..."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)

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Word of God Prepares for War

I saw heaven standing open and
there before me was a white
horse, whose rider is called
Faithful and True. With justice
he judges and makes war. His eyes
are like blazing fire, and
on his head are many crowns.
He has a name written on him that
no one knows but he himself. He is
dressed in a robe dipped in
blood, and his name is the Word of God.
-- Revelation 19:11-13

It may well be that the unknowable name
stands for the ultimate mystery of
Jesus Christ. His love we can experience;
His salvation we can appropriate; His
help we can claim; but there remains in
Him the divine mystery of the Incarnation,
which is beyond our understanding, and
before which we can only worship and adore.
--William Barclay, The Revelation of John

My prayer for us all today is that we might
be drawn into such an awe of God: of what we
know of Him, of what we will yet know
of Him, and of what we may never know of Him,
that we will be able do nothing but worship
and adore.

Our Lord, it appears, is preparing for war.
He will soon be the Rider on the White Horse.
It will be such an awesome sight that our
understanding of Him and what He will do
will wither and fall short. He alone
knows what He will do. He alone knows the
name written on Him.

Of His Kingdom there shall be no end.

Prepare your heart for His coming for
it shall be a great but fiercesome day.

Ride on, King Jesus!

Lunchtime in Ledbury

a beautiful scene from our lunchtime spot in Ledbury, UK

Friday, July 27, 2007

Developing Deep Compassion in Dire Days

Developing Deep Compassion in Dire Days

This morning I woke up and knew that God
was calling me to a deeper compassion,
a down in the dirt, fully engaged, robust
kind of compassion.

The call came just as I awoke, warm and snug
in the comfort of the bed. Life imitates
spiritual life lately. Ok, out of the bed of
comfort, I get it!

I am quite sure we don’t really get to where
we need to be with the Lord, don’t really feel
the depths of life until we are willing to let
things move us deeply, all the way to our deepest
inner foundations. We need to let heart-stirring,
even heartbreaking things into the innermost
caverns of our heart.

How do we get past the superficial kind of
caring so often seen, to a compassion with
real meat on its bones, a compassion that
is deeply born out of recognizing our own
deepest needs and treating those same needs
with great gentleness when we find them in

As I write this, I am staying in central
England, where flood waters have devastated
neighboring towns. Outside,there is so much
loss, so much destruction, so much need.
Coupled with my own current batch of emotional
flooding, its hard to feel open to further doses
of pain, uncertainty and loss. Inside things are
no less intense.

On the news they show aerial shots of large sections
of land completely underwater. From a distance,
there is a certain perspective, things look almost
uninhabited, or have a certain placidity to them.
Most of us are familiar with Bette Midler’s poignant
song, “From a Distance.” It talks about how
everything looks ok from a distance: harmonious,
hopeful, peaceful and good. It tells us God is
watching us “from a distance” and from His far
perspective the pain on earth is really manageable.

I love the tune, but I don’t at all agree with
the words.

God is not really watching us from a distance.
Although invisible, He is closer to us then we
are to each other. He is not hiding in a closet
with His Heart shut. Nor does He call us into
a closet to shut ourselves off and close
our hearts. Even if our call is a more solitary
one, it is a call to share deeply in the
fellowship of His sufferings. God’s call does
not bring us to a place of placidity and
isolation, “far from the madding crowd”,
but to the center of His heart and His
purposes which are earthshatteringly safe
but not easy as humans count easy. He is ever
about wandering about in the mud looking for
that last lost sheep.

We have different callings, but we are called
to the same high level of pouring ourselves
out. If you find yourself called to a bustling,
active life there is incredible opportunity
to open the doors of your heart to a deeper
experience of compassion for you will be more
often in the marketplace and the roadways where
acute tragedy happens firsthand .

If you are called to a more solitary place you
will still have ample opportunity to enter deeply
into the fellowship of His sufferings for the
sake of others. For until we know the depths of
God’s compassion to us, and this is found
in the "called apart" times we spend before Him,
with what shall we impart compassion to others?

In the story of the “good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30ff)
we can see, if we look, that there are two sides of
the coin of compassion. First, there is the physical
acute care by the Samaritan who finds an externally
beaten man on the side of the road and tends to his
outer wounds.

Secondly, but of no less importance, there is the
internal and ongoing provision (care at the inn)
made for the restoring of the beaten man’s battered
emotions and soul to health . For if there has been
been great external trauma there is likely an
accompanying internal trauma. Our individual call to
compassion can be to one or both of those healings.

Do you ever wonder how God, sitting in perfection
and peace, can feel the sufferings of the whole
world and actually engage with them? I’ll be the
first one to tell you that I haven’t gotten that
all that theologized out yet. What I will tell
you that in my moments of pain and need I
experientially know for sure that God is
completely with me, and is touched by my
fragile condition.

I don’t feel that He is pulled down into it,
or overwhelmed by it, or put off by it. He
does not say, as we often do, “She is having
a bad time of it, and I don’t want to get
involved. I will come back at a more opportune
time.“ If He did, we would never find our
way out of our dismal states.

I know in my own experience that entering
into the suffering of another can be a
challenge not because I don’t care but because
I’m not always sure how to care or how much
to care. I also am afraid that my attempt
at caring, if bungled, will cause further
trauma to either me or the person I am
trying to care for. It is a problem
of measure, perhaps a problem of me measuring
too much. I think, too, that this uncertainty
is caused to some degree because I do not let
myself be completely undone by my OWN need for

Very recently I was feeling compassion for
someone with the usual mixed emotions of not
knowing what to do, when I felt a wave of
God’s compassion directed at me sweep
over me! That seemed to bring me to a place
I had not expected. I’m still pondering
its impact.

God can pour out love to everyone as needed
without worrying about measuring because
His supply is infinite and He is not threatened
with lack or loss. God’s comfort and peace are
also not threatened and because of this, He is
able to offer us stable, healing Love.
God, take me to that place!

I think, however, that in the cross of Christ,
God’s comfort and peace was, in a sense,
not only threatened, but tested. If ever God
were to withdraw Himself, it would have
been then. There was actually a season, in time
and space, when God was especially NOT
watching from a distance and that His own
innocent Son lay dying at the hands of men.

In that moment God continued to have
compassion, perhaps in some incredible way,
even expanded His art of having compassion
on us. It is that kind of compassion
that I want to lay hold of.

For me, and this is my confession, it is easier
to have compassion for someone who has not
hurt me in some way. It is also easier to
have compassion for someone that I perceive
is just a victim of circumstances and
didn’t cause their own mess by stupidly mucking
up their own life. The thing is, who hasn't radically
mucked up their own life? I’m sorry I can’t give you
a better report about the magnanimity of my inner
state, but I do hear God calling me to a higher place,
so I am prepared, as I hope you are, to go forward
without pretense. Measured compassion is not the
kind I am looking for, even if it is all I currently

So what I think is blocking me is the notion
that if I really pour myself out for you, that I
will be diminished or finished off into the chaos
of doing that. I must think that I am holding on,
maybe just barely hold on, but holding on, and
if I lean into the rain swollen river of your
pain to grab your hand, then there is a good
chance that I will drown also.

You may even get to safety, but what
about me? Indeed. What about me! It
gets tiresome that I am always trapping
myself thinking of me.

I might chance it if I thought you really
wanted help, but can I even be sure
of that, because it seems that the raging
torrents often drown out any verbal
communication between us.

Then, I wonder whether God really wants me
to get involved or is it best to just “pray from
a distance.” Yes, that’s what I will do, pray from
a distance. Nice and easy. Take the high, dry road,

This morning it is pouring rain. Pouring in an
already flooded England. I am faced with the
fact that the high, dry road has been forever
washed out and is absolutely gone. There is
no dry path. Not here, not now and not spiritually
anywhere. Even if I wear my wellies my feet are
inevitably going to get soaked and the rest of
me, too.

No, I have to know, deep inside, beyond any
external person or event, that I am in God’s hands.
I have to be so sure of God that nothing man can
do to me will cause me to turn back from what God
says. If I am called to be an instrument of healing,
I must expect that those that God causes to cross
my path, may be in pain and will thrash around
and strike out. In so doing, I may be hit. Instead of
walking away, I can ask God for wisdom as to where to
stand and how to stand .

I do sense an ever growing feeling of certainty:
nothing can snatch me out of my Father’s
hands, and thus, I am free to love openheartedly,
and love past my ever self-preserving comfort zone.
Loving from a distance can be an excuse for not
really loving at all. I don’t want that kind of life.
This I say today, not exactly my bravest day, and
so I think that I am headed in the right direction,
without excessive pretense about my own abilities.

In spite of it all,I hear God calling, and if He
is calling, He must have provision at hand for me.
I do know that the more I watch God in action, the
more I see how He never gives up. He has such a
stellar record of getting His hands dirty for
the sake of others, which makes me want to allow
Him to pull me out into the hustle and bustle of
the highway, or at the rehabilitation inn if He
prefers, there to help Him find and tend to those
whom He has gotten out of bed so early to save.

I am going out now. Out of my warm bed into the
rain of the day and the dust of the road. I
will be looking for God to show me how to love
more completely, and have compassion more tenderly.

I could love any company that feels the same way.
If not, you will know where to look for me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

All is Centered in Christ

Life in the human must always
be a tension, a constant
propounding of problems with
no adequate solution, a constant
oscillation between the pleasurable
and the painful. But when we raise
our sights from the human to the
divine, the whole picture changes.

All started with God, all ends with
God, and there is only One with whom
He has to do: from eternity to eternity
all is centered in Christ. Therefore
whatever intervenes in history, whether
pleasant or unpleasant, must be caught
up into the stream of His purposes
of grace in Christ. --Norman Grubb

Monday, July 23, 2007

On Compassion, Tammy Faye Baker, & A Mouth Full of Razorblades

On Compassion, Tammy Faye Bakker, and A Mouth Full of Razorblades

The other night I had a very
interesting dream. I dreamt I had
returned to a church conference
arena that I had been to the
previous year.

I came into the reception area
and there were people milling
around. I suddenly felt something
sharp in my mouth and spit
out some sharp shards of razorblades.

They were just little bits and
pieces but they startled me as
I thought to myself "I thought
I had all the razorblades removed
from my mouth" :). I looked into
a folder and sure enough there
were large razor blades that had
been removed from me, but the ends
were broken off and the little
shards seemed to match these

I spit them all out and looked up
to see Tammy Faye Bakker, very
small and emaciated, dying from
cancer in the room. My heart went
out to her and I felt great compassion
rise up as soon as I had spit out
the last razor shard.

I went to her and she was so small,
like a child, and I patted my lap, and
said, “You poor dear, please come and
sit on my lap.” She came over and sat
on my lap and I tried to comfort her.

I could see people talking about what
was happening. There were two groups
of people, one group was glad that I
was comforting her and the other
group was very disapproving. All I could
feel was great compassion for her.

I could feel that I was sitting on
a swing with her and I began to
rock her like a baby. The feeling
of great comfort came upon us. And
I knew that my ability to do this
had come at the moment that I had
spit out the last razor shard.

The mouth is the hardest member
to tame, but it is also an
indicator of how soft our heart is.

We need to take an inventory
of our speech to see if it
contains any remaining razor
sharp pieces that are not
preventing an outpouring
of compassion.

It is so easy to judge others,
and easier still to talk about
them. Why is it not so easy to
instead show compassion and
to cover the shortcomings of
others with mercy?

When we speak hard things about
others, what is that saying
about the state of our heart?

I am out of the country as I
write this and am amazed to
find out that, unbeknownst to
me, Tammy Faye Baker died the
day I had this dream. How
eerie is that?

I have seen how much ridicule
is appearing around the news
of her death. I hope in some
small way my dream helped her.
I know it helped me think
about the fact that I want
God to remove any sharp shards
out of my mouth, and in doing
so, shower me with compassion
and comfort for people who
everyone else has thrown away as

We have to let God go deep
to change some things in us.
Its either that or remain the
same dangerous-mouthed and
hard-hearted kind of people that
Jesus takes issue with.

Lord, continue your work of mercy
and compassion in my heart and in
my mouth!

Flooding in Worcester, England, UK (British Midlands)

There has been considerable flooding
in the city of Worcester, England, UK,
and in all of British midland area.

The above photo was taken of the lower
cathedral area on Sunday, before it flooded,

This area was taken of the pedestrian walk area
near the cathedral (seen in the middle of the first
picture) on the next day.

An accurate sign in the parking lot adjacent to the Pitchcroft race track

the flooded race track area near Pitchcroft

A dog swimming through what is usually a pleasant green park.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Worcester Cathedral

Dear Friends, greetings from Worcester
England where I am spending the month
on a bit of a spiritual adventure, a
bit of a vacation, and a bit of only
God knows what. I think of and pray
for you all, and appreciate your prayers.
Keep praying!--RM

Discerning Jesus in Brokenness, Blindness and Weakness

Discerning Jesus in Brokenness, Blindness and Weakness

Whatsoever you do to the least
of My brothers, that you do unto Me
(Matthew 25: 40).

Who is blind as my Servant Israel, or
deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who
is blind as he who is perfect and blind as
the Lord’s Servant” (Isaiah 42:18,19).

Weakness, vulnerability, fragility,
brokenness. These are not words that
would first come to mind when one thinks
of God or be the first place one might
look for God. God’s ways, however, are
never dictated by the common sense of man.
Who God is, what He values, and how He
operates, are great and wondrous
mysteries that we need to inquire about.

Lately, there have been a number of
occasions where I could feel the
goose bumps rising on my arm as I
pondered God’s Presence mysteriously
hidden in Life. It is the way of the
world to look for God in powerful displays
but it seems it is the way of God to reveal
Himself, even conceal Himself, in displays
of weakness.

The cross of Christ is the greatest
revelation of God’s interaction
with man but in the eyes of the world it
is a display of weakness and shame.
The cross is certainly about ultimate
victory, but it is clothed in the
tattered cloak of apparent defeat.

Into all of our lives come situations
that defy explanation and baffle us,
bringing us to a moment of destiny as we
decide how we will respond. Let me begin
by saying that each person’s sin is their
own fault and they are accountable for it.
Furthermore, I do not underestimate the
scheming and destructive work of the
Evil One, which is its own separate issue,
yet right next to all of this is a
scriptural archetype of weakness.

Weakness is not the same as sin. For
Christians, being human brings with
it an inherent and total reliance on
God to make us into the image of His
Son. Even if man had not fallen its
seems there would still have been a
process of birthing the full and mature
image of Christ within man and woman.

Because of our fallen nature, this
transformational process does not take
place easily or quickly. Actually,
because of the wreckage in our souls,
there has to be much tearing down before
the building up can begin.

When God called the prophet Jeremiah
he commissioned him to “root out and
to pull down, to destroy and to throw
down,to build up and plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).
In that call there seems to be more
leveling and breaking down work then
building work, or the concept that that
the leveling work would take twice as
long and be be twice as hard as the actual
building work. Demolition wreckage is
a bigger problem to remove then just
building from the ground up.

Often we wonder why God does not work
more rapidly in perfecting us or perfecting
that which concerns us. God, you have
noticed, does not view things the way we
do. We are fearfully and wonderfully made
and the depths inside us are largely unknown
territory to even the most seasoned spiritual

We do not know ourselves. Nor do we know
others. Thank God for the day when “we shall
know even as we are known” ( 1 Cor 13:12).
But until then we do not know what the deepest
parts of ourselves might say or do when under
great pressure.

If God were looking to reveal an accurate
response of how we would respond to Him
He might not get a true picture if He
appeared to us in power or acted in power.
(Of course, He already knows us inside and
out, but it is we that must have the truth
dug out of us for ourselves and that great
cloud of witnesses to see).

If you went to meet the Queen or the President
of the U.S. you would be on your best behavior
and respectful of their office. You would say
kind things to their face even if behind their
backs you ripped them up one side and down the

We gravitate toward the rich and famous. As
human beings we are such assumers and such
paparazzi’s. We run after glittery things,
and sparkly people, taking snapshots, thinking
we know where real life is and trying to take
a bite out of it for our hungry souls. We often
bite into the wrong things: consider Adam and Eve.

We are somehow predisposed to think God will
make a show of great power or else He is not
doing His job right. We also think that He
prefers to manifest Himself in strength but
He tells Paul, “My strength is perfected in
weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Lately I have been led to believe that
God is sometimes specifically hiding in
the weakness of His servants. We all
believe that Jesus resides in His people.
The question is “where exactly does He
reside?” If I were Him I would head for
the more nicely finished parts of the

I am beginning to suspect that, at
least some of the time, He conceals
Himself in our more severely broken parts,
in deafness and weakness and brokenness,
for it is there that He is needed most. He
goes out and sits in the place of our
weakness. God does not always sit in the leather
recliner in the living room, sometimes He
sits in the broken chair on the porch.

“What in the world are you talking about?” I
see you asking.

I have seen some, been involved in,
some difficult situations and seen people,
even or especially myself, stumble over
another believer’s blindness and deafness.
I keep thinking, “Surely they must see!
Quite certainly they must hear!”. I have
come to anger or something sadly past anger,
when what I perceive as the blindness and
deafness persists, and here’s the kicker,
affects me in a negative manner.
I’m thinking it is here that I am
encountering a blast of my own
self-righteousness, for I’m thinking
if I knew my true state as compared to what
I am judging, then anger might not be my
predominant emotion.

I wonder where Christ is in all this, and
have come to the conclusion that He sits
before me disguised in the weakness, the
blindness, and deafness of fellow believers.

What? Yes. For it is in these moments
of frustration who I really am, and what
I will really do, comes out by the bucket
load. My truest self, for better or for worse
will come forth. My heart will be revealed.

When I see weakness in another, especially
in a place where I think it not ought to
be, or in a configuration that I find
hard to take, a configuration that presses
upon me, I am tempted to lash out because
I feel that I am not lashing out at something
powerful, but more like at defenseless dog
on the boot of someone who would kick them.

I am unaware of God’s Presence in the
situation. I do not see Him staring at
me from within another brother or sister,
helpless in my hands, waiting to see if
I will strike Him or help Him.

Beloved Ones, what if the thing that
bothers you to death, irks you beyond
your ability to bear it, is not just
put there by Christ but is Christ Himself
in disguise?

What if He is there waiting to see not
only what you will do, but what you
will do TO HIM? We can be on the
receiving end of this or the giving
end. We can be the person that others are
misjudging or stumbling over, or we can
be judging or stumbling over another. Or
both! We would do well to try and
recognize what is going on lest we do
not discern the Lord in His Body.

Christ has chosen to identify strongly
with His Body. Perhaps we do not
know how strongly. When I lash out
at a brother or sister, how in the
world will I have the wisdom to know if
it is their willful ignorance or something
Christ has allowed and actually chosen
to take up residence in, at least for the
moment, to bring Me to a place where
I will respond as He does to whatever
crosses my path? You would be quite
startled if He popped out from amidst
the unfinished construction of another
life and said, “I’m working here, do
you think I am not?” Or am I too
blind to see?

Here me out!
I am not condoning sin, sloppy living,
or spiritual ignorance. I am not saying
that Satan is not also lurking at the
door to work, but in a believer it is
my scriptural understanding that Satan
and Christ cannot both dwell. Our flesh
is still being dealt with. We are works
in progress. Does this fact escape God’s
notice? Does He not see that you and I
are still quite messed up?

There are more to things then meet the
outer eye. There are things that
seem almost eerie, and we must ask
God for discernment. We need
to look for our Lord, have eyes to
behold Him, wherever He might
be hiding.

And so I am wondering when we see
weakness in another believer, especially
one we esteem, perhaps even, or especially
in a leader, are we more blind then they
until we also see Christ there, holding
out His Hand to us, even as a beggar at
the gate, waiting to see how we will
treat Him as He disguises Himself in the
apparently blind or deaf one.

Every time I have thought of this concept
My heart starts to beat out of my chest.

Isaiah 42 describes the Servant of the Lord.
These songs are often said to be pictures
of Jesus. “Who is so blind as he who is
perfect, and blind as the Lord’s Servant?”
(vs. 19.)

Blind as he who is perfect? Does this even
make sense? If you are blind, how can you
be perfect? But what if it were Christ
allowing the blindness, or at least making
use of it for His purposes, even for a hiding
place for Himself? Perhaps I speak as a fool,
but I will address that shortly.

What if those purposes revolved around testing
how you would respond to weakness, lameness,
blindness or ignorance?

Is YOUR heart beating fast yet?

God is not after making us powerful in the
world’s sense. He is about making us like
Him: compassionate, longsuffering, meek,
willing to go five hundred extra miles for
the sake of a brother or sister, ready
to forgive seventy times seven times even
in one hour.

How else do you explain, “For whatever
you do to the least of my brothers, that
you do unto Me.”

He did not say, “whatever you do to the
strongest and best of my brothers,” but
to the least of them. And I ask you, as
I ask myself with trembling
heart, what makes them least in your eyes?
And can you let it go?

In Russian literature there is often a
strange character called a “holy fool.”
The character can either be someone who
has rejected society to walk in a solitary
or eremitic state to seek spiritual wisdom,
or it more often can be a character who
seems to hover between sanity and insanity,
speaking non-sense at some moments, and
then speaking the pure truth of God in others.

I know I have encountered holy fools in my
life. They give you rare glimpses into the
nature of reality. They unabashedly tell
us that the emperor has no clothes on. They
point out our nakedness and our own foolishness.
The question is, can we trust what a madman
tells us that he sees? Should we take advice
from a fool? Is the advice coming
from the crazy part or the holy part?

Only a listening heart can discern that.

I can remember hearing Derek Prince, who
is now with the Lord, speaking on the
disturbing disguises of God. He describes
a moment of holding a sick orphan baby,
holding it more from a place of near
disgust, and then looking down and seeing
the face of Christ being held in his arms.
It was the beginning of a ministry that
his wife and he were called to with
needy children.

Mother Theresa calls us to see the face
of Christ in the “distressing disguise of
the poor.” Poverty, my dear friends,
comes in all forms.

I am not condoning or advocating for
our sinful broken condition. I am just
suggesting that there is more to the
process of it: that Christ is involved
in our brokenness more than you think,
and in ways that you may not have
thought of.

Be careful the next time you judge
another brother or sister too quickly.
It may be YOU that God is testing and
YOU that He will call into account for
not recognizing Him and welcoming Him,
giving Him food and drink and aid as He
implores your mercy in the disguise of
distress, weakness, or blindness. Our
glorious nature to come starts in a
weak place. There is a great day coming
for us and in us, but the journey
starts in an humble way.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Where have you seen Jesus lately?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Feast of God: Learning to Dine at God’s Table, Part 2.

The Feast of God: Learning to Dine at God’s Table, Part 2.

How do we eat spiritually? With what spiritual
fork do we pick up our food? With what spiritual
teeth do we chew? With what spiritual stomach do
we digest?

Eating spiritually is about spirit to Spirit
communion with Jesus. It is not thinking about
Him, but, rather, receiving spiritual sustenance
from Him. Sometimes you see, in more ancient
depictions of Christ, a cord or tube coming out
of the Lord’s side feeding those who drink from
it. Sometimes milk or wine is flowing from His
breast. How strange this seems to us. It should
not. It speaks of spiritual eating.

I am quite convinced that we have been like
children who play by cutting pictures of food
out of magazines and placing them on paper
plates and pretending that it is really
dinner. We then wonder why we are starving
and why the promised food of God tastes so
impalatable. Are you eating paper instead
of life? We can read the bible and it alone
will not produce spiritual food. We can
take the Lord’s Supper and it can be just
a ritual. It is an impartation by the
Spirit of God that alone gives life.

When I had my first communion in the
Catholic tradition, I can remember the
exact moment of taking the communion
host for the first time. I had been well
prepared that this was a special occasion.
As I took of communion I had a moment of
panic for I felt sure that a mistake had
been made and that I had been given a
cardboard circle. I was focused on the
outer and could not discern the spiritual

How do we not know how to eat spiritually?
Sometimes it is because deep within us,
mercy and truth have not met. Our
understanding of what God desires to do,
and our ability to rest in His provision to
accomplish it within us, have not kissed.
Indeed, they seem to live as enemies. We
do not truly believe how much God is for
us and able to nourish us. We go hungry,
even starve from our ignorance. How we
view God affects what we think He will
serve us when we come to dine with Him.

Dear Ones, we need to sit and let His
sustenance flow into us so that our
ability to trust Him might be nourished.
Let us bring our hungry souls to God
trusting, and then knowing, that He
will feed us and that we do not have to
provide for ourselves. If we are faithful
to sit before Him, He will get the
food to us! He shows us that when He fed
the hungry multitudes on the hillsides.
He will impart His life-giving bread to
us. Bread of Heaven, feed us til we want
no more!

How shall we tell someone how to come to
the Divine Table? Often I have traveled
and will tend to wait to see how one is
expected to partake of the food set before
them. If you brought someone to the table
of the Lord, how would you tell them to
eat? God is holding out a banquet to us
but much of it may be missing our
spiritual mouths.

First of all, we must know that our
relationship with Christ is not merely
mental, but spiritual. For life and
substance flow by the Spirit and not
the mind.

It is possible that we know the Lord,
but are still a spiritual infant.
Paul writes, “Are you still babies
that I need to be spoon feeding you
milk instead of meat?” (I Cor 3:1

What keeps our appetite on an
infantile level? Is it our shame
that prevents us from eating? Do we
feel unworthy to partake of a feast
we did not pay for? Do we fail to discern
the heavenly food in His Body, both at
communion and in the many members of
the Body of Christ on earth?

Or is it that our taste for the gruel
of the world has left our tastebuds as
traitors? Paul tells us that it is our
carnality, our focus on the food and
desires of THIS world and not on the
food of God, that keeps us from growing
up and going on to a full course meal
in God.

Do we eat the bread of emptiness
thinking that it will fill us, or even
worse, mistakenly thinking it is
the bread of God and that we are meant
to feel hungry after we eat it? Are we
like puppies who eat anything that they
find, not having developed the discernment
or the sense of what is edible and what
is not, and in so doing ruin our digestive

Beloved ones, tough things will happen
to us, but there is always a Feast set
before us, even a table in the wilderness.
God always promises that the righteous
will not be forsaken nor will they
or their children go begging for bread
(Psalm 37:25). We can count on that as
a promise for spiritual bread just as
much for earthly bread.

The bread of God indeeds both fills
and leaves us hungry, but hungry for
more of the sweet food of which we
cannot live without, hungry for the
things of God.

Have you ever had a wonderful meal,
with a wonderful dessert and could
not wait for more time to go by and
the food to be digested so that
you would be able to have another
piece of chocolate cake?

For all the times that you have
wanted to eat dessert and not your
vegetables, know that even this
most human of feelings is a
principle pointing to the banquet
of Christ.

Now, who has ever told you that?
What is preached is more often
about law then grace. More often
about truth, rational and
intellectual, than about mercy.
More about lack than abundance.
Don’t you more often hear that
you should eat less and diet more?
And where has that gotten you? You
are still hungry because your spirit
is starving. Brothers and sisters,
dig in.

I recently had a dream that I
went into an unused storage area
at church and found desserts of every
conceivable kind ignored and uneaten.
I was upset that the food was not
being partaken of. There were cakes
and brownies, and cookies, and sweets.
I asked why the food was not being
eaten and I was told that it might
be old or full of bugs. We are afraid
to eat of the sweetness that God offers.
We put it aside and would rather go
without. We are suspect of the food.

At the Lord’s Supper is a place of
abundance and surplus. I dearly
love vegetables, but they do not
usually make me swoon. Consider
the Last Supper. Here is meat indeed.
The disciples were reclining at table.
They are examples of the complete rest,
the swoon of fulfillment, the dinner
of delight and comfort beyond compare.
They are in the Presence of Jesus, and
they are resting there. We must learn
to recline at the Lord’s table, where
there will be no rush to “eat and run.”

I sense that most of us distrust our
most trustworthy Lord, at least in
some area, and that we suspect, even
though we would not say this, that He
may be poisoning us. As much as I love
the Lord, I still feel experiential fear
inside of me regarding some aspects of
complete dependence on Him. So do you.
All we can do with that is come to God
and allow Him to dismantle that fear
bit by bit. Let the perfect meal of
love cast out the fear of total surrender.
We must trust Him enough to let ourselves
be consumed by Him! In turn He will give
us food that we know not of.

We do not know that one crumb from His
table will fulfill us eternally and that
He is not offering one Crumb, but His
whole body and all of His blood –an
eternal feast, a feast that sustains
past the ages of the age.

Do you know this kind of eating? All
of us need to know it more deeply.
Let mercy and truth meet together
to prepare a meal of righteousness
and peace like you have never known.
Ask God to feed you. Do not doubt
His bounty, nor His desire to give it.
Sit with the Lord and feast upon Him.
You shall not come away hungry.
Open your mouth wide and He shall fill

The Feast of God: Dining at God’s Table of Mercy

The Feast of God: Dining at God’s Table of Mercy
and Truth. Part 1.

Mercy and truth have met together.
righteousness and peace have kissed. (Psalm 85:10).

The way of God is truth ministered in
mercy. The ways of God are a righteous
blend of what God requires, and what is
life-giving and restful to the spirit,
meeting together in holy intimacy. What
God wants to give you will both satisfy
Him and sustain you.

How sadly we misjudge our Lord. Some of
us err in the view that God is a
disinterested Judge that needs to be
persuaded to act or will act in ways
that will burden us. God,who pours out
gift after gift, who poured out His
Son for us without measure, is not
heavy-handed or a strict Father
without compassion. By no means.

Perhaps number one on my “Favorite
Movies” list is “Babette’s Feast.”
Every so often I put it on and have
myself a good cry. Not a sad cry, a
good cry. An inspired, grateful

Babette is a world class cook
that has to flee to a sparse and cold
spiritual community in a sparse and
cold land. The people of the
community fear God but they do
not know Him. There is no sweetness.
No mercy. Only truth. Cold hard truth.
The people do what they feel God expects
but there is no overflow of life or
love in their hearts. For them God is
a hard taskmaster. They eat gruel.
They feel God wants them to eat it,
even serves it up to them. They
dress darkly, they live austerely.

Mercy has no place for there
is only duty. ”Do what is right
or pay the consequences” is what
they understand. Perhaps you may
ask forgiveness but only ask one
time, after that there is no
excuse for error. What a tightrope
to walk! What a dark place to try
and trap the life of God in. But
hallelujah, God’s life shall not
be trapped!

But back to the story. Babette is
asked to cook for the family she
lives with. They are a family that
have given up not just evil pleasure,
but ALL pleasure, forsaken it as if
there was no place in God’s world
for light and life. They are living
as if this world must be endured,
in order to get to the next one.
And so, in some small but certain
way, because of what we have chosen,
it must.

The glorious thing is that there can
be and should be so much more. After
many years in exile, Babette learns that
she has won the lottery and has come into
a sum of money. She asks permission to
cook a special meal for a special occasion
in the life of the community. The
community does not want to offend her
so they allow it, but they fear the worse.

They watch boatloads of exotic supplies
come by sea to their home and they
conjecture that all of this has satanic
overtones, that the way of gruel is the
Way, and that overabundant life is
something to be spit out. What they do
not know is that Babette has spent ALL
her money to provide this meal. Excuse
me while a wave of gratefulness to God
for His willingness to spend His all for
us sweeps over me!

A special guest is at the dinner. He alone
figures out who Babette is. The rest agree
to eat Babette’s feast sparingly and to
not enjoy it. The finest dinner imaginable
is served. The guests try to hate it, but
what makes me cry is how sweetly and
wonderfully this hardened community, which
has almost reached the end of its life
together, a life that has turned to
backbiting and arguing, comes slowly
and wonderfully to life. The food works
its life-giving effect.

Reconciliation occurs. Laughter breaks out.
Love flows. All without awareness of the
power of life that is bringing it forth.
I cry my brains out every single time.

Consider the banquet of God. Consider that
Babette points to Christ, an exile of the
Father’s heart sent forth out of God’s
passion to love the world back into His
bosom. Beloved, God holds out an
unimaginable banquet to us and we treat
Him like an unlearned and unrecognized

Yet perhaps even in the sinful overeating
of our society we feel a great truth. In
the eating of the True Banquet is life
and fulfillment. Perhaps we know
intuitively that it is food that keeps
us going.

The Lord’s Supper is the original and
everlasting Comfort Food. To eat Him and
to drink Him is to know joy forevermore.
He is better than the deepest, darkest
chocolate, or the most sublime of wines.
In Him there is no lack, there is no hunger,
there is no thirst. To eat Him is joy
unspeakable. To drink Him is sheer inebriation.

How shall we eat Him you ask? You take
communion, dear ones, but you do not always
discern the Lord’s Body. Why are we hungry
and thirsty when the banquet table is ever
before us? Are you still only eating small
bits of bread and taking a sip of mere wine?
You must eat Him and drink Him. It is He who
has told us this. He is not the guest of honor
at the dinner, He IS the dinner.

The Lord’s Supper is not about singing “For
He’s a jolly good Fellow.” It is not thinking
sentimental thoughts about Jesus, because I
tell you now, in the heat of life’s trials,
that is not enough. We are spiritual beings
and our spiritual lives depend on spiritual
bread and drink just as our physical lives
depend on physical food. This is not a
metaphor nor does it happen by a mental
process. “Unless you eat of the flesh of
the Son of Man and drink of His blood, you
shall not have life with in you”(John 6:53).
Jesus told us that this would cause offence
and many would turn away. It is the
hard-to-digest truth that always does! But
thank God for His mercy. And now I see you
wondering…how is it that I spiritually eat,
and others are wondering, “Have I ever eaten?”

We will look at this in part two of this article.

Friday, July 13, 2007

On Wonder and Delight

Several years before his death, a remarkable rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, suffered a near-fatal heart attack. His closest male friend was at his bedside. Heschel was so weak he was only able to whisper: "Sam, I feel only gratitude for my life, for every moment I have lived. I am ready to go. I have seen so many miracles during my lifetime." The old rabbi was exhausted by his effort to speak. After a long pause, he said, "Sam, never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I fnder, and He gave it to me.

A Philistine will stand before a Claude Monet painting and pick his nose; a person filled with wonder will stand there fighting back the tears.

We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.

Let us ask God for the gift He gave to this unforgettable rabbi. And let us pray: "Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of Your universe. Delight me to see how Your Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not His, to the Father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with Your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all."
--Brennan Manning

Friday, July 06, 2007

Notable Women Preachers: Maddalena Panattieri

I read with interest an article on Maddalena
Panattieri, who is one of the rare woman
preachers remembered in Italian spiritual
history. Born in 1443, she became a Dominican
tertiary (someone connected with the
Dominican order as a lay person, but not
as a nun or priest).

She loved to teach children about the Lord,
but she was so interesting that the
children's mothers also came to hear.
Then came the fathers, and then the clergy!

Her teaching soon became preaching! She
would often speak against the practice
of charging interest on loans. No doubt
she was and is the "patron enemy" of bankers.

Whether this is apocryphal or not, she was
often allegedly "translated" to the Holy Land
where she would describe the sites with accurate
detail. What a way to travel!

As for her preaching, one day when she
offended a man by her preaching, he slapped
her. Falling to her knees she said,
"Brother, here is the other cheek, I give
it to you in the love of Christ."

What an inspiring moment from church
history. May we all offer our cheeks
to the smiters so readily, and our
hearts so completely to Jesus.

You have heard it said, "An eye
for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I
say to you, offer no resistance to one who
is evil. When someone strikes you on the
right cheek, turn the other one to him as
well." (Matthew 5:38,39).

Matthew 5:38-39

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Are You Safe? True Safety in a World of Terrorism

Are You Safe? True Safety in a World Full of Terrorism

On this fourth of July I spent awhile
thinking about safety. I thought about
it watching the 4th of July parade,
watching Mark Ecker walk by on his new
prosthetic legs, the original ones having
been blown off in Iraq. His face was
beaming as he walked by to the cheers
and standing ovation of the crowd. God bless
him. I trust he knows about safety.

Our world seems to be anything but safe.
It's not that times have gotten more
dangerous, although that might be argued.
Things have been pretty unsafe since Adam
and Eve were thrown out of the garden.
Actually, danger was lurking right in
their pristine paradise. Go figure.

So what really is safety? To tell you
the truth, I've never felt really safe
in the world. Its not that I've faced
such a tough time, or didn't have a
wonderfully protective childhood
home. I did. My home on the safety
scale had nearly a perfect score. I
still have never felt really safe.
But lately that has been changing.

I know not feeling safe has affected
how I've lived my life although I'd
say that I've happily and nonchalantly
done things that many people would not
feel safe doing and never had a real
second thought until way after the
fact. I still think this lack of
feeling safe has caused me to often
err on the side of prudence and
caution. Which isn't a bad thing,
now is it? Still, I know there is a
higher place for me at this point.

So as I reach toward 50 years old,
I'm rethinking the safety thing.
What does it mean to be safe? What
does it mean to be safe as a Christian?
It really is something worth looking at.
One of the basic tenets of our faith is
that God loves us, and is keeping us
safe. We talk about our souls being
"saved" and with that comes the idea
of safety.

So what can we expect as far as safety
features in our lives as believers? Well,
first of all, I don't think that we
can say that we can always expect physical
safety. Do I think we should pray for God
to watch over our steps, our houses, our
children, our comings and going?
Absolutely! Do I think we should pray
for "traveling mercies"? Without a
doubt! But God does not make a
blanket statement to me or to
you that He will preserve our physical
earthly life from all and every harm.

Many of God's finest have died as martyrs.
Could God have preserved them? Of
course! But for purposes coming out of
His goodness He allowed them the
privilege of dying for His Name. I
think about these people. I read the
accounts of some of their deaths, say
Stephen as he was stoned, or Jim Elliot's
group as they were martyred, etc. There
is some incredible sense of safety that
shines through the stories of so many
of the deaths of the martyrs. Were
they physically safe? No. It was their
souls that were safe.

I am thinking that one of the most
valuable things we can have as
believers in the days to come is the
sense that we are safe in God. To
know that we are firmly held BY CHRIST
and that NOTHING can snatch us out of
His hand just makes my heart soar. I
love it when Paul writes, "neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things
present, nor things to come, Nor height,
nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the
love of God, which is in Christ Jesus
our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).
How awesome is that?

Paul writes this in the midst of great
danger, from the midst of a life of
danger, opposition, persecution,
rejection, trial, punishment and
banishment. He is PERSUADED that
nothing can separate him from
Christ's love. Christ holds
him, he does not need to hold himself.
Now that is safety.

But how do we get there? And what does
the safety mean? First of all, we
need to come to grips with the fact
that safety does not entail the
promise of no physical harm or
no emotional upheaval. Safety is
about our eternal standing and how
things ultimately turn out for those
who have trusted in Christ. The thing
is, once we accept Christ, we have
already entered into the foretaste of
eternal life. We have entered into
an important measure of that safety-
-the safety of our spirit.

Safety is really about trust. Can
I come to the place that I trust God no
matter what happens? Then I will know the
freedom of what safety really is.

Jesus knew He was safe. On the stormy sea
of Galilee he is asleep in the bottom
of a boat during a tumultuous storm. Jesus
is free to do the Father's will. He is
free to come and go. He is free to LIVE OR
DIE, free to walk alone, free to love,
free to endure rejection, free to forgive,
for He knows He is safe. Safety is about
my relationship with My Father in Heaven
and to the degree that I know I am safe
is the degree that my trust in Him has

Follow me through this scenario. I get
out of bed in the morning. I have a faint
queasy feeling in my stomach. Things
have not been going well on a number of
fronts. I turn the news on. Terrorism
looms in the most civilized of countries,
apparently coming soon to a neighborhood
near me. Unease begins to build. I carry
with me a sense of less than feeling safe.
I ease out into traffic. A car narrowly
misses me as it passes me at a high speed
to get to work on time. You know the
scenarios. They continue as part of
"normal life" throughout the day.

But do I know that I am safe? Do I know
that ages and ages hence I shall be
looking back through the files of my
life from some heavenly armchair
and saying, "if only she knew she was
safe there, what a difference it would
have made," "oh, if only he knew that
all was well, how rich his life would
have been, even in the midst of adversity."

Recently, I keep coming across Julian(a)
of Norwich's most inspiring of thoughts,
"Sin is behovely, but all will be well,
all will be well, all manner of things
will be well
." Sin is behovely,
useful to us in the sense that its
unnatural and unsafe presence
presses us toward the safe open door
of our Heavenly Father. When we see
what sin can do, we flee into the safe
arms of God, exactly where He wants us
to be. Sin is a threat, but ALL WILL BE
WELL as we trust in God.

God is not asleep in the boat. He
oversees everything and is in
control no matter what the circumstances
are. It only takes a minute for Him to
rouse Himself and calm the sea. Let Him
decide when that moment will be. Do you
not trust His judgment? For the only
issue in the world is this: DO I

We as believers must put all of
our eggs into ONE basket, and
the basket is this: trusting God!
Not trusting Him blindly, and yet
again there may be moments when
all we can choose is blind trust...
Not trusting Him without knowing the
full extent of His good nature,
and yet again there may be moments
when we are trusting the little we
know of who God is... Not trusting
Him out of fear, and yet again
there may be times when we are
terrified and trust in a state
of great agitation. It is ok, we
must start somewhere. Start with
the trust that you do have, however
small, and ask God to multiply it.

The thing is, as I begin to let go
and trust Him above all things and
every other creature, a great sense
of relief floods my soul. A feeling
of safety and well-being surrounds.
Do things go smoothly? Absolutely not!
Is life without loss, damage, or
death? No! Does my mind tell me that
I am not safe and to start immediate
preparations for purchasing armor,
swords, mafia protection and umbrella
coverage of all manner of things in
my insurance policy? Yes.

Can I choose to let this all go,
and come and sit with My Father, where
He whispers one beautiful sweet
something into my ear, "You are safe."
Why do I feel vulnerable believing it?
Why do I doubt His nature in saying
it? For safety is not about danger,
or the lack of it: it is about
knowledge of God and what He is
capable of.

No wonder Jesus had the courage to
go on: He knew His Father. He trusted
His Father. Was it hard for Jesus?
Yes,hard at times to the point
of sweating blood, but He knew
safety, and He let Safety carry him
home. I'm thinking the hard part
of life is not the calamity, but
the lack of trusting. Difficulties
can be endured, lack of trust brings
with it something far worse.

This has been a week of terror,
some within, some without.
And yet, I feel strangely safe.
I am going now, to rest in the
arms of my Father. And so I will
say with the psalmist,

"He will both lay me down in
peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD,
only makest me dwell in safety"
(Psalm 4: 7,8).

God's safety is so much more then
freedom from physical harm. It is
eternally resting in the goodness
of God, where no-one and nothing
that can take you away from Him.

God has promised this safety to
those who love and trust Him.

Do you believe Him?

If you heart is willing, but your
hands are still shaking, go to Him
and sit for awhile. Ask Him if you are
safe. What a wonderful answer you shall hear.