Sunday, December 30, 2007

Desk Calendar Devotion #2

Matthew 11:28 says, "Come unto Me, and I will give you..., many things to do to serve Me." I don't read it that way.

Ever remember a day just after a great night's sleep? Attitudes were sweet and positive. Work was ... almost ... a pleasure. Tempers were thick and life was enjoyed. Such is life for a believer who truly enters (and relies upon) God's holy Rest.

Might we consider a strategy whereby we prioritize and really DO rest, trusting the salvation of the world to Him. Too often our lives convey the idea that God can't do it without us

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Desk Calendar Devotion #1

"And lo, I am with you always...." How do we deal with a God who'll never leave us nor forsake us? Do we act as if He is here (both to love and to judge)? Is God's Presence existential? Can it be organic? May we feel it? Touch it? Know it?

How ever we experience the Presence of God, it is there; it is here! He is Emmanuel - God is with us! Like the "opposite" of His transendence (other-ness), so His Presence is full and forever!

We are guarded by His peace (Ph 4:7), we hope in the surety of His Spirit's righteousness (Eph 1:13; Hb6:12ff). His enduring and encouraging love does, indeed, last forever. Sin begets loneliness, worry, confusions, compulsions, and discouragement.

Might we learn to climb into the lap of our Emmanuel!

God is super-here!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Experiencing God?

I have a deep, continual and desperate desire to "experience" God. I also do not have a clear understanding relative to just what experiencing God is supposed to be like.

Here is an idea that I do have, maybe right, maybe wrong: Experiencing God is a good thing. I think that if I show up (and I do) and allow Him to determine what happens during our time together, then I will “experience” Him and will have come to know Him better resulting in my detachment from the world, the flesh and the devil.

Just now I sat quietly for around a half an hour. I tried to focus on Him and not my own stuff (although I did do some serious intercession) – I understand how me-centered prayer can be.

I also understand a bit about God’s Grace, Providence and Timing. I understand that the previous 30 minutes was a good thing, period. I have God’s word on it.

But, am I truly getting to know Him better? If that is defined as I did above, I begin to wonder if I am. I am inundated with evil thoughts, fantasies, and am very often drawn into sin.

What does an “experience” of God look like? What does it feel? How can one improve on the “experience”? Sure, I understand the danger of connecting experience with feelings, but I just wanted to ask those questions anyway.

I sure would like help… as if I’m not doing well “experiencing” God. Maybe I am doing well-er than I thought! Maybe I need to pray Psalm 139:23,24 more often and with more fervor. Maybe I have this deep hidden sin that remains un-confessed and therefore a mass impediment to my experience of God. Maybe, as Brennan manning says of his times with God, “I think He is just glad I showed up!!”

Maybe God is holding out. Maybe I am going through a desert, and God is intentionally allowing me to experience dryness so that he can shape me somehow.

Then, how do I explain my irritability? My impatience? My critical spirit? My fear? Why is peace so elusive?

I know I am in good company with many of the psalmists, but often even that does little good in consoling me. I want, I long for an experience with God, to experience His manifest Presence, His divine Encouragement in a noticeable way. A way that, when it happens, I have a keen awareness of it. I sure would like to have an emotional thing happen. I mean, how do we know something happens if we don’t … experience it with some sort of sense, for crying out loud?

I am not discouraged – maybe that is confirmation that I have, indeed, experienced God. I am not about to give up. I am not gonna quit, either! I am not going to live in the future when …. God has me in the now… where He is.

He has promised that He is “with me always, even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). That is good enough for me (possibly another sign that I have experienced God, huh?)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

He's Right In Front of You!

The prophet asks the people: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2a)”

I ask that of myself very often. I spend so much time and energy, thoughts and money on all those things that, at the time, promise to fulfill me, yet I know wouldn’t and won’t… but I “bought” them anyway.

I am convinced we all know – on a soulish level – that we have an eternal need within us, only met by something eternal, and are desperate without it.

That “it” is Jesus. Oh, stop it! You don’t have to start that stale, been-around-forever crap that tries to refute Jesus being the “way, the truth and the life.” You’re sitting at a computer… no one is watching you. You’ve got nothing to prove right at this moment. Get real for at least one second!

He is all that!

What if He really, REALLY is all that? I think He is – I am convinced He is.

I think every heart knows that.

The birth of Jesus is irrefutable. ‘Tis the season we’re in right now! His claims are, too; the ones in which He claims to be God, the Savior and Creator of the world as well as the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and end of all things).

He died and came back to life – another irrefutable, scientific, empirically substantial fact!

OK, OK. Enough of that.

Back to me, personally. I am convinced. I am sure.

I scribbled this in church yesterday at one and the same time totally convinced that Jesus is all I need, yet willing to chase rainbows of the most diverse and creative varieties.


On what do you base your life?

One contemporary of Jesus asked Him (not a bad question in my estimation): “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting? (Matthew 11:3 MSG)”

Jesus’ reply seemed to say, “John, ol’ buddy, I have confirmed that I am The One way beyond any doubt. Now it is yours to believe or disbelieve.”

My worldview must say – with the Psalmist (14:1) – “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Suppose I am right and you disagree. Ergo, you spend the only life you have been given wastefully.

Suppose I am wrong and you agree? So what? You spent the only life you have been given charitably.

Suppose I am right and you agree. You’ve won the eternal lottery!!! Not only that, you begin receiving dividends even before they are due!

Allow me to expand the prophet’s quote from above (Isaiah 55).

Is anyone thirsty?

Come and drink—
Even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
It’s all free!
Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?

Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
“Come to me with your ears wide open.

Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

Choose Life. No need to look elsewhere.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Put Your Wait Upon God

I am not my own (1 Co 6:19). In Christ I live and move and exist (Ac 17:28). These truths are hard to believe, actualize and live by – we live in such a God-denying, God-rejecting world.

For instance, as Christ-followers we are taught to “wait” for God, trust Him and be patient. Gees! I have difficulty waiting for lights to turn green! What does this say about me?

I am impatient even for good things. I want to be “godly” right now! Godliness is not a bad thing to seek, but what about my heart clouded with impatience? Here is how God works: Moses was put on the back side of the desert for 40 years at “prime” of his life before God used him to deliver the Israelites. God must’ve had a perfectly good reason for that. Do you reckon Moses experienced impatience, acid reflux while out there tending sheep for his father-in-law?!

Waiting means to “stop striving.” It comes from a heart resolved to trust everything – even the timing of events – to God.

God’s weird! But, only through eyes not yet clear on Who He is. God healed one crippled guy at the pool of Bethesda! How much harder would it have been for Him to heal all of them?

God paid a full day’s wages to men who had worked all day as well as to those who worked one hour! How weird is that! God’s response: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own (Mt 20:15)?”

You and will battle with this as long as we live and as long as our knowledge (and, hence, beliefs) of God do not engender full trust.

What do I do? Just trust Jesus? NO! Find a way to get to know Him for Who He is! Sit with Him, read about Him, fast to know Him better, get alone and be still! Listen.

The following is truly an existential possibility for you, for me ! ! ! This is Good News!

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
Or, whine, Israel, saying,”God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
Gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
Young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
They walk and don’t lag behind. Isaiah 40:28-31

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Joy of Being Destitute

How would you describe yourself emotionally right now? I am not talking about publishing it in USA Today; I am talking about you to yourself, right now.

Choose from the following, or add on: fine, afraid, I don’t know, empty, happy, confused, afloat, desperate, sad, mad, maintaining, hopeful, at the and of my rope, I don’t have time to think about it, I don’t want to think about it, stable, iffy, low, high, nuts, bitter, sullen, dug in, joyful, hopeful.

Here’s me: destitute. I am a real mess. Most days you could knock me over with a feather. I live on Tums. I feel destitute’s siblings, too: fear, a lack of confidence, despair. Yet, the Bible says “blessed are the destitute” (my loose paraphrase). The Greek work means “reduced to beggary,” “powerless to accomplish an end.”

That’s me. Mind you, however, I try not to come across as destitute. I try even harder to accomplish certain ends. That is the madness of it, isn’t it?

I really would like to come to a point where I cherish being destitute, because it is there that I find God, there that I am nearest to Him. It is in destitution that I find rest. But, I don’t like feeling destitute! I try everything possible to mask it, avoid it, make it go away, be adequate on my own.

The destitute are at the bottom. They are at the bottom, but do not feel anything below them. It is one thing to be on the ocean floor, firm on some kind of rock or something. But, to be down there with nothing under foot…!

God invites us all there! It is there that God can be found! When I run out of self, God is there. I am now out of self!

Paul is my hero – he got it! He called all worldly scaffolding “dung.” Not just dung outright, it was in comparison to “knowing Christ” (Philippians 3). He also said, “I am determined to know nothing … except Christ Jesus and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Paul had reached the bottom and discovered the bottom was Jesus!

That is what I pray for; not in an intellectual sense, but in an existential sense. I want to feel it; I want my emotions to be consistent with it. I want others to notice and be drawn to it.

If Jesus is not the answer, I am to be most pitied. I gotta believe that regardless of my life station and circumstances, Jesus is still there, He is good and is my only source of hope. As the disciples asked, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else (Matthew 11:3)?” Either I place all I am and have on Jesus as The Source or I live totally as a practical agnostic!

Where are you emotionally? Emotions tell you where you are. If you are fearful, then fear drives you and you have nothing on which to trust and allay those fears, right? And, add to that, you do not have enough personal resources to stop the fear.

May you and I find Jesus. He is near and can be found. Sit, listen, read the Bible, pray, anticipate, hope, resist the word of Evil.

Do something today that reflects your desire to know Jesus.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Near The Cross

Recently I began carrying again my old worn Bible I had retired to the bookcase - it was falling apart. It is the one made of bonded leather full of napkin parts, envelop corners… anything on which I could scrawl my latest thoughts.

Here is one I wrote as I studied through the book of Hosea:

Why do we pursue harlotry?
Because we’ve abandoned God?
Why have we abandoned God?
The sin that separates us from the Love of God.
Not because we “misbehave.”
So, where do we start?
(Hos 6:1) Convincing people that they are LOVED by God.
Not by beating them over the head with their sin.

I want to repent and replace the first person plural with the first person singular. I am the one who pursues harlotry. I am the one who needs to stop beating my own self over the head with my sin.

I am the one who needs to be convinced I am loved by God.

I now dare to give myself some direction in the matter:

Be still. Be alone. Listen. No matter what it feels like; no matter what else you “want to” do. See “I love you” in Jesus’ gaze.

Listen to the voice of God in others… above your own voice. You would never speak to others the way you speak to yourself. Let your friends speak to you, think for you, be Christ for you.

Ponder the Cross. He did that for YOU. Go there, be there. Hear the pain, smell the blood. Let Jesus’ blood-curdling shrieks penetrate your own heart. You were His motive. Jesus’ own Daddy abandoned Him… imagine that pain.

He’d do it again…just for you.

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.


In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.


Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.


Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.


(Near The Cross by Fanny Crosby)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

This is the Essence of My Prayers

God, I want what you want for me.

God, I want to know you better. I want a real experience of Your Presence.

Lord, You are ….

Please forgive me.

Please let this cup pass; yet not my will but Yours.

Regardless of what happens, may your Kingdom be advanced.

Lord, I ask for ….






Lord, this is Your time – do with it what you will.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

JOY... yet again!

The liberal devises liberal things, and seeks objects of charity. It must be with piety and devotion: The joy of the Lord is your strength. Let it not be a carnal sensual joy, but holy and spiritual, the joy of the Lord, joy in the goodness of God, under the direction and government of the grace of God, joy arising from our interest in the love and favour of God and the tokens of his favour (From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Nehemiah 8).

The joy of the Lord is your strength.

I don’t feel it. I wish to, though.

I feel like Job when he says: “My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy” (Job 9:25).

Willing it won’t make it happen… or at least it hasn’t yet.

How do I survive, function as a Christ-follower in this condition? It is the condition in which I DO NOT feel strengthened by the joy of the Lord. Would somebody PLEEEASE answer that question!

In this context, the existential joy of being under God’s goodness and grace is that which motivates charity. I don’t generally live there.

I want to. How do I get there?

Sometimes I think if I just position myself and ponder God’s joy a lot, I will get it. I admit I feel much like Linus must have felt on the morning after Halloween. He had waited all night, expectantly, optimistically, regularly for the Great Pumpkin only to be once again disappointed.

Nothing happens many times.

God, in Christ, asks parabolically (Mt 20:16): “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?”

(Here is where I try to self-preach) God is good; He is a generous God of grace. He has given me Himself (“the keys to the Kingdom”); I cannot possess any more than I possess right this moment! Never mind that I live on this side of the full consummation of this inheritance, I have it – rather, it has me! – and “nothing can snatch me out of His Hand” (from Jn 10:28f)!

So, what am I complaining about?

Is it wrong to want the experience of joy?


I guess my prayer is for patience. I will still be Linus and pray for the gift of joy.

(Psalm 51:8) “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.”

Psalm 86:4) “Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”

(Psalm 45:7) “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Connecting With God's Heart ?

I was talking with my spiritual director yesterday - about a men’s retreat - and the subject of "connecting with God" in a way that, when it happens, I know that it happened. I told him how we had snippets of time to go off and reflect, and how I really longed to have some experience of God - one in which I sensed His Presence, His Arms around me, His encouragement, SOMETHING.

He said something like this: Isn't it interesting that you have a deep sense of longing (for something like what Adam had with God in the Garden prior to the Fall) as well as a deep sense that it isn't happening in a way you (legitimately) desire. This points to our being between the "already" and the "not yet" of the Kingdom. Longing for God is the "already" and the "it ain't happening the way I want" reflects the fallen world in which we live, the "not yet."

So, I wrote this while waiting for God to “do something.”

To connect with the Heart of God...
The silliest of all notions!
Yet, somehow we can...
And somehow we have to.

To connect with the Heart of God.
Is that like to connect with you?
God is the Giver of Life,
The blood that comes from His ... Heart.

To connect with the Heart of God
Is the only way we can live.
All other is merely device.
All other is ignorant fantasy.

The world needs you and me
To connect with the Heart of God.
No other way will they see
God as He really can be.

To connect with the Heart of God.
Is as easy as 1-2-3.
Why look anywhere else
To To truly ... be free.

So, where is the Heart of God?
How does it taste, how does it feel?
Please let it be real
For me to connect with Your Heart.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Do not become a Christian if you have the idea that Thing Number One is your happy life. A fork is only happy when it is of some utility in a person’s hands. A fork was not made for itself! First Corinthians 6:19 tells me: “You are not your own.”

Churches, yes CHURCHES!, do not get this one! “Send for this prayer cloth, send in tons of money and receive abundant blessings!” Huh? I send you money and God, in turn, sends me money? Why don’t I just keep my money and we’ll call it even!

The prevailing IDEA is that the Number One Thing God is here for is to make my life work.

Sorry, bad idea!

Cutting to the chase, refer to Romans 8:29 and read: "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son." YOU AND I ARE HERE TO BECOME LIKE JESUS! We’re forks in the Hand of God!

What was He like? For one, He was a sufferer. Here are His own words: “… The Son of Man [that would be … Jesus, Himself] is going to suffer” (Mt 17:12).

Paul commends the Thessalonian believers (1 Thess. 1,2) for responding to the Gospel, becoming like Jesus and enduring suffering!

For those whose idea it is to be honored by being among those chosen by God to be among His eternally safe children, to bask forever in the very Presence of their Creator Abba, to belly-up to a Banquet Table whose fares never end, to see Him face-to-face, suffering is but a “momentary light affliction” (2 Cor. 4:17).

You and I will suffer. When we do, and as we persevere and refuse to curse God by making personal comfort The First Thing, others will see Him in us.

And, we will be honored to participate in cosmic history as ones who have been used (God’s forks!) to build God’s Kingdom here on earth!

Personal comforts (blessings) do not satisfy – in the Biblical sense. Hear the words of Isaiah (in 55:2,3a)

“Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live….”

It is no wonder the church is anemic these days. She is telling her people that suffering is a must to avoid, when in fact it is part and parcel of becoming Christ-like!

I wouldn’t become a Christian either if those words were being drummed into my head every week. I SUFFER! I’VE TRIED TO AVOID IT! I CAN’T.

The church follows: “OH! What have you done wrong?! Better get on your knees and confess, better try another recipe to avoid the pain.” Is it any wonder that those suffering through, marriage problems for example, have to LEAVE the church because of all the extra grief they get saddled with?

Get your ideas straight … and live! Read Paul.

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

What is suffering to the self-absorbed? Out of the question.

What is suffering to the one who knows Christ?


Monday, September 03, 2007

On IDEAS . . .

A new idea dawns on me: I am not, after all, a “Christian performer” here on Earth to do Christian acts. I am here to become holy, to become like Jesus and minister like Jesus so that God’s kingdom is extended.

A crisis immediately ensues. Do I want to be holy? And, if I do, how do I become holy?

Another new idea: Becoming holy is not something I effect upon myself; I simply give myself over to God who, in turn, makes me holy.

(I am here, by the way, to become holy, not to become happy. This idea-shift is revolutionary and freeing in that pain, for example, becomes something to embrace rather than avoid! Pain is God’s way of … making me holy!)

Another crisis: Hmmm! Do I really want to do that? Do I know Him well enough to give myself totally and unconditionally to Him? Am I willing to trust that my current “happiness” is worth the sacrifice?

Part of the answer lies in what I see in other people, namely those who are a few cobblestones further down the path to holiness. Am I so attracted to what I see in them that I want it for myself – will their holiness lead me to trust?

Community (deep and trusting friendships) is therefore a necessary ingredient in making you and me holy and, therefore, to the building of God’s kingdom.

Good news (another new idea): I do not give myself over to God, a God I barely know, alone. I go there with those with whom I travel right now, some who are “further along” than I.

Add the idea which says, “I will take you there. My power will sustain, enable and lead you.” This power comes from the Spirit of God working both in you and your traveling partners.

What choices do I make – what ultimately depends upon me? Answer: nothing and, yet, just a little bit. It is entirely a work of God’s grace. But, somehow, mysteriously, God has designed this thing called choice. He tells us to “… work out your salvation,” in Philippians 2. My decisions matter.

I think it is a bit like canoeing. I buy the boat, take it to the river, get in, give a semblance of paddling, and the river, the Mighty River, takes me! This is great news for the Christian! To discipline myself is better described as “positioning myself” for a work of God! All I have to do is show up! Piece-of-cake! The hard part is turning off the TV, putting on those running shoes, pushing away that Twinkie, talking to that person you work with about meaningful things, sitting with your Bible for 15 minutes.

We are still at a crisis point: Do I want this? Another pitch for community. We can admit our fears to our friends and still be accepted. We can wrestle with our confusions and reluctances in a safe environment. If I am not becoming holy (and only you can answer that), it is because you do not want to.

How do I come to want to? A couple of operatives here. One is the holiness of our friends. We see others becoming holy and want that for ourselves. Two, we, as Paul said to Timothy, “discipline ourselves for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). It is precisely what we do when we do things – like exercise or diet – that hurt for the moment, but payoff in good ways. We do something because we “know it is good for us.”

What comes before the “want to”? The want to “want to.”

Try this. Take 15 minutes and be alone. Make every attempt to stop thinking. When you get as close as you can, ask God to do something. Ask Him for the gift of becoming holy. If you don’t want to become holy, admit it. “God, right now, I like to run my own life.” Ask Him for the desire to become holy.

Then, sit there for the remainder of the time and keep on not thinking. When the time is up, go on to the next thing. And, be assured that your prayer is being answered!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Make doggone sure you do exactly what you want to do. I mean, after all, everything you do is because you want to do it.

Don't fool yourself otherwise.

The world is out to get you to want to do the stuff you don't want to do right now.

The world is a liar.

Bud Light won't make you happy... it's that simple.

Happiness is becoming yourself. Who is "yourself"? You don't determine that,... any more than you determined that you would be born.

God determines who you are - He defines you. (Oh yeah, the "you" you think you are right now is probably skewed to one extent or another. I mean, look, for cryin' out loud, at who has been telling you who you are for all this time! TV and other incomplete, hurting people.)

And the extent to which you live into who He designed you to be, you'll be happy.

And that's the truth.

Therefore, happiness is deciding to become yourself... because you want to.

The Bible has much more to say about this. Read it! Read St. John.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To Joy

It's all about ideas - beliefs that we have accumulated like barnacles from the open sea. And, for the life of us, we have no real idea how and from where we got them.

Slim young ladies think they are fat. Most of us think we're "ugly." Barney Fife thinks he can sing. You and I can think that we have no value or that no one really likes us. And, just like barnacles, wrong beliefs can be our undoing!

We're in good company. Two of our traveling partners had their stories plastered on the pages of the New Testament.

One is in John 5 at the pool of Bethesda. A poor fellow had been abandoned for 38 years. He had contracted a belief like so much gossip that God was holding some sort of contest so that the “first one in” wins the healing prize. How lame an idea (no pun intended)! Certainly the place was rife with blind and cripple… those whose infirmity made sure they weren’t the first ones in.

Interestingly, the belief did not start as a boldface lie. How many of our ideas about church, the spiritual life and God are merely truths one degree off center? Hmmm! How many beliefs do we hold tightly and tenaciously about ourselves that are like the ones of the fellow at the pool?

The embarrassment comes as he lives out his idea. Verse 7 tells us that he is so misshapen in his beliefs that he deigns to teach, to correct God! Read it!

How misshapen are you and I? And, how hard are we willing to fight for wrong ideas about ourselves knowing that, although the ideas “protect us” from harm, they are infantile at the very best.

Great news: God is both aware of our ignorance, patient with our self-protection, and yet eager for us to learn the freeing truth! Read the rest of John 5:1-9!

The second story is in John 4. I tell this one second because there is a hopeful admonition right in it that gives you and me great hope.

The story is not unlike the Bethesda one. A lonely young lady encounters Jesus and talk about wrong ideas…! He promises her eternal and consummate joy, and she thinks He is about to drill an artesian well! (I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that we are “far too easily pleased.”). Sad thing: She believes that if she were to have more water and a better well, things would be alright.

What about you and me? If I only had ______, if only _______ would happen, then all would be well. Would it?

Here is the key – the hopeful admonition! Read John 4:10. “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” Again, “If you and I knew Him (the antidote for bad ideas and beliefs), we would ask (our behavior would change; prayer would be paramount) and He would give (us Himself, first and foremost!).

We get Jesus! Love Incarnate! I read this on a grave marker written by Thomas Merton: LOVE IS OUR TRUE IDENTITY. WE DO NOT FIND THE MEANING OF LIFE BY OURSELVES ALONE – WE FIND IT WITH ANOTHER.

I close with a prayer I wrote a dozen years ago.

Dear Father,

Indeed, we don’t know what to do. Becoming like a child involves much un-learning. Being humble means I must forsake those structures I worked so hard to erect, and on which I so desperately depend. Ironically, those are the very structures I built in order to avoid the very fears that will inevitably flood my soul upon their destruction. But, I must realize that there is nothing to fear in nakedness – and that only in You will I find my rest (Your rest given by grace).

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28,29.

I am not somebody because of my own merit and possessions – be they mental, physical, or spiritual. I am somebody because You are my Daddy!

Lord, I must come to You, abide in You, be with You, grow to know You more, bask in Your immense love for me… rest in You.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

On Knowing God

I have said:

Men will wrangle 100 hours planning, organizing, marketing, promoting, and gathering the refreshments for one program to assemble a group of heart-guarded believers before they will invest 5 minutes heart-sharing with one friend ... the true and redemptive work of the church.

Charles Caleb Colton said:

Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it; anything but live for it.

Why? WHY is that? WHY do you think that is true? Does it not bother you that the world, the Christ-following world, is like that? Does it alarm us that WE – you and I - are like that?

And what can be done?

A few years ago, I hammered out my ecclesiology. Take a look.

We live to bring glory to God
by building His Kingdom
by becoming like His Son Jesus
by abiding in Him (in other words, “knowing God.”).
All the while we
Love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength;
Love “one another” (the Body of Christ, His church); and
Love “outsiders” (those outside His Body) by fulfilling the Great Commission.

The Church is the Body of Christ, those individuals – Christians – who have been saved by the finished work of Christ on the Cross and have been adopted as children of God, and whose purpose, again, is to bring glory to God by building His Kingdom …;
The collective nature of the church is, in sum, to incarnate God
by bringing the knowledge of God to an un-knowing world
through Encounters with God in
Worship (anything that directly makes much of God),
Community (the fabric of relationships on which life is sewn), and
Service (expressing the love of God by meeting the needs of others).

It is the responsibility of the church to reproduce itself – indeed, it is the nature of survival (analogous to the physical world of plants, animals and humans), making plain the place of for Discipleship (which includes the fundamental ministry of Evangelism) in the building of God’s Kingdom.
The greatest gift that can be offered an un-believer is the gift of eternal life (Evangelism) and to bring that individual to maturity in Christ (Discipleship) through investing Relationships. Thus, that individual becomes a reproduce-er him- or herself, thereby building God’s Kingdom.

Bottom line: You and I, we, do not live for God, do not do the hard work of the gospel, because we don’t want to. And, the reason we don’t want to is because we have a weak, diminished, incomplete and maybe even false knowledge of God. Note: I am not speaking simply of intellectual or cognitive knowledge of God. I am speaking of a “knowledge” that is of the heart and reflects a deep intimacy one with another.

Conversely, were we to know God better, for Who He truly is, it would change the way we live our lives.

Read Paul and the way this principle bears out in his life!

DUH! Read the words of Jesus in His big-time prayer to His Father (John 17:3):

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.


I have written much about knowing God. Others have. For this moment I want to condense it into 2 words… COMPANY and COMMUNITY.

You and I have to do the counter-intuitive: We have to keep COMPANY with Jesus (Mt 11:28-30 in The Message). Not DO for Him, primarily. BEING with Him changes our beliefs about Him (Romans 12:2). When this happens, we will nearly automatically DO for Him. Keeping company with Jesus is tantamount to the ancient - and should be contemporary - disciplines of SILENCE and SOLITUDE. God get a copy of Ruth Haley Barton's book titled "Invitation to Solitude and Silence" and READ IT!

Secondly, we get to know Jesus better as we see and experience with Him relationally in the lives of our Christ-believing friends. In a word, COMMUNITY. As you and I INCARNATE Jesus (BE Jesus, in a sense) to and with our friends, we all will, as a result, know God better. It's called life sharing. It is deep, costly, vulnerable friendship.

Another DUH!

All this ain’t easy. Our “old” nature wants to BE God and to live in a little safe and manageable shell. By the way, this is why RELIGION works – you can go to heaven and stay in control at the same time! Another lie.

COMPANY and COMMUNITY is hard work. It will be painful. That is why Hebrews 12:3 says “Consider Jesus.” The Greek word is the word from which we get analogy. We are to analogize Jesus – compare ourselves to Him, the Supreme Sacrifice. Jesus gave His life so others could know the Father. It caused Him immeasurable pain. You and I have the same honor as Jesus.

We can KNOW the Father, become like the Son (know imcomparable JOY – John 15:11), in fact, we can become Son’s ourselves (John 1:12)!, inherit eternal life, and participate in the building of God’s kingdom here on earth.


Saturday, January 27, 2007


Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it; anything but live for it.

Men will wrangle 100 hours planning, organizing, marketing, promoting, and gathering the refreshments for one program to assemble a group of heart-guarded believers before they will invest 5 minutes heart-sharing with one friend ... the true and redemptive work of the church.

... I guess he did, since he died in 1832! Would you believe I said it totally unbeknownst to Colton's?

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Thomas à Kempis
Book Three. Internal Consolation
The Twenty-Fifth Chapter
MY CHILD, I have said: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you."

All men desire peace but all do not care for the things that go to make true peace. My peace is with the humble and meek of heart: your peace will be in much patience. If you hear Me and follow My voice, you will be able to enjoy much peace.
What, then, shall I do, Lord?
Watch yourself in all things, in what you do and what you say. Direct your every intention toward pleasing Me alone, and desire nothing outside of Me. Do not be rash in judging the deeds and words of others, and do not entangle yourself in affairs that are not your own. Thus, it will come about that you will be disturbed little and seldom.
Yet, never to experience any disturbance or to suffer any hurt in heart or body does not belong to this present life, but rather to the state of eternal rest. Do not think, therefore, that you have found true peace if you feel no depression, or that all is well because you suffer no opposition. Do not think that all is perfect if everything happens just as you wish. And do not imagine yourself great or consider yourself especially beloved if you are filled with great devotion and sweetness. For the true lover of virtue is not known by these things, nor do the progress and perfection of a man consist in them.
In what do they consist, Lord?
They consist in offering yourself with all your heart to the divine will, not seeking what is yours either in small matters or great ones, either in temporal or eternal things, so that you will preserve equanimity and give thanks in both prosperity and adversity, seeing all things in their proper light.
If you become so brave and long-suffering in hope that you can prepare your heart to suffer still more even when all inward consolation is withdrawn, and if you do not justify yourself as though you ought not be made to suffer such great things, but acknowledge Me to be just in all My works and praise My holy name -- then you will walk in the true and right path of peace, then you may have sure hope of seeing My face again in joy. If you attain to complete contempt of self, then know that you will enjoy an abundance of peace, as much as is possible in this earthly life.