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Posts Tagged ‘Spirit’

gateA quick search on the phrase, “gate of heaven” caught me off guard as it appears to have become a popular name for cemeteries. I think that’s a shame as it puts so much emphasis on heaven being available only after we enter the “big sleep” if you will. But heaven is also within and available to us now, if we open the gate.

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” [Genesis 18:16-17]

We are the church, we are the house of God. The body is a sanctuary and temple to the Holy Spirit [I Cor 6:19]; isn’t heaven there too?

In heaven, we are promised continual access to God where there are no more tears and no more pain. This timeless place is so not limited to our three-dimensional understanding of existence. It is spirit. It is God.

For me, the gate is Christ.

sheep gateI tell you the truth: I am the gate of the sheep. All who approached the sheep before Me came as thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not listen to their voices.I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be liberated, will go in and go out, and will find pastures. The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance. [John 10:8-10, The Voice]

GatesNarrow gate allow us in but gates also protect, whether in reality or symbolically.

In Old Testament times, the gates of the city were a public forum where transactions were witnessed.

A gate is a choice, whether to enter or depart.

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I love the verbs in this Psalm. If I took those verbs into my heart, I would have a prayer life that could change the world.

prayers are manyLord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief. . . .
The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground; . . .
I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you; [surrender]
    I thirst for you like a parched land. [Psalm 143:1, 3a, 5-6]

It’s so simple.

I ask God to hear, listen & come, while the “enemy” pursues & crushes, but I am busy: remembering, meditating, considering, surrendering and thirsting [desiring] after the things of God: voice, heart, peace, and confidence.
If I am to successfully face the trials of life, this must be my mode of operation. There is no trial or circumstance that has not been covered by the promises of God when I am surrendered to God. The deal was struck through the covenant relationship that God has with human. . . . and with me.

Trials and disappointments will still be around. In fact, the world pursues us all, through the evil actions of others which cause hurricanes of pain and sorrow. I cannot stop the flood of terror or violence or stupidity fueled by selfish ambitions and delusion. I cannot always understand what drives others. I can only do my part: remember who God is my life; meditate on the presence of Christ’s Spirit within; consider the implications of living a surrendered life; and desiring God’s way and not my own.

This is what it means to pray.

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And God pricked my spirit saying, you can’t just write about prayer. You must actually “do it.” This is where wisdom is born of knowledge and understanding.

So I turned to the most well known prayer of all. My first stumble was on the first word: Our. And then, it came to me that every prayer, really, is an “our” prayer because I am asked to pray on behalf of all humans. This is a prayer for humanity:

And so I prayed this way:

prayer2Our Creator, God who made us: You are heaven (we are still earth).
A mere name cannot hold all that You are. Holy. Father. Mother. Creator. God.
We need heaven here and we need Your authority.
We accept and surrender to You here.
To transform ourselves and our world into You, into heaven.
Allow us the nourishment we need to sustain our bodies, our minds, and our souls for one more day.
Forgive our abuses of your grace.
We will forgive others too. We must. Because we are no better than they are.
Keep drawing us away from the selfish choices, the rebellious preferences, the well-traveled roads;
And instead, shepherd us into Your Presence.
When we willfully continue the wrong way and entangle ourselves in the web of evil: save us.
We acknowledge You, Heaven, Holy Other and Hope.
You have the power and love to do and will what is best for humanity, for us, and really, for me.

This is my prayer.

Psalm 8:1

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I have been contemplating today how I will continue my path. I have just completed creating a six-week study of the Book of Ephesians in Bible lesson/question format; and as a result, I knew I wanted to spend some time in prayer and perhaps study prayer along the way, but how? I prefer grounding any of my efforts in scripture, no matter how far afield I may go along the way. The most logical place to start appeared to be the Psalms.

I didn’t want to simply start at Psalm 1 and plow through them one by one; instead I wanted the selections to more closely reflect my state of being that day or week. As a result, I have discovered a number of web sites that lay out the psalms by the church calendar (Book of Common Prayer Psalter), by topics, and by summary statements. I will begin with these, looking for revelation and, hopefully, an inner journey that will manifest in a more joyful, peaceful, and moderated outer life.

It is the Spirit I am pursuing in prayer. It is the Presence. It is an intimacy I believe is attainable; a listening place where direction is palpable and rooted in the holiness of God in Christ’s Spirit.

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todayHave been asking God for some small revelation, some little nugget to feed my soul, but the days are crowded and cramped and my spirit self has been relegated to the back porch. It’s not a good thing. But I still have today.

Look at the grass growing over there. One day it’s thriving in the fields. The next day it’s being used as fuel. If God takes such good care of such transient things, how much more you can depend on God to care for you, weak in faith as you are. [Luke 12:28; The Voice translation]

It’s like a diet sometimes. I mess up and my tendency is to think, “I just blew it; might as well throw this entire day out and eat whatever!” It’s like I condemn myself and give permission to myself all in one fell swoop. Whose voice is that?

And yet, this day, I heard for the first time, begin again right now. Just take a breath and turn around. There is plenty of time; there is plenty of grace for this day yet.

I have been starving my soul. I have been shutting out the Holy Spirit from my daily decisions and directions. It’s like my inner self has been holding her breath.

It’s a good moment to begin again. It’s now. It’s today. Anything is possible.

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Art by Brad Moody

Art by Brad Moody

Honestly, it never occurred to me that walking on water might be normal behavior. Think about it. The way the story goes, Jesus finished praying and then headed out by the most direct route (across the water) to meet up with his friends. It’s not like he stood at the shore and said to himself, “wait til they see this!” It was simply a means to an end. It could have been a true turning point for the disciples. Instead, it was one more picture lesson in faith.

O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear? [Matthew 14:31b, The Voice translation]

Most Christians, when they get a hold of the possibility that miracles are still possible today, focus on healing. After all, Jesus did a lot of healing and when faced with the pain and suffering of those around us, we want to help, we want to save them, we want to keep our loved ones with us. Heal them Father, we cry out. Have mercy.

When danger is before us, we cry out. When death is near, we shout. When fear feeds on our hearts, we beg for relief.

But no one, at least no one in my circle of friends, asks to walk on water. What’s the point? Walking on water won’t change the world around me, it won’t heal or alleviate suffering, it won’t bring the dead back to life, it won’t change anything. Except for myself.

That’s right. Walking on water is a personal transformation. It’s an assurance of faith within. It’s a breakthrough in surrender, full and complete. All in.

If I walk on water, then all is possible. It’s not the cliche of being perfect at all. It’s something totally different: it’s trust and fearlessness in the face of the natural laws of nature. It is outside 3-D experience. It is Spirit leading flesh, in charge. What it really means is to live in mutuality with the Holy Spirit. “At that time, you will know that I am in the Father, you are in Me, and I am in you.” [John 14:20

Walking on water is the antithesis of fear. Perfect love casts out fear [I John 4:18] and sets the stage for that journey.

Miracles and water walking are a natural outgrowth of a focused faith: love God, love others. This is our part of the bargain–the covenant. Simple. Impossible? Possible.

 

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Art by Daniel Gerhartz

Art by Daniel Gerhartz

Intimacy is a charged word. Just having it as the title of this blog will get me hundreds of spam comments and false hits. It has been usurped by the sex trade. And yet, it’s the essence of a true relationship, an authentic kinship, a life-changing connection. The Voice translation says it best:

But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God’s love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him . . . [I John 2:5]

Now let me add my own tweaks to this verse: But IF I respond to and obey His word [the Christ], then God’s love has truly taken root and filled me. This is how I know I am in an intimate relationship with God.

Intimacy implies detailed knowledge of one another. It’s a given that the Spirit (living within me) has detailed knowledge of me. In fact, I’m pretty sure Spirit Christ knows me better than I know myself. But is it reciprocal? Do I know God? Of course not. I can only know what I am open to know. I can only know what is revealed through God’s actions and the Christ who walked the Earth to show us what God looks like in the flesh.

Here is God: follow me. That was Jesus’s message from the beginning, to each disciple: follow. Live the paradox. Love your enemies, go the second mile, love others as you love yourself, be devoted to God. Enter intimacy.

I am not a good friend. Not really.

I protect my heart from most people. Trust is slow. Betrayal feared.

But love requires an open heart, as does intimacy. One cannot come without the other and vice versa. Otherwise, they are both conditional.

My unconscious messages: I will love you if you don’t hurt me. I will expose my true self to you if you prove you are trustworthy. I would rather you not know me.

To have intimacy with God, I must practice with Human, for that is all we really have to work with. Except for pets. They’re easy. They already have the unconditional love part down pat. I am grateful for those small learnings over the years, at the least.

Come Lord Jesus. Teach this girl again. Open my heart. Give me courage to believe that my open heart will be protected in the shadow of your wings.

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