I Want Home

college_cranium-freshman_homesick_college_advice

‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”                                                                                  

Jeremiah 32:17, ESV

“One should go to sleep as homesick passengers do, saying, “Perhaps in the morning we shall see the shore.” 

Henry Ward Beecher

I have never been there, except in a stuttering way on my knees in the Lord’s presence.  From there it is like climbing a mountain, and breaking through at the summit.  It is an astonishing awareness of home.  It is where I belong.  He wants me there.

But most of the time, I’m slogging through the peanut-butter of everyday reality.  It’s ‘scootch-slide-scootch’ most of the time.  But I recall my last trip up, so I hold on to that fragrant memory, and it is a tremendous relief to think about his presence.

I want home.  I can’t wait.  I hope he’s not disappointed in me, or disturbed by the fact that I have made such little progress.  The depression and despondency will slough off its skin like a snake.  I will know true freedom.  This is a sure thing.

I want home.  The presence of Jesus is waiting.  All of the knots will be worked out.  The dark burdens that nip at my heels will disappear.  This change is going to be powerful, and most certainly dramatic, and I want home.

For those of us who believe, we will arrive at a place of profound blessing.  We will squint back at our life on earth, and wonder what it was all about.  A hundred thousand years from now it will seem like a difficult dream which we really can’t remember upon waking.

We will be moving toward him.  There will be a magnetism that will exert its pull on our wandering hearts.  He will draw us to himself.  Guilt and shame, which has deeply infected us will be eradicated.  Sometimes, when people train to run they will wear “training weights,” creating more of a burden that has to be overcome.  In that way heaven can be understood, for we have spent over 50 years training for that place.

We come into all of this like a man who has been lost in the desert. Without water, we stumble into what looks like a watery oasis, and we find a refreshing relief.  We have been “saved” from a certain death.  When we consider what has happened, and how the superheated desert almost destroyed us, we will marvel, and that quite often.  Each one there will have a story of failure and faith, and we will listen and than tell our story as well.

What has to be stated, and restated, is the astonishing presence of Jesus in that place.  Not only in our thinking, but in a real concrete way.  Heaven is not an ethereal thing.  It is solid and strong.  We don’t imagine heaven, instead we are pounded by it.  It is more real than real, with a solidity that we will find most refreshing.

Hold on guys, keep your crown.  Don’t let anyone snatch it from you.  Advance into his presence, and let him do his stuff on you.  He loves you, far more than you love him.  He is pursuing you more than you are pursuing him.  Somehow that is quite comforting.  I want home!

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Loyalty to Our Friends

Completely Loyal

“Loyalty and truth preserve the king,
         And he upholds his throne by righteousness.” 

Prov. 20:28

 “Through these fields of destruction, baptism of fire
I’ve watched all your suffering, as the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad, in the fear and alarm
You did not desert me, my brothers in arms”

Dire Straits, ’84

Loyalty, and our deep committment to our “brothers” and our “sisters” should be growing in your life right now.  It should be “escorting” you to a deeper sense of intimacy with each other.  About 20 years ago, I visited a Lutheran church on a Sunday service.  There was a point in the liturgy when you were to greet the people around you.  I remember grabbing a guy in the pew in front of me.  I gave him a massive bear hug, squeezing the air from him.  He was my brother, even though he was a stranger!  I hung on tight to him.  He was my brother.

In Bible times David and Jonathan had a friendship that defied political reasoning.  Jonathan was supposed to be the next king of Judah, everything had been arranged by his father, Saul.  But when David came into Jonathan’s life, everything was changed.  An instant friendship changed everything.  They would remain loyal to each other for the rest of their lives. I believe they are a model of what we are to each other, in the church.

I will confess to you, I have neglected so much in my spiritual walk.  There is a lot I am ashamed of. I have sinned more as a Christian, than I ever did before I came to Christ.   As a Christian, I have sinned quite vigorously.  But one thing, I have held to beyond all else.  I loved my brothers.  They all know who they are!  I can list them if you want.  But in the final analysis, I have been faithful to them.  I’m pretty stupid, in so many ways.  But it seems that at this particular level, things are simplified.  “Do you love, Allen?  Of course I do, Father: even if he is in a strange and difficult place, I love my brother; always, and forever.”

Loyalty to those who have been brought into our lives, should not ever be diminished or explained away for what we call “logical reasons.”  There should be a connection that should never, ever be terminated.  Some of the brothers who I connected to in the ’80s, are no longer serving the Lord.  But as I think of them, there is a relationship that can’t be broken, even by their disobedience.  I still love them deeply.

Being loyal to someone, does not mean you honor their choices, or their sin.  It seems that the issues they grapple with, can’t ever really erode or diminish your love for them.  When I was a boy, on occasion we declared a “blood” oath with each other.  It was almost “ceremonial,” we would cut our thumbs and meld with each other, mixing blood with blood.  If only commitment and loyalty were that easy.  But this is the definition of an “agape love.”

I believe the Holy Spirit sees, and honors loyalty.  But I admit, I’m not doing this things for His blessing.  Rather it is a compulsion, something I know is right; something I will do until they bury me.  And I honestly can’t explain it. But they will always be  my “brothers in arms.”

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

Can a Mother Forget

Gods-love

Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;  the Lord has forgotten us.”
Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible,    
 I would not forget you! 16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.”

Isaiah 49:14-16, NLT

Some of us need to be persuaded of God’s love. We are unconvinced. But Isaiah understands. We grasp the theology, but not the meaning. Our own native ideas keep us in disbelief. Perhaps the greatest liability we have as believers is this doubt that God really feels this way about us. But, He does. Isaiah claims the impossible, yet grounds himself in what is real. The Father loves us and we’re His very own. Even if we don’t seem as holy as we ought to be. In His out reached hands, we discover scars.  This is the price He has purchased us with. We once were blind, and very lost— but now we are His own children.

We are given the impression that He more than ‘loves’ us; He ‘likes’ us. That dear ones, is not a point I’m prepared to support with scripture— it doesn’t exist except in my own thinking. I know that He theologically loves me. But I also believe God also likes me as well. Surely, there is such a fine line here, between ‘like’ and love. The more I walk with the Lord, and it’s been almost 35 years now, the more I do love/like Him. I have learned to like Him as much as I love Him. And if God doesn’t like me, I think it diminishes His love.

Some of us must be persuaded again and again of God’s love.

Regardless, Isaiah speaks for the Lord with tender things. Among the people they had the mindset that God had somehow forgotten them. They thought that they were ‘the lost ones.’ God uses the analogy of a mother. A nurturing mother. This metaphor is strong and sure. No, God hasn’t forgotten His people. Look at His hands, your name is ‘tattooed’ on them. You’re His, forever.

“In math, if you divide an infinite number by any number, no matter how large, you still have an infinite quotient. So Jesus’ love, being infinite, even though it is divided up for every person on earth, is still infinitely poured out on each one of us!” 

Charles Spurgeon

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg

A Jubilate Discipleship: Psalm 95

Montage-Jubilate

A Psalms Study

“Come, let’s sing for joy to the Lord.
    Let’s shout praises to the Rock who saves us.
Let’s come to him with thanksgiving.
    Let’s sing songs to him,
because the Lord is the great God,
    the great King over all gods.
The deepest places on earth are his,
    and the highest mountains belong to him.
The sea is his because he made it,
    and he created the land with his own hands.

Come, let’s worship him and bow down.
    Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us,
because he is our God
    and we are the people he takes care of,
    the sheep that he tends.

Today listen to what he says:

Psalm 95:1-7, NCV

Such joy: it just bubbles through the words. This is a psalm saturated with excitement. These first seven verses are ‘carbonated joy.’ They pronounce an excitement of a living God that excels in every way. These are simple words made to escort us into a true worship, unlike any other. We might use the word, “jubilant” when hearing this psalm. And we wouldn’t be far off.

“The Lord is the great God,” and He is the King of any ‘so-called’ gods. Everything concerning the earth is His doing– for He created it, with His own hands! And our creating God is also our Shepherd, tending and caring for us as His very own flock.

These verses extol our God, to the point of exuberance. It channels us to the point of worship upon our knees, with the realization of the greatness of God. But this Psalm continues for four more verses.

Today listen to what he says:
“Do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were at Meribah,
    as they were that day at Massah in the desert.
There your ancestors tested me
    and tried me even though they saw what I did.
10 I was angry with those people for forty years.
    I said, ‘They are not loyal to me
    and have not understood my ways.’
11 I was angry and made a promise,
    ‘They will never enter my rest.’”

Psalm 95:7-11

There are two parts to Psalm 95. The first is of jubilant worship. But the second part emphasizes obedience. The phrase, “Today listen to what he says:’ welds these two sections together.

Worship must always lead to obedience. You can do ‘cartwheels’ on Sunday morning, as long as you follow Him on Monday.

The issue is an history lesson that goes back to Israel’s days of Moses and the days following the Exodus. Because they were so hard and stubborn, they would wander for forty years in the desert. Their continued ‘stubbornness’ not only closed off the Promised Land, but also closed off their relationship with God— a relationship that would’ve been ‘jubilant’ and  profound (at the same time). They missed out on verses 1-6 and settled on verses 8-11. How tragically sad.

There is a thread that works through scripture called “the rest of God.” The book of Hebrews uses in 12x usually as a warning:“Now, since God has left us the promise that we may enter his rest, let us be very careful so none of you will fail to enter.” (Heb. 4:1).

 Let us try as hard as we can to enter God’s rest so that no one will fail by following the example of those who refused to obey.”

Heb.4:11

To be in God’s rest is to be in harmony with Him. It is a mixture of confident faith mixed with a careful obedience. When you combine these two, you have the recipe for joy.

I believe this rest is the believer’s place of joy, peace and confident faith. It obeys because it really wants to. It is Psalm 95:1-7 in action. It is for the jubilant Christian.

bry-signat (1)

cropped-christiangraffiti1.jpg