..."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)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hearts for Each Other: Bringing Salvation Instead Of Stumbling

Hearts for Each Other: Bringing Salvation
Instead Of Stumbling

Fourth in a series on Stumblingblocks

Well, after writing three articles about
stumblingblocks,now I am going to encourage
you not to be one!

I have to admit that this is not an easy
subject. Our God is a Stumblingblock but
we are admonished by scripture not to be
one! We can read the gospels and see people
stumbling over Jesus left and right. We even
can say that we see Jesus positioning Himself
directly in the path of some: the Pharisees,
the Sadducee's, and the religious rulers.

Was He deliberately trying to cause them
to stumble? In a way, I think you could say
yes, but it was more that He was trying to
trip up their pride and error so that from
a lower place, they might, if possible, see
the Truth. He was able to do that without
pride or ill-intent.

These things are too great for me. He could
see perfectly into the thoughts, intent,
and hearts of men. He knew what they needed.
He knew what was destroying them. He was able
to provoke them perfectly because of His
perfect purity. We are not so pure and do a
lot of provoking in the flesh. Often we enjoy
it. This is what we want to stay clear of.

I must say that I am not thrilled about the
apostle Paul’s writing and admonitions
to not be a stumblingblock. In the early
church, as well as now, people had different
understandings about what was right and wrong.
In Christ we are totally free, free from
the Law and all its constraints, free from
human rules and agendas, free unto God.
All things are lawful for the Christian
(I Corinthians 10:23). It is a terrifying
truth. One that I don't think I have leaned
my full weight into, still perhaps needing
the comfort and albeit rigid tutoring of
the Law to bring me fully to Christ.

All things are lawful to me, but I am now
the love slave of Christ and that is the
other part of the truth, and the more
challenging and substantial part, I might
add. Paul goes on to say that he is also
free from all men, but has made himself a
servant to them all that he might win them to
Jesus (I Cor. 9:19). Not only is he a slave
to Christ, he is a servant to all men. That,
to me, is hard.

At the center of this is the problem of the
weaker brother or sister’s conscience. Paul
knew that he was technically free to eat meat
offered to idols because really, there is only
One God, and those idols don’t exist. The problem
is that others do not know that, and if they see
him eating meat offered to idols then they are
tempted to judge him for doing something they
think is wrong. and they may be tempted to also
eat and fall into sin.

It is like the fallout that happens
when a leader falls into sin. People then say,
“Well, if he did this, then why can’t I?
or if she sinned, being such an allegedly great
Christian, then Christianity must not be real.”
Thus, people turn away from God and stumble over
the acts of fellow Christians. The thing is,
why should we care? Is it our responsibility?
Am I my brother’s keeper?

What we might miss in a cursory reading of the
gospels, and in seeing how Jesus caused people
to stumble, could make us think that Jesus
didn’t care about who stumbled over
Him. There is something “in your face” and
macho American in that perception. We could
not be more wrong. Jesus is not James Dean.
Nor is He James Bond.

The Father’s heart is that none should perish.
Jesus always reflected the Father’s heart in
thought, deed, and truth. He did not just go
around doing what He wanted to do, letting the
glass chips fly without a care. He humbled
Himself way past where He could have been
expected to. He overturned the moneychangers
but took care for the doves. He obeyed the
Father completely.

I, however, am not to proud to say that there
have been times that I have felt “put upon” to
accommodate my actions for the sake of a weaker
brother or sister. Read I Cor. 10:23-33. Paul
says, “Let no one seek his own, but each one
the other’s well being (vs 24). Even if your
conscience permits you to do something, don’t
do it if causes another brother or sister to
stumble. This is hard. This is something that
I would prefer not to hear.

The difference between Jesus and I in
this matter is substantial. Jesus ALWAYS acted
for the good of the person. If their hearts
were hardened as an inevitable result then,
God, in allowing human choice, could do
nothing more. All the grace God had to give
was poured out to make a way. Some did not,
and some will not, accept that grace because
it can seem like a hard grace when it
approaches us. The poured out grace remains
even if it is wasted. This presses against me.

I have to get down and ask myself: “Am I as
much for others as God is for them?” “Am I
willing to sacrifice as much as God has for
the sake of others?” “Am I willing to lay
down pleasurable though lawful things because
others are offended by them?” The fast balls
are whizzing by me and I am swinging and missing.

All around me is great, great need. People are
entangled in their own misery, sin, and
waywardness. They find the road back to God
fraught with obstacles. I can either be another
obstacle or an agent of grace. Wouldn’t it be
great if my job was to disentangle those things
which keep people from surrendering to Jesus?
The thing is, that this is what Jesus has
told me my job is! Why is it pleasurable to
disentangle some knots and troublesome and
vexing to entangle others? The answer is simple:
sometimes I am going to have to bend over way
too far, go far too many nights without
sleep, travel to God-forsaken parts of the
world, or God-forsaken parts of the human soul,
to be the hands of God in aiding another. My
flesh is far too much in the way and balks at
the thought of undue self-denial on behalf of another.

For many years I cared for abandoned and
abused dogs, some in conditions akin to
a concentration camp. I subjected myself to
stink, filth, sickness, disease, bodily trauma
and great emotional distress because it came
with the job. I do not laud myself for this.
I did it because I cared and because it was the
right thing to do. Are you seeing where I am
going with this? In one of Jesus’ teachings
He says this:

But which of you, having a
servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say
unto him by and by, when he is come from the
field, Go and sit down to eat? And will not
rather say unto him, Make ready my supper,
and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have
eaten and drunken; and afterward you shalt
eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant
because he did the things that were commanded
him? I think not. So likewise you, when you
shall have done all those things which are
commanded you, say, We are unprofitable
servants: we have done that which was our
duty to do (Luke 17:7-10).

After we obeyed Jesus unto death, we
have done nothing special other than
our duty! The biggest stumblingblock
we need to get out of the way is not
the weakness of others and how it impinges
on us, but the sense that we do not need
to give everything for the sake of
rescuing the Lord’s lost sheep.

When we see others struggling, a
frightening process occurs in our hearts:
we are faced with the possibility of
being able to help them toward God or
of further blocking their ability to
surrender to God. I see you struggling
with this, as do I: why should this
concern me? shouldn’t people go on with
God no matter what I do? Yes, well they
should and they will have to answer, but
so will you.

In Matthew 18 Jesus talks about the great
danger of causing little ones to stumble.
He said it would be better if a millstone
were tied around your neck and you drowned
rather than to cause a child to stumble.
There is an extra liability with children.
But then He says,“Woe to the world because
of offenses! For offense must come, but woe
to that man by whom the offense comes!”
(Matthew 18:7)

The sad truth is that, no matter how hard
you try not to be, you will be a stumblingblock
to someone. If Jesus was a Stumblingblock,
Jesus who was perfect and innocent and good,
even God come in the flesh, then you will cause
others to stumble. We will be held liable only for
stumbling that we cause that is not born out of
our obedience to God.

We should not desire to cause others to fall,
but it is absolutely likely, even inevitable.
Knowing that I caused another to stumble because
I obeyed God is a sobering thought. Yet may I
can never be the cause, because of my flesh,
of another's stumbling. We cannot be resigned
to that fact, or try to justify ourselves with
the kind of attitude that says, “I don’t care
how my actions affects others.”

Jesus did not have that attitude. He simply
obeyed the Father. He also had the Father’s
heart toward others and that is the most
important consideration. We can err by either
being too unwilling to offend others, or way
too unconcerned about offending others. It
has become culturally popular to not want to
offend others, but where does this come from?
Does it come from true care about anothers’s
feelings or about making myself a
people-pleaser? Our job is to evermore please
God and not man.

If there was someone asleep in a burning
building would it be incorrect to wake
them to get them out? Couldn’t we say,
“They must be sleeping, they need their
rest,it is not my place to get involved
or to bother them.” How will that help
the person if they burn to death? You
had the awareness of their great need,
they did not. You had the resources at
hand to help, did you find a way to get
the person in need to accept what God was
holding out?

We all have needs. Some we do not want to
acknowledge. How do I help others
acknowledge their need and receive the help
that God so lovingly offers? How do I help
others accept the help that Jesus holds out
to them? How do I not be the stone of
offence that stands between someone and Jesus?

All these things are deep matters
of the heart. I think we know
more about making a way for others
than we want to admit. There are
many times when we know what will
help another person, or what will
break them. It is then that we must
deny ourselves, no matter what. When
I see another struggling may I be
quick to ask God, “What will help
them decide for You?” “What
stumblingblock can I take out of the
way so that they might walk freely
toward God?

Dear Lord, help us love others and
give ourselves for others, with as
much love and passion as You did
for us. “Keep yourselves in the
love of God looking for the mercy
of our Lord Jesus Christ unto
eternal life. And on some have
compassion as on those who doubt,
but others save with fear, pulling
them out of the fire, hating even
the garment defiled by the flesh”
(Jude 1:21-23). Jesus, give us hearts
for each other.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I surrendered unto Him all there was of me;
everything! Then for the first time I
realized what it meant to have real power.
-- Kathryn Kuhlman

--photo taken near Ledbury, England

Kathyrn Kuhlman

Friday, August 24, 2007

Of Steep Hills and Sweet Fellowship


The hill was steep, but cheered along the way
By converse sweet, I mounted on the thought
That so it might be till the height was reached;
But suddenly a narrow winding path
Appeared, and then the Master said, 'My child,
Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone.'

I trembled, yet my heart's deep trust replied,
'So be it, Lord.' He took my feeble hand
In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him
All, and to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment,
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.

But oh! so tenderly He led me on
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.

And then I found my footsteps quickened,
And light ineffable, the rugged way
Illumined, such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God.

A little while, and we shall meet again
The loved and lost; but in the rapturous joy
Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,
And tender recollections rushing back
Of pilgrim life, methinks one memory
More dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise,

And we who gather in the golden streets,
Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love
Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.
There is no high hill but beside some deep valley.
There is no birth without a pang.
--Dan Crawford

photo taken on the steep paths of the Malvern Hills, England :)

Malvern Hills

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Righteousness and Peace Have Kissed

So far as past errors are concerned,
forget them and start afresh, as if
it were your first day in this body;
but so far as your present contacts
are concerned, be kind to them, as
if it were your last day in this body.
-- Paul Brunton

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for He proclaims peace
To His people, and to His saints,
But let them not turn back to folly.

Surely His salvation is near to
those who fear Him, that glory
may dwell in the our land.

Kindness and truth have met;
righteousness and peace have kissed.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

Psalm 85: 8-11

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why is Jesus a Stumblingblock?

Why Is Jesus A Stumblingblock?

I was going to write about what
we as humans stumble over but after
pondering a bit, I think that it
is wisest to take a look at why
we stumble over Jesus or, for this
article, why those in the time of
Jesus, stumbled over Him. There really
is a lot more cause for stumbling then
we think or would want to acknowledge.
We can not be so self-righteous to
think that we, even as believers, will
not stumble over Jesus.

If we understand what raises our ire,
whether in God or man, we will see much
more clearly why we stumble so easily.
There are some unique things that we
could stumble over in Jesus but some
of the things we will stumble over in
Him are things that we will stumble
over, at least in principle, in others,
especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.

As I started to make a list of reasons
why Jesus is a Stumblingblock I decided
to start with Matthew’s gospel and go
through the gospels. Amazingly, for the
sake of time and space, I am only going
to list some of the reasons for stumbling
that I found in Matthew’s gospel alone.
The amazing truth is that stumblingblock
material leaped off every page and are
part and parcel of Matthew’s account of
the gospel. I promise you at some point
I will get back to Mark, Luke, and John’s
gospel to look at how Jesus is a
Stumblingblock there, also. But now, here
is the cause for stumbling as told by Matthew.

Why is Jesus a Stumblingblock?

Jesus threatens human thrones (Matthew 2:3ff).
When King Herod heard that the wise men were
coming to worship Jesus, he was threatened.
He sinned grieviously in trying to protect
his throne. Herod stumbled over a kingdom
and a throne greater than his own. He could
not bear not being the highest power.

Jesus had more spiritual authority and
acumen than the religious leaders of the
day (Matthew 7:28). He has so much
authority that no one is able to argue with
Him (Matthew 22:46). He was also able to to
silence the Sadduccees and religious arguers
(Matt 22:34). Anyone knows you can’t silence
religious arguers without causing a major stir.
People like to argue to try and show their
knowledge. If their lack of knowledge is
publicly revealed, trouble is sure to follow.

Jesus does not pay attention to political,
social, or religious correctness or tradition.
He eats with tax collectors and sinners
(Mat 9:11); doesn’t fast (Mat 9:14); plucks
grain on the Sabbath (Mat 12:1-8); and heals on the
Sabbath (Mat 12:9-14). He allows a woman to touch
him in public, lets her wipe his feet with her
(God forbid) HAIR, and allows an extremely
expensive vial of perfume to be poured over
Him while the poor, perhaps, are starving!
(Mat 26:7-13).

There is nothing like crossing the established
boundaries of male/female relationships and
broaching the subject of alleged waste by
religious leaders that will stir up the hackles
of the religious bean-counting populace.
Self-appointed chaperones and the Galilean
Auditing Group, Inc, though apparently
looking out for the greater public good,
are sure to be offended into revealing
their true hearts. These are the people
that have the National Inquirer of the Galilee
Report-a-Drama line set in their telephone
speed dial.

Futhermore, He is not religious enough,
not ascetic enough, not sad enough
(Mat 11:17-19)and apparently doesn’t wash
His hands enough (Mat 15:1-2). He doesn’t
want to dance to popular tunes, nor with the
movers and shakers who could help Him shape
His career, or hopes for the presidency.
Yet He is found way too often in bars.

His family lineage is not blue-blooded enough
although God values Him enough to teach Him
directly and give Him the Spirit without measure
(Mat 13:53-58) (Matthew 3:14-17).

Jesus insults religious hypocrisy (Matthew 7:1-7)
(Mat 15:14)etc, etc, and won’t produce a sign
on demand (Mat 16:1-4). He also makes judgments
on peoples, towns, and cities that will not
receive Him well (Matt 11:21-24, Matt. 10:13-15).
Who is He to judge us? Indeed.

He flat out says that He would divide
families (Mat 10:34) and He puts the
importance of the spiritual family
over the earthly family (Mat 12:46-50). He
has a tongue-in-cheek attitude toward human
government and our obligations to it
(Mat 17:25-27). Christian political and family
caucus’ take note. I hear the pens of the
conservative pundits beginning to scratch

He deliberately hides things from the wise but
reveals them to babes and the simple
(Mat 11:25)(Mat 13:10-17). Did you see the article about Oxford University threatening that Wycliffe Hall
must provide a liberal education to its
students and any outbreaks of evangelical
furvor will not be tolerated?

He announces He is not only able to heal
but to forgive sins (Mat 9: 1-8)and puts
Himself on a par with God, allegedly
blaspheming (Matthew 26:64-65).
My dear readers, Jesus is not a good teacher
if this is not true. He would not be good
at all.

His authority and ability to successfully
summon people to follow Him, out of their
old lives, leaving the religious
system to fend for itself, is substantial
(Mat 21:45,46) (Matt 8:34ff) (Mat 9:32ff).

He does not act according to His followers,
or anyone but God’s, expectations (Matthew
26:31-35)(really, the whole book of Matthew,
all the gospels, and the rest of the bible!)

I could go on to say that He has the power
to turn losers into winners and winners into
losers (Mat 16:13-19, Peter’s confession). He
has the final say period. The Father blesses
Him without measure and exalts Him above every
other name. He has the power to thwart human
agenda. He does good to saint and sinner alike.
He is spiritual and not fleshly. He is Light
and not darkness. All of this and more must
be for another day.

I will say that as you read through this list
I would ask you to see how much cause for
stumbling is here, not just for the original
stumblers but for you, yourself. Do you really
think that the cloth you are cut out of is
much different? You, I, need to do some
serious spiritual work regarding
how Jesus cuts across our lives. Of course
we say, “Well, He is God, so we mustn’t complain,
but in our hearts we do complain or we begrudge
Him in the deepest depths of our hearts, His
rightful place. Unless you can say that every
part of your heart, is gushed open wide, running
heading over heals toward God in absolute full
throttle adoration, you still have work to do.
Before you think this does not apply to you,
think again.

After we get done taking inventory about how
we might stumble over God, then we need to
take this a step further and see how many of
these issues will cause us to stumble over
man—even or especially our brothers and
sisters in the Lord. Does a brother threaten
my religious jurisdiction, even my spiritual
throne? Does a sister question my authority?
Do religious arguers question my preaching,
my teaching, my theology? Do people who
do not play by my rules raise my sense of
righteous indignation?

Do I get angry when God blesses others,
especially those I think do not deserve
it? Does God bless the boorish, the geeks,
or the outcasts with the spiritual gifts
that I desperately covet? Do people that
have just come into the things of the Lord
have more understanding and apparent
favor with God than me? Have I been the
good older brother while my spiritual or
fleshly siblings have squandered the family
fortune then come easily home to the Father’s
waiting and loving arms?

Have I gone past writing to meddling yet?
Are you annoyed with me? Yikes, and I
thought this was going to be the most
boring of the series on stumbling. Have you
stumbled over Jesus, or the least of His
brethren today?

I need to go pray.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What We Take, Takes Us

There is a changeless law of faith
that what we take takes us; so when
we no longer finally hang the validity
of our faith on the need of knowing,
by some means we shall become inwardly
and fixedly aware of union [with Christ].
When we no longer seek awareness, we shall have it
because then we are safe from immediately
turning it into a final form of self-exaltation.

Once Caught, No Escape, Norman Grubb

Friday, August 17, 2007

Seeing Suffering in a New Light

The burden of suffering seems to be
a tombstone hung around our necks. Yet
in reality it is simply the weight
necessary to hold the diver down while
he is searching for pearls
--Reality, Julius Richter

photograph taken near Cheltenham, England, UK

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oswald Chambers on Trusting God

Our Lord has a right to expect that
those who name His name have an underlying
confidence in Him. God expects His children
to be so confident in Him that in any
crisis they are the ones who are reliable.
Yet our trust is only in God up to a certain
point, then we turn back to the elementary
panic-stricken prayers of those people who
do not even know God. We come to our wits'
end, showing that we don't have even the
slightest amount of confidence in Him or
in His sovereign control of the world.
To us He seems to be asleep, and we can
see nothing but giant, breaking waves on
the sea ahead of us...

There are times when there is no storm or
crisis in our lives, and we do all that
is humanly possible. But it is when a
crisis arises that we instantly reveal
upon whom we rely. If we have been
learning to worship God and to place
our trust in Him, the crisis will reveal
that we can go to the point of breaking,
yet without breaking our confidence in Him.

We have been talking quite a lot about
sanctification, but what will be the
result in our lives? It will be expressed
in our lives as a peaceful resting in God,
which means a total oneness with Him. And
this oneness will make us not only blameless
in His sight, but also a profound joy to Him.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Redemptive Purpose of the Stumblingblock

Well, this article was supposed to be about the
causes of stumbling, but this Jacob pushed his way
out before Esau and so you have first:

The Redemptive Purpose of the Stumblingblock.

Why is God a Stumblingblock to us? Why,
if He wants us so badly to come to Him,
does it seem, at least at times, so difficult?
Obviously, you have to assume that the
difficulty is not with Him, but with
something in us. After all, He was not only
here first, but responsible for allowing us to
even take issue with Him. Right away, I see,
I’ve managed to jump in over my head. This
is nothing new.

Consider God. Consider that He has all power
and all wisdom and all knowledge. He creates
and owns everything. Consider that the only
thing in this universe He cannot provide for
Himself is love, freely lavished, from those
whom He has made.

Would you like to have a rich friend? Would
you like to know the folks who have villas
on the French Riviera, cozy mountain retreats
in Aspen, seaside oasis’ in tropical paradises?
God has all that and more. Consider this: what
if you had a rich friend and that friend was
someone you didn’t really care for, or was
difficult to get along with, yet because of
the amenities, you decided to put up with
the “friendship”. Is this awful to think? Oh,
come now, you have thought this if you have
ever tasted a moment’s luxury at the expense
of another.

God gives great gifts in abundance. He offers
healing, hope, light, love, and eternal
salvation. What is there not to want? Oh,
dear reader, you might be surprised at the
answer to that. God, I believe, has this
incredibly accurate sorting system. By it,
He is able to sort out His real friends and
lovers from the gold-diggers. I absolutely
love it!

When I first came into the things of the Lord,
I saw some of my contemporaries, the spiritual
movers and shakers, seeming to get ahead of me
without having “earned their stripes.” Perhaps
it was who they knew, or their personal charisma,
or their ability to tell a story in a funny way that
afforded them opportunity. No matter. I began to
wonder how things operated in God’s Kingdom. God
said to me, “Have no fear, there are no shortcuts.
Each must come through exactly the same testings,
although the circumstances of the test will be
different for each person, it will be the
same course.”

Think about it. If you were God, would you like to
be loved just for your money, or your power or your
position? The idea of using someone for what they
can give you sickens me as human just to think
about it. How much more would I surmise that
God wants to be loved for His very lovely Person,
and not for the extra blessings that come our way
in knowing Him?

God’s glory. I love the Hebrew understanding of the
word glory. It is “kebod” and it translates best as
“heaviness” or “weight.” God is a heavy-weight,
have no doubt about that, but what is heavy is not
His possessions, but His depth of character, His
Love, the heights and breadths and depths of His
wisdom! He Himself is heavy!

I am currently on a trip and no matter how lightly
I try to pack, I still end up with heavy suitcases.
It is all my stuff, --but that stuff is not me.
If you looked through it you might find some
cool stuff inside but if I lost it, I would not feel
too bad nor would I be diminished. The important
part of me is not in my luggage. So, too, with God.
Yet, we, can spend a lot of time looking at God’s
glittering baggage and not at God.

Now I have said all of this to say this: when God
allows us to stumble. He is actually doing us a favor.
He is diverting our eyes away from something that
will take us away from knowing Him as He is. When
God allows us to stumble He is giving us a chance
to choose Him, to discover Him, to love Him as He
is and not as we want Him to be.

He is also allowing us to know ourselves and what it
is that we are after. There is the truism, “whatever
has my attention, has me.” If I am about things,
then I will be entranced with things, if I am about
myself, then I will be taken up with myself. If I
stumble over the True God, stumble over the nature
of what is really true about| myself and Him, then
my heart is revealed for its lack, its ignorance,
and even possibly for its rebellion.

God may be also allowing the potential for
stumbling as a way of showing principalities
and powers that man is able to love God freely.
Do you know that when you love God
freely, not for anything you can get, you
send the Devil into a boiling rage?

I suspect that this issue of love freely given
is what, I speak as a fool, Satan tries to
continually taunt God with. No doubt he
suggests that there are few, if any,
who will love God purely for Himself.

It appears that the Devil is trying to get
people to turn their backs on God, to believe
the worst about Him, to make them doubt God’s
motives toward them. I am sure that the Devil
feels that there is no one, or exceedingly few,
that will serve God “for naught.” He cannot
imagine it because he has proven himself
incapable of it.

It is these “free” lovers of God that He is seeking
to destroy or cause to confuse into rebellion. I am
also sure that the devil is very wrong about God’s
ability to receive a pure bridal company that loves
Him entirely for Himself. Praise God! So the next
time you are tempted to stumble over God, think
of this: you have an opportunity to turn the knife
back into the gut of the Evil One by standing with
and for God. Satan seeks to kill you. Who do you
think is putting the thought into your mind to be
angry with God’s ways?

So when you find yourself stumbling over God,
I encourage you to look deeper. Look for what
you can discover about loving God for God’s
sake, and not your own. Look for what you can
lay down. Look for the lies that are being
presented to you to swallow. Allow any hidden
accusations or cold areas in your heart toward
God to be brought to the light.

Do you realize that our hearts are meant to burn
fervently and continually with the love of God?
When we feel deadlined inside for extraordinarily
long periods of time, there may be something

I would not want to be insensitive to people who are
in a dark night of the soul and feel only darkness.
But even in the apparent darkness, our hearts can
still burn at the mere remembrance of His touch.
No? Even at night, is there not an eternal light
rising in our hearts? Let the darkness have the same
affect as the light in bringing your trust in God
to a higher place and your testimony before
principalities and powers to a new level.

God is a stumblingblock to those who will
not believe but exceedingly precious to those
who trust Him. Even if you do stumble over
Him, trust His love in the matter and you will
go on to greater things. God has a redemptive
purpose in His role as Stumblingblock. It
separates the spiritual men from the fleshly boys,
and the heavenly women from the earthly girls.

May it have its perfect work in our hearts.

God is Trying to Bless You!

We can walk without fear, full of hope
and courage and strength to do His will,
waiting for the endless good which He is
always giving as fast as He can get us
able to take it in.
- George Macdonald

photo taken in Porthcawl, Wales
on a day where God outdid Himself with cloud formation!

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Divine Stumblingblock:Tripping Over God

The Divine Stumblingblock:
Tripping over God
(first of a four part series)

Because we are earthy, we easily stumble
over things. Our path is often rocky, and
the road is not level. We stumble over God
and we stumble over man. Things do not
go the way that we have planned and soon we
look around for someone to blame. Rarely do
we point the finger at ourselves. We most
often point the finger at whoever was seen
last in the vicinity of our pain or annoyance.
Sometimes that is God, sometimes that is man.

The Scriptures have much to say about
stumblingblocks. In this first article
I want to talk about how God is a
Stumblingblock. For we can stumble
over man and suffer, but it our stumbling
over God that will make or break us.

You’d think that because God is God,
no-one would stumble over Him.
Everyone would see Him coming
and have time to fall gladly to their knees.
Quite the contrary. God is the most formidable
Stumblingblock that we will encounter
in our life journey. You may think you
will not stumble over Him, but that is only
to set you up for a greater stumble.

The problem is that stumbling requires
two things: 1) having something obstruct
your path at close range and 2) not being
able to avoid getting around or over it.
Secondly it also involves a) not seeing it
coming, or b) not being big enough to get
around it or long legged enough to step
over it.

Be warned, whether you like it or not, God
is at some time going to stand “straight on
square” in the middle of the road of your
life at very close range and you will have
one of two eternity-defining (your eternity,
that is) options. You either will not see Him
coming until it is too late to run, and/or
you will not be big enough or long-legged
enough to get around Him. But first, lest
you think I make this up, let me lay a little

One of the ways that God defines both
Himself and His Son is as a Stumblingblock.
Isaiah 8:13-15 says, “The Lord of Hosts,
Him you shall hallow; let Him be
your fear, and let Him be your dread.

He will be as a holy abode but [also] a
stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and
a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many among them shall fall and be
broken, and be snared and taken.

The apostle Peter, transfers this term to
Christ, quoting it along with two
other Old Testament passages:
“Behold I lay in Zion, a chief
cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who
believes on Him will be no means be put to
shame (disappointed, or. a possible
translation , in haste) Isaiah 28:16 and
Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the
builders rejected[refused to believe in,
stumbled over]has become the chief
Cornerstone, this is Lord’s doing and
marvelous in our eyes.”

Peter calls Jesus “precious” to those who
believe, but an offence and a stumbling
block to those who do not (1 Peter 2:7).
The apostle Paul says, “We preach
Christ crucified, a stumbling block to
the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks”
(I Cor 1:23).

There is a solidarity within God as the Father
identifies with Son and the Son identifies with
the Father in this role of offence which tests
the hearts of ALL men and women, and
perhaps even all created beings whether
in heaven or earth. Both do not back down
from the role of Stumblingblock, nor try to
soften its blows upon the fickle sensibilities
of man. But what sense does this make? Why
would God want to be a Stumblingblock to us?
Why couldn’t He just please us and do it
our way? Indeed. Perhaps I need not say more.
The wills of we who think we know all are going
to find inevitable conflict with the perfect
and peaceable will and mind of God.

It is not that God wants us to stumble over
Him, for we can hear the life-redeeming call
and cry of the heart of God echoing through
Scripture and history from start to finish.
His call is that we might come to Him and
make our abode in Him, but His role as
Stumblingblock, in that process, is not put
aside or diminished, at least on this earthly

While Jesus is the Door, He is also a
strategically placed Rock of Offence
that you will have to contend with. You
will have to face the innermost thoughts
of your heart, even allow yourself
to be badly bruised in the process, to get
to the other side. There is no getting
around Him, and no getting through Him,
until your heart has been tested and revealed.

When John the Baptist was taken to prison,
He came to know Jesus as a Stumbling
block. I don’t think John was expecting
to end up in prison, much less beheaded,
for preparing the way of the Lord.

John sends a question for Jesus to answer,
“Are You the coming One or should we
look for another?” Hear the heavy heartcry
of John as he trips over the Stumblingblock.
My heart flips in my chest as I ponder it.
Jesus sends word back to Him in prison,
“The blind see and the deaf hear…and blessed
is he who is not offended because of Me”
(Matthew 11:3-6).

Here is the question that we all, at
some point, have to ask Jesus if we are
to go on with Him: “Are you the One
or should would look for another?”
O Thou Disappointer of Human Dreams,
and Crusher of Earthly Expectations and
Interpretations, are we to look for Another?

But the terrifying and the awesome and the
altogether lovely truth is that there is no Other!
It is upon this truth that the falling and rising
of many in Israel, even you and I, will be determined.

When Jesus told the disciples that they needed
to eat His Flesh and drink His Blood and that
no one could come to Him unless it had been
granted by His Father, they were offended.
It is easy to see why. What He says can seem to
smack of cannibalism, something anathema to the
Jews and to most civilized people. On top of this
our pride does not like to hear that it is not man
that decides to accept Christ, but the Father
who first decides to ALLOW us to.

Jesus calmly asks the disciples if they are offended
enough to walk away from Him. He is not
worried that his fan club will be disbanded or
afraid that his followers will abandon Him. For up
until this point his disciples are really more fans than

When you read these next scriptures you can feel
the rubber proverbially hitting the road. Sense
the lump sticking in Peter’s throat as he says,
“Lord, to whom would we go? You have the
words of eternal life and we have also come to
believe and know that You are the Christ, the
Son of the Living God (John 6: 53-69).
You, too, will come to know that lump and lumps
much harder and more difficult to swallow,
if you are to make that same declaration.

Here the disciples are pushed to the edge. They
feel they are at the limits of what they can
take, and they have barely started to follow Jesus,
yet deep inside they KNOW that He is the
Son of the Living God.

The only thing that will get us through our
stumbling is to KNOW that Jesus is the Christ.
And really, perhaps that is why God allows it.
We start knowing Jesus, but it is more of a
head knowledge. We really begin to know Him
when we still continue to follow Him
no matter what befalls us—whether it be
at the hands of man, or the hands of God,
(and really is there a difference when it
comes down to it?). Our discipleship
begins to truly take effect when we do
not turn back when we stumble.

Do not think that this stumbling will not
test your mettle. In Matthew 21, Jesus talks
about His being the Rejected Stone which became
the Chief Cornerstone. Why was He rejected?
Simply because He crushed human expectation,
plans and schemes. Beloved, He will also
crush our expectations, plans, and schemes,
have no doubt about that. Does that seem cruel?
Does that seem like a God you do not know
or do not want to know?

We have much to learn of our God, but
never doubt that He acts from ineffable light,
wisdom and goodness. He makes no mistakes.
We have to know that our plans and schemes
have death and poison in them, and that He is
saving us from a fate worse then death when he
snatches us from them.

We are, however, going to have to make a
hard choice as I said earlier. Jesus said,
“Whoever falls on this stone will be broken,
but on whomever it falls, it will grind them
to powder” (Matthew 21:44). So here are
your options: Fall on Him and be bruised.
Stumble over Him, yet cling to Him and
allow His work, even though you will be
broken. Or He will fall on you and you will
be crushed to powder.

These are hard words, but they are not my
words: they are Christ’s. We have to make
peace with the fact that our life is not
our own. We belong to God and we
are His to command and to shape. The
thing is, in our ignorance we distrust our
good God’s motives.

We like safety and control. Right now, in
my own personal circumstances, I am
surrounded by chaos on every side. I like
order and serenity, I eschew drama. I like
peace, quiet, and prudence. I am not sure
that any of those likes are part of my current
experience or ever shall be again.

Those who know me best know that all I
think I want is to live quietly alone in a
cottage in the country, with a drive-up window :),
or perhaps a parlor, where spiritual seekers can
come for spiritual direction and refreshment. The
rest of the time I would prefer to write and pray
and walk my dog in God’s grand nature.

I suspect, especially recently, that may not be
what God has planned for me. And even if I
get there what’s to prevent some deeper call of
the wild from rising in my heart that would
introduce discontent into my paradise? Over
all and any of this, I have no control. I must
fall on the Rock and let the tumultuous
events He has ordained be His tools. Would you
like another helping of chaos with your salad,
Rose-Marie? Perhaps an aperitif of finely aged
turmoil? Too bad I didn’t read the fine print
on the conversion contract a little more closely.
Ah, but my heart has been too completely
won over and I know there is No-One else for me.

A storm, however, is raging, and when it quiets
on the outside, it begins again on the inside. I
think of that old hymn, the hallmark of Billy
Graham crusades, “Just As I Am.” I love the
line that goes, “fightings and fears, within,
without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
Dear Jesus, I race to Your Altar.

Indeed. I remember one night, many decades
ago as a young person, full of a youthful zeal.
I had gone to hear a Christian speaker with a
friend and while the speaker was acclaimed,
it was just awful. It was hopelessly full of man’s
reasonings and ways. We decided to leave
early and as we tried to get out of our crowded
seats we both tripped quite loudly. We finally got
out but we had made a significant amount of noise.
I remember that we talked about what we could
have tripped over, and I, with youthful enthusiasm,
said, “it was probably the Lord passed out in horror
at what was being said.”

The thing is that I am not sure that I have gotten
much better with coping with things that cause
me to stumble. I may not be tripping on the outside
as much, but inside is a different matter. I trip all
the time. I am tripped up all the time. I stumble over
this and over that. Sometimes I don't even know I
am tripping. I know of only one answer to this:
I need to increase my heart knowledge of Christ.

My only hope is to KNOW, increasingly, that
Jesus not only has the words of life, but that He
is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and that
His Kingship is matched equally with His benevolent
goodness, righteousness and love.

Dear ones, I don’t think I’ve finished
completely stumbling over our dear Lord,
for I am constantly amazed at the inner
material that comes up for me to trip on.
Just when I get settled in, all warm and cozy,
headed for my spiritual director’s cottage in the
hills, a Voice calls out to me in my
bed of comfort and says, “Open to Me,
My sister, my love, my undefiled one,
for My head is full of dew (the sufferings
of Christ)” (Song of Songs 5:2).

Some of our stumbling will be over the
suffering that we must bear with and
for Christ and His Body. But that is
another matter for another day.

Do, however, think about the process
of stumbling over Jesus in the middle
of the road, in the middle of the dark
night of your life.

If all you can settle in your heart are these
few things you will do well: He is the
Lord’s only Christ, there is no one else
worthy to go to, and He is not come to hurt
you. I promise you that you will not
be sorry you have trusted Him completely.

Tomorrow we will look at the causes
of stumbling.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A person can accept what Christ
has done without knowing how it
works; indeed, he certainly won't
know how it works until he's accepted it.
-- C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Down An English Lane

Down the lane
You walked with me
as I walked about tonight.

I could not hold You back,
dear Lord,
You burst forth in Your Light,

You who know me best of all,
my heart bursting like a dam,
You who hear me when I call,
please tell me who I am.

So softly, so gently You whisper
The name You know me by,
My quest to you I whisper
Dear Jesus, who am I?

I only know You beckon,
calling deep and still and sweet,
past the place I usually live,
to the me I have yet to meet.

Tonight I feel as evening descends
upon the tired land.
You, too, descend upon my heart:
foreign, unknown sand.

Land of deeper and unexplored,
Help me, Father, see.
Let me walk here close with You
'Til You be all in me.

Soft and tender is your call,
Tho’ faint at times your Voice.
In aloneness, though never alone,
You make my heart rejoice.

Your language within, takes over,
I know not of what I speak.
I do know that my heart so longs
to dwell among the meek.

Like a tiny, little sparrow,
that is cupped within Your Hand
my heart for all tomorrows
yearns to follow Your commands.

England, Ancient, Fair and Lovely

Ledbury wheatfield

Great Malvern