Thursday, December 29, 2005

What Passion Would Look Like in Me, Were You to See it...

Master: "Do you know the Holy Scriptures?"
Disciple: "Not really. Though my eyes have scanned their pages many times and many of it's stories are in my head."
Master: "Yes! I have asked the same question of you many times and received a much different response! How have you come to realize the difference between believing and becoming?"
Disciple: "I come to it when simple knowledge in my head, however true and however much, leaves me still longing for life."
Master: "You diligently have studied the Scriptures because you have thought that by them you will have eternal life. These Scriptures are there to point you to intimacy with me. Refuse no longer to in reality come to me for the life you seek."
                                    -- The dialogue in my head, after reading both a story from Paramahasa Yogananda and John 5:39-40
In my wisest moments, I would give up anything for intimacy with Christ.
I would sacrifice every spiritual practice that I hold important and necessary for life and salvation, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would be willing to be alone, even without my family and friends, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would give up my capacity to walk, talk, smell, see, hear, touch and any physical health, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would sacrifice my ability to help out any of my fellow man, materially or emotionally, mentally or spiritually, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would be without every conceivable material comfort and security on earth, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would willingly delete everything I know about the Bible, never to be remembered again, if I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would never lay my eyes again on the beauty of canyons, mountains, waterfalls, oceans, caves, and everything else in nature, if I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would gladly give up the profoundest thoughts, ones that could lead me to high esteem in the eyes of great spiritual men, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would let go of my right to rest, exercise, and eat and drink freely, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would sacrifice athletic ability, sharpness of mind, capacity to lead and influence others, and any high and noble dream, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would gladly be forgotten by all mankind, and even make no lasting mark on my own children, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would be wrong on every detail of every issue with every human being with whom I came into contact/conflict with, and it be shown in a publicly humiliating way, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
I would suffer overwhelming defeat in the face of any sort of test, battle, competition, or endeavor, if only I could have real intimacy with Christ.
But I don't have many moments within which I am this wise. I know this because I pursue these other things with great fervor and zeal, and usually attain them, and yet crave something else.
And as I wrote the above statements in an exercise of discerning what my ego's greatest attachments are, and faced the prospect of sharing it with all of you, I started wondering if it is even right to long for Jesus' personal presence in such a way. Then as if in answer, I thought of the below words of Jesus, affirming me I think...daring me to trust him...
"Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:33
And then as if to affirm me one more time (as God has patiently done with me all of my life because of my denseness and unwillingness), he cast my eyes on the following words from Charles Spurgeon's Daily Devotional (this happened JUST NOW...)...
"What think ye of Christ?" --Matthew 22:42

The great test of your soul's health is, What think you of Christ? Is He to you "fairer than the children of men"--"the chief among ten thousand"--the "altogether lovely"? Wherever Christ is thus esteemed, all the faculties of the spiritual man exercise themselves with energy. I will judge of your piety by this barometer: does Christ stand high or low with you? If you have thought little of Christ, if you have been content to live without His presence, if you have cared little for His honour, if you have been neglectful of His laws, then I know that your soul is sick--God grant that it may not be sick unto death! But if the first thought of your spirit has been, How can I honour Jesus? If the daily desire of your soul has been, "O that I knew where I might find Him!" I tell you that you may have a thousand infirmities, and even scarcely know whether you are a child of God at all, and yet I am persuaded, beyond a doubt, that you are safe, since Jesus is great in your esteem. I care not for thy rags, what thinkest thou of His royal apparel? I care not for thy wounds, though they bleed in torrents, what thinkest thou of His wounds? are they like glittering rubies in thine esteem? I think none the less of thee, though thou liest like Lazarus on the dunghill, and the dogs do lick thee--I judge thee not by thy poverty: what thinkest thou of the King in His beauty? Has He a glorious high throne in thy heart? Wouldst thou set Him higher if thou couldst? Wouldst thou be willing to die if thou couldst but add another trumpet to the strain which proclaims His praise? Ah! then it is well with thee. Whatever thou mayst think of thyself, if Christ be great to thee, thou shalt be with Him ere long.

"Though all the world my choice deride,
Yet Jesus shall my portion be;
For I am pleased with none beside,
The fairest of the fair is He"


Friday, December 16, 2005

The Life of Flying

Hey Team:
My son Jakin, 2 years old, will jump from anything when I am near, whether I am ready or not to catch him or protect him from harm. He's too young (and has been too successful in his jumping) to think that his dad won't come through for him when he's on the edge of a "cliff" (be it the side of swimming pool, the arm of a couch or chair, or the side of a bunk bed).
If you can get past the "floweriness" of what is about to come out of my e-pen, and the attached video clip link, you will enjoy another glimpse into my deep heart for you, but even more for "us" -- the us that has been called together, called to jump in actual faith, and called to live in ways we have not known or considered possible thus far.
I couldn't help but think of this staff when I watched the video link...(and you may have to read this, watch the video, then read it again).
Children, all of least Jesus says that we are supposed to be. And that we cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven without being such, either.
But we children have forgotten. We have pretend to be adults and have been and are still daily about our life's busy-ness. Even if it is in the name of Christ, even if it is in our ministry and service to the church, we often go about doing our busy, powerless things.
Some of us living safely behind a mask, always deciding whether, when, and how to take it off or put it back on.
Some us are sleeping, unaware of the community around us and our need for real connection with them.
Some of us are out there hanging out, around many, many people, but still alone.
Some of us are building things from the material that happens to surround us because it is there, and because it feel productive, and others even admire it.
Some of us are working hard, and even together with another, but maybe doing something that is more destructive than true.
But Jesus passes by, and is still passing by, into our world and calling for our attention with his little drum. He is calling for our attention from what we are doing, and to himself and where he is going. Asking us to line up to His "beat". To go where he goes, just like he is going. To be like him in what he is doing and what he is going to do.
Although it is what grabs our attention, and is the sound that we march to, the actual drum beat he uses isn't the point. It's not the drum we follow, but the Drummer. And the leaving of what we were doing isn't the point, either. While it is great to stop doing the things that are useless, he didn't pass by to just stop us, he passed by to get us going. Yes, he has intentions for us. Incredible intentions.
If we follow him, it will be to a nearby cliff. He looks up at the cliff and invites us to do the same. The cliff has always been there, we just never look at it like is. We look at it as a dangerous place. Beautiful to look from, but dangerous, threatening accidental death if you get too close, and guaranteeing it if you were to jump.
But he looks at it differently. He looks at is as a means to an, maybe as an entry point to a beginning. The beginning of what? The beginning of our becoming what he intends for us.
And he intends for us to fly. He intends for us to experience his Father and each other in ways that can not be experienced in our fleshly activity, even if that activity is done in Christ's name, even if that activity is done together.
The problem is we don't know how to fly. We don't even know if flying is realistic or if it really is God's will. And we don't know if anyone else with us is really about to jump and find out.
So Jesus comes himself, once and for all 2000 years ago, but over and over with each of us each day, and he calls us to follow him where he the cliff, into our fear, against the laws of nature, in order to experience together, with him, His Father's unbelievable power and love.
As I personally continue my journey towards the "life of flying" with God and with you, I am always tempted to stay on the cliff and just call it 'flying with God'...and it seems I can find plenty of people to agree with me. But, alone with God, there is no one to impress or convince but me, and I always must look down at my feet and see that they are still often safely standing on land. And even though the view from the cliff is awesome, my heart of hearts knows that the cliff is not there to give me an great's there to give me my launching spot.
Following Jesus is what I want to do, because I love his love for me so much and want to be just like him. But another powerful motivation for me to follow him is represented right at the end of the video, the little one who walks behind the main group up to the edge, hesitates to get his footing, and then jumps. That little boy overwhelmed me with thoughts of Jakin, my youngest son, who would so blindly follow me anywhere even if it looked impossible. Threatening views don't look threatening to him when I am there. 
He trusts me (and others want to). Where am I leading him? To the freedom of Christ that comes only by following Christ off the cliff of fear and weakness into incredible, unbelievable life? Or to a fraudulent "pretty good life" that he too can grow up into adult-likeness and learn to effectively present it as the incredible, unbelievable life?
I don't know what the creator of this video clip intended, but when I lost myself in it (a fairly cool endeavor in and of itself), the above is what came to me. Check it out, if you are so compelled. Consider this another invitation to you to try something you haven't before...jumping, if you will...and seeing if God ends up being there in it for you like He was for me. I'd really love to hear what (or who) you find.
In any event, know that I love you all, and am grateful for the common following we are doing, and the flying we work to believe is possible.