Friday, January 13, 2012

The Pinnacle of Our Past

It’s kind of funny how our past lives guide and direct our present. I mean, when you’re up, that typically means there will be a down sometime in your future (notwithstanding the Rapture). And isn’t it queer how things that we once thought were low points, were actually points of contact for the most spectacular rebounds in our lives to date. For that I’d say, yes indeed it’s all good.

But can you imagine a life without the influence of your past? I know it’s hard for me to get my mind around that, but nonetheless, I need to attempt it. For in the good and bad of my past is the present that I’m living. Yes, that’s right, you are a product of your memory; of your past, and that’s what we must consider for the moment.

God has an amazing way of taking what is dead and making it alive again, and He likewise has a fearful way of taking what is alive and making it dead… when Real Life is rejected. You know, to whom much is given much is require?

Anyway, I give thanks to my Father in Heaven that He was in my past and He IS in my present. For although I may not be able to alter my past, He can traverse time and space and speak into my past present so as to change my present future. Get it?

If I say to you; “Don’t let your past determine your future.” You would tend to agree, but MY WORDS ARE NOT LIFE, versus His Words being the very Life of the universe and your reality. So all well and good if I tell you how nice you are now and how nice your future is going to be; but if Jesus doesn’t tell you those words… you will boomerang right back to where you started. All of which is part of the hidden agenda within many religious “helps” groups or churches.

For as long as I can keep you addicted to my words, you’ll be back and you’ll just maybe write another check for the offering. But imagine this; a once “for all” Word that cures EVERYTHING? I know you’ll struggle to imagine that concept, but pause for a moment and consider its possibility.

If all we are IS OUR PAST then hopelessness will be our mantra. But; if Jesus can alter our past, present and even our future, then a new tune just might be in our melody. Our present and our future just may be in the Hands of the One who knows it all… past, present and future.

So why not TRUST and kiss the past good bye? Why not let everyone know you’re a former jerk and a recovering jerk and get on with what the Lord of all creation says about you? It might not be a bad idea. For if and when our past rears its ugly head we can be assured that Jesus has a healing, creating and rebuking word that will shut her down.

The Pinnacle of Our Past will no longer stand, when Jesus speaks a Word that will last and last.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Last Day - A Blog Book Chapter 4 - From the Inside Out

The idea of dying to self that one might live is counter intuitive to the flesh. Let alone a doable thing on our own.

I had a great conversation with a beloved brother last night. In our volley of thoughts and feelings, I pointed out that the call to crucify self isn’t that hard… until the last nail is needed. For I, myself, can drive the nail through my feet. And I can even drive a nail through my left hand, but the third nail, oh my Lord… may it not be so.

For in the third nail, in the palm of the free hand, I must submit to another, for I cannot nail the last nail. Circumstances, situations, persons and even God Himself, must be the deliverers of that last nail.

So as I hung there, broken and bleeding, accepting the inevitable, while pain flowed from the heart of a dying, yet dead soul, I came to the realization that I could not choose the hammer that would drive the last nail in my own crucifixion. I could not dictate the time of suffering or the time of delivery, but that was left up to providence, all the while I was choking on Jeremiah 29:11.

You see, in the death of a soul, that once was, there is little compassion, and rightly so. For if and when I say “yes” to the divine sublime, I relinquish the power to choose my death. I relinquish the padded altar and the tender organ music; playing “Just as I Am”.

Yet to my misfortune, I was suckled at the breast of sweet surrender, and not the tit of bitterest gall. And you? Do you understand that the bill of goods we’ve been sold, regarding the happy, chipper, flashy, successful, wealthy and influential “Christian Life” may actually be so far from the real thing; that we would never drop a dime on air time to watch it, let alone seek to live it ourselves?

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe that in all avenues of “Christian Life” and ministry there are safety islands of truth and gutters of error, so people can find the truth and become free, but the facts remain. We often choose gutter over island. Let me explain.

When I say gutter, I’m referring to a capitalistic, western, even American version of Christianity. It’s a version that paints a picture of big money, great health, and only beautiful relationships and retirement. Whereas, the true islands of hope and faith are often found in the dregs of cultural success and life. Meaning, God may change circumstances in your life, to make you feel a bit happier, but biblical president reveals just the opposite – “My grace is sufficient”.

So as I hung there, waiting for the last nail to be placed, I wondered if this was the image my pastor was seeking to portray? I wonder if this was the image my favorite TV preacher was attempting to sell me in his latest sermon series? I wonder if my peers were envisioning this the last time they were at an organized awards banquet, waiting on the returns of attendance figures and the beautiful engraved plaque that follows. Likely not.

Oh I love a good awards ceremony, but really, when Jesus died, few were there. Most had run away, because their expectations of the “Sham-Wow” man had fallen. “We didn’t sign up for this Jesus” is what most would be thinking, if not saying.

Most of us, when we embrace the free gift of eternity, don’t read the fine print. As a matter of fact, much like the housing boom, bubble and bust that many have lived through in the last ten years, our grace providers glossed over the fine print. And few of us, realized the gravity of what we were signing onto. Few of us took the time to read the fine print of Genuine Christianity and Discipleship in Christ. For if we had, we most likely would have moved down the street to where eternity and blessing was sold on the low shelf. I know I might have.

So here I hang. Looking From the Inside Out; like Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise. Viewing life and eminent death as if it’s some TV show or YouTube video, and I’m just along for the ride. But that’s not what reality leaves me.

On the contrary, this is not a sitcom or melodramatic cinematic experience – no this is the death of flesh. This is the willing heart falling back into the grave of self. And if you’ve never smelled death, let me inform you… it stinks. That’s why most Christian television doesn’t come with “smellevision”.

Remember the crowd’s reply to Jesus, when He commanded that Lazarus’ tomb stone be rolled back? John 11:39, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” Now I understand the biological reality that’s depicted in this narrative. But can I get my heart and mind around the fact that, when we die to self, there may very well be a stink and a mess involved? For death is not very nice, but often very obtrusive and demanding of its own way. And spiritually speaking, there is little difference – when it finally comes.

So from my vantage point; From the Inside Out, let me tell you, I don’t want that last nail, but I really do want that last nail. And though I may not have the power to choose the face or hand that swings the hammer and drives that last and final nail – I AM READY. I am finished. I am over.

When each of us comes to that place of finally being dead, then we will see the light in the tunnel and know our tomorrows are all seated in Him. All our hopes and dreams and fulfillments are on the other side of that flat line; on the other side of the death of self.

So, From the Inside Out, I’m watching and waiting for the final nail to be driven, so the Last Day of me will finally arrive. But oh how the seconds, minutes and even hours pass slowly.

My prayer for you is that when the death of self comes, it comes quickly. From the Inside Out, my hope is I won’t see it coming, and God will lay the final blow, and we too will be united as eternally ordained. Therein lays true joy and life.


Friday, January 6, 2012

The Last Day - A Blog Book Chapter 3 - What is My Last Day?

I’ve waited a few weeks to publish chapter 3 of my blog-book, because I’ve wrestle with my own last day. I tend to run from pain, yet I’m learning to run to the pain so as to find it’s cause.

I’ve not had the awful experience of losing a friend or loved one at their own hand. Suicide is a god awful thing, but many have lived and died through the experience. In the gospel book of Mark, chapter 1, verses 9-13 we see an initial description of Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit into a time of great temptation. Temptations, that if heeded could lead to the very end or Last Day of God on earth. Yet without fail, Jesus navigated the temptations of Last Days and came out victorious.

In verse 10, of Mark 1, the author records, as indicated in the NIV, “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water; he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.” I find it powerful and very common yet often unnoticed; “heaven being torn open”.

When was the last time you noticed “heaven being torn open” over you or your time of victory or defeat? It’s likely never; or if so, rare to the uninitiated. For far too often, in the moments of run up to any and all last days, there is war in the heavens above us. If we so choose God’s way, then the renting of heaven is not in vain; but if not, all heaven has been torn for little or no reason.

We must understand that for God, and less be known to us, Last Days are very significant. As Jesus entered into one of the most profound seasons of temptation, the enemy of all our souls, and the enemy of our flesh, plied the idea of self-elimination, so as to remove the pain and struggle needed for a greater birth.

In Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:9 we read the account of the devil tempting Jesus to have His last day in the throes of earthly torment, yet Christ defied the pain and struggle, without giving into the false relief of self-elimination. And for most Christians reading this, we’ve been taught or understand to some degree the need to die to self and live for Him. And therein lays one of the most deadly traps; the trap to believe that we are not worth saving. The trap that says our elimination just might be better for all persons involved. Yet Christ alone has proven that each individual is worth something greater than the suffering of a temptation to eliminate self.

Now granted, Jesus was tempted to make the jump from the Temple panicle as His last day of suffering, yet without yielding. We too will face many days when the enemy of our souls tempts us to the level of self-pity and loathing, where we decide we are no longer worth keeping. And for that I am empathetic with many of you readers.

But Last Days are varied and sundry. And the most critical of Last Days; my own Last Day, must be something of grave and victorious acceptance. For on one hand God offers life and power that we may live, He clearly teaches that we too must “die” to self. How crazy is that? Yet divine sublime is far greater in scope and impact than any human heart could ever understand. A mystery indeed is the Kingdom and Power known to the few.

Confusion and temptation comes when the devil tells us we are not worth keeping. We are not worth saving. We are not worth our carbon foot print, so just get the hell off the planet. And far too often we buy into that sales pitch. We, in the name of false humility and legalistic Christianity, determine that “we” are the problem; therefore if we would just go away, everything would be better. Yet oh how false those thought are. For as believers in Christ the Son of the Living God, we are promised Life, and the enemy of our souls has perfected his sales pitch, and we pause and listen to his “Sham-Wow” sales presentation. And many buy it… lock-stock and barrel. And check out before their ordained time.

So; What is My Last Day? It is and will look something like this. It’s a moment; it’s a time, when I say no to self, yet without the ugly self-loathing self-talk that so often accompanies those caught in the belief of a lie. It’s a day when I know I must die, yet feel so empowered to live. It’s a moment when I listen to that voice and “use the force” instead of using my own products of religion. It’s a day and a moment when the Voice of God, calls that which is “not” into existence, while simultaneously falling back into that “water grave”. All the while and simultaneously dying daily, yet living each moment for the glory of God. What a beautiful and divine paradox, only lived by the esoteric of the initiated – the Living Dead.

I can tell you that the enemy of my soul has indeed tempted me to “just go away”. But by the grace and providence of God, I have not. But I have experienced and desired too even more so, die daily. Can you get your mind and heart around that enigma? I really do want to go away, and disappear from the stage of life and performance. I do want to die, but do it God’s way – so I shall live.

And you too shall live. If and when you come to your Last Day; when you come to the place of understanding that you must decrease, so as to exalt His increase, you will be rewarded by the delight of living and dying Your Last Day. I’m not dead yet, but I’m hoping for that divine flat line moment, when I no longer am, and Christ IS. When the Imago Dei once again shines greater than imago ego.

May God ordain your Last Day – very soon.

What is My Last Day? It is the day that I am able by faith to mix the reality of death and life into the same crucible and come out whole, and dross free. Maybe you’re okay with dross, but I’m not; if I’m going to be all He died for me to be.

What is Your Last Day? When will it occur? What will it look like? I can tell you with much certainty; Your Last Day is doable – according to the grace meted out to those who believe. Amen

Seek your Last Day. You’ll be glad you did.