The Pray-er and the Pastor

Once there was a young man who was a devoted Pray-er. He was not very popular and never got invited to parties. The local Pastor invited him to his party and welcomed him into his home, but when he sat at the table with everyone else, the people clamored to get near the popular Pastor, and the Pray-er was politely acknowledged and forgotten about.

On the Day of the Lord, the Pastor and the Prayer were both welcomed to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The Pastor was so excited, and he remembered the time Jesus said, “He who humbles himself will be exalted,” so he sat in the lowest seat he could find. The Prayer also sat in the lowest seat he found.

Then the Bridegroom came in and greeted his guests with warmth and joy! He walked to the end of the table farthest from the head, and politely acknowledged the Pastor. He said, “Faithful Pastor, you may go higher. Go and sit with my groomsmen.” The Pastor rose and was exalted before all the guests. The people rejoiced to see him move to a place close to the Groom!

Then the Bridegroom turned to the Pray-er and said, “My friend, it is good to see you. Come sit with Me.” And He took his hand, and led him up to the seat on his left side, and sat him down closer even than His own best man! The people were dumbstruck, and the Pastor was deeply insulted!

The meal progressed, and the Pray-er spoke, listened, and laughed with the Bridegroom, and the Pastor stared with longing in his eyes. Finally he couldn’t restrain himself and he walked over to the groom and said, “My Lord, thank you for honoring me to sit at the place for your Groomsmen. Please tell me: what did I lack to sit with You at the table?” And the Lord said, “Friend, you have served Me well, which is why I honored you with My groomsmen, and I am glad you are with Me now. This young man devoted himself to being with Me. We have been intimate friends for years, and we have shared much joy and sorrow of life together. Should he not be close at hand to share in the greatest joy of My life’s new beginning?”

Sacred

I stood in a room of lilac walls with three doors. I opened the golden door on the right and the light inside was glowing red. The walls were red. The man inside the door shouted, “It is horrendous to kill an unborn baby, to rip it apart in the womb!”

I closed the door and walked over to the other golden door. I opened it up and inside it glowed blue. The woman inside cried out, “It is insupportable to deny a woman’s right to get an abortion, because what she does to her own body is her constitutional right!”

I closed the door and walked to the third door. This door was wood and white but smeared with dirt and green vines crept along the wall branching out around it. I moved slowly, silently toward it. I reached out my hand and opened the door.

Inside there was no light, but the vines were very green and thick trailing back into the black within. I crept forward and was instantly struck by how silent the place was– as if 1000 ears were listening and none dared to utter a peep to disturb what was being heard. I entered in further away from the lilac-walled room and my eyes began adjusting to the black. The walls were green, but by no paint, purely made up of the things living in this room. Where do they get their sunlight? I wondered. This room looked long-forgotten.

I stepped on a small, leafy sapling twig, which broke making a tiny keek. The effect rippled through the vines of the room and myself concurrently. Both shuddered, calamity filled my heart with ache, and the vines gently pulsed.

But then it returned to the quiet. Something was different. I knelt down to examine my offense. The little leaf was dangling. There was nothing I could do. I shed a tear from my eye which I dribbled with my finger down the stem. It seemed to accept my contrite offering with an unassuming nod.

I looked around the room again. The vine below me was as thick as a sledgehammer-head and ran along the ground to the far wall. And as I looked I saw that a shoot came off from it and increased in length, though much thinner. As I looked, it was clear where the thick vine stopped and where the thin vine began, and yet both were the same vine.

But the answer to the riddle in my heart was not to be found here. My eyes followed the thick vine back into a dark corner of the room. Then, for the first time since entering the room, I started to see traces of light through the thickly-packed growth of the vines clogging every wall. I stepped carefully, and with gentle hands pried close woven vines apart, until I could see: there was a window! And not merely a window but a corner of two glass walls! It had been growing so long that the inner part of the room was deprived of sunlight, but it was still very much alive!

Then I knew where I was. Here was a room with no floor; it was planted in the earth. And all around there was life and beauty and expansion even into the lilac colored room. Here was a room that needed more sunlight to see its beauty.

Then I understood: this vine is living and filling the whole space with its stalks and off-shoots. And yet, it needed care, cultivation and someone to stay here and make it beautiful. Someone who loved the plant could decide how it was best to be kept. It was rightly owed to the root, to the planter of the seed, and the owner of this multi-directional sunroom, for his plant to succeed in its design: full growth. The root decides what will grow, and the wise caretaker must decide once the sapling has had a chance to grow how it will aid the master plan.

I stayed there and received instruction. And I asked my Friend who was with me:

“What do You think?”

“There is more.”

I worked gingerly, painstakingly, and boldly to make room for more sunlight. The effect was unimaginable. The light peered in an ever-widening beam through that dark jungle like a sudden brass solo out of a silent orchestra pit. The vines all reached their tendrils in the direction of the light. The light peered past me into the lilac room, and the vines followed. I kept directing, braiding, organizing, and feeding the stalks around to allow light to shine through. The doorway to the lilac room soon became so overgrown I did not know if I could enter back the way I came again. This however was indeed where I had come to fight the battle for life, and I could see that life was winning again.

Soon, the vines which had sought to wrap around me many times suddenly started popping with life. I turned and looked and saw the lilac room floor, wall, and ceiling was well-lit and now beautified with jasmine, and the fragrance filled the whole room with the sweetness of new life.

All except for the Red and Blue rooms. Their golden doors did not open to let the plant nor its fragrance enter in.

I stepped carefully back out of the room now swarming with life, and as I wiggled my way back into the lilac-colored, now flower-covered room, I turned to the door and started to clean away the dirt smudges on the front of it. As I did a word became clear, one letter at a time.

“Sacred.”

The Great Exchange

“I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading me shame
I’m laying them down for the ____________________”
I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my pain
I’m laying them down for the ____________________”

Joy of the Lord

We each carry burdens, cares and pains: family responsibilities, money struggles, health worries, global fear, job stresses, marriage anxieties, and more, and somehow in the song we “lay them down for the joy of the Lord.” That sounds nice, but to me it smacks with fantasy. It sounds like, “I’m going to ignore these “tangible” things in my life so I can be happy thinking about God for a while.” That doesn’t really help, because SOMEONE has to carry these burdens! They’re important to me! If I don’t who will?

But what if we could trade our sorrows with God. Not like “I’m trading my sorrows for the joy of the Lord.” or maybe a little. I’m talking about trading sorrows the way true friends do.

Example: Person A has a relative who has passed away, and he really misses her. He pours out his heart to his friend, Person B. Person B Listens and receives the care of Person A, and Person A feels much better. Then Person A asks Person B “How are you doing?” Person B tells his Person A that his marriage is on the rocks and spends time pouring out his heart to his friend. Person A receives and empathizes with his friend. Both friends are encouraged and comforted not only that they have been heard, but that their friend the other Person counted them worthy of their trust. Is this not the essence of true friendship?

What if we could have that kind of relationship with God? A relationship where we share our cares and concerns with God, and God shares His cares and concerns with us?

Objection: Now you might say, “Whoa, hang on. God doesn’t feel cares and concerns the way I do. God is all powerful and all-knowing. He doesn’t feel worry or fear the way I do.” I understand this objection, because it seems like I am saying that our feelings of fear and worry about our cares and concerns are just like God’s feelings about His cares and concerns. It is true, God isn’t as powerless or clueless as we are, and in his perfect character does not feel fear or worry, but He does have feelings of care and concern. And believe it or not, He cares more and is more concerned about the things in your life that are alarming you than you do. Please bear with me, while I unpack this idea.

Biblical Friendship with God

First of all, it is Biblical to have a friendship with God where we share our concerns with God, and we take on God’s burdens.

1 Peter 5:7–“Cast all your cares upon God, for He cares for you.” God cares.

Also, look at the life of Moses, He joined God in His work to bring Israel into the promised land. He did this through a sharing of his burdens with God, (saying the work was too much, and God raised up 70 to help him.) and God sharing His burdens with him (Numbers 14:21 “As I live all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD.”) The exchange between Moses and Yahweh on Mount Sinai is an evidence of this give and take friendship, and as a result the people of Israel were saved.

There came a point in Israel’s History where God was looking for this dynamic again in the time of the Exile in Babylon, God spoke to Ezekiel saying, ” The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy and unlawfully exploited the foreign resident. I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one. So I have poured out My indignation on them and consumed them with the fire of My fury. I have brought their actions down on their own heads.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.

Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

in John 15:13-15 Jesus says Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

Ananias who visited with Saul saw a vision of Jesus, and God spoke to him and shared a mission with him, and Ananias shared his concern with God, and God replied with further explanation. A sharing of care and concern both ways. Paul and John the author of Revelation had stories like this in their lives.

This relationship is Biblical. But what does it look like?

It does not look like simply reading your Bible. In the Bible we learn the thoughts of God, but we don’t experience the emotions of God. We can imagine them, but we don’t really experience them without something more intimate than reading the pages of the Living Word of God.

It DOES looks like prayer: Committing your cares to the carrying of an all powerful God, and then being totally freed up, waiting to receive His care upon you.

Now, for those of you who objected earlier, you might be further thinking, “Why would God do that? He doesn’t need us.” And it’s true He doesn’t need us to carry his burdens for his own sake, but he does need us to carry his cares for the world’s sake. Let me share with you two little-known principles about why this is the case with God that I hope will make sense: The Smell of God, and the Method of God.

The Smell of God

This idea comes from the verse, in 2 Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”

Have you ever had a person talk about God who the words didn’t really feel right? Like there was something off in their manner, motive, or ministry that just didn’t “smell” right?

Whatever is in your heart “scents” your speech. As Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart _____________” (The mouth speaks) Your heart will always smell like what is in your heart. If it is your own cares, your words will smell like those worries and cares. But if you have given your cares to God and have received God’s cares, then your words will “smell” like Him. As I said earlier, You cannot receive God’s cares from God Himself thru the Bible. Only Prayer lets you do this. If you know your Bible from the first to the last verse, and don’t spend time sharing your heart with the Author, and letting the author share his heart with you, you will just smell like a dusty bookshelf. And if you have hearts carried by your own worries, your words will be “scented” with those worries which will overpower God’s aroma, and people won’t be able to smell God on you.

The Method of God

God is out to reconcile the World to Himself. To do that He chose a creature of Heaven and Earth to be the bridge between Him and the World: Human. And not just any human, the Human: Jesus Christ. Who is the body of Jesus Christ? The New Humanity: Believers in Jesus Christ. So God’s method is to draw the world which sins and rebels against Him back to himself, using people to represent Him to them. This is God’s Method. And if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then God seeks to reconcile the world to Himself through you. You are God’s method.

Now, if God is out to reconcile the world to Himself, and he uses his people to do it, then He needs to fill those people up with His love and truth.

To sum up, God wants you to cast your cares on him, so that He can carry the weight of your concerns and cares so you don’t need to be burdened by worry, fear, anxiety, and doubt. But God wants you then to receive His cares, His heart, and His concerns from Him so that through you, God can reconcile the world to Himself.

Aren’t God’s Burden’s too Hard to Carry?

And just like Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” By Burden, he’s saying my cares and concerns, the things I have a heart for, it is easy to carry.

Really? You’d think the opposite. People have taken up what they know are things God has said He’s concerned about, and they are so over-burdened and grumpy! Have you noticed? Someone says say, “We need to go and feed the homeless; there aren’t enough people feeding the homeless, I’m going to feed the homeless. Ugh, this feeding the homeless isn’t much fun, but it’s okay because this is what God wants, and God will help me do it.” And then they go and talk to somebody and either say “You should feed the homeless!” and try to guilt people into joining, or announce, “I feed the homeless!” for some saintly reason of “Oh people look at my example” But they are self-righteous. Do either of those things smell like God?

If this is you, and you’re wondering why you don’t have joy in it, or if you know somebody who comes across as guilting and self-righteous, the reason probably is, that you or that person haven’t REALLY given up your cares and concerns. You or they’ve just found the cares and concerns that you can carry that God has authorized.

This is one of the reasons why as sinful human beings, we have this need to worry and fret and not give up control. I think that we are afraid that if we give our cares to the Lord, then we’ll discover that He doesn’t really love us. We’re afraid that if we stop trying to do the “necessary” thing, then we won’t be able to earn the love that we are trying to deserve. This is why we get so weary and heavy laden, because as soon as we give up our concerns and cares to God, then we don’t have anything left to show how important and valuable we are. All we have left is God to show us how important and valuable we are.

Reading Matthew 6, you can hear that You are valuable and important, but you’ll never really know that until you give up all your cares and concerns to God, and wait to see how He responds. That’s the risk. Because then He will finally have a chance to tell you the truth, and He will show you His heart for you, and if you wait long enough, He will also show you His heart for the world. And with the showing of that Heart for the World, will come the sweet secret of those who know Intimacy with Him. This is also the badge that proves people are carrying God’s burdens rather than their own.

Joy.

This is the gentle, patient, persistent flame that can finally breathe when the burdens of life are cleared from off the wick of our heart. This Joy is based in so many things: it’s because you know you are loved and accepted and God has just shared His eternal love and truth with you that is so good it cannot be beaten! Through this great exchange of your cares for God’s, you will be entrusted with the heart of God. That example at the beginning of two friends. That is a hint of what it is like. And through this great exchange, the World will come to experience God’s love and power through you.

Now, just a warning, because some people may not want this. Doing this will result in one of two things: bringing the world closer to salvation, or bringing yourself closer to your own crucifixion. Likely both. For Jesus it was both, so why not for us? The more God is truly known in the world, the more people will have the chance to totally accept him, or totally reject him.

Some Practical Considerations for Doing this Great Exchange.

  • First of all, in American culture we are so good at self-soothing. You already can think of the things you depend on for your comfort and recuperation. Deny yourself those self-soothings you do whenever you are burdened and worried and anxious about your cares and concerns, and give them to God instead. Turn the TV off, put the snack down, put the Phone down, and go to God.
  • Second, set aside some time in the day to pray and talk with God regularly. Our First ministry isn’t to our family or ourselves. It’s to the Lord. I recommend before anyone else wakes up or after everyone else is asleep.
  • Third, “Go aside.” Moses saw the burning bush and turned aside to see the great sight, and when God saw Moses had turned aside, then he called out to him. There’s something about relating with God where He needs to see you. Maybe He wishes to know that you are seeking Him for His own sake, or maybe it’s just a lot easier to talk with someone when they leave the business of where they are, and stop long enough to fully receive what they say. Don’t go to God in between things. Literally stop whatever you’re doing, go somewhere private, and pour out your heart to God, then wait to hear His response.
  • And Fourth. Give your burdens over to Him. There are probably countless ways to do this, and some of them are well known: say them out loud, think about them and remember a Promise from God’s word, write them down methodically, write them down crazy fast.
    • For me, I have found it helpful to do it with a physical action or a visualization. A physical action is important because any doctor will tell you that worry and stress is a physical thing. If your shoulders are slumping because a heavy weight is on them, go to God, and shrug that burden off your shoulders, and pick it up and hand it to God. Where is he? right in front of you? Up above you. You can say, “God, can you please get that?” This is NOT as crazy as Harvey the Rabbit. God is really there right? Then talk to Him like He is really there!
    • The other way I mentioned is Visualization. Picture your worry and then in your imagination give it over to Jesus. Let it take whatever natural shape it takes in your imagination. it can be a big glob of poop, it can be anything, and then the conscience can help your imagination rightly understand what Jesus does in response to that. These are just methods I have tried, but there are many others.
  • Fifth consideration: It’s probably going to take longer than you think depending on how much time you have already spent casting your cares on God, Each one will need to be sorted and dealt with. If you feel like you’ve given all your concerns over to God, and one keeps popping up, you probably missed one. Keep going til your mind and heart are ready to stare your friend in the face with boldness because he has stayed with you the whole time you’ve unloaded on him.
  • Sixth when He shares with you keep His Confidence.

The Situation

The world today is a mess. And the sin of humanity is the problem. Romans 3:11–“There is no one who understands. There is no one who seeks for God.” As it was in Paul’s day, so it still is today. But if the sin of humanity is the problem, the salvation of humanity is at least part of the solution. It doesn’t sound very different from Ezekiel’s day. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy and unlawfully exploited the foreign resident. I searched for a man among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land so that I might not destroy it, but I found no one.”

First, I address the church as a whole: without the heat of prayer, the Church will be lukewarm and ineffective. Unless you pray in this way, the world will not know Jesus through you.

Come on! Rise! Go! Find Him! Seek the Lord while he may be found!

Lightning Rod

I see him scrambling to the top of the building.
The lightning flashes all around him, but does not strike home.
He is the only hope they have for power
Because the rest of the people stay inside the lower building praying
And he is the lightning rod.

The classic architecture white and sturdy
Bears him up as he slowly reaches the highest point.
He had passed the gates and open field
He was admitted at the door of the house and allowed to serve
He submitted his appeal to the Highest office in the land.

The wizened Ruler had stared back at him incredulous
“What makes you think you could restore power?
Don’t you believe that your God can help you out without your sacrifice?
Let me give you the power you need, you can stay alive.
Just be my servant, and I will give you everything you want.”

The young man had looked him in the face
Unwilling to surrender that charge which he had carried thus far:
A lightning rod in his hand connected to his darkened home.
He told him, “The power is not yours to give.”
“I go to seek the One who is ruler over you.”

With permission, he had broken forth into the rain like hail.
His charge in hand, his clothes drenched with Heaven’s tears
Now at the top, he stretches himself upwards
And blazing from the sky above the connection is made
Power without limit surges through his brittle frame.

The prayers of the people are answered with self-sustaining light
All the house is enlightened by the revelation of Heaven’s power
The young man knew what this would cost him,
And now charred and scorched like a rag in the ashes
He crumples to the roof and rolls off to the ground far below.

When the Ruler looks out the window, he sees something good:
A power above that could not be rivaled
And one young man who gave his all.
So that others might live in the light of life
He closed the curtains and made a call.

Burnout

In the famous The Tortoise and the Hare story, children are taught that slow and steady wins the race. I wish ministers were taught that fast and steady brings the burnout.

One sign that God’s servants are hooked up to a finite power source such as coffee, food, screen time, entertainment, hobbies, relationships, or the praise of men is burnout.

The Almighty power of God will never burnout, and its power outlet is found on the side of the wooden beams of Jesus’ own cross.

If you’re not carrying His cross, you are powerless. If you are not deriving your every sustainence from the Word of God, you have only pseudo-power. E. M. Bounds was right, prayer is where the power is, but that’s just because prayer brings a person into contact with the Almighty power of God. Only the humble will actually be strengthened by it though.

God is a Father, Lord, Friend, Priest, and the One who has borne everything you have carried; He knows. The guilt from burnout needs to be kept in the presence of God. It is mere pride which drives a man away from God out of guilt. Humble guilt runs to God, not from Him. If you can’t hear Him, then for His goodness sake run to Him. Leave every net behind!

If the shell that the body of Christ is wearing now–the exoskeleton of denominational Christianity which is only affordable in a pluralistic, materialistic, and person-centered culture like America–is tiring out the very soldiers who live to sustain it to the point where they are morally, spiritually, and societally compromised, then we either need better leaders or a better exoskeleton. I’ve got a feeling that God wants both.

Prayer, Bible-reading, and Fasting: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Discipline

My dear sister in Christ,

– – We all are fighting many battles. We each have many victories and many defeats of which we can boast. To aid you in your plight, I have some thoughts on Spiritual Disciplines that I hope may be useful to a practical person such as yourself. May you find the blessing of a loving brother reflecting the love of the Big brother too both of us: Jesus Christ.

– – It may not seem like it, but Jesus can really identify with everything that we go through. On the surface, it looks totally different: Jesus was not a wife and mother of two adorable yet sinful children. The reason he can is because all three temptations to which Eve and Adam fell, are the same three temptations with which Israel was tried in the wilderness for 40 years. and by which Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days. The three roots of all the sin in our lives can be boiled down to these:

  1. Cravings–Selfish desires to satisfy the lust of our flesh.
  2. Mistrust– Not fully believing that God is good, or His word is trustworthy
  3. Rebellion– gaining power for ourselves, independent of God, submitting to anything but Him.

Adam and Eve both fell to these three temptations in Eden, Israel fell to these in the Wilderness, but Jesus in the Wilderness did not. This stage of Jesus life comes after Jesus’ Baptism, and he enters by the holy Spirit’s leading into the desert and he beats Satan’s temptations and leaves with the Holy Spirit’s power, which he cultivated in three practical ways: Fasting, Prayer, and the Word of God. These three practices have a specific objective to teach a particular State of being, which can counteract the State of sin into which we are born. These three practices have the potential by the Spirit’s aid to strengthen the Christian for any struggle he or she faces: whether tangible or intangible, visible or invisible, emotional or rational, external or internal.

Preliminary caution: Nothing can be done except by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Make sure He’s even on board with you, or you are going nowhere like a boat with sail raised and no wind.

  1. Fasting. Jesus ate nothing for 40 days, and Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” In the Greek it is clear that he was not trying to get Jesus to doubt that he was God’s son. On the contrary, he was saying that since he was the son of God he had the power to gratify his own desires. However, Jesus humbly responds with the lesson that Moses told the people of Israel that God was trying to teach them in the wilderness for 40 years: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” The key thing Jesus held to in his temptation here was radical DEPENDENCE on God. It is the only way we can beat this particular root cause of sin in our lives: we depend on God for everything. Jesus learned this lesson of Dependence on God through Fasting.
    – – Practical ways to do this. Fasting means 1. denying ourselves something precious to us in which we find great happiness and joy, and depend on for our very livelihood for a period of time, and 2. replacing that very thing with reading God’s word, talking with God, listening for God in silence, doing things for others and serving God, focusing all your energies mental and physical on trying to know God intimately, doing nothing until you hear God’s voice tell you to, etc. Example: Instead of eating a meal, spending time reading scripture. Instead of watching TV, praying, instead of listening to music, practicing silent waiting on the Lord to Speak. Any period of time that practically works for you: an hour, a day, a week, a month, as the Holy Spirit leads you.
    Again, the goal of this practice is to depend on God for everything, your sustenance, your sanity, your spiritual well-being. Not only will the fruit of the Spirit self-control be added unto you, but also the fruit of patience, and peace.
  2. The Word of God. In addition to Scripture memory, which we both have had and has served us well, there is an even greater importance on appreciating the whole Story of the Bible. G.K. Chesterton helped C.S. Lewis recognize the Bible as the True story meant to capture the imagination as well as the mind’s search for truth when he said this, “Christianity met the mythological search for romance by being a story, and met the philosophical search for truth by being a true story.”~Everlasting Man The Gospel story from Genesis to Revelation serves one purpose: to reveal God’s righteousness from faith to faith. (Romans 1:16) The Bible does not assume that we just assume God is righteous, it shows us how especially in the Old Testament leading to the Gospels. This way the Word of God reveals God shows us one thing “God is trustworthy.” When Jesus was tempted to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, Satan told him, “Son of God, God said he’d take care of you, so go ahead and jump.” Jesus’ response “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Indicates there was an implicit temptation of mistrust in Satan’s suggestion. Jesus however responds by saying in essence, “God has shown Himself to be trustworthy more times than I need. I will not test Him.” He learned this from reading the Hebrew Old Testament, and seeing the story of the Bible unfold to where he was. Through all he read, he learned radical TRUST in his father.
    Practical ways to do this: Reading God’s Word as a true story will give your imagination opportunities to wonder at God again, to take into your heart the same truths you wish for your own children to embrace. The Bible isn’t a collection of laws, but a story with laws in them, and that story reveals two main things: God is good, and we are rebellious. One resource I highly recommend is the Bible Project. They have Youtube videos explaining the Bible themes, Books of the Bible, Hebrew words, and more all in engaging, animated videos which kids from 4th Grade and up can appreciate. I recommend their Video series on the Torah (The first 5 books) and their “read through the Bible” series on each book of the Bible, and also reading the books of the Bible trying to trace the story line from Genesis to Revelation.
    Again, the goal here is to teach you the same radical TRUST Jesus had in His father by seeing how God has dealt with the world up to this point.
  3. Prayer. This is the big one, and I am glad to hear how you have already incorporated this one into your life so much! When Satan tempted Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world, if he would simply fall down and worship Satan, there was only one way Jesus could say no to that temptation. DEVOTION: a love for God that would rather have Him than anything else. Fasting, and reading God’s Word foster this too, but there is something about the intimacy and communion of prayer, rivaling marital copulation in love shared. Prayer is where we meet with God, know God, love God, and are met, known, and loved. E. M. Bounds wrote a book, “Power through Prayer” explaining these principles that prayer is where a Christian derives his power. The secret to this is two fold: on the one hand, we are made in God’s image, and the more time we spend with the one whose image we bear, the more our broken image is remolded and reshaped into His likeness. (Example: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story the Great Stone Face.) But on the other hand, God is love, and this love can only be shared and expressed in a close intimate encounter and continual DEVOTION to the beautiful God whose beauty melts the heart of stone with His pure love.
    Practical ways to do this: “Pray without ceasing.” I like to apply this by making God a part of every conversation: not talking about Him, but talking with everyone as if God is standing right next to you. Talking with Him about everything. It takes practice, but it becomes super easy the more intimate and excited you get when you recognize how He is feeling, acting, and thinking toward others around you in any given moment in time. Also, setting aside time to keep Him as the main thing. Everything else in the world will vie for your attention, and every responsibility will chain you up unless you make the choice deliberately that God is the the most important person in your life, and you would rather have Him than ANYTHING. Finally, praying with people so that it becomes not only a personal devotion, but a mutual encouragement to share God’s love.

One final thought: Please do not pursue the practical at the expense of the personal. It may be my personality coming out here, but I believe there is a personal root to everything. I encourage you to follow these practical steps wherever you can, and do not forget that He’s right there personally available for all of it. Expect to fail and learn to depend on God even in your failures.

May God bless you, my sister, and I hope that we both may mutually grow into the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. God’s peace be with your spirit.

It is His Holiness

I am overwhelmed by my study of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 to the point I am physically reacting to it. Translation is like playing chicken with God. After being blown away by His holiness, I recorded this cry of my heart, and I believe He wanted me to share it. So here it is. It is a fresh piano inspiration in Cm. “Be filled with the spirit . . . making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 4

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1JFh2kpYdVIE1_90ZG1gE4ezlLqSpbdKv

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 Scribe

After a return to translation,
– – I remember. My soul is spread out before God like a puddle of water in the hot sun. I feel my spirit rising up within me to moisten and soften my heart with tears that cleanse me of the world’s hardening smut and worthless frivolity. The English Bible is like a lantern with a fresh, warm firelight within it. The heat is intoxicating like wine’s drunkenness (without dissipation) that begets an even deeper sobriety. My melted form twists and swirls before the majesty of the Fire in which it was first forged, and in this white-hot groaning holiness, the dross collects around the mouth of my chest in guttural wailings and tears of joy and cries of laughter. The aches of futility are assuaged, and the drudgery of time is nullified, my youth kindles like a flame dancing on the wick of a single moment. I am opened up to the glorious goodness of God in humbled trust and the hope of glory is bursting from my heart in song, poetry, story, and questions seeking to lay hold of even more of the Answer.

– – This is only the birth of something new. From here, my thoughts and feelings are blessed to carry the fire of God’s Holy Word into every part of my being through my Journals probing and applying and forging of the truth of life’s mystery into a sensible, handled, accessible portal for myself and all who hear me to enter in to the same gateway into the Wonder of God’s person. Thoughts are laid like iron bars parallel upon the perpendicular wood of my emotions, laid out and empowered and straightened by the Holy fire purified, so that the locomotive of my will to choose and serve and love God with all my heart may transport this precious cargo all around the trail He himself has laid out for my wheels. Not to speed or slow except by His bidding for any hills or curves I cannot see from my own window on the side of the locomotive. As I seek vision, He shows me a map of the railroad upon which I am tracked, and helps me see ways to cultivate what I carry in my payload, even as He sets me in motion Himself. The payload is destined for a particular destiny of destination and the Boiler’s fire must not go out til there is no more track.

– – This birth and cultivation manifest a different sort of fruit than mere thoughts, but also a more excellent and beautiful abundance out of which my joy is mingled again with sorrow and expressed colorfully to the world: Heaven sings to the Earth and in the earth the reply rises from deep within it. A soul without song is an ember glowing but flickering with no tongue of flame. Music explosion makes the dance of heat give off radiant and comforting light to all who languish in darkness and who shiver in cold disbelief. They warm themselves with blankets of silence trusting their own heat to keep warm, when suddenly in their eyes and ears a melody of painful pleasure touches their dry frozen eyes with warm moisture and the dull ringing ears with magical delight. The skill of the composer to bend his heart and lightly carry his listener to a place where he has exercised the eternal possibilities of the finite, given the mind room to explore new patterns and meaning, and most of all, gathered all hearers into one solid pool of Eternity’s Elixir from which all souls take their draught which expediently refreshes it in God.

By a verse of translation a man is confronted by his darkness.
–     O that he would break at the sight and melt!
The next verse warms his heart with honest tears.
–     O that his laughter may accompany each drop!
Another and peace tests him with rest and sleep.
–     O that he may have the heart to keep pursuing his Beloved!
Still a fourth and the shape is delighting to his eyes.
–     O that he may preserve the art of the shape in all he does!
A Fifth and the Master knows the one who is just beginning to know.
–     O that he may cling to the Father’s hand and not let go!
A Sixth and the agony of the world’s condition is felt.
–     O that the scribe may not falter at the weight!
A Seventh and the glorious solution is realized.
–     O that God’s doings may be his only acts!
Eight, the numbers cease to count the length.
–     O that a finite man not grow weary of eternity!
Nine, who am I? I have forgotten myself for Him.
–     O that their happiness together be treasured forever!
Ten, the ripple has ceased and Christ is at hand.
–     O that nothing dare come between him and His God!
– – Words fail beyond 10, but colors and music and poetry and deeds of life can give the echo of Translation’s effects.

– – Even still there is more. In silence, He, that True Holy Spirit speaks, giving oxygen to the flame which fragile burns to light the way.
–     By this light, Jesus explained the Scriptures to his disciples so that their hearts burned within them.
–     By this light, Peter and the disciples proclaimed the deeds of God to all peoples and languages birthing the church.
–     By this light, Saints and Prophets saw visions, performed miracles spoke of the future, and conquered the world by faith.
–     By this light, the church spread abroad abolishing heresy and expanding His Kingdom around the whole world.
–     By this light, a monk translated the Scriptures for himself and started a Reformation of the church in Europe.
–     By this light, expositors and translators continue to reinvigorate the church with the fresh ever-true revelation of Jesus Christ.
–     By this light, I, a Light-bringing Advocate and son of the Word of Fire, live to remind God’s children using music and words of the Gospel of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ so that the church may be one, and the Earth be reshaped for the Glory of God.

– – And so, this gem, this secret Jewel of my existence I make know to you now, dear Joyous Bondwoman. Translation is the fountain in which I play youthfully, through which I am made wiser than many of the aged. It is the Treasure of my soul. It is the very firing of my secret furnace. It is my most intimate time with God. It is the Key in the ignition of my spirit. It is the inspiration of all music I do that is good. It is the stone upon which I sharpen the warrior’s sword and the oil with which I anoint my shepherd’s staff.
– – Without my translation, I quickly dim like a suffocating flame. The filth of the Earth I intake and spout forth futile flagrant folly and ferociousness without translation. Without my translation, many have been my failures and stumblings in anger, lust, and laziness, and anxiousness. The weakness of my mortal frame becomes a concavity which breaks to serve itself without translation. Without translating I see only ill in people’s faces, and readily condemn others. Only my own righteousness is my security without translation. By translation I am deeply reshaped to Christ’s form. Without it I am disfigured repugnantly to callous frivolity.

– – Still more, yea more. Still even more and more. Free time is but a canvas upon which to paint eternal mystery. O how I have sluggishly slacked in heart away from translating in Hebrew to this extent! How sweet and good and true love is when shared with another soul, though its effects are cultivated to similar results to translation with time-spent devotion to Christ. And in the light of Love like this life leaps and ladles out longevity. Time cannot validate itself without meeting eternity’s approval, and when I translate I cannot check the time.
– – I hope that your ears, as I have perceived them in the fire, be ready to receive this part of me so verbosely yet concisely expressed. This is translation, and this is what I pray that God has given you the heart to understand.

Matthew 13:52~”Every scribe who has become a disciple of the Kingdom of Heaven is like a head of a household who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

 

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 others will seek to take his 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.