Sunday, September 30, 2007

Return To Silence

Went for a walk this morning and had a heavy heart from two days of taking kidney shots to my spirit. I dearly love the autumn season and my youth spent in the rain in Abbotsford made today a perfect day for a quiet stroll. The leaves are turning and the ground was wet from the rains last night and Sunday mornings are always very still as most people are either recovering from or clinging to the last moments of the weekend.

The thing I found most peaceful about it all though was walking out the revelation God gave me a week or so ago. It happened when I was riding my bike to work the other day with my mp3 player blasting worship music in my ears. I was almost half way to work when the noise in my ears became unbearable and I yanked the earbuds out. In that moment God spoke to me about fear. He reminded me of the question I yelled at Him a while ago regarding the root of my fear of being alone/quiet and especially the fear (silly as it seems) of going to bed early. You see, I always seem to need to watch a movie or play on the computer or have my nose in a book until I can't keep my eyes open anymore and then I finally go to sleep. None of these things are bad in themselves, but they keep me from getting rested and also keep my mind tucked away from God as I drift off. It has troubled me for some time and all my best resolutions have quickly fallen away. Then God spoke to me while riding down the shoulder of highway 97. He told me that the constant noise and distraction was coming from a fear of the voices that come in the silence. The picture He used to drive this home was that of my bike and the noise that it has been making for the last month or so. There was a clunk, clunk, clunk in the bottom bracket that was making me mental since I'm a bit of a perfectionist and things being out of whack make me go out of whack. This noise had actually caused me to stop riding my bike. Every time I thought of hopping on it and riding to work I heard that clunk, clunk, clunk and decided to drive instead. God said that it was the same thing with being alone/quiet and going to bed at night. The noise of the voices that come against me seem unbearable and so I just try to drown them out till I fall asleep or until there is someone else around. I have been afraid of the silence because of the noise.

The voices always come and speak lies and confusion to me. The voices always want to draw me into an argument or into an attempt to draw out enough evidence of my faith to prove them wrong. It is so maddeningly circular and unproductive that I find it easier to just drown them out. The bad thing is that I end up drowning God's voice out too. In all the arguing and babble I couldn't make it out either so it was seeming quite hopeless. Perhaps it was hopeless like Elijah felt hopeless standing on the mountain in the face of the wind and the earthquake and the fire. That must be why he went back into the cave. That is why I go back in the cave, till God comes again and reassures me with the still small voice. This time the voice of God assured me that the storm of thoughts would not destroy me or distance me from Him. He told me that if I surrender to Him in the midst of the storm it will pass. He said I do not need to put up a mighty struggle and valiant rebukes. He told me to just be quiet and He would handle it. So for the past week I have been doing this every day. When I am driving my truck at work I leave the stereo off and when the thoughts start to break on the shores of my mind and the darkness begins to cloud my eyes I simply say to God," See, those are the kind of thoughts that have been messing me up." I'm not sure how, but He then proceeds to still the storms and restore peace to me. It has been absolutely wonderful. The walk this morning was no different. As I walked I just let the tangle of thoughts roll around my head and patiently waited for His voice to clear it all up. It amazes me how clear His voice is when I keep my mouth shut long enough to hear it. It also amazes me how faithful He is to speak when I give Him a chance to say something. Maybe sometimes He just wants to let the storm look really big before He blows it away so that I will know how great He is; not for pride's sake, but for trust.
He is an incredible Dad, how can we not love Him?
Oh yeah, for evidence of just how easily He can blow away the storms I look to Thessalonians 2:8

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
WOW! He just shows up!!! How easy is that???

Saturday, September 29, 2007

To My One True Fan...(How Weird Is That?)

Well, I was reminded in an email that it has been a very long time since I posted anything here so it is with tail firmly tucked that I return to my blog. Truth of it is that during the day I think of so many things I would like to post and yet by the end of the day the creative juice just doesn't seem to be there. I'll try to resurrect at least one of those ideas here and hopefully be a little more consistant in posting future ones.
Of the many things that have crossed my mind lately the main theme has been unity. All of the little stories and blog posts (that never made it here) could be funneled into this one stream. To me it is the most important aspect of our lives as believers and it will be the clincher at that age old trial to see if we really are Christians. I assume you've all heard that one right? "If they were to put you on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?". If someone actually carried through with this threat (which is how I've always seen that statement) then it seems obvious to me that the burden of evidence would be based on what Jesus said about it all. He said that they would find all the evidence they need in our love for each other. This is always the toughest one though. It would be so much easier if it just relied on the nice things I've done or the number of times I pray a week. Even if it would just be on how I treat people who don't know Jesus it would probably be easier. Somehow when we enter into the fold the bar is raised till it is out of reach. It is like we walk around with a bar held up by a pole in our hand to keep it safely out of reach of ourselves and anyone else. We hold that pole up to people and when they fail to reach it we are released from our responsibility to love and respect them. I don't think we do it nearly so consciously as this, but I do see it happen all the time.
How many times have you been in a service and/or gathering and in a moment of glory wished that all the body could experience God like you were? How many epiphanies have you had in the scriptures and felt sure that it applied to everyone? How many special times have you had with Jesus and felt sure that it should be this way for all.....or at least that one person in particular. Truth is that this reveals in us the desire to cookie cut, the desire that will fight against dropping the walls. Truth is it all appears so noble in the moment too. Truth is God is too big to fit in one expression or epiphany. Truth is that if someone is standing on the same foundation (not a denominational pronouncement of foundational values, but the firm foundation of Christ) than we have before us an opportunity to pull the curtain back a little bit more. We have in that moment a chance to see more of the face of our Lord, a chance to see a side of Him that may not fit our experience or understanding. We need not worry about the difference too much either, because if it is grievous or erroneous it will be borne out in time. If, on the other hand, it is not grievous and erroneous we will have shrunk ourselves to fit into the box we are building. That place is small and always growing strangely smaller.
This post has taken a very long time to write due to the many distractions of a Saturday morning, but I just want to leave it with one question: How many times have you found it so much easier to minister to the lost than to the body?
PS Sorry it took so long between posts Wendy.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Who's A Bigot Anyway?

I may have to apologise for the title of this post, but the question is an honest one.
We talked this morning about a friend who lives and works in East End Vancouver and quite enjoys the life she has there. The problem was in explaining this choice to the friends of her new beau, they were from a different strata of society and could only see the need to get away from that part of town. The kneejerk response was to call these folks out as some shallow end of the pool socialites who don't want to get their hands dirty. That of course is a carefully contrived label, and one that doesn't fit. It doesn't fit because there are too many edges that stick past the real on both sides. I used to live in that kind of circle and I recognise the parts that the label covers and the parts that it sticks past. Those parts of the label are the ones that talk about hypocrisy and shallowness as described by the more street level saints. It has taken a few more years than I would like to get that stuff out of my eyes and now I see that what used to seem like hypocrisy and shallowness are simply different walks of life. The label would fit better if these people weren't like Zacheus, Matthew and Luke, the doctors and lawyers of their day. They weren't rough smelly fishermen, pimps or even roving minstrels; they were the respected ones (or at least richer ones) of their day. Nicodemus wasn't a bluecollar guy either, he was part of the theocratic power structure of Israel. Each one of these men had their lives changed just as much as the prostitute and the demon possessed, and I'm pretty sure that that change looked different for them than it did for the outcasts. It would probably be easier, though, if we could get them to all look the same because then we could wrap our little brains around it all in one neat little package.
Perhaps, on the other hand, it would all be easier if we adopted the principle that Paul did which allowed him to go from the market stall to the halls of power without a noticeable shift in his demeanor or conversation. He seemed to truly treat each person equally. He saw each person as someone in need of a saviour just as much as the next guy. He told us to not look down on others because we were in the same shoes (and would be again if not for constant shepherding). He didn't delineate between classes or stratas. Everyone got a fair shake, everyone heard the gospel.
I also have always found it interesting that when Paul stood before people of power he never told them that they needed to change their policies or take a closer look at social justice, he simply lifted up Jesus Christ. Wow, I wonder what it would look like if I did that all the time?