too long we've been huddled up in upper rooms, hidden from view, our faith sequestered and silent as though our Saviour were still entombed...

The time for our emergence is upon us.  We are His lamps, not meant to be hidden, but to be set on hills, on high places, to shine out in the darkness, displacing, dispelling, and defeating it.

"You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."
-Matthew 5:14-15

Too long have we been holed up, too long have we horded the Light of God for ourselves...

It is time to Arise, It is time to Shine, It is time for the match to be struck, and the world to be set ablaze...

Let There Be LIGHT!

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
-2 Corinthians 4:6

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Timeless Trademark.......

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.  Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world."
-Psalm 19:1-4
As time, technology, and industry marches on, it can be harder and harder to discern the calling card of God all around us.

We are insulated from the once clear indications of God's presence, power, and omnipotence.

The forests filled with the fingerprints of God have been razed and replaced by things manufactured in the minds of men; emblems in the ether have been explained away; rivers that once served as God's script running through the earth have been substituted by static roads and railways; stars and suns once the only signs in the heavens now share space with satellites and space stations...

Deity diluted and man's senses dimmed

But Providence will not be silenced by our paltry "progress".  His immutable, insistent call will continue to ring out. 
The LORD of Heaven is still LORD of Earth.

His power is still perceived in the severity of a storm, His majesty still seen in mountains too magnanimous to obscure.  His tenderness is felt in the breath of a breeze, His voice heard in the whisper of wind and in the tumult of the sea...

...and as if this weren't enough, there's you, and me.

Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father.".  As His posterity, and as children reborn to the same Patriarch, we're also meant to be a picture of our Papa to the world.  More than all of His creation, we're meant to bear a striking resemblance to the One we serve. 

The world endeavors to drown out Heaven, but our Sovreign will not be supplanted.

As we allow His Spirit to hold sway in our hearts, as we live and move and have our being in Him and allow Him to live and move and have His being in us, the image will emerge, and a world whose senses have been starved of Heaven, will once again, see the Face of the Father.

"For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."
-Romans 8:29

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Deadly Duality.....

In John Adams' quest to make this country "The Land of the Free", he was quoted as saying,

"The Middle Way is no way at all!...If we finally fail in this great and glorious contest, it will be by bewildering oursevles in groping for the Middle Way."

Apparently The God of Creation concurs: In Revelations 3:16 we read an equally harsh judgement of "The Middle Way"...

"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

Our modern day sensibilities make us squirm at the severity of this dictum.  These days, it seems, the idea of absolutes, of "black and white", of right and wrong, has become a faux pas, passe, and politically incorrect. 

Even in the church we've cozied up to compromise, favoring grey areas over God's "extremes", pandering for people's praise instead of preaching for God's.  Acclimating to our culture's climate instead of holding the course of God's commands.

The world needs meat and we're handing them milktoast.  We treat the seeker with kidgloves, tip-toeing around Truth, clearing a path around the "stone of stumbling and the rock of offense"*.  We want everyone to be "comfortable".

But Christ didn't come to make us comfortable...

He came to make us Free

*1 Peter 2:8

Monday, February 1, 2010

Uncanny Communion

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”  He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.  The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.  She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” -John 4:7-9

Why indeed....

Jesus was mirroring worth back to this woman who was void of any sense of value...He didn't just bombard her with what He had to give, He allowed her the dignity of feeling that she too had something to offer...

We see here the King of kings seeking a point of connection with this Samaritan, creating a common ground:

Both Jesus and the woman were thirsty.

...Such a simple starting point.  The Living Water Himself could've lorded it over her but chose instead a path of humility into her heart, a door through which could flow the refreshing she so desperately needed.

Time and time again, Jesus exhibited this example of deference to the displaced and downtrodden.  He easily fraternized with frailty and fragility.  He related to the ruffians and ragamuffins of this world with respect and easy comraderie, reflecting to them their treasured status in Heaven.

Not just once, but over and over, He made Himself of "no reputation", taking the form of a servant.  His existence here was spent seeking out sinners; not to judge them, not to berate them, not to beat them further down, but to lift them up, to look them in the eyes so they could see the grace in His.

Here I sit in stunned silence, centuries later, at the same well; My ego is dealt a leveling yet liberating blow as I lean in, incredulous, and once again hear Heaven's request, as another Samaritan heard so long ago,

Please give me a drink. 

I look around to see which of the "least of these" He could be addressing, only to find His gaze resting on me

Laying aside pretense and pious pose, I drink long at this cup of communion with Christ.  Together we quench our thirst at this well;

mine for Him, and His for me.    

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men."
-Phillipians 2:5-7