The CliffHanger

242018-cliff-hanger

 

 

The CliffHanger

I like to read . . . alot. My mother would take me to the Shasta County Library in Redding at a very young age. Some of my oldest memories are of these times when she would take me to the library and read to me. Or, I would sit and listen as volunteers would read to a group of us. Because of this environment I learned to read at a very early age. And, mom made sure that I had a library card and taught me how to use it. I never read any of the Hardy Boys stuff though. Really the very first books that I can actually remember was a series by Joseph Altsheler. He was a prolific writer of young adult historical fiction. My favorite was the Young Trailers series and the French and Indian War series. Don’t ask me to remember the names of the characters though, because I can’t. I just remember how exciting the books were.

As I got older, I read science fiction. One of my favorite things, however was the Doc Savage series. Yep, plain old pulp. Doc and his gang would get into all kinds of trouble solving mysteries and right down to the end you would be kept in suspense until Doc saved the day. Just great fun reading where Doc would always win. But, the fun was in how the writer kept you in suspense all the way until the end.

There is a strategy here that can best be explained by a question. Would you read the book if you knew how it would end before you started reading? I know; some of you are saying, “Well, if Doc always wins? How much fun would that be? You in essence already know how it will end. Doc Wins!” There is some truth to that matter. But, it’s not all about the ending. It’s about Heroes and the adventure. It’s about vicariously living an adventure — as fantastic as it was written — that you will never practically be capable of living. It’s just fun to imagine that someone like Doc could do the things he does. It’s about the journey through that imaginary world. Even if it only exists for the 3 or 4 hours it would take me to read one of those pulp novels.

Living with Christ is much the same way. Life is — or should be — an Epic Adventure with Jesus and The Holy Spirit! And, there will be all kinds of “CliffHanger” moments as you travel through life with Them.

Yes, I know. We know how it all turns out. Jesus comes back and kicks booty and takes His Kingdom. And those that Love Him will be with Him where He is. The Resurrection is an amazing thing to look forward to. But, that is not what life is all about.

Life is a journey, an adventure, set before you as a challenge. Jesus as The Word, spoke Creation into existence. Some say He SANG it into existence. It was a Love Song! The Creation is so glorious, immense and endless and — quite frankly — beyond our capabilities as finite beings to understand. And, there is a purpose to it. God wants to share this with us. God is into adventure, boundless joy, huge belly laughs, infinite compassion, and in contrast to that, an amazing peaceful love that rules everything else. He is extending an incredible invitation to explore all that with HIM. That is, after all what we were created for.

So God is the ultimate author. He is writing countless stories in the lives of His Creation. He wants to write an amazing roller-coaster ride of a story in your life. One filled with passion, and adventure. One where He will be right there beside you the entire way. Leading you through the obstacle course of life. You just have to trust that He knows the way through. After all, we know how the story ends, right? So why not enjoy the CliffHangers of Life?

I have heard that Faith can be best described by the word RISK.

Are we willing to risk this life in the bubble of time to gain what Faith and The Word tell us is the true reality? Are we going to live in that prayer, Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will be done, On Earth as it is in Heaven?

Yes, many of our lives today resemble tragedies. At times there seems to be no way out. We are tied up and on the tracks of life and the locomotive of disaster — whatever that looks like for you — is bearing down on you. If you know The Heart of Jesus, you know He is way better than Dudley-Do-Right at saving people. And, satan has less power over you than that animated character Snidely Whiplash.

So let Jesus rewrite your story. The next time the Holy Spirit whispers something over the top in your ear, that can only be accomplished by Him. Take Him up on it. Step out and take the risk. He won’t disappoint you.

Trust me comfort is not all it cracks up to be.

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The Spark of Faith

Sparks_Will_Fly

The Spark of Faith

Luke 17:6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

I have always wondered at this verse. Tying the power of my prayer to the size of my faith seems to imply a bias towards performance. Or, how hard can I pray? Can I pray hard enough to see an actual tree uprooted and transplanted in the ocean? But, it seems to me that my interpretation is incorrect if I equate my faith with any form of performance on my part, other than belief that what Jesus said is true.

Jesus is only implying that if my faith is of a sufficient size then power will be released.

The Spark of Faith, however, is something different.

I was on a conference call this morning listening to one of my favorite leaders, George Otis, Jr.. George talked about the preponderance of prayer being lifted up around the world. More prayer now than at any time before in history. Which, is obviously a good thing. But, he brought up a troubling point that frames that statistic. With that much prayer, shouldn’t the world be witnessing a commensurate break out of Heaven?

Now I don’t claim to be an expert in any of this, but it seems to me that the above verse should be playing a key role in the answer to that question. Does the lack of “significant” breakthrough on a corporate scale in our world point to a lack of faith? Are all the mustard seeds sterile?

Don’t get me wrong. George can also point to an abundance of places around the globe that are experiencing transformation. But, those instances are each unique and rooted in the desperation of the people that live in those specific locales. The big problems still persist. Moral and social ills seem to continue to grow and become festering sores despite prayer and activism around the globe.

So, where does the faith come from to change a world? Where does the faith come from that changed the communities that we see in the Transformation Videos?

Perhaps, desperate hunger for revival is a key for people already rooted in a specific denomination.  Or maybe, innocent childlike faith found in those that are rescued from a life without God. I remember when as a new believer I encountered the supernatural in the form of my Guardian Angel . . . physically.  And, I have since read of many instances where new believers without any theological learning, or denominational biases, experienced supernatural events/intervention in their lives, where it seems evident that God Himself sovereignly stepped into their lives, just because He wanted to.

Now that I am a “Mature Believer”, I have also witnessed answers to my own prayers — on an intermittent basis — that amaze me every time. I have seen people healed and changes to my community that can only be attributed to the intervention of God Almighty. But, I have also been disappointed on those instances where I desperately needed an answer to a situation and was met with silence.

So where is the Spark?

I believe it lies somewhere between desperation and that childlike innocence where doubt and care do not exist. A child trusts. The desperate feel they have no other choice and are resigned to prayer as a last resort and through their circumstances are forced to cast all their hopes and cares on Him. Either way nothing is getting in the way of simple faith.

But, then how does it work when you are facing something like worldwide radical islamic terror, or the epidemic of abortion, or any number of rampant worldwide  problems? Problems that are described in military terms usually reserved for wars? The war on abortion or the war on poverty to mention a couple.

These problems are corporate problems. They are bigger than just one person. Complex multi-layered problems with historical roots that have been debated and often baptized in blood. The answer to this seems to point to the need for Unity in the Body of Christ. Unity on a most basic level. Unity not for unity’s sake, but true unconditional brotherhood. Back when we were kids, we did not make distinctions between the friends we played with on our block. It never occurred to us to distinguish between colors of skin. Unless, of course you had parents that wouldn’t let you play with “Those Kids”. We need that unconditional acceptance of each other.

This is a world that takes joy from watching us fight amongst ourselves over petty differences. It is crucial that we allow that Spark of Faith to ignite the spiritual DNA of our Mustard Seeds! Pray desperately for that Childlike freedom to accept the radical outworking of The Holy Spirit in your life.

We are after all only little children to Our Father.

Just a Glimpse . . .

Just a Glimpse . . .

Christmas Tree

a dream

 

Dreams can be like that wonderful Forrest Gump saying about life and boxes of chocolates, you never know what kind you will get. Beyond the standard, dream versus nightmare connotation. You have, the one’s you remember and the one’s you wish you could remember, the one’s you wish you never experienced, and pray you could forget. Good and bad dreams, fall under that last one. Especially some of the dreams that God gives you. That’s not to say that a good dream from God is bad. I would imagine that if God gives you a dream there is a purpose and His purposes are always good. But, they can be good and yet at the same time, difficult to handle. But, then there are those dreams that are just plain fun! That was this one.

 

March 18, 2013 approximately 5:45 AM.

 

Walking in the forest is always intriguing. There is always something attention grabbing just around the next corner. I was exploring this forest. The sun soared overhead, punctuating a clear blue sky sparsely dotted with mountain clouds. It seemed to be that kind of perfect day where the word hurry would never be found. So I wasn’t. . . hurrying.

 

Then I heard a ruckus up ahead and higher up on the mountain. So I decided to check it out.

 

There on the side of the mountain stood a forest of Christmas Trees all grown up. They were too big to cut down for your living room at Christmastime. They were all grown up Christmas Trees.

 

It seemed that they were in the process of having a party! I could hear them talking to each other, but in a language I couldn’t understand. Anyone, however, would have understood the joyous ruckus they were involved in. It was a Christmas Flocking Party. Each of the trees wielded a large can of pressurized tree flocking. It was obvious that a major battle was to ensue. It reminded me of the days we would buy cans of silly string for my kids to have string fights on their birthdays.

 

The melee commenced and the trees began to battle it out on the slopes of the mountain. I had to cover my ears as their laughter was extremely loud. Which, is what one would expect from such large and boisterous trees. Staying out of the way of them turned out to be an equally challenging chore.

 

You might think that staying out of the way of a tree wouldn’t be that hard. considering they are trees, and trees aren’t known for their nimble-footedness. You would be wrong. My two dogs don’t move any faster than these trees were moving.

 

The looks’ on their faces as they plastered each other with the flocking, caused joy to rise up in me as well. I found myself forgetting the danger and I ran out amongst the trees laughing and dodging around them as they fought, grabbing big globs of flocking and throwing it at the trees. These were grown trees yelling and laughing and giggling like little kids.

 

Eventually, their cans stopped spraying. Everyone including me was thoroughly covered in white.

 

Then as I watched, the trees began running further up the hill where they all lined up in neat rows as if each had a reservation in the amphitheater of creation. At that point they all turned and looked at me and explained that, “Trees like the steep sides of the mountain. Because, they all can get an equal share of the sun!”

 

Each of their faces were radiant with joy. And, they looked at me as if they expected me to understand what they were saying this time. Almost as if what they had said was the main point of the dream.

In The Land of Toolahatchee

ClownFaceIn The Land of Toolahatchee

By Derek L. Hastings

 

On a bright squinty day in the land of Toolahatchee, just perfect for asking questions, Tinker Clown asked her mother a very important question. The kind of question that parents everywhere wonder about, the kind that seem to be scripted by someone other than your child. So when Tinker asked Topsy why there were bad clowns in the Big Tent, Topsy had a hard time coming up with an answer. But, like all loving clown parents, she gave it her best.

“Well, my little juggling ball, it’s a long story and I’m not the storyteller in the Booby Hatch, let’s get your father to tell it.”

So Topsy and Tinker went to find the papa clown, Turvy. They found him next to the Scarecrow, cultivating the family garden and trying (not too successfully) to keep from getting his white clown gloves dirty.

After Tinker finished explaining the question, and after a few more seconds of nose scratching and foot shuffling, Turvy said, “Good question Tinker! I don’t suppose you would allow yer ol’ Dad about a year to come up with a really funny reason, now would ya?”

Tinker just looked at the smiley face of her father and good naturedly shook her head no. “Dad, I really want to know! I don’t understand why there are bad clowns under the Big Tent. You’ve always told me that clowns are made special. That the Great Ringmaster created clowns to bring joy and happiness to the Big Tent. So how come, Papa?!?”

Turvy could hear the gears in Topsy’s brain whirling as he gave Turvy the “What do I do now?” look. Turvy just smiled as if to say, “It’s in your court cream pie face!”

So, Turvy crossed his eyes, grabbed Tinker up in his dirty gardening arms, and with a giant ”Uh-Hyuk” said, “Well, then I guess it’s history class time!” and, pulling his huge shoes out of the mud, bounded off to the utility room with Tinker on his shoulders, to clean up before going into the house.

When they were all settled, Turvy began the lesson. He picked up his ClownPad, stretched a clean pair of polka-dot juggling gloves tightly onto his fingers, and with a flourish (and a bit of hippity hop) honked the Clown Nose App on the screen. “BOING!!”, instantly, the west wall of the family room flipped over like a two-sided chalkboard, and exploded to life. Pulling a cotton candy colored tele-set out of a receptacle in the cabinet next to his unicycle recliner, Turvy began the lesson on the history of the Big Tent. Turvy was known Tent-wide for his Tele-story skills and kiddy clowns from all over the neighborhood, stampeded to Tinker’s house to watch Turvy weave his thought plots on the screen.

 

“Thousands of years ago the Ringmaster thought the most amazing thought. His thoughts are always huge and filled with joy. But, this thought was so much more so huge that anything He had thought before! This thought painted a world! And, then kept on going painting, building, hatching, and finally illuminating everything the thought created. The Ringmaster had decided to create a complete and glorious universe, with so many planets in it that no one would ever be able count them all, (even if you used all of your toes and all of your friends toes). One of those planets was The Big Tent. A world where he knew that everybody would be happy and love each other, and a place where others could share in His creativity. So He filled this glorious world with many animals, all kinds of plants, and then He created the first two clowns . . . .”

“Daaaad!” Tinker complained. “Do we have to go all the way back to kindergarten to get the answer to a simple question like this? I learned all about Raggedy Ann and Andy a long time ago.”

“Ah yes,” chortled Turvy. “But, not like this, ya haven’t.”

Turvy continued, “After correcting Raggedy Andy’s urge to paint clown faces on all the animals, the Ringmaster gave the job of naming the animals to him. Life became joyfully full and busy for Andy and Ann as they tended the animals and listened to the Rigmaster tell them funny and fascinating stories. The Ringmaster began teaching them to be the greatest clowns of all time (which really wasn’t very long considering the Ringmaster had just created time). Andy and Ann quickly mastered the art of juggling, pie throwing, stilt walking, prat falling, face painting, balloon blowing, and best of all, creating magic tricks.

Most of all, though, they loved to watch the Ringmaster juggle. He could juggle anything and knew every trick in the book. One day while the Ringmaster juggled with His golden juggling balls, and Andy and Ann watched with their mouths hanging open almost to their toes, the Ringmaster stopped His routine and set His golden juggling balls on the forest floor. Before He danced away, He turned to Andy and Ann and warned them, “My children, whatever you do , do not touch my juggling balls. I am coming right back with some hot dogs and curly fries for dinner.”

 

As the Ringmaster waltzed away, Andy and Ann could taste the hot dogs and curly fries and knew they were the happiest people in the Big Tent to have a Ringmaster such as theirs.”

However their hot dog and fries dream came to an abrupt stop when a song they had never heard before drifted into their ears — A musical sound like the music that came from the Ringmaster’s giant calliope — but different. It was “I-can’t-stop-my-feet-from-moving” music. So, being the curious types they were, Andy and Ann climbed through the marshmallow bushes and apple trees to where the sound was coming from. There, under a giant chocolate apple tree stood a curiously colored creature juggling at least 10 chocolate apples. Boy, oh boy could he juggle! His clown face glowed and flashed with some kind of light that danced as his purple clown nose pulsed. He wore a fancy rainbow colored tux with tails and silvery pointed shoes.  And, his clown hair had to be 3 feet wide, glittering bright blue, red, and yellow. He was so much more wonderful than Andy and Ann that they marveled that the Ringmaster had ever created them. The creature shined so gloriously he was hard to look at.. Then he spoke to them with all the charm of a master car salesman.”

“Andy and Ann! My goodness it is so nice to see you. I have heard so much about your skills as a juggling team, I just had to come and meet you. I’m somewhat of an accomplished juggler myself and thought that if , just IF, you were good enough, you could join my traveling circus. Allow me introduce myself to you. I am the Ringleader. My circus is the grandest circus in the Big Tent! All of the best performers work for my circus, and if you come to work in my circus I can promise you that you will be stars!!”

Andy and Ann had forgotten all about hot dogs and curly fries, and just stood there frozen by the Ringleaders suggestion. This beautiful creature wanted them to join his circus and he said they could be stars. Instantly, Andy wondered why he had never seen the ringleader’s circus. In fact he had thought that the Ringmaster’s circus was the only circus in the Big Tent. “Could this be true?” thought Ann. “Could we be stars in a circus?” And, both Andy and Ann spoke up at once.

“Do you really think we could be stars in a circus???”

“Well now, I do indeed my young proteges. But, first you must prove yourselves worthy of my circus. You must bring me the Ringmaster’s golden juggling balls!” crooned the ringleader.

Andy and Ann backed away with a look of fear etched across their faces and hesitantly said, “But, the Ringmaster said not to touch the golden juggling balls. We can’t disobey our Ringmaster!”

The ringleader laughed and said, “Oh dear me, you silly children! Don’t you know that if the Ringmaster can create all of this magnificence that He can surely create new golden juggling balls for Himself? Surely, if He has given you all of this, He won’t mind letting you have the golden juggling balls! Besides, He just doesn’t want you to the know the secret!”

Andy and Ann were caught. “What secret?” they chimed.

“That if you touch the golden juggling balls then you will be just as good of a juggler as the Ringmaster,” lied the ringleader.

“Us, just as good as the Ringmaster?” they wondered.

“That’s right,” the ringleader smiled. “The moment you touch the balls you will know just as much about juggling as He does, and He doesn’t want you to know that, because He’s jealous of how good you are already!” The ringleader enjoyed creating lies. Because the ringleader hated anything The Ringmaster created. He had been The Ringmaster’s favorite long before the first clowns were created. But, he had become vain and tried to take The Ringmaster’s place in the center ring. This hurt The Ringmaster badly and forced Him to banish the ringleader forever from the forest. ”

Tinker jumped up and shook her fist at the screen, and shouted. “Oh you mean, bad, horrible ringleader! How I wish you had never been created!” This brought the story to a halt, as Tinker expressed her dislike for the ringleader.

Turvy looked at Topsy, and smiled. But, Topsy looked back at Turvy with her, “Let’s move this along there mr. storyteller look, and gave the smallest of small nudges with her head as if to say, “Turn around and look behind you, pie-in-the-face.”

So Turvy, took his tele-set off and turned to look around. It had happened again. The room was filled with the neighbor kids, all with their tele-sets and bowls of rainbow colored yummy popcorn. Around the room, propped up against the walls, were their parents. There were the next door neighbors Rufus the Strongman and his wife Tinkerbell the midget ballerina; there next to the front door was Talleron the Wildman tamer of animals and Turvy’s favorite pet Percy the Lion King.

The neighbor smiled at him as if to say, “Get with it Clown Boy! The Footy Ball game starts in an hour!” Yep, it had happened again, instant extended family.

“I should charge admission.” thought Turvy, “I’d never run out of Cotton Candy!”

Then Turvy looked down at Tinker and saw the look of pride on her face. Tinker had the best dad, the best storyteller on the street.

Stuffing a giant handful of popcorn into the mouth of the most famous clown face in the big tent, Turvy signaled the end of the impromptu intermission and began again. “When the Ringmaster found that Andy and Ann and the golden juggling balls were gone, He called their names. Not getting an answer, He took the hot dogs and curly fries and went looking for them. He found them in a part of the forest that they had never been in before. And as He approached them, they hid something behind their backs.

“What do you have behind your backs children?” the Ringmaster asked.

Andy and Ann were caught. They had been juggling with the golden juggling balls and found that they were indeed much much much better with the golden juggling balls than with the ones that the Ringmaster had made for them. In fact the golden juggling balls just seemed to juggle themselves. It was effortless and easy to do all the same tricks that the Ringmaster had done. They had come to the conclusion that the ringleader was right: the Ringmaster WAS jealous of them.

But, now they were caught. And fear rose up in them and shame crushed their spirits. They held out the golden juggling balls to the Ringmaster. But, all they wanted to do was hide from the look on His face. Andy and Ann would discover this was only the beginning of their pain.

The Ringmaster sent them away from the forest and stationed security guards at the entrances so they could never come back to the Ringmaster’s forest. Andy and Ann wandered around in the Big Tent for a very long time looking for the ringleader’s circus. But, sadness followed them everywhere they went, because they knew that they had disappointed the Ringmaster by disobeying Him. Now all they had were their normal red, blue, and yellow bouncy balls. And, it seemed that they knew a little more about juggling, but not enough to make their sadness go away. Andy and Ann were two very miserable Clowns.

Andy and Ann never did find the ringleader’s circus, but went to live in the land of the Toolahatchee River where they began their own circus. They vowed that they would never be fooled again and hoping the Ringmaster could hear them, they called out to the Ringmaster for forgiveness. Barely had the, “. . . forgive us,” passed Andy and Ann’s lips when there was the Ringmaster, arms open wide with footlong hot dogs and lemonade.

With the help of the Ringmaster they wrote down what had happened to them and instructions on how to live a happy life in the world the Ringmaster had created. Although the Ringmaster had sent them away from the forest as punishment for their disobedience, He still loved them and wanted to be with them.

The years went by and Andy and Ann learned to love each other. Soon a tribe of kiddie-clowns swarmed over the land The Ringmaster gave them. These kiddie-clowns grew up and had lots of kiddie-clowns who grew up and had their own Kiddie-Clowns. Soon the land of the Toolahatchee was teeming with Clowns. And, the Ringmaster’s Circus land was more fun than watching clown dogs eat peanut butter.

As more time went by, some of the kiddie-clowns found that they didn’t want to be Clowns anymore. Some wanted to be Acrobats, or Lion Tamers, or Elephant Masters, Clown Cannon Balls, Strongmen, Magicians, or Ballerinas. So eventually the land was filled with very talented circus performers of all kinds. Each group grew and filled the land of the Toolahatchee until they moved away to distant parts of the Land of Toolahatchee and formed their own lands.”

 

Right at that moment, Topsy popped up in the middle of the picture Turvy was in middle of describing.

“WHOA!” Turvy exclaimed. “Now that’s the most beautiful piece of flotsam I ever laid peepers on!” Andy, let out a Whoop Whoop Whoop, followed by a Curly Shuffle just to emphasize the moment.

Taking the tele-set off one more time (accompanied by the groans of the “extended family” and a pelting with hundreds of pieces of caramel corn), Topsy gently wiped the sweat from Turvy’s meticulously applied paint job. She handed him a lemonade and a kiss and said, “You’re doing great dear, but I’m Jetsam, you’re Flotsam.”

With a lost look on his face Turvy quaffed a large portion of the lemonade, resisted wiping his face on his smock, and began again.

 

“Well now the first Clowns, Andy and Ann, became legends in the Land of Toolahatchee and many of the Clowns, most of the Acrobats, and other circus tribes had completely forgotten about them, not to mention about the Ringmaster Himself. The circus had grown so big and so amazing that it ran all day and all night with each type of performing group trying to outdo the other with the new skills they mastered. Sometimes the competition grew so fierce that tempers would flare and fights would break out. The Clowns would use laughter to defuse these situations and remind the performers about the Ringmaster’s instructions. But, with each fight became the clowns found it harder and harder to bring peace back to the circus.

One day the ringleader sneaked back into the Land of the Toolahatchee. Being a big liar, he found it a very simple task to disillusion a young acrobat named The Amazing Gilbert. Gilbert lived in the far southern land of the Toolahatchee where the various clans of the Acrobats had migrated. As a young apprentice trapeze artist, Gilbert was required to practice his art every day until the Trapeze Master was satisfied that Gilbert had grasped each skill. Gilbert hated practice, but loved to wander the banks of the Toolahatchee dreaming up stories. Gilbert was a storyteller but he was afraid to tell anyone. So not surprisingly Gilbert was not as amazing as his name suggested. His practice times began to dwindle as his desire for the trapeze disappeared. So one grey morning Gilbert played hooky on the river bank. The ringleader followed him and made friends with him by telling fantastic adventurous stories (that were completely bald faced lies). The ringleader could tell Gilbert was hooked. So he suggested to him that he could be anything he wanted and he didn’t have to be an Acrobat or follow any of the rules that the circus people in Toolahatchee followed. This made Gilbert feel better about playing hooky. He wanted to believe the ringleader and began to think of running away.

Eventually, Gilbert did run away and with his vivid imagination, and a lot of help from the ringleader,  he dreamed up his own instruction book. Although Gilbert was alone he was supremely happy because now he could do anything that he wanted. He felt his instruction book was much better than the Ringmaster’s instruction book. His book said, “If it feels right it must be right”. He did whatever his instruction book said, and as long as it made him happy, it seemed right to him. If something came along that wasn’t in the book, he wrote a rule that made it ok to do, especially if it was something fun! So Gilbert’s book was full of rules that let him do whatever his heart desired. Occasionally however, Gilbert did something that he knew was wrong. A small quiet friendly voice would speak up with a warning and a reminder of what the Ringmaster had taught long ago. This made him feel guilty. Gilbert didn’t like feeling guilty, so he wrote another rule. This rule said that if anything made you feel bad it was wrong, no matter what! So Gilbert continued to write rules ignoring the little voice inside him that kept getting quieter and quieter and quieter, until Gilbert could not hear the little voice any more.

After the voice went away, Gilbert had tons of fun! No matter what he did he never felt guilty.

The ringleader brought many other people from all over the Toolahatchee to see Gilbert, all of them running from who The Ringmaster had made them to be. All of them wanting to live by Gilberts’ rules. They wanted to do whatever they wanted and not have someone telling them all the time what to do, what was right or what was wrong. Everyone had believed the lies that the ringleader had told them. They were happy to find an instruction book that said that there were no absolute rights or wrongs. Gilbert’s rule book taught, “The only person that mattered is you and no one can tell you what to do or not to do.” So Gilbert’s part of the river was soon full of people all trying to do what they felt was right.

At first, Gilbert’s Land (as it became known) began to prosper and his circus performers became known for their marvelous innovations in circus skills. Gilbert started bringing storytellers into the center ring holding people’s attention for hours with the wild tales his storytellers would weave. So, the Gilbertians began to believe the wild stories and then ignore the little voice inside that was calling to them.

Years went by the and Gilbertian’s began to change. Their acts became more and more different and strange. The changes were so profound that anyone who was not a Gilbertian could not understand the acts taking place in the Center Ring. People crowded the bleachers cheering and whooping it up but, cheering for crazy stories and ideas being shown in the Center Ring. In the place of understanding there was confusion; in place of inspiration, there was a strange unsettling fear. The lies grew and the Gilbertians lost the ability to tell good from bad, truth from lies, joy from sorrow. Their hearts were shrinking and shriveling.

More and more the Gilbertians happiness changed to dissatisfaction and they began to complain. Happiness disappeared in Gilberts Land. Then the ringleader created another lie. He explained to one of Gilberts’ rising star storytellers that the unhappiness was because the rest of the world was different, and thought that the Gilbertians were bad. The ringleader told him The Gilbertians were better than the rest of the Toolahatchians and should be in charge of the big tent. So the first war erupted in the Land of the Toolahatchee.”

Turvy stopped and looked at Tinker surrounded by the colorful menagerie of kiddie-clowns. He took off the tele-set, knelt down to look his little juggling ball in the eyes and said, “So the reason there are bad clowns in the big tent is that they cannot hear the Ringmasters’ instructions and are listening to the lies of the ringleader. They believe if they get all the things want, then they will be happy. So they spend their lives getting things and taking from others what can never make them happy. Someone needs to tell the Gilbertians the truth about Love of the Ringmaster, so they won’t be lost anymore. They need to know that The Ringmaster would gladly give them all they would ever need. Happiness can only be found in the Greatest Show of All times: The Circus of the Ringmaster. Trust Him to lead you into the Center Ring and you will never be left out of the show”.

Tinker looked at her Papa and her Mama and with a big Clown hug said, “Thanks, Papa. I will pray that someday the bad Clowns can find their way back to the Ringmaster’s circus. It must be real sad to be so lost!”

Topsy looked at her daughter with tears in her eyes and just sighed, “Yes, Honey it must be. Maybe someday you will help some of them to find their way back home.”

No one noticed the face of the ringleader disguised as the Mail Man watching from the window near the front door. He was not happy with what he had heard. He thought to himself, “I will make sure you never ever tell the truth to my Gilbertians. You silly little clown girl!” Then he turned and walked swiftly down the street as the neighbors began to leave Topsy and Turvy’s home. No one ever knew he had been spying on the story time.

The Revelation of Faith

childlikefaith

How Childlike Faith Reveals the Kingdom of God

Hebrews 11:1 (The Amplified Bible)

1: NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Recently I added a “signature” to the end of my email’s. It says:

“Faith is the substance that combined with obedient action reveals that which is unseen, namely Heaven. But, Faith is only real when it is activated by obedience. Hence, the “STEP” of Faith.”

I wrote that signature one day as I was pondering the meaning of Hebrews 11:1. I stumbled over a chapter in a book that illustrates that verse. And, an incident in my life shortly after becoming a Christian also illustrates it.

The first is an incident that happened in the 1800’s described in a book that compiled  letters from Annie Bidwell to the Presbyterian Conference about the Mechoopda Tribe that lived on her Ranch. Annie wrote about one of the men on her Ranch named Billy Preacher. Billy was a typical indian of that time. Could not speak english . . . or very little. . . and worked for Annie’s husband John.  Billie’s wife, Nopanny, had become a Christian through Annies’ efforts. But, Billy was stubborn and resisted, as did many of the men of the tribe.

Then one night “God” appeared to Billy in a dream and confronted Billy about forcing his wife Nopanny to return a bible Annie Bidwell had given her. God told Billy to get that book back, because it was His Book. This caused Billy to believe in Annie’s God.  He didn’t argue with God. He just took Him at His Word.

But, what was interesting was that Billy’s life immediately began to  exhibit supernatural phenomena, what the Bible calls Signs and Wonders. Without any theological training, and very limited understanding of english. Billy accepted Christ at face value, and “the Supernatural” began to happen around him. Billie’s faith was total and unwavering. It was not tainted by years of church teaching or dogma. He just believed that Jesus was God’s Son, and never questioned it. His Reality became subject to his Faith.

The second story involves me. I grew up in a Non-Christian home. Went to College, lived the hippy lifestyle . . . well actually more a doper lifestyle . . . graduated from college, got married, got divorced, and then joined the Coast Guard. My best friend and eventually my wife began to witness to me long distance. She was in New Jersey, and I was stationed in Seattle. Eventually, after a year or so of back and forth letters and two books, I realized the truth of who Jesus is and committed my life to Him. In December 1979 I flew out to New Jersey, asked Nancy to marry me, went forward to the altar in her Nazarene Church, bought a NIV Bible and between December 28th and January 6th read the entire book cover to cover.

Then on Jan 6th 1980, I had to leave to go to OCS (Officer Candidate School) in Yorktown Virginia. The circumstances of that day lead to my arriving at the Port Authority in New York (the Greyhound Bus Station) right at the moment that my bus was scheduled to leave for Baltimore. In other words, I was late for the bus! Not good to show up at Officer BOOT Camp late! It took me another 15 minutes to get my tickets, and then run for the gate. So now I was even later.

I found the gate and as I was stepping onto the bus, the driver pointed at my new bible and asked me what it was. I told him, and he said, “Read Psalm 91:11 and you will see why I waited for you.” Psalm 91:11 says “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways”. So the bus driver, who couldn’t have known I was coming, specifically points to Psalm 91:11 as the reason he waited for me.

To this day I can only assume that that was my Guardian Angel. He stood about 6’5” tall, probably 250 Pounds, with white hair and a brilliant smile. He looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger with Santa’s Face.

Again, I was a young man with no theological training, other than having just read the Bible, and I accepted everything that Jesus said in there as being absolutely true. That part of me that recognizes truth had no doubts at all that what Jesus said was true. I easily could have said, “Cool! Makes sense to me! Let’s go do this!!”

So when I finally related to my then fiancee Nancy what had transpired that morning. She suggested to me that I had indeed met my Guardian Angel. The facts are just too obvious to come to any other conclusion.

So, here is where I have been dwelling the last month or so.

Childlike faith is an approach to the truth of Jesus Christ that accepts it on face value. In Matthew 18, the verse reads:  18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children,(B) you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.(C) 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.(D) 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.(E)

A Child’s faith in their Parents is total, and unquestioning. Because, there is nothing to compare it to. They have only known one set of parents. So belief is not so much a choice, as it is a natural occurrence. So, in my opinion, Christ is saying that the greatest in the Kingdom will be those whose faith is total and unquestioning. Whose Love for Jesus is so passionate and overwhelming that it drowns out the competition from a fallen world. Or, when Christ says that “more blessed are those that believe, even though they have not seen the physical Christ (extreme paraphrase).” He is pointing to the fact that Faith in what is not seen reflects the state of your heart, and will result in “Measurable Signs & Wonders”. People will see the effect of your faith and WANT IT!

So what is to ponder? One of the bigger questions of our day is the argument about miracles. Do they happen? I can assure you they do. But, they are not dependant upon how hard we pray, what words we use to pray with, or anything that we can do to manufacture them. They just happen, because we believe in His truth. The truth that miracles happen when His Presence is around us. So when we are in His Presence, our faith in His Presence reveals what we cannot see. It is the substance that reveals The Kingdom.

But, we can complicate it with filling our minds, our hearts, and the schedule of our day with “Stuff”. We can complicate it with negative (sometimes well meaning) religious materials that say miracles don’t happen anymore.

The amplified version above of Hebrews 11:1 uses language that describes the conundrum “the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” Perceiving as REAL FACT what is not revealed to the senses,  perception of the unseen. In our case that means The Kingdom of Heaven. So faith is the substance that reveals The Kingdom of Heaven.

Back in 1980 when I first read the verse in John about doing the things that Jesus had been doing, only  more of them — “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12” — I remember saying, “Cool! When do I start doing these things?” When a couple of days later I met my Guardian Angel, I  didn’t do anything to make that happen. It just happened. Father God sent the Angel to tell me that He would be watching over me at Officer Candidate School. It was nothing more than that. He Loves me so much that He allowed my Angel to appear to me to tell me that He had my back. I never doubted that He didn’t.

Now have I always believed with the same “Childlike” abandon that I had at the beginning. Probably not. I have had struggles in life just like everyone else. But, the more I research and see how people that experienced these things in their lives lived. The more I see the truth of living a life with a childlike acceptance of the totality of the experience of the Natural Supernatural Life He has for us.

In some ways, the verse about how it is difficult for a “Rich Man” to enter The Kingdom, applies in this example to those that are “Rich” in intellect. The more book learning you have, the harder it is to expect a miracle. Because, all your effort is in “Learning” as much as you can about every facet of religion. I am not saying that learning is a bad thing. But, at some point, we must put the book down and walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We must do the Jesus things that He said we would.

Hypnotized

Dream picBad dreams are never fun. Recently I found myself crying out in the middle of a dream. Frantically trying to yell for help, but all I could do was get out a quiet whimper. I imagine that if someone were standing over my bed watching, I would have looked like the family pet twitching and running and whining in my sleep. From inside the dream I remember the attempt to yell and the frustration of not being able to actually call for help. I think it was that frustration that lead to the realization I was dreaming and then waking up. That sense of helplessness and the realization that I was experiencing “unreality” woke me up.

Life can be similar to that dream. We can live in a state of “unreality”. We can live our lives hypnotized by the comforts of life. Most of us would say that life is quite real and not all that comfortable at times. That there is no fantasy or hypnosis involved in the trials and endurance race we all run. I agree, life can be brutal. A lot of time is spent asking if the trials and tribulations are all there is? Do we have to accept that that is just the way life will always be? Are our lives what we thought they would be when we were children? Are we living up to our potential? In fact what is our potential? And, how would you really know?

God knows your potential. He created your destiny for you to live. Anything short of that destiny is a waste from a human perspective, tragic from a heavenly perspective, and “according to plan” from the satanic perspective.

We can know that destiny. We can walk in that potential and realize it, activate it, wind it up and let it go.

But, first we need to wake up! We have to stop the world from hypnotizing us.

I have been hypnotized before. I used to play computer games online. Specifically, Call of Duty. I started playing way back when the game Medal of Honor came out, and I just kept moving to the next game. I was pretty good for an “Old Guy”. I even joined a “Christian Gaming Clan”, and spent time witnessing about Jesus online to gamers who would play in our online server. At one point those of us in the Clan lead probably 20 – 30 people to Christ. As good as that sounds, it wasn’t the best for me. I spent more time playing than I care to think about (yes it was an addiction). The idea that I was doing good while feeding my addiction was an excuse. I was hypnotized. It was comfortable.

About a year ago, two good friends of mine who are writers came back from a Christian Writers Conference at Mt. Hermon. Their excitement was contagious, and I got jealous. I like to think of myself as a writer. But, I am one of those “hobby writers” with a box full of stories I started and never finished. Good ideas never polished up or nurtured through to a conclusion. I would get a moment of divine inspiration (that is how I saw the process) and write until I lost that inspiration, and end up with an unfinished story. So my friend’s contagious excitement caused me to talk to God about why I was jealous. He just asked me a question, “What means more to you, Gaming or Writing? Which of those is the most profitable?”. He reminded me of First Corintnians 10:23 “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify”. I quit gaming “Cold Turkey” that day.

I would love to be able to say that after that I miraculously became this incredible writer, I didn’t. In actuality it took my mind almost 9 months to begin to heal. The images from the game dominated my imagination. I would lay in bed months after I quit gaming, and the images of the different scenes in the game would replay themselves. I had cauterized my imagination with the images from the games.

Today, watching television for too long does the same thing. It saturates the imagination. Fills it with images that crowd out what The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit want to put in there. It HYPNOTIZES you. It drugs your mind and makes you feel comfortable.

So I ask you, what does your destiny look like? Have you asked The Father what it is He planned for you from the beginning of time? Does your current life look anything like that? Is there a sense of “Hopelessness” when your heart dares to desire to walk the Destiny Dream? If your heart is longing for that and you feel remorse and a sense that life will never change? Then you are in the dream yelling for help. You are beginning to realize that you are sleepwalking. Wake up!