Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Perfect Gift

Just this morning I was reading Oswald Chambers, his text was James 1:4. In this passage James entreats us to a goal. That goal, perfect completion lacking nothing, is a major life destination.

When you begin to think about a life that is lacking nothing, that is perfect and complete, it makes you wonder “who left me out of the loop”. I mean really, could there be a better place to live than that?

James writes; “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (New King James Version)

Some of the translators use words like endurance and perseverance when helping us to understand what the Holy Spirit via James was really trying to tell us.

But no matter how you slice and dice it, or translate it, the Holy Spirit of God has called and is calling each of us to a place of PATIENCE.

Remember that fourth fruit of the Spirit?

I think the reason patient endurance of all sorts is so critical to our walk of faith is because therein lays the proving ground of a) who we are in Christ and b) a tested level of growth in Him.

Please don’t ever assume your Christian maturity if you find yourself impatient and curt with others. And please don’t ever bemoan your need for something in life when the simple act of waiting just drives you nuts. Because waiting, being patient, enduring time when your wants or needs are held at bay IS the proving ground for genuine Christian faith.

Faith is not proven by going to church, reading your Bible, taking communion or any number of other patterns found in typical Christian life and practice. On the contrary, mature faith is found when we are pressed to WAIT for something.

Waiting becomes a vice that squeezes you until the juice of your real self begins to leak out. And what leaks out determines the readiness of your faith. Is the juice sour and acrid or is it sweet and satisfying? And keep in mind that judgment of ones patience lays at the feet of those who surround us. We are not the ones who judge if our patience is right enough, but it is those who are functioning in God’s hand as the vice.

So the next time you feel imperfect, incomplete, and lacking all sorts of things in life, check your patience level. You just might need a tune up (you’re probably getting one and you don’t even realize it). And that tune up will come under the duress of waiting.

Let me give you the Perfect Gift: The gift of WAITING. If you’re patient, that gift may arrive today, or tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day, or the next.

Don’t worry, it will arrive eventually. Galatians 6:9

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Slow Reader (corrected version)

Ever since I can remember reading has been an arduous task for me. Not because I don’t like literature or acquisition of information; on the contrary I do. But reading has been difficult because somewhere around second or third grade I had some really bad reading teachers. And at the same time I believe they dropped phonics training for whatever reason and that surely didn’t help me.

The earliest recollection I have of my reading challenges were sitting around a table with other kids. We were asked to read our assigned portion and then move to the next person in the circle, and so on and so forth. You’ve got the picture, kids reading Dick and Jane around the circle. Harmless... right?

Well, I was very slow and struggled with pronunciation. When it was my turn to read, my struggle was so evident and my nerves overwhelmed me that several other kids in the circle would begin to guffaw and groan as if to say… “Come on, hurry up, you’re so slow” with rolled eyes. That was painful to say the least.

As a result I would flair up and tell them to shut up. Then they would argue back with me and then the teacher would get fed up with the situation and blame me and move me from the circle. She would tell me to go read on my own. I would be assigned a desk by the window in the back of the room where I wouldn’t be such a distraction to the better impatient readers.

That was horrendous because not only was it embarrassing, but it retarded my reading development to a great degree.

So here I sit, almost 50 and I love to read but I’m extremely slow. As a result, if and when I want to read something it takes me what seems like a very long time to labor through a book. I think I clocked myself at around 20 pages per hour. I know it depends on the depth of the material, but somehow the deeper the work the more retention I experience (maybe because depth requires slowness and contemplation), but nonetheless reading is a labor of love for me.

So let me ask you; are the good things in life hard for you? For instance, is reading a challenge or a bore to you? Is study of important information hard for you? Do you struggle with impatience when things don’t make sense to you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone.

The problem is the best information and experiences in life are sometimes difficult to attain. Often the best things in life are NOT on the low shelf. Therefore one must scale heights of access to reach the best fruit. And unfortunately many simply give up.

As for me, I’m not giving up. I’m not going to stop reading, but on the contrary, I will press on. For somewhere in the mass amounts of literature and information out there, TRUTH exists. Oh it may be mixed in with all sorts of other things, but if one consumes enough material that is seeded with truth, a very powerful composite picture and understanding of truth begins to emerge.

And TRUTH, not just facts, but TRUTH sets us free. Beware though; we live in a world of facts. Most people can easily discern facts, but our ability to string strategic facts together into a necklace of TRUTH that makes sense can take time and contemplation, but fear not, the process is worth it.

On that note, I’ll go ahead and read a few pages and let the facts pour in and pray for God’s Spirit to show me the TRUTH and cull out error. Read on my friends… read on.

DISCLAIMER: I have many friends and even a few relatives who read very widely and deeply. If that’s you, don’t condemn me if you think my reading is shallow. I try to plumb the deeps when I can, but then again I don’t swim very well, so sometimes I stay in the shallow waters.

Ex Libris

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Desperate Windows

I’m not sure exactly what year it was, 1985 or somewhere around there, that Microsoft introduced Windows to compete with Macintosh’s GUI tidal wave of user friendly PC access. And somewhere around that time the world changed profoundly.

That profound change brought to the average computer-illiterate user; power and ease like never before. And we’ve not looked back since then. As a mater of fact most of our phones, TV’s and practically all our electronic devices now operate under the GUI concept (Graphical User Interface).

I wonder what life will be like in 20 years from now. I wonder how much technology will be merged with bio-engineering so as to further advance the GUI concept of machine use and human interface. I’m talking about a seamless integration of silicone micro circuitry with living tissue recognition. I guess I’ll let you do your own Si-Fi extrapolations on that subject. But hey, I do have a laptop computer that’s about 5 years old that actually has a finger print recognition bar to swipe my finger over; if I want that level of security.

I don’t use it, because one day I had a burn on the finger I used for an ID and it didn’t read it, so I couldn’t get into my computer. I disabled the reader right away.

As for me, I’m so desperate to find a divine access point that would mirror our present technological GUI access to information and power that I could choke. Do you understand what I mean?

Access to God can be daunting at best, yet the Bible tells us this access is possible. In Malachi 3:10 the Lord tells us if we “bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse… there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (KJV)

Now don’t get caught up on the giving or money principle. It’s built into this passage, but it’s far less about money and giving as it is devotion and faith. If we are devoted and possess faith, we will commit not only money, but time and talents to God and His service. And windows will open. Access will be discovered.

But if we fail to devote in faith our life resources to Him; windows of access and blessing WILL REMAIN CLOSED. For the struggling saint may I suggest Desperate Windows? For the victorious saint may I suggest Desperate Windows?

Regardless of your state of being in Him – all of us should live with such a holy desperation for access or a window into the things of God that we cannot rest until that window is opened.

For just like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer understood the need for an easy access interface to the power of a personal computer, so too does God know how important access to His power is for those who believe.

And whether it’s the power of tithing or whatever… God is looking to open the WINDOWS of heaven over those who are DESPERATE for access to Him. Maybe I’m just dreaming, but I believe there is coming a day when God will show up for those who seek for Desperate Windows of favor and opportunity.

I’m talking about times and places where we can hear from heaven; times and places where God shows up and freaks us out with His love and grace; times and places that provide access to power we’ve NEVER known until that very moment.

Until that time, until that day, until that very hour, Desperate Windows will be my starting point. I’m looking for ways to please my Father so as to access the view and power that only comes from His Windows, not mine.

Several years ago, I purchased a new desktop PC. It was equipped with Windows Vista. Man it was awful, and to this day, I’ve yet to upgrade and I’ve had nothing but trouble with it. But I can tell you that I’m addicted to GUI. DOS was great in its day. Simple yet powerful, but a modest understanding of language and code was necessary.

Now I want ease of use. Now I want things to work on a single click of the mouse. I’m addicted to GUI. And like my addiction to GUI, I’m also addicted to God’s GUI. I’m addicted to the idea of easy access to power and relationship with Him. I fully believe in Ephesians 2:8-9 and apply it to most areas of my relationship with God. Grace through faith. Grace through faith. Grace through faith.

So if it takes 10% of my income or whatever; I want an open window. I want ease of access. I want power at my finger tips. So whatever it takes I will devote and I will give.

Desperate Windows: the only place of genuine access to the power and ease of the Kingdom of God.

Friday, July 2, 2010

FREEDOM: The Place of the Spirit

Freedom is something that is easy to ignore, until it’s lost. For most of us, in this great land of ours, we simply don’t know the feeling of life without freedom. Granted, many of us believe we are slowly loosing our individual rights, and its likely more losses will follow, but nonetheless, I don’t have a clue as to what life would be without freedom. And I’m pretty sure you don’t know either.

As we approach our annual Independence Day celebration, can we stop for just one moment and give deep heartfelt thanks for the freedoms we do enjoy? For while it is still day, may we invite and employ the Spirit of the Lord to do what He does best. Perpetuate FREEDOM as the veil is lifted.

Paul the Apostle wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (NIV) I wonder how we would interpret this passage if we lived under the tyranny of some dictator. I wonder how we would interpret this passage if we were jailed for what we spoke and what we believe. I wonder how we would interpret this passage IF WE LOST OUR FREEDOMS.

I suppose we, as spoiled Americans, would be very frustrated and declare that God must not love us anymore and definitely that His Spirit has departed. But can I say if we really understood the freedom that comes from the abiding and indwelling Spirit of God, our demands and questions of freedoms lost would evaporate like morning dew on grass.

For while most of us interpret the freedoms we enjoy in this land to somehow be associated with stuff and personal space (capitalism and democracy), that IS NOT a very accurate interpretation of the FREEDOM the Spirit of God brings.

The freedom that comes from the Spirit of God, first and foremost does ONE THING: it lifts the veil. And while we were still dead in our trespasses, the pall of death was lifted BY GOD to expose our lifeless and motionless face. It was the Spirit of Freedom that breathed into and upon us so that we might even live; so that we might even accept the divine invitation to live.

Not once in our entire existence have we been the engineer or the impetus of our own freedom. I understand that we have fought wars and continue to do so to this day, in the name of freedom and democracy, but that IS NOT the same as what God has done by His Spirit.

For He alone sets men free. Governments don’t. Guns don’t. Laws don’t. Lands don’t. God alone is the bearer of freedom and out of that freedom (life) comes many of the operatives we USE to ACQUIRE the external freedoms we enjoy. Don’t mistake the two as one. They are NOT the same.

When the Spirit of the Lord acts upon humanity there is a two fold purpose: First the Spirit lifts the veil so life and freedom (God) can gain access to the dead and imprisoned (us). Remember life and freedom came looking for you, not the other way around. And secondly, the Spirit lifts the veil so we, with unveiled faces can reflect the glory of God. That’s right, reflect His glory NOT OURS.

We are called to life and freedom so that we might display and declare He alone as cause and effect.

King David wrote in Psalm 51 a narrative of beautiful repentance. Like few before him, he seemed to understand the magnitude of not only his dead and imprisoned soul, but also the magnitude of God’s life and freedom being offered without merit. And the key to that holy understanding was this: TRUTH ON THE INSIDE. Neither David nor we have the ability to put that truth on the inside, but God alone.

But when that truth is placed inside something dramatic happens: LIFE and FREEDOM.

Picture in your mind a morgue. A body lays motionless on a slab with a cloth covering its face. That corps has no power or will to remove the cloth and receive life and freedom. But God is the one who lifts the cloth and begins CPR like no one else can. The body begins to get color and the face once again swells with life and emotion. A gasp of inhale is heard and eyes flutter open in wonder and amazement. LIFE has come. FREEDOM is eminent. Why? Because it is the Spirit of the Lord ALONE who is able and willing to dispatch these gifts!

Now comes our part. We get up off that slab and exit that morgue and go forth to reflect and exhale the glorious Pneuma of God. And just like David wrote in Psalm 40 verse 3b: “Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.” (AMP) All because of what HE has done, not us.

So this Sunday, July 4th, 2010, go to church, come home, fire up the grill, eat delicious food, wave the flag, watch the fire works, celebrate our nations independence and never ever forget it’s all because of the Spirit. Not the spirit of ’76, but the Holy Spirit of God. Who by His very nature seeks out those who are dead and imprisoned so He can bring them to life and freedom.

POSTSCRIPT: Never let the veil of lies be found upon your face again. For too often, free men and women in their delight and indulge of this precious liberty, ignore their responsibility and purpose as bearers of His glory. And may the God who lifted the veil and gave you life and freedom, be ever reflected and exhaled for His namesake upon us. Amen.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Humor versus Joy

Now I’m not one to throw stones (usually) at those who are humorous, because I’ve been known to engage in the use of humor to ease pain, tension or just to kill time or step on my enemy’s toes. But humor actually goes way beyond the simple act of someone slipping on a banana peel and then we all laugh. You know, it’s more than slapstick and sarcasm.

Originally the term humor was derived from an ancient understanding of four body fluids; blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile. While most of us don’t think of those fluids in terms of humor or something funny, more often than not, when we are out of balance physically, emotionally and even spiritually, our humor can be affected.

Somewhere back about 1966 Doctor Tim LaHaye published a book called the Spirit Controlled Temperament. I never really understood it then, and don’t fully get it now, but I do believe our humors are greatly overlook as to their influence on how one might feel in any give moment of the day or in any given circumstance.

Seeking health and balance in all areas of life will tend to produce optimum feelings of well being. It’s when imbalance of our humors occurs that life starts to feel bad. Very often those bad feelings emerge from a lie that cries out for attention and priority. If and when we give into that lie, we find ourselves at the mercy of our humors. And be rest assured, they will be out of balance somehow and bad feelings will come forth and affect others.

One of my goals in daily life is to maintain a healthy balance in all things humorous (the four mentioned above), but when I don’t and bad feelings show up, I know I can rest assured in God’s grace. At that point His joy becomes a covering and strength for my imbalanced state of being.

Pure and true joy comes only from God. Humor and our ability to recognize its place in a well balanced life, is innate. So seek the joy of the Lord, for in it you will find strength, but revel in the opportunity to live with healthy humor toward all as you seek a balanced life.

Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (KJV)

When our humors get out of balance; bones dry out, spirits are broken and life just stinks. But if you make the decision to rejoice in all things, something miraculous happens.

Start by giving thanks for all the good in your life and give thanks even in the midst of the bad. Celebrate the goodness of others and give grace for their bad. Cheer on someone who is struggling in their race and refresh them with a laurel of affection when they win or loose. Eat right and get plenty of exercise and splurge every once in a while, plus take frequent naps. And soon you will be experiencing life as it was meant to be; full of pure joy and pure balanced humor.

I think it was Readers Digest that had the regular column in their magazine; Laughter, the Best Medicine. Try some today. I mean some good old belly laughter; emanating from the place of life.

John 7:38 “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (KJV)