I Know A Guy Who Owns a Pretty Nice Sword …

Tolkien’s Gandalf, opens up The Two Towers (2nd of three films) facing off with a Balrog on one side, his people on the opposite side.  Gandalf standing in the gap, armed with a staff and a sword;   armed with courage, passion, wisdom, life-experience, vision and redemptive confidence.  

A pair of literal double-edged swords. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/double-edged_sword

The sword, such an intense symbol for quite a few ideas, concepts, realities, etc.  A fairly famous place where a sword is used metaphorically  is in Ephesians 6.  The reference, there, is “the sword of the spirit.”  Another place, Hebrews 4, the reference is “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Lately, I have found myself in some uncharted waters, facing some grueling battles within me; but far more accurate and evident, I have been in the midst of fighting against the forces of mediocrity, self-pity, and the notorious enemy emphasized in the New Testament. So, in the context of life, I am stepping out of … “that” … and into “this”.  And as I step out of “that” and into “this”, my intent is to keep in step with He who saves, and He who fights for us, and with us, and equips us.  Indeed, I am equipped with a sword for when the battles come … and they have come, and they will come … and I know that I will prevail over those dark spirits and principalities who oppose the Christ, the Body, and my family.  What other choice do I have … 

I have been forgiven for so much, including my choices to give up hope on different days, at different hours.  I am in the process of reclaiming hope, now.  I reclaim lost ground, now.  A stake has been driven into the earth, pounded down beneath the snow-covered surface of the ground: a stake that proclaims this ground as sacred.  And it was the ground, the surface of this fickle earth, that some supernatural Blood was spilled on to from the Christ … a man from a place known as Nazareth.  This was long ago, but the Blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth has transcended every day, week, month, year, century since then to fight against the strongest foe, and to wash away all of our stuff that makes us unclean.

 

Able, Not Willing

I can do this.  But will I do this?

A good-hearted soul spoke a blessing into my life recently. The content below is paraphrased, and reframed as a general blessing, as opposed to a specific blessing:

 

“God loves you and He will turn your sorrow into great joy. He will show up, and give you ___________ and ___________.”

 

This person cares enough for me, nothing short of kind and unselfish, to speak good words, words of life, into my life.  The idea that God would speak to, and through, this individual with a message for me is awe-inspiring (no sarcasm here).  The fact that God will do something big in my life, specifically, is amazing to me.  Having said that, I am stirred by this scenario, a scenario that has happened before, the scenario where one tells me what God is going to do in my life.

Here is the rub.  What a man or a woman tells me, that God is going to do, may be accurate.  Or, maybe not.  At times I wonder, “How does someone know for sure that God told them this?”  Is it possible that they misunderstood God?   One amazing attribute of God is that His mystery.  It’s not always fun.  Sometimes it’s painful.  Regardless,  part of our journey, especially if we embrace this part, is to sit … as still as possible, as quiet as possible …  in that mystery; the mystery of God.  When someone tells me, “Bro!  God can do that!”  My response is, “Oh yes … I know.  I know that He can do that, and whatever else He wants to do.   But will He?”  Interesting, how as individuals, we have opportunities to do something, but we are unwilling (to differing degrees).  Some of this is about doing what we are supposed to dod, and when we are supposed to do it.  To put it a different way, sometimes we don’t do what we are capable of doing because we are not supposed to do whatever it is we are being pressured / asked to do.  So, just like life itself, this stuff can get a bit messy,eh?

 

 

WORD … Visits Me

I took some time to receive some words from Romans 15:13 this morning.  It was a good visit.

 

 

I was then in the midst of Proverbs, a specific place – – – 17.  I received some words, there, and a paraphrase emerged.  It was a good visit.

 

A dry morsel, not so bad, with peach and quietness.  Compare this with a house full of feasting, where there is strife.  A life with strife versus a life with love leaves a loss in its wake.  Bummer.

 

I read on a bit further: more words, it was a good visit.

 

To consider, and then to know, that this God we know, who knows us, also knows our hearts, observes our hearts and allows our hearts to be tested.  Does that mean anything to me?  It should mean something, and it should humble me to know …when my heart is not right, He knows that my heart is not right, and yet He does not condemn.

 

I read on a bit further, about this controversial issue of when one guy comes to another guy and speaks a little iron-sharpening-iron truth, and the moment of truth of whether or not the other guy chooses to receive what the first guy has to offer.

The wisdom in me honors, and receives, the redemptive rebuke.  So, God, lete the wise man be free … and let the foolishness remain buried.  The wisdom flows like a fast-moving creek, and foolishness sits like stagnant water … stagnant water that one should never drink from.

 

Lastly, after reading a bit further, I received some words about this tendency a man has to isolate.  It was a good visit.

 

A man sometimes gravitates toward self, isolates self, placates self, seeks intensely his own desire … and he becomes unapproachable to wise counsel.

Yes, it was a good visit this morning, with the Word.  And it was a good visit with Lincoln Brewster, via YouTube, the song “Live To Praise You” …. A great jolt of joy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa2XEUnC29g&list=PLYE587VQt4yii1Mfwt3xfgp1RMyl5bmie&index=2

“Day after day
You never change
Ever the same
There is hope in Your name …”

Out … On … A … LIMB!

Do I really believe, what I believe?  Wait: what is it that I really believe? God is there, God is here, His heart is good, God is powerful, God answers prayers … Do I believe all that?  Will I go … out on a limb, and believe that God is really good, willing to give me His best?  Will God meet me there, out on the limb?

My questions about me, and God, and the limb, have become more pronounced, in conjunction with a new season that came forth … three to four months prior.  I did not recognize it.  Then, I didn’t want to recognize it.  Implications of this new season?  Here is the limb: to take some risks; trust God for what He wants to do; acknowledge change, the unknown. Alternative?  Stay away from the limb, in the realm of status quo, and embrace mediocrity.  Appealing as that may be, it is wrong, at least for me, in this particular “limb context”.  John’s word from the Word, resonated quite a bit from the place of 14, verses 12 through 14.  I read one of the commentary pieces, and I was intrigued:  

“When blessing comes in your work, service, or ministry, it is tempting to accept that this is ‘all’ God has for you – – – to find it easy to stop and rest, rather than keeping your hand to the plow … Instead, refuse to allow the blessings of God’s grace on your work to lead you to think that He may not be ready to do even more in your life.  He does not call (me / you / us) to attempt to produce more, but to ask and believe Him for more – – – for greater works He has  in store for us to receive and, by His grace achieve for His … purposes and glory.  Keep your heart set and ready for the next advance for His kingdom.” (Spirit Filled Bible 2002)

Expect Greater Things

http://www.x-plane.org/home/mf70/1941-1970.htm / “Beater”: DHC-2 as it appeared in the movie of Never Cry Wolf.

I’m wrapping this up with an excellent 3 minute / 50 second film clip from a great movie … a movie entitled “Never Cry Wolf”.  This film is about a biologist, “Tyler”, who is being dropped off in the Canadian Arctic wilderness,  for the purpose of studying Arctic wolves. The bush pilot, a guy named “Rosie”, drinks too much, is looking for adventure, because he is sick of boredom.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAbU7Ha3jTA

Another film clip that I could not find shows Rosie, the bush pilot landing the plane, but keeping the engine running … Rosie (literally) tossing out all of Tyler’s possessions on to the thick ice of the lake, while Tyler is in shock because of the cold temperatures, and the intimidation of being in the middle of the Canadian Arctic wilderness, alone.  Tyler tries to delay Rosie with questions, but all Rosie can do is laugh and say “Just keep moving, Tyler.  Just keep moving.”  And that is what we must do.  Keep moving.  Just keep moving ... all the while listening well, and trusting the One who will get us to where we need to go.

It Is What It Is: Profound

“It is what it is.  And it is profound.”

“What is ‘it’, that you are referring to?”

” … ‘it’ is the Word, as it connects to the Trinity, our hearts, our minds, our lives, our relationships.”

 

I’ve come to a place … actually, I’ve been here for a number of years … where I actually appreciate being a “layman”, with the scriptures, as opposed to a (what’s the word?) “non-layman”, or a theologian, or an “authority”.  The reasons why are a) I still have to struggle with what the Word means, and how it applies, and b) ultimately, God is powerful enough to speak to me through the Word, even though I do not have the knowledge and skills of the non-layman, the theologian, the authority.  One parable in particular, the Sower in Matthew 13, has emerged as a favorite for quite some time.  And the last passage, there, involves Jesus going back to his home town, seeing that he is not honored, not well received.  The contrast between the setting of the parable of the Sower and the setting of the last passage comes across to me as a (I’ll use this word again) profound contrast.  Jesus’ telling of the story, or parable, of the Sower happened with many, many, people around … so many that he stepped away from the shore and into the boat, just so that he could effectively address everyone.  The people there honored Jesus; they were hungry for what He had to offer; and they had faith in the power of His words.  Going beyond that, literally, Jesus had a group of guys around Him, the disciples, who honored what He had to say, and had faith in the power of His words.

Now, switch over to Nazareth, His hometown, where those who knew him did not appreciate what He had to offer.  They were skeptical, if not cynical, of what He was about.  In fact, in the NIV, these words stood out: “And they took offense at him … (v.57) “; and “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith (v.58).”

Here’s some tension to think about.  I am not a prophet; but I am one of those guys who believes that when I go back to my home town, I am not very well-received.  Everyone is polite.  And I feel as though I am simply “tolerated”.  I was / am the black sheep.  I was / am the prodigal that chose to leave the deep south, for a place where I have lived for the last thirty years, a thousand miles away.  So, a question: ” How prevalent is it for individuals … who moved away from their home town … to sense a distance, or a tension, from those living back in their “point of origin”?  

He Calls, I Call

RING … RING … RING …

http://www.commons.wikimedia.org/ wiki/File:Telephone_model_PTT24- IMG_9919.jpg

“Get the phone, somebody.”

RING … RING …

“Phone, guys!  Somebody get the phone!”

“No, you get the phone.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s for you.  Its God, man.  If I were you, I’d get the phone.”

Switchboard operators / pixgood.com

Sometimes I don’t listen well. Sometimes I do. And when the phone rings, I don’t always answer it.  

Here are a few lyrics from a song called “Ocean (Where Feet May Fall)” … performed by a group called Hillsong.

 

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

I think of the story where the guys are in the boat, waters ‘getting rough, Jesus calls Peter out … out of the boat … out on to the water.  And the water is the great unknown for the fisherman  (irony?).  Different context, yes?  In the boat, fishing, it’s not a problem.  But to get out of the boat?  God was calling, and that changes things up.  Feet may fail for me, and they have, and along the way I connect with this … “mystery” of God. Faith emerges, but I sometimes question my progression.  So, He calls, I call — on Him — because I find myself in deep yogurt, or more accurately, deep waters.  But if I can just keep my eyes … above the waves … and my soul will rest (rest, what a concept) in God. He says I belong to Him.  And I am actually okay with that.