Monday, December 31, 2012

Behind Our Locked Door

"I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.' 'I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?' My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock." Song of Songs 5:2-5

Our heart can be slow to awake. We can live behind a locked door inside our souls. The access we give to God maybe very limited because of past hurts even though we love Him we don't trust Him enough to give Him a key.

"I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me." Song of Songs 5:6-7

We hesitate to respond and there is the pain of separation. We may wander the streets a long time and be hurt there. Christ won't be found in the streets... not in the bar room or in the casual glass of wine, not in the illicit relationship or in seemingly innocent flirting, not in the movie theater, not in the five star hotel... you can eat a thousand delicious meals and never find Him there... you can own a hundred albums and have your iPod full of soulful stirrings of every type and flavor.

The watchmen will eventually find you and treat you roughly. They don't care so much about your broken heart. They only care that there is a curfew and that you have transgressed the standard of what is proper in the eyes of men.

He can be found... but where?

"My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies." Song of Songs 6:2-3

The Bible is His garden... Like Peter hearing Jesus say "Feed my Sheep." we find Him in our calling. Jesus is off gathering lilies. I think Jesus was not so much commanding Peter to do something (in John 21:16) that needed to be done... instead He was saying, "I will be gathering lilies. Feed my sheep because if you love me that is where you will always find me."

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Just Come to Jesus

God's primary message to mankind is 'Come to Jesus.'

"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" Rev 22:16-18

The Gospel of Grace shows that every requirement has been fulfilled... grace removes every obstacle, excuse or objection that would hinder coming to Jesus.

The Spirit says 'Come'... the remnant in the Church says 'Come' and it says to anyone who reads the book to say 'Come to Jesus'. One day the Church will be gone and all Hell will be breaking loose in the World. Believers will read this book like a newspaper to find out what is happening and what will happen next and the message will still be 'Come if you are thirsty and drink for free'.

Don't change the message. God will have a problem with you.

It is not 'Come if...' or 'Come when...' or 'Come after you...' it is just 'Come to Jesus'

When I hear the undiluted message it just makes me want to come to God. It makes me want to tell others to come to Jesus.

The Reapers and the Lord of the Harvest

Think of Boaz as Christ (the kinsman redeemer) and the reapers as those who go to evangelize (soul winners) as you read this:

"Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, 'Whose young woman is this?'
The servant in charge of the reapers replied, 'She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.
'And she said, 'Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while.'
Then Boaz said to Ruth, ' Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids.
'Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw.'
Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'
Boaz replied to her, 'All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.
'May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.'
Then she said, 'I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.'
At mealtime Boaz said to her, ' Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.' So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.
When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, 'Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her.
'Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.'
So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
She took it up and went into the city, and her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also took it out and gave Naomi what she had left after she was satisfied.
Her mother-in-law then said to her, 'Where did you glean today and where did you work? May he who took notice of you be blessed.' So she told her mother-in-law with whom she had worked and said, 'The name of the man with whom I worked today is Boaz.' " Ruth 2:5-19 NAS

Wow. What great principles showing us how we can love people and represent the Lord of the Harvest.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Faith That Is Grafted In

Faith is like the fruit of a tree that has been grafted into us. It is a gift from God, an impartation, and then also it is a fruit of the the Spirit that works in us and out of us.

"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" Phil 1:29 NKJV

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." 1 Cor 13:13

"...I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me..." Gal 2:20b

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Gal 5:22-23

We don't have faith apart from Him. We didn't have it until He came. Before His appearance we were faithless. Now we live in it and it lives in us. Faith was 'granted on behalf of Christ.' His faith is the faith we live by and live in. Like a wild fragrant olive branch being grafted into a domestic tree and becoming one new plant... Heaven grafted a branch that believes into us. A branch that produces all the varied fruits of love.

At the same time we are like the branches of a vine. The vine is Christ and we are mindful that we live in our vine. Cut off from that reality in our minds we will wither away in our experience.

Both the root and the fruit are in Christ and of Christ. The root, the fruit and everything else in-between belong to Him.

It is a comfort to me that I don't have to do it. To make myself believe. To convince myself of something that somehow goes against my judgement. God isn't selling me something. He is giving me something. Something that goes deep into who I am and alters my perception. The sap flowing in me is life not sourced in me but is flowing none the less and it is feeding my sensibilities.

When the Spirit makes His home in us then faith, hope and love come to stay and they beautify a once bleak and cluttered space.

My blind eyes have been opened to new options. Christ is here and my days of wandering are over. Now I follow... now I move with purpose. It is what He is doing that matters. It is what He has done that makes me marvel. I want to be with Him and go to the next place to see what He will do there.

Yesterday's faith is like a fruit plucked from me. But more fruit is growing in me. More fruit is ripening and getting ready to be harvested.

We are not what we were or who we will be. Right now we are believers. Right now faith possesses us and we possess Him. It is Jesus... always Jesus.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

High Stakes

The stakes must be high in a cause in order to engage us. The danger must be real or the reward must be great to make it worth our while. Most stories or biographies we remember hearing had high stakes. Loss of life or love... saving the world or risking a fortune.

This weighing of events is something we do in the visible and the invisible portions of our thought life. Fear may assault us when the personal stakes are high even though we may not understand the reasons and the reaction seems illogical. Our soul senses a potential loss. The higher the perceived loss the greater the fear.

On the other hand lust perceives a great reward. Cycles of sin can plague a person because even though they grow to hate the thing they do... deep in the recesses of who they are part of them sees a great, if only momentary, pay off.

Here is a great quote:

"The battle is lost or won in the secret places of the will before God, never first in the external world. The Spirit of God apprehends me and I am obliged to get alone with God and fight the battle out before Him. Until this is done, I lose every time. The battle may take one minute or a year, that will depend on me, not on God; but it must be wrestled out alone before God, and I must resolutely go through the hell of a renunciation before Him. Nothing has any power over the man who has fought out the battle before God and won there." -Oswald Chambers

In the light Grace and Truth trump any Earthly reward. Love and absolute acceptance make us brave. Our flesh will still cleave to the dust but the Spirit of God elevates us to the heights.

A steady diet of truth and sparring matches with God ready us for the battle that lies ahead.

It is said that every battle is a "battle of the mind" that the more we sweat in training the less we will bleed in battle. There is truth in that.

Christ has won the war. The victory has been declared in a land far away. It has been declared in the Book He has given us. I must hear it is my soul. It must be settled in my being. Sometimes we must go toe to toe with God and struggle with Him in order for it to be real to us. In this arena of discipleship God waves us on and says, "You want a piece of Me. Come and get it. Let's settle this once and for all." When the sun rises in us we find that miraculously God has not lost yet we have been declared the victor. The teacher has changed the student and the lesson has changed the stakes of our decisions forever.

If you think you will survive this life based solely on strength you are wrong. You will be enticed by a fable and not even know why. The battle needs to be won before you go... and it has been won. Our victory is the cross.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Crave the Beautiful Unity

I need more than intellectual agreement... more than respect and courtesy... there is a unity that surpasses mere humanity

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing - Life forevermore." Ps 133 NKJV

There is a beautiful living unity... those other things are great but this divinely good and pleasant fellowship is on another level. It is such a short Psalm, only three verses, but word by precious word it spells out a life that only can come from above.

This unity is like oil... not any oil but the special anointing oil... not oil sitting in a jar but being poured on a person... not just a little but a flow of oil... unity is like a flow of special fragrant oil that was only lawful to make for God's use. Oil that flows and touches the head first then moves to the beard... whose beard... the beard of a priest, one called by God to intercede... oil poured on a priest was done at certain times and in a specific order. Not Aaron's head... but Aaron's beard the outgrowth of experiencing the life of God... months... years... soaking up the oil as it flows... it flows down and down to the edges of the garments.

The unity is like dew. Water that was mist in the air forms quickly in the early morning from nothing into tiny droplets that grow. The early morning air provides the perfect environment for dew to form. The water isn't poured or sprinkled... it isn't tainted in any way... one place on Zion doesn't get more than the other... the dew forms on all the mountains of the Holy place... at the right time... if you you sleep under the stars you will go to bed dry and awake covered with dew.

This Holy unity... beautiful unity... is in the Holy place and God commands blessing there.

It is not a meeting of the minds.. it is the corporate distillation of doctrine that everyone present gets covered with... not just oil but Holy flowing oil. Not just polite banter but loving exchanges.

This unity doesn't happen anywhere, at anytime, with just anyone. Aaron must be there. Zion is the place. The oil pours in our calling. Familiarity will just leave it on the shelf.

The dew forms in the morning... I could sleep in and miss it. I don't want to miss it. Please God... distill the words from Your book and turn them from air into personal truth.

Human compatibility is dry. I need the oil. I crave the beautiful unity.

The Christmas Lights

We are blinded by our own humanity.

" 'And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matt 7:3-5 NKJV

It is the wooden nature of our soul that gets in the way. Even our desire to help our fellow man is called hypocrisy by Christ when we are blinded. When the elements of the soul are all we have then we can not even begin to help others. Our mind, will, emotions, consciousness of self and conscience just get in the way. What we think and feel; who we think we are and the decisions we make; our code of conduct... these are all we have if we do not have God. No wonder God seems invisible to a world that is blinded by it's own humanity.

Man wants to help his fellow man but only makes things worse left to himself. The blind leading the blind all fall into the very next ditch.

Maybe I say this because Christmas is over and many will pack Jesus up and put Him away with the rest of the Christmas decorations. Without Him all we are left with is ourselves.

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Cor 3:18 NKJV

I wants the Christmas lights to reflect in my eyes all year long. He is my identity now. When who He is and what He has done is my frame of reference I am not blind. The Spirit who brings this to me also reveals it in me and through me. This love has no hypocrisy and is not self oriented at all.

People all over the world have things in their eyes that the can't get out. It blurs their vision and causes them pain... we want to help. That dirt must be washed away by living water. Christ has that water.

Freedom from self is what we all need. It is what Christ has done for us and what we can live in today. Let everything else fade from view. I want to see Jesus today and have a willingness to shrug off any distraction from His glorious nature and work. I am no service to anyone blinded by self.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Delicate Process

"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" Gal 4:19

My mind this morning is on the fragile nature of God's anointing... so delicate and yet so powerful. Kind of like a baby being formed in the womb. Complex and important and yet in many ways so straightforward and simple.

Some parents tick each week away very mindful of each milestone with careful attention and others seem to just go about life as usual making a few adjustments but working right up until the mother goes into labor as if little has changed.

There are women who want to be mothers and have not yet conceived or at had the privilege to hold their child in their arms and I travail in my mind for them.

I want to be mindful of what God is doing in me and around me. I want to be full of care for what God would do in others and around them. Perhaps in the way Joseph must have been mindful of what was happening with Mary. Watching her, helping her where he could and not interfering with the process.

I don't want to offend the Spirit of God... to quench Him or grieve Him. He doesn't need my help in what He is doing. I don't want to get in the way by trying to help in areas that He doesn't need it. I want to eat right by having a steady diet of truth bathed in Grace and Love. I want to make sure I get rest and that I am washed in pure water.

We can spent the time to make sure that our words are nourishing for the "Holy Thing" that is being formed in other people. Assisting with care in what we can assist in and stepping out of the way when that is appropriate. But, hoping and praying always.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Like a Child

The world at large tries to use illusions to maintain the innocence and magic of childhood because it eludes them how reality can support a state of innocence.

Christ was the only one qualified to become a child to then grow up as a man. He lost not one speck of His purity in the process of growth and coping with the world. Even in the face of tragedy and betrayal Christ was like a child when it came to evil. He was and Is the ever undefiled one.

We live in a state of innocence when we live in the new nature given to us. It is an innocence placed on our account by believing and receiving Christ's sacrificial anointment and it is a state we can live in while in fellowship with God.

Christmas belongs to adults as well as children. To a believer children remind us what we have not what we have lost.

Let the illusions flee away in the light of true hope and peace this Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just a little off the Top

For the Hebrews there was a specific sacrifice that covered every failure in life. Going to the temple must have been much like going to the barber shop. "Hey George nice to see you. Yeah, I little more off the top this time. Thanks." In you go and out you go... problem solved... you feel better after your haircut (sacrifice) on several levels but the hair just keeps on growing.

The sacrifices involved people you knew because you saw them again and again.

Now instead of doing sacrifices to look right and feel right we go to the one who was the sacrifice and He says, "You look good already. I'll just give those feet of yours a rinsing." We go to Him and confess our sin and He reaffirms that we look fine to Him once and for all and are refreshed. It still involves a personal touch. But there is a reverence and lack of familiarity when we see that the one washing our feet has nail pierced hands. Wounds that should have been on our hands but are not because of God's kindness.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Among Friends

A true friend is a friend for life. Some of the people who are now my friends I didn't like at first but then something happened and a bond was created that will last for the rest of our lives. We may not see all of our friends all of the time but they are still our friends.

If we are God's friend then it is for the rest of His life and the issues of any man or woman's life or death are in His hands. These are some of David's last words:

"Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, Ordered in all things and secure." 2 Sam 23:5b NKJV

I may not know the details of what lies ahead of me but I know that my friendship with God is ordered, secure and everlasting because He is all of those things.

God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (see Heb 13:5b) and I believe that to be true. It is part of the order to our friendship. If He is for me who can really be against me?

Fear goes out the window.

There can be a spring in our steps, a lightness and freedom in our thinking and humor when we are among friends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recovering Lost Territory

We all feel like we have lost territory at times. Maybe we were at one time very disciplined in an area then we find that discipline has waned and a lack of consistency has resulted in consequences that we don't like.

"Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." Josh 1:3

Taking the land God has given us is one thing but regaining it after it has been lost is a different dynamic because now we must contend with a history of failure.

2 Kings chapters 18 and 19 deal with this very issue. It speaks of a young idealist King of Judah named Hezekiah. The nation of Israel was split into two parts at this time in history because of internal struggles. Judah was one part and Israel was another. There had been one bad King after another in both territorie for quite a while before Hezekiah became King. Hezekiah was a Godly man and began to fight back and win lost territory. It is really a good read. Try reading it in the NKJV or NASB if you get a chance.

I love the Bible because it gives such unvarnished accounts of history. Hezekiah doesn't take back the land in the way that Joshua once captured it. Hezekiah takes territory back but pays a high price and ends up with a country much more powerful than his breathing down his neck. Judah is at the verge of disaster and the enemy has a skilled communicator named Rabshakeh who knows just what to say to assault Hezekiah using words and political leverage.

The whole thing has financial ramifications also. Ever try to throw money at a problem hoping it will go away? Hezekiah did just that. This King did all he knew how to do but the answer was to go to God. In this case the man of God.

We all have our own relationships directly with God in this age but there is still something special about being accountable to someone. Hezekiah was a King, and a good one, but he made himself accountable and in that humility God answered.

" 'Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, 'He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; and he will not come before it with a shield or throw up a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he shall not come to this city,' declares the LORD. 'For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.' " 2 Kings 19:32-34

I like that God didn't say, "You have been a good man Hezekiah so I will spare the nation." The blessing is because of God's character and because of association. All blessing is by association.

In our case it is our association to Jesus and I dare say that it is also linked to our willing association to people who make a stand for God. There are no lone rangers in Christianity.

My burden is light because of Christ but the road is certain to be treacherous. I don't want to travel it alone if I don't have to. There is territory to recover and I want it all back. In humility we can take new ground that has been given to us by God and we can recover the lost ground as well.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Unsolvable Problems

There are things is our lives that seem to hinder us. Situations that seem unsolvable. God may do miracles all around us in different areas but these areas seem to remain untouched. It could be a house that won't sell, a sickness or a person close to us that just won't change. These things bother us... maybe hurt us and cause us distress. They seem to hinder our call. In time they can even test our faith. We ask questions like, "Is God punishing me?" or "Doesn't God care about me?"

We all have them and sometimes we have more than one of these things happening at once. It is good to understand that this is normal. We can become isolated in our mind if we think this is a condition that only we suffer from and no else.

I would dare to say that everyone who has ever walked by faith has suffered this way. It is not a result of personal sin. The situation may seem to be at times a consequence of sin... ours or someone else's... but the lack of resolution of it is not. I have come to believe that God uses things like this as a catalyst for our faith. Here is a good simple definition of a catalyst:

Catalyst - A substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.

In chemistry this catalyst is needed for the chemical reaction to occur but it remains untouched or changed by the reaction. No catalyst. No reaction.

I'm not saying that we make assumption that everything in life that is difficult falls into this category. Here is what the Apostle Paul did.

"For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Cor 12:8-9

God does remove somethings when we pray. Many things are dealt with just that way.

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" 1 Pet 5:6-8

Some things will only be removed by 'prayer and fasting' but others are going to be fixtures for a season.

Be encouraged. You are not alone. God hasn't forgotten. These things we want dealt with may be the very thing needed for our faith to be functioning just like it needs to. It may that what is happening will be the catalyst for some one else's faith. Either way God will work it all together for good.

I don't want to become distracted from God's goodness or from walking by faith because of something that just isn't changing. I'm going to keep my eyes on the prize and let the dynamic of faith take its course as I rest in what Jesus has done and go forward with Him.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Loyalties at the Cross

"And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her. And she said, Behold, thy sister in law is gone back unto her people, and unto her gods: return thou after thy sister in law. And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me." Ruth 1:14-17

My meditation is still following two major themes. One theme is, "Who was at the Cross and why?" and the other is my "Freedom Skills" study.

Spurgeon in his devotional for today deals with the issue of loyalty. I don't know about you but this is an important issue to me. Wrong loyalties, hot and cold loyalties or a seeming lack of loyalty pepper all relationships and culture.

Everyone involved in the crucifixion had their own allegiances. Pilate, The Sanhedrin, the crowd, the Roman soldiers, Jesus's mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, Mary Magdalene, The Apostle John and Jesus of course. We don't know much about Simon of Cyrene so we can't say much about his attachments. Maybe he just loved his life so he did what the soldier said. Looking at each player is revealing because we learn much about ourselves and human nature by doing so.

Jesus is the clear shining example of heroic loyalty. While acknowledging the defection of so many people once at His side He still remains loyal to them, to His Father and to His mission.

For others the loyalties range from family to politics. Jesus does pick two people out of the crowd and addresses an issue dealing with this subject.

"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John 19:26-27

This passage in Ruth reminds me of this scene. Ruth has a place in history and Orpah has a footnote.

Loyalty is a choice... an act of will. But what are the ties that bind it?

I almost don't want to wrap this up with a clean ending because I don't know that there are clean endings for most of us in life about this issue. These are choices we make and will make again and again.

Jesus made His.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Grace: Heaven's Unique Export

"The God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." 1 Pet 5:10b NASB

The God of the Bible is the God of 'all Grace'. I was thinking of that in two ways today.

Grace could be thought of like some rare spice that only grows in one place in the world and needs to be imported out of that place if it is to be had by anyone else. Grace is Heaven's unique export.

Also, It can be thought of like a smell of something that infuses everything a person owns so it becomes part of who they are. A candle maker who makes cinnamon scented candles. His clothes smell like cinnamon and so does the house he lives in. If he passes you on the street the smell precedes him and lingers after he passes. He becomes known as the 'cinnamon man'.

I think both thing are true. God is all grace and He has all grace.

This God has chosen to indwell men. He has brought the Heavenly into earthen vessels.

"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" 2 Cor 9:8

God's Spirit never leaves us so the supply is never cut off. The Spirit is the supply of intimacy. Grace is the basis of an eternal relationship with an eternal being who is ever kind and good. Jesus is always for us and always knows what we are going through intimately because he suffered just like we suffer and has rejoiced at small earthly comforts like we have. He smells just like His Father and was brought up in His Father's trade.

As God's children we learn the business we have been born into. Our words are filled with the smells of grace. We leave it's residue on everything we touch. We have been baptized and stained the color of grace. As our mind and Spirit wander through Heavenly fields on the way to linger in God's throne room only to return back to Earth that is what we carry with us.

Graceless Christianity must never go to the Throne of Grace to visit the God of all Grace.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Freedom and Grace

"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" Eph 1:11

That little phrase 'the counsel of His own will' gives amazing insight into how God thinks and functions. God's energies are all focused by the various combined insights of what He desires to accomplish. His omnipotence is directed by His full knowledge with all the considerations of His omnipresence in space and time.

He is not capricious determining His actions because of emotional reasons. He does have strong emotional reactions to situations as evidenced in the Hebrew Scriptures again and again. He also isn't detached from circumstances. His will has a counsel. That means that grace is the perfect sum of all God has seen and how He has chosen to respond to relationships in the full context of holiness.

"And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." John 1:16

The will and actions of the Son of God fully reflected the will and scope of knowledge of the infinite Father.

It gives a new meaning to the phrase "You can do anything you put your mind to." Much can be accomplished if the will is put in the correct order of how the soul should be 'arranged' but what may be accomplished won't have lasting benefit if the will of man functions in his own limited counsel.

"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" Phil 2:4-5

Those verses start out with a message of service versus self centeredness but then are magnified into communion and fellowship with Christ. If we are asking God in active fellowship with our Savior and an open Bible, leaning heavily on God's direction and definition in an attitude of prayer practicing God's prescience then we as individuals can have wills that are aligned with God's will. That in itself is amazing. Liberty is born right there. True freedom and purpose are found when we live in God's revealed will... in attitude... His attitude.

We are often looking for something to do but what God has in mind is much different. He wants us to be a certain way. When we are a living expression of grace and truth what we do in freedom will be an expression of Him. Our steps will be ordered in a holiness that only He can provide. Free people can do God's will because they are motivated by Love and guided by Truth.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day of Dramatic Change

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thes 4:16-18

This little group of verses is so loaded with content. We can talk for a long time about prophecy that has been fulfilled and it is good to do so but this is something yet to come. Many doubt or dismiss what has gone before and no doubt once this thing spoken of in the scriptures happens it will be quickly and publicly dismissed. But for the ones involved it will be very real, dramatic and lasting. Reading this made me think of this verse also:

"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall." Mal 4:2

Spurgeon in his devotional mentions the Sun of righteousness. The two portions of scripture have several parallels.

When Christ is revealed in the future there will be a dramatic healing change. When Christ is revealed now in an internal illumination there is similar change that is lasting. A seed that takes root waiting to be revealed.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Let Them Wait Awhile

When someone keeps you waiting on purpose it is show of power. A flexing of the muscles. It is an indirect way of saying, "I control my time and resources not you or anyone else." Some interviewers will keep a person waiting on purpose just to see how they will react. Here is perfect example of it in the scriptures:

" 'But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him to be kept in custody until I send him to Caesar.' Then Agrippa said to Festus, 'I also would like to hear the man myself.' 'Tomorrow,' he said, 'you shall hear him.' So, on the next day when Agrippa came together with Bernice amid great pomp, and entered the auditorium accompanied by the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in." Acts 25:21-23 NAS

Festus was playing a game with Paul and likely with Rome as well. He didn't play that game with Agrippa or better yet his giving of access to Agrippa was a way of showing respect. He still made even him wait a day to see Paul.

Women have done it to potential suitors for centuries. For some it is a game they play and for others it is a way of putting on the brakes to see what a fellow's real motives are. I would say in purity it is a good thing to do. If you don't know a man very well let him wait a while sometime and see how he reacts. I'm not saying someone should make playing games a lifestyle. You only need to test a piece of jewelry once to see if it is really made of gold after that you don't need to kept testing it.

For some it is a tool to be used in conquest to incite indignation and destabilize. Forced waiting also can be used as a cooling agent. It can be like waiting for a cup of coffee to cool a bit before drinking it or waiting a day before for spending a large sum of money on an impulse purchase.

Lastly, There are times when power isn't involved at all. A thing may just not be ready yet. I'd rather wait for the french fries to be well done and crispy then for a person to pull them up out of the oil early and try and do me a favor of some kind. Sometimes it just 'ain't soup yet' and it is better to wait for it.

"Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you." Is 30:18-19

Notice the LORD here is all capitalized because it is using His most secret and intimate of names. All three principles are in motion. God is waiting in His power. God is letting things cool down. He is timing things for the best possible result.

You may ask, 'Is God manipulating me by making me wait?'. Well, For one thing that would be his right if he wanted to. Maybe our old sin nature needs to cool down in the grave. Perhaps that area of our life needs a good old fashioned death, burial and resurrection. Three long days in the grave can do our soul a whole lot of good sometimes when we are functioning in an energized momentum.

An intimate relationship has no need of muscle flexing. Humility and meekness remove that strategy from our play book. A believer is confident of God's power and control therefore there isn't a need to exercise his or her own.

You will notice in the book of Acts Paul is unruffled by these dealings between Festus and Agrippa. He has great grace for the situation. Paul could be very objective and content. Here is how that interaction ended.

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You almost persuade me to become a Christian.' and Paul said, 'I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.' " Acts 26:28-29 NKJV

Paul just kept stirring the pot as he waited. Let's do that! Let's stir the pot while we wait knowing that when God's meal is done is is going to be really good.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Innocent Bystanders

"And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull" Matt 27:31-33

"And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross." Mark 15:21

"And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus." Luke 23:26

This man, Simon, fascinates me. Nothing else is spoken of him. He is a man literally dragged into a situation who is an innocent bystander.

Christ was going on purpose. Christ had set His face like a flint. The Savior was like an arrow hurtling through space, shot by a divine hand, aimed at a death perfectly timed with an eclipse that would darken the World. Perhaps the Cross and the turning away of the Father was the eclipse. But, Simon seemed to be just going about his day. Simon was just a man passing by.

The Gospel writer knows who he is. There were several men named Simon. This man was the "father of Alexander and Rufus"... men obviously known to the Church at the time.

Perhaps this Simon is much like the nice, liberal atheistic wife who married a good guy in a band and has a family. God was not really a major part of her life... if at all. They were both just traveling through life together... moral but minding their own business. This woman suddenly finds herself married to man interested in God and the Bible. Her man just came home from work different one day. He makes decision after decision that sucks her life in a direction she never thought about or wanted to go. She is carrying something on her back that is heavy. She stands next to this man in Church as the worship music plays and he raises his hands lost in it but not her. She is wondering, "How did I get here."

I think of all the people who suffer the consequences of someone else's cross-walk. Children, grand parents, friends and co-workers all minding their own business but now the air is charged around them with a spiritual warfare they have no way to understand and cope with. Christ's blood stains their clothes and maybe they wipe it from their cheek as they carry a cross for a while. It is a heavy cross. The person they are associated with goes willingly, perhaps imperfectly, because that person resembles Christ but can't have His resolve all the time... but not them.

Part of me feels bad for Simon. Clearly this traveler was part of God's plan... a vital part. Even a perfect man needs people or perhaps I should say every perfect man needs people. Would Christ have gotten there alone? It is a question we can't answer like "Could Christ as a man have sinned?" and the answer is. He didn't sin. He didn't carry that cross alone.

As a believer we carry a finished work cross. It is not heavy. It is not our suffering. The cross we carry is Christ's suffering. We bear what He did and all the weight of glory that goes with it. We have the liberty to die to self and go about our Father's business. That may still be a heavy burden for some people around us.

We can compromise if we get sentimental about what our walk with God is doing to those around us that don't understand. Christ didn't miss a step over it. We shouldn't either. Simon and his children were known in the Church. Perhaps that is how it will go with those people in our lif. They may wipe Christ's blood off their cheek hastily with a shirt sleeve now but they have still been touched be something eternal and who knows where God will write their names.

Christ had hope as he went his way. Let's live in hope and keep on walking.

Let's Knock on Doors

What about going with someone and parking the car at the end of a street near your Church or a local Bible study... asking a local restaurant owner if you can have a study in the back room if there is no Bible study nearby...

You pray together and say, "Ok, Let's go to the end of this street on this side and then knock on the doors on the other side on the way back."... good... rows of houses... people inside each one... some will answer some will not... joking or just walking... careful not to step on the lawn... using the walkways... ringing the bells and stepping back...

People. Old ones. Young ones. Houses with different smells. Some you get to go in. Some you will never pass the threshold and the glimpse you got into that life... messy or clean... busy or still. That will be it. The meal you smell cooking is one you will never taste. At some doors you meet the person at others you only get to see a mask they wear and you wonder, "Does anyone but God ever see that person's real face?". Sometimes you go inside and sit on a couch and talk over a loud television blaring from somewhere. They put out cookies. They offer you water. You ask questions and listen. You play with the dog that they try to keep away from you to be polite. The gospel can be like a puzzle piece that you are looking at in you hand... you pray... How will it fit into this conversation? You turn it in your hand as you speak and listen and pray looking for the right place to put it... somewhere it will fit and not be forced or fake or religious sounding... or the message can be like water that just flows into those low broken places... it seems to shine or float in the air as it is presented and you marvel... there are prayers and divine exchanges... or polite goodbyes.

Off you go with a phone number on post-it... or no phone number... maybe you knocked three times but no one answered... the car was in the driveway? You pray while looking for a place to leave a tract with the information for the church... mailbox... no... there is a small space in the screen door to put it rolled up so it won't blow away... you stand and pray together on the steps of the house you will not see the inside of... at least today you won't...

You walk... or jog... or joke... or think... Did you write down the address?... Not me, I thought you did... Where is it?.. on the house... on the mailbox?... what was his name? Did you mention the study down the street? You ask each other, "What just happened?" and smile at your mutual frail humanity. God just visited and you find that both of you are faulty students of this little history lesson. Grace is applied and you walk... or jog... or comment about the bushes or the children riding their bikes in the street.... and knock on the next door...

Folks pull up in car... with grocery bags and kids and a cell phone balanced between an ear and a shoulder... they see you but won't look at you... you love them even though they ignore you... they are busy and they are ignoring you because you are an unknown in their busy busy day... you pray... Do you intrude? Do you offer to help.... You wave and move on saying... "You look busy. If you have moment it would be great if we could talk." People. Busy people. No time... and no lasting hope... But no time to think about it all that much.... or at least you don't know what they have or don't have because they are ignoring you... It isn't just the sun shining on them... God's face is... Do they see it? You hope they do. You talk to the neighbor and then go back to their door... knocking and hoping...

There is clean air to breath as you walk from house to house... there is love and a pure simple message... there is purpose...

What keeps me inside... in my routine... silent... in a circle of people I already know... Whatever it is let it melt away. Lift up my eyes God and open them. Break my heart. You have sent me... all of us who are found are also sent...

Occasionally I sit bored at home and I think of the supplies I bought for sketchboard somewhere drying up in my office... rolls of paper... markers... paints...

I want the numbers of soul winners on speed dial who are just crazy enough to go with me... old wise ones... young nervous ones... and every flavor in-between.

Some afternoons I don't want to sit down unless it is on a stranger's couch or in a person's car that is going to a street lined with houses that I have never seen before.

I want fingers stained with paint that tear off crude drawings illustrating the Gospel on some busy corner. I want to throw out empty paint bottles not dried up ones.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Place No One Wants To Go

Golgotha 'The Place of the Skull' is the haunted place. In human nature places become personifications of men's fears. It is place of aversion to the natural man. A place that signifies death.

As a child maybe you had a 'Boo Radley' type of house nearby... from To kill a Mockingbird. I did. A place that children tell stories about and those stories get passed from the older children to the younger and change over the years to form a local horror mythology. It is very common and most societies large and small have something like this going on.

Golgotha is a picture of this place in the scriptures. In Mark 5 verses 1 through 5 another place like this is described in the country of the Gadarenes across the Sea. Jesus and the disciples met a possessed man there who was cutting himself with stones and crying out in the tombs. Jesus strolled into that place and made short work of the situation. Demons did not have power over Him nor did fear.

Jesus also willfully went to Golgotha, a place of torment, of horror, of shame and judgment. He went right into the heart of the fears of all mankind on purpose. He was brought there but He also chose to go. He was the most liberated man on Earth and these are the places He chose to go.

It is healthy for any person to face fear. It demystifies it and removes it's power in that area. It is an exercise of the will that shows immediate benefits because of the release that comes afterwards. People turn it into a lifestyle actually and because of that they realize personally that man is capable of much more than it seems. It is one thing to know that on paper... it is another to know it experientially. Then there are others that hide in the shadows and are mastered by what lies just below the surface into lives of safety.

Oh, We could talk about demons here but I'm not going to. They are real but fear is fear no matter if it is true danger or imagined. Fear clouds the mind, energizes the emotions and makes options that would normally be dismissed out of hand seem plausible. A person who faces fear and lives to tell about it now has something real to say. Jesus faced fear and has demystified it by conquering it. Fear, shame, guilt, death, danger and demons are all notches on Christ's belt. Jesus spoke to His Father right in the heart of that place. Golgotha became the place of God's manifested victory.

That victory is ours now. It is a victory given to everyone who believes in Christ. Timid or brave, quiet or loud, reserved or bold... it is on your account if you are hidden in the Son of God and yours to walk in when you walk with the Son of God. It is good to exercise our will in a cross-ward direction. When free in the Spirit we have liberty to do it. It's not like we won't have "What have I gotten myself into?" moments. But, so what! We can stroll through those also.

Are you afraid of something? Maybe it is something that has been reinforced by past pain so it really causes you to wince. Christ has passed through to the other side of it already and he has shrugged off any demon associated with it. Now He passes His hand through that thing and offers it to you saying, "Take my hand and follow me. I have the keys to death and Hell." When we take His hand and go with Him, listening to His words then liberty is our companion and joy is what we end up with.

There are no haunted houses in Christ's kingdom.

"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Rev 12:10-11

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Like Passions

"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are" James 5:17a

If we go through life thinking everyone thinks and functions just like we do then we will have many misunderstandings. Human needs are the same but the ways people cope with those difficulties is varied at best. I subscribe to the twelve personality type theory. Four temperaments with three variations each. I think this proves out Biblically and can be seen clearly in biology and anthropology.

Yet, While we should recognize the differences we also recognize the similarities. The "passions", the needs and situations we end up in are common to every person. We can celebrate our diversity and our commonality and should in a manner. God has made people wonderfully and He celebrated his own handiwork (see Genesis 1:31).

It is funny. The experts, those who study these four temperaments all their nuances, when given the Gospel accounts and Jesus as a case study begin to marvel. Christ might as well be the shroud of Turin to these people because He defies categorization. Not in the way that a fictional character would being inconsistent in personality but in a glorious way that only a perfect man would exhibiting the strengths of each without a flaw.

"As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption." 1 Cor 15:48-50 NKJV

The amazing thing is that we as individuals with varying personalities now have incredible commonality in Christ. A commonality that doesn't "dumb us down." It doesn't tell us to be all the same or drive us to magnify our differences. There is a graciousness of mind and an elegance of thought that can dwell in the individual hidden in the Savior that can give us the ability to cope with and appreciate everyone else.

"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" Eph 4:11

God wants to grow "us" with all our complexity and individuality into one that has abundant fruitfulness in love and all the qualities of love. Grace gives us the freedom to be who we are in this new man's image.

We can be like a glove that God's hand slips comfortably into.

Ask the Host

Have you ever stayed over at a friend's house and after setting up a sleeping space for you they say, "Do you need anything? Well, If you need anything else like an extra pillow or blanket just let me know." Here is a verse.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" Matt 7:7-9

I think more and more that my asking is linked to God's hospitality and not my desire. Am I a stranger asking for something or is there a relationship? I don't give money to every person that asks me on the street. I would give a friend my money if he or she needed it if I could. Perhaps they would not ever ask.

The son is hungry and he gets the thing needed. It doesn't say, "If your son asks for a Corvette which among you would give him a Chevy?" A hungry son doesn't need a car. But, A host might loan his guest a car when he stays there if that is what is needed and they have one to loan.

God is the owner of everything so his resources are as boundless as the cattle that graze on every patch of grass anywhere. He is also incredibly generous. If we are traveling with Him on a journey it is right to ask for what is needed on that trip. The verse says He won't slap away our hand. Don't go hungry in independence and stubbornness. Your host wouldn't want that.

Are you hungry for direction or encouragement? Ask and venture on the road amongst God's people. There are loaves of just this kind being blessed, broken and multiplied there.

Peace Declared

When Satan exalted himself above God (Is 14:14) and trafficked in evil to gain allies (Eze 28:16) it initiated war with God. When man chose to oppose God in the garden there was a separation from God and a war began inside each man. Everything under the authority of something in conflict will suffer the consequences of that conflict. It could be a whole planet, the suffering multitudes of a country at war or the wife and children of an alcoholic.

When Jesus cried "It is Finished" in John 19:30 as the representative of mankind He ended a war that had been raging for most of our history and He dealt a death blow to a fallen angelic kingdom that has been hiding out under the cover of a world put in under man's authority. Due to the fall man abdicated his authority. The internal conflict was too much. Mankind was like business man who lost his wife and end's up sleeping on a grate in front of the building he helped build with a bottle in his hand.

"It is Finished" ends our internal conflict. That statement has been in God's plan since before the foundation of this world. The Devil wants to muddy the water and dilute that statement every man has a soul that cleaves to the dust and gravitates back to the muck it has always known. Conflict can be comfortable because it is a distraction from looking at ourselves too closely.

When "It is Finished" ends our internal conflict and our soul is at rest our will can enter into liberty. Liberty is having the power, clarity and resources to make choices with God. Internal conflicts will continue to rise up but the banner over us is love and the cross will always be the place we die, bury the old and come alive again in the new.

All Hell can break loose on the outside, and it will, until the present owner of this world returns again to possess it more fully. The soul sealed with the Spirit of Grace and living in the finished work can be an oasis of peace in a place of war.

I want to continue to learn to live in the liberty I have been given no matter what happens to me or around me.

A Necessary Identity Crisis

God allowed Job to have an identity crisis. God loved Job and His love made Job special before the crisis but God used the crisis to restructure Job's soul so Job would have a capacity for fellowship.

Job was driven to the end of himself. The religious structures and disciplines he invented as a way of honoring God would not serve him anymore. He was brought to the end of them.

At the end... God showed him creation from His perspective...

"Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Job 38:3-7

...and it goes on and on like that through chapter 38 into chapter 39. Mind bending.... throwing Job from the beginning until the end... top to bottom... into nature and then geology and back again... like a person pulling and rocking a cork back and forth to loosen and remove it from a bottle until it releases with a 'pop'.

"Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth." Job 40:1-3

Job's soul needed to be reordered and that was a traumatic and dramatic process. In it God elevated Job's thinking... his religion was gone... his hyper-spirituality was gone or greatly diminished.

Job was kind now... he was gentle with the daughters God gave him... his prayers had power. His soul had been divided from his spirit and he was blessed much more than before.

God loved Job just as much as He did at the beginning and Job had a capacity now to receive that love.

Jesus, the Living Word, will do this... not because He hates us... but because He loves us and sees we have a desire for more... He wants to give us more but we need to have "a shape" that can hold it.

We need to see the flip side... the eternal side... grace is on the eternal side of things... grace will settle us but at times it will "rock our cork"... both are needed to really be able to enter into rest.

Job couldn't go back to living like he did before... he couldn't endlessly sacrifice and worry... that life was gone... God gave him something new so he could live in newness.

We can live in newness in the same place... in the same life... restructured with "new children".

A Virtuoso of Righteousness

This thought burned in my heart today walking on my way back from lunch. Two friends were having a loud conversation in the table next to mine. One of those conversations that you can't help but overhear even though you don't want to invade their privacy. One was telling the other about the pain of a failed career as a violinist and how traumatic it was to realize you don't have the talent to make it and those around you do. To go from being a big fish in a little pond and then be cast in the ocean. This thought came so vividly as I walked back to my office that I was overwhelmed with the power of it. I hope I can express a fraction of it here several hours later.

Jesus functioned in righteousness like a virtuoso plays a baby grand piano. He had the gift. Not only was He born with it... He developed the gift over His lifetime like a man practicing and practicing to develop a skill. His music was unparalleled by anyone and grew more complex and beautiful as every year passed.

When He cried the music of His sadness filled the air and His tears sounded out a melody as they hit the ground. When He laughed there was no greater deeper joyous sound ever heard by human ears. He was genius walking among men... living life as it was meant to be lived. His humanity was His instrument and He kept it perfectly tuned at all times. Staying up all night in prayer with His Father to make grace adjustments and preparation. Living in weakness like any man is weak but never stumbling or missing a note in His perfect rendition of a human life lived.

Even with all Hell against Him... nailing to a tree to silence Him... He painfully pulled Himself up on bleeding nail pieced hands to finish His song and unlock Heaven so that man could enter in.

We are born with broken fingers. Our instruments are shaped like our creator but unable to play the music. It is close but not close enough. Beautiful, But flawed and out of tune to the trained ear. Our kindnesses are cruel. Our human wisdom may be practical and have some aesthetic appeal but it is devoid of truth. It is dead like we are.

When we are born from above a virtuoso of righteousness is born inside of us. A person who plays life like music that comes from above. That new one is alive and has an ear that hears a different hidden melody when it is played. The instrument is still broken... flawed... but the Spirit is alive and able. Like a plant pushing up through the soil and still covered with dirt. The genius is heard in the Gospel and the certain sound of grace and mercy.

We yearn for what we cannot do. Like an old athlete well into his or her 80's watching a young athlete run. As the young one passes them they just want to shed the years and run in pace with them... but they can't.

God still hears the genius in the broken music of a child born of His words. He hears it and loves the sound. It is the sound of His perfect Son being played in a noisy chaotic world.

He does not flinch at our sometimes sour notes. The miracle is not playing the music perfectly it is that we play it all.

Other people can hear God when a righteous one plays also. When Christ played He was one voice. We all play our solo parts but we also play in harmony together in a concert of praise and worship. Our practice is living in grace and truth... developing the gift that is already there in us from the moment we believed on Christ's death, burial and rise from the grave then into the sky. We learn and grow together enjoying the music of those that are older and have gone before... imperfect though they may be as people. They played the song of faith and there is beauty in the sound of it.

One day the trumpet will sound and our instruments will be transformed. We will play the music that burns in our hearts and minds now as we open God's book and hear His words preached. No more Earth bound... We will sing in the Heavens... a new perfect song.

"By Thee, O God, invited" by Mary Bowley

By Thee, O God, invited, .......Matt 3:17; Is 42:1; Jn 1:18, 8:29;
We look unto the Son, ..........Heb 10:7; 1 Jn 4:9-10
In whom Thy heart delighted,
Who all Thy will hath done;
And by the one chief treasure
Thy bosom freely gave,
Thine own pure love we measure,
Thy willing mind to save.

O God of mercy—Father! ..............2 Cor 1:3; 1 Jn 4:18
The one unchanging claim,
The brightest hopes, we gather
From Christ's most precious name:
What always sounds so sweetly
In Thine unwearied ear,
Has freed our souls completely
From all our guilt and fear.

The trembling sinner feareth ............Hebrews 8:12
That God can ne'er forget;
But one full payment cleareth
His memory of all debt.
When nought beside could free us,
Or set our souls at large,
The death of God's Beloved
Secured a full discharge.

No wrath God's heart retaineth ..............Rom 5:9; 1 Jn 4:18; Luke 15:20-24
To usward who believe;
No dread in ours remaineth
As we His love receive;
Returning sons He kisses,
And with His robe invests;
His perfect love dismisses
All terror from our breasts.