“What All Liars Have in Common”. . .an Excerpt from a Liars Anonymous Meeting

Hi.  My name is Mike.  .  and I’m a recovering liar.  I’ve been given the opportunity to give the lead today.  It’s always difficult to be self-revealing and vulnerable, especially when it comes to exposing our failures and short-comings.  When you spend the first thirty-four years of your life in denial, it’s remarkable that you can see any faults, known or secret, even to yourself.  I’ve never had a problem identifying other people’s moral issues, but wasn’t too keen-sighted to acknowledge my own.   .   .until lying almost killed me.

Lying isn’t a recent phenomena, though it seems to have picked up steam over the years, reaching a crescendo in recent months.  The virus is spreading to people in every walk of life.  One of the recent headlines I read the other day was titled, “The President’s Press Secretary Lies All of the Time.”  The news is filled with stories of people caught in lies, accused of lies, denying lies, compounding lies and left off the hook with the consequence of lies.  It’s a holy crusade to weed out the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

   “All of mankind have the work of the law (the law to tell the truth) written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness in their thoughts and actions to be truthful;  but they find themselves accusing others of lies and excusing themselves of their own, or in blindness cannot see their own sin.” 

Almost every day my chronic condition, which includes this virus that seems to have a mind of its own, is present within me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh and blood.  .  .my human nature) dwells no good thing.  The will to do right and speak the truth is present with me;  but the power to perform that which is good, I do not find within me.  Who will rescue me?  Many of you attending the meeting today have had the same experience.  Living in total ignorance of your lying shortcomings until Love arrived, then Light exposed what lurked in the darkness and Mercy freed you from the guilt and condemnation.  Yet, we can still remember when denial and ignorance was our way of life and judging others made us feel better.

        “Two men went up to the temple to pray.  The one a Pharisee and the other a publican.  (It’s important to identify their characters.  The Pharisee was a religious person who worked hard to present himself as a holy and righteous person.  Jesus referred to Pharisees as white washed tombs.  White on the outside but darkness and death on the inside.  The publican was a tax collector who regularly stole from the people and was generally known as a thief and liar.

       The Pharisee stood up and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers.   .   .and liars like this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give a portion of what I have to others.  .  .and I tell the truth.  I’m not lying.”   Then the Publican, who could not even lift his eyes up to Heaven because of his guilt and shame, pressed his fist to his heart and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  Then Jesus said, “the Publican went home justified, having seen his sin fully and finding himself in the hands of a forgiving God, received the gift of His Son and along with Him, freely receiving all things.  A new heart.  A Heart filled with Truth.  A Heart that cannot lie.”

What do all liars have in common?  First and foremost they are all members of the human race and all of them possess a human heart.   .   .a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, mortally sick.  No man can understand his own heart.  And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that whole imagination of the heart with the thoughts and purposes, was only evil continually.   .   . and a perpetual lie.  Humans are foolish.  They do not know God.  They are sottish children and they have no understanding of themselves.  They are wise to do evil, but have no knowledge of God’s Way to do good.

        “I said in great alarm as I looked around, ‘All men are liars’.

        “They speak falsehood to one another.  With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.”

        “One of themselves, a philosopher of the world said, ‘people are always liars.”

        “They all lie about the Lord and say, ‘He will not see us, so misfortune will not come upon us.”

        “Their mouths speak deceit and their right hand is a hand of falsehood.”

        “If someone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his fellow man.   .   .that person is a liar.”  (These are all verses from scripture.   .   .God’s own opinions.  The only politically correct opinions.)

My thoughts were just interrupted by the sound of singing coming from the back of the room.  It’s a little black lying sheep, who had lost her way but was found by the Shepherd.  Now, others have joined her in a chorus that is a spectacle to angels, to heaven and to man.  A beautiful rhapsody from a room full of recovering addicts, who now possess a new Heart filled with Power, Love and a Sound Mind.  What they all have in common is the Lord, Who is the author and perfecter of Truth.   .   .and the Giver of all Good and Perfect gifts.  He is the very Essence of their new Heart.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretched liar like me.  I once was lost, but now I’ve been found;  was blind but now I see,”  Now I see myself, not in a different light but in His Light which has enlightened me to the truth about myself and others.  And to be able to speak the Truth and not lie, that Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.” 

 

And Jesus said to them, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”  And one by one they dropped their stones and walked away.

 

 

Advertisements

Co(s)mic Relief: Earth, the Fart Joke of the Universe

Thirty five years ago on a Tuesday morning, I sat listening to my counselor as he described a particular person in his life who was a challenge.  As he worked his way down to his deepest feelings about the man, he called him “a total ashhole.”  My counselor was my pastor and he worked hard at avoiding vulgarities at any cost;  but of course, I  thought “asshole” anyway.  I’m sharing this to let you know that the nature of the topic requires some occasional use of  a few swear words that I will not attempt to refine to soften the blow.  I don’t mean to be disrespectful towards anyone and I apologize to those who might be offended.

Within the last couple of weeks, I followed a series of comments and responses on Facebook regarding the conflict over the removing of confederate monuments and statues.  One comment included the phrase, “It’s all a giant shit storm.” Another was, “What a bunch of BS.”  Someone who was attempting to mediate the two sides suggested a fart joke to ease the tension.

A few days earlier, I was talking to someone and asked them how their job was going and he said, “Same old bullshit.”  I sat in McDonald’s a few days ago and listened to a group of people from the left and the right, debating some current political topics and I heard someone say, “It’s all a bunch of crap. It all stinks!”  There seems to be a common essence in all of this.

      “Knowest not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment and the pride of the self-righteous disappears like a vapor.   Though his excellency in thoughts and opinions mount up to the heavens and his hand reach up to the clouds;  yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung and those that have been impressed with the fragrance of his opinions, shall say, “Where did he go?  He shall fly away as if it was all a dream.”

I remember a married couple who needed some help with their relationship and after a few weeks, it seemed prudent to see them separately for sessions.  They had been referred to me by a local church and their countenance and manners were indicative of being respectful and God-fearing people (as they say).  They were dignified and careful with their language and their emotions as it related to the relationship;  but I could tell that something was boiling up in both of them and they were working hard in keeping it on simmer.

I let them decide who would come first and the wife immediately volunteered.  Midway through the session, as she    warmed up (so to speak) and she worked her way deeper into the bowels of her feelings, tears began to flow.  She was apologetic for putting me through, what she called, a spectacle with her emotions and I reassured her that it was okay.  A few moments later, the pain she was feeling moved to the back seat and now anger was driving her thoughts and feelings.   .   .and her words.  “What a shit-head.   .   . he acts like a total asshole.”  Her passion became more heated and she lost all control of what had been stored up in her gut.  It was a constipation that was affecting her mentally, physically and spiritually.  At the end of the session she expressed a relief in finally getting it out and feeling free of it.  Prolonged labor finally giving birth to the hellish wrath built up in her bowels.   .   .and it floated up into the sky like a hot air balloon.

       “Like as a woman with child, that draws near to the time of her delivery is in pain and cries out in her pangs, so have WE been in Thy sight, O Lord.  We have been with child;  we have been in pain;  we have as it were, brought forth wind (breath, a tempest, smell).  We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth.”

We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth.  This is Old Testament scripture   and is written in Hebrew.   The work “wrought” means:  to do or make;  accomplish;  bring forth;  fashion;  furnish;  be industrious;  bring to pass;  to work a work.”  The word “deliverance” means:  positive aid;  help;  welfare to self and others;  to make safe and free;  preserve;  rescue;  get the victory.”   We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth.  We have brought forth wind.   .   .noxious air with the scent of fire and brimstone.

It is a flatulence that comes forth in the form of intellectual thoughts, strong opinions, righteous causes and indignation, religious principles, passionate allegiances, energized with emotion from the bowels of the human heart.  The motives are sincere and genuine, but there is a blindness as to their origin from within.  They are fart blossoms to some and stink bombs to others;  and the wind blows the smell beyond the earth’s atmosphere and reaches the face of God.

  “I have spread out my hands all day to a rebellious people who walk and talk in a way that was not good, loving the scent of their own thoughts and actions.  They are a people who continually provoke Me to anger.  They sacrifice in the gardens of their own making and burn incense on useless bricks.  They remain among the graves of the dead and they bring forth wind that is a stench in My nose, a fire that continually burns all day and night.”

There are grins that eat it, there are loads of it, there are lists of it, there’s a creek named after it,  there are crocks full of it, it always seems to happen, some people try to get theirs together, sometimes it’s a little one and sometimes you lose your’s.  Throughout my whole life, my decisions have resulted in it hitting the fan and it leaves you up this creek without a paddle.  I shudder at the thought of the methane contributions I’ve made to people who have lived in my personal space and the toxic influence it’s had on them.  Please forgive me Lord.

    “He raises up the poor out of the dust and ashes and from their thoughts and works that bring no deliverance, only wind.  He lifts up the beggar (a man destitute of pride and self-righteousness) from the dunghill, the source from which all of his thoughts and actions originated.  He sets them among princes and He makes them inherit the Kingdom of God, His Son.  They become the pillars of the earth and He sets the whole world upon them.”

It is said by God Himself, that his children walk and talk in a continuous, triumphal procession and as instruments of His Love, as branches on His Vine, they bring forth Fruit for others.   .   .and they spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.  It is a sweet savor of Life to those who are seeking Life;  those tired and weary beggars yearning for the scent of the Lily of the Valley and the Rose of Sharon.  Jesus.

       “Lord, You will ordain peace for us;  for You have also wrought all our works (our words and actions) in us, and through us, and for us.  And as the beloved of God, we put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  forbearing one another and forgiving one another.  If any man has a quarrel against another, forgive him as God has forgiven you.  And above all these things put on Love, which is the bond of Perfectness.   .   .which is the Fragrance of Heaven.”

 

 

 

The Little Lyre Bird (pronounced, “Liar-bird”)

One day last week, as I was scrolling down the page on Facebook, I noticed a video from BBC about a very extraordinary bird who lives in Southern Australia and it caught my attention.  His name is the Lyre Bird.  As I watched and listened to his story, I got that deja vu feeling that I get sometimes when I meet someone for the first time.  .  . but I swear I’ve met them before.  There was something very familiar about him, something very close to home.  It felt like we were long, lost relatives sharing the same gene pool.

The Lyre Bird has this uncanny, almost supernatural ability to imitate the sounds of other bird calls.  Research has identified at least 20 other bird voices that the Lyre Bird can replicate.  He has developed this gift and demonstrates it to attract a female.  The greater variety of bird sounds that he can duplicate, the greater chance he has to win over a mate.  His magic show is so impressive that he also fools the very birds that he is pretending to be (until they see him face to face).  However, his guile doesn’t stop there.  If you watch the video you will be amazed by his skill and cunning in sounding like a buzz saw, a camera shutter and a variety of other things that he first heard himself.  He incorporates the sounds into his repertoire to enhance his performance to get his own personal needs met.

If you close your eyes, you can be deceived into believing that you are hearing the real thing.  .   .and the self-deception that originates in the heart, moves the mind to see it, though ever so blindly.  The little Lyre Bird has perfected and simplified a very common, particular course of logic, “If it talks like a duck, it must be a duck.”   The instrumentality of a blind faith, a faith that man possesses naturally that only makes him a silly goose because it only depends on what it hears, then deceives itself into believing it has seen a duck walking.

      “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked;  who can know it?” It is fraudulent, crooked and polluted.  It is continuously tripped up to the truth.  It is incurable, sick and in a feeble state.  .  .and man does not know it.  Every man in his highest state, is altogether vanity (spiritual emptiness, continuously lead astray from truth)  Jeremiah 17:9;  Psalm39:5

According to an ancient legend,  there was a tiny little bird in the Garden of Eden whom God had given the name           ‘Gracie’.   She was pure and innocent and so wise, that other birds and animals would come to her for advice.  They trusted her to be honest and frank, yet very kind and careful in what she would say.  She would speak the truth in Love and her words were clothed in Prudence, a virtue that only God possesses.

One day, Gracie was minding her own business (as she was never into ‘monkey business’), when she noticed that Adam and Eve were standing under the apple tree and seemed to be talking to the serpent.  Gracie didn’t know the serpent well;  but he made her uncomfortable because of his forked tongue (speaking a form of truth with secret ulterior motives).  In fact, she was surprised to see the humans conversing with him because of his reputation for saying one thing but meaning another.  She was a curious little bird so she flew over to the apple tree to get a bird’s eye view.

Eve picked an apple from the tree, took a bite and handed it to Adam.  He appeared to be reluctant to eat it and         Gracie heard him say to Eve, “God forbid us from eating from this tree and told us if we ate the apple, we would surely die.”  But Adam couldn’t help himself.  God had made him perfect and with that perfection came a will with the freedom to chose either good or evil.  The temptation was too great.   .   . so  Adam took a bite and he bit off more than he could chew.   Then, just as God had warned, death and darkness entered his soul.  Life and Light were extinguished.  It was the beginning of the end for man.  Because of their shame and guilt,  Adam and Eve ran from the grove to hide themselves from God.   .   .and it left little Gracie dumbfounded.

She spotted the apple on the ground and flew down to take a closer look at it.  It did look delicious and the scent from it made her feel intoxicated (and she liked that feeling).  But she remembered what God had said to the humans about eating it and she had witnessed first hand, what happened to them.  So she paused.  Then she heard a voice (sounding like truth) coming from the thorns and thistles, “God did say that the humans should not eat the apple, but He didn’t say anything about the seeds.”  Gracie thought it over for a moment and against her better judgement, she ate one of the seeds.   .   . and in an instant,  truth vanished from her little heart and instead spiritual ignorance and vanity filled it up to overflowing.  And where God Himself had taken up residence, a new presence filled her soul.  It was a black hole of desire. Where once she was pure, she was now purely self-centered.  It was insatiable and ever-growing.  The seed of every conceivable sin had entered her soul.   .   .and worst of all, she had became separated from the presence of spiritual life in her heart.  She had become a mere mortal being.  Totally dependent on herself as a resource.  A resource that God called death.

She was then given a new name to suit her disposition and character.  “The little Lyre Bird.”  She was going to spend the rest of her life pretending to be something other then what she really was in order to get her needs met.  She was now in a survival mode and she no longer had a sensibility as to what was happening.  Where there had been wisdom and discernment there was now the ignorance and the denseness of a Dodo bird.   She had become self-deceived.   .   .and a deceiver.  A little Liar Bird.

       “They have not known or understood;   for He has shut their eyes so they cannot see the truth and their ignorance rules over their understanding.   .  .they feed on the ashes of truth and a deceived heart has turned them aside from the Wisdom that comes from Above.  They have turned everything upside down.  They have replaced good with evil; right with wrong;  love with hate;  other with self;   you with me, myself and I;  up with down, white with black;  peace with war.   And she cannot deliver her own soul nor is able to say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”  Isaiah 44:18-20

The Lyre bird was naked now, having lost the plumage of her pure and innocent character, so she hopped into the thorns and thistles to hide her shame and guilt.  She was afraid of God.  She was afraid of His judgment and condemnation.  She was without hope, like a condemned criminal. Yet, after a few moments that seemed like eternity, God called out to her.  “Gracie, come here.  I have something for you.  It is a good and perfect Gift from above, from the Father of Lights in whom is no darkness nor shadow of turning.  It is the Gift of Mercy.  It is the Gift of Life.  It is the Gift of Love.  It is the Gift of Forgiveness.  It is the Gift of my Son, Who is perfectly suited to cover your nakedness.  Perfectly suited to cleanse you from all of your shame and guilt.  Perfectly suited to make you pure and white as the snow.   .   .I will give you rest.”

He called her Gracie, even though her name was now Lire Bird.  He had called her by her given name, her family name, the name God gave her before time.   .   . before her birth, before the birth of the Universe.  She had been lying in the womb of His soul eternally, where all things that arrive in time have remained until their birthday.  Little Gracie, who like Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, was put back together again through the life and death of the Son of God and was made alive again to God through the Love and animating Life of the Holy Spirit.  He brings new birth to those who are dead in their sinful ways and clothes them in the plumage of the Beautiful Redeemer, Jesus.  She was now Gracie, an eagle and the apple of God’s eye.

       “In your shame and guilt, no eye pitied you to have compassion on you;  but you were hiding in the thorns and thistles of life, with your nakedness exposed.   .   . which filled you with self-loathing.  And when I came looking for you and saw you in that condition, dead to goodness, dead to beauty, dead to virtue, condemned to die.   .  .when I saw you,  I said ‘Live’.  You barely stirred from behind the gravestone, so I said again, ‘Live’.  Then you came forth naked but it was the time for Love and I spread my skirt over you to cover your nakedness with with my Son’s robe.    .    .the Royal robe of His Love, adorned with the Ornaments of His Life and the Fruit of His Spirit.   .   .Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Mercy, Goodness, Faith, Wisdom, Self-control.  All that He is, He has made over to you, little Lire Bird.  And He has given you a new name, engraved in His heart.   His Family name.  His own name.  “I have called you by My name.  You are mine.” Ezekiel 16;  Isaiah 43

                            My name is Mike and I’m a Recovering Lire Bird.

     

 

 

 

 

 

If My Memory Serves me Right. . .

img_47581A few weeks ago I was driving in the car with my two granddaughters, Shelby and Amber.  Shelby is almost four and Amber will be one this month.  I had just picked Shelby up from preschool.  I asked her how the day went and she said, “Good Grampa.  I played with my friend Robana.”  I didn’t quite understand her and mispronounced her friend’s name, which I have done many times.  Shelby was a little frustrated with me and said, “Grampa, I already told you before what her name is.”  I know Honey,” I said, ” but you know that Grampa doesn’t have a very good memory.”  “Then you have to get a new one, Grampa,” Shelby said.  I asked her if she knew where I could get one and she said quite seriously, after a moment or two, “I think you can get a new one at Target.”   Since that episode, as I have demonstrated some other deficiencies to her,  she has a shopping list for me that now includes ears and a new brain.  I am teary eyed right now as my memory serves me right and I hear her speak in her frank, but sweet way as she loves her Grampa.

My memory is faulty. . .and the volume dial has been turned down in my hearing.  .  .and the neurons and synapses in my brain are not firing like they use to, but my Memory continues to serve me when it comes to the safety and eternal security of my soul and the ones who I Love.

Yesterday I spent a part of the afternoon with the grandmother of Shelby’s best friend. The girls were playing and we were waiting for Amber to wake up from a nap so we could go trick or treating.  As we sipped our coffee we were discussing what seems to be the major focus in life right now.  .  .the current political state of affairs locally, nationally and worldly.  We were trading stories of what it was like when we were growing up back in the fifties.  The topics ranged from Halloween traditions, living a more simple life, religion, kids growing up too fast and the general evolution of human beings over the last seventy years.  At the end of the day, (a day I wouldn’t trade for anything) as I was driving home,  my memory became very active as the neurons and synapses began to fire.  I could hear the thoughts in my Mind very clearly.  “You’d better make sure you have a place in the Ark.” .  .  . then the flood-gates opened.

       “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that the imagination and purposes and desires of the human heart was only evil continually every day.  .  .and the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth.  The earth was corrupt before God and filled with violence.  But Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5-11

If I had put this verse on Facebook, I might have said, “Please Like, if you have found Grace in the eyes of the Lord.” It would be a hopeful sign that you are safe and secure in the Ark, and an evidence that your life is hid in Christ, the eternal Refuge from the flood.  Can anyone seriously deny that we are floating in a sea of utter madness and that we are drowning?  We have not changed since the days of Noah, but rather we have evolved into the fullness of what was only a preview in the book of Genesis.  And I would add a confession from the Apostle Paul, when he said (and as I too confess) “that Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.”  I am not picking on anyone because when you do that, without knowing it,  you are bringing judgement upon yourself.

       “Two men went up to the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee (religious and self-righteous) and the other a publican (an extortioner and cheat).  The Pharisee stood and prayed this way, “God, I thank you that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or worse yet, like this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give donations of all that I possess.”  And the publican, standing afar off, grieved in his soul for his sins, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but touched his fist to his heart and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  I tell you, Jesus said, this man went home forgiven (and given passage in the Ark), but not the other (he will drown).”

I am only a child when it comes to the Knowledge of God, but I can say with Shelby-like honesty and sweetness.  .  . we are all living on borrowed time.  We need our memories Enhanced regarding our own short-comings and sin.  We need our ears Opened to hear the Truth as only God, the Son can speak it.  And we need a new brain, the mind of Christ, Who makes us Right-minded.  Whose own Spirit, the Divine memory, serves us well.  Union with the Captain of our salvation.  A very present Help in trouble.

       “The floods have lifted up O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice;  the floods lift up their waves.  The Lord on High is mightier than the noise of many waters;  yes, mightier than the mighty waves of the sea.”

 

 

 

” A Perfect Pain”

Please forgive me for sharing the miseries in my life that are consuming me.  Misery loves company and I don’t want to be alone.  This note was triggered by a series of circumstantial realities that have culminated in a moment of frustration as I was laboring to put my socks and shoes on because my body aches.  I heard myself saying as the second shoe was tied, “What a pain in the butt!”

I just got home from the office.  Somewhere during the drive my thoughts wandered off, seeking some medicine to address the pain in my soul.  “No guts, no glory.  .  .no pain, no gain.   .   .if it doesn’t kill you it’s good for you.”  “God will not give you more than you can handle.  He will never leave you or forsake you.”  It didn’t help.

My body is acting its age.   My thoughts, which I cannot control are condemning me and presenting circumstantial evidence that I have not prepared for the future.   .   .reminding me of every foolish decision I have ever made that has authored this miserable moment.  .  .and playing in my mind is a litany of every sin I have ever committed.  My head is hanging low right now, weighed down by guilt and shame and a profound sense of worthlessness.  I have been searching for something redeemable about myself and have come up empty.  My scarlet letter is a capital L ( it’s not the word ‘Lucky’).  Fear arrives waving a sword in its hand, promising a death blow.

Clients and sometimes friends who share their lives with me, apologize for constantly whining (as they put it) and they wish their attitude could be more positive.  I know the feeling, all too well.  I wish I could flip a switch and turn the Light on.  Yet there are certain facts of my life that can Bless me in an Extraordinary way;  but I am unfortunately deaf and blind to them in the moment.

There are the people who love me, who would do anything they could to 2704343536_b7c8a786aa_mhug the misery away.   .   . my family and friends who know in a very personal way, what this feels like and so share in the misery and love to keep company with me.  God is so Good to me.  What do I have to complain about.  My difficult and painful life circumstances seem incidental in comparison to those around me.  I have what has great value;  but I’m imprisoned in my thoughts and feelings.  I’m not free yet, because it’s not time.

I was on the phone today with my daughter Jessie and she told me about a memorial service that was being held tonight.  A friend of hers was in her eighth month of pregnancy and during a routine checkup, there were no vital signs from the baby.  The pain for the parents and their family is unthinkable to me.

This morning I talked with a good friend who is going through a divorce.  I love both him and his wife.   .   .and their young child.  The misery they are going through is unbearable to me.

A couple of days ago,  I sat in my office with a young teenage girl whose parents are separated and at the final stages of ending their marriage.  Both parents have serious drinking issues and the girl is forced to be the responsible one for her parents and her younger brother.  The destruction of all of their lives, with the sadness and pain of it all,  is unbelievable to me.

Last week I sat with a woman whose husband kissed her and said, “I love you” when she left for work in the morning.  When she came home later in the day,  she noticed a note on the table next to his wedding ring.  The note said in part, “I can’t be married to you any longer.  Don’t try to change my mind.  I need to move on.”  Events like this no longer surprise me.  Nothing surprises me any more.  Just more pain in the world.   A pain that sends the soul into labor.   .   .a labor that either brings forth death, or a Perfect pain that brings forth Life.

4212049931_11afbbdb7c_mI just took a little break and looked at Facebook. There was an Easter photo of the three crosses at Cavalry with a beautiful sunrise behind them, with the caption “It’s not about a bunny It’s about a Lamb.”  I would add, “It’s about a Perfect Pain.  It’s about the Miracle of a Life Born from Death.”  It’s about our Substitute.  It’s about the One that has gone before us to open up the way to God.  It’s about Forgiveness and Unconditional Love from the Father.  It’s about the Sacrificial Love of His Son, Jesus.  It’s about the Creative Love of the Holy Spirit, Who brings the new birth to the soul of those who are poor in spirit and laboring deeply in life.

       “He was despised and rejected by men;  a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  .  .surely He has borne our griefs and carried our own sorrows and pain;  yet He was smitten and afflicted.  He was wounded for our sins and He was deeply bruised for our own morally evil thoughts and actions.  The punishment was administered to Him, not us.  He was as a Lamb led to the slaughter.

       We all like sheep have gone astray.  We have wandered away from what is Right and Good.  We have become self-centered and self-seeking and perfectly self-deceived to it all. Yet in spite of this,  His Father laid on Him the punishment for it all.   .   .He was oppressed and in great pain, yet He did not open His mouth.  He endured the Cross and embraced the misery in a Perfect way to bring about the birth of Life from the very womb of pain and death.”

As for God, His way is Perfect and He 3481988079_43a66239b7_mmakes my way Perfect, in the best and worst of times.  Though we walk through this valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no fear.   He will renew our Strength. We will soar on wings like eagles.  We will run and not be weary.  We will walk and not be faint.  When He rose from the dead with Resurrection Life, we rose with Him and this Life is born from the very pangs of death in the soul.

     “God demonstrated His Love for us in this: though we are rebels and sinners, He carried our pain and sin, and died for us.  .  .and He who spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us all;  how will He not also freely give us all things.”

“Wait-watchers”

It’s that time of the year again for serious resolutions.  My first experience with it was in 1976.   I owned the bar then and during the course of a normal day at work, I would go through two to three packs of cigarettes and wash them down with a beer or two.

It got to a point where I couldn’t sleep at night because of the coughing, unless I propped myself up into a sitting position; but that got old, fast.  So I decided to quit.   .   .and then I decided to quit again.  .  . and again and again.  All of the sheep know what it’s like to try to quit doing something or try to start doing something.   .   . or try to change, or manage things differently.  Someone in the back row just shouted out, “Hey man, you’re preaching to the choir.”  It’s one of the young wild asses who still can’t control himself all of the time.  He had a serious problem that resolutions weren’t fixing.  So out of desperation and as a last resort, he came to our Wait Watchers meeting.

       “I will stand at attention and wait on the tower;  and I will watch to see what He will say to me.  .  . and He said, ‘success is coming in a definite moment in time and although it seems like a long time in coming, wait for it because it shall surely come.  It will not tarry (be late or procrastinate.)” Habakkuk 2:1-3

I was prompted to share this after having seen a commercial on TV, offering help to those wanting to lose weight.  Oprah was the spokesperson.  God bless her and all the others taking a shot at it.  God bless everyone who’s trying with every ounce of strength they possess, to overcome any mental, physical or emotional burden that’s weighing them down.

At the very end of the commercial, the very last words (which accentuate the philosophy of the program) are, “When you realize you don’t have to give up anything,  that’s when you know you can manage everything.”  Coming from Oprah’s lips lends more credibility to the words and to the general philosophy of the program.  When a powerful person speaks, the words inspire others powerfully.

     “He gives power to the faint, and to those that have no might, He changes their source of strength (from their own to His);  even youths shall struggle and be weary and young men and women shall utterly fail;  but they that wait upon the Lord and watch for His Help shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings like eagles.  They shall run and not be weary.  They shall walk and not faint.  They will wait, then they will see.  .  . that what is impossible with man, is possible with God.”  Isaiah  40:29-31

We usually open up our Wait Watcher’s meeting with a prayer.  “Lord, we have no might against this strong adversary in our life that comes against us every day and neither do we know what to do, except this  .  .  . to wait and watch for You.  Our eyes are upon Your strength, not our own.

The people at the meeting today have been forced to give up.   .   .not only those things that they couldn’t live without (although those things were killing them);  but also give up on waiting and watching for their own strength to free them.   .   .to save them from their misery.  When they found themselves with nothing, only then did Control become a Reality.

     “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee Lord, in whose hearts are the ways of them who pass through the valley of Baca (a place of frustration and despair) and they find a Well that fills all their needs.  They go from strength to Strength (from their own, to God’s).” Psalm 84:5-7

Love.  Joy.  Peace.  Patience.  Kindness.  Goodness.  Faith.  Self-Control!  Gifts from God, through His indescribable Gift.   .  .His Son, Jesus, Who Manages every detail in the universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Morning Prayer for 2016

This morning prayer is taken from the 1559 Book of Common Prayer of England and was to be said by the whole congregation at each service.

 

13960262851_5cf766c819_m“Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep.  We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.

We have offended against Thy holy laws.  We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;  and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.  .  .and, there is no health in us except that which you give to us.

But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders.  Spare them Lord, who confess their faults.  Restore them who are heartily sorry for the crimes and sins they have committed against You and each other. According to Thy promises that You have declared to mankind through Your Son Jesus Christ, revive us through Your Holy Spirit.

And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake.  .  .that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous and sober life to the glory of Thy Holy Name.”