Sunday, October 4, 2015

Light in darkness

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about John chapter one, and more specifically about the references in the first few verses to Light and darkness. It says in that chapter that the Light shines in the darkness.  Now, to me, in my human understanding, that means that the darkness exists but that when the Light shines, the darkness flees.  That's not what the passage says. It says that the Light shines IN the darkness, ... and that the darkness (does not flee, but) does not comprehend the Light. 

Whoa. That takes a person aback, doesn't it?  It doesn't make sense to us because we go into a dark room, we turn on a light, and the darkness goes away - that's what darkness is, isn't it? the absence of Light?  

Not here in this passage. John is talking about a kind of darkness that it doesn't matter how bright the light, it does NOT go away, nor does the darkness have any concept of Light.  Well, what kind of darkness cannot understand Light?  

There is only one answer that is possible: blindness.  

Suddenly all makes sense.  Jesus said to the Pharisees, "... because you say, 'We see,' your blindness remains." (John 9:41) 

And herein lies the darkness, dear friends.  The darkness consists of insisting that everything is fine, actually believing that it is so, while all the while stumbling around in darkness, in blindness, not even aware that there is so much more: so much more freedom, so much more love, so much more Life than we ever thought possible. Yet all the while, blazing white Light is all around, piercing through everything, illuminating Life all around us, shooting rainbows and moonlight in our paths, and yet unseen by the blind who will not see. 

The darkest of all blindness is the one in which the blind one has convinced himself that he can see.  It is religion, religious ritual and self-righteousness, hypocrisy and wallowing in fear that God will take out His big cudgel and squash us like bugs. But ... God is not like that.  That's why Jesus came!! The Word says, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself..." (2 Cor. 5:19).  

And Jesus stands and proclaims that the Spirit of God is upon Him to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are oppressed. (Luke 4:18).  In reality, those who are blind in the way that John 1 reveals are poor, and captive, and oppressed - by virtue of their own -- OUR own -- blindness!  Jesus came to prove God's love to us in a way we could understand, and we killed Him for it in our darkness - our lack of comprehension.  But when we first turn to Him and ask Him to remove our blindness, He does - and we can see the Love that was there all along, and the Light that has brightened our path if we but knew it! This Light is transformative, redemptive, and irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). 

Photo "Sun In The Sky" courtesy of graur razvan at
When we are in darkness, in blindness, we can do absolutely nothing to rid ourselves of this sad state; HE is the only One who opens blind eyes.  We only ask.  He does it - He does it because He wants to do it, and has been waiting for us to ask Him!  

This makes salvation and even faith itself (Eph. 2:8d) something that He does on our behalf, and rightly so - because if we could, we would boast about how much we did, how much we believed.  It is HIS faith!!  Galatians 2:20 says in the original Greek, "...and the life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith OF the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."  Not IN, but OF.  That means that it is JESUS' faith and we can have confidence in His faith because it does NOT waver!! 

Can we see how much this frees us to live in happy gratitude?  Can we? The pressure is off! the love of God is unconditional, the grace of God is free, and the faith of Jesus in His Father is rock-solid! Hahahahahahahaha!! What glorious liberty!  what amazing love!  how bright the Light is!!  How delirious the joy that comes from total and complete acceptance in the Beloved One! 

Can I make it any more plain? This is GOOD news!! This is what the apostles were ready to die for!  No adding to it; that only takes away from it!  No reservations - that leads to bondage!  Pray God that He will open our eyes to see the wonder of His full, free, intense, passionate, scandalous love for us!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Live Free or Die

"It was for freedom that Christ has set us free..." (Eph 5:1)

Following tourists on the road is something that is not unknown where I live. Tourism is big business, especially in the summer, but now all year round, we get visitors from all over Canada and the United States. One thing that we do to pass the time is try to guess where the tourists are from by the colour and pattern on their license plates, before we are close enough to read the location  - and once we get closer, we read the motto under the location name.  One of my favourite license plates is from Vermont, USA. Its motto is "LIVE FREE OR DIE"... a reference to the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence.  

I've been thinking a fair bit about that motto. I guess that all my life, I've been heading toward that kind of desperation -- that I would rather die than not live free (in other words, death before bondage). Mind you, it takes one whole whack of bondage to get that fed up with it that you'd rather die than live in it.  But it does happen.  It does.  

And you know, that might seem like a really awful place to be, but it is absolutely necessary to get past all the mindless platitudes and living in shame and constant fear of messing up - and get to the threshold of a love-based relationship with Someone who is totally and completely ga-ga about you. 

Photo "Happy Jumping Child"
courtesy of chrisroll at
In unconditional love, there is unbelievable freedom.  There is no freedom in conditional love, only lots of fear that the love will be removed and the lover must be appeased.  Really.  I'm not sure about you, but doesn't that sound like what most people experience when someone starts talking to them about the Christian life?  Oh no, they don't tell that to the unbeliever - they save it for after you're in the door, to keep you scared enough so that you don't step out of line and go for a big juicy sin steak and fries on the side.  (Huh??)  

These folks are really comfortable talking about right and wrong: who's right and who's wrong, what behavior is and is not allowed, how hard and long you have to pray to get answers to prayer and the reasons God won't say yes (mostly to do with blaming the victim) ... and they get really worked up about it! 

But start talking about the unconditional love of God, and people either get wistful ... or they get scared - scared that you're advocating a lifestyle of license. (Yeah, right, Someone loves me to pieces, so much that He gave everything up for me in order for me to have everything He does, so yeah, the first thing I'm going to do is something that will hurt Him.)  Wow.  Just ... wow.  How warped is that kind of thinking? Better yet, how warped is the kind of thinking that would think you'd even go there? 

Now that I think about it, maybe the saying, "Live free or die" could be a statement of fact in addition to being a clarion call to liberty at all costs.  Think about it.  Unconditional love is already yours.  Whether you accept it or not is your choice.  You either accept it and live in freedom ... or you die.

I want to live.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

He GETS me!

You know those occasions (like Christmas or birthdays or maybe even Father's / Mother's Day or anniversaries) when you get gifts? You hint around at what you would like to get - things you need but you don't really think to get for yourself because you're too busy meeting everyone else's needs. Then the day comes, and you start opening your gifts, and find out that some people got the hints - and you are grateful - but then there is this one gift that you never would have expected, but the moment you lay eyes on it, you know that the giver SO totally "gets" you. 

The last time that happened to me, I had hinted (and sometimes even told) what I was looking for - and I got that (and I was grateful!) But I got more. Someone thought about me, about what I like to do (write!), and gave me a gift that touched my heart. It didn't cost much (didn't have to!) but the thought and love behind it was so evident. 

For the curious among you - it was a bound journal.  I hadn't used one in ages ... and here it was - beautifully bound and decorated, and inside there were what looked like calligraphy designs on the corners of the pages. With the journal was a set of fine-tipped pens with coloured ink. That very night, I started writing in my journal - the beginning of a personal chronicle of a spiritual journey. 

More and more I am seeing spiritual parallels as I ponder the goodness and love of God. Scriptures I have known all of my adult life pop into my head with fresh meaning:

"He has made us accepted in the Beloved [One]." 
"He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think..." 
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world..."
"He has [already] given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness..."
"We love Him because He first loved us." 
"I have engraved you on the palms of My hands..." 
"Nothing shall separate us from the love of created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is [embodied in] Christ Jesus..."
"No one will be able to pluck [you] out of My hand..."
"God is love."
"For God SO loved he world that He gave His only begotten Son..."
"In this is love - not that we loved Him but that He first loved us, and gave His life..."
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself."

You get the idea. These truths are personalized gifts from Someone who so totally GETS US. He understands our deepest needs and desires, and has already provided for every possibility that will ever exist.  EVERY possibility.  Sin, failure, rejection, rebellion, you name it, He's got it covered. ALL of it. All of your stuff, all of my stuff, forever. Forever. To infinity plus one times infinity! 

The old notion of god as the guy with the club in his hand waiting to punish us if we step out of line is disappearing. In his place is God who is love, reconciling the world to Himself AS JESUS, showing us how much He loves, the lengths to which He would go to get our attention and help us understand how much He has loved us the whole time. He GETS us - He made us and then He became one of us to let us KNOW that He gets us. The more I concentrate on this God, the more the railings and thrashings of those who claim to be His ... just don't make sense.  

Photo "Hand Of Child And Father"
courtesy of winnond at
Could it be that God cares far less about who is running the countries of the world and far more about Who we run to - not out of fear but out of a realization of how much, how deeply He loves us?? has ALWAYS loved us? even before the world began, knowing that humans wouldn't "get" Him, STILL choosing to say, "Let there be light"?? He's a relational God. He wants to be in a love relationship with His creation. He always HAS.

There's a thought. Down through history, there have been people who have grasped this truth of God being relational. Abram knew it - from the moment God spoke to him and told him to leave his roots behind - Abram knew (or perhaps learned shortly thereafter) that God was after relationship - and he was called "the friend of God." Why? because he obeyed? No, not primarily - it was because he 'believed God' (not that he believed God did this or that, but rather that God WAS (is) everything that the human heart desires.)  King David knew it - even with his warmongering attitude (which God called him out on, remember the temple?) - he totally "got" that God loved him, and that He could be talked to, trusted, and loved in return. Because he "got" that, he was called "a man after God's own heart."  Not because he went around killing Philistines or whoever, but because he understood that God loved him, and he had a love relationship with his Creator as a result. 

One day, Jesus told His listeners what the greatest commandment IN THE LAW was - to love God with all one's heart, mind, soul and strength (and the second - as a bonus - was to love one's neighbour as oneself.)  That was the greatest in the LAW. But He also said that He came to fill up the Law ... not to destroy it but to make it unnecessary ... because He would overflow us, to take away the stony hearts and give us hearts of flesh, as when Aslan breathed on the stone statues in the witch's garden and brought them back to life. Again, He also said, "A new commandment I give to you - that you love one another as I have loved you." (emphasis mine).  

Okay, let's look at that. Back up the truck past the commandment (which everyone focuses on) to the way in which He helps us keep it ... "as I have loved you." Put another way, He is saying... "Let Me love you, totally, completely, unconditionally, and once you do, you will [automatically] love one another out of your overflowing love for Me."  Doesn't that resonate, vibrate in your hearts as it does mine? As John (the beloved disciple) said, "...His commandments are not burdensome." (1 Jn 5:13). Now, the only way I know of that the statement, "His commandments are not burdensome" would be true would be if we WANT to do them .. and the only motivation that I can think of that would make me WANT to obey a commandment (because I HATE being told what to do) is if I have experienced His love and goodness for myself - not just a mental assent but a heart-revelation.  

None of this "Well, we're supposed to love so we'll just grit our teeth and do it..." stuff. Contrary to popular Christian myth, love - although it may involve an act of the will - is not primarily so.  Love is a FEELING. (How many of us would have said "Yes" when our spouse proposed marriage if there were no feeling at all? if we had to grit our teeth and let him put the ring on?)

Yikes. There's a radical thought: Jesus as Someone proposing marriage - but that is exactly what He does. It's to that kind of love-relationship that He has called our spirits - the unseen part of us that makes us who we are, that part of us that will leave our bodies when we die. And yet He wants us to open our hearts, our spirits to Him and let Him love us. Now. Eternity is NOW. It's NEVER "later." 

These are some of the thoughts I have been having as I ponder His love for myself.  I challenge you to spend some time today considering the depth, the passion of His unconditional love. Just try it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

In Search Of Life

It has been an incredibly stressful six months or more.  But finally, we have some peace within.  

Some people already know what I'm about to reveal. Some people - a smaller number, no doubt - even know why. 

My husband and I are leaving the church. There, it's out. 

No, it's nothing that any one particular person has said or done; in fact, if not for the hope we had from the wonderful hearts of a very few people who love deeply, we would have left long ago. No, we are not angry at anyone; disagreement is not anger. No, we will not reconsider; we have put much thought and prayer and soul-searching into this decision and it is made. There is nothing anyone can say or do to change it. No, we are not going anywhere else. The organized church is the same everywhere - we've tried for years to find anything that is like what the first century believers knew and we have found nothing. NOTHING.  And no, most certainly we are not abandoning our faith. 

We are not just leaving a particular assembly. We are leaving a religious system that says it is based on love, grace and good news and instead is based on judgment, rules, and death. While we are in that atmosphere, there is no way that we can pursue Life. 

This conclusion is based on personal experience going back as far as we both can remember, through various denominations, in various life stages, as children, teens, young adults, parents with children of our own, and all of it operating (or trying to operate) in ministry through the vast majority of it. Throughout our Christian lives, we and our loved ones have been subjected to the most insidious types of spiritual abuse possible (and sometimes blatant bullying) by people who are well-placed in various positions of power in boardrooms, Sunday school rooms, kids church programs, youth programs, church suppers, picnics, special services where we felt sucked dry and left to flap in the wind, and more. Yes, we could cite hundreds of scenarios where the expectations of other people have made us feel belittled, used, burnt out, taken advantage of, and taken for granted. And we would still put up with it ... if there was even the slightest spark of Life in it. 

But ... there isn't. HE isn't.

Yes, I know that He lives in us and that wherever we are [the implication is, together] He is. I know that. But when we get together in an organized, structured setting, it becomes more about controlling people's behaviour (making sure they don't "fall away", whatever that is),  being gatekeepers of morality, and perpetuating the upkeep of the building and the programs than it is about letting Jesus love us, and being filled with that love so much that it overflows into the lives of others just because we can't contain it all. As I've said, I have seen individuals whose lives are like that. But the church? 


About a year ago, a friend of ours made a similar move to the one we are making. She felt that she had to leave her church to be able to hear God's voice, to find out who He really is - because all she was hearing from the organized church was condemnation, guilt, shame, manipulation, should-dos and must-dos. It was all based in fear. Fear of losing what God had so freely given by dropping the ball somehow. Fear that people would stop tithing / giving to the church. Fear that the big bad world out there would somehow corrupt the strict code of morality that the church has embraced for centuries.

She had to leave the church to find God. Interesting. (Here's a footnote by the way: she DID find Him ... and she is deliriously happy!!)

Photo "Portrait Of Pointing Male" by
imagerymajestic at
I will ask a question here - haven't there been many times when you've left church more drained than when you went there? More frustrated, more angry, more drained of hope, wondering if this is all there is?  I had times like that once in a while, years ago when I was involved in a community of believers that supplemented what happened at church... and even that group got bogged down in "organizing the organism" (also known as vivisection: now there's a horror story...) 

Since that time, that horrible experience of futility and burnout, that feeling of being beaten up, has happened more and more often until the point where it is so rare that even when the slightest glimmer of the presence of God shows up in a church service - He is doused with ice water after someone decides that we've had "enough worship" and wants to get to the "real" reason for church - the preaching. (WHAAAT??? Where is THAT written???) The preacher stands up (and here I must say that not EVERY preacher is like this) and starts to yell at the people for "not doing enough." He (or she) tries to scare people into toeing the line. Or shame them into getting out there and spreading the good news. (Really? is it good news to tell people that God can't stand to look at them, but He loves them so He killed Jesus for them, and then expects them to toe the line and behave themselves the rest of their lives or they'll end up going to the bad place anyway??)  It's all DO, DO, DO, with no encouragement to BE, BE, BE. It's like folks don't even know HOW to just BE. They think that unless they are out there, full bore, chugging for the Lord, He's not going to be pleased with them. What bondage.

He DIED for them to prove how much He loves - has always loved - the human race. Oh my goodness, do we think that He will stop being crazy about us just because we didn't read three chapters in the Bible today? or didn't sprinkle oil on the living room furniture to chase the demons away? 

Come on. Is our god really that small and petty?

God is LOVE. God is so much LOVE that He went to the ultimate extreme - becoming one of us - to prove that love. Jesus didn't die to make God stop being mad at us. Jesus died because God loved us so much and we were still drowning in our blindness thinking that He needed to be appeased. So He came to prove His love - and WE killed Him - and HE forgave us while we were doing it!! No condemnation, NONE. Just total acceptance and love. He came and died to remove our blindness if we would ask Him to, our blindness to His love, His light, His LIFE. And then He rose from the dead to show us that we would live forever as well.  In that act of pure, eternal, inexhaustible love, He KILLED the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of good and bad, right and wrong. And He opened the door to the tree of Life.

THAT is the Good News. THAT is the gospel. Not this whole system that is based on the same tree that Adam and Eve ate from in the Garden: the tree of "I'm better than you because I do this and don't do that."  That's the morality tree. It's what put Jesus to death!! He came to show us Love and Light and Life - and the religious system of dos and don'ts, shoulds and should nots, musts and must nots, felt threatened by Him... These religious rulers manipulated the political rulers of the day, and turned His message of Love into a capital crime, when Jesus Himself did not say anything against Rome, or against slavery, or against any of the societal ills of His day.  His only scathing rebukes had been against religion - the system - that rules-based, fear-based, politico-religious system that condoned oppressing the poor, and created a spiritual top-down caste society of haves and have-nots, of those who were "in" and those who were "out." 

The kingdom (kingship) of God is not like that. He turned the top-down system upside down and showed us that WE are the pearl of great price that He gave everything to have, that WE are the friends He would lay His life down for, before we even knew what it meant for Him to do that. He placed Himself beneath us, serving us... to show us how very much He loved us. ALL of us, every single soul down through history ... even the ones that have not been conceived yet. Not just the chosen few.

The religious system grinds people to oily dust and uses that dust to oil its cogs to grind more people up. It is an atmosphere that is anti-God, anti-Jesus, anti-Spirit. It is exclusive, not inclusive. It shames and does not accept. It is Ichabod - the glory has departed. We are not willing to be part of that system anymore. To us, it is (always has been, and sadly, probably always will be) death, not Life.  

Photo "Sunrise At First Sight"
courtesy of Keattikorn at
We are searching for Life. We know that light-giving Life is in Him (see John 1) and we have only seen darkness and doubt and despair in the organized church. We are not saying that we will never darken a church door again ... but we are saying that such an oppressive atmosphere - for us - does not lend itself to finding Life or to falling in love with Jesus. 

And we understand - and fully accept and love - those who feel that the organization is the place they need to stay in order to have a feeling of community and purpose. We understand that there are people  -  many people  -  who need that structure, who need that place to call home in order to feel safe.  With rare and extremely notable (but temporary) exceptions, we have not found that feeling for ourselves; in general, we have found ourselves excluded, abused, judged, and at best, tolerated. 

So we are going on our quest - and it must happen outside that atmosphere. There have been definite glimmers - outside the organized church system - where we have experienced the organism of the Church (notice I capitalized it), been uplifted and fed, felt like participants in the good things that God is doing in people's lives. These have led us to believe that finding Life is possible, that God will prepare an accepting and loving community for us, and that it will be so very important for us to refrain from jeopardizing that by taking out the scalpel to dissect it and organize it. That would only kill it. There is no way we would want that.

I don't expect very many people to understand ... or to agree ... but I only wanted for the people who know us best to hear the real reasons from us, rather than speculating or gossiping or judging ... and to understand that it is necessary for us to guard our hearts, which for us (right now) means that we practice self-care by removing ourselves from that which crushes us. 

This is a scary thing we are doing. We are not sure what to expect. We are not sure if we'll find what we're looking for. We are launching out into the unknown. All we know is that if we keep doing what we've always done, we'll keep getting what we've always gotten.  And we are tired of living like that.  If there is not more, then "the abundant Life" Jesus promised is a sham. But if - as we suspect - there IS something more, we are on the lookout for it. We are in search of Life.  And if we find Life - there will be no question that those who know and love us will be the first to know because we won't be able to contain ourselves.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

One born blind

There's a modern miracle happening all around the world. A scientist stumbled upon a solution to the problem of red-green colour-blindness and soon thereafter, the company called EnChroma was born.  

My daughter told me about this company that is really doing some good. People who were not allowed to drive a vehicle can now drive when they wear their new sunglasses. They can read signage they never could. And they can see so many things that those with regular colour vision take for granted ... every day.

As she told me about it, I began to understand a very powerful spiritual truth. It's all about darkness and light, and how these have been portrayed in the western church for centuries ... that darkness somehow exists apart from light, and that when the light turns on, the darkness leaves. 

That is not what Scripture says. John chapter 1 says that the Light (of Life, of Love) shines IN the darkness .... AND THE DARKNESS DOES NOT COMPREHEND IT. 

Wait a second... if the Light shines in the darkness, doesn't it dispel the darkness?


It's like being blind. There can be all the light around that you want, but that doesn't mean that the blind person can see it. 

When the blindness is removed, people see the light. The light was always there, but the blindness must be removed first

THIS IS THE GOSPEL. It is entirely the work of God to remove the blindness; we just ask Him to remove it so that we can see the Light that has been there all along - the Light that has been shining in and through our darkness even though we didn't understand or know that it was there, the Love that we always hoped for but never experienced.

And He does. He DOES remove that darkness. And the Light shines through in all of His brilliance.

In a very small way, the video link below shows what being able to "see" something that was always there but the person never perceived, looks like. It's a video of someone who has tried on his EnChroma sunglasses for the first time ... on his birthday.  This man has never been able to truly see red, green, purple, pink, orange, or brown, or even some shades of blue and yellow ... in all of their different hues.  His experience of colour has always been what people might see on a TV with most of the colour (but not all) removed - faded... not gray exactly, but ... just drab. His family has transplanted some flowers at the base of a tree just for the occasion.

Now watch carefully his reaction to his birthday gift.

Watch it, and think ... "He has delivered us from the power of darkness..." 

See if your reaction is the same as mine was.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Key Of Knowledge - Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on the "key of knowledge" that Jesus accused the Pharisees of stealing from the people. (To read that post, click here.)

I talked about how the knowledge that Jesus meant was an intimate knowing, not just a friendship but a lover's relationship, human beings in a love relationship with the Eternal One. 

This means that what the Pharisees had done was to reduce a love relationship down to a list of dos and don'ts, of shoulds, ought-tos, and supposed-tos. (Hm, sounds like what happens in most church organizations.) 

That's what humans do. When Moses first went up Mount Sinai to spend time with God, God also invited the people up to spend time with Him ...but they refused. They'd been steeped in 430 years of ancient Egyptian teaching that talked about how people had to appease the gods or they would be found lacking when it was time for the judgment, when their souls would be weighed in the balance. They were afraid. They refused to get close to (their own image of a) god who would strike them down at the least infraction. They didn't understand this God who wanted to know them; all they saw was a deity who had already struck the Egyptians down, decimated the oppressor's army and supernaturally delivered them ... when would this deity suddenly turn on them? No, they had to remain distant. If Moses wanted to talk to God, he was welcome to that; not these little grey ducks. 

It was the same lie that Eve believed in the Garden. "God's holding out on you. He can't be trusted." 

So they stayed away. "You spend time with God, Moses. We'll look to you and YOU can tell us what He wants." 


What did He want?  Relationship. Intimate relationship.

What did they settle for?  RULES.  Distance. A go-between. Moses was (to them) the mediator - the one who would tell them what God wanted. And where Moses is read (in other words, the Torah, the Law) ... that is what people see - the rules. And those who read the New Testament from a standpoint of rules, from a mind-set of do and don't, that's all they're going to see: a set of rules, steps to climb up the staircase to appease a deity because if they don't ... they won't end up in Heaven, but in the other place.

But those rules were only put there to show us that we are incapable of keeping them. ALL of us are incapable of keeping the whole law. It's not ABOUT keeping the law. It never was. 

There have been some down through history that "got" it. King David got it.... and he was far from perfect. But he understood that the rules weren't what it was about - if you read the Psalms you see a man who was in a relationship with God - a man "after God's own heart." Yet he messed up royally! What does that tell us?  It tells us that living isn't about obeying the rules, or judging people based on the rules.

What does God STILL want? What He's ALWAYS wanted:  intimate relationship with each of us. 

Now ... here's the mind-blowing thing. Jesus - according to the plan set out before the universe existed - entered the corporeal (physical) universe, the one that He made, the one that He spoke into existence. He came into this world to show us that God who loved Him intimately, loves US intimately. He came to prove it to us. He came to open our eyes, to make a proposal to us. 


Photo "Affectionate Man Kissing His Lady"
courtesy of imagerymajestic at
 This does NOT mean, "He doesn't love us until we let Him." He has loved us and will love us forever, in eternity past and in eternity future, in the eternal now, each of us individually, every person who has ever existed or who ever will exist. No, this is not saying that our choice drives His love or His life in us. This is saying that whether we want Him to or not, He loves us

Those of us whom His Spirit has brought to Him have been healed permanently of our spiritual blindness so that we can SEE that He loves us; that is the only difference. He is one with us - in a much deeper way than two humans could ever become one. This is the kind of intimacy that He already has with us. We are one with Him. Christ in us, the hope of Glory. 

All of this means, dear ones, that we don't have to strive: we don't have to jump through hoops and repent/confess/renounce/sacrifice. We need not agonize and "push through" and "press in...." We don't have to operate in the "I'm no good" or "I don't deserve" or the "I'm so unworthy" ... none of it ... to be acceptable to Him. He's already crazy about us! He has already accepted us! He is already IN us!

He is the one who opens our eyes to that. It's why He came - to open our blinded eyes to the Light. 

What do we do with that? How do we respond to Him opening the eyes of the ones born blind (us)? 

It's so simple. 

This, friends, is GOOD news!  This is liberating!! This is that easy yoke, the light burden, the joy unspeakable, the rivers of living water.  This is LIFE - not the death of fear and guilt and shame that I (and I suspect you too) lived in the middle of, for years and years in the organized religious system that all my life I called the church.  That was not the living organism of the church. That was cold and dead religion, composed of people's never-ending attempts to impress a cold, impersonal deity and judge each other while doing so.  This, this Love, on the other hand, is freedom, and mercy, and grace, and truly living

Any time we judge anyone else (and believe me, I've done more than my share!), we are not operating in that Love or in that Life, but in our own religious system of guilt and shame and fear and judgment. This is why there is so much unhappiness in believers, so much dissatisfaction with the organized church: we are operating in fear and guilt; these bring shame and judgment and torment. And death. They bring death - that same living death that the first couple knew after they'd eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Jesus came to prove to us that the Father loves us, so that we could have Life. 

Not death, not judging who is right and who is wrong. Life. 
Not guilt, not shame. Life. 
Not bondage, not fear. Life. 

He IS the Life. He IS Love.
Let's let Him love us in a SO much deeper way than we've ever known. 
He has been waiting ... forever. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Speak Lord

I feel, for the sake of those who might be alarmed or concerned, that I must preface this post by saying that the word pictures I am using below are metaphors, nothing more. This is a sort of spiritual allegory, not to be taken literally.


For months, even years I have been traveling to the edge of the precipice where I stand today. I hear that Voice - it calls me to something, I know not what. 

I have struggled to stay in the familiar, and every time I do, I am trampled upon, bruised, misunderstood, overlooked, and accused; there is always something that is not "good enough" or not "holy enough" in my life. The voices of those who condemn me are many. They join together in a cacophony. I cover my ears and try to hear that whisper that they drown out.  I try to tune out the shoulds and the musts, and listen to the Voice of the Galilean.

I hear no such condemnation from this Voice. It calls me - speaks softly and gently to me - and it is full of love, compassion, and acceptance. The One who ate with (and in eating with, He accepted totally) the tax-collector, the prostitute and the riff-raff of society does not condemn; He does not call for marches or placards or politics. He is quiet and lowly in heart. 

He calls me; it has been His Voice I have heard since the time I was very young and could almost hear the wind calling my name. It was those religious automatons who bound my hands and feet, those who gagged me and covered my eyes to "protect" me, led me astray in all of their self-righteous babble about duty and obligation, debts to pay that could never be paid, and "standing for righteousness."  

The Voice doesn't say those things. In those almost imperceptible whispers I hear encouragement, empathy, empowerment. Those whispers have called me to the edge of the cliff - that cliff I stayed so studiously away from, thinking it would lead to my downfall. I wanted to be safe - safe is good, right?  

Photo "Silhouette Of A Man On The Rock At Sunset"
courtesy of satit_srihin at
No. No, not necessarily. Like Samuel hearing the Voice in the night, I have run to those who I thought could interpret it - only to find that it had been so long since they heard it themselves that they didn't recognize it. Finally, the old man Eli's words come back to me - on the third occasion he told Samuel to say, "Speak, Lord; I'm listening." What a novel idea. Don't wait for someone else to interpret it; just ask Him to speak ... since the message is for me and for me alone. He has something important to say.

Well .. here I am.  I'm at the edge of this cliff, somewhere I never in a hundred years thought I would be. I look over the edge and I see no safety net, no structure, nothing familiar - just empty space and that inner urging to listen. 

"I'm listening." 

Silence. just ... silence as the wind whistles, as the people as small as ants make their way, doing everyday things, going on about their lives as if nothing was happening. But something is. Something is. 

"Speak Lord."  Not a command one would give to a dog, but a plea from the heart. It's the kind of desperation Moses had when he said, "If You're not going with me, I'm not going anywhere."  Only in the Presence, in the shekinah, is there any kind of answer to that burning desire. 

"I'm scared." I've never done anything this radical before, and I've done some pretty radical things. I have no clue what's ahead. The view from the precipice is dizzying, unnerving. It is breathtakingly beautiful, but I have always been told that it is so dangerous to come here, away from them, away from the others whose collective voices drown out the One Voice while all the time they claim to speak for Him. I only want to hear His Voice now.

From the stillness that envelops me, I hear one very simple, very radical word. "Jump." 

Wha-at? I shout inside, That's crazy!  And I hear nothing but silence. 

And the wind. I hear the wind call my name as it did when I was a child. Can it really be that simple? to close my eyes and just feel His arms around me? To let Him love me? to believe that He really is THAT good? that He would catch me? 

And then I hear it again.