Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thorns and Briars

“I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust,” Psalm 91:2.  The terrain is hostile.  It is owned and operated by enemies.  But He, the Prince of Peace, wanders the territory freely.  And He speaks…
“The voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.  My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.  Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice.  My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away…” Song of Songs 2:8-10.  The Shullamite free falls into the words of Her Beloved…. .and she is transformed!
All of us, each and every one, live inside the conforming pressures of this present world.  Our hearts and minds, our thoughts and feelings, our decisions and desires are deeply affected by our ancestral lineage, our peers, our environments, our education and so on.  Thorns and briars.  They own and operate the territories of this present world.  They often leave their mark; sometimes shallow, sometimes deep.  Nonetheless, we are affected.  Had Our Beloved come to us and examined all the marks, carefully deciding our fate based upon the magnitude of their intrusion, not one of us would pass into eternal places.  But that isn’t the way the story is told.  The story tells us that the Maiden was dysfunctional but He spoke to Her as though She were a functional one.  It tells us that the Maiden was undesirable but He spoke to Her as though She were a desirable one.  It tells us that the Maiden was physically unattractive but He spoke to Her as though She were a beautiful one.  And as the story continues, it also tells us that She chose to take refuge in those words.
This is good news.  I have a place to run to.  I have a hiding place in the words of One who looks for me, desires me and is entranced by the sight of me.  This is my refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust.  I trust these words not the message of the thorns and briars.  I am not conformed by the pressures of this present world, but I am transformed by the good word He speaks to me.  
All of my companions in this life, all of the humans of Earth that I will meet, need this message.  This good word on the inside.  This Beloved that transforms me.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ruhama


There is no flaw in you," Song of Songs 4:7.  From the gold-leaf spirals of Eastern mosques and temples to the linear furrows of Western waves of grain; from the icy protrusions of Northern glacier walls to the sun-kissed sands of the bathing South. ....what we need is Mercy.  Mercy dips her heart in aloes and soothes the irritated soul.  She wraps her arms around the tensions and implores with steady whispers.  All covered in dirt, all rolled in disaster, all troubled by opinions and misunderstanding. ...and yet she is a Mother, a Sister and a Lover to the Human.  "....love covers all offenses," Proverbs 10:12.
We are Human.  Such a strong thing and yet such a weak thing too.  We have so many abilities and accomplishments to take well-earned pride in and yet so many deficiencies and failures to bring us shame.  Not one of us can exist without experiencing  a heartbreak.  Not one of us can pass through without suffering loss.  Not one of us will have a journey without some measure of frustration, catastrophe or enduring pain.  We will fall short.  We will mess up.  We will sin against a neighbor.  We will.  In every corner of the planet, the Human heart cries out for Mercy.  Within us, there is a deep need for the Divine to say at regular intervals, "I love you", "I desire you", "I need you". ... "I find no flaw in you".   Most of our Human existence would be settled in perfect peace if we could consistently entertain these precious thoughts.  "You love me", "You desire me", "You need me". ..."You find no flaws in me."
The consensus of the ages is often to fix what we find flawed.  But as the Scriptures have shown us, the Human design is without flaw.  It is created in the image of God.  Our highest duty is to know "the image" by knowing the Creator rather than fixing the Human counterpart.  From the East to West, North to South - since we do not know all that can be known of that pure and beautiful "Image" - what we need to give to its reproduction, is Mercy.  "For I desire mercy and. ...the knowledge of God," Hosea 6:6.  
A deified young man approaches a darkened wisp of Shullam with a gift, "There is no flaw in you," Song of Songs 4:7.  The pressures of environment, the pain of disappointment, the oppression and slavery, the sadness, the opinions, the failures, sins and the cursed labor of Earth had left her skin discolored and her personality confused.  But it did not in any way transform her quality.  She was the "image of God" in the flesh.  And this is what the Prince of Peace saw when they encountered.  
Mercy.  A gift to be received and a gift to give.  The Human race has never been in greater need of it.
 

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Desire Mercy

The handmaiden pulled the wooden comb somewhat carelessly through the thick curly brown tresses of the dark skinned girl.  She was tired of combing the mop and yanked at the knots and chunks of caked red earth.  The pretty young lady sitting on a stool let her thoughts roam through distant fields of imagination.  She tried to keep her body tight to resist the pull of the annoyed maid combing her hair.  The young lady was just a darkened wisp from Shullam and only a figment of a Biblical authors literary tale.  We find her peering through the pages in the middle of our Bibles in a small book known as Songs of Songs.  The author arranges a poem closely related to the style of a Greek wedding song.  Love lyrics spill over the edges of our pages as we are emotionally stirred into the sensuality, longing, and celebration these two lovers share.  But the story begins with an insignificant young women knee deep in slavery.  “Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me.  My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!” Song of Songs 1:6. 
It was her own brothers that forced her into the heat of the sun.  She is a feminine reflection of Divinity and Dust, yet she has been forced to bear the social status and poverty of a slave.  In her youth and ignorance she was persuaded to work hard in their camps of ingenuity, presuming that her diligence would purchase for her some sort of acceptance, approval and a general sense of accomplishment.  However, to her dismay she had willingly submitted to a life of degrading forced labor whereby she had merely gained the title “One Used, Defiled and Undesirable.” And she feels it.  Degradation.  Less than human.  This is the message in her heart.  The conforming pressures of her outside world suggested to her that she was born for slavery.  And the human mind protests that slavery is not fully human.  So, she is not fully human.   She has been aroused to the dance of oppression and the seductions of intimidation. And, if you have ever been human, you know her thoughts and feelings all to well.  For most of us human beings, the conforming pressures of this world and our ancestral lineage have all suggested that we will never fully be what we are.  And before she can become the vulnerable lover of the song, she must receive a deified young man’s personal opinion.  
To be continued….

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Shullamite


The handmaiden pulled the wooden comb somewhat carelessly through the thick curly brown tresses of the dark skinned girl.  She was tired of combing the mop and yanked at the knots and chunks of caked red earth.  The pretty young lady sitting on a stool let her thoughts roam through distant fields of imagination.  She tried to keep her body tight to resist the pull of the annoyed maid combing her hair.  The young lady was just a darkened wisp from Shullam and only a figment of a Biblical authors literary tale.  We find her peering through the pages in the middle of our Bibles in a small book known as Songs of Songs.  The author arranges a poem closely related to the style of a Greek wedding song.  Love lyrics spill over the edges of our pages as we are emotionally stirred into the sensuality, longing, and celebration these two lovers share.  But the story begins with an insignificant young women knee deep in slavery.  “Do not gaze at me because I am dark, because the sun has looked upon me.  My mother’s sons were angry with me; they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept!” Song of Songs 1:6. 
It was her own brothers that forced her into the heat of the sun.  She is a feminine reflection of Divinity and Dust, yet she has been forced to bear the social status and poverty of a slave.  In her youth and ignorance she was persuaded to work hard in their camps of ingenuity, presuming that her diligence would purchase for her some sort of acceptance, approval and a general sense of accomplishment.  However, to her dismay she had willingly submitted to a life of degrading forced labor whereby she had merely gained the title “One Used, Defiled and Undesirable.” And she feels it.  Degradation.  Less than human.  This is the message in her heart.  The conforming pressures of her outside world suggested to her that she was born for slavery.  And the human mind protests that slavery is not fully human.  So, she is not fully human.   She has been aroused to the dance of oppression and the seductions of intimidation. And, if you have ever been human, you know her thoughts and feelings all to well.  For most of us human beings, the conforming pressures of this world and our ancestral lineage have all suggested that we will never fully be what we are.  And before she can become the vulnerable lover of the song, she must receive a deified young man’s personal opinion.  

Friday, March 26, 2010

Are You Not More Valuable?

It is a hard rain that comes and jostles and tosses
A lily among thorns
The soft white flesh slowly and slightly closes
Protecting the sanctity of life
But it drinks still a cup of raindrops
The flower sips
The ruckus continues, windy and wounding
And the delicacy is bent
The miniature season bows it lowly
It trusts its beauty to its Maker
And it rests its survival in His hand
How I long for Your arrival!
To the scene of my waiting days!
She is a lily in a garden always pouring out Her grace
The rains that make Her whither and sprout
Also water many thorns
The tearing feeling of their closeness
Is a threat She matures among
But when the Sun is high ascending at the noonday
She boldly and brilliantly forms a prayer
Her regal crown is lifted upward
Her petals unfurl before His face
He has come to be Her countenance bearer
She drinks His peace
Seasons of sunlights sweet sanctuary
The lily recovers openness
There is a time for all of these trials and delights
And Her Maker knows Her frame
She is only but a created floral figure
A beautifully clothed lily of the field
Not unnoticed by His protective and provisional mercies
Now. ….Are You not more valuable than these?

“Consider the lilies of the field. ….are you now more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:25-34.  Trust your Maker.



Monday, March 22, 2010

By Faith, Shem

The hammer fell heavily upon the wood peg driving the two timbers together.  Shem knelt to examine their tightness.  Finished, he thought as he let the tool slip from his grasp. He exhaled at length as he looked up to search for his father among the men.  Noah was bent over a sheet of parchment, scratching figures, scratching his head and scratching more figures.  Shem could see that his father was determined to squeeze a bit more work out of his boys before the end of the day, so he picked up his hammer. 
A seated mob gathered behind Shem.  Typically they showed up in the evening hours to observe the progress, discuss and jeer.  Sometimes jokes were flung into the air to provoke a reaction from the men and women of Noah’s family.  But, it had been over a year now since the work began and the jeering and jokes diminished considerably.  Anything that could be said had already been said.  Now the crowds mostly gathered to gawk.  The large ark had entertainment value.  Shem even thought he saw a few onlookers nervously surveying the skies.  Probably just his imagination.  The idea of water coming out of the skies was a great stretch for his own mind.  But, he trusted the word of his father and his father’s humble God.  The God of Noah was not imperialistic or egotistic like the gods and idols of the pagan cultures surrounding them.  The God of Noah was the original Creator of humanity.  And this God carried a deep respect and sanctified attitude towards Life.  The Humble God was most concerned with saving and preserving the holiness of the Life He had created.  The long distance of understanding between God and man was felt in every fiber of Shem’s flesh.  Nevertheless, as his great grandfather Adam had spoken of the Divine connection he once possessed with this Great God, Shem could also feel the calling to be with the Creator of mankind in a new and personal way.  It was this that compelled Shem to believe his father’s testimony of a substance called rain.  Noah spoke to this Great God.  Mutual respect was sensed in his father’s speech.  God wanted man to be preserved.  Shem believed that it was God’s every intention to reinstate a condition of holiness at some point in man’s history.  But at this point, God would save every believing man and women from the destruction of things that had come to hate holiness and Life. …if they would believe in Noah’s testimony.
Shem’s wife passed through the work zone, dodging tools and offering drinks of cool water.  He smiled affectionately as she drew nearer his place.  These were the moments that stirred up his faith.  Life, her life, was precious.  It was worth his honor and respect.  Shem lifted his eyes upward.  It would not rain today.  The ark was not yet completed.  God was waiting for its completion. …and perhaps, another soul’s repentance.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Set Your Eyes

You can’t risk if you are fearful of losing something.  “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” Luke 12:31.  Our eyes have to be set on our gains rather than our losses.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1.  “…for we walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Corinthians 5:7.  Our eyes tell us that there is much to fear.  Our eyes witness the passing of many losses.  Our eyes, in this world, behold the extreme results of the Laws of Death.  Our eyes perceive destinations and destructions to run from.  Perspective reigns.  “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” Colossians 3:2.  Set your mind.  Lift up and look at the Son with the eyes of your mind. …your heart.  Change your perspective.  “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart, I have overcome the world,” John 16:33.  Take heart.  Take courage. Do not fear.  A new perspective has overcome.  The worldly perspective no longer reigns.  Death and destruction are not the final word over creation.  There is a new Word spoken.  A new Life.  A new and living perspective to put our hope in.  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you,” Isaiah 26:3.  Set your eyes.  Set your mind.  Set your heart.  Live by faith in a new perspective.  “…for we walk by faith,” 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Flashing Signs

Sometimes, as humans, we can be so naive of God's heart. And yet, at the very same moment in history, so sure of our own. We suppose easily that our own hearts care deeply and are moved to compassionate actions. It may very well be so. However, we may also fret over whether or not God cares deeply and is moved to compassionate actions. God's heart is bigger than our hearts. We can be certain of this at any hour. If our hearts are deep, His is deeper. If our hearts are moved, His is moved all the more. In our human world, it's altogether too easy to doubt God's heart. There are so many vocal and circumstantial suggestions that God is not Who He claims to be. Wherever you are sitting, standing or walking in life, a suggestion is nearby. Something or someone who believes God to be a liar. There is always a flashing sign advertising the 101 reasons to doubt His love for you.

I think of 3 Hebrew children written about in the Old Testament Scriptures. You may know them as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. I am one of their biggest fans. For they made a statement like none other. As they stood in front of a flashing sign known as The Fiery Furnace, and as they stood before the chief advertiser known as King Nebuchadnezzar, they didn't take the promotional bait. Everything about them suggested that this furnace and this king and his godlike stature might have the last word on who should bow to what. God's heart might not come through. Was the God of the Hebrews able to save? Was He watching the whole escapade? Was He paying attention? Was He deeply involved? Was He moved?

Listen closely to the statement of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah as they faced the possibility of death because they chose to bow to no one but their Divine Creator. "Nebuchadnezzar said. .... 'If you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?' Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up'."

Applause rings out of the four corners of the heavens. These are integral young men. I want you to notice something with me for a moment. They have said to us that God was able to save them AND that He was willing to save them: "he WILL deliver us out of your hand". But, they also stated that if God DID NOT deliver them, they still wouldn't bow. Wow! Are you getting this?! In essence they were stating that God was deeply moved and totally involved in their situation. His heart was for them! God would definitely save them of His own personal desire and choice. However, being that there were cosmic enemies involved, it might not turn out that way. Nevertheless, they refused to shift their confidence in and allegiance to God.

That's how we should be. A people who are certain of His heart towards us no matter the advertisement of other voices or circumstances. The Divine Creator is for us and we wholeheartedly pledge our affection and faithfulness to the One who loves us. "No matter what is said, no matter what is done in this sphere. ...no matter the statement and circumstances that pressure me to doubt, I believe You are as You say You are and You have my heart, Creator God!"

You will find the whole story of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah in Daniel 3:8-30. It's worth your time to read it.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thinking About God's Heart?

Do you ever think much about the heart of God?  No, I don’t mean endless hours consumed by what His heart wants from you.  I mean, do you think about how His heart feels, what it perceives, its desire and longings?  I can remember the time my daughter came to me, patted me on the shoulder and said, “Mommy, don’t worry, it’s not your fault.  Daddy’s just cranky!”  My heart was so blessed.  In that moment I realized that I had successfully, by the grace of God, taught my daughter something useful in this life: she was concerned about my heart!   It’s easy to think about our own hearts.  Our own feelings, perceptions, longings and desires.  But it is more difficult to think about the heart of another.  To really sit and ponder what their desires might be.  What are they feeling, perceiving and deeply longing for?  How am I affecting their existence?  Do I offer their heart a safe place to rest?  God, do You feel secure and peaceful in my presence?  Do I offer You a place to spill Your deepest longings and desires?  Am I here for You, like a friend, when You need me?  I ask the reader, do you ever think about these things?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

God Chose the Human



We cut flowers and place them in vases in the center of our rooms.  Why?  Because we want to look at them.  Humanity determines the quality of flowers.  It is our choice to admire them and elevate them to decorative delights.  We choose it therefore it is so.  In the same likeness, God chose the human to be of elevated quality and delight, therefore it is so.  Again, I declare, that it is not based on anything I have or can do.  God has chosen it and therefore it is.  Lay your humanity down here in the green pasture of His good evaluation.  You do not have to produce your quality.  You are quality because He said so.  The command of God has always been to “Be human and multiply your humanity.”  With Divinity as governor of the human heart, our humanity would retain its highest level of quality.  We would retain our freedom and abundant Life.  “Therefore choose life, that you. ….may live,” Deuteronomy 30:19.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking on Words


It’s something like standing on a wire.  The only thing I have to stand on is what He has said.  This is true dependency.  I exist on His Word – His good evaluation.  I walk on the wire of the words He speaks.  They are all I have to live on. …other than the food I eat to sustain my body.  “…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord,” Deuteronomy 8:3.  Walking on words.  It’s the government of God.  
All of creation was fashioned by the word of Divinity.  I can go deeper with humanity.  We were formed of word and of breath.  He breathed into us.  It might be said that we were fashioned by the very essence of His Word.  We were fashioned of the winds of His Spirit.  We were fashioned of the aura of His Heart.  The Heart of God formed our Dust.  The Word of God was breathed into our frame.  Not only a Word in the atmosphere, but we existed of an inner Word.  None other of creation has known this.  “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love?  For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them.  She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding,” Job 39:13-17.  The ostrich has been given no share in the human condition.  Divinity has reserved the Spirit of His Heart for humanity.  We are a creation like no other.
This was by God’s choice.  I am not magnificent because of my noble birth, my intellectual achievements, my formal training, and unmatched beauty or strength.  I am magnificent because He said so.  He chose me as the crown of creation.  His Word created me as such that I am: Human.  I have nothing to credit myself with.  I have only His good evaluation.  O God of Heaven and Earth, how generous is your Heart towards me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hung On a Word

"And God said. ...and there was," Genesis 1:3.  It was because God said so.  It's the simple gospel.  Nothing exists of its own striving or power.  It all exists because God said so.  If you really think about it. ...think for a while. ...you will realize that this also means that we humans have nothing to boast in!  Neither do we have anything to be depressed about!  The word of God made various statements about what should exist in creation, and therefore it does.  What exists, the indigenous forms and functions of created things, exist because God said it should.  You exist because God said you should.  
Consider your regenerated Spirit.  If you have chosen to receive the Spirit of God, you are a new creation.  And this is because God said so.  There is no boasting.  Nothing will elevate your condition.  There is no humiliation.  Nothing can debase your condition.  God has made a statement about your condition and so it is.  You are clean because He said so.  You are holy because He said so.  You are free because He said so.  You are a healer because He said so.  You are a giver because He said so.  And the list goes on.
You will be resurrected because He said so.  It's really all that you have to go on: His word.  Did you ever pause to notice that it's all Christ had as well.  He entered our human world, risking His life and holding on to a promise.  The Father had promised to resurrect Christ should He lose His life as He inevitably would.  If at all possible, imagine yourself in that moment, where Christ is hanging on the cross, dying, breathing His last.  And all by faith that, when His last breath was relieved, His Father would do His part.  His Father would resurrect Him just as He promised.  His life hung on the word of the Father.  This is faith.  I live by this faith.  I live because He said so.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Therefore...

I knew that I could not move the Mountain
Therefore I ran towards it with all of my might
I knew that I could not pass through the Valley
Therefore I entered it with full peace of mind

I knew that I could not reach the Heavens
Therefore I lifted my arms to draw near
I knew that I could not love the Earth well
Therefore I embraced it as a loved one so dear

I knew that I could not be a Mother
Therefore I allowed children to populate my space
I knew that I could not be a Dreamer
Therefore I dreamt dreams when dreaming was unsafe

I knew that I could not be a good Friend
Therefore I gathered them around me in droves
I knew that I could not be a Lover
Therefore I loved deep and committed to growth

I knew that I could not fight the Battle
Therefore I fought a good fight for this ground
I knew that I could not be a Winner
Therefore I adorned myself with His Winner’s Crown

I knew that I could not be Patient
Therefore I patiently waited for grace
I knew that I could not walk in the Spirit
Therefore I spiritually walked out my faith

I knew that I could not attain Eternity
Therefore I lived like Eternity was now here
I knew that I could not purchase Holiness
Therefore Holiness became the only clothes I would wear

I knew that I could not receive Salvation
Therefore I opened my hands for a gift
I knew that I could not love a Savior
Therefore I lived on the love that was His

The whole story is true because He said so.  I live because He said so.  My heart is new because He said so.  I am because He said so.  It’s not based on what I can or cannot do.  I just live what He says.  This is faith: to live like He said so.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Because God Said So...


We exist in a man’s world.  I’m not speaking of gender, but of humanity.  The recreation of planet Earth was an environmental gift to the human generations.  Because God said so.  “ And God said, ‘Let there be…,’ and there was…” Genesis 1:3.   It was a world of functionality, not a world of restrictions.  The skies, oceans and soil were seeded with possibilities.  Divinity rent His personality to reproduce His creative, functional Life in the Earthen atmosphere.  A designer world with both beauty and practicality.  A single tree springs from the dust and covers fifteen feet of paradise with cooling shade, sculpted branches and an array of leafy colors.  Furthermore it provides fruit for our succulent nourishment and reliable wood for fuel and shelter.  God created a sensible, sensual and picturesque environment for our eternal satisfaction.  He did this for you and I.
From the Genesis of human life, what picture is God painting?  What details would He have us discover?  What is He communicating?  The fall of mankind from the open relationship we enjoyed with Divinity often gets a good deal more publicity than the magnificent statement He made to our Dust.  “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit.  You shall have them for food.  And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life.  I have given every plant for food.’  And it was so,” Genesis 1:29-30.  To the first Man and the first Women in essence God said, “Here, have it all.  Enjoy it, use it, bless it, keep it functional and prospering.”  No strings attached.  The heart of Divinity really wanted humanity to have a good, eternal experience on planet Earth. “And God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’,” Genesis 1:28.    
Notice something with me for a moment.  Genesis 2:5-9 pulls our perspective closer.  We take a zoom lens look at the formation of the Ad’am from dust.  “When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground – then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”  Notice something: God breathed, God planted, and God made to spring up.  God made it all happen.  God caused it.  God said and it was so.  Now widen the view.  Let your camera lens take in the entire Universe.  God said and it was so.  This great gift of Life and atmosphere, of beauty and function, of possibility and authority was given to us because God declared that it should be that way.  What a portrait.  The Divine Heart wanted us to have all this!  For the Greatest Among Men has said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” Matthew 12:34.  
Now close your eyes and look again at a man’s world before man lost his place.  The Divine Heart is here fully expressed to us.  “Adam, Eve I made you able.  Here is the whole Earth.  Go at it!  I’ve given you what it takes!”  It’s what I hear anyway.  A Divine Heart respecting the nature of His creation.  Divinity had made the Dust able.  God saw with His own pure eyes that the creation was good.  It was functional and capable.  It was beautiful and sensual.  It lacked nothing.  I paint for you strokes of generosity, freedom and respect.  That’s what I see anyway.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Six Days


“The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man,” Psalm 115:16.  It was a gift to us from our Father.  Just imagine.  Stir your heart to meditation.  Close your eyes… Unseen hands caressed with constancy the fortresses of the deep, alighting them with various creatures of color, coral reefs and caverns that kept their secrets. Laws formed under the disguise of beauty.  His whispers filling every flowering plant with desire; arousing communion between oceans and sand, forest and stream, mountain and valley.  Movement setting to motion springs, chlorophyll, antelope and deer.  Kisses to calm the prairies and stir up the breeze.  Dew to rejuvenate the earth’s tresses like myrrh.  Sweetness poured out.  Your lips awaken me…. The firefly sparks a single delight.  Imagine.  The deep darkness of night cannot hide You.  You are discovered by a multitude of stars answering to their names.  Your Spirit skips among the brook stones and the bubbling waters giggle underneath Your feet.  “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you,” Psalm 139:17-18.  Many waters, many thoughts.  Unsearchable, unquenchable.  All of them for me…. Are you there yet?  
A garden planted in Eden.  The fragrant, flowering paradise of the first of the children of men.  God was there.  Calling, answering, seeking and being found.  No inner turmoil in the human breast and no controversy in the atmosphere.  No wars or rumors of them.  All was calm and all was bright.  The continuity of relationships, atmospheres and all of planet earth.
Despite the tragedy that Eden became, I still believe that it was a perfect idea.  The Divine Creator set out one day to have a family.  The way that He did this gives us a fascinating glimpse into His beautiful heart.  Genesis 1 tells us that for six days He never stopped working.  From the moment that His Spirit hovered over the face of the watery, murky planet, His Artful hands and Conceptive words began forming and seeding the surface.  The Creator stuck His fingers into the grey mud and moved it.  Like a Potter forming His clay.  “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand,” Isaiah 64:8.  The thoughts of creation may conjure up mental displays of magical movements, sparkling blasts and instantaneous phenomena.  Perhaps it was this way.  But as an artist myself I am aware that art does not happen accidentally or magically.  It takes time, deep thought, careful placement and strokes of genius.  What am I trying to communicate through my painting?  What will the eye of the beholder immediately see?  What details should I add to flavor it?  What sort of production do I intend audiences to glean of generations from now?   What was God saying to us from the first moment of Earthen history?  The Genesis account declares to us that God created the fundamentals and details of our world with order and purpose.  “And God separated the light from the darkness,” Genesis 1:4.  “And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear’,” Genesis 1:9.  Although, to the naked eye, creation may have unfolded with fantastic bangs and beautiful displays of color, the entire process was well ordered and expertly designed.  God made a dysfunctional planet very functional.  He created a dwelling place.  A structure that could support Life.  His Life, to be exact, contained in an earthen vessel.  
Six days of constant transformation.  

What's It All About?

It is sunday morning and I prepare once again to attend church.  And I am confronted again with the question, "What's it all about?"  I have been in the church my whole life and I have been forced to ask myself this again and again.  If you walk into any Christian bookstore this week, you will encounter a vast array of literature.  All of them set out to explain some aspect of the God/Human relationship.  There's a lot to consider!  There's an awful lot of ideas to muddle through!  I would be the last to suggest that I have capacity to judge which are valuable and which are not.  Being that we live in a world of variety, we are bound to have a variety of perspectives in Christianity.  It may be this very thing that keeps us balanced.  Like tensions pulling against each other yet keeping us in place.  
The wise King Solomon said this in Ecclesiastes 1:18: "For in wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow."  The wise ole' king has concluded for us that the more one knows, the more one is bothered by what he knows.  Reality did not prove to be so beautiful for Solomon.  Although he enjoyed many things, he realized that the heart of the matter was still disillusioning.  "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after the wind," Ecclesiastes 1:14.
After years in Christianity, I can say much the same thing.  I've seen it all and most of it was fruitless; just a striving for vacant air.  So, I have to ask myself again, "What is it all about?"  So many ideas!  So many perspectives!  
I will have to resign myself to something if I am to have any anchor, any stability in this life.  And my resignation is this: It is true.  What on earth do I mean by that!  Well. ...obviously the Author of our salvation was aware of the various ideologies that populated the Judaic faith.  So, He made this statement, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  this is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and Prophets," Matthew 22:37-40.  Book after book had been written and added unto the Law and literature of Judaism to exhaustively instruct Israel on how to do this very thing: love like God loves.  But, all of the instruction had failed to produce a loving people.  More was needed than methods and rules.  We couldn't love like God loved because we were not like Him.  So we must add this: "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules," Ezekiel 36:26-27.  The Gospel!  How refreshing!  Both the method and the means to be restored. ..or as we say, saved.  
And it's true.  God sets our person down in the sixth day and our eyes get wide with wonder as we perceive His careful, considerate, intimate and delightful recreation of our dust.  We are reawakened to the quality of God, self and our neighbor.  And He stoops low to breath a breathe of fresh spiritual motivations, desires and will.  We want to love as He loves!  We have His new and gracious pure heart beating about in our thoughts and emotions.  I contend for this faith: That when an individual asks for this heart, God gives it.  We are recreated because He says so.  No other reason.  "Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you," John 15:3.  Really?  It's that easy?  We ARE because He says so?
It is frustatingly too easy for the human mind.  But it is true.  "Abide in me, and I in you," John 15:4.  Everything else is a chasing after wind.  We get it all on the sixth day and we get to live inside of the seventh.  We rest in His good idea, His good perspective, His good opinion.  The whole recreation of mankind is very good.  I suggest to you that the only thing that can keep us from this Gospel experience is just not believing it to be what it says it is.  If I do not believe that He showed me how to love as He does and than motivated me to love as He does, I will always be chasing a fabrication to make it so.  
The conclusion of the matter: Take a good look at what He gave you.  Stay there.  Lie down there.  Rest in it.  You will never BE the same.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What Qualifies a Human?

I have often hesitated in offering myself. "For what?" you ask. Well "For anything," I answer. The logical question is "What qualifies me?" As humans, we are only a measure in and of ourselves. I have some capability here and some knowledge there and some experience in yet another area. But what qualifies me to offer myself? As humans we are a little unlimited in some things and a little limited in others. Added up, we are never ALL that is needed. For myself, I am usually more aware of my lack of qualifiers than my storehouse. If we look to ourselves to discover why we could be considered an authority on anything, we come up short. I will always meet someone who can go farther than I, do better than I and reach longer than I.
The question of our quality goes way back. ...way, way, way back. You and I were only a twinkle in Divinities eye. It goes back to the formation of the human. The sixth day when God bent His heart low and caressed the surface of the dust with His countenance. Enter the moment. Enter the story. Enter the romance of Divinity and Dust. It was nothing so tedious as designing a mechanical devise. Nor so artificial as detached incubation. God pressed His form and function into the dust of the Earth. You were conceived in that moment, of love.  "...then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature," Genesis 2:7.  Not detached or mechanical. God got close!
The closeness of Divinity, the mingling of His personality with the dust of Earth was such a phenomena that it continues to conceive and reproduce the array of human physics and personalities that we see on display in this present world. The bursts of creativity, energy and delight that riddled the atmosphere when the Ad'am was generated break out by rule of their ordination, despite the limits we impose and whether or not they are wanted. Life begets life begets life begets life. And God did it just by loving the dust. Really consider in this one precious moment of your breath that God deeply desired the human frame and heart. Your existence in this very second upon Earth was Divinely anticipated.
Your quality as a human cannot be added to or taken away from. The presumptions of many thoughts and voices would have us think so. But in the end, it is the fact that I have EYES that qualifies me to see. And that I have EARS that qualifies me to hear. And that I have a NOSE that qualifies me to smell. And that I have a TONGUE that qualifies me to taste. And that I have TOUCH that qualifies me to feel. It is the fact that I have a human heart that qualifies me to think and perceive and reason and experience empathy. In short, it is the quality of my design that qualifies me to be as I am. Any adjustments that I make to alter, elevate or debase it do not take away from it's original evaluation: "It was very good," Genesis 1:31.
The very simple point that I am trying to make is that my quality is completely dependent upon His Divinity. Our quality is such. We stand on an even plane. We have all been created of equal quality by God. If we have received the regeneration of God's Spirit, we also have the quality of a new heart. Because He said so. Because He got close. Because He is close. There is nothing else to qualify myself on. My full measure is a result of His good evaluation. I cannot pride myself on any elevating achievements or opinions. However much I may want to. Neither can I shame myself on any debasement of condition or criticism. My quality depends on none of these. My quality is in the formation of my human creation. I am because He is. And as I am, a quality human, nothing more and nothing less, I offer myself.

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