“If you tell me Christian commitment is a kind of thing that has happened to you once and for all like some kind of spiritual plastic surgery, I say go to, go to, you're either pulling the wool over your own eyes or trying to pull it over mine. Every morning you should wake up in your bed and ask yourself: "Can I believe it all again today?" No, better still, don't ask it till after you've read The New York Times, till after you've studied that daily record of the world's brokenness and corruption, which should always stand side by side with your Bible. Then ask yourself if you can believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ again for that particular day. If your answer's always Yes, then you probably don't know what believing means. At least five times out of ten the answer should be No because the No is as important as the Yes, maybe more so. The No is what proves you're human in case you should ever doubt it. And then if some morning the answer happens to be really Yes, it should be a Yes that's choked with confession and tears and. . . great laughter.”
I stood before her body. I had watched her waste away towards this moment. Watched grief spread its heavy quilt upon us all. This magnificent woman was no longer going to walk the face of the earth with us and we were left to deal with that reality.
I received texts as others remembered an anniversary of a day that all would rather forget. Other's sorrow, grief, confusion, anger being spilled out. Other's looking for wisdom or understanding or relief. Remembrances of those days flooded my own soul. Pictures of when I crumbled to the peddles on a path in the dark of night as weeping and anguish overtook me as the knowledge of events rippled through my being and tore it to shreds.
I see the world's reality as blow after blow land..... Not just world headlines but the ones that saturate the inward reality of The Body. I can not be an ostrich and put my head into the sand. Nor can I ever be flippant again with my words and just let trophy truth spill forth from my lips. He paid such an immense cost to change the reality of the spiritual realm, I will not cheapen His sacrifices nor His grace with petty cultural language.
So I have journeyed and not known where it is that I am going. I did not know about that quote that I started this post with nor did I know nor do I know why or what it is in regards towards. But 6 days ago the Lord asked of me "grant me a "yes" for 100 days". Then came the quote... Then came today..... Those "yeses" that now spill out are not cheap, they are choked out with confession and tears... and then I found the quote... and I can taste the no in my throat but it is the yes that He asks for and while I have known the cost of so many other yeses still I say yes...
My eyes have beheld too much, my soul borne up under too much, and such is the cost of the apple. The knowledge that was so totally desired. Death was the price we would pay for such understanding.
Say "yes" to this... Say "yes" to that... before you know you are wrapped up in a world or a life that is nothing.... SO these yeses are different. I know not how but they are... and they are only towards Him... Yes to Him... Without knowing.. without knowledge... But a yes none the less. Because of who He is... He asks and I say Yes .....
We have our pat answers and our quips; we get to sound smart or spiritual, we get to touch the holy and experience and be looked at as if we are some grand conduit. And I say it is all foolishness and am thought to be burnt out or cynical. But I say I am neither.
I am more awake.
More awake to the fact that pain and suffering and sorrow will always saturate creation and time. And being of faith does not cause that to cease. Endings and death and fear are some of the seeds the ruler of this world sows has he relishes in destruction. Christendom and where we have tread with trendy this or that have made us impotent against his wiles. Buying wares that are cheaply sold with flash and fan fare.
The Kingdom will never be like this world. It is so other that we are
lucky if once in a while we actually touch it for its sake and not our
own. Yet we look to ideologies of this existence to help propagate that
one and we lose every time. Rest and sabbath and silence and stillness and trust and Him under
estimated every time. And in lieu of them we take up noise and bright
and shiny perfected models and cast them before His people week after
week. Tables and offerings ready to be toppled and rejected. All the
while He stands and waits. Rejecting our desire to make Him king for He knows He is King and needs not our crowns.
What was it that the people possessed as they grabbed at the Christ wanting to make Him king? Nothing within them was willing to see the crown of thorns. What did their crown look like? He had fed them, healed them, made things right... Of course He should be their king. Our king.... Feed us, heal us .. make things right.... Can we see the crown of thorns? Or just that which we want Him to wear?
But when we look at the headlines and watch death and destruction and sin have its way then who do we embrace as king... in those moments when the headlines are glaring and the heart beat line is flat, do we cry hosanna or crucify.
Are we honest? Can we be honest? I know there are times I cry each.... Looking at Him and knowing that He is all powerful and yet the circumstances of this world seem to crush Him under their feet instead of the promised other way.
The perky quip can no longer cross its way through these lips. The quick witted come back for any one human faltering in faith tastes like vomit in my mouth. Rather I will sit still and in silence in a world that is darkening while my eyes look to the Heavens from where my help comes from.... I know there is a light that penetrates all and I know what crown the King wears at the end of the story and what happens to all other crowns....
Maybe that is the tale and the lesson to behold. Remember whatever crown a man or woman upon this earth will be granted it will be set upon His feet one day... may we use that understanding as a lens when we want to lift up any other. Especially when the other is ourselves.
Yes to Him whether He is healing or the blind remain unseeing and the deaf unhearing and the lame in wheel chairs, Yes to Him whether He is feeding the thousands or thousands are starving, Yes to Him whether Lazarus emerges from the tomb or the tomb contains a body of one who has passed. My no is my humanity and my yes is His.
He does not need me to make Him king .. He is king....
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
It was in laying awake in bed, that the two postings played themselves out within my being. I have enjoyed my hiatus from social media. I have not regretted one moment that wasn't spent online. I have not missed anything of much value. I have touched life. I have sat and engaged in quiet. I have allowed my brain to rest.
I have found a different pace upon the social media giants. I appreciate being able to go on and see pictures of family and friends from afar, but now I have hopefully well placed mechanisms that recognize when that all to familiar sucking of time, energy, and emotion have attempted to lay their grasp upon my person. As a bartender cutting off the evening's drunk, I pray that I do the same.
Two posts today had caught my attention. I give myself less then 5 minutes to scan through whatever feed I want to and then it is off. (I don't necessarily set my timer each scanning but there are times I do) Two very different posts that cause me to stagger under the weight of them.
One article written by Christians. One video done by a Muslim cleric weeping for his countrymen. One stands upon its own as poignant and beyond moving. One stands upon its own as painful and breath taking.
Oh no.. not breath taking as the Grand Canyon or the Maldives. Breath taking as the results of being punched in the gut and gasping for air.
I watched a video of an Iraqi Muslim weeping for his countrymen that were no more. Weeping and expressing how the Christians are peaceable, how they love all sects, how they are good people. Weeping because fellow countrymen have been targeted in horrific crimes against humanity that bypass religion and cause us to touch our shared traits as pilgrims upon this creation. Broken hearted and weeping was one and then another; a Muslim poet, expressing similar very heart felt statements.
I saw the title to an article. It was simple. I had never heard of the woman. I had never listened to one of her songs. She wasn't anything to me... well, not really. Except.. she is/(was) a Christian. Doesn't that make her my sister? She is a she.. doesn't that make her a human being. (I only, tongue in cheek use the “was.” Oh my sarcastic bone.. it must must be put away.. that isn't sarcasm that is truth. I don't like employing that modality of expression. So instead of being sarcastic and alluding to that which I would want to say.. I will say it forthright.)
The question was how does the Christian community handle the “coming out” of a “famous” (I hadn't heard of her so I don't know how far reaching her “fame” is) singer. (Oh I can feel it that old sarcastic tendency within me wanting to arise and spout it's venom. But no fellow brother and sister... Not this time.)
How can one handle when a famous Christian preacher, singer, writer etc.. falls?
First, we are told to look at the whopping pole in our own eye.
Second, I remember something about stones.
Oh and this list could go on and on. But I want simple. Maybe weep for the sin you find in your own life. Maybe recognize that while homosexuality presents the church with far more than enough opportunities to do that which our Savior did, (oh you know Samaritans and all that nonsense, (so sorry … seriously, must curtail my sarcasm. It does no one any good.) But whose our neighbor and what makes us “unclean.” Would it be the drunkards and prostitutes? Would it be the woman with the issue of blood? Do we not know who it is that broke that vile of perfume upon us and what kind of human being she is? But then am I unclean? What about those lyrics she once sang? Is she now of satan? (ok now I have gone maybe a bit too far.)
God forbid we act in love. God forbid we weep for her or again, forget her.. are we weeping for our own sins. The places where we fall short daily.. moment by moment. Are we protecting our children from our own crap?
Or let me put it this way... I have stood amidst those that if names were dropped you would know them instantly. I have stood among those you would want prayer from and those that you would want to prophecy over you.. I have stood in meetings with them and I have sat in hospitality suites with them, I have known their families... And this is what I say....
Be aware.. Be aware that WE are ALL human. We all have flesh. We all sow to the flesh, whether it is in malice, gossip, slander, jealousy and envy. You know what the bible says about jealousy and envy? Where they exist so does every evil thing. I have been a part of many ministries where every evil thing was allowed to run rampant because there was more jealousy and envy then a horse barn has manure.
Maybe the question is what do we do with that?
I know one thing I don't want to do.. I don't want to be standing in self-righteousness that is putrid in the nostrils of our God and saying, “thank you God that I am not that person.” I would much rather take the stance of the publican. I would much rather take the stance that therefore now there is no condemnation BUT go and sin no more. I would much rather take the stance of one who washed the feet of him, who would betray and who would deny.. than any other stance.
I would much rather be like one weeping for countrymen of a different faith then ostracizing one of my own. When I couldn't sleep tonight, when these two postings floated within my mind and I knew not why.. the title for this blog posting came to me... Devouring our own. Sadly so many of us cannibalize our own body (the Body of Christ) and we know not what we do...
Thank you Father that Your son once prayed a prayer that spoke out and implored you to forgive us, for we know not what we do...
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Hand up against the face; winds screeching, rains trying to slap away all and any protection. Lifting the woolen outer layers of my jacket up in an attempt to add an extra protective layer, the sharp rain felt like a million tiny daggers attacking my person. Everything about me drenched as the relentless onslaught of weather was attempting to take me out and add me to the victims of the storm. Trying to find my way, squinting into the dark evening, attempting to move forward as to find refuge; my feet submerge into the gathered waters as I stumble as the rains and winds over take me...
I rush towards the streets, towards the houses... row after row of finely manicured lawns and houses seemingly lit up. Through windows I can see people dry and warm, except as I stumble towards doors and door bells nothing works. As I try to find my voice to cry aloud for help nothing emerges. The darkness of the night and the raging storm swallow up my cries for help and the thrashing and crackling of the thunder seem to mock my every effort.
Stumbling back onto the road, searching in the darkness liken unto a person who is blind trying to find their way through an unfamiliar room. The lightening streaking across the sky producing something akin to some horrific joker's grin. Is this the joke or the punch line? The evening continues to lay it's own punches upon me as my right hand sweeps the rain and tears off of my face. Again my foot steps falter into the waters swarming at them, pulling me into themselves as if they were a riptide and there is no escape but to be drowned upon the streets of suburbia. Going down.. gasping for air... trying to call out.. everything is swirling.. rain, thunder, lightening, grass lawns, living rooms lit up and seen into through picture perfect windows... all is swirling into a massive spinning wheel of paint liken unto those that one once found at the country fairs of old.
Sitting straight up, I run my hands through my dry hair. Moment after moment passes as I try to gather my wits about me. Where am I? What is happening? Again minutes pass and I begin to catch up with my breathing as to slow it down. I touch my bed. My blankets. My pillow. I look around and the dream world fades as the reality of the present presses into my person.
My dreams are pressing in more and more. While I am awake my thoughts end up being more liken unto time travelers. Traveling about, thinking of the places where my feet have walked and where they keep walking.
The moments turn into hours as wonderment and countless questions play around in my head. Whether I am awake or asleep there are words, like “Awoken” and “Seen,” that haunt me. Questions of playing life safe and moving forward quietly into each next day offer me their answers about playing my roles.. my “part,” and stiff arming anything from the past that would try to edge it's way forward.
Yet it is then in my dreams that I am failed or that I fail. If while awake I succeed in the realm of performance my slumber betrays me and gets me every time. So then I have an option. Maybe more then I realize. But the ones that I see, the ones I can grasp at... seem few. Keep all at bay or open the bay windows and unfasten and swing wide-open the doors and let the light in and let the sound out. Sadly I have always been a very dualistic person. Currently trying to remedy that issue. Black/white, right/wrong, silent/screaming, blind and deaf/awoken and seen. Those are the thoughts I would like to put distance between myself and (fill in the blank.. )whichever dualistic pairing comes knocking upon my door.
This journey into life, to open my mouth, say the things that would rather remain silent has been an arduous one. At times I find myself careless about consequences, so desperate to share while yet at other times hungering for silence, stillness... quiet.
Yet it is the “and yet” that gets me every time; it is having eyes that see into the shadows and ears that hear the silent soulish screams, that gets me every time. The dreams of storms chasing me, catching me, destroying me taunt me and lay threats of my utter destruction. Am I a storm chaser or am I the one perpetually getting caught up into it's voracious path? Do I conquer or am I conquered? Am I a silent shadow sneaking through life pleading to be invisible or do I stand up as living proof that the valley of dry bones did and does still exist? But I will not be it's prey and on the contrary I hold it for the promise it must produce.
When I lived through the days of silence, harm and darkness had their victories. So now upon the days, when the familiar echos of silence beckon me into their lair, the possible and well-known choices sing the refrain I am the most acquainted with. Yet I see other so-called pilgrims. I pass them every day. I actually do pause to look at them, in their eyes and upon their persons. I look at them, wonder about them, linger upon them. I want them to feel seen and known. I want them to be engaged where they are and where they find themselves. I want the essence of my presence and my participation within the moment to communicate to each the dignity of life, their life.. all life.
I have traveled many streets. And I have lived in many houses. It is the first six of them that begin this story. Six streets. Six homes. The first one I have no memories of and yet it still is there, on some road off near Boston. The next one would be in Connecticut. Memories exist in that location. Then it would be off to New Jersey back to Massachusetts and back to New Jersey. No, not military. The world of business and climbing corporate ladders was my father's world.
Upon each street there is a house that was called our home. Upon each street we had neighbors; other families, other people...
It was suburbia after all and the picture perfect grand neighborhoods of people escaping city living for the American dream.
I think upon those houses at times.
I think about the rooms.
I think about the walls.
I think upon the hallways and the staircases.
Do they remember?
Do the people who live in those places ever think they hear lingering whispers, shouts or cries? Do you ever think about the doors you open and close? Do you look into the mirrors and wonder what faces they have beheld?
What tears they saw.. what other things did they contain? Did they see happiness? Did they know joy? Did they see horror? Did they tremble as did their inhabitants? Were doors slammed?
I think about those things from time to time. As I remember, as I think back.
I think about conversations. The ones that were had. The ones that were never had. The ones that I wish were never had. The times that the words just sort of hung there in the air. The times the silence hung thicker.
Some of my favorite conversations happen after I have told the stories of this life that I have lived. I've heard a variation of responses throughout time. Many times. Most times I think that they are right, it is pretty amazing that I am alive.
Sometimes I find it laughable how the listener tries to take back that which they have spoken. As if they said something insulting, true... BUT insulting. I don't think I have ever been insulted per se. Left feeling vulnerable but not insulted.
It is after all my life. More accurately it was after all my life. So when the words in some form or another come out that the listener is amazed that I am coherent; alive and coherent, alive and coherent and not sitting somewhere heavily medicated off in a corner somewhere drooling, I guess I just sit with them in amazement rather than be insulted or offended.
I think it is pretty amazing.
I think it is pretty amazing that for so many years so much went left so unseen. I lived out in the open, but might have as well have dwelt in the shadows.
I walked to bus stops, ventured down hallways, spoke to people for years but no eyes ever saw, no ears ever heard, no one ever stopped to try to really take notice. But then I never looked up, I never spoke up, I kept drifting further and further through life. I got lost further and further into myself until I had more in common with a vapor of smoke than any other human. Isn't it interesting, we think we know someone, we think all the thoughts that we have about them and what we perceive them to be or not be, but do we ever have the time (take the time) to really see, really look, really hear.. Do we look beyond the surface and the surface that is presented, to know or allow ourselves to be known?
Well... so this is that, this is my spinning wheel of paint. This is my attempt to share a life that wasn't seen and to awaken those of us who see and hunger to be seen to live a life, this life differently. To participate in the real. Whether it is Alice's looking glass, Dorothy's cyclone, Narnia's wardrobe or the pill of Matrix; I hunger to press the buttons upon each of our lives and implore us all to engage. That we would use the eyes we have and the ears we have and that we would engage more fully. Satisfaction wouldn't be attained by just texts and social media blips, but that we would care to go beyond scratching the surface and we would engage into the human experience in way that each one would feel the movement.
I recently passed a homeless man. He was asleep upon a bench and he was cold. So much occurring within the confines of my life that I was utterly out of control of the circumstances I was facing. But this man before me, I could do something about him. I went home and got a sleeping bag. I drove back to this sleeping human being, this man whose dignity the economy of life had stripped. And laid it at his feet. That wasn't enough for me.. I wanted him to wake up to hot coffee and a breakfast. To the local coffee shop I ran and purchased a gift card and some food. Again I went back to the bench. Back to my co-pilgrim walking this earth, to this sleeping body of a man. I wrote on the card... “From one who sees you...” I guess that's that... I guess that is what fuels me...
I wasn't seen, I wasn't heard... but then I own my part... I didn't speak.. I didn't know how to exit the trance that laid it's dark shadow upon so very many years of my life...
Life, ballet dancers, the Amish and a psych hospital would change all that... deans of colleges, a husband, 6 children would eventually change all that... but before it was changed it was... before I was anything else all I was was the girl next door.
In ways of an Introduction..
The words sat there upon the page.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
I traced the words on the page and stared at them long and hard. Hiding places and preservation from trouble, songs of deliverance... what can that all mean? What does that all mean?
Images from days in the past ran through my heart and again I looked at the words and traced them with my fingers. Thoughts and emotions eclipsed and transversed across the decades in a split second and then I was back, in the present.
What did that look like back then?
Emerging from the grasp of silence, deafness, blindness.. or whatever you or I would call it? What I want, what it is that I desire more than anything to unfold here, more than anything, is the passing on of hope. I wish I could invite you to come have coffee, come and let's spend time together. Come and let's share the story and the hope that has been granted together. The hope that can be granted.
Songs of deliverance.
I've written much of this with my laptop on my lap, sitting on my bed, surrounded by my favorite blue and green comforters. I have sat surrounded by color and softness and life.
Within these pages, within this journey, I was grateful to have color and warmth surrounding me. It has been a process of walking away from lonely and scary and cold places. Step by step I have found my confidence, I have found my voice, and I have awoken more and more into life and living. There have been days and seasons where it felt like the torrent of the storms from the past would continue to overtake me, but each time I have learned to reach in deeper into the core of who I am as well as reach out for the support I have needed. Each season has been a knitting and a re-knitting of sinew entwined with hope that has beaten back the efforts of despair. It is a journey. I've been the pilgrim. For those who long to travel paths into where help comes forth from mountaintops, and enter into dark places in order to shine with light... Then journey forward with me...
In a day and age where there is such a need for a safe hiding place, a refuge from times of trouble and sweet songs of deliverance, I didn't want to create something that is trite. In the decades that I have tried to write my story I hit road block after road block. I would be able to write one part well and then stumble and stagnate over significant portions I wanted to tell, and then shelf the whole thing out of frustration.
But safe places and songs of deliverance are so very much needed and so in this season I pulled my laptop back onto my lap, grabbed my lime green comforter and curled up upon my bed.
To be surrounded by songs of deliverance. What does that sound like? What does that feel like? What are they? How does one learn to dance upon the notes of hope and joy when all that has been heard are the dark chords of abuse and neglect? What could it mean for a mind that has only known fear to be saturated by a sweet sweet melody that brings its refrain forward into reality? And what does it mean for a life when the clash between the sounds makes it war against each other within the same heart?
I think of many different types of scenarios, where the reality of songs of deliverance is what is needed. I found within the expression of words the desire for the melody of love and peace, sanctuary and security.
That is what I want to pass on.
I believe my story and the reality of where my life has landed now breaks forth with the reality that one can find sanctuary and peace amidst whatever troubled waters are experienced and walked upon.
When what you have needed was a hiding place, a refuge, preservation from trouble or songs of deliverance, when what your heart hungered to know was security and safety away from fear, and none of that was around … What did you fall back upon? What are you to believe when hiding places and preservation from trouble seemed far far away from the realities you have known? What then?
I think it has been thoughts like those that have caused me to come back time after time to try and figure out how to write my story down. How to write a story that includes the fact that the majority of individuals who crossed paths with me believed that there were no songs of deliverance for me to be had... that there was no hope. That maybe I should just be written off as lost or gone. A song silenced before it could ever really be sung.
Discordance permeated all facets of the surrounding atmosphere of my days.. of my life...
But you see, even if very faint at first, songs of deliverance play across the landscapes of humanity with a fierce tenacity that cannot be matched. EVER!
The reality of the fragility of one's mental state and the fear that at any moment the horrors of the past and realities of the present are going to steal away from you all that is hoped for in regards to the future can haunt. They can tear at one’s soul and leave one wanting. Except they can also be overcome.
A most famous book begins, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
What if life was only the worst of times, for the longest of times, without hope that anything would ever change. What if the reality of the state of mind you found yourself in was full of hopelessness and horror? What if you watched others pass you by and wondered what does being human really feel like? What does “normal” feel like? What if the agony of living with the reality that filled out the days of ones life altered the capacity to think or feel? What if all one became capable of was living in alternate realities? False hiding places forged within ones own self? Does one lose oneself? What are songs of deliverance for someone in that place? What does that melody sound like?
Songs of deliverance... Those three words aren't glib nor are they trite. They have been life to me... Beyond this page you find a story... A friend had come to me back in December 2012 and had shared her thoughts, that if I stepped into fiction I would be able to write the story of my life. She was right. Some of it I had to step into fiction in order to write. In acquiring some space for my heart, my fingers flew upon the keyboard.
I would hit some places where the reality of the events and what it felt like to live them needed that personal touch. When I began to understand that truly I wanted to give hope both to the person who suffered and those that loved them.
In a culture where the “in” words of the day are; transparency, vulnerability, and authenticity, I found within myself the need to go beyond their cultural relevance. I journeyed deep into a place that could offer real hope and strength and courage.
I didn't want my story to just be about disassociation, abuse and neglect. I wanted to write something that showed the power of what can happen when someone awakens and speaks and sees. How many of us, in some form or facet, are “The Girl(boy) Next Door?”
I didn't want to share a story of a girl who learned very early to keep quiet, a girl who kept her mouth closed and her eyes staring off into the distance. This isn't a story of a girl, who might as well have been a shadow upon the wall. It isn't a piece about a girl who lived a life imprisoned by fear. It is a story of how we all can awaken, see and be seen, hear and be heard. I wanted to share a story that would open up those prison gates. I wanted to share a story that would create an atmosphere and an environment where eyes would open and awaken and mouths would open and be heard.
These pages are full of a life that could actually be being lived by a person who lives right next door to you.
Seriously, as far reaching as some of the stories within are, I was a person... living right next door to other people. There are those people you pass in the highways and byways of life... what is it that has filled out their life, what really happens to the person who lives next door? As I say at one point.. this is their story, this is our story.. How we learn to see each other contributes into the songs of deliverance that we will personally sing over our lives and over the lives of those that surround us...
Consider this story part of that overarching song of deliverance. My portion in the cantata of freedom for others. What can happen within one generation within a family, what can happen within one lifetime of a person.. well, if one believes and listens .. that which can happen is the beauty of deliverance, restoration and hope and peace.
Songs of Deliverance.
A song... a melody full of sweet and sorrow.. full of fear and full of overcoming... the notes at one point melodious and at other times so very difficult to listen to...
Thursday, July 31, 2014
If life is one big symphony filled with movements of dissonance and consonance, repose and unrest, incongruity or under resolution; then for the individual or community to find the waves and ride them out in a way that flows and empowers consistency through whichever movement is being represented would be a supreme goal.
How can a life whose sounds are only begging to find resolution be at the same state as a life whose melodies are harmonious and at rest?
One of my favorite memories is watching a child of mine during a band concert. Actually watching the whole young band play was what is stamped upon my memory. But it was their feet that drew and captivated my attentions. It was their feet. All of them were keeping the rhythm with their feet. The instruments played, breaths were taken, the teacher directed, sounds were made and those feet kept going up and down, up and down.
Regardless of whether it was fast or slow, loud or soft; whichever wave of dissonance or consonance the different pieces entered into, there were the feet... up and down, up and down... keeping track of the movement of the piece.
Keeping track of the movement of the piece, finding the answer to the question I asked. How can a life whose sounds are only begging to find resolution be at the same state as a life whose melodies are harmonious and at rest?
There are no religious, cookie-cutter answers... and for the one looking for those; well, you have never liked me much.. you will only cease to approve of me even more. I have an edge upon me still. I am not at rest. If I were I could come and woo you towards a place of peace. If I was in resolution I could speak of only that which I want and not at times rail against the places I find so hideous. But I endeavor towards the moments and I hunger to keep my foot going up and down, up and down.. For now I have found peace in the many faces of Christ and that has helped me...
He is the Christ that pulls the child upon His lap.
He is the Christ that entered His Father's house, our Father's house, and toppled every table.
He is the Christ that should have sat at the tables of all the nobles of the era, all the “important” people and yet He is the Christ that sat among the poor, the hungry, the desolate....
He is the Christ that challenged the religious and political order of the time and yet He is the Christ that remained silent upon examination.
He is the Christ that could have called a legion of angels to rescue Him and yet He is the Christ that died.
In all the movements of His life; in all the moments of laughter at the wedding or weeping at the tomb of a friend, in all the moments of healing, miracles and life and in all the moments of agony in a garden.... in all these movements and more... He lived a life of utter congruency.
The Western, modern day culture of Christian industry will not .. WILL NOT.. prepare wise virgins. It won't. It can't. It isn't set up that way. It is a wealthy, impotent, 15 second sound bite entity; with it's representatives of the moment being the new offering for whosoever's consumption. 10,000s of teachers... so few mothers and fathers, more words then that which could be counted and so little power and authentic demonstration (without the help of smoke machines, light shows, publishing houses, twitter audiences, facebook marketing, blog building etc... modern day tables awaiting their times of toppling).
I hadn't played the game for a long time now... and still I only see it as the helpless army of Israelites facing a giant that only a boy who knew His God could defeat.
The modern day Christian culture does not and will not prepare a people to know the Lord. It can't. It doesn't even want to; buy it's product, get addicted to the new and improved model of the hour, regurgitate the slogan of the day and wait for the next 15 second sound bite and/or experience.
The religious activity of the temple in the days of the Christ baby was enormous. So much activity. So very many people. Yet one man and one woman beheld the baby. One man... One woman... What were their lives? What was the life Christ walked? What was the pace of those feet going up and down, up and down.. what music did their heart's hear.. what music did their heart's know?
The slogan of the day should be that which John the Baptist spoke.. I must decrease so that He can increase... The hunger for the word and authority of the Lord is so palpable.. Starved souls silently scream towards the pulpit for true manna. We've been trained that way.... look forward instead of upward... depend upon the offerings of another instead of going into the deep darkness yourself, digest already digested and regurgitated morsels.. CRUMBS....
Each one of us can empower the Lord's increase of our lives... Each one of us CAN step into a life that rides the waves of whatever terrains in faithfulness... Peace is welcoming children upon the lap of the king, peace is also cleansing the temple of the Lord of lords and the King of kings. Peace is weeping at the tomb of a friend, peace is also laughing at a wedding where the wine is flowing; peace is calling a man out of a tree and peace is protecting a harlot; peace is chastising the religious order of the day and peace is meeting one of them in the dark of night and speaking words that would forever be remembered.... Peace is not clean cut, easy or easily won... But it is worth fighting for.. deep in the depths of our souls, deep in the depths of our spirits...
A lifestyle that cultivates places of peace for the Lover of our souls to come and reside, that is a battle worth fighting... and there are weapons of our warfare that are not of this earth, not of a Westernized religion that doesn't resemble one iota the original intent. These weapons fly in the face of noise, power and large crowds.... In silence and solitude, in rest and repentance we will be saved. May we trust more in the ways of our God then in the ways of man... and may we so truly decrease that only He is found within us.... May our feet learn to keep the true movement of time and measurement and flow...
Monday, July 7, 2014
There comes a time when all cards must be laid upon the table, face up upon the table. I am not a poker player at all, but when the time comes and the call goes and all final bids are made it becomes the time to show up or fold.
I've watched both happen in the two decades I have been in and around ministry. I watched people show up and when all is laid flat out they choose to shine and I have watched those that only bluffed high tail it out of the arena with the proverbial tail between their legs.
For weeks now, I have paused... I have paused and waited and thought. (A dear friend, who knows me well, expresses that my thoughts are loud and will often text and ask if I am ok.) I am ok! But even while I am ok, I find myself within a paradigm shift of a lifetime.
Saved at 19 and brought in the Charismatic circles almost immediately. I have never ventured out that far...
Except in this season I have had my horizons expand. But in this expansion, I realized I was missing the mark. Not sin per se... but not gravitating to the right questions.
That is until Simeon wouldn't leave me alone. The question, what did Simeon know, haunted me. The journey still continues as does the shifting. Simeon and Anna..... Interesting people, but before we get to them.. may I place them in the context of the religious activity of their day.
The air was full with buzz and religious activity was everywhere. Yet out of all those coming and going, out of all the “religious” activity taking place, we read of only two who noticed the Christ child. ALL that religious activity and God as an infant before them all and only two beheld Him! But what is even more grievous and should bring each of us to a stand still and times of reflection, is that just as many would miss the Man 30 years later.
Religious paradigms... Religious activity... Selfish ambition and the agenda's of men keep one from always seeing and hearing and knowing the ways of the Lord, whether in the form of an infant or of a man!
And so the question I have been sitting with.. The question I have been allowing to purge my very being and stir up more questions then I would even have answers... IS … What secrets did Simeon know? And well, within the second chapter of Luke we read the description and that is all I leave you with.. None of my commentary. Not yet.... But I leave you with my questions.. What secrets did Simeon know? And I leave you with Scripture:
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man wasrighteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A Light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I usually ignore them. I usually pay them no heed and keep on my merry way. So I was caught off guard by what arose in me and then even knowing my own propensity for not backing down from a comment, I was somewhat shocked that I went ahead with it.............
But I think enough of my buttons got pushed.
Not just with the ridiculous Facebook post, because I earnestly do believe that there really are somethings that the majority of all Christians can see for being beyond marginalized. Like calling the monster drinks the drink of the 666 or whatever it did. We can see the fringe groups, like the Westboro Baptist people for what they are and not be confused about whether or not they really represent the heart of the Lord as it was lived in Christ.
But what about the subtle or not so subtle issues that arise.... It is easy for the majority of us to see the extremist ways of the Westboro Baptist church but what about the current day issues that would parallel the woman caught in adultery or the issue of when Jesus was asked about whether to pay taxes to Caesar or not. What about those current day issues, that break apart the body of Christ and render us useless, fractured and impotent? Who today would the religious regard the Samaritan to be? Who do we stay away from as to not become “unclean” by reason of association?
Except it is lunacy.... Can we not/ can I not see the Pharisaical bones in my body that bleach out the would be compassion of the Lord?
I can tell I've been slipping again. When the statements liken to, “but of course that would happen,” or “totally not surprised,” arise in my heart in regards to a leader, a church, my own behavior or attitudes or the horrific, ambitious propensity of some to reach for the proverbial ring of power and lead and dominant and grasp for position.. cause bitterness, cynicism, anger and hatred to arise in my own heart... Then that is the problem.. I become the problem.... I negate the power of love and service and allow my heart to touch hardness and death.
It has been a long day. It has actually been a string of very long days and compassion and easy going aren't my strong suits. People are mostly surprised by the first of those confessions. I can come across as very compassionate. Except there is this place in me where compassion for the process people are in becomes thin.
Seeing and knowing isn't all it is cracked up to be and to see and to know and still have the heart of the Lord, now that is the journey. That is the journey. To see and know and to see and know as He sees and knows... to see and know in hope and love and kindness and compassion... For He knows how we are but made.... To love our would be enemy and/or the fool who lives churchianity and plays the part but dies a daily death of performance and servitude to the enemy of the faith instead of the Lord. Only the religious repulsed our Lord and even them He called from the cross expressing towards the Father that they be forgiven for they know not what they do.
I wanted to rant as I came to this blog post.. I wanted to call out the ridiculous nature on both sides of the fence of the paradigm of Christian thought... Today I got a clearer vision then ever of what Jesus walking among the lamp stands of today would say to the churches... The aspects He would applaud and herald and then the places where He would say, “I have this against you.”
Upon these days I attempt to walk.... I ask Him for those types of evaluations of my own self. What would you say are the areas I reflect you? What are the areas where I lack, sin, fall utterly short? I must lay myself before Him. I must examine the many planks that exist within my own eyes. I must stand before Him and recognize the propensity for saying, “thank you God that I am not liken unto that person,”(realizing I am that person.) as I must stand before Him and with trembling and awe express my recognition of myself as in need of His majestic grace.
What does it look like to walk in His divine nature? What does it look like to have love and wisdom and peace and understanding and power? What would it mean to understand that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us to preach good news and hold out hope to the blind, the dying, the destitute?
What are we so afraid of getting wrong that we don't get it right? Where are we holding stones instead of promise? Where are we being shown up by the goodness of the proverbial Samaritan because we are too busy to stop? Too busy with our religious activity to actually serve the Lord of that religious activity?
I can't live a mediocre Christian life. I can't just live a moral and upright Christian walk. I can't live a flesh filled charismatic expression. I can't tell myself or anyone what I want it to look like.. I know far more of what I don't want it to look like any longer than I have any clear vision of what I do want it to look like.. Except that isn't fully true. I am tired of the ways of man in regards to the expressions of what is thought about God... I want God. I know that when Jesus spoke that Spirit of the Lord was upon Him that it wasn't in word only...
I will wait upon Him before I will touch the horses and chariots of the pharaohs of this age... It is hard and uncertain. But there is way too much lack of understanding and plain stupidity done in the name of the Lord that causes people to perish, that has caused me to perish and I am on a different journey now... One I know is called to be full of peace and joy and the expression of the reality of the Kingdom of God... Where it will lead me I do not know.. But I hope it will lead me away from false expressions into the glorious light and power of the Kingdom....
I want to have ears that can hear and eyes that can see and a heart that can comprehend.... Love will be the greatest adventure of them all... And I know the answer to “Lord who is our neighbor?” Now I just must live it forward.....
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Maybe it is that I have been in the most wrong of places that stumbling upon a speaker who has no gile within their hearts so startled me.... But it was beautiful to behold.. A very brief moment that has filled out my heart with hope despite other happenings of a day....... It was simple in its origin but liken unto a most refreshing drink of the coolest of waters upon a very hot and dry day... So sad that such a thing is so very rare....
Sometimes I wonder what it would be to just see a person and not see a person... To hear what a person says as if it is the only words being spoken and not hear the words coming forth from their hearts... In my retreat today, I sought out the Lord and wept. Not for change of giftings nor to be other then that which I am.... But to be more like Him. And to find sanctuary within His immense shadow and glorious heart...
I turned to one of my most favorite fictional characters and just read and reread his words... Emeth is his name and what CS Lewis writes of him is brilliant within the work of The Last Battle....
“So I went over much grass and many flowers and among all kinds of wholesome and delectable trees till lo! in a narrow place between two rocks there came to meet me a great Lion. The speed of him was like the ostrich, and his size as an elephant’s; his hair was like pure gold and the brightness of his eyes like gold that is liquid in the furnace. He was more terrible than the Flaming Mountain of Lagour, and in beauty he surpassed all that is in the world even as the rose in bloom surpasses the dust of the desert.Then I fell at his feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, though knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless they desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what the truly seek.
“Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much, but that we should meet again, and I must go further up and further in. Then he turned him about in a storm and flurry of gold and was gone suddenly.
“And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog-”
In resting in Him today I found grace... In leaning upon Him I found wisdom... In closing my eyes and drinking of His waters I was refreshed and made anew....
Oh how silly we truly are.. we think so much of ourselves and our efforts and our accomplishments... and He who names the stars hungers for us to discover that we are but children playing in the mud... When what we are called towards is a most fantastic and beautiful love that shows all things up ...
May I cease with all striving and all game playing
Sadly I wonder how much of our works that we do in the name of "Aslan," would be more credited to "Tash.."
All I can do is trust that he will breath upon me and remove the dross and achieve within me His image, His likeness, His purposes... That I would love Him and love those He calls to cross my path...
Today for moments I wanted to not see and today for moments I wanted to not hear... Yet in those moments and in the seeing and in hearing, a choice is birthed and instead of seeing and acknowledging that which is seen and hearing and knowing that which was heard, I lay it all open to Him who transforms us all.... So He asks us to see and He asks us to hear, AND NO it is not glamorous.. it is sorrowful and hard but beautiful and transforming as well....
For we all are but dust and but Him that is all we would ever be... It is He that has elevated us to our stature and but seeing and hearing how can we fully call ourselves and others forward to reflect more of Him and so very much less of us....
Oh God... Your goodness rivets my soul, Your patience startles my flesh... Your kindness is my undoing... transform me into Your image that I may walk more as You would have me... My eyes and my ears are Yours.... Make my heart more Yours as well......