When all you are trying to do is the right thing, it isn't hard to act, for you have no distractions.
-William Stafford -
God’s business is putting things right;
he loves getting the lines straight,
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
we can look him straight in the eye.
- Psalm 11:7, MSG -
If you want to live a powerful life - you must choose holiness. The life God uses is a life surrendered to Him.
- John Eldredge -
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
- Hebrews 12:2-3, MSG -
I fear a Man of frugal Speech—
I fear a Silent Man—
Haranguer—I can overtake—
But He who weigheth—While the Rest—
Expend their furthest pound—
Of this Man—I am wary—
I fear that He is Grand—
When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Prov. 10:19, ESV)
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion. (Prov. 18:2, ESV)
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. (James 1:19, ESV)
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. (Matt. 12:36, ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Eph. 4:29, ESV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps. 19:14, ESV)
But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge. (Matt. 27:14, NIV)
Silence is prerequisite to hearing.
— Eugene Peterson —
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
Psalm 62:5-6, NLT
You and I are anything but irrelevant. Don't let the Enemy tell you any different. We holy fools all bear God's image. We're walking temples of the Spirit, the bashful bride of Christ, living stones in what is going to be grand house, as holy and precious as anything else in the universe, if not more so. God is making us into a Kingdom, a lovely, peaceful one, lit by his love for us flowing toward one another. That's the best gift you have to give.
—Andrew Peterson, Adorning the Dark, p. 16
Here is an unedited sunset picture that I took at the Oregon Coast. I didn’t make this view, God did. God shared it with me out of his abundance, I recorded it, and now I share it with you. His generosity abounds and he loves to provide for our needs out of that abundance.
“God is not worried that he is going to run out of something. God is beyond rich. He is overflowing with everything that is good and everything we need. He has so much that he will never run out of any of it. It is so very important to remember this when we are fretting over a perceived need. In such a time we may be tempted to think that maybe, just maybe, God is as stingy and small as we are. He is not. God loves to give. God loves to forgive. God loves to just gush forth with his goodness (John 4:14). Nothing so delights him as giving to anyone and everyone who will receive. “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” (John 3:16). —Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack, p. 23
Did you catch that? "Nothing so delights him as giving to anyone and everyone who will receive."
So, the question is, . . . Will you receive?
When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39, NLT)
It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.
- David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth
©1992 Many Rivers Press
So many books, so little time. I recently read a chapter titled, “Character”in The Aim of Life, by Philip Moxom, (p. 41). The book was published in 1894. It is an old book. According to the Smithsonian, all “true” diamonds are old—in the realm of hundreds of millions of years old. There is an amazing beauty and value in old things, and old books. I am glad I came across this gem by Moxom:
If you are to form such a character as in your best moments you both admire and covet, you will suffer yourself to be cowed by no circumstances, however menacing they may be; you will resist the slightest pressure either of fear or of selfishness; you will remember always that no evil can master you to which you do not submit. Your own choice determines, not whether you will be tempted or not, but whether or not you will be overcome by temptation; for the issue of the struggle turn not upon your individual strength alone, but upon your will reinforced by divine power. God is the ally of every soul that seeks wholly to be true.
A Warning to My Readers
by Wendell Berry
Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.
(from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry)
I like this poem. It speaks of something that I find true in my own life.
Gentle, elegant, well spoken words . . . from me? That is a wonder of wonders! But, I am learning that it is so much more than that—it is God's grace.
I know me and I know, along with Berry, that any good that resonates out of my words, work, art or effort is not the norm and definitely not natural. Left to myself, I am a mess. We all are.
The only time wonder, goodness and grace are realized in my life is when God is in control. And God, the one who is love, doesn’t take control of my life—I give God control. The choice is mine.
God is ever loving, wooing and calling me to live a life that is a wonder and it is up to me to respond—to acknowledge, welcome, and obey God’s ways and presence in my life. How can and does that happen in you and me?
I think that Ephesians 4:30 (MSG) is a good start:
"Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit moving and breathing in you is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself."
I was made by God and in Him alone do I find my stride. Any other path will leave me searching and out of sync. God is not a condiment to be added to my bland, or at times, foul tasting life. Rather, God wants to be my all in all—as important and life giving as each and every breath I take.
As we, the created ones, allow the creator to move, live and have His being in our lives, we are used for good in the most unexpected ways. When God is involved—our words, work, art and effort are transformed by grace, and then they make a difference in the lives of those around us.
A life changed for good by me? That is a wonder.
a silver moon sailing a cloudy sky
I was always too young
too young & then too old
as that moon sailed away
- D.S. Martin, "Adrift" Poiema
I just finished reading the book, Poiema: Poems by D.S. Martin. I usually devour the books I am reading, but not this one. I savored it; page by page, poem by poem. The above stanza is taken from one of Martin's poems about the subtle and relentless passing of time in our lives. My journey through this book was time well spent.
If we look at the Gospel story of the Passion as a whole and do not isolate the Cross from its context, one of the most impressive and revealing things in it is the air of strong deliberation and mastery which characterizes Jesus throughout those last days. He is so manifestly not in the least a straw on the stream of events. His enemies are not manipulating Him so much as He is manipulating them, not in any wrong way, but in the way in which God does lay hold of the wrath and sin of man and make them sub-serve His infinite purpose of love. To the end He could have escaped the Cross by the simple expedient of going somewhere else; but He did not do so. He deliberately directs His steps to it. There is an atmosphere of mastery all about Him as He steadfastly sets His face towards Jerusalem. Standing before the council, or before Pilate, there is no suggestion of fumbling or hesitancy. Nor on the other hand is there any suggestion of a merely excited and fanatical confidence. It is the other people who are excited, not He. And it is always the excited people who are the weak people. He says almost regally, “No man taketh my life from me; I lay it down of myself.” He says—very plainly, quietly, with the direct steadiness of clear-sighted conviction—“Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man seated at the right hand of power.” The hereafter refers to their seeing. He Himself sees now. He is conscious of being in a very real sense at the right hand of power now. He is with God now; the victory is His now. –H. H. Farmer
The cross of Christ didn’t just happen. It wasn’t a tragic and unexpected ending to a good story. It wasn’t a case of evil triumphing over good.
It was God working out His infinite purpose of love.
Through the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross—our sins are completely forgiven, we are able to relate with a Holy God, we are cleansed of all of our sins, and we no longer need to live as slaves (in bondage) to sin.
Easter Sunday is just two weeks away. As we walk the path to the empty tomb to joyfully announce, “He is not here, He is risen!” let us remember that out of love Jesus walked through it all on purpose—the garden, the denial, the trial, the beating, the flogging, the mocking, the shame, the sorrow, the abandonment and the cross—for you and for me.