Adonai, Master of the earth and sky…

Inspiration comes in so many ways.  But for me, music inspires me just as much as anything else in and around my life.  Most of my teenage years were heavily influenced by music.  So much so, it’s influence culminated while at a KISS concert in 1983, I gave my life to Jesus while at that concert.  Not because of anything the band did or said.  It’s the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the life on an individual in the midst of what I all experienced that night and the days that filled the first 18 years of my life.

Today, music and the lyric that goes with it still influences and inspires my life.  Over the past several months I have written a lot that has been influenced by The Choir, Stryper, U2, The Lost Dogs, Lifehouse, Jesus Culture, and Martin Smith.  I’ve not posted any of those writings as I either never completed them or they felt too awkward to post.

While at a dance performance by the girls that make of Steps of Faith, I looked intently at my life.  I thought of dreams I have had for my life, failures I’ve experienced, and the present-day blessings that fill my time and space.  This was the first performance for me to attend where my oldest daughter wasn’t performing.  (However, my 15 year old was performing).  My oldest was on stage as a new instructor for the dance studio… I’m so proud! The performance was a beautiful display of artistic interpretation to the songs that spoke of the Names of God.

One song that was performed was Adonai.  I didn’t know the song, but it got me thinking about another song I was very familiar with by the band Petra, 1985.  Adonai means Master.  If God is Adonai in your life, He is your Boss, the One you surrender everything to.  Adonai is the One you give complete allegiance to – God – the Creator of the universe in which we live.

I recall being in Jerusalem back in 1990.  What I am recalling is a Fall evening.  We were at the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall, in the Western Wall Plaza.  It’s a place of prayer and one of the most Holy places for the Jewish people.  That evening there was a gentleman walking backward away from the Wall – all the way across the Plaza.  At the top of his lungs he shouted in Hebrew the different names of God.  It was a beautiful moment.  It was one of the top highlights of the trip for me.  Hearing his praise to God without any reservation in front of all of us there… it was very moving!  I recall being emotionally moved in the moment as he spoke the name, Adonai.

As I write, I praise Adonai, “You alone are worthy! Adonai, let creation testify. Let your majesty be magnified in me.  Adonai you are an endless mystery.” (Petra, Beat The System).  It’s refreshing to look back and listen to these lyrics… a praise to God.  It reminds me of so much I have given in commitments to God, Adonai, my Master.  I want to live my life unashamed, surrendered, without reserve!  Each day I want to dwell in His righteousness… my Master and Lord – Adonai.

Surrender

Waving the white flag of surrender today…

I want to give up all of my past, my hopes, my plans, my dreams, my future… everything!  I want to lay it all down and surrender. 

Before they ever landed in a prison for their faith they made a decision to surrender to Jesus Christ.  Maybe that’s one reason why they could sing praises in the midst of their situation.  They had already surrendered to Jesus long before they surrendered to those who imprisoned them.

Surrender.  “To give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner.”  Surrender doesn’t come too easy for me.  I seem to want to continue to fight on my own terms.  I pray a pretty good game. But if my prayer life is just a game then what good is it?  At times, my prayer-life seems to be lacking surrender… total commitment.  When I pray for myself and/or for others I seem to interject my own selfish twist.

An example we have to follow is found in Matthew 26:39-42 is of Jesus praying with total surrender.

39Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”

40-41When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep. He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”

42He then left them a second time. Again he prayed, “My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.” (The Message).

I typically pray, “If there is any way, get me out of this…” Then find myself asleep like the disciples.

It’s not just in prayer but throughout life we are faced with decisions and choices we must make.  Our choice: To live a life surrendered to the will of God or to live for ourselves.

 Oh, the city’s afire
A passionate flame
It knows me by name
Oh, the city’s desire
To take me for more and more
It’s in the street, getting under my feet
It’s in the air, it’s everywhere
I look for you
It’s in the things I do and say
If I wanna live I gotta
Die to myself someday (“Surrender” lyrics by U2)

Blocking out the noise in silence…

Catalyst… I was there!

Catalyst… It’s still bugging me!

Catalyst…        

I can either run to the Truth and embrace it… or I can run from it.  From all indications there is no running from it.  Total surrender is the only acceptable response.  God is on every street corner.  He is in the midst of every conversation since those two powerful days.  God was there before I got there.  He was waiting.  God was in the invitation for me to go.  God is here with me today.  God is.

This is not about Catalyst.

I have read several blogs from some who have attended Catalyst.  I hear their response.  I hear how God has dealt with them. But I still struggle.  I still cry.  I still sit here looking through my notes.  What is it I can’t let go of?  Why is it God will not let go of me?  (Not that I want Him to).  But He is always there – He is always here.  No matter where I go in my thoughts he is there. 

He was there December 1983.  He changed my life set me a part for Himself.  To lift Him up!  To tell His gospel story.   

I have the house to myself this morning.  I have sat here in silence.  Just sitting.  I dare not go outside and do anything as I have had bronchitis for the past week.  So, I sit… just listening to the silence.  When was the last time you sat in total silence?  Literally the only thing I can hear is the refrigerator and THAT is about to drive me nuts!  God is here. 

This is not about me…

In the silence, I have prayed for friends.  Friends who are sick.  Friends who are serving the Lord at this very moment.  Friends who are surrounded by fear.  Friends who are full of hope and encouragement.  Friends who God is reaching through me.  God has been doing some things I didn’t even know about until day before yesterday…. WOW!  But today – I’ve just sat here.  And so has God.  It took me a bit to notice He was here.  Oh – I was listening for Him but I had some things to deal with in this silence.  In this moment He is here.  He is there with you too.  It could be today or It could be tomorrow but He is there.  Kind of freaky – I know.  But it’s His love.

Is it noisy where you sit? 

Although I have been sitting here in this silence my mind has been filled with the noise that distracts me so much.  Now that I am here… now that He is here… I just want to stay here in this silence.  I have found a bit of peace.  The noise is gone (even the motor of the refrigerator is silent).

It’s all about God… His Son – Jesus…

Have you told anyone lately?  Is the Holy Spirit working through you today?  Or is there too much noise?  You know He will work through you even through all of the noise… don’t let the noise trick you to think otherwise.  Your life is His… let Him use you today… there’s another life waiting for the Truth.  They are looking for it.  They are on the street corner.  They are in the grocery store checkout line.  They are at your work.  They may even be in your church.  They are where you are.  Be abandoned to Him.  Run… go and tell what He has done for you.  Don’t let the moment pass you by.  It’s not about Catalyst… it’s not about me… It’s all about Jesus.  It’s about setting the captive free. 

The world is looking for a revelation
We’re always under their investigation
They look at us to hear we got to say
They can’t see Jesus when we stand in the way
They don’t need no more elevated speeches
We’re keeping Jesus just beyond their reaches
Can’t see the forest for all of the trees
They won’t see Jesus till we fall on our knees

(From, “Lift Him Up”, Petra – Bob Hartman, 1983).

Silence Broken

Kara just broke the silence with a very strange txt message:  “John McCain is at the Cartersville Airport until 1PM” I had to turn on FOX News and break the silence to find out for sure.  It was a scheme of the devil… to get me out into the cool breezy weather.   John McCain is in Albuquerque today!!  Which is ironic  – as I would love to be living in Albuquerque once again!!  Thanks for the diversion Kara. 🙂

Unfinished Business

During the lunch break on Thursday I was standing there and Tim said something to me like this, “Are you OK?  You look like you are in deep thought or something is bothering you…” 

I was OK.  I think I was stunned after that first message.  Andy Stanley talked about 3 specific things and how they relate to doing ministry.  They are:  Forgiveness, Family, and Finances.  God really got my attention right off the bat.

Just moments prior to Stanley’s talk I had a conversation about forgivenss.  Then to hear Stanley talk about it I was dumb-founded.  I was in shock… it was as if he had just read my mail… like he had been listening in on my conversation… this was such a God moment for me.  Literally I thought I was the only one in the room.  The element of Finances was the other key point to this power-packed threesome of points. As a family, we have made some decisions on this as well.

The mess was cleaned up with each message I heard afterward. Now that I am home I am trying to figure out what the purpose of all this was.  I think I know.  I am still praying through it.  I want to do what thus says the LORD.  I am making sure I’m not chasing after something Roye wants to do.

So I am back to making another decision.  I know Joel would have you think the decision still centers on whether I should wear Boxers or Briefs.  (If you need more info on this click here… then read the comments).

It’s kind of an exciting moment… not the choice of boxer or briefs.  That decision has been already made.

So, while we are on the subject I think I will try out this new feature here on wordpress…

Mountain Biking to the Mountain Top

One of the greatest experiences in my life was also one of my scariest.

It was 1997 and I was in LaPlata Canyon, Colorado.  LaPlata Canyon is just west of Durango.  I had just begun mountain biking a year before.  This was my first trek up a real mountain.  It was a beautiful Saturday morning in June.  We started off at about 8,100 ft in elevation and worked our way up above the tree line at around 10,000 ft. or so.  I will never forget that moment when we were finally riding on what seemed to be solid rock above the tree line.  I could finally see the point I was headed for… then it happened.

What happened scared me pretty good.  Over one side of the mountain came a great storm that brought  sleet or hail… wind, lightning, and very cold temperatures.  I was not prepared for the drastic change in weather.  We jumped into an entrance to an old mine for cover.

As quickly as the storm came we saw blue sky once again.  There we were having worked so hard and to get so close to the goal.  As we debated what we should do – the next set of clouds, wind, icy substance falling from the sky, and much colder temperatures began to surround us…

We decided to head back down the mountain – as fast as possible!  I have never had so much fun… and to be as scared as I was at the same time.  The ground was now looking wintry and we could smell the lightning.  The sound of the thunder was so loud.  I’m not sure which was worse the sound or how the rumble felt as we darted down the mountain.

I never tried to go back up to the top again.  But I didn’t quit riding.  In fact, it made me want to ride all the more.  Unfortunately, once I moved back to Georgia I quit riding.  I really want to start back.  I think about it every day.  As for now, my Cannondale mountain bike is sitting in the house. 

This memory I have is one of my favorite memories to talk about.  It’s strange that I love to talk about it yet it is something that I didn’t get to complete.  It’s like a mirror image of my life to a large extent.  It’s another chapter started – yet not completed.

I’m ready to begin a chapter that is actually written with an ending.  It’s like my life is this book with all of these chapters that have been written – the problem is that there are not any endings to any of the chapters.  So the reader starts the next chapter and has to wonder what in the world happened in between chapters 3 and 4.  “How did he get here?” the reader would ask.

Why is life so hard?  Why is life so stinking challenging?  For me, it’s like I never get a break.  There’s no time to take it easy.  My life seems like it is made up of storms that I am constantly trying to run from.  And as soon as I think I’m seeing blue sky’s another storm sets in.  I know there is a reason behind it all – there really is a purpose behind it.  I’m not beaten up and torn down over it.  In fact, right now I am very hopeful with what the future holds. 

As I look back on that couple of years of living there – I really think I was living on the mountain top – yet there is some unfinished business from those days.  I was reading Oswald Chambers today and the following quote from My Utmost for His Highest got me thinking about this story… it got me thinking a bit deeper about my life.

We are inclined to think that everything that happens is to be turned into useful teaching. In actual fact, it is to be turned into something even better than teaching, namely, character. The mountaintop is not meant to teach us anything, it is meant to make us something. There is a terrible trap in always asking, “What’s the use of this experience?” We can never measure spiritual matters in that way. The moments on the mountaintop are rare moments, and they are meant for something in God’s purpose.

Photo from summitpost.org.

And love is not the easy thing…

… the only baggage that you can bring. It’s all you can’t leave behind. (U2, “Walk On” Bono).

I love the opening to the song “Walk On” by U2.  I was listening to it today while burning up some of that cheap fuel I bought last Saturday!!  The words just captivate my heart… it’s a captivity that leads to freedom. 

Think about it:  Love is not easy… yet Paul says it’s the greatest of all gifts. (1 Corinthians 13).  I guess in the context of this verse love is the ONLY baggage you can bring… when a believer in Christ dies the only baggage allowed is love.  Love is the only thing you can’t leave behind.

I realize this song is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi.  She is a political prisoner in Myanmar.  As for her faith, she is a Buddhist.  She has been a political prisoner under house arrest because of her fight… dream… of democracy for her country. 

Because of this song I pray for her and people like her.  People who are held captive for what they believe.  It’s people like her who have a quality inside them that bars, prison, and persecution can’t hold. 

That quality is LOVE.  The truest form of this love is a gift given by Jehovah –  The Lord God Almighty.  This love was lived out and expressed in it’s deepest form in a man named Jesus Christ.  The man who came to bring freedom to all men and women who would believe in him.

For God so loved the world – how beautiful are those six words.  I sit here so late at night thinking almost imagining this love – in a way I’ve never known before.  This kind of love gives and gives and gives.  Seventy times seven this love gives… love is not the easy thing / the only baggage you can bring / It’s all you can’t leave behind.

You see – I have this thing.  If you keep up with things here at focus, you will know something of this thing.  I desire peace… not just some mamby pamby passive peace… I’m talking a strong victorious kind of peace.  Peace must be found.  I must not allow the love of God who fills me be tarnished by all of the opposing feelings, thoughts, and attitudes that try to win me over.  I know it’s not the easy thing.   And the fight must be waged on a spiritual level. 

Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  Love is not the easy thing.

I know I have posted this song recently.  I hope you will take a moment if you haven’t already to think about the lyrics here.  They are posted below the video…. if you don’t want to watch the video and just listen and read them… think… pray… whatever God leads.  For me they are inspiring and I hope they are for you too.

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring…
And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on…
Stay safe tonight

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you’ve got they can’t deny it
Can’t sell it, or buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the hurt is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Leave it behind
You got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress-up
All that you scheme…

Cast all my cares…

…upon You!

Ever tried to lay down a burden?  Have you ever tried to let something go that was totally tormenting your every thought? 

Monday night this week I went to bed relatively early (before Greta van Susteran was done talking about Tood Palin).  But I was up at 12:55 AM not to return to sleep until 4:30 AM.  During the time I was awake I was trying to pray through this thing… I was trying to lay down my burden.  I finally fell asleep still holding onto a burden I wanted to let go of.

So, what does one do? 

How do you let go of something that you really want to let go of?

I don’t have any answers here.

But an hour or so later I woke up again.  The following is what was running through my mind… through my heart… and has stayed present on my mind the past two days.  These are the words of Darrin McWatters from everybodyduck.  The song:  “Consuming Fear”.

 
I'm gonna trust in the Lord
I'm gonna trust in the Lord
I'll not be afraid I'll not be afraid I'll not be afraid anymore

I cast all my cares upon You
And anytime I don't know just what to do
I will cast all my cares upon You 

I cast all my cares upon You