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.

 "......it 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...........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 next........it 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.

http://www.crystalinks.com/IdesofMarch.html

 

Desperation

   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 clean......so 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.

 

 

A Sure Foundation

      I have heard some folks preach a gospel that seems to imply that if a person would only accept Christ as their Savior all their troubles will be gone and life will be like a never-ending  trip to an awesome amusement park on a sunny day when your pockets are overflowing with money. That is not the case. Following Christ is a wonderful journey, and He is good and He blesses and He comforts and He carries our burdens and He leads and guides and loves. But He never promised that this life would be without obstacles and trials, He never said there would be no sorrow, nor pain.

      Perhaps that is why there are disillusioned people out there wondering why Christianity didn't work for them. I have been a Christian now for over 26 years and I have had my share of trials and troubles. Many of them were self inflicted and due to a lack of wisdom and obedience on my part, and many of them were through no fault of mine at all, they just happened. Life is like that. In this world you WILL have troubles, you can guarantee it, after all it was our Lord who said those words. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Those are the words of Jesus to His disciples.

     In this world we WILL have trouble, but in JESUS there is PEACE because He has overcome the world. I can only speak to my own experience, but for me I often get overwhelmed with things, with my troubles and the troubles of others. I get discouraged, I get sad. But when I examine myself I can easily see why this is. If you recall the story of Jesus as He walked across the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee, you will remember that as the disciples in the boat saw Him coming they were afraid, and then He spoke to them, saying "Take courage! It is I"  and Peter yelled out "Lord if it is You bid me come to You on the water!", and Jesus said "Come", and Peter did just that. He stepped right out of that boat and he walked on the water. But he made a mistake, He took his eyes off of Jesus and he put them on the water and the waves and when he did that he began to sink.

  Life is like that, if we as Christians keep our eyes on Jesus, if we seek after Him with all our hearts, if we pray, study and commune with Him and as the troubles come into our lives, be they ours or someone we care about, we will have peace, we will be effective and we will get through the trial and in the getting through it we will bring glory to God and good to ourselves and others. It is when we take our eyes off Christ and put them on the troubles that we begin to sink. When I do this I can feel myself sinking, I begin to despair, I get really sad, the weight of the things going on around me become impossible to bear, to even tolerate, and I want nothing more than to run into a dark room and hide my head under a pillow to turn off the constant suffering I see all around. But when I place my eyes fully on my Lord, I am strengthened, I have joy and hope, even in the middle of painful circumstances, and when I keep my eyes on Him, I am able to be used of Him to help others. My calling is mercy, that is what He has called me to do, I am to care for others, to pray for them, to help them in a variety of different ways, all in His Name, in His strength and for His glory. Your calling might be different from mine as we all have different gifts and therefore how you feel when your eyes come off Jesus might be different than how I feel, but regardless the principal is the same.

  Keep you eyes on Jesus and everything will be okay. It might be hard, you might have to walk in some difficult places, but if you keep your eyes on Him you will always be standing on a firm and solid foundation and you will not sink. It will not all be sunshine and roses in this world. There will be many days when being a Christian hurts. If it doesn't hurt then you might want to consider carefully whether or not you are truly following Christ. As a Christian you will be misunderstood, you will probably be ridiculed on occasion, you will be burdened and pressed with the needs of others, God will ask you to do things that seem very difficult to do, things that stretch you out of your comfort zone,  but through it all, if you keep your eyes on Him, and follow Him,  you will  have the joy of knowing Him, the pleasure and comfort of His company and His care, the knowledge that He is using it all, every last bit of it, for His glory and for your good and/or the good of others. 

  Following Christ is not easy, He told us very clearly that it wouldn't be easy. But He is faithful in His promises of a peace that passes understanding, joy that is evident even in hard times and a hope that does not diminish when circumstances are not as you wish they were. There is no greater pursuit in this life than following Jesus, there is no better way to spend your life than in His service.

   Following Jesus does not remove you from the troubles and trials of this world, but it does give you the sure and present assurance of His presence with you as you walk through those troubles and trials and His strength and power to get through them in a manner that brings glory to Christ and that shouts out the message of the gospel to a world that is hurting and broken, because that is what Christianity is, it is walking through the troubles and trials and sorrows of this world with Jesus as your Lord and Shepherd showing forth the gospel of His good news of forgiveness and redemption and reconciliation to a lost and broken world.

   Jesus is worth everything, absolutely everything this world has to offer. As the apostle Paul said, " Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." 

Keep your eyes on Jesus and off the waves and everything will turn out okay, and remember, this life here is just a tiny piece of an enormous tapestry. 




Mosaic Church Launch January 10th 2016

   Today was launch day, the very first public service of Mosaic Church Albuquerque. And what a glorious day it was! 

  The sunrise on launch day was spectacular, as I was getting ready this morning I looked out my back patio and marveled at how beams of light were shooting down out of the clouds. As I drove to church this morning alone, since my husband had left earlier to help with the setup, I noticed a large amount of balloons in the air, looking out over the city of Albuquerque it was almost like a Balloon Fiesta day. I thought it delightful that so many balloons were joining in on our "launch" day with such a beautiful display of colors.

  I and others have prayed and prayed and prayed some more for this day, for the service, the pastor, his family, the music guys, the setup and tear down guys, the greeting team, the pastoral care team and for everyone involved in launching this new church as well as all those who will be drawn to her doors. As Launch Day dawned this morning  I was excited and optimistic but trying to keep my hopes reasonable, after all this was only day 1 in the life of this brand new church.

  I should have known better, after all how many times in the past has God not only met my expectations but totally exceeded them? I have long since lost count. Today was no different. The sanctuary was filled with people!

  The music was uplifting and what a marvelous thing to hear all those voices singing His praise together as one! I felt such a love for all of these beautiful people that God in His good grace had drawn to this place, this new church. Many of them I knew from the launch team but there were a whole lot that I did not know, but I loved them. Looking across at that sea of faces, it truly was a beautiful mosaic of souls. My heart also filled with love for our great God and His incredible blessings!

 Pastor Adam preached a powerful message, from the gospel of Mark, Chapter 1, verses 14-20, the beginning of what promises to be an exciting and powerful series called The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside Down World. He spoke of how following Christ demands our all but also changes us completely. The gospel was proclaimed and I am excited to begin this series and eagerly looking forward to the next message.

  We had our first communion together and that too was a beautiful ceremony of grace, watching the various faces as they came up to take the elements was a great blessing. I felt the Lord's love for His people as each one came up to take the bread and the cup.

 The last song was beautiful as we sang a doxology together, but was sad, because I really didn't want to leave. We could easily have went straight in to next weeks service and I would have been fine. Sort of like Peter up on that hill with Jesus, he wanted to just throw up some tents and just stay right there, to bask in the glory of it all. But like Peter we are called to come down off the hill and walk out our faith right here in the world. I can honestly say that after this beautiful and uplifting service I feel well equipped to do just that.

  God has brought a lot of beautiful souls to Mosaic, the ones I have thus far come to know are already dear to me, and I look forward to getting to know everyone. God is making something awesome in bringing all of these people to this place to gather together and worship Him and proclaim Him to our city. What a great start to this wonderful collection of the broken coming together to form something beautiful!

 What an exciting time!


 At the foot of the snow capped mountain,

 By the river along the Bosque

 At a school turned into Sanctuary

 The broken pieces come,

 Some are worn

 Some have sharp edges

 A multitude of colored souls

 Each unique

 Each beautiful to the Creator

 They come together in His hand

 Laid out in rows

 Voices lifted together

 In praise to the King

 A beautiful mosaic

 Broken made beautiful.

 







A Mother's Tears

I sit and watch the tears

slide slowly down her cheek,

Tears I have cried so many times,

I see them,

I feel them

as if they were mine,

For they are mine.

A mothers tears,

a mothers burden,

A heavy one,

pressing down hard,

Prayers expressed on bended knee,

Burdens pressing down,

They sap the strength,

They rip the very fabric of the soul,

Prayers expressed through tears that fall,

A mothers tears.

I see your tears,

They are mine.

Lets shed them together.

Lord hear our prayers,

Lord behold our tears,

Lord carry our burdens,

Lord grant us strength,

Lord heal our wounded souls,

Not for us Oh Lord,

But for our children we pray,

You who remember

the tears of a mother,

as she looked upon You,

Torn and bleeding,

Beautiful precious son,

Murdered on a bloody tree.

You spoke to the disciple,

Son behold your mother.

You see us,

You love us,

You hear us,

Our tears carefully collected,

In Your bottle.

We lay our children down,

at Your feet,

Because we believe,

Lord we believe.



Artwork by astarvinartist entitled A Mother's Tears

A Mother


Poem by Donna Griego

Save Now!

 

Save Now!

 

  I was chatting with a friend this morning, someone who like me loves someone with PTSD. Our conversation led me to think about how often I have desired for the Lord to save now, to not wait, to not tarry even one more minute, how often we all do this, we who follow Christ.

  We may be fully and completely convinced of His sure ability to save, we may have complete faith in Him, and yet we desperately want Him to come RIGHT NOW, to remove this pain RIGHT NOW, to save RIGHT NOW! It is terribly difficult to walk through pain and sorrow, to watch the ones you love so very much suffer. It is, and remains the most awful thing I have ever felt. I would rather suffer my personal sorrows one hundred thousand times over; than to watch the ones I love most suffer theirs.

  As my friend and I chatted, I begin to think about the day the Lord rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey.  The crowds were so exuberant. They had seen Him heal the sick, seen the blind given sight, seen the lame get up and walk, seen the demon possessed set free, and even seen the dead walk out of their tombs! The people were convinced, they needed no more proof. This was their long awaited Messiah! The kingdom of God was at hand! Their King was entering the gates of the city, seated on a donkey, as so many kings before Him had ridden in. Hosanna! Hosanna! Save now!

  I thought about those people, the ones who had stood at the gates, waving their palm branches and throwing down their cloaks and crying “Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna! The word means “save now” or “Please save! I believe they were convinced that He was the One and they were convinced that things were going to change now! Their King had come…….,Yet  how devastated they must have been and how utterly confused when the very next day, they watched Him stumble through the streets carrying a cross, His back beaten bloody, Him so weak that another had to be pulled from the crowd to carry His cross…….save now! Save now! Seems such a foolish cry at this point, for He does not even attempt to save Himself.

 And yet all this had to come to pass, it had to go down in the bloody and tragic way that it did. He had to die in order to pay the price for sin, and He had to die in order to rise alive, and defeat death. But at the time, they certainly couldn’t see it. How downcast and afraid they must have been. How disappointed.

 And yet, if we look back upon that day, as we do today, and we see the majesty of it all, how God did so very much more than what they asked Him to do on that day so long ago, when the King of glory rode into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey. They wanted an earthly king, they wanted an end to the Roman oppression, they wanted their bodies healed, their bellies to be full, but He was busy bringing eternal life to His people, He was busy crushing the head of the serpent and buying passage to glory for a multitude of souls. He was busy with the work of defeating sin and death once and for all. They just couldn’t see it.

 

  I too have tasted their disappointment. I have cried out with all that is within me, SAVE NOW! I was convinced without a shred of doubt that He was able to save, that He was my only hope, my faith in Him was sure……but He tarried. He did not come on my timetable, He did not save immediately. I too was devastated.  I too cried out for the pain to stop, for the healing to come, and I too wept at the foot of the cross thinking that all that I so longed for, was not coming.

  And yet as I look back, over some six years of the most intense struggles of my life, I see His hand at work. I see how He was doing so much more than what I had asked and longed for. He was saving, and He was building, and He was working. He still is! While I pleaded for the salvation of my loved ones, for their pain to stop, for their healing to come, He was bringing about a change in me, and a change in them, and the salvation and restoration of many, and He was using all that pain, all that hurt, to reach others, and to change lives.

  Hard times will come. Sometimes I wish that the positive movement, the name it and claim it people were right, that just having enough faith will see you heaped with monetary blessing and worldly happiness and that there will never be a single day of pain, or sickness, or mental anguish. But they are wrong. Hard times will come. Trusting God is not easy when they do come. Watching someone you love dealing with a depth of pain almost beyond comprehension is not easy. Laying them down on the altar of God is not easy. Believing that He has it all in His hands and that He intends good for you and yours is not easy. The hard times HURT. Losing people hurts, seeing them make grievous mistakes hurts, making grievous mistakes yourself hurts, being utterly helpless while everything around you is crumbling into pieces hurts.

  But God is faithful. If you can just hold on to that, cling to it with everything in you, and pray like you never prayed before. You will see, like the people who shouted Hosanna, and saw their King crucified, their hopes crushed, and yet lived to see Him rise from the dead, and start His church, and they turned the world upside down, He will turn your world upside down too! He will be victorious in your life, He will and has heard your prayers, He hears your cries of SAVE NOW LORD, but He is working, He is working to do so much more than you could imagine.

  I eagerly await the end of our story, for we have not reached it yet, but I am excited to see what He will do. I see Him moving! I see His hand in so very many things, I have seen people, so many people, blessed by the things that have come out of our struggles, and I can only see a little bit of what He is doing, and He isn’t done yet. It’s gonna be awesome for He is an awesome God.

  So if its hard right now, if it feels like it’s never going to let up, if you, like me are watching things crumble and are helpless to stop it, pray, pray and believe, and in your unbelief ask Him to help you. Fall on your face before Him when you cannot go another step, and then get up and get out there and tell others about Him, share your struggles, share your triumphs, ask for prayer, and pray, pray, pray. The King is coming! He saves! He is faithful!


The Walking Dead

    One of the most popular shows of all time is the series The Walking Dead, which portrays the lives of a small group of people, thrown together by a terrible tragedy whereby the vast majority of the population have turned into zombies and where everyone carries the virus within them that upon physical death they too will become the walking dead.


   I often wonder why we are so drawn to shows like this, where the world civilizations crumble and a handful of people survive? I wonder if its because deep down humanity knows that we are all carrying the virus. We are the walking dead. The Bible tells us in many places that without Christ we are dead in our sins and trespasses. Christ is the Lifegiver, Christ is the Redeemer, Christ is the cure for our walking dead virus. There is no other cure. There are things that we do to alleviate our suffering, Band-Aids that we place upon the gaping wounds of our souls. They work for a time. We search for money, we search for love, we search for gratification, we search for medical assistance, for age defyers, for distractions...... we pursue the spiritual.....we pursue happiness.....we pursue pleasure.....we search and we search, grasping up our various Band-Aids and placing them on our patchwork souls......but in the end to no avail. We are dead and we are powerless to change that.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For all have sinned and fall short of God's glory.

 During Jesus' time here on earth there was a young man who wanted to follow him, and the young man told the Lord "just let me bury my father and I will come and follow You." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead." What did he mean by this?  He was referring to the people of the world, the people without Him. All who do not have Christ are dead.....the walking dead.

 Jesus Christ is the only source, the only hope of peace and life. There is no other. Everything else that we use to attempt to fill the empty spaces of our souls is superficial and non lasting. There is no pill to make us better, there is no purchase that satisfies, there is no person who fills the hole, no pleasure, no distraction.

 King Solomon stated perfectly the results of the life without Christ " I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 1And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity    and a striving after wind.

What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.

 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow."

All is vanity apart from Christ. All our striving merely superficial and non lasting,

  Jesus came, God Himself clothed in flesh. He lived the perfect life. There was no sin in Him, He did not fail in anything. He perfectly kept the Law and fulfilled everything He came to fulfill. He offered Himself, the perfect spotless Lamb, and died in our place that we might have life. He was buried in the tomb, his body dead and lifeless, wrapped in grave clothes and placed in the earth. On the third day He arose from the dead and appeared to His disciples and hundreds of others. This is the gospel, that we are all dead in our sins, without the means nor power to please God in any way. Yet Jesus, the Redeemer paid the price on our behalf, and in Him and in Him only there is life.

 "So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father  does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,  that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. 

 May you hear the voice of Jesus and come out of your tomb and live.