Wednesday, October 31, 2007
More on Reformation Day (wikipedia)
In the young years of Samuel’s life, the things that opened the door to the miraculous in his life was a series of acts of obedience.
Hannah being obedient to her vow to the Lord.
Samuel being obedient to keep the lamp of God burning, even when the high priest failed to do so.
Eli heeding the Word of the Lord as received from Samuel that fateful night.
But how did these people actually hear the Lord? It was recently noticed by a good friend, Elizabeth Carpenter, that I had written a blog about ‘Listening’, and then one about ‘Obedience.’ She noted how appropriate that was since one must be listening to God to be obedient to Him.
Her observation was quite impressive to me and got me to thinking.
What precedes listening?
The answer came to me in the still of the morning: quiet. It takes quietness to be able to listen (to be able to be obedient.) We must get quiet before the Lord to be able to hear what he has to say to us. The best example of this is what happened this morning during my prayer time.
It was blustery with wisps of drizzle in the dark of the morning.
When I got there, the cold breeze carried tiny beads of rain to my face. It was perfect to keep my senses sharp and attuned to the quiet. I began to pray several times, but I felt God say to me, ‘would you stop that already?’
This confused me momentarily, but I fell quiet again. That is when I sensed that God was speaking to me along the lines of an Emerson quote I had recently read.
"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think....you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." Emerson
God echoed this in my spirit. He said,
‘I need you to learn how to be quiet. If you can learn to be quiet, you can focus your thoughts. This is key, because I need you to be able to listen to My voice in the middle of the crowd; in the middle of chaos. You have to be able to hear my voice at all times. Even though the masses will be loud and speaking, if you can learn to quiet yourself and listen, even in public in the chaos, you will be powerful indeed.’
That being said, I picked up some material on Smith Wigglesworth and found that this was one of his secrets. It was also the secret of Brother Lawrence. It was the secret that Jesus used in front of his accusers.
Other observations of quiet are that the quiet brings vision. When you are quiet, it allows clarity. It allows God to speak in a way that you know that you know He spoke. When that happens, He can speak direction to you. And when God speaks direction, vision comes.
I was very intrigued by these thoughts. Suffice it to say that today I practiced being quiet to hear the Lord to be obedient.
My most significant observation is how quickly being obedient to God will place you in uncomfortable situations! (He told me to tell one girl that I did not know that He loves her.)
The second observation came just as quickly: how we let faithless fear get in our way; how easy it is to be disobedient. (I did not speak to that girl.)
If I truly believed that God was speaking to me, if I were confident that it was the creator of heaven and earth, I would have been obedient.
But faithless thoughts prevented me. (Are you sure that is God? How can you be sure it was Him? Do you know His voice well enough? That is just wrong socially! Don’t do it.)
If Christians got gut-level honest, they would admit to these same thoughts.
Just the same, if Christians got gut-level obedient, we would have a revival on our hands.
Here is to waking up tomorrow, and mustering the courage to a) be quiet, b) listen, and c) be obedient!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
But one thing in particular found its way to me today.
1st Samuel 3:3. (And, the surrounding verses for context, of course.)
and the lamp of God had not yet gone out [was about to go out], and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was,
If you have followed the life of Eli, his heretical and perverted sons, and the young boy, Samuel, you may already have an idea of what is going on.
The Bible says that it was a time when the Word of the Lord was precious. In fact, it goes so far as to say that no one had open vision any longer. This INCLUDED the high priest, Eli.
How difficult it must have been that Eli who once had vision, now could not see openly. As his natural sight was dying, so was his spiritual insight. He no longer had the ability to see, nor oversee the nation of Israel.
God even sent another prophet to warn Eli. Eli knew that the things his sons were doing were unjust and wrong, yet he did not utterly punish them. They continued perverting the sacrifices of God. After warning Eli by sending a prophet, one final misdemeanor performed broke the camel’s back.
It was not an act of defilement, but an act of disobedience that caused God to declare that He had forever turned his back on the family line of Eli.
The lamp of God almost, almost flickered out.
What is so important about this? Do you know WHAT lamp this particular lamp is?
This is the lamp that in Exodus 27:20 God instructed the Israelites to NEVER go out. It was the symbol of God’s presence in the temple, as it shone at all times. Some even believe that it was representative of the lamp that passed between the sacrifice which marked the covenant between God and Abraham in Genesis 15:17.
This same lamp was about to flicker out. Eli’s sons were irreverent toward anything holy, so it was up to Eli to ensure that the lamp of God remained. Yet, Eli’s vision was dim. He could hardly see anything at all.
He had come to live in partial darkness at all times. How could he be expected to even know if the lamp of God was going dim? Parallel this to Eli’s spiritual life and you can quickly see the sad state that this once-powerful man of God was now living in.
He moved about feebly from room to room in a dark cloud, unable to know that the presence of God was fading. The moment that his personal comfort came before protecting the presence of God, the moment just before the lamp was extinguished, the Lord called out to a young boy in the night season.
I can imagine Samuel, thinking that his master, Eli, had called him, went running through the halls of the temple. As he passed the lamp of God, I am sure that he stopped in partial terror. ‘Had the lamp gone out?’
As he approached, I can see him noticing the last fading light, quickly refilling the oil so that it burned bright once again, then continuing on his dash to visit his master.
I can almost imagine him totally stunned to find out that his master was snoring. When he first stumbled upon the fading lamp of God, I am sure that he must have concluded that Eli had been attending to other duties. Samuel must have sheepishly refilled the lamp expecting to find Eli asking him to do just that. Instead, Eli was deep asleep.
Even after rousing his master, Samuel found that Eli had no clue that the lamp of God was almost extinguished. This negligence of Eli’s was repaid with total reproach from God.
As He has said, “I want obedience more than sacrifice!”
This principle of God’s shone brightly that night. It took the innocent concern of a young servant boy to rekindle the presence of God for all of Israel.
Which carries me toward my new revelation (I use that word lightly) on obedience. It was more important to Eli’s sons to do the daily sacrifices than to have a tender heart to hear the Lord and be obedient. It was more important to Eli, old as he may have been, to rest than to tend to the presence of God for all of Israel. What dreadful thing would have happened if at that moment the lamp of God was extinguished?!
Here is the unique thing about Samuel. The Bible says that Samuel did not yet know the Word of the Lord. (By the end of the night, he would! In fact, Eli was so hungry for the Word of the Lord, that he threatened Samuel with a curse the next morning if he did not share what the Lord said.)
But Samuel was sensitive to the things of God. Samuel was tender-hearted toward what God deemed was important to Him.
Obedience is like that. You can be obedient to the Lord and not know all of His laws. You can do this by simply being tender-hearted and passionate about what He is passionate about. You can be obedient by being sensitive enough to hear Him, even if you do not recognize His voice.
By doing so, Samuel rekindled the light in Israel, re-established the Word of the Lord for His people, and became the conduit for the Lord to move in Saul’s life, in David’s life, and in the lives of generations of believers the world over.
Many people have made sacrifices for God, and go unrecorded. The obedient have been awe-inspiring, and motivate us to heed the Lord to this day.
Friday, October 26, 2007
I have been trying to listen to God. I have been trying to hear His word. I have been trying to hear His word for my life, His word for those around me, His word for ANYTHING.
This entertainment/distraction driven society, I have come to a new level of awareness of my distance from God. By distance, I mean realizing actually that God is.
What do I mean by this? If you and I truly (I mean really, seriously, truly, with-everything-within-us truly) believed that God is real, would we not drop everything we are doing to obey His desire for our lives?
The obvious answer to that question fresh in mind creates this revelation of how extremely little I act as if God were real; I mean actually real.
I know that He has wanted me to press in with my prayer life. I used to pray for hours daily. Recently, I have been so consumed with my work and projects and such, that I will (of course) "do it later."
So, I have decided to try with the little things, like listening. Listening for Him, to be more specific.
To be honest, it is one of the most potent tools in my spiritual-walk arsenal. Just trying to listen to Him for what His will is on this or that begins to turn one's mind on Him more continuously.
Is this even a valid tool for a Christian? I have often wondered if this is valid, or if it is a meager, Americanistic approach to spirituality that any moderately faithful Buddhist, Muslim, or Hindu scoff at. (Maybe not "scoff". That word seems as if it should be reserved for the British.)
Well, if you ask Lawrence, it is a VERY valid approach to having a real relationship with God. (Not Lawrence of Arabia. That would be more Islamic than anything. AND he was a Brit.) Brother Lawrence, the eternal soul whose life was revealed in "Practicing the Presence of God," was quoted as often saying that just listening for God in the little things was his key to a powerful walk in God.
He went to be with the Lord in 1691. 300 years later and his life still has a HUMONGOUS impact on the Christian brethren. His life MUST have been anointed by the presence of God. And his words can be relied upon for wisdom on how to live.
He believed that listening for Him was the key.
I challenge you: this week, take little moments and little decisions to listen to hear what God is saying. In the midst of the business and chaos, in the middle of our electronically-charged lives stop to hear what He is saying to you.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I doesn't get better than this: FREE RICE.
You heard me: FREE RICE!!! Free Rice for Developing Nations.
What are you talking about, Grant?
I am glad you asked.
This may have been the best thing for me to surf-stumble upon yet! Often it has bothered my brain to find some, simple-yet-profound way that I can make a difference in foreign countries.
We here it is. Wait no longer:
Play it. Give free rice. Yesterday alone there was over 32,000,000 grains of rice donated.
Rice is donated to the United Nations World Food Program.
It is that simple! Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"Where there is no vision, the people perish"
In this scripture, the word 'perish' carries with it a meaning of "casting off restraint." It is interesting to note that to cast off restraint would be synonymous with perishing, but along with that I notice that without vision, people fail to restrain themselves.
Images of a group of people without leadership pop into my mind. I believe that one possible understanding of this timeless scripture is that without VISIONARY LEADERSHIP, the people will eventually cast off any sort of leadership what-so-ever.
I am a visual person. Many times there are problems with that. (Imagine me going through the Bible, the King James Version no less, the first few times. THAT was rough!)
But, as it turns out, it could just be the key to my leadership! In a study by Arizona State University they found the following differences between "visionary" and "non-visionary" leadership.
It turns out that visionary leaders are typically far more visual! (Who knew?)
How accurate do I feel it is? Only moderately. Though I am very visual, and many of the 'cool' areas of the visionary brain match up with my persona, I have the motivation of a Non-Visionary leader. Along with that, I have more active language and comprehension areas of my brain (characteristic of the Non-Visionary.)
That being said, I think that instead of getting vision from this visual on visionary leadership, I will continue to validate my vision from God, and let Him verify if I will be a visible visionary leader!
Monday, October 22, 2007
13 “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible. 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
This has been a profound scripture for me recently. I find that when I get further from God, I tend to sleep a lot more. I tend to ignore the cause of Christ on my life. I am the living dead. My purpose and vision is not as clear. Things are fuzzy. Like a foggy morning that blocks the sun; you could say that I am walking, well, in darkness.
But, when I come realize this fact and admit that I am in sin (by my mere separation from God instead of a particular sinful act), it shines light on it. And, as it says, that which becomes visible IS light.
That means that in the instant that I shine light on my wrong path, my path become visible and thus, light. I am instantly in God’s grace again.
I also realize that other things in my life fall into order. Waking up early to write about God, study His word, planning my day and working out all seem to come back together with ease. Struggling to rise at 4:30 a.m. is gone. I seem to just hop out of bed ready for my day.
That is what it is to be ‘awake’; to rise with purpose, to know one’s destiny (or at least be at peace and full of faith that God knows your destiny.)
Why all of this rising, and asleep and awake? Because there is only one commodity that we lack, and that is time.
Though we are, all of us (the righteous and the unrighteous), eternal beings, there is only a brief time that we can make our stand. This life is a proving ground where we wave our colors, be they the colors of light or colors of darkness.
We stand here in the temporal to determine how we shall spend the rest of our eternal existence.
As it says in verse 16, we must make the best use of our time. We must be sure to walk in wisdom in our short time on this earth in this time.
This is what it means to Awake, O Sleeper! Arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!!
I encourage you. Rise today! Raise your banner in your heart once again that it may blow in the wind of God.
Regain the purpose of your heart, so that Christ may shine on you today, and always.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
God is outside of time.
I can hear a big sigh of ‘Duh’ headed my way, but track with me for a second.
It was amazing to see Mr. Missler confirm some of the thoughts I was having. Not only that, but Mr. Missler also revealed how close I was to the scientific implications of God’s deity and how that interplayed with our limited, 4-dimensional understanding of the world.
To track with what I am saying, read my blog entry about the origami-man here, then watch the YouTube video on the Science of God here.
From here, my mind jumped to what I experience when I am in the presence of God. When I press into the presence of God, I lose track of time in general. Time is currently the top dimension that we consciously operate in.
If you notice, all references to God are limited by time. Look up most references to God and you will find that there are some implications and references to time. For God to have a nature that is loving and kind at one moment, and burning with anger the next, that would mean that either A) God is limited by time (He is one thing, and THEN something else), or B) our understanding of God being angry and then loving would be insufficient for God.
Who are these references for? Who is limited by them? When it says that God’s anger burned against Israel in the desert, did God really change?
One who is outside of time cannot be one thing and then the next. He must be both at once.
In our mind, when we imagine someone angry, we picture them doing something to show us they are angry. We see their face scowling, or them throwing something, or yelling. All of these actions, any actions, are bound by time.
We know that God is outside of time. He must be. (The bible says that there is none greater than Him. If God were limited by time, then there would be something greater than Him; in this case, time would be God. Though the one we are worshipping may be greater than us and some type of spirit being, it would not be God in that Time were greater than it.)
Since we worship an ultimate God, that God must be ultimate and outside of Time. If He is outside of Time, he must be outside of any actions or activities that are bound by time.
A smile is bound by time (and space; called space-time.) The points of my mouth are pointed down at one moment. They then shift from their location to pointing upward, and it is several moments forward in time. Their location has changed, and now I am smiling.
Though God may be able to smile, would He be using a smile to communicate because that is how He communicates, or because that is how we understand friendliness, friendship and love?
I offer that it is the latter.
Now, one can rightly inquire as to what is the origin of friendship? What is the origin of what it is to be a friend, to be love and loved?
These, I believe are truly Godly because they take you outside of time. They take one to another level that is irrelevant to time. When we love, truly love, it is a thing that lasts forever. When we are friends, truly friends, it lasts until death and beyond.
When we love, truly love, we learn something about the eternal. We feel closer to our God.
When we are friends, truly friends, we learn something about the eternal. We learn something about God. It lasts far beyond that moment, far beyond that person, and far beyond our own life!
Going back to the presence of God, it is another confirmation of our ability to step beyond our dimensional limitations by stepping into His presence. When I pray, I lose track of time. I develop a vision, for my life and internally, that far surpasses my limited scope. Faith, which surpasses our 4-dimensional limitations by its very nature, grows in me. Hope, which also surpasses our 4-dimensional limitations, grows in me.
When we spend time in the presence of God, our 4-dimensional limitations cease.
Two examples of that seem to confirm that with me.
First, there is a couple I know who spend hours every day in prayer and in the presence of God. Though their bodies have grown old with time, their countenance, and thus their complexions, have stayed relatively young. One is closely approaching 45 and looks younger in countenance than any 55 year olds I know. His skin is still young and taunt. His hair barely shows any grey. It is the same with anyone who has spent massive amounts of time with God (outside of our time limitations.) And, even as their body does deteriorate over time, their awareness seems stronger than those who do not in their old age.
The second example is the awareness of time. Time is a measurement of our detectable world. It is based on relativity. (Current discoveries on relativity and light could easily adjust these thoughts soon.)
When I am in prayer, I cannot tell how much time has passed. Like spending time with a lover, time seems to go by too quickly, yet simultaneously seems to have drifted so slowly. It was not enough time, yet it was so full of joy and excitement that it crept pleasantly by. My typical points of reference for time (how much work I achieved in a day, what the hands on my watch say, etc) are irrelevant to my pleasure.
This is the dichotomy of our eternal nature. We, for precious rare moments, experience what it is to be eternal. We are privy to what it is to be in His presence.
So, when my watch was an hour off yesterday after worship, true worship in His presence, did I step outside of time? Though practicality says that I did not; faith and hope tell me I did!