Monday, September 15, 2014

Justice

Let a righteous man strike me - it is a kindness; let him rebuke me - it is oil for my head. Psalm 141:5

Nothing gets me more upset than people who get away with evil. And, it happens every day.

But, I will tell you, the best thing that I can say about injustice is this: we do not know when we might be partakers in the most awful, hurtful behaviors - to the point of putting someone in our sphere of influence into emotional breakdown or distress ... or, far worse.

And, I think the Christian attitude toward injustice that truly designates whether a heart actually loves Jesus no matter what is, when confronted with something that you have done to hurt someone else, whether or not you are willing to listen to the truth, or whether your heart's predisposition is toward defending yourself.

And, probably the most disgusting misuse of spiritual teachings in this world is when people use Scriptures to cover up what they know is something they have done wrong.

I am not sure there is any forgiveness for such perversion. Because, while justice is blind to those of us who are not God (which is all of us, by the way), God's heart cannot be correctly seen in this world through the life of a man or woman who makes a mockery of that which is good, and then covers it up with something spoken from the mouth of the source of all Who is Good.

God's Word is truth. God does not give His throne to another. He is a just king. And, a merciful king. But, those two things go hand-in-hand. It is time to call out the hypocrisy of those who tell the world they serve the King of Love, but live only for themselves. Especially if that person is you.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nature

Unfortunately, it is a bad idea shared among many that nature is - somehow - our enemy.

In fact, nature is most certainly our friend.

In some Christian circles, the idea that nature is out to get us is propagated or even that nature needs us to tame it, somehow. But, God can handle that just fine.

To be a Christian means, to so many in this modern world, to be someone so out of touch with the rhythms of this beautiful world, so out of touch with the way things are, working against those things with a viewpoint that this - right here - is some kind of "sin-cursed world." How sad that outlook is... how wrong that outlook is.

I was playing that hymn "This is My Father's World" on the piano one day and someone asked me, "isn't it Satan's world? That's what we learn at school!?" I was continually impressed by the destructive quality of certain bodies of teachings... "no," I said back. "This is not Satan's world. He may want us to think it's his - and, unfortunately, some people with little faith will buy that. But, no; it is, most definitely, God's world."

You can find that in the mixtures of colors in a sunset, the beauty of every raindrop, the curves of the hills on a long day's drive through the High Plains of Wyoming. This is God's land. God's country. God's planet. God's world. Too much staring at the evil in your own heart creates a demon out of you. Why not stare at the majesty of God, and everything He's provided for you.

There's - simply - no need to be afraid of nature.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Joy (part 2)

A couple days ago, I was walking down the street in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a very beautiful city and - in fact - the capital city and largest city of the state of Wyoming. It was a cool-ish, fall-like day, and Rebekah and I were down there to run errands.

As we usually do, when we get a chance to go into the "big city," we take pictures of things that we find beautiful. This image - taken off of the side of a run-down, old building - is probably our favorite from that day.

Even though the building is, currently, breaking into pieces and the shop windows are, currently, all boarded up, the beauty of the blue-green glass really struck us.

I am constantly impressed by how greedy our hearts, and minds, can be as we live - together - in this world of "you need this!" and "don't even think about living without this!!" or "you'll DIE if you don't have this!!" ... the messages of materialism and what I believe is the god of Mammon (Matthew 6:24) constantly attracting us, assaulting us, pounding us into what is supposed to be some kind of submission.

But, then, there's the beautiful glass.

Forgotten. Awesome.

I think the Kingdom of God is a bit like that glass... something beautiful, something awesome, something that is so much more incredible than anything this world offers, any societal status, anything at all. And, I think the kingdom of God is growing, whether this world likes to admit it or not. I think the kingdom of God is growing because Jesus said that it would; and, I believe that the kingdom of God is - right now - growing in the hearts of men and women to such an extent that the world is, literally, rearing up in response by portraying money and gold bars to such a radically insane degree that we are supposed to be overwhelmed... supposed to be frightened of imminent financial collapse!

Perhaps, a financial collapse isn't, necessarily, a bad idea!? It depends on where your ground is.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Stability

Stability comes in many forms. I'm pretty sure that you only realize your need for stability when things start to feel very unstable.

In 2003, I started to feel very unstable. It was because, for the first time in my life, I was asking the "big" questions. I had run, and run, and run from all of my problems - toward ambition. But, something was coming back to bite me. Truth.

Since then, I haven't learned much. Every time I learn something, there's some newer thing to learn. And, that is very liberating!

A friend of mine told me several years ago to take a few years and have no ambition at all. That was, by far, the most profound teaching I have ever received in my life. Because of that, I stopped all the momentum that was building to push me in this direction, or that direction and began to understand - for the first time - that truth and goodness don't have anything to do with what mark we place on them, with our own lives.. what value we seem to give to ourselves. "If anyone thinks he is something, when in fact he is nothing, he deceives himself," Paul said, in the Bible (Galatians 6:3).

So, for me, today, I'm standing still in the midst of a world that I've tried to run away from time, and time, again. All the conflicts I've tried to just wave away with my mind; all the people I've, maybe, hoped to overpower with this idea, or that idea. Here. Right here.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Music

Some of you know that I play the piano.

And, when we write pieces for Fold, we experience some of the same patterns that I have experienced over the years when performing music: people paying attention first with skepticism than with some kind of engagement... people trying to put things in categories that end up breaking down... everybody trying to find their place "in" or "out"... those hungry for meaning able to find it... those looking for something to be angry at seemingly always able to find that, too...

I find that my biggest fear as a human being has been others' approval. I've touched hearts and healed with both music and words, before. But, at the same time, when you put yourself out there it makes you vulnerable to even the most subtle attack; and, that's not always a nice place to be in life. Sometimes, it's just easier not to put yourself out there. My friend, Matt, is acting on stage in a few months; and, nothing has inspired me more - recently - in my heart to see the joyous attitude that he has to get back to his "calling."

My calling is shepherd. I am called, by God, to shepherd His People. That is why this blog is called Fold. And, in my own way, I am called - by God's grace - to use the gifts that He has given me to be a good shepherd. And, that's what I want to do. And, every single one of Fold's pieces is aimed at encouragement versus discouragement. Truth versus falsehood. I want to stimulate you - the reader - to be inspired in your own way, to be filled up with God's life inside of you, to create a passion that is palpable and a love that you can rely on for Him. That is my heart's desire. Because of this desire, I am pounded at times by people who have a variety of issues and problems in their lives - perhaps, with God, perhaps with others, etc.

But, as long as He gives me the grace and continues to grant me the purpose and the capacity, I'm going to keep going. We have a beautiful group of souls here in Wyoming; there's a humility and a desire to be good people, to give back, to help others, to be more Christ-like, to make the world more like the Kingdom of God, to be hard workers, to do good in whatever way that means. And, as Rebekah and I serve in this capacity, our desire to reach people is unbound. We just do what God gives us the ability to do, and He connects those hearts that He wants connected. A true shepherd, from God's beautiful description in John 10, gives unconditionally to the sheep of the fold and is nothing more than a doorway through which people can contact the Savior and go in and out and find pasture.

I say this to tell you that I love you, and am grateful for God's gift of being able to communicate with you. My wife and I have exposed ourselves to you because God has asked us to be living in this way in this world wherever we go.


Creativity

If you are alive, you have the ability to be creative. Creativity is something God built in to each and every one of us. It is the power to change. And, since nothing is static - in truth - creativity is the essence of life.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Incense

It is said that a man's (or, woman's) knowledge of Jesus Christ is like a sweet savor wafting up to the Almighty Father, that such a knowledge pleases the Father and causes His heart to smile.

And, if you live your life in such a way as to cause the Father to smile, it means that you are living your life in accordance with the knowledge of Jesus Christ and Who He Is. And, as you do that, you cannot help but feel the pleasure and the favor of the Father (through the Spirit) testifying to you that you are "accepted in the" "Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."