"God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness."
-Freda Hanbury Allen

Monday, February 22, 2016

Christ Life

                                              "Christ...Who is your life..." Colossians 3:4a        

        We aren't enough. We're too much. We struggle. We compensate. We justify. We buckle under the weight of what we can't be, should be, want to be, are scared to become. We run. We hide. We want to be noticed - but not seen, otherwise our cover would be blown. We fight. We wrestle. We lose. We win, claiming all the spoils. We step out boldly - only to find the limb we've climbed out on shaking precariously, so we shrink quietly away. We speak truth, but our voices sound hollow in our own ears. We declare victory, glorying in our strength, then fall hard - blindsided by our frailty and failure. We are broken, yet yearn to be whole. We are sinners, yet long to be holy.
Where do we find rest for our souls, weary from the jagged edges of brokenness, good intentions, and promises that we know we won't ever keep? How do we live in this space called "life", while waiting for our real life yet to come?
        There is paradox evident in failure and victory. While both seem to be polar opposites, and failure seems the least desirable of the two, left to ourselves they both lead to the destructive end of pride and self-absorption. Thus the endless swinging pendulum of our inner lives between thinking too much of ourselves in our victories and, ironically, too much of ourselves in our failures. Somehow we are stuck with ourselves either way; tripped up, bloodied and bruised and wondering how to ever be free. Where is that rest that Jesus promised? Why does it seem so elusive in our day-to-day lives?
        Christ. He died for our sin, for our failure, for our inability to do anything good. He died for our reconciliation, for our justification - that we might be declared righteous in Him. His death has become our death - to sin. His obedience to death has become our obedience. His goodness has become our goodness. His victory is our victory. His life is our life, because when he died and when he rose again we died with him and we rose with him. We no longer live, but Christ lives in us. So, in those moments our flesh prevails and we fall, we know that is not who we are and we know whose we are. In those moments that we fail, we know that He has nailed our sin and failures to the cross, and has nailed our shame with them, so we don't have to run or hide. When we shout in victory and raise our hands in triumph we know that it is the Lord who has won, not us, because we know that apart from him we are and have nothing. He has taken our sin and he has declared us victors with him. So we have nothing to hide and nothing to claim in ourselves. Christ has taken the ugly and given us his beauty. There is no room for pride or self absorption in our frailty or our strength when we believe and walk in the truth of what Christ has done for us and in us. It is only the eternal beauty of Christ living in us and shining through us by His Spirit that we claim.
        Christ. He is our life - now, and our only real life forever. Heaven is only heaven because Christ is there. What we long for, and are waiting eagerly for, we have been granted a taste of, through the Spirit of Christ. Christ is our rest and His Spirit our freedom. It is His life through His Spirit living in our hearts that stops the swinging pendulum.      

Friday, February 19, 2016


                 "...When you reach the edge of the Jordan's waters, go and stand in the river."
                                                                     Joshua 3:8b

        Faith. A world unto itself, for it holds within it life, and yet is larger than life. Faith. A mesmerizing call that stirs up deep hidden passions, and promises such a profound sense of purpose that we find ourselves shouting "yes" before we know what is being asked of us. Faith. A way of seeing with such anticipation that somehow the dense shroud of darkness that it by definition calls us into seems less bleak and terrifying than it other wise would - or should. Faith inspires us to want to move mountains, part seas,  cross over flooded rivers on dry ground, and declare the evidence of things not seen.
        Faith. A world unto itself, for it holds within it life, and yet can be small as a mustard seed. Faith. A panic-inducing call that dredges up our deepest fears, requires of us what we know we don't have, and promises nothing but an elusive vision of a distant future. Faith. A small step forward, a quiet nod of assent as we are beckoned into the most desolate and seemingly endless wilderness. Faith is seeing nothing and yet knowing the Eternal is present, nonetheless. Faith strengthens our grip when everything is slipping, it keeps us coming up for air when waves threaten to pull us under, it sustains us as we walk through the darkest valleys, and assures us of those things we can only hope for.
        Faith. A gift. A promise. A command. An exhortation. A call. A decision. A choice. An assurance. It is the beauty and simplicity of eternity wrapped in the painful complexity of flood waters, imposing mountains, deserts, draughts, famine and broken hearts. It is the declaration of something greater, and something better. It is the Kingdom of God come and the coming Kingdom. It is the first, next and last step. It is setting our feet firmly into the depths of the flooding river, trusting that our God has gone before us, and is with us, ready to roll up the waters and direct us through the walls of water that tower over us.
        Faith. It is evidence of the unseen - Christ alive in our hearts, Christ sitting at the right hand of God, Christ reigning forever, of a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Faith. It is eternity entering the here and now. It is the miracle of the now and the not yet. It is indeed a mesmerizing, stirring, and yes - overwhelming call for us to give more than we will ever have in ourselves, but promises more than we will ever need.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Consuming Fire

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
                                                    Hebrews 12:28-29

        God does not change, and neither does his Word. Likewise, his design for the hearts of his people has not changed over all the centuries, eras, and epochs of time. Worship, in Spirit and in Truth, has been his banner call ever since he created Adam and Eve. He created mankind to not only worship, but enjoy him to the very depths of who he is - to know, appreciate, and fall madly in love with his heart.
         We are familiar with the scene in the wilderness, perhaps uncomfortably so, where the people of God stood at the foot of the mountain and God spoke through the fire, darkness, and storm. The people of God trembled and begged that God cease to speak, for surely if they remained in his fierce, overwhelming presence they would be consumed. They pleaded that God retreat and continue His message to Moses alone. Tragically, God's people didn't carry the reverence and awe with them, but rather turned to what we are so prone to do. They re-fashioned God in an image of their own making.
         There is something about the raw, untamed presence of God arriving in darkness and storm that appalls us and creates in us almost a sense of revulsion. We become afraid, and almost angry. It is our tendency to want a god we can manage, one that we can explain, and certainly one we can approach with a sense of equality - if not superiority. We fear mystery, we question authority, we demand answers and grumble and complain, just like Israel, when none are forthcoming. Yet, we inherently know we are small and so very incapable of managing on our own. We are ensnared in a trap of our own making.
         Nothing about God has changed. He is still "a consuming fire."  It is the people of God who have changed, or rather, have been changed. Before the mountain of God, the people of Israel essentially asked for a mediator when they asked God to speak to Moses instead of directly to them. They could not stay exposed in the raging presence of God. God, in his grace, answered their request and retreated with Moses, to provide a picture of what he was planning to do. Two thousand years later he sent the Perfect Mediator to speak to all of mankind out of the relentless storm of his Love. It was then that God arrived; not in darkness and storm, but in flesh and blood. Jesus came, and by his blood he has changed us. Fear does not consume us because we do not come approaching a fiery mountain, but rather are invited into the beautiful, consuming fire that we can now call "Abba, Father".
          Can there be any other response to the fiery, all-consuming love of our mysterious, yet familiar Father than love and gratitude, reverence and awe? When we catch a glimpse of the terrifying Mystery on the mountain in the wilderness and then gaze upon the blood-soaked cross, what else is there to do but be consumed, and fall utterly in love with his wild, yet tender heart. This is His loving desire for us, this is our created purpose and this is the white-hot passion of true worship.