Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Thirst

Another full revolution around the sun...

I thirst.

25 years have taught me a few things, and none more potent than this:

The greatest gift to any man, is the faith of a child.

Just days ago I sat on the piano bench in a living room full of life, and animated conversations. I was surrounded. Surrounded by young friends 8, 10, 12 years my juniors. Thirsty for God

I love young lives. And I try to maximize every opportunity to make them stronger.
But these lives had at least as much to teach me as I had to teach them.

I thirst. And I'm not alone.

Strange thirst; all consuming, filling to rejoicing, yet only growing stronger with time...

I thirst for Christ.

Nothing else matters.

If there is anything I intend to do with this year of my life,
it is pass on the faith of little children.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Science of Temptation

Victory is not about resisting temptation until we build enough spiritual muscle to beat it in an arm wrestle.
Victory is about unraveling temptation before it starts.

Let's back up.

Satan deceived angels not by leading them to concede to the viability of evil, but by offering them a counterfeit good.

He entered the garden, and offered Eve freedom when she was already free.

He offers us love, [insert: happiness, peace, fulfillment...] when in fact, we are already loved.

The fundamental principle of evil is calling into question the sufficiency of the genuine.

That's the great controversy in one sentence.
And that's the science of temptation.
First, causing you to question the real, then offering a supposedly viable alternative.

That is why faith makes us righteous, (ever heard of Righteousness by Faith?) and free.

When the child of God believes that all the promises are "Yes, and Amen!"
When he believes that every word of God is creative-- just as creative as "Let there be light."
And that the promises are not stored in Heaven for our aid someday, but are already in our pockets...
Already acting in the lives of those who believe them...

Then the very fundamental principle of temptation is shattered.
Temptation is neutralized before it gets off of the ground...
Unraveled like a rotting sweater.

When we believe (with our hearts, not just our heads) that the promise is all sufficient,
Temptation suddenly becomes utterly insufficient.

You have a billion dollars in your pocket. Why are you falling for the enemy's penny?

Only because you think you're poor.

Read part 2 here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Distinguished is...

In God’s economy, distinct is distinguished.  

Same word.

“But know that the Lord hath set apart6395 him that is godly for Himself...” Psalm 4:3
6395 palah paw-law'  -  a primitive root; 
to distinguish (literally or figuratively): 
put a difference, show marvelous...
--Strongs, emphasis added

Friday, October 7, 2011

Multitude of Mercies

I love driving into town. No sooner do I pull out of 2837 onto the highway, when the dialogue starts. 
I usually pray out loud in the car, and while He never answers out loud, yet He speaks...

* * * * * * *

This morning I opened my Bible to Psalm 5. And my mind went back to yesterday, halfway home.

“Your Grace, disobedience of the slightest sort is high treason against the Crown.
And we are traitors. Deserving of death.

I do not remotely understand You.

I mean, I get it... But I cannot fathom. 
I just can’t.

Normally, if mercy is strong enough to commute the death sentence for treason, it certainly does not restore the traitor to trust. 

But time and time again, You pick your little ones up from the dirt, and trust...


Multitude of mercies...  

How long can You keep trusting traitors?”   

The last question was rhetorical. But after a moment of silence, He saw fit to answer in a still, small voice with the distinct tones of a smile--

Until My blood runs out.   And that, my boy, won’t happen any time soon.

“But as for me, I will come into thy house in the
 multitude of thy mercy, and in thy fear 
will I worship toward thy holy temple.” Psalm 5:7

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christian vs. Criminal

There is only a subtle difference between the Christian and the criminal.
Subtle, but significant.

You'll find them both in the heart of darkness, fists closed around iron bars, rattling and shaking bolts and hinges until the halls ring with desperation. You'll hear them throw all their weight against doors again and again, until their shoulders swell with bruises. Sweat and tears will mingle, and run down their faces, and dampen their clothes... All in in the desperate quest for freedom.

But there is one subtle difference.

They're on opposite sides of the door.

Because a free man cannot rest while his friends are in captivity.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ten Dollars for Joy

Ok, so... I’ll just drive up like the wind, and give her this box, tell her I’m in a huge hurry, and she can take it to them when she takes the rest of the stuff tonight. 

Best laid plans of mice and minnows.

“Hey Sheena, do you know where Rosemary is?” 

We’ve known this girl as long as we’ve lived here. It’s her dad that keeps our veteran fleet of vehicles mission-worthy. (Quite a feat, by the way.) We’ve called him more than once from 3 states away...

[quizzical look] “She’s not here...”

Not here!? This was not in my best laid plans...

“Nope. She’s in town. Can I help you with something?”

I stare stupidly while my brain twirls like a little girl in a new dress. 
Listen, this was not my idea! Going up to the rodeo grounds to hunt up some perfect strangers crossing the United States in a covered wagon, and offering them a random box of fruit? They are probably both allergic to pears. Where are you when I need you, Rosemary? This was your idea after all. And the box isn’t even from me! So I’m supposed to go up to them (whoever they are!) and say: hey, Rosemary told someone else about you, and they decided to send you this, which I brought? Wow. Oh, and by the way, I’m Seán. 

The girl at the gas station is still staring at my quizzically. (little wonder why.)
“Oh, uhhh... No, no. I had some things to drop off for her to handle, but I’ll just take them myself.”

Um. Hello? Did I just say that? 

I jump back into the van and put it in drive. Of course the moment I do, things don’t seem so daunting. Until, that is, I am actually putting the van in park beside said covered wagon way out at the rodeo grounds. Then once again that voice inside me (which I despise) demands: So here you are. ...and just what do you plan on saying? 

I don’t know. I shoot back. (Maybe even out loud.)
And I shut the driver door behind me.  

20 minutes later, my new friend and I are still learning against the hood of my van in animated discussion. His wife had long since hauled the box of peaches and pears into the back of the covered wagon, and is seated in the lawn chair under the juniper tree on her second or third piece of fruit. We on the hood are somewhere halfway through our life stories, when I mention I was born in Chicago... 

“Ahh, I knew you weren’t from around here.”

I looked down at myself. Red Izod sweater with sleeves pushed up, a watch that’s definitely not the cowboy edition, dark blue denim, dotted dress socks and casual leather shoes I brought home from Germany... But what do you wear every day? I was just going to the Post Office. 
He launches back into the tale of taxi cabs in Daytona. 

45 minutes. I finally decide I’d better go. (I was in a huge hurry, remember?)
I’m ready to bid my new friends farewell, but he wonders if I’ll be back. I ask what he needs, and he gestures towards the gas can that supplies their little generator. Of course I’d be happy to take him into town to get some. His one leg and crutches won’t get him and a gas can there and back any too easily. (Never heard if he lost the other one while on US Navy's SEAL team 6 thirty years ago, or thereafter.) He’s hunting for spare change in the back of the covered wagon.

So it is that I return to the gas station 45 minutes later. 
He follows me in. 

“Hey Sheena, we want 10 dollars on pump 3.”
Poor girl. There she is looking at me quizzically again. But I’m having a scattered day. 
(No Nebblett every pre-pays at that gas station. If we don’t use a card, whoever is in the office recognizes any Nebblett-mobile at a glance, and the pump turns on.)

I dismiss the need for his change. He counters, but I tell him it’s my joy. 
He puts the fuel into his can, and I return alone to pay.

“Do you take AMEX, or only VISA.”
“AMEX. American Express. Do you take it?”
“Oh, yeah. Of course.” 

That quizzical look again.
“87829, right?”

Why did she ask me that?
Suddenly it dawns on me. 
She hands me back my card. I tap it on the table. 

“Uhh, I guess I could have done that out there, couldn’t I?” 
Quizzical look, this time accompanied by a suppressed smile.

“Uh huh.” 

Now I tip my head back and laugh. She laughs too. When we recover, she asks: 

“So what’s he doing with you?

I glance out the window at the stranger with the graying beard, wearing a tattered sleeveless t-shirt and one-legged jeans, in animated conversation with her mechanic-dad working on a car out in the parking lot. 
And then back at Sheena--

“Oh, he’s my friend.

-   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

20 minute later, and finally heading back towards home, I realize:
I almost missed that one, you know. But for Tia’s box of fruit, and Rosemary’s trip to “town.” (Albuquerque) 
And still, I could have missed it... 

Because of selfishness. 
Because I didn't want to look dumb.
I’m so, so ashamed.

You can’t reckon joy in minutes or dollars.
Joy comes from sharing life. 
Life temporal, and life eternal.

Tell me, of what use is life that’s not shared? 

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