Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Miracle That Isn't

Seeing that we were created in the image of the Highest, it makes sense that sympathy with Divinity, identification with the heart of God, would be life at it’s best. 

I daily aspire. 

But is that aspiration alone enough to water the ground where this miracle grows?
Or wait... Is it really a miracle?

I remember slipping between the sheets after a string of days full of giving, and asking if I might be made more sensitive, more sympathetic, more caring about the things on God’s own heart…
--only for my soul to hear this whisper: 

For that, you need no miracle. Just time. I can’t do your part and Mine.

It is not easy to find sufficient time for communion when on the trot. I’m not going to lie. 
It is only barely easier to find time for communion when at home. 

But of this I have become convinced: 

Activity is no substitute for communion. 

"O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself:
it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23

Monday, September 8, 2014

One Life To Give

I’m sitting in my own room, long before sunrise, on my own bed, lost in my own thoughts. You know a summer has been extraordinary when your own space feels extraordinary. When you’ve used your pillow just 11 nights of the past 84.

I’ve made a lot of new friends in the past 12 weeks. Flown a lot of miles. Preached a lot of sermons. Prayed a lot. Trembled a lot. Looked back towards the light. A lot. Loved a lot of broken lives. Witnessed a lot of salty tears.

But sitting here, I have a refrain much like Jeremiah’s running through my head.

"Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”  [Jeremiah 9:1]

Oh that I could do more, be more, weep more.
The sheer magnitude of fear in the world is enough to make the bravest man pause at times. The sheer magnitude of pain. The constant white (black?) noise of performance without transformation.

I’m not afraid though. I just wish there were more hours in the day. I wish there were more beats of my heart. I wish I had more lives at my command to spend spreading light, and clawing away at pain. I wish my heart were large enough to hold a piece of the sorrow of every person I love without imploding. Or wait… It is. But barely.

Once again, this stunning limitation settles into my consciousness.
I have only one life to live. Only one chance to love the hurting world.

Oh, let every breath count.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

While It Is Still Summer...

[Jeremiah 8]

These mournful words grip me tight, leave me with none of my own— 

"Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?
Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” 

Maybe they've never gone to see Him? Maybe never applied the balm?
Now instead, they stand there and watch the saved world go by, and look at each other and sigh:

"The harvest is past. 
The summer is ended. 
And we are not saved.”

Horror unspeakable.

My God, let us not neglect so free, and so great a salvation.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Great Clarifier

[Jeremiah 7]

I like knowing where I’m headed.
And what’s more, I prefer to know how to get there.

That’s not always a reality though. And when it isn’t, I wonder why…

"The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. 
Do they provoke me to anger? saith the Lord: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?"

One possible (Biblical) cause for confusion and indirection? Self-service.

The service of Christ directs, clarifies, confirms, and comforts.

Whose servants ye are.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Something Deeper?

[Jeremiah 6]
"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord."
Neither could they blush.

I have a question. (an honest wondering, not a rhetorical one.)

When I was little there were lots of words we wouldn’t even whisper. No, not the expletives. I’m talking about words with legitimate use in the english language, but which in our young minds fell well below the standard for polite company… So we’d be rattling along in a sentence, and suddenly stop short, and be like “You know… THAT.” [insert deeply loaded knowing look here.] And sagacious little playmate would stop to stroke his smooth chin, widen eyes a bit at even the implication of THAT, shake his head slowly as if to say “Be real careful there, partner!", and…
The sentence would finish strong. Right around said placeholder. No further articulation necessary.

Hey, it worked, didn’t it?
Don’t tell me we were the only ones…

My question is, what happened to that?
What happened to cheeks that would suddenly flame crimson at the hearing of a “naughty" word? Or boys who thrice filtered even innocent children’s talk when around “a lady.” Or, girls that would blush when uncovered? Or that held a graceful line carved in stone that said thus far and no further? 

Or was that all just old-fashioned?

Has this generation, obsessed with being “comfortable in our own skin” gained a "higher level of self-awareness,” and self-confidence, but lost something deeper?

Friday, July 11, 2014

For The Sake Of Just One

[Jeremiah 5]

The ancient city has filled her cup. Vice runs down the streets like sewage, and the dishonor is enough. Love will mercifully let her go in a storm of raining fire. And her ashes may never be positively identified. Such is the lot of Sodom.

One man stumbles out though, one man and two daughters, themselves tainted by the derangement of the place. The wife they leave just outside the city, a saline statue perfect in detail, with the longing eyes of a woman torn from her treasures.

More amazing to me than the epic destruction though, is the fact that God would have saved the city, if He could have found nine more men. Just nine.

And more amazing yet; that as history progresses, so grows His mercy.

Ten men would have saved Sodom. A booming metropolis wreaking with vice. I don’t know how many people lived there, but I know this: 10 men would have been the remnant of the remnant.

But run through the crowded streets of Jerusalem, generations later. “The joy of the whole earth,” where vice runs in the gutters, and children are offered as sacrifices to the gods, and incense burns, and chants are heard, and all is iniquity. All that should be music to the ears of God is turned to blasphemy.
"Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof,
if ye can find a man
if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth;
and I will pardon it"
Never underestimate what Divinity will do for the sake of just one.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thy Fallow Ground

[Jeremiah 4]

Before the rain, must come the harvest. I’m reminded every time I’m home on the farm, and either farmer brother or father-in-law is late to supper, because a storm is coming…

Harvest is not the only thing timed for the rain though.
Before the rain must come the plowing, the planting…

How else is Heaven’s blessing to be received deep?

Before the blessing must come the breaking.
Before the planting must come the plowing.
Before the green shoot, the steel blade.
Before the crowning, the cutting.

"Break up your fallow ground... Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart.” Jer. 4:3, 4

The rain is coming.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Cost of Fidelity

[Jeremiah 3]
She stumbles in again, after the night of wandering. (Yet another.)
Like always, He’s been sitting up, waiting. She’s defiled the ground under the last tree on on the mountain, with another relationship that only lasted an hour. He’s been waiting outside His front door, staring into the starlight. She’s not the kind of person any of us would want to spend our lives with, but He is not like us

She returns with a torn soul,
He awaits with strong arms.

And His words aren’t what she deserves.

"I am married unto you.

...and I will bring you to Zion" 
(Jeremiah 3:14)

For God, fidelity is not a response. It is an identity.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Chasing a Dream

They wander as though blind, hands out front to meet the future. They go down to Egypt to drink; leave full of fluid, but thirsty still, have to try Assyria. Their pursuits are without profit. They feel the dread throb of guilt, but they stubbornly claim innocence.
Shall these live? Are these even alive?

“My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13

They have forsaken the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
And built themselves a counterfeit.

Have we?

We who would consult contemporary culture when interpreting an Ancient Script? Is this the Way?
We who would bend truth (if we accept the concept of truth at all) to the hearer, instead of bending the hearer to Truth?
We who think to pursue meaning and fulfillment on our own terms, instead of recognizing that defining purpose is a Designer’s prerogative. Can this wandering really be called life?

Or is Christendom chasing a dream?

We are warned.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Destiny [Jeremiah 1]

Before you were formed, you were known.
Before you were born, you were sanctified.
You were ordained a prophet to the nations.

Say not, I am a child.
What you are is an ambassador.
And when you are distressed, you are delivered.

Be. not. afraid.

I'm setting you over nations. Over kings.
You'll root out, pull down, build up, plant...

- - -

So, this is how the Almighty handles destinies.
He doesn't wait for evidence to determine who you can become.

He already knows. 
He stubbornly loves. 
And He calls you His own.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Invincible Because

Against the truth, the world can do nothing. Nor the flesh, nor the devil.
Though all the confederacy of evil cause flailing humanity to follow, yet a remnant will remain.

There is a reason that love for Christ has outlasted every empire that has sought to smother it.
There is a reason it always will.

That kingdom cannot stand which purchases it's followers with threats and fear.

I have every reason in the universe to be a Christian.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


You've probably heard that the eyes are the "windows of the soul." That a look into them will reveal, at least in part, what the inner man is made of.


It occurs to me that windows are more than that however...
They're for looking in, and looking out. 

And of course, that the soul looks out on the world through the eyes has all manner of familiar implications. (Oh be careful little eyes...) But that's not my point at present either.

You've heard that the preaching of the gospel "is to them that perish, foolishness..."* and that the invisible things of God are seen by some, missed by others?

It's this way-- the eyes inform the heart; the heart reforms the eyes.

The soul will love what the eyes seek. Until the eyes can only see what the soul loves.

*1 Cor 1:18

Friday, April 18, 2014

This Much

Sometimes it's the things I've known longest, the things most taken for granted, that break me widest open...

Like there, opening arms as if to a long-lost friend, pausing with abandon-joy to savor the song that is the sea-- the crashing sound of surf, the salt on the breeze, the endless blue.

His words come out of nowhere, His tone utterly casual. But His eyes twinkle.

So, you know how much I love you?

No, how much?

This much.

Standing on the edge of this expanse as endless the circumference of a circle, my heart gives way, before a truth I already know.
He loves me, this much.

And the salt in my eyes then doesn't come from the sea.
Or does it?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love and Hate [Marks of a Pure Man]

Or woman. 

Verse 9 of Psalm 19 reels me in, as it were, silently gesturing for attention. I pause before words I’ve known for always, wait. I roll the list over. 

"Law, Testimony, Statutes, Commandment, Fear, Judgments; Law, Testimony, Statutes…"

And I realize fear stands alone. 
The sole emotion. 

Fitting. For a God relation to Whom is not governed or driven by emotion, but is certainly incomplete without it. 

But emotion, you know, is volatile, and classically resists regulations. Which means a proper emotional response to God must needs have its fair share of counterfeits. 
Yet, this response is called “clean,” “the beginning of wisdom,” “fountain of life,” “instruction of wisdom,” one which “tendeth to life”…

It’s Proverbs 8 that arrests my attention though, with its use of the same word for “fear.” 

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Pro 8:13)

Another strong emotion. 
Fitting again, I suppose, to define one strong emotion with another. 

But both love and hate come easy. (Emotions after all.) Too easy to stand alone as a measuring mark for wisdom… Even if you only count the love for what is beautiful, and hatred for what is not. 

Every sane person loves the pure, and despises pedophilia. 

Nope. Not true. 

Actually, most sane people despise pedophiles.

The pure man (the "Fearing" man) loves right, hates sin. 

The rest lust after the beauty that results from right, 
and hate sinners. 

Herein lies the regulation.

It’s not love or hate. It’s who or what.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Too Many Options [Lessons on Pruning]

I tell you, sometimes it doesn’t take an expert... 
I hadn’t the foggiest clue how to make it right, but I certainly knew something was wrong.

This chaos of twigs and buds, of bark and branches. 

I stop on my tour through the arbor— this little haven brother and I baby like a pet. He’s tending to the turf today, I’ll address the apples. 

Here we are, spring upon us, leaving again in a day, and these trees each look like a teenage boy with a bed-head. Something needed to be done yesterday, by someone. And if that someone isn’t me, it won’t be anybody. 

So I watch a string of pruning tutorials on YouTube over lunch break. 

Afterwards, armed with clippers, I chop into the fray until trees never before trimmed look something like the ones in the tutorial. I work down the row, and slowly the motley crew starts looking almost like a brotherhood. And something like trees again. (Instead of bushes.) 

Then down the mulched trail I bungle, bundling branches until I’ve got almost all my arms can handle. From 8 little trees. 

When I toss them down on the little burn pile, I pause to finger fuzzy little bud starts, built last year. And suddenly, it strikes me. 

These branches I just lopped, they were viable, every one of them. Each would have had leaves and flowers this year, maybe even fruit. In fact, there was nothing in the world wrong with them, just… there were too many. Too many viable options.

So, once a year we go through and observe, reassess, mark the best, and get rid of the rest. Not the dead rest, the promising rest… 
That’s how we make the best stronger. 

I wonder would could be, if once in a while I set out to have God do the same for me?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Melt Me

This. Just this...

That the truth might flourish, that healing streams might flow.
That spring might find blankets of flowers, where once were blankets of snow.

That a trillion crystal prisms might surrender winter dreams
To become the drops of water that make up the lakes and streams...

That I might be less.
That I might be nothing.

That the purposes of Grace would flourish, if need be, at my expense.

Melt me.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Empty Schemes

An exercise in futility.
The blueprints for human empires, built on the strength of the flesh.
God laughs, in fact. That's what the Psalmist says. Because He of all People knows how futile it is for creation to lay designs apart from the Creator.

Again the same two-day-old question haunts me though-- "...The people imagine vain things." (Psalm 2)

Who are the people?

Empty Schemes.
My plans, without God.

But "Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth as your possession." Psalm 2:8, (Amplified)

Friday, March 21, 2014

To Be Ignored

So, I slip past familiar words I've read a hundred times, quoted more. This fitting start to the hymnal of the old world--
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful..."
Like a grade school teacher I ask the right questions, wait for the answers. (myself also the pupil.)

The scornful? Probably scorners. Skeptics. Profane men that divorce God from His creation, make the truth about life a lie, set themselves above the law of the universe, claim progress but at the same time destroy meaning by destroying origin and destiny... Yeah, don't mind them.
Ungodly, same thing.

You skipped one.
Did I?

Pray tell, who are the sinners?
These others thrown in with those whose companionship, counsel, and cowardice I should avoid?

How about me.

I am a sinner.
And insomuch, my counsels to myself should be ignored.

I take counsel from, pleasure in, strength of,
gain wisdom through, live life by,

the benevolent law.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ten Years and What Matters

Something stirs and I turn left at the end of the paved pathway flanked by lawn in winter colors. A left that takes me right away from my accustomed quiet corner. Away, but towards something strangely and warmly familiar...

I think I might find it... Through wispy grass and a forest that's since been thinned.
True as the sunrise, there it is. The top stones have tumbled down the hill a way, but the foundation is still here. It only takes a moment, and a ten-year old altar has been restored.

Ten years.

Ten years ago I encountered God for myself on this hillside as a boy, and we struck up a friendship that has become the reason I breathe.

Much-Afraid gathered homely little stones.
I just build the altars.
At every page turn, I've turned, built another.

I stand and look, thoughts afar. Reaching back for what sort of prayers I prayed here, who my friends were when last I knelt here, what my goals were when I left here to build new...
And I remember. I remember the next...

I stop to count.
Seven altars. Ten years.
I'll find them all today.

There's something priceless about the remembering. The whole trek will take me an hour and a half. To all the places witness to the forever moments in my experience. The hallowed ground where God was always waiting to keep an appointment, where I trembled and triumphed, and learned to trust Him absolutely.

I wander and emotions sometimes flood, but after I've been up and over, down the draw and past ground I haven't covered in a decade, one question throbs--

Not whether or not I found my dreams.

I want to know whether or not I've fulfilled His.

Take it from me, 10 years later.
This is all that matters. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Everything is Nothing

From Philippians 3--
"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ..."
Until everything else is nothing, Christ is not everything.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

All Is Enough [in Ninety-Six Words.]

Out of the blackness of night, and the wonder of the morning, this thought--

All of human fullness is emptiness. Still, we have the audacity of inviting God in, to inhabit some corner. Or even three corners.

The Holy God is far too great, far too deep, far too beautiful to fit in the corner.

Holy God looms too large to fit in all eight corners of three-dimensional infinity

But then this miracle. When suddenly no space in my small heart is reserved unto myself; reserved for my use...

It is enough. 
All becomes enough.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Notification Center, and the 5 Questions [Do I Love Jesus More?]

I figure my phone deserves to rest at night. So, unless I'm "on call" for someone, it slips into airplane mode at or around 2100.

Unremarkable practice.
Albeit, the implications of this simple habit have recently opened my eyes to a stubborn and surprising reality, and caused me to be confronted with this question I'm now passing along.

- - -

There are a good many factors that go into making a day great. And also a fair few that can ruin a good start. I've found one of them. It's those first 60 seconds after the alarm sings...

I reach for my phone; sigh all content. Blink, blink, blink away the last of sleep. (I was only half sleeping.) A swipe of the phone sweeps Waves into memory, until tomorrow this time. Another swipe and the little machine reaches out to the invisible, to start downloading the day.

Do I?

If I'm brave, my feet are on the floor before it starts to buzz. Notification Center all alight. I have friends on every inhabited continent, so in my world it's always day somewhere. Maybe they liked my last photo on Instagram?

That right there is where it starts. I can predict with almost unerring accuracy the sense and sensitivity at my disposal in the day to follow. By who I check in with first.

It's such a little thing. 
Yes. But these little things are pledges of allegiance, of which we're sometimes quite unaware.

And anyway, don't knock little things.
(Bullets are little things.)

- - -

The 5 Questions. (Time for a self-test.)

1. At the start of the day, which comes first: Facebook Notifications, or an hour of Scripture? 
2. At the breakfast table, does the prayer come from a heart actually full of gratitude, or does it sound suspiciously like yesterday's?  
3. At school, which drives harder: Desire for grades, or desire for God? 
4. At home, which seems sweeter: An hour of entertainment, or an hour of intercession?  
5. In bed, which lingers longer: The frolic of the day, or thoughts of heaven?
- - -

I've learned a day is worth too much to lose, by reefing through notifications before I've read my Bible. And not because my notifications are my enemy. Because at the end of the day, my priorities are making a statement to myself. 

So, I won't anymore. And I've found, I no longer care to. I'd rather meet God first, declare to Him and to myself that in Him is my greatest pleasure; would rather let the whole world wait, make notifications come and stand in a line at attention for an hour, while I take my time.

Oh, and it's not that I don't care. If you sent me a text at 0200 this morning, I can't wait to read it.

I still love Jesus more.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Australia in Retrospect [This is My Confidence]

The highest heights are often to be found in the least expected places...
Least expected, that is, to a world quantifying success with finite formulas.

I've been to the heights. And not standing on a stage before thousands. Nor on some glittering crest of conquest. (As high as those honors are...)

One thing is always the same. I'm always shorter on the highest heights... By the distance of heel to knee.

PC: James Tregenza

This time, it was on a dusty bit of ground surrounded by benches, throbbing hearts, deep attention.
I have never climbed higher. Never seen the world wider than I saw it then. Never looked smaller in my own eyes. Never felt closer to Heaven.

No surprise.

To those who have found eyes for higher glory, though the beauty of the high places always surpasses our dreams, it is never entirely unexpected...

"As long as I live, I will remember his words-- 
'...Mostly, I've met God properly.'
That broke me wide open As though standing on holiest ground, I was filled with a smallness; a trembling... How is it that I am even allowed to touch what is this holy?"*

Though every memory fades at least a bit eventually, my wonder will never cease.
Nor will love for new friends with a beautiful foreign accent.
Nor will firm faith that we'll meet again, if not on this round earth, then inside pearly gates.

"Hey-- remember when...?"

Yes, I remember.

morning stars: checkout | PC: Jasmine Tregenza
Before it was over I had the opportunity to try to crunch the essence of 40 pages of worship notes and days and days of prayer and pondering onto 5 minutes of film. 
This is my confidence.

morning and miracle bend
later: snowy mountain living
friends in Victoria

*journal entry, January 20, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Next Challenge

Spinning through the universe is this little blue and green dot, sparkling like a gem against the black, wrapped with the wind, cradled by a life-giving firmament. 

And we're here. This is home.

But why? Why did we appear here in this corner of the cosmos in the first place? 

Simple. God is love, and love cannot exist without an object. 
So, He made you. 

Created for love. 
And the search for life and meaning is defined by our origin, our purpose. 

Join us for the next GYC memorization challenge: At The Cross
The Gospel of Mark, and the Epistle to the Philippians. 

Because, as Philippians so aptly puts it, "To Live is Christ" Phil 1:21

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