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.

“…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.

Get in the car…

Getinthecar

 

This morning I happened across an old blog site that I forgot I had started. There was a post from June 10 2009 that I had written. As you can see from the subject matter, it is a bit dated. But, idea still resonates with me.

[Reposted from June 2009] I happened to see a commercial for the new Transformers movie. Just like any trailer for an upcoming movie it had clips from the new film and a few from the old film. I guess in this case the old clips were to define where the new film would pick up from.

In particular the one clip that stood out and caught my mind was a clip from the first Transformers film. Shia LaBeouf who plays the lead character, is trying to convince Megan Fox the female romantic target, to go along with him on the adventure. Which at that moment looks pretty scary. In this case, going along meant getting into a car that they realized was alive and obviously dangerous. LaBeouf says (paraphrasing), “50 years from now, don’t you want to say you had the Guts to get in the Car!?!”

How many times in our lives do we have that question asked of us by God? I would suggest to you that that question is valid…every time you wake up in the morning.

Why? Because, the Christian existence is meant to be a powerful one. We have been given ALL Authority in Heaven and on Earth, AND the Holy Spirit to empower us as we walk in that Authority.

Unfortunately, satan is very good at convincing us that we are all just as normal as the next person. That we all are insignificant in the eyes of the world, and especially God. Not so! We are the object and purpose of Christ’s Sacrifice! He died so that we could be reborn, renewed, re-established in the Kingdom. Each one of us has a role to play in this great Drama. But, we are not insignificant. We all are the Lead Role in God’s Eyes.

Every morning God asks us to get in His Car for another wild ride. Only His Question to you is this. “When I call you home, don’t you want to say, you had the guts to get in the Car!?!” His adventure is not a mild walk in the park, it is likely to be quite beyond anything your parent’s told you life would be like. And, it actually could become something quite dangerous in some contexts; definitely dangerous to satan.

Most likely some of you who read this will say, “No Thanks, I like my life just the way it is, No Car for me!” Or, I don’t need to get in the car to be a world changer. I can do this my own way. But, I would suggest that ONLY by getting in the Car and going on that wild ride, will you or I become that world changer. We need the Holy Spirit’s foot on the pedal, hands on the gear shift, and the steering wheel, or we will not become everything that God intended for us.

We end up potentially not fullfilling that Prophetic Destiny that God has for us.

I know for one that I don’t want to look back and be disappointed with the ride I took. So who’s Car you going to get in? Yours or the Holy Spirit’s.

Moonfire

spiral-moonfire-lm-fractal-wallpaper-art

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Haiti in 1984 — Travels Aboard USCG Cutter Lipan

Here is a rewrite of a story I wrote for Storylane. Edited and re blogged.

Truth & Passion

work_066

Haiti, the smell drifted across the water as our ship, Cutter Lipan, maneuvered to the pier slicing through the humidity and haze that filtered the scintillating heat of the sun. The crew was ready for some time ashore, away from the current drug patrol. Being the Duty Officer I would stay aboard for the first watch while the rest of the crew went sight-seeing.

The brutal smell of Port-au-Prince in the summer of 1984 was only second to the reality of life on its streets. The poverty, heat, and disorder suffocate the senses. I stood on the signal deck of the ship during that first afternoon and scanned the city through the “Big Eyes” (large binoculars). As Port-au-Prince sits in a half bowl that funnels the city down to the port, there is much to see. Just like the old city it is, the higher up the hills you ascend…

View original post 1,266 more words

If Your Presence . . .

imgpraise

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

USS_Enterprise_(alternate_universe)_transporter_in_use

 

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 CliffHanger

242018-cliff-hanger

 

 

The CliffHanger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spark of Faith

Sparks_Will_Fly

The Spark of Faith

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

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

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

The Spark of Faith, however, is something different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So where is the Spark?

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

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

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

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

We are after all only little children to Our Father.

Just a Glimpse . . .

Just a Glimpse . . .

Christmas Tree

a dream

 

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

 

March 18, 2013 approximately 5:45 AM.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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