Seated in a coffeehouse reading & thinking. This is where it sometimes creeps up on me in ambush - my To Do list. Most times it excites me, but sometimes it haunts me & taunts me in the early morning like a persistent debt collector. Like the irritant of a ringing phone piercing the quiet, or the weight of a pile of Notice Due mailers in my lap, I sit both repelled & lethargic under its influence. Then comes the doubt: Can I do this work? Can I make this happen? Can I get it done? Am I the guy for this job? Here's where a good bit of my more blatant brokenness is brought to the forefront for my consideration in an effort to tip the scales in favor or relenting. No squad is cheer-leading on these early morning sidelines. No pep talk from the coach. And no way to call the game on account of rain. Squeezed in the middle of these negatives I get myself up & keep moving. And with my prayers I just keep driving until I see a break in the clouds off in the distance. And I head toward the spotlight rays of sun there along the thin edge of the storm. In one form or another I've been solicited to relent my whole life - Doubly so once I took on Jesus. Plenty of offered reasons to let it all go. Only one reason to keep it all going. But that one reason is plenty. And it holds me steady, even in the tricks & storms & stumblings that mark every few miles on this my advancing journey.
In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds them. For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he has done. The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as a good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness. But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes. The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.
They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: "I am good."
NABAJYOTISAIKIA, is a compliment used in South Africa and means: "I respect you, I cherish you. You matter to me." In response, people say SHIKOBA, which is: "So, I exist for you." Natasha Kyssa
Up. Thinking about the kingdom. And my role in it. Up. Suiting up. Settling accounts on my knees & needs. Up. Suiting up. Riding out. Committing treachery against all my fears & lack. Committing treason against all my doubts & idols. Up. Suited up. Riding out. Wrestling down doublemindeness & divided loyalty & discipline. Committing myself to a cause much bigger than I. One influencing both acts of hiddeness & acts of chivelry across the broad landscape & tight into the smallest corners within & without in my corner of the world. Up. Thinking about the King of this kingdom. And my place both in Him & at His side. Up. Thinking. Suiting up. Riding out.
We wish & work to walk with God & others & make a real difference in our corner of the world.
But this walk is on a steep narrow road inwardly & a wide rugged road outwardly - Wide & full of potholes & perils:
Perils from evils & idols. Perils from distractions & temptations. And punches from other travelers who strike, shun, or attack perceived weaknesses in the name of God.
Getting up & carrying on takes courage. Getting up, carrying on, & gaining ground takes courage. To keep moving despite the bombs & bullets from both enemy & friendly fire takes courage.
Staying open & humbly vulnerable takes courage. Forgiveness takes courage. Exercising wisdom & compassion with the imperfections of others & ourselves takes courage. Forging ahead on the faith mission God has given takes.... Forging ahead deciding to leverage every trial for good, takes... Getting up, facing God, & surrendering all, knowing that you will still make mistakes, but must still carry on - this. takes. courage. To regularly & intentionally encourage & instill this courage in one another, we must. It is our charge & our call to en-courage one another.
I'd not seen him before. No one at Poplar would know him. He didn't look up. He just kept staring into the bag of groceries I'd just given him. He just kept looking down.
"My life didn't used to be like this... where did it go wrong..." he said. "There's something else....I've done something awful... I'm so ashamed..." A story of wrong choices, wrong friends, a drinking spree getting out of control, arrest, DNA swabs, cells & a rape charge has me sighing at the brokeness of what I was hearing.
The story told - he looks up into my face looking for rejection. I say nothing...
"My life didn't used to be like this... where did it go wrong..." I say nothing...
He half composes himself - "I'm in court next week... I'm scared..." I put my hand on his shoulder. "I'm sure you know if you are guilty" His shoulders shake as deep sobs interrupt the moment.
I look into his eye's "What do you want me to pray?"
Through his sobs he barely whispers "that justice will be done..."
Even as I fight my way to pass & cast the thoughts which exalt themselves above the knowledge of God - even as I sit here in the hollow of the day's noise - even now I get to decide & redecide that the battles & skirmishes & stumbles & risings - even these are a part of what makes the adventure great.
Instead of issuing out prayers of burden-themed-worry
as if it were a troublesome chore to be chosen to stand in the trial
& in the gap & in the faith that makes God-endings possible...
I stand honored & in awe.
Oh these wondrous tragedies & tests & triumphs
with their own timelines differing from mine -
even these provoke prayers of "Wow,
I can hardly believe I get to be the one entrusted with believing
& appropriating & growing & persevering
& ultimately overcoming for myself & for others."
And this morning I lean into the grace to rip off the whine & woe is me which daily seeks to adhire like burs, & instead rise into the storyline of this 24 hours - being fully what I am where I am... so that even what I am not yet stands proudly mocking all that would seek to prevent me from carryout out His life's work in the context of a great & freely given Soul-rest.
Before there was the 'all this' You called me to & set me into & keep in missional motion... Before there was the 'this & that', & all the ministrations & ministries which fill the bulk & span of my day's day...
Before there was an office, & a building, & a budget, & a pushing into the city with a mandate, & a pushing into men's hearts with a swab or a sword. Before all of this, there was You & I. And when all 'this' passes away, there will still be You & I. So here now, in the middle of the 'all this' that You started & keep going by grace; here I sit low to do nothing more than to seek & see You. Because for me it has never really been all about the 'what', but the 'Who with'. So... pardon my stare here in the wee hours of pre-day's start. And pardon my repetitive glances, down in the thick of this day's middles. And pardon my sins, too. To the One of whom I am cultivating an addiction, pardon the stalking tendencies I intend to display as I disentangle myself from the affairs of this life so that I may have a well tangled affair with You... and You alone.
In so many ways my walk with God is just so very good. It's wonderfully challenging, consistently satisfying, & solidly good. In so many ways I have the kind of relationship most Christains yearn for with God. Yet, often enough, I've made this statement to God; "I wish I knew You more". But in making that statement this morning I was immediately reminded of the times God desired to show me more of who He is, times where God drew closer to show me more of His heart, His thoughts, & His ways, but I drew back because I intuitively understood seeing that much more would certainly be costly to my current comfort & the kind of walk I'd grown accustomed to. In those moments I chose good over great. Seated even now in the strong reflection of that truth, I feel a sacred regret. Regret & hopefulness. If I'm able to look this specific truth in the face without feeling the need to tweak it, deny it, or avoid it while patting myself on the back with how good I've got it with God, then this in itself is a sign that I am ready to make different choices with the next opportunities. I hope so. I want to. Because, despite how good I've got it with a God, the truth is... I wish to know Him more and follow Him more fully. I'm just getting it that those two things are synonyms.
The way we are created for greatness, but can equally handle smallness, if that sometimes be the road to it. The way we are allowed to take up the Life of Christ & let that deep shift transform, addict, & grab us body & soul.
I got to thinking about us - The way we are empowered to taste the Passover; judgment flying over we hidden souls behind blood stained doors. And the way we're subsequently empowered to passover transgressions from others with that same un-shakeable & irresistible power of mercy & forgiveness. The way we're empowered to lay down our life for others as if it were an honor to be asked, instead of an imposition to be endured.
Got to thinking about us…Been thinking about how we are wired for greatness - The greatness it takes to take no account of suffered wrong, & to love strong enough for two when the love of one grows cold. For loving when hated. For embracing when rejected – Rejecting rejection when it comes at us like arrows. For interceding when denied- For standing against the tide… We're created for greatness.
Been thinking about how we've been given enough love for us & ours & for everybody else too.How we can take it, when required. And dish it out when righteously necessary. How we can go it, when the second mile is calling from out of some trying situation. Been thinking about how we can bend when flexibility is the better choice,& stand erect in the winds of foolish change.
Been thinkin' bout how we’ve been wired to hold the secrets of others & spread them spilling out like a whisper before the Lord alone in prayer. Bout how we can have that love of God spilling over, plenty for come what may protection against bitterness & criticalness offenses & grudges.Protecting one another instead of lashing out. Been thinking about how we are wired for twisting anger to peace with a calm response & gentle edifying words. For practicing ruthless mercy. For offering two garments & taking two slaps with the bigger picture in mind. For taking the high road when the low road seeks to evangelize us to its side.
Been thinking about us… About the way we are destined to bring shift change to our corner of the world with radical generosity & a revolution of goodness which runs headlong against the spirit of me, myself & I as well as the spirit of us & them. Yeah, we're called to greatness. Empowered to walk in it. Encouraged to yield to it, to accept the truth of it. And with that acceptance, to "forever north crying freedom, run on unshackled"
There seem to me to be two camps. The camp that conferences & prays a great deal, but never really invests themselves in a l-i-f-e-s-t-y-l-e which includes living missional, making disciples, serving the marginalized, & practically working for justice.
The other camp serves & labors in the missional fields zealously, but rarely invests themselves in a l-i-f-e-s-t-y-l-e which includes vibrant spiritual disciplines, an intimate prayer life, & interior strong intimacy & communion with God.
It is my hope & goal & labor to see the two sides partnered under the Spirit's leadership. Then Christ's body will be strong both in the prayer closet a-n-d on the gritty streets.
Strong in God-intimacy & world-impact .
On 'both' fronts bearing fruit that remains.
I sense God calling His 'servants' into the closet more & his 'brides' onto the streets more. Instead, what is presently taking place is that His brides are going further into the closet & further away from the streets. And His servants are going deeper into the streets & further away from the closet.
In the narrative of Martha & Mary, I believe it was never an issue of 'either' 'or' regarding sitting & listening verses standing & serving. Rather it was a matter of which should come first.
Some make the first thing the only thing. And while they are sitting & soaking, & self perfecting, people outside are hungry & hurting are stumbling & falling & dying for want of someone to reach out & help them.
Others make the second thing the first thing. And it soon becomes the only thing. And while they are standing & serving to the exemption of sitting & soaking, they become more deaf to God's voice, more numb to His guidance. And worse... estranged from intimacy with the One who gave the word to serve the needy. They reproduce, but the fruit does not bear the unmistakable image of the Father.
Worker bees tend to reproduce worker bees. Closet-mongers ted to reproduce closet-mongers.
The generation who will experience the epic kind of Isaiah 58 promises, will be those who grow strong in a lifestyle that as a rule has on outworking of both the 1st command & the great commission. Each in its right place of priority.
And now comes the season of iron sharpening iron as we shoulder close to know God's heart, bear His likeness, & live out His message. In childlike wonder, engaging in the pleasures of this life, we drink deep from the people, places, & things that make this world provocatively beautiful. We live full. We play hard. We leisure well. We pray hard. We laugh deep - we kingdom eunichs. We, Christ-apprentices, who take on the yoke, take up our cross, & put on the mantle of serving others as we simultaneously engage every "Follow Me" discipline that will help in our swift pursuit of the holiness & wholeheartedness which enables us to see beyond the headlines & into the details of God. We'll live wide & deep in the joys of earth but remain willingly severed from that which would distract us from companioning the King & fulfilling His earthly desires. He alone is now our deepest delight.
· A quarter of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, live in severe poverty · Nearly 800 million people do not get enough food, and about 500 million people are chronically malnourished. More than a third of children are malnourished · In industrial countries more than 100 million people live below the poverty line, more than 5 million people are homeless and 37 million are jobless · Of the world’s 23 million people living with HIV/AIDS more than 93% live in developing countries · More than 840 million adults are illiterate - 538 million of them are women. · Around 2 million children died as a result of armed conflict in the last decade. · In developing countries 160 million pre-school children are underweight. · In poor countries, children are five times as likely to die before their fifth birthday due to preventable illnesses. · 1.2 billion people live without access to safe drinking water. · 110 million landmines lie undetonated in 68 countries.
Today’s society has the resources to eradicate poverty... · The net wealth of the 10 richest billionaires is $ 133 billion , more than 1.5 times the total national income of the least developed countries · The cost of eradicating poverty is 1% of global income · Effective debt relief to the 20 poorest countries would cost $ 5.5 billion - equivalent to the cost of building EuroDisney. · Providing universal access to basic social services and transfers to alleviate income poverty would cost $ 80 billion, less than the net worth of the seven richest men in the world · Six countries can spend $ 700 million in nine days on dog and cat food. · Today’s world spend $ 92 billion on junkfood, $ 66 billion on cosmetics and nearly $ 800 billion in 1995 for defense expenditure.
Here preparing to meet the calm & the chaos that describes my life & the day ahead. I think through my possible lossess & probable gains, trenches & skirmishes, landmines, hellos, pockets of supernatural, & the collision of broken & whole which awaits. It's then I decide fresh once again to drop my shield, fears, & all my resevations to draw near Your rod & staff, surrender to the beating heart that stands between them, & submit to the soul that commands the universe from atoms to galaxies. The One who set in motion the birthing of volcanoes & daffoldils. The One who made both Lucifer & the color pink. May the Savior whom I dare to call friend enjoy the simple conversation, the worship, the obedience, & the surgeries he must perform today inside my heart should he continue to permit this breath in my lungs & continue to instigate this fire in my bones as I move about on the broken landscape of my imperfect life on this unfinished world.
The accuser of the brethren bares his teeth & whispers words of sedition, perversion, & suspicion & then retreats under the cloak of darkness & will not permit the bright light of truth & scrutiny & biblical process. There it knows it can not prevail. So it stays behind the scenes & in the false guise of discernment displays its devices to divide & destroy as it slits reputations & splits friendships there under the banner of the accuser of the brethren. Those who are caught in its grip to puppet derision & division in the name of Christianity deserve rich mercy & strong prayers. For we've all at one time or another been either its pawn or its victim.
Standing in the defect of not being God, I am tempted to rage against injustice - To hurl insults or judgments into it, like a kid throwing snowballs into Hell. When I am tempted to rage against rage or to appear with the others throwing stones, words, bullets & bombs to protect, increase or secure my slice of the pie, I pause... & make the ascent inward & upward to God. In the midst of hunger & hurricanes, holocaust & horrors - I find in the curve & quiet corner of His Person - a peace - unaffected by the fray of this world. Unaltered by its paradox & changing paradigms. There in the curve - There in quiet interplay with The Eternal - In the passion of intercourse with Christ - I feel the pulsing impact of His heart against mine. All other sounds fade into the backdrop of this backslidden world - As I view the temporal from the eternal - The now from what will be - And the how from the heart of God imparted & impacting the soul of me. Then... I quiet myself - Knowing that whether I live or die - Whether I stand or fall in the chaos of contention, calamity, or calm - I find my security & sanity in the curve - In the sanctuary of this Person & His peace. Not in the safety of my flesh nor in the serenity of my surroundings, but in the surrender & safekeeping of my self to the savior of my soul. Trusting - In spite of terrorism & tragedy & changes to all my best laid plans - Trusting - Whether I come up in this world or come out of this world - Constrain me -in this curve - this palace - this peace - This power to stand spasmless in storms. Keep me - resting in the curve.
-another day to lock gaze in God-wonder & a come nearer still. my heart leans hard right into it now. right into the wild, base, breathtaking simplicity of companioning a God both mystical & missional.
inside me: candles & altars. liturgy & incense-smoke. polyphonic chants & primal shouts. outside: dirty gym-shoes & clean justice. show-&-tell & disciplemaking & battlescars to boot. yeah, risk-taking & standing tippy-toed to reach into & serve out with age-to-come gifts & power. family & friends & confidants & counselors all in between the lines.
mistakes & outakes & whisky-strong jagged-edged worship all underneath the landscape - like lava spilling out over the low & high ledges, making new ground while changing the contours of the old. yeah, incense burning, sneakers going on, whisky-strong worship going up, & me headed into another day to lock gaze in God-wonder & a mad mission to come nearer still while going further out-
Satan lived in God's presence & still fell away. The presence of God is not the true anchor, God Himself is the true anchor. If we are not anchored in God Himself, experiencing His presence can easily lead to presumption or pride. The counsel of the Lord is not "abide in his presence" but to "abide in Him..." Many are they who are addicted to God's presence, but have not yet come to abide in God Himself. Drawing near to God is not the same as surrendering to God. And seeking the pleasure of his presence is not the same as submission to His person. In His presence is fulness of joy. But in His person is fullness of Life... & the resource of full obedience...& the fruit of Christlikeness in both power a-n-d character. To anchor in God means to not only to draw near, but to absolutely surrender, & seek to know, walk with, & obey Him as life's 1st priority & greatest gift. God has many worshippers, but few worshippers of God alone. Know the difference. Live the difference.
I'm puzzled by those who can't understand how I can in any way be connected to, much less recieve from, or give input into such a wide diversity of Christian ministries with practices, perpsectives, methodoolgy, & doctrine so seemingly opposite of each other. I simply tell em...
He came into that skanky bar I hang out in, sat next to me, & bought me a drink. Holy & clean, everyone could see he did not belong there. What we couldn't see is that neither did anyone else. This was the news he came to bring. Kept it hidden inside his inside pocket. Brought it out only after we'd talked awhile. Well, I talked. He just listened. Listened like my mother, leaning over my crib, just to listen to me breathe. He seemed that cleanly fascinated with my story...& with me. He came into that skanky bar I hung out in, sat beside me, & shared His time with me. Shared His story with me. Shared his Life with me. Made me an offer I could not refuse.
If you sleep during seed time & planting, you will lack during harvest. -Proverbs
If you had not been faithful during the 'I can't believe I have to do this' phase, you would never have made it to the ' I can't believe I get to do this' phase. You are enjoying the momentum of 'want to' in part because you were faithful during the discipline of 'have to'. What you sowed in faithfulness is being rewarded in fruitfulness.
Living & dying daily to know God intimately - And in radical obedience & kamikazi servanthood, to carry out His life's work. ________
Having all these words be more than just words as I soul-press, excuses-crucify, life-surrender & present my body to embody the message of my friend Jesus.