Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Way

A few weeks ago I found myself in the fetal position, poised on my right side tears spilling from my eyes, shuddering under the weight of my own condemnation and uncertainty.  And this picture’s not new to me.  I’ve always wrestled with the concept of God’s sovereignty and my responsibility.

Maybe you’ve never found yourself on the high-wire of God’s sovereignty and your responsibility?  But I have and I can tell you it’s a place where even the great Wallendas would find unnerving.  For at that place one faces the enigmatic juxtaposition of who is really in charge of any given destiny.  It’s a question that’s been argued from ages past and will be for ages to come.  And it’s never easily answered on a Sunday or Wednesday night.

Much like King David in the Bible, I’ve always had a deep fear of presuming upon God’s grace, let alone anyone else’s (Psalm 19:13 KJV).  So that’s the platform I’m working from.  I never want to presume that I can rest upon God or anyone else, to the exclusion of my own responsibility or fidelity.  I do desire as David did, not to be found guilty of the great sin of presumption.  For therein lays the challenge to the Cross.  How much of this is me, versus how much of Him?

For as I lay there on my side I whispered these words in prayer:  “Jesus I feel like I’ve lost My Way.”
Within minutes a holy response flooded my heart and mind.  I believe God said:  “You have… and that’s good my son.”  What?  Seriously, what did He say?  It’s good to lose My Way?

Like dough proofing becoming ready for the holy fire of His divine oven, something dawned on me that could only have come from His sovereignty heart.  My struggle is not, nor ever will it be with a particular vice or avarice, but with Isaiah’s prophetic declaration over all of humanity.  We all “like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB).

There it is.  The problem: My Way.  You see, none of us will be found guilty and standing on the edge of hell because of any one particular vice or avarice, but we will be found guilty of doing things our own way.  Elvis was wrong.

Can you get your mind around this truth?  At any given moment there are only two ways to travel in life.  Two parallel lanes to travel, one lane is God’s and one is mine.  If I travel in God’s lane, regardless of my failings or my degree of humanity I will end up in Life eternal.  But if I travel in my lane, despite any presumption upon grace and religion, I will end up in death eternal.  Always keeping in mind, there is a way that seems right unto man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).

So there I lay; hearing my own words on losing my way, and then hearing the divine echo of His words telling me that my condition was good.  For as I found the due reality of my own way and loss; I found the true reality of His willful and deliberate gain – through His loss.  Unlike mine that was wrenched from my hand, He willingly gave it all.

If and when I finally come to the place of accepting that My Way is most often the worst way, it is then that I will tumble into the best way – His Way.  Get it?

I’m a real wussy when it comes to uncertainty and the vague unknowns of an emerging horizon line of life.  But one thing I am not: a man willing to lie about his heart and experience in Christ or life.  For my inner man cannot be calmed nor subdued with mere Christian cliché or bravado, but truth alone about myself and Him are the only waters to slake a thirsty and honest soul (Psalm 51:6).

My Way – losing it just may have been the BEST thing I’ve ever lost.  And you?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Flip Side

I’m no musician nor do I play one on TV, but I do remember the days of 45 rpm records.  Forty-five’s (small 7 inch vinyl records with a big hole in the middle) usually had a popular “hit” on side (A) of the record, and another song (B) on “The Flip Side”.  Very often side B of the record wasn’t initially a pop hit, but sometimes they turned out to be something special.

For you audiophiles and old-school record collectors out there, I’m sure you can list many side B songs that went on to be popular hits.  Yet sometimes both songs were just plain good and it was hard to determine which one should have been on the B side or the A side.  Like Beth and Detroit Rock City by KISS in the summer of 1976.  Both were enormous hits, so who’s to say which one should have been The Flip Side song?

I was thinking about my life in the summer of 2013.  I was wondering about the release of my 45?  I mean my life song; the one being stamped into the vinyl of a 45 rpm record.  Will the song that I thought would be a “hit” on side A, actually be eclipsed by side B, The Flip Side?

It’s hard to say how many, but I’m sure there have been countless one-hit-wonder bands who banked on side A, not attending seriously to the content of side B.  It’s likely they lost their opportunities because they didn’t pay much attention to The Flip Side.  They just threw together something the record company required for side B.  Maybe like what some people do with side B of their lives?

I’m not really sure what my side A song is going to be, but I can tell you this I’m NOT going to ignore the potential of side B; The Flip Side of my life song.

About a year ago I sensed the Lord speaking to my heart.  The words that came were; “The epilog of book one is being written.  And the prolog of book two is already in the works.”  At the time it didn’t mean as much as it does right now (hindsight tends to be 20/20).  It didn’t sink in then like it has now. 

The idea of a two volume book (metaphorically) called my life had never entered my mind.  As a matter of fact, I had always looked at life in two stages.  Stage 1) the earthly physical existence of 70 plus years, and stage 2) after physical death or the Rapture - the heavenly portion couched in eternity and the spirit realm.  But never did I look at my earthly life as something that would be broken into two parts.

The Flip Side of my life, this side of death and eternity, just might be my way of saying “I’m more than a one-hit-wonder or a one-trick-pony.”

I don’t know yet what side A should be called, but I’m pretty sure side B will be called The Flip Side!  The song, the volume, the chance, the opportunity or even the last dance; all represent a possible 7 inch vinyl point of redemption – with a big hole in the middle (you’ll need a grace adapter to play my coming release).

The Flip Side!  It’s what I’m banking on, because God is all about The Flip Side!  God is all about second chances, resurrection, redemption and restoration to a better than expected latter kind of life.

What will The Flip Side of your life sound like?  Will it be penned or tuned with little attention to content or affect, ever believing that side A was enough sustain sales and a local fan base?

I ask that because God has plans for all our lives, especially The Flip Side – the side that reveals His greatest works yet!  It’s that hope I rest upon this very hour.

The Flip Side!  Don’t ignore the possibility.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

To Silence a Voice

There are plenty of times that I simply need to shut up.  And everyone said “Amen”!  And likewise there are plenty of times that I simply need to speak up.  You know, speaking the truth in love.  So that settles the argument about speaking – wait no it doesn’t.  I digress.

Recently I was led to think once again about voices.  For years I’ve taught, preached or even wrote about our guest subject for the moment: the voice.  Be it mine, that of others, the enemy my soul, or even ultimately the still small and occasionally booming voice of God; they all seem to vie for my attention.

There comes a time when each of these voices must be heard and discerned.  Clearly we would agree that the best voice to hear and heed is that of God.  But can I tell you it is possible To Silence a Voice that is so critical, so needed, yet stoppable even before it reverberates from divine and holy lips in heaven.  Yes indeed, To Silence a Voice is possible, but what if the voice we silence is that of God?

Hear me out for a moment.  I cannot cause the mouth of others, the enemy, or even my own inner voice to cease.  A) Because I cannot control the will and impulse of others or even the devil; and B) that 8-track in my head can only be unplugged by God, no matter how hard I try it keeps playing.  Here’s where some may argue with me – that’s okay.  Call me and you can buy me coffee and we can hash it out.

But on the other hand, the Bible tells me that in a roundabout way, I can silence the eternal and awesome voice of God by one simple act.  Oh some would say, but God is always speaking, communicating, or simply through creation God speaks.  And I guess you would be right.  But, much like the philosophical argument of a tree falling in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  The same applies to God’s voice.

If I have hardened my heart, by time and time again ignoring the reverb of His divine beck-and-call, be it for correction, guidance, or simply a love call, something inside me changes.

We’re admonished to NOT harden our hearts if and when we hear God’s voice.  But because we’re so bent upon selfish ambition and preservation, we struggle to trust that He knows best and guides best.  We tend to listen to or consult with all the other voices, before or even instead of His.  And by doing so, time and time again our hearts grow harder and harder.  Our spirit ear becomes more deaf to the only voice that can change ANYTHING.

Like cement that tends to cure harder and harder in the presence of water, so too does a heart that is washed in the Word or Voice of God, without obedient response, it grows harder and harder.  To the point where God, the God who spoke ex nihilo and all matter and life came into being, cannot by voice alone break through that hard heart shell.

Stop and think for a moment.  Consider why Jesus told the Seven Churches named in the early part of Revelation, to hear what the Spirit was saying (and still is) to the churches.  Consider that the most important thing any human can do, is hear and listen to the voice of God.  And then obey.

For it is not the random act of disobedience that silences God’s voice to our ears, but it is the chronic and self-inflating ignorance to a perpetual Spirit sound aimed at mankind in general and aimed at my very one and only heart.

Oh dear reader, please hear what the Spirit is saying to me; and maybe even to you.  Each time I ignore God’s voice, even in the little things, hardness sets in more and more.  It may not be noticeable at first, but that’s how deception works.  Understand that in these last days, the Great Falling Away mentioned in scripture will be rooted in self and collective deception – and we won’t even know it.  We will not be able to reverse the process of hardening without a cataclysmic and holy impact to our hard hearts.

I must stop waiting for a gentle wooing by the Spirit and be prepared for the hammer of His divine love that will shake and shatter everything that is hard within me.  Only then can His voice once again penetrate to the depths where needed most.

To Silence a Voice, the voice of God, seems impossible.  But it’s not.  His voice as we’ve ever known it since the creation of time and material has been and always will be echoing around the cosmos and the hearts of man.  But if no receptor exists, because of hardness, we have essentially silenced the voice of God; the only voice that can make a difference – to save and transform.

Sound waves, notably different than spirit must have something they hit or bounce off for them to be noted as anything whatsoever.  And so too with the Spirit voice, there must be a heart to connect with or nothing will be noted at all.  Like that tree falling in the forest, if my heart is hard beyond flexibility, I WILL NOT HEAR the voice of God.

To Silence a Voice, the voice of God seems implausible, veritably impossible.  But it’s not.
Today, right now at this reading and beyond, if you hear the faintest whisper of God’s voice – stop and listen.  Consider obedience, because To Silence a Voice, the voice of God, all one need do is disobey.