Sunday, December 04, 2005

the fear of the Lord

I am sitting here almost speechless, yet longing to let out the feelings that are inside. Just listened to a message by a guy named Mike Bickle. I have known him and listened to him for twenty years, and respect him deeply as a man who passionately pursues God. In the last year or so, he has become something of a prophetic voice to the western church. We live in a time where the Christian faith and message has become watered down and distorted in many places. Much of what is preached and taught in pulpits across this nation is an ear-tickling religious substitution for the clear true teachings of the scripture. I know... that sounds really self-righteous and judgmental, but I cant help it. Its true. The scriptures themselves warned that this would happen. My own heart has grown cold. Compromise has become easy. In fact, its become a way of life. Something has to change. I am not talking about the need to get busier with religious activities. You can be very outwardly religious, and have a very dark heart. That's my problem. My heart has become darkened. I have let this world quench my love for God, and it has grown cold.

I guess you could call this a confession. As I listened to Mike teach from II Peter this morning, I felt fear rise up inside. He was talking about those who become deceived, and knowing the truth, they return to their sin. Like a dog to his vomit. Ugly analogy... straight from scripture. I have lost the fear of the Lord. I have compromised the kingdom values that shaped my life as a younger man. I have let the world's standards replace my own, given to me by the Spirit and the Word. I am struck by the fear of the Lord. I am sobered deeply. And I don't want to lose it, that deep sense of conviction.

I have a busy life. Too busy. Jesus told a parable about a sower. He sowed his seed on four types of soil. One type was thorny, full of weeds. Those weeds "choked" the seed, stopping it from bearing fruit. He later described those weeds as greed, and the cares of the world. My little plot of ground has become overrun with weeds. The seeds that were planted are not dead, but if I don't let him clear those weeds out of my garden, it could end up a barren wasteland. He is faithful, and He will do it if I let Him. It comes back to me though. How will I spend my time? How will I prioritize my life? Will I spend my life on things that will burn up in the final judgment? Will I invest in that which is temporal, or even evil? Or will I live like a disciple? Will I seek first the kingdom of God in all things? Will I make the pursuit of God the highest priority of my life? I have a business to run. I have a family to care for. I have temporal God-given responsibilities in life. The questions are, how do I live out my life while fulfilling those responsibilities, and what do I do with my "free" time and resources? Will I spend them on personal pleasure and my own little kingdom? Or, will I seek Him with all my heart, and make my life fully available to His purposes?

I cant "earn" his love, or my righteousness. That is fully established. I only want "the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." But, the scriptures are clear. There will be a final judgment. I will give an account for what I have done with my life. And salvation is not just a free ticket out of hell. Its an offer of a restored, reconciled relationship with God. Its an offer of forgiveness and deliverance for those who truly desire to know God and live in that right relationship with Him. Its not over until its over. "He who endures to the end will be saved." Its not how we start the race, its how we finish. He wont let me go easily, but He wont force me to follow Him. He is constantly drawing me to Himself, beckoning me to deeper intimacy and friendship. But He has given me that incredible power of choice. He has given me the ability to consider my options, and decide for myself if I really want to live as His son and His friend. The final choice is up to me. And you. And every day we make that choice again and again.

Lord, help me walk in conscious awareness of your awesomeness, your goodness, and your unfathomable love.... every day. Help me love You in the manner of which You are worthy.

And You are indeed worthy of my love and devotion and worship.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mind reading

Its seems like a primary focus of the Father's work in my heart for the past year has been in the area of judgment and love. It makes sense, as his purpose for us is to reproduce His love in us, but its been amazing to me how judgment continually shows up in my experience. I see so much of it in myself, and others. And we see it as normal. Its so much a part of the fabric of our culture, and this entire fallen world for that matter, that we don't even recognize how much we do it.

I had coffee the other day with an acquaintance. We don't really know each other all that well, but I felt she was someone I needed to talk with to process a situation I found myself in. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I began to explain why I had asked her to meet with me. A few minutes into the conversation, she proceeded to tell me why I was REALLY there. I listened for a bit, and then started to explain that no, she was mistaken, and that I was really there for the purpose that I was trying to explain. With anger in her face and tone, she said no, you are here to manipulate and control the situation we are discussing. Then she explained to me exactly what my strategy was. She had arrived at our appointment with preconceived ideas about me. She pre-judged my heart motives, and was ready with very little provocation to begin the process of setting me straight. And she didn't see the need to take the time to explore the accuracy of her opinions. At that point I became just a little bit angry myself. With more than a little intensity I began to make it very clear that she was wrong, and that she had no business telling me what was in my heart as if she knew better than me what I was thinking and feeling. And we all do that sometimes. I know I have done it many times. We watch someone's actions, we listen to their words, and we draw conclusions. We decide that we somehow can look into their hearts and understand exactly WHY they are doing what they are doing. We think we can see into their soul as only God can. The scripture tells us clearly, "Man looks on the outward appearances, but God looks at the heart." Please understand, I am all for pursuing that understanding. I am all for long conversations with honest sharing, and questions and answers that lead us to a true understanding of one another. I want to know the heart of the people that I call friends, and I want to be known. I want to walk through life with people who care enough to take the time to get to know me. I want to share my life with people who will be vulnerable enough to be known. But that all takes time, and hearts that are opened voluntarily. Its not my job or right to judge your motives when you have not invited me in to do so. My job is to love you unconditionally. My purpose should be to demonstrate the immeasurable value that God places on you. And if we open our hearts and get really honest about what we think and feel, we may come to a deeper understanding of each other. We may discover each other's heart. But until then, I don't have the right to tell you who you are, or what makes you tick. I have one right. I have the right to lay down my life and show you the love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross. And I have this funny feeling that when I do that, the door to your heart may open, at least a crack. And that is the beginning of true friendship.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Does He really NEED us?

Okay... I was talking with a friend tonight about our calling and purpose in God. You know, a lot of theology makes God's need of us sort of like England's need of a Queen. Its all for show. I don't think that is how it works. God doesn't need us because He is insufficient in some way. He doesn't need us like that insecure boyfriend or girlfriend that calls ten times a day. He needs us because He created a world where love is the goal. He needs us because love requires that we humans have the power to disobey Him. We have the power to thwart His will. We have the power to say NO to God. Think about that. He wants to have a loving, intimate friendship with us. By its very nature, love is a choice. So, in order for us to be able to love, He gave us the power to choose. But, the danger is, the power to say yes is also the power to say no. The power to say no has resulted in all the pain and suffering in the world. Giving us the power to say no was an incredible risk, but absolutely necessary if we were to be able to learn to love the way He loves. And now He is entirely committed to bringing our hearts into the experience of His love. He needs us because he created a world where we play an integral role in that redemptive purpose. (Man.... does this ever sound religious. I just cant think of better words right now.) The bottom line is, He REALLY does need us to cooperate in His purposes. Its not like His will wont be accomplished if we don't join in. But.... when we are living our lives in a genuine relationship with Him, that is a powerful tool in His hands to win the hearts of those who don't trust Him. He loves everyone around us, and desires for them to experience that love in a tangible way. And He needs us to make ourselves available for that. He needs us. What an incredible idea.....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Idiocy in education

You HAVE to read the article linked below.  It will
make you laugh and/or make you scream..... it might
even make you cuss. But thats okay, at least
according to the article. At least its okay if you
dont cuss too much. Now dont get me wrong..... I dont
get too bent out of shape when people cuss. There are
many more things in the world to get bent out of shape
about that actually matter. But..... well..... you
have to read the article.

(If the link is dead, I copied the article at the end of this post.
Its a bit long, but worth the time)

Okay..... is this not one of the goofiest things you
haver ever heard of????? Too many f-bombs and the
students will be "spoken to"???? But.... only if they
exceed their allotment of 5 per student per class
period. And the teacher has to keep track of each
students f-bomb usage in class every day. IN EVERY
CLASS!!!!! ON THE CHALKBOARD!!! When exactly are
they supposed to TEACH???? I am sorry.... I am
really trying to learn to live without judgement....
but who are the IDIOTS who came up with this

Okay.... back to normal. Just needed to get that off
my chest.


U.K. school tailors policy to foul mouths
Students can use 'f-word' up to 5 times per lesson
Updated: 3:32 p.m. ET Aug. 30, 2005
As children throughout the country head back to school,
many of them are probably muttering a few choice words
about the prospect of returning to the classroom and the
expected onslaught of homework. But can they utter those
choice words and swear at their teachers? If they’re
heading back to school in one town in England, then yes,
they can.
According to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, one school
in the town of Wellingborough is allowing pupils to swear
at teachers, providing they only do so no more than five
times in a class. A tally of how many times the f-word is
used will be kept and if the class exceeds the limit, they
will be "spoken" to, the newspaper reported.

The school believes the policy will improve behavior, but
parents and parliamentary members have condemned
the rule and warned it would backfire.

According to the Daily Mail, assistant headmaster Richard
White said the policy was aimed at 15- and 16-year-olds in
two classes which are considered troublesome.
"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate
(although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives)
five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students
can see the running score," the Daily Mail quoted White as
writing in a letter. "Over this number the class will be spoken
to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."

According to the report, headmaster Alan Large said he had
received no complaints about the policy. But Conservative
member of parliament Ann Widdecombe said the policy was
based on "Alice in Wonderland reasoning," the Daily Mail
reported. "What next? Do we allow people to speed five times
or burgle five times? You don't improve something by allowing
it, you improve something by discouraging it," Widdecombe
was quoted as saying. The newspaper also reported that the
1,130-pupil school plans to send "praise postcards" to the
parents of children who do not swear and who turn up on time
for lessons.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Blue Like Jazz

I wish someone would pay me to do this. I think of stuff almost every day that I would like to write, and then, by the time I get home and find time, I am too tired or cant recall my prior profundity. And after all, that's what this is all about..... being profound. Right??? Jussssssst kidding. I did start a new book tonight. I had been hearing people talk about it, so I plucked it off the shelf at Barnes and Noble while I had a cup of coffee. Blue Like Jazz. Honestly, I was a bit annoyed initially with the guy's writing style. Then I flipped forward a few chapters, and sort of got hooked. I almost bought the book, but didn't want to pay their high price, so I will check the library, or I know, I know..... Christians aren't supposed to use that company because of their "suggestive" advertising. Sorry.... they are the best deal out their on books. Annnnnnyway, I found myself laughing out loud at some of this guys stories. I actually had to get up and move to a cluster of chairs where no one was sitting, so I wouldn't disturb anyone.

Well, this isn't my deepest post, but at least I am writing. Its probably representative of where I am right now, though. This is one of the more unexpected legs of my journey with God. And I trust He will bring me through it just a little more like Jesus.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Love and expectations

I have been reading a great book for the past year. "Repenting of Religion". In fact, I have been reading it with a number of friends. It talks about learning to love without judgement. A beautiful idea, entirely biblical. And hard to do..... really hard. And then, naturally, you start to expect it from others. After all, its the right thing to do. We just cant expect anything from anyone. We will get hurt and disappointed, and risk the hardening of our hearts. No expectations...... we simply need to learn to love freely and without judgement.

It sounds so simple.

It sounds so simple.

Its time to start writing again....

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

just be available

Its so late, and I am so tired. But..... I received a call from a friend tonight. Very encouraging. He had called me the previous night, in a time of need, and the Lord used my words to bring him some genuine encouragement. No big deal, He does that with people every day. The funny thing is, I was kind of struggling myself, and had been praying while I worked, and worshipping with an old scripture song that says, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases...." All I did was share that same passage with my friend, and then prayed with him about the situation he was facing. No great "word of the Lord".... I just shared what I had received. I wasnt feeling particularly spiritual or "anointed", but the Lord showed up for my friend, and powerfully answered our prayers for the situation he was dealing with the next day. I was just available. And I think thats one of the main things He is looking for. Availability. I am just so doggone preoccupied most of the time though.... Help Lord. I know you will.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Seek ye first...

I had a really interesting time in the prayer room today. God never ceases to amaze me. He really takes an interest in simple run-of-the-mill human beings. That is indescribably incredible. More later.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

this grace thing

I just had breakfast with a good friend. For the past couple of months, we have been reading some things that have been causing us to work back through our understanding of grace. Not our intellectual understanding, but our heart understanding. Walking this out is simple, and yet profoundly difficult. It goes against our very nature, which is to want to depend on ourselves for our own righteousness before God. We started to pray together, and as I was praying, I felt like the Holy Spirit revealed my heart to me. I stopped suddenly, looked at him in wild-eyed intensity, and said, "I cant need it!" I cant "need" to be free and pure in my walk before the Lord. I cant "need" that freedom in order to feel like I am accepted by Him. To the extent that I "need" it, I am still walking in my own righteousness; I am still trying to earn His love. I need to want it, I want to want it, but I need to be free from the "need" for it. What I "need" is fully supplied in the grace and mercy of God. When I am fully satisfied in what He has provided, then I am free to walk in the love that flows from gratitude in the knowledge of His goodness and beauty. Then I can experience what Paul describes as "the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." Faith working through love, righteous living as an expression of thankful worship. An acceptable offering.

Make sense?

Lord, give me clear and simple understanding of your ways.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It works...

Fasting and prayer.... it really works. We are called to war, and these are two of our main weapons.

We are called to war...

Monday, March 21, 2005

more evidence

I was thinking about my children today. I do that often. Many times, every day, each one. Nothing is more important to me in this life than for them to be healthy and happy and fulfilled. I was driving down the highway, listening to my "good buddy" Greg Boyd talk about the cross. He was explaining what was happening when Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world. In illustration, he talked about how he would gladly lay down his own life for any of his three children. He said that if any one of them were to get cancer, he would take that cancer into himself if it would mean that they would be healed. And if they all three got cancer, he would take on all of their cancers at once, to see them healthy and whole. And I thought to myself... I would do that. I would do that in a heartbeat. There wouldnt be a moment's hesitation. I am not bragging. I am not trying to say how wonderful or holy I am. Its just a fact that I would do anything possible to see my children experience and enjoy all the incredible gifts of love that God has for them. As I thought about it, my heart filled with wonder at Him. He is the only explanation for that kind of love. I am not some wonderful, exceptional person. Far from it. I am about as average as you can get, and by nature, very self-absorbed. But I would do anything for those kids, and the reality of God and His incomprehensible love is the only explanation for that love in my heart.

(well..... they ARE pretty awesome kids, but I am not that awesome to love them that way with out some supernatural help.)

God is good.... in all His ways.... and we are blessed beyond our understanding.

Thank you Lord....

Friday, March 18, 2005

hearts revealed

Luke 2:34-35
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. "

Interesting. One of the first things said about Jesus after his birth is that "thoughts from many hearts will be revealed." Its so easy to concentrate on behaviour. Outward appearances. We can put on a good show even with a dark heart. We can even fool ourselves. We can avoid all the obvious sins, the ones people can see. But God is after something deeper. He wants to give us a pure heart. He wants His love to go to the very depths of our being. He wants our behaviour to simply reflect the inner transformation that His Spirit is working in us. And He has promised to complete that process, He has said He will complete the work He has begun in us. I want to cooperate with Him in that, but even when I dont, He is still working to free me from whatever hinders that cooperation. He will have His way in me, and all I can do is respond with worshipful gratitude. Its grace, from beginning to end.

Thank you....

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness." A very simple passage of scripture. But... that is one of the most awesome statements ever written. This is our only hope, that His mercies never end. New every morning. Forever and ever. Incredible. Wonderful.

Thank you...

Friday, March 11, 2005

The battle rages on....

This world we live in looks like a pretty friendly place. And actually, thats what it was created to be. But its not, and we need to have our eyes opened to see that. Its a war zone. Its a battlefield. We are told that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." That should be a sobering statement to us. That phrase should have a major impact on the way we look at our lives each day. The scripture says a lot of things about this world we live in. Most are not good. Yet, many of us who would call ourselves followers of Jesus appear to love this world with a great passion. We want to enjoy it to the fullest. We get lost in our headlong pursuit of the pleasures this life has to offer. In the midst of that, we lose sight of the calling that Jesus has set before us. He wants us to stand against this world system. He wants us to "lay down our lives" to demonstrate the wonders of His love, and the greater reality of His kingdom. James wrote a challenging statement:

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

I dont want to say too much about this, as it could sound judgemental and self-righteous, but this a passage of scripture that western "christianity" almost wholly ignores. Or worse yet, we take it and use it to create a legalistic, fear-driven religious system that is ultimately just as selfish and carnal as loving this world. We humans..... we think we are so smart. Most of the time we are clueless. We dont know that we dont know. I am more grateful every day for the wonderful, gracious mercy of God.

Lord, let me see clearly, every day. Let me see this world the way you see it. Let me love people the way you love them, and hate the kingdom of this world that enslaves them. Let me see what it means to be like Abraham, a friend of God, rather than a friend of this world. And let me do it in the spirit of Jesus, with a heart full of mercy and grace.


Friday, March 04, 2005

Someone put something in my coffee... Posted by Hello

He's crazy I tell ya..... Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I want it to own me

I know so much. I can talk philosophy and theology for hours. I truly enjoy it, and believe it is usually productive. But my heart longs for more. I want the things I know, and truly believe to become so real to me that they own me. I can see a place where the things I believe in my mind, can grip my heart in a much deeper way, and I am longing for that more each day. I want to get so close to Jesus, that I hear the thoughts of his heart everywhere I go. Lord, increase my hunger, and satisfy it, I pray.

Monday, January 31, 2005

I used to be so smart....

This is a funny season of life. I am realizing how little I know, and how really uninformed I am. I have always been highly opinionated, in a congenial, loveable sort of way, but that seems to be changing. My opinions seem very unimportant these days. We live in a very complex world. I look at a given situation, and after a little thought, arrive at a conclusion about what is going on there. The truth is, I rarely have enough information to make an intelligent analysis. Its not that I am a dummy. I have an above average IQ, and a good mind, but most of the time, I just dont have all the facts. I am not talking about mundane things, like what is the best restaurant in town. We all have opinions about that sort of thing. I am talking about the bigger issues. Politics, moral issues, religious questions. The heady stuff. And how about other peoples issues? How often have I watched another person deal with a particular situation in their life, and then sat back and evaluated how right or wrong or wise or foolish their decisions were. Who am I, to think that I have anyone elses answers to these things. I know what I know, but there is so much that I dont know. Some would even question the idea that "I know what I know." I understand that position, but in some things, I know what I know. I know there is a God. I know He is absolutely good. I know that He revealed Himself in Jesus. I know that He will ultimately reconcile all the conflict and pain in the world. I know He will ultimately have His way, and that His way is good. But, between here and there, I am not sure how fully I really understand any of the situations I face. The scriptural commands to "judge not" are making more sense all the time. True judgement requires full understanding of all the contributing factors to a given situation. How often do I have that "full understanding"? Not very often. So.... at its best, my judgement is usually clouded with ignorance. This whole thing sounds a little melancholy, but it is actually a place of peace. I dont have to go around evaluating everybody and everything all the time. I am not in charge. I am not ultimately responsible. He has given me one job, one command. He calls me to love. Freely, extravagantly, sacrificially. Every now and then, he will call me to confront evil. But, most of the time, He simply calls me to demonstrate in a fresh new way the same love that He expressed when He went to the cross. Thats my job, to lay down my life for my friends. He can take care of the judging, and He will do it perfectly.