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The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: Gospel

Melt Me

This. Just this…

That the truth might flourish, that healing streams might flow.
That spring might find blankets of flowers, where once were blankets of snow.

That a trillion crystal prisms might surrender winter dreams
To become the drops of water that make up the lakes and streams…

That I might be less.
That I might be nothing.

That the purposes of Grace would flourish, if need be, at my expense.

Melt me.

The Stuff of the Brave

Consumed as I’ve been of late with strategies to arm next generation’s young heroes with this generation’s arsenal of lessons learned, I think I’m justified in my excitement.

Aren’t you? Maybe you didn’t read what I read this morning.

…About the way stone walls can either make us slaves, or make us like themselves. Invincible.

“It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that ‘the iron entered into his soul.'” – (Streams in the Desert, September 8)

The let us neither bemoan the ruggedness of the way, nor the apparent strength of the enemy.

Let us rather gather always strength from our surroundings. And let the battlements we break through become in us the stuff of steel that the brave men and women of the cross are made of.

We can’t lose.

Plenty Full

I esteem that audacity which leads brave men to “crave the fire’s embrace,” if only through it they might come to know God…

(For it is true that a day of hardship imparts more strength to the soul than a month of sunshine.)

But after today, I’ve had a change of mind as concerns just how men (and women) should pursue the treasure imparted by tears. Once, that is, faith has made them steel enough to do so.

Pray not for pain or hardship.
The world is plenty full of both.

Pray you’ll have the heart to suffer with another’s.

When their hardship becomes my pain, then God can heal the both of us.

God of the Open Door

Good morning world.

This one thought has me tingling this morning, so I’m here to shout from the [blog]top before I run out the door.

I’ve spent much of my week working the problem of addictions. (as is my business.)
One big, scary word, little scientific consensus within the mental health community when it comes to definitions and limitations.

And I’m not about to jump into the ring and argue what is and what isn’t.
Anyway, definitions have never made anyone free.

Here’s the word of the day.

“Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it…”

The God creative and redemptive, merciful and authoritative, sacrificial and strong, fearful and wonderful, perfect and beautiful, righteous and wroth–

He’s the God of the Open Door.

If there were no other reason to serve Him, that one would be enough.
It’s enough for me.

Strong to Save [When God Goes to War] Part II

You know the story isn’t over.
It could be. I mean, wouldn’t it be enough if He swooped in as the Hero of every rescue mission, and picked up broken pieces again, and took them home to heal?
That’s already more than we deserve.

But that’s not the end of the story. Or the chapter.

He is the Hero of every rescue mission. And there’s a reason His exploits come first…

But keep reading till the end of the tale.

He saves the afflicted, simultaneously putting the adversary in his place.
And then!–

He lights a candle. A little flame of light atop a stick of wax strung out.
Fresh home from the smoke and dust of battle, He shares His life.
He puts in the soul a fire, out of Himself, a part of Himself, and with that fire comes all the power that is His. Power to live. Power to overcome. The same power that just sent hills and hoodlums scurrying.

And watch the servant. Watch the flame suddenly catch on, as if he was all oil inside. Watch him fly into the darkness, like an arrow himself. Burning as he goes, consumed, but . . . not consumed.

Watch him run right through the midst of the garrison of darkness, setting the place ablaze. Watch his enemies come to their senses, pick themselves up to follow hard in the trail of smoke. Watch him get to the end– the dead end. And just when the pursuers think they’ll have vengeance at last, watch him leap. Watch him sail over what should have been his death sentence. While his enemies remain, confined by their own fortifications.

Watch him stop on the far side, catch his breath, raise one hand to heaven and say:

“As for God, His way is perfect:
the word of the Lord is tried:
He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
For who is God, save the Lord?. . .

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet. . .
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. . .

Thy right hand hath holden me up,
And thy gentleness hath made me great.
Thou has enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them:. . .
I have wounded them that they were not able to rise:
they are fallen under my feet.

For Thou has girded me with strength unto the battle. . .”

(Ps. 18:30-39, emphasis mine.)

How can it logically be said that even with unlimited access to unlimited power, we must accept the prospect of limited progress, and perpetual setbacks?

I don’t get that.

What I do get, is that when I am His, then I am strong.
And under no other circumstances.

Strong to Save [When God Goes to War] Part I

I have no tolerance for the idea that defeat must be regarded as at least occasionally inevitable. Absolutely none.

As if every third day or so the angels trade sides for an hour and evil somehow becomes omnipotent. Really?

I think it would be good if we all made it a habit to regularly review Psalm 18. To me it’s the ultimate drama of faltering servant, and faithful God. No wonder it’s one of my favorites…

But I guess you realize it requires more than the simple existence of Omnipotent God to keep me from falling… Well, herein lies that secret too. In the first four words of the chapter. The spark that heralds a storm of Divinity.–

“I will love Thee…”

I Will. My little part to play. So simple, so absolutely necessary. Whole sermon right here…
Love. Because love will move my heart, my head, and my hands. The way work won’t…
Thee. Because love is actually inevitable. You were wired for it. It’s not if, it’s who. And only this Master has life to give away…

In other words, I’m Yours. Head, heart, and whole.

And then do you see what happens?
Hear a few verses later when David bleeds out this distress of sorrows and death–

The servant cries, and the whole earth reels in the thunder from his chariot wheels.
Hills and rills run out of the way, because He is wroth.
Breath of life and creative Word come out of mouth and nose as smoke and fire.
His chariot is alive. An angel with wind for his wings.
He arrives at His war room –a secret pavilion carved out of darkness– in the midst of the earthquake.
Walks in under escort of raining fire and ice.

He stands in the midst of His council of war, utters words that cut atmospheres. More thunder…
And His speech gets the whole host moving.

Next thing you know, “his arrows,” the very best of His fighting force, they shoot out from the place, wreak havoc on the enemy.
Seemingly out of nowhere.
And when the scattering seems complete, He sends lightnings after them.

Then all at once the agenda, the fortifications, the vulnerabilities of the enemy are laid wide open.
And He calmly walks in and picks up His servant, and carries him out.

“With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful;
with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure;
and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.” Ps. 18:25, 26

I’m not making it up. That’s what the Book says.

I have no tolerance for the idea that defeat must be regarded as at least occasionally inevitable. Absolutely none.

Perhaps I must be regarded as at least occasionally (or much more often) failing to call for help, or surrendering my arms voluntarily…

(to be continued…)

The Power of the Personal Gospel

“There are some themes, some messages that stir me to the depths of my soul, and cause me to be gripped with a great quiet… Almost immobilized by the weight of truth; driven to my knees to simply be before God, utterly silent. 

There are themes that bring silent tears to my eager eyes, make my soul soar as if on wings of eagles… 

There are some themes that call forth an exultation so overpowering my fist shoots up and it is all I can do to get it down again.

And then there are those themes that awaken in me at once a passionate dissatisfaction, and a steel-clad resolve; words that invariably get me out of my seat to pace back and forth like a caged lion in my office. From french doors to bookshelf and back, on my knees, on my feet, on my face…

And I’m just warning you, this is one of those.

You see, I have this thought: (overly simple as it may seem–)

That God has a right to that which belongs to Him.

That after all He has suffered, after all He has lost, He’s worthy of receiving His own with interest. 
That His beautiful dreams– (which are all for the happiness of others, by the way) –there is no reason why He should be denied them; 
Why the universe should be denied them….

But you know, God is often denied what is due Him. 

Perhaps most notably, by those who call themselves His friends…”


I don’t preach anything I don’t first love. 
But this truth is my absolute all-time favorite. 

Her Name Was Mary

“Ok, tell me everything you know about this girl.”

I’m on a quest of discovery. And I’m after everything my friend might know.

“Well, she’s a really pious woman.”
                                                “Or… wait.”

–  –  –

Yeah. My thoughts exactly.
Almost without exception, her contemporaries thought differently.
For after all, she was the girl who’d been robbed of parents before she was ready to stand on her own, and had subsequently turned to find love where it can never be found. She was the one who, whether intentionally or accidentally, had thrown away her innocence, her youth, her purity, her piety in the crime-soaked business of human flesh for sale. And to boot, seven times she’d bowed to the dark side, and become a currier for the worst kind of darkness.
She was.

But then, then there was that awful day when she was caught in the act… Dragged from the bed to the street, and thrown in a cowering heap before the Lord of Glory.
And there was that beautiful moment when her broken shame, her stripped-bare necessity, appeared in the shadow of the undiluted Love of Infinite Eternity.

And she got it.

She got it.

Of course the pharisees would always maintain that Jesus regularly ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a prostitute’s house.
Of course they’d say that what was could never be fully erased.

Of course, we say the same of others. We say the same of ourselves.
You know, that a crippling past must necessarily have a strong effect on one’s usefulness future. That this girl should never know as she might, what it is to trust. Or that, at the very least, it might take a lifetime to learn. And love? Well…

Yes. We often say those things.
And of course, there is an element of truth to them.

But there’s a reason this girl named Mary (which name means “Rebellious,” by the way) is my new favorite Bible character.

Because her story is the story of the power of grace to overcome, and to turn my past into my greatest advantage.

Let me gently remind the world that the home she shared with her big brother and sister was the place Jesus always came to when it was time to rest. That these were, apart from His very own, His best friends on earth. And that after her turning, this girl gained eyes for things everyone else missed.

Because the brokenness of her past was the richest possible backdrop for the truth about Grace, and the power of Love.

Remember that in the midst of the noise of a traditional Jewish party, while everyone was consumed by the festivities, one girl had the presence of mind to anointed her Lord for burial. That when everyone else was consumed with the protocol, this one girl sat at the feet of the Desire of the Ages, and watched Him, all ears, all eyes, all heart.
Remember that on that dark friday, she was there. When they carried Him to the tomb, she was there.

And let me remind you that on resurrection morning, Jesus appeared to one, and only one friend. And that friend was neither Peter, James, nor John.

Her name was Mary.
And she was a former prostitute.

I can’t help but wonder, might it be because she understood something about Love that everybody else missed?
And might that be because God makes “all things work together for good…”?

“Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”

 “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Ro. 5:20

–  –  – 

Shoes kiss the pavement over and over. Rhythm of breathing and stride. We push miles behind us one at a time, while the truth is soaked in silence.

And I? I’m so taken.

“So, you see why this story, this girl . . .”. . .

The Gospel

It’s not just a story.
It’s what we live and breathe.

The gift. The giving.

How simple. How utterly, overwhelmingly profound and powerful.

And if I really believe it, then I will necessarily live it out too.

I stand with eyes closed and smile soft as the first rays of the morning sun warm my face, and my office.
And it strikes me that this warmth cost the sun some fuel.

A star’s slow death powers life for a race. –for an entire system of whirling planets and moons.

      “…Life to the receiver; death to the giver.”
                   “But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”*

The Gospel.
The Giving.
The way God lives.
And for our part, the way of living fully alive.

Of being honored to pass to others, through choosing death to myself,
the very Life of God.

Oh, I choose.
I do.

*Jackie Pullinger; John 12:24;