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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A.W. Tozer on Spiritual Bankruptcy in the Church

A generation of Christians reared among push buttons
and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less
direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been
trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations
with God.

We read our chapter, have our short devotions, and
rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward
bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or
listening to another thrilling story told by a religious
adventurer lately returned from afar. The tragic
results of this spirit are all about us.

Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the
preponderance of the element of fun in gospel
meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious
externalities, quasi-religious fellowships,
salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic
personality for the power of the Spirit; these and
such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease,
a deep and serious malady of the soul. --
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963), The Pursuit of God [1948]

Monday, February 26, 2007

Harald Bredesen: The Passing of the Torch?

I just heard that Harald Bredesen went to be
with his Lord. I know the news reached me a
bit late, (he died December 29th) but I had
to write this entry in his honor. For those of
you who are unfamiliar with who Harald was,
here are a few sites worth looking at CBN.com,
and Harald's 85th Birthday.

For those of us who were baptized in the Holy Spirit in
the early days of the Charismatic Renewal, the name
Harald Bredesen was widely known because Harald was,
and is, a legend! I am sure that heaven is enriched for
his being there and we, here, are suffering the loss
of a spiritual,for lack of no better term, giant.

There are times and seasons in God. In God sovereignty
He chose to pour out His Holy Spirit in a substantial way
in what came to be known as the Charismatic Renewal,
primarily during the 1960's and early 1970's. Many of
our lives where changed at that point as we entered
into a deep dimension of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Harald Bredesen spiritually fathered so many people
into this work of the Spirit that months of time would
not permit the telling of the stories. The lives he has
touched is a testimony to the grace and mercy of God.
And now he has gone to be with the Lord.

My own recollection of Harald comes from my time
spent working, during my grad school years, as
the evening telephone operator for the Christian
Broadcasting Network. I would be, most likely,
the person you would have talked with if you
called CBN Network between 6 and 11 p.m. in
the mid 1980's. From that experience I should
have written a book, but that is another story.
Harald, on the Board of CBN's Directors, used
to call in late at night to make phone calls.

We used to, in general, get some mighty strange
calls at that time of the day and I always had to
pause and listen when I would answer the phone
because there would often be an extended silence
on the other end of the line.

Experience taught me that many times it would not
be a bad connection or wrong number, or some
raving lunatic, but dear Harald calling in.
"Harald, is that you?" Harald?" I would
say into the phone. Sooner or later would
come his cheery voice, "Praise the Lord! God bless
you!..." and a happy chuckle. If I didn't know better
I would be tempted to think that Harald was a bit
scatterbrained, and maybe this was partly true,
but Harald also exuded an immense sense of the
Presence of God everywhere he went. He was also
not afraid to speak in tongues wherever and
whenever he felt like it!

I'm thinking that by learned obedience and a
listening heart he could hear God better than
just about anyone I know. I was always impressed
with his childlike ability to obey God and delight
in Him. God, I gather, was also pretty impressed!

For this reason his passing, along with
Judson Cornwall's somewhat recent passing,
makes me fully aware that the work
of these fathers is now being passed onto the
next generation.

God only plants so many seeds in each generation.
On top of this, He only plants so many seeds of a
certain species. The seeds then go, biblically
speaking, to four destinies: along the roadside,
fallen on rock, strangled by thorns and on good
ground. So again, biblically speaking, three out
of four seeds are lost to the challenges and
difficulties of life. The last seed that falls on
and grows in good ground is left to carry the
burden of bearing fruit for the kingdom of God
in its chosen generation.

So now, as I sit here thinking about this, I
feel the heavy sense of calling and destiny
coming to rest on my generation, passed to
me by the likes of the Harald Bredesens and
Judson Cornwalls of the last one. I wonder
if we are made of the same Christlike stuff,
wonder if we are up to the call, wonder if
our crop of kingdom fruit will please God as
much as the previous crop did.

I am sitting here, on a snowy winter's day,
asking God what it will take to make us fit
vessels for His use. Mostly I am sitting here
crying. I know each generation
expresses His glory with a slightly different
nuance. I just wonder if my generation's nuance
is mostly without brilliance and sadly in need
of cleaning, pruning, and discipline.

May God give my spiritual generation the desire
to obey Him completely and to follow Him without
reserve. Thank God for the inspiration of men like
Harald Bredesen. They hold the banner high for us.
They make us climb to reach it, and take hold of
it, so when it comes our time to pass it to the
next generation, the standard of the Gospel will
still be the standard of God's Holiness and Truth.

Dear Harald, thank you! and enjoy Jesus, even
more then you ever have!

A New Perspective

Worship lifts us up to see the problems and
troubles we face from God's perspective
instead of being trapped in an earthly,
time-bound viewpoint. The higher we go, the
smaller our problems seem. -- Tom Tenney

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Dictionary of Devotion: Abandonment

Abandonment. Or more properly, self-abandonment.
Abandonment to God. Abandonment of self. In a
world that advocates finding "our self", and
"self-actualization" let us look at the wise
but unpopular idea of abandoning our self to God.

Please see the various nuances and etymology of the
word abandon here.

The idea of abandonment to God means a giving up
of my rights to "my" life and placing all rights in God's
most capable hands. It contains the idea of "the intent
of never again asserting or claiming an interest in" my
self interests. It also contains the idea that my
confidence in myself and my ability to complete the
task of perfectly doing God's will is completely

Abandonment is a deserting of allegiance to myself
in order to give my allegiance entirely to God. It is
yielding myself completely and ceasing to continue
acting from my own strength or ability. Easier said
than done!

The self clings tenaciously to all that it views
as important to its preservation. It may even view the
well-intentioned approach of God as a threat. Like
drowning men, we want deliverance, but in our own
desperation may try and fight the One coming to
our aid.

We need both abandonment from ourselves, and
abandonment to God. We all know that we can drive
ourselves mad living with ourselves--Hollywood, as
well as our own lives, shows us that, on screen and
off. Yet it is not enough to be simply disgusted with
my own life. I must ask God to take over my life
without reservation. His shall not be a robotic
control, and frankly, we might be tempted to think
that this kind of control would be easier! How many
people do I hear, crying out in a rather desperate
tone, "God, just do it!" Amen to that, but how does
God go about "just doing it?"

Francis Fenelon and Jeanne Guyon
give us this insight:

"Here is true self-abandonment; it is this
spirit of self-divesting, [looking] with a single
eye to the movements of God, who alone is the
true overseer of his creatures.

You will desire to know, probably, what should be
the practice of this renouncement in detail. But I
answer that the feeling is no sooner established in
the interior of the soul, than God himself will take
you by the hand, that you may be exercised in
self-renunciation in every event of every day.

Self-abandonment is not accomplished by means of
painful reflections and continual struggles; it is
only by refraining from self-contemplation, and from
desiring to master ourselves in our own way, that we
lose ourselves in God."

These wise folk are telling us that there is no
formula: we abandon ourselves to God moment by
moment, looking not to our own ways, but watching
Him. He will take us by the hand and leads us.

Why do we so resist?

We want help but first we must lose control. Losing
control is both ridiculously easy and immensely
difficult. Many people lose control most weekends if
not daily: they lose control to drugs, alcohol, sexual
addictions, etc. But why are they not willing to
lose control to God, the source of all life and

It is only as I come to know the love of God that
I am really able to abandon myself to Him. This
knowing must be more than mental or I won't
get too far because the waves of my inward and
outward life are too scary. I must know the love
of God deep within me and continually stir myself up
toward Him. Consider this hymn by Charles Wesley:

"Eager for thee, I ask, I pant,
So strong the principle divine
Carries me out with sweet constraint,
Till all my hallowed soul is thine:
Plunged in the Godhead's deepest sea,
And lost in thy immensity."

"Come, Lord, and claim me for thine own;
Savior, thy right assert;
Come, gracious Lord, set up thy throne,
And reign within my heart.

"The day of thy great power I feel,
And pant for liberty;
I loathe myself, deny my will,
And give up all to thee.

"I hate my sins, no longer mine,
For I renounce them, too;
My weakness with thy strength I join;
Thy strength shall all subdue.

"So shall I bless thy pleasing sway,
And, sitting at thy feet,
Thy laws with all my heart obey,
With all my soul submit."
--Charles Wesley

It is God's love for us, and that Love flowing
through us back to Him that will bring us to
an easy abandonment. It is nothing that we can
do but only something that we can allow and
allow unreservedly. Oswald Chambers says this:

"Abandonment never produces the consciousness
of its own effort, because the whole life is
taken up with the One to Whom we abandon. Beware
of talking about abandonment if you know nothing
about it, and you will never know anything about
it until you have realized that John 3:16 means
that God gave Himself absolutely. In our
abandonment we give ourselves over to God just as
God gave Himself for us, without any calculation.
The consequence of abandonment never enters into

our outlook because our life is taken up with Him."
--Oswald Chambers, The Abandonment of God

I will say only a little more because Chambers
warns me to only talk about abandonment to God
as much as I know it! :) I will say, as
would Chambers I am sure, that my experience
with abandonment to God has been both life-defining
(my life in God) and life-threatening (my self life).

Abandonment to God takes me to a place that
I cannot reach being isolated, contained,
little old "me." These are expansive experiences
with the very nature of God, no more limiting
than one could consider sinking down into a
deep, hot bath at the end of a long day
to be considered limiting. The only difference
would be the living water of God's ability to
suck you under until you don't live in Kansas
any longer! :) But really, would that be
such a bad change? Come on, a new life
awaits you!

Please join me in praying this classic prayer
of abandonment by Charles de Foucald:

Father, I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only Your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you Lord,and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,and with boundless confidence,

For you are my Father.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jesu Met the Woman at The Well

Jesus met The Woman at the Well.

One day, I never shall forget it, I went to the
well named for "the one who wrestled with the angel
of the Lord." Little did I know that I, too,
would have my own encounter with Him. It was my
custom to go out in the heat of the day to draw
water from the well. I went out at that time to
avoid the self-satisfied, smug looks of the women
who came earlier to gossip together about people
like me.

In the very heart and very heat of the day I met Him.
Can you believe it? He asked me to give Him a
drink! I was about to turn away, or worse yet, tell
Him to get it Himself--my hot-headedness has never
been my best characteristic, but for a moment I
glanced up at His Face and could not look away.

It was not a handsome face, really, as those who
count such things might call handsome, but it was
His eyes--glittering with a heavenly light and
dancing between humor and and an intensity
so great that it pierced my very soul.

I was surprised He seemed to not know the rules
but then again maybe He did and picked me to ask
because God knows, I had broken every rule in
the book. Or maybe He was simply unconcerned with
how others would view things.

He drew me in like a fish caught on a line. "If you
knew who was asking you for a drink, you would
ask Him to give you one." Oh please, I thought,
another line from another man to get something
for nothing." They promise the world and deliver...
well...this is what I was beginning to think because
that is who I was on that hot day beside the well.

But I was wrong about this Man. He promised a
drink that would keep me from thirsting. Huh!
I was all for that. Still it seemed unlikely. More
like the line of a peddler selling pots that promised
to clean themselves. Yet, if truth be told, it was my
curiosity, even my gullibility, that had got me
into so many jams before. I was not so hardened
that I could not hope for such a drink.

"So, Mr. Galilean, where is your magic water? It
would save my back a lot of aching and my lazy,
old husband might like it, too.

"Indeed," said He, "why don't you go get him, this
man of yours who is not really your husband..." My
head jerked up quickly to look into this bold Man's
face. Did this man know me from somewhere?

I began to wonder what was up but I was in no
mood to explain my life's awkward condition. "I
have no husband!"

"Absolutely true, dear woman, the first five
have made you cautious..." I quickly looked down
to avert His eyes. "Surely gossip travels further
than I thought, now it has even spread to the Jews."
I was expecting ridicule and condemnation but I
could not help looking up at Him again, sideways,
through sun-squinted eyes, I found nothing but the
most pure love emanating from His face.

My heart started to pound. "My worst fears have
come upon me, He is a seer, a prophet. He will
see into the black recesses of my soul." Trying to
divert His attention from my inward darkness,
I searched for something, anything, to get Him to
stop looking. Ok, let me try religion, that should
get Him sidetracked."

"Our ancestors say that we should worship on
this mountain, but you Jews say that only in
Jerusalem should God be worshipped."

He responded, "My dear lady, how very quickly
the day comes when both parties you have
mentioned will be found to be somewhat in error
regarding true worship. Worship shall not be
about the right mountain or city but shall arise
from the Spirit in the hearts of all those who
seek God in truth.

"Samaritans do not really know who they are
worshipping, Jews, at least true Jews, do
understand, for salvation is right now coming
from their very midst, but there is much more."

"The Father, who is a Spirit, wants spiritual
worship, not religious form. He wants heart to
heart communion, that is what He delights Him.
He is seeking it at this very moment. Do you
understand what is happening as I speak?"

I knew I was in over my head. I felt all
flustered inside, like two kingdoms had
gone to war within my very belly. "Well then,
when the Messiah comes, and there is always
talk of him coming, he will explain everything
to us. Religion gets so very confusing."

I wanted to end the conversation having exhausted
all I knew about these matters, and quickly having
exhausted myself, but then He said the most
incredible thing:

"I who speak to you am He."

From somewhere inside me something broke
open and started to spill up and out: like a
water jug overfilled, like a dam breaking, like the
sun rising out of the darkness, like life coming to
this dead woman's heart.

He was the Messiah!

I could feel the strength of that revelation
rising up within me, and I knew it was,
indeed He was, the Truth itself. I made no
attempt to fight it. It wasn't that He knew
everything about me, it was that He knew why
I had done all that I had done and somehow,
did not reject me for it.

In that one moment it felt like the whole of
my past had suddenly flashed behind me, and
dissolved like a bad dream, and the whole of
eternity stretched out before me. But only a
moment had passed. A holy, timeless moment.

Suddenly I could see His disciples returning to Him
and fear gripped me as they searched me, and then
Him, with their eyes. They said nothing, but before
they could, I ran away. I threw the water jug down
and left Him standing there. I ran partly out of
fright and partly out of excitement. I ran because
I was dead and now because I was alive. I ran and
told everyone I knew, I told people who I liked and
people who did not like me. I told my crowd and
I told the high-and-mighty crowd. I did not care.
He was the Messiah! My reputation had not been
the greatest but the force with which I spoke
sent people running for the well to find Him.

And find Him they did. Most of them anyway.
It was not like you could resist Him. Oh no.
It was not like you could resist Him.

(John 4:5-44)
(Jesus met the woman at the well)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Love Rules Without Rules

Love is infallible; it has no errors,
for all errors are the WANT of love. --William Law

Love rules without rules. (Amore regge senza legge.)
-- Italian proverb

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Farther Down the Road to Complete Surrender

I woke up to a swirl of emotions and conditions
all vying for top billing. Hope. Fear. Excitement.
Vulnerability. Determination to go forward.
Uncertainty. Faith. Peace. War. You name it,
today I'm probably feeling it.

My "old" self makes a typical remark: "Feels like
farther down the road to 'completely out of control'."
I laugh. A good sign. No, I decide, this is going to be
"Farther down the road to sweet and complete
surrender to Jesus." I've decided that these two
ideas look alike on the surface but are of two vastly
different origins and destinations. Out of control
"bad" is when I trust myself and rely on me to
navigate my life. Out of control "good" is when I
completely, surrender myself into the loving arms
of my Heavenly Father.

I am sure that you can identify with one,
or the other, depending, like me, if your
heart's Global Positioning System is set to
find "Faith" or not.

Let's face it. Life is not ours to control.
We spend a good deal of time kicking
against this truth. "Man can makes his
plans," says the Proverbs, "but it is the Lord
who determines his steps (Prov 16:9)." How true!

If you haven't looked at the news lately
God bless you! It is all about life careening
quickly down the road to the war-ravaged Land
of "Out of Control." I never was one much for roller
coaster rides. Not the big adrenalin seeker am I.
No sirreee. I don't quite get the idea of the thrill of
climbing Mt. Everest in sub-arctic conditions
with a rope and and an ice-pick for back-up.
Don't quite get the idea of free-diving to
see how far I can dive into the ocean and
back up without having my lungs explode.
Or implode. I am not looking for adventure
for adventure's sake.

But I am already on a massive adventure that
nothing can change and from which I cannot
turn back: I am on the inward journey
of faith.

I love the epic novels: Dante's, Divine Comedy,
"Midway upon the journey of life I found myself
within a forest dark, For the straightforward
pathway had been lost"
kind of stuff, hardly
comedic, I know. I prefer the Bilgo Baggins on
the worst (or perhaps, by faith, the best) day
of his life kind of stories. I am a hobbit dragged
out the comfort of my hobbit hole to begin an
epic journey.

Do you know what I am saying?

Dear friends, you are called likewise. There
is no avoiding it. You should not want to avoid it.
You will experience this life adventure as the
dangerous "Road to Crash and Burn Out of Control",
or the safe but radically demanding "Road to
Complete Surrender." It is trust that determines
how you will see it and live it out. It is faith that
will determine where you will end up: wrecked over
the side of some precipice or "called safely home."

Do you ever read that line in obituaries?
John Smith, "called safely home." It makes
life seem like a scary passage that needs to
be gotten through before one can be truly
safe. John Smith is kind of sending a phone
call back to his worried family, "I'm finally
really safe, just checking in so you don't
have to worry." The thing is, only God
and John Smith know for sure if he did actually
arrive safely. That is his journey. I am not
saying that life is without great danger--the
danger I certainly sense, but I want to sense
both my present and future safety in God ever
more deeply!

What if I am safer than I know? I know that
I am safe in my head but I want to know it in
the center of my bones, in the pit of my stomach,
in the eternal inner space where I live.

My sense of safety starts and ends in my
relationship with God. I must know
that I am held and kept by God. To think
that I can somehow keep myself strikes
me as absolutely ridiculous and foolhardy.

My life, my faith journey, starts and ends with
my trust in Him. I want to really know
that height nor breadth nor depth nor things
present, nor things to come, nor life, or death
can separate me from Christ Jesus my Lord
(Romans 8: 38 & 39). I don't want to know that
just a little bit, I want to know that soaked all
the way through. Don't you?

I can view life as series of scary, unpredictable
events or I can trust that My Father is with
me every step of the way, protecting, guiding,
sometimes allowing me to be buffeted, sometimes
allowing me to feel abandoned, or be hurt in
some way, but always holding me eternally safe
in His everlasting arms.

Jesus said, "I have kept all that you have given
to me and have not lost one of them" (John 18:9).
Do I really trust that? If God does not want me
to be lost, and I don't want to be lost, do you think
that something is going to blow in that sends all of
God's good plans for my eternal soul careening
out of control? I suspect not.

If I don't feel safe, then perhaps I have believed
a lie about God's ability to protect me. Perhaps
I have watched too much t.v., taken in too much
of the world's view of things, scared the pants
off myself when I could be, like Jesus, asleep in
the boat amidst life storms, resting in My Father's
ability to care for me.

Whether we live or die, we are the Lord's
(Romans 14:8). If I belong to Christ then
I am safe when I feel it and safe when I
don't. I will not be turned back
from the fact that I believe in God's ability to
keep me safe. Don't you be either. We've both
seen each other on day's when we've had
our "game faces" on.

I'm tired of fear,and tired of "hanging on
for dear life" when I don't have to. Truth
is, God's dear Life is hanging onto me! I
am going to get down to the real inward
journey , the great adventure, of trusting
our Great God! I'm going farther down the
road to complete surrender. Won't you join me?

Holy Gladness

The voice we should listen to most is the voice that we
might think
we should listen to least, and that is the
voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes
us the gladdest, what can we do that leaves us with the
strongest sense of sailing true north and of peace, which
is much of what gladness is? Is it making things with our
hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas? Or is it
making something we hope like truth out of words? Or
is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses
their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us
truly glad, then it is a good thing and it is our thing and
it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with
our lives. ----Frederick Buechner, Holy Gladness


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Love Them All and Let God Sort them Out. (Part 2)

Kill or Love?(continued from Part 1)

The nature of Love is magnificent.

Love knows how to speak the truth. Love
bears all things, including the tension of
doctrinal differences. Love believes all things,
believes that you, as well as I, will respond
obediently to God. Love hopes that all that is of
God will prevail.

Love is long-suffering, love is kind and is not
viral. It doesn't envy, disparage, or question
another's grasp of Scripture. It does
not flaunt what it knows and is not puffed up
with intellectual pride and book knowledge.
It does not behave poorly, is not looking
to win doctrinal arguments, is not easily
provoked to anger, does not think evil of
what someone else believes. Love does not rant.

I hear some of you screaming, "Stop! the
truth is at stake, what soft, emotional
rubbish you are putting forth!" Does this
seem like a "Pollyanna in Paradise"
kind of thinking? Will it end up in a big,
sloppy doctrinal mess? If people who know
the truth won't defend it, then who will?
Ah, the question is really,"Do we think
that God will not?"

Will the "infidels" prevail because we
do not argue for the truth? How little we
trust Him! Do we not believe in the power
of the love of God to protect the truth?
If not, then we have seriously misunderstood
the way the Kingdom of God operates. We have
still have much to learn about the power of the
Love of Christ. Do we still think that God's
love is like some scrawny Caspar Milktoast?

His Love is a blazing refiner's fire! Christ,
the Truth, the Great Lover who gave Himself
to purchase our souls, wants to melt love
and truth together within our inward parts.

Truth is not something we protect. It is
something that we become.
Jesus Himself is the Living Truth. Is He
not capable of defending Himself? Yet
that defense may not look like you might
expect it to. When Pilate asked Jesus,
"What is truth?" There is no record of
Jesus replying in words. It was just one
look from Christ, the embodiment of Truth,
that gave Pilate his answer. "I find no
fault in Him AT ALL" (John 18:38).
Pilate knew, he could see it. Love looked
at him and conveyed the Truth. And what a
look it must have been. Dear Lord!

Our job as followers of Jesus is to let
Him fill us with Himself until we are
bulging with Love's brand of Truth.

There are all kinds of "truth" out there,
but I am urging myself to apply for
God's brand of truth. I
don't want to carry the truth
around in a book, I want it to live in me!

I have a little dog who has a great
philosophy, "Storing food outside your
body is crazy, it could go bad or be
stolen or eaten by others. Better to
store food where it belongs: inside
your body. I and what nourishes me
are one." :)

This has deep spiritual application.
My little dog knows a bit about
incarnational truth. Better to assimilate
the truth completely into my spirit, soul,
mind and body, and not carry
it around in notebooks, or external
hard drives, where it can be stolen or
lost; damaged, or misinterpreted.

The disciple Stephen had a great store
of truth integrated in him. Not cold,
hard truth, but the warm truth born out of
LOVE! When the stones hit Stephen, love
came out and the truth hit young Saul
of Tarsus like a velvet covered brick.
The lies that held young Saul chained in darkness.
began to snap not through doctrine, but by
truth burning ever so brightly with and by
love's luminosity.

Human constructs and arguments blow apart when
confronted with real truth. I would hate to find
that I spent my whole life defending what
I thought to be the truth but came to find out
was merely an imaginary mental construct.

I am certain that I do not have to fight for
the truth with human cunning. God is Truth and
nothing can overthrow that. My call is to love.
My call is to take in the Truth who is Jesus in
such a way that it overtakes me and shines out
of me on God's own terms. There is more I want
to say but today Truth calls me here:
Love them all and let God sort them out.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Love Them All and Let God Sort them Out. (Part 1)

Kill or Love?

The year was circa 1209. Heretic hunters
from the Albigensian Crusade spread
throughout France looking for deviations
from the faith. The crime: bad doctrine.
The penalty: death. The Cathar heresy had
spread through France and the city of
Beziers was targeted for doctrinal cleansing.
The question came up about whether all the
inhabitants of Beziers had turned to heresy.
The authority in charge is rumored to have
replied, "Kill them all and let God sort
them out."
So kill them all they did.

I tell this story not to horrify or to
stir up trouble, but to suggest another way.
For awhile now I have been asking the Lord
about how to address situations that seem
to compromise the Lord's gospel.
Recently I got my answer: "Love them all
and let God sort them out."

The Lord has told us that the wheat and
the tares will grow together until the
end and that this is allowed, even
ordained, by God (Matthew 13:24-30).
Why? So that the children of the
Kingdom might not be uprooted before
they have a chance to grow up into the
fullness of what they were meant to be.

And what is it that we are meant to be?
In great part, lovers of God, and lovers
of our neighbors. Jesus was making correct
doctrine easy for us to grasp when He
reduced the Law to this: Love God with
all your heart, soul and mind, and love
your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).

Call me naive but I'm quite certain that
God has not called me to pit
Catholic against Protestant, Calvin
against Arminius, the cessationists
against the pentecostals, the reformers
against the "emerging church." Opinions
can be very dangerous things even if
they are "imho" (in my humble opionion)
opinions. I have often found that opinion
and humble have been known to be
polar opposites, at least in my experience.

It is to our shame that doctrinal conflicts
produce as much attention as the Superbowl.
I know in part,and see through horrendously
thick glasses, and so do you. May the Lord
give us His Mind, His Truth, His fiery
Baptism of Love--for that will bring us
into the One True Faith.

Until that great day comes in its complete
glory may we trust that the Lovely One, as He
incarnates Himself in us, knows how to say
what needs to be said. It is not that we will
always remain silent but our words will be
spoken out of the heart of our Father.

I have found that getting God's love
incarnated within me is a full time job, and
by design, leaves me little time for lots of
destructive habits, like judging my brother's
doctrine, especially when this big log keeps getting
wedged in my own eye. Did you ever have that
happen? :)

(continued tomorrow)

Friday, February 09, 2007

On Prophets and Martyrs

Can you imagine
if you opened your mouth
or picked up your pen
and in your native accent,
or your peculiar handwriting,
God spoke--
but when people turned to look
all they heard was your voice
and all they saw was the
funny way you made your T's?
"Surely I was mistaken, I
could have sworn I heard God
speak, but it is just you that
I see here, surely I was mistaken."

What if some of the people
were used to God hiding in such
earthen forms
but others couldn't see it, or
didn't like it and wanted
God to come out in the open
and show Himself in His Own Form
or, really, the form they preferred
instead of yours.

What if some people heard what
you said,
or accepted what you wrote
but others just ignored it,
or got mad, really mad,
and blamed you.
Called you names. Lied.
Misunderstood on purpose.
Misunderstood your heart and
God's heart.
Made it hard to keep witnessing
or speaking
or writing,
Made it hard by hurling
insults or by
hurling rocks.

"Have they not known?
Have they not heard?"

Had they known they would
not have killed the Lord of
who then rose up, yes, rises up,
strong and alive in
a thousand different voices,
in a myriad of pens,
which can never really be silenced--
for the voices of the martyrs, and
of the prophets,
always and forever
cry out.

Their words echo, echo, echo:
"Our God is the Lord!
His Christ the Victor!"

Here is the life and death of His martyrs.
His witnesses. His prophets.
Here is the Head of the Church
glorified in
His Body.

Pray for the persecuted church.
Pray for the prophets.
Pray for the witness and the
witnesses of the Gospel of our God.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Feast of Mercy and Love

Don't expect a little bit of His Love.
Open wide your doors. Take the roof
off your house. Unshutter the windows.
Make ready for the coming of His Love
for His kind of Love is known to knock
doors off their hinges in the rush to
get in. You may be slow to wake up to
such a Love, slow to trust it, but
God's Love, once summoned, is
anything but slow.

Be forewarned.

Expect the force of 12 strong men,
linebacker types, to carry Love in.

I jest.

The very Truth is that Love could pick
such a team of burly men up in one finger
and still not be slowed up or weighed

Love is the weight of God's glory. He is
a very heavy God! Laden about with Love
so thick and rich it rolls off His Arms
and Head in great, golden heavenly
torrents. Try standing under the
shower of that holy run-off . You won't
know what hit you. But it will fix
what ails you.

Do you know that kind of Love?

I see you hesitating just a bit...
well then, start with
Love's appetizer, Mercy.
Call out for it. Call out
Like a blind and deaf man,
like a leper with no fingers
left by the side of the road.
Call out of your emptiness
and desperation. You need not be
empty any longer. I hear it is pouring
rain, the rain of Mercy, quite
near to where you live. Just call out.

Don't call out for one small mercy.
Call out for a myriad of mercies,
Let them overtake you like a flock
of hungry seagulls coming for your
lunch at the beach. Let them pick away
all the things you will not need,
all the things, that prevent
the main course of Love from
being served in proper order.

I laugh at that.
Proper Order. For by the time
you get to the main course of
His Love, you will be face down
in your plate, unable to arise.
Love will be smeared on your cheeks
and smashed on your eyelids.

Why do you think earthly lovers
smash cake into each others faces
on their wedding day? God is
reminding you of what He has
to offer. Eat and Drink of
your Loving Lord Christ. Let Jesus
infuse you with what makes Him
tick. He will smile His broad grin as
He comes for you with benevolent intent
to overtake.

All that, and what might dessert
be like? Ah, dear one, wait and see!
But if you are a bit hesitant I
recommend that you try the first
course of mercy.

There is a bargain today at
the banquet feast. Free mercy.
Followed by a main course
of Eternal Love. It may take
a while to get to dessert. I will
be sitting here, waiting for
you to come back, and tell me
how that was.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Defending the Truth as Lambs

On my way to church I pass a farm that
sometimes has a sign out front that
says, "Lambs for Sale." I try to think
the best about that but I always kind
of shudder. I think I should shudder.
There was once, and still gloriously
is, a Lamb, a precious spotless Lamb,
the Lamb of God, who was sold for
30 pieces of silver.

He is the One who gave His life
for us and the One who shows us
how to live as lambs.

In a world that teaches us that
exterior strength wins, and that
power is what changes things,
the Lamb of God sets His little
lambs free to do His Father's
will. So often there is a
tone of militarism in the church.
We are always fighting battles,
doing our warfare, singing
warrior songs, marching,
marching, defending, marching.

I'm wondering if we have just
whitewashed worldly war-making
with a Christian symbol and
gone off to fight our crusades
for truth, justice, and
frankly, the American way.

No doubt the church of Jesus
has taken some blows of late
and we can feel like we need
to be defending the truth. I
really want to revisit that
kind of thinking. I hope you
will, too.

I think we have a real call
to be lambs and we have a call
to defend the truth as lambs.

A lamb's only defense is its
innocence. A lamb's only protector
is its shepherd.

If I am going to the farm to
buy a lamb, the only hope for
that lamb is if I look at its
innocence and can't bring myself
to do it violence. It's only hope
is the intent of my heart to
offer it peace and not bloodshed.

In Israel, the lamb that would be
sacrificed was taken into the home
on the tenth day and sacrificed on
the fourteenthth day (Exodus 12)
--long enough to get attached to
it, long enough to feel horror at
its death, long enough to think
about what sin costs. It had to be
sacrificed. Jesus, the Father's
Lamb, had to be sacrificed.

Now no more. The Sacrificed Lamb
has been slain once and for all.
Now we are called by peace and
to peace. We are heralds
of a new and living way, a way of
peace. We need to be a sign and a
reminder to people that causes them
to repent of their violent ways and
all that their violence cost them
and cost God. Might we still suffer
violence at their hands? God knows.

When people look at us do they
feel like giving up their violence,
their warring,their sinning,
their fighting? Does something
melt in their hearts that takes
all the "fight" out of them?

Or do we provoke the warring spirit?
Are we prone to argumentativeness?
Do we shut our mouths and not
defend ourselves? "As a sheep before
its shearers is dumb, so He opened
not His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).

The Lamb of God taught us not to
fight with our mouths. He showed us
not to defend ourselves with our mouths.
We may speak the truth, but He
does not call us to provoke others
to wrath. The truth, speaking louder
than words, can speak loudly through
the silence of the lamb.

A lamb's only protector is its
shepherd. As we go out into the
world we should feel incapable of
protecting ourselves in our own
strength. We should feel so ill-
equipped for violence that we
rely totally on our Shepherd to
protect us. There should be no back
up plans should He not deliver us.

I love that passage in the book
of Daniel when the three are in the
fiery furnace and are requested to
worship another god. They say,
"This is a no-brainer. Our answer
is no, we will not worship another
god, period. For 'our God, whom we serve
is able to deliver us ...and he will
deliver us,...but if not...be it
known that we will not worship
a golden image.' (Daniel 3: 16-18).

Such is the trust of a lamb.

Our calling as lambs is to a bold
but gentle meekness. The Lamb's
servants are meek and because of
this they shall inherit the earth
(Matthew 5:5). This is a new
earth and a new order, one where a
lamb is unafraid of lion, and where
the wolf is not willing to hurt the
lamb (Is. 11:6 ff- note: the wolf, not
the lion is said to lie down with the

Here is the victory of the Lamb's army.
Here is our call, our inheritance, and
our destiny.

Friday, February 02, 2007

True Worship & False Worship: Part 5: Forgiveness & Reconcilation

Jesus says some tough things. One of them is
this: "Don't bother trying to worship when
there is something unreconciled between you
and a brother or sister. Go and set things
straight and then worship."
(cp.Mat 5:23-4).

That's tough. So often we think we can just
go on with Jesus, despite unforgiveness in our
human relationships. We are fooling ourselves.
Jesus says, "If you are at the altar and remember
that incident with your brother, deal with it."
So often when we approach God's altar, God
makes us aware of our state, He reminds of
things that need to be taken care of, He
sheds light on things we have tried to keep

So part of true worship is paying attention to
what God speaks to us and acting on it
immediately. God is always reminding us of
that of which we need reminding.

Here Jesus doesn't even say,"There, there, I know
it was the other guy's fault, no, He says, if someone
else has something against me, then I need to go.
Even if the trouble started with the other guy,
and God brings it to mind, then I am to go. Perhaps
I am, in that situation, endowed with more grace
to go and offer to humble myself for another's sake.
He may have the problem, I may even be the problem,
but I may also be the means of reconciliation not
only of something between men, but of something
between my brother and God.

Consider this: Could this passage be even more
radical then we thought it was? After all, it is
in the middle a teaching where Jesus is taking
difficult things in the Law and blowing them out of
our reach unless His Spirit enables us.

He tells us that adultery is not just an actual
act, but just looking at someone with lust; that
if someone takes my shirt,I should give him my coat,
too. He presses everything into a new arena. He
raises the bar supremely high.

What if He is saying that my forgiveness ought
to be a given? If I have wronged someone then, of
course, I wouldn't even be thinking of going to the
altar without having been reconciled. Now, I am
to look after my unreconciled brother also and try
to bring him back into reconciliation. If my brother
has something against me, and it is causing him
to stumble, then I need to go and try to bring
God's reconciliation to the situation. I am called
not just to worry about me but about you,
about the whole faith community. The law is about
making sure I am ok with God, grace
is about making sure you are ok with God.

Ouch. I guess none of the "It's not my problem
it's his" line of thinking is going to fly here.
Its kind of like the idea, "Be angry but sin not,
don't let the sun go down on your wrath" (Eph.
4:26). God's only concession to the human
condition on the matter is this: Ok, if a fight
happens then you have until sundown to reconcile.
That is, unless you fight on the the Sabbath
morning, right before church, then you are to
reconcile immediately :)

God wants us to deal with our interpersonal
grievances quickly so they do not fester into
spiritual gangrene. Unforgiveness is nothing
to fool around with. Jesus gives us no "leeway"
at all.

You cannot control how someone will respond
to you but you are required to try and
reconcile so that you might be free to
approach God to worship.

Knowing how we are, this presents a problem.
The default setting for this is that going
to a brother or sister may be more than I
am willing to do so then I decide that I
will leave the altar and go home instead
of going to my brother.

Soon there is not only a gap between me and
a human being, but between me and God. That
is why He says, "leave your gift there at
the front of the altar, then go." He wants
us to remember that we need to come back
and not stay away. Ah, for now my gift lays
embarrassingly unattended at the altar in the
view of God and man. For God will be watching
the unattended gift, waiting for my
reconciled return. And the watching community
will know that I am in right, or wrong

Clever you may ask, "But what gift shall
they see, since we are under the New
Covenant and these things are all inward?"
Ah, and Ananias and Sapphira were under the
New Covenant--consider their fate. The
Lord's Body is sacred. Do not play with
deception. God sees all. He is able to reveal
all by His Spirit.

Brothers and sisters, your relationship with
God is too precious to squander over ANYTHING.
Forgiveness is life and peace. Unforgiveness
is hell and death. God is trying to steer us
clear! Heed His words!

If you think you are worshipping, but are
harboring unforgiveness then this is false
worship and your gift is not received by the
Lord. Does this sound unreasonable? Are you
thinking, "Then church would be rather empty
of people, wouldn't it? Surely, Jesus can't
mean this!" Ah, do you think he was having
an idealistic moment when He taught this?

Oh, if we were to take His words to heart
how many years of suffering would be spared!
God's wisdom to us will prevent unending
heartache. Do not be so foolish as to think
that hanging onto grievances serves you well.
Forgive often and abundantly: even as you
have been forgiven. Be willing to be an
agent of reconciliation. God will then gladly
receive both you and your offering.