Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hope for Today, Inheritance for Tomorrow

Dear Journal:
Observation #2 regarding Peter: He uses long sentences. Long. And it takes a bit of time to restate his point in fewer words. But this is gold...

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [to] an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

Or: Blessed is the God Who gives us this gift— The lively hope of an incorruptible inheritance, grounded on the resurrection of Christ, and reserved for those kept by His power.

"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

In which hope we greatly rejoice (even in the midst of heaviness), and which Christ we love, believe, and rejoice in, even though we have not seen Him. So that the trial of our faith today might result in praise, honor, glory and salvation tomorrow.

"Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into…"

And which hope, (and which inheritance) is a miracle. Searched out by prophets, and marveled over by angels themselves...

I have always held that it is the way we relate to the unseen that makes Christians different than the rest of the teeming masses. Because we believe Him, rejoice in Him, though we haven’t seen him. Because we joyfully lay down today, in favor of tomorrow. Because we count the testimony of ancient writers sufficient to fasten our contemporary confidence.

And because we believe in the invisible, we have access to the power of the eternal.

I suppose it is a miracle. A miracle twice over.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Identity Before Activity

1st and 2nd Peter loom large on my horizon, thanks to the next GYC Memorization Challenge. And since that which is understood is better remembered, I’ve set out on a study of the same. What follows are some of my reflections, by section...
_________________________________________________________________________________________

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied…” I Peter 1:1, 2

Before he’s said the first word of exhortation, or revealed the first of his agenda, he fixes this— his identity. And quite the identity it is.

Chosen by the Eternal God, long before he was,
Sanctified through the work of the Spirit,
Anointed and Obedient in and to Jesus Christ…

It is for this, and through this, and to these, that he writes, this “Apostle of Hope.” Because it is most significantly who he is, that informs and inspires what he does. Remember. And if the fruit is good, if his identity is worthy to be grasped, then hear his words...



Monday, April 20, 2015

No Fear Of Gethsemane

That place where the sun never rises, where sorrow never sleeps, where the trees watch somber as the grave;

That place where the rocks are rent from the struggle, where the earth soaks salt and red,
where the dew lays crystal blankets over bowed and fervent head;


That place where the songbird never warbles, where faithful friends nod off, where trembling hand takes bitter, burning cup, and one swallows. And where a kiss doesn't mean what it ought...

That place is called Gethsemane.

I know, dread horror.

But oh, wait. Before you follow instinct, wait. If you're brought here... do not flee away. Clutch the cold ground and take the cup. Whatever. bitter. cup. Yours can't end in death, only in morning.

This garden is no longer an eternal grave.
If you've been invited here, it's to find His company. This is the only place in the universe where one can be alone, together. Because He's “alone" here too...



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Emptiness

I ache.

Over emptiness.



Not my emptiness, no. I have life, mercy of mercies.

Partly, I ache because there is emptiness. Because as I move through life at a trot, I often feel like the landscape is littered by people I love, scattered out like spent shells. Because where there should be life, and love, and liberty, there is just this horror of stillness...

But mostly, I ache because there are too many 60 second stretches in a day, when I do nothing about it. 
The emptiness, I mean.
I won't even run down all of why...

Just this, tonight:

The entirety of my life is to be spent doing one of two things:

Gaining strength,

or giving it.


All else breeds emptiness. Is emptiness.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

He Loves Too Much

Freedom comes at a price, they say.

For a million battered israelite slaves, Moses' first moves made things worse, not better. Until they cried out against their deliverer, and Whoever he was getting his marching orders from.

Better to die in bondage, than to face the same old brick quotas, only now, while also having to hunt up their own straw...



I'm glad God loved too much to listen to their requests that He forbear.

I'm glad He still does.

May it not be said of us that while God was working for our salvation, we were clinging to our destroyer.

"For oh! He loves thee far too well 
To leave thee in thy self-made hell, 
A Savior is thy Lord!"




Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Miracle That Isn't

Seeing that we were created in the image of the Highest, it makes sense that sympathy with Divinity, identification with the heart of God, would be life at it’s best. 

I daily aspire. 

But is that aspiration alone enough to water the ground where this miracle grows?
Or wait... Is it really a miracle?



I remember slipping between the sheets after a string of days full of giving, and asking if I might be made more sensitive, more sympathetic, more caring about the things on God’s own heart…
--only for my soul to hear this whisper: 

For that, you need no miracle. Just time. I can’t do your part and Mine.

It is not easy to find sufficient time for communion when on the trot. I’m not going to lie. 
It is only barely easier to find time for communion when at home. 

But of this I have become convinced: 

Activity is no substitute for communion. 

"O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself:
it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23


Monday, September 8, 2014

One Life To Give

I’m sitting in my own room, long before sunrise, on my own bed, lost in my own thoughts. You know a summer has been extraordinary when your own space feels extraordinary. When you’ve used your pillow just 11 nights of the past 84.

I’ve made a lot of new friends in the past 12 weeks. Flown a lot of miles. Preached a lot of sermons. Prayed a lot. Trembled a lot. Looked back towards the light. A lot. Loved a lot of broken lives. Witnessed a lot of salty tears.



But sitting here, I have a refrain much like Jeremiah’s running through my head.

"Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”  [Jeremiah 9:1]

Oh that I could do more, be more, weep more.
The sheer magnitude of fear in the world is enough to make the bravest man pause at times. The sheer magnitude of pain. The constant white (black?) noise of performance without transformation.

I’m not afraid though. I just wish there were more hours in the day. I wish there were more beats of my heart. I wish I had more lives at my command to spend spreading light, and clawing away at pain. I wish my heart were large enough to hold a piece of the sorrow of every person I love without imploding. Or wait… It is. But barely.

Once again, this stunning limitation settles into my consciousness.
I have only one life to live. Only one chance to love the hurting world.

Oh, let every breath count.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

While It Is Still Summer...

[Jeremiah 8]

These mournful words grip me tight, leave me with none of my own— 

"Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?
Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” 

Maybe they've never gone to see Him? Maybe never applied the balm?
Now instead, they stand there and watch the saved world go by, and look at each other and sigh:

"The harvest is past. 
The summer is ended. 
And we are not saved.”

Horror unspeakable.

My God, let us not neglect so free, and so great a salvation.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Great Clarifier

[Jeremiah 7]

I like knowing where I’m headed.
And what’s more, I prefer to know how to get there.

That’s not always a reality though. And when it isn’t, I wonder why…



"The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. 
Do they provoke me to anger? saith the Lord: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?"

One possible (Biblical) cause for confusion and indirection? Self-service.

The service of Christ directs, clarifies, confirms, and comforts.

Whose servants ye are.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Something Deeper?

[Jeremiah 6]
"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord."
Neither could they blush.

I have a question. (an honest wondering, not a rhetorical one.)



When I was little there were lots of words we wouldn’t even whisper. No, not the expletives. I’m talking about words with legitimate use in the english language, but which in our young minds fell well below the standard for polite company… So we’d be rattling along in a sentence, and suddenly stop short, and be like “You know… THAT.” [insert deeply loaded knowing look here.] And sagacious little playmate would stop to stroke his smooth chin, widen eyes a bit at even the implication of THAT, shake his head slowly as if to say “Be real careful there, partner!", and…
The sentence would finish strong. Right around said placeholder. No further articulation necessary.

Hey, it worked, didn’t it?
Don’t tell me we were the only ones…

My question is, what happened to that?
What happened to cheeks that would suddenly flame crimson at the hearing of a “naughty" word? Or boys who thrice filtered even innocent children’s talk when around “a lady.” Or, girls that would blush when uncovered? Or that held a graceful line carved in stone that said thus far and no further? 

Or was that all just old-fashioned?

Has this generation, obsessed with being “comfortable in our own skin” gained a "higher level of self-awareness,” and self-confidence, but lost something deeper?

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