Saturday, September 22, 2012

Thermal Pains

Many years ago, someone invented the duel layered glass window pane.  The theory is, with a small amount of dead air between the sheets of glass, a thermal barrier would be created to reduce the passive transfer of heat.  Then someone came up with the idea of adding a heavy noble gas like Argon.  Argon is heavier than air and therefore provides an even greater thermal barrier.

So why are my thoughts on thermal pane windows?  I don’t know, but I woke up the other day with those words stuck in my mind.  Not the word pane, but pain; Thermal Pains.

That’s right, the pains in our lives that create barriers for the transfer of emotional warmth and comfort.  We tend to allow the passive back and forth transfer of warmth and comfort when our heart pain is at a minimum; ergo the idea of Thermal Pains.  Pains of this nature prevent closeness to God and others.  They’re barriers built upon lies believed to be true.  And so often we don’t even know we believe them.  That’s what a good lie is all about – deception.

My thoughts run in this direction.  Pain, heart and soul pain; the kind that sticks deep in us and often unknown to us, skews everything we do, say and even think.  It’s a pain that’s there, but we can’t put our finger on it.  We can’t seem to isolate it nor identify it, so we tend to just live with it.  And it affects every aspect of our life.

Without proper resolution and removal of such pain, which few attempt because of its enigmatic nature, the tendency is to just “live with it”.  Like that ache in our joints as we get older.  Like that short term memory issue we seem to have the older we get.  Like that chronic non-life-threatening health issue that we just “buck-up” and “live with”.

But why?  Why do we tolerate it?

I suppose it’s because we’ve been told life is tough.  Pain happens.  Disappointment is always with us.  Hey even Jesus said “in this world you will have trouble”.  Albeit the divine caveat was His assurance of peace and the reminder that He has overcome the world; yet it is a battle for truth and reality that many still wage.  And I’m no exception.

But here’s the deal, I was reading about the effectiveness of this heavy noble gas call Argon, as a thermal barrier, and in parallel with my thoughts on pain being a barrier for emotional warmth and comfort, and guess what?  I found out the gas named Argon is derived from a Greek word (αργον) meaning “lazy” or “the inactive one” and tends to undergo almost no chemical reaction.  It’s stable, but is very resistant to “bonding” with other elements.

Dig this.  Argon is relationally lazy or inactive and struggles to bond with others.  I’m smiling right now as I stretch my analogy a bit further.  Forgive me?

Pain, based upon lies we believe to be true, will always and ever create a thermal barrier against the warmth and comfort derived from genuine relationships based upon Truth.  Pain, like argon makes us relationally lazy or inactive.  We struggle with bonding to the good in relationships (others and self); because our life is felt and viewed through the perspective of this “argonian-pain” (my made up word).  A heavy lazy barrier that keeps us from the best parts of life, namely the warmth and comfort derived from God, others, and yes even our true self who God made us to be.

Okay, I know my thoughts may be digressive sometimes, bear with me.  If we cannot or better yet, will not be free from the pain in our hearts, we will NEVER find the true connections God has ordained for us in this life and beyond.

So let’s shatter those Thermal Pains and let the passive warmth and comfort of God’s love radiate right to the center of who we are.  Bringing life and reality to the very person we were born to be.  Because holding onto pain is a lazy act.  Let’s get active and release that heavy ignoble element from our hearts and fully experience all of what God has for us in Christ Jesus our Lord – and in communion with others.

Amen & Selah

Monday, September 17, 2012

Leading Empty Handed

Recently I’ve come to grips with a few facts of life.  Firstly, I have always believed I was totally sold out to Jesus.  Secondly, I have always believed and confessed that nothing was between me and God.  Both of these belief facts are less than fully true.

When my personal life was turned upside down, God showed me I was trying to lead my life and the lives of others, while holding onto things I believed were my entitlement, and I erroneously believed that those things surely were not hindrances to my leading or living for Him.  But guess what?  I was wrong.

The Lord has shown me that if I am to follow Him and be His representative, I must have empty hands.  I must not hold to anything that I somehow believe is essential to this life but Him.  I know many would subscribe to that statement, but when we’re called to carry the Cross, and our hands are full of the things of earth, we cannot rightly, tightly or confidently grip that sacred beam.

As I write, there is no one to bash but myself.  I’m not writing to indict anyone but me.  And likewise, I am not condemning myself, but I am acknowledging my lack of dependency upon and sacred love for Him alone.  Theory is one thing; living in truth while all hell breaks loose is another thing.

I know God’s grace is more than sufficient.  I also know that His grace teaches us to say “no” to ourselves, and yes to all of His provision.  His grace has appeared in my life to empower me to live my all in Him.  And the only way to do that is empty handed.

Leading Empty Handed is not easy, but it’s essential.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Swan Song - Prelude

I’ve never really thought of myself as having great influence or voice in this land and lifetime.  Some have said I lack a clear bugling call like more prominent Anatidae in my arena.  And most assuredly if any sounds did come forth they were woefully perceived by some as meaningless hisses, honks and grunts like Cygnus olor; never known as fully mute or fully comprehensible in word or deed.  A fact that could be changing soon.

As I read about the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor), I came to find out they’re not fully mute, but do have the capability of making primitive noises as mentioned above.  Their lives never fully defined by silent beauty and grace, or even the resonant glory of more recognizable song birds.  And much to my romantic and intellectual chagrin, I found out they actually do not sing one last beautiful and triumphant song before their death.  That was disheartening.

But for the sake of this blog and my respect for historic metaphor, I’m sticking with Swan Song as my “final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement.”

Call me sentimental about erroneous 3rd century BC Greek proverbs that misled me to believe “the Mute Swan is completely silent during its lifetime until the moment just before death, when it sings one beautiful song.”  I just really like the idea from a poetic and melancholy standpoint.

There were seven last sayings Jesus uttered from the cross on that glorious and final day.  One might even say they were the stanzas of His own glorious Swan Song.  And with no irreverence intended, it was a beautiful song to conclude a life fraught with misunderstandings and hateful critiques, by those not understanding His power and purpose.

I draw no parallels with Christ on the cross and my present circumstances, but I do draw strength from the knowledge that like Him, if I will die on the altar of obedience, I will ultimately rise again for God’s glory and honor.

In the days ahead, may my Swan Song be of such beauty and grace that all may know; He is God in life and in death.  And no matter how deep or wide or high or low one may seek or even wander; His presence pursues and provokes us return to the Heart that loved and made us His very own.


Monday, September 3, 2012

ALL THINGS. Seriously?

Soul Scrub 1
ALL THINGS.  Seriously?

Philippians 4:13 – the bane of every ADD Christian

Many years ago, somewhere around 1977, I began to meet with a small group of committed, hungry and sometimes confused Christian teens.  For that matter, we were all teenagers at the time, with the exception of the youth pastor leading the group.

We met on Wednesday mornings before school at around 6:00 am.  We gathered in a little house called the White House, just east of our church building.  It was called the White House, because it was a house, and it was white.

There were several objectives.  I’ll be spiritual about the order: 1) we met for pray together; 2) we met to read and memorize some scripture; 3) we met to have breakfast and fellowship.  I’d like to believe that was everyone’s order of priority for meeting, but honestly food and fellowship with friends (especially with some girls I had a crush on) was the likely priority.  That’s not evil, but it doesn’t sound real spiritual.  But it was true.

Over time I grew to really appreciate scripture memorization.  Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the food and fellowship, because each week different individuals were responsible to make or provide breakfast.  Some weeks it was donuts and milk.  Other weeks it was full blown eggs and bacon, or pancakes and sausage.  So yes it was food and also fun that drew me to the group, but eventually scripture really began to take hold in my heart, and that played a major part in why this group became something very special to me.

One of the passages we memorized was Philippians 4:13.  Look it up, I won’t quote it.  But I will tell you I locked onto that passage and carried it with me for years.  Kind of like a lucky rabbits foot that I would rub when I was confronted with something challenging.  And I suppose God in His infinite grace and Fatherly compassion, let me use it that way.

But recently, I’ve come to realize the detriment of that passage for me.  I simply could not do ALL THINGS through Christ, but only the things that He spoke or commanded.  And furthermore, if the ALL THINGS somehow include the will of another person, gridlock was likely.  And what about if I’m uncertain and find my feelings waffling on a decision I need to make, then James chapter one kicks in, and again, nothing happens.

I don’t point these things out to cause doubt or question regarding the veracity of scripture, but I make this point because, ALL THINGS that I would attempt to accomplish, must align with God’s will and not mine.  Oh granted I may desire things that appear close to His will, but unless I’m spot on, ALL THINGS will not come to pass, regardless of how much I want them.  In addition, sometimes I just need to take action, to catalyze my faith, His Word and His Will.

So, what to do?  I pray, Father not my will but Thy will be done.  Further I pray, reveal Thy will through scripture, through a clear Spirit leading and even through the truth weighed voice of others.  And finally I pray, grant me perfect peace that I may move toward my ALL THINGS moments with confidence and assurance, that my heart’s desire IS TO DO HIS WILL and LOVE HIM above all else.  And finally, by taking action in one direction or another, I can confirm His guiding hand and find my ALL THINGS met in Him alone.

CAVEAT: Something else I’m learning as I step out and make forward looking choices; if my heart is truly humbled and right before God, then I must also rest in the same grace that saved me, to keep or restore me even if the choice ends up not the best one at that time.  For in God’s economy there is the beautiful provision of second chances, and third and fourth etc.; as long as my heart is not hardened to His voice.

So the next time I begin to quote Philippians 4:13, may I do so with the confident knowledge that I will be standing on the sure foundation of His Word, His Will and His Spirit’s leading; and not my own.  And if by chance I miss the mark in assuming I can do ALL THINGS, He will be there with the same grace he saved me with, to restore me once again to His purpose for my life (Jeremiah 39:11; Romans 8:28).
Finally, may I never be guilty of the great sin of presumption David spoke of in Psalm 19:12-14.  If you don’t remember it, here it is.

Psalm 19:12-14 (AMP) “Who can discern his lapses and errors?  Clear me from hidden [and unconscious] faults.  (13) Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!  Then shall I be blameless, and I shall be innocent and clear of great transgression.  (14) Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my [firm, impenetrable] Rock and my Redeemer.”

Amen and amen.
ALL THINGS?  Maybe, if that’s what He wills!