The Show Must Go On

August 16, 2009

Photo by Flickr user ‘hbp_pix’

Religion is like a big juggling act. As long as you’re keeping all the plates in the air, you are surrounded by the hearty approval of men. But one wrong movement and everything comes crashing down in a cacophony of shame and rejection.

All the while Grace invites us away from the stale, sweaty air of the Big Tent into an intimate and invigorating fullness of relationship which God Himself sustains. There, you are surrounded by approval which no longer comes from men (men likely are even rejecting you now). The juggling is no longer necessary because in His unconditional love, Father does not look away in disgust at your fleshly flaws. Instead He embraces you passionately and affectionately.

Back in the Big Tent, the Bible is mostly interpreted as a book of rules, requirements, and formulas, and the reality is missed of it being the most beautiful story ever of ransom, redemption, and divine romance.

Meanwhile, abiding in the reality of Grace you begin to see everything through new “metanoia” eyes. Scriptures come rushing back to your mind, no longer as commandment and correction, but as promise and invitation. This is a relationship wherein the requirements were completely satisfied “before the foundation of the earth”. Ours is but to perceive it, believe it, and receive this invitation to a “life lived loved” – regardless of the approval or rejection of men.


Divine Diaspora

May 25, 2009

I’ve been quite infrequent with posts lately mostly because I’ve been busily living loved in a whole new landscape. A day off for Memorial Day presents me a moment of respite from a crushing new daily schedule of hitting the snooze button once or twice at 4:30 a.m. followed by the fastest work day I could imagine at my new job as a plant manager at a local public school.

I am wholeheartedly loving this challenging environment I’ve been thrust into, a far cry from my 18 years being on staff at a local non-denominational church. After a month or so of being laid-off due to the effects of the current economical crisis I literally stumbled across this job opportunity where I am making less than half the salary I was a year ago, yet working infinitely harder physically, mentally, and emotionally. The skills and experience I boasted on my resume have little to do with the position I accepted but I couldn’t be more satisfied because I know I’m where I belong for this season of life. There’s something exhilarating about being surrounded by raw humanity after being largely insulated from it for so long.

As with most any sector of the workforce, the public school system is seeing more than it’s share of budget cuts and layoffs. On a regular basis I am interacting with teachers and staff who wonder if their’s is the next position to be axed.  Then there are the hundreds of children who can’t grasp the magnitude of challenges their families are facing in these trying times. I’m right there with all of them in these challenges but with the knowing that I am safe and secure in Father’s embrace, come what may. I can only trust that He has me there to be a lifeline of encouragement if only to just one of these who are holding out for a glimpse of hope.

If you, like me, find your world has been turned upside down, yet you are living in the awareness of Father’s undying love and affection, consider yourself fortunate and blessed. We are like seeds in the hands of the Master being scattered to the winds… a divine diaspora (a dispersion of a people from their original homeland) of sorts! Let’s spread the Love!


Humbled

May 9, 2009

Beyond the four walls

I can breathe 

I can feel

I can see beyond cynicism

 

Generous laughter leaps from within 

As I take in the brightness of hope 

In the eyes of a little child 

Who may not know he’s not like the others around him

They can run

He only jerks and hobbles 

They can recite the pledge of allegiance 

He drools and makes scary noises

 

And he is unaware 

That unconditional love smites me

Every time I think of his smile


Perfect!

April 16, 2009

“Knowing is loving.” If God truly knows me, God actually loves me. The old Testament is clear that truly to “know” somebody is to love her or him, For God, knowing is the language of intimacy rather than intimidation. God is love because God knows us. This divine knowing is the eternal antidote for depression and melancholy. We are known and loved. We are not alone-hence, we need not be lonely.   –Cliff H., BoldGrace.com

The following words are in response to 

this post at BoldGrace.com  (please click here before proceeding)

Cliff, our precious friend, you have finally, ultimately, and gracefully surrendered to the affectionate embrace of Abba Father. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting you or enjoying a personal conversation with you – I feel very much like I have nonetheless. Had the opportunity presented itself for us to meet I’m sure it would have felt like reconnecting with an old friend from long ago. That’s how it was when my wife and I enjoyed breakfast with our BG friend ‘Geo’ a few weeks back. 

The words you have shared on BoldGrace.com have impacted me greatly these past several months. Often I had to mull them over quite a while to appreciate them… some of them I probably am still sifting through but undoubtedly you came into my life at the PERFECT time! It is my understanding that you embraced the true Gospel message at the expense of  your very career as a minister. Then came true freedom! I myself have been on paid administrative staff with a local church for 18 years and volunteer staff for nearly a decade prior to that. In the past two years my wife and I began to receive and trust the simple message of Christ ALONE being our righteousness and, low and behold, all of our previous reference points in life began to change radically, but one thing became certain — true peace, knowing we are loved much!

I am presently in a wonderful state of transition, having been laid off weeks ago due to this economy. The beginnings of this transition coincided with some posts you composed at BG regarding your employment at a local hospital. Reading your posts (such as this one) brought me much freedom as I began to consider what might be in store for me career wise.

For my wife and I, knowing the true Good News and that we are affectionately and unconditionally loved is radically changing our world view. Having the true riches means everything to us. A job that is ‘right for us’ is no longer such an issue; having an opportunity to be where Daddy wants us is what excites us.

As I write this I am preparing for an interview as the janitor/caretaker at a local facility. My resume is also in the hands of several other potential employers who could offer me a position that would be much more ‘compatible’ with my administrative / creative  skills and background, not to mention the payscale; however the job I’m most hopeful for is this janitor opportunity where I know I would be face to face with countless people who are incredibly precious to Father and they may not be aware until they are affectionately loved and valued by someone who cares. Thank you, Cliff, for demonstrating this reality in your life. 

To Cliff’s dear family and all his BG friends around the world who will be greatly missing him, my wife and I are holding you close before God in our hearts during this time . Thank you for letting me ramble on about how Cliff’s PERFECT faith has deeply affected me!


I think I’m going out of my head (and into my heart)

April 13, 2009

These words by Wayne Jacobsen in his latest post ‘Questions Questions Questions’ at LifeStream.org are most appropriate to me…

If we’re really looking to follow Jesus, would he allow us to be deceived by a false grace? If we ask the Father for bread, will he let us pick up a stone instead?

So many brothers and sisters I know get paralyzed when they haven’t figured out answers to every question, about something they sense him leading them to do, or even just believing that the Gospel of grace, is simply that. What if we trusted Jesus to sort out our questions in the going, rather than having them all answered before we head out?

Wayne hits a nail on the head and goes on to explain how our innermost being is already geared to respond to the unconditional love and unmerited favor He has lavished on each of us — it’s our heads that get in the way demanding answers to every possible question and then leaving us paralyzed with fear and indecision instead of responding to His love. That’s what religion does. It assuages our need for answers in neat little bite sized chunks that satisfies our rational self while ignoring and even smothering our relational and true self. The problem is we have to keep running back for more bites to remain satisfied.

Getting what’s in our hearts into our head is a process that Holy Spirit is able and willing to do when we relinquish control and relax into the invitation of relationship already taking place among Father, Son, and Spirit. Where we once found ourselves having to believe to receive, now we can freely receive His affectionate love which leads us to believe! I have a close friend & brother who points out that “believing is the indication of dependence on God while knowing is the indication of independence”. As we find ourselves at home in His love, abiding in Him, we will trust that the Great I AM is the Answer to any and all questions.

Never before have I and my family faced times more difficult than these recent months. It would be safe to say that over the past nearly two years my family has experienced more challenges in relationships, finances, and health than we have in the previous decade or more. And yet, we are finding ourselves realizing more genuiness in our walk with God and each other. We are enjoying deeper and more lasting peace, hope, and ability to receive and express Father’s affectionate love in our relationships with Him, one another, and those in our path on a daily basis. 

This is a result of a major shift in our life focus that we began to recognize was taking place a year or so ago. Everything we thought we knew about God, the Bible, Christianity / the Church / its mission, ministry, morality, etc. began to seem irrelevant compared to our inner inclination to truly know God. We found ourselves being invited beyond the clinical repitition of religion – beyond the performance-driven mindsets of having to please God – and into His loving embrace. This reality of living by the law of love is becoming just as real as the law of gravity. And just like a gravitational pull, we find ourselves continually drawn toward Him in gradual but constant motion, independent of any effort on our part!


The Cross or the Switch?

March 9, 2009
Photo by HeyMyNameIs Paul

Photo by HeyMyNameIsPaul

It came to my attention while browsing for the news that a nationally known pastor was warning of God’s righteous anger and judgment bringing certain terror to New York City and other cities abroad. Soon I was on David Wilkerson Today, his blog where he posted ‘An Urgent Message’ (March 7th) and ‘A Further Word’ (March 9th) and I find it interesting these two posts so distinctly contrast his two previous posts where he touches on God being a Father Who is “patient, kind, full of mercy and lovingkindness toward you. I’m tenderhearted over you, ready to forgive you at all times” and also “We see now that God desires only to do good to us. We’ve seen his power and glory on our behalf. And now we are determined to no longer live in fear”. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Old Friends’ Finally Meet!

March 7, 2009

The wife and I were priviliged to meet up with Geo from BoldGrace.com today. Geo and I have enjoyed a lot of conversation in recent months via the Net and by phone. I can’t say enough about the connection I enjoy with him. We finish each other’s sentences and carry on like excited kids when discussing this awesome Grace in which we stand… and excited kids we are!

Geo’s work had him in the central Florida area for a few days so we chose to rendezvous on this gorgeous sunshiny but mild Saturday morning. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast and great time of conversation at an area Cracker Barrel! Our first time together ‘in real time’ truly seemed like a reunion of long time friends – it was enriching and also totally cool! Thanks Geo for taking time to hang with us… we hope it’s the first of many times together!