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!

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A Facebook Story

Ludlow

The Amazing Utility of Facebook

Night in the Mojave requires layering. This becomes extremely important when movement stops. Inserting with the always excellent assistance from the Nightstalkers south of ludlow, a tiny way-station along I-40 in the Mojave Desert. The Stalkers left us in the low foothills along Bagdad Chase road and we walked towards the lights. Zero Dark Thirty looks like this no matter where you are. Cold, lonely, and usually filled with things to stumble over in the dark. Thank goodness for night vision.
NSA intercepted telephone communications which placed nameless faceless terrorists approaching Ludlow from the east. The scenario of Jihadi’s inserting along the U.S. Mexico border – anticipated for years – was now so commonplace Special Activities Division and SoCom assigned a team permanently to the southwest region. So here we are, humping into an afterthought of a place to live to intercept professional “haters” somewhere far from civilization. The thought being that out here, there would be minimal collateral damage.
My name is Captain Terry Gentry, on loan from Seal Team Four. our SOG connection, Master Gunny Devin O’Kirk walked next to me listening to the Commando Solo ELINT Aircraft keeping us updated on the progress the targets were making traveling west on I-40. Quietly pacing measured steps behind Gunny O’Kirk was Sergeant Enrique Llona Falconi. Enrique scared Terry sometimes, but was Devin’s favorite. Born of Ecuadorian ex-patriots living in Fresno California, Enrique served as their point man and navigator. Enrique’s favorite movie was the Adam Sandler version of the classic film Mr. Deeds. Everyone on the team felt that it was spookily appropriate that his favorite character was John Turturro’s character Emilio Lopez. After all he could recite almost all of his lines. But, by far his best imitation was his ability to sneak up on you like Emilio did in the movie. One moment you were alone, the next, there was Enrique, smiling at you saying, “I fear you are underestimating the sneakiness, sir!” It was unanimous that Enrique be point man.
Corporal Sammy Samson – Comms Tech – carrying the team’s iPad and signals jamming equipment, and Staff Sergeant Haliburton James – Burt – team sniper filling in behind made up the rest of the team. Burt standing a full six foot seven, cradling his Socom PSR with TrackingPoint scope, reminded Terry of a very mean Blake Griffin. Sammy didn’t remind Terry of anyone. Sammy was the ghost of the group. Urban ops especially. Sammy looked so generic, Terry swore he could stand in a store window and mimic a manikin and spend all day without being discovered.
Tonight promised to be an interesting exercise in communications cooperation between SOAR, NSA, and the team. As controversial as the news was making it, the communications intercepts value had proven themselves at an increasing rate the more illegal immigrants infiltrated into the desert southwest. Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Southern California were rapidly becoming one gigantic – and deadly – hide and seek playground. So the intercepts rivaled gold in value…in Terry’s opinion. So tonight the relay looked like this; NSA relaying to the Solo, then downlinking to Samson and Gunny O’Kirk. The trick would be getting into Ludlow before the bad guys.

Driving all night from Texas is not an easy task. But, driving at night can make it easier. Less traffic and cooler temperatures. Jim Thibodeau and his daughter Wendy O’Neil – a little road weary – anticipating stopping for sleep in Barstow, pulled into Ludlow looking for gas. The map showed both a Chevron and the Ludlow 76. Hopefully, one of them would be open at close to 1AM. The Advocare convention still fresh in their minds, had occupied much of the conversation since leaving Texas. Jim’s weight loss fired up the enthusiasm in his retired years as well as his daughters incredible energy propelling the entire trip.
Jim faced a little bit of a dilemma with his weight loss. Really it came down to realistic priorities. This thought always caused Jim to chuckle. Jim looked in the rearview mirror to see a thinning mirror image of Santa Claus. A graduate of the International School of Santa’s, his Santa pictures reflected the spirit of Norman Rockwell’s picture of the Jolly One. Never was there a better Santa. But, now health dictated weight loss and daughter Wendy turned dad onto Advocare. The weight fell off quickly and Jim became a disciple.
Wendy, a devoted follower of Jesus and missionary to Ireland, formed the other half of her husband Erin and together they had built a joyful family. Erin and Wendy, both dark haired and handsome young adults looked Irish and had the name to prove it. Their love for the island tinged all of their thoughts of eventually returning to pick up their ministry work. But, this week was father daughter. Wendy, very tired from a days worth of driving urgently looked forward to the gas station’s restroom. It would be her turn to drive the rest of the way into Barstow – hopefully they could find a room.
“There’s the Gas Station Wendy.” Jim sighed with his own sense of relief coming through. “You go while I fill up. Then I will go. You want anything from the Mini-Mart?”
“No Dad, I just want to get going? We still have some of the Gorp if I get hungry I will munch on that.” Wendy yawned.
“Ok.” Jim yawned back. “You sure you don’t want some coffee or something?”
Wendy just stretched, pushing her hands against the ceiling of the car. “Nah, I’m good. I just gotta use the restroom really bad.”
Jim just smiled and pulled into the station, the only car at the pumps.
Wendy, quickly sprinted to the restroom as Jim ran the credit card through the card reader and began to pump gas.

“Weasle One, target leaving I-40.” Squawked the voice in Gunny O’Kirk’s ear piece. “Looks like they are heading for the Chevron Station there on the corner.”
“Roger Stryper One.” Devin replied. “We can see them coming down Cucero. We are in position. There is one other vehicle in the station. Looks like a man and a woman. Is this a go. Potential collateral damage situation here.”
“Wait one Weasle.” came the answer.
The team, hidden in the trees and in the outbuildings across the street at the closed Ludlow Cafe, watched as the target van pulled up to the pumps next to the other vehicle. Terry glanced over at Devin as if to convey his nervousness with the situation.
“Weasle One, Stryper One. Over” The anticipated answer came through the cold desert air. “Prosecute, take down. Capture if you can. But, do not take chances. Targets are considered armed with AK’s and RPG’s.”
Terry and Devin, just motioned go to the team. Shadows separated themselves from the desert flora and converged on the gas station. Terry tapped Burt on the shoulder and the PSR coughed a suppressed bolt of metallic phlegm, into the engine block of the van, disabling it. Gunny O’Kirk sprinted from the back of the Cafe across the street, him M-4 leading the way. Samson and Enrique, advanced from the eastern corner of the intersection from their hide in a stand of trees. Speed and extreme surprising violence would be the key to this take down.

Standing in the cold night air helped clear Jim’s foggy mind. Even here under the lights of the gas station, “I can see so many stars! So amazing what God has made. Just think, there are more stars out there than there are grains of sand in the ocean! If that doesn’t blow your mind nothing will.”
The nozzle on the hose of the pump Jim had ended up with didn’t have a clip to hold the nozzle. So Jim had to stand there holding the nozzle as it filled the tank. The annoyance not enough to interrupt the rapture of the stars Jim held onto. But, standing there he noticed classic white dodge van pull in across the pump island from him. It was being driven by hispanic farm workers, it seemed. But, then Jim noticed the men beginning to file out of the van. They looked different. They looked middle eastern.
BANG!
Jim heard an extremely loud noise come from the van. As if someone had hit the van with a sledgehammer. Things began to move in slow motion from that point. Jim noticed the guns coming out of the van. Those were AK-47’s. He had seen enough movies to recognize their distinctive shape. Standing there holding onto the nozzle Jim saw three of the men drop immediately, blood spurting from multiple gunshot wounds. But, there was no noise. Until, one of the middle easterners managed to get his gun firing. That was when Jim noticed the men running from across the street. Obviously, American special forces warriors, they were firing as they advanced. The difference between the middle easterner firing his AK randomly in desperation and the fast and silent professionalism of the operators readily apparent as Jim’s mind took the entire scene in.
Then one of the middle easterners ran around the front of the van and firing to east towards the two operators maneuvering past a row of short ornamental trees, was backing down towards Jim. And, Jim could see that the operators were not firing, because of Jim standing there.
So Jim took the nozzle out of the car’s fuel intake and smashed the middle easterner in the head gas spewing all over the side of the car and over the now unconscious jihadi. And, as quick as it started the fight was over. Out of six jihadi’s, four died, one was wounded by a carefully placed round from Gunny O’Kirk and the last concussed by Jim “Santa Claus” Thibodeau was alive and being carried to a Black Hawk Helicopter in the middle of the intersection.

Wendy opened the door from the restroom to see her father standing with a group of soldiers who seemed to be clapping him on the back like old friends.
“Dad, what’s going on?” Wendy asked.
Jim just turned to his daughter and smiled.
“It’s a guy thing Wendy. Just a guy thing.”
The Team looked at the puzzled look on Wendy’s face and laughed. The tension of another successful operation draining off with the implausible ending to the night.
Jim and Wendy talked well into the night.

The Payback

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The Payback

by Derek Hastings

My name is Zachary Tankersly. I’m a habitual practical joker. My wife tells me it’s one of my bad habits and I really need to stop devising and playing practical jokes. However, she still laughs when a particularly well planned scheme comes to its intended conclusion. Still, I know she’s right, because, sometimes the consequences take on an unintended life – an unexpected trajectory – of their own.

Today, however, practical joking is the furthest thing from my mind. I’m standing in the crowd of hopeful workers at the Baltimore Docks hoping and praying to hear my name called for a day’s work. Two years into what the newspapers are calling a depression, finding work mostly means daily frustration and a continual gnawing hunger.

Desperate men standing in the cold dirty air each as hungry as I are crowding the dock…it’s the same every day. Some appear to be almost dead from malnutrition rather than alive. They present a dilemma for the shipping companies and labor unions. If they sign these men to work, will they finish the day? Will they give a full day’s work without dying? I know some of the men waiting for work, having grown up in the same neighborhoods. There, two rows ahead, I spot Jeremy Brooks, the neighborhood bully. The one person I spent the most time figuring out how to avoid on the way to and from school. Bully took on a new shade of black with Jeremy. Forming a phalanx around him stood his current cadre of drinking buddies everyone of them, crude, brutal, and amoral wharf-rats. Off to my left – unsuccessfully trying not to be noticed – stands Tyree Henderson, a gloriously black human being.

Tyree’s father and my father, Gene Tankersly, worked together for years. My father drove a garbage truck for the City of Baltimore. Tyree’s father, Samson Henderson, managed the Can-Handlers for my father’s truck. So Tyree and I grew up around each other. Tyree went to a different school and church than I did, but, on weekends our fathers, and our families, would gather to barbeque and listen to the Orioles game on the radio.

Tyree has a special place in my heart, firmly cemented one cold October afternoon. After high school let out, I had arranged an elaborate prank to catch Tyree unawares. Tyree was difficult to fool. He was strong as two grown men by the time we were seniors in high school, and as difficult to surprise as a wild fox. Not much got past Tyree. So it had become my special challenge to catch Tyree in a glorious prank – and live to tell the story. Unfortunately, Jeremy Brooks fell into the trap. Instead of a good-humored Tyree responding with surprise and laughter, Jeremy’s legendary temper exploded. The first person Jeremy saw was my horrified face. All I could see was a pain-filled future as I prepared myself for the beating of my life.

Frantically looking around, all of my senses were heightened, straining to find the quickest escape route away from the situation. I was trapped with my back to the brick wall of the alley where I had positioned myself to view my masterpiece of a prank. Slowly I sidled out of the alley eyes focused on Jeremy – and by now his gang of bully wannabe’s – and began to back down the street. Jeremy’s face blazed bright red with the embarrassment of being caught in one of the “cockroaches” tricks, the need for revenge written all over his face. But, for some reason Jeremy just stood and glared at me. Then silently Jeremy and his gang backed away and disappeared into the alley I had just vacated.

Puzzled I turned around. There stood Tyree, his father, and his two older brothers.

“I see your pranksterism almost got the better of you this time” Samson smoothly chastised. “Perhaps now you will think twice about your constant scheming. I hate to think what those boys would have done to you if we had not come along when we did Zach. I think it would be a very good idea for you to come along with us the rest of the way to your house.” Mr. Henderson had that way about him. You never argued. And, given the circumstances at that moment, arguing was out of the question. My gratitude towards Tyree and his family was stamped upon my soul that afternoon.

Now I stand watching my friend – both of us grown and with families to feed – worrying and fretting about feeding his wife and kids. The odds of being chosen are less than ten percent with the number of jobs available compared to the number of men standing here on the docks. The odds far worse for a black man on the Irish controlled docks. Tyree is actually the only black man to consistently show up expecting to be chosen. I think it has to do with his pride. It’s Tyree’s way of saying, “I’m the problem that’s never going away! So you best be picking me and get it over with!” Sometimes I visualize Tyree being chosen, and then turning them down, just to make a point. Standing there dancing in place— like everyone else— to stay warm, I realized that that would be a great prank for Tyree to pull over the shipping company.

Still, I know his need for work has become more a matter of survival. There is a new Tyree in the family. Food equals life for the newborn now. Acts of defiance will not feed a family.

So I began praying a desperate prayer, “Jesus, pick Tyree! Convict their hearts to pick Tyree, Lord. The man is stronger than any three of us standing here right now! How can they not see this? How can you, Lord, let this injustice go on!”

My indignation over the unfairness of the situation causing my prayer to take the form of a challenge to The God I had heard could do miracles. Over the shuffling and grumbling of the crowd a quiet voice began speaking, “Ok, challenge accepted. I will use your prayer…and I will use you! Listen and believe!”

Not a second went by, before I heard a different voice calling my name. The Boss-Man was calling my name!

Realizing what The Lord had meant about using me, I push forward and grabbing my work chit, I turn to find Tyree. He is turning to leave. Head down, dejected, Tyree begins to shuffle slowly away from the Dock Yard. Running to him I grab his arm and pull him down to my level whispering, “You once saved my bacon when I least deserved it or expected it. Now I get to pay you back!” Shoving the chit into Tyree’s hand, and ignoring the look of shock on the big man’s face, I turn to go before he can refuse me. But, Tyree snags my collar in his grappling hook hands and starts to mumble something about not being able to accept the chit. About how I needed it as much as he did. Looking him right in the eyes I threaten him, “You take that chit! Or, I promise I will make your life miserable with the pranks I will foist on you!!”

The threat birthed a smile on the strong man I knew and he laughed at me, “I’d like to see you try…but, it’s a deal white boy!” Reaching out Tyree shakes my hand and gets in the line of workers heading through the gate. None of the other workers in line daring to challenge the big black man.

That was Tyree’s first day of continual work. He proved himself so capable that he earned a permanent position on the docks and eventually Tyree leveraged me onto his crew. We both stayed employed throughout the remainder of the depression. Sometimes it pays to challenge The Creator of the Universe.

Where are the Hero’s?

Robin_Hood

I tend to divide history into periods of time. It’s somewhat of an unconscious thing. I believe everyone does this. Probably, because our minds naturally do the same thing intuitively. Similar to how your operating system on your computer is programed to “logically” store bits of information in an orderly way. I have almost no idea of the actual process. I just know that it works.

But, in some ways we do this consciously, in order to keep track of the things that are important to us. Things that we like or dislike. We put the things in life that we like close at hand. And, the things we don’t like, we either dispose of them – a bonafide method of categorization – or put them somewhere out of the way.

When I think of human history, one of the somewhat unconscious dividers or markers I use are famous people. Heroes or villains. People that made a difference in the world they lived in at that time, whether that was for the good of humanity or to the detriment.

I saw a blog post a couple of days ago that made a point about the need for heroes. That when life becomes difficult, heroes arise. That an historical revival – a move of God – is close at hand.

Heroes with the largest impact on the world – greatest catalyst for good – were those that brought the kingdom of God in a way that transformed society into times of peace and productivity. Times of unity and diverse collaboration that produced exponential advances in Art and Science. The greatest advances in the history of mankind came with the advent of humble Spirit filled men and women with the courage to put everything at risk for righteousness.

I know, you thought I was going to talk about the military kind of heroes. In some ways I am. Many of those that brought change to society did so after violent military conflict. Evil has a tendency to not want to go quietly. Sometimes that is what is needed and it seems, it will always be that way.

Arrogant and maladjusted individuals – Nimrod, Nero, Qin Shi HUang, Herod, Attila, Stalin, Hitler – some who achieved great building projects and forced their nations forward at the expense of humanity are viewed by some as heroes. But, one of the greatest genocides to ravage earth occurred over the 500 years the western hemisphere was colonized. Much of this under the guise of “the name of God”. And, that cannot be attributed to any one individual from any one European nation. Rather that should be placed under the heading, man’s inhumanity towards man. Eugenic’s induced continental cleansing birthed by a deceived sense of superiority. This is the history of the America’s and it is viewed – still – by the victorious, as fulfillment of “Manifest Destiny”.

There are enlightened leaders that brought about longer lasting and more productive change without tyranny. Particularly here in the United States. But, even as great as the American Experiment has been. It could have been better. The ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of the western hemisphere did not need to happen. There were examples from the very beginnings of productive collaboration and cohabitation between Europeans and Native Americans – the Natick People for one, the Cherokee Nation of the early 1800’s another.

Again, evil in the form of fear, greed, and ignorance eventually ended these kind of successes. Still the American experiment is better than the rest of what is out there. And, the genesis of this experiment is undeniably God Breathed. Regardless of how badly our ancestors mucked it up. There were men and women of all races and tribes that rose up and catalyzed their worlds, exhorted and inspired men and women through word and deed. Created light in times of darkness. Saved whole cities from anarchy. Saved whole cultures from blight and plague. Saved races from slavery. Freed continents from racial madmen.

So where are the heroes for today?

I heard a statement (not sure of the truth of it) attributed to our current President. That he believes that the Christian Foundations of our Nation are outdated and obsolete. That those that hang onto those concepts are to be treated as domestic terrorists for maintaining such fanatical beliefs. If this statement is truly his stance, there is no heroism in it.

So again, where are the heroes that will stand and fight for righteousness? Who will stand for moral purity, black and white understanding of truth versus falsehood and the consequences of a relative understanding of those concepts. True heroism that humbly brings in the presence of a Holy God that created all things. The historical Creator Father that taught our ancient grandfathers about the land He was giving them. The Holy Provider that calls us precious and gave His Son so that we can escape the prison of time and live in the eternal with Him.

Where are those that walk in understanding, discernment and wisdom? Where are those with the vision to lead a world steeped in selfishness into life filled with compassion and sacrifice? Where are those that would lay down their lives for truth and love?

When those people rise up, then transformation of our society will come. When the heroes come the people will follow. It has always been this way.

God, raise up the heroes. Those that look like Jesus and walk in His Power. Our world is tired of the false hope that does not save. The world is desperate for You. Desperate for the real power that exists only in You.

Could it be that you and I are the heroes? If not us then who? We who are filled with the Third Person of the Trinity?

Christianity is not designed for merely a “Self-Help” mechanism. It is a ticking time bomb of radical power unleashed to wipe the tears of a lost world away. It is passionate heart filled heavenly perspective that brings Truth into every aspect of culture, refining thought and producing wonders for the benefit of all. It is a never ending stream of inspiration and blessing just waiting to be tapped and given away.

Do you believe? Is this understanding woven into the core of your identity?

Angel at the Bus

HISTORICAL PABT PHOTOS AND CONSTRUCTION

I wrote this a number of years ago for a book on angels by Jerry Orthner, “Angels: Friends in High Places”

January 5, 1980, dawned cold and cloudy, snow gently falling on the empty street. Only a few days earlier I had publicly acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And today I was to catch a city bus that would take me to the Port Authority in New York City and on to coast guard training in Yorktown. Nancy and I moved slowly, trying not to think of the four months we would be apart.

Finally, with my duffel bag, a carry-on and my new Bible in the car, we headed for the bus station. About five minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive, I realized I had left my uniform hat back at the house. Nancy jumped in the car and drove back to get it, leaving me to wait for the bus. By the time she returned, I had missed the bus that would have allowed me to make connections in New York.

I finally boarded the next “86” and arrived at the Port Authority precisely at 10:30. I jumped off in a panic, my mind swimming with images of showing up late for Officer Candidate School.

Once inside, I found the ticket area, got in line and bought my ticket. My bus, they said, was leaving from Gate 36. I ran the full length of the building before I saw a sign that indicated that Gate 36 was downstairs and all the way back at the other end.

I glanced down at my watch. It was 10:45 and there were no people waiting in line! I crashed into the metal door with all the weight of my body and luggage. There sat the bus, engine idling.

Is this the bus to Baltimore?” I asked breathlessly as the driver opened the door.

Yes, it is,” he replied.

The man climbed down from his seat and proceeded to the cargo compartment to stow my bag. He was a big man, over six feet tall with broad shoulders, a big smile and white hair. As I turned to climb into the bus, he asked, “What’s that book you have there?”

It’s my new Bible,” I replied. “I just bought it last weekend.”

The driver smiled.

Read Psalm 91:11 and you will see why I waited for you.”

What?” I exclaimed, exhausted from the excitement.

Read Psalm 91:11 and you will see why I waited for you.”

I climbed on board, found a seat on the let side about halfway back near the window and opened my Bible. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

I looked up. The driver was watching me in the large rearview mirror.

Beautiful, isn’t it?” he said as our eyes met.

Sometime later, in Baltimore, I watched as the bus pulled out of the station and stopped at a traffic signal a short distance down the road. The driver turned, locked eyes with me and, with another big smile, waved. Amazed, I waved back.

When I finally reached the motel, I called Nancy and told her about the incident on the bus.

Maybe the man was your guardian angel,” she suggested.

As first such a thing was difficult to believe, but when I thought about it, I realized that I had not pre-purchased my tickets and no one knew I was coming. Although I arrived almost fifteen minutes past the departure time, the driver said he had specifically waited just for me! And, what’s more, he had waited because God had commanded His angel to guard me along my way.

Throughout the years I have held on to this memory as a very personal and special gift from my Heavenly Father. I believe the Lord sent His angel to establish in my heart whose child I had become.

“…not what ships are built for.”

lipan_04

This morning a very good friend of mine sent me a quote that set my mind to thinking.

“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
–Grace Murray Hopper,
U.S. Navy officer and computer scientist

At first the above quote is one of those proverbial “No Kidding!?!” statements. Then you realize that Admiral Hopper was trying to get a different point across. Ships are not built to live a life of comfort and safety, they are meant to go into harms way and fulfill the destiny their designers calculated on their drafting tables.

Before I get any further with this I suggest you go on Wikipedia and look up Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and read about her. What an amazing life. I owe a lot to her, as I sit and type on this computer.

But, back to the quote. The purpose of a Naval ship is to project power in the interests of the nation it was created for. It will carry Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers of that nation’s military on the high seas – international waters – to carry out diplomatic, humanitarian, and national security roles. Those are the action items of a US Navy or US Coast Guard Ship. There are many other things that listed in the job description of a Ship of the Line or a Naval Officer’s career, but those will do to get across this point. Sitting in port – or sitting on your can – are not what define the destiny of a naval force. Port time and maintenance are important. But, the projection of the will of the leadership of a nation is where destiny is activated.

This same understanding of the activation of destiny can be applied to a Christian as well. I told my friend Bob this morning, that the saying could look something like this. “A Christian in Church is safe, but that’s not what Christians were made for.” Actually, this can be said of any person that desires their life to make a difference in the world. But, for a believer in Jesus Christ, this is an essential understanding. That our lives have been redeemed from the grave is a joyful thing. But, that redemption is a costly one and carries a destiny attached to it.

This destiny is defined by in the 2nd Chapter of James verses 14 – 26

“14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[b] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

So destiny is defined by action taken. It would be ludicrous for a nation to construct a warship, place it at the pier, assign sailors to man it, fill it with supplies, and then just leave it there. What a waste! I propose to you that is what happens when a person believes in Christ and then lives their life as if nothing had changed.

A Warship is designed to be used in a naval fleet. It’s destiny is to take it’s place amongst a diverse group of other Naval Vessels that will be directed by trained naval officers in a rational and effective way both in times of peace and in times of war.

The same is true of The Body of Christ. I am sure many of you have heard prophetic words or visions that illustrate the Body of Christ as a Fleet of Ships. Nothing is new under the sun. But, it’s also still very true. And, like the Admiral’s quote, so obvious to a believer that it is ignored. Yes, we often ignore our destiny’s. Father God interrupts our lives – injects Himself into our day – in hopes of exciting us with His Vision of each of our unique individual destiny’s. This has been described as that “still small voice”.

This is where the battle occurs. The Father is passionately calling you into a glorious destiny that will change your world. Satan is desperately trying to convince you that what God is telling you is all a lie. Who are you going to believe? Are you going to believe the Creator of all things? Or, are you going to allow the Father of Lies to use your circumstances to convince you otherwise?

We were created for a destiny of epic proportions. We are meant to go forth and “Project the Heavenly Interests of The God of Eternity”. We are the Warships of Heaven. If we stay in port we are useless for anything other than taking up space.

So as Gods’ redeemed, our destiny in Him is tied to our Faith in His ability to manifest His Desires as we go into harms way. Our heavenly destiny is tied to taking action on the faith He has placed in us. In essence your destiny is activated by stepping out in Faith. You were built for the Epic Adventure.

Oh and for those that are curious about the ship at the top of the page. That is the US Coast Guard Medium Endurance Cutter Lipan which I served on from 1982 through 1984. We set a worlds record (I was told) back then for the most drug busts in the shortest period of time at sea. (4 busts in 52/56 hours – something like that). Lipan was an old World War II sea going tug (Indian Class) that the Navy loaned the Coast Guard for Drug Patrols. Great ship.

I encourage all you folks in the fourth quarter of life. Be like the Cutter Lipan, and finish well. Forget about the word retirement. Take yourself out of mothballs and step into your destiny. It is not too late to bust some dopers.

Moonfire

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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 dog days go.  The morning was full of exploration and rolling in fun-smelling dead and flattened bullfrog. The afternoon had been spent wandering the streets of Turnips’ own town, Trinity Hollow. Now it was time for dinner after the master finished his work.

 

From inside the shack, a steady sound of the bellows created a rhythm for the pounding of the hammer on the anvil, which lulled Turnips to sleep.

 

On a short stool at the bellows sat Henry, a boy of twelve who looked forward to someday having his own smith shop. He was covered in sweat and soot, but his smile grew brighter as each blast of air urged the coals to the proper intensity of heat.

 

Prentice, the blacksmith, hovered over the anvil, carefully swinging his hammer to the rhythm of the bellows. Prentice was a short man, but powerfully built. His arms stuck out from his chest like cranes from a ship, long and powerful from a lifetime of working iron into useful tools and works of art. Sweating in the golden glow of the brazier, Prentice considered himself lucky to have the shop at such a young age. The shop had been his father’s — until he died — and now was his. Prentice was determined to continue the proud legacy his father had created: “To do him proud” Prentice would say to his neighbors. His happiness and his commitment to sustain his father’s excellent reputation brought him a lot of business. It also helped that Prentice was the only blacksmith in thirty miles.

 

Henry liked Prentice. He looked up to him. And, it is safe to say that Prentice was everything Henry wanted to be when he grew up. Henry liked that Prentice  was young, independent, strong, and a good storyteller. He came to help Prentice whenever he could and would often stay to listen to the corny jokes Prentice would share with his customers.

 

“Excuse me, Mister Hart,” called a figure in the doorway. There stood Henry’s father. It was time for Henry to come home.

 

“Howdy, Mr. Turner, Come for Henry, eh?” Prentice asked, watching the boy dunking his head in the cooling barrel.

 

Prentice handed Henry a towel and asked, “You be back tomorrow, Hercules?”

 

Mr. Turner looked at Henry and asked. “Hercules?!?”

 

“Yep, the boy’s getting pretty strong . . .  almost wrestled a bone away from Turnips today! Sometimes even I find it hard to do that!”

 

“Well,” Mr. Turner sighed. “I have a load of brick for the foundation of Mrs. Turner’s Teahouse, and Henry’s new found strength is going to be needed to get the brick from the front yard to the back. But, he’ll be back when he’s done, probably this weekend at the latest, Prentice.”

 

Prentice smiled and jokingly chided. “Well, I don’t know Mr. Turner. I’d hate to ask Turnips there to run the bellows tomorrow instead; he’s kind of on vacation this month.” Then, chuckling, Prentice reached into his pocket and pulled out two bits and handed it to Henry.

 

Prentice grabbed a clean hand towel and said, “I was about to lay off for the evening anyway; Turnips is giving me the ol’ evil eye.”

 

Prentice watched as Henry and his father disappeared down the road, laughing at Prentice’s joke about “Hercules Henry.” Then he turned to Turnips, and as he put the cover on the brazier, began to talk to his best friend and companion.

 

“You ready for dinner, Nips? Yeah? Right then, let’s eat.”

 

Night found Prentice sitting on his wood pile. He shifted a little so his shoulder blade would be more comfortable. The noise woke Turnips, who sat up and began to study his master. Prentice was deep in thought and had sat deep into the night on more than one occasion. Faraway thoughts rambled around his mind. Prentice was a blacksmith, but not a simple man. His prayers reached the Creator throughout the day, but especially at night. Lately, many a thankful prayer for God’s overwhelming provision had shot up like fireworks from the woodpile. Now he was watching the moon slip away into the higher branches of the willow trees. It might have looked as if he were a lonely man, but for the smile of contentment on his face. If you asked him if he thought he was lonely Prentice would probably have laughed and said something like, “Lonely? No sir! Now, if I was lonely I’d probably be off somewhere else doing something about it.”

 

“This is the life, Nips!” Prentice said, as he grappled with a handful of dirty floppy ear. “No one to bother. I live like I want, and have all I want of good eatin’. Nope, I wouldn’t exchange my life for nothin’ Nips. Look at that moon there. You couldn’t find a prettier picture anywhere — darn skeeters!” Prentice slapped a big one on his now clean bicep. “Only these darn skeeters to bother me. But, I suppose they gotta live somewhere too, huh Nips?”

 

Soon the moon was very high and full in the sky. Moon shadows painted the ground a pleasing contrast of light and dark, making the smithy’s front yard look like an abstract checkers board.

 

“There’s something about this here moon, I’m not too sure about, Turnips. I mean, here I am and there it is — the way it usually is — but there’s something different up there now. It’s like it’s alive and breathin’. Can ya feel it Nips?” Prentice leaned forward and grabbed the big dog by the neck, startling him out of his sleep.  Oh, sleepin,’ eh? Wake up! I’m talkin’ at ya!” Prentice laughed, and pointed Turnips’ head towards the moon. “Look at that moon. Will ya? Ain’t it somethin’ else? Just like it was starin’ down at me the same way I’m starin’ up at it, all shimmery and brighter than ever before! Kinda spooky if ya ask me.”

 

But, Nips wasn’t listening to Prentice this time. His sensitive ears had picked up a sound he had never heard before, shrill and wavering but definitely melodic. So melodic that Nips got up and started to wander slowly into the moonlight. Tilting his head back and forth, Nips began to whimper.

 

Turnips had never acted this way before. Curiosity mixed with apprehension caused the hairs to stand up on Prentice’s neck. “You hear that too, Nips?” he asked as he stepped down from the wood pile. Standing in the shadows looking into the moonlight, the sound of his breathing mingled with the melodic warbling that seemed to come from the moonlight. Slowly walking into the light, Prentice turned to look across the road.

 

Standing in the dry grass on the other side of the fence across the road, and under a giant overgrown willow tree, stood a girl, or rather a very young woman. A bright pool of moonlight shone down around the woman, highlighting her silvery hair and the glittering sky blue gown she wore. But, it was her eyes that Prentice noticed first.

 

Set close together in an extremely petite face, the woman’s eyes looked as if they were on fire — a deep scintillating blue fire. She smiled at Prentice, revealing rows of even, small, white teeth. Prentice stood stunned in the yard. Nothing like this had ever happened in Trinity Hollow. “No one dresses like that around here.” Prentice absent-mindedly mumbled, “Nips, I don’t think that woman is from around here . . .” Prentice could not take his eyes off the woman.

 

The woman was staring back at Prentice and began to smile. An audible trilling sound similar to the sound that had frightened Nips began to fill the air. The sound seemed to come not only from the woman, but also from the surrounding area. It was like a dozen canaries singing in harmony — in their sleep. Prentice stood in the middle of the road, every sense brought to attention. The branches on the willows remained motionless in the still air; the moonlight outlined every detail in the grain of the wood of the fence. Each dust particle in the road seemed to stand out, and the night air expanded and contracted with each thunderous breath Prentice took. Heartbeat, heartbeat, heartbeat . . .

 

Frightened by the strange noise, Turnips suddenly came to life and began to bark at the woman. Instantly, the woman turned and fled with the speed of a pleasant dream upon waking, the pool of moonlight pointing her out as she flitted through the trees.

 

Prentice watched until the woman had disappeared into the trees. Then he sat back down on his woodpile holding Turnips, overwhelmed, speechless, and incredibly wide awake. He sat there until the moon had fallen below the trees. Who was she? Where did she come from? If only Turnips hadn’t barked! The thoughts and questions cascading through his mind would not let him sleep.

 

The next day, Prentice struggled to keep his mind on his work. So, he closed up early and took Turnips for a long walk out of town to do some fishing. His thoughts replayed the previous night’s events over and over. Later, after a dinner of trout and baked potato – and being the kind of man that talks to animals – he sat down to reason with Turnips to not scare the woman away again. Something was telling Prentice that she would be back.

 

The moon couldn’t rise fast enough that night. Unable to sit on the woodpile, Prentice paced around the yard praying for God to bring the woman back. A couple of times clouds skimmed the face of the moon as it was rising, causing Prentice to anxiously glance at the sky. He didn’t know what was happening; all he knew was that he wanted to see the woman again. She was beautiful, and exciting, like no one he had ever encountered. And, it did something to his heart. A longing was growing inside of him that he hadn’t known was there, and it was kind of scary. Part of him was stirring, coming to life. The emotions were unexpected and he didn’t know how to deal with them. All Prentice could think of was that he wanted to see the woman again.

 

When the trilling sound came, Prentice had just taken the precaution of tying Turnips to the water pump in the yard. It came so suddenly Prentice almost tripped over Turnips and had to grab the pump handle to keep from falling. Slowly, he walked over to the fence, his short stocky legs wobbly with expectation. “Will she talk to me?” Prentice whispered.

 

Prentice stopped in the road a few yards from the fence, his heart in his throat. Her eyes were even more enchanting up close, and it took Prentice some time to muster the courage to talk.

 

“What is your name?” asked Prentice, smiling like a little boy.

 

The woman just smiled back, through that moonlit aura.

 

That was when the midnight stagecoach came rumbling up the road almost running Prentice over. After it passed, Prentice looked up and the woman was gone, a bare glimmer of moonlight receding through the trees as she did the night before.

 

Prentice stood there leaning on the fence until the sky began to turn orange as the sun rose over his blacksmith shop.

 

Prentice did not sleep that day. Instead, he walked into town and with his life savings bought as much silver as he could afford. The woman behind the counter stood stunned by the amount of money the blacksmith spent. Then he walked as fast as he could back to his shop.

 

Prentice hurried to his shop and began to work on an idea that had grown out of the sleeplessness. He worked through the day creating a mold for the surprise he had in mind for the woman he was now calling Moonfire. The mold was finished after a hasty lunch, eaten under the baleful stare of Turnips, who was still tied up to the water pump. Melting the silver quickly followed to prepare it for pouring in the mold. When darkness came he worked on cleaning up his messy blacksmith shop while the silver cooled.

 

Finally, as the sun was beginning to drop past the fence across the street, Prentice began the process of removing the silver from the mold. As he carefully chipped the mold away, a silver tiara came forth in the light of the brazier. With a piece of steel wool and a soft cloth, the silver began to shine. A work of love was revealed.

 

Prentice had convinced himself that this woman, Moonfire, was someone the Good Lord had sent to him. Moonfire was special and the last two nights had convinced Prentice that it wasn’t good for him to be alone anymore. The time had come to deal with that, and also that this was an obvious sign from God. So now he was going to do something about it. Although Prentice knew he wasn’t a beautiful man– short, stocky and probably smelly– he knew how to create beauty and was sure that this skill would help him convince this gift from God that he was worthy of her.

 

The time weighed on Prentice, increasing his anxiety. His eyes were trying to pierce the darkness outside of the shop, and his ears were sifting through the millions of night sounds. But, he didn’t go outside. He stayed inside polishing the tiara.

 

Soon the moon arrived over the shop lighting the yard, the road, and the fence across the road . . . and then the trilling began. Prentice and Turnips both stood and looked for Moonfire. But, instead of running to the fence, Prentice sat down on his shoeing stool, holding the tiara and waiting in the dark, hoping to draw Moonfire into the shop. Prentice figured that he could limit the interruptions in his own shop.

 

Slowly the sound came closer, until a bright silvery glow edged around the door. Standing apprehensively by the door, peering into the darkness of the room, stood Moonfire. Curiosity overcame her animal-like skittishness. She was acting like a deer carefully approaching a salt lick, wary of being ambushed.

 

At first, Moonfire wouldn’t come any closer than the door. But, when Prentice stood and beckoned her into the room she blushed and slowly walked into the room. Soon, she was standing right in front of Prentice, closer than she had come before, and it looked as though she was trying to say something to him. Prentice thought perhaps if she saw the gift he had for her she would say something, so Prentice brought it out into the light of the brazier and presented it to her.

 

“Please take this. I . . . I don’t know you. But, I think you are the most beautiful person I have ever seen. Please, I made this for you. I made it so that you might feel like talking to me. I really don’t have anyone here to talk to, except old Turnips. I made it for you. I hope you like it. It’s real silver, you know.”

 

When she made no move towards taking the tiara, Prentice slowly reached out and put the tiara on her head and leaned forward to kiss her.

 

The woman smiled but placed her hand gently on Prentice’s lips to stop him. “Thank you Prentice, but this is not for me.” I am merely a messenger sent by your Father in Heaven. I have been sent to bring you a message from Him. He wants you to know that He loves you and will take care of what you need. He created your heart, hears every one of your prayers, and knows you are lonely. Only you must understand that I cannot stay with you. As much as I would like to, I am an angel and I must return to Heaven. My name is Arendal, and I watch over you always.” Arendal reached up, took the tiara, and placed it back into Prentice’s’ hands.

 

“An angel?” Prentice thought. God sent me an angel? “You watch over me?” Prentice asked.

 

“Yes,” Arendal replied. “I am your guardian angel. I have watched over you since you were first born. Your heart is strong and your love for the Father and His Son is praised around the throne. You are not alone, Prentice, never alone when the King of All is your Father.”

 

With that, Arendal disappeared and left Prentice standing in the light of the brazier holding the silver tiara.

 

Later the next morning – Prentice prepared to return to his routine. Still pondering what had happened the night before, the tiara sat on the shoeing stool, watched closely by Turnips. Prentice was tying his apron around his waist and pulling his heavy hammering gloves onto his hammer-shaped hands, when he heard someone approaching, the sound of a horse being led by someone, a horse that had thrown a shoe. He thought more work . . . then turned to look at who was coming.

 

Standing in the doorway was a young woman, the woman who had sold him the silver from town the day before leading a beautiful coal black mare and a horseshoe. She looked down and saw the tiara sitting on the stool, then looked at Prentice.

 

“So that’s what you did with all that silver!” she exclaimed. “It’s beautiful!! I see that you are more than a blacksmith; you are an incredible artist! What do you plan to do with it?”

 

Prentice’s mouth fell open. She was the spitting image of Arendal! He had not noticed her the day before. But, there she stood, plain as day, the answer to Arendal’s reminder that God knew what he needed. Here was the Hand of God demonstrated in a tangible way. Arendal was as sure a sign as any.

 

Prentice stepped forward, took the reins of the horse, and as he checked the hoof said, “I have not figured out what to do with it yet. It is for someone special.” He looked up at the woman and their eyes met and Prentice felt his soul soar with the love he saw staring back at him.

 

“What is your name?” Prentice asked.

 

“Nancy,” she replied, as she joyfully reached out to shake Prentice’s hand.

 

 

 

If Your Presence . . .

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As a writer I have found inspiration just about everywhere. As I walk through life, events, incidents, people, places, dreams, all spark the creative urge to write. I don’t write to chronicle events, rather I write stories. I find them more satisfying and — it seems to me — stories written well have more of an impact upon the reader to convey feelings and complex interactions between people. Probably, the one most crucial factor that catalyzed my desire to write was my Mother. My Mother was the one that instilled a passion for reading. This in turn birthed the urge to write. A publisher’s representative once made a comment to me that I seemed to be well read and that it was reflected in my writing. I would have to agree with that. All writers that work at their craft — like musicians — are influenced by the writers that came before us and that we enjoyed reading.

This is not, however, about writing in general. But, about the one source of inspiration that guides my writing. The Holy Spirit, and a particular encounter with Him in the wee hours of the morning.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, lots of things in life trigger ideas for stories. I think if I tried hard enough, I could imagine a story out of just about anything, regardless of how mundane. At times I make a game out of imagining — postulating — a story line from something completely ordinary. Building a world around a complete stranger standing in line at the supermarket, just because they look unique. Sometimes I get myself in trouble doing that, as I tend to get lost in those thoughts and my wife often has to nudge me to get me to come back to the world my feet are actually planted in.

The stories The Holy Spirit brings are much better and definitely not mundane. His imagination dwarfs mine. So when I am half awake in the mornings — the time He likes to share His ideas the most — I have learned to pay attention and write down what He gives me. So I have learned to depend upon Him for ideas. Most of what I have blogged recently has come from Him. I am not afraid to admit that I am in some ways taking dictation, rather than creating something completely new. I don’t consider it plagiarism as He is giving it freely to me. In fact, I think He would be disappointed if I didn’t write down what He was sharing with me. Of course much of what He gives me, He expects that I will use my own imagination to illustrate and amplify what He is showing me so that others will be inspired. It’s how He has gifted me.

But, sometimes the morning visits are not about the writing. Sometimes it’s just about His Presence.

Monday May 6th 2013 dusk, I was talking with a friend about writing. She felt as though The Lord was calling her to write down the things He was giving her. So I told her to talk to Him before going to sleep and give Him permission to wake her in the night to talk. Since, this is often when The Lord wakes me to talk, I thought it might be a time He could connect with her.

So it was natural later that night, as I prepared to go to sleep, to do the same. So I told The Lord — I invited Him — to wake me if He wanted. And, I added; “I won’t complain”. This part was important to me, because in the past when God has awakened me, I would complain about missing my sleep. “Seriously!?! Can’t we do this in the morning Lord!?!” I would whine. So it was important to me to make sure He understood that I wouldn’t complain this time.

Tuesday Morning May 7th 2:57AM; I felt the familiar nudge to wake up. So I woke up and asked Him what He wanted to talk about? Did He have something for me to write? Was there something important that He wanted me to understand?

Silence.

“Okay Lord, then I’ll just pray”. So I took a few minutes to pray and tell HIm how much I Love Him. I was fully awake. So I sat on the edge of my bed and continued to pray for a couple of minutes and eventually ended up standing next to my bed with my arms reaching to the ceiling in worship.

That was when The Holy Spirit overshadowed me. It is not easy to describe the feeling of being overshadowed. The emotions are fully engaged and aware of every physical sensation. I know what it is like to be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. Being baptized in The Spirit is a joyous thing. But, this was different. The Power of the Holy Spirit was not so much emphasized as was His Presence.

I had not turned on the lights in the room and the moon was not up. So it was very dark and quite cold. I was standing there in the middle of my room in my underwear, but I was not uncomfortable. I only felt a warm and comforting peace that lifted the weight off of my feet. Almost as if I were not standing on the floor. The Peace was profoundly intimate and passionate, but not in a physical sense. It was a basic primal familiarity that comes between A Creator and His Creation. It was as basic as that.

He did not say anything. I didn’t see visions or images of any kind. I just stood there and was enthralled, captivated, overshadowed, breathless, between laughing and crying at the same time. It seemed to be the essence of falling in love for the first time exponentially magnified.

When I lowered my arms the glowing arms of the clock said 3:47 AM.

I sat back down on the bed and basked in His Presence. I was wrapped up in Him.

Eventually, I went back to sleep. I got up to prepare for work, remembering what had happened just a few hours before. I wondered, “Do I write this one down”. What did it mean?

I know what it meant. It meant that He was with me. Simple, uncomplicated and unpretentious. The only important thing about that morning was His Presence. He just wanted to be with me. No other purpose. Just to be together.

It reminded me of the following verse in Exodus chapter 33.

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

To set this in the proper perspective, I want you the reader to understand what I have come to understand. There is no heavy theological explanation for this. From what I can tell, God just wanted to be with me. His Presence was profoundly alive in my room. I am not anything special because of this. The sense I received is that this was something He desires for all of His Children. And, in discussing this with my pastor and friend Larry Lane, we agreed that the key to all of this was the willingness — the invitation — for God to interrupt my sleep. To inject Himself into my life.

I had a very clear thought related to Exodus 33: 14 & 15. I could understand why Moses said that. Once you stand overshadowed by His Presence, everything else seems to dim. The cares of life no longer matter. If He is with you all else in life gains it’s proper perspective. No matter what you are going through in life. When He comes and fills you, overwhelms your being, touches the most central part of your heart with His Presence, life in this world trapped in the bubble of time, is revealed for what it is — transitory. He is the reality of life. His Presence sets all things in order. It is no wonder that Moses, favored by The Presence of The Almighty, would understand that life without His Presence is dicey at best, but amazingly victorious with it. It made no sense to Moses to proceed unless The Presence went with him.

Again, the key to this was the willingness to be interrupted. To allow Him to step in to the room whenever and wherever so that He can just be there with us. Are we willing to set aside our plans, our daily routines, our friendships, our wounding’s, our needs, to make time for Him? I will never be the same after Tuesday morning. I realize I am now spoiled. It would be great to spend all my day standing in His Presence filled with that Peace. But, I know my job is to paint this picture. To describe His eagerness to desire my presence. That is the other side of this coin. In the midst of all of this, I realized that as much as I wanted to be overshadowed by Him. His desire for me was far greater.

Oh what an incredible gift we have in Him.

I exhort you. Evaluate your day. Find time to invite Him to surprise you. Invite Him to interrupt you no matter where that might be. Maybe He will share a funny story with you, or illuminate His Word from the Bible with His unique perspective, or maybe He will just sit there and be with you.

Do the Philip Shuffle

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Yesterday a good friend came back from ministering all around the world. He logged so many air miles that he made the comment that he prayed that God would transport him the next time he has to travel. The conversation was on Facebook and a number of people chimed in, including myself. I had said that “We need to build a Holy Transporter Room”! So Ken said, “Build it!”.

Since I came to Christ in 1979 I have believed what Jesus said in John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father”. At some point I knew I would be, healing the sick and the blind, casting out demons, and generally becoming a walking miracle dispenser. So the idea of doing, what I jokingly call, the Philip Shuffle, is something I am serious about.

So can I build a Holy Transporter Room? I doubt it. Mostly because, I am pretty sure it doesn’t work that way. I find it extremely interesting to read about the current experiments being done around the world today with quantum physics and how they have successfully “Transported” a few molecules or atoms from one site to another. So theoretically science is pursuing one of the more fantastic ideas to come from Star Trek. Every one of those articles end up by discussing how much more work, and much longer it will take to get this technology to point where you could send a watermelon from New York to San Francisco. Let alone a man from point A to point B. The consequences of a failed Transport reminds me of the old 50’s movie “The Fly”? I don’t think I will ever forget the end of the movie when the fly with the man’s head lands next to his girlfriend and you hear this little voice crying out, “Help me, Help me”! Science better get it right or . . . well just let your imagination go on that one!

But, God doesn’t need a room to transport. That much is obvious from reading the story about Philip and the Eunuch. Philip is told by an angel to go to the road in Gaza where he meets the Ethiopian Eunuch. He answers the man’s questions, baptizes him, and then Zip, Zam, Zowie Philip is transported to Azotus. It seems to me that God has already solved the problem of instantaneous travel.

As someone that didn’t grow up in the Church, and was raised on copious quantities of Science Fiction, the parts of the bible that tended to excite me the most were the parts where God shows off. Creation, Noah, Moses and the Red Sea, Joshua and the stopping of time, The Prophets, Jesus walking on water, walking through walls, instantly appearing to believers many miles apart, and yep Philip and the Eunuch. The healing miracles are awesome also. As well as the environmental miracles like calming the sea and cursing the fig tree. All of these supernatural events are implied as our heritage by John 14:12. That was extremely exciting to me as a new believer. I really could not wait to get started.

As time went by, however, those things became less important than my relationship with Him. What was –and still is — naturally supernatural to me was waking in the morning and talking to Him and hearing Him respond! It became more important to me to have that closeness. The assurance that He was there every moment of every day, waiting to talk to me.

So how does that relate to the Philip Shuffle? How WOULD one go about building a Holy Transporter Room? I think I would have to answer that question with another question. Probably, this would be a question Father would ask you if you asked Him about a Holy Transporter Room.

Are you willing to go to where He wants to transport you?

It’s His Transporter Room. I am sure there will be a day when we will all cram ourselves into the HTR (Holy Transporter Room . . . I got tired of typing it) with Our Father and all of us do the Philip Shuffle to go on a Celestial Pic-Nic to Alpha Centauri (or some such place). But, for now the HTR is reserved for Kingdom use only. Could The Father use it to transport you somewhere fun? Sure! Have we all heard stories of people appearing places to pray over someone and then just being gone? Yep. So the HTR is real. It’s just not like you see it in Star Trek. In fact God’s HTR is faster, quieter, and uses far less energy than a Federation Starship.

I am like my friend Ken. I would love to do the Philip Shuffle on an “every day” basis. So much less hassle — especially on trips to L.A. — and at today’s gas prices, much less expensive. But, today the HTR is reserved for those that are sold out and prepared to talk to a Eunuch, or a member of the Taliban that has been seeing Jesus in his dreams, or a cartel member facing death. Are we willing to be caught up in the middle of our day and injected into a situation where someone needs what we know? Are you that person that Father God can trust to transport?

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.