Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2011

How do we lose the bottom line? God is God and that’s the point. God is sovereign. God is above all, within all, beneath all. Acknowledge God and life can be trusted. Engage God and a life can be transformed.

Revelation 1:8
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Start here. I start here today. Today is my Alpha. . .

Read Full Post »

I am beginning the Book of Revelation with some fear and trembling. I’ve read it before and I know of its mysteries as I am aware of the promised blessings for reading it. I pray for fresh eyes. Let me start then with this: the time was near? Not really. Is it near today? It can be, if we so choose.

Revelation 1:3
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Of course, there is always the issue of what is time to God? Near in time to God is a type of nonsense since there is no time as we know it in God’s realm. This is all a human interpretation of the message. John sensed urgency and for him, that meant the “time” would come posthaste, soon, and in short order. But that didn’t happen.

Some writers interpret this “nearness of time” as the start of the prophesied events. they say the milestone events were merely drawn out over the millennium and while the end may not be near-near, the beginning of the end was near enough to mention then.

But again, I cast aside anything dealing with time. I think humans spend too much energy on interpreting the time and the times. For this reason, we have a plethora of prophecies and kooks in abundance. And yet, human has managed to live through the “end of time” several years over, from the rise of Hitler in the 1930′s to October 21st (or 28th), 2011 (the predicted dates of Harold Camping and Family Radio). To make things even more interesting, we now have the secular world in on the “end of time” party as we enter into 2012, the year that the Mayan calendar ends.

I am not saying there is no Judgment Day … I’m sure there is, but I am saying that we are incapable of predicting the time. Our world is always in a state of flux, either through the unpredictability of nature or the power of prayer. The way is morphing. Our relationships with God are changing. Our “times” are transforming, lengthening and shortening as God wills.

This is the only element of God that is truly near: the Holy Spirit. The nearness, the very indwelling, of God through the Spirit is the most significant nearness factor. And this nearness depends on human to embrace the truth of Presence.

When Jesus walked the earth, he spoke of the “nearness” of the Kingdom of Heaven as within us [Luke 17:20-21]. This is where the true revelation is now and will be, no matter what events happen or don’t happen. The salvation of humankind is within.

Read Full Post »

If the Christ is keeping me from falling, then the implication is clear: my tendency is to fall. Probably, I am more off balance than on, leaning at an edge. Without the centering power of the Christ, I will cascade, slowly or quickly, depending on my grip, into the pit, the valley, the quicksand.

Jude 1:24
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—

I have just journeyed the Christmas season with little anchoring. I allowed the busy-ness of the holidays to pull me away from my center. Even church events became distractions instead of magnets, as well as shopping, wrapping, and food preparation – awesome Martha [Luke 10:40] activities – but little centering time. I discovered I can sing about the baby Jesus, I can listen to hymns, I can go to church and pray corporately, but it does not keep me from falling out of the Presence.

Like the woman with the issue of blood [Luke 8:43-48], I must be intentional in centering down with the Holy Spirit; I must reach out and grab onto to the cloak, the covering, the access points I have been given. Oh sure, God is gracious and merciful, and I am not condemned, but I have missed a blessing by not inhabiting the presence of Christ within.

Jude commends us to “pray IN in the Holy Spirit.” Some believe this phrase means to pray in tongues or other form of “spiritual” language. And I don’t discount these as possibilities, but I am more interested in the intent of praying WITH the Holy Spirit within. It is a joint effort, this type of praying, it is praying without boundaries, it is praying in unison, it is praying out of a relationship. It is divine. It is powerful. It is holy.

And from here, the soul is centered, the spirit is centered, and as a result, the body is centered, joined to the Spirit of Wholeness [holiness].

At this time of year, many begin looking to the New Year, with resolutions and goal setting. I have but one: to remain in the Presence of Holy Spirit who keeps me from falling.

Read Full Post »

Painting by Titian, 16 Cent.

I’m pretty sure everything started out fairly normal for the brothers, Cain and Abel. Raised by the same parents, they got the same instruction, the same opportunities, the same attention; much like most siblings of today. So, what went wrong? And why is it a warning for me?

Jude 1:10-11a
Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain . . .

Things must have started going downhill long before the big moment in Genesis 4:3-5, when both boys brought an offering to God, Cain (the eldest) from his farm produce and Abel from his herds. The produce offering was rejected while the animal offering was accepted. Cain thought his offering was fine, the way to go. Maybe it didn’t occur to him to find out what would be better, or that something “could” be better. Maybe Abel just lucked out when he brought a blood sacrifice. We’ll never know.

But what we do know is that the Cain/Abel dynamic was already in place and Cain, instead of changing up to another offering or trying another way, resented his brother’s good fortune. I doubt he took any time at all to analyze his situation or consider some alternatives. He “went with his gut” and confronted his brother. Sometimes, I think people assume that Abel was Mr. Goody-2-Shoes and had the inside track on offering styles of the day. But, what if Abel was doing a little victory dance in the end zone? I’m just sayin.’

But here’s the point. I must be more cautionary in my actions, more circumspect. I may “think” I know what is going on, but then again, I may not. How easy it is to over-react. The “Way of Cain” is thoughtless, emotional, and brash. Cain’s way burns bridges and changes lives forever. Even if there is forgiveness for Cain, the damage is done.

Read Full Post »

A fantasy story line comes to mind: certain characters are entrusted with a secret stone or message or magic phrase and they are called to face numerous odds to protect it, embrace it, and nurture it. With each successful engagement, the power enlarges but so does the evil that opposes it. Each time, engagement becomes more difficult. The opposition is weighty.

Jude 1:3b
. . . I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.

It’s fanciful I know, but I think, as believers, we sometimes lose the wonder of what we have in the Christ: that Holy Spirit, that Truth, that potential for joy and peace within. The experience of eternity is within. It is the spirit, after all, that lives on after the body fades. Part of the message we hold determines the quality of our eternity. We also lose track of the power of the opposition, as well as its inventiveness and ability to dissemble.

Does anyone else wonder why the message was sent in that particular era dominated by the Roman empire? What was it about the plight of the Jewish nation (one of many) that compelled God to send the whole Story. The people cried Hosanna! (save us) and God sent the most unlikely Savior, not a general leading a great army to destroy the Romans but a baby born to a couple of poor folks.

No instant messaging was available, no news feed, no reporters on the scene. In fact, what witnesses there were, few had much credibility: shepherds (one of the most disreputable “professions” of the day) were supposedly informed by a sky full of angels? Right. And what were they smoking? Or, what about those foreign guys: mystics and astronomers that weren’t even of the faith? They probably had an ulterior motive. I mean, the people closest to the event (like the innkeeper, let’s say), don’t seem to have much place in the story or what about all those other people who were stuck in Bethlehem for the census? No, I think it was a pretty hushed affair, just another baby and just another mouth to feed.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. [Luke 2:19]

Mary was the first one who was entrusted with a truth, a power, a hint of what was to come. She did not stand on a street corner and declare the message. She didn’t start a blog or expect special treatment. She didn’t go to the governor and display her treasure. She waited. Her role was not truly expanded until after the death and resurrection of Christ.

I am entrusted with faith. I accepted the quest, the mission. But I am not so sure I have been wholly conscious of my role. Or perhaps, that full expression of my understanding as been successfully undermined by the adversaries.

I think my next foray should be covered with a backup. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” [Matthew 18:20] I need to find those partners, like the trio from Harry Potter or the Three Musketeers or even, the three disciples who knew Jesus the best.

It’s a journey all right and it’s a journey that is best taken together.

Read Full Post »

I’m sure the intention of the phrase, “chosen sister” is that of a sister in the flesh who is also a believer. And yet, for me, something else resonated which makes me want to take a little mind excursion into the value of friendships.

II John 13
The children of your chosen sister send their greetings.
[NIV, 1984]

The second letter of John did not hold much new for me. I see it as a very concise review of his first letter as he writes on the importance of loving others, obedience to Christ, and protecting the Spirit from within from deceptions and deceptive people.

However, when I read the last phrase about the lady’s “chosen sister,” a deeper chord struck. I suppose it’s because I don’t have any blood sisters and like most women who don’t, wish I did. There is a bond between sisters that is unique.

On occasion, we all encounter a friend who becomes as close as a sister, or maybe even closer. Those friends were chosen: either by one another or, in the case of the Presence, chosen by God. These relationships are singular and should be cherished.

I have had a few such women friends who have marked my life and I am grateful for them. To them I give testimony this day.

Becky & Mary were girlfriends from high school with whom I walked through a complex time, both personally and culturally. It was the time of agitated civil rights, the Vietnam war, and our own search for identity. The times in which we lived branded us and even after forty years, we are still engaged (no matter how frequently or infrequently) and that link makes us genuinely care about each other as well as our children and the lives they are leading. They are chosen sisters.

In college, I met Kathy, another chosen sister with whom I have experienced great losses and gains, marriages and divorces, fertility and infertility, grief and joy. There have been months, even years, when we lost each other, but the cord was stronger than time we lost and we endured. Our big joke now is that we will age together, rocking on a porch somewhere, hopefully near the ocean or the mountains. Our children continue to be part of both of our lives.

In recent years, Janis & Kathleen have been the women who have walked beside me in faith and trials. They adopted my children, in one case, as a Godparent even, and I know their prayers cover me and my kids in a cloud of light as I do for theirs (which takes longer since they both have five children apiece, LOL). These chosen sisters entered my life through the church, our prayers and worship of the same God bind us too.

Of course, there have been other key sisters that God chose for me: women whose lives crossed mine for a season. Each of them were a blessing that cannot be cast off whether it was for ten years or ten weeks or even less. And there are women today who are in my life but we have not quite “chosen” fully. We love, we care, we connect, but we are not laid bare.

Friendships are harder to sustain in this age. We are either too busy to commit the time it takes to bridge our lives or too insecure to open our arms and expose our hearts. I am guilty.

Every friendship is a gift. And just as I need the Presence of God within, I need you, chosen sister or nearly sister or soon to be sister, on the outside. And you need me. Let us choose more freely.

Read Full Post »

It’s time to put some idols under the microscope. I get too complacent about my idols, thinking they have little power, after all, how bad could they be? I’m a walking believer, I study the scriptures, I pray, I go to church, I even fast . . .

I John 5:21
Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)–[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be).
{Amplified]

All faith-based disciplines are a help to the life of a follower of Christ. All of these practices aid the fuller indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But for every discipline and practice that is a help, there are “idols” that pull and push against us . . . me.

My idols (in no particular order):

  • Newspapers, News, Blogs, or just about anything on the Internet
  • Lattes and Loose Tea, brewed correctly
  • Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, FlickR
  • Sleeping late; pushing the snooze button 4 times
  • Being Busy, really busy, I mean really, really busy
  • Reading as many books at the same time as I can: current load is 8
  • Driving alone, so I can listen to an audio book
  • Smart Phone
  • Gadgets, or coveting gadgets, or reading about gadgets
  • Being funny
  • Being casual about money, a joke, since it’s in short supply
  • Writing anything: blog, book, reports, instructions, grocery lists
  • Photography, even without a good camera; or maybe it’s kvetching about that too
  • NPR (if I’m short on audio book) – silence not allowed in the car
  • Panera with a few special people (you know who you are)
  • Scheduling the family: even after age 18
  • Age lines, puffy veins, dry eye, sore feet, plus lots of extra pounds
  • Talking, a nice way of saying gossip
  • Being with and taking care of dogs & cats
  • Candles = ambiance
  • Pandora: Smooth Jazz
  • Work: librarian, manager, volunteer, parent
  • Workshops and Training – learn something else new
  • Children’s needs, Husband’s needs and all the needs they don’t know they need

Oh, come on, goofy right? Aren’t idols supposed to be like Mother Teresa or Brad Pitt? Aren’t they the rich and famous, the indulgences, the lofty or the lowly?

No, not really. I mean, I suppose those are issues too, but really, for me, it’s the “time suckers!” : anything that takes me away from my awareness of the Presence within, the marriage of Spirit, the inner life, Christ in me and me in Christ. That’s the very essence of what it means to be an overcomer in this world, this age, this culture. I know all this in my mind, but instead, I act out: I step on my scale and start another diet, I read too many posts, I play too much Scrabble or Words with Friends, I fill my time and watch the digital clock on my computer turn over, minute by minute by minute.

I occupy my mind. Ha Ha. Occupy Irmgarde. These activities, these mind numbing time wasters, they are all camping out inside me. And even if none are particularly bad, they draw me away from my center.

When I was in acting school, I learned a surefire remedy for hiccups: every time! Basically, it requires the person to “relax the diaphragm.” That’s all. But, to do cure usually requires silence, stillness, breath, and centering.

To cure idol pandering depends on the same practices.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,585 other followers

%d bloggers like this: