Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Strong to Save [When God Goes to War] Part II

You know the story isn't over.
It could be. I mean, wouldn't it be enough if He swooped in as the Hero of every rescue mission, and picked up broken pieces again, and took them home to heal?
That's already more than we deserve.

But that's not the end of the story. Or the chapter.

He is the Hero of every rescue mission. And there's a reason His exploits come first...

But keep reading till the end of the tale.

He saves the afflicted, simultaneously putting the adversary in his place.
And then!--

He lights a candle. A little flame of light atop a stick of wax strung out.
Fresh home from the smoke and dust of battle, He shares His life.
He puts in the soul a fire, out of Himself, a part of Himself, and with that fire comes all the power that is His. Power to live. Power to overcome. The same power that just sent hills and hoodlums scurrying.

And watch the servant. Watch the flame suddenly catch on, as if he was all oil inside. Watch him fly into the darkness, like an arrow himself. Burning as he goes, consumed, but . . . not consumed.

Watch him run right through the midst of the garrison of darkness, setting the place ablaze. Watch his enemies come to their senses, pick themselves up to follow hard in the trail of smoke. Watch him get to the end-- the dead end. And just when the pursuers think they'll have vengeance at last, watch him leap. Watch him sail over what should have been his death sentence. While his enemies remain, confined by their own fortifications.

Watch him stop on the far side, catch his breath, raise one hand to heaven and say:

"As for God, His way is perfect:
the word of the Lord is tried:
He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
For who is God, save the Lord?. . .

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds' feet. . .
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. . .

Thy right hand hath holden me up,
And thy gentleness hath made me great.
Thou has enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them:. . .
I have wounded them that they were not able to rise:
they are fallen under my feet.

For Thou has girded me with strength unto the battle. . ."
(Ps. 18:30-39, emphasis mine.)

How can it logically be said that even with unlimited access to unlimited power, we must accept the prospect of limited progress, and perpetual setbacks?

I don't get that.

What I do get, is that when I am His, then I am strong.
And under no other circumstances.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Strong to Save [When God Goes to War] Part I

I have no tolerance for the idea that defeat must be regarded as at least occasionally inevitable. Absolutely none.

As if every third day or so the angels trade sides for an hour and evil somehow becomes omnipotent. Really?

I think it would be good if we all made it a habit to regularly review Psalm 18. To me it's the ultimate drama of faltering servant, and faithful God. No wonder it's one of my favorites...

But I guess you realize it requires more than the simple existence of Omnipotent God to keep me from falling... Well, herein lies that secret too. In the first four words of the chapter. The spark that heralds a storm of Divinity.--

"I will love Thee..."

I Will. My little part to play. So simple, so absolutely necessary. Whole sermon right here...
Love. Because love will move my heart, my head, and my hands. The way work won't...
Thee. Because love is actually inevitable. You were wired for it. It's not if, it's who. And only this Master has life to give away...

In other words, I'm Yours. Head, heart, and whole.

And then do you see what happens?
Hear a few verses later when David bleeds out this distress of sorrows and death--

The servant cries, and the whole earth reels in the thunder from his chariot wheels.
Hills and rills run out of the way, because He is wroth.
Breath of life and creative Word come out of mouth and nose as smoke and fire.
His chariot is alive. An angel with wind for his wings.
He arrives at His war room --a secret pavilion carved out of darkness-- in the midst of the earthquake.
Walks in under escort of raining fire and ice.

He stands in the midst of His council of war, utters words that cut atmospheres. More thunder...
And His speech gets the whole host moving.

Next thing you know, "his arrows," the very best of His fighting force, they shoot out from the place, wreak havoc on the enemy.
Seemingly out of nowhere.
And when the scattering seems complete, He sends lightnings after them.

Then all at once the agenda, the fortifications, the vulnerabilities of the enemy are laid wide open.
And He calmly walks in and picks up His servant, and carries him out.

"With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful;
with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure;
and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward." Ps. 18:25, 26

I'm not making it up. That's what the Book says.

I have no tolerance for the idea that defeat must be regarded as at least occasionally inevitable. Absolutely none.

Perhaps I must be regarded as at least occasionally (or much more often) failing to call for help, or surrendering my arms voluntarily...
(to be continued...)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Power of the Personal Gospel

"There are some themes, some messages that stir me to the depths of my soul, and cause me to be gripped with a great quiet... Almost immobilized by the weight of truth; driven to my knees to simply be before God, utterly silent. 

There are themes that bring silent tears to my eager eyes, make my soul soar as if on wings of eagles... 

There are some themes that call forth an exultation so overpowering my fist shoots up and it is all I can do to get it down again.

And then there are those themes that awaken in me at once a passionate dissatisfaction, and a steel-clad resolve; words that invariably get me out of my seat to pace back and forth like a caged lion in my office. From french doors to bookshelf and back, on my knees, on my feet, on my face...

And I'm just warning you, this is one of those.

You see, I have this thought: (overly simple as it may seem--)

That God has a right to that which belongs to Him.

That after all He has suffered, after all He has lost, He's worthy of receiving His own with interest. 
That His beautiful dreams-- (which are all for the happiness of others, by the way) --there is no reason why He should be denied them; 
Why the universe should be denied them....

But you know, God is often denied what is due Him. 

Perhaps most notably, by those who call themselves His friends..."


I don't preach anything I don't first love. 
But this truth is my absolute all-time favorite. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Anything For You

Maybe I'm a bit naïve.
(Hey, that's better than cynical, right?)

Maybe I find the risk of trusting lower than the cost of suspecting.
Anyway, such is certainly the case if you're my friend...

"Hey, can you do me a favor?"

Yes I can. And if I trust you, I won't even ask what it is first. If it lies within my power (or anywhere near it) I want to serve you.

My girls are trusted. And by reflex I almost always answer them one way when asked:
     "Hey, can you..."
            "Anything for you, dear."

Little words so often spoken they are almost playthings.
But one morning they strike me as carrying with them two powerful implications--
I trust you not to ask of me something I can't give.
And I love you. So what I can give, is yours.
-  -  -  -  -

You've probably heard it said that it is a struggle to stand. That to live is to fight...
But I have wondered of late, if the agony of being torn between two opinions, one the violation of conscience, and the other the perceived violation of my rights to myself, isn't a war I myself too often drag out long after it might have been won.

I wonder that when I look at the cross, see my Friend bleeding.
Hear Him whisper "Abba;" receive no reply.
I wonder because He's the embodiment of Love. And what could be more trustworthy?

And I say I trust Him not to ask of me anything I can't give.
And I love Him. So what I can give, is His...

So why doesn't every morning start with
"Anything for You..."?

I don't know. But this morning did.

-  -  -  -  -

We rein in after the eighth mile, and I'm satisfied.
Satisfied that my new pre-run stretching routine is worth more than an extra month of training.
Satisfied that if you're going to have a good run, you need a good start.

And the best start is falling on my face before sunrise, telling Him in no uncertain terms:

I don't know what You'll ask of me today. 
What You'll ask me to surrender. 
What You'll ask me to make right. 

But whatever it is, the answer is yes.

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