The Dusty Road

Posted March 12, 2011 by Nathan
Categories: Christianity, Dreams / Vision, God, Hearing God, Jesus, Journaling, religion, Writing

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You are trudging on the long weary road with a heavy heart, the dust rises and chokes you as the cars pass,

the clothes you are wearing are gritty and grimy,

and the sun seems to have picked you out for particular attention and torment.

The cold wet streams, you can hear splashing, are out of reach, undrinkable because of pollution

You are about to give up and collapse

all around you there is a deafening stillness,

the stillness that screams,

“You took the wrong turn, you are lost, you will never make it now.”

 

When you find yourself in a situation like this, just remember that there was another dusty road once

and two down-hearted men were walking in the hot Judean sun

Just to get away, to get away from the madness that they had witnessed in Jerusalem.

They had seen a man who had never hurt anyone, who had helped and healed many

being brutally beaten, and driven through the streets and in the end nailed to a wooden beam and hung above the heads of a bloodthirsty crowd who spat on Him and reviled Him.

 

Those two men were shocked and weary and afraid. What they witnessed made them avoid the company of others, I am sure they felt they couldn’t trust anyone to be just and fair anymore. I am sure that is why they left town.

 

They didn’t notice that someone was walking with them until He spoke to them. They shared their concerns their fears and the extreme insanity of what they had witnessed

Jesus listened to them, but He didn’t stop there, He explained to them about the necessity of His death, He encouraged them. And then when the meal was served He opened their eyes to see who it was that had kept them company on the hot and dusty road of disillusionment. It is important to note that He did not jump out of the bushes and holler “Surprise!”, no, he walked with them and shared their troubles and their sorrows.

So when you feel like you are all alone and the road is the only place left to you, when the cruelty of the world shocks and repels you and makes you wonder, with good reason, if the world is insane. And they have thrown you out to eat and sleep with the dogs, there is One who will walk with you, He is gentle and kind and He knows all about rejection.

When you are all out of options and all out of friends, you still have one friend, the most important One.

My Soul Reaches For You, Lord

Posted February 25, 2011 by Nathan
Categories: Christianity, God, Hearing God, Jesus, Poem, Poetry, religion, Writing

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My soul reaches for You Oh Lord,

For I must respond to Your call.

I am tall in Your sight as you guide me,

I can do the things You require as you lead me.

I have no gift to give You Lord, save what you have given me.

There are weeks when I cannot lift my eyes because of the tears my sadness expresses.

Yet You lift my head oh Lord.

You lift my head and You set me on the high ground, far above the flood.

When I have cried my last tear and walked my last step

When every man has turned away from me

You are the one who will take me up and cherish me.

I am alive in your embrace and at peace under Your gaze

Do not let my heart fail before I have sung your praise with my life.

Microcosm

Posted February 13, 2011 by Nathan
Categories: Christianity, Dreams / Vision, God, Hearing God, Jesus, Journaling, religion, Writing

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I have been on Facebook for some time now and I have begun to notice what an odd microcosm it is, not that it is in any way a faithful representation of the way the wider world is, but there are microclimates that encourage certain mirror images of what is going on in the world. You may be fortunate to fall in with a group of people whom you wholeheartedly agree with or you may find yourself locked into one of those endless and fruitless debates which have been the hallmark of internet exchanges for more than a decade now.

We used to call them flame wars and they are usually precipitated by someone dangling flame bait. All that a person has to do to start something like this is to ridicule a subject which he or she knows someone else holds sacred or dear, and stand back. Often after the gasoline has been thrown on the fire the resulting inferno will burn for days, or at least until all the participants are exhausted. I have seen these things going on long before Facebook ever existed. So now when I see them merrily reproducing with predictable frequency on Facebook. It makes me wonder what is being achieved. All of this energy and righteous indignation, spraying out into the ether, for what?

It reminds me that there are people in this world who actually make a living by spreading disinformation. Have you ever wondered why TV news picks up certain stories to run with? Have you ever noticed when the subjects of a news report are characterized as being crude or backward in those reports? It may not be apparent in the copy of the story, often it is in the video content. Have you ever thought through the sage advice you got from that political analyst?

As a culture we are immersed in media throughout the day, every day. It is so pervasive that we often cannot tell that we are being swayed. We do not understand why we don’t care to be around certain types of people, but we are very certain that we don’t.

Our reasoning faculties are hobbled at an early age through ceaseless bombardment. Are we quite certain of our own tastes and ideas? Or have we surrendered to the barrage of endless input from the endless parade of “authorities” we see in newscasts, and advertisements, that we hear on talk radio, and we read in the press, or even from the sermons we hear?

This world is full of distortions of the truth, if we are to move forward Spiritually, if we are to mature, should we be relying on the things people tell us? Or should we be seeking the One who knows?

Why Do We?

Posted January 15, 2011 by Nathan
Categories: Christianity, Dreams / Vision, God, Hearing God, Jesus, religion, Writing

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Why do we use “crossing the Jordan” as a metaphor for physical death when we can live in the Promised land now (by means of the Spirit)?

Why do we not find fault with a minister whose idea of “being a servant” is to insist on being honored and having authority over us?

Why do we find fault with people who fall down when someone prays for them? Maybe they are more comfortable on the floor.

Why do we read about the Spirit in the Bible, but only think about the flesh?

Why do we tolerate preachers who push us down when they pray for us?

Why do we hold hands and proclaim our unity in the sanctuary, but get into a heated theological debate in the vestibule?

Why do some congregations throw people out when they dance in the aisles? After all, that could be the high point of the service!

Why do we say that we love God and live only for Him, when all of our desires and plans have to do with making our way in this world?

Why do we obsess about sin when Jesus already took care of that? If you are troubled, humble contrition is all that is needed, He is in His office 24/7.

Why do we gather with that same old group of crabby, and/or unnaturally cheerful people each week and call it church?

Why do we feel that the people in a church building are God’s people when the plastic smiles and handshakes are less genuine than Madoff’s hedge fund?

Why do we pass up an opportunity to help someone, so that we might get to church on time?

Why are we so sad at funerals (not counting relatives and close friends who are sad because they will truly miss the deceased) when we say that “he/she is with Jesus now”?

Why oh why do we believe the promises of men which are nearly always empty lies, while we ignore the true promises of God.

Why are we content to live shallow lives when we could be living in the fullness of His Spirit?

If you have done one or two, or more, of these things and understand how inconsistent they are, congratulations you are human.

For that matter if you drew breath and opened your eyes this morning you are human.

We all have needs, to love and to be loved, to be sheltered and fed, but most of all we need God.

Our need for God is apparent when we hunger and thirst for justice, or love, or friendship, or even for a break from the chaos which is this world.

God can bring us peace, love, provision, and companionship, if we will have it.

We can live in Him, in union with Him.

Jesus is the cure for our feckless humanity.

The Religious Boor

Posted January 3, 2011 by Nathan
Categories: Christianity, Dreams / Vision, God, Hearing God, Jesus, Poem, Poetry, religion, Writing

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I bring the message, missive from on high

to enlighten all, so with my ideas I

on cantilever’d wings attempt to soar

And in this way reveal myself, a boor.

 

I burst forth in haste and ranting I do come

To prattle at you ’til your ears are numb

to hold forth on the subject of “the God”

Of which, I know as little as a cod.

 

For scholar’s books have been my native land

and soaring I cannot beyond the hand

of the ancient sage who records his best regrets

which I turn ’round and spew out in sudden fits

that do not help, but hinder even the wise

as if I had entrapped them in a vise.

 

Of union with the Spirit I speak not

and of trusting God I will not write a jot

But in my imagined genius do I play

and those who oppose me, well, they’ll rue the day!

 

The gentle grace of God did shine His light

illuminated my shortcomings, and my plight

of my arrows flying wild, which missed the mark

And in my shame I hid me in the dark

 

‘Tis His sweet self who rescued me, you see

and pulled me in His boat out of the sea

for half of it I swallowed as I drowned

He’ll heal me ’cause for this He is renowned.

 

My wish for fame like a rocket did ascend

but exploded in vain infamy in the end

but tho’ I did attempt to steal His crown

His hand reached out to me to sit me down

beside Him on His throne, Oh happy day!

I wandered lost, but He has shown the way.

For Those Who Believe In Jesus

Posted December 3, 2010 by Nathan
Categories: Christianity, Dreams / Vision, God, Hearing God, Jesus, Journaling, religion, Uncategorized, Writing

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For those who believe in Jesus.

There are a few things which we must come to grips with in this world.

Jesus is real, Jesus is alive.

There are a lot of people in this world

and yes, even “ministers of the gospel” who do not truly believe it.

But they will not tell you that

because people lie.

You can know that He lives

You can know that this is true.

You can meet Him and you can hear Him,

if you seek Him.

How do we know this? He said, “Seek and Ye shall find”.

The problem with the world is, they are not seeking.

 

There are a few things which we must realize about this world.

There are people who want to own everything in the world.

There are people who want to have all of the power in this world.

There are a few people who very nearly do own everything in this world.

There are a few people who very nearly have all the power of this world.

If there were no God, we the ones without worldly power would be up the creek without a paddle.

Fortunately this is not the case, for our elder Brother and God, Jesus, has all of the real power.

This world is like a dust mote in His hands

and it’s power is like a tiny watch battery compared to the mighty power of the universe of God.

He who made all of the worlds and suns of the universe.

Can unmake this one and not even break a sweat.

He could poof us back into the dust cloud our world was made from,

But He does not do so for our sakes.

There are people among us who know Jesus

There are still people, even among the very wicked who can come to know Him.

There are people whom we are going to meet and lead into a relationship with Him.

Some of them will not seem to be very nice people.

And some of those same people will become closer than family to us.

I am not talking about taking someone to “church”,

I am not talking about taking them to a Christian concert,

I am talking about a face to face encounter with Him.

And their journey will start with your face and end up with His.

 

The time for wicked, worldly ones is limited.

This world will soon pass away.

Our lives in this world will end

but Jesus will not leave us.

So why is it we don’t trust Him, fully,

with everything?

 

So this is the deal, we all need to grow and mature in Jesus,

Don’t ask your pastor about this, don’t call up your favorite TV preacher either,

Go to Jesus. Yes, straight to Him.

It doesn’t take a degree in Theology, to talk to Him.

It doesn’t take a high falutin’ title either.

Just seek Him in your own humble way.

And listen.

He spoke to Abraham, and Moses, and David, and the Prophets,

And He will talk to you too.

He is the only one who really knows what is going on anyway!

The Mountain and the Cross

Posted November 19, 2010 by Nathan
Categories: Christianity, Dreams / Vision, God, Hearing God, Jesus, Journaling, religion, Writing

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In Deuteronomy 5 there is a wonderful illustration of the difference between living life at the foot of the mountain, where the law was given to Moses, and living the life of the cross of Jesus.

God has Moses call all of the people together at the foot of Mt. Horeb and He speaks to the assembled people out of the fire and smoke on the mountain, then afterwards they say to Moses,

24’…Behold, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives.

25’Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die.

26’For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?

27’Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.’ Deut. 5:24-27 NASB

Now there is a subtle shift here and we would do well to notice it, the Lord called the people together for the express purpose of hearing His voice. Then the people turned around thanked Moses for the privilege and the lesson that God could speak to men and they could still live in spite of the danger, but then they suggested to Moses that since they did not want to die that Moses ought to be the one who took the risk and listened to the Lord. So then the Lord tells Moses;

28″The LORD heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They have done well in all that they have spoken.

29’Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

30’Go, say to them, “Return to your tents.”

31’But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you all the commandments and the statutes and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them in the land which I give them to possess.’ Deut. 5:28-31 NASB

God wanted the people to obey the law because obedience to the Law was the beginning of the Old Testament relationship with God under the Mosaic covenant, so what they said was counted as good, but there is something more here. When the people stayed in their tents while Moses went to meet with the Lord, Moses got the relationship with God, and the people got the Law.

This story has another telling factor when the people said “why should we die?” and this is the point of divergence which divides the straight and narrow way from the wide path to destruction. If a person is not willing to give up this world, if that person is not willing to die for God, he gets the Law, and he sets up camp at the foot of the mountain.

Relationship with God is a transforming thing, it will transform the life you once knew right out of you, thus you will die to the world and be renewed in God. There is no substitute for this. You cannot cling to the life of this world and be found in the life of God. So those who are not willing to die, the ones who are clinging to this world, get the Law. We see this all around us, we see people who are reading the words of God’s grace and all they get out of it is law. There is no loving teaching of Jesus’ or Paul’s which they have not made into a series of rules.

You see, they are an example of

“Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.” Ezekiel 12:2 NASB

for Jesus is right in front of them, in Scripture, walking on the water, feeding the five thousand, and rising from the tomb, He is ready and waiting for them to seek Him and know Him, and all they want to do is to go back to their tents and have Moses come tell them what is required of them. They say they want to fulfill the “requirements”, but they are not willing to die. They are still camped at the foot of Mt. Horeb bogged down in the minutae of that which is required. For them the cross is a gateway to make more laws. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time were there too, at the foot of Mt. Horeb, and even in the presence of Jesus, most of them were determined to stay there.

But for some, the few, the ones on the straight and narrow path, the cross is not only the cross of Christ it also represents their own cross, and the entrance to grace and life in His Spirit. So long as a person will not come to grips with something more than the mere “essentials” of the Christian life (the Sacraments or the Ordinances) he will live a life controlled by this world and it’s woes. He will stumble over every temptation and trial that comes his way for there is no remedy for the troubles of this life in the Law. There is only one way out of this trap and that is through dying to self and living in the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Grace. Each of us must seek God in Spirit and Truth to know Him.

Moses was willing to do or to suffer anything God had for him, the same is true of all the Prophets, they each had a relationship with God because they were willing to seek Him no matter what the cost and it cost many of them their lives. And of course Jesus is the perfect example, His whole life was dedicated to the Father. And it could also be said that His whole life was leading up to the cross, for our sakes.

There is no salvation for you in the waters of baptism without the Spirit of Christ. There is no benefit for you to do good deeds or to have clean thoughts if God is not present in your life. To get that Presence you must leave your tent as Moses did nearly everyday and brave the fire, and smoke and sit in the Lord’s presence. God didn’t kill Moses and He won’t kill you. He will however begin to establish the relationship He always wanted to have with you, step by step, and day by day, and you will die to the old and come to life in the new. And each new day you will learn a new lesson, you will learn afresh how much He loves you.

You will also learn that there is so much more to life in Christ than the “requirements”.

So, by means of the cross, we can go through the fire and smoke and climb the mountain, and there with Moses, the Prophets, King David, and the Apostles we can sit in the Presence of God.