On my knees

Actually, I sit here tonight surrendering to the voice that keeps telling me to write.  Whether it is for you, someone else, or myself – I don’t know.  I am here and you are there.  It remains to be seen if either of us will be there by the 2nd paragraph.

I don’t take the time to write for public “consumption” rarely any longer.  Why?  Time, I guess.  It’s hard.  I’m tired. I question, “Does it really matter?” Possibly it has gotten to a place of becoming too vulnerable with my life that I have begun to guard it.  I’ve got this one friend that would slap me in the back of the head about right now… funny thing about this guy – I haven’t seen him since – 1989?  You are there… You know who you are.

Love.

I love my family.  I love other people. At least I say that I do.  Yet, how do I really show it?  Do I play favorites in the love I have?   Is it in what I buy that shows love? (The debt I take on in the name of “love”).  Seriously, I say I love, yet I question how I really show it.  And if I don’t show it, then, is it really love that I have? Do those around me ever get a chance to see it, experience it, receive it?

I sat down to read the Bible a few mornings ago.  In fact, it was Sunday morning.  I never stop reading in the middle of a chapter or the middle of a thought. (Kind of like riding a bicycle.  I can’t stand to stop at 44.3 miles…. I’d much rather press on to get to that 45 mile mark).  I’m reading in Luke right now and the first sentence I read made me see why I stopped reading in mid thought.  I needed that thought on Sunday morning.  In fact, that thought kept me from checking a few more boxes on my read through the Bible plan for the day.

The verse that messed up my reading plan for the day was Luke 6:27.  Jesus said,  “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this:”

So…. love.  I love.  But I have a funny way of showing it… or not showing it.  I guess my circumstances in life have led me to become rather cynical at times of love.  That’s in the giving and the receiving.  Do you ever feel this way?

The battle for our hearts and minds are greater than anything any of us will see on CNN or FoxNews.  In fact, it’s a battle that neither network would really care to cover.  (Ha, they don’t even cover the news beyond their own agendas – I digress – and where did that come from?)

What really matters is what goes on in our hearts and minds.  It’s the surrender of ourselves and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ that really matters in this life and the life to come.  Too often, I know it’s the case for me, we tend to look the other way and not dwell on those things that really matter.  We don’t stop what we are doing in the midst of a busy day to really hear what really matters.  We don’t listen to the world around us who is hurting and in need of an ear, a caring heart, a friendly smile at the store, opening the door for someone else… God forbid that we ever let someone out in traffic!  Love.

Why is it that we don’t really care about the needs and hearts of other people?  Why is it that we’d rather have our own needs met before we lend a helping hand to someone else?  Maybe this isn’t you – and now you are questioning, “What’s eating at this guy?”

Surely the world isn’t as bad as that!  You know it really is.

I’m the only one to blame for this… some how it all ends up the same

Love

What is love?  Is there really such a thing as love… true love?  Love beyond the Hallmark Channel?

I’d bet those of us who have experienced true love – Experienced it in the act of sacrifice and giving that we have done for someone else.  Or that reality of, “How did they know I needed that?”  You know they met a need in your life – like God Himself met the need through someone else.  They gave out of what they didn’t have or  what they had that God told them to trust Him over.

With a world I try so hard to leave behind.  To rid myself of all but love – to give and die…

I don’t know… what’s this the 13th paragraph?  You still with me?

Take my world a part. I am on my knees. Broken on my knees.

To love you – take my world apart
To need you – I am on my knees
To love you – take my world apart
To need you – broken on my knees Did you really have to die for me? All I am for all you are is what I need and what I believe are worlds apart

All said and done I stand alone Amongst remains of a life I should not own  It takes all I am to believe in the mercy that covers me.

Too often what I say and do is far from what I truly believe.  That’s why tonight… this season of my life I am stopping and asking Jesus to take over.  Take my world apart.  (It already, in many ways, feels like it.) Ha!  One friend asked me earlier today if my name was Job.

Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart

From my little corner of the world, I’m stopping the madness… I’m stopping whatever it is that is keeping me from loving the way Jesus would have me to and pausing from my knees and asking him to take my world apart.  That I may love and serve those around me for His purposes and His glory.  That He may take my life and use it for His glory… after-all, that’s really the only reason to get out of bed everyday.

Quotation blocks from Worlds Apart by Jars of Clay.

Oh yeah, there’s that thought from Luke 6:27….

 

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Out of the shadow of Shadow Weaver…

…comes Sentimental song.

The Choir‘s new album, Shadow Weaver, is out and ready to be indulged.  It seems to me with each new release by this band there is a drawing of my ear to go deeper in the music and the lyric.  If you are a follower of The Choir, you know exactly what I am talking about.  There is not another band out there who can weave the dreamy alternative rock sound in and out of each album and paint as pretty a picture lyrically as this band can.  You can become a fan now with Shadow Weaver but don’t stop there.  One of the beauties of their art is how previous lyrics or themes are consistently weaved throughout their work.

In 1987, I discovered The Choir, while I was a student at Lee College in Cleveland, TN.  The album was Diamonds and Rain.  Shortly after that purchase Chase the Kangaroo was released and my followship of the Choir was solidified!  As I have grown up over the years, it’s as though the lyric and sound have been a soundtrack for my life.

I’ve experienced many highs and lows in life.  Both of which I would love to have had the right tools to draw from when experiencing both of them.  Today, I hope I’ve learned from the difficulties, destruction, and triumph experienced in my life.  (Deep breath)

I recently attended the kick off concert for the Shadow Weaver tour in Dallas, GA.  I went hoping to be able to write about my experience hearing the songs from Shadow Weaver.  They only played a couple of the new songs that night… and what we did hear was outstanding!  Right now, it’s a song off of the 1990 album, Circle Slide, that I want to share.  As Derri began to strum the first chords of this song, applause began as everyone knew what was coming…  Sentimental Song!

As Derri sang, my mind went back to a little house I lived in back in 1991.  I had been divorced for a short period of time.  Just a little bit shorter than I had actually been married.  My life and my heart were a mess of emotions during that time.  I realize Sentimental Song is really a love song.  But during those days I heard that song from the heart of the Holy Spirit.  Each time I played that song then God reached out to me with love.  I tried hard to grasp ahold of those rays of the Son through the thick darkness that had enveloped my life.  As I sat there listening to Derri sing, emotion welled-up within me as I thought about the love my Heavenly Father has for me.  How His grace is deep and not near as complicated as my life has tried to make it.

I’ve heard of people having serious car wrecks after running slightly off of the road.  The wreck occurred after they tried to over-correct from the first mistake.  Well, my life then was much like that.  I ran off the road through that relationship and tried to over-correct my life and ended up crashing.  Some of the memories of that time in life still plague me.  It’s a constant reminder that God has deep meaning and purpose that is hidden even in the darkness we find our lives in the midst of.  His desire is to mine the diamonds that we have hidden in the past of our lives.

Why do you believe what you believe?

I recently read an article posted on Facebook.  I was shocked at what I read concerning a “leader in the church.”  I thought that can’t be true.  Yet before I investigated the truth of what I read – I sent the link to a couple of my friends.  Later in the evening, I was discussing this article with someone else.  Based on that discussion, I decided to actually do some research on it.  I discovered that the original article was an “internet hoax.”  I came to this understanding as I sought out multiple resources.  Even with a closer examination of the original article, it even stated on the website that what was posted was “satirical”.  (I over-looked that).

That’s why it is important for us to make informed decisions about our lives and the faith we so often proudly proclaim. Or the faith we so proudly try to disclaim.  Not only are our lives weighing in the balance but the lives of those we come in contact with on a daily basis.

This experience led me to question, “Why do I believe what I believe?”

I had never heard of the source of the original article.  So when I first read it I was skeptical.  Yet there were some interesting quotes that made me think, “Well, I guess that could be true.”  By the time I finished reading the article I was ready to send it on to a couple of friends with the subject, “Wow!”  And that is exactly what I did.

As a result of this experience I asked myself, “Why do I believe what I believe?” I want to pose the same question to you, “Why do you believe what you believe?” Why do you believe in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit?  Why do you not believe? Why do you believe in some other god or religion? Why believe there is no such being greater than our current existence?  I’m wanting you to consider this in order to draw you into a deeper relationship with God or to bring you into a real search for truth.

Did each of us come to our place of belief because we personally sought truth? Or did we stumble into our belief (or disbelief) in God based on our parents, family, friend(s), or culture?

I write here with the presupposition that those who read are already Christians.  I do so not to negate or over-look those who are not Christians or those seeking the meaning for life.  So, please know If you aren’t a Christian, I think of you as well when I write and pray you come to a place where you are brought to God through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life because you have sought to know Truth.

If you are a Christian, I hope you will take the time to reignite your faith but answering the question about why you believe.  I hope that asking yourself will lead you into a deeper relationship and a greater walk of faith in obedience to the love of Jesus for his people.  If you are not a Christian and are still searching, I hope you will not give up in your search for truth.  Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness…” Matthew 6:33.  If all of us will live seeking His kingdom before anything else – we will not be disappointed!

  

It all boils down to one thing…

We are entering a season where people are more apt to care more about germs, colds, and the flu than at any other time of the year.  Anyone of us has the potential to carry any one of these and spread it to someone else.  In a sense, we are, potentially, couriers picking up sickness and delivering it to others.

If you think about it, we all have the potential to be “couriers” of so much more than the common cold and flu.  Individually, we all have ideas, thoughts, goals, dream, and aspirations that we carry with us each day.  Some of these will be accomplished and lived out because of the internal drive that exists that will push it into being.

I keep thinking about all the ways God can or could use me for His purposes.  Some of the ways that come to the surface the most are in the realm of writing and pastoring.  I meditate on His Word and think on those things.  I know he has gifted me.  No matter the vehicle He uses through me – it all boils down to one thing…. love.  We are all to be couriers of His love to the world we live in.  No matter the arena – love is the central theme He wants to share with those in which we come in contact.

I’m reminded of a time when I was a courier for FedEx.  It was Christmas Eve and there had been a lot of snow in key locations around the country.  This meant late deliveries and in many cases no deliveries.  It was late in the afternoon.  I was sick and it was very cold that day.  We were all messaged that there was a late plane landing in Atlanta and packages would be shuttled out to us for afternoon delivery.  Despite how I felt I was excited to be able to help spread a little Christmas cheer with a few more deliveries.  I just had no idea how one delivery was going to impact my life.

It was literally the last delivery of the day.  I pulled up to the front of the house and I could see two children peering through the curtain in the window.  As I put my truck in park, I could see them begin to jump and down with excitement.  I retrieved the package from the back of the truck as I wiped a little moisture from my eye – I was moved by the excitement I could see.  The children, along with their dad, greeted me halfway in between their house and my FedEx truck.  I handed the dad my clip board for him to sign for the package.  He told me that it was a package from their grandparents and they had been waiting all day for this box.

Some 10 years later, I still recall that moment as a courier for FedEx.  Why?  Why recall a delivery to a family whose name I can’t recall?  Why, get a little misty-eyed over this delivery?  I believe we are all couriers with the potential to impact the lives of others for the glory of God.  What I delivered was a box that contained items that have probably long been forgotten.  More than the contents of that package I couldn’t see – I realized I was really a courier delivering love from grandparents to their grandchildren for Christmas.  I am glad to have had the pleasure of being the one to have that experience that day.  For a moment, I had the opportunity to forget about “the job” or the fact that I was cold and sick.  In that moment, being a courier had great meaning and purpose.

How much more the joy we are to share the love of our heavenly Father with those He loves so much.  “For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal live.”  (John 3:16, NIV).

How is it God has gifted you to carry His Message of love? Who is it that needs to hear this Message of love from you today?  Go and deliver it in a manner He has gifted you!

How to live in the fog

Life can often get a bit hazy… like a fog.  Sometimes it gets so thick you just have to sit tight and wait for the fog to lift.  In Exodus Israel followed God in the cloud.  Maybe we should take a closer look at that.  They moved when the cloud moved.  They stayed put when the cloud settled. 

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul writes,

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (The Message).

So, are you leaving in a fog? 

Three things to keep you focused (1 Corinthians 13:13):

  1. Trust steadily in God
  2. Hope unswervingly
  3. Love extravagantly

Wide open spaces of God’s grace…

At times I’m finding it difficult to “just read” through the Bible. (Don’t be dismayed I’m ahead of schedule none-the-less with my reading plan). On Friday, I read 4 verses in Chapter 5 of Romans and BAM… I just have to stop and reflect on what is being said.

God has such a wonderful way of loving us. He created us with love in mind. That was His plan during the days of creation. He had you and me on his mind. I can’t comprehend that… but it’s the truth.

God has put on display Himself and His love toward us through creation as seen in the sun shining upon the water. He shows us His majesty as we gaze upon the Great Rocky Mountains. The expanse of His grace is revealed in the great open plains. Stop whatever you are doing and take in all His grace has to offer. Praise Him at the top of your lungs… go out somewhere this weekend all alone and proclaim OUT LOUD to God your love for him.

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.” (Romans 5:1-4, The Message).

Let Love In (updated)

The message of love permeates the world at this time every year.  Can you hear it?  Do you hear the message?  Or are you lost in the packages, parties, and pressures? 

The message is this… God came to this world wrapped up in flesh.  He is Emmanuel “God with us”.  He lived and walked this earth as a man.  Now we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  He came so that we could be made right with God… he came as a Savior to set us free from our sin and death.

In the midst of the Season, do you hear Him calling?  Speaking?  Do you hear Him calling you to Himself? 

I struggle with forgiveness.  I want to be a forgiving person… one that can let the past remain in the past.  Today I want to forgive and let love in.  Whatever you find yourself struggling with – let the love of Jesus Christ in – he will forgive and the Holy Spirit will fill you.