Friday, March 26, 2010

Convivial Contrast

Jesus wants intimates, not inmates

We see this truth proved out and personified in the lives of Jesus' loved ones, Mary and Martha.  Our first peek into their home reveals a jarring juxtapostion: 

         Martha, scrambling around, sweating over "Sunday dinner", setting the table, seeing to the guests...

         ...and Mary, seeing to Jesus.

Martha had allowed her focus to become diffused and diluted until Jesus was nothing more than another party guest in the periphery (how often do we allow this in our lives, or worse yet, in our churches?), while Mary was mesmerized by her Master, thoroughly enraptured, seeming to sense the sacred intimation of the moment, hanging on every word...

...For her, there was nothing but Jesus.

Jesus met Martha's aggravation at her sister's seemingly sedentary behaviour with affirmation of Mary's choice and an implied invitation for Martha to opt for the same singlemindedness her sibling had found.

Fast forward to another feast, also at the home of the two sisters, six days before the Passover, six days before Jesus' execution:

Martha is still serving, and again, Mary's uncanny sense of the sacred steals the show.  She knows somehow that time is short; devotion displaces decorum and protocol is pushed aside by passionate love for her Lord.  She produces a pound of pure nard, worth a year's wages, and pours out this, her most precious possesion, to Jesus.

Once again, Jesus chastises those present for chiding Mary, not wanting this moment between them diminished in any way by the pettiness of paltry objections.

In both scenarios, Martha offered service to Jesus, Mary offered herself.

Jesus didn't love Martha any less, He just wanted her to know the freedom Mary knew of loving Him more.

"One thing is needed"
-Luke 10:42

-Luke 10:38-42
-John 12:1-8

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


"Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.  When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.  But He said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.'"
-John 6:18-20

Treading on the tempest
Eschewing the safety of shore
Surefooted strides
 Summoning the sea's submission...
Before she cries,
He comes

Embattled and beaten
she wages a fool's war
combatting the convulsions of the deep
wielding weakness against the wind and the waves
she pleads for Him to come...

Her entreaty sails over the surface of the squall
And falls on Heaven's ears
He traverses this terrain as terra firma
Supplanting the storm
Demanding deference,

"Peace!  Be Still!"

His arrival arrests the violence about her
His voice silences the vehement gale
The breakers bow at His behest
and all is rest
all is rest

"Peace, be still..."

With the sea her heart surrenders.
bending to His will
The storm inside finally subsides

and all is rest

all is rest.

-E.A.A. "Hindsfeet" 3/22/10

"It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear."
-Isaiah 65:24 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring's Song......

“Death is swallowed up in victory!  O Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?”
-I Corinthians 15:54-55

Life comes back; Life always comes back. 
It is tenaciously persistent, perennially present, perpetuating itself against all odds.

In the book of Ruth, we read about Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, whose name means Pleasant, but who demures at the address, asking instead to be called Mara - meaning Bitter - because of the leveling loss she has endured - the death of her husband, the passing of her two sons, the deprivation of the place she has called home for over a decade, and worst of all, the seeming abandonment of the Almighty.

In a dramatic denouement, Ruth providentially meets Boaz, who is a wealthy relative of Naomi's.  He marries her, and they have a son whom Naomi nurses, Obed: Would-be grandfather of David, the King of Israel.

What reeked of ruin,
what smacked of bitter despair,
what connoted catastrophic failure on God's part,
what looked like the end,
was actually the beginning in disguise. 

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." 
-Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Emmanuel's Embrace......

God is a Romantic.

Such an unexpected aspect of Christ's character -- unexpected in our Western culture -- though it was very commonplace in the understanding of the Celtic Christian.  Romance was very much more a part of their frame of, poetry, romance, an important expression of their faith, and a big part of their interaction with the Almighty.

To make such a declaration in our culture almost seems irreverent, ill-fitting when speaking of Immanuel, but as I write, I can almost hear Yahweh's "Yes!", because it's a big part of His interaction with us too...

The bible is not a book full of bullet points and boardroom tactics...there is an entire section smack dab in the center where He serenades us with song after song, one hundred and fifty ballads to be exact, revealing Himself, inviting intimacy, a cleft carved out in the middle of it all where two can touch, where He plumbs the depths of His beloved's heart with prose and poetry, wooing us into deeper communion, a mutuality of mind, a union of Spirit, a sacred meeting of saint and Sovereign.......

God's great desire is oneness with His creation...with you and with meYes, He's our Father, absolutely, He's our Saviour, without question, He's our Provider, our Redeemer, our Judge, our Lord......

...but He is also the Lover of our soul...

To push this attribute aside to the periphery of our understanding of God, to demure at this dimension of Deity, to blush and bypass this beautiful bent of His heart toward us, is to deny Him His deepest desire.  To dismiss His fervent ardor for us is to miss out on an amazing encounter with the Most High......


Friday, March 12, 2010


-Psalm 23

Our path may seem uncertain, challenging and even impassable, yet there is no where our way can take us that our Shepherd has not gone before, no eventuality He has not provided for, no difficulty that is not paved with His grace. 

This is no virgin soil we tread upon; Christ, our forerunner, has traversed this sod. 

He fashioned all our days, laid all the track, when as yet not one step had been taken, not a single moment had been lived...

He knows our path like the back of His nail-scarred hand; He's walked every inch, negotiated every turn, navigated every difficulty, climbed every high and trekked every low.

Ours is not some ambivalent Autocrat, standing aloof above the stuggle...

He who could've chosen the safe distance of detached Deity, chose instead intimate involvement in all our ways; He, who could've stood idly by, watching us manage this maze, instead inserted Himself into the milieu of man, and became a participant in our pilgrimage.

He is not only the Author of our journey, but its Finisher as well.

Our Creator offers Himself, not only as a compass, but as a confidant and a companion.  We are not in this alone.  He is our Way through this wilderness, His very footsteps are ours to follow.

He will make His footsteps our pathway
-Psalm 85:13

Saturday, March 6, 2010


"He must increase, but I must decrease."
-John 3:30

We are here to be a window into Who God is, a lens that people can look through and see Jesus. 

I find myself having to continually refocus the 'camera' on Christ, fighting that tenacious tendency toward self promotion, that plebeian posture that says, Look at ME!

We are here to personify Jesus, to be living portraits of our Lord.  How often do I detract from Deity, demanding the foreground, distracting the viewer, valuing ephemeral ego gratification over engendering a meaningful encounter with Christ? 

The ego-chafing correction comes: 

People do not need me; People need the Lord.

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.  The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life...He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him."
- John 6:63, 7:18


Monday, March 1, 2010

Fuzzy Math...

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"
-Romans 11:33

When we come to see God as a God of paradox, it opens for us a door of understanding into His "higher ways" and His "higher thoughts".*

In God's economy weakness is strength, servitude is freedom, the poor are rich and so on...

Jesus' disciples were at first scandalized by this seemingly upside down philosophy: They wanted to become a new Nation, Jesus wanted "Nobodys"; they wanted to be lords, Jesus called them to be the least; they wanted a King, Jesus gave them a crucifixion.

I can understand their perplexed, crestfallen state in the upper-room, in that seemingly anti-climactic moment following the execution of their Lord, which was, in actuality, the most triumphant moment in all of history.  It really does require revelation from the Holy Spirit to grasp God's perspective, to see the sense in Christ's counter-intuitive ways.

But I think it's a matter of waiting...waiting prayerfully in the upper-rooms of our own discontent, our disillusionment, sometimes even our despair...until the Holy Spirit comes with the wind of wisdom and helps us to zoom out from our limited lens on life and our resultant compartmentalized conclusions to view things from the vantage point of Heaven.

From this lofty lookout, this God's-eye-view, what seems like very fuzzy math indeed, adds up afterall.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."
-Proverbs 3:5-6

*Isaiah 55:9