The Third Hour Syndrone


“Man, there seems to be no way to take care of these five cowlicks, and I have that interview this morning” , I shouted out from the bathroom toward my wife. The redounding reply rolled down the hallway to where I stood, “Just Gel it to the max!”... {Don't believe everything you have heard or seen on T(takeaway your brain)V(vision sucker) – less is not best when you have five cowlicks ...glob it on, furiously rub it in, and tug, peck, and pull until the mess appears somewhat uniform.} My final inspector approved of the "look", and then watched me as I went out to drive the short journey that would lead to the interview of a lifetime. Had to make it by the Third hour … can't be late.

What a name for an organization, (Oh well!) “Best Servants Plus”?... This could be the place the Lord would have me; “and remember they called you”, it wasn't the other way around. If the building wasn't impressive enough, the protocol and the security would send your Dad's false teeth for a flight. Beyond the massive gilded entry doors awaited a state of the art security screening station that led to a massive foyer filled with lush jungle type of foliage accentuated by cascading water falls and babbling brooks. The first class nature of this organization was making me feel a little under dressed (though I was dressed to meet the King of the Universe if need be!). Checking my watch it was almost the Third hour.

No time wasted … I was led into a “business only” but not too stuffy, stately decorated, meeting room that had a very large wooden table as the center piece. The walls of the room were decorated with interspersed bookshelves and mirrors, making it easy for me to check my appearance out from most every angle. My escort directed me to a single chair at the far end of the table, and then left me to my self. Thank God for the walk by the mirrors … last chance to look my best. I bowed my my head and committed the following moment to the Lord. Just minutes until the Third Hour.

Have you ever been stared at by a stranger, trust me it is a little unnerving. The door at the far end of the room opened and in walked six individuals dressed for “the kill”. Not sure if I was to be humbled by their appearance or humiliated by mine; but my choice was to lay my life before them and let the Father guide the meeting. Not a single eye strayed and all seemed aimed in my direction. They appeared unnerved and taken back (too much gel? Something stuck in my teeth? … Jeff, remain calm).

This was really tough … not a word was spoken by the individuals, but each stood one by one and seemed to have the same response … Their eyes teared up, their heads began to bow, their bodies trembled and they sat down. Truly this was the weirdest interview I had ever been subjected to. Something caught my eye in the mirrors around me (I was not the only one seen in the mirrors).

There were images flashing in the mirrors: a chunk of rough wood, a flailing of lashes carrying blood covered flesh, bare soiled bloodied feet, torn bloody hands now gripping the wood, blood and sweat matted hair, jagged barbaric thorns entrenched into the flesh of the brow, a cruel glistening hammer dropping down upon a rough forged nail, a hand moving seizure-like with each collision of hammer and nail, the faces of so many horrified and detached individuals, a “t” like shadow raised to the sky, and then... the face. The bruised, bloodied and battered face that had been cruelly punched beyond recognition was now in every every mirror looking up, staring out of the pain, but wreaking a strange and faraway love. None of us could look long with out uncontrollably weeping. It was the Third Hour.

The room was now vacated by the six silent interviewers. The mirrors were blank with no reflection. And all seemed to darken as I was left to myself. I was held without speech, but a still almost wind-like voice came to me … “For you, the third hour was because of and for you!” Mark 15:25 “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.” The Third Hour Syndrome – have you been diagnosed with it? I hope you are contagious.

HLFA,

Jeff

Conundrum, In the Way?

In the way? I have a conundrum that I would like to give away. No, I'm not talking about some sort of rhythm instrument that sooner or later will irritate because of the incessant pounding thereof. I have a conundrum – a dilemma, a quandary, a difficulty, a question – that may only have a conjectural answer.

I have heard good people say “I don't get much out of reading the Bible.” This kind of statement breaks my heart. Without the Word in a persons life, there may be activity and there may be visible gifted living, BUT life without the Word will be ... void of lasting truth, eternal connection, and may be in danger of eternal separation from the God who made us. The conundrum - Are you in the way?

In the way! He couldn't see. He spent his days learning in darkness. He truly had no personal name because of his blindness. His blindness had disconnected him from the full movement of life. Life as the “sighted” knew it, was beyond his reach insomuch that he was just known as the blind son of another. The father's name that he was associated with left anyone knowing the language of the day wondering... Son of “Highly Prized” or Son of “Most Defiled”... But what is his name? Oh it doesn't matter, just another blind man in the way! (It mattered to God because this man with the conundrum of a name would soon be intimately associated with Jesus.)Mark 10:46 – “And they came to Jericho (place of fragrance): and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.”

Blind Bartimaeus' moment with Jesus in Mark 10 unveils in his story the spiritual reality of the crossroad or the defining moment that we all will and must face. Our very existence (because it carries both the potential delight of a treasured blessing and/or the burden of a grotesque curse) depends on our response to the Savior in that moment. When Jesus enters the landscape of our lives, light begins to shine on the lost-ness of our “life without Him”, and when we cry out, He will be there ...in the way.

Let's follow the progression in Mark 10:46-52  – 1. Begging - his existence vs.46;  2. Sensing Hope is near, he cries out of his existence - “Jesus of Nazareth – have mercy on me!” vs.47;  3. Resisting the “Shut up!” of many, he cries louder using the Word of Prophecy - Son of David, have mercy on me!” vs. 48;   4. Jesus responds to the heart cry from the Word and the intimate connection is orchestrated – - “And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, BE OF GOOD COMFORT, RISE, HE CALLETH THEE.” vs. 49;  5. He throws away his beggar's garment and comes to Jesus (no turning back) vs. 50;  6. At the imploring of Jesus, he requests the restoration of his lost sight – Lord, that I might receive my sight, (if but for a moment).” vs 51;  7. Jesus declares that his faith, though broken and momentary, has made him whole. Note: at this point he had the choice to “Go thy way!”... His choice, “and he followed Jesus in the way.” vs. 52.

Special question for our hearts' discussion: What do you think happened to the “name conundrum” that this man carried to Jesus - Son of “Highly Prized” or “Most Defiled”? Could he have been given a NEW NAME?

Although the story ended at verse 52 … It should be our story, daily, “and we followed Jesus (with intense desire to know Him) in the way". Although while following Jesus in the way, we may get in the way of others, let's position ourselves to be calling ...“Be of good comfort, Jesus is calling you!”

Study scripture(The Bible), believing it is the Word of God. With this perspective we will find that it is a spiritual treasure trove, a “life quickening”hope chest, and a love feast for the heart that will truly allow us to know The Lover of the Soul. When we open the pages and fasten our eyes to the words before us, know that God has prepared a sustaining wellspring that constantly challenges and changes our perspective of the depth of His love for us.

In the Way?

HLFA,

Jeff

Grace Imagination

{Nope, I didn't see the movie, but, daily, I am faced with the floods of negative influences that neutralize the imagination of God's people and that stymie their ability to see God above it all.}

Genesis 6:5 – “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” In the days of Noah (his name means”rest” or “resting place”) Mankind had unshackled their thoughts from the protection of the guardhouse of life, and re-shackled their hearts to rebellion against Heaven's love.. They decided they would forget God and live in any way that momentarily pleased their insatiable lusts. They had opened their minds and opened their hearts, not to God's Grace, but to every imagination that would paint the picture that God was the enemy, the spoil sport, the party pooper, the bummer, the dream hater; they truly believed that God was there to make their lives miserable. Every disappointment and every tragedy was God's fault. They were a generation whose eyelids were lifted up as they closed their eyes and hearts to God. “BUT Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8 (Sound familiar?)

"Noah, you imagine way too much about how God has set in motion the events of your life". "You are just not that important." “You make such a big deal over things that really don't matter, and things that you haven't even seen.” “Who do think you are that God would would speak directly to you?”

Even the Psalmist sat back amazed with his head spinning at the goodness of God as he thought out loud ..."What is man that Thou art mindful of him and his offspring (those further down the pecking order) that You even begin to take notice and care for" Psalm 8:4. Finding that God's care for us goes way beyond space and time can capture our hearts in a way that allows us live aware of the Grace entries that encompass our lives.

Let's do a Grace exercise with scripture and find the treasure therein: let's invert Genesis 6:5 – “And God saw that the righteousness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was Godly, God worthy and God-ward only continually”. Listen up! … To those who have been birthed from on-high by Grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ: Your righteousness in the earth is JESUS – there is none greater, there is none higher. You have been unshackled from the chains of sin to allow the imagination of your thoughts to soar high and long in the loving favor of your God. He knew your day even before your were formed in your mothers womb. His plan for you was then, is now and forever shall be ... “Love”.

Is thinking that God loves us enough to truly order our steps, prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies, and count us as His Beloved ... presumptuous? Our wrestling match with sin and our flesh fed desire has already created a disconnect of major proportions that daily plagues us with a spiritual nearsightedness. Let our God-ward imagination be opened!

Psalm 57:6 - “They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down : they have digged a pit before me”, (… And this enemy has a snare to strangle the steps of our dreams, desiring to cause us to fall and bow before a grave prepared for the end of us and any God-ward thoughts of love … BUT ) “into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah”. (Note to self: Let me not be my own worst enemy with negative self talk.)

We say we believe God loves us but reluctantly (Why?), possibly because we allow the current painful events of our lives or bitter historical scars to paint a blurred picture of God's active love for us. Momentary disappointments and bigoted history can be savage and careless erasers of the Grace moments in our lives. Grace moments should be cherished with prayer and adorned with praise that the storehouse of our imagination never be plundered by the enemy. Psalm 57:11- “Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let Thy glory be above all the earth”. God's supply of Grace is for us and is unlimited. I have a funny feeling that we can't over exaggerate God's love for us.

O God, please let our imaginations run wild in the extravagance of your love plans for us. And may we have that Childlike stubbornness that stands and cries “My Daddy is Stronger than yours!”

HLFA,

Jeff

Let Him

Can I encourage you today? I saw that look on your face. I felt the tremor of resistance shaking in your soul. What has happened to the beauty of faith that was a seamless part of your life? Why are you wearing ashes day by day and living as if there was no hope, no faith, no eternity, no God? Why do you curse life around you just because it smiles, laughs and seems so free of pain (you know it is only a fading illusion)? What is going on in your soul?

Mark 8:33 – “But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” Are we treating as “most important” the opinions, the possessions, the plans, the temporal things of men? Peter, like most of us, had an issue with the reality that – “good things on this side of Heaven do come to an end”. He was enjoying the blessing of the moment with Jesus, and when that state of contentment was threatened by Jesus’ announcement of his imminent death, it threw Peter into a position of denial of the words of Jesus.

Luke 22:31 – “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” I am quite sure that Satan’s plan for us is the same as it was for Peter. Satan craves to move us away from where we could be with Christ - right now - so that he can separate us from the fruit of our life with Christ. He wants to rob us of the key ingredients of the Bread of life, and leave us wallowing in the fruitless, left over, inedible, shredded stalks of this temporal life. Why is it that we now hold in disdain some passages of scripture that we once cherished as precious promise? Are we being sifted?

Luke 13:16 – “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” The truth is that you will only be encouraged if you desire to be encouraged. There is a strange point in the lives of believers that encouragement may not be desired because we are so worn down by the repeated attacks of Evil, that we are convinced that we are done and we are castaway. We feel, somehow, we have been passed over by the grace of God. We stare so long at the blessings that others appear to have that we lose sight of God’s tender mercies that are “new every morning” and available to us.

GOD KNOWS HOW FRAGILE WE REALLY ARE and HE TRULY CARES FOR US ... LET HIM. Hear the cries of our God in favor of us. Hear the cries of our God who is always on our side. Hear the shouts of our God who wants us loosed and let go. Hear the pleas of our loving Savior, Jesus, saying …”Come unto me, all ye that labour (exhausted from trying and failing), and are heavy laden (loaded down with burdens of care), and I will give you rest (a reason to recover, refresh and bring you back into the patient anticipation of hope). Jesus is our reason to Recover.

Please do not turn your ears and heart from the desires of Jesus captured above – “AND OUGHT NOT THIS ONE BE LOOSED FROM THIS BOND?” Jesus wants to free you from the oppression that has neutralized your soul… Let Him.

Maybe you won’t let me encourage you today … but please, Let Him.

HLFA,

 Jeff

Activate Kevin


Psalm 119:25 – “My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to Thy word.” Come on! I have snow and ice all over my car, and you, a hotel employee standing there idle with a broom in your hand … doing nothing! I started scraping my windshield but turned momentarily to see you catering to a well-dressed individual with a luxury car. (I mutter to myself – “Go figure!”) In that moment I just about wrote you off as another useless gift to mankind and a sorry representative of your Hotel chain … Note to self: I don’t even want to know his name. {I’m thinking under the influence of my scars.} But He knows you by name …Kevin! {Now, I’m thinking under the influence of Jesus’ scars!}

Smack dab in the middle! Caught in the cross fire! Wrong place, wrong time! Call it what you want, but this world’s brokenness is caused by a constant gnawing wicked desire for more power, more possessions, and more preeminence. It is bad enough when the ”simple ones” latch on to this plundering way of life; but when those who are positioned for “greatness” have hearts corrupted by lust. Woe unto anyone getting in the way of their unchecked and uncontrolled desires! Many of us can attest to self-inflicted wounds obtained by our own insatiable thirst for sin and unrighteousness. And without a whole lot of coaching, any one of us can easily tell stories of scars of abuse that we have incurred while being caught in the way of another’s relentless pursuit of self-fulfillment.

In Psalm 36:1-4, Observable characteristics the human condition are listed: 1. No fear of God. 2. A pride fed self-image. 3. Troublesome and deceptive speech. 4. Anger towards wisdom and kindness. 5. No rest, just scheming. 6. Animosity against the goodness of others. 7. Evil is not despised but espoused. Romans 3:23 states: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. THIS IS imbedded in OUR FALLEN HUMAN DNA, and it will surface to our embarrassment at the most inopportune times. Don’t you dare plea ignorance nor purport immunity while connected to this dust! WE will either be problem antagonizers or solution activators. Watch how you push other people’s buttons!

An icy snow flake actually hit me in the eye just as I was about to release a verbal dagger of self fulfilment - PUSH HIS BUTTONS! Then a still small voice said, “Come now let us reason together saith the Lord; though your sin be a scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”. Suddenly, I found myself weaving this verse into the conversation that would take place. This “Word” would activate this man’s faith and bring tears to him and me.

TO MEET KEVIN WAS TO LOVE KEVIN: Broken past but a God-promised future, Graying hair with a youthful praying heart, limping walk with purpose for the King, a castaway in this world but Kingdom cherished; though blind in one eye, he actually had clearer vision than most of us to trust the power of God in everyday living. He prays over every room that he maintains that the next weary travelers will not only find rest for their bodies, but rest for their souls. Psalm 36:10 –“O continue Thy loving kindness unto them that know Thee; and Thy righteousness to the upright in heart”.
I would not have known Kevin had I not spoken the Word, which immediately brought him and me to life. God calls us from the fading and failing rewards of the dust to be activators of faith through His spoken Word.

Rise up in courage, O Faith Activators, live openly and loudly for the sake of our King. Your grateful songs of mercy from the dust of your day will create a believable message to call others to God’s Way.

Speak His Word into the lives of others.

HLFA,

Jeff

Left Behind

I truly hate it when life becomes a blur and a burden. When the aches and pains of living here on this side of Heaven halt and maim our vessels of clay, we are usually expected to manage our affairs as if the affliction didn't exist. If the affliction slows us down and impedes our forward movement, very few will wait for us, and we are soon left behind. Being left behind is a an ever darkening place to be, and the darker it gets it seems that even people close to us willingly withdraw, possibly for fear of a contagion.

In this day of instant information, gratification, and communication; instant access, service, and success; rapid provision, transit, and delivery; fast decisions, energy, and food; virtual meetings,transactions, and relationships; ... AND all sold to us as a way to make our lives better (and in many ways it does but); those who are handicapped by technological disconnect, assumption, time and circumstance will be a constraint to the success of this “get it now”- “Driven to Success” society.

Survival of the fittest is not just an evolutionary theory, it has become a dogma and the rule of thumb for personal and interpersonal valuation. "Can't keep up? Get left behind!" No one has time for the personal pain of another individual unless they are strategically critical to the over-riding success of the masses. For example ...“Who needs unwanted and untimely pregnancies, handicapped children, and the continual drain on normal society's resources caused by the critically ill and the failing health of the elderly” as hissed by Mr. “B”. “And how about the useless, the slow learner, the unproductive laborer, and the hopelessly poor?” "Don't forget the religiously intolerant and non-conformist?"

Psalm 43:5 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”
Years ago, just prior to my Dad's “Home-going”, I tried to carry encouragement to my Dad as he lay in discomfort after surgery to remove cancerous brain tumors. When I walked in the hospital room and heard Dad's quiet but repetitious moans; God's Word took me to the verse above as it calmly washed through my soul to Dad as a song. As I began to sing the song, I watched as Dad tried to hum along with the melody. As little pearl like tears, beaded up and dropped from the corner of his eyes (and mine), my prayer for Dad was that he would know that he was loved, and that he still was of great value to his family, his friends and his God. Just as the message of Christ carried hope to my Dad, the message of Christ is critical to the hope of an individual and a nation. Fear not to carry His hope into your life and live that hope loudly!

Isaiah 61:1 – This was read by Jesus in the synagogue ... “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the LORD hath anointed Me to preach the good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; ...(It continues on through verse 3) … The underlying truth is … Jesus is there for the abandoned and downcast, and we should be too.

I have a sneaking suspicion that God is “in the midst” of the encouragement of the downcast. He draws close to those that we abandon; and to withdraw from them means that we miss the blessing of the fullness of His encouragement. In my years of ministering I have found that God gives special access to the fullness of His Spirit to encourage those who are discounted, marked down and written off.

I truly feel that His spirit is grieved by many of us today, who are in the habit of cursing castaways and throwing away the strangers and misfits, instead of making a viable connection via our own brokenness. Do you realize the obscenity of the broken cursing the broken? {It was there on the Day Christ died. Remember the cursing malefactors on the other two crosses? … The Man in the middle never cursed back, but He was there to bless anyone who decided to see with the heart instead of the eye}.

Have we as believers wandered so far from our broken need for the Cross, that we can transcend to a lifestyle of negligence toward other broken ones for whom Christ died? What if at the end of our days, we received comfort only in proportion to the comfort whereby we comforted the broken ones? Where would our comfort be?

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40 … Done What? Life in Christ is a constant connecting of our brokenness in Christ to needs of others to bring healing via the message of Christ.

Oh, to Treat the broken as we would treat Jesus ... don't miss the daily opportunity!

HLFA,

Jeff

The Cup and The Owl

There they were once again, gathered around the field of battle. As ravenous wolves, they stood lurching, snarling , salivating, and positioning to pounce; but in a moment they were caught way off guard, as the King appeared at the edge of the battlefield.

He gracefully and wondrously sauntered to the center of the open field with his robe flowing on the wind. The train of it spread out gloriously covering the field around Him. So amazing was the scene that the enemy crouched backward in a death-stance position as they were caught totally off guard by the scene before them. Extremely focused, the King turned and whirled creating such a turbulent movement that the wind thereof began to ripple through the surrounding trees. The wind sent dead branches a flight as arrows spraying in all directions away from the clearing that the King was preparing. With every turn there appeared marvelous provision. All the elements of a royal banquet were miraculously being assembled on a massive golden banquet table. Though the table was seen shadowed by a cross, it was being prepared by the King.

Soon there was the sound of musical voices resounding from the opposing forest toward the far edge of the field. A song was being sung by a procession of unremarkable invalids who began hobbling onto the battlefield. Though maimed, lame, halt, deaf and blind, they sang with amazing resilience and power ...
“Our Lord, The LORD GOD, is our Shepherd, with His pasturing we have no lack, no unfulfilled need, no gnawing hunger … He is our Desire, our Thirst or Hunger and we are satisfied.”
“He causes us to stretch out our lives safely into new fresh green pastures, He carefully guides us into cool, clear, clean and restful refreshment.”
“He always revives us with restored soulful strength. He leads us in the clearly marked way of His Righteousness, for the sake of His Name, His reputation, and His fame.”
“Yes, though we come and go through the deep vale of death's shadow, we will not have our fearful wonder held captive by any malignant, threatening evil. It is only a shadow.”
“You are with us, Your ultimate authority and Your undeniable support, they are an ever constant protective comfort for us.”
“You have prepared this marvelous royal banquet table for us; right in plain view, right under the noses of our most threatening enemies … MY CUP RUNNETH OVER!”

The song stopped here for a moment, the enemy was listlessly still and all but powerless because of these four words - “My cup runneth over!” This language was strange and ancient but it held an allegorical truth that had power to defeat the enemy. What did the enemy hear? – “My Cup and My Owl (Hebrew word – kowc or koce) are ever satisfied to overflowing”. Our life is described in this passage as A cup, a stationary vessel of self-containment; and an Owl, a vessel of flight-risk unclean self-desire. …..................“Application Please!!!”

We all have lives that are seen and unseen. We all have resounding desires that jockey for control for the cup and the owl. On the outside of “The Cup”, we want to appear successful; and to do this control is very important. On the inside of “The Owl”, we constantly hunt for the unclean desires of darkness and the forbidden pleasures that are cloaked by the night; to do this we take unholy risks. Both The Cup and The Owl need to be fed, but the fancies and the fantasies of this present world only bring us momentary pleasures that end in eternal dissatisfaction and ruin. We need to sing out by experience that “My Cup and Owl runneth over!”

The royal banquet prepared by Jesus was not only for our personal salvation from Hell and the enemy, but was to provide a moment by moment satiating, saturating and overflowing relationship through His Word and Spirit. This relationship abundantly adorns the seen, and overwhelming satisfies the wandering desires. We desperately need to come and dine! Then we will finish the song -

-“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23 ----

My wants and My desires are satisfied to overflowing because of You, Jesus.

HLFA,

Jeff

The Handicap - Beyond the One-Way Glass

“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Why art Thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” Psalm 22:1

The line up was now complete. Though I would be standing behind a thick sheet of one-way glass, I still felt like the suspects would be able see me. This would not be your typical police station lineup by any stretch of the imagination, as confirmed by the extensive controls and security. It was told to me that I was being given the opportunity to see if I recognized the culprit or culprits that were suspected of plundering mankind’s dreams. “Remember!”

Something didn't seem right about this situation though. I was being called on to recognize and positively identify someone or something that I wasn't sure I had ever seen. In the process I would be face to face with people and events that supposedly had collided with my life. The collision had carried with it the full intent of bringing misery to my remaining days on the planet. I would be able to (with a single finger) cast the full weight of condemnation onto whomever or whatever I chose. I was ensured that this was an opportunity of a lifetime, but I was starting to feel that this was a ploy to rob me of my future security. “Just take a peek ...what will it hurt?” “Point em' out and they will be gone!” “Dragged away, chained up, cast out, and the key thrown away!” “Remember NOW!”

When I peered through the one-way glass, I was shocked by what I saw... the perpetrator was me; I was standing there in all of my pitiful anti-glory; shaking violently; pointing back at myself and screaming “I told you so!”... “God has it in for you!” … “He is the one who has allowed pain and hindered happiness!” ... “He is has limited your goals, your dreams and your health and caused your misery!” I was Horrified by what I was experiencing. Even worse, I found myself agreeing. I sensed the weight of the chains of shame that were now rattling outside the door of my wounded heart.

Ecclesiastes 12: 1 “Remember now thy Creator ...” Here is a necessary imperative found to urge us to remember “NOW”, in the present, the personal creative handiwork of our God. Though this memory will be constantly threatened, here pleas the challenge to call to mind the personal intimate love entries of our Creator . “In the days of thy youth”... Just as a historian will be searching for the story behind antiquity, we need to be carrying His-Story daily into the events that make up our day. His-Story, openly remembered by us, will activate the discovery of the true eternal value of this moment for us and others. “NOW is the accepted time, TODAY is the day of the Savior's sufficiency … If you hear Jesus' loving voice, harden not your heart.”

Our greatest flaw, our greatest self-inflicted wound is our ability to turn days into years, and then turn the years into an ominous mile marker that disqualifies us from the daily youthful discovery of God's active love for us. Shame on the media mongers who deify “Youth”, and the maintaining of it as the only evidence of the blessed life. We can pump up, plump up, fix up, color up, cover up until the shell could stand and rot from within without anyone knowing. Or we can actively under-gird our eternal souls “daily” with continued love entries from His Word, combined with gratefully taking care of this temporal tent of sojourning. ...“While the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Eccl. 12:1.

Oh, may the image of us, behind the one-way glass of our darkest hours, be discovered praising God instead of accusing Him. May we be caught reveling in glorious memories of our God's love, instead of groveling in lonely disappointed bitterness. When all of our physical strength is truly gone, may we be left with a courageous memory, indelibly stamped by His-Story; so that when the evil days come, and the years draw nigh that we shall say then ...“I have my full pleasure in Him!”.

Remember – He bore the ultimate forsaking that we may have the ultimate cherishing.

HLFA,

Jeff

The Nothing

Saturday morning, February 15, 2014 – Nothing! I woke up several times hoping to sense the leading of the Spirit as in every other Friday Midnight to Saturday morning, but nothing. I went to scripture like always to stir up any dormant thoughts or reach out to a few wisps of a God breathed thought of that had wandered into my heart throughout the week. (There was some really good stuff there too). From Midnight to 5:50AM there was nothing.

Earlier in the week, I had a momentary vision of a bunch of people … friends and family members chained to the remains of an antiquated chunk of history. The remains of the top of a massive support column was now secured to a large concrete pad, and though from another time and former glory it was a fixed part of the lives of the individuals in the vision(of whom I was one). We were sightseeing and really couldn't see much because of the restrictive movement caused by the chains. Strange thing though, we seemed oblivious to the chains, and we would stop where the chains would hinder us. We would use the chains' hindrances as a comfortable excuse for the loss of vision for the moment.

 (Okay, maybe this is something but let's not get too distracted ...That was earlier in the week and this is now … I am stuck with nothing!)

Job 26: 7 - “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.”

Do you realize that in the portion of the life of Job that we find in Scripture, that for 37 of the 42 chapters of the snap shot of his life... He had nothing? Oh, I know that there could be theological and intellectual arguments that could be caused by that question but please hear me out and there may be a blessing for us all tied to the end of this writ.

The reality of Job's life was chained to the antiquity of the human predicament. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.  He had loss of loved ones, loss of wealth, loss of health, loss of trust, loss of reputation, loss of respect, loss of the appearance of goodness, loss of soundness, loss of peace, loss of comfort, the separation and the grief that accompanied the loss … but to to grapple with finding something that could be done about the loss, separation and the grief … He had nothing. Nothing until God stepped in to Job's moment. From chapter 38 and on – God fills the nothing.

We are all chained to some extent to what is left of any former glory. We are all challenged by our circumstances that keep taking us to moments of being stuck with “nothing”. We try our best to shrug off the moments or tell ourselves “this too will pass”... but we do this to the detriment of the greatest relationship in all of eternity.

The God who stretches, bends and forms direction over the empty places of life wants to creatively fabricate worth over our “nothing”. The God who hangs the massive substance of the whole Earth on nothing wants to hang purposeful substance on your moments when you have nothing.

Like the folks in the glimpse of the earlier thought this week, the chains of nothing will continue to limit our vision by holding us back from seeing what is in and beyond the moments when we feel we are left with nothing. God is in the delays, God is in the exhaustion, God is in the loss, God is in the defeat, God is in the separation, God is in the grief, God is in the isolation, God is in the confusion, God is in the disappointment, … when we feel “We've got nothing!” be encouraged; God is in the nothing.

Don't be satisfied with the Nothing, unless God is filling it. Luke 15:5

HLFA,

Jeff

Get Caught in the Act

During an early morning cruise in the “Radar” Red Outlander on I-70W in Maryland, somewhere ahead of us, we could see a bright flash of light. As we moved forward through the heavily signed, 55 mph speed limit, construction zone … we looked down at the speedometer with the confidence that we would not be “flashed” by the roadside camera. That Camera loves to shoot those pictures of your license plate, and deliver them to your doorstep with a $200.00(+) fine.

{There is one of the sad things about this planet; when you are doing right no one notices, no “flash” pictures are taken, no $200.00 reward is sent your way, and righteousness is left in anonymity.}How does this fit in this weeks diatribe? I guess we will have to wait to the end to find out.

Woe, what dream this morning! It was a culmination of my years of dealing with America's unruly but wonderful youth. Here is the “Quick Pic” of the dream: Sixty or so rambunctious teens of various ages, gender, nationality and social standing, leaning, sitting, slouching, etc.; all in one room. The room had two glass entrance doors on one wall, two blank side walls, and the wall opposite the doors had large windows to the outside world all along it. Through the glass entry doors peered faces that could have been used for “Far Side” models. Out side the windows on the opposite wall there was a muddy wrestling match between a giant and a midget that had mud slinging everywhere. The crowd of young people inside the room seemed to care less about anything but their 100db conversations.
I, apparently, was assigned the task to challenge these youth.

The call for “Please open your Bibles”, produced everything but Bibles (science fiction mags and novels, ratty clad lust novels, soiled covered books, splattered goo paged books, comic books, National Geographic Magazines, dictionaries, and books labeled “Bible” that contained a Hodge-podgy of anything but the Bible). AND Somehow the guest speaker (Me) … didn't even have a Bible. The time with the teens became a furious and chaotic search for a Bible so that we could “turn to Revelation 2(???).” (Never happened!)

Between the grotesque looking old folk peering through the doors, the weird muddy wrestling match outside, the unruly teens inside, and the frustrated screaming leader inside … I could stand no more. Time to wake up! Though I left the dream back in La-La Land, I did carry a desire for Revelation 2 with my arrival back into the land of the Living.

Some of you at this point are already worn out, but please hang on, here is where the dream of nonsense led me: Revelation 2:4 - “Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy fist love.”

Many of us have heard this verse through the years and without knowing it may be subliminally shutting down. Most folks that I have discussed this verse with don't seem to pull the full passion that was delivered by the Holy Spirit. We will rarely step back to look at Jesus in this passage, who introduces Himself to the Church of Ephesis as the One who "holds (having and holding with grace and power to the point of being adorned with) the seven stars (Angelos - God Appointed Messengers of the Churches) in His right hand, and walks (with full responsibility, opportunity and fellowship) in the midst of the seven Golden Candlesticks" (the seven churches). WE DON'T GET IT!!!

DON'T GET WHAT?

In the midst of our tedious struggles to uphold our positions and posessions in the Church... with truth, purity and righteousness; in the midst of mistakenly trying to do the task that Jesus takes full responsibility for; we walk away from the One who brought us into this everlasting love relationship. We abandon the nurturing of the greatest love story in the universe, and spend our days in frustrating power struggles that DO NOTHING to help bring us closer to our First Love.

For God so loved the World … as He called us ... we met Him at the cross with our sin ...to find that He was there first ... loving us in spite of our sin ... to wash us from our sin … and in trusting His love, He brought us into an everlasting relationship with Him … so that He could actively love us and we could actively love Him ... for now and all eternity.  Wow!!!

When the entry way windows of our lives are filled with grotesque condemnatory peers, they should be able to catch a snap shot of us loving Jesus. When the mudslinging mismatched struggles of life wrestle their way into our field of vision, the participants should find us calmly and joyously courting our Saviour. When the chaotic crowds of diminutive listeners are engulfing us with their rebellious responses … oh, that they would “flash” find us on our knees in love and at peace with our God.

Revelation 2:4 inverted – “Nevertheless, I am fully excited for you, because with full abandon you have continued on in intimate courtship with your first and only Love, Jesus Christ!”

HLFA,

Jeff

Live openly and joyfully in love with Jesus!