Archive for December, 2009

STOP REPLAYING THE PAST

December 12, 2009

STOP REPLAYING THE PAST

As I begin at long last—age 54—to feel as though I’m finding my authentic voice, releasing the truths in me & ones I’m learning in the process, I find myself drawn to becoming greater in the electrical business, in striving for excellence, growth, productivity, & wealth there. [I’m considering buying a retiring electrician’s business as part of that process, aiming to expand into bigger commercial work. At the same time, I’m connecting with others who have similar views in cooperating in their work & involving them in mine, aiming for mutual profitability and maximized productivity.]

As I was thinking & meditating on this path, I wondered, “Why did I resist this so long? Why did I not latch onto this when I first got my contractor’s license 28 years ago (1978)? For fully 11 years after that, I wouldn’t even do “side jobs”—I really didn’t want that burden, that responsibility—yet in 1989 I found myself doing that & enjoying the customer relations, the interaction, the problem-solving/ troubleshooting challenges—enjoying it immensely—so much that I went full-time into business in 1993. Yet why the up & down over these past 17 years, even to the point of actually trying to give it up and shut it down several times?

Then I felt the Lord gently rebuking me: “Son, stop replaying the past! You are where you are, & that’s all that matters in terms of eternity!” And the picture I had was of flying from LAX (Los Angeles, CA) to JFK (New York City, NY) & somehow finding myself standing at the North Pole–& not even having “flown” there directly, but maybe even through a misguided Iditarod race!—and then having to learn to re-focus and say, “OK, let’s forget about trying to figure out how I got here—the important question right now is, ‘How do I get to JFK the quickest, most direct route?’” And then getting on with it!

How much time & energy do we spend re-visiting past mistakes, wondering how the present (which was at that time in the past still only a “possible future”) “might” have turned out differently? Yes, we need to learn lessons from the past, but really only as they have direct bearing on our present journey & its direction.

Brian Johnson has a son titled “We Believe,” with the opening lines, “You reveal Your secrets & all Your mysteries/ To those who have fallen completely in love w/ You.” Those secrets & mysteries include my mistakes, my missed marks, my “miss”-guided directions, & my present situation—all in one glorious tapestry of which (as Corrie ten Boom used to illustrate) I presently see only the knotted, un-discernable “mess” of the underside & not [“knot”?] the awe-inspiring masterpiece the Master is truly weaving in me….It takes revealing (“revelation”) for me to see the true beauty of where I am in relation to where I’ve come from.

Lance Wallnau, in his teachings on “The Mountain Strategy,” begins by saying. “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve come from.” Maybe I’m finally starting to see where I’ve really come from enough get on with where I’m going, to stop replaying the past…

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GIVING UP CONTROL

December 12, 2009

GIVING UP CONTROL

What are we really afraid of? What are our deepest fears? One of them has to be the fear of giving up control.

Where does that fear come from?? If you think about it, in the womb we have no control and yet are totally cared for, and perhaps are at the safest point in our entire physical existence. Yet from another perspective, we are perhaps at our most vulnerable & more susceptible to being seriously harmed or killed. And yet, for all this, we have no control issues, or at least it would seem so.

When, then, do we really become “in control”? At the moment of birth? When the umbilical cord is cut? [I remember hearing someone call it the “um-Biblical” cord. <grin>] Or does the trauma of those moments generate in us a fear of not being “in control,” as we must have unconsciously assumed ourselves to be while still inside the placenta.

I’m not sure exactly where this is going, except perhaps to cause me to wonder, if we ever really ARE in control? Even our choice of how to respond is often influenced by our physical condition, external circumstances, previous conditioning & training, etc. Is it the “sin nature” we inherited from Adam that makes us fear giving up our (imagined) control as he literally did at the only real point anyone (except perhaps Jesus) has ever been fully in control.

And how would we characterize Jesus’ being “in control”? What of His “learn[ing] obedience through the things He suffered”? of His acquiescing to Mary & Joseph’s wishes at age 12? of His honoring His mother’s wishes by turning water to wine (His first miracle)? of His going to the slaughter as a lamb dumb before the shearers (Isaiah 53)? of His emptying Himself of all it meant to be God to take on human form (Philippians 2:5-11)?

No one could question Jesus’ totally being “in control.” Yet many of the forms that took do not match our concept of being “in control.” He even commented, “I do nothing on My own…only what I see my Father [God] doing.”

So then maybe we really are more “in control” that our fears would admit—we just don’t know how to appropriate it, or to appreciate the particular circumstances that have us feeling boxed in as actually allowing us to be “in control.”

One picture of heaven has saints casting their crowns before Him. Crowns—whether earned or inherited—symbolize, among other things, a level of authority & control that is supreme in its particular arena. So, somehow or other, a part of our calling in this life is to learn how to be “in control” enough to be able, in that Day, to give it up by casting our crown!

LOVING ENEMIES

December 12, 2009

LOVING ENEMIES

Loving enemies has to be one of the hardest of Jesus’ commands to obey. It just doesn’t seem to be “in our nature.” (And anyone who says it is, I would question as to whether they’re really doing what Jesus was talking about!

Would Jesus give such a command for no reason? Obviously not. What then, we should ask ourselves, is th4e purpose of such a command? To get our enemies saved? Perhaps, for that does happen sometimes. To work more of His love & life in us? Surely. But I sense somehow an even deeper purpose.

Somehow, on the deepest level, loving our enemies is connected with our own salvation, & the clarity of our relationship w/ God. B/c He loved us when we were His enemies, & sent Jesus to die in our stead & for us, we are indeed called to be reflections of this glory He demonstrated. And somehow therein lies one of the strands of our salvation.

I was reminded of this today as someone at church [Marti T.] shared how she had been humbled in her attitude toward her brother-in-law, who had abandoned a wife w/ young kids only to come back years later, repentant. For the past two years (the time he has been back), Marti had had a difficult time forgiving, or at least feeling forgiveness. Recently, however, the brother-in-law was instrumental in helping Marti’s out-of-work husband secure a very nice job. “Now,” she says, “I have to be thankful for him with every paycheck!”

I shared with her my experience of literally having an enemy save my physical life [see the earlier entry on ENEMIES].

So, though I don’t understand it, I have to say I’ve experienced it personally: Our enemies can (quite literally, even) be instruments of our own salvation!

OUR SMALL VIEW

December 12, 2009

OUR SMALL VIEW

We really do have such a small view of life.

If our eyes see such a small fraction of this huge world, & this world is such a small fraction of our vast universe….

If our eyes cannot see into the atom or quark, the depths of the ocean, the interior of earth….

If we cannot see the past or the future….

If we cannot see motives or ideas or thoughts or spirits….

And then, to top it off, if our eyes are closed half the time, between sleeping, resting our eyes, & blinking; & if, when we “see,” we see so little of what we DO see….

….then how truly small must be our view of things!!

The psalmist had it right: “What is man, that You, Lord are mindful of him???”

And yet we come out of the womb feeling that the universe is me-centered, that all of  life owes me.

What a paradox!!

Yet that is what we must operate out of. We are given our time & space, our “sphere,” & we are boxed in! We aren’t given a choice when or where or how we’re conceived or born.

And yet, as our life progresses, we are given increasing choices, even if they are only choices of accepting our lot with joy or becoming bitter.

Sometimes I see life as a progression from total self-centeredness toward total other-centeredness, at least as the ideal goal. And that other-centeredness must include the Other: God. In fact, He has to become the primary focus. [The two greatest commands are “Love God/Love others”—and John, in his first letter, has them so inextricably linked that NOT loving others indicates not REALLY loving God.]

My final goal, my ultimate desire, is to get “out of” me, “into” Him—in a fullness that empties me of whatever me-ness it is that is not of Him, & fills me w/ all of Him I can hold in an overflowing of Him to others.

“My” view diminishes & wanes, & His view through my eyes grows & waxes. Sometimes the process feels as agonizingly painful & slow, even as indiscernible in truly changing me, as the “wax-on/wax-off” in Karate Kid!

Not that I disappear. Rather, hopefully, I become fully transparent, a layer of skin over God-in-the-flesh, another incarnation of the Incarnate One, a “Jesus-jelly bean” ready to be tasted by the world, to see that the Lord really is good….

KEEP FIGHTING

December 12, 2009

KEEP FIGHTING

When I was at your house [tomorrow will be 2 weeks ago], I was starting to be sick with a cold/sore throat, etc. I literally lost my voice that Wed. following, & still haven’t totally regained it. I’m congested, stuffy, having to fight to keep energy in me— & it’s been an extremely busy 2 weeks, w/ lots of work, family, & church stuff, plus the Thanksgiving holiday (an awesome one at that!).

But I keep fighting—taking medicine, energy drinks, phyto-nutrients—whatever I can think of to keep going.

There must be a tremendous spiritual battle going on here, b/c I’m not getting over this fast. It’s the longest I’ve been sick in a long time.

But life’s that way. As the commercial says, “Life comes at you fast!” And it does. Satan doesn’t play fair: He’ll kick you while you’re down, in ways you could never have pictured.

But then, we have forces on our side he can’t picture either. He has severely misjudged the strategies, the outcome of this glorious battle, as the White Witch did’t understand the “Deeper Law” in The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe. We only have to fight as long as it takes, whether a lifetime, a year, a day, or a minute. Eventually the battle stops, & we win!

The trick in the middle of the battle, in the heat of the fray, in the discouragements of life, is to take the “long view,” to somehow capture a vision of what can be, of what will be. We need someone to pray, as Elisha did for his servant, “Lord, open his eyes.” We need to see that those who are for us are more that those who are against us.

And then, sometimes we win by losing, as Aslan did. Chuck Colson tells several stories of people who did that in his book Loving God, & we think of the firefighters and other heroes of  9-11, of the man who died rescuing people when the plane crashed into the icy waters of the Potomac, of the father who died shielding his children from freezing on a camping trip gone awry, of countless saints who were martyred, whose blood watered the seeds of new life in the Church….The list is so long that only God’s angels can record it fully & accurately.

And so I keep fighting this cold, this sickness in my body (it’s really such a small thing, but it works in diabolical league with) this death at work in me, this downward spiral of entropy & sin that will eventually (unless the Lord returns first) capture this flesh—but never the soul or the spirit!

BEAT WITH GOD’S HEARTBEAT

December 12, 2009

BEAT WITH GOD’S HEARTBEAT

Sometimes, in this grand search for my “voice,” I ache with something difficult to pinpoint or define. I feel such lack of focus b/c I find so many things in life fascinating. I wish I could live thousands of lives to experience it all, & in feeling that way, I can hardly stand to limit myself long enough to succeed! It’s a sort of spiritual ADHD, an imploding of so much awareness of life that it almost overloads the spirit. It’s an awareness of all the needs & desires in the deepest of hearts—[well, not really all, of course]—of the hurts & the longings & the joys & the loves & the connections with other people.

Maybe—just maybe—it is a small fraction of what God’s heartbeat must be for us, His lost creation. It makes me want to father the world, to cuddle all the crying babies, to bandage all the cuts & bruises & broken bones, to heal all the bleeding & battered hearts, to love all of creation with whatever it takes to restore us to Him.

I wonder if, even in our deepest despair & pain, some—maybe all—of us feel it.

My father committed suicide when I was 3½, with a .22 rifle in bed early one morning in a trailer in TN. He told Mom to get up & cook breakfast, & Charlotte (age 2) & I were asleep. And during the bacon popping, Mom didn’t even hear the pop of that .22 hollow-point bullet as it penetrated his skull, ricocheting around through his skull & —so he thought—ended his pain.

But maybe, in that aching despair, he ached for us to go on & find something he hadn’t, b/c he left 3 other bullets under the pillow, unused. Maybe he had just enough love, enough echo of God’s heartbeat, to spare us, to protect us from his own personal demons, to thrust us into a life of hope, though at the time it must have seemed hopelessness. Maybe, just maybe, he won a war for our souls as he lost his own personal battle. Maybe in an ironic, twisted way, he became a sacrifice for us.

I’ve never thought of it that way before.

I ache for him sometimes, hoping, praying, that he’s not eternally lost. I know that’s the church canon, but my heart doesn’t want to accept it.

If time is nothing to God, His heart aches as much into the past as it longs into the future. The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, in some sort of eternally-present moment.

And he’s calling us to feel His heartbeat in so many ways we can only begin to fathom…

HAVE A VOICE, EVEN IN SILENCE

December 12, 2009

HAVE A VOICE, EVEN IN SILENCE

*** (Corollary to “BE” BEFORE YOU “DO”) ***

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel; when necessary, used words.”

We might re-phrase it here & say, “BE the gospel; when necessary ACT.” Or “BE A VOICE; when necessary, SPEAK.”

In the natural we have a voice all the time, but seldom (at least most of us <grin>) use it. In truth, even the most talkative person would have a difficult time speaking even 20% of the time, & it’s doubtful that even those who make their living talking actually speak 10% of the time; the best ones learn to do more sales by listening!

But when I say “Have a voice,” I really mean something deeper, an authentic voice, a weightiness (one literal meaning of the Hebrew word chabod, meaning “glory”) and authority in who you are, an identity that speaks even when you’re silent, a commanding presence that radiates, an aura that glows, a glory that shines & reflects the “shekinah,” the glory of God, encapsulated in who He made you to be. (If each of us reflect just one facet of Him, think of the glory reflected in a 7-billion + faceted Gemstone, a Jewel with more than 7 billion facets!!)

FINDING A “VOICE”…

So where do we find a “voice”? Where do I find my specific “voice,” that identity that’s mine & mine alone, that God-given “ME”?

Maybe that’s the secret—God given. Maybe we don’t find it “out there,” but rather “in here”—in the depths already hidden, tucked away somewhere in our deepest recesses, waiting to come out of the closet.

Richard Bolles Nelson, author of the all-time classic job-hunting manual What Color Is Your Parachute?, theorizes (in another book on finding your mission in life) that somewhere back in eternity, before we were placed here on earth, we made a covenant with God, accepting our particular “mission” in life. When we are born, we develop a kind of amnesia & then have to re-discover or un-cover that mission. That is the finding of our voice, our identity, our “flow,” being “in the zone.”

It’s the journey I’m on. It’s the journey you’re on. We’re all on it; we’re not given that choice…Our only choice is whether to bury our talent or not, whether to seek consciously to uncover it & use it.

Who knows? Maybe the reason we’re give so much more silence than voice is b’c that’s how we truly uncover it & learn to use it—in the resting, the relaxing, the letting-go, the times of “re-creation” ( = recreation!), the unspoken connections, the having & loving & being & doing of everyday life—the great silences….

“BE” BEFORE YOU “DO”

December 12, 2009

“BE” BEFORE YOU “DO”

*** We have to “be” before we can “do”! ***

Descartes had it wrong, I think, when he said, “I think, therefore I am.” We have to BE before we can THINK or ACT. That seems so obvious as to not need stating, but we tend to get them backwards when we apply them to relationship with God. We start trying to “DO” something in order to “BE” what God wants us to “be,” as though the doing could somehow make us into true children of God.

But a child IS a son or daughter ALL THE TIME, whether doing or not. DOING should spring out of BEING, not become an attempt to “make” it happen.

SLAVES OBEY

FRIENDS RELATE

SONS SIMPLY “BE”: They ARE sons ALL THE TIME!

Slaves are bought/sold

Friends grow in(to) friendship (or break off friendships)

Sons are born into Sonship! They “swim” in it as naturally as fish in the oceans, and remain sons whether they “do” or not! They don’t have to make their sonship “happen.”

I used to think that when Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep/heed My commandments/ obey Me,” He meant that to LOVE = OBEY. But love, while including “obey,” is so much more! Relationship has to precede obedience, or the obedience is simply rote action, religion trying to work its way into right standing with God, & it becomes a form of idolatry or pagan witchcraft.

Adam walked with God BEFORE there was a command. He didn’t have to think about “doing”; he was simply “being” himself, a son of God.

We took our granddaughters Katie & Gabi out yesterday. Gabi is 6, so we have to keep her from running out in front of cars. We tell her, “Don’t run out if front of cars! Hold our hands!” or simply “Hold my hand!” But then we find ourselves holding hands when there’s no “need” to—walking down the sidewalk or inside a store.

“Daddy God” ( = “Abba”) wants that, I think. He wants us holding His hand even when we don’t have to, simply b/c we want to. He wants resting in His watchful care, DOING occasionally, but BEING all the time, even when we’re sleeping.

We already ARE—we just don’t rest in it, bask in it, swim in it, enjoy it! Let’s get freed up from having to try to “make” ourselves something we already ARE:

GOD’S KIDS!

BALANCING ACT

December 12, 2009

BALANCING ACT

We in the West seem to have, in our “rational” mindset, lost an understanding of holding opposite truths in tension, as those in the East do so readily. The “yin-yang” is an example, but that has been often misinterpreted as applied to Christianity, b/c Satan is not God’s true opposite: God is uncreated, eternal in the “backward” direction, whereas Satan was created & therefore had a beginning.

God is the “sum total”—He holds all truths in opposition. God is the Whole, not simply part of it.

Yet we insist on taking a part of the whole & so focusing on it that we insist it is the whole. How can we be predestined, yet still have free will? How can God hold in Himself the knowledge of good & evil without being contaminated by the evil?

Yet in the natural world we see such balance much more often than we realize: sodium (Na) & Chlorine (Cl), both extremely toxic in pure form, hold each other in ionic tension in a way that produces common table salt, essential for life. Hydrogen (H) & Oxygen (O) both combustible gases, combine to produce water, another essential. Water does such a delicate tightrope act in going between frozen & liquid states that it expands upon first freezing (an extreme rarity in the world of chemistry). As a result, ice floats in water; yet if water contracted in the way most things do, all ice would be heavier than water and would drop to the bottom of bodies of water, & ultimately the world would get colder & colder & become a frozen wasteland!

Somehow God has created our whole lives that way—a balancing act of opposites that we need to hold in tension—a little too far either direction & we’re out of balance, & we “tip over.” We have to balance:

Love & Fear of God

Life & Death (we die to live & live to die…)

Giving & Receiving (receiving without giving makes us a Dead Sea; giving without receiving depletes & exhausts us)

Joy & Suffering

Faith & Sight

(& I’m sure this list goes on & on too!)

ENJOY THE BALANCE OF OPPOSITES

GOD IS ABLE!

December 10, 2009

GOD IS ABLE!

No matter how unable I feel, God is always able. He never stops being able; He has never been unable.

Ironically, though, He chooses to limit Himself. He didn’t have to create us; He didn’t have to create angels, or the universe, the galaxies & stars; all the intricacies of the atom, & the quark, & all the still-unknown particles & rays & “theories”… He didn’t have to do any of it! No one twisted His arm & made Him do it!

Then why did He? Though obviously only He could answer that question, it is nonetheless a question we should be asking. Obviously He must have a reason , or a whole universe full of reasons….

And then, once He made it, why limit Himself to working through man? As the Psalmist (& I think also Job) put it, “What is man, that You are mindful of him?”

Somehow it’s all wrapped up in Who He is and how He wants to be known. He wants fellowship—He wants relationship—He wants to show off what He can do! We might even say, He did it SIMPLY BECAUSE HE CAN!  (i.e., He is able to do it!)

So where do I (or you) fit in? I don’t know, but is has to be good! The God Who is ABLE, is ABLE in & through me, & He wants to be. “He is able to do incredibly in excess of all we could ever ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20). HE IS ABLE! He is willing…why am I not?

Ignorance:   I simply don’t know it…

Fear:            I’m afraid of what I might “lose”…

Unbelief:     I really don’t believe He could ever use me, or even want to…

Laziness:     It might be too much “work” learning how to fit into His plan…

Expense:      It might cost me more than I’m prepared to give (e.g., my life!)…

Other?

But then, the God Who is able was also able to love me in such an incredible way that He chose to enter this life & life it for me so I could live it in Him….

And somehow, He’s even staked His honor, His reputation before the universe, on completing what He’s begun in me… and

GOD IS ABLE!