Friday, April 30, 2010

Tamar

Tamar, you are a palm tree; tall, erect, proud with royal virtues.  “Palm tree”, anyway, is the meaning of your name.  Your long flowing gown of a virgin princess, merely ornaments the beauty of your pure, virgin spirit.  Tamar…

…was the sister of Absalom.  King David’s own daughter.  Amnon was her half-brother.  Her devastation reaches out to us from 2 Samuel 13: 1-22.  The story beats with the pulse of an R-rated movie.  This less-than-fairy tale begins with Amnon entertaining lustful desire for his half-sister Tamar.  Determined to have her, he contrives a deceptive plan to get her alone with him in his room.  A request is sent by messenger in which Amnon asks Tamar to come to him with homemade soup because he is not feeling well and desires her attentiveness.  But while she is showing him kindness, he becomes physically aggressive towards her.  She pleads with him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing.  And as for me, where could I carry my shame?  And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel.  Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you,” 2 Samuel 13:12-13.  Tamar offers herself to Amnon as a wife of covenant!  She offers to abide with him as a true lover. “But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.  Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.  And Amnon said to her, ‘Get up! Go!’ But she said to him, ‘No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.’  But he would not listen to her.  He called the young men who served him and said, ‘Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.’ Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed.  So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her,” verses 14-18. 

Tamar… .who are you now?  How will you present yourself in this world?  What will you wear?      “And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore.  And she laid her hand on her head and went away crying aloud as she went,” verse 19.   Tamar’s heart had been aggressively ripped from her breast.   A commonly suggestive game has now begun in and all about the airwaves of her vaguely noticed life.  She had come earnestly to her brother with the purpose of giving sisterly love and she was treated improperly.  His actions suggested to her that she was merely a sex object and love was merely a lustful game.  A perspective began to form in her mind and heart, gathering momentum with each added suggestion.  “And her brother Absalom said to her ‘Has Amnon your brother been with you?  Now hold your peace, my sister.  He is your brother, do not take this to heart.’  So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house,” verse 20.  Here again and there again a thought, a word concerning her new situation.  So many suggestions were made against her heart, her femininity, the nature of love, and her God.  Her person was assaulted by a world of shame and her God was assaulted by unholy perspectives.  The God of all comfort was not the God of their evangelism.  Absalom told her to be quiet and go home.  Tamar would never open her body and emotions to affection again. She would forever shrink back from royal delights and marital pleasures.  There was no good reason for this because her shame was not her own.  But that’s not what she heard or saw.  The perspective of the Royal Palm Tree was altered… .changed by the suggestions.  

Tamar, the Royal Palm Tree, slumped forward, her face in the dust… .the virgin bark covering stripped, the green leafy tresses split and cut off.  She could hear the torrential downpour of her shame.  Such an torment.  Such an injustice.  Her perspective of self and her perspective of her God completely changed… Is Divinity devoid of comfort?  Does God even care?  God, are you to blame for this?

Have you ever been there?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

God Hears


Hagar dropped the last bag of provisions over the side of her camel. She searched the backdrop of tents nervously and then surveyed the shepherds on night duty in the distance.  No one seemed to notice her impending departure.  With a bit of struggle, she mounted her camel.  “Yah! Yah!” and she was off!  It was possibly a brave, or possibly a foolhardy attempt through deserted landscapes.  But Hagar felt pushed beyond hope.  Her atmosphere was now filled with animosity.  Perhaps it was her own fault.  Upon agreeing to marry Abraham, she assumed she would obtain a better standing in the household.  When she became pregnant she was certain of it.  Her certainty had bred an arrogance in her own soul; an arrogance that she would pay for dearly.  Sarai sought every opportunity to degrade and punish her for it.  The situation had become unbearable.  Very humbly, Hagar came to realize that she was merely a servant and impregnated second wife.  Her marital state was not born of love.  It might be said that she was a commercial womb.  There was something gross about her situation that demeaned her value daily.  
Hagar ran, fearfully, from all of the confusion to carry her misery into the desert.  She pulled her warm cloak tightly against her body to shield her from the cold desert night.  The stars overhead shimmered like happy heroes for the hopeful soul.  Hagar felt her heart break in every sparkle. …she was not a hopeful soul and could not enjoy the sound of their singing.  Dance with Me!  Dance with Me!  they giggled.  She was miles from the encampment now.  The camel’s hoof beats echoed between canyon walls.  Hagar studied the cracked fortresses with trained eyes.  Enemies could be lurking anywhere.  She appeared to be alone except for the stirring whispers that seemed to surround her.  She cautiously wondered at the stability of her own imaginations and prayed a handful of superstitious prayers.  The stars cut a slit of light through the canyon illuminating her path.  She would follow this path to nowhere certain until the break of day. 
By morning, Hagar’s eyes lost their focus and began to close.  She forced herself awake unwilling to end her first leg of the journey just yet.  It didn’t make sense to stop until the sun heated the landscape.  By that time, it would be unbearable to travel and she would be nearer to a spring of water.  She had spent all night considering where she would go from here.  She had not reached any decision.  Too many tears littered her emotions and prevented a clear thought process.  As the sun rose higher in the sky, Hagar’s vision became more cloudy.  She was tired and her belly ached from child and sobs.  Nevertheless, she managed to reach the expected spring.  She carefully lowered her limp body down the side of the camel and steadied her stance.  There was the spring bubbling gleefully as though all the world were bright.  As Hagar bent to refresh her throat, a kind sensation tapped her shoulder.  “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’  Hagar turned about to see a sweet face.  “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.”  Their eyes met.  She realized that He already knew this.  God had sent a servant to intercept another servant.  His message to her was simple: go back and bless and serve Sarai.  Sarai’s perspective was not the final verdict on Hagar’s life.  God had a plan for Hagar and her newly formed son.  “And the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son.  You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction’. ...So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing, for she said “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi.” Genesis 16:11-14.
Ishmael means “God hears” and Beer-lahoi-roi means “the well of the living One who sees me”.  Hagar had met with right perspective that day.  God had revealed Himself as the one who sees her pain and hears her cry.  Throughout her wilderness journey His compassionate heart had surrounded her vulnerable soul, listening to her sobs and watching over her womb.  Hagar was not alone.  Her story would not become circumstantially painless after this event.  Hagar would once again find herself on a very similar journey.  But she would not be running….
God had made a covenant not only with Abraham, but also with Sarai.  “And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her.  I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her’,” Genesis 17:15-16.  It was by God’s choice and wisdom that Sarah became the bearer of the promised son.  Isaac, the promised son, was born when Ishmael had become a young boy.  Hagar had received her perspective of life from a God who restored her value.  But Ishmael had not.  The firstborn Ishmael mocked the position of the second born Isaac.  There was anger present.   Sarah requested that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away.  God intervenes and tells Abraham to do what Sarah says and He assures Abraham that He will make Ishmael a great nation also.  
“So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away.  And she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.  When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes.  Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, ‘Let me not look on the death of the child.’  As she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept.  And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.  Up!  Lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation’,” Genesis 21:14-18.  Hagar, have you forgotten?  I am the God that sees you.  I am the God that hears you.   I am that God that hears your son.  “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink,” Genesis 21:19-20.
O that we could always see from His perspective.  That we would everyday believe that He hears our cry.  Hagar ran and wept and He heard her cry.  Hers is not a story of increasingly wonderful circumstances.  Hagar is cast once again into the same desert she returned from years earlier.  But hers is a story of perspective.  Where mans decisions had designed her circumstantial life, God intervened to redesign her heart.  Hagar could have become an angry woman on a crooked path.  But instead she became a woman who met with God and trusted His heart.  O child of the human world, God hears you and see you.  What do you hear and see?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sweet Chariot

“Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home….”  That’s how the lines of the song go.  Do you know it?  Come for me chariot and sweep me away to a glorious land!  Beautiful idea.  Just like Elijah walking a familiar path across the river Jordon on dry land and then onward some more, leisurely in conversation with his apprentice.  And we now conjure up a tale of fiery passion swinging low to sweep the beloved Elijah off his feet into the presence of his God.  Elijah was sweetly delivered from…. .pause…. .think…. .Jezebel?  Ahab?  Baal prophets?  Death?  The sword?  Well, what was he delivered from?!  Walking and talking with Elisha… .his comrade, his friend, his pupil.  By all appearances, this is probably not a deliverance!

In the midst of Jezebel’s regime, standing before King Ahab, surrounded by the crazed prophets of Baal, at the mouth of Death and the edge of the sword, Elijah was guided right into the circumstances, not delivered from them.  Divinity took Elijah through, not around.  

Deliverance.  A man of flesh and blood hangs on a splintered cross by rusty nails.  “And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’  The soldiers also mocked him. …Saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’. ….One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying ‘Are you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!’ “ Luke 23:35-39.  Undelivered on the outside.  The message to Him: Save yourself!  Before kings and queens, in the midst of the rulers of this world, surrounded by crazed religion, at the mouth of Death and the edge of the sword, hanging on a splintered cross by rusty nails…. .save your own life.  Don’t hold your ground.  But He couldn’t take their advice.  Simply because He was so delivered. He had been completely saved.

Deliverance.  It’s not about sweet chariots sweeping us away from impending doom.  Not so much.  It’s about the Word that we have believed on the inside.  Therefore, we do not need to save our own lives.  We can stand.  We can wait.  We can do all things by faith.  We plant our feet and trust that He will order our circumstances.  But we have to stay planted.

I am not saying that deliverance is never circumstantial.  Certainly not.  If it were so, we would have to discount Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Red Sea, Daniel and the Lions Den and so many other stories.  However, notice simply that each of the stories are the direct result of a powerful Diety and a planted Human standing in trust, waiting in faith.  These individuals had already been saved.  They were already delivered… .on the inside.  They were able to believe Divinity in the midst of the torrents, the armies and the lions.  These were not individuals looking for thrills and dangerous situations.  These were not individuals running to become heroes and martyrs.  These individuals were occupied with conserving their ideologies about Divinity and saving other lives!  So they planted their feet and walked by faith.  Rather than riding the wings of chariots.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Plea

When Christ, in flesh and blood upon our planet, encountered our everyday humanity, it wasn’t for the purpose of summing up our deficiency or evaluating the depth of our sinful condition.  He wasn’t altogether that interested in the stuff.  The humans of planet Earth seemed to have enough zealous preoccupation in each others sins to go around.  No, the Christ had come to us to become personally acquainted with our cause.  To feel the itch of the skin we wore.  To drip with the sweat of the labor we endured.  To experience the groaning of the weight we carried.  To endure the pressures of the feelings we felt and the thoughts we thought.  To know for Himself the inner plea of the human soul.  That plea to be saved from his or her personal demands for salvation.  

Did my last statement make you think?  It sums up the depravity of the human situation: We demand to be saved!  And we will have it at the cost of anyone’s life.  It is the truth.  What have you lost in this life?  What portion of possessions, intellect, value, relationships, physicality, future, dreams, passions, welfare, emotions, favor and so on and so on and so on, have you lost in this life?  Undoubtedly, your existence has been thwarted by many an injustice.  What have you done about it?  What do we usually do?  Well, the normal human would try desperately to replace what was lost.  They would seek retribution.  They may even turn their anger upon themselves for allowing the act of injustice to take place.  The normal human would experience and act out of all sorts of despair and anger and rage and bitterness and envy and strife and rivalry and so on and so on and so on.  Yes, according to our current less-than-human state, this is how the normal human would respond to injustice.

Our cause is legitimate.  We legitimately have a need for justice in our personal stories.  But we humans, governed by our own hearts, could not possibly get that justice… .in a just way.  We commonly kill, steal or destroy in some sphere of humanity, to get back what was unjustly taken from us.  We commonly take a life to replace our own.  We want saved.  We want to save our own lives.  We want to put all the lost pieces of our own lives back together at the cost of someone else.  And here we encounter one of the classic Christian scriptures: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?  Or what shall a man five in return for his life?” Matthew 16:24-26. 

 Jesus Christ descended into our story to be a personal part of our misery.  The misery caused us by the injustices of life.  And He came to personally do the very opposite of what we do.  He wouldn’t take a life in exchange for His own.  In a slow and suffering, lengthy moment, He would give one. …for us.  He met the requirement of our plea.  End of story.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Life is a Beautiful Thing


…..It is worth our attention.  It is worth our affection.  It is worth our time and worth our resources.  It is worth our nurture.  It is worth our focus.  It is worth our labor and it is worth our devotion.  Look around.  All this life is worth everything you’ve got and then some.  One life is so precious, it is worth the sacrifice of another.  Although we may not feel this to be so concerning much of the life around us by our own evaluation, we prove it to be true. …in the blink of an eye, in an uncalculated moment. …before the hammer falls, the shot is fired and all goes dark, we step in.  Before the blow of death is administered, we take the punch.  We take the bullet.  We intercede.  That is, if we have any sense of Life at all.

It seldom happens during the long and the grueling opportunities for sacrifice.  The times that humanity suffers slowly.  Those moments of grandeur usually come when our minds have had little time to process the level of sacrifice about to be made.  Instinct requires us to take the bullet for another life about to be blown away.  We prove, that in our deepest parts we believe, that another life is worth saving at the cost of our very own.  

So the simple truth can be simply said: somewhere within our conscience we are aware that Life is precious and worth saving at the price of an equal sacrifice.  

In 2000 years of historical frustration with Humanity, Creator God, had not changed His perspective on this simple truth either.  It wasn’t about what Humanity had or had not done right or wrong.  It was all about the quality of the creation.  It was all about the desire of the Creator to enjoy, very personally, that quality creation once again.  Therefore, with eyes wide open, in a very calculated moment, after Humanity had already been shot and left for dead, He came closer than He had ever before to this frustrated, beautiful, created Life….

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Neither Do I...

“O taste and see that the Lord is good!” Psalm 34:8.  This woman had tasted an apple before; the forbidden fruits of several male lovers.  For less than an hour she would be held, kissed and wanted.  Her soul was in need of such wanting.  There seemed to be nowhere else to find it except deep inside this lifestyle of sin.  She never actually experienced the love she desperately longed for, but this was better than nothing.  She settled.  Her heart had to have a little food and a little clothing even if it was barely enough to fill a quarter of her hunger and the clothing left her soul mostly exposed.  Shroud after shroud hung itself over her heart through the years, like a light coating of dust.  The passing of time managed to dull the initial sting of agony that used to tug at her desire to live joyfully.  It was just a matter of surviving now.  She didn’t even feel the old remorse.  It had become somewhat triumphant to seduce a man and make a little money.  She had stopped caring how the sins affected the lives of her customers.  She didn’t care much about life at all.  It hadn’t proved to be anything pleasing.

When they came to get her, she was fully engrossed in her work.  She could tell that this pleased them.  They knew what she did for a living but hadn’t bothered saying anything until now.  She was barely given enough time to put on her robe.  This band of Pharisitical leaders grabbed her away with a great deal of pomp and circumstance.  Her shameful appearance was paraded through Jerusalem streets into the temple court.  She was recklessly pushed into the arena of onlookers before a plainly dressed Jewish Rabbi.  Suddenly her whole person was washed with a steady, warm stream of sadness.  Her flesh was tingling all over and shivers went up and down her spine.  She felt shame in the strangest way.  She could hear suggestions of pure affections towards her and a blush of foolishness colored her skin.  She felt like someone was holding her and kissing her and wanting her.  She felt like His hands were all over her soul, but it didn’t feel wrong or wicked.  The contrast between her former lover and this new Lover was staggering.  She was ashamed for allowing any existing entity to consume her precious life with disgraceful use, when there was a Lover out there who created her for Divine, pure, sensitive hugs and kisses.  She felt ashamed for having ever consumed another life that way.  Life was precious and enjoyable!  She was tasting and seeing the Lord that loved her and her whole body was tingling with ….resurrection!  “Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’  And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Women, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one Lord.’  And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’” John 8:6-11.

The moment you encounter and receive the verdict of Christ, is the moment of your justification.  The Son of God judged the Woman Caught in Adultery within her respective story.  He knew ALL of the “whys”.  But the glorious part is the punch line: “now go and sin no more”.  You see, it’s fabulously beautiful that He knows all the reasons for our current depraved condition, but it’s more fabulously beautiful that the internalization of His perspective has the power to deliver us from the destruction that we live in because of our own deficient perspective.  Wow!  That was a mouthful!  But a mouthful of truth.  The good news of the gospel is that we are personally known and personally delivered by His powerful personal Word.     AMEN!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

You Are a Cause

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. …Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange fro your life.  Fear not, for I am with you…” Isaiah 43:2-5.  

The stuff of life does not withdraw its presence.  The rivers are there, the waters, the fires and the flame.  The presence of adversity closes in.  Objects remain intended to cut.  The curses of Eden are round about us.  Blame, accusation and mere misunderstandings.  The Son of God descended into such a world.  A world where the hearts of men were forever seeking to kill and destroy anything and anyone that hindered their personal causes.  A world were cosmic battle lines had been drawn between the forces of holiness and the forces of rebellion.  A world where very few in the heavens and on earth laid down their weapons.  It was a dangerous descent into a world governed by demanding hearts.  And yet He came….

He came in naivety.  He came in dependancy.  He came in  obvious deficiency.  He came an infant.  He came in the very form and function that each and every one of us enters into this adversarial world.  He didn’t cover or protect Himself.  He was an open target to anything that the hearts of men desired.  He was required to trust just as we do.  He would live among the pressures and adversaries.  He would live at the receiving end of blame, accusation and misunderstanding.  He would die on the receiving end of “guilty”.   He had to trust the Father with a final verdict on His life.  He had to trust the very same structure and government that we, the spiritual children of God, live within and under.  Would the Father forget to justify and raise up His One and only Son?

Neither will He forget you!  Although, all of these pressures and adversaries rage around us, we can nonetheless be secure.  We are a cause.  I am a cause.  You are a cause.  Just as the Son of God was a cause.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.  No matter the verdict against our life in this adversarial realm, God is one who judges our case.  Just as He judged the case of Christ.  We are within and under the government of God.  A good government.  One that decides in our favor.  We have every reason to be secure and trust.  And every reason to be unafraid. …even as an “infant” in this world.  We can trust His love for us.  We can trust His instruction.  We can trust Him with the governance of our heart.  We can trust Him in the midst of adversaries and difficult circumstances.  He is for our success and honor.  He will justify our cause.  He will judge us rightly.  He will raise us up just as He raised the Son.  We are a cause worth fighting for!  Just as the Son was a cause!

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies?  Who is to condemn?  Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised….” Romans 8:32-34.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Can a Woman Forget?


Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you,” Isaiah 47:16.  O child of the human world, do you know who you are?  Joseph sat abruptly upright.  His forehead and palms were sweaty.  His eyes darted about the darkened room and his lungs fought for fresh air.  Panic was kicking in.  “Mary!” he blurted.  Mary woke aggressively shaking off the covers and heading straight for baby Jesus.   “What happened!?  What happened!?” she shouted as she reached for her child.  Her hands and eyes studied Him wildly checking for vital signs.  Jesus let out a long agitated infant yelp and Mary was immediately satisfied.  Joseph, still groggy, stared at the commotion dumbfounded.  Mary nuzzled Jesus for a long moment and Joseph realized that when she was done, he was going to be scolded!  “Mary,” he whispered.  She glared at him. This could have cost her the entire nights sleep!  “Mary,” he tried again, “I have to talk to you.”  She glared again.  This had better be very important, she thought.  Miraculously, Jesus settled back into sleepiness and the young couple snuck into the other room.  Mary sat on a cushion and waited.  She didn’t dare speak for fear she might say something out of anger.  After all, this could really be an urgent matter and she had better find out first.
“We have to leave now,” he said.  Mary waited for more. “I dreamed of an angel.”  Mary came to attention.  This was serious.  “He told me to take you and Jesus to Egypt for safety.” Now Joseph waited.  Mary slunk back into the wall.  Life was turning into something of an adventure she had never hoped for or expected.  She missed her family in Nazareth and was just getting used to Bethlehem.  But Egypt was a foreign place and very far away.  Joseph leaned forward, “Herod is going to try to kill Jesus!” he whispered urgently.  “I will tear him limb from limb if he lays one uncircumcised hand on my little boy!” Mary threatened with a finger in Joseph’s face.  This is good! Joseph thought with a boyish grin.  “What are you grinning at!”  Joseph sobered his expression and stood to his feet.  He wasn’t worried about getting to Egypt.  Mother Hen’s feathers were ruffled.  Look out Roman army!  
Do you know who you are?  “If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn?  Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ….No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:31-39.  
He loves you as much as He loves the Son…

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Faith Is...


Faith is not an ethereal imaginative concept.  It is real and tangible.  It is the eternal perspective that transforms our speech and activity.  What we do now is based on who we believe He is in eternity.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the people of old received their commendation.  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commended him by accepting his gifts.  And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him.  Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.   And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.  By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith,” Hebrews 11:1-7.  

Simply put, faith is a belief system or perspective that operates from the character of God.  Because I believe that He is who He says He is, I do and say things that are consistent with His person.  I believe that He is my Eternal Benefactor.  Everything I need is in Him.  Therefore, I demand nothing of any source.  He is my Eternal Source.  Faith insists that God is the One who redeems and restores and rewards.  Faith refuses to seek out any other means of redemption, restoration or reward.  Faith liberates perspective!  If I trust my Father to bestow His Eternal benefits upon my Life; knowing that I will experience some in the temporal realm and all in the eternal realm, I am free to discontinue pressing and pushing to get anything for myself!  I am free to perceive this Life as an opportunity to gain!  I am free to give because I never lose.  All of my losses will be redeemed, all of my walls restored, all of my willful giving rewarded.  

My faith is not unfounded.  It has been proven in the Son.  He died and was raised.  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” Ephesians 2:4-10.  God has simply asked us to believe that He deeply loves our life as much as He loves the life of His Son.  God raised the Son.  God will raise us.  God has completely redeemed, restored and rewarded the Son.  He will completely redeem, restore and reward us.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Intentional Love

You are His home.  His resting place.  His love for You is not passive or indifferent.  Neither is He violently aggressing Your heart.  He is longing and looking for You and waiting for the day to be forever with You.  You are not just anyone in the eyes of the Father and the Son.  Do you believe this?

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love,” 1 John 4:18.  My Father loves me just as much as He loves His Son.  “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name.  When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation,” Psalm 91:14-16.   The arousal of love between two persons is a frightening thing.  We have entered into a fearful romance that deprives us, graciously, of all fear.  Do you know who you are?  The man or woman that chooses to possess God’s heart instead of demanding earthly restoration becomes a Beloved Child of God.  God’s heart is aroused to passion for the one who chooses to trust Him with losses.  If we, by faith, believe that our Eternal Benefactor is deeply moved and concerned with the restoration of our loss, we will not fear loss.  God has promised to deliver us, protect us, answer us, be with us, rescue us and honor us.  He will be faithful.  His perfect intentional love towards us is as faithful as His love for His Son.   His perfect intentional love towards us will certainly redeem, restore and reward.  His perfect intentional love towards us drives out our fear of losing anything in this life.  Throw caution to the wind!!  Divinity is for the highest good of humanity!  God is for us!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Cause


What is a cause?  A cause, is a commitment that one is willing to advocate.  Some run so deep that we are willing to die for them.  And that reminds me of something…. .it also reminds me of Someone…

“If a man offered for love, all the wealth of his house for love, he would be utterly despised,” Songs of Songs 8:7.  And yet, a Man has done this.  A brilliant and beautiful Spiritual Man.  This “Son of God” existed in the bountiful heavenly realms.  Amongst light.  Within serenity.  High above contentions and poverty.  Endued with maturity.  In the rapture of majesty.  An eternity parted from our cursed earthly strivings.  

The Creator called a gathering of His Hosts.  He waited patiently for their undivided attention.  It was time to implement the manifesto.  It was time to enter into the climax of the story.  It was time…. The Hosts stood respectfully and listened to the Creators current of heartfelt anticipation.  The Creator had long awaited this moment when peace would be purchased.  One human man would bear the timeless sins of all humanity.  Who would go?  Who would willingly be that one?

The Eternal Hall fell silent.  Each Host begin to count the cost of such a sacrifice.  “Then I heard a voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’  Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’,” Isaiah 6:8.  Instinctively, the enter assembly bowed a knee, leaving the voice bearer as the only one standing.  He would go.  He would leave the Heavens and descend into the human world; not only to observe and spectate, but to be a growing participant.  He would risk the possibilities of danger, poverty, relational abandonment, full failure of the cause, any hope of returning and death.  Inevitable death.  He would go to them on behalf of the Creator.  This One would go. ….for love.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Search Me

There was no flaw in the original design.  And as the Creator sees it. …there is no flaw in you.  You simply need His Life, His Spirit and His Word as apportioned to you by the authorized Redeemer and Restorer: Jesus Christ.  Your Personal Savior.

“…man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.  The heart is known by the Savior of the heart.  “I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve,” Revelation 2:23.  He searches the inner man and draws conclusions about our outer works from there.  This is good news!  Our Beloved has not come to fix our behaviors but to awaken our hearts.  He has come to restore the inner man by His Spirit.  He has come to us with an understanding of our deep places.  He has come with knowledge of the conforming pressures we have been subjected to.  “…He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows… .he was wounded… .he was crushed,” Isaiah 53:4-5.  He is completely acquainted with our human experience.  “For we do not have a priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknessses…,” Hebrews 4:15.  He knows how easily we bend and fold under pressure.  How easily we are conformed.  Therefore, He, Our Beloved, is able to judge the reasons for our behaviors.  He is fit to examine our works because He is personally familiar with our inner stories and the motives of our hearts.  “I do not even judge myself… .it is the Lord who judges me,” 1 Corinthians 4:3-4.  Simply said, He is a personal Savior who examines the inner man and does a work within us that is specific to our condition and stories.  We are not all the same.  And the Beloved performs a transformation in us that is personal.  “…For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it,” John 12:47.  We have arrived at the purpose of His indwelling personal Word.  To save us!  He examines us so that He might fully know us.  He searches the heart and mind so that He might save us from our personal condition.  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” Hebrews 4:12-13.

It is good to know that He has come close.  That He has searched the heart.  That He has examined the mind.  He has visited us by our wells of noonday shame and our vineyards of captivity.  All that He might fully know us.  All that He might identify with us.  It is good to know that He has written a love song.  That He has formed a Word.  That He has spoken it into the chaos.  He has spoken to us and declared love for us at the risk of His reputation and fame.  He has pierced our conscience with the awareness of New Life and New Spirit. He has come to separate us from the marks left by thorns and briars.  From the message of the conforming pressures.  These are not our story.  Our story is rewritten by the very Word of His mouth.  He knows you personally and He writes, for you, a personal story.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Explanations of the Heart


The creation did not need fixing or figured out.  It needed understanding.  An understanding that could fearfully and wonderfully remake the individual.  The weak human vessel needed total recreating.  “The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life,” John 4:13.  The human vessel needed the nurture of Eternity.  
The quality of our restoration is Eternal.  And that’s why it requires a continual drink.  It is a flowing supplement that sustains our hearts.  “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds,” Jeremiah 17:10.  The eyes of the Lord search the emotions, desires and motivations that often run too deep for words.  If we attempt in any way to fix our demanding hearts, we will come very short of the ability.  “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9.  The Woman at the Well looked for a Messiah to enlighten her to the inner things.  Why so many husbands?  Why the curse of noonday?  And why worship a God so far away?  The Messiah knew her heart.  We often attempt to come at the human heart from all directions, looking for a way to rearrange and make it better.  But God said, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannessses. …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 put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules,” Ezekiel 36:25-27.  God will cause it.   A drink of cool Spiritual water will wash away an old consciousness.  And a new heart, a new consciousness will remain of Eternal Living things.
Each and every one of us have many “reasons” running through our hearts and minds, our emotions and thoughts, our bloodlines and experiences that provoke us to lead our lives the way we do.  Things are not always what they seem.  We may be totally rebellious in our desires and actions or pressured and deceived.  Only the Creator knows for certain.  Rather than quickly and justly destroy us in our various unrighteous ways, He chooses to come close and speak to our lostness.  He chooses to offer an opportunity for rescue.  He chooses to mercifully hold out a drink of Eternity - He offers a drink of Eternal searching.  He offers to inhabit our lives with a new perspective, a new consciousness, a New Life.  He offers to abide as a New Heart and a New Mind within us. ….and search.   He will search us forever if we will meet, move and search with Him.  If we will dive into our reasons and let Him make ALL THINGS NEW!  
Here we stand.  Very thirsty, very hungry, very dirty and gaunt.  We are barely surviving.  The sun is beating down.  And we know we haven’t got a prayer.  We need water to quench our reasons. But we don’t deserve it.  We haven’t exactly been this merciful towards others.  We have five husbands to testify to that.  But He knows our hearts.  He knows what we are in need of.  He knows the just explanations that we need to get and give.  Look for the Messiah.  The explanations of the heart are from Him.  And He has come to help, not hinder, our cause by connecting us with His explanations.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding,” Proverbs 3:5. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Whole Story

The ears of the audience were destined for a magnificent quality of sound tonight.  They watched intently as the soloist arrived at center stage.  They gloried for a full twenty minutes of deep resonance and perfect pitch.  During that time, the audience could not see the hours of driven practical steps required to achieve this performance.  They could not hear the sour notes, the attentive correction of vocal instructors and the rigorous voice strengthening exercises rehearsed day after day after day, hour after hour after hour.  The audience saw and heard only this present twenty minute performance.

Life doesn’t happen in moments.  It happens in layers of hours and days and years.  There is a story unfolding.  Our lives happen in one long story.  As spectators, we see and hear only glimpses of our neighbors story.  We see their lives in a series of performances.  We form opinions and carry along ideas based on our limited views and collection of sounds.  Not one of us perceives the whole story of our neighbors life.  

Ecclesiastes 3 says that there is, “a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones,and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and  a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”  Each of our lives are in the midst of these “times”.  We experience the ebbing and flowing of their seasons in our personal stories.  We, alone, walk through the effects of their sights and sounds while spectators glean their glimpses.  

Glimpses are not enough to form opinions.  They are not sufficient to make full and profound judgments.  And yet, we do it anyway.  When was the last time you sat yourself down across from your neighbor and listened for an hour or two or three?  Have you ever considered committing yourself to listen to another’s story for a week, a month, or even years?  When was the last time you committed your heart to the careful consideration of someone’s story?  Making yourself a conscious friend?  Opening your ears and eyes to the fullness of perspective?  For someone’s lifetime perhaps?  After all, their life has unfolded in a story.  It is longer and deeper than you are aware of right now.  You should know their story.  And someone should know yours.

God perceives our lives within their respective stories.  His eyes and ears and heart have been committed to the conscious cause of knowing your times and seasons.  The judgments that He forms are based on careful considerations of your comings and goings, your loses and wins, your knowledge and ignorance and so on and so forth.  He knows ALL of you.  In Isaiah, it was prophesied of the Christ, that He would leave all judgment of our individual lives to the One who knew the whole story.  “He will not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge…” Isaiah 11:3.  He would judge our lives from a right condition, a perfect perspective, a proper division of the whole story.  Our actions would be tied to their respective motives which would be known within the context of their probable provocations.  In other words, He would know exactly why, from our heart and past experiences, we do what we do and say what we say.  Jesus Christ would lend His ears and eyes to the Father because the Father knew the whole story of every life that Christ came into contact with.  He judges us within our stories, not apart from them.

This is both good news AND good advice to us.  We ought also to follow Christ in this.  We ought also to lend our eyes and ears to the One who knows the whole story.  And we ought also to lend our heart to our neighbor, committing to know their story.  Reserve judgment.  Embrace your neighbor.  Know their story.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jacob's Well

It was hot.  It was the middle of the day.  It was the time of day that a social outcast was expected to get water from Jacob’s Well.  She was a social outcast.  Even among the mostly pagan Samaritans, she was an outcast.  Her lifestyle was questionable and avoided.  Mothers whispered about her to their children.  And old women concocted fantastic stories about why this woman had had five husbands.  Sometimes she got sympathy.  After all, maybe her former husbands were displeased with her.  But the sympathy was secretive; no one dared risk reputation.  Mostly, she got noses.  They pointed upward, supporting slits of unmoved eyes and crowning motionless strips of lip.  

She pulled her cloak over her forehead to shield her eyes from the straightforward sun.  In the morning, the ladies helped one another juggle their jars, but she would make another attempt to balance hers alone.  As she drew near the well, she spied a man sitting on the edge of the stone.  She hesitated and glanced nervously about.  It wasn’t highly unusual for a man to come and get a drink at any time of day, but she couldn’t afford any additional ammunition for the gossip chains.  Oh well, she thought, what difference does it make now!  She approached the well casually and unloaded her jar.  She did her best to appear relaxed and indifferent to his presence.  But he didn’t facilitate her indifference, “May I have a drink?” he asked.  She jumped.  The request startled her.  And then her eyes fell upon the features of his face.  “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’  (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, Give me a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’  The woman said to him, ‘Sir you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep.  Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob?  He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever.  The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’  The woman said, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’” John 4:9-15.

Now He had her full attention.  A man, a Jew, who spoke with her freely and had water that quenched thirst forever.  No more embarrassing trips to the well at noonday. “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband and come here.’  The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’  Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, ‘ I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.  What you have said is true.’  The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’” John 4:16-20.   Disappointment.  He was just another Jewish prophet come to tell her why she had no hope of knowing God.  She had come to feel that the religious system was nothing more than a political debate over who should be in charge.  But this Man was taking the conversation a different direction… “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him, God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in sprit and truth.” John 4:21-24.

The Samaritan women looked off into the distance.  She didn’t understand the meaning of His words.  They sounded interesting, but what she longed to see someday was the Man who was supposed to save everybody. …the Messiah.  She wanted to know what this wonderful Man would do to bring freedom and miracles and quality to life.  She looked back at this foolish Jewish man spouting prophecies.  Probably she would never see the Messiah.  Probably she would never have a chance to understand all of these things.  “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ).  When he comes, he will tell us all things.’  Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he,’” John 4:25-26.  Seriously?  It took a moment to sink in.  Then her jaw dropped, her knees went weak, and she felt a little sick. …overwhelmed.  The Jewish Messiah had just spent the past hour talking with her casually!  He had asked her for water and prophesied her past.  And never once did she feel belittled or her sins unnecessarily exposed.  He just said He knew about it and than offered her some forever water!  He respected her feminine Samaritan person and offered to give her something!  This was not normal or usual in any sense.

Just then his disciples came back.  They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you seek?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’” John 4:27.  They weren’t going to say it, but this wasn’t normal or usual in any sense.  “ So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come see, a man who told me all that I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?’  They went out of town and were coming to him,” John 4:4-30.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Eyes of the Beholder

He gazed at the distant shadow of a figure, and with that one glimpse, threw off the distance in haste.  He would have been a match for chariots today!  He was less than a mile from the promised land: one hundred thirty-four pounds of flesh.... .a limp, heaving mass of leanness; like a candle, deprived of its last flame and left as only a pile of melted wax. 

 The dust flew wildly into the air behind the quickening pace of the old man.  He overcame the staggering shadow with an abundance of fatherly joy.  “Ah! Ah!” he praised as his heavy breathing gave him no room for greater words.   He embraced odorous skeletal weakness with a covenantal hold and a plethora of fast and faintly spoken Jewish prayers.  Elderly fingers ran themselves through knotted, dark brown hair, fingering strand by strand and counting. …”One, two, three” in a whisper.  Tears formed salty puddles upon gaunt shoulders as the old man buried his face into his son’s sunken frame.  Bodies were shaking; one with sobs of regret and the other with sobs of ecstasy.  They withered into mutual embrace on bended knee.

The old man grabbed the sullen face before him and coddled it between his palms.  He searched the features of his son with memories.  He remembered the eyes to be as ripe black olives kissed by reflections of the noonday sun.  He recalled the nose to be regal and held high.  The mouth and jaw were broad and laughing.  The brow deep with heroic thoughts.  The Life had been drawn out of every bone and pore in his son’s body, and yet the eyes of the old man danced across the present portrait in celebration of the life that had returned.  “My beloved, beloved son,” he whispered so close that the forlorn younger man could feel the wind of the words touch his face and go down into his very soul.

The years of separation…. .the physical, mental, emotional and moral dissipation were drown eternally and forever washed away.  After all, to all consciousness, his son had been dead; no one had known of his welfare.  And now, to this father’s relief, this beloved son had returned to the land of their Living.  A beloved son was all this old man’s eyes chose to behold.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Spiritually, Miraculous Gift


We have never been able to accomplish salvation on our own.  We have never succeeded in rearranging our personal messes, healing our scars or even fighting our own battles.  Throughout human history, we have always failed.  We are weak and needy persons on our own.  We have no might…. .we have no power to perform it.  “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord,” Zechariah 4:6.  The re-creation of the human being is a spiritual gift.  It is accomplished by the Spirit.  The human is known and made new by the indwelling Spirit.  
She couldn’t cover the skin that was burning.  She couldn’t shield her small body from the heat.  She couldn’t keep her own vineyard because the day had passed and She had spent her time in other vineyards, working for no pay.  She couldn’t explain the pain she was feeling.  She couldn’t defuse the anger she felt towards her captors.  She couldn’t wash away the shame and embarrassment no matter how often she bathed in the pool.  Ever feel this way?  Your condition seems to be stationary.  You can’t define the chaos.  You can’t wash away the shame.  The circumstances of life seem to make a fool of you day after day.  You can’t suppress your desire to demand your rights.  You are angry and the conforming pressures are pressing you to sin.  You haven’t kept your own vineyard.  You haven’t had the time or energy to keep your own heart.  What you need….. .is a miracle.
The apple tree She ate from wasn’t distant.  The cup that She drank was offered to Her by a compassionate hand.  It wasn’t hiding in a book on a shelf.  It wasn’t disguising itself with clever strategies and difficult feats of religion.  It was growing right in the middle of Her conscience.  God grew a tree to eat from in the center of Her heart.  If God dwells within you, you have everything you need…. .just eat.  BELIEVE the Word of healing He speaks to you.
Salvation is a miracle.  This is our best explanation.  How else is it possible that the mere speaking of a Word can make us clean?  There is no pushing or pulling.  There is no data or deadlines or lists of duties.  Very simply, God saw our conditions and chose to have mercy on us.  He chose to perform a miracle within us.  He chose to give us the gift of Eternal Life.  “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:8-10.  We are re-created in a consciousness of Christ.  By knowing Him and being known, we are cleaned, healed, restored and resurrected.  It’s a gift and a miracle.   We can’t deliver ourselves from the obvious mess.  But we can be known and brought back to life by His Spirit…. .personally.
The Creator is not wasting His time by trying to fix us up.  He is moving and weaving to lead us back to the first breath, the garden, the original words spoken over your life, “It is very good.”    So, a Savior has come to start the story over, “In the beginning God created…” Genesis 1:1; “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.  To breath a new life, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,” John 20:22;  “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit, “1 John 4:13.  To speak a new word, “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” John 15:3;  “…as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word,” Ephesians 5:25.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Personal

We, the Shullamite, exist in the story as a captive.  We have been altered by the conforming pressures of this world.  Thorns and Briars.  We have been altered by the opinions and the words of onlookers.  We have been altered.  We are not what we were made to be.  We are in need of a personal revival.  The recreation of our Dust.  We need to be intimately united to His good evaluation….. .to become one with His perspective.  
The love story is very personal.  The cup is very personal.  Will you marry me?  There is a desire in the Beloved to share a personal story with us.  To drink of the same cup.  To know and be known.  “He says, ‘May your… .mouth (be) like the best wine,’ and  She says, ‘It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth’,” Song of Songs 7:8-10.  Dialogue is exchanged for a lover’s eternity.  Hearts are exchanged.  Experiences are exchanged.  Lives are exchanged.
“And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” Matthew 26:27-28.  The blood of Christ, the DNA of the Spirit, is intended to personally inhabit each and every human being.  It is a literal internalization of the spiritual life of Christ.  In the same way that Christ walked fully Human into our captive worlds, we have been invited to walk fully Spiritual into His free world.  And it’s personal.  I can’t say it enough.  The body and the blood goes into our hearts and minds.  It dwells fully within.  It speaks salvation to the individual soul.  
The Prince of Peace comes with an invitation.  It is an invitation to experience.  He is not averted by our condition.  He is drawn to our original design.  He asks to experience us, individually.  And He offers Himself to be experienced.  He wants to know and be known.  We take in His salvation.  We digest it and it becomes an integral part of our souls.  We speak it back to Him.  She says, “My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand…. .this is my beloved and this is my friend,” Song of Songs 5:10-16.  And as the worship of love is sung back and forth between lovers, the fibers of the song weave a strong cord that cannot be broken.  “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it,” Song of Songs 8:7.  The Divine enraptures the dust and the threads of each are not individually recognizable.  “A threefold cord is not quickly broken,” Ecclesiastes 4:12. They become One!
Personally knowing and being personally known.  “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known,” 1 Corinthians 13:12.  You are known by the Beloved.  You are personally known.  He has descended into your human world.  He has come to inhabit and explore your human heart.  He longs to know you.  And He has come to speak a personal word that revives you.  A word of Life.  It’s a very personal story.  He knows the stories of your marks and the tale of your captivity.  He has come to offer you the cup of internal salvation…. .for eternity.  Get caught up in the internal, enrapturing, lyrical salvation of His personal word to you!

Friday, April 2, 2010

You Are Clean

“As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.  With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.  Sustain me with raisins; refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love,” Song of Songs 2:2-5.  Encompassed by strong roots, the soft soil mounded to form a thick pillow underneath me.  I lay my head against the solid trunk and drank scented air.  The food was the finest in the land.  I could hear it speaking into the chambers of my heart.  “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price,” (Isaiah 55:1) it whispered, “Come to me, all who labor… .and… .rest,” (Matthew 11:28).  Never pass up a free meal!  I ran my right index finger over the rim of the silver goblet.  I was about to drink the fruit of the vineyard….
Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  We do what is right in the sight of God because we believe the message we have heard.  And yet Isaiah laments, “Who has believed what they heard from us?” (Isaiah 53:1).  So where, then, is this word that produces faith?  “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.  For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely heart, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’  But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear,” Matthew 13:13-16.  It is figurative and it implies that hearing and seeing are of the heart.  Christ’s words are spoken into the chambers of my heart.  I rest in His good evaluation spoken on the inside.
The word of Christ was never intended to be understood from the outside.  It was not intended to be a mere meditation for the unregenerate human heart.  This word was and is intimately connected to it’s benefactor.  He is one with His word.  Therefore, it is transferred from new heart to new heart.  “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 put my Spirit with you, and cause you to walk in my statures and be careful to obey my rules,” Ezekiel 36:26:27.  My Spirit!  The labor of humanity is to fall in love with this sustaining and personal word spoken to our spirit.  To rest in it. Eat it.  Drink it.  Accept it as true.  Enjoy it.  Delight in it!
“I am the true vine…” John 15:1.  The word is intimately connected to the benefactor.  The nutrients that bring life are intimately sustaining the True Vine.  And He shares them with us.  “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you,” John 15:3.  Notice something: Christ caused the cleanness.  Christ caused my cleanness.  Christ caused your cleanness.  It came to us as an intimate substance of the Spirit He gave us.  It speaks a personal word of healing to the human it indwells.  You are cleaned, you are healed, you are restored by the word He speaks to you.  “Abide in me, and I in you,” John 15:4.  Do you hear what I hear?  The word of the Spirit of the One who loves you…. .on the inside.  I delight to eat and drink this substance!
“Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’  Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’  Jesus said to him, ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.  And you are clean…’ “John 13:8-10.  The internalized word cleansed the human heart.  It took out the stone and replaced it with soft flesh.  To be a part of Christ is to let Him wash us daily… .with His word.  His cleaning, abiding, satisfying, sustaining good evaluation.  He makes all things brand new on the inside.  
I put the cup to my lips.  A few inches beneath my nose swirl the aromas of the vineyard.  This is His cup.  He asks me to drink.  I am a vineyard captive that has captivated His very heart.  He is a vine of another vineyard.  He is an Eternal Vine.  “Drink,” He says, “drink of me.”  If I accept this cup, I accept the proposal.  I accept the rights to Him and He to me.  I lose my rights to another life.  “Drink,” He says, “And you will never thirst again.”  And if I drink I internalize His lyrics of love, eternally, and I am not thirsty for any other love songs.  I delight to drink!

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