Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Love Competition

In these our Last Days, the number one press against all humanity will not be economic, it will not be healthcare, it will not be oil, and even contrary to the popular pundits NOT FOOD. Albeit, I do think that food and potable water WILL TRUMP our need for oil. But that’s for another discussion.

Let me explain what I mean in saying, the number one press against all humanity. Tell me what happened in the Garden of Eden?

I know, I know, God created everything, including two wonderful almost perfect human beings. And then they became far less than perfect, and they fully manifested their free will and disobeyed God the Father. And no armchair theologian would argue that the issue that caused the manifestation of their fledgling free will was doubt in God’s veracity, sown into their hearts and minds by the father of all lies, Satan himself. That’s right; he caused them to doubt Gods loving provision for their very existence. And we’ve been fighting that demonic ploy for thousands of years.

So yes, a lie started it all, for those familiar with Restoration Ministry, but that still doesn’t answer the question of the number one press against all humanity.

The most powerful and the most pressing obstacle for any and all humans to experience in this life IS: The Love Competition! That’s right, The Love Competition.

Oh first let me say, God is far more confident and secure in His love than anyone else. As a matter of fact, He would be the only one who does not NEED love, because He IS LOVE. Yet love is His favorite way to interface with creation. Love is how God chose to HAVE RELATIONSHIP with His creation, especially the one part of creation made in His image, namely US.

But let me ask you again, what was really going on in the Garden that hour Satan came to deceive Adam and Eve? You maybe know the answer by now: The Love Competition.

Because Satan was so self-absorbed, and so in want of adoration and love, that because of his rebellion he lost from God his creator, he became murderous and competitive.

What did, Satan want from Adam and Eve, and from us even this very day? Worship, allegiance, loyalty… LOVE! Yes you guessed it, a perverted, malevolent, death sentence, but nonetheless: LOVE.

And therein lays the number one press against all humanity – this competition for our hearts, this volley for our LOVE. And do you know what; we live the same competition, day in and day out. For what does anyone of us really what but… LOVE!!!

For in genuine love is all provision. In genuine love is all security. In genuine love is all relationship and community. In genuine love is the RESTORATION OF THE GARDEN community. A community where it was one big LOVING FAMILY, with no lack or want; that is what this Love Competition is all about.

Our enemy knows we have such a love vacuum these days that almost anything he can toss our way, gets sucked right into its black hole. But not until we hear the Voice of the One who truly does love us with such a pure and sustaining love can that black hole love vacuum be filled.

And that my friend is what we are still up against. Who will GET OUR LOVE? God or Satan? For when it all comes down to one very specific thing, love does win, so says Rob Bell, in his most erroneous way. But genuine Love, does ultimately triumph, but until He does, our flesh and our enemy are in mortal competition for our love.

And unless we rightly understand this conflict, this hellish competition, we most likely will choose the WRONG PATH to fill our love void. And that’s what our enemy is counting on, but our Father has a different plan.

If we will but only hear the Voice of Love, the competition ceases. The closer we come to the Real thing, all nameless suitors fall by the wayside, and we become totally enthralled with GENUINE LOVE. And then, and only then will be able to be bearers of such Love, so as to break the cycle of competition so heavily crushing all of humanity.

In the end, this thing comes down to who will call us to genuine Love and who will we believe. Remember, I told you so, or should I say I just reminded you of something Someone has already put forth, that this eternal struggle, between Light and dark comes down to The Love Competition.

Pray about it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As I drove this morning, I found the “I Love You” sign that was stapled to a phone pole last week, smack dab in the middle of the street. You know, under the bus kind of thing. I didn’t stop and take a picture, because that would have caused a pileup, but it really made me think how short lived our awareness of God’s love for us really is. Can I write this way? I just did.

All too often, we have this God lust. What I’m saying is we desire God in a way that most often benefits us, and not Him. Now granted, there is not a single human on the planet that could actually be of benefit or value to God, because God is NOT A NECESSARY being. Meaning, HE needs nothing; but He desires SOMETHING.

And desire and need are VERY different things. Need, indicates lack or want. Need, indicates deficit or vacuum, and for that, God has none. So when we look to the idea of God we do so through our neediness and desire, whereas He only looks at us through desire.

Not because He NEEDS US, but because He wants us. Which is way different than our God lust; that we splash all over our reality. Our God lust is based upon one simple thing; US. That’s right, our vacant and desolate need for something to fill the void we call ourselves, when in reality we really need God. And because we are so needy, and He is not, we’ve become masters of pandering to that lust. We’ve become masters at justifying our lustful desires to be like God and to feel like God, without having actual LOVE FOR AND WITH GOD. Get it?

We really don’t love God, but we sure lust after God. For in lust is little if any commitment. In lust there is only subjective pleasure, and that’s what we do best. Please ourselves. Yet true love for the Father, has nothing to do with ourselves, and everything to do with the object of our affection; Christ, the Father, the Holy Spirit… the Triune God!

Yet all too often we have this God lust that is based upon what we want and feel, versus what RELATIONSHIP IS ALL ABOUT; the OTHER PERSON.

We fail to realize that as we come to Him, we do so as giving units (that’s financial lingo for people who give to the church), we come to Him as the ones giving our very best, and not seeking anything in return, yet all the while receiving FAR MORE THAN WE COULD EVER OFFER. Does that make any sense?

In our best efforts and offers God finds nothing, because HE OFFERS it all. Not us. And that screws with our pride and self-reliance; but not with His.

Are you willing to confess that you struggle with a God lust? Are you willing to join the ranks of Fred Stoker and others who’ve lifted the veil on the depravity of human lust and admit that you want a god who will meet your needs and that’s that?

Because I’m telling you, THAT IS NOT WHAT RELATIONSHIP nor marriage is all about. Covenantal marriage is about serving the other. And if we enter into our relationship with the Savior, for only what He can give us, we may be sustained for a season of milky growth, but sometime we have to move into the objective love that would offer something to Him.

And not that we can give Him anything, but we CAN GIVE HIM ourselves; and that is all that He really wants. So the next time you break the second commandment, ask yourself this: Do I have a God lust, or do I really love God?

Better you be the judge now, than Him later.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Need An Explanation?

“The woman said, ‘I know the Messiah is coming — the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’” (John 4:25 NLT)

One of the most powerful things we should expect from our relationship with Jesus is an explanation. That’s right, an explanation regarding what He’s doing in the world and in our lives. Yet all too often, the first time we don’t get an explanation we were expecting, we stop expecting. Do you understand that?

The reason I ask if you understand, is because understanding the dynamics of disappointment over the wrong things can go a long way in slaking your thirst for bigger interrogatives you’ll eventually have for the Lord. But make no mistake about it; His explanations must always be filtered through the spirit man, and unless we are born of the Spirit, all we will perceive from God is holy static or angelic thunder.

Do you remember the time the Father spoke over Jesus? Jesus was in the process of explaining His purpose and had spoken aloud to His Father, and the Father answered. (John 12:27-30)

My point in drawing attention to this interchange with the Father is not to debate or elaborate Jesus’ purpose and humility in obeying the Father, but to show you how people often perceive words from heaven.

Some actually heard an audible voice that they could document. In my opinion, it was those who heard it through the Spirit in their spirits (and literal ears). Others heard what they thought was an angelic voice, but didn’t understand it. And still others simply heard a noise that they thought was thunder.

Point being: God desires to reveal things to us, to tell us and show us, to explain to us, as the woman at the well declared about Messiah, BUT spirit is and always will be the only interface by which Father communicates to us.

Now granted, I’m typing and talking in whispered tones while I type, and you are reading (if you’ve gotten this far), and your brain is perceiving some if not all of my writing, BUT behind these fonts and my veiled whispers there very well MAY be an explanation from Messiah, that only your spirit can discern.

And that not even perceptibly except for your willingness to receive His Word. If we are not willing to believe, receive, and then proceed with His Word; all we may ever hear is thunder or angelic static, but definitely NOT Messiah’s explanation for our very lives.

So the next time you want some answer or explanation from God; know that Messiah is more than willing to bring the explanation, but it can only come to your spirit, and with a willing and obedient heart.

So if by chance all you ever hear is thunder or nothing, then stop and ask Jesus to help you with your unwilling and disobedient heart and ask Him why you are unable to hear rightly. Pause, focus and listen. He will speak deep in your heart. And be very sure of this, Messiah will explain all things, IF WE ARE WILLING TO receive all things.

Remember; we can’t just pick and choose the things we want explained, but we must be willing to get God’s full perspective and then rest in that. Can you do that? I hope so!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bloody Knuckles at Least for Now

Behold I stand at the door and knock, said the Lord. But how long will He knock?

My guess is until His knuckles are bloody and broken. The real question should be how long will we wait to open the door? The Bible tells us that God is exceedingly longsuffering and that it is His will that no one should perish, but it also tells us His Spirit will not always strive to be with man.

In other words, a day and hour IS COMING when He will stop knocking; bloody knuckles and all. I implore you get up and open the door and let Him in. If you read the actual text, Revelation 3:20, He’s not mad at you nor is He coming in to inspect your home. On the contrary, He’s looking for a meal to share with you, and likely He’s brought the bread and the wine. All you have to do is toss a salad and make some pasta. Then eat and talk.

What’s so hard about that? What’s so bad about that? Remember the garden narrative where the Father, got ticked off at whoever told His kids they were naked? I mean He was in sensed that anyone would embarrass or incriminate His kids, outside of His jurisdiction and loving discipline.

So why would it be any different today? He’s not coming into your life to tear you apart for not having a clean house or a “holy” house, but He’s coming in to develop a relationship with you, so you can make the decision to clean and be holy as you grow to understand His love and wisdom found in such qualities. But He’s not coming in to condemn or accuse you of being… well shall I say, stupid and sinful; He already knows that and that’s why He died for you.

And that’s actually why He loves you. Like a Father who has kids who don’t do too well in school and life, you still love them, and they never stop being your kids. As a matter of fact you likely have deeper compassion and love and tenderness with them, so as to help them to come to their senses.

Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, but I really like the Prodigal Son story. That’s the Father I’m coming home to. And you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


That question presumes several other questions. Firstly; was love ever dead at any point in time, and secondly is love something that holds the capacity to live or die? My heart runs this way; follow if you will.

The Bible tells us that God is love. Further, the Bible tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was actually God; and somewhere in our time that Word became flesh and bone and lived here on the planet. So a fair assumption can be made that if God is love, so too God is the Word, and the Word is Jesus, therefore Jesus is love. Make sense?

It does to me, but let me further elaborate. The question is: Can Love Live Again? And I would say the answer is YES, but only in and of Christ, who is one with God the Father. But a “yes” to that question could leave the rest of us hanging out to dry and not being able to live the answer to the question. And that wouldn’t be good. So for the rest of us, let me unequivocally say: Love Can Live Again, and does so this very moment.

Love is written about or sung about, but more often than not, it’s not real love. It’s just a grotesque facsimile of the real thing. But definitely not real love. So if and when we experience the death of love, or what we think is or was love, we’re really just experiencing the extinguishing of a grotesque facsimile.

Easter is a special time for many people. Lots of candy, dyed eggs, new clothes, early breakfasts at church, nice abbreviated church services so as not to offend the twice a year attendees. And then Monday comes, and we’re back to dead love again.

You see, the day called Easter comes and goes and few really believe that love died, let alone believing it was resurrected to answer the question: Can Love Live Again. For most, the question remains moot and lyrical at best. But I believe Love died on that tenebrous Friday. Love was in the grave for three days and on that third day boldly came forth to prove the answer to our question.

I know my question may seem trite and almost blasphemous to some, but throughout the human experience we have all or will eventually experience the death of love for one simple reason. And that is so we can feel, for a brief time, what our humanity is really missing. All the while we end up gravitating back to that grotesque facsimile of human love, while real Love waits; ALIVE AND WELL.

Why do we humans fall so far into the false that we resent the Real when it reaches its nail scared hand out to lift us up? I would say we simply do NOT believe love can live again.

Yes, we are love skeptics. We’ve known nothing but lies and shadows, so when the Real thing actually shows up, we simply struggle to believe; ergo the power of belief.

If you have ever experienced the death of love, let me tell you, you’re not alone. For part of the greatest gift that God gave us was His personal experience of Love dying. The container that housed Love on earth was put to death, by people like you and me. And in the very hour of that mortal hemorrhage, Father God had to turn away, as Love died for the very ones who pulled the trigger.

One of the greatest qualities of Father God, is that He loved us so much, that He actually let Love die, so It could live again, and again, and again… in us. I simply can’t get my mind around that level of devotion. But it does answer the question: Can Love Live Again.

May I tell you today; if you believe that love IS dead, don’t stop there; take the premise a bit further, yes Love died, but He lives again, right now. And you can experience the power and breadth of such a Love; a Love that has seen death from the inside out. He can relate to your pain, because He’s been there and done that, and likely even got the t-shirt to prove it.

This Easter Sunday, forget the candy, the pomp and circumstance, the once a year suit and tie visit to your least favorite church, and remember this: LOVE LIVES! That’s right, that’s what Resurrection Sunday is all about. A Living Love that has tasted death, but NOW LIVES. And desires to explode within you so as to prove the answer to the question: Can Love Live Again.

As I was driving today, I blew past a telephone poll with the above pictured sign stapled to it. It caught me so off guard I had to turn around and take a phone picture of it. No joke, right there on Hubbell Ave and E. 32nd, the Easter message and answer to my blog title. I LOVE YOU.

If you get nothing else from this weekend, get that: I LOVE YOU. I love you exists in our vocabulary because the answer to the question was a resounding affirmative!

Can Love Live Again? Yes it can and yes it does, but only IN CHRIST. So go find Love this Sunday; not another dyed egg or marshmallow Peep. For He IS LIVING PROOF that Love Lives Again!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: Can you ever pay back Jesus?

by April Amiot on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 9:57am (POSTED on her Facebook Notes)

This week is Holy Week, the week before Easter. We live in a Catholic country here in Costa Rica. That means that this holiday is most certainly "owned" by the Catholic traditions. On Friday a group of us intend to go to the next city over to view the dramatic processional of the Catholic church, take pictures, and ponder the differences between the Catholic celebration of Holy Week and the (here in our country) nearly non-mention of it by the Protestant churches.

So in preparation for our excursion I've been studying up on the Catholic Stations of the Cross (which is what the parade will depict). There are 14 traditional stations but only 8 of them have any foundation in the Biblical account of the Passion of Christ. The others find their origin in legends, local artifacts and human traditions that have grown up around the Crucifixion story. Wikipedia says "The object of the Stations is to help the faithful to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditation upon the chief scenes of Christ's sufferings and death." Sounds good to me so far. Especially considering that even most modern believers rarely read their Bibles and centuries of believers had no Bible of their own- the visual story is good.

But here's the kicker, "In the Catholic tradition, the meditation is often performed in a spirit of reparation for the sufferings and insults that Jesus endured during His passion." And "Pope Pius XI called the Acts of Reparation to Jesus Christ a duty for Catholics and referred to them as 'some sort of compensation to be rendered for the injury' " of the sufferings of Jesus. Let that just sink in for a minute. Can a human ever pay back the Son of God? Ridiculous! I'd like to add that Jesus never even asked for compensation from us, He never even wanted us to pay Him back. That is the whole idea behind the Son of God paying for our sins with His life- we can't ever pay for our sins.

To say that Jesus wants or needs us to compensate him for even one injury that he received on that bitter sweet day is to completely cheapen His entire sacrifice and elevate ourselves to the position of benefactor instead of acknowledging what we truly are- helplessly lost, unashamedly rebellious, irreparably broken, unworthy of notice, wallowing in our own filth, naturally unfaithful, prone to wander, never good enough. We devalue Christ's sacrifice when we try to pay Him back.

Think of it like this. Suppose you bought a really great birthday present for your wife, something that she had been needing and wanting ever since you first met her. You knew this was going to be the gift to top all gifts. And when she opened it instead of the wild expressions of exuberance and joy- the thanks with deep gratitude that you anticipate- she got out her check book and said, "Honey, that must have cost you a lot, what do I owe you?" You would be so hurt and offended that she didn't realize that it was a GIFT, a free gift, not given with the intention of ever being paid back. You just gave the gift because you LOVED her, not because you wanted or needed to be paid back! Jesus's sacrifice on the cross is just like that- He gave himself to us out of His Love for us and never wanted or asked for us to try to pay Him back. He just wants us to accept the gift (of forgiveness of sin), be really excited and happy about it, and to give him a great big hug to show Him our love in return. It's just that simple.

So on Good Friday when I watch Saint Veronica wipe the mud from the face of Jesus with her veil and receive the "true icon" of his image burned into the fabric I will be thinking of the purity and simplicity of the greatest gift ever given. And I will humbly and joyfully thank my Father in Heaven for giving me exactly the thing that I needed and wanted- the perfect GIFT- His only Son. I love Him because He loved me first.

Thanks April... Awesome Word.
Uncle Russy

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Not Just Another Palm Sunday Please!

I love doing what I do as a minister. But one thing that seems to weigh me down is the cycle of sacred holidays that we celebrate, yet after a life time of focus and celebration, I think they just might lose their impact. Please don’t get me wrong, but by rote practice we’ve dulled the edges of so many sacred moments that the sacerdotal motions seem nothing more than just a shadow puppet show. Forgive me.

As I approach my active calling for tomorrow, I really don’t want to just have another Palm Sunday, just another day when fronds are passed out and we sing hymns and choruses celebrating the humble yet triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem all they while we’re symbolically waving the branches in the air and don’t really know why.

I wonder, if we could actually have another REAL Palm Sunday and usher in something so spectacular that we’d all send Him away, because He disrupted everything that we hold so dear? Oh did I say that? What I meant was we celebrate this event, with little concern over event that followed the morning after. Remember, what came after the ride into town?

The number one reason Jesus came was to provide a portal back to Father God, for anyone who is willing to travel that path. Yet all through history, to include up to this date, we tend to make Kingdom access something profound and difficult, if not impossible. Oh I’m not saying we don’t toss out the weekly altar call so as to garner a few more decisions in the form of notches in our gospel gun handle, but what I’m saying is, Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s House hung upon two very important elements that can easily be missed, on a good and decent Palm Sunday.

Those two elements were PRAYER and ACCESS. That’s right, on the heels of the colt that He road in on, were the scathing swings of His Words or the Words of the Father. For missing in most Palm Sunday parades are the fearful looks of wayward worshipers being put in their place; and the place of the desired being opened by the whipping cords of the Master.

Father God is deeply concerned with PRAYER and ACCESS for any and all who will come to worship Him. And the curious thing about this second cleansing, not unlike the first, was that human obstacles were put in the way of gentiles, women, the handicapped, and worse. That is what TICKED Jesus off with such a degree of indignation, that His very behavior and words were the fulfillment of prophecy.

So what should we be thinking about when we think about Palm Sunday? I believe we should be considering the morning after, when the Master gets about the Father’s Business and SETS ALL THINGS IN ORDER, so as to provide worship access for the least among us. That’s right, forget the palm fronds and clothes tossed on the road, but take note of the violent action taken to MAKE WAY for the least among us. Take note of the fact that Jesus was JUST and when anyone or anything got in the way of the Will of His Father, He was ready to give His very life.

Even if it meant, offending throngs of religious elite. Are you ready for that kind of Palm Sunday celebration? I know I am.

Where’s my whip?

Friday, April 8, 2011

For God is Spirit and So Am I

A curious thought just dawned on me. In John 4:24 Jesus tells us that God is spirit. This is not a disputable truth. Few if any would argue otherwise, but what if we were to contemplate the fact that we too are spirit? And begin to grasp the gravity of that truth?

We know that God has created us in His own image (Latin as Imago Dei), as stated in Genesis 1:26, but do we know what the bulk of that image is comprised of? Since most of what we “see” as images in this world are visible, we tend to presume upon God’s words; that image must be something one can see. And that’s not completely true; far from it.

Oh granted, because we live in a visible, material world, we most often associate visibility with tangible things that can be touched, seen, tasted, heard, or even smelled, but that IS NOT the kind of image God is referring to, on the contrary. God has made us in His image, first and foremost as SPIRIT. Not flesh.

The irony of it all is that we seek to build in the visible world, things that we assume are important to the invisible world, and often we are just plain wrong. Albeit our motives may be pure, our methods often fail to build where most of our reality is; on the inside.

For most of us, we would openly agree with what is being proposed, but deep inside, there may be conflict, because our interface with the spirit world is buried beneath several inches of flesh and bone. So for someone to build or enhance the inner man, one may not see immediate changes on the outside, and thereby rush headlong into further external efforts to bring about external changes. Does that make sense?

Let me ask you this: How do you know an internal affect has occurred, if the externals have little change? Or is it even possible for one’s spirit to be changed, and our flesh not to follow suit?

I ask that, because after many years of ministry and personal discipleship, I believe we have developed many quaint and fancy ways of altering the external, all the while ignoring the internal, because our marketing or business plan seems to be making a visible difference or change. So who could argue with our methods, right?

Yet all the while we debate our means and methods, the bigger question of SPIRIT goes unaddressed. Oh you may disagree with me, but what are the quantitative things we use to determine if something is successful in the ministry or not; visible stuff. Numbers of people, numbers of dollars, numbers of buildings or square footage; and on and on the ticker counts as to ones success in life and ministry. And rightly so, who could argue with progress in a visible sense.

But let me ask this question: How do you measure the strength and health of your spirit man? Or do you presume that that component of your existence is 100% in tacked and never in need of expansion or enhancement?

Just wondering how you view the Imago Dei when you look in the mirror and when you look all around you?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Building Your Altar

I’m not sure why these thoughts have percolated down into my heart, but here they are. Maybe they’re just for me, or maybe someone out there has been trying to make your altar look more presentable than your life circumstances actually are?

On Building Your Altar before God, this is what I heard in my soul. “Don’t take too much time or planning or sculpting of some altar before God; for that gives rise to human reason and pretense. No, just reach out and grab the closest most natural thing at hand and present your offering to God.”

Okay, I knew about the passage in Exodus 20:25; “If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.” (NLT) But, I was not even thinking about this verse when the Lord impressed upon my heart, the importance of impromptu altar. That’s right, impromptu versus altars of reason and pretense.

Let me explain. I believe one reason God’s people were not to fashion the stones used in earthen altars was, not only that they might distract from the glory of God in that moment, but also the time and thought and reason and pretense put into their man-made efforts of aggrandizing before God.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that we need to offer our very best to God in worship and obedience, but sometimes the best altars are the immediate and impromptu ones that arise out of our desperation and gratitude in a moment of need or thanksgiving. For therein arises the beauty and power of a true sacrifice unto God.

It’s not in our ability to posture and sculpt something that we think looks awesome and offer it to God, but it’s in our willingness to offer in the moment, with what is at hand, a place where we burn it all before God, so as to recapture that peace and fellowship that only He can provide. For sometimes we can find ourselves reasoning and developing what we believe is good, better or even best, to offer to God, and He’s simply asking us to respond in deep earnest and honest commitment without our ideas of what He might be looking for mixed in the structure.

Far too often we put a tool to our circumstances; we re-shape the resources at hand so as to impress. We put our reasoning and pretense into the place where we are to meet with God and the actual offering or sacrifice is obscured by our efforts to impress. Whereas, God is simply looking for a people who will in the moment of deepest need, throw together an altar where GRACE is what they depend upon, and not their abilities to dress up the moment so as to make themselves look better or less in need, before God or man. Do you get that?

Granted, there were later times where altars were made to look beautiful and impressive, but don’t miss the original pattern; stones not hewn, resources not tooled or reshaped, but simply put together so as to not overshadow the sacrifice or offering being given to the Lord; so as to exalt the Lord of the circumstance versus the circumstance lording over us.

I know this may be a leap for many of you, but in any given moment, where God is or has caused His Name to be remembered; we are to build an altar where everything is given over to him and were peace and fellowship can be restored, and we simply don’t have time to plan, or tool, or shape, or impress, we simply offer it all in that very moment with what is at hand.

Maybe I’m off base in my interpretation of the passage at hand, but I know for me, in the times when I’ve tried to impress God and others with my fancy altar moments, I’ve experiences far less of His presences than when I’ve thrown together rough and natural circumstances to build my altar of appeal and reconciliation to Him. Those tend to be the BEST ALTARS of all. Those tend to be the ones most precious to the Father.

On Building Your Altar… just build it. Don’t think or plan or even attempt to reshape the circumstances, just offer it as is; and let God be glorified. Remember, your best efforts to sterilize or retool something so that you will impress God or others, will simply pollute and defile the moment. Let’s not make that a pattern for our worship and relationship with Him.

On Building Your Altar… you’d better not lay a tool to it or you WILL make it unholy. Give it some thought and ask yourself what your altars look like. Are they fancy and all dressed up or are they rugged and desperately thrown together out of your life circumstances so as to be honest and forthright with God; so as to manifest the Glory of God and not the glory of man?


Monday, April 4, 2011

See me, Feel me, Touch me, Heal me

Not sure exactly what the year was, but I remember as a teenager going to the Forum IV theater and seeing the rock opera “Tommy” by infamous rock group, The Who. I didn’t quite get it at that time, and still don’t get it all right now, but part of the lyrics from the “Christmas” song stick in my mind.

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.” If I didn’t know better, I’d think that was some quote from the New Testament from the heart of a deaf, dumb, and blind beggar reaching out to the Son of David to have mercy on him. Yet it was not.

On the contrary, it was from a secular rock opera that rarely if ever is equated to biblical theology or doctrine. But the funny thing is these words are all too common in the hearts of the hurting everywhere in the world; including your town, and your church here in America.

So let me ask you? How many people have we collectively led into liberty, so as to answer the request of the damned; the request of the hurting and lost? I ask those questions because wherever I go, I run into people who are saying those same words, albeit in a benign way, they are still saying it by their life actions.

So here is my thought: have you ever “felt” those above words deep in your heart when some need arose in your life? Oh yes, we know that God is the only one who can meet that deep seated need, but why is it that far too many people (even believers) are looking to others, to human resource, to external forces to slake their thirsty question couched in these words?

If you struggle to believe what I’m proposing, ask yourself this question: Have you ever felt these words deep in your soul? If so, where did you go for satisfaction and what process did you use to find answers? And if you found answers, did THE FEELINGS of these words disappear, or have they surfaced again?

I’ll let it go for now, but I know there have been many times in a crowded room that I’ve felt those words deep in my soul, and have found myself at an auspicious altar of grace seeking consolation, yet rising to still need something beyond the accepted and prescribed historic process of the altar.

Think about it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

On Becoming the Desolate Woman

Never in my entire life have I ever considered the following, in the following way, until just this morning. It’s curious how the Lord piques your interest in something that’s hidden to you until the proper time of need. Now is one of those moments.

As I read Galatians 4 this morning, I came across a few words that I’m very positive I’ve read before, but they didn’t have the same impact as this morning. In this passage, Paul is perplexed and deeply concerned for his dear converts who by compulsion of religious pressure are looking back over their shoulder at Egypt pondering if slavery was better than the unknowns of freedom in Christ. Read it for yourself and you’ll get the context.

All too often we tend to fall back into the patterns of law and slavery, because they are secure, consistent and contiguous. And while being a slave these things may be the only structures we know, being freeborn is a whole different ball game.

Being freeborn requires something which slavery cannot ever understand. And that is the enigmatic delight of the pain required to birth something new, something beautiful, something living and free. Oh to become the “desolate woman” who knew nothing but scorn and shame, because her womb was barren, yet it found favor in the eyes of Him who searches for barren and broken places to place The Seed of Life. Places where no one would ever consider going, let alone establishing a Kingdom and a linage.

In Galatians 4:27 Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1; “Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” This passage hit me like a ton of bricks, especially the portion that states; “more are the children of the desolate woman”.

How long do we who are desolate have to pursue idolatrous means of fertility? How long do we have to pursue religious structures and laws before we come to the conclusion that Hagar is less blessed than we? From the outset most of us would cry foul when we discover our desolation. Because we live in a Western culture and mindset of success and gluttony; we tend to believe that being at the bottom is at best to be pitied, but never to be desired. Yet God in His infinite wisdom, does something that none of us would have ever thought of. He seeks out the broken, the weak, the desolate and barren ones to claim as His very own incubators of grace and the miraculous.

Don’t lose me now because I’m almost finished. On Becoming the Desolate Woman may I say with all the depth of the Spirit ever known; WE MUST BECOME DESOLATE for our freedom to be born through Him alone. For if we are looking to the structured surety of our religious Hagar, who by her very appearance of youth and beauty tends to assure some kind of progeny, we are mistaken.

Oh we may birth something, but it WILL NOT BE FROM THE FATHER ABOVE. It will not be immaculate in nature and nurture. For anything that we can produce in and of ourselves IS NOT OF GOD. For not until we become the Desolate Woman, not until we realize our own death can we actually know and experience TRUE BIRTH AND RESURRECTION. Only then can we fully live the beauty and grace of the Desolate Woman.

For the beauty and grace of the Desolate Woman is not found in her barren womb, but it is found in the Seed of Him who is unseen yet who brings about things to be seen.

When are we going to finally get it; kingdoms, religions, structures, laws, human hopes and aspirations, desires and lusts for selfish gain and acquisition will all be shaken and razed to the ground ONE FINAL TIME so as to put us in the position of desolation. And therein lays the hidden hope of Sarah’s barren womb. Therein lays our only hope; total self-desolation so we may finally know; “more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband”. More are the blessings and provision to those who’ve finally given up their longing for the security of slavery at the hand of non-divine-providers.

For if and when we actually reach our own place of desolation, we will stand at a fork in the road; will we choose Hagar or Sarah? Will we trust in the promise of a seeded barren womb? Or will we choose the visible and seen things so comforting that we’ve always known as slaves?

They say that men who’ve spent most of their lives in prison, rarely if ever survive well outside the confines of the prison walls, because all they’ve ever known was the providing hand of their captors, so when the time comes to stand, (by faith if you will) they tend to fail miserably, because bondage tends to feel better than an invisible promise, predicated upon their leap of faith to believe it will come to pass.

Is that you today? Are you more attracted to Hagar than to Sarah? Simply put, do you desire to become the Desolate Woman or are you comfortable seeking out seed for the slave woman Hagar? Your answer just may determine your present and your future.

On Becoming the Desolate Woman… may I count it as a worthy condition and position to be found in… may you too become so desolate that you “cry aloud” unto Him alone who is able to make you fruitful and joyful.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Live to Give

For God so saw fit to give to humanity, to love us, to reconnect with us, to provide a way of escape for us, to heal us, all the while we were really at odds with Him. We were at a huge disadvantage because it had been centuries since we really knew Him face to face, and had had any kind of real relationship with Him. Nonetheless, He came looking for us, sending an invitation to reconcile and be family once again. All we need to do is RSVP in a timely manner.

I wonder; of all the doctrines in the Bible, which is the hardest to live out? I suppose we could debate this question all day long, because context tends to frame most of God’s commands; not that they’re relative or adjustable, but context does count.

So again, the question looms over my heart. Which doctrine is the hardest to live out?

Without exception, I believe the “Live to Give” doctrine tends to be the hardest. As a matter of fact, I believe it was the one and only doctrine of greatest challenge to Jesus. Remember the garden of Gethsemane? Remember the thrice times question the Son presented to the Father, yet the Father was silent? His Word had already been declared; therefore He had set in motion His will, and not Jesus’.

I present this question, because though we suffer in many ways, and frankly most of us don’t suffer too much as compared to many in the rest of the world; great suffering here on earth is and has been a stark reality; yet only a minority truly know and understand the suffering ordained by God.

The pain that Christ experienced under the scourging and crucifixion was not His primary suffering. That’s right; His primary suffering was revealed in the garden when He willingly, albeit difficultly, relinquished His will to the Father’s. And in doing so, it culminated in the Father turning away from the Son in the last few moments of His life and death on the cross; ergo the tangible difficulty of such an event. Yet all for the Father’s glory.

The scourging and crucifixion were demonstrations of Christ’s passion for the will of His Father and for all of humanity; but His ultimate suffering was letting go of His will to align with the Father’s. And that my friends, IS THE SAME battle you and I face right here and right now.

The doctrine of “Live to Give” takes on many shapes and sizes, and can be expressed or experienced in a myriad of ways, but let me tell you IT IS THE GREATEST doctrine we can express or experience.

Ask yourself this, trivial life temptations notwithstanding; is giving over your will to the Father easy?

If you said yes, I’ve got a ring of keys for a little church in Altoona, Iowa that maybe needs a better leader. But if you said no, you just might be onto something. You might be onto the trail of truth that leads to life. For the Bible clearly tells us it is better to “give than to receive”; as counter intuitive to the flesh that may seem.

The absolute greatest doctrine you’ve been CALLED TO LIVE OUT is the doctrine of giving. And the Bible actually tells us to give to those who’ve offended us. It tells us to give to and bless our enemies and actually pray for them. It tells us that if we are going to be like our heavenly Father and our Brother Savior Jesus, we must be people who LIVE TO GIVE.

For the act of taking in any way shape or form, is a doctrine of demons. And we’ve been told that that doctrine will be on the increase and rampantly expressed in the “last days”; so look around its very obvious. In a world desperate and bent upon an entitlement mind set, this doctrine has found a comfortable home in the seat of many a soul; and often without struggle or argument (even within the church).

Jesus said, in essence, no greater love could ever be demonstrated, except that of one giving their life for another, and especially giving their life for the life of an enemy, yet that’s what He did, and that’s what we are called to do.

I understand the geopolitical roller-coaster that we are facing in the days ahead. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? And I know we still have an obligation to dispense justice and righteousness if and when we can, but the message of grace and mercy have NEVER been removed from the divine MANDATE. And the only way for us to properly dispense justice and righteousness is for us to first and foremost understand and dispense grace and mercy.

Until we understand the gravity of grace and mercy, in the light of our own depravity, we will never properly understand nor apply the doctrine of justice and righteousness. Oh surely you remember the plank in the eye thing don’t you? I hope so.

The next time you contemplate what you are living for; take pause to consider the hardest doctrine in the Bible; the doctrine of Live to Give. For if you are unable to even ponder this thought, it’s likely you live to take; and that my friend just might determine your eternal destiny.

Find some way today; LIVE TO GIVE!