Friday, December 31, 2010

Do Justice, Love Mercy

There is a Divine contradiction in our midst.  God’s will is declared to be a good mixture of justice and mercy among men.  How is one to do justice through restitution while also loving to be merciful through forgiveness?  How is one to expect an “eye for an eye” (Matthew 5:38) while also doing “as you wish that others to do to you” (Matthew 5:12)?  How is one to take an eye in justice while also refusing to take an eye in mercy?  O God, how confusing is Your good will among us!
The Peacemaker asks “What do you have to make restitution?”  The Guilty Human says, “I have nothing.”  The Peacemaker says, “Than you must give your life.”  The Guilty Human moans.  The Peacemaker is right and just to demand his life.  The Peacemaker bows His heart.  “I will give My life instead,” He says.  The Guilty Human is grateful, “Thank you for Your mercy.”  He pauses and considers, “Than I will give my days and times to Your restored posterity, Peacemaker, for it is just.”  The Peacemaker returns to the Wronged Human.  “Restitution will be made for your loss,” He says.  “How?” asks the Wronged Human.  “I will give My life.  You may take from Me what was lost,” says the Peacemaker.  The Wronged Human considers.  He is grateful, “Thank you for Your offer Peacemaker,” He says, “But I cannot take Your life.”  “But you cannot take the life of the Guilty Human,” He says, “For I have offered My life instead.”  “Yet, I cannot take it,” says the Wronged Human, “I will forgive instead.”  “You have made an admirable decision, yet, I will still give My life since justice must be served,” says the Peacemaker.  And so it happened that the Peacemaker served justice and facilitated, even admired, mercy.  The Guilty Human came close to the Wronged Human as a Forgiven Human.  The Wronged Human came close to the Guilty Human as a Restored Human.  All came close.  The Peacemaker’s good will, although He was gone, continued to work among Humans.
And so it has been since the foundations of Eternity.  The Peacemaker has always moved, in heart, among men to serve justice and facilitate mercy.  He has always offered Himself as the measure and means of Peace.  Who is this Jesus?  He is a contradictory force among us.  One encounter with His peacemaking heart requires of us and inspires us to forgive and receive His personal means of restitution.  It’s probably not the way that we would satisfy justice or show mercy should we choose to show it at all, yet, it is considered the best way… .the only way… .for those who believe.
You, do justice, love mercy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Good Will

Who is this Jesus?  How is it that an encounter with His life sparks an invasion into the human conscience and atmosphere?  
“And Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me sees him who sent me,” John 12:45.  “I and the Father are one,” John 10:30.  
Jesus Christ was our reintroduction to the God who first breathed into dust.  Centuries had dulled our memory of His character.  Contracts had replaced personal experience.  In our interactions with humanity, God’s goodness was questioned and denied.  And our goodness had all but passed away….
  Angels showed up on one magnificent night in history to make an announcement concerning the nature of the Israelite God: His will is good!  
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men,” Luke 2:14.
At great risk to His own person, God came to declare His good intentions towards humanity.  It shouldn’t surprise us that the human beings who encountered His Majesty did not always recognize Him as the good, covenantal God of their history.  In a world of great personal loss, God’s goodness was often put under scrutiny.  At least brave individuals like David and Habakkuk had the nerve to simply ask: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?  Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?  Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” Habakkuk 1:2-3.  Our human friend was unsure of God’s heart and activity.  But how many of us have also been unsure?  We don’t always ask like Habakkuk and wait upon this Good God for an answer.  We are skeptical.  Suspicious perhaps.  We question.  And we accuse.  God gets the end of our finger.
But there is something amiss, I think, in all of this.  Humanity forgets that part of the burden is their own.  Fallenness has always been our fault.  And do we want it remedied?  Well we better get up under this load and work with a God who has showed up, in person, to declare His good will alive and active among men.
He is among us - making peace and declaring goodness.  We have a historical opportunity on the brink of every morning to receive what is true of His Majesty’s heart and make peace, offer good will among men!  Jesus Christ is among men - have you encountered His goodness?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fingers

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.  And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him….’” John 9:1-3.  
I have ten fingers on two hands.  Bless God, not one is missing!  All of these fingers have a supernatural purpose. …to point upward in grateful thanksgiving and praise and to facilitate the works of humanitarian love.  But these ten fingers are often involved in a merely mortal purpose.  They go jabbing in all directions to find the faulted one.  Who is to blame for all of these losses around me?  It is an easy occupation because so many are living guilty lives…. “all have sinned….” Romans 3:23.  When a blind man helplessly wasted away on the side of a Jerusalem highway, even the disciples of Jesus Christ were less concerned with his disability and were more concerned with somebody’s guilt…
We are often observing who is at fault for the human condition rather than recognizing opportunities to reconcile creation.  Two thousand years ago God invaded the human atmosphere to make multiple declarations about His intentions towards humankind.  And two-thousand years ago we were no more peace-makers than we are today.  
Jesus Christ laid His finger on our disability.  He touched it.  He was not pointing out our guilt; He was healing our sick, raising our dead and casting out our demons.  Divinity showed up to say “I love you” in ways we had forgotten love should be expressed.
Yes, certainly the blind man had sinned and his parents had as well.  Certainly they are responsible for many losses.  We are all guilty souls.  But that is not the point of the story.  The point of the story is that Divinity lays down His life for sinners…. .He loves his enemies… .He makes peace with those who refuse to be peace-makers.   The finger of God has come to set itself upon our messy condition and declare His good will towards it… .to offer peace to its innermost places.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Health Depends on You

….partly.
Peace-making is expected of us.  We are here to bring each other peace.  We are here to bring restoration to the human race through the knowledge of Christ.  We are here to declare restitution.  Restitution: the act of restoring something lost or stolen to its proper owner.  Christ has brought restitution to the whole human race.  He has accomplished peace between God and man.  All the missing pieces are restored in Christ; all of God’s losses and all of ours.  There is now peace.  
We are here to also perform restitution.  Through our personal knowledge of Christ, we are able to restore any losses that we are responsible for… .we are able, even, to bring the restoration of Christ to losses that we are not responsible for.  We become peacemakers.  People who make restitution.  We spend our times looking for opportunities to restore the missing pieces in the emotions, mentalities, possessions and physical beings of others.  The health of the human race depends upon our declaration and performance of the restitution of Jesus Christ.  
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it,” Luke 9:23-24.  And the wisest Man has said, “lay down your own missing pieces; start picking up pieces for my sake…”  Restore.  Reveal the peace of God to all men.  
We have all lost pieces of life in this war-torn, tongue-lashed world, but the Peacemaker tells us to stop rescuing our own pieces and start taking up the burden of Christ as perceived around us.  Who is He going to, healing, suffering with, dancing with?  Go also to them and heal, suffer, dance….
  Instead of looking for others to restore our own persons, we lose any thought for our losses, and begin saving other lives by looking to restore their losses.  Trust your Beloved Savior with your personal peace and act upon the personal restitution of your Beloved Savior towards others.  We are His Peacemakers.  His People of Peace.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Strive for Peace...

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.  Strive for peace with everyone…” Hebrew 12:13-14.
WARNING: Peace-makers often loose blood!  I am just letting you know that the disjointed do not always wish to be jointed… .that members often prefer their animosity.  Nevertheless, says the Hebrew writer, strive!  And strive not only with your companions but with everyone!  You must be a peace-maker to all.
 Close your eyes.  You are standing at a dusty crossroads.  If your eyes were open, you would look in all directions, perpetually, over your shoulders - left - right - straight ahead - way, way past the horizon, and see absolutely nothing.  O, but you feel something.  It may not be visible yet, but, at any moment ten thousand frustrations will march into visibility.  No surprises - you called them here today… .for a meeting.  You may want to close your eyes before they rush in.
But you are not a coward.  You came here purposely.  You, my friend, are a bona fide peace-maker.  The genuine reconciled kind.  Your hands dance in the open skies; your knees flex and propel your body weight; your feet seek solid ground; your heart swells.  You are of a new stock and breed.  A son or daughter of righteousness revealed! (Romans 8:19).  Creation has longed and looked for your.  Eagerly.  You are the mediator of peace and good will on earth, (Luke 2:14).
Here they come: the broken, disjointed bodies of ten thousand generations.  They have come to you, peace-maker.  What will you do?  Strive, says the Hebrew writer, with your dancing hands, your flexible knees, your solid foothold and swelling heart; Strive!  At the risk of loosing blood, strive!  Should they hate you, strive!   Lay your heart and body to the burden of repairing hearts and bodies; rejoining.  Reconcile all members that you can…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seek Peace....

“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.  Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it,” Psalm 34:11-14.
The one who seeks peace is within company.  Companions surround.  Not workers and acquaintances; relations and subordinates.  These may exist also but among them and besides them are companions.  He or she is in company.  This attainment and retainment of company requires constant mediation.  Like marriage, a companionate relationship, there must always be a middle ground where two can walk together.
How, you ask, is this related to the fear of the Lord or the flap of the tongue?  Why, in every way!  I answer.  One cannot have true relationship without mediation.  Mediation is just part of the package.  The two must seek peace with one another and pursue it.  And this must be done above all else.  The goal is reconciliation.  The goal can never be to win or gain or reject or frustrate.  The goal must be to obtain a middle ground for reconciling relational company.  
And this, says the proverbial speaker, is the fear of the Lord. It is to guard the tongue from any other course.  It is to perpetually steer it towards peace-making.  “Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue…” James 3:4-5.
To fear God is to cease from seeking your own victory in any matter and to seek a victory of relational peace.  We are to pursue peace-making.  Our tongue is to lay down its rights and pursue it.  Consider the rights of your companion; search for the middle ground.  With this objective, with a our navigation on this course, we have a greater hope of living a good life for many days!  
Peace-making between God and man, sister and brother,  ought to be your goal above all else.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Wicked Man (or Woman)

“ A worthless person, a wicked man (or woman), goes about with crooked speech, winks with his (or her) eyes, signals with his (or her) feet, points with his (or her) finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord…” Proverbs 6:12-15.
A wink… .a suggestion.  A shuffling of the feet… .a questioning.  A pointing finger… .a presumptive judgmentAh yes, he or she says, I know about that one.  Have you heard about this one?  I am certain this is the way that they are…  You are not entirely aware how it happened but suddenly you are full of information.  Information you did not seek.  Suggestive information.  It was not given so that you could run and apprehend a brother or sister and rescue them from the grip of sin and death.  It was just a passing thought passed on to you for something… .but for what?
What is the desire of this informer?  Is it as the proverb said: to sow discord?!
The proverb is so plain in calling this person perverted, evil, wicked, even worthless!  Now we understand what drains one’s worth - it is the disbanding of brother and sisterhood.  It is the wink, the signal, the point that sows discord; that divides one from another.  It shuts the ear to the helplessness of sister and brother.  It gathers one thousand suggestions in the hearer’s ear - a cold current, a violent wind that carries their heart far away from the concerns of their sisters and brothers.  
The worthless, wicked person has no worth because they have shunned their company.  They have refused to bear burdens and make peace. Where is their human worth?  They are a thorn in the side of their companions; always jabbing, speaking, dividing, “sowing discord”.  It is not that God or mankind have rejected them; it is that they have rejected the compaionship of God and mankind.  They have separated their heart and body from burden-bearing, peace-making worth.
Be not a wicked man or woman that sows discord among brothers and sisters, for, as the proverb continues to say, “…calamity will come upon him (or her) suddenly; in a moment he (or she) will be broken beyond healing,” Proverbs 6:15.  Consider that the man or woman who sows discord is entirely alone.  There are no burden-bearers to support them, no peace-makers to reconcile them to their enemies, therefore, their burdens and enemies will break them… .suddenly and in a moment!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Leaves of the Tree

“The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations,” Revelation 22:2.
Nations.  They rage.  Persons.  They are deeply troubled.  Relationships among persons and nations need to be healed.  Make peace!
This tree is an undying source of growth and maturity.  He or she who grows and matures sees less of flesh and blood and the wars that accompany these bodies.  He or she who matures sees opportunity to reconcile sisters and brothers.  This is the mature ministry of believers.
Ministry.  It can not be done for the love of self.  It cannot be done to appease self.  It cannot be done to restore self.  It cannot be done to save self.  I cannot minister to regain what I have lost.  I cannot minister to elevate or promote myself.  I cannot minister to please another.  As a human regarding any flesh, whether my own or that of another, I cannot minister.  In this fleshly mind, I will remain among the wars and factions of the flesh… .whether I realize it or not!
God has regarded the need of the flesh.  He knows it well and has written His prescription for its healing: Be reconciled!  Ministry must flow from this prescription: Be reconciled!   Healing must flow like a reconciling ministry throughout the whole heart and body of the righteous tree.
Reconciliation is our highest ministry.  It is our balm and consolation.  Consider these leaves my companion, my sister, my brother.  They live and do not strive.  They rest and do not fight.  Consider their peace.  Make peace.  You who are troubled and absorbed with your wars and retribution.  Still you tongue, let go your prey, withhold your pointing finger.  Make peace.  For God, who deserved His war and retribution with your flesh, has forgiven you…
“…not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation,” 2 Corinthians 5:19.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Like a Tree

“Blessed is the man (or woman) who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his (or her) delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he (or she) meditates day and night.  He (or she) is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he (or she) does he (or she) prospers,” Psalm 1:1-3.
The counseling wicked speak wickedness, the standing sinners are waiting for prey and the seated scoffers point fingers… .but we regard no man or woman after the flesh…
The wicked, the sinner, the scoffer have their business and the righteous have their business too.  While wicked speak and sinners stand and scoffers point, the righteous grow… .and grow and grow.  Deepening their roots and spreading their leaves.  The earth fills with the richness of minerals and sappy juice.  Life caws and croons upon the branches.  Favor, fervor and flavor spring up from the softening grounds.  Alive.  Flowing water, seasonal fruit and unwithering leaf.  The earthen sphere is influenced with Life!  For here, on this hallow ground, rests peace.  The righteous have made peace between heaven and earth, flesh and spirit.  
What shall I say then?  How does this thing grow in the midst of wicked words, preying feet and pointing fingers?  How does such a living and healing thing grow?  Peace.  “…to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace,” Romans 8:6. 
It is not a heroic action that ushers in such a state; it is not a magnificent conversion.  No, it is a thought, a simple recognition.  The Body has made peace.  The Body of a Peacemaker.  One act of honest intercession has promised and produced all of these things in the righteousness.  The mind of the righteous is set on this spiritual gift and it spreads its branches, Thank God! and life gathers in its veins.  With blood dripping from its frothy green it implores: Be reconciled to God!
Yes, the righteous have their business too and they so minister it through their growth and maturity like a balm, as a springing tree.  The wicked, the sinners, the scoffers have not their fleshly attentions… .they continue in the peace of God like an upward, outward, reconciling tree.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reconcile

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation,” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.
It is the uneasy situation, the mediating stance. The careful and peacemaking place.  It is frightening, for many adversaries turn on their peacemakers.  We are called to “stand between”.  Immanuel, the Great Intercessor, stood between and implored.  He implored with His humanity unto God “forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Luke 23:34,  and with His divinity unto us “receive the Holy Spirit,” John 20:22.  
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21.
The Peacemaker, the Great Intercessor, has stood between Heaven and Earth, in the tension of flesh and spirit.  He has drawn all things high and low unto Himself and called for a treaty of peace.  All this He has done at extraordinary personal risk; life dripping from His forehead to the ground.  The Peacemaker interceding at a knee-scraping price.  He sold all to come near and make peace.  He regarded not one of us after the flesh but as redeemable adversaries who could be friends.
We, the saints of God, with Christ, implore.  This is the full and final call of a whole Spirit minded living vessel - implore for Christ’s sake!  Come up under the burden.  Bear half a load.  Get your knees dirty.  Humble your shoulders.  Pull.  Gasp.  Fight their unbelief.  Pray.  Provoke peace between your flesh and blood companion and his or her God.  Reconcile throughout your whole heart and body!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Beyond the Flesh

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh we regard him thus no longer,” 2 Corinthians 5:16.
For sure, I believe, she is a prostitute.  There is a haughty wink in her eye and a “come hither” in her saunter.  And he, he is beggar.  So needy, so sickly.  I am certain that this man and that woman are money-makers; in the greedy, covetous sense.. .always wanting and taking what is not theirs.  And they are rather ill-mannered.  Loud, boisterous, fairly annoying.  This family too large.  That youth to small at heart.  Too petty; I am averted.  She to shallow.  His soulish mutterings too twisted up for me.  I am persuaded that they are causing all the trouble and that old woman needs more attention than the adequate obligation of society.  Oh the little ones!  The grubby, hyper little ones… .well, you know how it can get.  Yes, my eyes have seen all this in the world; all this and more.  It is too much knowledge and I will not dirty up my knees… .dare I say it… .for this unworthy flesh!
It is true; in more tenses and senses than we could ever realize, the flesh is unworthy.  Sometimes it is messy for good reasons and other times for not so good reasons.  The flesh of mankind deserves none of our prayers of intercession.  Yet the bearer of the eyes averted by flesh finds herself in the same predicament.  I am also not worthy of your prayers.  And then there are those sweet prayers of Christ.  I am unworthy of these; we are unworthy.  Recognizing his terrible fleshly condition, his absolute inability to be freed from it, and his need for someone’s intercession, Paul makes a sincere cry in Romans 7:24 of  “What on earth will I do?!”  Whew! he thinks, O yes, Jesus.  Thank God!
Whew!  Paul is no longer regarded after the flesh… .and neither are we.
The blessing is twofold: first for the believer the gift is substantial and secure.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.  The new condition has already come!  Flesh and blood is disregarded.  The Spiritual life of Christ is known by God and seen in us.
But second for the unbeliever.  Although the unbeliever, those who live according to the flesh, “cannot please God” (Romans 8:8); although those who think continually about the satisfaction of the flesh live in a state of perpetual “death” (Romans 8:6); and although those who continue to please the flesh “will die” pursuing this pleasure (Romans 8:13), unbeknownst to them, they are not regarded according to their flesh, for, “all sins will be forgiven the children of man,” Mark 3:28.  All those who are born of flesh are easily forgiven.  We regard NO ONE after the condition of their flesh though it may avert us.  We consider them a candidate for reconciliation to God.  We pray, we speak, we intercede because God is calling them to Himself despite their unworthy flesh.  Thank God!
Alas, a beautiful conclusion!  “…to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace,” Romans 8:6.  To envision Christ in all directions!  To see Him and see no flesh!  This is a state of life and peace.  From the humble position of Christ, we regard no flesh, rather we regard His Spirit reconciling the word to Himself.  Have this kneeling mind in you….

Monday, December 6, 2010

Get On Your Knees

Paul said to the church at Ephesus: “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel.  You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’  And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all,” Acts 20:32-36.  
It is a simple lesson: Paul did not covet what the Ephesians had, rather, he lowered his heart and body to provide for those who were weak.  He knelt down.  He got on his spiritual and physical knees to communicate to all his fellowship and shared burden with them.
Prayer… .how beautiful it is when an expression of true intercession.  How beautiful in all its groanings and identifying pains; all of its whispers and loud cries.  Prayer is a ritual of faith; a ritual that faith cannot let go of.  “…pray without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  The heart of the lowly one, he or she who has made themselves accessible to another’s burden, cannot cease to intercede in words to God.  O Lord, consider this one… O God, hear my prayer for her… O Father, remember his burden… Dear Lord, they are in need…  The intercessor has released concern for his or her own life - they cease to covet - and have taken up the concern for another life - they cannot cease to pray.
Prayer is not the fulfillment of intercession.  It is part.  We speak to both God and humanity in our intercession.  We get on our knees before God in humility and we humble ourselves on our knees before mankind.  On our knees we acknowledge the humility of Christ towards both God and humanity.  We come to where Christ has been… .we come low for God and for humanity’s sake….
On your knees you rest in the position of a Savior.  You agree with His love that acknowledges God’s authority and humanity’s condition.  On your knees you reconcile God and mankind from where they both are at.  Get on your knees.  Read Philippians 2:2-11 and have this kneeling mind in you…

Friday, December 3, 2010

Where Are You At?

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together,” 1 Corinthians 12:26.
All.  Here it is again.  What happens to one member affects all.  
Do we have time for all?  How long will the suffering and rejoicing last?  Is it worth our investment?
You are the one sitting in ashes or dancing to a tune.  You need and want someone to join you.  You can’t process your grief or express your thanksgiving until someone else is here.  Who will listen to you?  
But no one else is here.  Since there is not another earthen soul who understands your suffering or shares your rejoicing, they have not bothered to stop.  Stop by.  Sit.  Listen.  Wait for sympathy and join you.  The pain is really only yours.  Who has felt it?  The joy relies upon what you alone have found.  Who can see?  
“We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn,” Matthew 11:17.  All.  They were not all together.  
To be all together does not require a feeling or perfect vision.  I do not need to understand your pain or share the complete enrapture of your joy.  Your pains and joys do not mean the very same thing to me.  To be all together, I must simply be with you.  You are the subject.  I am here where you are at.  When you mourn, I cover in ashes.  When you rejoice, I join your dance.  They are your mourning and your dancing.  I engage them with you.
Where you are at is where I am at and where I am at is where you are at.  And Jesus prayed, “All mine are yours, and your are mine… .just as you Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us… .I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one,” John 17.  All together.  With.
Where are you at?  Where you sing, I will sing.  Where you mourn, I will mourn.  Where you dance, I will dance.  Where you suffer, I will suffer.  All suffer.  All rejoice.  Where are you at?  Here I will make my investment.  Selah.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sell All

Immanuel exhorts us, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.  Provide yourselves with money bags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail…” Luke 12:33.  And in the book of Acts they took this quite seriously, “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need,” Acts 2:45.  The rational consideration always revolves around how far we take this enthusiasm in our own lives.  Just where does this become a doctrine that draws lines?  Shall I sell everything? 
More than likely you have in your set of belongings a toothbrush and some sort of underwear.  I highly suggest you do not sell these things.  Your friends and neighbors might resist your company and your enemies may find legal means of removing you from society.  I am jesting (and my children would love that I mentioned underwear!) but I hope to make a valid point on the words “sell” and “all”.  
What is the principle that underlies the selling of our possessions?  Is it simply to keep us from losing our souls to material things?  Or, perhaps there is a more enduring purpose than this.  “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Luke 12:34.  Now we see that this enthusiastic action is about the placement of our affections.  Selling our possessions is not much about extravagant garage sales… .no, it is more about investing all of our affections in one particular treasure.  
Let me be more explanatory.  If we flesh and blood individuals are to come up from under the load of another and support them until they recover, we must sell all.  For we are “distributing” our whole person “as any (has) need”.  This is about far more than possessions.  It is about where are heart is invested.  If I am to suffer long under the load of a friend, sister, brother, neighbor… .or enemy, I must cast off any unnecessary load of my own.  If I am truly to minister, as a life-saving intercessor, to the one in need, I must come to where they are.  I must lower myself to their placement and condition.  I must come near.  I must be with them.
Sell all.  It is about gaining an equal footing with your friend - coming to where he or she is at.  When I sell all that is excessive, all that hinders me from meeting you in your place, I am able to intercede for you.  “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted,” Hebrews 2:17-18.  Immanuel is this for us because he has been with us.  He came to our placement and into our condition.  He sold all…

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can You Suffer Long?

“A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17.  Some days I like you and some days I do not.  Yet, I am devoted to you.  In the happy little dances of your heart I will lend flavor.  Though the seasons of long languish slow my successes, I will surround you.  I remain yours faithful for I have learned to suffer long….
All times.  The call to bear up from underneath is for all times.  It shrugs at inconvenience and winces naturally when in pain… .but it remains through all times.  We cannot deny that a great over-arching council of the Scriptures is to remain faithful at all times.  And we can deny even less that this is a call full of complications and nuances that require our active engagement and constant intercession.  To be a faithful friend, one must stay alert.  We must watch and pay attention.  Life is not cut and dry or easily generalized.  Our human companion is alive and this fact is not readily defined by all of our statistics.  
Faithfulness empowers us to suffer long with a living soul.  I could not pretend for an instance to make any steadfast remarks on faithfulness.  Each man or woman is before their God on this matter.  Faithfulness may happen from distances, without words, only in prayer or through a refusal to concede to a temptations…. .in these things, we are before our God.  Yet, this I know, a friend, a true friend who has committed themselves to bear up under our load through all seasons of life, does so at all times.  A true friend has learned to suffer long for our sake in whatever capacity they find necessary to do so.  They commit to half…
..and only half… .but forever.
In this busy, busy world long suffering seems an enemy, however, it is the honest foothold of our intercession.  We busy humans can so busily cast off our commitment to half when it hinders our successes.  I implore you to remember… .this is what Immanuel came for - to take half of our load on Himself and give us half of His.  Friends.  True companions in suffering long.  A vibrant intercession for the other’s cause.  This is what He came for.  Are you a friend?  Can you suffer long under half of a burden?  
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden in light,” Matthew 11:28-30.  
Notice the exchange of burdens.  Immanuel invites us to be with Him.  To suffer long with His burden of love while He suffers long with our burden of recovery.  Friendship.  We are invited to be eternally faithful to this exchange.. .and to intercede, to bear up and lift up, in long suffering for humanity as well… .Forget convenience! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

You Are a Friend to Me

What do you think of when you hear the word “intercession”?  Do you think of prayer?  Do you think of saving a life?  Do you think of powerful prayers that save lives through strong declarations and waging war against mighty raging seas?  What do you think of?  I will tell you what I think of… .I think of this…
“Let love be genuine… .Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,” Romans 12:9, 15.  Too simple?  I am of the opinion that this is the deep, deep heart of intercession.
Yes, it is about prayer and yes, it is about saving a life; however, saving a life… .praying for them sincerely.. .is not necessarily about cataclysmic conversions or strong, lengthy declarations.  It is more about sitting or standing next to that life until an equal share of their burden becomes your own.  Then, once half of their personal weight is set squarely upon your shoulders, you shift a little.  You encourage.  You start to get up… .slowly.  Ah yes… .half the weight is yours and half theirs.  Now let us move.  Let us push upward.  Come on… .you can stand.  Let us move forward.  It’s okay, I’ve got half of this.  I’ll help you… .recover yourself.
The Son of David, Immanuel, bore half of that blind man’s weight.  Immanuel became humanity and suffered with great personal pity for that blind man’s condition.  “Call him” Mark 10:49.  I want you right in front of me blind man.  I will weep with you who weeps.  Stand up now… .I’ve got half of this… .recover your sight!
Are you getting the picture?  Intercession is about lowering oneself into the need of another and, bearing half the load, aiding them to recover.  And the beautiful point, the fantastic end result, is that they themselves have laid hold of their recovery.  They stand and move forward a dignified member of the human race.  “Lazarus, come out,” John 11:43.  Lazarus, YOU come out.  “Unbind him.”  Others, come and intercede and then.. “Let him go,” John 11:44.  
It is not for us to evaluate or understand the depth of the burden or the height of the joy, it is just for us to become engaged to it.  It is just for us to become personally attached, lowering our heart.  We  sit down and weep, encouraging the heart, until the weeping one weeps no more.  We celebrate the joy, encouraging the dance, until that rejoicing one is brimming over with their rejoicing.  This is friendship and this is intercession.
O Lord, you have been a friend to me.  You have been the one to sit with me in my ashes and celebrate with me in my most passionate joys!  Even when others would not.  When others could not suffer long, You were my constant intercessor.  I praise You because half of my burden is set squarely upon Your shoulders and You bear with me until I recover.  Praise to You Immanuel!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jesus Had Friends

“Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled,” John 11:32-33.  
Well, although I understand the point, it is so badly said.  “Deeply moved” and “greatly troubled” undoubtedly do not import the scene.  Let us try again…
Jesus had friends.  Yes.  Absolutely.  And one of his closest friends was named Lazarus.  I fear we must stop and think on this: Jesus had friends.  
Do you have friends?  At least one that you scrape for opportunities to hang out with?  Do you miss those friends?  Would your heart burst and your emotions rupture if their life was taken away?  I imagine that they would because you have been with your friend.  You have gotten your life interwoven into their own.  You don’t live in separate solar systems - your lives occupy common ideas, desires, dreams and goals.  Your experiences have meshed on many occasions.  
Enter Lazarus.  He is a Jewish man that we know little about.  But we do know that Jesus loved him!  For each of these - Lazarus, Mary and Martha - Jesus loved to get up under their loads and carry them… .for this is love.  Immanuel’s human emotions loved to express sympathy, concern, honor and faithfulness.  He was a true friend who deeply intended to bless His human companions at all times.  Lazarus was a man that Jesus loved.  In ways that we can only conjecture, Immanuel’s life was interwoven with the life of Lazarus.  They must have seen eye to eye at times.  Certainly they laughed together and shared secret jokes.  Lazarus had bonded himself to the Son of David in faithfulness and spiritual truth.  These two human men shared perspective.  Immanuel had found kinship and brotherhood with Lazarus.  Immanuel was with Lazarus.  Lazarus was with Immanuel… .and then he dies.
Enter Martha. “Lord if you had been here…” John 11:21.  She does not understand.  This is a woman of faith.  She has walked and talked and agreed with Jesus.  He is the Son of God to her.  He is the healer.  Why didn’t He come?!   Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again… .Do you believe this?” John 11:23-26.  Jesus comforts Martha with words of insanity.  He commands faith and caresses pain all in one breath.  This is not easy to do in the face of your friends…
Enter Mary.  Jesus loved Mary.  “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he…” …He broke.  The human masterpiece was not so expertly formed and fashioned.. .for death.  The friend of Immanuel was gone - body and soul.  The flesh and blood Mary was slobbering all over His robe.  She was breaking all over Him.   Life had been extracted by a legal enemy.  Lazarus was absent from their earthen company.   Immanuel broke.  He bled in person.  The Resurrection and the Life was absolutely overtaken by losses.  “Jesus wept,” John 11:35.  Lazarus, Mary and Martha are the human mess that Immanuel loved deeply.  And what a mess it was.  He walks into the scene of death and is immediately woven into their present losses.  Death stings and Christ feels it.  
He had waited to visit this mourning family… .He waited until after Lazarus died.  He did not come to His sick friend and many wondered why.  One might be tempted to assume that Jesus waited piously and quietly.  No worries.  Lazarus will be fine.  And Jesus sat around jolly drinking the fruit of the vine with disciples.  I doubt it.  I bet He fasted.  I bet He asked His heavenly Father a thousand times a day to let Him go before Lazarus died and heal him.  I bet Jesus lived on His knees those two days stirring up His own faith.  I bet He paced.  I bet He repeated phrases like, “God will be glorified in this!  I insist!  Death you have not victory!” over and over again… .as He paced…
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect…” Hebrews 2:17.
I can imagine that Jesus wept on many occasion.  Isaiah calls Him a “man of sorrows.. .acquainted with grief,” (53:3).  I can imagine that He mourned the human condition and buried His head in His hands every time a companion betrayed Him and walked away.  I can imagine that His broken spirit moaned often over the losses that humanity incurred.  Blind, beggarly, usurped and dying humans both aggravated His heartfelt sympathies and stirred up His faith.  He would move with the Father as He lived with us.  Divinity would get up under humanity on any given day with honest connection and lift up.  
“I go to awaken him,” John 11:11.  Faith.  The interwoven Immanuel would carry the duel load of faith in the Father and sympathy for the human race - a very delicate condition.  He would command waves with authority and caress hearts with compassion.  Only Immanuel could lead us into such contrary and complete intercession.  Immanuel groaned and groaned as He walked to the tomb.  Give Me back my friend!  Return My companion to his beautiful sisters!  It wasn’t easy to wait, to encounter misunderstanding and be baptized in human losses, but the Son of David did it and moved forward and raised up!  All because He loved His heavenly Friend and earthly friends… .God with us…

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Immanuel

 “…And they shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us),” Matthew 1:23.
It was a very good day to rend the heavens.  It was a messy, mundane and ordinary day.  The days of our lives so predictable and unpredictable.  Everyday was a good day to rend the heavens.  Everyday a blind man, a beggar, a sickly female or adulterous wife were thrown across His path.  All of these days were good days for the Son of David to rend heaven and have mercy… .good days for God with us.
God with us.  Mmmm.  Just pause.  God…. .with… .us.
Not God and then us.  Not God and us.  Not God.  Not us.  Not God and maybe us, God or us, God despite us.  No, God with us.  God… .with…. .us.  Say it again: God with us… 
I am feeling something here.  Something embracing.  Something so tight and interwoven that if you remove one part, the other part deeply suffers.  The Son of David, Immanuel, wove Himself into our tapestry.  He became a permanent generational thread.  He had a mother, a father, sisters and brothers.  The Son of David had real friends.  These relationships were not manufactured for the purpose of staging a Divine drama.  God wasn’t playing on planet earth.  This was not daytime TV.  God, in the person of the Son, got Himself woven into humanity. 
The gospel accounts run across our Scriptures like little acts in a cinematic production, however, I want to convince you that the Son of God, Immanuel, did not descend upon us like an actor intending to dramatize His heavenly kingdom.  Immanuel got under our skin and carried our load.  He had come to transact and partner with blind beggars.  He walked on their common ground.  He knew the desperation of their begging.  He felt it in His own human chest.  Do you want to be an intercessor for a human being in your sphere of influence?  Immanuel.  Get with them.  Come up from under and unburden their soul.  
The Son of David wore human shoes, ate with human hands, spoke in the language of a human tongue.  The Son of David was not satisfied to hover over our misery, to observe us from an unfamiliar place.  The Son of David had to experience, for Himself, our humanity in every way.  God with us.  His pity was born of His honest knowledge.  The Son of David knew Himself.  He realized His own need for Divine Mercy as His eyes fell on the condition and position of two blind men.  Immanuel became one of us and carried our load.  He got with us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pity



Son of David.  Yes, He is a true Son of Israel’s most exalted human king - a man of genuine human pity. David pitied himself as frequently, or perhaps more frequently, than he pitied others; nevertheless, we can be sure that David pitied the human condition and its subsequent need for Divine mercy.  Son of David, Son of the Pitiful King, show mercy….
There is a place somewhere at the back of our conscience, often ignored.  It is a little tap-tap that begs us to wake up and remember that we are just like the next guy.  Humanity, being frail and messy as it is, exists in a common need for mercy.  Mercy is one of the great prevailing themes of Scripture.  God Himself is so utterly appalled when human beings disgrace the conditions and positions of other human beings.  They show no Mercy.  The rugged intervals of history discover our proneness to devalue, conquer, usurp, make fools of, discard, dismiss, misuse and carelessly expose others.  
Have Pity.  Pity, as we have encountered it scripturally, is not about expressing a sad feeling or giving a few dimes of charity - pity is about connecting with the human condition of another.  We see ourselves in their condition.  We understand that today or tomorrow or the next day, we could be positioned where they are positioned.  One ought to graciously consider the frail condition of his or her neighbor.  One ought to take care in how he or she responds to Divinity’s living image bearers.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” Matthew 7:12.
Pity.   It is not a sad feeling or a few dimes of charity.  It is an honest evaluation of our human condition that bows itself under another and unburdens the soul.  We get under humanity and lift it up to humanness.  The Son of David had real Mercy - He did unto humanity what He desired humanity would do for Him.  You have a wonderful opportunity, Today, to feed and clothe, to unburden the soul, of Jesus Christ.  How so?  Well, “as you did to the least of of these my brothers or sisters, you did it to me,” Matthew 26:40.  Have Pity on humanity - each one is just like you.  Not sadness or charity.  Give Mercy.  Unburden the soul.  Lift up!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Son of David!" Part 5

If you have ever felt the Spirit of God rush your senses and drive you into Divine action, you will know what I mean when I say the Son of David was supernaturally motivated that day.  He burst the bonds of well meaning human oppressors to satisfy these hopeful souls.  “Bring them to me!” he hollered over the noise, commanding a path to open with His hands.  Some of the onlookers were a bit embarrassed by His decision; especially the helpful disciple nicely scolding those poor blind men.  Yes, very few could feel more scolded then he - poor man!
The blind men couldn’t see their Healer.  They felt humbled hands guide them through the throng.  The older attempted to straighten himself into a respectable, manly stance before the Son of David…. .this descendent of human kings.  A Divine human man lingered before another human man and had pity on a condition He knew too well.  No, probably not the patronizing pity you are accustomed to imagine here.  The Son of David beheld two blind men stripped of all his dignity; in a class of useless society.  They were creaturely characters thrown money after a beggarly performance.  Jesus had come, not to throw money, but to unburden souls….
  “What do you want from me?” the Son of David bowed His head a bit in acknowledgment of a worthy transactor.   I have come to make a trade with you blind man because you are a man with something of your own to offer.  He gives more than sight; He restores life… .a life for a life.
The blind man said… .now don’t be too hasty; consider his words… . “Let me recover my sight.”  Let me recover.  He didn’t say “Give me my sight.”  He said “Let me recover my sight.”  Son of David, rend the justice of Heaven and let me recover my humanity again!  HAVE MERCY!  Restore what I have lost and am losing!  Just like the rest of us, this blind man did not want to borrow charity.  He longed for the restoration of his dignity; the opportunity to, with good eyes, join the human drama.  “And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight, your faith has made you well’,” Luke 18:42.  Son of David, you give credit where credit is undue - Bless You!  For now a blind man has recovered his dignity in the deep recesses of his heart and can boast - “By faith, I recovered my sight!”
Yes, there were two blind men.  Actually there were undoubtedly many.  The narrators of the gospel account mix and mention many stories.  In another account, “there were two blind men sitting by the roadside” and “Jesus in pity touched their eyes”.  It’s the same story - one, two or a hundred.  The blind men who came to Jesus for Mercy all “recovered their sight” and they “followed him”.  It was a good dignifying exchange of means and gains.  In the economy of human lives, God is just and invites us to partner with His recovering and restoring intercession.  The Son of David and two blind men did good business that day.  It’s one day in the life of a Merciful Intercessor.  Make way for the Son of David to teach us how to intercede for the human mess…
Luke 18:35-43.
Matthew 20:29-34.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Son of David!" Part 4

Humanity got edgy and proud.  Individuals who thought themselves important attempted to place the blind men back into their designated livelihood stations.  One disciple was kind enough to force the older man to the wall and guard him from being crushed.  The older thrust forward again to reach Jesus but was restrained.  “Son of David!” he bellowed.  “Shhh,” scolded the disciple, “The Master is very occupied with His friends.  Keep quiet!”  
The perspectives were interesting as blind men saw a Healer and disciples saw an Important Social and Political Figure.  Two blind beggars were subject to the institution of their religious culture.  Society gave charity to blind men.  This was a good thing, excepted and piously (although not honestly) discreet.  After all, was it not Jesus who said, “For you always have the poor with you..” (Matthew 26:11).  Therefore, they shouldn’t get overly concerned and wear themselves out for a poor man’s emotional welfare!  They were a problem always present and profitable to members of society seeking social advantages.  That is what beggars had become - a rung on the social and religious latter.  A way to congratulate duty and honor.  Then… .were they human anymore?  Good question… .or, Had human hearts gone cold to their undignified position?  Were we required to lift them and unburden their souls?  I wonder, what was the Son of David here for?  And I venture, for a very different purpose than we embrace.   He came searching for honest catastrophes and here we were introducing Him to our fine religious accomplishments of the day… 
If the poor are always with us, the blind, the lame and the deaf too… .if prostitutes and tax collectors will always be around, than perhaps the point is that, at any moment, we may become one also.  Human beings in a fallen world can fall further on any good day.  There are no guarentees.  Our response to the human mess is our response to self.  Undoubtedly our flesh has brushed up against a blind, beggarly, sinful and sorry condition.  We are the human mess and, therefore, all messes require our compassion, for, one can only expect for oneself what one would do for others in a similar situation… .beware hypocrisy!
The Son of David knew His humanity better than we know ours.  He observed the human drama with a sad sense of disappointment.  Like a parent who watches their child do something utterly different than what they have been taught to do.  “Have I been with you this long, and you still do not know me..?” John 14:9.  From a mere fifteen feet away, separated by a raging ocean of humanity, the Son of David had pity.  The throng of men and women, disciples so they presumed, became a kalidescope blur as two sympathetic eyes held the broken and straining bodies of Divinity’s creation in their gaze.  He was here today, not for the throng of hypocritical friends, but for those who sought Mercy….  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"Son of David!" Part 3

The atmosphere began to buzz humidly.  The older man shifted and coughed moving a cloud of dust from his airway.  “Have Mercy” he cooed to the pat of bare feet.  A light coin hit is palm.  He pawed it and placed it in his pocket.  The younger bent his neck forward and rubbed beneath his right ear.  Sticky.  He swayed.  
“How much?” the younger asked.  “Some.”  “How much?”  “Enough for today.”  He shuffled his cane, “I am tired and it is hot.”  The older moaned an acknowledgment.  The wall, the ground, their canes, checking pockets - they were moving about to make way for home… .and then they ceased abruptly.  Without a word they lowered themselves back into the matted dirt.  A rabble in the distance.  Vocal commotion.  Laughter.  A throng of varied persons were descending upon the Jericho gate.  
Both blind men scampered about with their hands to secure their position.  They pressed hard against the wall to avoid trampling feet.  “Have Mercy,” they crooned together.  “Haaaave Meeercy!”  The rabble drew nearer and the voices became thick with thought, wit and piety.  A soft, sonorous male voice let out a joyful proverbial jest, poking fun his humanity.  For a moment, the older wanted to be that man.  He often drank voices and imagined the lives of their owners.  He listened.  A self-conscious sensation grabbed his attention.  He cocked his head to the left, moving in on their conversations.  Whispers.  Someone in the throng had noticed the blind men.  Most of the crowd continued in conversation but somewhere towards the front, the blind man perceived these words: “Jesus… .I don’t… .we should continue… .Master, but….”  He couldn’t hear most of it but his memory was provoked by Jesus… .Master.  Jesus, Master?  With a tapping finger he begged his mind to recall.  Jesus, Master… .Ah!  Jesus!  Master!
“Aaaa- yaaa- ya- ya” he doubled forward on hands and knees toward them.  “Jesus,” he broke into near hyperventilation, “Son of David… .HAVE MERCY on me!”  The younger face became emotional and he groaned, “Aaaa”, grabbing his cane.  He tapped incessantly.  The unexpected arrival of a healer burst their responses into bits and pieces.  They fought and made sightly fools of themselves throwing their bodies towards the crowd in the most half-hazard manner.  “David!  Son of David!”  The younger said nothing.  He began grabbing at garments searching for the bearer of this title.  Titch.  Slap.  Ouch!  It was their desperate manner that offended - clawing, pinching, begging for the man.  A broad chest hugged the side of the older’s chin and shoulder. “Move back!” it hissed, “Be quiet!”  The older glared with his cheek bones and teeth.  He pointed his brows and barked “Jesus!”.  He had no desire to hit anyone but thrust his cane into the crowd to part a way.  His whole body went searching for the Healer’s soul.  “Have Mercy on me Jesus!”
The crowd was pressing hard and had pinned the younger back against the wall.  His deeply tanned face went white and shades of panicky grey.  He was suddenly terrified.  Was this Jesus merciful or too important for dirty blind men today?

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Son of David!" Part 2

The older man dangled like a wind worn flag carelessly attached to its post by threads.  They tripped forward in obvious fear for their footing and toppled headlong at the roadside.  Shamefully bruised pride acknowledged bruised knees and shoulders.  The helping hand had released them instantly.  No words.  
Titch.  Titch.  The younger pawed about for his cane.  The older discovered the city wall with his own.  The two sympathetic bodies grasped for one another and pulled themselves against the cool stone.  Better to beg at the break of day before hellish heat drove them to seek shelter.  Dawn would greet the merchant parade into Jericho…
An over-burdened camel came up on his left.  Too close for comfort.  The younger pulled in his feet.  Darker darkness suggested its shadow hung directly above the beggars’ heads.  Screech, swish and caw.  Exotic wings beat their cages.  How close?  Eee-yaaa!  They preyed upon his sensitive ears and hissed at his sightly ignorance.  You can’t see me.  I haunt your fearful world of guesses.  The older covered his side pocket filled with nuts and date cakes.  The steady hum of bickering conversation exploded with financial capitalization.  The two blind men could not avoid following the sound of monetary exchange. Their faces winced with embarrassment.  While two men bartered heartily, wholly satisfied with their means and gains, two blind men faded into the dirty walls holding out perfectly capable hands to beg for their means and gains.  
“Have Mercy.  Have Mercy.”  Others would collide and conflict, work and worry in a very desirable way while these two would gather from their heavy purses meager wages.  Some were generous.  Poor souls.  Others envious.  Why should I work hard and give my money away?  Often they spoke their opinions aloud.  Naturally, these must be fully disabled idiots forgotten by Israel’s God - blind, therefore, too dumb to speak well or decipher language.  
Whether shown pity or contempt, whether treated humanely or bitterly, begging was burdensome.  The soul sat around.  It was weighted with grief born of its own desire to collide and conflict, to work and worry.  The cares of this world - of family and houses, stock and trade - represented normalcy and freedom in a way the seeing man might take for granted.  O that my hands could work!  O that my tongue could barter and my ingenuity trade!  O that I could be frustrated in relating!  O that I could join the drama of humanity for a single day!  O that I could build a home and lead a camel to the city gate!  
Money is not Mercy.  No, Mercy is more… .it unburdens the soul…

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Son of David!" Part 1

“I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread,” Psalm 37:25.
Something had changed….
The dark bodies clung to one another, unsteadied and squinty-eyed.  They were not very old yet bore sun-spotted signs of age.  They fumbled.  Slap! Titch. Titch. Slap!  The younger tilted his left ear backward, “Help!”  He offered his hand in the direction of the sound and waited.  Nothing.  Titch.  Titch.  “Aaaaya..” cried the older.  He grappled to regain balance.  His face contorted as the painful ripple reached his outer thigh.  The sensation ended and he tapped his walking stick against the large stone that had impeded his path and troubled his toes.  
The younger stretched his head to the left again and hollered, “Help!”  He struck his walking stick hard against the roadside and threw his arm out towards the sound, “HELP!”  A long black silence descended upon the 4 AM journey.  The younger man left his hand suspended at the roadside and waited.  A merciless Roman could remove it in half a second.  He waited.  A cold hand thrust itself underneath the younger's armpit and yanked the two link chain of blind men forward.  It was not a kind act of charity, but, it was help nonetheless…
No legislation was made concerning beggars or begging in the Mosaic Law, though, God liberally enacted means of relieving and caring for the poor.  In Israel, none were to be treated as a slave or a beggar.  The possibility was ignored.  Perhaps God had not anticipated our calloused response to the human mess….  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Do You Want?

“As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant.  They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by’.  And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’  And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he cried out all the more, ‘Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!’  And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him.  And when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’  He said, ‘Lord let me recover my sight.  And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.’  And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God,” Luke 18:35-43.
None of us are in exactly the same condition when God passes by our weak and needy persons.   Some form of chaos has developed within the planetary atmospheres of our heart.  Whatever the condition may be, with all of its emotional and physical expressions, one thing is certain: we are not what He created us to be.  We are distant and disabled.  When the Son of God passes by our mess, He is not appalled and ashamed.  He does not purpose to stay distant and aloof no matter how disfiguring our condition.  He wants to know who reached out a hand.  What is the desire of this one crying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”?
I love how He gets in our face.  While others have rebuked us for our bellowing, He has come very near and asked us to make an honest request of His salvation.  What do you want?  Humanity is hilarious in its own evaluations.  Are we of the mistaken impressions that our blindness, neediness and nakedness does not show?  Do we really think that, had the blind man remained quiet, no one would have noticed his blindness?  Be silent!  Do not bother Divinity with the human condition!  We are building a kingdom, not ministering to blind men!  Did I really say it.  While we are constructing kingdoms, God is seeking the diseased.  He is actively praying for and chasing after the lost one, the sick one, the broken one, the face of the disfigured.  Christ has found value in the faith of one human searching for the salvation of a Savior sent from God.
His kingdom is truly not of this world.  It is built upon the conscious mess of human faith that bellows and cries out earnestly and constantly, “Son of David, HAVE MERCY…!”  Because in our messy condition, it is all we have to hope for.  Unable to save our own selves, not even imagining that He would so effortlessly breath “Son” or “Daughter” upon our forlorn spirits, we just cry out a great deal.  Weep.  Wail.  And spend our last bit of human energy to lay hold of anything He is willing to give us.  Faith is the crazy substance of such hope.  “Your faith has saved you,” Luke 7:50.  It is our honest response to His moving and weaving in our atmospheres that ushers in the opportunity to be delivered, rescued, saved.  When God passes by. …what do we want from Him?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who Touched Me? Part 2

The beach was indiscernible.  The crowd was so thick that the only grains of sand that could be seen were those swept unto the roadside about three hundred feet back from the shore.  Step by step, she leaned against the boulders that defined the landscape on the other side of the road.  She would have to push her way through the crowd to reach Him.  She had already pushed her way through waves of embarrassment.  She stirred up her belief that His hand could heal her in order to dismiss the knowledge that her appearance betrayed her neediness.  
Half way to her destination, her weakness brought her to her knees.  “O God, don’t let them crush me!” she whispered, “…so close.”  She couldn’t move for a very long moment.  Her bleeding had quickened and she was certain that it had by now soaked through her garments in some places.  She dared not look.  It felt as though even her veins were quivering and certainly she would pass out and be consumed by footprints.  Quiet.  Voices were calling in all directions but quiet suddenly hung over the persons in her area.  “He’s coming this way,” one said.  “Shhh, I want to hear Him,” said another.  “Jesus!” someone called emotionally from behind her.  “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well,” Mark 5:28.  And as she saw His sandals only a short distance from her place, she gathered her shaken vessel from the dust, stepped forward and brushed the back of His cloak with her fingertips.  It was enough!  She stood mesmerized by the power of love that washed through physical nature and closed the door to infirmity.  “And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease,” Mark 5:29.  
The crowd kept pressing towards Him but she could only tremble.  “And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’” Mark 5:30.  Her tongue clung to the roof of her dry mouth.  The disciples looked perplexed.  They didn’t understand His question.  Lots of people were touching Him!  “And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say: Who touched me?’  And he looked around to see who had done it.  But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.  And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease’,” Mark 5:31-34.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Who Touched Me? Part 1

“There was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was not better but rather grew worse,” Mark 5:25-26.  Her bed was her home.  She lay still.  The sound of childish laughter and song filtered in through the grated window next to her bed with the cool evening breezes.  A sharp pain twisted her gut and her every muscle tensed until the sensation passed.  “How long?” she whispered, “How long?”  She relaxed into a sigh of resignation.  From somewhere in the neighborhood, the echoes of a Davidic Psalm were offered to a distant God, “May the Lord answer you. ….the name of the God of Jacob protect you. ….help from. …support from Zion. …may he remember. ….and regard with favor. ….Selah. …may he grant you your heart’s desire….”  The words wove through her senses.  “My God, my God,” she uncovered the anguish of her soul, “why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?  O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”  Her head slumped backward into the well-worn pillows.  And she prayed again for deliverance.  Deliverance from sickness and pain as well as deliverance from anger and fear.  From her inner storehouse of faith, she recovered the copy of truths that she held to in times of emotional unrest.  And she silenced the atmosphere of thoughts that suggested that God would never travel in her direction.  That His salvation would never come her way.  
…“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease,” Mark 5:34.  “Daughter”. …I claim you as mine.  “Your faith has made you well”. …Your persistence of belief that I was always working to save you is what made you available to be saved.  “Go in peace”. …Go your way in the Spirit of wholeness, security, favor, prosperity and all of My goodness.  “And be healed of your disease”. …Always, everyday, continually remain free of this physical disease….  
She was not in the right place at the right time by accident.  She had heard the voices outside her window speaking of His arrival on the beach.  Many things had been said about Jesus throughout the past few months.  Some said He was a prophet.  She knew that He was a rabbi.  Rumor had also spread that He claimed to be the direct heir of David’s eternal throne.  The Son of God!  Maybe He was and maybe He wasn’t, but she did know that He had come to heal and bring liberty to the Hebrew people.  She knew that He was a deliverer.  And she had been waiting for such a person to come her way.  So, in her weakness and physical pain, she determined to ask Him to heal her too….  
To be continued….

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our Mess

 He must come to find us where we are, in whatever our condition….
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters,” Genesis 1:1-3.  Hovering.  Hovering over a formless, void, and deep darkness.  His face was hovering.  Like unto one who comes close to observe and even to kiss.  This is no distant, supreme suitor.  The revival of a pearly priceless kingdom dwelling within a creation not yet created - this was His passion and purpose.  He came searching and finding nothingness, He positioned Himself like a Lover to extract a holy kiss - He would command “Life!” to conceive on this barren planet.  He came then to find.  He has come to find again…
In coming and seeing, God in flesh was not insulted and embarrassed by our exposed messes.  He came humanly to our humanity.  The pearl, the treasure was a matter of interaction.  The kingdom would be reborn in us.  In us - the dying ones.  He was not pious and unmoved by our dying condition.  He took no personal pleasure in comparing His Deified strength with our obvious weakness.  He never commented on how ridiculous it must be to consider placing His pure Spirit in our unholy flesh and expecting a magnificent, powerful kingdom of righteousness to emerge.  And the thought that reaches even closer to our heart of hearts is this: that He didn’t feel the least bit threatened by the purposeful act of identifying His Great Godship with our much less than godlike disposition and condition.  We preach a gospel that begins and ends with the identification of God with Man and Man with God.  
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:1-5, 14.  
Jesus Christ  re-entered the human tragedy to speak once again into the chaotic mess of every human heart-shaped planet, “Let there by light,” Genesis 1:3.  God came into our realm to declare that our mess deeply affected His heavenly plateau.  We were not mutually exclusive of one another.  Although the human race had all but forgotten its compassion for the Father, He had not forgotten His compassion for us.  His flesh and blood Word to us tangibly interjected the pleas and credentials of a loving and brooding Father.  He wanted us to be fully aware that our mess was His mess.  
The journey that our Creator undertakes to find us is much longer than the journey we take to reach Him…. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Day That Jesus Lost His Heart

What did Jesus see when His eyes fell upon corroded humanity?  In the crowded streets and beaches of Jewish territories, He encountered corroded flesh everyday.  Before His eyes paraded a host of deaf, blind, gaunt, naked… .fading and dying humanity; both physically and spiritually so.  I do imagine that His eyes perceived the rule of Death more keenly among us than we ourselves could ever know.  He saw dead men and women barely walking, everyday.  He experienced their deficiencies, misplaced vanities, cutting insults and accusations.  Flesh and blood did Christ no justice.  Yet, despite the presence of divisive and hostile flesh, despite its wounding and helplessness, Jesus Christ came searching for something among it that one would suppose could not exist.  He came searching for the active kingdom of God…  
He searched for God’s Life weaving through our stories.  He came to discover the breath and vitality of Eternity knocking on our flesh and blood doors.  His eyes were so healthy.  They could see what the Father sees.  He could perceive what His Father was doing in this dying humanity…  “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  And he began to teach them many things,” Mark 6:34.  He saw correctly.  His good eyesight and godly perspective allowed Him to make a right judgment.  He would teach them.  
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick,” Matthew 9:12.  He came to those who knew they were dying in their humanity, in their corroded condition.  There, on our seashores and in our streets, the Son of God, lost His heart.  He stared long at our deficiency and He felt its aggressive desires in His own body.  He knew us well.  
How pathetic.  How sensitive to us, He was.  There was a vision in His mind of humanity restored.  There was a vision of reconciliation between God and mankind.  There was a treasure and a pearl, long buried, now only a rumor.  Was the God-Man relationship of Eden reconcilable, restorable, revivable?  Only He knew.  Only He could accomplish it through a vibrant, self-sacrificing intercession.  Bless the Savior for His good vision that has sought and sacrificed to revive a godly kingdom among men!  Bless the Savior who has sold all and risked all and has given His whole heart!  Bless the Savior! 
He has come to find….

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Pricey Pearl, part 2

Sabattaras searched the Berenice streets for twenty-two days and nights.  He listened and slyly questioned.  The marketplaces were thick with dialects of Arabic and Indian, Greek and Hebrew language.  Highly educated, Sabattaras communicated with peoples of every tongue.  “Yes, a fantastic pearl of great value carried by a mysterious caravan through arid deserts,” imagined the Arab, “Ominous indeed, as a mirage, it appears and disappears.”  The Indian laughed sharply and continued to charm his slippery companion.  “Where might one find such a pearl?” philosophized the Greek, “In the house of the great gods?  In the eyes of a woman?  Ah, for sure, it is not a real thing, this pearl….”  “You should seek things of greater value than pearls!” scolded the Jew.  Nevertheless, Sabattaras, the Macedonian searched on.
His eyes and ears led him to the small house of a merchant nearer the Red Sea shore.  The little shop under the merchant’s home smelled of fine spices.  Ceramic vessels sat upon shelves that covered the shop walls, floor to ceiling.  At first, Sabattaras enjoyed the aromas until his eyes began to water… .but, he pressed on.  Nearing the back of the store where an old Arab sat upon a large cushion tallying his sales receipts, Sabattaras bowed and waited for a response.  The old man, not moving a muscle, peered up through two slits of eyelid.  He continued tallying. “Yeeeeees” he crooned.  Sabattaras stood, “I am Sabattaras the Macedonia and I have come to inquire of your pearl.”
The Arab halted his work immediately and his eyes darted about the shop.  He hopped up and forward in an instant and bounded to the front of the store swiftly bolting doors and windows and declaring his shop closed with a sign.  When he was certain of no intruding ears, he whispered, “You have come to inquire of what?”  Now Sabattaras was certain he had come to the right place.  He leaned towards the old Arab and whispered back, “Your pearl.”
The old Arab looked puzzled and shrugged.  No one had ever inquired of the pearl.  All rumors on the street were that it did not really exist and here, under there noses it dwelt with no one desirous enough to discover it!  Suddenly the Arab became suspicious.  “Show me all that is beneath your cloak!” he insisted.  Not at all offended by the suggestion of weaponry and thievery, Sabattaras removed all of his outer garments to satisfy the merchants concern.  Of course, this also exposed the large sack of coins that Sabattaras had worn discreetly under his clothing for these twenty-two days in hope of an exchange.
The Arab’s eyes enlarged upon seeing the purse.  “Ahhhh…” he breathed out, “You have come to purchase my pearl I see.”  “Yes,” Sabattaras bowed humbly, “If you are willing to make a sale.”  From this point, there was little else to say.  The Arab did not need the pearl.  It was lovely, but, he had five wives, and, to which would he give the pearl?  However, with five wives and eighteen children, he could use the money and he could use a larger house!  He simply had not advertised to sell his pearl for fear that it would be stolen and cost him his very life.
The Arab opened the tiny unimpressive vessel that housed the pearl and Sabattaras beheld his prize.  “I will take aaallll that you have for it!” declared the Arab.  Sabattaras, expecting to relinquish nothing less, removed for himself only the coin needed for the return trip home and handed ALL that he had remaining to the old Arab while collecting the desire of his heart.  Sabattaras left the merchant shop of spices with well-watered eyes, a tingling nose and a renewed sense of destiny…
Honestly, who knows why Sabattaras sought out one magnificent pearl so diligently?  Who could discern the true depth of his desire or the motives of his heart?  All that is known is that he sought it until he found it and he gave in exchange for it all that he had.  This rumor, for which no one else would labor an ounce, was worth ALL to Sabattaras….

Matthew 13:45

The End.

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