Dead Men Walking…

Handfull of Dirt

We are all dead men walking. We are the new creation, dead to this world and alive to Christ. This understanding is crucial for the war we are in. The following clip illustrates exactly what I mean. 

Lt. Spiers scene from Band of Brothers

Lt. Spiers has a different reason for saying what he told Private Blythe…hopelessness. For the believer though, that is exactly how we are supposed to live. Like we are already dead. Because hopelessness only applies to those who live in this world. If you have been redeemed? Then you are not of this world, but Christ’s, and hopelessness has no hold on you. Rather, give up hope that this world can give you any kind of fulfillment. 
I recommend the sermon Kris Vallotton preached a few years ago on his book Spirit Wars. He does a fantastic job of describing how dead we are to this world. So if we are dead to this world and alive to the promises Jesus gave us? How should we live? How should we fight the war against evil? Fear should have no place in our lives as fear has no effect upon us, other than what you give it. If you believe the lies, then you allow fear to have a place in your heart.   
 
When you were baptized. You became a completely new species of human. Your body may fail you, and we are subject to all the same crud – day in and day out – as anyone else. However, we ARE dead to this world as our lives are seated in heaven. And, yes, it’s a matter of perspective. (in some ways we are the original “Dead Men Walking”) But, that perspective is what keeps me “Daring Great Things”.
I dare, with the understanding that my reward is just on the other side of eternity. I mean, what can they do? Kill me?
I love my kids and absolutely adore my new grandchild Autumn. But, my tribe is waiting. All the Hastings that came before that are before the throne are watching me. Cheering me and the other Hastings still here in this world to attempt great things!
I have always wondered how the disciples went from fearful men cowering in their homes from the Romans to world changers. But, now I understand. Their perspective was from Heaven to Earth. They were convinced that that perspective was the true reality of their lives and that they were already there in Heaven. They were Dead Men Walking! Nothing to LOSE, and everything to GAIN!

 

 

 

 

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…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Wedding Day

 

 

Sunday, February 11th, 3:51 AM

 

After one of my normal night-time interruptions, I began to pray for the kind of love that loves the unlovable. I asked Jesus what was in me that was in the way of that kind of love. Because I knew that if I loved like He loved, Nancy would be healed.

Then, as I tried to go back to sleep, I asked for the kind of Love that takes your breath away. The kind of Love that sneaks up and enfolds you in a tangible blanket of intimate ecstatic joyful expectation.

I realized this kind of Love creates an expectation – Faith – that is tangible, malleable, and fungible (this word popped into my mind; I had to look it up. In essence it is a word for an exchangeable commodity or currency). Faith is the fungible currency that pays the toll for the impossible dreams. It is so tangible that it can cause/bring spiritual reality to manifest “here on Earth as it is in Heaven”, and take on physical/earthly properties. So much so that I understood that Peter wasn’t walking on water. He was walking on the substance of Faith. His Faith created substance he could walk on. 

But, I realized that this Faith only comes as a consequence of the kind of Love that transforms and transcends our earthly understanding of love. In the past I have talked about what George Otis, Jr. describes as “Transformational Prayer”. I would describe this as Transformational Love. Just as we have become a new creation when we are born again. There is a higher Love that only exists in Heaven. But, that we can access here on Earth.

This transformational Love creates its own tangible reality. A reality both physical and heavenly at the same time. It’s why the Disciples could put their fingers into the holes in Jesus’s wrists. A tangible reality only more so. More real, possessing more facets, more capacity, more strands of physical DNA (so to speak), unseen since Eden. A reality so completely different than anything seen on Earth that no language created by man has the capability of describing it. Which is why the people in the Hebrides when asked to describe what they saw – what happened to them during their visitation – just look at each other and cry. Because there are no human words available to describe that reality.

Again, this kind of Faith comes only as a consequence of Love. It is not something you can work up in your mind. I don’t think there are any rituals that can “Summon” it. It’s a process of “putting off the things that hinder”. I believe it IS something you recognize. Something you discover when you realize the…

“Ephesians 3:17 …so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” 

I pray today that you all would discover this Love that passes all understanding! (I finally get that one! LOL)

 

Changing of the Guard…or saving the Prayer Orphans.

mosa-moseneke-426380

 

This will be a quick post. But, hopefully it will motivate us all to be more diligent with our prayer lives.

This weekend the Holy Spirit sparked a new story in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday. It was a struggle for me to get up and write down the ideas He was giving me, but I managed to get it done. I do keep a journal next to my bed for just that purpose.

So later that morning I sat at the keyboard and began to type. The story is intended to be a short one. But, the content could be expanded into a novel. But, as I was typing the story led me to a point where a guardian angel is describing his “assigned family” to the main character (which at this point is myself). The angel is sad because there is not much he can do for the family – a typical loving American family – as there is no one praying for them.

It seems that the older generation of grandparents and parents that had been praying and blessing the young family had passed away. And, now there was no one praying for the family. This was greatly hindering the angel’s ability to protect and to minister to them. About the only thing he could do was observe.

As the writer, I am also an intercessor. I believe one of my giftings has been as a prayer person. But, as a writer I came to a screeching halt with my story. The idea of a family not having anyone to pray for them hurt.

So over the last few days it has occurred to me that every day that passes we are losing more and more of the old-time prayer warriors that have populated our prayer meetings. At the last monthly prayer time for our city, ninety percent of the people there were over fifty years old. There was a preponderance of grey hair. In fact I believe there were only two or three people under forty years old. We are losing the diligent and faithful Grandfathers and Grandmothers of prayer.

There needs to be a changing of the guard. Which – of course – requires there to be an understanding of the impact prayer has had on our families as we grew them. But, also an understanding that many families will never know Jesus, because there is no one to pray for them. Pray for those that have never heard the gospel. They are right there in your neighborhood. Ask the Holy Spirit which of your neighbors are prayer orphans.

I am probably off in my theology about the angels grieving because no one is praying. But, I don’t think so.

Where are all the young prayer warriors?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Innkeeper’s Dilema

Truth & Passion

I published this short story a few years ago. But, thought I would republish it again, as I have thought more and more about the different versions of the story of Jesus’s birth. Our Christmas Cultural icons are beloved by us all as we teach our children the familiar stories of “No room in the Inn”, “The Manger”, and “the Shepherds”. But, just like the fact that Jesus was probably born during the spring – not at the Winter Solstice – much of these Christmas stories are most likely not correct for the time Jesus was born. 

Heresy you cry?

But, is it heresy to see the birth of Jesus in the light of what most likely occurred? Here is a link to a well written article from Biblearchaeology.org, written by Kenneth Bailey, Phd., that discusses what most likely happened. Plus, a few other articles that speak to the same…

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The Evidence of His Presence

This morning I had a dream that was – in my opinion – from God. It had to do with prayers we raised up last night in a prayer group that I am a part of. Sometimes you just know when He is inserting something into your dream life. And, just like any other moment in time, when He steps into your day, there is a certain amount of thrill that comes along with that. It has a tendency to increase my level of faith.

But, this morning after I woke up and pondered the meaning of the dream, I turned on the light, and started my breakfast, fed the dogs, and…the same old same old started again.

Before too long I had forgotten about the dream and its potential meaning for my life and a low level of anxiety began to creep into my heart. Anxiety about what the day would bring. Would I find success? Would I find a mess?

Let me step back for a moment here and clarify something. One of my more persistent prayers has been that The Holy Spirit would allow me to see the “Evidence of His Presence”. Similar to praying for Miracles, Signs, and Wonders. I guess you could say I am addicted to seeing Jesus move in my life. The little blessings. The naturally occurring supernatural/divine moments that sneak up on you and catch your breath away. I have found that The Father loves to surprise His Beloved. And, I so look forward to those special moments. I considered the dream this morning to be one of those surprises.

There have been a number of those special moments lately. (ask me to tell you the story of Champ the dog), and they seem to be increasing in frequency.

You have probably figured out the point of my blog by now…

He has been answering my prayer to see the “Evidence of His Presence” in my life. So if He is present, why was I allowing the anxiety to set up shop in my heart? I just sat there – I was putting my shoes on when I came to this conclusion – and chuckled to myself and began to worship him with thanksgiving for all these special moments that showed He is there throughout my day.

And, at that moment The Holy Spirit brought to mind the idea of the Hebrews in the desert. They had seen The Lord do “Over the Top” Signs, Wonders, and Miracles in bringing them out of Egypt. And, yet, they still were a bunch of ungrateful, forgetful, unsatisfied, pains in the tookus; that eventually ended up dead in the desert. And, I realized that I had been going in the same direction myself by allowing these special moments to become “Mundane – same old same old” events.

I am sure that many of you have those special moments that you hang on to. Some of you even journal them and go back and read them to remind yourself of His amazing goodness. I exhort you – and myself – to celebrate those moments on a daily basis. Cherish them, tell them to your children and friends. And, keep your eyes – spiritual senses – open for your visitations.

He is a Good Father. He is there. He loves to surprise us and give us good gifts.

Why?

Hands lifted to God

 

I have a friend that encourages me to write. Probably believes in my writing more than I do. Her name is Catherine Vietti. She has been a wonderful friend and a blessing since I began to write seriously. Here is a poem that she wrote and gave to me. I thought I would share it with you all. It is titled “Why?”

 

“Why are we here upon the earth?

Where can we, from this darkness, go? Why, from the moment of our birth, must we, so painfully grow?

Why, when we reach our brightest years, If joy comes, it soon flies by? Tho, the tears and terrors, torment without end – Leaving just the endless question – “Why?”

Listen…It’s really not a dream…Deep from the past…voices at last…Holding you fast, as you waken in wonder, they tell you – “Things are not as they seem…you will be shown, you’re not alone…(you should have known!)”

And, when, you think your life’s all wrong, then, somehow, something you always doubted before…will open a door.

And, your eyes will open, and you’ll finally see,

Loving one another is the key…

Jesus has already set you free!

Catherine Vietti

Chapter One “The Days of Peleg”

Timelapse of surf and rocks

 

The Days of Peleg

(Story of how God separated the continents – Plate Tectonics – and divided the lands between the new tribes that resulted from the creation of different languages)

“Two sons were born to Eber:

One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided…” Genesis 10:25

 

Noah, his wife Emzara and what was left of the followers of Creator God continued slogging through the marsh bordering the river. Not far behind them the chariots of Nimrod and his army. Noah felt it somewhat of an indication of Nimrod’s fear of his grandfather that caused him to use such overwhelming force to destroy him. Nimrod’s army had already killed most of Noah’s followers. Those who listened and believed the stories of how Creator had saved mankind in the ark.

Emzara told Noah every chance she could get that Noah’s trip to see the tower Nimrod was building – had led to the confrontation between Grandfather and Grandson and their current dilemma. Noah knew she was right. It was just the constant reminding that tended to get under his skin.

Thankfully, two angels appeared at Noah’s door with a warning to flee. This had saved them. Or, perhaps had just bought them a little more time here on earth. Because, now the remnants of his band of followers were trapped against a river with no way to cross. The trees and bushes of the marsh hid Noah from Nimrod’s men. But, it also kept Noah from seeing how close Nimrod was. He knew it was only a matter of time before Nimrod’s men followed them into the marsh and killed them one by one. Noah remembered the hatred his grandson had for him. Earlier that spring, there in Nimrod’s throne room in the middle of a building those people called a palace. In that ugly, filthy place they were calling a great city. He had gone there to confront the wayward grandson about his reckless and wanton killing of animals for nothing but the joy of killing. He saw it as a symptom of a disease deep in Nimrod’s soul. Noah mistakenly assumed that he could rationalize with the youngster. Instead Nimrod had exploded in a frightening unhuman rage that reminded Noah of the days before the flood. He recognized the presence of the evil spirits Father God had told him about during the long days of constructing the boat. Oh, for those days to return. If only The Creator were with him now, in this stinking muck filled place. He would protect them.

Emzara wouldn’t let him forget how God had abandoned them. How God’s favor no longer rested upon Noah. That Noah’s God must be on the other side of the world. And, the tedious chore of working through the waist deep water, and fighting through brush, vines, and roots, invited Noah to give grudging acknowledgement to the dicey situation But, Noah knew The Creator was watching. He knew that Creator had something planned.

Life – up until now – had been peaceful. God’s blessings were evident in every aspect of life. Noah’s son’s and daughter in law’s had grown huge families. Indeed they occupied small nations now. Everything Noah grew came up from the ground with abundance. Noah knew he was favored by The Creator. The picture of the blessing of his latest grandson’s dedication to the Creator sprang up into his mind. Just a month before – after the visit to the palace of evil – Noah and Emzara presided over young Peleg’s birth and dedication. Oh how they had celebrated. He knew they were celebrating more than just Peleg’s birth. They celebrated the goodness an favor of Creator to bless their land. The goodness of Creator to walk with them and show them how to best talk the crops out of the dirt. Those were the good and peaceful times when The God of All Things walked with men. Somehow Noah could tell that men were again trying His patience. He sensed He might not be patient much longer.

Life began changing when the stories started reaching Noah from the plains below his home in the high mountain meadows. The animals streaming into the meadow for refuge alarmed Noah. They told Noah of the slaughters. Men driving whole herds of antelope over cliffs to their destruction. Only taking trophies and the choicest parts of the animal, then leaving the rest to rot. Where Noah would give thanks for the sacrifices the animals would make for Noah’s family, this man – this monster – would pretend he was a conqueror. He behaved badly.

Now Noah, Emzara, and those of his grandchildren that understood the Love of the Creator. Those that believed the stories of the Creation and the Flood. The few that remained now desperately found themselves waist deep in a marsh. Emzara’s look of panic communicated exactly how Noah felt, but couldn’t express. His children – that is how he saw his followers – needed a leader, needed someone strong at this moment. Panic and fear would only lead to a quicker death. But, he knew something was coming. God had never failed him in the past and wouldn’t do so now. But, how?

Nimrod’s soldiers were in the marsh now and it was only a matter of time.

Noah felt a tug on his leg. Was it a snake? That moment of apprehension rose up. But, then Noah looked down and there floated a young otter floating on it’s back.

“Grandfather Noah, follow me. I will show you how to avoid the noisy ones.” With that the otter began to paddle backwards through the water beckoning Noah to follow. “Come, quickly, there is a way across the river! You don’t have time to hesitate. Follow me!”

Noah looked at Emzara, and then down the line of the children and motioned for everyone to follow. Still the going was slow and the crashing noise of the soldiers, and Nimrod’s raging voice pressed in on the desperation rising up in the hearts of the children. It would only be a matter of minutes before they were upon them. Could they make it to the river in time?

Desperation can be a good thing. Especially, in life and death decisions. Desperation brings decisiveness to decision making, that decision that determines where you place your hope. Where does your hope lie in times like this. As life is weighed in the balance, tipping either towards life or death, desperation brings certainty to the process. Do you choose life or do you choose hopelessness and death? In this case Noah silently cried out with a fervent desperation for the Creator’s presence to once again intervene in life. Noah desperately chose life.

There flowed the river.

The otter turned and kicked powerfully into the fast flowing current motioning for Noah to follow. There running effortlessly in the middle of the river came a number of the largest bears Noah had seen since the Flood. Their fur a light brown almost cinnamon color glistened in the water. Their size and surprising speed combined with the freezing cold water of the fast flowing river, caused Noah to catch his breath. Creator had heard Noah’s prayer and sent help. An army of the most magnificent bears of every species pushed past Noah. The largest of the Cinnamon Bears looked down at Noah with a grim look of determination and said, “He has heard you Grandfather Noah! Our black brothers will carry you to the other side of the river. We will take care of the arrogant ones!” Then the bear crashed into the brush of the marsh with his brothers. An irresistible force of nature, an avalanche of bear crashing down on Nimrod and his soldiers. They were followed by smaller, but still impressive black bears.  They were moving towards Noah and the children. The current flowing around their powerful bodies, did not scare the bears. This was normal for them. Fishing for salmon in the river was a daily exercise and now they could repay the savior of their species.

The first of the black bears pushed through the current to Noah and said, “Get on my back quickly!” And, no sooner had Noah clambered aboard than the bear began swimming for the opposite shore.

The water chilled the bones and washed over the top of the bear’s back and over Noah’s head making it difficult to breathe as the bear’s powerful swimming propelled them forward. Noah looked around him to see a line of bears with the children and Emzara making their way across the river. Noah found himself chuckling at the look on his wife’s face. Her eyes were tightly shut as if to shut out the outrageousness of the situation.  “She may be a pain at times, but she has the courage of 10 men! Thank you Lord for the gift of my wife and companion! Lord bless her. She has followed me into every adventure you lead me into!” Noah felt like singing! The adventure of life with Creator had returned! He didn’t know where Creator was taking them. But, he knew the days of sitting watching the plants grow were gone for now. Now there would be an adventure. For surely Nimrod would find a way across the river and would not stop until they were trophies on the wall of his palace. So Noah knew this was only the beginning.

That was when Noah noticed that there were other animals in the river. Hundreds of antelope, deer, raccoons, mice, snakes, rabbits, skunks, in fact every animal that walked and had been with him on the ark – or at least their descendants – were swimming to the other side along with them! What was going on? Were they fleeing the evil of Nimrod, just as he was?

Another glance backwards, there were so many animals in the river it looked like a great Salmon Run, thousands of dark bodies churning the water into a frothy maelstrom. There on the other side Noah saw Nimrod and his men, now out of the swamp, were attempting to run from the army of bears. The only ones making good an escape were on horses or chariots. The speed with which the bears were capable of brought a thrill into his heart.

But, as Noah watched Nimrod and his men escaping he realized that the far bank seemed to be receding faster than possible. They should have made it to the other side by now.

Turning and looking forward there was the shore. The bear was walking now. Rising out of the freezing water with great lumbering strides. He was panting heavily from the exertion of crossing the strong current with someone on his back. But, when Noah looked at the bear, he saw a look of great satisfaction. This was an accomplishment a great victory for the animals! They had repaid a debt! They had saved the one human that they could trust and loved with a legendary love.

Noah stepped up to the bear and placed his hands on the great giant soaking wet head. “Thank you my friend. May Creator bless you and your kind forever. May you remain strong and free where ever you go! I and my kind hopefully will never forget the kindness you have shown us today.”

But, the bear was not looking – not paying attention – to Noah. His attention had settled on the river. It was growing wider. As the last of the animals pulled themselves up on the shore, exhausted from the river crossing, Emzara and the children stood next to their saviors watching as the river began to widen. As it widened the water began to become shallower and shallower. Where it once was deeper than could be safely crossed. It now looked to be only knee deep! What was happening here?

The ground began to shake. It became difficult to stand. Noah grabbed Emzara and the tree they were standing next to to keep from falling. The ground moved in ways that tricked their feet that normally supported them. The very earth they depended upon to be there, the foundation of everything solid, was proving to be anything but. Noah looked out into the river. The larger bears that had fought Nimrod and his men were trying to return, but were floundering in the shallow water, trying to stand and slipping on the slick river stones.

Then they heard it. Coming from downstream a roaring, rumbling noice caught Noah’s attention. Looking downstream Noah saw a wall of water coming up the river!

Turning to Emzara and the children Noah shouted, “Run!”

And they did! Sprinting as best they could with the the ground shifting under their feet, they stumbled and staggered from tree to tree to the higher ground ahead.

The roaring grew louder and louder as the wall of water moved up the river bed. Noah looked over his shoulder as he urged his seven hundred and thirty-year-old legs to move faster. Emzara and the children were outdistancing him! And, the water was there, off to the right moving through the trees and the grass. It was moving faster that his legs could carry him.

But, make it they did. Noah got wet, but made it to where the water could not reach. Then he tasted the water. It was not fresh water! It was salty water! This water came from the ocean that surrounded the land. The water left over from the flood. He had heard that it surrounded the land men lived on. Something unthinkable before the rains came. Of course no one had ever seen rain before the floods either. So now this was another part of the creation that The Lord had not shared with him. No matter, now they were safe.

Noah looked to see what had happened to Nimrod, but realized that the other side of the river was now barely discernable, merely a dark line well over a mile away. The two shores of the river were moving apart rapidly. The land was separating! Dividing! The Creator had saved them again by seperating the lands!

Noah, Emzara, the children and a long caravan of animalsof every kind continued moving farther from the water. The land kept moving, though mostly during the day. Night came and the ground seemed to sleep with them, allowing them to get their rest. Then when the sun came, the movement began again in a great caravan of life.

There were forty five of them. There had been thousands in Noah’s camps. But, now these were the only lives left. The evil had returned and now Noah’s thoughts turned to what Creator would do. He had promised that He would never destroy the earth with water again. Ironicly…Noah realized…God had not used water to destroy this time. The water had only filled in a hole Creator had dug. He is a powerful God. Moving mountains and re-routing rivers. He can change a world as fast as Noah could put on his sandals. He is worthy to be worshiped. That is what puzzled Noah. Why couldn’t Nimrod see that? The answer, Noah knew, was obvious. The evil one had lied to Nimrod, just as he had done with the first Grandfather and Grandmother Adam and Eve. Nimrod may have a powerful body, but a weak mind. He remembered the bullies from before the flood. Satan’s minions inciting the weak and fearful minded to violence and unspeakable evil acts. Now he had done it again. And, again Creator saved Himself a remnant!

Noah prayed as they walked across a small meadow under the shadow of what had been a small hill the evening before, but now was rapidly becoming a large mountain as they walked across the meadow. They had grown somewhat used to the rhythmic movement of the land beneath their feet. Still there had been a number of twisted ankles and bruises from awkward falls. There were no complaints from the children though. They understood the unique nature of their journey and the changes in the land. They understood that Creator was forming a new land and that they were not to fear.

Realization rose up in Noah’s mind. The Creator had saved them from evil as He had done before the flood. Some of the children had asked why Creator didn’t just kill Nimrod and the army that pursued them? Noah told them that Creator still loved Nimrod even though he practiced evil things. Creator knew hope still existed for Nimrod. It had to be that way, or hope would only be a fickle thing. Creator loved completely and unconditionally. His Love never falters or changes and is always there for those whose hearts realize the need for – the existence of – a loving, saving Creator. He told them that Creator never changed. The hearts of men are what prove themselves fickle and transient. The Love of the Father is always there waiting for the Human Soul to come home.

Moonfire

Rewrite & Edit done with new changes.

Truth & Passion

spiral-moonfire-lm-fractal-wallpaper-art

Turnips the dog snapped at the flies buzzing around his head, circled three times and settled into the straw bed near the shoeing stool. Evening brought the onslaught of skeeters swarming around the water trough and under the weeping willow trees. Light from outside the blacksmith shop was dimming enough that the glow from the brazier seemed brighter by contrast. Turnips sighed a lazy huff and lowered his shaggy head onto his paws.

Around the side of the low ramshackle smithy, two lethargic Clydesdales ambled by, pulling firewood from the foothills into town. October was almost over bringing the first frosty mornings, but the afternoons still suffocated in a summer that refused to go away. The dust from the yard desperately needed a good rainstorm to settle it down.

Turnips lay in filthy contentment in the cooler air closer to the floor. His day had been epic, as far as…

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Resistance is Futile!

blessed

Lately the thought of growing older has occupied more and more of my imagination. I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago about “Acting Your Age”, which came from this ruminating about getting older. This is not a frivolous thing for me. As I have thought about this in light of my relationship with Jesus, I realize that I want to finish well. Sixty years old. If I live to be the same age as my father who is over eighty, then I have just entered the fourth quarter of my life. It is time to finish well.

But, what stands in the way of that?

As the title of this blog suggests…only I stand in the way of finishing well.

One of the lessons learned up to this point in life is about learning to discern His Voice. This is crucial to understanding His Will for my life, His instructions on a day to day basis, and His intimate Presence. But, since this post is about obedience, let me land on that.

The older I have become the easier it has become to obey His commands, suggestions, and nudges. As an example; we have all been given the visual of the layers of an onion as it applies to how God peels off layers of our worldliness to make us more like Jesus. As a young man I struggled with that. I fought The Lord when conviction to change came my way. There were lots of excuses as to why I didn’t want to obey His leading, but eventually I would comply. Unfortunately, compliance sometimes came after years of struggling, procrastinating, excuse making, and flat out disobedience.

But, recently – the last 10 years or so – I have come to the understanding of God’s relentless pursuit to nurture excellence in me. Resistance is futile! That well known term taken from Star Trek’s famous Borg episodes. These episodes of course show us that resistance for the crew of the Enterprise was not futile. But, with God, resistance is futile for the believer who truly wants what The Father wants for them. And, the sooner obedience comes the sooner the blessing comes.

Let me use another example from my life. I used to be an avid Online Gamer. I spent a lot of time online playing the various first-person shooters I was addicted to. Mostly the Call of Duty series of games. And, I was very good at it. Good enough – addicted enough – to join an online Christian gamers clan. I rationalized that if I played with other Christians that I could justify the amount of time I spent playing. It was a good thing. We witnessed to the Pre-Believers that came into our server to play and at one point even lead about 30 individuals to Christ. But, I was still addicted.

Eventually, God convicted me about my gaming by enticing me with my writing. I became jealous of a friend of mine. She was excited about her writing career. So when I complained to God, He just challenged the wisdom of my time usage. He asked me what was more important – more profitable – online gaming or my writing.

If He had asked me that when I was in my 20’s or 30’s (maybe even into my 40’s) I would have fought that suggestion vehemently. But, after all the turmoil and lessons from raising a family and a business. All the lessons of a lifetime of prayer, I immediately quit online gaming cold turkey. That was almost 2 years ago. I didn’t struggle or make excuses. I just quit.

Why you ask? Because, I knew the blessing that came from obedience would be so much better than staying where I was. And, it has been. It took almost a year for my imagination to return to normal. Another 6 months before the Holy Spirit and I began to get into a flow collaborating on my stories. But, now the joy and intimacy of my writing sessions with The Holy Spirit are much more valuable and precious to me than the best day of gaming ever was.

This is the lesson.

I realized that I have become hungry for the blessings that come from obedience. I began to understand that I can intentionally look at my life – at the layers of the onion that still exist – and decide to take action to pursue Holiness and Purity. To actively participate in the peeling of the onion on a proactive basis. I decided to let The Lord prompt me when ever He felt the need to.

Here is my current Layer that I am hungry to remove. Vulgarity. I am an ex Coast Guard Officer. I came from the enlisted ranks – where I learned to cuss like a sailor – and went to Officer Candidate School. I served for about 6 years as an Officer. . That was 1980. I still, in moments of pain or frustration, can cuss a blue streak. But, I weary of that. As I strive for Holiness in my life as a prayer leader in my community, I have come to the realization…with a bit of a nudge from The Lord…that this part of me has to go. (and yes, prayer for this is gratefully accepted.)

Become an active participant in the process of Layer Removal. I can guarantee you that the blessing of His Presence and His intimacy becomes much clearer and closer the more layers you remove. When we participate in the process, rather than resist the process, we accelerate our becoming more like Him.

The next time Father convicts your heart and calls you to Holiness and Purity? Run to Him. Do not resist His nudge. Resistance is futile!

Act Your Age!

hourglass

Recently I had an interesting conversation with a good friend who is helping me edit some of my stories. We are working on a children’s story I wrote in the 1990’s. She complimented my ability to write for children. I responded with the following;

“I like writing for kids. Probably, because I never really grew up. If there is anyone you know that resembles a modern day Peter Pan (emotionally anyway) it is probably me.
 
I actually see no point in giving up my childhood. I can function as an adult…have been forced to. But, I refuse to cross that line that society draws in the sand that says, “Act your age”.
 
Sorry I will go to my grave before I cross that line”
 
So, what does it mean to “act your age”?
 
Everyone hears that at some point in their lives. Mostly, when you are a little person. Parents have a tendency to use that one on their children – the reasoning behind that escapes me. I think it has to do with the parent’s perception that the child is not behaving correctly. The more I think about it, I realize how silly it is to make that statement. Did the parent have a manual somewhere that laid out the correct behavioral characteristics of a 13 year old boy or girl? No, that statement comes from a spirit of annoyance with a child as they behave in an immature way. Which we all understand is “Normal” for a child.
 
So how do we deal with this when that phrase is applied to a grown man or woman? Often, it is not spoken out loud. It is implied through relationship and I will leave that question for different blog.
 
Now there is a bit of wisdom in learning to live as an adult.  1st Corinthians 13:11 nails the need for living as a mature adult succinctly.
 
“11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
 
But, then Jesus tells us in Matthew 18: 3 to maintain a “Childlike Spirit”
 
“3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
 
So there is the contrast. Grow up, but do not lose that child like spirit. I have to say that the verse about childlikeness of Matthew 18 seems to be speaking more to maintaining a spirit of humility than one of a childlike nature. Still the sense that Jesus wants us to maintain that sense of humility points to His desire that we remain teachable. Open to His instruction and direction. Children – for the most part – know that they don’t know everything. The curiosity of a child can be cultivated and nurtured to reveal the destiny that God has built into them. I believe that Our Father wants us to maintain that kind of sensitivity, hunger, understanding. When it comes to life, becoming an adult does not mean that you now know all the answers. This comes down to the core of our identity – who do we think we are.
 
Back to the phrase “act your age”. Let’s take a different angle to this. What age? Here are a few that I thought of. Perhaps, you can add to this list.
 
  • Perceived Age
  • Emotional Age (Soul age?)
  • Intellectual Age
  • Chronological Age
  • Observed Age (what others think)
  • Eternal Age

Which one do you identify with. Perceived age? That is the one where when you look in the mirror.  What do you see? Do you still see the 19 year old? Or, is that 60 year old staring back at you the real you? How about emotional age? I started this off with my defiant attitude towards aging. I said, emotionally I feel young and I refuse to let go of that. Chronological age? Again, is there a “How to Book” out there that can tell me exactly how I am supposed to act as a 60 year old Financial Planner? Observed age? To be very honest with you, I don’t give a flying fernertenburger if anyone thinks I’m acting my age. Then it comes to Eternal age.

 
Eternal age. This is what you have when you become the bride of the Christ. We now have been born again into an eternal kingdom. Someday we will sluff off this cocoon and become like HIM. What does that understanding do for your concept of your personal identity? So now how does this argument work when you throw that monkey wrench in the works. If you have eternal life? How the Heck does one act their eternal age? You act like a Child of The Creator of All Things! You are heir to eternity! (HINT: Read your Bible! There actually is a manual for learning to act your Eternal Age) 
 
 But, what if you are not a Child of God?
 
If you have not become a Christ Follower. It is not too late. Reach out to Him and ask Him to give you the Eternal Age. Make Him your King. Surrender your baskets of woe, pain, grief, frustration, and the trappings of a world gone weird and He will change you. He will forgive your sins and make you into a new creation. Then you will have the Eternal Age.