The Eye of the Storm

I’ve been here before
The world is sprawling around
The rush of water forcing its way
Down, around, along the ground
Inland waves sweep you off your feet
Fear of loss, and helplessness
Feeling too paralyzed to go outside.

Familiar is the feeling when I choke
A shame, a stifling of the breathing life
Situations feel insurmountable
Everything beyond my reach from my unsure footing
Each victory seems one stroke against the tide
Catastrophe feels bigger than reality
I wish I could run and hide myself somewhere.

This is what I have always known
The storm, the shame they have an eye.
One is the calm around which the winds rage
The other is that body’s light, I evade to the floor.
The fear to surge through the fiercest tempest
Only to let the ferocity shatter my frailty
Venturing to enter that gaze safely

Elihu told Job that God was here
Our heart meandering knows this home.
The screaming winds guard this safe place.
The place only the humble seek unswervingly.
As shame gives up the last ounce of covering
Naked and vulnerable just I alone remain
Staring into His gentle clear blue sky.

Always
Through chaos
Ordering all powerfully
Present within our midst.
Testing the heart
Choosing us
Loving

I’ve been here before
The world is sprawling around
The rush of water forcing its way
Down around, all over the ground
I will wait here with Him safely
His presence my security
His eye, my soul’s calm.

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The City, the Nest, and the Umbilical Cord

I visited the Las Vegas last year at night. The lights were staggering. The buildings lit up with enormous screens, and neon colors. Noise, clamor, flash, glamour, all a sham or something the like. And while I was in that city, my spirit was grieved. I looked up to Heaven, for a sign, but no stars could compete with all that garishness. Man’s invention had succeeded in blocking out the gentle constant voices of truth with their triumphant trumpeting.

One cannot see the stars in the city that never sleeps
One cannot find Heaven’s glory in a Government owned 501(c)3.

The established authority of the world in the church is a ever present white noise that excludes the sacred sweetness of silence in the Spirit. It is a ceiling of man’s devising that prevents searching eyes from seeing what Isaiah saw in the year King Uzziah died. It is a control of power in exchange for tax protection ensured, simply to those who agree not to politically get in the way of the Prince of the power of this age. Pull the plug on the power of the city, and suddenly the night sky will blaze bright again, and moon’s night song will sing it’s nocturnal melodies. That is when we will recognize truth’s soft voice again in places we call church. Then we will remember that there is no accord between the temple of God and idols, and God’s kingdom is not subject to any part of Satan’s Kingdom except its persecution.

But did not Paul say to submit to the governing authorities? Yes, and so you may submit to the 501 (c) 3 regulation, but you will not see God move there. He will not share His glory with the World, and He will isolate to Himself heart-searching, heartbroken men to see His face, to hear His voice, and represent Him to the institutional church first, in order to echo His cry, “Come out from their midst, and be separate!” Says the Lord.

A fledgling bird will not fly until it leaves the nest and takes wing on the Wind. The nest is Government sanctioned, and by extension, in a way, God sanctioned. But the Wind in all its unpredictability is what can carry the free falling bird to maturity, over time and with practice.

Take heed to the difference between an umbilical corded baby and an oxygen breathing baby. Once the breath comes, the umbilical cord has only minutes left or the baby will get jaundice.

 

 

I’ve Glimpsed Him. (Poem)

It takes faith to believe that God is.
Once you have this, you can see him.
I do not promise that you will
Because He must decide to reveal Himself.
It takes a pure heart, with no guile.
Some believe that this is impossible,
But all things are possible with God.
How will you recognize him?
You won’t be able to ignore.
No more than a stick can ignore an all consuming flame.

How did I see Him?
I waited.
He spoke.
I looked.
He stood.
I bowed.
He is.

Music purged my heart of unexpressed filth.
Writing arranged my thoughts according to biblical specification.
Love set my heart on fire for another.
Joy surged in my creative freedom and pleasure of wisdom.
Peace quieted me in His approval.
Translation laid sticks of explosive dynamite end to end.
The Holy Spirit’s voice was the match.
The prizing and valuing of His own personal being.
And Jesus the Living one of all my life came.

T. Austin-Sparks~ “God’s answer to strengthen His people for Suffering.”
Is a new unveiling of the glory of the person of Jesus Christ.”

“What is the answer?
A new grasp of His greatness
That’s all.
And then if we are suffering
If we are knowing adversity, trial
And the clouds seem to be gathering, Accumulating, increasing.
How will we get through?
Only thus: by this:
Getting away
And asking
And seeking
And pursuing
In prayer
A new heart revelation–unveiling
of Jesus Christ.
And I am sure that will do it.
God give it to you.”
~T. Austin Sparks

 

The Idea Cycle ~ The Rock Cycle

This one hasn’t had much time on the inside, so it may be colder than other epiphanies.

My beautiful wife is in school, in a geological science class, and I sat with her as she read her textbook and came to understand something about our planet, which for me naturally led to revelation of how we are like the earth.

I have a great fondness of ideas. They are my joy. I got the blessing to paraphrase what my assistant Head of School was saying today about Christian Education Curriculum. He was saying how if we cannot find what we’re looking for out there, then we will have to create our own, and I worded it this way, “When we can’t adopt, we give birth.” While a curious reversal of the common order of child-bearing, I have found this generally true of me. I rarely find I can adopt ideas being dissatisfied so often with how they are organized, so I am often forced to give birth to new ones.

But new Ideas are merely old ideas remixed. In the same way, rocks. I was studying Exploring Earth Science by Reynolds and Johnson, and the Rock Cycle shows how rocks are formed on earth. According to Reynolds and Johnson these steps can happen in any order, but this order is the best at demonstrating them in action.

  • The first step of the Rock Cycle is weathering, where rocks are broken down by natural forces.
  • Second, Transportation, where rocks are transported across great distances
  • Third, Deposition, where the rocks minerals and nutrients settle on the ground and cease to move.
  • Fourth. Burial and Lithification– The process by which Rocks are covered up and become layers of rock.
  • Fifth, Deformation/Metamorphism, where the rocks are changed by extreme pressure and heat into different compositions.
  • Sixth, is melting where the rocks are scattered in the intense heat of magma and broken down to their simplest elements.
  • Seventh is solidification, where melted rocks cool and solidify beneath the surface.
  • Eighth is uplift where Rocks are lifted by volcanic forces to the surface.

When I read them, these eight steps made perfect, delightful sense to me as a bit of an idealist. I deal in ideas. And these eight steps make for a very helpful way of understanding how ideas are formed and take new shape anytime they come back into the world again. We ourselves are geologically like  idea-factories.

I will begin the metaphorical “Idea Cycle” with what Reynolds and Johnson classified as the eighth step in the cycle. Ideas can start at any point of this cycle and may skip steps.

  1. Inspiration (Uplift) Where ideas are born anew from deep within us, and are raw and full of life-altering force.
  2. Talking (Weathering) where ideas are expressed thoughtfully and dialogued about. They are hashed out, broken down, smattered and shattered in this phase of ideas, but it is very important when it comes to shaping ideas.
  3. Writing (Transportation) This allows ideas to be communicated over a wide distance and left to sit on their own once they have reached the reader.
  4. Reading (Deposition) Where ideas come to rest before the eyes of a reader as he or she takes the idea into their consciousness.
  5. Understanding (Burial/Lithification) This is where the idea becomes comprehended and a part of a person’s mental internal dialogue.
  6. Deconstruction (Deformation/Metamorphosis) When ideas are comprehended, they then are to be broken apart and figured out how they all work. What makes this idea tick?
  7. Emotion (Melting) This is where ideas take their most melted and scattered fiery passionate form.
  8. Values (Solidification) The idea has been fused into the bedrock of your person and you are become a person with deeply held values, and are then ready for them to inspire your every action, deed, thought, and intention.
  9. Inspiration again arises, from (according to this cycle) our values.

There is much I learn about this cycle even as I write it. For one, ideas are not set in stone. (Shameless pun.) Even if they were, stone weathers, transports, deposits, lithifies, deconstructs, melts, solidifies, and uplifts again. Notice, two, that ideas have life internal to the person and external to the person, just like rocks to the earth. The external life comes about in talking, writing, and reading. The internal life an idea is deconstructing, emoting, and valuing. The bridge between these two lives of ideas are inspiration and understanding. Inspiration is the idea trying to get out. Understanding is the idea settling in.

If you too deal in ideas, learn from these steps in the cycle. If you are not feeling much inspiration, perhaps you need to move between different steps of the cycle. Perhaps you need to feel something you’ve deconstructed, or express what you value, or write down what you have only talked about, or deconstruct what you understand.

And let Rocks have their humbleness communicated to you. We see rocks on the surface, but they have been through a lot. Your ideas may also have plenty of interaction on the surface, but they have been through a lot of personal digestion. And the ideas of other people belong right alongside yours because ideas do NOT last forever without being settled, understood, broken down, felt, valued. “The making of books is endless.” Solomon said so in Ecclesiastes. Some books need to be out of print because the ideas have already been recycled. The key is to let your ideas burn with the fire of the soul which birthed them, and live in the humility that Christ lived with when he walked among us as a fellow human being.

Thoughts and discussion welcome. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humility and Pride

I would like to introduce a way of thinking about the human composition. I understand that to discuss humanity is a grand subject unworthy of such oversimplification, but I hope you will forgive the philosophical implications of this picture. I’d like to view the soul, the heart, the mind, and the body at four levels. The deepest level is the soul and that is the essence of who we are, where the spirit lives and moves in and out. The second level up is the heart, where it is deeper than thoughts, though the thoughts can try to express it, it is the place where all stored information from the mind resides sub-consciously and cultivates emotion and mood and temper. The next level up is the mind, where thoughts are understood in a conscious sense, information is taken in and formed together into the simplest and most complex interpretations, often in an environment created by the heart, which assumes it’s stance of being at the soul and spiritual level. The Top level is the surface where the body is, where our mouths intake food and output words. Where our mouths breathe, and where our hearts pump life, and where our minds control us consciously and unconsciously to act. So there you have this pattern: four levels. Topmost is body, second is mind, third is heart, and fourth is soul.

Two other features of this pattern, I give you: The Spirit moves through all of them. The spirit moves through the body as energy to act, it moves through the mind as inspiration, it moves through the heart as emotion, it moves through the soul as the life principle that animates the whole  being. The Will is also something that moves and, if you will directs, the spirit where it decides to go. It is an elevator that reaches down to the level of the soul. It reflects the state of being just as it also reflects the state of the heart, and of the mind, and is visible in the human body.

These attributes, these building blocks can be seen as making up the human person. Now, I’m sure we can all think of other attributes that could be added to this basic 6 part composition, but I want to make a point about pride and humility.

C.S. Lewis is quoted to believe that the fundamental sin at the root of all other sins is Pride. I was in Starbucks talking with my wife and the man who was best man at my wedding, and he said, “I’ve always wanted to understand that emotion better.” “Pride? An emotion?” I said to him. I understood that pride is a matter of the heart, but it goes deeper than the heart in this word picture above us. Sometimes it’s frustrating when different cultures put the seat of the emotions at different places. In English it’s in the chest, in Hebrew it’s in your intestines, where will you put it next?

The point that my friend was bringing up, and I think it’s a valid one, is that pride is something deeper than the thought, and I agree with him. He and I are likely descended from the kings of Ireland and Scotland respectively, which doesn’t seem to matter to me all that much, since we are all descendant from the first King, Adam, but anyhow. Pride is a fundamental problem of sin. And even if you’re a King, or a knave, a prince or a pauper, a scoundrel or a scholar, you still can let pride rule your heart, because it is seated deeper than your emotions.

That’s exactly the point I want to make here. Pride is central. You can Stand haughtily like you’re high and mighty, that doesn’t make you proud. You can think grandiose thoughts of yourself that doesn’t make you proud. You can feel about yourself a sense of self-sufficiency in appreciation or deprecation of yourself, that doesn’t make you proud. All of those are symptoms of your pride. Your pride is at the level of your soul. It’s the impulse we have to crawl off the altar upon which we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. It’s the living principle of self-serving that naturally refuses the submission of the will to God. Pride is more formidable than any other state of being except one. Pride is more sturdy than confidence, more insistent than anger, more devious than mistrust. It twists the noble sword of truth into a dagger of division. It kindles a flame on the tongue that ignites the course of our lives according to our own being, rather than based on God’s own being. The Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life. These three, but the deepest of these is Pride. Lust of the flesh and lust of eyes are like two greedy hands feeding this impudent self-destroyer at the core of each of our very beings.

Pride is the opposite of humility, but even if humility is not grasped at the deepest level, pride can swing humility by the tail. Humility is pride’s sack-cloth it wears whenever it feels the need of ingratiating that part of all human beings where God intended for us to reserve our devotion and fealty to Him. Pride needs only an inch, and he can live in out-right rebellion against God. All Satan, the Proud One, needs in us, is the tiniest ledge—the smallest shadow he can hide in, and he will succeed in marring the glorious image of a holy God stamped on each one of us.

As I sat there with my friend talking about how Pride can be beaten. I wrote down this phrase on my phone when I went to use the bathroom: “Perhaps the will is the only vehicle that can deliver the nuclear blow of humility to the deeply subconscious and central issue of pride.” If the Will is like the Spirit and it can be like an elevator to all four levels of a person’s being (assuming again, my word picture is a good one) Can Humility be a choice of the Will?

Well let’s think for a moment. The Will is like the steering wheel for our whole life. If we don’t have much strength of will, it simply means we do not have much grip on the steering wheel, but we each and all have one. The Will is the place of decision. The Will Moves with resolve in action, in mental affirmation, in heart solemnization and soul “becoming.” The Will can deliver true humility to that deepest level.

Now, some of you, who I’m sure have already thought this out, may say to me, “Ah ha . . . but if you by your own will choose humility at the level of your soul, aren’t you able to take pride in that?” Well, I suppose so, if that’s what you were deciding. It’s not a serpent eating it’s tale though. It’s not a never ending cycle. All the soul needs is to choose to love God. How do I know?

Because in Numbers chapter 21, the people were complaining out of pride, so God sent serpents among them. By the way, He says in Deuteronomy that this whole time He has them in the wilderness is to test what is in their hearts. Deuteronomy 8:2, says, “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” So what is he doing here in Numbers 21? He sends the serpents among them to test them, to humble them, to see if they had a heart to keep His commandments. And what was the test? All they had to do was look at the serpent that was lifted up. That’s all they had to do. “Look!” Look! It is perhaps the most profound and simple movement of the body, but that’s not what saves a person. It is perhaps the most passive thing a mind can do to take in the information of a snake on the pole, but that’s not what saves a person. It’s perhaps the slightest nudge inside a person’s emotions against the organ of their acceptance, but that is not what saves a person. What saves a person, is the disposition, the humility to seek to see their salvation from the same hand of the one who afflicted them for example. It is the humility to seek salvation in God, not claim it for yourself. Humility gives it’s life at every level. Pride keeps back some part of it for himself.

To write about Pride is to do it an injustice. It doesn’t deserve this much attention, but because he has already done so much damage, I don’t need to convince you that it exists. You may need some convincing that it is in you. I know I did. I have a healthy does of the most unhealthy disease every man suffers from.

So how do we choose humility? What hope can we take that Pride is not incurable? Fear God is the beginning of wisdom. Fear God is to depart from Evil. Fear God keeps us from evil. Fear God is man’s all. Fear God is the antidote for pride. At least it abates it for a time, the way light abates a shadow. But should that flame ever flicker and die down, the shadows of pride will enshroud the soul evermore until the day when the Devil and all his works are totally and completely cast down. Fear God is the beginning.

This is an attitude of the Will, to transfer this Fear of God to all levels of our humanity. At the surface it is seen in obedience to God, and physical posture of submission before Him, and words which reverence Him. Fear God at the level of the mind is occupying every thought with him, seeking him and knowing Him. At the heart level, it is loving Him, and rejoicing in Him; thanking Him. To Fear God is for that fantastic word –which post-modern Christianity has all but retired—piety to permeate every part and parcel of us until we are no longer parts but we are one whole living in the Fear of God.

If any of you would give objection to this saying, “There is no need to fear God now that we have the Cross and Jesus Christ.” Or say, “’There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear,’ doesn’t the Bible say?” Of course you are right, except that you must examine more closely the meaning of Love as it is shown in the person of Jesus Christ. The attitude toward God, the soul’s position before God, the heart’s emotion toward God, the mind’s thoughts of God, the body’s posture toward God as seen in Jesus Christ was never irreverent or flippant. This lack of reverence we have for God is the very smell of Pride in a human soul that rises before the God who smells what is in secret, and cannot stand it. If Love be without reverence, it is not love, just like if love be without truth, it is not love.

So Pride versus humility. I am convinced that the answer to beating pride at that deepest level is from the deepest part of us, we decide to humbly and totally submit and fear the Holy God who fashioned us and created us in His image to rule and bless and fill the earth.

One way to test whether we know the fear of God, is if our hearts can feel the terror dripping from these words of the author of Hebrews 10:, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” If you do not feel the dread of this truth in your heart, you do not yet fear God. The emotions are not everything. They are a good thermometer. How hot is your heart at the knowledge and obedience of God?

As Paul said to his Philipian beloved church, I iterate, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” When Adam sinned, he sinned by mouth, by mind, by heart, and by soul. And when Jesus had the opportunity, “he did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped. But he emptied himself.” This is our example for how to repent from our Pride. “And he took on the form of a servant.” The answer is to be a servant who is “obedient to the point of death even death on a cross.” This is the Salvation of the human soul, seen in Jesus’ humility and humanity, which we too are called to have the same mind. And this is how we as God’s servants, can know true humility when we smell it.

I close with this for now: pride and humility are like the odors of our soul. Pride is the smell of rotting flesh. Humility is the warmth of justice submitted to God as good. You can see the body, you can hear the mind, you can feel the heart, but you can smell the soul. And humility is the only perfume that is acceptable in God’s nostrils.

“With Me”

I feel like I am at the center of a merry-go-round. The world is spinning around me and if I step out from this center, where already my head is spinning I will get swept to the non-existent corners of the spinning circle. These two words in combination have unlocked some of the most profound mysteries of the Christian Faith that I am still only in the seedling stages, but if you will permit me I’d like to share just what these two words entail as I muse on the meaning of this in my life.

The first thing to note is that the Me is a capital “M”. That means whenever the phrase is used, it is being said by God to the one who is listening. That is the first earth shattering fact. God speaks. Did you know that? The same God who spoke into the darkness and said, “Light, Be!” can speak in your hearing if you have the heart to wait in the silence and listen? The Phrase “With Me” is something He said to me as I was pre-writing a story for a beloved woman whom I love more than anyone else in the world . . . that’s my wife in case you’re wondering . . . and she was trying to understand some things about how faith works. Well, I haven’t written the story yet, but this phrase with all its earth shattering implications can still carry meaning in other less storied ways, although it seems to be a favorite way of God’s to show us what things mean by putting them in a story. After all God had the Bible written, a story with 40 authors that spanned all of time to it’s eternal beginning and ending, but through it all these two words resound with the eternity and temporality of both. “With me.”

Another thing to note is that “With Me” is something God can say to the one who is acting, so that he will act “With Me.” It’s kind of like you’re pulling on a rope to heave a boat onto shore, and He comes up behind you and tells you to do it “With Me.” meaning as He Himself is acting behind you, and it is His strength that will accomplish the task, not your own. He isn’t saying this because he doesn’t have enough strength to do it, so he needs you to do it with him. No, no, no, no, no. You are his representative in any given situation. Most of the time when God did something miraculous he did it through the hand of Moses, or Elijah, or one of his servants. Did Moses strike the Nile and turn it to blood or did God? The answer very simply is both of them. Was it God’s power that accomplished it or Moses’ power that accomplished it? Well obviously it was God’s. But why did God have Moses do it with him?

Part of the idea communicated in the phrase “With Me” is making sure that you are whole-hearted in acting with Him. God is 100%, and you get to be 1% of that percentage in an action He is doing, because you are his creation, and God is moving His creation with His creation. It is what He does, but I want you to understand this. People say you need a lot of faith. Even Jesus said, “You don’t need a lot of faith. You could have mustard-seed faith and it would be enough to move a whole mountain.” You don’t need a lot of faith, what you need is complete faith. God being represented 100% is the mystery of faith in you who are whole-hearted in submission to being “With Him” as He does it.

So here you are in the midst of a situation beyond your control, and your heart is afraid, which by the way is a division of your heart from God. When you’re afraid, you are not 100% whole heartedly devoted to God. In fact, if you were whole-hearted you would have no fear except fear of God. But you’re in this situation, where you need a miracle, and you are crying out to God, but you don’t cry out with your whole heart. You hold back part of your heart so that if the answer does not come you won’t be disappointed. God does not answer prayers with that lack of faith. It is when you completely, whole-heartedly, soundly and with all your being are swept up in the hope and desperation of believing that only God can save you, and only God can answer you, that you can appreciate the level of faith with which He does things.

I’m sorry what was that? God has faith? Faith is the fruit of the Spirit, and God is full of Faithfulness and Love. When he says, “With Me.” He is offering himself fully to be present in that situation with you with all the power you need. All that remains is your complete total faithfulness of heart to Him and it will be accomplished. It is when He says, “With Me.” That He is inviting you to “Go! You have the green light. I’m ready when you are ready. I am fully present, and if this is what you want with all your heart, I am ready to do it with you.”

Faith is more appropriately understood through the phrase, “With Me.” Because when you are in a situation and you must act, to do the impossible, like lift a gigantic bolder off of a crushed human being, or calm a storm, or to act in some way that seems impossible, the only way you are going to accomplish it is by totally being present in the situation, and totally being submitted to what God is doing in the situation. He may say “With Me.” in a rebuking tone depending on the heart He is speaking to in order to communicate, “Stop your way. Do it with Me, as I do it My way.” And when you stop doing it your way, and do it “With Me.” you will know the power of God and your own powerlessness.

This level of powerlessness, I think is why we don’t want to be “With Me.” We don’t want to hang out with the Super-impressive power-holder, because next to him we feel insignificant. Pride and fear water down faith. They take that 100% concentration of a human fully submitted to God, and reduces him to a corrupted image that lacks in the glory of God. The risk we experience whenever we step out on faith, whether it be embarrassment, or lack of confidence, this risk is the temptation to see if your heart is utterly devoted to God, or if you are asking with any hint of selfishness. If there is any unsoundness in your faith, it will falter. It takes total surrender, and un-distracted boldness to stare Him in the face, who with a flinch of his face has the power to render you empty.

So God calls you in faith to do what must be done, “With Me.” that means furthermore, and much to our rejoicing, that He is active in accomplishing Good in the world. He is working. Just as Jesus said, “My Father is always working.” (Jn 5:17) And he said, “I do nothing except what I see my father doing. Whatever the father does, the Son also does in like manner.” (Jn 5:19).

This is the secret of faith. God is working. You are His child. He has the power, so do things “With Me.” as He calls you, and commands you to do them. It is the Father telling his son, “Join me in my work, that you may grow up to be like me.” as Jesus demonstrated for us. And Jesus was destined to be firstborn among many brothers. So don’t think that Jesus was the only one who had miraculous powers. The Apostles got to do everything Jesus did, and more. Miracles still happen today, but the true miracles are ones that re done, “With Me.”

So, how does one grow in the ability to answer and act in power when God speaks to you and says, “With Me.” The simple answer is something I heard Leonard Ravenhill quote once. He said, “Sinning people stop praying. But praying people stop sinning.” How do you get to do things “With Me.” By simply abiding and staying, “With Me.” Go where He goes. Speak as He speaks. Listen as He listens. See as he sees. Do as He does. Think as He thinks, Feel as He feels. This is the spiritual calling for every believer. You are his image on earth. You are a little Christ. You are to be about your Father’s business proclaiming the Kingdom, healing the sick, preaching the good news to the poor, setting the oppressed free, and proclaiming the time of God’s favor, and calling the world to repentance.  But you cannot do that and you will not do that, and you will not even WANT to do that until you are resolute to stay with Him.

The Lord does not listen to the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. His yoke is easy, his burden is light. If you will surrender your many heavy burdens and those grooves in the rock you’ve been chiseling for yourself to have some grip of safety should a whirlwind come, and you leave everything behind and follow Him with everything and not turn back. Then you will begin to see more than just life being aligned in pleasant ways. You will see more than just a wisdom that is not your own, guiding your decisions. You will see more than just smooth places where you felt only thorns before. You will see more than just clear opposition from friends and enemies which prove you to be His disciples.You will see more than the depth of your own human depravity and that of your fellow man. You will see more than just hard situations which need miracles supernaturally resolved. You will see more than the supernatural physical healing. You will see more than the demons being cast out. You will see more than than the dead being raised. Beyond all these things, you will know the fullness of Joy being in the presence of your loving God and will walk the path of life with Him forever. And best of all you will see God.

How do I know? Because Enoch walked with God, and God took him. Elijah and Moses sought to see God, and Moses got to see His back, and Elijah was carried to heaven in a whirlwind, and they were ontop of the mount of transfiguration where they got to see the glory of God’s face in Jesus’ face. Because Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

As I finish this article, one final note. “With Me.” isn’t something we can manipulate God into saying. It’s not something He says all the time. He says it whenever He chooses. And He invites you on His terms, when He wants to speak it. I have heard Him say it to me only in an instructive way, and in this instructive way I communicate it to you, dear reader.

Marks of God’s Servant

To be God’s Servant, you must give up what most people think of as living ordinarily: You do what you want and serve yourself and serve whoever you want to and enjoy life wile you have it. Such a life is utterly sinful and warrants the total death of the fruitless tree. You are a fruitless tree.

What characteristics mark the Servant of God? Well, let us look at the life of one of God’s greatest servants, through which God showed much of his own character. That was Moses. And Moses was a servant whom God raised up to do a marvelous work through, but Moses was not perfect. In many ways he was a man just like us. And yet Moses got to stand with Jesus on the mountain top in glory, with Elijah, another great servant of the Lord. What allowed Moses to be on that mountain top with Jesus, I believe, was that he had sought to see the glory of God face to face, but the Lord told him, “You shall not see my face because no one can see my face and live.” (Ex 33:20) Elijah went to the mountain of God seeking out God wanting God to give him an explanation for what was going on around him. “I’m all alone,” he said, “And they are seeking to take my life.”

I tell you one of the marks of God’s servant, is that they will seek to take your life. In the life of Moses there were two times, well, I mean there were many times that Moses’ life was in danger, but there were two times when he was threatened explicitly or on the verge of being killed. Once was after the 10th sign Moses performed for Pharoh. It was the 9th Plague of Darkness, and Pharoh said, “Don’t you dare show your face again, cause if I see you again I’ll kill you.” Moses said, “Indeed you will not see my face again.” That was the first time. The second time was after the 10th time the Israelites had tested God. It was right there at the edge of the promised land in Kadesh, in Numbers 13 and 14. The people had complained and tested God 10 times in the wilderness, and each time God disciplined them, slew them, gave them what they wanted, and Moses interceded for them. Now at last, this one final thing that the people of God were supposed to do: Go in an enter the promised land. Trust God that He is going to do it! Well, they hadn’t learned to trust God and instead they said in Numbers 14, “Let us go back to Egypt.” And they got ready to stone Moses and Aaron.

What happens next in Numbers 14 shows another mark of God’s servant. And that is God will only talk to you. He is selective of the company He keeps, and it says in the Scriptures that “He is intimate with the Upright.” in Prov 3:32. It also says in Amos that, “Surly God does NOTHING unless he first reveals his secret council to His prophets.” Ps. 25:14, “God shares his secret council with those who fear him.” Only those who fear God, those who are upright, only those whose hearts are pure can abide in His holy Hill. (Ps 15) A pure heart that seeks to know Him, and clean hands to fear Him and Obey Him.

The servant of God Moses goes in to talk to the Lord. Because of His closeness with God the people have sought to kill him, and because of his closeness with God, God will only speak his deepest feelings and thoughts with him. God tells Moses how he feels, and speaks plainly with him. It says in Exodus 33:11 that God spoke to him as one speaks to his friend.

What gave Moses the right to be God’s friend? Moses was a sinner. Moses was also more humble than any man alive. Moses knew his place with God, as humanly as he could know it. It is humility that grants you an audience before the Lord. He does not recognize the pompous or the arrogant, because they are nothing like him. He does not recognize the self-seeking, or the fool-hardy. He will not listen to the complaining, and whining of undisciplined children who aren’t getting their way, at least not without being ready to lash out with anger. If you find yourself grumbling, take heed to the warnings given in scripture. Let us not grumble as they did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. (1 Cor 10:10) It is the fear of the Lord and obedience to the Lord that is humility. Humility rightly takes its English shape from the same latin root as the English word Human. It is because humility is rightly understood as the art of being human. Jesus showed us what God is truly like– he showed us what true humanity looked like. He showed us why God doesn’t recognize the proud, and the reason is because God is nothing like that. The humility of God is shown in God’s servant. Humility is the basic shape a human must take if he is to have any sort of relationship with the God who made him in his image. Until he sloughs off his serpentine shape of a beast rearing its head up towards heaven fangs outstretched, he will not be able to bend low enough to avoid being eclipsed by the enormity of God’s magnanimity.

God talks with Moses and rescues Moses from being killed because he is His friend and he is humble. He tells Moses in Numbers 14 verse 11, “How long will this people reject me? How long will they not believe in Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?” If you look at the accounts of Exodus and Numbers at the miracles God did in their midst: 10 times, and the amount of times Israel rejected God they’re the same: 10 times. 10 is a mark of completeness in the Bible. God has completely done all the sufficient wonders to woo back his people, and Israel has completely done everything possible to reject God until now. God is just and He has borne with these people and he is finished he has it up to here: it is His holy, just, righteous character that even Pharoh recognized after the Seventh sign, that He be done with these people. He says, “I will smite them with pestilence and  and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

This is where we see the mark of God’s Servant and that is intercession. For the very people who seek to end his life, Moses relates here and also earlier in Exodus, that he would rather that his own life be ended than for theirs to be ended. (Ex 32:32) The level of “Let me take their place.” that Moses claimed is nationwide, but God doesn’t take him up on it. He listens to his friend Moses, and pardons them, and relents in the disaster, but just as with Egypt the Firstborn generation was slain, so Israel will also suffer the consequences of their utter rejection with the death they have chosen over him. What is remarkable about the servant of God, is that he has learned to choose God over everything else. He has chosen God over himself, he has chosen God over his livelihood, he has chosen to serve God completely, so that in a moment of intercession, there is nothing between him and God. He has allied himself with the ultimate power-holder in the universe, with the humility that qualifies him to wield it, and he says, “I even choose that your people should live instead of me. I would gladly give my life, so that these people may live.”

God’s servant is not a relished or cushy position. It may sometimes mean waging your eternity for the salvation of another. But you know something, that level of “I would gladly go to Hell so that they may live eternally knowing you,” is the very spirit in which Jesus Christ came to this earth to intercede on our behalf. And it was the mercy of God that he didn’t send Moses to hell for Israel’s sins. He sent Jesus to Hell for Israel’s sins, and for the sins of the whole world. And because Hell could not contain him, he left with the keys to the grave, and told his disciples, his friends, his servants, those with whom he was closest, that I have all the authority in heaven and on earth. And whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Now we see, what only a true servant of God can see. No nominal Christian will stare this ugly truth in the face and let it reflect in his own. A Servant of God isn’t one who let’s Jesus do all the suffering for him and that’s the end of it. A true servant of God realizes that pregnant truth which Jesus told his disciples, “Remember what I told you, no servant is greater than his master.” (Jn 15:20). “If they persecute me, they will persecute you.” If they seek my life, because I am so closely resembling the one they hate from the bottom of their heart, they will seek your life because you will be so closely resembling the one they hate from the bottom of their heart. Somewhere in Nominal Christianity we got the idea that Christianity is about Christ suffering for us so we don’t have to. But Peter knew better when he said, “As Christ suffered in the flesh, You also arm yourself with the same purpose.”

The Servant of God is self-sacrificing, humbly interceding for the ones who are seeking to end his life. He is so intimate with God that he knows the Heart of God, and lets his own heart break with it. The Servant of God suffers, for the very reason Jesus suffered, “so that others may live.” The servant suffers all the harms the world has to offer natural, supernatural, internal, external, bleeding, beating, blaming, shaming, isolation, excommunication, rejection: everything we have done to God and would do to God if we sinners had the chance. The Servant of God gives the world a chance to respond to God very clearly. Either they will join him in His suffering, or they will seek in the end to kill Him by killing you.

Why would anyone want to be a servant of God? It truly is as preposterous as it sounds for someone to want to be God’s servant. That is why it takes the call of God to raise up such a person to die to self daily. But I tell you, what I have been describing so far in this short article is not something different from Christianity. God’s Servant is anyone who represents God rightly. And the only human being to do this perfectly is Jesus Christ. The Christ is the Anointed Servant of God who rules as King the way God rules. Let me ask you, What is a Christian? A Little Christ. A replica, a reproduction, a fellow anointed servant of God who rules the way God rules. Let me ask you this. How did Jesus, who rightly represented God rule? He served. How did he conquer? He gave Himself. What power did he have? Only that which flowed from the Holiness of the Spirit within him, which the Father gave him to accomplish His will.

One of the final thoughts I’ll leave you with for now about the Servant of God is something I have been hinting at this whole time, and it may be obvious once I say it. It is only God’s servants who are authorized to wield God’s power. The Holy Spirit fills the believer with power to accomplish God’s work supernaturally. If you are looking to be filled with supernatural power than become God’s servant in truth from the heart. If you want to wield God’s mighty demonstrations of healing and miracles, recognize this is your price tag. To represent Him in power, is to know Him in pain. To know Him in the power of His resurrection, is only possible through knowing the fellowship of His sufferings.

O God speed the day! Raise up true servants of God, so that the world can be reminded in living color how You look and move and feel for them. God give us servants, give us prophets, give us those with whole lives devoted to serving you in the power of Your Spirit. Give the church your benchmark for holiness, so we can know that the Kingdom of God is NOT in words but in power! Call Your people to repentance. Call your people to Obedience. Call your people to Seek you. Call your people to Faith, believing and trusting and knowing You. And Lord give us hearts utterly devoted to serving you again. And let the world be drawn to you by the light of our fires, so they may see our good works and glorify You our Father who suffers with us.

God’s Servant, It’s Time to Love God F.O.L.K.S.

To be God’s Servant, you must give up what most people think of as living ordinarily: You do what you want and serve yourself and serve whoever you want to and enjoy life wile you have it. Such a life is utterly sinful and warrants the total death of the fruitless tree. You are a fruitless tree.

So how shall God’s servant represent His God? It is in this Acronym. It is first by Fearing Him, Obeying Him, Loving Him, Knowing Him, and Seeking Him.

Love
Obey          Know
Fear                               Seek

In brief, this is what each word entails as you go up the mountain to the pinacle: Love.

 Fear— Depart from Evil (Prov. 16:6)
        Obey— Do Good (Ps 34:14)
                 Love–With all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Deut. 6:5)
        Know–Intimately share (Phil 3:10)
Seek–Turn toward, look to learn (Jer. 29:13)

Starting with the bottom of the mountain:

  • Fearing God means you recognize Him as Holy, Just, and Powerful. He is good, and that is a terrible thing for us, because we are not good. We fall so terribly short and lack so severely the glory of His Image with which we were first endowed, that we deserve nothing at all but the tormenting fires of hell, reserved for everything the bears the Evil One’s resemblance: corruption, weakness, selfishness, and sloth. Therefore, depart from evil, which receives from God the just recompense on anything unworthy and oppressive to what is good.
  • Obeying God means serving Him as your Ruler, your master, your Captain, your boss. In obeying him, you recognize your responsibility of being His image bearer on earth. He is the one you represent, therefore do as He does! He is the Sovereign lord of creation, and he has made you sovereign lord over the earth as His representative, so serve as He serves, work the ground to bring forth life the way He does. Do good to your neighbor as He does. Outwardly and temporally and definitely show the world who God is by doing the good that he commands you to do.

From the other direction:

  • Seeking God is more than just looking for Him. It is trying to find him. Seeking recognizes that God is infinite and you are finite, and so you are like a cup constantly dipping into the ocean of His eternity, but simply for the reason you want to Know Him. Seeking the Lord means turning your face upward to behold him, it means looking for Him trusting that He will reward the one who diligently seeks him. (Heb. 11:6)
  •  Knowing God means intimately sharing with God all that you are, and allowing Him to share all that He is with you. It recognizes that you are related with Him, and He wishes you to know Him, just as you wish to be known. (1 Cor 13:12) To know Him, is to be familiar with Him in relationship as a friend, as a confidant like the disciples were to Jesus while He walked among us on the earth.

At last the Summit:

  • Loving God is the final goal: It means to live for Him, where He is your everything, and everything in your inner and outer life is completely devoted to Him. Love means, you wouldn’t do anything that would be against Him. Love means that everything you do is for Him. Love means you are actively engaged in seeking Him out and pursuing Him. Love means you treasure the intimacy He shares with you with a tender and faithful heart.

All five of these dimensions are indispensable to fully representing God.
Fear acknowledges, “I am sinful.”
Obey acknowledges, “I am purposed to do good.”
Love acknowledges all these things and says, “I am Yours, You are my God.”
Know acknowledges, “I am related with Him.”
Seek acknowledges, “I am finite.”

You cannot say you love God without fearing and obeying Him. You cannot say you love God without seeking Him and knowing Him. Most of us will rise up the slope to the summit of love from one direction, but without the Moral and the Relational, without the Internal and the External, without the mind and the heart, without the soul and the strength, our love will be only one-dimensional or two-dimensional. Never will we represent our God fully as His Image bearer on earth as Jesus did.

My call is to you–you who wish to be one of God’s servants as described in Isaiah 42. Grow in the fear of the Lord, and seek Him while He may be found. Obey Him to share His work, and know Him to share His heart. Above all let it be love which crowns you with the seal of His image.

Answer: The Cross

“By His stripes we are healed.”
There it is again.
I’ve heard that so often, like I’ve heard, “By the atomic bomb Nagasaki was destroyed.”
Let me rearrange it:
We are healed by His stripes.
Let me take care of the pronouns.
We are healed by Jesus’ stripes.
Let me personalize it for this blog.
I am healed by Jesus stripes.

Why? What about Jesus getting beaten senseless is so healing for me? I’m sick. I consider the deepest cause of my sickness is my own self-salvation, my own self-righteousness, my own self-service, or simply, my own “sin.” Is it just a matter of Jesus being beaten for that, that I am healed?

“The stripes that wound scour away evil.” All the brokenness of the world He scoured away in his body. There is something to that, because His resurrection proved that God was coming not just to crucify the world, but resurrect the world. The world will burn. The world will be remade. We will die. We will be changed. Every pain I face isn’t just a reminder that it hasn’t happened yet. It’s a chance to go to the cross and embrace it and say, “I accept your mercy to righteously judge my brokenness and my sinfulness because of your great love, and I lay down my life again, the way Jesus did on the cross, and ask you, that I may take it up again to serve you a little longer.”

The Cross is the door; only the dead can pass through it. That means I can’t save myself, I can’t heal myself, I can’t rule myself, I can’t love myself, or keep my relationships or my family, my church, even my own life for myself. “God you can have me, but you can’t have my family.” You haven’t gotten a hold of it yet. It’s Christmas, the “Family Holiday” it has become more so than Thanksgiving. Everything needs to be nailed to the cross, even family. Right?

So how does this practically apply? I am going to wait patiently for the Lord to completely heal me. Seems simple. People of the “Faith” tradition will say, “Proclaim it!” I do indeed. Just remember God doesn’t listen to the proud. He listens to the humble. 🙂 The humble are those who embrace the cross. It’s perfectly in keeping with God’s plan for the world to work supernatural healing in the world. I kinda want someone to come to my house and teach me a bit more of how this works, but the cross takes care of all sickness. And if there’s a sickness still, then He’s bringing part of the world to the cross, until it’s completely put to death. I guess.

The Cross is the answer. Thoughts?

The Problem: Self-Salvation

Thanks Tim Keller for helping me with that phrase.
– – Dear Reader,
– – You have read lots. Here’s something else. I’ve been sick with a grueling fever for the past week or so, and I’m tired of it. As soon as I sit up, I start throbbing in my head. People are depending on me for so many things. I have responsibilities. Children to lead in song, home-bound family who need to go into town, and this is not to mention my truck which needs fixing, my laundry needs to be done, and I have about 2 hours of upright energy a day before my fever goes up a single degree. Thankfully my family are around to care for me, and take care of pressing needs as they arise. Things came to a pretty weepy head today when I had to skip work at school. I cried out, “God please come get me!” from my curled up blanket on the couch, wracked with weariness and worried-ness.
– – Finally. He really does listen. He just listens better than we do to ourselves. I could tell you countless times I had asked him to heal me because people depend on me. But now the problem comes down to just me living with me. What kept crushing down on me was the weight of everything I had to do, and just could not do. I had to partially delegate it to my boss.
– – I know He listens every time, but He responds to honesty. Suddenly, in that moment, I found myself writing in my journal, “Thank you for saving me from my own self-salvation.”
– – I like to think I can fix things. I can do it. I can handle life. I can face challenges. I can manage my time, my relationships, my money. And so I can, or at least act like I can. But what happens when all that power is gone? You go to your power source and have the balls to ask him, “Get me more power, so I can take care of things myself, so I will not need you to save me, cause if you save me, that means I have to completely serve you alone.” That’s what I’ve been doing anyway. I wrote this down after that realization:
“Let’s face it. We’re all a bunch of sucky self-saviors.” I slept with peace after that, ’cause I know my Savior is real. He won’t save everything important to me. That’s not His job. His job is sustaining the cosmos, just like he showed Job. And in the End his Wise plan is best.