Devotion or Superstition

"For I passed by, and beheld your devotions; I found an alter with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD, whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you." Acts 17:23 For a moment forget this was Paul speaking to the crowd in Athens, and hear God speaking into that part of our life which is most precious to Him ... "For I passed by and tried to join in on your devotions. ...Why do you so flippantly and superstitiously worship ... me? I want you to know ... that I desire you to really know, that I love you."

Up until now, after years of walking with the King, no matter how early I would awaken and race to the sanctuary ... I would find Him waiting. It frustrated me a little because of the naive concepts that I had fastened to my heart (like instant cliché fixes for the moment) in order to hype the moment in an attempt to bring the miraculous into the doldrums of daily living. Those superstitious type of concepts would frustrate me to no end ... so I would turn them against me ... "Lord, how am I ever to rise up with wings as eagles, if in rushing to wait on you ... You are always ahead of me, waiting for me?" "What good is praying if you already know what I need before I ask?" Woe...our wicked hearts are good at flipping the precious promises of God and molding them into disappointments because of our inability to wait ... and enjoy His presence.

....He loved us first.
....He called us first.
....He waited for us first.
"Many a believer will "amen" these concepts, while in the congregation of the redeemed. But when the door is opened to daily living, we will live a lifetime under the whispers of inconsequential learning, superstitious traditions, and negative self prophecies. We will spend our prime time wincing at the discomforts of disorganization, pointing out the flaws in the efforts of others, disposing of joy while despising the obvious blessings, and cursing our own lives with negative prophecies of future failure BECAUSE ... "God will do good things for others but not for me ... because I am specially set aside as a target of woe ...(eyes go shut)?"

When will we truly and daily welcome His continuous active care within the realm of our focus, with "eyes wide open" and "lives fully engaged", we could truly live within the unfolding wonders of His desire for us. Instead of treating activities of devotion as an interruption or a dutiful task, our souls waking desire could be to fellowship with our God!

....He is loving first. Receive that continuous flow of His goodness.
....He is calling first. Be quiet and listen to His voice that carries your name.
....He is waiting first. Be thankful for He never leaves you nor abandons you.
And He knows the critical importance of getting His Word to us (like an emergency transfusion, into our lives to literally quicken us and keep us alive).

Why will we be content to continue to sing songs with longings like "Open the eyes of my heart, open the eyes of my heart ... I want to see you" and then walk out of the congregational time with no further expectation? Because ...if we were to be honest ... the song is missing what we rarely would dare say in the congregation, but is being muttered under our breath ..."under my terms and within my schedule".

Do you think it was a moment of weakness, when in the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord said "Not my will but thine be done."? No...that was an eternally courageous moment where Jesus submitted the will of the seen to the greater Will of the Unseen. Looking at the momentary and devastatingly painful Roman Cross, Jesus' hope was built on the same promise as ours ... " and the third day I will rise" ... And the tomb would be robbed by the Resurrected Life that would emerge.

O to live with a daily expectation of the revealing of His mercies, as new every morning!

("Many waters taken into and expelled from our lives cannot quench love, and overwhelming torrential floods cannot drown it; If a man would give all of the worldly treasures of his existence for love, his dwelling place would be utterly desolate of his time, attention, and possessions; and sooner or later there would be a "condemned" or "no trespassing" sign on the door because of LOVE" - Devotional Paraphrase of Song of Solomon 8:7)

Here is the take away -- He is more devoted to your devotion than you will ever be...you cannot earn deeper devotion by your physical strength or mental acumen; but during those private moments where you abandon all else, He will take you deeper and pull you closer ... HE ACTIVELY DESIRES YOU FIRST.

HLFA,

Jeff

A Leter From my Heart to my Heart

"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; for as it is written, the just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for GOD hath showed it unto them." Romans 1:16-18

Buckle your seatbelt for this next moment of devotional surgery: Daily - Walking among mankind (there are souls that need to be radically attached by faith to the Good News of Jesus), I dare not put on the pious vesture of a disfiguring and dishonoring appearance of disgrace. By Adorning the Gospel with a mute and powerless faith that holds the truth captive, hidden and unexplained... many who desire a reason for the hope that is in a "Follower of Christ" will be left in the "Darkness" of unbelief. This mute ashamed life actually gives glory to ungodliness and unrighteousness that is holding mankind in the chains of unrighteousness... If God has spoken into us and showed the truth miraculously to us, then what gives us the right to ration out the Gospel in places, portions and seasons that we declare as our "way" to expose faith ... He hath said, for time and eternity, "Now is the accepted time, Now is the Day of Salvation!" Who are we to hold down the truth in silence?

8-18-2016

Dear Heart of Hearts,

I felt the pain, and I held the tears in momentary suspension after an abrupt end of a business phone conversation today. There wasn’t even the human courtesy of a “good-bye”, just the silence of a rude disconnect. A potential brother on the other end of the phone refuses to acknowledge a spiritual existence in the name of “it is just business”.

I tremble inside because he openly wears a uniform to announce that he is a unique member of his Kingdom class, while denying the NOW existence of eternity. His sect still holds a strange separation that is touted "as for the sake of holiness", but it appears to be in place to protect their corner of the kingdom from outsiders who may bring in impurities?

So - Hell has a sign on this side of the great Chasm between Earth and its horrendous burning, "no second chance", gnashing of teeth, weeping and wailing eternity that reads - "Closed during business hours!" Go figure???

The world of men that feel the lost-ness of their lives are dying to know that The Faith that brings abundant, eternal life is not held selfishly captive by a chosen few. O the ache that I carry when I find that the Glory of God is suppressed by vain philosophical living and life robbing traditions (that in light of the FREE GIFT OF GOD are edging on blasphemy); an ache so purifyingly disruptive that I can taste the metallic acidity of the corrosion of power. My God, my God ...why have they forsaken Thee?

As the tears dropped from my eyes and cascaded to my cheeks – I bowed my soul before the Lover of it: "Father, When will we learn that you SO LOVED THE WORLD, that You gave, willingly, your eternal pride and joy, Jesus, ---He, who is everything that is sacred, was sacrificed on His cruel crux of sin's death for “whosoever” believes. Who am I to decide ...who, when, and why the Gospel should be given?"

His Love For All... has pressed and pierced into my heart and yours,

Jeff

Provoked Yet

Are we provoked yet? Bankrupt? Heart failing? Heart growing cold? The typical and success driven answer is "NO!" (I don't think so?)

The measure of a successful life today is truly not being weighed against eternity. A solitary individual that truly gives his life for others is seen as an awkward splinter in the posterior of the "success-purpose driven machine". Amidst the pummel of C.Y.B. rules, laws, regulations, processes and peer pressures that are being sublimely coerced upon this last generation of believers, a solitary heart-wrenching-ache for the welfare of the eternal life of others has no place. Politically correct? Socially acceptable? Culturally relevant? Faith muted? Emotionally neutral? Expressionally blank? What monster has ripped the true God connection out of life? What is this Leviathan(Stop here and read Job 41 to get a feel for this monster)?

Their plan seemed noble enough, "The CL Team - Conquer Leviathan"(that was the name they coined for their Monster Demolition Enterprise - yep , you read right! They were going to take on the most dreaded monster that had plagued mankind since the first dawn in the Garden). There seemed to be a great rallying around this idea exploited by the media that surrounded the "CL Team, especially among their peers and contemporaries. Strangely enough it was mysteriously funded by an anonymous but solid, well connected lender. And the team was sent off with great fanfare on its journey to what they felt was an almost guaranteed success. But there was a fatal flaw in their endeavor: They underestimated the reach of the monster that they were up against, for the Lender and monster were one in the same. Oh if only they had hearkened unto the Voice from the vanishing point --- Job 41:8 - "Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more".

Leviathan has a subtle goal - lead men into idolatry. Many a modern man will think of idolatry as a form of primitive worship of personally fabricated statues or a fearful worship of natural elements such as storms and volcanoes. But this is where Leviathan steps in and encourages us to not be so ignorant; be true to yourself because you are the master of your own destiny ... listen to your heart and obey that voice inside you. Sounds pretty good, especially if Leviathan has already turned his screw-like tentacles deep into the fear side of our conscious existence.

Leviathan, secretly joins in on our fears, and attends to our trembling by creating an airtight defense for our self preserving reactions. "It is only natural!" He borrows from our pain's natural reflexes and gains a "buy in" by preying hard on potential catastrophic results, and offering "better" choices for comfort. Then he causes his constituents: to desire more self preserving motives, and to borrow more and more self entitled philosophies, until the monster becomes the Only Lender. Under the guise of "We deserve better", he lays the snare with a utopian idea of that we control the outcome of our destiny. This is where idolatry is most acceptable and the Voice of God becomes refutable.

Danger - Danger - Danger!!! (Unless God is in control, we are out of control.)

Acts 17:16 - The Apostle stood amidst those that were now bankrupt to idolatry, like many believers are doing today...Job 41(Enter Leviathan) ...We will never be provoked to desire the direction and presence of God if our minds are being loaned out to a culture of pride, if our living borrows against the future of others, and our heart is in debt to a culture that has a place for God... He is at our disposal??

Here is the kicker --- Emilio passed away and I didn't even know. Who even cares? Some may ask Emilio who? If I were to tell you, you will be relieved to know that he was no one truly important to you ... that way you will not have to challenge or charge your heart with any accountability. And the song plays on "Another one bites the dust!"

Revelation 20:15 - "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."   ---- We are far too Sophisticated to believe in a place of literal eternal torment - and Leviathan said, "GOT YOU!"

Does that remotely provoke you?

HLFA,

Jeff

House of Love


Tattered and torn by the images of the past that are so indelibly engraved into the fabric of our soul, we find our selves helpless amidst the strewn lifeless bodies of other valiant but fallen warriors (our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' Blood and His righteousness, We dare not trust the most awesomely sweet human frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' Name). Only One rises and stands stained and scarred but victorious over Death and the Grave; and Jesus is His Name. (On Christ the Solid Rock(Cliff) we stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.) And He stands calling all to life in His Name, and upon the "Cliff" of Eternity, He builds His House of Love.

If we have received His Call by faith, entered New Life by Faith, and now walk by Faith ...We are called to share the Story and be His Witness of the building of the House of Love. We are His witnesses...a witness has a message and a direction ... Witnesses to the Gospel of Christ move Forward and upward, they walk with circumspection...Though constantly pushed from behind by enemy, they are led by the Spirit, and never forsaken or left behind.... Jesus our their Cliff (always on the edge ... with the enemy threatening us ... with our feet on the ledge and our backs against the wall) and He is our ever-repositioning-defense.

What have we seen and what are we seeing? Although, it seemed that the most compassionate movement of God to proclaim the Good News of His rescue of mankind was thwarted by the mere hand off to fragile humans; it was by His grand design to create an ever unfolding miracle. This Miracle shines forth His amazing grace by empowering such a strange conglomeration of personalities to actually become One in the eyes of a world that has had its heart continually hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. By His Will and according to His Spirit and Power, every communication within this conglomeration can daily speak more and more truth in love as their hearts come in subjection to His Word of Truth.

"Speak the truth in love!" This is not a challenge to see who can take the most obnoxious stand in self righteousness, but it is a call to surrender "my will" so that His will be done in my heart and in the world around me. The reason and need of this "speaking the truth in love" is"
to give every opportunity
to every part of the body of Christ
to take full advantage
of their placement by Christ in the Body
...to coalesce and grow up powerfully together into a "house of love".

Ephesians 4:16 - "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by-that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."

We are not here to compare our personal sacrifices, or to whine and complain about all that we have given up; but we are here to brag on His sacrifice and hide the hurting ones under His healing scars.

HLFA,

Jeff

Confidence

"O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good, and His mercy endureth forever." Psalm 107:1

In the midst of a planet in turmoil, that is being watched, recorded and captured via trillions and trillions of digital bits of devastating "saved" moments, (Oh there are way too many shock wave-like distorted images to even begin processing), the Peace that passes understanding, the Joy unspeakable, and the Extraordinary Everlasting Love seems to be filtered out of mankind's daily vision, so that the hearts of this generation will continue to grow cold and fail. But if this generation will call unto Him out of their cold and failing hearts HE will deliver them out of their distresses.

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Psalm 107:8

While The Last Days' Prophesies still softly cry out, (the most consequential, that rarely capture media attention, are those that focus on the unseen things, the internal changes of the heart), zombie-fied mankind races carelessly in the opposite direction of God. There seems to be a mysterious and reflexive rationale that separates daily business from the notion of 24/7 God-conscious living. Like a repelling force field, there is a negative reflex toward the mention of "God Possibilities", modern man reflexively grimaces at the mention of God instead of listening with longing intent. But if this generation will call unto Him out of their pride filled darkened mind condition HE will break the chains of God-Hate thinking and set them free.

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Psalm 107:15

It should be obvious to thinking observers, that this negative reflex has been caused by the overwhelming agreement between biased slanted media and the lost "no need for God" human condition. To top it off it has been embraced by the modern day prophets of profit and success, whose ear tickling words wrap their soul stealing tentacles around the heart of unassuming seekers. So soon the silent sinister addictions of pleasure and comfort drive a life into a selfish purposeless tailspin ... for "Self" is a very unfulfilling goal for life; and in selfish fulfillment, sin finds an easy foothold to slay the participant. But if this generation will call unto Him out of their self-addicted condition HE will send the WORD to free them from their impending destruction.

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Psalm 107:21

"What's God got to do with it?" is a required digital preset in the scholastic response of modern conversation ... To carry on a proper (politically correct) dialogue one must omit any mention of an eternity or a personal entity related to eternity. And this rhetoric is purported to be the "required" balm that keeps offences to a minimum; but in reality it is Satan's attempt to silence the Good News of Jesus and damn the souls of "untold" millions. So many, who once claimed the name of Jesus and lived openly for Him in their efforts of loving men to Him, now cower and hide their faith in shame of bullied political correctness. ... Double whammy: they are now left feeling that with their silence... there is now a curse that has brought storms and destructive tempest from Above upon their lives here below. But if this generation will call unto Him out of their shame filled stormy seas , HE will bring them out of their silence into their desired haven.

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Psalm 107:31

Have confidence in His Word -- those who oppose the Gospel with an antagonistic attitude and a violent mouth and lifestyle ... CAN BE SAVED - IF THEY CALL ON HIM.

But those oppressed by these non-repentant prideful beasts will see God's deliverance. All that He has said, HE will do. BE CONFIDENT IN CHRIST!

"Whoso is wise, will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the LORD." Psalm 107:43

(Please Read Psalm 107 in its entirety and see how God desires to save even those who violently oppose Him --- They are not the enemy, but our lack of confidence in our God is the enemy!)

HLFA,

Jeff

My Frog Croaks Louder

My frog croaks louder than yours!!

Can we evoke the Presence of God .... So that the louder we sing, the more God responds by pouring out a bigger blessing?

Can we earn the righteousness of God .... So that the more fervent and sincere we are, the more secure we are in His salvation?

Can we excite the Spirit of God? So that the happier we are with Him, the happier He is with us?

 I just heard someone cry out ... "God is Holy!" And the congregation did some pop corn praise - (tiny bursts of "amen" here and there). All of a sudden, I heard the preacher repeat the notion and cry out again, "God is Holy!"; then the congregation with a loud voice said "AMEN!" And this made it so?? ... or is this Because my opinion is that ... my frog croaks louder than yours?

Something is backwards in this warped worldly kingdom mentality...and disappointment may be waiting to explode within this type of expectation. "Hype" is felt to be wonderful in the specks of time amidst the specks of eternity ... And it can make for an exciting moment, that will make for an unforgettable event -- but was that God's doing, someone else's or mine? King David was always impressed with the "Congregation" that were in the house of God, until their lives hit the sidewalks and began to rudely and sometimes violently interact outside of the temple.

My frog croaks louder than yours ...
That is the third time I have used that statement because... in light of the roaring of the oceans of the world - what is the win of one croak on the muddy bank of a small algae filled puddle?

Now watch the next statements and do not disconnect ---
Spiritual gifts draw us and others to God. He is always eternally present. He is not lacking to supply in any area of performance or power. He is Emanuel ...God With Us. Matthew 16:18 - Upon Him, and Him alone, is the Church established and unstoppable...not because of who we are and how sincere we are, But His Church is unstoppable because of Who He is. And "He is Holy"!

Are we willing to walk in worship in a way that ... something other than our purported gifts, are transparent enough that He is seen. {Something is still missing if we have to challenge God's people to give God the applause.}

But please, on the muddy bank of our algae filled puddle, do not assume arrogantly that we have captured the fullness of the essence of His Holiness. Do not judge other congregation puddles and other feeble followers in light of the croak of our frog. "Judge not lest you be judged, for what ever standards and methods you have used to establish your perception of judgement, those standards and methods will be echo back and be the judgment of you."


Here is a glimpse into the positioning of our hearts to observe His Holiness -
Psalm 99:5 - 
"Exalt ye the LORD
(not our gifts, not our biased and sometimes bigoted perceptions of Him - He is LORD; are you content and secure in that fact?)
our God,
(there must be a personal connection via the water of the Word, the Blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit)
and worship at His footstool;
(are we willing to ungird our filthy putrefying righteousness, and serve at His feet as He did ... cleansing and refreshing others at the "broken" point of contact with this dusty old fallen world?)
for He is Holy."
(Until the He is valued as eternally different to us, and our daily movements are resurrected and empowered by that "all heart, all soul, all spirit, all mind, all strength" connection ... we will continue to live in a powerless muddy algae filled puddle of self.)

If our identity is in anything other than Jesus... We will resist the personal and intimate call of God. Does Jesus define us?
Or Is our life just built on judging others, personal pain avoidance, risk management, strengthening our safety net and squeezing our frog in an attempt to make it croak louder than someone else's?

We must obey God rather than man.

With my head bowed and my surrender flag held high --"He is my Hero and roars louder than the noise of the universe with His still small voice!"

- Listen!!!

HLFA,

Jeff

The Liberty of Love

Bear with me a moment as I reminisce of the beginnings of Love and Six concepts of a richer love.

"The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir." Song of Solomon 1:17

Ok, this may be a little tough on some who have a rough time going back in their memories to find encouragement. Due to so much pain and darkness, their memory does not allow them to go to the blessings because they seem to embrace and own a self pronounced "curse" that has become part of their DNA (they wouldn't know who they were without it) ... They proclaim (usually in a mumbling fashion) ...the pain and darkness is proof, that although God blesses others, that  "God wouldn't bless me!". ARE YOU HIS and HE IS YOURS ... then this type of thinking is just WRONG!. Embrace the blessings and capture the pain and darkness as the treasure trove for the blessings.

Blessing and pain points are part of a "holistic" life as much as flowers and thorns share the country side ... We would never now true joy in some measure if there were never moments of gripping sorrow. Our God and Savior Jesus Christ offers "joy unspeakable and a fulfilling glory" ... but not without carrying the title: " A man of sorrows acquainted with the bitterest of grief."

Why do we try to separate the blessings and the pain like a BC and an AD - Either our God is in all and all in all, or He has nothing to do at all with us (Which is impossible because of His undisrupted, unretract-able, and indisputable choice of loving us.) Notice the verse above -- here is a thought -- The dimensions of Love are not constrained by the craftiness of hands of men, but love allows for its fascination and its captivation within the glory of any surrounding ... humble or magnificent. Think of "first love" -- the surroundings shouldn't matter as long as "we were together". Any place was an opportunity for love.

"Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines; for our vines have tender grapes" Song of Solomon 2:15

Now understand ... the fact is that it is imperative that we grasp and take hold of the seemingly insignificant burrowing predators that scratch away at the roots of our love. They are there ... they are an annoyance but unless acknowledged they will hurt the tender grapes of love... See if you recognize these - fear, unbelief, hidden sinful addictions, wandering eyes, wandering thoughts, selective deafness to the voice of God, and all lying. These things need to be taken hold of and cast far from love. In the beginnings of love there was a constant search to discover more to know and to appreciate of the one that was the choice of love. Why do you think the first and greatest command follows suite - "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy soul, all the strength, and all thy mind" -- as love discovers wonders, love grows firmer. Cast away the distractions.

"By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth; I sought him, but I found him not" Song of Solomon 3:1

There is a place for missing the one we love ... giving personal space for the object of our love creates a longing and an appreciation of the time together. Have you ever felt a distance between you and God? Did it create a stronger desire to know Him and be with Him? If He will never abandon or forsake us what has happened? ... If no obvious offence can be found in our lives, then trust that He has gifted the space here and now so that a greater longing to be with Him can be nurtured. Don't be afraid of distance, love can deepen in those moments that we are alone.

"Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck." Song of Solomon 4:9

Don't miss this ... but the real attraction that makes our love "altogether lovely" is found in this verse -- My heart is made to beat faster and think differently by my Love's relationship with the LORD first ... her singleness of "eyes only for Him", and her one outstanding adornment "Her Godly love for Him". Here is the key that keeps love alive --- not the kissing, not the hugging and not all the other stuff --- The Love that lasts is the love that holds the Eternal Love Relationship as Number One. My love for any one in this world must not cause me to violate His Love From Above.

"I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him, that I am sick of love." Song of Solomon 5:8

The prognosis of a healthy love is one that is evangelistic about its intentions at all times ... live loudly in love with your Love. The hope, is whether you see me with my wife or without my wife ... you will know that I love her. Congruently my eternal hope is that I will always be caught loving Jesus.

This week was a challenging week for my heart --- between meeting "devotion" at all different levels ... I guess my greatest frustration was with a group of individuals who had a devoted style that is supposed to have some sort of eternal connection. As to the reason for their "style" of living, I was left without a hint or an answer and I sensed only an arrogance not a humility. I was bewilder because of the glazing over of their eyes when I shared "Scriptural" Life Concepts -- there was almost a mockery towards the Word of God.

NOW all this to lay out one more little nugget --

"Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and as terrible as an army with banners?" Song of Solomon 6:10

Our love should always be first, last, bright all day, and obvious of its intentions: The blessing comes when we do not hide our love under the guise of secret religious mists and fogs. When people know clearly where our Love stands, Love will have its perfecting work. Live openly and loudly for Jesus.

Happy Fourth of July -- Our Country was founded on a principal of a need for liberty in the land we call home that would be free from tyranny... Be bold, and claim the full liberty of love that is only found in a life that gives full access to the Lover of our Souls.

(Anything else opens you to unmerciful tyrants of the soul).

HLFA,

Jeff

His Presense

Psalm 81:8 - 9 "Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god."

When will we ever get it?

Read the verses above ---For the sake of reading in context and with continuity, I took liberty to join them together as they were meant to be read, regardless of the scowl that I get sometimes from those more terse in their interpretation of God's Word. Verse 9 gives an eternally soul ringing command if left to itself; and if it is left by itself we may be left with a "how in the world?" BUT reading the essentials that are found in verse 8 gives us the relief, and God's personal "come along side of" coaching in the "How to!" "IF THOU WILT HEARKEN UNTO ME" ...Don't isolate the command as your duty alone, see it for what it truly is "If" we Hearken, Listen to the Voice of God - His Voice will fan love's fire and keep us alive and away from the addictions that stem from idolatrous relationships.The potential to obey is found in the desire to listen to the Voice of God.

Just a few days shy of 40 years ago, a young broken hearted couple stood amidst: the birth of a beautiful baby boy with grave physical issue, the choices of "Medical non-practice" (actually "Euthanize by closing our eyes") and "Choose Life", the distance between our Newlywed apartment Chambersburg, PA and Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL, and the stress of trying to make sense out of an event that made no sense ---

Let's do the Math:
1. Saved and sold out to ministry.
2. Leaving Family and Friends in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
3. Moving hundreds of miles from home to get a Bible Education via the "call of God".
4. Trusting God fully for the provisions to move 590 miles from home --(no job, no apartment, no idea except -- going to Bible College).
5. Secretly Expecting our first child. God worked out everything --

We left with a $300.00 gift from a very special close friend, and God directed our steps and provided for our needs ... Right up to the moment of the birth and delivery of our first son, Justin. That was when our world of Faith was turned upside down.

Up to that moment we had learned that God could be trusted for provisions, but at that juncture where Eternity reached into our trembling temporal existence, we learned in an undeniable way that His Personal Presence would be there for us in times that were way beyond our capacity to cope.

Not to minimize the emotions and the scars on our fragility, but 40 years has not washed away what we needed most in that moment - WE NEEDED HIM. AND HE WAS THERE. Although Death is but a shadow, it was a real threat ... we needed Him close in the lonely hours of empty arms, in the valley of unfamiliar decisions, and sorrowfully ... in the planting of our son in the safekeeping of the Love of our God. And the young couple stood by the tiny gravesite ... supported by His Presence, because He literally wrapped His arms around them.

Sin separates and idolatry isolates us from the plans, the provisions, and the presence of God. Here is the RUB -- IF we pay attention and stay tuned to His Heart's Messages to us from His Word - There is no permanent "For Sale" space in our lives for strange gods. And when we are in tune to the fullness of the extravagance of the Voice of Christ's LOVE for us, worship given to any other stranger is not a palatable nor viable option.

Sorry to repeat this but there are some that may read this far and still have not caught it -- still legalistic in the responses connected to Eternity!
- Obedience without love is always looking for loop holes to disobey in secrecy.
- Obedience without love sees only oppression and control that invades the "My Way".
- Obedience without Love will be swallowed by bitterness because it's motivation is only fear, guilt, and regret.

If the only support for love is the empty hope and promises of man, love will soon be swallowed up in the choices led by the festering infection of the self fulfillment of unbridled lust. Give loving attention to His Voice in the Word of God, the Scriptures ... And HE will fill up the void of your soul that could make place for strange gods. Give loving attention to His Voice in the Word of God, the Scriptures ... And worshipful love from and for God will allow no room for idols.

Do you get it yet --- maybe?
Try this (every day)Claim a fresh start right now by spending a few personal moments with the Father in the Word and in prayer to begin "daily" rekindling the Love relationship that He desires with us. Let His Love grow in us as the Word begins to have its perfect work in us ...loving us into a joyful obedience of eternity.

Justin ... We will see you on the other side, thanks to Jesus!
He has Promised!

HLFA,

Jeff

Fragile

There once was a fragile soul that was seeking the truth with all of the soul's tender heart. The soul felt that it had heard the Heart of God in the words of scripture. The soul sensed that God was speaking healing into its life; but then a well meaning "older and wiser" more studious Saint enlightened the searching soul to the fact that it was presumptuous of one to assume that God would personally speak to us ...affirming "that the scripture is not any personal interpretation." This strong inference that God would not personally care for "one" caused the tenderhearted soul to fade into the darkness in great sorrow.

O the shame of those embittered by the winds of adversity and doubt to infuse their root of bitterness into the life of a tender hearted seeker.

"For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our LORD Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty." Quote by the former fisherman Peter (2 Peter 1:16)

Itching ears, curious minds ... Hungering to be the first to a new truth, have unknowingly taken the lead in creating disaster for those less diligent to search and those bent to believe a lie. Their never ending, dead-end search has been for the secret darkened pathways that have been cunningly devised by other bereaved by disappointment ... who in every generation have moved off of the eternally laid and solidly sure "highway" that leads to the vanishing point. (There is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof is the ways of death.) This Most Sure Highway (that these curiosity seekers have stepped aside from or avoided altogether) was not devised by cunningly sculpted fables that do nothing but cause the curious to err from the Words of Eternity, but this Most Sure Highway has been brightly lit with the blood of The Savior, the power of His Spirit, and the truth of the eternal Word of God.

Within the dawn's early light of the Garden - a diversion was already being slithered out to purposely lay the pathway of doubt for all who would question the creator and distort the purpose of His creation. "God hath not said?" - would find its way into the hearts of fallen men; and many would be enticed by the mystery of the fragments of the sparkling serpentine scales left in the wake of this original "turn away".

"We have also a more sure word of prophesy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophesy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophesy in old time came not by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Peter 1:19-21

Oh "older and wiser" more seasoned veteran of doubt --- here is what scripture really says to the Tender Heart -- "Have great confidence and consolation, knowing that scripture was not a private earthly human venture in its loosing on the hearts of man kind; It was not willed nor guarded by faulty human intellect in its revelation...BUT distinctly different Men "set apart" in their desire for God, Spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. They were used to be the voice of God to the heart man.

Honor God, give Him the glory by allowing all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your spirit, and all of your strength to Love Him and acknowledge Him in His extravagant love for you.

Happy Father's day to those Fathers how daily seek God and Know Him,

HLFA,

Jeff

YES - God does personally speak LOVE to His kids ... Be still and listen!

Air Brushed Out

During a re-acquaintance of a dear friend, Steve, this week; we were able to share humorous stories back n' forth. As you know me, even a bit of humor may carry a "gold nugget life lesson" hidden within it. (By permission to obliterate his tale by virtue of the re-telling)His story began with the reintroduction of his autistic daughter, Shannon, (who is now 40 and still the same little girl in her mind) and her ability to make life amazingly focused and full of value. And now to Steve's story:

A farmer that lived near Steve and his family decided to give them 2 little kittens (like all good farmers are willing to do)... and of course Steve's daughter, Shannon,  welcomed the little fur balls into the family and even named them -- one she named "Donut" and the other she named "Hot Turkey Sandwich". Neither cat had the characteristics of the foods by which they were named ... but those just happened to be Shannon's favorite foods.

Within a short period of time Donut was just gone...not there anymore so the focus now was to love and care for "Hot Turkey Sandwich". One day "Hot Turkey Sandwich" went missing also. The family looked everywhere to no avail, but the mystery remained on their minds.

Some time later the most curious event took place: There was a knock on the door of the family's house. Upon opening the door, there stood a smiling salesman who immediately jumped into his pitch for his unique product - Aerial Photos of "Your beautiful Home" ... "which can be purchased as individual photos for sharing with family and friends up to sizes that were frame worthy" - and he produced a beautiful (Possibly) 11 x 14 full color, almost painting like finish of the property.

Steve was aghast and quite humored by the detail of the photo and asked the Salesman to hold it right there... for he wanted to get his wife. The anxious salesman (probably feeling that he had done a marvelous job of selling the product, was just about to close the deal) eagerly encouraged Steve to go get his wife. Steve, trying very hard to hold back his laughter that was about to roar forth like a might wind ripping though a forest tree line, brought his wife to the door to see the photo.

Without even directing her eyes to what he saw ...Steve said, "What do you think honey?" ... immediately her eyes were drawn to an image captured at the end of their driveway. Low and behold, the timing of the aerial photographer had recorded an event that was unseen by the family, and opened the discovery to the key to the mystery of missing "Hot Turkey Sandwich". There captured in beautiful panoramic color that could be posted in the finest National Art Gallery was a flattened "Hot Turkey Sandwich".

Steve's wife saw the flattened cat immediately ..."Oh my, so sad, so that's what happened to our cat." Without even a flinch of sympathy the salesman looked quickly at that detail of the picture and immediately retorted, "We can air brush that out for you!" WOW - that sure clinched that sale ... NOT!!!

But think about that for a moment ... "We can airbrush that" out of your life. What tools we have in our armada to do small and great cover ups in our day and age! In fact, the faster we race on into technological oblivion with years flashing by like seconds, we get better and better at leaving gold in the after burn of our need to appear OK. Transparency, although touted as a characteristic of a good leader, is really rough on the pride of most individuals trying to lead organizations , let alone there own families. Faking it will not cut it, but here is the reflex we need to develop to be victors in this present life: Psalm 71:1,2
"In Thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: --- Trusting our strength is a recipe for failure.
let me never be put to confusion. --- He can and will help us sustain our sanity.
Deliver me in Thy righteousness, --- We can count on Him because of His Righteousness... not ours. and cause me to escape: --- His escape plan never involves life threatening addictions.
incline Thine ear unto me, --- Call on Him, He is inclined to listen because of His love for us.
and save me." --- Any other deliverance is not complete enough for out fragile humanness ---

Only Jesus Can Save us! 

NOW ---Today!  The air brush is not an option --- We live in a frail estate of human affairs in which we precariously hang on the edge of eternity. With His Spirt indwelling and leading in the life of "we as believers", we now find that "All things work together for good to them that love God and who are "the called" according to His purpose."

All things --- All people --- all events --- all joys --- all heartbreaks --- should never come under the decision to airbrush them out of the full purposes of the Divine. All is key to the ever endearing of God to us and us to God.

As crazy as it was - "Hot Turkey Sandwich" was part of the lives of a family, and the dramatic answer to the mystery of a cat's disappearance will now be indelibly etched in the minds of the family. Steve can look back with humor, but with events like these engraved in his memory , he will never deny the care of Almighty God.

If an aerial photographer can catch that moment ... then there is no doubt that the God that sees the sparrow fall also knows all of the needs of the heart.

No apologies but this life needs no air brush only an uninhibited heart full of the awe for God and an unbridled tongue filled with the praises of GOD who loves us with an everlasting love.

Psalm 71:14 - "I will hope continually, and will yet praise Thee more and more."

HLFA,

Jeff