Friday, March 31, 2006

Surround Yourself with Kings

"When I am walking true, my mere existence in that state attracts people who are striving to walk true and repels people who are choosing not to." - Jim Spivey
"Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth." - King Solomon
"Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place." - King David
"Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." - King Jesus

I desire the company of Kings.
Not people of mere "power" as the world knows it. Not people with the loosely clad "title". But true masters of the universe, who sit on a throne of peace, joy and righteousness. Regardless of the prominence of their position in man's eyes, and regardless of their capacity to "make things happen" with the influence of their money, relationships, talent or zeal, these kings whose company I want live and speak and think and ponder and do all that they do from a the more powerful place of deepest Truth and deepest Love (which are the same thing, by the way).
Kings are sensitive people. They have ears that "hear" what's actually being said, eyes that "see" only the real things. And then they operate with powerful strength out of that reality.
Kings are doing people. Never for "doings" sake, or for outward accomplishment or fame, Kings are always doing something in the innermost place. Even their sleep becomes beneficial for inward advancement. It does manifest itself outwardly in forms seen by men, but the mere outward form being done does not prove that he is a King. Many people honestly want to be Kings, but they mindlessly imitate the outward actions of those who are, rather than perceive the inward actions that make Kings.
Kings are all about relationships. They often excel in the crafts, trades, or endeavors of their lives, but they all have come to intimate grip with themselves in relation to others, accepting wholeheartedly that to live truly for themselves is to live for God and others. And the greatest Kings work towards making relationships THE craft, trade, and endeavor of their lives.
Kings are both indifferent and personal towards all people. Indifferent, in that they give themselves (and the love and truth that resides in themselves) fully to any human being in the world that they happen upon. Personal, in that they speak and do the truthful words and actions that are specifically appropriate and called for with each human being in the world as they are specifically moved.
When I walk submissively from the "wisdom of the inmost place", by the "truth that comes into the light", "speaking truth" with "honest lips", I know that I am living from and for God, and it "is seen plainly" that what I do "has been done through God".
And when I do that, it seems I am surrounded by these Kings, learning, growing, and transforming more and more into the image of Christ...King of Kings.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I want to be you

"I want to you be you." - spoken to me by Shade Canon Mashburn, my son
There is a baby in the Ukraine I met yesterday. When it was born, it was likely to die without one of those clear, plastic, medical baby-bed things, and they didn't have one. There is a guy in Amarillo,TX , who's name I don't know, who said he was moved by God to give a sum of money to another guy in Amarillo named Jimmy, telling him to use it for God in whatever way he deems best. Jimmy gratefully accepts it, and calls a guy he knows in the Ukraine named Roger, telling him to use this money in whatever way he deemed best. Roger happens to know that baby I found out about yesterday. He used the money to buy one of those clear, plastic, medical baby-bed things and gives it to the family with the baby. I met that little baby in a picture of her lying in that baby-bed thing yesterday. And I was moved to tears that God knew where that baby was, what her need was, and then met it with the a chain of events initiated on the other side of the planet.
There is a baby in Amarillo that I met yesterday. It's the new daughter of my friends Kyle and Jennifer, and her name is Ellee. She is beautiful and her parents were shining after a tough day of labor. She arrived safely, surrounded by love and more than enough medical equipment and doctors and qualified people to handle anything that might happen to her that would possibly put her in jeopardy. I wasn't moved to tears, but I was very conscious and moved that God knew where that baby was, what her needs were, and then met it right here in Amarillo.
I am amazed at how God works in the lives of people here on this planet, that He being so big and great would pay such detailed attention to us. I am also humbled with the natural questions about why He does what He does, and how He does it, knowing that there are many stories of newborn babies in all the nations that are much more amazing and unlikely, but also many that are as amazingly tragic and without happy endings.
I long ago stopped trying judge the unseen reality of things by the seen, satisfying my sense of injustice with blind faith that it is only my sense of things. My feelings are real, but they are not always right. I have learned and seen that God is both real and right...even if I don't understand it. What I have seen gives me faith in what I cannot see.
There is another baby that was born 6 years ago today that made this visible, fleshly life very, very dangerous for me. It raised the stakes for me living in this material world in such dramatic fashion, that I literally had to re-orient myself to find peace. This baby, a boy born in Houston, TX, was put into my hands and given the title "my son". Shew! What a day! The love that came rushing into my heart scared me. I think I've said before that it was like my heart's most vulnerable spot was put into flesh and now resides outside of me where it is dangerously out of my control.
What a day.
I was very conscious and moved to tears that God knew where that baby was, and what his needs were, and that He was saying to me that He was meeting them, partially at least, by putting that boy in my hands. I sometimes still wonder what He was thinking.
My wife and I called the little boy Shade Canon Mashburn, and the last 6 years have been unbelievable excitement, adventures, and thrills. I really think I have learned more through him in these last 6 years than I did in my 32 years before. Maybe not more "head knowledge", but for sure tons more heart stuff. I am just plainly and simply a better human being because of that day, more closely aligned with the heart of my Father in Heaven.
So, Shade, this day is for you, buddy. You have taught me so much... about love, passion, authority, friendship, sharing, teaching, learning, playing, patience, perseverance, curiosity, desire, consequences, and name a few things. Happy Birthday, Buddy. I am so proud of you, and honored to be called your dad.
I want to be you.

I found a small, dark cave

"A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places to explore.  One must go without familiars in order to be open to new influences, to bold growth and dramatic change." -- Katharine Butler Hathaway

"And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins."  - Jesus Christ

I went out to the Palo Duro Canyon this past Monday for some solitude and silence with God. I walked to a new place that I had never been before. It wasn't far past a place that I had been, and my inclination was to just go back to that great location. But for some reason, I kept going just a little bit past it. Around the base of the mountainous canyon wall I was traversing, I way up in the distance to the top and saw a dark cave that I really would love to get to someday and explore. It was very far away, a journey not within my time limitations for the morning.

Continuing on, I came to an interesting formations and rock shapes and cavernous crevice-looking things that were new to me. They were sort of like trails, but with walls. I entered into them, feeling good about being an explorer. I was slowly going up the side of the canyon wall as I walked, and came to a spot where at my feet was a very small, dark cave. I had to get down on my stomach to poke my head in the hole which was no bigger than my waist, but it looked deep and like it "went somewhere". I wasn't about to crawl in, I didn't even have a flashlight, and couldn't see 5 feet from the cave mouth.

I found some other, bigger, better lit tunnels that I descended into and ended up having a great adventure through that just seemed to keep going and going! When I ascended the top of the tunnels, I found myself a halfway to that big, dark cave at the top! Inspired by how easy it was to get this far, I went the rest of the way, and sat in the cool, peaceful perch, with a fantastic view of the canyon, and spent some time being still and knowing God is God. Awesome.

When I descended, I went through the tunnels again, finding more, being a little more adventurous, until it got to where to continue would've meant walking in pitch black. So I ascended a difficult hole that promised the sunlight and went home.

I brought my son and daughter back that afternoon (to give my wife some space, and also to show them my new find), and I brought a flashlight this time. And guess what? The beginning of this long system of tunnels, that speedily got me to the far away place I was longing to go, was that tiny little, seemingly impassible dark cave! The unfamiliar place that I did not want to go.

Do you ever separate from the familiar? Really. I mean do you ever quite intentionally walk away from safety and towards something brand new? I don't think you do.

Obviously, I could be wrong... but for the vast majority of people reading this email, I would put money down that I am right. A fearless look at my life has shown me that unless it is by force, coercion, or accident, I rarely walk towards the unfamiliar in ways that matter. And, like you, I have some great, reasonable excuses to explain why.

Do you go on retreats with a whole group of people of a different religious belief? Do you engage in conversations with people you are not comfortable with? Do you buy and read books that directly challenge your way of thinking? Do you listen deeply to the people in another political party in order to understand, learn or (Heaven forbid) validate the parts of their way of looking at things that are (shudder) corrective for your political views?

There is a man in the locker room at the gym I work out at that absolutely must have the TV on the Stock Exchange channel for the 15 minutes he is in the locker room. He doesn't mind being seen as a total jerk by 10 other guys watching ESPN before he changes it, either. As far as I can tell, he doesn't even listen to it. He's just used to it being that way and seems to think everyone else should be that way, too.

Do you just immerse yourself in the familiar? Surround yourself with those most like you? Do the same things every day/week that protect you from having to confront anything you might hold too dear to reconsider? Go to lunch with the people who agree with you? Do other people's ideas frighten you? Why? I mean, they can be dead wrong, but why the heck would it frighten you that they are? Seriously? What triggers fear in your heart?

You should intentionally escape the familiar and venture off into the 'dark caves' of new things. I think everyone should. It is the humble thing to do. And all of your excuses for playing it "safe and comfy" in the subtle (and not so subtle) areas of your life's experiences are challenged with this one argument that suggests you should do otherwise: It is the humble thing to do. When you do, it says, "I don't know it all. I have more to learn. I'm not afraid to be corrected. I am open to others knowing something that I don't. I am secure in God's love for me. I am after the Truth, not my truth."

The reality is that most of us don't want to be bothered with what it might require to find out something new. We're getting along just fine. I can pretend I'm an honest searcher for truth if I can just believe I've found enough of it to get by.

Am I a searcher for Truth, or a fortress guarding what I already know? Am I an sponge, searching down every dark cave for Truth, or an statue, immovable and unmoldable out of fear that I might lose something if I'm wrong.

If I'm an old wineskin, then now wonder I run from new wine. New wine would make me burst.

But as I look back on life, it is only when I have fallen down (or been thrown down) and squeezed into the dark caves of uncertainty that I have found all the great Truth that has shaped and formed me.

There is probably a dark and scary cave at your feet right now that if you went into it and accepted it as an adventure of discovery rather than an intimidating threat, you would enjoy it and find yourself halfway up the mountain to the goal that you think looks too far off to attain.

Go for it.