Posts for Tag: Jesus

Longing for Home

    Have you ever stood in awe of something? Ever had those moments where your heart is struck with wonder and joy and for the briefest of moments you feel as if you are about to finally grasp some great and profound truth only to have it fade to the edges of your mind, where you have to struggle and wrestle to bring it forth long enough to really ponder what it even was?

    Moments when you stand by a beautiful mountain lake, listening to the wind through the trees and gazing in awe at the beauty of it all and for a second, you have a feeling, that you cannot quite put words to, it is both perfect, and peace all wrapped up in joy, and in an instant the fullness of it has passed.

   Or perhaps you are gathered about the table, with the ones you love most, and you look upon their faces as they talk and laugh and for a second that feeling rushes in, of a perfect love, and a peace you cannot describe and a sense of rightness, of knowing that this, this right here, this fleeting second is how's it's all supposed to be. And as fast as you grasped hold it is gone again, leaving you with such a longing that it near takes your breath away.

  I call those moments glimpses of heaven, and the aftermath of them is longing for home.. Those moments when through the dark mirror of sin and  brokenness we for a second glimpse so briefly and so imperfectly the real beauty, the real love and peace and perfection that God intended for mankind, before we turned it all into one big hot mess.

 We all have memories of home, memories of the place where we perhaps felt most safe and at peace, memories of childhood where we ran through grassy meadows and we laughed and we had not a care in the world. They differ with everyone. The nostalgic longing for home may be for a place, it may or may not be the place of your childhood, it may be a person or a time, but we all long for it. We all want to go home. The trouble is the feelings are hard to put words to, and the place, that home we are searching for is often not even understood fully by us, even though we are the ones longing for it. And when we try and go back to that physical place, or that time where we believe home was at we find something missing.

 " is when he comes home that he recognizes most poignantly that he is, at a deep level of his being, homeless, and whatever it is that is missing, he will spend the rest of his days longing for it and seeking to find it."Frederick Buechner

  For me, those perfect moments, or perfect seconds, because often they do not last very long, are moments where I see a tiny sample, an imperfect sample, like a child's drawing of Disney World would not come close to equaling the reality of Disney World, of the wonder that God has in store for those who believe. For a brief second I catch a glimpse of home, my true home. Those glimpses make me yearn, with a deep and even painful yearning for the reality of that place, for the eternity of that place.

  Just as the moments of wonder and awe, the moments of love and peace create in me a yearning for home, so do the moments of despair. In the dark times the mirror is black, and I see no reflection of home, no sign of how things were meant to be, I see only how they are. I see the brokenness, the grief and despair, the death and destruction and bitter disappointment. When earthly hope is crushed it leaves only that yearning, a desperate yearning for home. This yearning, the one that comes in the dark times is a heavier yearning. A pressed down feeling, where you can only raise your eyes to the heavens and whisper "come Lord Jesus", where your eyes, for the moment lose the ability to see any beauty in the ugliness around you, you see instead only the brokenness of it all and in that desperate brokenness you just long so heavily for home.

 The older I get the more I yearn for home, and the more I fully understand that home is where Jesus is. The glimpses of light and grace I see in the earthly home I now live in, and in the faces of the ones I love on those brief moments when all is well, and in the beauty of the flowers, the mountains and the bright blue sky are only poor reflections of what He intended when he spoke it all into being and are only poor and dim glimpses of what He has in store for me on that day when I at last get to go home. 

  Frederick Buechner describes a moment when he and his family were at SeaWorld and where they experience one of those moments, one of those glimpses of heaven that brought tears to his eyes, and to the eyes of his family who were with him. He writes:

 "We shed tears because we had caught a glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom and it had almost broken our hearts. For a few moments we had seen Eden and been part of the great dance that goes on at the heart of creation. We shed tears because we were given a glimpse of the way life was created to be and is not. We had seen why it was the "the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy" when the world was first made, as the book of Job describes it and of what it was that made Paul write, even when he was in prison and on his way to execution, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice." We had had a glimpse of part at least of what Jesus meant when He said "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh".

 The world is full of darkness, but what I think we caught sight of .............was that at the heart of darkness-----whoever would have believed it?---there is a joy unimaginable. The world does bad things to us all, and we do bad things to the world and to each other and maybe most of all to ourselves, but in that dazzle of bright water as the glittering whales hurled themselves into the sun, I believe what we saw was that joy is what we belong to Joy is home, and I believe the tears that came to our eyes were more than anything else homesick tears. God created us in joy and created us for joy, and in the long run not all the darkness there is in the world or in ourselves can separate us finally from that joy, because whatever else it means to say that God created us in His image, I think it means that even when we cannot believe in Him, even when we feel most spiritually bankrupt and deserted by Him, His mark is deep within us. We have God's joy in our blood" Frederick Buechner's  Secrets in the Dark “The Great Dance,”


 This morning as I write these words my heart longs for home. Home is where Jesus is, and were I only able to sit on the outskirts of heaven and view Him from a distance, were that all that was promised and no more could be hoped for, that would be enough and I would be content. I want to see Him, I want to fellowship with Him, I want to depend entirely and completely on Him, I want to run my race well for Him, I want to trust Him more fully, love Him more truly and place all my hope and expectations upon Him and Him alone. Home is where Jesus is. I try, sometimes with desperation, to create that home here on earth, or at least a child's drawing of it. I fail constantly in that attempt and I am so very often broken and discouraged when it all goes wrong.

  Jesus is "my hope and stay" and everything else I hope in, everything else that my expectations are placed upon, falls short, disappoints and ultimately leaves me empty and yearning for that which I cannot quite put words to......longing for home.....glimpses of heaven.

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Oh My Suffering Friend!


 My heart goes out to the suffering ones, people bent low and doubled over by the weight of the things heaped upon them. Souls doing all that they know how, to lay those burdens at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and yet the pressing down is hard, it is constant, it seems relentless and to earthly eyes there is no end in sight. I have a great love for the "hopeless" ones. They are family.

 Hope is an interesting word. We use it a lot. We may pray about things but more often than not we do so having a plan. We may pray about our finances, asking God to help us get out of debt, but we do so with a plan in mind of how we are going to use the funds we know are coming to make this hope come true. We pray for someone but as we are praying we are thinking about all the things we can do to help them out. We are forming a plan, we will try this program or that program, we will take them to this church or that one, we will make appointments with this doctor or that one, we will talk to this person or that one about getting them the help they need.........we are most always working to make our hopes come to pass.

 I am beginning to see and believe that real biblical hope is when there is no plan, there are no more resources to use, no more places to go, there is nothing, not one thing that you can do to bring your hope to pass. Every single thing you have done to try and make it come to pass has come to naught, or even worse it has made things harder. There is not one thing you can do to bring back what has been lost, to restore things to how you most want them to be..........To be in that place when all you can do is take in one more labored breath, wipe away one more set of tears, kneel once more at the feet of the Yoke Bearer and cry out Lord, have mercy. It's a terrible place to be in, and yet it is a safe place to be in, for when there are no human hands to help, there is no earthly way to change things, there is no place to run to for assistance, there is no money coming, there is no cure, there is no hope...we find hope in the knowledge that there is a Savior, there is One who knows, who sees, who hears our weak cries. And to be His child, to be in His hands, to await His mercy, to trust in His outcome is the safest and surest place in the entire universe to be without earthly hope is not an easy place to be but a sure and certain Hope is found there. His name is Jesus.

 I know you want things to be better, you want the ones you love to be okay, to know that they will have days of sunshine and peace and prosperity, that they will be happy, loved and accepted, that the bank account will have enough to pay the bills and fill the table and maybe once or twice enough for a little extra treat. To feel some relief from the relentless grief and sorrow that burdens your heart so! It doesn't seem like too much to ask for, it's what I want most too. I can't promise you that all this will come to pass here on this earth. I pray it will, I am sure enough to believe there will be moments when these things are so, but I just don't know if we will ever reach that place where we can sit and look around us and watch the ones we love just laugh and smile and dance in the sun and live happily ever after. Not here on this earth anyway.

 But the truth of the matter is we both know, this isn't our home, and we don't want it to ever be their home either. To call this world home is to say that everything here is the best it will ever get, and we both know that ain't so. Maybe our dancing comes later, and maybe the moments we have here from time to time are just practice for when the dance is forever. When we reach that place, when the last prayer is wept out into tear soaked fingers, when the time comes that our weak and shaky legs will not lift us up off the floor even one last time, when the moment comes that we pass from this place into the will be there before Him that we will dance, that everlasting joy will spring forth, that our tears will be forever replaced with laughter, it will be there that we will find once and forever that elusive happiness that we have chased all our days. And it is there when we will see and know how He has used our sorrows, our oceans of tears and our weaknesses for His glory and for the good of us and the ones we love. And as we all, from every tribe and nation gather about Him, we will look around at the multitude of faces and we will see the ones we have agonized over..........and we will count it worth every moment of fear, every moment of loss, every step of suffering that we have come to this moment.

 We are not of this world, we are in it. As we run the race, may we take note of the many ways He bless us, the gifts of grace He grants and when we cannot see may we hold fast to what we have seen in the past. “If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” And as we move forward, sometimes in what feels inch by inch, may we keep our eyes ever on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

 He is enough. Hold on my friend, hold on.....we will hold on together! Rejoice for our hope is in Him and in Him alone! He is enough!

Romans 15:13 - Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Psalms 126:5 - They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

  In closing I just want you to know that you are beautiful! Your soul shines like the rising sun as it peaks over the Sandia Mountains! It is colored in beautiful shades of yellow, gold and orange with white beams bursting out into the sky!. I see Jesus in you, I see Him in your suffering and in your laughter.

 It's gonna be okay, we will reach that distant shore, and He is faithful, the ones we love so are going to reach it too! See with His eyes, it's so hard I know, Lord knows that I only catch a glimpse from time to time, but strive hard for those glimpses of grace. He is working, in all this mess in which we now stand He is not sleeping!

 Dance when you can, sing as much as possible!  Rejoice in the sunrise, give thanks in its setting, behold the flowers and inhale their scent, listen to the sounds of children playing, read His word, pray like there is no tomorrow, even if the only prayer you can summon is "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy." Thanksgiving is so often in the very small things, the often unseen things. Preaching gospel to myself and to you!

I love you my friend!

It’s hard to stand on shifting sand
It’s hard to shine in the shadows of the night
You can’t be free if you don’t reach for help
You can’t love if you don't love yourself

There is hope when my faith runs out
Cause I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now

I am strong all because of you
I stand in awe of every mountain that you move
Oh I am changed, yesterday is gone
I am safe from this moment on

There’s no fear when the night comes ’round
I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now

It’s like the sun is shining when the rain is pouring down
It’s like my soul is flying though my feet are on the ground
Its like the world is silent though I know it isnt true
Its like the breath of Jesus is right here in this room

So take this heart of mine there’s no doubt
I’m in better hands now
I’m in better hands now

The Ides of March

 The old saying "beware the Ides of March" is from the story of Julius Caesar. A seer had warned him that he would come to harm before the ides of March and on that very day as he walked to the theater he passed the seer and mocked him,  saying "the ides of March have come" , and the seer responded "Aye, Caesar; but not gone" and later that same day at the Theater of Pompey, Julius Caesar was assassinated. His assassination was a turning point for Rome leading to civil war and was the beginning of the change from Roman Republic to Roman Empire.  

  March signifies a turning point in our calendar of seasons, from winter to spring, typically taunting us with beautiful warm days, the budding of trees, the bursting forth of bulbs from the ground and all their promise of flowers and yet in betwixt the warmness and promise of new life come the buffeting winds of March, said to come in like a lion and to go out as a lamb. Yet often, here in New Mexico they come in as a lamb and go out as a lion. Today promises to be such a day, with winds of up to 50 mph and clouds of dust, dust that hovers over the city of Albuquerque and over the Sandia Mountains creating a dingy yellow veil that dims the view and hides the beauty.

   Sometimes turning points are heralded by loss, be it the assassination of a leader as it was with the nation of Rome, or the howling winds that signifies winter's anger at being driven back into the shadows by spring. or the times of loss, death, pain and suffering within our own lives that so often leave us stripped naked and broken crying out for a rain of grace from God.

  Sometimes they are heralded by moments of great joy, and gifts, the blessing of marriage, or the birth of a child, a new job, a new friendship, a new road to walk down and the hope of new life found in Christ, Times that leave us in awe of the beauty and wonder of life and how very precious it is.

  In both can come a rain of grace, and a turning point, the moment when you realize how small you are, how helpless and broken and powerless you are. The moment when you realize that you are not in control of anything at all.......and that moment when you realize the it is God and God alone who changes things and Him and Him alone who controls. That moment when you realize that all that is good comes from God, and that He holds in His hand all that you hold dear. And that moment when you realize that He is trustworthy, and that He loves you, and that You can rest easily in that knowledge, no matter what is happening, no matter if you are in the midst of harsh winds of sorrow and loss or basking in the sunlight of good gifts and great blessings.

  I ponder these things as  I look out this morning through my patio window and watch the big metal whirly gig turning in the light breeze, it marks the grave of the big white dog, the one who taught me so much about God and about life and about worship and hope. The one who taught me how to live in the moment and dance with joy. I miss her.

  March is an anniversary month for us, anniversaries of celebration and of remembrance. On the 6th of March we married, my love and I and this year was our 31st. And on the 12th of March our daughter in law left us, jumped straight into the arms of Jesus 3 years ago. Anniversaries of joy and of sorrow. Both were turning points.

 Marriage was one of the biggest turning points in my life apart from Christ and it stands right next to the birth of my children as a major point of change. It was change for the better, and it is where I first began to learn the art of putting others before my self. It hasn't been an easy lesson to learn and it is one I still forget from time to time.

 Mel's death was also a turning point, a time of great sorrow and loss, of guilt and regret, of helplessness and a pain so deep I felt near cut in two. From the ashes of that came the time of searching, seeking, and trying to find beauty in the everyday, beauty in the midst of sorrow. Slowly I learned how to practice gratitude, how to find something for which to be thankful each and every day, sometimes moment by moment. Sometimes it was just a flower, or the antics of a dog, or the sun rising over the mountains, and sometimes it was the bigger things like family and friends and new life found.

  Although turning points in life are scary, in Christ they can and do lead to growth. The most significant turning point that any soul can reach is that one where you see Christ for who He is and bow the knee and call Him King. For He is our Hiding Place when the hard winds of life come, when the winds buffet so very hard that you can only huddle in a heap as they strip you bare and leave you bereft, for without Him they will leave you bereft.....but in Him, in Him, you will never be stripped of hope and He will never leave you. He is a Wall that blocks the winds, and prevents the strong grit and sand from stripping you of life.

 He is; "a shelter from the storm” (Isaiah 32:2). “In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20).

“For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5).

“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble” (Psalm 32:7).

And He says to you, “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song of Songs 2:14).

  So on this Ides of March, I give thanks to the One who has preserved me through it all, and who daily renews my soul with hope for tomorrow and who showers me in His marvelous grace and who provides for me and shelters me from the harsh winds of life. In Him I need not worry about that ancient saying "beware the ides of March" for He holds me in His hand and nothing can befall me without His approval and if He approves He will see me through it and He will bring about my good and His glory in it.

   As I write these words the birds are singing in the trees, the peach tree blooms are vivid pink, the crab apple tree is blooming and the daffodil and tulips are rising from their dark graves with the promise of color and life to come. The old white dog lays in the morning rays, belly up to the sun, basking in the warmth. The little black and white dog takes a rare moment of rest and sleeps on the patio just outside my writing table. The whirly gig over the big white dog's grave turns slowly in the breeze, and for now the bells are silent, the wind mobiles stirring only slightly. Soon the hard winds will come.

 But I am content. I am in that place called Enough. Let the winds come..........He is with me.......and He is enough.



   Today I read the story of the woman with the issue of blood. A story so very rich in meaning and in grace and a story requiring some knowledge of the laws of that time, and what this condition would have meant for this women who had suffered for twelve long years with this issue of blood.

 The story: Luke 8:43-48 English Standard Version (ESV And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.  And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

 First we need to consider what this condition would have meant to this woman and how it would have impacted her daily life.

Leviticus 15:19-22 states:

  • And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.
  • And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean.
  • And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.
  • And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.

  So consider the above, consider the society that she lived in, and consider that she had suffered this condition for 12 long years. Every person she touched would have been unclean, everything she touched would have been unclean. In the society that she dwelt in her condition would have caused her to be treated very similar to a leper. As she works her way through this great crowd of people every person she bumped into, everything she bumped into, would be deemed unclean. She touched the tassels of the robe that the Lord Jesus was wearing, making it unclean.

 She works her way carefully through the huge crowd, her heart pounding wildly within her chest. She is taking a great risk today, but she is certain, she is hopeful, she is desperate. Twelve long years of torture, to live amongst a people and yet always be apart from them, to be in plain sight but not seen, to have people that she had known all her life avoid her, avoid all contact with her. Yet she has heard of this new teacher, heard the stories of how he touched lepers and cleansed them, how he brought sight to blind eyes, even how he had raised a dead child to life! This must be the One for which they have been waiting! It must be! And he is compassionate, he is different, for what Rabbi would ever touch a leper?

 She weaves through the crowds heedless to the mutterings and cries of outrage as she bumps into people. She falls to the dusty ground and crawls through the legs of the masses, reaching out through them to barely grasp the fringe of his garment. Immediately she feels a rush through her body and she sits back on her heels as the crowds carry Jesus away. She stands to follow at a distance. He stops and turns and looks through the crowds shouting out "who touched me?" Her heart pounds within her chest, she has dared touch a holy rabbi's garment, she has made it unclean! What will he do to her for this terrible affront? But then she sees something in his eyes, and she has felt her body cleansed and healed so she timidly steps forward and falls at his feet.

 "Master, I have heard the stories, of how you have stooped to touch lepers, how you made them clean, how you brought sight to the blind and I have been unclean with a blood issue for twelve long years, I have yearned to be part of my family again, to feel the touch of human hands, to be I knew if I could only touch the hem of your garment I would be free." She trembles, it is possible that he will chastise her, that her uncleanness is too much, that she has caused great offense....but then he smiles and says "daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace."....Daughter! He called her daughter!

  Perhaps it did not take place exactly as I described it, but I wonder oh friends do you see the wonder of this story? Do you see His great compassion for the outcast? Can you feel the desperation of this woman? Can you see how sad and heartrending her condition was to her? Can you imagine being in the midst of society but being outcast? Being deemed unclean? Unable to attend worship, unable to touch the ones you love nor feel their touch upon you? To spend all that you have to seek healing and all for nothing?

  And I wonder if you can see this Jesus, the One who sees us, He sees us in our brokenness, He sees us in our uncleanliness, in our desperation, in our broken and frantic attempts to heal ourselves......He sees us and He is willing, He is willing for us to reach out and touch the hem of His garment and be whole.

 A desperate woman, who has spent all she has trying to buy hope, and purchase healing, all for naught, crawls out in faith and touches the hem of the Master's garment........and finds healing, hope, and peace. She comes unclean, and outcast, she walks away a daughter of the King.



Lessons From the Trash Heap

  Just a few miles from my home stands a tall mountain, a man made mountain. Today I stood upon that mountain built by heaps and heaps of discarded items covered in dirt over and over again, rising up from the desert floor, a mountain of waste.

  As I looked around me at all the things that people had brought to the top, things no longer wanted, things broken, things that had lost their shine and appeal I considered how it must have been in the beginning, when eyes were first laid upon that prize. I could almost hear the voices as they shopped, the justifications for why this thing was important and why they simply must have it.

" This will look so nice on me, I will feel pretty, it compliments my eyes.", "I have worked hard and I deserve this reward.", "This will look so nice in the living room."......and on and on and on.

 We humans are always seeking something, some shiny thing, some purchase that can once and for all fill the empty hole within our hearts. New furniture, new kitchen appliances, new clothes, new electronics, the latest fad, the perfect toy. I cannot count the times where I have yearned for something, thinking of how useful it will be, how much it will change my life, how much my children will enjoy it, and I have justified a thousand reasons why it was wise and right to buy it.

 And yet there I stood upon a mountain of these things, broken, rusty, our little pickup truck full with our own contributions to this growing mountain.

 Things never satisfy for long. There may be the moments of happiness you grasp onto as you behold this new acquisition but it will fade. The thing will degrade over time, it will become worn, or in some cases it will lose its appeal and become just another item to hang your coats on or to slide underneath your bed. At some point it will end up on some mountain of trash, buried beneath the dirt, forgotten, broken, useless, just trash.

 I still crave things, I think we all do. I still get caught up in the shiny things sometimes. Like that new SLR camera I have really been wanting, and the justification I tell myself about how awesome my photos will be if I could only have a real camera instead of one on my cell phone. And things in themselves are not wrong, we need couches to sit upon, if our stove breaks we need a new one, and it is good to wear nice clothes if one can afford them. I guess what struck me as I stood there on top of that mountain of trash was the excess of it all, an enormous mountain of cast off things.

 I have chased many things over the course of my life, all of them in that crazy elusive pursuit of happiness. During that often disappointing chase I was found by Jesus and discovered the real key to contentment and life. Happiness will always be elusive and dependent upon the shiny things, the weather, relationships, finances and other fading things, but Jesus is joy personified, He is peace in a person. The pursuit of Christ is far more valuable than the pursuit of happiness and in pursuing Him you will find in most cases you are happy. It won't be the things that can break that make it so, it will be the knowledge of Him that makes your heart sing! He remains the only thing that can and does fill the hole within the human heart forever.

 The key to happiness and contentment is far simpler than most imagine. It is in Christ.

 Things break, things tarnish, things lose their appeal.....but God and His Word stand forever.