Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: life (page 1 of 7)

Love and Hate [Marks of a Pure Man]

Or woman. 

Verse 9 of Psalm 19 reels me in, as it were, silently gesturing for attention. I pause before words I’ve known for always, wait. I roll the list over. 
“Law, Testimony, Statutes, Commandment, Fear, Judgments; Law, Testimony, Statutes…”
And I realize fear stands alone. 
The sole emotion. 
Fitting. For a God relation to Whom is not governed or driven by emotion, but is certainly incomplete without it. 
But emotion, you know, is volatile, and classically resists regulations. Which means a proper emotional response to God must needs have its fair share of counterfeits. 
Yet, this response is called “clean,” “the beginning of wisdom,” “fountain of life,” “instruction of wisdom,” one which “tendeth to life”…
It’s Proverbs 8 that arrests my attention though, with its use of the same word for “fear.” 
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Pro 8:13)
Another strong emotion. 
Fitting again, I suppose, to define one strong emotion with another. 
But both love and hate come easy. (Emotions after all.) Too easy to stand alone as a measuring mark for wisdom… Even if you only count the love for what is beautiful, and hatred for what is not. 
Every sane person loves the pure, and despises pedophilia. 
Nope. Not true. 
Actually, most sane people despise pedophiles.

The pure man (the “Fearing” man) loves right, hates sin. 
The rest lust after the beauty that results from right, 
and hate sinners. 
Herein lies the regulation.
It’s not love or hate. It’s who or what.

Ten Years and What Matters

Something stirs and I turn left at the end of the paved pathway flanked by lawn in winter colors. A left that takes me right away from my accustomed quiet corner. Away, but towards something strangely and warmly familiar…

I think I might find it… Through wispy grass and a forest that’s since been thinned.
True as the sunrise, there it is. The top stones have tumbled down the hill a way, but the foundation is still here. It only takes a moment, and a ten-year old altar has been restored.

Ten years.

Ten years ago I encountered God for myself on this hillside as a boy, and we struck up a friendship that has become the reason I breathe.

Much-Afraid gathered homely little stones.
I just build the altars.
At every page turn, I’ve turned, built another.

I stand and look, thoughts afar. Reaching back for what sort of prayers I prayed here, who my friends were when last I knelt here, what my goals were when I left here to build new…
And I remember. I remember the next…

I stop to count.
Seven altars. Ten years.
I’ll find them all today.

There’s something priceless about the remembering. The whole trek will take me an hour and a half. To all the places witness to the forever moments in my experience. The hallowed ground where God was always waiting to keep an appointment, where I trembled and triumphed, and learned to trust Him absolutely.

I wander and emotions sometimes flood, but after I’ve been up and over, down the draw and past ground I haven’t covered in a decade, one question throbs–

Not whether or not I found my dreams.

I want to know whether or not I’ve fulfilled His.

Take it from me, 10 years later.
This is all that matters. 

Forty-Four Words

If God ever fails to do something good, be sure it is for one of two reasons.

One, He is working on something better.
Or two, His arm is being restrained by my failure to intercede.

Let me never be guilty of the latter.

Believing is Everything?

Minnows flee the froth while they tumble out of the boats and splash ashore, this exuberant rabble.
They’ve been looking for the miracle worker that baked 25,000 barley loaves (not including what wife and kids ate) without an oven yesterday, and they’ve just found Him.

He doesn’t answer their first question at all, rather gently reminds them what alone is really worth pursuing.

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”
(John 6:27 KJV)

Whether or not they actually understand what He’s saying, they are plainly intrigued. So they ask another question. The answer to which has me positively intrigued…

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe…”
(John 6:28-29 KJV emphasis added)

Belief changes everything.

Because if Christ really came, then God is really good, and self-love is really a lie, and sin is really a destroyer, and who wants to die anyway?

I have some news for you.
Christ came. (Matchless condescension.)
And He comes again, every time a dark heart opens its door. (Again, matchless condescension.)
What more proof do we need of His benevolence?

And if He is benevolent, then where’s the controversy?

Believing is everything.

We only ever hesitate to serve a God whose character we question.

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.

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. 

My Everything

Stars swim outside windows high. Like pinpoints of light on ripples of water. Through water?

He hangs up the phone. We know what it means already.
Nobody calls at 0200 for no reason. And seldom for a happy one.

Anyway, what follows prayers in the dark are these words burning like fire.
The reason I love anyway–

“Every beautiful thing you have ever been given to love has been given first for this purpose: 
That when the hour of sacrifice is come, you might have something to put on the altar.”

I see in my mind’s eye the young faces of the friends to whom I gave those very words months ago; feel this resolve of mine to love turning to steel again.

“What we do, we do for Christ. Only Christ.
And for Him, we give away our everything.
Because He is everything.”


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