To Live Boxless

Looking around the large darkened room filled with beautiful representations of the suffering of our Savior, I knew I had come to the right place to expect a miracle. The scenes of the parable-like ritual began to play out in front of me, heightening my desire for the Eternal. Then all the attention seemed to focus on the long-robed leader as he moved towards a gilded and ornate box to the left of the stage area.

There were kneelings and words that I did not understand so I sensed this could be the moment for the miracle as the robed arm reached into the gilded box. A holy hush settled on to the congregation as the leader turned with what appeared to be a golden, artistically designed mirror-like object. He lifted up the object several times as timed bells rang to announce each raise of the object. Then the leader turned back to the box and placed the mirror like object back in.

My Father was looking at my curious expression and decided to help me through this moment ... Dad said "there is a once a week Jesus that is given to us in the communion time, what you saw was the Jesus that is taken out on special occasions for us to see and then is kept in that box the rest of the year. Wow ... Jesus is kept locked away in a box, so unfair.

Now please don't be too harsh on me for a fogged childhood religious memory, but this one thing I am sure of today: the problem with our faith to see miracles is the package in which we box our God, and the restrictions that we design to limit His working.... (instead of magnifying His glory, majesty, honor, and power that no man can begin to understand). That being said please read on.

There are too many pious parrots in the roost protecting us from miracles -- "Polly wants a cracker" - "Just an ordinary cracker, nothing special" - "And no more, no less should be expected!" -- That first phrase used to be heard from the bird cage, but with the Internet on the rise, social media swooning the masses, and Google granting every request for knowledge - we hear rumors of miracles everyday; but there still are those who would love to see a miracle of Manna from Heaven, but not at the risk of sounding weak and needy. So the additional phrases, after the cracker request, needed to be added for the preservation of self sufficiency.

And So the New Breed of Parrot's will pout and tout that there is no hope for anything other than the cracker, so be grateful for the ordinary variety of cage style crackers, "because there ain't no manna today!" And FOR SURE -- "we don't want to presume ourselves upon GOD!" What has happened to these birds?

Maybe these parrots have written off the most conspicuous attribute of our God because of the failure on our part as humans to change; especially if it would be the only attribute that we believe.  And with that attribute in remission, like some sort of fading cancer-like flaw, we can move on to the more reliable attributes of God like His anger, His judgement, His severity, His Sovereignty, His holiness, His separation, ... (I am having a tough time with this for it is hard to imagine God without this attribute)... For the one characteristic of our God that holds us "still", to know that He is God...

Is His Love.

Without Love, His anger has no mercy,
Without Love, His judgement has no propitiation,
Without Love, His severity has no hope of turning from an eternal fiery end,
Without Love, His Sovereignty would never consider us because it doesn't need us,
Without Love, His holiness would not cover us,
Without Love, His Separation would be from us.

With His Love, God gave His only begotten Son for even the adornment of this fallen world... That who-so-ever believes in Him -- should not perish in full abandonment from His presence, but shall have everlasting, ever regenerative , ever unfolding, ever new, eternal life in His Love... we therefore can truly live.

But Love without God ... Is not redemptive Love at all ... At its best, with lust barely contained, it is but a shallow self-serving show of concern, a self fulfilling and collective desire for approval and companionship, and a fragmented shell of feelings endowed by Our Creator within the fallen heart of unredeemed man... At the beginning of this fallen love it is romantically, magically, wonderfully new ... Until it is tried, tested, tired and empty.

God has not abandoned anyone in the darkness without the light of His Love (that is why we all have experienced the "magic of the feelings"), but it seriously does matter what we do with that light ... Box it, contain it and Squander it on a self fulfilling lifestyle, and so we begin loathing the light of His love, and making our way in a direction opposite of the redemption of His Love.

No apologies for this next statement - We need to believe that God does truly care for us with provisions from the miraculous that are granted liberally to be experienced in our moments of need. Don't settle for the box, keep your "childlike wonder" fully unbridled, fully engaged; and let Jesus love you openly with His extravagant - miraculous love.

"Little Children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen". 1 John 5:21

HLFA,

Jeff

PS - Are we really naïve, or in denial of reality when we believe that God will do the impossible? Stop boxing up that faith, face the truth of a tragic situation, announce its reality, BUT with full trust in God's miraculous outcome.

Shattered

Please try hard to hear the Still Small Voice, O tender broken-hearted Saint. God knows that your pain speaks so loudly and confirms so assuredly with your disappointment... that it is hard to hear words of encouragement (let alone begin to believe those words). The Lord knows that "doubt" has slithered its way into your life, convincing you that it is a permanent resident, and your trusted gate keeper (though you have been misinformed).

The Spirit feels the doubt that guards every access route to your heart to make sure that the song of hope has no opportunity to be heard. The Spirit has stood waiting while doubt speaks so loudly that hope is quickly squelched in a hellish confidence that boldly announces, "Healing is for others but not for you; for God has deemed you unworthy."

Jesus has watched you shift your Faith from Him to a faith in pain's voice, which continues to rip at the very fiber of your spirit. But HE IS NOT DISAPPOINTED WITH YOU, He knows the separation caused by pain - "My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken me?" His love keeps you and remains sure ... for you are His Name's Sake.

This moment is not easy ... but try with every bit of your spiritual fiber to see how you would react if your own child was racked with the torments of pain and the fear that shadows a life threatening event.

The "Pop Culture Christian Voices" all around us proclaim things that never add much to our relief. The "healing" clichés only add to the pressure of our barely bearable reality. But we must stop anyhow and meditate on the deeper truth behind the plastic-wrap façade.

"This to will pass!" But it hasn't. Always seems to be spoken as a hall pass for other believers to relinquish their duties to "weep with those that weep"... This moment will pass, but while it weighs heavily on us .. He will be with us even when we proclaim negative prophesies and curse loudly in the moment.

"You can do all things through Christ". Except this... When pain speaks so loud that we no longer have a voice, Christ will stand in our lives whether we appear to succeed or whether we openly fail miserably.

"He will never leave you!" But they leave and abandon us with a prayer and a pat on the shoulder. Our closest friends may withdraw and stand afar, for so did His disciples for fear of their own lives ... the human condition can only carry grief so far, but He will carry us where others falter, clear through to eternity. Don't judge His nearness by the distance others. He is near, always.

"He will not test you above what you can handle!" Seems to shift the responsibility to our failure to be spiritual enough to receive "the healing". This is always a poorly delivered half truth mixed with a lie ... "GOD DOES NOT TEMPT US!" ... The pain may tempt us to doubt, but He will be there with a way out... "There has no temptation taken you, but such is common to man, but God is faithful, He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it." I Cor. 10:13 This passage is giving us hope in the battle against the sin that so easily besets us ... pain is an altogether different subject and needs to be handled by entrusting it to His longsuffering, not our impatient waiting.

"And now, LORD, what wait I for? my hope is in Thee." Psalm 39:7

When we are shattered ... we should fear not to speak our pain and disappointment to Him... He will be there for us no matter what we say. His Love Remains ... when all else seems gone... and He is all we need.

Little Children ... lift up your hearts, lift up your hands, He cannot resist to lift you up into His loving arms.

"Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not Thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more."Psalm 39:12,13

HLFA,

Jeff

Hidden

"Thou art my hiding place, thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah." Psalm 32:7

It first began with a tingling sense that something disconcerting was about to happen in the Kingdom of Love. It gnawed at my already frayed sense of time leaving me a good bit off balance. I knew it was a call to pray. So I went to the hiding place.

As I approached the Throne of Grace, I noticed that there was a small crack in the base of the veil. From this small split that guarded Glory, literally, beams of light pulsed in all directions from its hidden source, enlightening different areas within my shaking world. Everything enlightened began to stabilize and clarify until all that was left shaking was my heart. So I bowed my weakened frame and left my heart vulnerable to whatever the Father would desire to tell me. I closed my eyes and waited.

This is the waiting that produces strength to soar on the currents of adversity through every passage of life. (Isaiah 40:31) The waiting brings knowing. "Knowing" with confidence the preservation of God is a work of my will's submission to the imploring of the Spirit via the power of the truth of Word of God.

Let this truth capture your devotion, if but for this moment of your need:

1. God is His Kid's Hiding place...we are hidden in Christ.

2. He preserves us with His Fidelity, His wholeness, His Character; none dare question God's Holy Song over us. His love defies the most violent oppressor and goes beyond our wildest expectations.

3. He encircles us in all the turns of our wayward direction with His Songs that will deliver us.

His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. His Goodness and Mercy, that are not dependent on us, are His covering of us that spans time and eternity; there is nothing that truly compares. There is None of us that truly understand, there is None of us that truly seek after God, and by our own choosing we have all gone out of the way. We, individually and all together, have become unprofitable followers of self fulfillment.

.... "Just God" .... is never our reason for seeking ... HE KNOWS THIS HUMAN FLAW and yet doesn't chide us, leave us nor forsake us ... He just continues to call us. His call of Love (whish is for who believe, and for all time) , keeps us within his Ever encircling testimonial cries, his redounding voices of victory, and his omniscient songs of deliverance.

PROOF: The Cross of Christ... He died for us, He arose for us, He calls for us, and He is coming for us!

"Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy all ye upright in heart." Psalm 32:11

Live loud in the Victory of His Love and Compassion for you,

All is well because Jesus is my growing "All in All."

HLFA,
Jeff

The Gray

Confusion-Despair-Disparity-Anger or
Focus-Hope-Balance-Love?

Is there truly gray areas within the issues of life, not just a matter of fact...not just black and white? The gray has, for the most part, been seen as an area to be avoided because of its potential for conflict. It is also seen by those looking for a liberty "work around" as a power-tool-opportunity to set up their flag of wisdom on the matter. But, could the Gray be an opportunity for Grace and Love instead of a clash of violently opposed convictions?

The gray, without much effort, becomes a cultivator of walls and the foundation of the doctrines of "isms" and "ists" that do nothing but divide, conquer and leave the wounded for dead. Survival of the right-est as the fittest, is the underlying (truly lying) belief that can cause irreconcilable conflict. This may be why Conflict such a terror in the "Church"? ... maybe because we want peace in the "Father Knows Best Mayberry" family. (The Acknowledgement of Absolute Truth is though, but there can be no peace where conflict is avoided and issues of life are never handled).

Here was the game plan of a former pastor as stated, "We will not have controversy, but if controversy arises, we will handle the conflict... (emphasizing) WE WILL HANDLE THE CONFLICT". The leadership's game plan was to maintain a status quo and squelch anything that was different. And as we all know...Jesus' life was without controversy (please understand that this statement is sarcastic) ... so we should expect that the follower should also live without controversy or conflict (again-this is another sarcastic statement).

Sometimes the issue is not as gray as we would purport it to be. It may be excused as an area of cultural or preferential opinions that those more enlightened have given an issue a hall-pass to avoid the pain of education. Without a truly devotional grasp of the wisdom of love there will be an impatience due to offences that can carry us into conflict. Offenses are a guaranty, but woe unto him whose cause is to offend, and especially offend the little ones - A true offence is one that comes out of a desire against the Word of God and separates a "little one", one of God's Kid's, from His Father's Voice within the Word - "The Love Letter".

"Wine, as an entertainer, is an arrogant ambassador and a scornful interpreter; and more intensely, Strong intoxicating drink is a distracting growl and a disrupting roar; whoever strays and swerves off into desired intoxication thereby is not wise". Proverbs 20:1

Since the beginning of man's choices for his "own way" instead of "God's way", there has been welcomed entertainers and intoxicators that have distorted the Voice of God. This distortion has caused a growing discention in the kingdom. It creates a riff in Love's Ministry of Reconciliation and an animosity towards "God accountability". So many want to stretch and test the boundaries of Liberty because of the urging of highly polished "other voices", which in the end ... tarnish purity and integrity, and wax cold true love by causing it to doubt truth.

I want something. We all want something...and deep down inside we hope that "that something" will fix or heal the ache of life that follows us every where we go. It all seems so confusing at times and we become too overwhelmed. Oh so many of us want to numb our way into the oblivious comforts of stollen bread and forbidden fruit. The numbness of a fleeing fleshy pleasure deceives us into thinking that sin is not all that divisive, not as bad as "the preacher" has warned us, and many times the sin itself brings a momentary release or rest.

Rest is a rare commodity in a time of struggle. Comfort is a fleeing companion when pain decides to be an unwelcome tenant. Peace is flaunted as the offering to woo the masses by the wolves in sheep's designer clothing. "Key in importance" for all of our days is... clear, concise, and connective direction. Jesus said this to those in His day who were standing on the threshold of What to believe? ---"If ye continue in My word, then ye are my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." What great news ... but there was push back because of what He said.

Here are the issues of stumbling in this passage - listen UP!

"Continuing in His Word" - Will we allow His Word to dwell in us in such a way that His Word saturates and satisfies our thoughts continually? Will our hearts be seen as the throne room of the King, and our lives used as a vessel of Love for others?

"My disciples" - Will we allow ourselves to be obviously identified as His followers, His students, His and His alone?

"shall know the truth" and  ... Will our intimacy with His truth cause less and less hesitation to hear, listen and obey His Truth... so that in knowing daily, we are growing daily?

"shall make you free" - Hello!!! "Free" --- this word is so much more endearing because it means "Freeborn" -- We are citizens of Heaven upon a simple childlike faith decision for Jesus... But we have a privilege of a stronger connection to our citizenship via our cultivation of the relationship through a constant connection to His Word and growing Spirit ownership of His Life in us.

The GRAY is for real ... but like a FOG (the Favor Of God), He carries us through - The
Gray - when we settle the conflict in a growing love for Him and others.

Don't be afraid of the Gray!

Read, study, meditate, believe, pray, share, stand, and love,

HLFA,

Jeff

PS: The issues that we think are GRAY are opportunities to please the Father by "presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice" - Rom:12:1,2 

Surrounded

Well, I was in one of those crazy situations again. Huddled within the fragile frame of my Earthly existence, I was cowering in the darkest corner of the Kingdom that I could find (which, if I had truly thought this one through, once again I was dabbling in the realm of the impossible). Being in His presence had put all the shadows behind me with the exception of one, the Shadow found in going through the Valley of Death... But that shadow was not the issue at this juncture of my life (though that could change in a blink). I had sinned.

Guilt and shame had chased me down and were threatening to over take me. I was stealthily pearing through the small shattered window of hope for the rescue. What I saw dropped my heart into my stomach... "Judgement had been turned away in the opposite direction, Justice could do nothing but stand his ground at too far a distance to help; because Truth had lost his balance and stumbled in the street, while Equity was completely stripped and powerless to prevail." (Isaiah 59:14) Of all men I was most miserable.

There was a Voice that startled me because it spoke in my direction. Not immediately recognizing it, I slumped deeper into my hiding place and dared not to breathe nor make a sound. With rubble around me, now still as death... I could hear the Voice: "You have no place to hide! Come out with your hands up!"

Something strange but familiar stirred inside of me. It was all but melting me at the core and tugging away at anything that I considered as foundational for strength to resist. I was like a string tangled marionette caught awkwardly in the midst of a critical performance that was soon to be launched into ... The Unknown?

The Voice boomed again, "Come out with your hands lifted up, you are surrounded!" Now the urge to move forward was even stronger, and to surrender seemed the only course of action left... But it could mean suicide because of the trigger happy enemy that would be waiting.

The Voice, louder than before but strangely encouraging ..."Fear not, You are Surrounded!" This was that moment when faith and fear would collide, but potentially they would form the alliance of "AWE"... And then it happened: I arose from the rubble of my futile hiding, raised my arms to the Heaven of Heavens, moved forward towards my "would be" Captors to find an amazing but powerful Glory encapsulating and surrounding every molecule of my humanness ... The Glory radiated and overwhelmed the darkness in every direction.

Even though my sight was captured near blind in the Brightness; at the fringes of my perception, I observed the most hideously insidious creatures fleeing in flames caused by the Brightness of the Glory. They raced frantically from the unavoidable destruction of wickedness. The Enemy was conquered... And there in the midst of the incident ---Stood the Glory of the Bloodied Cross.

Near the Cross, Now, there I stood, with a new found desire to abide forever - Judgement stood smiling next to me locking arms with my soul, Justice was sounding me with praises that were within my reach, Truth and Equity intertwined their essence with every breath of my soul ... With Hands lifted up - and heart surrendered - His Glory Surrounded me, crowning my life with the fullness of His Vested Love. AND I was not alone ... Multitudes of battered but restored children had joined me to hear His Song of Glorious Love over us. (Read Psalm 8 at this juncture of the story -- notice that we are crowned - "Surrounded with Glory" )

Join me in a glorious life with Jesus, who has overcome the world.
Praise Him and walk powerfully in His Kingdom!

HLFA,

Jeff

New Beginning

Morning arrived with the dew as expected. As the sun's lattice like rays extended through the countryside, creation began to stretch and groan from its nocturnal stillness: There He waited, there He stood longing and there He desired a sign of love from His beloved. He watched as the day gently brushed against the cheek of His beloved, as the sounds and smells of promise were diffused with the meandering currents of conflict. He Gently whispered, "Behold, I am yours and you are mine." But an anesthetized stillness provided no reply, no response from His beloved, but He stood there still and He Loved.

Then time slammed its gavel of "urgency calls", and we arose with a heart pounding start. We raced right past the Love of our life, and hastily glanced at His love letter that had boldly pronounced "Wait!" Wait? ... (under our breath as though we would not be heard) "You've got to be kidding". Then piously we declared, "We will set aside some quality time later when we can give full focus to love."

We had barely miss-buttoned our clothing, shimmy-jammed our feet into our shoes, and guzzled down some sustenance when the inrush of concerns for the day slammed into our already unbalanced forward movement. Way out of kilter now, our failure to stop and listen to the Love of our Life would begin to take its toll.

He watched on with no "I told you so!". He now spoke quietly "Come unto me all ye that labor!". We thought we may have heard that still small voice; and just for a moment the thought of the sound lifted us, but the weight of the day must have heard it also for with even more gravity it weighed down on our souls. He still waited, and loved.

The hands of the clock finally aligned in the predetermined manner, and our captors released us to our wind down time. You were waiting at the gate to great us with a love offer to release us of guilt and shame, but for some unintelligent reason we thought we could do the impossible ourselves. So we wrestled the immense package of sensed failure onto our already bending frame, and all but crawled to our evening of "home", our hiding place.

You were with us through every agonizing moment of that movement to an unrequited rest. You once again watched over us as we lowered our senses and slowed our defenses in hope of relief. You watched as we mutely dimmed the lights and slipped back into the welcomed comatose state of sleep. You gazed on at our troubled dreams ... you interjected what fragments of hope that we had caught on the way, and gathered them together in our dreams; ... but there was so little hope to work with because of the literal "Word" deprivation of our hearts, minds, souls and strength that our sleep was without true rest.

You waited once more, O Lover of our Soul. You would once again whisper sweet and precious promises to our almost lifeless forms. You would do this without regret and without hesitation. For perhaps this would be the day that we would reckon ourselves dead to sin, but alive in You. Just per chance our first full breath into the day would be a prayer of re-crucifixion with you.

O to be dead to ourselves but alive to You... Who love us and gave Yourself for us."I am crucified with Christ, never the less I live; yet not I; but life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. " Galatians 2:20.   This is not a one time deal ... this is a conscious act of the will to "die daily" to myself and to be fully alive with Him.

The Hope for tomorrow: We awoke to Your sweet Voice calling us to walk with You through the Garden, up to Calvary, to be crucified with You and to rise from the tomb with You fully alive and empowering our day for Your Honor and Your Glory, Amen.

Here is the Victory!!!

HLFA,

Jeff

The Variegator

The Variegator -The Swirler of Colors

Just when we thought that we had it down pat, and that we had all of our bases covered...life does what it does best and throws us a monster curve of doubt. That big "NO-ANSWER" question mark clings to us, like a cross borne over the shoulder of our soul, and weighs so heavily on us that now we step into our own worst nightmare. Confusion sets in and we are caught stranded precariously on a handle-less particle that is swept into a larger uncontrollable, faith battering, tidal flow. Why would God allow this to happen... Why wouldn't He stop us from doing this... How in the world can we go on from here?

The Psalmist in the One Hundred Thirty Ninth Psalm explores the fact that our fallen nature is prone to being a flight risk. Our wandering souls are like Dare Devils that are always pushing the boundaries and pushing things to the limit. In Psalm 139 verses 1 though 12 - The writer attempts to describe the "God exposed life" of the believer. He travels off in all the directions from body's basic volitions, to the mind's tapestry, to the roots of the tongue's wagging, to what is in our past and our future... making "all" seen, known and experienced by God being ever present and ever near. He checks out every possible and plausible destination that we could fly; and he exposes every place that we could hide, only to stand in awe of the "too wonderful"... HE IS THERE... FOR US.

In Verses 13-18: The Psalmist places the evidence of His love connection to us front and center; proof positive because His finger prints are all over the minutest details of the fabric of each of our totally unique lives. He desires obvious fellowship with our personality potential. He wants to be evidenced in the way we carry our physical stature. He wants to amaze us with the unfolding miracles of our internally - constantly - forming growth cycles. He has intricately woven and swirled in everything necessary to identify us with Him. We have been "curiously wrought" ... we have been variegated.

Every needed element to face life was colorfully swirled into us in order to give us what is needed to "stay still" during the impossible and keep us close to Him while achieving the possible. Life without the knowledge of the Variegator is a life of futile acquisitions and vain achievements void of eternal focus and purpose. Life without Jesus is a life that is emptied into eternal sorrow in the end.

Jesus is the curiously wrought door, the marvelously fashioned gate, the colorfully woven belt, the adornment of the Daughter ...whom we are "In Him" ... Whom, because of His great love... are made "glorious within".  A Swirler of colors, a Weaver of curious diversity, a Blender of imaginative differences ...mixing in, all that is needed to make the Kingdom complete with intertwined complex simplicity...gold, alabaster, black, purple, scarlet, silver, azure, white, brown, red, blue ... every color, every hue ... all for our good and His Glory.

Some of the swirls are sweet to the taste and satisfying to the soul, though others may be incredibly sour to the stomach. Satisfying or painful, all the swirls are purposeful in the intertwining of our lives with His.

I know how hard it is to take a breath, back away, and see the big picture... when pain, loss, or fear of death ...clamor for our attention. The constraint of emotions and "stressing out" over the temporal can easily cause us to feel that we have been abandoned, or that we have forfeited our authority to be the Kid's of the King; but fear not, for He has planned LOVE for this moment of our sensed "faith devastation" - He has curiously wrought... swirled into our lives all that is needed for Him to see us through.

Realize this: The Devil is a liar! The enemy strives to own God's woven and embroidered things. The enemy desires to claim them for his own. He wants to tout them as trophies and spoil from the battle he thinks he is winning or assumes he has won. His ploy is confusion ... don't give in.

Wait on the LORD, Lay down the doubt, and take up the Cross ... trust Him to see you through this moment of struggle... JESUS, the Variegator, is near.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139: 23,24

Bring Your swirls into play for my good and Your glory, amen.

HLFA,

Jeff

And There They Stood

And there they stood. Racked with grief that had placed them wanting an answer but refusing to truly embrace the truth, because the truth would not fix or reverse the catastrophe. Agonizing truth ... Unfair truth ... Cruel truth ... Is never a welcome guest and always a terribly abusive tenant.

Loss to the appearance of Thanatos (the separation that we call "death") is a heart ripping and gripping intrusion in our lives. When a life is snatched away and the "breath" is gone, the stillness of that moment is terrifyingly surreal beyond explanation. When looking down into the satin lined, highly polished "box at the end of dreams" , many of us tremble to the point where we strongly desire to lose control so as to run far, far, far away and keep running until... we are out of the reach of death's final squeeze. Our minds will always desire for a transport away... If only we could gain enough distance from death, that the realm of the breathless would not affect us and the virus of age could be staved off long enough that we could accomplish a full escape and leave nothing unattained.

I know they are gathering today, I can't be there. There is no box; only a memorial moment where words will be exchanged in love, to try to remember. We will pull at fading straw to pump up an imagined "good times" image of the "missing one" to attempt to make us all feel better about this "something" that we all truly fear, especially for ourselves (but for the Christ Factor). We will strive to be in the midst of the memorial with hopes that we can add comfort or at least increase those attending our future memorial (it is hard to face the truth of our own selfishness). Truly, None of us want to be left alone even at death and after.

I truly hate what can happen to the little ones who cannot find a way through the grief. This is why "Death and Hell", in the future present of God's plans, are cast into the Lake of Fire ... Never to have an affect on creation ever again.

AGAIN! I truly hate what can happen to the little ones --- BUT this is not a feeling I own, it has come to own me.

In trusting Christ to Save us -- We have realized that death, though sorrowful to others, has no power over us - "absent from the body, present with the LORD."  He holds us. Psalm 23:4 - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."

In walking with Him daily - HE REVIVES ME - HE MAKES ME FULLY ALIVE FOR OTHERS. --- Psalm 138:7 - "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, though wilt revive me: Thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies; and Thy Right Hand shall save me."

What a gift God has given us ... As we allow the Spirit to energize and vitalize the Word we receive daily --- WE, through HIM, become LIFE GIVERS. Please let this soak your soul ... Re-read the passages above, bow your heart under His awesome care for the little ones and allow Him to "fold" you into the pleats of His manifold wisdom. LIVE TRULY ALIVE - BECOME A LIFE GIVING VESSEL.

Hearing the heart of the grief always stirs my soul -- below was one of those responses:
"Reading this...my heart is on its knees, my soul is on its face... my Spirit soars with His because I know that He is touched by the feelings you cannot express. He can handle the blame, the disappointment, the depression, the anger, the loss of faith, the chill from the loss of reciprocative love... keep grieving without shame in the arms of the Father. He is never disappointed with our pained response to earth shattering loss, that is why He is our God and we are His beloved.

Hope In Christ; remember that the "Highly Polished Satin Lined Box" -- is nothing more than a "Hope Chest".

COME ALIVE KIDS OF THE KING - The Little Ones need us,

HLFA,

Jeff

Welcome to the Weaned

What a crazy race life can be! You load the SUV of life with every possible piece of paraphernalia that you think will have you prepared for the journey, only to find that while the car and trunk doors were hanging open for loading, strange transactions were taking place that were way beyond your control. (Oh, quick tidbit of wisdom ... Don't ask the passengers "what can I do to make you more comfortable?" unless you are fully prepared for an earful of grief that can crush the tender heart of an unprepared servant).

Although every door hinge, every door seal, every window closure and window seal seemed to groan as I forcefully closed all loading points... I did manage to secure the ever bulging vehicle. As I stretched my aching "mover-man" muscles to prepare for the embarking of this life crossing ... I glanced over my shoulder to see two distorted faces pressed disturbingly against the glass of the back windows. One appeared as a wild-wide-eyed screamer with a massive ever flowing amount of gooey fluids smeared on the window within the circumference of its press; and the other face was squished in what appeared to be a very uncomfortable position... But it remained like a motionless, sleeping, thumb sucking angel. Huh?

What was going on? I didn't remember loading kids? ... Oh that's right, this was the preparation of my soul for this ride of a lifetime that we call "Life on this Side of Heaven" or "Walking in Christ" or "Walking in the Spirit" or "Walking with God" or "The Christian Life" or ......"In Christ and ever being furnished as a God Habitation (Any man in Christ is a new creation)... What I was seeing was the battle in me to "HOPE in the LORD".

We all have a choice on this celestial bound crazy race ... We can do nothing with God's Word and have a kicking, screaming, momma dependent infant of a soul; or we can develop a life that falls in love with the daily "Word to heart" investments, and grow a "quiet weaned child" - "ever dependent on the Father" soul?

Growing up in Christ has been viewed like a journey from babe to adulthood, but maybe the better depiction could be compared to the developmental stages of a child. Conception, birth, new born, suckling infant, toddler attached to Mom, and then toddler weaned. As the toddler weaned - the sanctified imagination opens, and we actually start to grasp the meaning of terms like warrior, soldier, victor ... and we get wisdom to begin trusting God for our success.

We will never stop being His Kids, but we don't have to be miserable spoiled brats in the faith. Have you ever met a spoiled brat ... Adult? (so embarrassing!) Sure, we all have met these big babies but most of the time in the mirror... and we all will continue to be that brat and spiritual our growth pains could be extended ... the longer we starve our souls by keeping away from the Word.

Daily without hesitation; Let's nourish our souls extravagantly with the Word ... and grow ever more... "Hope Filled".

"Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." Psalm 131:1-3

HLFA,

Jeff

The Needed Voice

The chilling wind came roaring through the soundscape of the all but abandoned Rail Transfer Station. Miles of a geometrically laid, heavy, metal vertebra stretched from this now insignificant relic in two opposite directions. Turning myself in either direction would reveal two different vanishing points.

In both directions there was a feeling of forevers that would never meet. Both directions seemed pretty much like a locked-in decision once the engines of forward movement were engaged. Both directions showed no signs of immediate or imminent danger; and with a pause for a moment to provide a deep cleansing breath, it would appear hope could be on the horizon within the choice for either direction... Or not (sorry but the station seemed more like a collision of the two directions and the remains of a deserted end of a bad decision instead of a beginning of a promise).

Standing still definitely was an option, unless hypothermia was a condition that wouldn't sooner or later rock one into the burning sleep of a frozen death. Either choice of direction needed a voice so that the decision could be reckoned with. Both directions had light and darkness ... One would be a walk against the light and sooner than later would have the sun passing behind and the movement would definitely be into the darkness. The other direction seemed to be racing to stay with the travels of the light and though darkness would be inevitable ... choice for this direction would be for the fullest day, one would be walking in the light; until it was gone.

I took that deep cleansing breath and prayed for a sign. Then there in the midst of the ruin, dead center of the point of decision, was the Voice.

At first it sounded like the wind, then a babbling brook; but as I turned to listen it's decibel level raised to that of the thunder and the roar of the oceans. Why had I not heard this before? Was it that I was too busy trying to determine which way to go and weighing the outcomes of those decisions ... Though these imagined outcomes were based on the fears of my five senses.

Now that the Voice had caught my attention it had grown so loud that there was no protection for my ears let alone my entire being; the Sound of the Voice drove me to the ground, to my knees right in the midst of the rubble of someone else's abandoned dreams. I guess I wasn't going anywhere soon.

As I knelt there the sound began to dissipate, and I was still ... So I listened... finally ... O the numbing tingling sensation was similar to that of a tap on the right nerve cluster, but it was pulsing through the very fiber of my being. This vibration of my senses felt as though I was in the mode of a death-grip decision to be quiet (it was almost as if the Voice had waited for that decision from my heart) ....So I decide to be dead still.

There was a sudden very obvious silence that was louder in my soul than all the noise prior to this moment ... So I waited, I even tried to breath in such a way that my breath made no sound. The silence was so deafening that I could hear the rhythm of my heart forcing its pulsing pressure through me, and I could sense the flow of my life giving blood moving through my veins ... I was overwhelmed with a sense of extreme helplessness before the Voice .... All I could do was wait for what may come next, so I closed my eyes ... Ready for death if that was the next event.

Then I heard the Voice saying like a song --- "I AM"; and the Word that lay dormant in soul responded in a spiritually captivating litany, and in my mind fell the questions of the Spirit.

"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The LORD" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I try to rule?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The LORD thy God" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I turn to idols?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The First" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I not start with You?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Last" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I not rest in your outcome?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God not of the Dead but of the Living!"" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I search in ruins?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Bread of Life" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I ache in hunger?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Door" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I not trust You to open?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Good Shepherd" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I not follow Thee?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Son of God" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I feel misunderstood?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Resurrection" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I cleave to death?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Way" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I search for another route?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Truth" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I search in doubt?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Life" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I search for another?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Vine" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why am I so barren?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Light" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I struggle in darkness?"
"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "The Root and offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star" --- and my mind groaned a harmony - "So why do I see darkness as the outcome of either of my decisions?"

"I AM", sang the Voice; my soul sang back "the Lord God of your Salvation" --- and my mind groaned a harmony that I did not recognize and the Spirit joined in with groanings that could not be uttered... the whole seen dissolved in a the tears that flooded my soul as I sang -

"I will take Your yoke, your burden upon me, and learn of You; for You are gentle and your heart has bowed near to me: and in You alone shall I find rest unto my soul" (Praying through Matthew 11:29)"

I learned that my dire need wasn't to know the right direction to travel; I learned that what needed most was to know You, my Lord, my God ... Jesus."

HLFA,

Jeff