Act Your Age!

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

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

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

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

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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?

The Redeemed Imagination

The Presence

When I was young – not sure exactly how young – my mother told me that I can be anything put my mind to. To a certain extent that has been true. At almost 60 years old now, the list of jobs I have held in my life point to that belief that I could do just about anything I could imagine or desire. Of course life’s triage process and a general lack of physical time, limited those choices. But, I have been a janitor, ditch digger, bar tender, clown, roofer, receptionist, grounds maintenance person, waiter, bill collector, US Coast Guard Officer, and a Certified Financial Planner. It only required a confident sense of determination, desperation, and the ability to visualize myself doing those things to attain the employment.

There is also the underlying current of God’s Grace and Provision in every one of those situations.

My imagination is a powerful gift from The Creator. It seems to live right in the middle of the heart of who I am. When I imagine, that imagining is central to my thoughts and colored by everything I have become.

There are numerous books on the thought life, both good and bad. And, I suppose I could talk a bit about how important it is to control that part of your life. But, this isn’t about that battleground. This is more about The Gift of Imagination Creator gave us.

The Creator of all things, has the most powerful imagination out there. After all, it was His Vision, His Imagination that birthed the universe. I have heard from different places that when God created creation, he didn’t merely speak it into existence, He sang it into existence. His Heart overflows with passionate love and that love inspires a boundless creative imagination which resulted in you and me and everything you see. So when He created you and I in His image, that template carries an eternal human potential.

In Second Corinthians 5:17, Paul explains that we are a New Creation in Jesus Christ. We have been redeemed from death and made new. How does this apply to the imagination? It has everything to do with how you see yourself …or how you imagine yourself. If you are a new creation, redeemed and restored to your inheritance in The Kingdom. Then there are certain benefits that come with that restoration.

In John 14:12, Jesus bluntly states that the miracles the disciples witnessed are a template for how they will interact with creation. He tells them that they are going to do those same miracles, only they will do more. The New Creation functions differently than the old creation. That is unless someone – the father of lies – can convince The Newly Created that nothing has changed. And, there are numerous examples of Christian Saints that understood their newness and interacted with life in a manner consistent with their identity. Simply they walked in Signs and Wonders. I suggest to you that signs and wonders are the naturally supernatural realm of the redeemed.

So if that is true – and I believe it is – then the redeemed imagination should be a key to the impossible. In Christ the word impossible does not exist. Paul seems to understand this when he writes his letter to the Philippians.  Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Again, recognizing the battle ground of the mind, I understand it is not easy to think of oneself as having a redeemed imagination. Especially, with the flood of images that bombard our minds everyday.

All of this is important because what you imagine has everything to do with what you do. So let’s apply this to the realm of Art.

I am a writer. All my life my imagination would produce fun ideas – stories – that I would diligently write down. The hard part for me was finishing a story. Eventually, I found myself with a box of unfinished stories. Part of me still considered myself a writer. But, most of my time was spent playing online games. Online games captured my imagination. Specifically, Call of Duty in all of it’s various iterations. Actually, I started in the 1990’s with Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Duke Nukem, Medal of Honor, and then Call of Duty. I was an avid gamer for over 15 years. But one day, about two years ago, a friend described meeting with a publisher about the potential of her book. Her excitement was infectious. I got jealous. So I complained to The Lord about it, “why can’t I do that Lord?” He just answered me with a question. “What is more important to you? Playing Games or Writing?”

I went cold turkey that very day (you gamers out there will understand that one …or, maybe not.)

It took my mind almost 9 months before I stopped seeing the images of the game when I closed my eyes. It was almost a year and a half before the desire to write came back. I forced myself to write. I worked at healing my imagination. It was hard. It was frustrating. The images from the gaming had cauterized my imagination.

But, I persisted and worked at it.

Within the last couple of months – during my normal Saturday afternoon writing time – my desire to write exploded into a passion. I like to listen to music while I write. That afternoon as I sat at my computer The Holy Spirit’s Presence overwhelmed me, injecting a passionate excitement into the entire afternoon. The sense of energetic, creativity, mingled with a profound intoxicating peace, and I just closed my eyes and let my fingers fly. I understood that I was functioning on a level of intimacy with my Creator that defined my heavenly identity. As powerful of a feeling I was experiencing, I knew intuitively that this was intended to be normal for the redeemed. Functioning as part of The Body of Christ, wielding the Mind of Christ, and Creating Spirit inspired Beauty. I experienced a joy I have only felt a few very special times before.

I attended a writers conference this weekend. One of the speakers coined the term, “Presence based Art”. When she said that, I realized that was what was happening with me. Presence based art. Collaboration between The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and Their Human Instrument.

Presence based art will bring about the next Spirit Inspired Renaissance.

Be careful what you put into your mind. The old saying G.I.G.O. – Garbage In, Garbage Out – is so brutally true. Guard your heart and mind, nurture that which He has redeemed. (And, if you don’t know Him or that joyous redemption. Ask Him and He will be there.)

You are an instrument of The Creator of all things. You carry a template of The Holy in your Spirit and your Soul. Write, Paint, Sing, Dance, Sculpt, and invite the Presence to collaborate with you. It will be the best Father Son or Father Daughter project you ever do.

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

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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.

The Same Old Same Old

hourglass

My father used to tell me how time seemed to go faster the older he became. Which, from my perspective at the time, didn’t make sense as I wanted to get to drinking age as quick as possible. Time couldn’t go fast enough for me.

I’m 59, will be 60 in July. My perspective now agrees with my father’s from way back then. Frequently I caught myself wishing time would slow down over the years. More, frequently now. And, I recognized something when I remembered my father’s voice as he talked about time. I could hear a sense of nostalgic regret in his tone. As he remarked how time was running away. As I sit here typing I can hear the echoes of his apprehension. This apprehension dwells under the ground, behind the hedges, around the corner, just out of reach and out of sight. But, it’s there, and the older I get it persists in reminding me to acknowledge its presence.

My father is still alive. Probably if I were to ask him about this he would join me in a mutual dissatisfaction with the way time disappears.

I realize it’s just a matter of perception. Kind of like the old saying, “Time Flies”. My mind, however, convinces me otherwise. At times I know I am becoming borderline compulsive with this. It’s something I have grown into the more time passed me by. So much time have I spent cogitating on this, I have developed an — I think — interesting, and somewhat plausible explanation for all this. I wanted to keep it to myself, because the answer — the explanation — is not one of those warm and fuzzy ones. It’s actually very prickly, and brutally matter of fact.

Actually, the understanding came slowly. Wrapped up in the everyday routines — the same old same old things — that outlined my life. Wake up, talk to God, exercise, shower, eat, go to office, come home eat lunch, back to office, home for dinner, feed dogs, T. V. , brush teeth, sleep, . . . repeat, repeat, repeat.
One day — actually it was late evening — taking the garbage cans to the street, I saw myself trundling the can just a few steps ahead of me. There I was, last week, walking the same path with same can, setting it in the exact same old place. It felt like I had just set the can there a moment ago. My mind said “That was last thursday!” but, my eyes and my knower saw it otherwise. I watched as I set the can down and walked back up the driveway, right past where I was standing. The other me didn’t even acknowledge my presence

“What’s going on here!?” My knower shouted. “Is this some kind of Hyper Delusional Deja Vu?”

I suppose if I had the energy, I could find and read, volume upon volume of philosophical and scientific (some not so scientific) treatises, that would explain what time is all about. But, I have found it simple really. Time is a created construct. It forms a kind of temporary reality in which humankind learns to love and live with the Creator of all things. This construct of reality is surrounded by the never changing true reality that has no limitations. This one, the one I live in, and you also, is subject to the finite hourglass of God.

For each of us, time ends at some point we cannot know. My mother’s end came like running headlong into an invisible brick wall. Sudden and final. For others the brick wall is raised slowly brick by brick. The body slowly wasting away until there is only a wisp of breath barely escaping into the atmosphere. Until the body’s metronome ticks it’s last tick, as the last brick in the wall clicks into place. As selfish as it is, part of me wants to run head long into the brick wall. The other part of me wants to hide the bricks from the Holy Brick Mason.

Here is the point. Time is a commodity. And, the HBM (Holy Brick Mason) is standing there with his pile of bricks watching us. Watching how we handle the time we have been given. He can see the hourglass, we can’t. I think there is a certain amount of mercy attached to that. I can’t imagine the anxiety issues that would come with knowing when the end was to come. My mind conjures up this image of an hourglass that hovers in the upper right corner of my vision every waking moment. Kind of like the health meter in a computer game that shows how much health you have left on the current life. There to remind me of how quickly I am wasting the moments. Of course it wouldn’t just be a visual of an hourglass, there would have to be a sound effect as well. Time ticking by? Nah, it’s an hourglass, so there would be this barely perceptible sound of sand sliding over glass. A soft shuffling sound that never changes and is always there underneath your conversations, underlining the movie you were watching, accenting your dreams in the night.

The scary thing about all of this is this. Routines are comfortable. We spend so much of our time creating comfortable routines. Routines that we are in control of. Building our boxes so that no one can mess up what’s inside. But, routines require very little imagination to construct and they are subject to fear. Fear that someone or something will actually disrupt that comfortableness. Routines then turn into ruts, which make us behave more like rats in a maze than living breathing receptacles for the Holy Spirit.

The danger of ruts is that time despises them. The more ruts in your life the faster time disappears from your hourglass. Matthew 13:12 says, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” This verse works for this Hyper Delusional Deja Vu thing. The more you try to keep the time for yourself, the more it disappears. The more your life models a same old same old tired rut, the more the HBM begins to ready his trowel.

Like I said, I have spent a lot of time pondering this. Someone might ask, why would God design a system like that? I don’t know exactly. But, I have my suspicions. All I can do is put myself in His Shoes. If you created a world and a someone you thought you could live a life of love with. Wouldn’t you want that person to actually love you?

Mind you now, we are talking about the God of a Creation so large we still cannot see the edges of it. Even with the best tools human minds have conceived. We are talking about the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills. He has always been alive and will always be alive. He has no beginning and no end. If you were suddenly faced with such a person, what wouldn’t you say or do to get Him on your side. To reap the benefits of being “Best Buddies” with such an individual. This is somewhat the same problem a young billionaire bachelor or bachelorette faces when they want to find a “REAL” relationship. Does my date like me for who I am or for my money?

So if you were God how would you find that “REAL” relationship? Put an ad in the paper? EHarmony?

Do you see the dilemma? So maybe you can look at time as a kind of “Dating Service Questionnaire”. Yes that’s kind of a hard truth. You are being tested. You are being measured. Your loyalty is being put to the test. And, you only have so much sand in the hourglass until your test is graded. But, before we go any further let me ‘splain something here. Someone has already taken your test for you and passed. That would, be Jesus.

Wait! You probably have connected the dots here. If I have already passed the test through Jesus, then why does the hourglass keep running. Why do the Deja Vu loops keep injecting themselves into my day? Can’t we just get this whole TIME thing over with? Life here on this planet can be difficult. Can’t we just get to the good part?

Then Jesus asks, “Sure, but do you Love Me? Do you really Love me?”

It comes down to this. Have you accepted His Lordship into your life? Claimed the destiny that Father God designed for you from before Creation was created, and intentionally, radically, started walking in that? Then you will be with Him in Paradise when the Brick Wall meets your face. But, there is one thing that comes with using your time wisely. Not only do you seem to get more time to spread His Love and Live the destiny He built for you, but you get rewarded.

Now don’t get me wrong. Those rewards are saved up for you where you cannot see them. They are on the other side of the Brick Wall.

You see, it’s all about perspective. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. May your Kingdom come and Your Will be done, Here on Earth as it is in Heaven.” That’s all about perspective. His perspective. Jesus gives us access to the perspective of heaven. Our reward is there in the Real Reality. Remember, what I said about the temporary reality where time rules? Where would you want your reward to be stored? Here where you are only going to waste it on your Rut? Building more protection into your comfortable routine? Embellishing your Rut?

Ok, back to perspective . . . well maybe perception . . . your perception. What is real to you? Time based routine? Or, perhaps The Kingdom of Heaven? If you love Him, do you believe Him? Do you believe that He exists? Do you really believe Heaven is waiting? There is another test. He is testing your perception. Calling you to a different perspective. And, the wonderful thing is, when you change your perspective to His, Time slows down.

If you could see him, the HBM is now smiling and he has laid his trowel down. He is chuckling to himself and pointing you out to the Lover of your soul. When you love with His Love, you are using your time wisely. The more time you give away to someone the more you get back. Like I said, Time is a commodity just like money or anything else with value.

But, back to the scary part. What would you do if you could see everyone’s hourglass but yours? Would you ignore them? Would you run and hide?

The last time I had the Hyper Delusional Deja Vu happen, I was getting ready for bed. Finished with brushing my teeth I walked into my room and there I was already asleep. Sleeping in my same old same old bed at the tail end of my day’s rut. I wanted to kick me out of my bed! What are you doing there?!? Why are you sleeping? I could feel the approach. Something was coming. Standing there in my room, shivering in the cold, painfully desiring to be under the covers blissfully asleep, I realized that something basic had changed. Something had shifted. It was my room, but it wasn’t, it was different. And, the other me was not listening! He was the me in the rut!

In situations like this I like to write. I try to describe the moment. Sometimes Father God or the Holy Spirit gives me stories to write. Thoughts to implant into the world. But, I had no words for this. I don’t think there are words to describe what I could only wonder at.

I climbed into the bed and sleep came quickly. My mind tried to work it’s way around what I had just encountered, but sleep gratefully slammed the door on it.

The morning came and the rut began. Normal breakfast, Email, dressed for the office, garage door up, out into the sunshine, rut running straight and true. I backed down the driveway into the world.

The first one I noticed came at me in an approaching car. A young mother returning from her workout, starbucks in hand heading home to gather the kids for school. There it was, the hourglass! Then she was past me. I tried to turn to look, but she disappeared up the road into the subdivision. I saw the hourglass 4 more times by the time I got to the office. The hourglasses were hard to catch as cars flashed by in the opposite lane. But, I was still able to distinguish the shape through the windshields. In full freak out stage by the time I got out of my car at the office I stood there watching the cars file past me into the parking lot. Every car had an hourglass! I couldn’t see how full any of them were as the hourglasses were in the vehicle with the person they were attached to.

Eventually, I made it into my office and attempted to restart my rut . . . with no success. I was well and completely undone. And, when one of my co workers walked past my office I could see the hourglass in detail. In relationship to his head it was about a quarter the size. It was gorgeous! It looked as though it were made of crystal and gold. Solidly built and projecting a gleaming supernatural quality! The hourglass seemed like a heavenly appendage protruding into time. Maybe the hourglass was time itself. “Does time have personality?” I thought. If I asked the hourglass a question would it answer me?

As I sat there in my leather chair, waiting for my computer to boot, my mind began to toy with all the suggestions that popped like kernels of corn into that internal popcorn popper of possibilities. I think I am like any other curious guy that encounters the supernatural. There is an excitement that comes with it. A sense of importance that attends the advent of the supernatural into the life of the beholder. After all, I must be important in some way to be blessed to witness this. Right?

But, then my analytical side spoke up. “Yeah, it’s supernatural, and way cool! But, what does it mean?”

I imagined my impulsive side answering. “Mean? Who cares what it means? That’s the Hourglass of Heaven! And, God is letting us see it! It’s kind of like getting to witness the angelic interacting with the world!”

Then the analytic one, true to his name, points out, “Yeah, very cool! But, you didn’t answer my question. What does it mean? Why can we see that particular thing? Take a second and remember what the Hourglass is all about! Interacting with the supernatural in this world always has a purpose. Even if that purpose is just the exchange of a loving expression of comfort or confidence. So, Mr. Impulsive, what does it mean?”

I got up from my chair and stood where I could observe my friend across the hall. There it was hovering just above and to the right of his head. And, I could hear it! I could hear the sand falling! The sand glittered and shone as it fell down into the bottom chamber of the glass. It was almost empty! My heart wanted to break…..

How!? Why!? What do I do with this!? Why me!? Lord Help!

The questions began to come faster than I could arrange them into intelligent requests. I was stumbling inside, emotionally tripping over what I was seeing. I needed to see more. I thought that perhaps the more hourglasses I found, I would get an answer. So I walked around the office and everyone had an hourglass. Some were full, some not so full. Some were dangerously close to empty. I probably came off as very strange that morning as I doubt I answered anyone’s hello good morning.

Here we were in the midst of a beautiful Northern California brisk early spring morning. The sun was pouring in through the windows and life was in full swing as far as the rest of them realized, their ruts were safe and well stocked with everything needed to keep life comfortable. No terrorists in Chico, and the knifings and rapes only happen in collegetown or near the areas the gangs hang out. I have my Rut and life is comfortable, thank you.

Back in my office the realization came in like the sun through the slats in the blinds. God is allowing me to see His perspective. He can see the hourglasses over the heads of His Creation. Time is transparent to Him. I realized right then that the pain in my heart when I saw an empty hourglass, was the pain in His Heart. The thought came into my head, “When those hourglasses run out, they will die, and it will be ALL your fault! Why else would He show them to you?” I panicked! Was this all my fault? Was I expected to save them all? How many people are on the earth at this moment? Good old Google . . . over 7 Billion and growing by 80 Million a year . . . NO that’s impossible! How could I warn that many people before millions of those hourglasses ran out?!?

I heard, “You can’t. But, I can.”

“Lord? Is that you?” I blurted.

“Yep, tis I.” He said with a smile. “Pay no attention to the sourpuss with the colorful lies. He just wants someone to wallow in his misery with him. We know you can’t tell all the people what you see. Most of them won’t believe you, even if you tried. So, there must be another reason for showing you the hourglasses. Right?”

“I suppose so, Lord. I just know that the pain I feel when I see the time running out on someone is unbearable. And, right now I just want to run and hide. The responsibility of knowing is just too much. How do you handle it? How do you handle the pain of watching your creation kill itself off? How do you handle the pain we inflict on each other every day?” My tears were overflowing and running down my face. “So, what is the reason Lord? Why have you shown me this?” My question echoed in my ears.

“I don’t expect you to talk to all 7 Billion, but I expect you to try to reach the ones you can reach. My confidence in you is only surpassed by how much I love you. All I have ever asked of anyone is to step out and try. That is all I need to move in power and change a world. The hourglasses are a symbol of urgency, designed for this time in human history. Never has there been as many of you alive at one moment. Great and epic stories will be told throughout eternity about this time. You alone cannot do much. But, filled with my Spirit we can do the impossible. We can do Kingdom sized projects. We can refill the hourglasses of those that catch a glimpse of Me. Together we can Dance the Kingdom Dance and thumb our noses at Mr. Liar Liar Pants on Fire. We can live like the Kingdom Rules here in the land of the Hourglasses and Party till Kingdom Comes! How does that sound my Son?!?” With that last statement I caught a glimpse of One like the Son of Man dressed like it describes in Revelation Chapter 1. But, He wasn’t just standing there. He was dancing a jig!

So that was my Hourglass encounter. And, if I ever do anything ever again, the first thing I want to do is take a revolver to the head of the ruts in my life. They are going to go the way of the DoDo down the greased road to extinction!