Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Awake

“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness,” Psalm 17:15.  Do not assume for an instant that David was speaking of life after death.  Believe me, David spoke of his conscious day to day experience.  His eyes opened in the morning and he was aware!   He was conscious of his God.  “O Lord in the morning you hear my voice…” Psalm 5:3.  “Satisfy us in the morning…” Psalm 90:14.  

There was one place to go for understanding and strength and he waited there also at noon.  “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice,” Psalm 55:17.  After all, the Creator was David’s Governor.  All throughout the morning, the afternoon and the evening, David sought sustenance and commands from only one government.  That is, when he was making good choices!  

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life,” Psalm 42:8.  Even in the night, he was awake to the God of his life.  His life was thus so conscious of its Divine Governor.  “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me,” Psalm 16:7.

Every moment I awake!  For God is with us and revealed to us.  The human life is capable of knowing its God.  Capable of constant consciousness and communion.  We were not made separate of Him and we are not designed to thrive of form and function without His Government.   His likeness, His song, His command and His counsel are a government to our integral lives.  Every part of me at every moment needs the God of my life, the Governor of my whole being.

Are you beyond filling a hungry fading and failing existence?  Are you beyond trying to keep yourself alive?  Are you more than surviving?  Have you opened your eyes and eaten your fill?  Are you conscious of and engaged in His Abiding Word… .His Likeness, Song, Command and Counsel… .His Government? 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hunger Pains

“And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord,” Deuteronomy 8:3.   Something of the body and spirit seeks to fill its hunger.  You are hungry.  Perhaps desperately hungry.  Your Creator has not empowered any other “tree” than His own Tree of Life to sustain you.  He has let you hunger.  And you are aware of your hunger.  The Creator has not empowered any other word except His Word of Life to satisfy and raise you.  Something in you is hungry….  The Wise Creator has jarred you to consciousness.  He has caused peoples of the earth to feel their hunger pains.
The cravings of the inner and outer human are not separable.  What manifests in the external is also manifesting internally.  We assume that one, the internal, proceeds the other, external.  However, there is really no reason to assume this.  The human being is not so easily divided up.  The starvation of Israelite flesh in the wilderness intentionally starved the spirit as well.  The Human is a whole being.  And God’s Word, given by His Spirit, governs the whole being.
The Governmental Word of God is sufficient, absolutely necessary, to govern ALL things.  He speaks wisdom, knowledge and understanding into every aspect of human existence.  To receive the Creator as Divine Governor, is to allow Him to command all of our ways, internally and externally manifesting His Government.
“…he humbled you and let you hunger…”  In His wisdom, He has thwarted us.  As a race of peoples, we have been purposely cast off and starved.  Allowed to wander and find no sufficient source of nutrition.  We lack wisdom, knowledge and understanding to govern all things.  As a race of peoples, we have been given no access to the Tree of His Life.  No access, unless we come through the Son.  Unless we receive His governmental influence ruling in the heart and through the body once again.  He has thwarted us until we return.  Until our hunger humbles us.  O God we need Your Divine Government!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fallen

The design and function of the human hasn’t changed.  We are not of any greater or lesser quality than we were in Genesis 1.  But, as a race of humans,  our government has changed.  We no longer live by His Word….

Just look around.  You will see the blue print of Divinity in every created thing.  The human being and created order have been empowered with the presence of His Word.  He is in the midst of us even if we don’t recognize His authority.  Look around again.  You will also see that this present world has fallen.  This world runs from the Word needed to sustain it.  This world does not agree with Divinity’s ideas about how one should live.  The command of God goes out and we avoid it.  We make our own way on the earth.  We are the commanders of our own existence.  

Fallen.  What does that mean?  It suggests that we began existence from a higher place and then fell down.  “…fill the earth and subdue it…” Genesis 1:26.  Once upon a time, we were the viceroys, God’s image-bearers, ruling over creation.  But we lost our position.  We chose to rule our individual lives by our own command.  We left our position in the the Government of God to rule by our own powers.  We chose to live in a false freedom.  We supposed that we would now be free to govern this world by picking fruit from any tree.  We could eat and digest any idea that seemed best to us at the time for filling and subduing the earth.

But, here we are, fallen.  We exist and operate in a lesser form and function than our original design.  The Life of God has always been a better source of sustenance.  The Word of God has always proclaimed the most beneficial ideas for humanity’s welfare.  We are a fallen form in fallen function because we have eaten deficient ideas. 

It is impossible to walk through this life without being influenced.  The influence of God brings us the experience of exalted Life.  But the influence of the Evil One and fallen humanity is a lesson in Death.  All who do not receive the Life-giving Government of God, are dying.  They are fading of form and failing of function.  The whole world is fading and failing.  “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” 1 John 5:19.  The Evil One has convinced humanity to submit to his influence.  To eat many deficient fruits.  To govern by deficient ideas.

Those who submit to God’s influence experience His Eternal Life.  The Government of God brings Life.  Those who are sustained by His abiding Word are not fading or failing… .they are being raised up!  “…our inner nature is being renewed day by day,” 2 Corinthians 4:16.

 

Power to Choose

When dealing with humanity in its present fallen condition, many of us are prone to be more concerned with design and function than anything.  If we could just fix the human, we wouldn’t have these problems anymore.  No, not so.  All of our attempts to fix have not caused us to become righteous and eternal.  The human does not require fixing.  We are still a quality creation.  Divinity formed the Dust flawless and functional.  We find ourselves in our present condition as a result of deficient government, not deficient quality.  We will become righteous and eternal as a result of submitting to a Righteous and Eternal Government.  A change in sustanence.  A change in authority.  The human will be restored to its flawless and functional quality through a Word that reorders the chaos, a Government that releases Life to its members.  

  God designed us fully capable of experiencing the fullness of quality Life simply by receiving and believing His Word.  His abiding verbal directives and good evaluations are powerful to align our way and bless our personality…. .if we agree.  His Word is powerful still, even without our agreement.  But our agreement brings the personal experience.  We have been given the responsibility to choose.  Even more than that, we have been given this right and dignity.  We may choose our government.  We may choose to agree with His Word and experience its rules and benefits.  And this is a testimony to the quality and dignity of the human design.  The Creator acknowledges our independence.  We may stay or we may go.  We may receive or we may refuse.  

If design and function were in question, God is to blame for our present condition.  But, if government is the question, than we are to blame.   For we have been endued with the power to choose.  We have been acknowledged as independent in our responsibility.  We are created dependent on His sustenance, but independent in our choice of government.  

All of creation holds its breath.  All wait.  Everyone anticipates our personal choice of government.  For all of creation bears the consequence of our governmental choice.  

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Command My Way

I am sustained by the Creator’s Word.  I am dependent upon His government.  It forms me as it speaks.  It directs my thoughts, words and actions with authority.  It commands my way. 

“The Lord God commanded the man…” Genesis 2:16.  Without proper perspective, the word “command” can seem to be as an antonym to freedom.  To understand it better, we must consider what was commanded.  “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’,” Genesis 2:15-17.  Ah!  I see!  The man was commanded to live and not die!  Life and freedom were commanded.  For Life is the synonym of freedom.  For in giving the command to Live, God said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over…” Genesis 1:28.  We were free to enjoy, enhance, multiply and secure the functions of Life.  The Word that formed our Dust was commanded to break out and give Life over and over again. Life begets life begets life begets life.

God commands that I Live and choose Life.  That I move away from the authority of Death.  I make no agreements with it.  I do not choose it.  I choose the government of God.  His Life.  And I obey this command to Live.

The Word of Life is the government of God.   This Word that reproduces the quality Life that God created is His government.  We depend on this Word.  We depend on this government.  And without it we die.  

In the Beginning, God’s Word was our government.  By trusting that Word, by putting our hope in it, believing it’s goodness and pure intentions and so on, we acted in agreement with it.  That agreement with God’s “commands” caused us to make choices that blessed the Creation just as though God Himself was blessing it.  We blessed in the same measure that He would.  And truly He Himself was blessing it. …through us.  

All Things Sustained

Everything that you are conscious of in the world around you fully depends upon a Word….

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their hosts… .he spoke and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm,” Psalm 33:6, 9.  “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens… .you established the earth, and it stands fast,” Psalm 119:89-90.  The most basic element of created things is a sound, a word.  That Word has firmly fixed the created order.  

The verdict of the Word of the Creator is unchangeable.  “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever,” Isaiah 40:8.  If we disagree with the verdict of His Word, its verdict remains and we do not.  If we agree with the verdict of His Word, its verdict remains and we remain eternally with it.  

His Word accomplishes its desire to establish and exalt His government.  “He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly… .He sends out his word and melts them,” Psalm 147:15, 18.    “For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it,” Isaiah 55:10-11.  When God opened his mouth and spoke into the universe, that spoken Word established an order.  It commanded the chaos and subjected it to laws… .Laws of Life!

Everything that we know… .all that we are consciously aware of, depends upon those Laws of Life.  There are boundaries.  There are rules.  There are fixed motions and times.  The created order depends upon the firmly fixed seasons that God commanded into existence.  Our health and the longevity of our faith depend on the governmental authority of His Word in us.  His Word continues to produce and establish Eternal Life.

We do not function separate from our Creator’s Word. All of humanity depends on His established order.  But not all perceive this to be true.  In the end, we have only two distinct options.  We may choose to submit ourselves to the establishment of His Word.  To let the command of God govern and bless Life.  To receive His boundaries with thanksgiving.  To bless Life in agreement with its Giver.  Obey the rules and reap their eternal rewards.  Or, we may choose to disagree.  To govern alone and function within our individual perceptions.  To move the boundaries.  To deny His sustenance… .shut out His abiding Word…. .and eventually die away….

We cannot stay alive without His Word.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Declaring Dependence


It is very humbling to constantly live in a state of dependency.  As an infant it is all we know.  I have two children.  I know first-hand that they were born totally dependant.  They did nothing for themselves.  As adorable as it was to have a living baby doll that I could feed and clothe, I also enjoyed watching them achieve measures of independence.  It came to them in bite size pieces.  My son struggled for his independence with enthusiasm and sometimes did not land on his feet.  Despite future failures and set backs, he is also the most likely of the two to reach the stars.  My daughter pursued independence very slowly.  She loved the feel of wet food on top of her head and she took quite a long time to be tired of wearing her diaper.  However, although she may never be driven to achievement, she is most likely of the two to find satisfaction in love.  They are two very different people.  And they need each other.  They need many things.  They may be more independent of personal care than they were as infants, but they will never be totally independent.

Where does independence play into the government of God?  Although we begin any form of Life, spiritual and physical, as infants, we don’t stay there.  We grow into independence as we mature.  Our first parents were formed in this state of independence and maturity.  The only means by which they could maintain that mature independence was through their dependency on the government of God.  For as long as they retained Divinity as their sustenance, they were free to make independent choices within the context of the good quality Life God had created.  The Heart of God desired the free human to choose Life by responsibly caring for themselves and others.  Consequently the free human would rely dependently upon the sustaining Word that held all of creation together and revealed itself through creation.  We would always be in need of the Word spoken through others.  Furthermore, the free human would independently make responsible choices concerning how to apply the spoken Word that sustained all things to all things that were in need of our help to be sustained.  We would need and be needed because of the Word of Life that existed to hold all things together.

Some of us strive for total independence and others sloth into complete dependency.  It’s funny how we humans usually choose extremes.  However, God created us for both.  My independence, or ability to care for myself, allows me to be competent and capable of caring for others.  My dependence, or inability to care for myself, ensures that I will continually seek to connect with those outside of me.  Both conditions are necessary.  True maturity is recognizing where I am needed and where I have need.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good Government


The human race was created dependant upon God.  However, God also gave them independence…..

  My greatest discoveries about the Divinity, myself and the whole universe have often come through being a parent.  I think the single thing that breaks a parents heart, is not that their children become independent, but that their children choose to no longer depend on them.  I will explain that!  I don’t want my children to depend on me to take care of the things that should be their own responsibility.  They need to independently be responsible.  But I do want them to continue to depend on me as a person.  I am their mother, which should imply that I have wisdom and nurture they do not have.  I hope that they will always need me for this.  However, I don’t want to solve their problems, be their boss, or clean up all their messes.   Many children continue to want their parents to be involved in their lives in this way only.  They love to have parents that fix their world for them.  They are dependent upon their parents to fulfill their own responsibilities.  However, they don’t receive their parents.  They never perceive their parents as people who have something worthwhile to give.  

Don’t we do the same with God?  We want a Deity to fix our lives but we don’t want to depend on His wisdom and nurture.  We reject God for who He is.  Our dependent condition as humans states that we don’t have it all in ourselves to be ourselves.  We need others and most specifically we need God.  As we depend on God for the Life we need, He in sequence enables us to independently make wise choices and take responsibility.  We grow up and mature.  

It’s fascinating!  Simply by receiving His sustenance, we are made fully capable of making good choices. …and we are given the freedom to do so!  This is good government. A Divine God who empowers His image bearers to think and act as He does by their own desire and choice!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I AM because HE IS


A wise man once said: “There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing.  Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise.  Why should you destroy yourself?  Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool.  Why should you die before your time?  It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them,” Ecclesiastes 7:15-18.  

It is true.  It is not by own out strength or wisdom, foolishness or failure that we live and die.  It is by the sustenance of a Divine God and a dusty earth.  Sometimes I fall flat on my face because I was an idiot, other times because I didn’t see the curb and then other times because someone tripped me.  Sometimes I get the applause because I was witty and talented, other times because I was appreciated when I was unaware and then other times because I took credit where it was not due.  Even when we obey all of the rules, we can lose it all.  I thank God because He has promised to give a favorable judgment to those who obey the rules.  He does not judge us according to our great successes and failures.  

One of my favorite verses is found in Psalm 34:5, which says, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”  We look at Him and beam with radiant delight.  He receives us not based on our great successes and failures but in our humanness.  We are His simply because we are.   How refreshing!  If I am humbled by God or made a fool by men, I look at Him and any shame is washed away.  If I am exalted by God or applauded by men, I look at Him and any delusions of grandeur are sobered.  I am because He is.  

Monday, June 21, 2010

High and Low

“…he adorns the humble with salvation,” Psalm 149:4.   “…and those who walk in pride he is able to humble,” Daniel 4:37.   Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the Babylonian state at the height of its wealth and power.  The Hebrew people dwelled in Babylon as captives.  And the God of the Hebrews was very involved in Babylonian politics….

  Nebuchadnezzar, although knowing the sovereignty of the Hebrew God, nevertheless became exalted in his own mind and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and the glory of my majesty?” Daniel 4:30.  And since it is good for man only to think of himself with sober thoughts, God had this reply: “O Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field.  And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will,” Daniel 4:31-33.  

And so it came to pass… the great king pawed at the ground and let out an agonizing yelp.  His grotesquely long hair and beard were matted with four years worth of earthen muck.  Nebuchadnezzar sat himself up cross-legged and gnawed on a root he had dug out of the ground.  He gnawed and laughed a sinister, childish moan.  His attendants did their best to avoid his fanatical fits of rage.  He would claw at the palace walls and yell, “I am the king!”.  At times he would be found in a slump crooning unintelligible laments.  But he spent most of his days amongst the wild beasts hunting roots, herbs and foliage.  His lack of nourishment left him gaunt.  He was needy and neurotic.  Certainly, he had been driven from the land of the humans. From great kings to the least of paupers, some are brought high and some are brought low.  

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable marvelous things without number: he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.  He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.  He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.  They meet with darkness in the daytime and grope at noonday as in the night.  But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth and from the hand of the mighty.  So poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth,” Job 5:8-16.  God humbles the proud and lifts up the humble until all in a straight line we stand shoulder to shoulder – human.  Our thoughts not a little too high and our perceptions not a little too low.  The simple fact that we have to strive in this world keeps us balanced.  All have to work to eat, exercise to stay healthy, learn to achieve, try to have even an attempt at success and so on.  No one is exempt from the rules. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Shadow


And Job pleaded with his Creator, “Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust?” Job 10:9.   And David assures us, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust,” Psalm 103:14.  “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. “When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4.  In comparison to many of the greater creation wonders, we are so small and powerless set before their majesty.    When God chooses to interrupt the dialogue in the book of Job, He first reminds them of their deficiencies in knowledge, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.  Who determined its measurements – surely you know!  Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Job 38:4-7.  Furthermore, their deficiencies in power.  “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south?  Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?”  Job 39:26-27.  At best, apart from God, we are beautified dust.  “All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return,” Ecclesiastes 3:20.

It is difficult to propose that our characteristically weak natures are also the crown of creation.  “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor,” Psalm 8:5.  It does not register logically that God would ordain the physically and emotionally frail human over every living thing.  “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,” Psalm 8:6.

“As a lily among brambles, so is my love among the young women,” Song of Songs 2:2.  The Lady from Shullam is immortalized in the metaphors of fragile, white petals.  Her delicate flesh is settled among thorns.  Humanities frame is likened again unto flowers in Isaiah 40:6-8, “All flesh is grass, and its beauty (or constancy) is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades…”  The strength and longevity of humanity in comparison to Deity is less than the force of withering grass and fading flowers.  In a plea for help from his Maker, Job cried out, “Remember that my life is a breath,” chapter 7, verse 7.  David agrees in Psalm 144:3-4, “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?  Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.”  A shadow.  A vapor.  All of the metaphors recreate our image as being fragile, fading, and weak.  Everyday, as humans, we must trust Divinity and dust to sustain us. …

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What is Man?

Two things I have thought in the midst of frustration with my human nature: it would be better to pass away into the dust or soar on the wings of Divinity!  O how I wish to be either non-existent or a god!  And God smiles at me.  My wish is not altogether uncommon.  Many humans have destroyed themselves in such notions. …some have destroyed others with them.  But, I, if I remain stable and content, am destined to the quality of humanness that makes me a fragile vessel in hostile territory.  

We are both flesh and spirit.  The needs of both are important.  Our human design is of such a quality that it brings into balance both worlds.   Our spiritual part makes us dependent upon spiritual sustenance while our fleshly part makes us dependent upon fleshly sustenance.  It is for this reason that we seek connections with the heavens and connections with the earth.  Without spirit, our personality dies and without food, our bodies die.  And so it is that we see in our human realm the existence of both spiritual and physical death.  The Ecclesiastical writer again says this, “…and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”  

A multitude of philosophies and scientific hypothesis have contributed to the suggestions about the quality of the human being since the beginning of time.  Are we of the animal kingdom or the product of intelligent, transcendent design? Are we superior or inferior to the natural earth?  Are we good or evil of nature?  Are our hearts basically righteous or do we conceive wickedness at regular intervals?  For some, the arguments are easily resolved and for others, complex and confusing.  Nevertheless, one thing we know: we are human. Whoever designed us, designed us in the very way that we know ourselves to be.  We have no hope of changing our design.  We can only attempt to elevate it or debase it.  And whether some of us strive to be raised up to the heavens or, by deprivation, are lowered to the belly of the earth, we all are still human.  Our original design resigns us to an even and equal plateau.  When speaking of death as the great equalizer of humanity, the Ecclesiastical writer proclaims this: “It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice.  As is the good, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. …the same event happens to all,” Ecclesiastes 9:2-3.  All of us are equally human.  If not equal in appearance in this life, we are equalized by death. …none carry their poverty or wealth, wisdom or foolishness, status or debasement into it.  In agreement with the Biblical perspective, I say, we all stand before God as we are.  

Friday, June 18, 2010

Only the Tested

Most of us stand at the door of relationship with many ideas about what we expect to receive.  Some of us look across the threshold anticipating what we hope to give.  But few reach through the doorway with great expectations of being tested.

And yet, it will be a larger part of our relating experience…

“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?” 1 Corinthians 2:11.  Hmmm… .this leaves us with a sincere dilemma.  I am the only one that can be certain of my own thoughts.  I may say that I am trustworthy.  But how can I prove that my word is good?  I may say that I am faithful.  But again, how can I prove my word to be good?  I may say that I am honest, kind, just, enjoyable, humble and well, anything I want to say.  But who, in his or her right mind, would simply take me at my word?  No, one who is in their right mind would test my character to be certain of the report.  

I suggest that testing is a natural phenomena of relationship.  For we are at least two coming together in some sort of bond to be known by the other.  I must be discovered as well as make discoveries.  I must know and be known.  And finding out who I am will be the result of a test… .many tests.

I would also suggest that very few of us are prepared for testing in relationship.  Typically, we are prepared for a number of other things.  Perhaps gratification and pleasure.  Perhaps even sacrifice and mercy.  But testing gets very raw and personal.  And it offers us little, if any, immediate reward.  No, instead we are usually left feeling very exposed and shocked by our internal discoveries of self.  We didn’t know we were this way!

Until I enter relationship, I may believe myself to be rather kind.  But then comes relational encounters where kindness is required beyond what has ever been required of me before… .and I fail.  Alone, I was a kind person.  But in this relationship, I was tested by the need for me to be kind, and it has been found that I am not so kind as I presumed myself to be.  Therefore, it is possible, that I am not kind.  My context for kindness used to be myself.  Now my context is relating to another person.  This is just an example.  But it works for any virtue we suppose ourselves to possess.  

Therefore, relationship has great value.  Allowing another to require me to provide day to day proof of my character and commitment causes me to know where I really stand in virtue.  Am I the person I believe myself to be?  I am not in relationships merely for the company… .I am in relationships so that I may be known as I truly am.  And this knowledge comes as the result of  testing.  Only the tested know who they are…

“Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another,” Proverbs 27:17.  “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind,” Psalm 26:2.  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

God Relates

Relationships.  We are involved in relationship whether we like it or not.  

God made a monumental statement at the very onset of the Human creation: “It is not good that the man should be alone,” Genesis 2:18.  Why?  Why was it “not good”?  This would suggest some sort of lack or deficiency on the part of the Human creation; and yet, we know, that the Human was created in the image of God and lacked nothing.  And that is exactly the problem!  The Human lacked nothing.  This was “not good”.

Because the Human was complete in and of itself, there was great propensity to trust in self’s perspective completely.  In other words, the Human needed someone to oppose its perspective.

So God went to work.  He divided the wholeness of the Human.  He provided someone to help the other see.  He created opposition.  No, not adversity… .opposition.  Face to face stood two comrades.  Two allies.  Two individuals that would relationally create a healthy tension.  They would oppose, communicate, argue positions, compromise and mutually turn to God for reconciliation of their divisions.  God and the divided Human would relate until agreement was produced.

What a magnificent story!  God and Humanity relating.

God relates.  He created the Human race in His image… .capable of opposing, communicating, arguing position, and compromising with Him.  He is willing to relate with us within our Human sphere as He gently opposes, communicates and argues to grow us up into His perspective and stature.  It is not good for the whole of the Human race to remain alone in our perspective.  It is not good for us to draw conclusions only from within our Human realm.  We need the opposition and communications of God.

On our own, we seem right.  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death,” Proverbs 14:12.  From our own vantage point, our perspective seems clear and accurate.  “Be not wise in your own eyes…” Proverbs 3:7.  In our own solitary world, our character may seem flawless.  But then we relate to another… .and we are questioned, doubted, and even opposed.  We are tested by the perspectives of others.  This testing of relationship is of great value to the success of our eternal souls.  Do not avoid relating with God or man…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Friends and Enemies

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers,” James 4:11.  This is an often misunderstood phrase and I can only tell you what I believe I understand…

Circumstances and relationships can be very grey.  Not everything is clear here in middle arena.  I don’t always know why this or that has happened.  I can’t always explain my fears and disappointments or even why I feel some joy.  And it is even less possible for me to determine the motives of others!  Why they have said this or done that.  We are continually relating and organizing.  It would be preposterous to suppose that any one of us human beings could keep tabs on all the “whys” and “hows”.  And as I have stated before, assumption can be the greatest enemy of truth.

Although it is important for each of us to at some point come to conclusions about our motives, it is not the most important thing.  After all, I am relating to God while here on earth!  Therefore, I can expect to run smack into my motives at any given time!  But any attempts to discover my own motives or the motives of others amidst the grey, within the cloud of dust and whirlwind of adversity, would be futile.  And would inevitably leave me with only guesses and assumptions.  Not a good idea!

Now, place “speaking evil” in this context.  Think about the possibility that you and I have probably at times drawn wrong conclusions when dust was flying, and talked about it!  We have formed judgments in the whirlwind… .just like Jobs friends!

It is a lesson in friends and enemies.  Are we a friend?  Or are we an enemy?  An enemy is, of course, not supremely concerned about our welfare.  Therefore, they don’t mind mentioning our failures and sins and why we have probably gotten what we deserve.  But a friend is always concerned about our welfare.  And therefore, whether or not we have failed or sinned, is looking for our way out of the whirlwind.  They sit in dust and ashes with us.  Sharing our shame and pain and waiting with us, for an answer.  Jobs friends did start here!

The love of a friend does something other than form judgments.  Even if we are full of failures, even if we are humbled in our sins, even if we have been justly chastised… .our friend grabs hold of his or her largest garment and gently lays it across our shoulders and then pulls it around his or her own.  Our friend does not chastise or condone.  And they make no assumptions.  We may be guilty.  But we may also be innocent.  Our friend slips under the covering with us and holds and prays and waits for an answer.  Until the dust is settled and the whirlwind subsides.  And the Lord shows up with an answer….  And a friend stays with us to help process the answer.  To aid us in reconciling the offense.  Even as though the offense was their own.  They have come under the covering with us.  This is a friend.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses,” Proverbs 10:12.  “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends,” Proverbs 17:9.  “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins,” 1 Peter 3:13.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Lord Said


“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.’  So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.  And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes,” Job 2:7-8.  The portrait of a human man has drastically changed.  The olive flesh is now muddied with dirty greys.  The garments are torn and wearied with sorrow.  The picture is messy and distinctions cannot be made.  My ashes are grey.  “And when they saw him from a distance, they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven.  And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great,” Job 2:12-13.

With one swoop of an obliging Adversary, God and man are separated by a chasm of accusation.  Everything is murky and questionable.  Who will come out of the contest clean and recognizable?  

God, in His divinity, does not bow to the accusation.  He remains constant and pure in His perspective.  He watches Job and is satisfied.  Job is a friend.  By the end of the drama, after observing the behaviors of both Satan and Job’s circle of friends, God steps into the realm of human mutterings to defend His own heart as well as Job’s heart.  “The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has,’” Job 42:7.  Job, on the other hand was not so constant.  After all, he is human and has so many questions needing an answer.  His heart and words wavered with doubt as he continually struggled to muster a hope that God was a just God and would not do evil against Job.  

The pressure was from the outside pursuing and forcing a conformation.  But Job’s transformation came from the inside.  A candle burned in the heart of Job for the Divine God he believed to be just, true and faithful.  Job steadied himself upon his belief.  He teetered and tottered but refused to move his feet.  It is where we humans chose to or chose not to stand when tested.  To King Belshazzar of Babylon, God said, “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting,” Daniel 5:27.  Though shaky, the tested Job was still standing with integrity, with equity.

At the end of the Job drama, an Adversary is nowhere to be found.  He has fled the territory and left man to face God.  The games were merely a temptation to bring controversy between Divinity and Dust.  They worked a temporary magic.  But, I say, because of faith, they produced a backdrop for eternal romance.  

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.  Will you even put me in the wrong?  Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?  Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?  Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor. Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.  Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand.  Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below.  Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you,” Job 40:7-14.  The whole story was a big enough deal for God to show up in person.   “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes,” Job 42:5-6.  Job says it all in this.  Until Divinity shows up with understanding, our human perspective is filled with grey.  The outer mutterings pressure to conform our hearts and we are barely able to resist them, like a lily among thorns.   We receive the many suggestions against God and man that have littered the thoughts of the human race.  And somehow, our Adversary slithers throughout the activity, continually free to roam.  “The Lord said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it,’” Job 1:7.  But then God shows up.  And if we are truly integral of heart, we wait.  We wait long enough for Him to show up with a mouthful of wisdom.  Instead of conforming to the outer suggestions and accusations, we are transformed by the words He speaks.  “…man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord,” Deuteronomy 8:3.  

What lies beneath the scratched olive skin and torn garments and the dust and the ashes that have rendered the portrait grey?  Is the human not a little too high or a little too low?  Is he or she integral?  Only the tested will know.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Obscured


There is provocation in the air.  Questions.  Doubts.  Assumptions.  We are still exploring the murky arena of the Job drama…. 

And as the story goes, God and Job stand accused by cosmic enemies, personal friends and family members.  In the typical fashion of human ignorance, Job’s wife and friends are prepared to chime in with all of the Adversaries suggestion.  “Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity?  Curse God and die.’” Job 2:9.  Ah, we faithless humans!  God is now pictured as the Adversary.  “Then Zophar the Naamathite answered, ‘...that God would speak and open his lips to you, and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!  For he is manifold in understanding.  Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves,” Job 11:1-6.  Woe to us!  Job, the friend of God, has become the accused, deserving of his condemnation.  

A bit of rearrangement here.  A little adjustment there.  Merely a handful of catastrophic circumstances… .and the human race erupts with judgment and verdict.  Opinions fly through the arenas of time and space at light speed.  Hearts have been calculated and condemned.  Fates have been decided.  Everything thinks they know something.

And Job, yes faithful Job, is certain of nothing.  He shivers and shakes in the center of human judgments reciting the soliloquy of the accused.  A man who cannot speak for his own character.  A man fighting to see whether or not his condemnation is true.  A man in question, waiting for an answer…

“My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me.  Surely there are mockers about me.  And my eye dwells on their provocation.  Lay down a pledge for me with yourself; who is there who will put up security for me?  Since you have closed their hearts to understanding, therefore you will not let them triumph.  He who informs against his friends to get a share of their property – the eyes of his children will fail.  He has made me a byword of the peoples, and I am one before whom men spit.  My eye has grown dim from vexation, and all my members are like a shadow.  The upright are appalled at this, and the innocent stirs himself up against the godless.  Yet the righteous holds to his way, and he who has clean hands grows stronger and stronger. But you, come on again, all of you, and I shall not find a wise man among you.  My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart.  They make might into day; ‘The light’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’  If I hope for Sheol as my house, if I make my house, if I make my bed in darkness, if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’ and to the worm, ‘My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope?  Who will see my hope?  Will it go down to the bars of Sheol?  Shall we descend together into the dust?” Job 17.  The divisions of day and night are obscured.  Grey.  All has gone grey.  Where do the innocent and upright end and where is the beginning of the grave?  Perhaps they are the same.  Perhaps the godly live in the hopeless Sheol.  

To be continued….

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Enter the Arena

“Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason?  Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?  You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.  But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’  And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand.  Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’  So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord,” Job 1:9-12.  With no regard for human life and certainly no concern for God’s character, Satan takes on the role of deciding the fate of all that Job has.  He is asking permission to play “the god” in Job’s life.  He wants to be Job’s temporary deity and prove to the Creator that Job’s faithful friendship to the True God is based solely upon physical comfort.  And to our human discomfort, God says, “Yes” to Satan’s request. The contest has begun.  The Adversary lashes out against Job’s children, servants, livestock and all that Job has, in one day.  Satan has suggested to God that Job’s faithfulness is conditional and he has suggested to Job, through circumstances, that perhaps God is against Job’s welfare.  

“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”  The Creator is proud.  He is boasting.  The humans of planet Earth roam to and fro in the same style as their Adversary, committing to nothing and no one.  But not Job.  Job is God’s friend.  The Lord continues, “He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason,” Job 2:3.   My theology is challenged with this one statement!  It is thrown for a loop!  God was incited. …provoked to turn against Job!  My humanity is deeply concerned to discover that my Creator could turn against me at the mere question from an Adversary, “Does Job fear God for no reason?” Job 1:9.  There are games afoot.  “And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.  And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.  And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.  And David was angry because the Lord had burst for against Uzzah…” 2 Samuel 6:5-8.   Yes, we are in a different story.  The presence, the beauty, the private and intimate part of Deity is being carried around in a box. …and someone touched it.  God protected His beautiful parts against untrustworthy man.  His heart was provoked to protect Himself.  God can be provoked.  “They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel,” Psalm 78:41.  In the story of Job, we see Him provoked, incited to distrust the heart of Job.   Job’s integrity and faithfulness are called into question and the Creator is curious.  

The Creator was curious.  Who is Job on the inside?  Is he the man of integrity that I truly believe him to be? Will Job actually be faithful to his friendship with Divinity no matter what!?  With permission again to strike out against Job’s physical body, the Adversary willfully does so.  His intention?  To provoke Job to disown his integrity and devotion to the Creator.  And to provoke the Creator to destroy Job, whom the Adversary knows may be Divinities only genuine human friend.  The outcome?  Possibly broken hearts and possibly the consummation of a Divine and Dusty romance.

To be continued….

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Contest

The story of Job is the complete portrait of the contest, conflict and dispute swirling about us. On one side of the arena is God. He has been, will be and is today the Divine Creator and Governor of all things. Nothing can change that and therefore He has nothing to lose. On the other side of the arena is the Adversary, God’s challenger. He has no legitimate authority and therefore must manipulate to attain the control he vies for. In the end, he has already lost and therefore also has nothing to lose. And in the middle of the arena, are we humans. We have only choices. Authority can be given to us legitimately by God or illegitimately by the Adversary. We have only choices. Because of our existence in middle arena, God’s heart has everything to lose in love and the Adversary knows this. The contest is not over authority. That contest has been settled. The contest is over our human hearts.

As we should know, God plays by completely different rules than His Adversary. It might be properly said that God doesn’t “play” at all. He is serious because He is seriously concerned about our eternal disposition and the salvation of our human spirits. The Creator is careful and precise in His decisions. He doesn’t explode upon the scenes of our lives with manipulation and force to gain our allegiance. He wins us over through pure motives, generous thoughts and trustworthy actions. Things like, keeping His promises even when we fail on our end. Things like, reinstating our positions at the moment that we return from wandering. Things like, feasting and laughing and giving gifts to us. He is personal and pleasurable. It’s not a charming game to catch our fancies. He is honest. It’s not an aggressive terror to paralyze us into compliance. He presents Himself in woundable flesh and blood. He comes to us in these ways and wins our hearts. There are no categories here. Things can get very grey. It’s all about wooing us with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable. …any excellence. …anything worthy of praise,” Philippians 4:8.

Now, with God’s heart in mind, perhaps you and I can better understand the messy, forceful game that the Adversary plays. He comes forcefully to mess with our hearts and heads. It’s all about suggestion and accusation. It’s all about dividing our hearts and minds from the Creator who loves us. It’s all about separating us from believing in His pure motives, generous thoughts and trustworthy actions. Our Adversary just wants us to believe that God is not for us. With deceptive charm and aggressive terror, he seduces and forces us to put our trust and hope in him, our Adversary. And every time he wins a human heart he cocks his head and smirks at the God he hates. He has successfully bruised and burned God’s heart. Come on, he thinks, they are horrible unfaithful things. Lash out! Take out your anger on this pathetic creation! It is a wicked game. According to all that is holy, our Adversary can faithfully prove that we deserve the vengeance of God all the time. We are unfaithful. We are often very pathetic. God knows we deserve His vengeance. And for now I simply want to prove that although by all measures of justice the Adversary has the upper hand in this contest, it is the love of God that wins in the end. “For I desire mercy…” Hosea 6:6. “My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in the midst, and I will not come in wrath,” Hosea 11:9.

Let us enter the arena….

Friday, June 11, 2010

Complicated

Our Divine Creator, who is always for the restoration of our wholeness and is never against us, takes a seat on His heavenly throne. There are millions of people littering the passions of His heart and the calculations of His thought. He has an entire universe to govern eternally. To my small human mind, it is an impossibility of responsibility. But the Creator is fit for the task. He looks down at His invisible hands and is mesmerized by the beautiful waves of gift giving that drip like honey through His fingers unto the peoples of the world. Golden rays of favor are flowing. And He loves them. O how He loves them. Deep within the cavity of His chest exists a pain; the agony and ecstasy of being God to a divided and brawling universe. Everyday a killing, a stealing and destroying. Mankind is never trustworthy. And while the hands of Divinity drip gold, the Mastermind of organization is walking barefoot on the planet speaking a word of truth to realign the behaviors of the people with justice and truth. Broaden your view. The Creator has an awful lot to feel, to think and to do. And He does all of it in love.

So today, just an ordinary day, the sons of God, the heavenly hosts as we often know them, gather around this Divine King. They are a host of viceroys that have been strategically placed over regions and provinces to administer justice according to the Creators heart. And today they come to give an account of their responsibilities. The Divine King looks up to acknowledge His beloved intercessors and spies an unwelcome guest among them.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the Adversary) also came among them,” Job 1:6. “Adversary”, his name says it all. An adversary is one’s opponent in a contest, conflict or dispute. Satan was the Creator’s adversary in all three. The Creator and His Adversary were engaged in a contest, a conflict and a dispute. From God’s perspective, there was no real contest, conflict or dispute. He was the Divine and Eternal Governor of the Universe. Nothing could dispute that authority. Nevertheless, “gods” and creatures continually attempt to challenge and deny that the Creator has the right to such authority. From God’s perspective, He has this authority and He has no need to prove it. So, while cosmic powers and created things gain momentum to rally against it, Psalm 2 says, “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” God knows that none can do anything to change the created order. When we humans are challenged in our authority, we tend to panic and pursue control of those under us. God does no such thing. He sits back. He shakes His head. He wonders at our lack of stability and loss of energies over the ordeal. Isaiah 40: 22-24 says, “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its habitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. Scarcely are the planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.” No contest.

But it gets a little more complicated when we bring into play the longings of the Creators heart. “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘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…” Isaiah 43:1-3. Mine. A possessive term. God’s heart possesses humanity. We are not a controlled possession. We are a creation that He lives with. He passes through the intimate experiences of our lives as though they were His very own to be concerned about. It is a heartbreaking scenario. The heart of the Creator will certainly be broken over and over again.

To be continued….

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Black, White and Grey

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil,” Job 1:1. Job is a remarkable character. An incredible man worth listening to. When all the world around him suggested that God was not just, Job insisted otherwise. I really don’t know that I would have been as steady as Job in the same circumstances. As a matter of fact, I have been much less steady in much easier circumstances!

The story of Job confronts us with many questions about the interaction between God and mankind. Just last week my children came rushing into my bedroom at 10 pm because of Job! Every now and then they go to bed listening to Focus on the Family’s “Adventures in Odyssey”. The last narrative on this particular CD was about Job. They interrupted my late night reading with, “Mom, it feels like Satan is watching me!” and “Why would God do that to Job? He didn’t do anything bad!” I have never heard anyone preach a sermon on Job. It’s much easier to avoid our doubts and questions concerning the story. But honestly, have you ever wondered why these calamities came upon Job? It would be easy to reconcile his pain if we were able to view it as some sort of chastisement for bad behavior. That is the way we religious think: If you are good you get candy; if you are bad you get a spanking. Logical right! Or maybe not.

We humans tend to categorize life. Good or Bad. Beautiful or Ugly. Free or Captive. And yet we are tripped in our observances when what appears Good, Beautiful, and Free on the outside is found out to be Bad, Ugly and Captive within. So then, we may conclude that appearances can be deceiving. What seems obvious is not always so. Our categories run into contradictions and our belief systems run into grey. What I can tell you about Job is that if you live inside of categories, his life story will certainly blow them to pieces. Just like it did with my children. To them, God is nice and Satan is mean so why would a nice God let a mean Satan do that to an innocent Job? I’ll admit I have the same question.

We might have to enlarge our perspective to answer this. What is the human story really about? A big God and a little population of humans? How close is this big God to our small circumstances? Does He sit well above us in the heavens or is He near to our person? Are we merely His Divine footrest or is He panting to lie down beside us? How then do I reconcile the perspectives? I will have to view earth from both higher up and more intimately personal.

To be continued…

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In The Whirlwind

We can be honest. We can say it like it is. We don’t always know what is going on. I might even presume to say that we seldom know what is really going on. In this life, we are dealing with hearts and minds that differ, circumstances that are not easily defined and relationships that often stand at odds for reasons we do not understand. Life can just be complicated! Is this from God? Or is it from an Adversary? Are these natural consequences to my behavior? Or is there perhaps a flesh and blood party to blame? Questions that need answers.

Assumption can be the most vicious enemy of Truth. Assuming we know the answers to life’s questions can quickly affect our world view. We may or may not be right about what we assume, nevertheless, we typically act upon what we think is Truth. These assumptions often rule our perspectives and govern our choices, relationships, and even our very self. Why this or that is happening to this or that person may be totally unknown to anyone but God… .and yet we assume we know what is True. And we form opinions, we speak words and perform actions. All based on an assumption.

It is the chemical make-up of a human judgment. Assumption dissolves into someone’s condemnation. We assume we know the heart of Man, our own hearts and the heart of God. We think we have tasted and seen and come up with an adequate verdict concerning a life. I would like to simply suggest that we do not know as much as we think. I certainly do not. God usually surprises me with His answers to just about every question. When we are in the midst of the whirlwind, what we do know is that there is dust flying in all directions… .and we are best off simply closing our eyes. It is foolish to look around and try to make sense of it. It would just be better to wait and pray until the Lord of the Whirlwind defines everything, Himself.

When circumstances are disheveled, hearts are unburdening stresses, minds are racing, accusations are flying, consequences are being meted out… .when questions are circling the airwaves, when it’s uncertain where to place faith… .when there is an opportunity to make a judgment over anyone’s life, even your own… . pause, cease the interaction with a whirlwind. Your Adversary, the Accuser, may be swirling with and hiding in the dust, spouting his perspectives. Don’t even attempt to look around and figure it out. Wait. Pray. Let the Lord of the Whirlwind make a statement when He’s ready. When it’s time.

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…” Job 32:1

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Judgment Onto Condemnation

Your Creator, Your Friend, is working in all things, through all things, and even despite all things… .for your good. Not so with your Enemy! The agenda of the Adversary is quite on the contrary. He could care less about your good. He could just simply care less about you. He is more largely preoccupied with ripping the heart out of the Creator, the Friend of Man.

Yes, your Adversary is not really your Adversary at all. He has a bigger fish in mind. You and I are merely the perfect possible way of tearing at the heart of God. The heart of God suffers when He loses our affections. Just like a father or mother losing the love of sons and daughters. The heart of God suffers.

There is nothing like the loss of a child. Whether physical or relational. When they leave us behind to pursue other passions or when they pass from this side of Eternity, we suffer long and hard. It’s unnatural to say the least. And it leaves an unnatural rift in our soul. Now think larger. Think about the heart of the One who intimately worked wonders in every created expression of You. Think of the One who invested His qualities and eternity in every breadth of your Being. You are not just anyone to Creator God. You are an image bearer, a divine opportunity for gratifying eternal romance. You make God lovesick….

…And then one day You are ripped away from His embrace. You take a back road out of His heart.. .by choice.

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest… .and Satan (the accuser) at his right hand to accuse him,” Zechariah 3:1. The mission of your Adversary is to separate hearts through accusation. To bring before you a good reason to abandon your Creator and to bring before your Creator a good reason to abandon you. To rift and tear. He uses arguments and suggestion, deception and assumption. He uses all at his disposal to skillfully make enemies of friends.

Don’t think that God will be easily baited? No, neither do I. This leaves us humans in a rather vulnerable position. We can be baited. We are baited. We do make choices to abandon our affections for God. We can and do become His enemies.

The judgment of our Adversary has one purpose: to separate us from our Greatest Ally. He accuses any possible party to make an enemy of a once good Friend. His work is to convince someone, somewhere to condemn someone else. And his goal never changes… .a judgement onto condemnation, an Eternal separation from our Creator. There is no better way to rift and tear the heart of the God he hates.

What We Have Learned

I don’t always know where the judgment has come from. In the midst of it, I feel afflicted, grieved and shamed. Through it, I know now to interact only with my Friend and Comrade, my God. Despite it, I am ministered goodness. And at the end of it, I become more of my truest self. I become more merciful, more kind, more compassionate, more of a friend to my sister or brother.

The opposition has managed to teach me something. I have become more of what I ought to be. More of the Me that God originally designed. “..we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing hat suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because Gods love has been poured into our hearts…” Romans 5:3-5. Don’t make a mistake! We do not rejoice for our sufferings! We rejoice in them! With God as our Friend, our Comrade and Companion in the midst of opposition, adversity and affliction, we have this hope: His love will produce goodness on our behalf, through it all. We will be more of what we ought to be. We will shine brighter, love deeper and we will be more of a friend to our sisters and brothers.

Yes, through it all, this is what we should have learned: to be more of a friend to our sisters and brothers. Let us consider David again…

He is not through with Shimei yet. He meets the man who hurled words and stones a second time. It is recorded in 2 Samuel 19:16-23. “And Shimei the son of Gera, the Benjamite, from Bahurim, hurried to come down with the men of Judah to meet King David. And with him were a thousand men from Benjamin… .And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was about to cross the Jordan, and said to the king, ‘Let not my lord hold me guilty or remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. Do not let the king take it to heart. For your servant knows that I have sinned. Therefore, behold, I have come this day, the first of all the house of Joseph to come down to meet my lord the king.’ Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered, ‘Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord’s anointed?’ But David said, ‘What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should this day be as an adversary to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?’ And the king said to Shimei, ‘You shall not die.’ And the king gave him his oath.” Inspiring!

Shimei had not been a friend to David, but David, through all of his suffering, had become a friend to Shimei… .even to the point of saving his life. The judgments of God are good and for our good. His Friendship in all things will produce in us friendship that offers salvation to our enemies. His Friendship will do this amidst any adversity from any source….

Monday, June 7, 2010

Judgment Onto Eternity

“…Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men,” Lamentations 3:32-33. How beautiful is the opposition of a friend! It comes unwillingly, with great hesitation. It comes with trembling and hours of prayer. It comes with inner searching and purification. A friend opposes us after he or she has opposed themselves.

God does not willingly bring us grief and opposition. He waits, He ponders, He considers other possibilities. And in the end He makes His choices based on what is best for us. He very carefully calculates what will bring about goodness for us. What will produce our truest self in the end.

Our Friend in Heavenly Places wants to see us thriving there, in Heavenly Places, with Him. He wants to witness the refinement of our character as gold. He wants to experience interaction with our truest self for Eternity. His judgments for us are onto Eternity. They are valuable for leading us into Eternal mindsets, speech and activities. His thwarting comes to buffet the thoughts and ways we have adopted that keep us from living in the center of His Eternal favor.

And He does all of these things like a Friend. Carefully. Slowly. Cautiously. Unwillingly. With great hesitation. Yes, it feels like affliction. It does bring us grief. But the graces of Eternity are swiftly to follow in our conscience when we return to humbly receive. He is there… .a Friend to cover, to heal, anoint and restore… .for Eternity.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The God Who Opposes Me

“God opposes the proud…” James 4:6. Have you ever been opposed by God while you were enjoying your pride? I’ll just assume that you probably have. It is a universal thwarting. God is always opposing our pride. This is such good news for us… .for the whole world! After a great blunder of pride recorded in 2 Samuel 24, David realizes that he must bear consequences for his sin, and he states this, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of men.” The difference? God judges us for our refinement, our good, to produce our truest self. But the heart of man, fueled by accusing judgments, would eagerly judge us for condemnation. God, however, desires our success. He is concerned with our welfare and fighting for our eternal enjoyment. Therefore, He opposes our hearts when our hearts oppose the production of our truest self.

God allows the things of life to bump and rub and even slam up against us. He makes way for the Adversary to knock us around. Sound too harsh? Have you ever had a friend so lost in their own little world, so destructive to their own success, that you just wanted to jostle them around a bit and bring them to their senses? Ah! Now it’s clear! The need to be brought to our senses. The need to see correctly. The need to discover the most accurate perspective. And the love God has to thwart and oppose us so that we become conscious again of a good reality and find again our truest self.

“…but gives grace to the humble,” James 4:6. The humility of knowing and being known as we truly are. God opposes us until we adopt a right frame of mind. Until we see Him as He is and ourselves as we truly are. Until we accept the necessity of grace because our truest self is in need of it.

Let me fall into the hands of God… .because He is merciful. He deeply desires my success. He wants all things to work together for good on my behalf. He is my Friend who prefers to heal and cover. And He opposes me until I will return to the graces of healing and covering again. God judges me for my restoration, my highest good. He repositions my heart in the arena of humility so that I may have a secure stance in His favor… .far away from accusations. God opposes me when I do not stay here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Producing Our Truest Self

Is all adversity and opposition in this life from God? No! A resounding No! There is adversity in our own hearts. There is adversity in the hearts of others. There is adversity in this world. And there is one so adverse that he merited the title “Adversary”. Adversity comes through many sources. The key to passing through adversity, is knowing whom to interact with. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,” Romans 8:28. Another translations says it this way, “…God works all things together for good…” and yet another, “…God works in all things for the good…” I prefer the latter one. Not all of the adversity is from God. Nevertheless, God, our Comrade, our Companion, is working in the midst of the adversity to produce goodness.

Right in the center of all situations, at all times, our Friend is identifying Himself with our condition and gracing us with the abilities needed to overcome and succeed. He is fighting for our welfare and the production of our truest self.

When we are surrounded by opposition, it can be difficult to determine if it is from friend or foe. If it is to harm or help us. If it is wreaking havoc or producing gold. The opposition of friends and enemies can often feel the same… .but they have totally different results. I would suggest simply, that determining the source of opposition can be overwhelming at times. It can become altogether too complicated and too exhausting. Trying to decide whether God sent the difficulty to refine us or whether the Adversary sent it to destroy can leave us with drawing all sorts of possible conclusions. The best way to pass through adversity, is to interact only with your God. The Friend that wants your success and loves you at all times. You can always trust that His heart is seeking out the highest good for you in this and every situation. Follow His lead through it. Hear only His words when surrounded. Lean this way.

In any case, if you interact with your Friend, you will come out of the adversity with a clearer production of your truest self. This will be the result. Even when the adversity is from the Adversary. Not because you determined the source… .but because you went to the Source of Friendship.


A Good Companion

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy,” Proverbs 27:6. An enemy curses and announces your shame to the world. Your friend exposes sins and than surrounds you to cover your shame. An enemy abuses and than separates himself swiftly from your weak and needy condition. Your friend admonishes and than swiftly anoints and dresses any wounds. The difference between a friend and an enemy may not be detectable in how they make you feel with their blows, but it is extravagantly obvious in their willingness to be identified with your condition at all times. Have they remained to heal the wound, cover the shame, restore the condition? If they have, they are a friend. Have they identified themselves with your losses, your failures and your pain? If they have, they are a friend. Have they offered to be your alibi… .to cover your back when you are most vulnerable and exposed… .to stand as a witness in your favor because they personally know you and are living this life with you? If so, they are a friend.

A friend loves you even when they must oppose you. Never assume that your opposition is an enemy. Kisses can come from enemies! But a friend will oppose you so that he or she might bring you to your senses and reveal the truest you. A friend sincerely loves you! A friend will wound you to find you again. God is a Friend. He is the sincerest Friend of your heart. And He will oppose you so that He may restore you. Faithful are His wounds. They are full of faith in your truest you. He will fight fairly with your pride, your anger, your indifference, your distrust and so on… .and He may even wound you… .deeply. But He will remain with you, and cover, anoint, dress, heal and restore, all the time. The resistance and the kisses of an Adversary are meant to harm you and leave you. But the resistance and the kisses of God are meant to transform you for your highest good.

My God is a good companion. He does not leave me as I am. He opposes me, in love, at all times and I am better for it. He is a Faithful Friend.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friend or Brother?

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” Proverbs 17:17. Is it possible to reconcile the two? Can one be a brother and also a friend? The scripture informs us that our brothers and sisters, our own flesh and blood, were born to produce difficulty round about our lives. Their presence brings us resistance. And we naturally assume that this resistance is something that we ought to strive against.

Proverbs 17:17 also tells us of a friend. This friend is a comrade and companion in and through every circumstance in life. They are always for our highest good and never against us. So, again, could this friend and brother be one and the same? Could the brother that brings us adversity also be the friend that loves us unconditionally in every situation? I believe that they can be. For, although a friend may love us wholly, they could also be the oppositional force that forms us. The persons that are closest to us provide an excellent source of shaping. And we would be wrong to naturally assume that this force, this opposition, this resistance is something that we ought to strive against. No, the opposition of a friend is our most reliable resource in this world….

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” Proverbs 27:17. Opposition is good for us. And it is pertinent that we experience opposition from the ones who love us most. They may oppose us, but they will not leave us. They may resist us, but they will continue to love. How much better to be formed by the opposition of those who love us than the opposition of enemies! It is good for my brother to oppose me for as long as he or she will be my friend. I need his or her iron to sharpen mine. My perspectives must be challenged and opposed.

Have you been opposed today? Have your thoughts, actions or words been challenged by the perspective of another? Do not assume the opposition is destructive. Consider the source. Is God challenging you today. He is a Friend that will often oppose you… .for your good. Adversity and opposition may be round about you, but listen close, refuse interaction with the Accuser…. .no, listen closer.. .you have a Friend who is sharpening you in the midst of it. Interact with your Friend who has become also your Brother…

Shimei was not David’s friend. But God was. And He was sharpening David in the midst of the adversity.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Interactions

I have learned that I cannot fight the Adversaries accusations. They are too possible. Too close to my reality. They have been expertly formed with careful observation and knowledge of my person. And many of them are true.

The accusations are legally protected by a Higher Law. A Law that is good and righteous but unattainable to my humanity. I am legally accused, legally sentenced and legally dead. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” Ephesians 2:1. So then, I must appeal to a ruling that has been made at an eternal moment. A moment of history that surpassed the limits of time. The accusations usually ring true somewhere in our conscience… .it is possible that we have fallen short this way or that. But the eternal verdict is always true as well. You and I are privileged to wear this verdict as though it were ours. Because God said so…

In a moment of eternity, God made a choice. One that we will never regret. Yes, the accusations may be true, but God is no longer concerned with these. He has made a judgment in our favor. He has designated Himself to be our only Judge. We have come to this Judge. We have come to this Heavenly Courtroom. We receive all of our verdicts from here. We enjoy the judgments of mercy. And are no longer concerned with what is said elsewhere… .even if they are true…

Enter the Courtroom…

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan (the accuser) standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest…” Zechariah 3:1-8.

Resist interaction with the Accuser. You have a new Judge, the Merciful One. Reserve that interaction for Him… .and let Him fight the accusations for you.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Cannot Defend

We cannot defend our character. No matter how clean. No matter how pure. No matter how righteous or faithful or just…. .we cannot defend it. “…judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me,” Psalm 7:8. We can state it, declare it and even insist on it, but in the end, we cannot defend.

In the great cosmic arena it is merely our word against an Adversary. Is the Adversary so foolish as to accuse us of things untrue? Sadly for us, he is not. No, he is sly and gifted in his work. He accuses us of thoughts we have had, feelings we have experienced and actions we have considered. He brings up the past in all of its miserable failures. He brings up the present in all of its provocations to fall short. When our Adversary accuses, he always uses the truth with just a little twisting.

And that is where it catches us. We are stumped and stuttering. The natural reaction of our human flesh is to deny and defend. We did not! We have not! We were never going to! However, deep within we know that we once did, we could have and we were probably going to. Our flesh, that is, was definitely prone to succumb to the very things that we have been accused of.

Therefore, I suggest, that defense of our thoughts, words, actions, our very character is futile in the face of our Adversary. Standing alone in the cosmic arena, surrounded by Adversarial judgments, it is best not to fight it. The judgments may very well be correct! The finger that is pointed at you may have every right to point. You may stand justly accused. After all, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. That includes you! Your Adversary may be correct on every point of accusation he makes. He is more than likely well within his legal rights to accuse you.

Therefore, again, I suggest, that you do not defend yourself against the accusations. I suggest that you appeal to a higher court for a better judgment. “…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24. I suggest you call on the Judge above all judgment. The One who has created and known your heart. The Judge who has been a witness to your every thought. The Judge who has explored your inner motivations and He who is familiar with your personal knowledge of the Son. The Judge who is just and fair in His judgment. Who will not treat you as your sins deserve. The Judge who will be a witness to your life in the Son. I suggest that you do not defend yourself but make room for God’s judgment. If you do this, He will certainly have the opportunity to judge in your favor. Make room. Listen not to your Adversary, nor speak with him. As you should know, anything you say can and will be used against you! Let him rant and rave. Pay it no mind. Do not try to answer or defend. He may be right in his judgments. Leave the space in your ears open to the judgments of God. Call upon the judgment of God at all times. Submit yourself to the judgment of the One who loves you and is for you…. .and He will silence your enemy. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” James 4:7. Resist the interaction. Your interaction is with the Judge who loves you.

“…Judge me, O Lord…” Psalm 7:8.

My Blog List

  • Prayer Equals Peace - “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow w...
    3 months ago