Sunday, February 23, 2014


It’s Sunday, the last week of February 2014. We have a respite in the winter weather. Last week we were recovering from snow and ice. Today the boys are out shirtless digging, running, swinging and soaking up some natural vitamin D. This is fairly normal here in the south where we can expect small waves of real winter in between breaks that mostly serve to confuse the plants. It only takes a few days of this and the trees will be budding out and the crocus will pop up to see what’s going on.  Regardless, it's still a little early to be proclaiming spring.  We’ve had snow storms as late as mid-march, although that is somewhat unique. Nevertheless, the tree frogs aren’t waiting. They’ve been practicing frog chorus since before the snow was fully melted. Apparently they have their own internal clocks that have nothing to do with the weather. Much the same as the geese. They have begun to pair off. Soon, there will be a nest on the island. 

I was sitting here on the deck, inhaling the panorama of this preview of the changing of the season. Bird songs dance in the still gentle air. Geese honk, dogs bark, boys whoop and holler. Suddenly I had the strangest thought. I had a small achey spot that wished this moment could somehow magically stay for longer than 24 hours. It was so not like me. I’m fairly good with things moving along as they should. Every day is sufficient unto itself. 

But this came from someplace deep. I recalled a poem I wrote when I was nineteen, pretty close to fifty years ago. I dug around in my library for the little volume of secretly composed poetry and prose I titled, Shadows Speaking, that I have managed to keep all these years.

February Woods 

These brown February woods in which I walk,
are asleep.
Of what do they dream?

Perhaps of spring,
And green,
And blue.
Of warmth
And summer noises?

How foolish you say, that woods could dream.
It was only a thought.
I know that trees and soil and rocks have 
no human capacities.

But these inanimate objects can comfort me
Sometimes unlike any human.

There it was. Comfort. It is what we all want, even more than wealth. I was so young when I wrote that but even then I knew I needed something. Everything was still all ahead of me. The good, the bad, the fun, the tragic. Every thing great and small had a reason to be.  I made mistakes, took wrong turns, and yet, The Comforter was always there waiting for me to reach the end of myself so that He could be the sum of all I needed.

For Him,

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” ~A.W. Tozer

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Revelation and Wisdom

One can’t speak of understanding of revelation and wisdom without appearing narcissistic so I dog paddle lightly in these deep waters.

The best way I can describe what it is like to receive wisdom from revelation, that can only be acquired by deep emptying of self and all preconceived notions coupled with the overwhelming desire to know what is true and therefore cannot be shared except with those who have also had the same gain, is this:

Imagine you are a savant in an average world. You have limited social skills but you understand quantum physics like a third grader knows his ABCs. You understand that most of what people see and grasp as truth is like an island that only reveals the tip of the mountain that rises up thousands of feet from the ocean floor. But just because you see it and know it is there–the greater truth that holds it all up–does not mean you can make others see. In other words, it is knowledge that cannot be taught, it has to be experienced, personally and individually and then only by permission. 

Four years ago, forewarned and fully realizing up front that it would be a burden and that what I would learn could not be unlearned or ignored, I still wanted to know, so I started asking for wisdom, which is the greater message (truth) behind “ask and ye shall receive” (having nothing whatsoever to do with prosperity and BMWs). In spite of the inevitable downside to receiving the gift of a word of knowledge, I wanted to know anyway because that’s how I am constructed. I have always just wanted to know what is true about anything and everything. True. Not sorta kinda true. Not good enough true. Not true for the moment or according to current interpretation. True. Plain ole true. Even if it’s harsh. Even if it demands I step up to something that makes me a pariah. 

What I have learned and continue to learn (once begun it does not subside just because it causes problems with social interaction) is that there is a rock solid, immoveable foundational truth at the bottom of everything we think we know and it doesn’t matter if we like it or not.

So, four plus years in, I find I was right in my instincts. Wisdom is indeed a burden because it makes me even more a stranger here in this world than I was. I am now an officially definable misfit, not just mildly out of step, and this renders me largely unable to participate in the minutia du jour that the world loves, the feel-good zeal that is steering the boat into the reef while the passengers are distracted in spiritual passion mode. Now, because of what I know, there is a dearth of common ground for me with anyone except my closest family and friends who love me in spite of myself. While it is mostly frustrating it is also painful sometimes. But, thankfully, less so as I age, spiritually and physically.

What has happened to me, in my quest to know what is true, I am now proficient at seeing through lies. It’s like having an app in my brain that I can tap and suddenly be able to see all the ugly underneath the glittering mask.  And make no mistake ugly is everywhere parading behind goodness in this dying age because this is Satan’s ground right now and his best, most successful tactic is to build a grand good-looking lie on the tiniest fleck of truth. Pretty lies are much like snowflakes, all sparkly with a speck of something less pretty at its core. And since, for the most part, people prefer their sorta kinda truths and outright illusions to God’s less glamorous foundational truth, man-made doctrines and philosophies easily fill this preference which makes them flourish and spread like a virus.

For me to even speak of this is a breach of my own first rule of silence. So I conclude with this:

Wisdom that comes from revelation is not the same as proclaiming to know the future, which I am always cynical of anyway. And because I am not special I am the perfect example of why anyone can receive revelation and wisdom. You just have to know up front, it changes everything.

The most important truth we are subject to is that salvation does not depend on knowing higher truth. Salvation comes only through admission of sin, repentance and acceptance of the grace of Jesus’s sacrifice. This is really all we have to know. A simple servant’s heart is what God requires of us. Not head knowledge or even high spiritual understanding. 

There will be plenty of time for that when He wraps up this reprobated age.

For Him,

(Ecclesiastes 1:18) For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Have you ever heard the saying, “God has no grandchildren”? This means that, as God’s children, we are never fully grown in the flesh, and just like children we are born with our own unique personalities, our own strengths and weaknesses. We come into this world hardwired with certain propensities, drives and desires. Who are we to question how the Great Creator designed us, with so many quirks? Like newborns, all of what we come loaded with can be channeled and directed to take a good path or a bad one, bear fruit or wither on the vine.

Though I am mature now, both physically and spiritually, I remain who and what I always was but, by grace, I was given a refined moral compass that keeps me on the narrow path. I discovered quite by accident several years ago that I am an INTJ personality type, which is one of sixteen combinations that most people fall into. Reading in Wikipedia the description for INTJ was like reviewing a report about me. It explained all those years of my being more comfortable as an observer than a participant, a creative sort who preferred to be behind the scenes, a puppeteer who could hide behind the puppets. It explained why I have Mr. Spock logic which can often be interpreted as being cool and lacking in compassion. In truth, underneath my aloof stoic appearance is a preprogramed fail safe coping skill. Because I can grieve too deeply, even into disfunction, early on I set a standard not to expect too much lest I be disappointed. I can’t change that. And, it turns out, I don’t have to. My Father knows how I am, and loves me anyway, just as I know how each of my three children and seven grandchildren are and I love them.

That said, it explains why God, once He called me to step up to His purpose, allowed me to understand that while I am still who I was when I drew my first breath, the sum total of experiences, good and bad, choices, good and bad, exist to serve Him now because I gave it all to Him. I am gloriously imperfect and will be until I exhale my last breath, but God uses me anyway in the ways He chooses. Once I stopped worrying and wondering if I was a new being, in, by and through Christ, as they say, I realized that all I had to do was stop looking inward and put my focus outward toward Him, that is when I stopped thinking about me and my shortcomings, whether or not I measured up and started listening, obeying and trusting that He was more than adequate enough to use me for His purpose, in spite of all my warts. 

Further I now understand, that He can use anyone, with or without his/her consent, but His heart is warmed by willing participants. Do you not have a soft spot for the child who strives to obey and please you?

Consider John 21:18-22 

(21:18) Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.  (21:19) Now this he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.  (21:20) Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; who also leaned back on his breast at the supper, and said, Lord, who is he that betrayeth thee?  (21:21) Peter therefore seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?  (21:22) Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what [is that] to thee? Follow thou me.  

Follow thou me. He doesn’t require us to compare ourselves to anyone else. How could He? He made us all so unique, not perfect, just unique. This Scripture also reveals that He has individual standards for each of His children. Humans don’t get this because they want ‘fairness” like little children who cry out, “not fair!” Or like Peter who wanted to know why John was so special.

Once we figure out that God establishes what is fair, not us, God establishes what is good and bad, right and wrong, not us, we discover that we have individual parameters that He sets for us that may or may not apply to anyone else. Conversely, we can have some latitude that others might not. This is called a personal relationship with Christ. Personal, meaning one on one, based on our own uniqueness and level of surrender to Him. I know what He expects from me just as I know what He allows. I also know when I am being chastised for stepping outside of the lines He drew for me. The key is being always ready to submit self, be humbled and repent. And then move on, forgiven. This is the definition of working out sanctification. It’s a learning curve that never ends until we expire. Every experience that leads us to humility gains us new spiritual awareness, which is something different from head knowledge.

For me the ultimate test question to be answered was: if I knew I was never going to be worthy and could never be worth dwelling with Him forever, would I turn away? Is my focus on me and my reward or on HIm and His need? 

The correct answer is: the day one can say, “I would and will serve Him even if He rejects me because He is worthy to be served”, is the day one can know for sure one is right with God. 

For Him, 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hypocrisy and Other Illusions

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve tried to understand. Truly I have. And for that cause I have given my best shot at momentarily setting aside long held biases, attitudes and point of view. In a grand egalitarian effort I have factored in natural changes in societal behaviors as dictated by naturally unchangeable human nature. I have researched history to help establish a baseline of repetitive therefore predictable outcomes. 

Unfortunately, even if I could completely disengage common sense and view the world through the perspective of a self-righteous narcissist, I do not believe I could ever solve or understand the conundrums of modernity. 

Follow me on this rabbit trail? 

While watching an old movie, forced to suffer through all of the advertising (because it wasn’t recorded, the way we normally watch programs), the primary sponsorship was a coalition of charitable organizations. There were at least two groups, each represented by a celebrity spokesperson, pleading for help to feed hungry children. Swapping out in fair rotation there were also two separate groups stating, with equally heartfelt passion, the case for abused animals who desperately need support. Each and every fervent plea, featuring either emaciated weeping children or sad-eyed, shivering dogs and cats, was accompanied by the mournful random notes of a piano, gently plunking out a tuneless tune in minor key. In every commercial break–ten minutes of movie for every three plus minutes of commercial–the viewer was presented with profound gut wrenching pathos. One appeal minimized the cost to the potential donor a mere seventy cents a day and another only required, “just fifty cents a day,” as the actress entreated with the tiniest edge of guilt-baiting, “to feed a child who would otherwise die.” 

Fifty cents a day to save a child’s life. What heartless dolt could turn that down?

It was almost too much to bear. Those devastating faces. I could hardly get back into the movie in between the haunting ads. How could I even think of anything but all that need? Little hungry children and abused animals?

An hour and half in it was too much but in an unexpected way. 

After the fourth or fifth run through, I was suddenly more aware of the formula of coercive persuasion, and the actors pushing it, than I was of the compelling messages. I started thinking about the audience these well-crafted mini-documentaries were directed to. Americans, of course. Americans who are known to be the most charitable people on earth. And, amazingly enough, (here comes the conundrum part) Americans who rally passionately to preserve the right to abort their babies, at all stages of development, by the millions annually. These are the same Americans who are targeted because they are easily convinced to heed the compassionate call to donate to save children in third world countries, even as they (and their famous spokespersons) vehemently support the “Right to Choose” here in the most prosperous country on earth. And, as an aside, as they ignore the kids in their own city, who often go to bed without supper, because, you know, one doesn’t want to get involved. 

Again, I’ve tried and I cannot figure this out.

Now before the ire of indignation rises up and comes crashing in on me,  I wish to establish that I am not seeking to dissuade anyone from signing up to send money to other countries to help feed hungry children. There are many noble organizations that champion such great causes, many selfless, Godly groups who do immeasurable good in the worst places on earth and they deserve to be supported. As it so happens I have a special calling to feed others, especially children and small defenseless animals. Perhaps it’s the mother instinct in me even more than my Christian mandate.

My point is not about the real need, which seems to be growing exponentially, in every corner of the globe, but about the rise in the feel-good hypocrisy of this waning age. We flutter here and there crafting our ice cream castles in the air, all the while we are so easily led to believe that need is something else, something ethereal and less touchable. All it takes is sound and imagery skillfully spliced together, presented by a familiar icon in an audio/visual appeal to tap into the most vulnerable senses and then a quick click on the “donate” button and we’re all righteous. Children are fed and allowed to live, animals are rescued and comforted. 

[Cue piano crescendo]

A world where we are not only allowed but encouraged to cherry pick our sensibilities, where words and meanings are often redesigned and retrofitted to the concepts du jour, where illusion and coercion are expertly devised and is preferred over the unpleasantries of truth, is a world knee-deep in hypocrisy so debilitating that there is no remedy that humankind could ever muster of and by itself.

While I may not be able to fully understand why this is, I do fully grasp that this condition cannot  ever right itself at this far gone point. A day of reckoning is over-due.

I've looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

lyrics from Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

For Him,