Unknown future

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” –  Corrie ten Boom

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Jesus gives Himself

(This post was impossible for me to write.  When it comes to the mystical, I struggle with words.  My friend Christo will say it much better than I do.)

If there is one thing I’ve learned on this journey is that I am selfish.  I’ll do good things when it suits me.  That is why I need Jesus so much in this journey.  I need His life to flow through me towards others.  I need to be in Him.  In John 15, Jesus says this: Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.

Jesus has not stopped giving His life.  If you ever wonder why Jesus is such an obsession with me, it is this.  We need the life of the One who started it all and He gave His life in living and in dying and then in living again.  It is not something we can learn from Him.  It is something that He can do through us when the mystery of “Christ in us” happens.  He can do this, because He is alive.  When I am in situations where I sin (for instance- I lose my temper etc. etc.), I do not think to myself  “I must be more patient. Next time I’ll try harder not to lose my temper.”  No, I turn to Jesus and tell Him I need Him desperately.   I need more of Him. 

In the “I AM” sayings of Jesus, we can see that “He is it”.  He did not come to give us bread.  “He is the bread.”  He did not come to show us a way.  He is the Way.  He did not come to show us a truth.  He is it.

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I AM THE bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  John 10:9 I AM THE door

John 8:12 Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I AM THE light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I AM THE way, the truth, and the life

John 15:1 I AM THE true vine

Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I AM THE first and the last:

Revelation 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I AM THE root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I AM THE resurrection, and the life

We, the church, is the vehicle of a Jesus who still gives His life away.  When we touch people, Jesus touches them with eternity.  When we hug people, Jesus brings comfort.  When we cry with people,  Jesus mourns with them.  When we play with people, all heaven shakes because of a Jesus that jumps up and down.  We are not called to be something, but to contain Someone.  And that Someone gives Himself to everybody.

Jesus gave His life.

When we talk about Jesus, we always come back to the fact that He died on the cross.  We usually end up saying that He gave His life away and we always say that in connection to His death.  What about while He was living?  I think that while He was alive He gave His life away.  He didn’t have any stuff to give to the people around Him, thus He only gave what He had and that was Himself.  Nowhere in the New Testament do we read that He gave away money or opened his home to people or that he gave away a blanket.  The only clothes that He gave away was while He was hanging on the cross.  Of course He did not giveany stuff away, because He did not have any.

I think He showed us in the christian life what is the most important “object” to give away.  Ourselves.  Most of us have material posessions(stuff).  Some have more than others.  We always fret about how much of our stuff should we give away to the Lord’s work.  A lot of christians give away 10% of what they earn.  Some give more, others less.  A lot of debating goes on about this, but the bottom line is that our stuff is a lot of the time the focus on what to give away.  But we should give away ourselves.

In that way, all of God’s children are equal potentials.  The rich guy do not have more than the poor widow.  The clever do not have more than the not-so-clever.  The talented do not have more than the not-so-talented.  Anyone of us can hold a hand.  Anyone of us can cheer.  Some of us are struggeling to make ends meet and we think that we are useless in the kingdom of God.  We can harldy help ourselves, how can we help other people?  We can still give ourself.  Some of us have a lot and give a lot of stuff away and are contend with what we give away.  The stuff definately helps those who do not have, but if we do not give ourselves away, we are missing the living of Jesus.

We, our lives is enough to touch the people around us.  When we have nothing, we are still enough to be God’s instrument.  When we have everything, we are still enough to be God’s instrument.  Person touching person is where life happens.

What do we see? (Part 2)

This from Brennan Manning

Carlton Hayes, a magnificently chiseled athlete in his early twenties, six-foot-three, 185 pounds, bounces on a trampoline flashing the irresistible Briteway smile. A crowd has gathered. He switches to skipping rope—a dazzling display of coordination, agility, and grace. The onlookers cheer. “Praise God,” the athlete shouts.

Meanwhile, Moe, one of his retinue of attendants, approaches with a glass of Gatorade. In his early fifties, Moe is five-foot-four and paunchy. He wears a rumpled suit, shirt open at the collar, tie askew. Moe has a thinning sliver of matted hair extending from his temples to the back of his head where it disappears in a clump of gray-black hair. The little attendant is unshaven. His bulbous jowls and one glass eye cause the spectators’ eyes to dart away.
“Pathetic little twerp,” one man says.
“Just an obsequious, star-struck hanger-on,” adds another.

Moe is neither. His heart is buried with Christ in the Father’s love. He moves unself-consciously through the crowd and extends the Gatorade gracefully to the hero. He is as comfortable as a hand in a glove with his servant role (that is how Jesus first revealed Himself to Moe and transformed his life). Moe feels safe with himself.

That night, Carlton Hayes will deliver the main address at the banquet of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, who are attending from all fifty states. He will also be honored with a Waterford crystal cup as the first eight-time Olympic gold medalist.

Five thousand people gather at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Glitterati from the worlds of politics, sports, and show business are scattered throughout the room. As Hayes steps to the podium, the crowd is just finishing a sumptuous meal. The speaker’s address abounds with references to the power of Christ and unabashed gratitude to God. Hearts are touched; men and women weep unashamedly, then give a standing ovation.
But behind the glossy delivery, Carlton’s vacant stare reveals that his words do not inhabit his soul. Stardom has eroded his presence with Jesus. Intimacy with God has faded into the distance. The whispering of the Spirit has been drowned out by deafening applause.  Buoyed by success and the roar of the crowd, the Olympic hero moves easily from table to table. He ingratiates himself with everyone—from the waiters to the movie stars.

Back at the Red Roof Inn, Moe eats his frozen TV dinner alone. He was not invited to the banquet at the Ritz-Carlton because, quite honestly, he just wouldn’t fit in. Surely it wouldn’t be fitting for a pot-bellied, glass-eyed, twerpy attendant to pull up a chair with the likes of Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Moe sits down at the table in his room and closes his eyes.
The love of the crucified Christ surges within him. His eyes fill with tears. “Thank You, Jesus,” he whispers, as he peels the plastic top off his microwaved lasagna. He flips to Psalm 23 in his Bible.

I was in the dream, too. Where did I choose to spend that evening? 

My eyes fell on a passage in 2 Corinthians: “From now onwards, therefore, we do not judge anyone by the standards of the flesh” (5:16).

When we look,  what do we see?

When we look, what do we see?

God is everywhere, but I believe when it comes to God we are mostly blind.  Mostly we are blind because we do not “look”.  We simply do not “see” God in everydayness because we expect Him to be in something-larger-than-life, religious activity or in the beautiful.  Can we also “see” Him in the mundane, the muck and the limitation of our lives?  Yes we can. 

This is from Mike Yaconelli out of “Dangerous wonder.”

I had expected to meet God in the lives of those who were “whole.” Instead, God was hiding in the lives of the “broken,” the mentally and physically challenged—especially in a girl I’ll call Deborah. Her twenty-five-year-old body is ravaged by cerebral palsy and is as cooperative as a limp rag doll. She had to be held by someone at all times. Unable to speak, unable to respond, I wondered (I am embarrassed to admit now) why Henri had included her in our daily Bible studies.
I found out very soon. Two days after we arrived, Deborah was to celebrate her first Communion. It was a festive occasion and we were invited. We arrived at one of the L’Arche homes that was filled with sixty mentally and physically challenged members of the community, two dozen workers, and our study group. I had come with the expectation that this could be a great experience in the presence of God. Deborah was in a fully restrained wheelchair, her face radiant, her hair beautifully done, her dress stunning. The room was crowded and noisy and, as the Eucharist began, my heart sunk in disappointment.
The noise was chaotic and distracting. Those with Down’s syndrome were humming loudly, continually, rocking back and forth to a rhythm only they could hear. One girl would suddenly let loose with an ear-piercing shriek every few seconds, and the service had to be stopped temporarily because one member of the community had an epileptic seizure. I was completely distracted, disappointed at the chaos and confusion that had ruined my experience with God. As Father Nouwen presented the body and blood of Christ to each person in the room, I was secretly pouting, secretly counting the minutes until I could leave.
When Father Nouwen stopped in front of Deborah, her body stopped jerking and moving out of control, her eyes glistened, she opened her mouth to receive the wine and the bread, and there, ever so slightly, I saw her smile! At once the noise in the room was transformed into what I imagined the noise at the nativity would have been like. God was there! His fragrance filled the room. Deborah—the girl who could do nothing, the girl who would never give a talk, the girl who would never dance, the girl who would never write a book or play the piano or sing a song—taught me about the grace of God! For fifty years I had struggled with God’s unconditional love for me; for fifty years I had tried to prove my worthiness to God by busyness; and helpless Deborah might as well have grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted in my face, “God loves you just as you are! Surrender to His love!” I realized God was hiding in Deborah, and I haven’t been the same since.

The thing about this story is that Mike expected God to reveal Himself through Henri Nouwen.  But God did not and Mike nearly missed it.  I miss God regurlarly simply because, in the busy-ness, in the noise,  I forget to look around.  Activity(noise) is sometimes seen as the enemy of God, but even in the hustle and bustle He is to be found.  When we lose our temper, is God with us?  When everything is happening all at once, is God with us?  When life is to much, is God with us?  What do we “see”?

Deborah, the lady in Mike’s story did not have the ability to show God love with her hands.  She could not go to someone, talk with them, show them sympathy, cry with them.  Yet God could be seen in her life when somebody “looked.”  The same with us.  Sometimes life beat the crap out of us and we are broken and hurt and we are unable to help those around us that need help.  We need people in our lives that can “see” God in us.  We need people to see the beauty of God in the broken vessel.  When we look, what do we “see”?

A few years back, Anette and I asked God to show us people through His eyes.  It was terrible.  I cried a lot because all I could see in the person was the beauty and all they could see in themselves was the ugly.  We saw warriors in people with no self-esteem.  Beggers in rich people.  Frightened children in angry men.  What do we “see” when we look? 

What will God show us once we’ve “seen” Him?  I have no idea, but what I do know is that we will never be the same 🙂

My better half

For those of you who don’t know it yet, my wife is also blogging.  I like her posts more than my own 🙂 Go and check her out at Place of grace.  You’ll get much better insight into our journey than you’ll get on my site.  Enjoy!!

God’s judgement

I surf the internet a lot and a lot of christian websites and blogs talks about God’s judgement.  Some christians cannot wait for God’s judgement to come.  Eagerly they wait for God to rain fire down upon their enemies.  They wring their hands in anticipation of the terrible things that must come.  They pronounce judgement on anybody who does not agree with them.  To them, God’s judgement is the worse thing that can happen to a person. 

I disagree.

I think the worst thing that can happen to a person is God’s love.  God’s love is much more terrible than His judgement.  God’s love takes us to places we would rather not go.  God’s love leaves us vulnerable to be mocked.  To be ridiculed.  God’s love opens us up to see the enemy as God sees them.  God’s love makes it possible to love our enemy.  His love is more than feeling.  His love is more than thinking.  His love walks the extra mile.  Gives more than what is asked.  His love pierces our deepest secrets.  His love exposes our fears.  His love can be excruciating.  His love takes away the one we love the most (me).  His love is severely out of focus, because He will go after the one and leave the ninety-nine behind.  His love is unbearable when we begin to see others through His eyes.  It’s terrible to come to Him and know that there is nothing that I can do to deserve this love.  It’s dreadful to come to Him and trust His love for me.  His love is not fair or perhaps I should say His love is “wrong.”(He should love the good people more, right?)  His love not reasonable and for that matter beyond reason.  His love is too simple to understand.(Children can, but adults struggle.)  His love can ruin us in an instant.  His love can wreck us for life.  His love sees the beautiful in the repulsive.  The handsome in the ugly.  His love can leave us weak when we had the notion that we should have been strong.  His love disarms our adequacy.  His love neutralize our competency.  His love is a mystery for the know-it-all’s.  His love is known by the weak and the castaways.  We are never in charge of His love.  It’s too bright.  It’s too furious.  It’s too forceful.  It’s to compassionate.  Too kindhearted.  Too intense to comprehend.

I’m amazed when people come to me and say that the God I talk about is too soft because I talk too much about His love.  And I’m thinking “What are you talking about?”  God is love and He is not tame.  Not at all.

There is a journey for christians.  It’s a journey with God.  It’s a journey into His love and where that Love will lead us.  This Love is the most wonderful terrible passion that could happen to us.  Are we ready for something much, much, much worse that His judgement? I hope so.

Perhaps I should end with these words.  Be afraid, be very afraid, because the love of the Lamb will take us into Him and shatter all the notions we have on how things should be 🙂

Journey into obscurity

(This blog is the wrong place to say this, but luckily there is a lot of talk around, which will ensure that this post will get lost in all the “noise”.)

There was a time when I wanted to be in the spotlight. I would sit in a church service and think that I knew enough to be “up there”. Although I was a cell leader and led some camps over the weekends, I knew that being “up there” was something totally different. “Up there” meant that people would listen to you and I mean really listen because you had authority. I knew this because, once in a small congregation, I said that I believe God is steering us towards discipleship. Nothing happened. But eight months later, when the person “up there” said he believed God is steering us towards discipleship, everybody jumped and discipleship became the in-thing. You had to have certain qualifications to be “up there”. Either you had to be theological qualified, or had to be a professional like a doctor/psychologist, or you have a charismatic personality, or you were musically gifted, or you were a success, or you had a miraculous breakthrough from God. The person “up there” was different. “Up there” is the ultimate of Christianity. I desperately wanted to be “up there”. I’ve felt that I had a contribution to make, more than the role we were seen in. (We take people into our home and care for them. Thus the assumption was made that we were carers. When you are a carer, you’re vocabulary is limited to caring and you have no voice outside your “gifting” range. Thing about our caring. We were not necessary carers. We did it because we believed that all we have is God’s and a lot of people needed a home. But that is another story.)

Anyway, then I met Jesus. He did not come to this earth as a king, or a great statesman, or a great philosopher or even a great politician. Born as the son of a carpenter. He came from a small town. He had a following of 12 disciples, but not one of them was famous. One or two could have been infamous. He did not have a home. He did miracles, but hushed it up. Sometimes He was in the spotlight, but for the wrong reasons. Sometimes crowds gathered to hear Him speak. But He offended them or He left. He did not build anything anybody could see. After He died on the cross the only evidence that showed He was on earth was the people He touched. No monument, no castle, no temple, no synagogue. He never used force. He did not have money. He was “God on earth” and yet He was never “up there”.

Suddenly it dawned on me. He came to show us what a godly life on earth looked like. And did He not say the kingdom was like yeast? The Spirit was like the wind. You could not really point and say “Here is the kingdom.” Or “there it is.” Visibility is not a sign of the kingdom. It is one of the reasons why we left the organized part of church. We began to stand out. Because we took people into our home, people would come and say “Oh what wonderful christians you are”. I cringed, because if they knew me, they would never say that to me. (During that time, I was angry with God…..a lot.)

Anyway, God came and set me free from the want-to-be-seen-life. Anette and I talked about it and we deliberately took the road where we could not be seen. On this road there are no expectations of us. We can give our lives away and nobody is around to compliment us. Our friends are all on the same road and they know I am a crappy christian. I cannot impress them. I can be free to love God and the people around me without an agenda.

I’m glad Jesus showed us the road that leads to obscurity. The less we’re seen, the better…or perhaps I should say, God is easily seen when we ain’t.