Archive for September 2010

Sorrow Into Joy

September 28, 2010

When we are ready to lay down our lives for Him, God will open our eyes.
For you see as we give up our desires and let go of our selfish demands, we will better understand the selfless action He took for our sakes,
not total understanding, but better.
As we open our hearts to Him, we will allow Him to show us what is in His heart.
Because by opening our hearts the way He opened His for us we can begin to understand what He gave us, that terrible afternoon on Calvary.
Yes, we will begin to understand, yet He will bring it all into fruition.
He has been and He will be our teacher. He died to share His life with us, to recreate us in His image,
to change us from being petty and small to being great and generous as He is.
He has so much to show us.

Why is it we couldn’t see before?
Why couldn’t we know Him and His heart?
In the life most of us presently lead, our own desires and needs blind us to everything else, we are infatuated by the mirror of our ego.
What we want is even more important to us than who we are.
We think that we can construct a new version of ourselves by succeeding in the world.
We would gladly turn away from love and justice to gain wealth and power, things that in this transitory world will only last a fortnight, then vanish like a vapor, the whole world could fall to pieces around us and we would still cling to the forlorn hope that this kind of success will make a difference.
We are truly and tragically blind.
How wise Dante was to inscribe the entrance to hell with
“Abandon hope all ye who enter here”,
there is no hope, no change, and no true reform in the confines of a self-centered life.
In our blindness this is all we can see, and in this hopeless state of mind many have despaired of light and life, and they have embraced the empty coldness of life without hope.
But even from the cold, dead, depths Jesus can lead us into the light.
How do you think that Saul of Tarsus felt as he sat in darkness, blind and forlorn in Damascus?
The Lord had broken through his daydream of righteous indignation, and told Him that he was wrong, that he was persecuting God and His people.
After all the things Saul had done in his life dedicating himself to the service of God, he must have sat in a well of despair waiting for what God had for him next, with his hopes of righteous achievement dashed.
Surely he would have thought “God will soon finish me off”, for the wicked all have the same dire fate in the Scriptures.
All of his training told him that a swift end lay ahead for him, for God did not suffer the wicked to succeed for long.
But God raised Saul up out of his despair and restored his sight. God took him and made a new man of him. He renewed Saul’s heart and God Himself took Saul in hand to instruct him and prepare him to become an Apostle.
God opened the door to Saul’s personal prison of despair and set him free.
Ever since the day of Pentecost people everywhere have been given the opportunity to seek Him, and sadly most people could care less.
Do not lose your opportunity to seek and find the Lord of Creation.
Do not turn aside as so very many have and reject His gift, the gift of His life.
You can walk with Him everyday. You can come to know Him, the one who loves you and gave His life for you. But it will cost all of your selfish desires, all of your meagre resources to gain everything in Him. Lay the burdens of this world down, all of the empty, haunted castles of your dreams, all of the forlorn hopes, they are nothing but garbage anyway. Hand them over to Jesus, He will know what to do with them for He will restore you, He will shape your life into something useful. He will turn your sorrows into joy.

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The Practical Reality Of The Godly Life

September 23, 2010

So what is the practical reality of the Godly life?
How can we be in the world and not of it?
How can we be here in this physical reality and walk with the One who is Spirit?
These questions have troubled the hearts of many for countless generations perhaps going all the way back to Abel or Enoch. Each person who has asked these questions has had their own individual struggles and temptations. Yet the fact that they, or you, asked or are asking these questions means that He was working in their hearts and He is working in your heart. Each of us has challenges which may not be easily comprehended by our neighbors.

The answer is as easy as believing (or trusting) and listening, and as hard as your doubts (even your self doubts) can possibly make it.

God never meant for us to be hooked up to some “preacher” umbilical cord for the rest of our lives. We are to be attached to Him, in union with Him. One on one and all in One. It is a false notion that we come to His people and always depend on them to be in contact with Jesus, no. We are to discover Him in the lives of others and seek Him in our own hearts with, perhaps, some early guidance from our brothers and sisters, but when we are mature, we should be in union with Him and we should be quite naturally following His guidance and sharing Him with others, our brothers and sisters, and with those who do not yet know Him.

As a culture Christians have had a one way telephone conversation with God. We have been taught to yammer away and bend His ear with all of our needs and wants, and then walk away as if He is some kind of cosmic answering machine.

If God is alive, and If He is the God described in the Bible, then He can and will talk to you, notice I did not say He will talk to Billy Graham, or the Pope. He will talk to you. God is here with us now ready to speak to each of us, will we hear Him? Will we listen to Him? Do we really need an interpreter?

It is really up to us, to listen, because He made up His mind to talk to us a very long time ago. By the way, He is very up-to-date, He will speak to you in language you can understand, He is not limited to the grand language of Shakespeare or King James. Rather He will speak to you as a Father speaks to His beloved child.

So take your finger off the push-to-talk button and get ready to listen, He will not shout at you. Remember after the mighty winds, and earthquakes, and fires in your surroundings, His voice is the still, small voice we will hear in our hearts (1 Kings 19:11-13)!

When I Was Young

September 8, 2010

When I was young I knew so well how we could all survive
we’ll make our foes our friends I said
and then we’ll start to jive
My philosophy was simple, to drink life to the lees
I drank, I swore, I partied, I did whatever I pleased,
then one day I gave it up and fell down on my knees.
Yet there was something missing there, a time to see, a time to hear
and the heavy things I carried alone, I didn’t have to bear.
I said “God will help me get the dreams,
the ones I hold so dear!”
but God did not deliver on my selfish, empty prayer.

I thought the sun was dawning to burn the clouds away
but instead of turning to His peace, I plunged into the fray
I thought “I know I’m righteous, unlike my friends across the way
my efforts I’ll redouble and I will not long delay
to grind their faces in the dust, I’ll shame them all today.”
I argued with the heathen, I argued with the cults,
I argued with those other guys,
denominations I think they’re call’t
and all of my devotion to humiliating the foe
only turned people away from Him, a fact I now well know.

Jesus had been knocking, so long upon the door
I did not hear the sound of it, because I was so sure
that my continued aggression, would make me good and pure.
To me the clouds of heaven were dull as old gray lead,
and I had not even heard a single thing He’d said.
He knew the thing I overlooked and what a thing it was
for I was wandering in the mist, lost in a religious fog
And I did not even possess the sense that God gave a dog.
A dog, he knows his master, but I could not clearly see
that outside the religious mist, Jesus stood waiting for me.
I tried devotion to the church, I tried to serve, I worked so hard
but for all the good it did me I might have been beating a lump of lard
The Master was always guiding me, though I was not aware
I did not even recognize that He was really there.

So now the answer comes in the twilight of my years
all I had to learn to do was open up my ears
God wants us to hear Him of this I now am sure
and all that precious other stuff ain’t worth a bucket of manure
He knows me better than I do, and He loves me just the same
and the greatest surprise of all, He calls me by my name.

If we haven’t seen the light, then who will see it for us
If we haven’t heard the song, then who will sing the chorus.
If we work for bread alone, our sweat is all in vain
If we won’t listen to Jesus, then we will surely miss His train.

I Am Not Perfect

September 3, 2010

You hear people say that all of the time, “I am not perfect”, and usually in it’s everyday form it is an excuse for something we messed up, often very badly. We are funny creatures we have the peculiar ability to deceive ourselves in an almost infinite variety of ways. If things are going well we have a tendency to think that it is because we are doing something right, in fact we often fantasize that it is because we have a special gift, a genius for getting things right. Well such flights into the realm of perfection are thankfully short lived, for if our heads continued swelling at that rate we would be impossible to live with. Eventually while we are distracted by our own worthiness we will inevitably forget to pay a bill or snub someone we care about and the whole sugar crystal palace of our perfection comes crashing down. Now we have all experienced these false highs and the lows that follow, but I would like to explore the lows for a moment. You see we are often not only distracted by our perfection, we can also fall into the trap of thinking that we are perfectly awful.

When I was a younger man (we are only as old as we think we are, right?) I worked as the assistant manager of a bar, that’s just a fancy way of saying that I kept things stocked and mopped up at night when everyone was gone, inevitably you see vivid examples of this kind of self delusion in a bar. Often, in that atmosphere I got an earful of a customer’s sense of imperfection when they were in their cups and feeling sorry for themselves. At that point when they are going on and on about how they screw everything up, you begin to see that in their attempt to gain sympathy they are also polishing up their claim to perfection, that is as the perfect screw-up.

I am happy to say thirty or so years later that as crummy an experience as that may have been, it had an important lesson attached, that truly, nobody is perfect, and furthermore no human, at least now days is perfectly bad.

This is born out by the fact that, as bad as we might be, and we have the capacity to be very bad indeed, we still have the ability to choose to do good. It is like a little gift from God, for if we were truly perfect in evil there would be no point in going on and trying to do the right thing. Yet God in His wisdom allowed us to be imperfect at both ends of the spectrum. The very fact that we are free to choose insures that we are not helplessly frozen in a nightmare of evil. Now I know that there may be people who have consistently chosen the dark side, but remember they did not have to choose that, they could just as easily chosen to do something good. Ultimately it is for God to judge people’s choices and their motives.

People who purposely choose to do wrong may be pursuing a different kind of perfection, fortunately perfect evil is just as hard to attain as perfect good, although I would say that our natural inclinations might give us a slight advantage in that area. In His mercy God has kept us from being able to become un-redeemable, as long as there is breath in our nostrils we can turn around and seek God.

So next time you are tempted to sit in a corner with your nose to the wall and wail about how badly you have screwed up, remember “nobody’s perfect”.
Thank God.