Archive for the ‘novel’ category

Running the Salt Flats

November 3, 2009

There is a plain stretching to the horizon, well really it goes farther than that, but that’s all you can see. On that plain there is a man, he is running toward you, but he never seems to get to you, the harder he is running the slower he seems to be going. It’s like the Bonneville salt flats, even though he is miles away, you can see him. and you can tell that he is putting more and more energy into his running. You watch him and it seems he is trying one last burst of speed, then, poof, he vanishes. So you walk out to where he was and you find nothing. There is not a single trace of him, not a scrap of running shoe, or a bit of T-shirt, nothing.
This is what it is like for many people, they are incapable of fully accomplishing the things they wish in life, so they just try harder, when they have tried very hard, hard enough to harm their health, then, poof, one day they vanish and the goal is unachieved and they are gone.
This is what it is like for people who try to do great things without God. If they have any notion of God at all, they push past Him and say I don’t have time to waste on You, I have work to do. Perhaps from a human perspective they feel they are getting somewhere, but to God they are spinning their wheels. They build houses, and buy cars and yachts, but houses fall into disrepair and decay, cars wear out and die, and yachts sink or go to the breakers. We don’t even leave this world with the clothes on our backs. We cannot transfer our wealth, or our achievements into the currency of heaven.
You can’t make gold into love, you can’t take champagne and make living water out of it. You can’t take the frustrations of everyday life and extract joy from them, not without God.
Jesus said that He came to rescue the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He acted this out by putting on His sandals everyday and going out to meet those sheep. He went to the bars and alleyways. He met them and He healed them. He visited their hovels and ate with them as a friend. He went to them because they had no idea that He was there, and that He cared. Well, by the time He left town they knew.
The same thing could happen to you. Are you realizing that your life is as empty as the desert? Have your plans all crumbled into rubble? Are you dealing with past abuse to the point that you are barely functioning? Guess what? That makes you a lost sheep.

So call on the Lord, go to Him and pour out your shortcomings to Him, open your arms to Him, let Him come into your hovel, and have supper with you, let Him hold you in His arms and heal you, listen as He tells you how much He cares for you. Don’t waste another moment, let your life, your true life begin now.





October 24, 2009

I had a peculiar feeling the other day, so I sat down to write what the Lord was saying to me. He said this is how it is, how it’s going to be.

It’s like the day you look up and there is smoke on the horizon and, dang, now there’s fire, man is it moving fast, and you see that no-one is escaping the fire -woomp- there goes another neighbor and you look at your neighbor’s place being consumed and you say “Nooo”, but there they go, they are gone already. And the fire races on, it is heading for your place now, but it does a funny thing even though the wind is blowing like crazy, even though the flames are jumping from ten feet high to forty during the gusts. the fire is splitting and it’s going around your place, you were looking for your big shovel and testing the water hose, but now you just stand there and watch in puzzled fascination as the conflagration roars on by.

Then it hits you that none of your neighbors got away in time. and you run across the field over to Archie’s place and you look for the family, but they didn’t make it. and you fall on your knees and hot tears make rivulets on your ash stained cheeks. And it’s tough being alive when the neighbors didn’t even see it coming. They didn’t see it coming, but somehow you did. And you’re standing there alone for a while, surrounded by charred shapes, stunned, when you hear a little cry, you realize it’s a child and you run toward the sound and sure enough Becky, the three year old, is hanging onto the inside rim of the open cistern. She is terrified, you reach in and you coo and make soothing sounds and you hold back the tears. You know that putting the child in the tank was probably the last thing her mother did. So you pick her up and you hold the child close and you tell her it’s OK, and you walk home slowly. You hold the child closer and wrap your jean jacket around her, she is so cold from being wet and you don’t mind that she is getting you wet. She is so exhausted that she falls asleep in your arms still crying a little.

You are crushed by the devastation, your friends couldn’t be saved, it was just too quick, too thorough, yet there is joy in the saving of one life. Little whirlwinds of black ash swirl ahead of you as you carry your precious cargo home.

that they all may be one

October 19, 2009

If you got up one Sunday morning (Saturday for those of you who are Adventist, Messianic Jews, or Jewish) and drove to your place of worship and found that it had suddenly burnt to the ground, and after driving around town you discovered that all the other places of worship had met a similar fate. What would you do? Would you straggle on back home and spend an afternoon in sad reminiscence, would you just pick up your fishing gear and head for the lake, or would you spend the rest of the day on your face before God asking Him what went wrong.
Relax, there are no wrong answers here, for if this really happened and you are His, He would get His intended message through to you, one way or another. Well, the calamity depicted above may or may not happen, but I will tell you about a calamity which has happened, and is happening. Far too many people who warm pews, read creeds, and sing hymns, never look beyond the pages of the Bible for the Lord.

Are you saying to yourself, “did he say what I think he said?”
Why yes I did, we must go through Scripture by His Spirit, to the very heart of God, in Spirit and in truth.
Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Revelation 3:20-21

Is this something to be ignored? Are we going to pass this wonderful statement up in favor of the Mother’s Day sermon (sorry, a pet peeve of mine).

Jesus said, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are…that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
John 17:6-11, 21

Does this sound like an invitation to a church social or to the service with the good praise band? I have read these lines many times and they always bring me to my knees. “That they all may be one even as You, Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us”, This should give you a shiver, this is serious stuff.

Is it not obvious that Jesus is talking about something bigger than a group of nice people getting together and agreeing that Jesus is nice too?
Many scriptures do not lend themselves to being personalized, but these two do. They are a call, a clear and startling call. And these are not the only ones, if you allow the Spirit to make you sensitive to it, you will find passages like these throughout the Bible, Old Testament and New.
If these messages have any meaning for you, then Jesus is calling you to a deeper walk with Him. He is knocking on the door, He is pleading for your heart, with the Father. He is making room for you on His throne with Him.

Is this an offer which can be put off while you check to see if there are any better ones?
Is that a stupid question or what?
Seize the opportunity, get on your face, lift your tear stained cheeks to Him and ask Him to lead you, to guide you on the path which only He knows for sure. The straight and narrow path requires a guide, and it is the Lord Himself. Quiet your foolish heart and the manic babbling of your mind. Listen for Him, listen to Him. If Jesus is your guide in all things, you will never stray. You will grow to be like Him.

The Clods, the Rapids, and the Lord’s Hand

October 3, 2009

One morning I found myself dreaming, but unlike other times when I’ve had dreams, I am aware that this is a dream. In the dream I am beginning to wake up and I start to feel the things that are in contact with my skin, it feels funny and I’m almost certain that I have dirt clods lying all over me, I try to shake myself awake, but I am stuck in an uncertain level of consciousness, not completely awake and not really asleep.

Then I feel it, the agony of my spirit, it is straining against the clods, and it is aghast at the complacency of my flesh, it is mourning the connection, it is complaining at being tied to the clods, for you see the clods are not lying on me, the clods are me. And my blood flows like the muddy sludge in the Missouri when the spring rains stir up all of the silt, and the current breaks loose the boats large and small and carries them along to their destruction.

I am suddenly aware of the feeling that someone is digging in my dirt, and I shout, “don’t move my dirt, I just got it the way I want it .”

Then I see who is doing the digging and I recognize that it is Jesus, and He is not really digging, He is reforming, reshaping, and hey, He is throwing stuff away!

I start to shout again and then I realize, you’re not supposed to shout at the Lord even if you have a good reason. My mind interrupts and says why not? King David shouted at Him a lot. So while I am having this argument with myself, He is finishing the renovation, He shakes me and says, “get up”.

My spirit is calmed by His presence, and I no longer feel like clods all over but there is something going on in my heart, it is as if there had been a curtain over my heart and it is gone and now there is a really bright light inside. Somehow even though the clods are gone I find that my flesh is uncomfortable with the arrangement, it is trying to hide from the light, but there is no place for it to go, no place to hide.

Suddenly I see what He wants me to see, the road, it is gently rising towards the mountains and my spirit does a little dance at the sight of it.

I am dragging my stubborn flesh along the road which is full of rocks and mud holes, then I hear the Spirit, not mine, but His calling to mine. And I look up and see that Jesus has joined me, for my spirit called back to His. The road is not smoother, not less muddy, but somehow, now I am not feeling every bump and rock and our pace quickens.

There are fallen trees up ahead, but I begin to take my lead from what the Lord is doing.

He takes my hand and we leap over the tree trunks.

It is beginning to be fun.

We are pretty much running now.

Then I see it, the biggest, roughest rapids I have ever seen, there is no bridge and there is so much water that I know I can’t make it.
Then the Lord does something I don’t expect, He wades into the rapids, this time I reach for His hand as we go in. It’s tough, there are rocks the size of mini-vans and water gushing everywhere and pounding on me.
I loose my footing more than once, but He never skips a beat, He never loosens His grip on my hand. Soon we are climbing out the other side and it feels real good to be done with it. I am feeling lighter and I look around to see what I have lost in the flood, and then I notice that my body got hung up on one of the rocks, I look up at the Lord in puzzlement and He says smiling, “today we are going to My house, don’t worry you will like it a lot.”
So on we trudge, but then I notice we’re not trudging, we’re flying.

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labour in vain that build it

July 31, 2009

There is nothing which I have to say that might be helpful to you. Seems a bit stark to say so, but it is true. If all the information I have to share with you is about me, who I am, where I come from, how I lost my moral compass when I was in my early twenties. It would be about as useful as one of those conversations you have with a stranger, where you look at the falling rain and agree that it is raining. Of course, the exchange of useful information is not the function of those awkward chats, but perhaps you can see what I am getting at.

If my story is only about my petty jealousies and my failures, my failed attempts at success, then there is not much to tell. I would be like one of those pedantic fellows who bend your ear with a tale of the sex lives of blue skinks. The reaction of any sane person to such a monologue should be an eye rolling, “shoot me, shoot me now” type of feeling. If I am only telling you of my obsessions, and hang-ups without relieving the tedium of the narrative with something hopeful or transforming, it cannot be of much real use to you

Ah, but there is good news for you and for me. For the story is not only about me. It is about God. It is about how He reached down into the abyss of my obsessions and hang-ups and began to draw me out. To know Him, to be one of His sheep. Why would He do such a thing? How could He, or would He be interested in a failure like me?

The answer to these questions is a great story. For me it is an important story. How He allowed me to stray but kept me from serious harm in a generation that killed many promising youths with drugs and recklessness. How He drew me out of the sexual revolution just before AIDS came along and swept another throng of promising people into the ash bin.

I speak of a time when you might have realized that the fellow who was recently found dead in his apartment, was the fellow who passed out in the corner of your living room at your last party. Or you would have heard of the classmate who came back from Viet Nam without a scratch except that now he couldn’t hold a job, or a match for that matter in his shaking fingers.

Gentle reader you may also have similar blessings, like the serious injury, which though terrible in itself, kept you out of the Army, and kept you from an appointment with a roadside bomb in Iraq. Or perhaps, because of old emotional wounds, you have a tendency to shrink from being a part of the gang. That becomes a critical advantage when the gang gets a bad batch of ecstasy and some of them die and others are damaged.

God has at times chosen to spare people from the horrors they have wandered into, and at other times He has chosen to let a person drink the chosen cup to it’s bitter dregs. This is how God gets our attention. If saving you from certain death and infamy will cause you to pause and consider how the impossible just happened, then He will do that. If you will not be turned from your self destructive ways He may allow you to follow them, even to their tragic conclusion, because you see, He did not choose your path. You still have free will. A person on his way down the steep spiral to self-destruction will often have signs warning him of the crash he should shortly expect. If he ignores the warnings, then how is the person’s demise God’s fault.

Human beings are a strange lot, I read recently that;

“Of the 2,501 drivers surveyed this spring, 95 percent said that texting was unacceptable behavior. Yet 21 percent of drivers said they had recently texted or e-mailed while driving.About half of drivers 16 to 24 said they had texted while driving, compared with 22 percent of drivers 35 to 44.” (New York Times article “In Study, Texting Lifts Crash Risk by Large Margin” Published: July 27, 2009)

These folks knew that their attention was dangerously divided while texting, often because of close calls. They knew that this behavior was dangerous, yet they did it anyway. We as humans are weak, we are contradictory in our behavior, and we seem to be content to stay that way.

Fortunately God has a better plan for us than we can imagine. God knows where we are headed and what we need, the problem for us is that because of free will we have to cooperate with Him to get the full benefit of His love and generosity. We have to choose Him and His ways. Hoping and wishing that you are on His side does not cut it, you have to respond to Him, turn to Him when things are bleak and also when things are good. You cannot know what God wants and what He is doing in your life until you know Him, until you can hear His voice.
Jesus said

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27 New Century Version

Listen for Him, listen to Him and obey Him. It’s funny but the majority of stories about people who have come to the Lord, start off with some impossible tragedy or trouble which is beyond the ability of the person to deal with and that is when the majority of people call on the Lord. When they have run out of resources, or guts to see it through. In those times of extreme difficulty a person begins to see how extremely limited he or she really is.

So come on now Superman, and Wonder Woman, you know that you are not really all that strong, that your resources are limited. You know that you can’t really make it on your own. Do not wait to seek the Lord. Do not put off laying aside your pride and humbly coming to Him. Open the door to your heart and let Him in, He is the only thing you really need anyway.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Matthew 6:33 KJV

Seek the Lord with all of your heart, and all of your mind, and all of your strength.




April 30, 2009

Have you been frustrated by the song and dance many ministers perform when you ask them about what happened to all of the miracles, which are plainly and routinely spoken of in the Bible? Are you shocked (even just a little bit) when they tell you that miracles are not for today? I have often been amazed at some of the people around me who identify themselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and call themselves “christians”. They are reading the same bible or bibles (various translations) that I am, yet it seems that we are not getting the same message. In the Bible I see a long line of people all the way back to Abel who despite the fall walked and talked with God. The true depth of some of the relationships is not spelled out, but there can be no doubt that Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph had unusually close relationships with the Lord, And this is just in the book of Genesis.

I am struck by the fact that God is sketching out for us, throughout scripture, the life that we can have in Him. These biblical fellows were not identified primarily by their professions, no, they were the people who knew God and knew Him well. There was no wavering on Abraham’s part at the command of God to sacrifice Isaac. We see Jacob the rascal transformed into a great man of faith by His relationship with God. There is the picture of the immature Joseph becoming wise as he suffers in prison with no one but God Himself to rely on.

Where are our modern examples of this kind of faith, this intimacy with God. I am disappointed to find that many men and women who call themselves “christians” identify themselves primarily with their professions, or with their families, their relationship with Christ is lower on their list of priorities. We do not see very many, if any, who “walk by faith and not by sight”.

It is alarming to me that so many people in the various institutional churches believe that gaining head knowledge of scripture and following the advice (sometimes the commands) of their denominations constitutes a walk of faith.

Ever since the finished work of Christ on the cross and pentecost, we have had immediate access to God through the Holy Spirit. If the biblical accounts are to be taken as the gold standard this means that each of us who seek Him have the ability to speak to Him and hear Him answer. And the ability to daily seek Him and know His presence. The presence of the Holy Spirit in your life means that He has set up a place in your heart where He can be met and communed with similar to the holy of holies in the ancient temple in Jerusalem. A place where we can get to know Him, if we are willing.

If we are the people of God with this special constant contact with God, then it should be more obvious. We should be seeing people who are continually conscious of the presence of the Lord, humbly walking with Him, taking everything to Him everyday. And the presence of God should be apparent in our lives, in our demeanor, in our faces, the reflection of the glory of God in our hearts. Oh and yes there should be miracles, wonderful things follow the people who are His vessels, just look at the amazing life of Moses. A group of people who know Christ intimately should be the people you can rely on to lead you into a similar, deeper relationship, a Peter or John type relationship, a Moses type relationship, or a King David type of relationship.

Instead a “church” group is a place where you are likely to be manipulated into giving money to a building project or where you may find yourself getting into fruitless arguments about the interpretation of some scripture. Or worse yet a place where you are indoctrinated into their denominational teachings which have become, for many, more important than the bible itself.

Paul made it very clear in his pastoral letters that a believer grows into the fullness of Christ, that is, it is a maturation process. Are we seeing people, growing into giants of faith, like Samuel, Peter, John, or Paul, or are we seeing people trudge in and out of some “church” building, as hungry for the Bread of Life and as thirsty for the Living Water as they were before they even heard of the Lord?

It seems that in our cultural expressions of “christianity” we are stuck in first gear, a sort of self perpetuating immaturity that keeps us dependent on our trained “clergy” many of whom no longer believe in the integrity of scripture having been “enlightened” by the scholarship of the seminary. I recall an Assembly of God minister who advised his congregation that the woman caught in adultery passage in John 8 can be dismissed because it was not in the earliest manuscripts. Are we therefore trusting in the Lord, or are we leaning on our own understanding, or in this case modern scholarship, and are we making an idol of our “wisdom”?

Everybody who is in a “church” knows how to lead you to join their “church” and become members in good standing of their “christian” group. Yet how many can lead you deeper into the things of Christ, into intimacy with the Spirit of the Living God.

I cannot claim this full maturity yet, it is the process I am involved in, and maturity will be the fruit of being closer to, and more like Jesus, but I invite you, dear reader, to seek God with your whole heart and enter into this process of growth in the Spirit. There are numerous scriptures that speak of how willing He is to respond to you, when you humbly and earnestly seek Him.
There is the timeless Revelation 3:20

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me.” Amplified Bible

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” NASB

Jeremiah 33:3

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” NASB

and Proverbs 3:5-6 says

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.” Amplified Bible

In the verse from Proverbs, if we are to trust in the Lord with our whole hearts how shall we do this if we are not in close communion with Him all of the time. It is obvious that God desires that we not be ignorant of Him and His ways. So walk with Him and grow in Him, spend time with Him, listen to Him, and you will find the desert in your heart blossoming from the springs of Living Water He brings to your life.

Walk with Him