A Sickness Desiring Heart

I was hearing the whispers, but they were just beyond reach. Curiosity had me though, in my early morning state curiosity seemed to be the necessary food to get the mind rolling for the day. Even though it was still dark, I had grown very skilled in the art of "light-less room navigation". It is uncanny how with just a few minutes of disciplined mental notes, an unfamiliar location can become familiar for an unlit walk.

{“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"Jeremiah 17:9 The most slippery and insidious thing about the unregenerate heart of man is that is irreparably sick and it doesn't want to get better. It actually thrives on being sick: who has the will power to begin to know it? Staying too close to this heart creates a codependency of a continual desire for discrediting our God Story... it buys bad news, it invests in tragedy, and is incurably ill as it hardens its way through life keeping us at an unhealthy distance from God. Remedy? God does not offer a healing, because He offers a replacement – a new heart … but still a heart of flesh - Ezekiel 36:26,27.}

I had only taken a few steps to find what had been just beyond my ability to hear with any accuracy (actually my toes found it). A gooey and gross meeting of my toes with this object in the dark had me leaping in a backwards direction by reflex. “Man! What in the world?” Immediately my mind began to flash – dead animals, road kill, chunky vomit ...I was totally “creep-ed” out! But by now I could hear a little more clearly ...the little voice that sounded like mine, but like it was coming through a cell phone speaker .. “Help me, I am nothing but a failure, I am trash, nobody cares about me, nobody loves me, God cares about everyone else but me, I am ashamed to live openly for Jesus”.

When I flipped on the light I found a most despicable gruesome image of me, but stripped of any beauty and goodness. There was a murky colored orb with tubes of syrup-like liquid flowing to and from this image of me. This image of me was clinging onto this orb ever so tightly. I stared and wondered , “why was this orb held so tightly?”

Inside the orb were horrifying images: images of sordid evil, murders, adulteries, fornication, stench, pornography, thefts, false witness and slander, all kinds of blasphemies. And this image of me rubbed the orb and kept mumbling, “make me sick, oh, please make me sick”. I was starting to understand why no healing was offered and how a new heart was the only remedy.

But wait a minute! I have a new heart! Not only a New heart, but all things new … New Spirit, New Life, New Mind, New Hope ...(we could go on); the Gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ Our LORD. Why am I still influenced by this “sick” heart of stone?

If we “Walk in the Light, as He is in the light” we have continual fellowship and His Blood's constant cleansing (I John 1:7). I found myself preparing for "light-less room navigation", when I should have been more focused on "Light-filled Kingdom Navigation". “Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 --- Is just one of the 176 verses in Psalm 119 that teach the dynamics of the necessity of the Word of God to give us victory in the moments when the “sickness desiring heart” wants to speak discouragement, despair, and distance from our God into our lives. Our New Heart needs daily connection to God's Word for victory over this malady.

The battle against this heart begins with a simple prayer of admission to the fact that we are distant and ashamed to allow the God Story to shine from our life. (At the end of 175 verses expounding on the life positioned close to God's Word – the Psalmist like us admitted: ) “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; I do not forget Thy commandments.” Psalm 119:176 Are we hearing  and believing the counsel of “Failure”? Listen again to the One who seeks to deliver you out of darkness into His glorious life of light.

HLFA,

Jeff

Still Holding Stones?

There they stood, fallen and broken. Not wanting to be pitied by those righteous enough to throw stones, who were still corporately deciding who should cast the first stone and when. The sin and the result of their fall was obvious and confessed for cleansing (I John 1:9); but there were still those who thought that they had the right keep their forgiveness in a gold treasure chest, and only administer it in their time.{“Everybody has to work out forgiveness in their own time” seems to be the mantra that often times is held- close by those who want to punish others for their own past sins. Possibly the way they were treated during the time of their restoration was less than Christ-like. So let's not seek fresh oil and abundant grace to help in time of need. Let's dare not get close to God for advice and power to love the fallen. - This is an extremely sarcastic section.} For those of you who ache because of being caught as fallen or you have been caught in the shrapnel and finding it difficult to forgive, read on prayerfully.

Dare not look at this scene too awfully long … our eyes may tear up and ears blur for the bright treble of the sound of the declaration. “Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice”. Micah 6:1 With one of the 6 senses known as hearing … listen, just listen to what the LORD says … right here and right now, listen to what He says: Stand up, address our complaint before the mountains (the strong foundation of Righteous Vision), and let the hills (smaller truths) hear our voice … Stand UP … Speak UP … Speak out!

Micah 6:2 – “Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD'S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with His people, and He will plead with Israel” (“Those who say God Prevails – Jesus Saves”). Are we starting to get the picture yet? Stand up ...Speak up … Speak out – The things that we hold in our heart against God are called controversy (Oh, and we thought we were mad at the fallen brother or sister) … Don't hold on to it, be honest, it is God with whom we have an issue ...(Casting all our care upon Him because He cares for us) …

Micah 6:3 – “O My people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me!” What a challenge from our LORD of Lords! Stand up (take a stand, mean it)--- Speak up (quit our mumbling in directions of uselessness) --- Speak out (Make our voice heard, from out of the multitudes)... Answer the question! – What has He done to us, to wear us out? Go ahead and form a testimony in our favor. BUT BEFORE WE DO … remember what he has done for each of us:

Micah 6:4-5 - He brought us up out of the Land of Dual Trenches where servants never win. He gave us leadership to teach us … the Word, the Worship and the Tenderness of a Song. But O painfully remember how imitators of righteousness brought nothing but devastation to the heads of our homes, and gave us a false sense of being the masters of determining what was right and wrong, … only to find that guilt has continued to chase us from “the east to the west” - making it hard for us to see that He has put our sins from Him as far as the East is from the West.

Micah 6:6-7 – Why do we feel our pitiful sacrificial offerings get God's attention? Will God be pleased with an immense pile of bloody sacrificed livestock, and rivers of spent burning carcinogenic oil? Shall we obscenely offer our children, even our firstborn to pay for the sin of our soul? BUT DO WE DO THESE THINGS IN DIFFERENT FORMS BECAUSE WE THINK GOD EXPECTS IT, OR because we are terrified by the concept that God wants a daily passionate relationship with us that constantly keeps us in eternity's flux of the ministry of reconciliation?

This is the controversy – God doesn't want stuff, HE wants our devotion, HE wants us … and here is God's declaration of how: Micah 6:8 - “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Thy God?” Are you obedient to this three-fold glorious requirement?

HLFA,

Jeff

Miracle Crumbs

Can you picture this – An outcast, a potentially shady character, a “Lowland Lowlife” female ... approaches the King and says “My daughter needs a miracle!”. The King says nothing as his entourage urges the King to send her away, but he finally answers all... “I am here to seek out the Lost sheep of my Highland house.” She immediately falls before the King in Worship and then responds - “I need your help!”

What the King says next is disturbing BUT it was acceptable in the culture of the day ... Matthew 15:26 - “But He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.”

Somehow I can almost sense the sleazy triumphant thoughts and stifled rude laughter of those nearby … carried by one under-girding insidious; “Boy, Jesus put her in her in place!” But He knew their biased thoughts, and He knew her longing heart, and He knew that she trusted Him.

So what seemed to be a very cold answer actually opened the avenue for faith's response. “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.” Matthew 15:27 … The attitude of the entourage was caught in the paralysis of this spiritual plea.

Jesus had used an abusive idiom of the day that declared that those outside of Kingdom were known as "dogs". He never once inferred that this woman was a “dog”. {The Crude and the Rude ... love to use so-called truth and absolute truth to abuse, instead of seeing it from love's vantage point}. The allegorical truth of the Word puts anyone that is not God's chosen with characteristics of "dogs on the outside". His words to this woman of Canaan (Lowlands) would reveal what had a stronger pull on her life .. public opinion and cultural barriers, or a needy and faith-filled connection to God. On top of this, her response showed "every hearing ear" that her heart was for the LORD, and she was not afraid to violate cultural barriers to get to Him.

Hear her words again ...“Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table”. Crumbs are naturally, and in her case supernaturally, for the “dog” near or under the table. "Let some crumbs fall on me". When the Children of the King of King are sitting at their table of miracles, is it an unfair expectation for the crumbs of miracles to fall to the “dogs”? In this case (much like today) miracles were a little scarce on the table of the Children, and that meant this Woman of Faith needed to go to the Master of the table. Faith knows where to get a miracle and does not see that crumbs as a disability or a disadvantage.

Some may perceive that this woman had to beg Jesus to get a miracle... and this might seem out of character with some Bible verses that we think are instant promises to instant answers. If importunity is begging then we all need to be beggars. Importunity helps us to continue to focus on the One who can and will meet our need … in His Time. We are all beggars, at some point in our lives (actually most all of mine). With the distance that appears to be there between the seen and the unseen, we are very timid in our approach to the God of the unseen.

People piously say stupid things (Duh!) like "Be careful what you ask or wish for because you might just get it" ... Jesus said "Ask (continually) and it shall be given unto you, seek (continually) and ye shall find, knock (continually) and the door shall be opened unto you." He cares too much to be controlled, like a servant, to obey our selfish barking commands. God is sovereign and nothing in this universe threatens Him to act rashly or without purpose. He is in control...for our good and His glory. God wants us to pray expecting, but He will always answer "beyond" our expectations.

The passage of scripture, Matthew 15:21-28, is one more call to Know our God, know our culture and know that our connection to Him will transcend all cultural barriers and bias. "Yes I am a dog and a beggar, but I have my place too! Let me have access to the miracle crumbs!"

HLFA,

Jeff
"NOW Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Powerless Waste Landfill

Wow! This was one of those week of weeks. Have you ever felt like you had been targeted by the universal township supervisors to be the next human “bad news” waste land fill? So many stories of oppression and discouragement that just seemed to be dumped right on the doorstep of our hearts this week. The “roar” of the little lion was doing its best to neutralize and paralyze so many kids of the King. Idiotic governmental decisions, destructive denominational announcements, Independent Church struggles for power, families divided by vindictiveness and a lack of forgiveness, “No thought for people” decisions made by “good” companies, battles with disease, sorrow and death, “stupid” and “grotesque” news media stories to highlight even more perversion and debauchery; and all we were trying do was to get the “my stuff” done under the duress of rumors about imminent war and the annihilation of life as we know it ... For me, after two days without the WORD … this third day I was famished. THERE IS A ROOT CAUSE... KIDS OF THE KING! Please read on and LISTEN UP! Please listen … up!

There is one thing we as humans are really good at - “Taking relationships for Granted.” This is not always a bad thing, because knowing that our relationships are firm and dependable keeps us from living in constant paranoia and fear of betrayal or abandonment. Good relationships are those with healthy nurturing and two-way communication. The problem is that in an eternal relationship that lacks a nurturing connection, there can be a mirroring of wickedness causing the relationship to just grow like “grass on a roof top” - Quick superficial groweth that withers away ever so quickly, and has no value for anyone touched by the relationship. (Take a moment, please, and read Psalm 129, it is a great quick read – you will get a better understanding for the plowing of the wicked, the righteousness of God and the wasted life of wickedness).

The next portion of this moment of deliberate verbal presupposition is based upon the observations of two needs of life on this planet. The observations have been performed by one of the uncountable grains of sand on the shore, one twinkle of light in the unending universe of sky, one blade of grass amidst the immeasurable earthly harvest, one of the many unnoticed hairs on the brushes of the masses, one of the many sparrows that could fall unnoticed by human eyes, a vapor that appears for a little and then vanishes away... but still a strategic entity of His desire and a saved soul that will spend eternity with Jesus because of His work on the Cross.

Observations:
1. We need to stop pointing out all the failures within the Kingdom and mandating the solutions... Be Quiet, Be Still !!
2. We need to begin truly nurturing the ONE relationship that affects all others...Be Real, Be Hungry, Be Passionate !!

We will find that when we have spent prime time with the King of Kings, daily, that our movements about the Kingdom will have greater consequence for good, and more lasting impact for encouragement in the lives of the discouraged. For those who are not seeking power, position, and possessions... but they are SEEKING HIM, they will soon discover that all “these things” will be added unto them.

The answer to the malady of this eroding life is not better leaders, harder preaching preachers, more Biblical Teaching, righteous living people, stronger statesmen, bolder proclaimers, more wholesome media, family friendly programing (on and on) … all these things are needed and good, BUT totally powerless without the individual personal accountability of each believer to be real, hungry and passionate in their unseen relationship nurturing with their God. Matthew 14:23 - “And when He had sent the multitude away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone”. Jesus is calling us to an “alone” time with Him, and this is where real revival transformation begins.

Let God change your hearts when no one sees, and you will experience God changing your world right before your eyes. Grab your your Bible, ready your knees, open your heart … He is “All Things” that you need... Don't Take This relationship for granted, you were not made to be just another powerless waste landfill … He is waiting for you.

HLFA,
  
Jeff

"CLOSED"

Have you ever had a strong desire or hankering to do, to buy, to taste, to hear, to see, to know, to experience (on and on) ... something wonderful? This driving desire had you jump in the car, close the distance in record time, only to find that hanging on the door of your destination was a sign that said "CLOSED".

Months before our marriage and honeymoon, I had the privilege of traveling down beautiful New York RT. 3 on a 94.22 mile stretch between Watertown and Tupper Lake. The drive was filled with small quaint towns, antique shops, and beautiful eye candy everywhere. I was sold and that when Yolanda and I were married this stretch of country would be part of our honeymoon itinerary. Bonus in the trip, an awesome “Sub” Shop in Tupper Lake (Just like a man ... romance of the taste buds).

With the day of the wedding left behind in the dust of recent memories, we set set out “together as one” on our first of many memorable journeys of life. We were off on an evening drive to Buffalo, New York to see Niagara falls... in the dark? from the USA side?(can't remember much of the Hotel except it was dark and we crashed in much needed sleep)... Dawn arrived ; we had breakfast ... navigated to the Falls and silently wondered ... big water... not real pretty hmm-mm! Some one told us Canada had the better view of the Falls, so we hopped over to Canada.

There we saw the Falls … WOW! We took pictures next to horse drawn carriages - metal fences - light posts ..., looked at the falls, looked at each other, visited the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum ???? looked at each other ... then hopped in the car to get to our next destination .... beautiful Watertown, New York. In the pouring rain, on a night time highway, right past the unseen Thousand Islands we experienced miles and miles of rain, frogs and fog, frogs on windshields, frogs in the fog ... until we finally arrived at our quaint Watertown Honeymoon Motel Cabin. What an adventure and test of the endurance limit of newly-wed-ness. I assured my beautiful bride that tomorrow would be an awesome sunny day with a beautiful drive, filled with heart's delights and treasures of the soul.
 
Well it was sunny, kinda . As you would have it, the best laid plans of fragile hearted men can be foiled by the unknown events that seem to hover so close to our dreamlike expectations. These subtle events can devastate us if we allow them or they can take us to places that confirm faith. The 94.22 miles of beautiful sights, shops and pleasure, care of New York’s finest road crews, had been reduced to ripped up roads, detours around tree stumps, unending mounds of trash, towns with quaint shops with "CLOSED" signs in the windows ... we never thought it would end. "Hang on! There is still hope!"... There was still that refreshing surprise awaiting for us in the heart of Tupper Lake at the end this irritating drive (Hope had kicked in even though the 2 hour drive had turned into 4).

We pulled into a parking space not far from the Sub Shop. We were tired, hungry, and bladder full … but all that was about to change because hope was becoming sight (I had bragged-up this place for quite a few miles in hopes of mending a disappointing day). We walked up to the door, and we were just about to turn the door knob when we noticed a sign on the window … “CLOSED ON TUESDAYS”. Go fish!

In a weird way we were not too disappointed. We were still tired, still thirsty, still hungry and still in need of a restroom … but something inside us told us that we had the Gift of God, the gift of each other, and opportunities ahead because we were in God's care. Years of collisions of tears and laughter, pain and healing, disappointments and new appointments, fear and faith have worked together to firm up our resolve for the Surprise ahead. The days are still providing the weird moments BUT from the day we trusted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have a growing and enduring hope that cannot be disappointed because it is beyond any human dreamlike expectation. We will not be disappointed.

I Corinthians 2:9 – “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” In the economy of the Kingdom, there is no “Closed” sign on the eternal appointments and promises of God. Dream big, the extravagance of our God's love far exceeds all of our dreams.

Happy Father's Day!

HLFA,

Jeff

Retreating Waters and Dancing Hills

Psalm 114:5-6 "What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? Thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs ?"

Standing under a moonlit sky and trying to strain to look unto the Heaven beyond the visible Heavens; is a pretty typical way to start a devotional thought so let's try another.

Awakened by the flashing light and sounds of the morning; I shook off the night and gazed through the slats of our wood-look bamboo blinds, I could already sense the day was getting well ahead of me. Running behind is aways an awkward and sometimes stressful place to be if we leave God out of the time equation. The clock is ticking for us all, and the path of time for each of us has us apprehended by the multitude of events that keep calling our name. At pertinent moments God gives us opportunities to recognize the entrance of His purpose-filled Hand into every aspect of our lives.

Every day we are offered options ... but let's focus on two that could potentially flow into one:
1. Chose to busy ourselves with our to-do-list, and acknowledge Him in all of our ways. OR
2. Chose to walk in the strategic - world shaping and world shaking power of Christ in us - The Hope of Glory!

As I sit here, wrestling with the next words that are being pecked out on a USB Keyboard and magically appearing on an iPad screen, my deepest desire is to - not waste this moment. My prayer behind the words in front of us is that something would stir in our soul that would change our days ahead. Please read the verse that started this "pecking production".

Psalm 114:5-6 "What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back? Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs ?"

Wouldn't it be awesome to see a miraculous crossing of the unmanageable seas and impassible river moments because the fluid forces move back, and become part of God's victory moment in our lives. Wouldn't it be awesome if both mountainous and hill like obstructive moments actually created a joyfully dance of sort before our eyes as we navigate through His desires for us. With His Presense in our lives the world becomes a victory adventure... Don't miss it - live it!

In order to answer the questions of the Psalmist that was asked of the Sea, of the Jordan, of the mountains and of the hills ... we must look at the verses surrounding these questions in Psalm 114. Let me pointedly abbreviate and devotioanlly expound upon them for the sake of time: When God's people realize that He is taking them out of a "God Disconnected" culture, and He is calling their praises to be His Sanctuary and His prevailing to be their Dominion... the life around them will be in flux and trembling. God wants to move the obstacles in front of His followers for the sake of souls held captive by the world and its pervasive culture. BUT WILL HIS PEOPLE WALK DAILY WITHIN HIS KINGDOM CULTURE?

News alert: Worldly Culture, no matter what geographic location, is never an excuse to violate God's Word. God's Word must be so alive in His people that cultural opposition has no power to stand. Let God be true and every man a liar. Get out of your pity party days and connect with daily victory through the God of all Glory. Let Jesus be your praise, and let your life shout His victory... The Obstacles of the World will shake before His presence with and in you. Shake it up!!

HLFA,

Jeff

Happy Birthday - 3 Score - June 8, 2014

The Risky Connection

Who really cares?
Most of our investments in life's relationships are guided by our worldly reflexes, by our flesh, by our eyes, by our pride. These things actually set themselves up as a roadblock to knowing and experiencing God's full riches that can be bestowed on us in this life. "I don't like the way this feels!" "This just doesn't look like something for me!" "I am not getting anything out of this!" (Sound familiar). What we want must be safe, distant, planned and sure; we have a very hard time with the spontaneity of the Spirit's leading...The Spirit calls us into the vast unknown - that is unsafe, near, now, and unsure, but there is where we learn to trust and truly know Him.

"My God, my God, Why hast thou forsaken me?" was not only the prophetic words cried from scripture (in Psalm 22:1)that point to and came from the suffering lips of our Savior; but these are the words that the Spirit wants us to hear groaning from the heart of people we meet daily. Risk a scary thought for a moment: What if the poster child for God's compassion was us? Would the groaning and the pain of the invisibility of loneliness be quenched even for a moment by our hesitant efforts?

                                            "Sorrow, do they ever want to cry
                                                     Do they see us pass by
                                    Where do they come from (simple answers)
                                                     Do they come falling,
                                                Falling from the sky like rain
                                              Crawling up the basement drain
                                                     Misfits and black sheep
                       Former brothers, friends of mothers" - Todd Rundgren, from "Bag Lady"

There is a discouraging hiss from Hell that says,"You can't save them all!" ... but we dare to touch even one. "And let us not be weary(spiritless - exhausted) in well doing, for in due season we shall reap , if we faint not" Gal. 6:9. You will be worn out by the thought of the magnitude of the lost world around you, but you will be blessed as you reach out in compassion to touch others one by one. A Due season of glorious reaping has to be preceded by an opportune time of loss of self. (See Galatians 2:20)

We may even fearfully pray - "O Father, Shake my place in this world" ... BUT then the trembling begins...I am undone...don't get too close...we all search for a safe distance ... Let's take the first risk (This is where we find true safety)..."Come near, Lord". From there it must be our all or nothing at all.

Eternity is a breath away ...His breath is far reaching and our breath is near...the opportune time is near. ...now...the Kingdom of God is near ...within you. Don't stand paraplegic-ally powerless and hopelessly slain by your flesh, by your eyes and by your pride... risk ,,, reach ...touch/ look ... cry ... love/ ... then share openly: Jesus, your hope for today and forever.

                                     "There is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow
                                       There is only now and that hardly matters
                                              No one cares about sad old ladies
                                                      With bags full of tatters"

                                                 "One day it gets a bit too cold
                                    Maybe a little too wet, maybe a little too lonely
                                         Lifelessly she lies amidst her bag world
                           But maybe she's only sleeping" Todd Rundgren, from "Bag Lady"

Mt 25:45 - "Then shall He answer them, saying , Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

Lord, Awake your Love, within me.

HLFA,

Jeff

The Proposal

Most would not admit it because we try so hard in life not to get too emotionally attached to the moment. We are more worried about what people think about what we look like in the moment (for fear that our appearance will bring shame or embarrassing verbal "buzz" about us), than being fully alive without inhibition (...wow, to be fully alive?).

It is OK for kids to be a little out of control of their emotions, but adults, the "big people", to appear to be too intimately connected to a moment will usually result in the crowning declaration "why don't you grow up!" Oh, by the way, people who get too quickly pulled into a situation emotionally, could be experiencing a neurological disorder and there are drugs to control that (go figure???). I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Satan wants God's kids numb and unresponsive; because if the Kingdom message can stay hung under a veil of stupor like or emotionless responses, God's active love will not be seen in the world.

Psalm 103:1 "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name." "BLESS" let's paint a picture!

The moment was right. They were fully alive. Heavens romance dance was following its spirit led choreographed steps in perfect time to the beat of two hearts. All eternity was in favor of love. He gently held her hands so to cause a purpose filled pause in the moment ... with locked gazes so full of wonder and amazement and admiration; the silence of the moment seemed to have all of creation holding its breath.

And then it happened; he slowly dropped to one knee without releasing his gentle grip of her hands and without breaking the glory filled gaze into her eyes. There seemed to be an otherworldly tremble in this moment as perhaps millions of angels and billions of stars held there praises of the Holy One, silent for just this moment.

He was not about to cheapen his adoration of this beautiful gift from God standing before him. He wouldn't dare restrain even a grain of a mustard seed of emotion; for if "all that was in him" was not "all for this moment" then what would be perceived of the value he placed on the object of his love?
His heart could not risk rejection for it would break to never be mended, but he would sooner live the rest of his life with a totally devastated soul than to never have risked all for love.

To bless The Lord , is like an eternal marriage proposal. Fear not to risk all that your are for all that He is. Position all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind, all of your strength for full adoration of The Lord your God. He will never turn your love away... He will not leave you disappointed.

Gently grasp His hand, gain His gaze, fall to your knees and sing His praise as He offers you all that He is ... for all that you are.

HLFA,

Jeff

Loving His Appearing

II Timothy 4:8 - “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Key words ..."laid up"... such an intimate statement of God's tender care of his children… please read on and see the Lord's tender placement of the crown of righteousness:
“laid up” - to lie, to place gently.
The King appeared in all His glory (scared brow, hands,feet and side). Majestically He arrived at the center of our garden of fragility. His hands carefully lowered a Heavenly wreath upon the brow of our brokenness. In the placement of this wreathed crown, His eyes wept tears of fullest understanding. As a cool invigorating rain pouring over the feelings of our infirmities, He would begin the process of washing away the pain of our stained and pained existence.
“laid up” - of an infant
(Years ago, but like yesterday)While we were still in the numbness of the moment, I was asked to do a task that my mind only goes to if the Lord takes me there. Our first little gift from Heaven, Justin, was born to be delivered back to Heaven after Six short days. As we gathered together in the funeral home to get our third and last glimpse of him before they would seal him into his tiny little hope chest, the funeral director asked me if I would like to hold Justin for a moment, while he prepared his tiny little burial vessel for sealing. Before my lips could respond, the little guy's lifeless body was placed in my arms. I have never held the stillness, the emptiness, the brokenness of death's intimate but indiscriminate separation until that moment. My heart and my mind swirled in a chaotic rush of conflicting winds and voices, but one voice, so small yet so still, held my heart - "Trust me, I love you!". Then it happened, I was asked to gently place Justin in his final tiny treasure box. O the tears we shared!
“laid up”- of one buried.
We stood by the graveside...so final, yet so promising. The gentle loving words spoken to us by the Pastor that was ministering in that moment, was not the typical "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" type of rhetoric, but was a powerful spirit filled conjecture of the nearness of our God in these situations, and the assurance that we were specially chosen, not outcasts."Little babies are not born in Heaven, and every once in awhile God chooses a special couple to send their baby on ahead, so that Heaven can enjoy the sights, sounds and joys of a little one there".  His words helped to bring us closer to Jesus.
“laid up”- of things that quietly cover some spot.
The little bronze grave placard was gently and reverently set in place to cover the moment, the loss, the shame, the feeling of abandonment. Ever to be there for visits and memory... as a reminder of God's loving Presence in our times of greatest need.
“laid up”- of a city situated on a hill.
Though some would walk away and cast a shroud of sorrow and bitterness over that moment. We would carry the sorrow, the bitterness and the shroud, but the moment would be liberated by "the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". This moment with Him would be a monument standing tall in our "city on a hill" reminding us that God loves us though our hearts may be ransacked by the joy thieves of this world. Their sad song will only be sung for a while, but so very soon a New Song is coming.

Jesus is set in place for every child of the King. He strengthens our earthly vessel. He endears us to His Throne of Grace. He allows us to look beyond the confusion sown on this side of Heaven. He is the Hope laid up together for us. He is the foundation that cannot be shaken. He is our eternal love appointment. He is the first and final Word of the Law of Love. He is our destiny. We are His, and He is ours. And this is where the power of the evil one becomes powerless and impotent. Here is where the bonds of wickedness will be broken. Jesus is our Victory; love his appearing!

As God watches over our feeble efforts to longingly look for His epiphanies (appearances)in our lives, He gives us snapshots of the tender care that are actually shadows of the placement of this crown of righteousness. Some day, and soon, He will break into the strongholds of this world and steal us away to His side forever... And this will be everlasting Joy and our new song ... forever.

HLFA,

Jeff

Her Friend Named Cancer


It was a quiet little room, but comfortable in its simple furnishings. There was a large window beside
the bed that opened to a view of a world that wrapped itself around a small scantily frequented bird feeder. The sun would gently sweep the windows toward the end of the day with all the colors that creation could muster up for that moment. And with the curtains pulled in the evening, the moon would still manage to squeeze a few loving wisps of soft night light into the little room. Whatever the intensity or color of the light, it would always grace the cheeks of her beautiful face in a way that made her radiate the love of her Saviour. This was her room with the final view.
She had diligently cared for two husbands that had been taken home to Heaven by cancer. She stayed close by to comfort them in their suffering; to coddle and to cradle them in the loving care that only “The Saviour” could extend through her to them. Her tears would trace through the lines on her face until they would end up emptying into her smile as she would assure them ... “Jesus has all things ready”, and “We will all see you soon!” This scene was filled with such otherworldly compassion that it had power to shake the coldest of visitors, that they too would consider their end. Some had even said, “I wish I had a wife and Mother like you!” ; and she would let them know that their greatest need was Jesus, and in trusting Him they could have Heaven as their home too.

Some would say to her in her last days (without thinking)… “Theresa, you cared so graciously for two husbands who died from cancer, isn't it ironical that God would allow you to suffer with cancer also? You must hate cancer?”. Mom's response was amazing … “How can I hate something that is taking me to Jesus? Cancer is my friend, not my enemy.” Oh, she would wince and groan with pain, and desire that it go away, but in the same breath thank God for the moments that she could still spend with those she loved.

It was my privilege (for just a few happenstance moments) to come upon her while she was napping or sleeping what appeared to be a sleep of great contentment (though many times she would awake to pain caused by her friend named Cancer). Upon placing a gentle kiss on her forehead (to my delight), her eyelids would flutter, her beautiful multi-hued brown eyes would twinkle with excitement, and her face would radiate with a welcoming smile. Then she would say with such passionate emotion, “Oh, I am so glad to see you, I've been waiting for you … Jesus!” Then with a childlike giggle she would say “Just practicing; but I am so glad to see you too, my Preacher Son”.

Was Mom perfect … far from it, but she knew that her God was perfect, even if she could only see bits and pieces of that perfection through her suffering. Mom would not want a single “jot or tittle” of credit for this written memory of her; her desire would be that we would know that Jesus loves us. She would say, “If Jesus can love me, surely He loves you!”

To be part of the practice session of a saint longing for Heaven is a moment that has no words to express the anchoring of the soul in that moment. For some strange reason I almost felt the clapping of the wings of angels as they celebrated near by in response to that form of humble exultation. She never saw Jesus with her naked eyes, but through the eyes of her heart she saw clearly the active promises of His Word fulfilled in her life . She never physically tasted the sweet realities of eternity's wonders, but still positioned her flesh to the urges of the spirit. Though the flesh was being ravaged by the pain of cancer's suffering, it could not completely quench the gentle praises of her soul set free.

O, If daily we could stay so longingly amazed with the love of our Lord, that the value of knowing Him would capture our moments in such a way that others would be caused to love Him also. “And now little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. I John 2:28
Happy Mother's Day 2014 –
In Loving Memory of Mom, Theresa Dean Redding Lambe
"Mom, we love Jesus more because of you!"

HLFA,

Jeff