My (Preferred) Alter-Ego (come find me here!)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the burning tribe

The age of the warriors has come again.

I stand watch on the wall and see them coming--men and women with faces bronzed and glowing in the light of the Son. I see young children marked by destiny who've willingly laid aside childish things for the wisdom of eternity. I see young adults, hiding in humility, pressing forward in power. They have received their assignment; they break rank for no one. The ground trembles beneath the weight of their march.

These are the holy ones. They have made a covenant with their eyes, and they stick to it. They are the definition of radical. They are an army marked by who they are, not who they could be. They are known more for their reality than for their potential.

They have embraced the power of pain--pressing into the ache, leaning into the groan. They know the strength that suffering perfects. It is a badge they wear with honor.

They beat their bodies into submission. Their spirits are honed sharp through fasting and prayer. They position themselves between the living and the dead. They fight with passion. They progress with persistence. They never miss their mark.

These are the ones who live in the wilderness. They are the modern-day Nazarites. They live to be extreme. Try to tell them they're sacrificing too much--they won't listen. They love with everything, and give everything out of that love. They answer solely to One.

They don't fit in, but they recognize each other. They are fiercely loyal to their community and their calling. Find one and you will find others--shoulders pressed together, shields up, arms interlocked, hearts bound by blood. They make it their business to live for more than themselves. They join ranks with the faithful.

They shun labels, ignore titles, shrug off names. Life is their platform. Jesus is their goal. They are steady, relentless, strong, unstoppable. They always win because they never give up. Failure is not an option. Glory in success belongs exclusively to their Father.

Once you've heard their cry, you'll never forget it. They rage with a yell that comes again, and again, and again, and again, and again from their core--from the emotions at the heart of God Himself. They've pledged their lives to a cause. They live in preparation and longing.

And their cry has been heard. The day is coming when the Great One will come, and He will not be held back from them. Everyone will see the reunion; it will crush ambivalence and engage every heart either for or against. And He will win.

Are you ready?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

i can do...anything.

I spent some time in Philippians this morning, pausing to smile over the familiar passage in Philippians 4:13.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I wish I could remember how old I was when I first memorized that verse. In my family, it was one of those “bedrock” verses that you learned early, right up there beside John 3:16 and Romans 8:28. God often shakes me out of self-satisfied, complacent Christianity by choosing to speak to me through something I’ve read a thousand times. I’ll spend hours scouring through some obscure passage in Nahum searching for a revelation only to hear His voice come crashing through my circumstances and into my heart through John 8:32 (another one I memorized as a child, though this one was largely due to the fact that my dad preached several sermons on it).

What captivated me this morning was the context of Philippians 4:13. Paul is talking about the kindness of the Philippians, and how often they blessed him with gifts when he was in need. He then rushes to assure them that his praise for their generosity is not a hint that he needed anything, saying that he had learned to be content regardless of his situation.

God is pressing me toward gratitude on a daily basis. I get it more on some days than others. Paul’s statement—that he learned to be grateful in all things—blessed me so much because it is after saying this that he writes Philippians 4:13. His contentedness was not an easy thing. He had to learn it. He had to persevere to gratitude. And it was only through the strength of Christ that he had the grace to be content.

I often feel dissatisfied and unhappy with my life. Invariably, after I express my dissatisfaction, I begin to feel condemned for being ungrateful. While I never want to minimize the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, or excuse poor behavior that stems from an ungrateful heart, the Lord reminded me this morning that it’s only by His power that I am able to see the good in all things. Wallowing in how much I “missed it” the day before will only hinder me from progressing today. My only option is to press delete on the past and keep going.

I choose to be grateful. On some days I will be more successful than on others. Some days will be easier than others. What matters is if I keep going, beating my ungrateful nature into submission and fixing my eyes on the ultimate goal.

If we keep going, we win.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

just standing

I'm not sure I'm going to be able to say all this the way I want to say it. Sometimes I wish words didn't seem to shrink so much when we try to express what we feel.

I feel it most when I shut my eyes. It's a mix of contentment and tiredness--similar to what I feel at the end of a two hour worship service when I know I've pushed as deep into God as my weak flesh will allow for that time. Also mixed in is a tinge of accomplishment, like I feel when I've finished folding three loads of laundry, cooked dinner, and cleaned my home. And there's a small sense of emptiness, too, like the slow ebbing of adrenaline when a roller coaster slowly rolls back to the platform and part of your body is asking you, "Now what?"

It's a lost sort of found feeling, a latent excitement, a lethargic energy, a directed purpose.

It's my favorite place to be.

This is the feeling I have when I hear most clearly from God. It comes when I've finally pushed through all the external "stuff" and connect with His heart--raw, imperfect....real. He reminds me that I don't have to "do" anything when I come to Him; I can simply rest in His presence, in the throne room of the Almighty, seated with His Son, tucked under His care.

I fail a lot in that I often mentally diminish the power of God working in my life. He often allows painful situations to lag on for what seems like eternity in our lives because He's teaching us perseverance and growing character in our lives. We cannot get so caught up in the process that we forget the purpose. We cannot allow His patience to distort our perception of His strength, His power, His ability to move on behalf of those of us who love Him desperately.

I love this emotional place. I love it when He reminds me that He's still God, He's still in control, and He still has a plan. I walk through my day feeling clean and mended. This is casting our cares. This is the result of observing Sabbath with Him.

Stand before His throne and be confident in who you are to Him. He's God, and He does all things well.