Beggar in the presence of a king

If your life is perfect, if you have no problems, if your faith is strong as an ox, then this post is probably not for you.  On the other hand, if you are like me, a man who questions everything, doubts everything as the disciple Thomas did, reels between ecstasy and bewilderment when considering the things of faith, then we can appreciate the title of Matthew West’s song, BROKEN THINGS.

“If it’s true you use broken things – then here I am Lord, I’m all yours.”

People don’t like broken things – they throw away cracked dishes, broken vacuum cleaners, flickering lamps, worn clothing.  I remember my grandfather who took his shoes to a cobbler to be re-soled rather than buy new shoes.  Thinking he could not afford new shoes, I bought him a pair for Christmas.  Graciously he thanked me but continued wearing those old shoes.  That new pair was still in its box when Grandpa died.

Rather than repairing broken relationships, husbands and wives will find good divorce lawyers.  Fathers and sons remain estranged for many years after a disagreement, not remembering what the argument was about, but too stubborn to reconcile.  For many of us, broken relationships are not worth repairing.

I was the last to admit that I was broken.  My life had spiraled head first into a vast darkness which applauded my efforts to be strong, to be better than others, to stand out from the crowd, to chart my own destiny no matter what the cost.  I swam in that sea of darkness believing it was my strength of character and independence that kept me afloat.  I did it entirely on my own personal will power.  I drove myself to be a self-made man, independent of anyone – especially God.

Some of us are sicker than others.  Thankfully, God knows this; he has a special room in His heart for the sickest of the sick.  Patiently, steadfastly, lovingly He guided me to a place where I could take an honest assessment of me – on my knees.  We talked, we cried, we screamed out in pain and then we entered the wide gate into the Kingdom of grace.

I am still a broken vessel today.  I like it that way because my Lord can use broken things to fix the brokenness which He sees in his human family.  Patch me, glue me, bind me together.  Like that pair of Grandpa’s worn-out shoes, I can always be re-souled.  “I am just a beggar in the presence of a King.”

“Grace is a Kingdom with gates open wide.”

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COURTESY OF lum3n.com

 

imagine what could be

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do

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Nothing to kill or die for

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And no religion too

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Imagine all the people living life in peace

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You may say

I’m a dreamer

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But I’m not the only one

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I hope some day you’ll join us

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And the world will be as one

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NAMASTE

 

seeking the Seeker

“What you seek is seeking you.”

 

How peaceful it can be when I put aside the search for truth in places which offer only more questions.

I pray with bowed head, “Lord, where and when does my soul find contentment?  Where must I go for fulfillment?  What ultimate power will quench my thirst?”

In my quietness I ponder the mysteries of unknown spaces and time, I think of those before me who also followed a quest for answers.

“Theology, philosophy, books have not answered my search honestly.  I seek gods in high places, low places, and other places where I probably should not take my mind and soul.”

“Within.”

“My Lord?”

‘What you seek is seeking you within.  Simply go there.”

“Yes, of course…..but, how and when….with whom?”

“You ask too many questions.  Just go within and be still.  Breathe deeply and consider all that your Creator has given to you.  Then talk to me.  Know that I am God.  It is not difficult to know the truth which you seek.  I am that “I am” for which mankind is thirsting. “

“Within?”

“Yes, of course, where else would I be?  The heavens?  The stars?  The places unknown?  How would you propose to arrive at those far places?”

“But Lord, the religions, the philosophies, the books, do they not also tell the truth?”

“My son, whose truth do you seek?  Theirs or yours?  Perhaps they have provided a compass pointing the way, but you must conduct your own quest.  You must find your own soul, revere it with great esteem, and then be true to it.”

 “Yes, Lord.”

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worthy of all praise

“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”

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Listening to great music from contemporary artists and the masters of classical works has the capacity to soothe and encourage.  Sitting in a chair in the stillness of a quiet nook, my world is transformed from one of agitation and discontent to the truth of knowing without reservation that God is, always has been, always will be.  Music such as Chris Tomlin’s “How Great Our God” confirms that others experience this same peace and awe in the presence of a Greater Power, one which defines for us compassion, acceptance, and love.  Unconditionally!

I cannot temper my feeble attempts to be Christ-like with earthly conditions for extending or withholding God’s indwelling spirit.  I cannot deny anyone the directive of Jesus to love my neighbor as myself.  The color of skin, the ethnicity, the creed, the political affiliation, the sexual persuasion, the gender, and the theology of another brother/sister cannot be a determinant for sharing the grace of God which was freely given to me.

Most of us, especially me, are often conflicted by this wisdom from a gracious God.  If you are white like me, male like me, Christ-follower like me, Democrat like me, and peace lover like me, then it is not difficult to also be Christ-like.  My perfect world is one in which no disagreement or contention exists.  My perfect world would also be totally black or white, right or wrong, moral or immoral, no shades of color filtering into it.

That, fortunately, is not God’s world.  The God, which I know today, knew from the beginning that we would be a broken species fraught with discontent, envy, jealousy, anger, intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and “isms” of all descriptions.  Yet, God loved us enough to give us messengers in human form who showed us how to evolve into the humanity with whom He would be pleased.  I don’t have to pursue this transformation without instruction manuals.  Each of our great religions have presented to us a path to follow which leads to enlightenment.

Enlightenment is not some mysterious element in a future eternity.  It is not something to be attained by sustained adherence to rigid rules of morality.  No, enlightenment is the discipline of practicing and sharing here and now in this lifetime the same mercy and grace which is freely available to every soul on earth.  In this quiet space of the soul, a corner of absolute connection to Spirit, there are no distinctions, no fears, no judgements.  We all are one with the great Oneness whom some name Allah, some name Krishna, some name Yahweh, and some name God.  The name we call  upon doesn’t matter.  The heart we share does.  How’s your good heart today?

CANDLE

 

 

be careful little eyes

CANDLEA friend invited me to sit with him to watch one of the popular offerings on prime time television.  My viewing over the years has diminished to baseball, news, and college football.  Sometimes an old movie will grab my attention and I will settle down to watch and reminisce.  But, today’s 1258 channels on cable don’t get me too excited.

The show we watched was not alarmingly violent, had little sexual content, kept cussing to that which 8 year-olds now use at school.  But, it was bizarre in the images presented and the script.  Actually, bizarre is not strong enough.  It was chilling, ominous, and dark.  It creeped me out.  The computer generated visual effects were graphically disturbing, not something I wanted to put into my memory banks and certainly not something I would want a 10 year-old to process in his/her developing psyche.

“Trash in, trash out”.  We seem to have lost as a supposedly advanced society the wisdom that what we ingest mentally is who we become as a person.  Those images and that music which I allow into my brain will affect who I become as a person.  I can fill that space in my head with soul-nurturing entertainment or gut-wrenching graphics.  I can honor the presence of Jesus within or I can dump trash on his salvific glory. It’s a choice I have to make every minute of every day.  And, being the broken piece of humanity which I am, I sometimes fall short.  There are times when the best I can accomplish is damage control.

Our entertainment industry has replaced a God of joy and peaceful coexistence with its god of sex, immorality, and violence.  We should not wonder why mass shootings are becoming commonplace in America.  The children are learning from the movies, music, media, and politicians that the best solution to a problem involves a gun and standing up for “rights”.  Even some of our churches are preaching a theology of exclusion.  “You are not like me, you do not think like me, you do not look like me; therefore, you need to be eliminated.”  The less violent of these misguided religionists are content with the thought that the elimination will be an eternity in hell for those who do not fit their narrow viewpoint.  But, increasingly in America we see an active pursuit of legislating hatred in the name of God.

I am a child of God, I need to be careful what I see, hear, say, think, and feel.

 

 

somewhere

Why “SOMEWHERE”?  Because tonight I want  to believe that I belong somewhere, that life is more than noise and chaos, that there is a place where peace and compassion are  celebrated.  Because tonight the world is a lonely, dark, unforgiving void trying to suck me in.  That’s why I write, that’s why I listen to music.  The darkness can’t touch me when my mind fills with words and beautiful music.  

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
Maya Angelou