Roots.

“A person will worship something, have no doubt about that.
We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will come out.
That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character.
Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming.” |RWE

 

 

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The Wind and Wave

When I have no words, the wind and waves refuse to be silent.
‘Deep calls to deep  at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.’
They speak, and turn my thoughts to You.
‘For the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of these many waters.’

wave.jpgYou, Who create the storms and the calm.
(Calm this storm, too.)

And when the waves recede, let it dissolve all lingering doubt into the vast ocean — forgotten, forgiven. 

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
— Isaiah 43:2-3, 19

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He made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
    let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

— Psalm 107:29, 30, 43

 

 

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Now and Then.

“Listen to your life.
All moments are key moments…

Because the word that God speaks to us is always an incarnate word — a word spelled out to us not alphabetically, in syllables, but enigmatically, in events, even in the books we read and the movies we see – the chances are we will never get it just right…”
Now and Then, F. Buechner

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Finishing a good book is like saying farewell to a good friend. You linger around the last few pages, not quite wanting to say goodbye. You think about the things you’ve learned because of your time together. You question if there was anything left unsaid that you should say now. You wonder how things will have changed the next time you meet.

Slowly, slowly but surely, you come to the end. You question whether something more should be done to mark this moment… Something to acknowledge a turning point… something. But the moment passes quickly, quietly. Books are humble friends; they have the power to change your life, and after all this, they do not protest if you take leave of them; retire them to your shelf until a later time when they are needed again.

Tonight, I finished F. Buechner’s ‘Now and Then.’
Before this, I’ve come across his quotes every now and then, but it wasn’t the same as reading his thoughts all together at length.

The way he writes is different than other Christian writers; in his writing, you feel his uncertainty… his roundabout way of arriving at what is true.

He acknowledges of the presence of good and bad days in the life a Christian.
He tells of his vast influences, and questions of how life may have been had different choices been made, and tells of how he lives with the choices that he made…

And it is in this — the chances given and choices made — his uncertainty and vulnerability, that makes his journey more human and palpable. That in all our imperfection, the faithfulness of God and of Jesus’ grace is more clearly seen.

“In the end justice is almost always done in literary matters, I believe, and if they are worth enduring, they will endure…

That life is grace, for instance — the givenness of it, the fathomlessness of it, the endless possibilities of its becoming transparent to something extraordinary beyond itself…

We are so used to hearing what we want to hear and remaining deaf to what it would be well for us to hear that it is hard to break the habit.

But if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize, beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we might hear him, he is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, his word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling.

In that sense autobiography becomes a way of praying, and a book like this, if it matters at all, matters mostly as a call to prayer.”

“If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
Then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared…

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you”

Perfectly Still.

Does the stillness of lake draw you?
Though there is growth and life and changes beneath, the surface stays peacefully still. And though you toss pebbles into it, it will ripple, then absorb it, as though the disturbance brought on earlier was already forgotten, returning to the peace it always had. 

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And how much we can draw from God’s creation to our own lives.
(I have always felt most at home when I am immersed in the natural world.)

Sometimes, we are called to be still, and in those times, He is seen and known more clearly as our refuge and strength.

But always, in the stillness, we remember the war that still goes on, inside and out:

“…Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)

My words fall short. (They always do.) And should I not give thanks for that, too?
For if there be any good, any understanding, any benefit, any nourishment and growth — then I will see more clearly that it was His hand at work.

And so, let us end on Psalm 16, the joy of His presence.
The calm that is ours as we recognize and make this claim ours.

“Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.     
I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;  I have no good besides You.
As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight…
The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
           Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
           Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the LORD continually before me;
           Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
           My flesh also will dwell securely.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
           Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
    You will make known to me the path of life;
           In Your presence is fullness of joy;
           In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

(Psalm 16)

 

Naked.

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

There is more to say, but the words have yet to come.
For now, let me borrow from the words of the wise who have gone before me.

Tonight, at my core, stripped of self-glory and the need to be justified. Purely before You. This is the heart I hope to offer.
Naked without pretense.
This is how You’ve always seen me.
Help me to see it, too.

(Keep drawing me, and walk with me.)

 

Standards of aspiration:

And what more shall I say?
Time will not allow me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets,  who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and obtained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,  quenched the raging fire, and escaped the edge of the sword; who gained strength from weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight…

They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they were put to death by the sword. They went around in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, oppressed, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and hid in caves and holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. God had planned something better for us, so that together with us they would be made perfect. | Hebrews 11 

 

 

Longing & final words:

But He knows the way I take;
  When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

My foot has held fast to His path;
I have kept His way and not turned aside.

“I have not departed from the command of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
| Job 23:10-12

 

Before All Else.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. | Philippians 4:6-8

 

A few ‘old’ ones that came to a wandering mind tonight, with a few of my favourite lines:

“Jesus, You have me completely…

You are good — When there’s nothing good in me.
You are peace –When my fear is crippling.
You are true — Even in my wandering.

The riches of Your love –Will always be enough
My heart will sing no other Name — Jesus”

 

Not too much time left.
Everything is almost ready.
I find myself limiting expectations to one or the other.
And yet, faith calls to go beyond the boundaries of planning and preparation.

Father, this is in Your hands.
And I am only giving back what is and should always have been in your control.

If I am met with storm and floods, please bring me back to this place, and remind me that there is only peace in You.

Let me know and believe this, before all else.

 

Play the Man!

Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out. | Hugh Latimer, 1555

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As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our  lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world.

But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.” (The Cost of Discipleship, 99)


Die once we must; how and where we know not. Happy are they whom God giveth to pay nature’s debt (I mean to die) for His sake.

Here is not our home; let us therefore accordingly consider things having always before our eyes that heavenly Jerusalem, and the way thereunto in persecution.

And let us consider all the dear friends of God, how have they gone after the example of our Saviour Jesus Christ; whose footsteps let us also follow, even to the gallows (if God’s will be so), not doubting but as He rose again the third day, even so shall we do at the time appointed of God, that is, when the trump shall blow, and the angel shall shout, and the Son of man shall appear in the clouds, with innumerable saints and angels, in His majesty and great glory, and the dead shall arise, and we shall be caught up into the clouds, to meet the Lord, and to be always with Him.

Comfort yourselves with these words, and pray for me for the Lord’s sake; and God be merciful unto us all. Amen.” | H. Latimer

What is the one thing I would exchange my greatest possession for (I mean my life)?
Let me not forget:
We live at a time of great privilege  — the age of grace.
We are literate.
We have His Word at our fingertips.
And words about Him anytime we desire to learn more.

We are free to gather in His name.
Free to come and go.
(It was not always so.)

How many have paved the way in pain that we may live with privilege?
Every word of the Bible, every opportunity for gathering, every bit of understanding — His grace through His people, His Son, His Spirit — that the opportunity be ours.
There is still time to repent and believe.
But one day, the doors will close.
And not open again.
And it will be too late to repent.
1) For those who are on the outside:
Will you be on the outside, still?
Today, while there is still time, will you come in?
2) For those who have come in and wander back and forth, will you stop and take time to truly examine your life?
Do you dare to belittle this grace that so many have fought — and died — for?
3) For those who have come in, are you comfortable keeping quiet and sitting inside, knowing others will perish if you are silent?
Do you shut your ears to their cries?
Tune your ears to Him, to hear His call, that you may hear their cries.
Then respond and go.

“Here is not our home; let us therefore accordingly consider things having always before our eyes that heavenly Jerusalem…”

SDg.
Yes, and Amen.

Days of Our Lives

Whom have I in heaven but You? 
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. | Psalm 73:25-26

 

On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there

When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone

Father You give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all You will remain over it all

 

(One more, Father. For continued conviction, wisdom, and only the words You would have me say.
And faith that You are over the consequences for the steps taken in You.
They called truth ‘cold’ and ‘hard’ — that is not Your truth.
In You is freedom, and joy everlasting.

Lead me to sojourn until I come to the place You have prepared.
Do not let my heart desire for more.
And let me settle for nothing else.)