The Struggle with Becoming a Sage

Perhaps this title is too telling, too transparent with my inner most desires; arrogance might be the word that comes to some. Truthfully my heart is hard after maximizing the learnings of these 40 plus years of both church and community service. God forbid that the pain of full play in both go without benefit to those behind me.

So, I find myself processing again this morning as I conclude the Book of Hosea. Hosea so captures the heart of God, a Being in love with humanity, yet so committed to leading them toward wholeness.

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.

After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.

Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:1-3

These ancient proses so capture the heart of a loving God, perhaps even foretelling the sufferings and victories of Calvary, particularly in verse number two. God, like a well-disciplined parent, reveals the challenges of a nation that blatantly disregards holiness, while withholding no corrective action that would benefit their redemption,constantly salting the situation with hope and promise.

The beauty of the Word is its enduring personal relevance, for I too have had moments like those described graphically in Hosea, as a wild donkey in heat! However, much of Hosea’s message is focused on the Nation of Israel. It strikes me this morning how much individual behavior and spiritual neglect eventually shapes the culture of a nation. We in the United States may finally be in a position to hear the words of Hosea. We seem more than ever pressed by circumstances toward the need for national repentance, hopefully positioning ourselves for the blessing purchased for us by God Himself through Christ Jesus. That alone is the crux of Christianity, the Good News of the Gospel.

My life seems in flux as well right now, as I work to close down the distractions that my own efforts have created, while opening my heart to any means God might chose to share lessons learned when appropriate and helpful. Life, at any age, is too short to do otherwise.

We live in a time when global conflict is intense, with our own nation more divided politically and socially than ever before. I wonder if the two are related and some big picture event, such as described in my former blog as an apocalypse is in fact on the horizon.

I also wonder why I am so intimidated at this late age, overly careful not to rock the boat to the degree, that I am discredited. Yet, history tends to honor those willing to do so. Is it honor I am after or just truth? The latter, if I know my heart.

I am alarmed by the scriptures, but such has been the case for generations. Should I dare speak as if I understand Theology, able to unravel prophecies that better men than I have wrestled with for centuries? The proposition in my faith has always been that the Word of God was written so clearly by the Holy Spirit that not even a “wayfaring fool” could err. Certainly I qualify.

Something is going on much higher than the office of any one man, and now far beyond the control of any one government. History is in the making for sure. Breakthroughs like the normalization of relations with Cuba, even the intervention of the Pope don’t happen just every day.

Without a doubt there will be political criticism of our President, as politicians jockey for position in the 2016 elections. These men and women profess to have the future of our nation at heart, but I am no longer certain.

What about Putin’s statement this week about Western relations: “They won’t give up because they will always try to chain it,” Putin said during his annual press conference in Moscow, comparing Russia to a bear protecting its territory. “As soon as they chain it, they’ll rip out its teeth and claws.”

Could the Bear from the North be coming back from its most recent hibernation, flexing her muscle against the West, triggering additional woes at a time when our economy is just beginning to recover? Is this somehow a part of what prophets for centuries purport, a time of suffering like no other?

In the midst of all this, may I remind you again of the hope we have in Christ:

“Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”
Hosea 14:9

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Perhaps An Unveiling is Occurring?

I was awakened early this morning with a joyous awareness of God’s presence, his love and His authority over this tiny globe. I felt compelled to write what was in my aging heart.

This week has been quite amazing both in its trials and its revelation. From breakthroughs in friendships to breakdowns in business, not to mention the life impacting challenges at a global level. Yet, I am more convinced than ever, God is in control!

For some reason, I have been drawn back to my old C.I.Scofield Bible, recommended to me by my first mentor in the faith, an old time Alabama Pentecostal by the name of Woodrow Oxner. That will give some an insight into my Biblical preparation and perhaps the roots of my current Theology.

Specifically, my thoughts this morning seem filtered through the book of Daniel.

Scofield’s first notes in the book of Daniel read: The Book of Daniel, like the Revelation in the N.T., is called an apocalypse, as also Isaiah 24-27 (The Isaiah Apocalypse), the vision in Zechariah. “Apocalypse” means unveiling. When wickedness seemed supreme in the world, and evil powers were dominant, an apocalypse was given to show the real situation behind that which was apparent, and to indicate the eventual victory of righteousness upon the earth. Apocalyptic writing uses many figures and symbols. God used this literary form to convey His truth to His people.

Beautifully said!

Where is the prophetic word for today’s world; for Russia’s economy, for Syria’s refugees, for Pakistan’s grieving parents after the Taliban Peshawar school massacre? Perhaps they are still held within the words of this 6th century writer, Daniel.

Daniel, whose name means God is my judge, was a young man taken into captivity and transported to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. In fact, in series of raids not unlike being carried out by ISIS and others today. Had he and others like him not been strong in the Lord, we might not have what we know of today as Christianity.

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.” Dan. 1:1 (KJV). So life has been in these countries for centuries. Yet within those centuries, people have relied on the words of hope captured by this unconquered teenager “of the king’s seed.”

Thus the early morning images, inspiration and encouragement which began my day.

Daniel was one of the young men prophesied of by Isaiah to King Hezekiah in II Kings 20:18 over 100 years earlier: “Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. Some of your sons who shall issue from you, whom you will beget, will be taken away; and they will become officials in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

I find this amazing, yet it seems hidden away, veiled perhaps in a time, while our churches in America struggle with diminishing congregations, some in financial foreclosure. Others, who profess a more abundant blessing of God, rock it out with smoke machines, special effects and fine-tuned programs. Can I get a witness!

Meanwhile God continues, just as in Daniels’s day, working behind the scenes, globally, crafting a future for the people of God.

Is His work dependent upon young men who will give their lives when necessary for the sake of this redemptive plan, which both Daniel and John the Revelator describe as culminating with a new heaven and a new earth? Me thinks so!

Daniel was just a teenager, separated from his family and from his peers; other than perhaps Hananiah, Misheal and Azariah. These three are later known by the Chaldeans as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego!

“Skillful in all wisdom and gifted in knowledge,” these kids set out on an adventure to prove God! What a life and what an inspiration!

I can almost hear Daniel thinking to himself years later, as he sets up against the wall of his own “Joseph pit”, bruised perhaps from being dropped into this den full of starved lions. The lions also, much like Balaam’s talking donkey in Moses’ day, are somewhat stupefied in this spiritual moment that shields their once imagined dinner!

“Uhmm, I wonder what tomorrow holds,” Daniel chuckles, “given that the lions are simply staring at me?” The next thing he hears is the voice of a hopeful heathen King, who had been up all night “praying” that this God of Daniel would have protected him from both the starved lions and the wicked political schemes of the “presidents and princes.”

“Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Dan. 6:20a.

Daniel had experienced phenomenal God moments, from interpreting the dreams of the king, to witnessing his friend’s survival of a fiery furnace. He knew by now that God was in control. His reply to the King, “O king, live forever! “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.” Dan. 6:21-22.

The rest of the story did not bode well for the king’s political cronies.

From that day forward Daniel was “off the chain” with his revelation. Much of which is now unfolding!

“And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.” (Dan. 1:21) By the way, this man, later called Cyrus the Great, was prophesied of long before he was even born (Isaiah 44:28), and went on to create the largest empire the world had yet seen.

Perhaps 300 years after Isaiah was written these words are captured by Ezra, as he heads back into the land from which Daniel was taken hostage: .

“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:

“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’” Ezra 1:2-4

So, as my life ripens into the full fruit intended by the Lord from before my mother’s womb, how shall I not proclaim His righteousness! Daniel was active in 90’s, and thus my hope! Perhaps John Luther will be in position to take up this mantle by that time?

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Keep Your Fork

This a.m. I put a new piece of adhesive tape on an old friend. Inside her cover is a note: “By 73-74 Student Council, North Davidson Jr. High.” This old Scofield version of the Bible has been a lifelong companion. Its leather binding has been long broken, taped with clear tape now a third time. Its pages are yellow with oils from my fingertips and its margin full of notes. Notes in pencil and multiple colored inks, whatever was available as I hurriedly captured new truth decades ago. Some now seem juvenile while others are even more challenging as I round third base!

I was only a year and a half old in the faith when my students noticed a new passion in my life. This end of the year gift was their way of rewarding my life for what little leadership I brought to their young endeavors.

Over the years, I kept this book on my classroom desk, hurriedly reading it each morning, before students arrived. I was somewhat surprised one year upon the class annual distribution, as it included a photo captured by a student while I sat reading “The Book.” My actual assignment that morning had been to sit just outside the boy’s restroom, monitoring for smoking or unacceptable commotion as students arrived from the buses.

Those were different days, and I must confess to some minor discretionary issues, but I was devoted to discovering at least as much about God as I had learned in my earlier studies of Biology and Physics! Not sure which had the most impact on my kids?

That may be why the Book of Daniel has always been a favorite. He was one of the young captives described as: “Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Dan. 1:4 (KJV).

This morning after finishing my read from Daniel, I gently placed a new piece of tape along the leather backing of this now somewhat antiquated version of scripture. I wondered if in fact I had yet lived into one of verses I found underlined: “but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” Dan. 11:32b (KJV).

Now almost 42 years into this journey, though my physical body is much like the cover of this old book, my heart is fresh each morning with the possibilities for life.

Interesting also was the verse that follows:

“And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.” (vs 33). Why would so much pain, of necessity it seems, befall the people of God?

An amazing Book, the answer is seen just two verses below: “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.” (35).

You see, our life on this earth is nothing compared to what we are being crafted for in the life to come!

Peter, one with whom I well identify, said it this way: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” I Pet. 1:6-9 (KJV).

Paul informs us further as he declares that these present, “momentary sufferings,” cannot compare with what God has in store for those who love Him. (Rm 8:18, II Cor. 4:17 paraphrased). Suffering is the way we, and even the man Christ Jesus, learn obedience.

We are being crafted for another world, one Daniel foretold long before the “stone cut from the mountain without hands.” (Dan. 2:45a) As a means of credibility, he also named several generations of kings who would precede the Christ (the stone). He then goes a step further, wrapping up this great book of prophecy with a daring number assigned to the establishment of the New Heavens and New Earth that John the Revelator would see centuries later.

Something big is about to happen, and like the old woman at the church homecoming said to the young man returning his dinner plate, “keep you fork, dessert is coming!”

“Blessed is he that waiteth!” Dan. 12:12 (KJV)

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The Law of Christ

I seem so easily thrilled of late by the revelation that falls so easily from the pages of scripture. How have I missed this Nectar of The God for so many years? Actually I have been reading for forty years, yet the mystery of the Word is how fresh and deeply meaningful it becomes with each new revelation.

Perhaps this is what preachers have meant when they referred to it as the Living Word? Hearing the Word as in listening to a sermon, never is quite like hearing a word in one’s spirit in intimate moments of communion with God.

My annual read through has me in the Book of Daniel, always a renewing window, as there is so much relevance in this book. In Chapter 5, King Belshazzar is lost in his godless mockery of the temple vessels, stolen earlier from Jerusalem.

Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God which was in Jerusalem; and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.” Dan. 5:3-4 (KJV).

Unfortunately for the King, he stepped over a line in his drunken stupor, not from alcohol alone, but from a life engorged by pride and power. I must wonder how many of our global leaders today are near that line of demarcation, totally unaware of the fact that there is a God…just as in Daniels’ day, though this leader was only a generation or so away from Nebuchadnezzar’s awesome and mercy filled recovery.

This book so reveals the depth of sin that silly men fall into when their religion, or any other system, leads them down a course that affords a place of drunken power. BTW, Christianity was never intended as a religion but a way out of religion!

This leads me to my second point as I examine my own sinfulness. That is, my own falling short of the Law of Christ; that phrase itself, quite peculiar. Christ came to destroy the Law, a system that Paul describes in the Book of Galatians as a means only to frustrate men to grace. Grace being defined as reliance upon the Spirit alone and the righteousness of Christ, a gift of love from the God of love.

So how do we know we are living within that law? We manifest the fruit of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace (inward), longsuffering, gentleness, goodness (manward), faith, meekness, temperance (Godward): against such there is no law.”Gal.5:22-23 (KJV). Parenthesis my own.

So, what has me so worked up this morning that I would take the time to process “out loud?” The next three verses:

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal. 5:24-26 (KJV).

As I reexamine my own life, I realize how easy it is to allow oneself to become caught up in the early stages of what, if neglected, can allow a legacy of faith in Christ to be squandered; then propagating a generation that acts no differently than King Belshazzar.

Yet, daily addressing these weaknesses by the Spirit (note I didn’t say trying harder, that’s the old Law of Moses) can lead to a generation of Daniels, and that my friend is the true test of legacy.

In the Queens words:

“There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him.” Dan. 5:11a (KJV).

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Pain and Perfume

I seem to be living in an amazing window in my life, a time when I am connected as never before in so many arenas, be that within the Institutional Church, community politics or the marketplace; and yet, my perspective of purpose has changed radically.

Yesterday, as I sat with a very dear friend, a journeyman, trusted professional and scholar, one with whom I could laugh and share my deepest thoughts, I rejoiced at just such a treasure: a true friend. Then last night, as I sat in the County Commissioners swearing in ceremony, I watched as my brother and other friends took their different oaths of office. I found myself wondering where God might be taking our community. He is in control you know! It was a warm moment, as I was greeted by friends, some of whom I had not seen since my last campaign.

Then even later in the evening, talking through matters with my own offspring, so very well positioned for impact; the joy of legacy unfolds with John Luther, my new grandson, among us!

While I write, my mind recalls a photo retrieved just yesterday, my paternal grandparents sitting in a swing on their front porch, a Sabbath habit for them. My grandmother’s humility and servant heart had been captured in print, as she sat in a cheap cotton dress beside a hard working spouse. My grandpa, whose initials I carry, resting beside her dressed in his bib overalls. Both knew the toil of recovery from the tremendous losses imposed by the depression days of the late thirties.

That is the proud stock from which I came. My own life in so many ways is now much more positioned than theirs; their virtue also transferred through my own parents. That virtue, a more valuable gift than any meager possessions inherited. What you hear is the gratefulness that seems to be in my heart this morning. On top of that, the fact that God continues to faithfully awaken me early to spend time in prayer. That too is another gift of heritage, that I know that prayer works, and yes, that I was taught how to pray.

The very thought that I can engage in intimate moments with the God of the Universe; be reinforced with the love demonstrated by Christ Jesus; reach out to surround my friends with grace and cover, whether my friends in Bethlehem or Beirut, or my dear brother in King, and yes, my daughter just across the creek from me. I am blessed beyond words as I cover their lives with love.

I am full this morning with the awareness of how good God has been to me. What he has brought me through to get me to this moment.

Early this morning I read and reposted one of those prefab Facebook posts which read, “Everyone has a chapter in their life they don’t read out loud!” I certainly have multiple chapters in the book of my life, chapters read only to God, as I have poured through the pain of my own errors. Not to speak of the hard to come by forgiveness, as I struggle to live as a broken person on a globe full of broken humans. Being broken among the broken does however provide a certain privilege. That privilege Isaiah described as the “oil of Joy”, perhaps a type of spiritual perfume made possible only through God’s grace!

Those words from Isaiah 61 were used by Christ himself, as He patterned a life we all may participate in:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

I trust you sense a thrill in my writing, my life seemly now on a flight path toward some grand moment of crescendo. A moment perhaps when the oil of joy is fully and finally released, long hidden in a heart hot in pursuit of God’s love; a love demonstrated best by Calvary’s Christ.

Hebrews 11:16, long the motivation for my community engagement, may be nearing fruition:

“Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” NIV.

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Broken

I continue my read through Ezekiel, now describing the loss of his wife as a requirement of God. As the writer, R.C Sproul states below, “the covenant community’s refusal to believe that the Lord would let Jerusalem fall was a desperate situation, and desperate times required desperate measures.”

“The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, behold, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you at a stroke; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down”
– Ezekiel 24:15–27

“Those whom the Lord calls to ministry often must give up things that they would ordinarily hold dear. Jesus was called to lay down His life and suffer the divine curse on sin (Gal. 3:10–14). Ezekiel suffered the loss of his wife. God came to the prophet and told him his wife was going to die but that he should not engage in any of the customary mourning practices, which would have involved wearing sackcloth, lying on the ground, throwing ashes on one’s head, and so on. Instead, he was to don a turban, that is, wear the garments of celebration (Ezek. 24:15–18). This was a great loss indeed to the prophet, for the Lord refers to her as the delight of Ezekiel’s eyes. To not mourn for her would be a great sacrifice for him and cause great pain to his heart in addition to her death.

Such a death seems to be a drastic, almost “desperate” step for the Lord to take to get His point across. Of course, in reality, God never finds Himself in a desperate situation. But from a human perspective, the covenant community’s refusal to believe that the Lord would let Jerusalem fall was a desperate situation, and desperate times required desperate measures. The death of Ezekiel’s wife prefigured the loss of the temple, which was “the delight of [the Jews’] eyes.” God strove to make His intent clear so that the people would have no excuse. Despite the hardship in the loss of Ezekiel’s wife and temple, however, all would be for the good of Israel (vv. 19–27). Through the trouble, the people would come to know that He is the Lord.”1

Ezekiel was in the uncomfortable position of speaking out against the leadership of Israel and the temple, at a time when atrocities were being committed both upon Israel and by Israel. We Americans seem also to be in desperate times as a nation and for sure within the churches of America.

Our tax dollars provide the bombs and high tech drones that pound communities in other lands; weapons that seem justifiable as they strike with accuracy upon the world’s enemies. Yet, the same inflict tremendous collateral damage upon the innocent. Meanwhile in our own nation, we stand stubbornly divided as we continue to wrestle with the deep sin of racism. Our churches, though in demise, remain mostly silent, fearful of upsetting their support. Comfortable aiding a few homeless, we leave weightier matters to the politicians and race baiters on both sides of the aisle within our dysfunctional government.

Have I too so washed my hands of individual responsibility for our nation and our national institutions? Is this just too massive a task to tackle, and still keep things afloat personally? Am I foolish enough to believe these matters won’t eventually impact our own homes and families in the same manner as those nations we so easily bomb?

Until now, radical religious leaders have marketed our satanic immorality to desperate and illiterate people. Soliciting the suffering, those who will wear bombs on their bodies in hope that seconds from detonation they too might know the lavish lifestyle purported to be awaiting the “righteous.” However, now among their ranks are those more intellectual, perhaps power hungry for the voice lost to big government, as Americans and Brits now seem to be among the brutal forces of Jihad!

I am struggling with how little I am doing beyond holding on to my own sanity and diminishing income as I age. When I pray for next steps or, attempt to voice my innermost thoughts, my body reminds me that it no longer possesses the strength for the battles that my words might precipitate. Does that mean I should remain quite, attempting to be politically correct in case I might once more desire public office? I was never that way before I was elected. Perhaps I have come to the point described by Jesus, as having lost my savor, no longer providing sufficient salt to the system, worthy only for the dung heap. The term politically polite came to my mind this past week as I spoke with a friend regarding Ferguson.

What if this now familiar angst is only the surface emotion of some new calling that once stepped into, the strength for this body then emerges? Shall I avoid the loneliness of change, succumbing to silence and retirement, leaving the weightier matters to another generation? What if this feeling of personal brokenness is in fact a transformational necessity, some precursor to a call not yet delivered, though nothing as clean and well received as I might have desired!

1 http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/death-ezekiels-wife/

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Listening For Love

The last few days have been marvelous, as I have spent time with old friends and made several new.

The older I get and the more challenging the times, the more I listen for love. This morning as I prayed, my heart’s expression was to become a safe place for the Spirit. A quite heart, free from my arrogance, my greed, my lusts and all the noise and clamor that would disturb this dove of God’s love; a real being who desires to rest in the sanctuary of our hearts.

I was consciously reflecting on the joy of the last 72 hours, spent with some ten or more friends, whose lives I know are devoted to sharing the joy of Christ. Those hours seem to have brought me to a new place of desire, a renewed sense of possibilities as this aging sinner moves forward; a need to distance myself from the volume of regrets that can so easily come to a person of passion and purpose. Time is so valuable and meaningful moments seem so rare, though the reality is that every moment is meaningful; perhaps it is the missing of those moments that makes them so rare?

Having friends that open their own hearts that share vulnerable moments, and exchange learnings in hope of bringing change is the greatest treasure one can possess.

Then there is the Spirit’s reinforcement of those moments, which I seemed to experience this morning. First there was the sacred rhythm that I awake to each morning, opening the scriptures and reading sequentially, while trusting the Lord to show me what I need for that day.

This morning, Ezekiel of all places, verses 17:22-24:

22 “‘The Lord and King says, “I myself will get a twig from the very top of a cedar tree and plant it. I will break off the highest twig. I will plant it on a very high mountain. 23 I will plant it on the high mountains of Israel. It will produce branches and bear fruit. It will become a beautiful cedar tree. All kinds of birds will make their nests in it. They will live in the shade of its branches. 24 All of the trees in the fields will know that I bring tall trees down. I make short trees grow tall. I dry up green trees. And I make dry trees green.”

“‘I have spoken. I will do it. I am the Lord.’”1

That was then superimposed on the President’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, the results of another rhythm that may sound less spiritual but is equally important to my calling. Each day, I read the morning newspaper, in hopes of gaining some bearings on just how the things I learn in prayer, might best be applied within my community. The beauty of President Obama’s words brought a renewed awareness of this marvelous nation we live in, warts and all!

America seems so often used by the Lord to bring clarity to a greater prophetic work that is accomplished on this earth. Not a work of politics, economics, power and warfare, the not so pleasant things which we too often focus on; but rather, an unseen work of love, a work more easily received in our hearts and through our relationships with others.

In such contemplative moments, The Lord often overwhelms me with His goodness and His presence. This morning, my prayers seemed to taking me my heart once more to the bottom line of who God is: God is love. Love is not a thing; Love is a “who”.

I then seemed drawn toward my favorite portion of scripture, I Corinthians 13:

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Then I opened my daily on-line read from Richard Rohr and there it was again:

“I believe the summary meaning of the resurrection of Jesus is totally summed up in the climactic line from the Song of Songs (8:6) that I translate as “love is stronger than death.” Love will win! Love is all that remains. Love and life are finally the same thing, and you know that for yourself once you have walked through any real death (there are many forms).

Love has you. Love is you. Love alone, and your deep need for love, recognizes Love itself. Remember that you already are what you are seeking. Any fear “that your lack of fidelity could cancel God’s fidelity, is absurd” (Romans 3:3-4), says the master teacher, Paul.”2

So, here I sit, listening for love and “amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene…singing oh, how wonderful, oh, how marvelous is my Savior’s love for me!”3

1 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
2 http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Richard-Rohr-s-Meditation–You-Are-What-You-Are-Seeking.html?soid=1103098668616&aid=VYjGtS8FtPg
3 http://www.worshiptogether.com/songs/songdetail.aspx?iid=559914

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