Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Chase

The chase is on. Tommy Tenney talks a great deal about God's hide and seek game with us. He doesn't hide so He cannot be found. He hides so He CAN be found, and loves the game like a father playing with his child. He sometimes hides so he can be easily found, and sometimes hides so that the child cannot find him. The child becomes frustrated, gives up, and the father sneaks up behind the child--the child runs, and the father becomes the chaser!

If you feel like He is no where to be found, continue to search Him out! Seek Him while He may be found...His loving pursuit of YOU has been relentless...

The Chase

I follow my Beloved
Into His garden
But I cannot find Him
For He hides Himself with glee

My pursuit is relentless
My desperation heightens
Until I spot Him fleeing
As He looks back at me!

"Come up higher!"
He laughs and prances
He looks at me and dances
And I follow in despair

When suddenly, He sneaks up on me
Now my Beloved is chasing me!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Silly and Childish are We

I was thinking last night, how silly and childish are we...Caught up continuously in our fleshy ways. Whether we keep ourselves preoccupied by busily attempting to please everyone around us, or whether we try, futile as it is, to maintain our man-made position on top of some hierachy we've built. Aren't we vain as we consider only ourselves before others; whether in timidity or by intimidation? Either way, it's still pride...

It's a sad thing that we are pre-occupied with our self-inflicted pomp, protocol, and complexities, forgetting what should be the focal point of our affection. (And in case you've not noticed, the protocol of the world is not the same as the protocol of the presence of the Holy One.) All the things that we have set up to keep "order" negates the need for the Holy Spirit in our midst. In so many ways, we have reinstated our own "Mosaic" Law. And in doing so, we find ourselves like those in the Old Testament who were under that law. Absolutely and completely incapable of keeping it, proving our own faults, sins and weaknesses at every turn. So much attention must be paid in trying to reach the bar that others have set up, that focusing on God is all but forgotten.

It reminds me of when I was teaching middle school. There were those students who were intelligent, but had "learning differences." They were what we call "kinetic." There were movers! They couldn't sit still for anyone or anything! Have you ever known a kid like that, or was it you? In one classroom, I had one student who tapped incessantly on his desk, (and had rather good rhythm, I must say!) Another always had his shoes off and would twirl them with his feet under the desk. And one doodled constantly all over his notes and books. Classrooms don't often make allowances for kinetic kids. They get in trouble for what is seen as goofing off or distracting the class.

But I found out something. If any of these students were made to stop moving, they had to spend so much energy and focus on keeping still, they couldn't focus on what was happening in class. Their grades would fall, and inevitably, they would hate school--hate learning.
But if they were permitted to move, doodle, etc., or at least, given an alternative if their habit could distract the class, you could ask them what was going on in the class, and it may have LOOKED like they weren't paying attention, but they would answer appropriately.

All that to say that when men set the bar so high that others cannot reach it, the focus turns from God and His direction to the bar itself, and those who were led to move in a particular direction are told to stop moving that way, and move THIS way instead. Good intentioned leaders can de-motivate those whose hearts are to work out the plan and purpose and gifts that God gave them. Focus is lost, direction-lost. Dreams and visions are muted and potentially buried.

Wow. All this began tonight when I was driving and looked up to see the clear night sky filled with stars. The moon hung like barely a sliver and above it, a bright planet shone brilliantly. It was stunningly beautiful, and my heart spoke out to my Father, "Oh God, my God, how majestic is your name in all the earth. When I consider the heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have made--What am I that you are mindful of me? How is it that You consider me at all? Why is it that what is important to me is important to You?" And with that, I began to consider how silly and childish we are with all the impositions we put on ourselves and others. The vieing for position. The constant working our way up the human pyramids, clawing and scratching our way to the top.

All I want is to chase my Father. To seek Him while He may be found. I want freedom from the requirements, time constraints, and expectations of men. I want out of the religious restrictions on my relationship with God. Even my own. He whom the Son sets free is FREE. Deep is calling, shouting out to deep. The deep in me is crying out, "I need more of You, Lord!" And I know that the deep in Him is whispering to me, "I want more of You, my beloved!"

I want to put away childishness and become completely childlike...with the pure heart of a child whose Father takes by the hand and leads into His glorious presence.

"I'm coming back to the heart of worship,
And it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
'Cause it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus."
Matt Redmon

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Three Words for You!

I know that this blog is a bit late in coming, but I hope that it will be worth the wait for you. At the beginning of each new year, there is always a lot of talk about vision for the future. I would like to take you on a bit of a different road-and offer you the opportunity to see the year ahead from a different perspective.

In thinking about the year behind us and the one ahead, I have three words for you. Build, build, and BUILD!

First and foremost, build your relationship with the Lord. Get in deeper. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." That puts the onus on us, doesn't it? Let's do some real drawing in this year. The main way to build a relationship with anyone, and particularly with the Lord, is to spend time with them. I'm not telling you how or when or even how much time you should offer the Lord. That's between you and Him. Put it this way, increase where you've been. 1Thess 5:17 says simply, "Pray without ceasing." Constant prayer. Smith Wigglesworth was known to say, "I never spend more than fifteen minutes praying, but I never go more than fifteen minutes without praying." Does this mean we need to be on our knees every fifteen minutes? That would be rather impractical! But we can have a constant awareness of His presence throughout our days...perhaps whispering a quick thank you, or an offering for a passing ambulance, or just acknowledging Him as you drive to get my point here.

But there also needs to be, as in any relationship, times of deeper conversation. Times of enjoying His presence, loving on Him, sharing your heart with Him. Get into the Word of God as well. It's His love letter to you! This is really where relationships grow. Commit to increase your times of intimate fellowship with Him, and see the wondrous places it will take you this year! Oh, and make sure you're not the one doing all the talking. Listen more--talk less!

Second, build the Kingdom of God. Most of us are familiar with Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus tells us not to worry about how we will be provided for as it is God's business to take care of us. Our business? Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to us...the second chapter of James admonishes us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Doing what? Loving each other and esteeming one another higher than ourselves, (Phil 2:3) and commiting to knowing nothing of one another but Christ and Him crucified (1Cor 2:2). That's inhouse business. Loving one another so that the world will know that we are His disciples. (John 13:35, John 15:8)

And then there is the Kingdom building business of the Lord's chosen fast as detailed in Isaiah 58:10-11. Let your light shine: loose the bonds of wickedness, undo burdens, feed the hungry, minister to the afflicted, clothe the naked...and as the 61st chapter teaches, the anointing from the Spirit of the Lord is on us not for ourselves but to preach the Gospel, heal the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, open the prison for the bound, and comfort those who mourn. Jesus Himself commands in Matthew 10:7-8 that His disciples should go, preach, heal, cleanse, raise the dead, cast out demons. As we have received, give! Give freely. If each of us really listens as we build our relationship with Him, He will show us HOW to build the Kingdom of God on the earth. Listen, and then DO. Sometimes the "doing" He asks of us sounds bizarre, strange, embarrassing...not enough time here, but I can tell you many stories of listening and not listening to that still, small voice, and the outcomes of both. Believe me when I tell you, better to listen and obey quickly. The great reward is seeing someone else blessed by our doing.

Lastly, build relationships with others. Family first! Take time from your busy schedule to enjoy each other's company. Spend quality time alone with each member of your family, and spend time together as a family. Commit to learn more about one another and know each other at a new level.

Build relationships with people who can be like a Paul to you...those who can mentor you, and help you to reach those new levels of relationship with the Lord. Build relationships with those who are like Timothy to whom you can be a Paul...people that you can mentor and help to a higher height in the Lord. And build relationships with those with whom you may be on the same plain...who can walk with you on the journey higher. And again, relationships are built on spending time. It's a sacrifice, but well worth it! Just be wary, especially in these types of relationships, of familiarity. Remember that there are things that you should share only with the Lord, other things that belong in the family alone, and those things that you can freely share with a Paul that you may not want to share with a Timothy.

So in 2009, let's focus on building! By the end of the year, we will have laid a firm, strong foundation for the rest of our lives, and we will have affected the world around us for the Kingdom of God.