Give me a heart of compassion

This morning I was in worship and directed to read John 8:3

"The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, "Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?"

My eyes fell to that first part…"the Pharisees led in a woman." But not as a teacher did they lead. Not as shepherd. But as judge.

I considered my self righteous assessment of what I see going on around me and cringe at the similarities of my life and theirs. Perhaps that is why the sermon yesterday impacted me so much.

Ty Saltzgiver shared on Jesus in the temple and spoke to His fiery desire to remove any hinderance for those coming to encounter God and how He did everything he could to clear away the hurdles. I even thought of the finishing touch — tearing the curtain top to bottom at the point of Jesus sacrifice in the cross. No barriers. No hurdles. Nothing to keep people from encountering Jesus.

So when I see someone that may not fit my idea of tribe…political, sexual preference, age, career, and then decide they are excluded from the Kingdom of Papa I am just as proficient at segregation as those men so long ago. May it not be. May it never be.

Another point. I realized my Pharisaical actions are rooted in my own desire and pride, the point that I can do it myself thank you. I can't do anything myself.

I see someone else and their sin (or liberty) and decide they need to "get it right" before they come before the king. Not so His way. He wants us to come as we are and I place hurdles in the most ridiculous of places. The dinner table (you guys should stop eating pretzel bites because I have only had one) and other completely ridiculous statements. I prayed asking God to help me not hold others to the unattainable law that I have for them.

Oh to grace how great a debtor.


Joy—the hallmark of the children of God

For Jesus, the author of joy, lives! And his dwelling place is the hearts of those who welcome Him. For the joy set before him he endured the misery of the cross—fully aware of its pain and agony.

So what was this joy? The RE-UNION of my soul with His! The restoration of mankind with the father. The rescue and redemption of his bride to his side.

The joy of sacrifice resulting from the path of suffering outweighs the temporary pain of loss. Jesus knows this, for he walked it!


The storm is trying to win...

"It seems as I get further away from the Toth weekend the "glory" is fading. Life is screaming for attention and I am unable to quiet the storm.

Fortunately, Jesus is in the boat.

And he is awake.

And he has awakened me, too.

"Nothing to fear," he says. "Quiet" he says. And the waves have no choice but to obey. The wind must become mute.

And peace is restored as the King of peace has proclaimed who He his to this storm.


My first 5k and other ideas...

So I just ran my first 5k today. It was quite the spectacle. So many people showed up that the parking down by Monument Valley park could have been sold to the highest bidder.

This run was to help out some friends of ours. Holly Aldridge lost her husband on Dec 21, 2012 as he was jogging to work. This man who was a lover of Jesus and friend to everyone he met was simply promoted from this world to the next in a blink of an eye, doing what he loved to do.

He left a wife and 3 kids. He left a workplace that loved him. He left a whole cadre of friends that, quite frankly, are pissed that he's gone.

But I digress. Today we participated in this 5k in his honor, all proceeds going to Holly for her support. I heard that they raised over $10k to help with costs of living etc. and I could not be more pleased. I think Dave would be happy, too.

As I was walking/running with my son, I realized again how precious and short this life is. Sometimes it passes by far too quickly. Other times it drags along at a snails pace. But whether or not we have a short time on this chosen planet or a full and long life, I've concluded that with Jesus is the only true fulfillment once can receive.

Piles of money will not make you happy. A grande house will not make you happy. A bottomless checking account won't either. But time with Jesus and his love is a new thing. In Him is fullness of joy and peace. In him is the hope that only he provides.

And that is something my friend lived for. I hope to do the same!


Follow the Master

So there I was last night, sitting down after a particularly grueling day. Keeping in mind there are souls at work for the kingdom right now that would chuckle at that description of office work, I was still bushed from the work I've been doing at the office.

It was just before bedtime and I was talking with my bride. I say talking, but it was more of a complaining session.

She asked a very compelling question. Do I think God's next step for me was to change the work I was doing where I am or to send me to a new place to do something completely new? I pondered my response and stared blankly when I clearly heard this phrase in my soul, "Follow the Master."

Simple, right?

There was a time, early in my walk with Jesus, when I wanted to follow Him everywhere. My life was full of direction and, dare I say, adventure. The tasks I took on were simple, full of meaning and purpose. Not because the tasks were so great but because the Master infused every element of the task.

Then I grew old. Not only physically, but in my faith. I put my ship on autopilot and began to coast. The vigor began to dry up and the work became tedious and more complicated.

Fast forward to my conversation with my bride last evening. Once she had spoken and I had sensed the voice of the Master in my heart, I felt young again. I recalled the early days of a simple faith, those times of adventure and of fear--of not knowing the exact outcome. To borrow from the vernacular of chess, every move had been planned and endgame was reached.

So this morning I was reading in Matthew and came across this passage:

""Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." click to read 
And I thought deeply about my response. If my life is not my own and I am truly to follow the master, the purest and best method is to be tuned into Jesus, simply allowing Hime to visit His grace on me.

Let's see where this leads...


I'm hungry

So I've recently been reading a couple of blog posts, pondering a few deep thoughts, following some very gifted thinkers in the ever expanding twitterverse and I'm beginning to see a pattern. I'm hungry.

Yeah, I know--but this is not just another post about about my daily caloric intake. It's occurred to me that I am genuinely hungry for the things of God. Golden clouds, dreams, or visions not withstanding, I am mostly seeking a deep and abiding experience with God Most High. These things I'm reading, following, or discussing are reminding me of something far too important to miss.

I recall times when I have feasted on the Lord...really focused intentionally on the Wine of the Word and drinking to the last dregs the truth of He who is the Word. I would scrape every last crumb of the Bread of Life off of the table and then, like Oliver Twist, ask for more.

My days consisted of sweet communion with the Lord and waking and spending much time with Jesus. I would go out with a song in my heart from that place of mystical union and dwell with Him the whole day long. Each moment was filled with the potential of knowing Him and His character in my life. I was full.

Then something happened. I became sleek. I think the old English word means to grow fat. I no longer sought Him as I once did. Other things began to take my attention off of Jesus--the real food and drink--and I began to consume things that were not good for me.

It has been a slow drift, and I'm keenly aware of my smallness in all this.

I compromised on the “best foods” and began to fill myself with junk. Though beautiful to see and sweet to to eat, this food holds no nutritional value. And yet, I consume so much of this I've seemingly forgotten what real food truly is.

And I've become lazy--unwilling to change my diet or do anything that would put me back on the track for spiritual health. Slowly, I've lost my appetite for things of the Spirit.

How have I so quickly moved away from that which provides such great benefits? Why have I moved so rapidly from that which promises wholeness and health? How deceived and prideful must I be before I realize the “weight” I carry around is not required?

So for the last week or so, I've consciously been “eating in.” I'm doing what I must so I can be what He desires. I'm trying to not fill my shopping cart with junk but I am genuinely soaking in the truth He has placed in His word, that He has displayed in His creation, and shared in amazing conversations with friends and colleagues.

Sometimes I begin to believe that eating-in is boring...sometimes I sneak a sweet treat and feel sick after. But always the Feast is prepared before me in the presence of my enemies.

I Guess I still have a ways to go. But I'm not discouraged. Wanna know why?

I think I'm getting hungry again.


Learning about holiness from a necklace chain

Have you ever started working on a seemingly insignificant project and had God speak to your heart about something completely different? Yeah, me too.

And so it began...

This morning I was endeavoring to untangle my daughter's necklace chain. Something simple, right? After all, how difficult can it be to undo what has happened by mere happenstance?

Plenty, if you have giant digits compared to a chain that was created by workers endowed with magical, elf-like spindles for fingers.

large fingers...small chain

So I began to think about it and recalled an ancient secret purported to have been developed by hobbits (notorious for having larger than normal fingers and toes) wherein they would gather toothpicks left by rather rude underground dwellers to use as de-tangling tools. 

OK, I actually heard it from others who have had a similar circumstance...so I took heed and gathered some toothpicks.

The tangle taunts me yet a second time.

Now I was ready to undo the damage. I began to wrestle with this tiny chain, attempting to un-knit the tangles that had been so serendipitously constructed. With each attempt, the tangle only seemed to tighten.

The knots closed in on each other with a vengeance. And my patience began to wear thin. Even with these "tools" it was challenging. I was thinking about giving up, but something pushed me forward. Then this word came into my mind. PERSEVERANCE.

The work continues
Perseverance. Interesting. But there was more and more to do so I quickly pushed that word aside and continued on my quest. I would open one section, and another would tangle. As another opened, two more knots would form. I would lift the entire mess from the table and allow gravity to help. But additional knots tightened. I could not catch a break. 

The work dragged on as I began to consider of the delicacy of the chain and the work I was attempting. I could have easily thrown in the towel and purchased a new chain, but that pesky word would not allow it. My thoughts again drifted to something above this seemingly futile exercise.

This chain didn't tangle itself, though it most certainly had been tangled. And since the tangle, it had become unusable. 

Then came this concept...SIN IS A TANGLE THAT RENDERS ME UNUSABLE. No matter how much I would like it to be otherwise,  my own "self" renders me exempt from my original purpose. The more I would loose myself, the tighter the knots become. Each attempt to free myself results in tighter bondage. And I am unable to free myself from that which renders me unusable. 

Sheesh. So now what? I've got a tangle here, people. Not a philosophical tangle, but a very real tangle!

Getting close now...
Well, I kept on going. I was not to be stopped by this chain. I kept considering these thoughts while I fiddled...God's perseverance,  His pursuit of me, the sin in my life that kept me from the purposes He had intended...

As I continued to work this chain, there would be times I gently pulled and other times it was necessary to be more "sincere" with the effort...pressing the knot and pulling harder. In this context of sin, I recall God's gentle grace for certain parts of this walk toward holiness and other times He stood in the path forcing me to face Him and the consequence of my poor behavior and choices. Both of these were for a single purpose...to get out the knot!

Now the chain was ready. I took the bead that Audrey has been wearing on this chain and returned it to its place. I fastend the clasp and held up the completed work. The project was completed. There it was, doing that for which it was created. And God had snuck up on me.

And I considered this point...the work of God in my life is ongoing. Rescued from the trash heap, untangled and restored, forgiven was the first step. The journey toward holiness is the second and longer part. All of these are set for one ultimate purpose...GOD'S GLORY.

It's His work for His purpose motivated out of His love. It's all about Jesus!
It's for Him!