and lifting up His eyes to heaven

Wondrous one alerted me to a beautiful new piece by one of my faves. You can hear it here for the time being. Look for "I Will Lift My Eyes" if they have changed it since the linking.

All the words are poetic in ways that sting your core, but wanted to call out the chorus specifically:
I will lift my eyes to the Maker
Of the mountains I can’t climb
I will lift my eyes to the Calmer
Of the oceans raging wild
I will lift my eyes to the Healer
Of the hurt I hold inside
Maker. Calmer. Healer.

Flock been studying the attributes of God these past two months, and none of these three characteristics have been (or will be) taught, and yet if you had to pick three, just three, could you go wrong with these? Faith recognizes all comes from Him. Faith recognizes that the only eternal peace comes from Him. Faith recognizes the only staunching of that deepest of wounds comes from Him. And faith recognizes that the realization of all these things come from lifting Him up and humbling you down, and thus the lifting of eyes is the only way to see Him -- Maker, Calmer, Healer.


will flow rivers of living water

For another day:

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.


no difference to me

Word calls us to separate ourselves from this world. My own take on that is it refers more to perspective and heart and mind than physical separation. In any case, practically speaking, hard to do. However, love it when the things I find palatable in the world intersect with my faith.

Case in point, if you're not watching the best show on TV, I feel bad for you. Never thought I'd hear musings on faith in a show whose premise is based on evolution. One character notes to another that "any time someone comes back from the dead" it's a miracle. She then proceeds to tell the other, "What I've seen, what I've witnessed . . . I can't pretend it's the same world it was yesterday."

Christian faith in a nutshell. As recipients of new life in Christ, how is it possible that we still pretend it is the same world? How is it possible that we live lives of similarity to those in darkness?

Oh, yeah. That whole world separation thing....


of the Father and of the holy

"The Holiness of God"
* Intro: Holiness/holy 160+ times in Word; important aspect of His character
* God is Holy
- Isa6:1-4; Rev4:2-3,8-11; Ps99:1-3,5,9
- Throughout Scripture, whenever writers wrote about God, saw His greatness and our shortfall
* God's holiness means He is separated from sin
- Ex26:33-34; Lev16:2; Heb10:10,14,19-22
- Plan all along to be with man forever; sin caused Lord to separate Himself
* God devoted to seeking His honor & glory
- Ex14:4; Lev22:31-32; Ezek38:23; Phil2:9-11
- Lord wants His people to demonstrate His power through them
* Our holiness means we need to separate ourselves from sin
- 1Pet1:13-15; Rom12:1-3; 2Cor7:1
- Personal holiness: outward demonstration of inward transformation
* Our holiness means we need to seek His honor & glory
* Application
- Increase Bible reading
- Increase prayer: quantity & quality
- Increase witness
- Seek wisdom
- Live a worship lifestyle
- Give: finances & time
- Self-examination: confession & repentance


and in this connection we

Interesting to see sadness linked to sadness along feeling chains of nerves. Liar sees it and licks his chops at the opportunity. Shepherding a full-time job moreso than others that stake their claim to such an adjective. Hard enough now keeping steady and focused on that hill. Much fear in changing from part to full and watching every chain get searched for weak links.


and wondering at the gracious words

When you watch a show like Lost, you have to pay attention to every spoken word, every shown image. The writers insist on dropping clues, so you know that there are no throwaway lines.

Gen31 seems strange to me because it seems like there is a throwaway incident here. Rachel steals her father's household idols and hides them in her camel's saddle pouches. Laban goes through everything except the saddle bags and then gets an earful from Jacob for his seemingly baseless searching. Like the Sarah deception as Abe's sister, you expect Rachel to later confess her sin to Jacob, and for rending of garments to occur, and for consequences of sin to be exposed.

No dice.

There are no throwaway lines in the Word. Every serif chosen for a particular reason. This incident is illuminated for our us for a reason. I believe this. This gets added to the rest of the list of "Things to Ask Christ About When in Heaven." It ranks quite far below, "Lord, why me?" and quite a bit above "Why Ten Commandments? Why not Eleven?"


no launderer on earth can whiten them

Brother yesterday spoke of the need to "clean wool" from the sheep of a flock. The image he paints of dirty sheep and the responsibility shepherds have to whiten that wool is an apt one. Eph5 commands husbands to shepherd wives in such a way as to present them near perfect before God. As His bride, flocks need to be made presentable as well, and the shepherds who are tasked to mirror The Shepherd are the ones called to do it.

It is not a pretty calling, this woolcleaning. Not only is there great effort involved in whitening darkened gray, but you must also get into the dirt and the grime. You are exposed to filthiness you wish not to see on any terms ever. Many might find the cleaning the hardest part, the expenditure of mental and physical energy. Oh no, brother. The hardest part is that exposure to darkness. I already saw behind the facade, knew each had fallen short of the glory. I needn't see the details to realize that. And yet that detail brought to right under my eyes and told to view and told to correct. And that darkness before the eyes is always unsettling, always unsettling.


with whom I am well-pleased

"...your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul." {Prov29:17}


shall describe the land

Since yesterday's mention of Isa6, been thinking of the phrase "people with unclean lips" from v5. I like the idea of a group being identified by an adjective and a bodypart. It reduces them to their core. Usually there are overlapping phrases that combine to make the whole -- it is no small coincidence, I am sure, that people of unclean lips tend to also be people of handcovered ears. But imagine bickering over which group they most belong to. Yes, he is one of them singed eye folks. But he's more stone brained than anything. Then imagine and ask yourself which phrase best describes where you are spiritually right now.


with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart

"Wrath of God: He isn't Safe, but He is Good"
* Intro:
- Lion doesn't retreat {Prov30:30}
- King's wrath like lion {Prov 19:12}
- Lord compares self to lion {Hos5:14}
- Rev calls Him Lion of Tribe of Judah
- Aslan comparison
* Understanding wrath of God helps one better understand grace of God
* What is wrath? Rom2:5-11
- Wrath warranted by our actions
- Wrath stores up
- Lord's wrath a righteous judgment
* Noah's ark story not baby decoration motif but picture of power, strength, & might of Lord's wrath
* What is fear of Lord?
- Reverent submission that leads to obedience
- Power of God & wrath forces us to fear
- Ps103:13, Prov9:10
* Daniel, righteous man, feared Lord
* Isa6:1-8
- Recognition of holiness of God
- Admittance of unworthiness
- Acceptance of His grace
* 1Pet1:15-17
* Application:
- Get rescued from coming wrath {1Thess1:10}
- Live in reverent fear
- Share faith {2Cor5:11}


and His disciples were picking

Speaking with some brothers this morning, and discussed the spiritual maturity process. I envision it in three stages. You are welcome to disagree with me and to correct me, but I won't be listening. Sort of a moot offer, really.

* Stage one is the vacuum state, the unbeliever phase where no decision you make even considers God in the equation. Your every decision is self-focused and if you even thought that God existed, He was so far away that your decisions could be made without His knowing.

* Stage two is the fear state, the believer phase where the decisions you make consider God as an awesome Judge. Your every decision is consequence-focused. You make decisions conscious of the potential outcomes and reactions from God. You are more interested in avoiding punishment for sin and consequence from sin. God is close enough that your decisions are made right under His watchful eyes.

* Stage three is the love state, the believer phase where the decisions you make consider the Lord's feelings. Your every decision is heart-focused, and not your own. You are aware that your every poor decision grieves the Lord. God is so close that you can see His eyes and the hurt in them when you choose the path that doesn't take you closer to Him.

Maturity is the development toward that last stage. That stage where you can't separate your choices from the Lord's choices for you. Room for disagreement, sure. Just not listening.


the name which you have given me

So backdated, it's not even funny....

Wondrous one brought to my attention Gen28, and the name "Bethel" or "House of God". Interesting to see the contrast between naming conventions then and now. Then, you'd see single word proclamations of what the Lord had wrought at that spot. Now, churches use their names for completely different purposes.

One common purpose is a simple name that identifies a church with its community: Saddleback, Willow Creek, Anytown Church of God. These churches use their identity to broadcast who they serve. Not an ignoble purpose, but certainly one that is people-centered vs God-centered.

Second common purpose is a name that states a particular belief system. All churches that include denominations in their appellations fit this: First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Anytown Presbyterian Church, Southwest Church of Snake-handlers. But you can also throw in the ones that avoid the denomination label and take stances on particular nouns that suit their vision: Grace Bible Fellowship, Mercy Congregational Church, Apostolic Evangelical Church of the Holy Spirit. Again, not an ignoble purpose, but one that chooses identity as a means of communicating belief.

I'm calling for churches to remember that they are gatherings for His purposes. They are brought together by His will. They are founded for the purpose of serving His vision. And the first thing anyone will get from your church is what you are called. And that calling should be a commemoration of what the Lord has wrought, not what you and your fellow believers have wrought.


the grace of our Lord was more

This Sunday is something special. Whenever the flock of God turns its sights from itself to something greater, Lord always gets the glory in ways beyond beautiful. Something timeless and eternal in the familiar chords that might make it easy to listen past the worship bound in its celebration of one of the most fundamental of His characteristics. It is worth slowing down and listening carefully and worshiping along. And if you need a unique pull away from familiarity to aid you in this, go here.

Then slow. Listen. Worship.


purity of devotion to

In prior years have mused on love in the context of Lord. Will do so again today on one particular aspect, and that is the effect that the knowledge of love can have on you.

Events of the day conspired in a valiant attempt at unnerving my calm and instigating a spiral of anger so familiar to liar and me. But didn't allow myself to head down that path. In fact, I couldn't even had I tried. Instead, suffused with this peace that -- knowing my leanings and tendencies -- certainly fits the description of a peace that treads past a large sign designating some point of comprehension.

I chalk this up to an iPod reminding me of the great love of God. Worship is not only the opportunity for you to pass along your I love yous, but also for you to receive them back in kind. And when that binding love holds you that tightly, brother, no amount of vice can muscle its way in, allowing virtue to reign unfettered. That virtue not self-directed, no sir. Up. I'm pointing up.


all who see them will shake the head

already struggling with you and then you go and do things unspeakable choosing judgment over grace and mercy and daring to defend that choice as if j over gm ever can be defended Lord help you should the same perspective greet you on JDay reminder that your role is shepherd not judge and yes s sometimes involves j but should be last resort rather than first response and certainly without delighting in the teaching of the lesson sorry but you are on your own when facing the Wrath and the wrath these gifts can't shepherd you away from that nor does it want to right now even if it could


for the powers of the heavens

Tired yesterday, but still energized by the brethren and by meditating on Psalm18. Beautiful one, starting from the very beginning: "I love Thee, O LORD, my strength." Only rolls along from there, with six names for God in v2 alone. By v7, it is this rollicking recitation of the strength and power by which the Lord saves, with imagery a man would love. v20 is the start of a reminder that the saving was in relation to faithful obedience, so be clear on that.

v29 was the kicker for me. David is so jazzed relating the tale of the Lord's power, is so filled with excitement over what a mighty God is on his side, that he claims in the second half of v29, "and by my God I can leap over a wall."

This is no empty claim, lest you think I am stating that. No, by my God, David and I can do anything. Faith believes that. This is not a false imagery of nonexistent strength. If you think that strength is somehow innate in either David or me, you would be right to claim folly. Rather, the statement reflects what the faithful know: by His strength there is no upper limit. Ps18:29 is the same sentiment expressed in Phil4;13, only much, much cooler.


already put into the heart of

Like a breath of fresh air....

"Love of God and Missions"
* Intro: If anything true about God, it is that He is love
- Love all over airwaves, yet one of most misunderstood concepts
* Agape love
- Usually thought of as unconditional love
- More importantly, primarily a love of will rather than emotions
- Lord's love not emotional since there is no enjoyment in sinner under wrath
- Lord loves by His will; His nature is to love
* Mark12:29-31: all commandments boil down to two
* If you were arrested today for loving God, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
* Love languages
- Treat people not in way you wish to be treated but in way they wish to be treated
* Eph5:33
- 75% men choose alone/unloved over inadequate/disrespected
- 80% women insecure about their significant other's love (higher numbers for younger and with young children)
* "But you don't know my spouse" -- doesn't matter; love an act of will
* Marriage not for either spouse, but for Lord. Spouse main tool for Lord to accomplish His work in your life, to prepare & support you for His work
* Lord wants us to love the least of these, the invisible ones


the sheep follow Him because they know His voice

Noticed an interesting little comment the other day while reading Gen24. Abe's servant meets Rebekah in a providential way and lets her know so. She excitedly returns home, and the matter is presented to her family. Abe's servant describes the account to them and asks for their permission to take Rebekah away to her new unseen husband-to-be. In response to the servant's story, Rebekah's parents say, "The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good."

Faith doesn't take the time to weigh in on the morality of a command from God. There is the instinct in us to carefully consider all of the facts in a situation to then divine the rightness of a particular action. But the grand assumption in such pondering is that you are capable of seeing all of the facts. The reality is that it doesn't matter whether or not you consider something "bad or good" since you can't see the big picture. The only matter to be considering is whether or not pondered course of action "comes from the Lord" or not. If so, the faithful answer doesn't come with a judgment, but rather with a "Sir, yessir."


wishes for new

Pondering almost nonstop about a future day. Driving home from a meeting of the brethren earlier this week and thinking more about the concept of renewal. The lukewarm view the renewal available to them on their great day of change the same way they view a renewal of magazine subscriptions. They think the change forthcoming is along the lines of an extension of existing states of being. Maybe this time with a little thank you gift.

True renewal involves you becoming something greater than the sum of your virtues minus the sum of your many faults. True renewal involves you existing in a state heretofore unseen by you. True renewal involves you not at all, really. The Word says, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." That free gift? Something eternal.


will prepare himself for battle

From something referenced earlier.
You will remember today
I want you to remember that you held nothing back
You did not lose heart
You did not stop fighting
You did not quit
From the OT:
Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted.

This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD'S and He will give you into our hands."
From the NT:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day;


whom the black darkness has

This was the first thing I saw when I opened up Beliefnet this morning. These were two of the verses in this morning's reading {Ps16}:

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices" (v9)
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy" (v11)

Perhaps there is some grand conspiracy going on to force me to face facts. Sometimes I run as if being chased, and that is not far from the truth of it. The truth of it looks more like the chasing is long over and I have long-since lost and having been caught I lay there as the chaser leaves footprints as deep as the shadows and as long as the darkness.


spirit who will genuinely be

Speaking with a brother tonight about issues I've spouted off about before. Discussing the whole praying-as-you-walk-upstairs mentality and the minute-counting, and what a fundamentally wrong perspective it is. Thought about the difference twixt real faith and practical faith. Some believers would have you think them the same.

Practical faith puts the Lord in a box. Practical faith focuses on spiritual checklists. Practical faith considers any prayer and any Word-reading a grand victory. Practical faith thinks being real with God involves fitting Him into your life where possible as if your faith were being rewarded for merely trying hard.

Real faith lets the Lord overwhelm you with His bigness. Real faith focuses on checking for the Spirit. Real faith considers prayer and Word-reading valuable only when the heart is right. Real faith understands that being real with God is letting Him be real with you and comparing your life to the life He wants from you and realizing what a grand failure you are trying to do this on your own.

See the difference? No, I didn't think you would. You're too busy reading Saddleback resources and counting your daily doses of God.


we are not like many

Ordinarily I would never refer you to one of their articles, unless I were going to chide them for being one of the devil's key mouthpieces. But an article ran today with a line that will get overlooked, but is deeply important. I'll pull out the quote for you to save you from having to shovel through the rest of the dreck:
“I tell you what, I’m proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American coach to win this,” Dungy said. “It means an awful lot to our country. But again, more than anything, I said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches showing you can win doing it the Lord’s way. We’re more proud of that.”
Dungy, the Lord bless him, has the heart of a believer. All credit to God. Priority one is God. And he has the wisdom and perspective to note that amidst this country's long history of racism and continuing issues with race relations, that the harder struggle isn't his skin color with society, but his religion with society.

The world will accept you rich or poor, white or black, dumb or smart, ugly or beautiful if you believe what the world wants you to believe. You may be outcast for one of your characteristics, but you will be understood and not detested. That is the difference between all other differences from a difference in religion. Dungy's comment is the keen reminder that we are not of this world, and to succeed in this world while holding your eye and heart firm on Home is a success to be celebrated and noted indeed.


at the supper and said

Communion: "God is Satisfied"
* The eternal covenant
- God in eternity past
- Father & Son create eternal covenant {Heb13:20}
* Character of God
- Holiness
- Justice
- Eternal
* God's judgment must be expressed
- Eternal wrath
- Eternal judgment (payment must be made in full)
* Wrath averted
* Christ in death, burial, resurrection
- Father propitious {Rom3:23-26}
- Father accepts Christ as substitute {Heb2:17-18}
* God's gracious character our experience
- Grace
- Mercy
- Peace
* Eternal relationship w/ God
- Eternal fellowship {1John2:1-2}
- Eternal love {1John4:8-12}


the sound of the cry of defeat

Launch the media player found here and watch the trailer. Better yet, rent or buy the DVD and watch the whole thing. Actually haven't seen it yet, so I'm making a forward-thinking recommendation. There is a chance the entirety fails to live up to the standards set by the trailer. There is also a chance the entirety adds depth to and makes more glorious the fight laid out in the trailer. Worth the risk in my estimation.

Call me cornball or easily seduced by Hollywood-style production values. I don't really care. I care about this message, a message of utter dependence on God to walk you past and through fear. It doesn't matter if that message is delivered through a parable of high school sports, or through a puppet show, or through a Japanese manga. The means of conveyance cannot dilute the power of Christ through us once we let Him work His ways.


stood by, looking on

Part One

while wandering wondering
where and to whither, whence and what
white walls? whispered wind?
whether or rather, which
withdrawal? wasting away? within?
whatever, what all not once worthwhile
while still wondering wandering


has chosen the good

What in the world does this have to do with the Gospel of Christ? Everything.

Your heart might be just like Carmelo's, wondering about the snub. It might feel like the snub is unwarranted, especially after consequences have been faced. It might feel like it is good enough to make it on its own. It might feel like it deserves more than it is getting, that is has earned a special status.

In the movie Gladiator, Crowe has a line that says that "what we do in life echoes in eternity." My friend, no amount of time served can wash that blemish clear. The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And it is not time served that is reserved for that sin. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. You can earn nothing. You can never be good enough. You can never deserve more than you are getting. You have earned and deserve eternal death.

But the Bible says that salvation is the free gift of God open to all who want it. That reservation on a special squad? That spot is yours for the taking, it is yours if you take that outstretched hand and ask Christ into your life. And if you do that, friend, the others around you will not be left wondering what your fate will be. That echo in eternity will be your footfalls in Heaven next to the glorious steps of Christ the King.

That announcement of your selection can be made this very moment if you place your fate in the hands of Jesus. Are you ready?