..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007



HOPE opens doors where despair closes them.

HOPE discovers what can be done instead of
grumbling about what cannot.

HOPE draws its power from a deep trust in God.

HOPE "lights a candle" instead of "cursing the

HOPE regards problems, small or large, as

HOPE cherishes no illusions, nor does it
yield to cynicism.

HOPE sets high goals and is not frustrated
by repeated difficulties or setbacks.

HOPE pushes ahead when it would be easy to quit.

HOPE puts up with modest gains, realizing that
"the longest journey starts with one step."

HOPE accepts misunderstandings as the price
for serving the greater good of others.

HOPE looks for the good in people instead of
harping on the worst.
--Fr. James Keller

May the GOD of HOPE
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him,
that you may overflow with HOPE
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Small Kindnesses and Onions on Pentecost Sunday

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday and I spent the
day waiting. Today I thought about what it
must have felt like for the disciples to wait
as Jesus told them to. Waiting is so hard.
And what exactly were they waiting for?
They had no real idea.

Oh, I totally "get" what they must have
been feeling. I, too, am in a season of
waiting: waiting at the command of the
Lord. Dear Lord, waiting for what?

So many others are waiting also. God is
watching us as we wait. We are
waiting for Him, and in a way, He is
waiting for us. It is HOW we wait that
matters. In my waiting I can focus on
myself. I can think about how long
it is taking, I can worry, I can feel
sorry, I can predict and prognosticate,
I can, I can. Very tiresome.

Yesterday at church, things felt different.
Like everything in the world rolled to
a stop and I could feel the presence
of everyone there. All bringing their
bags and baggage. All hoping, at least
a little bit. All crying out, or just
plain crying.

It is small kindnesses that matter
as we wait. Small kindnesses touched
me today. We do not know how important
they are. You may have done me, or
someone, a kindness today and not even
known it. God knows.

There is a part in Dostoevsky’s epic
novel, The Brothers Karamazov, about
a woman and an onion, the kind of onion
with the stem still on it.

She was a very wicked woman and she died
and had never done anything kind--not one
kind act or deed. The devils get her and throw
her into the lake of fire.

An angel tries to help her by finding
one good thing that she had done that he could
tell to God. One time she had pulled up an
onion from her garden, and gave it to a
poor woman. God answered: 'You take that
onion then, hold it out to her in the lake,
and let her take hold and be pulled out.
And if you can pull her out of the lake,
let her come to Heaven, but if the onion
breaks, then the woman must stay where she is.'
(You've got to love the Russians!)

The angel ran to the woman and held out the
onion to her. 'Come, catch hold and I'll
pull you out.' (Its nice to have an angel
looking out for you.) He began cautiously pulling
her out. He had almost pulled her out, when
the other sinners in the lake, seeing how she
was being drawn out, began catching hold
of her so they would be pulled out with her.
But she was a very wicked woman and she began
kicking them. 'I'm to be pulled out, not you.
It's my onion, not yours.' As soon as she said
that, the onion broke. And the woman fell into
the lake and she is burning there to this day.

So the angel wept and went away.

Now I know that some of my readers are
Calvinists (and some are Calvinists and don't
know it) and they might say, "God wouldn't
say that, we are not saved by ANY good
deed." Indeed. We are not. But if we belong
to God good deeds will come forth from
us because that is what God's Spirit is like
within our hearts.

There is always more to the point of a
story then getting the theology right!
The Pharisees are proof of that! We can
be so right that we are wrong! We can
be so self-focused that when salvation
comes to us we do not accept it because
others will be saved also, and we are
not fond of them. You know I speak
the truth.

So often, because the world can
be such a challenge, I hear people
saying, "I hope the Lord comes back
soon!" Well, I can't fault that, but
what are we doing until the Lord
comes back? Are we looking to make
sure others will be able to meet the
Lord gladly? Are we waiting together
in a spirit of unity for God's blessing
to fall upon us? Are we tending to
the needs of widows and orphans?
Are we preaching the gospel?

I do not think that we are saved by
giving onions to poor people, but I
do think we are called out of
our hobbit holes to let God save
the world through our onions, and
lots more where that came from.

The day of Pentecost was not a
day for 120 people to have the
party of their life and then go
home and do nothing. Pentecostal
power is saving power for others. The
disciples were accused of being
drunk at 9 o'clock in the morning.

Drunk people don't change the
world. Drunk people don't care
about others. Drunk people don't
give up their lives for the sake
of others.

The power of Pentecost is the
power of kindnesses large and
small. The first Pentecost has
already come! Blessed be He!
But there are times of out-pourings,
times and seasons in God.
We are in a waiting time, and
we are desperately groaning for a new
season to break forth.

What shall we do while we
are waiting? We are already
to start with small kindnesses,
empowered to look around and
care. Empowered to be
doers of the word, and not
sleepers or whiners or envious
of the salvation of another.
Which end of the onion are you

We are all together as we wait.
We may not always like that idea.
But it is God's idea, and marvelous
in His eyes. We have been called
together for good.

May we look around and see what
small thing we can do for another,
for really it is not so small. Do that
small thing with the same
determination that you would
if it were an onion held down from
heaven inviting you to climb up.

It is.

If your blessings are only
for you they are small blessings
indeed. Work with God for what
is on His Heart: bringing the
whole world to know His Love.
Let Him do the big kindnesses--
you start by doing small ones.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is
fighting a hard battle."--Plato

and better yet:

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God,
holy and beloved, bowels of mercies,
kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,
longsuffering; Forbearing one another,
and forgiving one another, if any man
have a quarrel against any: even as
Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
(Colossians 3:12,13)

Fenelon on Perfect Resignation

Peace of heart lies in perfect resignation
to the will of God. What you need is true
simplicity, a certain calmness of spirit
which comes from entire surrender to all
that God wills, patience and toleration for
your neighbour's faults, and a certain candor
and childlike docility in acknowledging your
own faults.

The trouble you feel about so many things
comes from your not accepting everything
which may happen to you, with sufficient
resignation to God. Put all things, then, in
His hands, and offer them beforehand to
Him in your heart, as a sacrifice.

From the moment when you cease
to want things to be according to your own
judgment, and accept unconditionally
whatever He sends, you will be free from
all your uneasy retrospects and anxieties
about your own concerns. - Francis Fenelon

Francis Fenelon

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kind Christ, You are my only Hope!

Kind Christ, you are my only hope. Come to me.
Don't be slow to visit my heart, which desperately
needs your love. Fill it with divine grace. Join my
mind and soul. Make them burn in You who are
flame without smoke always, wholly resplendent.
- Umilta of Faenza, "Sermons"

Umilta of Faenza founded an order of nuns in the
1600's. She was also an anchoress and lived for
12 years as a hermit.

photo taken in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oswald Chambers: Bitter or Better? Fiends or Saints?

God is not concerned about our plans; He does not say -
Do you want to go through this bereavement; this upset?
He allows these things for His own purpose. The things
we are going through are either making us sweeter,
better, nobler men and women; or they are making us
more captious and fault-finding, more insistent upon
our own way.

The things that happen either make us fiends, or they
make us saints; it depends entirely upon the relationship
we are in to God.--Oswald Chambers

photo taken at Pecos Monument, Pecos, New Mexico

God's plan

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Alone with God: Cultivating Silence When it Scares You

Alone with God: Cultivating Silence
When it Scares You

I just can't seem to get away from
these posts on silence. As I speak with
others so many people seem to have a
hard time being silent. Even when we
come to prayer we want to say our
stuff and then go on our noisy way.

Today the part that stuck out to me
about this was the idea that silence
is SCARY to many of us. In a world
artificially full of talk, a frightening
thing starts to happen when silence
intrudes: we begin to look around and
see our naked and vulnerable selves.
Then we think we are the only ones
naked and vulnerable so we wall
off that experience: the proverbial
fingers stuck in our ear, repeating
gibberish to drown out the Voice of
Truth that comes to us.

Whatever was life like before cell
phones? I see people talking,
talking, talking, talking: business
people, mothers, bicycle riders, students,
and kids. Pretty soon we will have little
teeny cell phones for in-utero babies.

What are we really saying? That talking
makes you important? That having someone
call you gives you an identity? That having
lots of phone favorites or IM buddies is
an indicator or your worth?

Why is silence so scary? Because it
brings with it the atmosphere best
conducive for reflecting upon our inner
state. It also brings us to the place
where we can sense God's Presence: a
place, as I have said in a previous
post, that can, should, and often
does take us beyond the realm
of talk and words.

"Be still and know that I am God"
(Psalm 46:10). Can we not know that
in a noisy state? Perhaps when things
are noisy we can kid ourselves into
thinking that things are fine, after
all, I am busy, and busy people are
fine: they get things done, they DO
things, they go places. They are seen.

When I was growing up, I was kind of
the quiet type. I still am. People
would say, "You are so quiet." But they
would say it in such a way that it
suggested a less than desirable way
to be. Sometimes the funny, and sad,
thing that would happen, and still
does happen, is that they would say,
"What are you thinking?" and then proceed
to act as if I could see right
through them to the very worst
place in their souls. Come to think
of it, it happened yesterday.

Quiet me has learned this: people like
to talk. They like to have people
listen to them when they talk. But
if they are not talking, they don't
want you to be quiet, because then
uncomfortable, unwanted stuff starts
to bubble up like an unwanted zit.

What do people sometimes say when
they find a "soul friend"? "I can
be quiet with them and not say
anything and it is still comfortable."

Dear ones, God wants us to feel that
comfortable with Him in silence.
He wants to be our "soul friend."
Being silent is not a sign that
you are a bore, or lack social
skills, or are somehow emotionally
stunted. Quite the opposite. Whole
people are able to be silent. They
are unaffected, or at least
less affected, by environmental

Here is a humorous story about that:
when I was in first grade I was
a model student: smart, obedient,
did what was asked of me, but
apparently on the low end of the
bell curve of noise scale for my class.

My sweet first grade teacher, yes,
it was her first year also, thought
that putting me in the back of the
room with the wild boys would be
good for me. Make me less quiet.
"Bring me out of my shell." Hee-hee.
Yee-haw! Did she have some serious
explaining to do when I became not
just a little less quiet, but the wild
girl extraordinaire in league with
the pack of wild boys!

My glittering report card of all
"A's" was besmirched with a "C"
in conduct. Hmmm. Better to leave
well enough alone. Trust me, silence
is a virtue!

So why can't we be quiet? When you
read the great masters of prayer
they always address the idea of
the wandering mind and how to
quell it. As a spiritual director
when I ask people about their
prayer life, they often say,
"I get so easily distracted, I
think of this or that, of what
to make for supper, or what to
buy for a birthday present for

They identify the problem, but
they don't identify the problem
behind the problem. Truth is that
being silent can be scary. Scary
as a roll-a-coaster ride in the
dark. Space Mountain indeed. But
the space is our dark inner space.
We can only take little doses of
it before we start to scream.

The trick is learning to acclimate
to the inner landscape. Silence
is our guide, but do we trust her?
No. For a "quiet thing" she leads us
straight toward the very worst horrors
buried in our closets. Not just
dry skeletons. Rotting skeletons
that still stink. Things we have not
properly buried. Issues undealt with.

When tragedies like September 11th
happen, or even war tragedies, why
is it so important to find the remains
of our loved ones and give them a
proper burial? Isn't it better never
to know what happened then to be
called into a morgue and be handed
a finger bone of our loved one?

In some odd way, apparently not.
It is the same with our inner
tragedies. Time does not really
heal all wounds. Only God does.
We need to be able to find healing
and closure to the difficult events
in our life. We need to find God
in the silence.

If we do not cultivate silence in
our lives, it will sneak up on us
every chance it gets because God is
about getting those dark places
healed inside of us.

I'll talk more about this in my
next post. But in the meantime
be thinking about why silence
is often so scary. Trust me, it
will lead to more insight then
just thinking you have ADHD
(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder) in your relationship
with God. The reason behind the
reason is always golden.

God is with you. He'll keep you
safe. Cultivate silence. Go ahead,
this Quiet One dares you! :)

When God is Silent: Knowing God in the Silence Beyond Words

Knowing God in the Silence Beyond Words: Pt. 5

Silence as a spiritual discipline is not
widely practiced in many Christian circles
today. Silence, however, is extremely important
and needs to be a part of our lives as
Christians. We need to be comfortable
with it and not see it as something less
desirable than words.

There are times when we feel God is
silent and we feel uncomfortable with that.
Somehow, I think the silence of God often
beckons us toward our own inner silence.
For else how can deep call to deep or like
commune with like?

Sometimes I think God is silent to see if
we notice that He is absent. There can
be so much activity in our lives that
God becomes more like an automated check-in
system then the Living, Loving, Reigning God.

We, of course, pray, but our prayers are
about all the issues that swirl around us.
They are about the tangibles of need, not
the intangibles of love and sweetness and

Words are a very limited conductor of
experience. Even the word "love" pales
next to a felt experience of love. So
much of the important parts of life
lay outside of the realm of words.

Limiting our relationship with God
to the realm of words will give us
a very limited experience of Him.
Jonathan Edwards famous treatise,
Religious Affections, suggest that
felt spiritual experience is a
normative and necessary part of the
Christian's experience. I know there
is much controversy concerning the
role of experience in the life of
the Christian. We can make experience
a god unto itself, but we cannot have
a full spiritual life without
incarnationally felt experience:
other-than-words experience with God.

God is a Spirit. Of course we will
have spiritual experience when we
encounter Him. To think that English
or French or Spanish or any other language
is His first and best way of speaking
is to grandly misunderstand the nature
of Spirit. But I venture toward
the wordy realm of controversy. Please,
however, listen to the wise words of
the venerable Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

"There are ideas in our hearts, there are
wishes, there are aspirations, there are
groanings, there are sighings that the
world knows nothing about; but God knows
them. So words are not always necessary.
When we cannot express our feelings except
in wordless groanings, God knows exactly
what is happening."

Lloyd-Jones is referring to the passage
in Romans 8 where not only creation is
groaning for God, but even the Holy Spirit
within us, pleads on our behalf with
unspeakable yearnings and groans that
cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26).

"The Eternal hears what my heart
cannot utter, Hears the voice of
pain so deep, so total, hears the
voice of longings cried out in the
night, of dreams evaporated, of
fears so terrible, paralyzing.
Yes, the Eternal hears. He hears
the cacophony, The discord of my
heart strings. And as the piano
tuner tunes his beloved instrument,
so the Eternal tunes my heart, until
at last His music is born: a concerto
plays inside me." (Claire Rankin Lewis)

Recently our church acquired a baby
grand piano that needed tuning. Tuning
a piano is quite the process. Each string
must be brought into tune. Even the
smallest variation will affect the tone.
There is much tightening and loosening.
For the Tuner it is all about listening
and then adjusting. For the piano it
is all about sitting there until its
tones are sweet!

There is a place beyond words where
perfect communication with God takes
place. Holy Silence brings us to that
place. Our experience of God is very
limited until we meet God there. For
before the unique and beautiful song
that God has written in our souls
can be sung, it must be formed in

And none other then Oswald Chambers
has this to say about the silence
of God:

"When you cannot hear God, you will find
that He has trusted you in the most
intimate way possible—with absolute
silence, not a silence of despair, but
one of pleasure, because He saw that you
could withstand an even bigger revelation."

Exactly. Not the silence of despair, but
an intimate silence so full that you cannot
speak, nor wish to speak. Here you could not
make words express the ineffable joy and
melting together of your heart with God's heart.

That is a grand silence, one that is worth
abandoning words for, one that is worth
going without words for, one that cannot
be known unless you let go of the comfort
of words and swim, far out over your head,
into the depths of God.

We do not need to fear silence. Instead
we need to cultivate it and know that
more is spoken in silence then in a
dictionary of words. Spirit to spirit
communication is God's gift to us at
all times, but especially during those
times when our hearts are fit to break,
or our minds are overwhelmed or our
souls are wounded and hurting. Here,
in what is often the darkest night
of our souls, is where we know God in
a way that we otherwise might not know

John of the Cross wrote that magnificent
poem, Although By Night, in a dark
place. I have greatly adapted and abridged it

"How well I know the Fountain that freely flows

Although by night.

The eternal Living Spring, from where does it
come? It's origin I know not, ah, but well do
I know how to get there! There is no going

Except at night.

It has no origin: All other origins are here begun,
I journey there,

Throughout the night.

I know that nothing else is so fair, That heaven and
earth drink deep refreshment there.

Night after night.

How deep its depths--no man can dive to the bottom
of, nor swim cross it,

Unless at night.

Never was found a thing so clear, undimmed
and bright: From it alone, I know, proceeds
all light,

For it shines at night.

Rich are its streams and full - this know I well
They water nations, heavens and depths of hell,

Always at night.

And this, I know, nothing yields to them,
Except at night.

The eternal fount is hidden in living bread,
That we with life eternal may be fed

Throughout the night.

Be robed in the silence of God. Enter into
the quiet eternity of His Presence.
Its altogether better than words.

This is Part Five of five posts on the silence of God.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jonathan Edwards on Pressing into the Kingdom of God

He that is pressing into the kingdom of God,
commonly finds many things in the way that
are against the grain; but he is not stopped
by the cross that lies before him, but takes
it up, and carries it.

Suppose there be something incumbent on him
to do, that is cross to his natural temper,
and irksome to him on that account; suppose
something that he cannot do without suffering
in his estate, or that he apprehends will look
odd and strange in the eyes of others, and
expose him to ridicule and reproach, or any
thing that will offend a neighbor, and get his
ill-will, or something that will be very cross
to his own carnal appetite-he will press
through such difficulties.

Everything that is found to be a weight that
hinders him in running this race he casts
from him, though it be a weight of gold or
pearls; ... These things are insuperable
difficulties to those who are not thoroughly
engaged in seeking their salvation; they are
stumbling-blocks that they never get over.

But it is not so with him that presses into
the kingdom of God. Those things (before he
was thoroughly roused from his security)
about which he was wont to have long
parleyings and disputings with his own
conscience-employing carnal reason to
invent arguments and pleas of excuse-he
now sticks at no longer; he has done with
this endless disputing and reasoning, and
presses violently through all difficulties.

Let what will be in the way, heaven is what
he must and will obtain, not if he can
without difficulty, but if it be possible.
He meets with temptation: the devil is
often whispering in his ear, setting
allurements before him, magnifying the
difficulties of the work he is engaged in,
telling him that they are insuperable, and
that he can never conquer them, and trying
all ways in the world to discourage him;
but still he presses forward. God has given
and maintains such an earnest spirit for
heaven, that the devil cannot stop him in
his course.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Call to Agape Love: the Searchings and Stretchings of God

The Call to Agape Love: the Searchings and
Stretchings of God

Is it me or are all who are unreservedly
seeking to go on with God being stretched
and searched to the utmost? For the last
six months or so it has seemed like I
am being audited by Lord.

If you think the IRS is thorough, try
having the Living God go through the files
of your life! If you think airport security
in Israel is able to find everything, consider
the God of Israel systematically examining
every thought and intent of your heart.

A to Z. Start to finish. Back to front.
Inside and out. Searched. Examined.
Strength-tested like a cardboard box
in a crush test.

If we are truly His then it is His
right, of course. We are His to examine,
His to judge. His to test. It is not my
imagination and I am not upset. I am,
however, on "High Alert" in the "are
my lamps full of oil?" category, and
also in the "live each day with
eternity in mind" category.

I know many different people who live in
many diverse "fields of the Lord." All
so completely different, yet they are
all saying the same thing: stretched
beyond measure, purged, "like nothing
they have ever seen or known."

The apostle Paul wrote, "For we do not
want you to be unaware, brethren, of our
affliction which came to us in Asia, that
we were so utterly weighed down and crushed,
so that we despaired even of life itself.

Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we
had received the very sentence of death,
but that was to keep us from trusting
in and depending on ourselves instead
of on God Who raises the dead.

For it is He who rescued and saved us
from such a perilous death, and He will
still rescue and save us; in and on Him
we have set our hope that He will
again deliver us from danger and
destruction and draw us to Himself."
(2 Cor 1:8-10)

Tea, anyone? God's put the kettle on
to boil, only we are the gold in
the kettle and all the impurities
are rising to the surface.

Part of what God seems to be
testing is what comes out when
pressure is applied to our not-
so-sweet spots. In baseball there
is that certain place on the bat
where the ball will go the farthest
if you hit it on that part of the

All of us have our strong points and
our weak ones. God seems to be testing
what will happen if He allows our
not-so-sweet spots to be hit. Will
we fly off the handle? I love that
phrase for it hits the nail right
on the head :). The phrase was
first used by Thomas Haliburton and
draws the picture of a loose axehead
flying off the ax handle. Indeed,
flying off to do much damage.

God needs to know, and we need to
find out, if we are going to be
the kind of people who look out
for others no matter what. When
I am hurt, it often becomes all
about me, and tending to "my"
hurt. Suddenly, the needs of
others, especially those who
have hurt me, can be far down
on my list of priorities.

Think of Jesus. In the middle of
His hurt and pain, He went on
winning our salvation. Amazing.
Never left his assignment. Never
turned back. Never gave up. Never
asked His Father to blow the
world to pieces.

Actually, in the hour of His
greatest need He is found tending
both God's heart and the eternal
destiny of his persecutors.
When he tells His Father,
"Forgive them, for
they do not know what they
are doing" He is reaching out
to His Father's heart. Could He
see such pain in His Father's
eyes, that He wondered if God
would go back on His plan and
do some real, and deserved,
damage to we who inflicted
such rejection, pain,and death
on His Only Son? Has
God already experienced what
He asks us to experience? You can
bet your eternal life on it.

Jesus was also reaching out
to reduce the judgment that would
fall on His persecutors. "They
do not know what they are doing."
Whatever is the nature of this kind
of love?

God triumphed the day Jesus gave
Himself up to His Father on the
cross. He triumphed in Himself,
and in the person of His

Jesus triumphed, also. He showed us
how strong agape love is,
how powerful, what a mighty force
it is! He holds that love up as a
standard for us. The kind
of love that walks not only the
second mile with its tormentors, but
the seventy-second mile. The kind
of love that turns cheek after
cheek to be slapped. How in the world
could this kind of love be the love that
saves the world? Paul calls it a scandal!
It is God's tour d'force.

For God to have a people who live
as He lives, He must incarnate His
agape love in us. He must test
us to find out what kind of love we have.
This kind of love is not for
the mushy or faint-hearted. This is
not "feel-good" love. It is agape love
displayed before principalities and
powers. It is saving love, and to get
it it must be supernaturally implanted
by the Spirit of God.

Every Christian martyr has had an
opportunity to enter into this kind
of love. The Jews, also, when confronted
with the horror of the Holocaust, were
offered an opportunity to begin to
enter into the kind of forgiving love
that only comes from God.

We, too, are being offered an opportunity
to enter into a new dimension of our
experience with God's agape Love.

Jesus calls us to this kind of love in
the face of great persecution by our
enemies: "You have heard that it was
said, 'Love (agape) your neighbor and hate
your enemy.' But I tell you: Love (agape)
your enemies and pray for those who persecute
you, that you may be sons of your Father
in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on
the evil and the good, and sends rain on
the righteous and the unrighteous. If you
love those who love you, what reward will
you get?" (Matthew 5:43-46)

What reward will I get? Yikes. Is it
getting hot in here or what? But I tell
you this. I know that there is a felt
knowledge of God--a knowing of God like
no other knowing, when we enter into
this kind of love. You see, you and
I are really all cramped up in self-
protection. We drive our puny little
car called "self-interest" around
and scream hate words if anyone
scratches the paint, or bangs the

We do not really know agape love.
We do not respect what it is
capable of. We misjudge its cover,
for it is clothed in humility.
We are like incredulous doubters,
an unbelieving generation where
Jesus can do but a few small
miracles because our unbelief in
His love is so great.

In our darkest hours we have the
opportunity to cast these shackles
off and love "like crazy." Love
supernaturally. Love way past any
human ability we have to love. Agape

Is it going to hurt? Well, what
is going to hurt is letting go
of our old system of loving. And
we won't let go until we know
that that system is not just
inadequate but dysfunctional.

What if I am so hurt that I want
to love, but cannot? Rejoice.
You are just at the place where
you can experience the greatest
miracle of your life. A miracle
that will serve you well in
eternity. The thing is, can you
let go of that old love, now
totally drained,and more looking
like something that does not resemble
love at all? Hurt does that to us
as humans. It either kills our capacity
to love, or does us the favor of
killing what is keeping our love
on a human level so that we have
the opportunity to enter into
God's love.

Can you drop as dead as dead can
be into the arms of your Father
and let Him raise you, by HIS
love, into a new life? I assure
you that YOU do not have to
supply the love. He will. But
it will not run on the circuitry
of human love.

Do I know what I am talking about?
Just enough to know that its
true. There is no other way. I want
to know what that kind of love
is like and in the normal course
of events I won't be motivated
enough to sell all for the "pearl
of great price." Neither will you.

Let your grief, let your testings
and trials, sweep you into the
good arms of God. Is it a loss
of control? Absolutely! Might you
think it will sweep you toward
death and not life? No doubt. You
will not know that God's agape
is like no other love on earth
until you trust God and take the
plunge. God does not lead us
toward evil. He will give
us what need. A good dose of
agape. It heals what
ails not just your soul, but
the souls of the whole world.

Be all you can be: Agape your

Monday, May 14, 2007

T. Austin-Sparks on Tough Times & God's Sovereignty

T.Austin-Sparks on Tough Times & God's Sovereignty

If we have committed ourselves to God thoroughly,
really meant with the Lord that we want His full
will and we do not want our own, and by His grace
we will go the way that He leads and shows,
whatever it costs, if we have done that and then
situations have arisen which look terribly
complicated and seem to contradict the
faithfulness of God, what am I to conclude,
what are we going to conclude?

We have to conclude one of two things - that God
cares nothing for all our devotion and consecration,
and just lets us get into any mess, or else this
is all under His eye. That is ultimate. We have
either to believe God or not to believe Him. You
have all this here in the Word, and it all bears
down upon this, that people who are related in
divine foreknowledge and divine sovereign action
come into situations like that, but in the end
that sovereignty has been shown to relate to
something unusually precious to the Lord, "and
they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts,
even mine own possession, in the day that I do
make" (Malachi 3:17).

The Lord is after something more than ordinary
and He needs a people for it, but such a people
will have unusual experiences, inside and out.
It will not be the ordinary, normal course where
everything goes well and straightforwardly. It
will not be like that for these people. They go
through ways that are tortuous and exceedingly
difficult, but there is a sovereignty at work.
--T. Austin Sparks

Friday, May 11, 2007

Martin Luther on the True Gospel

If our gospel were received in peace, it wouldn't
be the true gospel. --Martin Luther

This photo was taken, hand held, in Pecos, New Mexico with available light during the exact moment of a lightning flash.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When God is Silent: Knowing God on His Own Terms

When God is Silent: Knowing God on His Own Terms

I've been thinking some more about those
times when we feel that God is silent. This
usually arises when we ask God something
or we ask God for something and
we do not seem to get a response. The good
thing is that we are expecting a response
and do not expect God to be silent. The
hard thing is that we may feel confused,
or separated from God. Know that God is
always near, no matter what it seems like.

If we weren't expecting God to speak then
we wouldn't notice or care about His
apparent silence. The fact that you miss
sensing or hearing Him means that you
value His Voice. But it is our expectations
that can trip us up. We expect God to speak
in a predictable manner and He often speaks
or acts in a manner far different then what
we "expect."

I do believe that God is always present to
us, always there, but His communication to
us is not always on the level of human words,
and that is the level where we might be
looking for Him.

God is not like us when we get ourselves
in a pout and refuse to talk to someone. God
doesn't give us the "silent treatment" in the
way humans do. He is not playing a guessing
game with us. Praise His Name!

Words are the currency of human interpersonal
commerce. At least that is what has become
of words. Words are given and taken:
exchanged without thought or substance. Our
words are often empty. With God, however,
His Word has substance because He stands
behind His Word. He is who He says He is.
What He promises, He does! So perfectly so
that Jesus is called "The Word of God."
God's Word is fully incarnated in the person
of Jesus. And His Word may already be
active on our behalf while we are waiting for
God to speak "words" to us. Jesus, His Word may
already be at work!

Our answer may be physically already on the
way, but we are looking for a verbal form of
it to reassure ourselves. I ship a lot of things
through the post office and often rely on
delivery confirmation emails to
assure me that a package has arrived. Sometimes
the package has already arrived but
the delivery confirmation says it is still
"in transit." There is a spiritual equivalent
to this. God may have sent the answer but it
comes separate from human words. The
confirmation comes later! (compare
Daniel 10:12-13).

On our side of things, our words are
often empty or unreliable because we are half
empty or unreliable. Out of our hearts, our mouths
speak,and often our hearts are quite empty. I have
several large dogs. Sometimes they open their
mouths quite wide and bark loud open-mouthed
barks. They literally blow a lot of air at me. They
usually do this to call attention to themselves and
to let me know they most definitely want something.
They are not trying to hold a mutual conversation,
no, they are trying to demand something.

C.S. Lewis' speaks of this in his grand work,
"Til We All Have Faces." Orual, one of the woman,
spends her life concocting a treatise of blame
that she will read against the gods. When she
finally gets ready to read her treatise--a long,
long roll of complaints--it shrivels in her hands
to a small bit of paper that contains the "real"
speech that has been laying "idiotlike"
in her heart.

At first she is furious, accusing the god's
of treating her badly and then taking away
her right to accuse them. But Orual has a
moment of realization when she hears what
she really has deep in her heart, "I saw well
why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor
let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of
us, why should they hear the babble that we
think we mean? How can they meet us face to
face, till we have faces?"

Indeed. God wants to meet us face to face,
but we must have a true face to speak to.
He will not speak to a false face, or a mask
or a guard that we put up. He wants
to speak to the real me. He wants to speak to
the real you. Sometimes we don't even know
that it is not our truest self speaking. Sometimes
we do not know that our words are borrowed
from others but are not our own. God knows.
He knows it would not help us to speak to that
false self held up with false words.

Moses wanted to see God face to face. But that
is not the case with everyone. The Israelites
preferred to send Moses up to the mountain
rather then face God themselves. Moses DID
want to see God's face but God told him that he
could not for he would die. For us, we see the
face of God in the person of Jesus, but when we
look upon Him, all that is false will wither
and die. We cannot encounter God on our
terms, but we must encounter Him on His terms.
We have to be prepared for an encounter
that we cannot control!

This morning, the "morning show" was discussing
the queen's visit to the United States. They asked
the president's wife if the president had to observe
all the same protocol (waiting for her to extend her
hand or speak first, etc) as everyone else when he
spoke to the queen. After all, he is the president.
Her diplomatic response was, "Yes, he does, but
the queen is really personable and nice." So is our
King, but we must still show Him respect and
let Him speak to us in His own way. He really is
trying to speak to us in the most life-giving way
possible. We may want a quick response, He may
have a better plan.

The ways of God take time and commitment to
come to know. Do not think that God is not listening
or that He has forsaken you, or that He will
not answer. Your response to the apparent
silence of God has much to teach you. Wait on Him
with great faith. He always answers the honest

This is the fourth post on the subject of the silence
of God, and there is one more post coming on this subject!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Keep Silent, Refrain from Judgment

Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner
peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will
raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult
and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts
against all evil. --Seraphim of Sarov

photo taken at Royal Gorge, Colorado

Friday, May 04, 2007

In the Company of Jesus: A Noble Legacy of Man's Rejection and God's Acceptance

In the Company of Jesus: A Noble
Legacy of Man's Rejection
and God's Acceptance

Rejection is one of the hardest things for humans
to deal with. Perhaps it is for God, too, if we
can even say that anything is hard for God.
Perhaps it is so hard because God's intent
was for us to all be eternally united with
Him, and with each other through Him.

Sin ruined that. And now rejection is a part
of life. What came to me this morning were
the words, "a noble legacy of rejection."
Jesus was a cornerstone in that noble legacy
for it is said of Him, "the Stone which the
builders rejected has become the Cornerstone
(Matthew 21:42)."

If we were to trace the history of rejection
through the bible, we would see that the
very best of the Lord's company of
faithful ones experienced rejection.
We can also be sure that these rejected one's
experienced a great sense of the Lord's
company--the beyond words knowing of being
accepted by God.

You see, there are two kinds of rejection:
one is earthly rejection because
you do not fit in with a certain group or
idea. Anyone can experience this rejection
and literally everyone does in some way.
But there is another rejection, a rejection
born of identification with Jesus, the One
despised and rejected of men (Isaiah 53).

This is the rejection experienced by the
godly: by all who identify with and stand
with God in truth. The thing is this: it is
not up to us to judge what kind of rejection
we are experiencing, for in doing so we can
become ensnared to pride. Leave it,instead,
to God. It is our job to obey Him, to proclaim
His kingdom, to follow Him to our utmost,
and to leave whatever happens to us in His

He is seeking to form the Image of His
Dear Son in us. Let Him continue
His work. Beyond the wounds inflicted by
man, see the Lord's nail-scarred Hands
gently forming you. He understands pain
and rejection. He also understands
how they are able to aid you and I
if we do not become sidetracked by them.

God sent prophet after prophet, preacher
after preacher, herald after herald and
they were all rejected. "O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem! thou who murders the
Prophets and stones those who have
been sent to thee! how often have I
desired to gather thy children to me,
just as a hen gathers her chickens
under her wings, and you would not
(Matthew 23:37).

Finally, He sent His Son, and as the
parable that Jesus tells remarks,
"surely they will reverence him
(Matthew 21:37)," but most surely
they did not.

Something deep in our hearts tells us
that that which is good and true and pure
should find happy acceptance. How cruelly
comes the truth to dash that human thinking!
The legacy of the godly, even the legacy
of God, is one born of rejection.

That is not the end of the story however.
The One and ones of whom this world is
not worthy is and shall become the
kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,
and happily we will be accepted by Him
forever and ever.

Jesus says, "Haven't you read in the scriptures,
The stone which the builders rejected, the
same is become the cornerstone: this is the
Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in
our eyes?" May the Lord give us deep
wisdom into this most profound and sublime
of truths.

How could God pronounce the rejection
of His Son and the subsequent setting
of Him as that which is the cornerstone of
the whole Building of God, as marvelous?

Wouldn't you think that God would rather
not talk about the rejection part? Should
He not focus on the end result and not
what it took to get there? Obviously not.
God calls it all "marvelous." Hallelujah!

Perhaps Jesus is giving us insight
as He continues to say, "Therefore say I
unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken
from you, and given to a nation bringing forth
the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on
this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever
it shall fall, it will grind him to powder"
(Matthew 21:42-44) .

Dear ones, falling on the Stone includes
incarnationally knowing the kind of rejection
Christ knew. It is knowing Him not only in
the "power of His resurrection," but in "the
fellowship of His sufferings, and being
conformed to His death if by any means
we might attain to the resurrection
from the dead" (Philippians 3:10 &11).

In our minds we separate "the power of His
resurrection" as being the strong and desirable
part. God doesn't. The whole lot goes together:
power, suffering, and death conformation.
It is a different picture of power. One
that the world and the devil can't stomach. One
that is deeply marvelous in the Lord's eyes.

All of this so that "if by any means" we might
attain to the resurrection of the dead.
Paul is himself incredulous! If by any means
these apparent opposites can be joined to
produce life and salvation! Death and
resurrection are joined for a season.
Suffering and eternal life are connected for
a brief earthly moment. Rejection is linked
with eternal belonging in the Lord's kingdom.
How marvelous this is in the Lord's eyes!

May we ask God to make it marvelous in our
own--in the depths of our hearts when we
endure godly rejection.

It matters not if man rejects us, what matters
is whether God will accept or reject us.
And who does God accept? The humble in
heart, the ones who call upon Him, the
ones that are rejected for His sake.

"Blessed are you when men shall hate you,
and when they shall exclude and mock
you, and throw out your name as evil, for
the Son of Man's sake" (Luke 6:22).

If you are part of this noble legacy, the
Lord will bring you salvation and lift up
your head. Leave judgment in His hands.
Call upon His Name. Let Him prune and
sift you through the rejection of men.
Fall on the Rock. You shall never be
ashamed of putting your hope in Him.
You will be numbered in the company
of those of whom the world is not worthy.

Loving Arms hold you in your pain.
A cloud of heavenly witnesses stand
with you. You are not alone. You are
accepted in the Beloved.

I am so sure I am talking to someone
out there today. Know that the Lord
is reaching out His Hand to lift you up.
The world has rejected you, but He
has accepted you.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters: The Movie!

Screwtape is coming to a theater near you!
Well, unfortunately he is already often
there, but this may expose him for what
he is! Thank God!

Woohoo! I was just looking to see when
the Chronicles of Narnia movie sequel:
Prince Caspian was coming out (not til
next year), its been a long wait. But the
same company is producing C.S.Lewis',
"The Screwtape Letters" also due to
come out in 2008.

The producers include Lewis' stepson
Douglas Gresham.

I'm looking forward to this, and thinking
it will be well-received. Let's support
Christian filmakers in their mission
to bring something challenging and
viewable to the silver screen.

And now, a Screwtape quote to whet

(the demons are having a winetasting:
Vintage Pharisee is the drink)....

"... see, and smell, that even under wartime
conditions the College cellar still has a
few dozen of sound old vintage Pharisees.
Well, well, well. This is like old times.
Hold it beneath your nostrils for a moment,
gentledevils. Hold it up to the light.

Look at those fiery streaks that writhe
and tangle in its dark heart, as if they
were contending. And so they are. You know
how this wine is blended? Different types
of Pharisee have been harvested, trodden,
and fermented together to produce its
subtle flavour. Types that were most
antagonistic to one another on earth.
Some were all rules and relics...; others
were all drab clothes, long faces,
and petty traditional abstinences from wine
or cards or the theatre. Both had in common
their self-righteousness and the almost
infinite distance between their actual
outlook and anything the Enemy really
is or commands." --The Screwtape Letters,

Fall on your knees....

Screwtape Letters
Christian movies

All Will Be Well, All Will Be Well

Stay in God's love, then, and you'll learn more about its
unconditional, unending, joyful nature. And you'll see for
yourself, all manner of things will be well.
-- Julian of Norwich, "Revelations"

photo taken at Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

C.S. Lewis on The Wayfarer's Journey

"The settled happiness and security which we
all desire, God witholds from us by the very
nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and
merriment, He has scattered broadcast.
We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun,
and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why.
The security we crave would teach us to rest
our hearts in this world and oppose any obstacle
to our return to God: a few moments of happy
love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting
with our friends, a bathe or a football match,
have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes
us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but
will not encourage us to mistake them for home."

--The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis, p. 18

heaven and earth

earthly pleasures

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Centrality of Preaching the Gospel of Christ

The centrality of Christ needs proclaiming in
New England. I live in New England and we are
not currently known for having strong
preachers of the gospel.

But that was not always the case. New England
witnessed incredible revivals under the preaching
of such men as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield,
Charles Finney, James Redfield.

I attended a meeting here in New England the
other night where a guest preacher from the
southern United States let it rip. It was what
southerner's call "down home preaching."
It wasn't the stereotypical screaming preacher
you hear late nights on the radio. This man
was scriptural, educated, witty, and still
could drive the point clean to the center
of your heart with the two-edged sword.

He kept at it for a politically incorrect long time.
He kept at it when we missed his cues to shout
"Amen, preach it, brother!" back it him. (We
northerners can be slow to shout in the middle
of sermons.) He was the kind of man who would
keep at it if we were throwing rotten eggs at
him or had a gun put to his head. May God
increase his numbers.

I sat there thinking how crucial the uncompromised
preaching of the gospel is to the gospel, to New
England, and to our nation at this ever-darkening

I just saw Mark Driscoll on YouTube.
It's refreshing to see a man stand up for the
preaching of the gospel and to call men
to present Jesus as He really is. Jesus was not a
naive hippie who advocated aromatherapy
and peace marches as a cure for the world's sin
besotted state. (No offence intended toward
hippies in general or aromatherapy in particular).

Jesus is the Lord of Lords and calls all people
to follow Him completely and without reserve,
even unto death. He calls for men with the
gospel of God burning in their bones to stand
up and preach it without reserve. How
societally incorrect.

Paul said that the gospel is the "power of God
unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). He also asks,
"How can they call on Him in whom they have
not believed, and how shall they believe in
Him who they have not heard? And how shall
they hear without a preacher? And how shall
they preach unless they be sent? (Romans

When was the last time you really heard
the thunderous message of the gospel
preached to you, regardless
of where you live? Let us implore
heaven to ensure godly preachers get to
preaching and then, keep preaching.

Jesus went about preaching, teaching and
healing the sick. He was not known to
hold back. His disciples covered the world
with his message, each dying martyr's
death, save John, who was still probably
preaching in his 90's. John, the one who
left us the Book of Revelation to chew on
as his farewell tome. Not exactly beach or
bedside reading.

We will not have revival, we will not
even have healthy churches, biblical
conversion, or even understand what God
demands of us if the uncompromised gospel of
Christ is not preached from our pulpits
and street-corners.

This does not take away from teachers
and encouragers and those called to
other forms of service. We are all
called to LIVE the gospel and preach
it by any means possible. The kingpin
I speak of here is the verbal proclamation
of the gospel through anointed preaching.
And the punchline of that preaching has
to be Christ crucified, resurrected and
reigning supremely in our lives--not just
in theory but in incarnational truth.

If we preach a gospel that is unclear or
substandard we sound a trumpet
with an unclear message. Noise is
heard but not as a call to repentance,
not as a message requiring utter
obedience to God, not as a herald of the
singularity of the saving work of Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah knew what
it was like to have the word of
God shut up inside him. He knew
what it was like to HAVE to preach.
The word of God should be like a
fire shut up inside. Fire burning
in one's bones (Jeremiah 20:9).

I known at least one world-class,
big-league preacher. He is not
the kind of man who would be
sitting around on a Saturday night
thinking, "Gee, I wonder whatever
I could preach about in the morning?"
The fire is burning within. People
like this get sick or explode
if they can't get the word out.

But so often "another" gospel is heard
and preached in our pulpits. It is the
gospel of politics, or the gospel of
self-improvement, or the gospel of
financial success, or the gospel of
popularity or the gospel of American
values, or the gospel of how we hope
religion could be. The list is endless.
But there is only one gospel and it
is God's gospel and that Gospel
is all about the kingdom of our God
and of His Christ and His imminent
reign for ever and ever.

Can somebody say "amen"?

Our hearts will not get to the place
where they need to be unless the
gospel is preached to us. Not just
to "accept" Jesus, as if He needed our
acceptance, but to make Him
absolute Lord over every area of
my life and yours. Have you heard
that kind of preaching lately?

If you haven't, then start praying
for the preaching of the gospel to
be raised up in the place where
you go to church. If you are ever
in New England and hear preaching
coming from the ground, it is not
the rocks crying out. It is the fiery
spit of gospel preachers who have
gone before us, preachers who did
not know the meaning of the
word compromise, rising up from the
ground. If only for their sake's
the gospel of God is sure to rise
up again here in New England.

"Preach the word, in season and
out of season" (2 Tim. 4:2). It is
certainly what it necessary to the
salvation of our very souls, and it
is certainly out of season.

In the next post or two I will be
talking about impediments to
the preaching of the gospel.
I hope you'll stop by and have a