Sandblasted Saints

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”  

Isa. 43:19, ESV

There is nothing that will increase your strength and your character like the wilderness does. It is God’s gym; he works you out on his equipment.  Good things will happen to all who will work-out. The desert becomes a place of separation and resolve. It is not for the faint of heart.

This spiritual geography is also the launching pad for ministries: for Jesus’ public ministry was 40 days in the wilderness — the training for Moses’ powerful leadership of God’s people was 40 years in the desert — and maybe why you are serving your time in the wilderness, right now.  It has to be.  It is your place for this moment.

“In the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.'”

Deut. 1:31, ESV

Once in the desert, the Father keeps an “ultra-close-eye” on all his children. 

At times of strenuous activity/emotion–he comes and then he carries us.  He is exceedingly gentle, and he knows precisely what we need, and he sure doesn’t stint on his grace–he pours it out lavishly.

If you’re in the desert, know that your God is on duty.  Nothing that comes to you sneaks past His alert observation and consent.  (And after all, if you think about it, the wilderness is His as well.)

We seem to always be on the anvil; in the wilderness where God is shaping us for higher things. But, by faith, it is a rich place to be.

“To be commanded to love God at all, let alone in the wilderness, is like being commanded to be well when we are sick, to sing for joy when we are dying of thirst, to run when our legs are broken. But this is the first and great commandment nonetheless. Even in the wilderness – especially in the wilderness – you shall love him.”

Frederick Buechner

ybic, Bryan

kyrie eleison. (Lord, have mercy)



When Losers Are Loved

Before the bush, He calls to us

“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”

1 Corinthians 1:27, NLT

God has particular preferences when it comes to peculiar people.  He selectively chooses.  These choices are made up in his mind and heart.  For us to criticize them, is by association, faulting God. It just happens to be that He likes losers. He choses uneven performers over the gifted and learned, (1 Cor. 1:26).

There have been very many men and women tossed out on the trash heap of humanity.  They are often regarded as useless and irrelevant. But God loves the outcast and forgotten.

We who are the disabled know weakness intimately. We must deal with it 24/7; and it never takes a holiday, We are broken believers who are in love with Jesus and still we are broken. Talk about having faith for healing? What about the faith to be sick?

People who have experienced dealings so harsh– most likely— there is little pride or arrogance left. These are usually the marginalized, the losers. People like Moses,

“Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Exodus 3:11

Someone once said, “When God intends to use a man or woman He takes them and crushes them.”  The inevitable breaking is followed by a release of the Holy Spirit from their lives.  Moses is proof of God’s renovating presence.  You want the presence? Prepare for years of roughness, and misunderstanding. Prepare for the crushing.

At the burning bush, Moses was given the assignment of returning, confronting Pharaoh, and leading all the captives to the Promised Land of Canaan.  He had just spent 40 years as a refugee/shepherd.  In spite of a good education he had received while in Egypt as a prince, that wasn’t why he had been selected.

Moses has definite feelings of inadequacy and failure.  And his time in the desert did nothing to relieve this.  But a 40 year “prison” term will do that.  In chapter 4 of Exodus we read “the back and forth” conversation between Moses and the Lord God.  All of Moses’ objections were consistently volleyed back with comfort and promise.

As you read this, you may be aware of God’s presence.  He has called you to do something for him.  You have wandered off the path, gotten lost and suffered much.  The “desert” will do that.  But it all can be forgiven.  His alert grace is a velvet battering ram of grace and love.  He will (and does) discipline you–but only because he is passionately in love with your soul, and His glory.



Drink Up!

water-running from-hand

Now on the final and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! 

John 7:37,   Amplified

The strangeness of this metaphor has never really been resolved in my thinking.  There is one other which strikes me as incredibly odd; it is when Jesus declares that He is “the Bread of life” whom we must eat.  With both of these I’m content right now to think that I am reaching through a cultural airlock, and things will resolve.  It isn’t doubt, I’m just content to wait for it to be sorted out.  I’m certain it shall be.

hands_of_jesus_pouring_waterBut I cannot minimize these declarations, and their significance.  “I am the Water for this parched world.  Come with your buckets and cups.”  If we but think about this, there is an implied exclusivity.  He has everything we need.  And there is no one else.  Also reading the text over again, I’m struck by the setting for this announcement.

They were standing in the Temple.  Jesus had been unveiling His ministry to be messianic, and His presence to be divine.  And the Temple and the feasts created the atmosphere for this dramatic revelation.  And the best part was this, “everyone, anyone who understands having a thirst, can come to me, and drink me.”

I lived for three years in the deserts of Baja, Mexico.  I learned about heat, and the exquisite value of water, and savoring it to the last mouthful.  I saw spring rains soak the desolate terrain, and saw the awesome results of a blooming desert.  And it was all about the water.

The world has been confronted by the real spiritual, and most don’t even understand this.  But yet we all know there exists a powerful thirst.  And thirst,  is perhaps the best word to use.  We walk through life parched and dried out, and nothing we’ve tried to drink has helped.  There has been a joint effort by many brilliant minds, but it has completely and definitely failed.

     “Is anyone thirsty?
      Come and drink—
      even if you have no money!
      Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
      it’s all free!”    -Isa. 55:1

Isaiah the prophet used the imagery of thirst.  He has shown us that thereis somewhere (or more precisely “someone”) who has the fantastical ability of meeting our needs.  I can’t say a lot about the “wine”, (but I’m sure it’s something good.)  And the milk? Well growing up in rural Wisconsin, I drank lots and lots of wholesome raw milk, straight from the cow. With the cream four inches thick in our gallon jar. It was grand, I loved it!

When we follow Jesus, He provides what we need.  When I come, as one of His flawed ones, He pays extra attention to me (at least that is what it feels like).  Satan’s lies fall away, and my understanding grows as I drink Jesus.


ybic, Bryan

kyrie eleison.