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The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love

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Religion & Spirituality
Christianity
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http://www.relentless-love.org

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Awesome happy

By So thankful!! - Jan 03 2017
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Love the messages i have heard but won't download want to listen when I have no wi fi apple ipad

Life changing

By Ryan & Amanda Caldwell - May 31 2012
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Seriously

iTunes Ratings

23 Ratings
Average Ratings
23
0
0
0
0

Awesome happy

By So thankful!! - Jan 03 2017
Read more
Love the messages i have heard but won't download want to listen when I have no wi fi apple ipad

Life changing

By Ryan & Amanda Caldwell - May 31 2012
Read more
Seriously
Cover image of The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love

The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love

Latest release on Jan 12, 2020

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http://www.relentless-love.org

Rank #1: The Word Wins

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Oct 21 2018

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Rank #2: When God Laughs… (at You)

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“He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).

“Them” is the “the kings, rulers, nations, and peoples” who hate the Lord and his Messiah, and so, rage and plot to burst their bonds and cast away their restraints.
Those bonds must be a law written on the human heart, or a Word whispered into the soul: “Don’t exalt yourself; humble yourself, in the service of Love. I am Love.”
Could there be a bond more restrictive upon the arrogant human ego than that?
Every time I sin, I admit that “them” is me?

Does God laugh at me?

There are three classic theories of humor: the Superiority Theory, the Relief Theory, and the Incongruity Theory.

The Superiority Theory claims that we laugh when we notice that we’re superior and another is inferior.
That’s the way Satan laughs, or pretends to laugh.
It explains evil laughter, but not all laughter.
It can’t explain why a person might laugh at themself.

The Relief Theory explains laughter as the release of nervous energy.
But God laughs and God is not nervous.

The Incongruity Theory claims that we laugh at the recognition of incongruity between two perceptions of reality.
If the incongruity is resolved in a pleasant way, we call it comedy.
If the incongruity is not resolved, or is resolved in a negative way, we call it tragedy.
And so, the difference between tragedy and comedy is a little faith in how an incongruous situation may or may not be resolved.

Well God not only laughs, according to Psalm 2, he seems to laugh “at us.”
Why would a good father laugh at his own beloved children?

I can’t even begin to remember all the times that I laughed at my children.
But I didn’t let them know I was laughing. But now, they laugh with me, at themselves.
It’s the substance of all of our best family stories: how Becky would call my parents to come spank me, how Coleman would sneak into the back yard to eat dirt, how Elizabeth was convinced she knew everything in the world, and Jon was convinced the toilet would burn him with fire.

I can’t recall the number of times Susan and I would get angry at the kids (because we needed to), but then run into the next room and start laughing.
You see? To their tender little egos, our wrath was more merciful than our laughter.

Elizabeth was addicted to gum; she couldn’t help but eat it.
Once I sat her on the bed and said, “I’ll give you gum if you chew it with me.” She put it in her mouth started chewing, and then told me—at great length and with extreme confidence—how grown up she was, because she would never ever swallow her gum.

I then said, “Elizabeth, where’s your gum?”

A wave of horror swept over her four-year-old face. She cried out in absolute despair, “I swallowed my gum. I’ll never ever chew gum! I’m not a big girl. I’m a little girl.” Then she threw herself across my lap weeping, wailing, and lamenting.

It was an absolute tragedy.
But for me it was a comedy… and a tragedy.
A tragedy, for what you do to Elizabeth, you also do to me, even if it’s Elizabeth that’s doing it to Elizabeth.

I cried with Elizabeth, but laughed at her, inside… laughed at her and her gum addiction.
Do you suppose that God laughs at your addictions?

I didn’t laugh because I was nervous about her gum addiction—I was pretty sure it wasn’t permanent.
I didn’t laugh because I felt superior—even though I rarely swallow my gum.
I laughed because of the incongruity between her own perception of herself and the treasure that I knew her to be.
I laughed, not because she was less than she perceived herself to be, but because she was, and is, truly more than she had yet begun to imagine.

I laughed at her ridiculous little ego.
Her ego told her that if she could chew gum, then she’d really be something, king of the world, and impressive to me.
The reality is that she was already impressive to me, king of my world, and everything to me… and it had absolutely nothing to do with her ability to chew gum.

I laughed to myself, at herself, knowing that one day she’d laugh with me… and probably, we’d both chew gum in freedom!

Soren Kierkegaard argued that irony marks the boundary between licentiousness and law, but the boundary between law and grace is marked by humor.
Humor is the birth of faith in Grace… and God is Grace.

“Through Isaac (literally ‘he laughs’) shall your seed be named.”
Through laughter, we learn to call on the name of Jesus (literally, “God Saves”).
Faith in you is the promised seed in you and the birth of laughter.
God saves us from ourselves, and we laugh, for we are more than we have ever imagined.

In Acts 4, Peter and John quote Psalm 2 after spending the night in the pit of sorrow.
The house shakes, the Spirit descends, and I bet they laughed.
They laughed because God laughed at Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod.
They laughed because God laughed at sin, death, and Hell.
They laughed because God laughed at them and their failure.
God laughed at the temper tantrums of John, “the Beloved.”
And God laughed at Peter’s cowardice… that is Peter, “the Rock.”

When God laughs at you, laugh with him, at yourself—your ego.
Laugh with him, for you are more than you know.

Oct 27 2019

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Rank #3: At Home in Who You Are

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Aug 19 2018

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Rank #4: Seven Wounds and One Blessing

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Aug 26 2018

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Rank #5: Where Good Things Come From

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May 20 2018

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Rank #6: Why You Should Fear God

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I think most folks would say: “You ought to fear God because the hand of God is all-powerful and God is just—he keeps a record of wrongs and he might not forgive.”

Psalm 130 teaches us to fear God because he does forgive and doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.

“If you, O Lord should mark iniquities, O Lord who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:3-4).

Why would forgiveness make me fear?
Maybe because “me” is constructed with my “record of wrongs.”
And my “record of wrongs” is revealed to be an arrogant illusion in the presence of God.

God is Love.
“Love keeps no record of wrongs” according to 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV).
But I pretty much construct my view of reality, my neighbors and myself, with my record of wrongs.

I want knowledge of Good and evil, so I can keep a record of evil—for myself and my neighbor—so I can make myself good and keep myself safe from evil.
Our society is built on keeping records of wrong.
And my psyche is built on keeping records of wrong.
That’s what makes me rejoice in the wrongs of others: I think their wrong makes me right, which is so very wrong.

Jesus died to cancel our “certificate of debt,” our record of wrongs.
There is a record of wrongs, and there are “books of deeds” with which the dead are judged, but if God is Love and love keeps no record of wrongs, God didn’t write those books or keep that record.

Jesus died for our sins, but was that because God was counting?
Jesus is the presence of God not counting—at least not counting trespasses.
God was in Christ, “reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

We think Justice is keeping a record of wrongs and refusing to forgive.
But God forgives and keeps no record of wrongs.
And “All his ways are justice” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Justice is not keeping the books; it’s the end of all bookkeeping.
Justice is not “getting what you deserve.”
Justice is God getting what God deserves—and that’s you in his image.
Justice is God placing his Spirit within you and giving you a new heart.

Justice is not “retributive,” but substantive.
Justice is not the opposite of forgiveness; it’s the revelation of the forgiveness of God.

Forgiveness is the vengeance of Love.
It destroys your old “psyche” and creates in you the “psyche” of Christ.

At the start of his ministry Jesus quoted Isaiah saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… to preach the year of the Lord’s favor…” and there he stopped.
That’s not because he didn’t agree with Isaiah, but because, at that time, folks couldn’t understand Isaiah. But in three years they would.

Isaiah 61 reads, “The year of the Lord’s favor and the day of the vengeance of our God.”
The year of the Lord’s favor is the Jubilee when records of wrong are cancelled and all counting ceases; it is the presence of the Kingdom of God.
The day of the vengeance of our God is the end of the sixth day and the beginning of the eternal seventh, when the Lord lifts his head as he hangs from a tree in a garden and cries, “Father forgive, they know not…” and “It is finished.”

That’s justice; that’s forgiveness; that’s the vengeance of God on the arrogant human ego.
That’s the knowledge of the Good and that’s the gift of Life Eternal.
That’s how we are made in the image of God.

Psalm 130 ends with this line: “And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

He refers to Israel as one man, and we are grafted into that one man, and that man is the Body of Christ, and all that man’s iniquities will be redeemed.

That means that none of your sins will be wasted, but each will teach you of the forgiveness that is, and always has been, the Life of God.

Maybe God allows us to take his blood so we would see that he freely gives his blood.
Maybe God allows each of us to draw blood, and to bleed, because we are one Body, and unless we learn to bleed one for another, we will all die, never ever having lived.

My old psyche dams the river of Life, and Christ’s psyche bleeds the river of Life and is infinitely happy.

To bleed for another is your greatest fear… and deepest desire.
“It was grace that taught my heart to fear and Grace my fears relieved.”
God is free and Relentless Love. God is Grace.

That’s why you fear him and that’s why you will love him forever.
The hand of God is all-powerful and always bleeds for you.

Jul 21 2019

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Rank #7: Messy Faith

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Nov 03 2019

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Rank #8: Where the Hell Is God?

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David cries “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck (literally, “soul”).
David feels like he’s drowning in the sea, like he’s descending into hell.
“Where the hell are you, O God?”

In the 1950s, scientists did studies on baby monkeys and found that they would bond with a fuzzy surrogate monkey mother instead of a wire surrogate, even when the wire mother was the one that gave them food.
Our primary need is for comfort and communion with another.
Our fundamental problem, according to some psychologists, and the Bible, is “aloneness.”
It was the one thing declared “not good” by God, even before the fall.
“It’s not good that the Adam (humanity) is alone,” said God.

In Psalm 69 David is asking, “Where the hell is the fuzzy monkey? Where is God?”

“[They] hate me without cause,” cries David in verse 4.
“Zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me,” mourns David in verse 9.
In verse 21, David sings, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”

According to Romans 15:3 and John 2:17, 15:3, and 19:28, when David sings “me,” Jesus is the “me” and it is he that is speaking.

So, where the hell is God? Where is my comfort? Where is that fuzzy monkey?
Perhaps he’s nailed to a tree in a garden.

Every morning, in my mind’s eye, I try to picture myself resting my head on Jesus’ chest just as John did at the last supper… and I find great comfort.
But sometimes when I can’t seem to find him and I’m drowning in despair, I’ll picture my hand strapped to wood, and another hand placed over my hand, as a nail is driven through both hands… and then, I find comfort, or the Comforter finds me.

I’m not finding comfort in wounding myself or Jesus; I’m already wounded.
I’m already suffering, and Jesus has already suffered.
“Despair is suffering without meaning,” wrote Victor Frankl.

At the cross I surrender my wounds and see that my wounds are his wounds, and those wounds are transformed into Glory.
Have you forgotten? You are his body…

You may say, “I haven’t suffered for Jesus.”

Have you suffered for the Truth? Jesus is the Truth.
You say, “I haven’t suffered for the Good; I’ve committed the evil.”
Yes, but if you suffer now, isn’t it because you love the Good and God alone is Good?

How could you suffer, except for the Good?
How could you suffer, except for Love and God is Love?

And how could you not suffer… at all?
I suppose you could try not to love, Love; you could try not to care about Truth, Life, and Beauty… you could hide your heart in hell.
You could hide in hell or you could face your wounds and surrender them at the tree.
You could “share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.”
We are least alone when we are with those with whom we’ve suffered.

You’re not alone in hell; someone has descended into that place with you.
Look, and you will see your wounds on his body and his wounds on yours.
He gives your suffering his meaning; he is “the meaning,” the Logos.
When you see it, you won’t be able to help but sing “hallelujah.”

Where’s Jesus? I think he’s hanging on a tree in a garden at the edge of time and eternity.
And where is that garden? That garden is in the sanctuary of David’s soul… and your soul.

The words of Jesus on the cross are coming out of David’s mouth in 1000 BC.
Jesus is dying and rising with David, just as St. Paul described in Romans 6.
“The waters have come to his soul;” David is being baptized into Christ.
“If we are joined with him in a death like his, we will surely be joined with him in a resurrection like his.”
Your old man is dead and cannot be justified; your new man is your justification and cannot die…he has more than conquered.

God knows you. Would you like to know God?

People go on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyworld, to get the Indiana Jones experience.
People go to the movies to get the Luke Skywalker experience… to be there when he saves the galaxy.

You don’t need to go to the movies, or pay $50 and wait in line, for the “Jesus experience.”
You just need to see that your wounds are on his body and watch as he makes all things new… even through you.

David’s song begins with loneliness and despair, but it ends with every creature praising the Lamb on the throne… and no one is alone.

You can only hide your wounds in hell.
Surrender them and they turn into Heaven.
Jesus is waiting for you at a tree in a garden; don’t make him wait any longer.

(PS My mother passed away the night before I preached this message, so in this sermon I tell some of her story and how she passed. She was "there when they crucified my Lord," and she was "there when he rose up from the grave." Of course, her wounds are Christ's wounds. She is his body.)

Sep 08 2019

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Rank #9: How to Battle the Beast (Politics and Religion!?!?)

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Jun 24 2018

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Rank #10: Hallelujah in Hell (the sermon)

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Apr 21 2019

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Rank #11: What Are You Talking About?

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May 27 2018

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Rank #12: What Hate is For

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Jun 10 2018

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Rank #13: The Gospel of Perfect Wrath

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Aug 12 2018

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Rank #14: The Story You Tell Yourself

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Psalm 18 begins with a statement, that these words are the words of David addressed to the Lord on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of Saul and all his enemies.

“I called upon the Lord,” writes David, “the cords of Sheol entangled me…He bowed the heavens and came down, thick darkness under his feet… the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones, and coals of fire… the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare… He rescued me…”

His friends must’ve wondered: “David we remember when we hid from Saul in the cave, but we don’t remember the foundations of the world laid bare. What world are you living in?”

Physicists, philosophers, and psychologists tell us that the world we live in is dependent on the story we tell ourselves.

David writes, “He rescued me because he delighted in me.”

Maybe David was thinking of other dimensions that intersect these dimensions.
Maybe David was thinking of creation, the giving of the law, and the parting of the Red Sea.
Whatever the case, he thought it all happened because God delighted in him—because God liked him.

Is that the story you’re telling yourself?
"This is my Father’s world and everything that happens to me happens because he delights in me and is telling me who I am."

If you believe what your father says about you, is that arrogance or humility?

Do you believe the wonderful things he says about you: the story he is telling?
Or do you believe you are the things you have done; do you believe the story this world is telling?

David writes: “With the merciful you show yourself merciful ("Hesed:" Relentless Love), with the perfect you show yourself perfect, with the pure you show yourself pure, and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.”

God is Pure, Perfect, Relentless Love, but his very presence seems tortuous to the arrogant human ego; Heaven is tortuous to “hell.”

Projection is a psychological defense mechanism through which we project our own undesired traits onto others and relate to them accordingly.

It’s so important not to sin, not because you’ll break some arbitrary law, but because you’ll project your sin onto God and construct a reality that seems tortuous.
When we sinners tell the story, we create a god in our own image, then hide from that god in fig leaves, law, and outer darkness.

Jesus said, “With the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged.”
Why would anyone pronounce any judgment other than the Pure and Perfect Relentless Love that is revealed in Christ Jesus—the story that God is telling?

Maybe God allows us to tell our own story and create our own world, so we’d finally get sick of that world and listen to the story that he is telling?
Maybe we create a “hell,” and God descends into that “hell,” that we might one day freely choose the story that he is telling…

Your “Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption” is the story God is telling; Jesus is the story God is telling.
A Good Choice in you is Jesus in you: the Story God is telling.

David writes, “You light my lamp.”
As David sings his psalm he sounds like a bronze age tribal chieftain—an old lamp.
And then, he begins to sound like a light—the Light of the world.

He writes, “I will praise you, Oh Lord, among the gentiles, and sing your name.”

It’s not David that conquers the gentiles and, then, sings hallelujah through those very gentiles—as if they were his own body.

In Romans 5:19 St. Paul tells us that this is Christ who’s talking—the Story that God is telling.

When the Lord bows the heavens and comes down, when he parts the channels of the sea to get to you, when he speaks his word saying, “You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And you will love your neighbor as yourself. I know they made you do bad things, but you are not a bad boy. You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
Say, “Yes I am the story you are telling.”

That’s not arrogance; that’s humility; that’s no longer “I who live,” but Christ in me.

Psalm 18 also appears on David’s lips in 2nd Samuel 22 just before he dies.
The day that David is delivered from all his enemies is the day that the son of David lifts his head and cries, “Father forgive” and “It is finished.”

At the cross, we project our sin onto God.
And at the cross, God projects his righteousness onto us.
That’s the story that makes Heaven out of “hell,” and he tells it because he delights in you.

Jun 23 2019

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Rank #15: The Sanctity of Human Life (and Your Life)

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Jun 09 2019

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Rank #16: Sleep

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Psalm 127:2b has been my least favorite verse in the Bible, “[The Lord] gives to his beloved sleep.”

So many nights I’ve laid awake trying to sleep, unable to sleep, because I’m anxious about myself and my loved ones…
Then, I’m anxious that I’m anxious, because I’m commanded not to be anxious.
Then, I remember, “The Lord gives to his beloved sleep.”
And I think, “Oh God, you don’t love me. How hard must I toil to get you to love me?”

Sleep is the loss of conscious control. It’s like choosing to stop choosing.
It’s the loss of conscious control, and sometimes it comes with the illusion that you’re in total control—we call that dreaming.

You can’t simply choose sleep. And you don’t always know when you have it.
You could be dreaming that you’re awake and in total control.
In Scripture, death is often referred to as sleep.
Maybe sleep is like practice for death.
Death is certainly the loss of conscious control… or what we think is conscious control—because after all, we could be dreaming that we’re awake and in control.

Jesus was remarkably good at sleep and dying—not suicide, but surrender.

Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchmen stay awake in vain.”

If the Lord builds the house and watches the city, why should we build and watch at all? Why toil at all?

The house is any house, and certainly the Lord’s house—the temple.
And we know the temple is ultimately us.
And that temple is also the city, the New Jerusalem.

Psalm 127:2 “It is in vain that you rise early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil (etseb); for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

In Proverbs, Solomon wrote, “The blessing of the Lord makes rich and anxious toil (etseb) adds nothing to it.”

We speak about original sin and forget original blessing.
“God created the Adam in his own image… and God blessed them.”
All is blessed and everything is good on the eternal seventh day.

Yet on the sixth day, the Adam couldn’t find his Helper, who is the Good, who is God, who is the ultimate blessing and constantly gives himself.
It made the Adam susceptible to the lie: “You can make yourself in the image of God with the knowledge of the Good and a whole lot of anxious toil.”

Perhaps evil is trying to take what’s always been given—the Life of the Good.
Perhaps the Good is trusting that all has been given—even fore-given.
And that’s called Faith in Grace, by Grace. God is Grace.

Just after the Adam couldn’t find his Helper, God places a deep sleep (tardemah) on the Adam, who is humanity.
He creates Eve from sleeping Adam’s bleeding side, just as he creates us from the last Adam’s bleeding side, as he dies… and wakes.
There is no mention of anyone waking from the deep sleep (tardemah) until Isaiah prophecies that the Lord will appear, and Jerusalem will wake to the Love of God.
“Awake O sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will give you Light,” writes Paul.

The idea that we could separate ourselves from God, and that he no longer loves us, is a vain illusion and bad dream.
But the body broken and blood shed is no illusion; it’s reality.
It is how God enters our nightmares and gives us his dreams.
His dreams are called reality, and you are his dream.
You are his beloved.

He not only builds the house; he’s already built the house.
“If the earthly tabernacle we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God eternal in the heavens.”
He not only watches over the city; it’s eternal.

He gives me this knowledge on a tree in a garden on which the Life of the Good, who is God, lifts his head and cries “Father forgive, they know not…” and “It is finished.”

When I know that the house is finished and the city is eternal—I can sleep, for I wake from the illusion of my own sovereign control.

With anxious toil I accomplish nothing.
But with faith, hope, and love in me, God accomplishes eternity in time.

There is no point to all your anxious toil.
Your ego will ask, “Then why toil at all, why love at all?”

When you see that you are—and have always been—the beloved, you will want to love, and it won’t feel like toil. That’s called faith.
You will have nothing to prove, just someone to be—the image and likeness of God.

Faith is the ability to sleep in any storm, and faith is waking from the dead.
Psalm 127 is not a threat, but knowledge of the eternal blessing.

Jul 14 2019

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Rank #17: Moses: The Epic Failure…

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“A Prayer of Moses, The Man of God.”
That’s the title of Psalm 90 and why I chose to preach this Psalm.

I feel an affinity to Moses and have wondered what he would pray.
I feel an affinity to Moses, because he was an epic failure.
We seem to forget that, and picture Moses as Charlton Heston with a nice tan.

Moses was a Hebrew slave raised as an Egyptian prince.
If anyone would’ve, could’ve, should’ve set God’s people free, it would’ve appeared to be Moses.

When he was about forty years old, he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite slave and struck down the Egyptian.
The Israelites didn’t trust him, and Pharaoh sought to kill him, and so he fled.
Moved by his passions he tried to save Israel and failed.

That’s what Kierkegaard referred to as the first sphere of existence—the aesthetic sphere; it is to seek salvation through passion.
The second sphere is the ethical sphere; it is to seek salvation through obedience to the law.

When Moses was about 80, having herded sheep in the wilderness for 40 years, God spoke to him out of the burning bush.
And sent Moses to set the people free.
God performed astounding miracles through the staff of Moses and led the Israelites through the sea and to the mountain of God.

Soon the Israelites complained, for lack of water.
God had Moses strike “The Rock” with his staff.
The word “strike,” is the same word used to describe what Moses did to the Egyptian; Moses “smote” the rock and out of it flowed a river of living—that is, fresh—water.

Then God led Moses up that mountain where he gave him the law—“The knowledge of Good and evil.”

When the people were afraid to enter the promised land, God had them wander the desert for 40 years and die.
When the next generation returned to the edge of the promised land, they too began to complain, for lack of water.

God told Moses to “tell the Rock” to yield its water.
The ancients believed that it was the same rock that Moses had smote once before.
St. Paul writes that it was “the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.”

Moses says, “Shall we—Aaron and I—make water come out of this Rock for you rebels?”
Then he smote the Rock twice.
Then God said, “Moses you will not bring the assembly into the land, but you will be gathered to your people” …in Sheol.
Then God took him up Mt. Nebo—120 years old, showed him the land, and said, “you will not pass over.” Then, Moses died, there on that mountain.

He did not do, what he set out to do, although he had been given epic tools to do it.
Moses was an epic failure, and maybe each of us is an epic failure.

So, what did Moses pray? He prayed Psalm 90.
It ends with this request: “Let the favor of our Lord be upon us and… establish the work of our hands!”
The work of Moses's hands was the salvation of Israel… and Moses.
So, did God establish the work of Moses’s hands?

About 1500 years later, Jesus took Peter, John, and James up a mountain, where he was suddenly transfigured—literally “metamorphosed.”
Jesus shone like the sun… and then, Moses appeared with him “in Glory.”

Moses is speaking to the Rock on a mountain in the Holy Land, transfigured in Glory.
And Scripture is clear that the dry bones of the whole house of Israel will rise from their graves, be clothed in new flesh, and enter the land.

Did God establish the work of Moses’s hands? Oh YES.

Moses, the epic failure, is God’s unmitigated success.
And you, the epic failure, are God’s unmitigated and eternal success.
And once you begin to see it, it will entirely change the way you travel.

Kierkegaard called this the third sphere.
In the first sphere, we see that the fruit is good for food and a delight to the eyes.
In the second sphere, we see that the fruit is desired to make one wise.
In the third sphere, we see that the fruit is the Life of Christ, and that what we took he freely gives. We enter God’s rest, for God’s rest has entered us.
And we bear the fruit of Life.
We live by grace through faith, and this not of ourselves.
It is an entirely different way to travel.

But then, we might ask, “Why the journey? Why even try?”
Well, you can’t fail unless you try to not fail.
And if you don’t know your own failure, perhaps you won’t be able to know God’s epic, unmitigated, and eternal success: you.
If you don’t know that you, yourself, can do nothing, you will be utterly crushed by the weight of your own glory—you are the tabernacle of the living God.

The last time I spoke to my Mom was on a Wednesday a few weeks ago.
She kept saying “Peter, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.”
Finally, I said, “Mom, you don’t have to do anything.” And we prayed.
That Friday—a good Friday—the nurse came in to turn her in her bed.
She looked up and said, “I’m a butterfly and I’m going to fly away.”
Then she did. She was metamorphosed, like Jesus, like Moses…
She is God’s unmitigated and eternal success.

Nov 10 2019

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Rank #18: Advent-ually: Hope Fatigue

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Dec 01 2019

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Rank #19: Hiding in Plain Sight (Why God Wears Clothes)

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One evening in high school, a friend and I got out of our rail car, on a ride through a “haunted house” at an amusement park.
Of course, it wasn’t “haunted,” just mechanized, at least until we got out.
We would hide in plain sight, then move, then the fun would begin.
How do you prefer the ride? Mechanized or haunted? Dead or alive? Controlled or fun?

Psalm 104 claims that God clothes himself with splendor, majesty, and light, “stretching out the heavens like a tent… He makes the clouds his chariot… He touches the mountains and they smoke.”

Is that true? Science explains mechanisms; science is the study of cause and effect. But what causes all that is caused? It must be something like an uncaused cause, an “unreasonable” reason, an uncreated Creator.

Come to think of it, we are constantly surrounded by reasons for which there are no other reasons. For instance: reason.

What’s the reason for Reason? You can’t prove that Logic is logical.
Scripture claims that Jesus is the Reason, Logic, Way, Truth, Life, and Word of God that is God. And God is “Is-ness,” existence itself, the Good, the Beautiful. He is Love.

Does Beauty make the clouds his chariot?
Does the Word, Reason, and Logic of God stretch out the heavens like a tent?
It seems that God hides in plain sight and lets us decide if the ride is mechanized or haunted with Him.

God clothes himself with splendor and majesty.
Why does God clothe himself at all?
He stretches out the heavens like a tent, tabernacle, curtain, or skirt.

What would you see if you looked under God’s skirt, or behind the curtain, or into the tabernacle?
What is God hiding? Is it, bad… or good?

Perhaps God clothes himself for we need protection from him—unmitigated Beauty.
To look behind the curtain in ancient Israel was to be consumed by Glory.

Perhaps he clothes himself for he needs protection from us, which is to protect us from ourselves. There’s something in us that wants to take and consume the Good like fruit from a tree, rather than kneel and worship the Life of the Good like the soldier at the foot of the cross.

God is a consuming fire and a naked man crucified on a tree.

The only people allowed to see that he was both, the only people that could bear the weight of his Glory, the only people that saw him on Easter, where those who knew that before we took his Life, he gave his Life—he fore-gave his Life.

Psalm 104 claims that when God removes his breath, we die.
And when God sends his breath, we are renewed, resurrected and reborn.
At the cross, we tried to take the breath, and God gave his Breath.

The day the Life was given to us on a tree is a revelation of what God is doing all the time… and perhaps, a revelation of what we do all the time? We try to turn the Good, the Beauty, the Way, the Truth, and the Life into a thing… a dead thing.

So why does God clothe himself? …because he is so Good.
And why does God remove his breath? …to show us that the Good is the Life, and it is free. We can’t “take it,” we can only “receive it.” God is Love.

What would you see, if you looked under the skirt of the tabernacle, or behind the veil in the temple of your own soul?
You’d see a lamb standing on a throne bleeding for all creation.
You’d see the Life, who is the Good in flesh, hanging on a tree in Eden.
You’d see Jesus crucified in the garden on Calvary.
You’d see the tree of Life in the middle of the New Jerusalem coming down.

It’s there at the beginning of your time, the end of your time, in the midst of your time, and every time you encounter “the Good” or ponder “Life.”
He’s hiding in plain sight.

When my children were little, they would have me hide in the basement and then come looking for me. It was their favorite game.
I’d hide in plain sight and they’d wonder, “Is that a lamp, a monster, or Daddy?”
Then I’d jump out from behind the boxes, grab them, hug them, and blow bubbles on their tummy as they squealed with delight.

The basement was haunted—or enchanted—with me, and that’s the way they liked it.
The universe is haunted with the Spirit of your Heavenly Father, but how do you like it? …mechanized or enchanted, dead or alive, controlled or fun?

“Does God exist?” is not a question that God is interested in, until you answer the question, “Do I want God to exist?”

And so, he clothes himself in stars, clouds, rainbows, and light.
He lets you feel his breath and his absence… although he’s hiding in plain sight.

Very soon he’ll jump from behind the boxes, may you trust him when he does.

Jul 28 2019

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Rank #20: Old Faithful

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Jul 22 2018

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The Devil Quotes the Bible

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Jan 12 2020

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Jim and Maureen May

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Jan 05 2020

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Lighten Up!

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Dec 29 2019

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Larry the Sheep Guy and Concept C

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Shepherd (pastor) Lawrence Davidson (Larry the Sheep Guy) travelled through time to be part of our living Nativity scene on Christmas Eve, and then stuck around to help us all understand Concept C—Christmas.

Just one look at our Nativity scenes and he could tell: we just didn’t get the concept.
“To understand Concept C, you got to understand Concept A and Concept B,” said Larry.

“’A’ stands for stuff like A+, Antiseptic, Angelic, Alleluia and Amen. No one knew exactly what Concept A, or holiness, was, excepting we were pretty sure it wasn’t sheep poop, spit, nor sin.”
“’B’ stands for Bottom, Behind, Butt, Booger, Burp, Bad gas and Barn—my Barn.”

“I seen hundreds of yer Nativity scenes,” said Larry, “and not even one little sheep poopoo… and that there’s your problem. If you don’t understand Concept B, you ain’t never gonna understand Concept C.”

He said religious folks in his day didn’t understand Concept C neither.
That’s because religious folks are so good at playing “Hide the Stink.”
“We shepherds had already lost the game of Hide the Stink,” said Larry.

“We were unclean, and to get clean, them pastors and priests said we needed to sacrifice a lamb… and we supplied the lambs,” said Larry.
“They needed us to feel clean, but they wouldn’t touch us ‘cause we was unclean.”
“I figured we had a sick God, a cruel God. I hated God. Do you hate God?” asked Larry. “Have you been hiding that stink?”

Along about 0 (AD or BC, he wasn’t sure), while he was out “abiding in the fields,” the Heavenly Host appeared to him and the Glory of the Lord shown round about him. And the angels revealed to him, that Christ the Lord (the King of Concept A) would be born unto them and this would be a sign for them: They would find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger—Larry’s manger—"the very epicenter of Concept B.”

Religion is all about hiding Concept B in what folks pretend to be Concept A.
But this was Concept A born into Concept B, making Concept C: Christmas.

Larry found the baby and the baby found Larry’s heart… and it was funny.
He said it was like a joke deeper than this entire world—not covering the stink, but transforming all the stink into perfume.
“They were all building walls to keep the holiness in and keep me out, and lo and behold, my manger becomes the Holy of Holies!”
“And the King of Glory is a redneck—born in a barn, to an unwed pregnant teenage virgin—that’s about as redneck as you can get!” said Larry.

Thirty years later, Larry followed Jesus like a little lamb—he knew his voice.
He was the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd.

He described how the false shepherds tried to dispose of him, like a piece of Concept B, “outside the camp.”
Larry thought, for sure, the Heavenly Host—the angel army—would appear and it would be Judgment Day.
But the angels didn’t appear, and yet it was Judgment Day.
The Lamb of God lifted his head on the tree of knowledge and Life and cried, “Father, Forgive.”

Suddenly he understood:
It was atonement, but not to a God who is cruel.
It was atonement, to a people and for a people who are cruel.
Concept A is burning Love, the judgment of God. It’s Grace.

“God consigned all people to Concept B, in order that he might have Concept A on all people, in order that all people might become Concept C. Christmas is Christ in me. The living Nativity scene is me,” said Larry. “The Sanctuary is us.”
“But it can’t happen, or at least you won’t see it happen, until you stop playing Hide the Stink.”

“We’re all looking for God—looking for Beauty, Truth, Life, and Love—and you’ll find God, but in the last place you’d think to look: ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in your stinky manger,’” said Larry. “That’s Christmas.”
“And when you see him there, covered in your stink, for the love of you—well, your manger won’t stink no more. That’s Easter.”

Dec 24 2019

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Space for God

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Dec 23 2019

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How to Wish God a Merry Christmas

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Years ago, housesitting for a friend who was also pastor to Ronald Reagan, the phone rang. My wife picked it up and heard Nancy Reagan on the other end.
She panicked. I panicked. Totally discombobulated, we made her wait on the phone in the kitchen; neither of us wanted to talk to her—or could’ve actually talked to her—the person.

A person is the breath of God in dirt; a person is an “I” with some accumulated “me.”
Over time, a person acquires a persona.
And sometimes the persona is so imposing, it utterly hides the person.

I suspect that’s why famous people are often such lonely people.

“The central idea of the great part of the Old Testament,” wrote G. K. Chesterton, “may be called the idea of the loneliness of God.”
I wonder if God ever feels like Nancy Reagan waiting on the phone, or a lonely beauty queen, wondering if anyone actually loves her—the person.
Supposedly, Norma Jean Mortensen once said to a friend, “Everybody loves Marilyn Monroe, until they find out that she’s me and then they leave.”

It’s shocking to see the baby picture of someone like Marilyn Monroe, that is, Norma Jean Mortensen—you suddenly realize there is a person under all that persona.

A baby is a person without much persona, an “I” without much accumulated “me.”

When I was a baby, I was just as much “I” as I am now.
However, I hardly had any “me” (I had no resume whatsoever).
But my mom loved me just because I was.
And I still long to be loved just because “I am.”

Does God long to be loved just because he is “I Am?”

One night after a busy day, talking to important people who thought they knew me, as I was tucking my three year old daughter into bed, she grabbed my head, pulled it to her chest and said, “I’ll be the big mommy, and you be the little baby.”

And for a moment I think I was.
She didn’t know how the sermon went. She asked for no favors and made no demands. She patted my head and said, “I love you little baby.”
And in that moment, I rested.
In that moment, she knew me (or “I”) better than anyone in the world.

I wonder if that’s how God felt as Mary held Jesus to her breast?

In that moment, she knew God better than Moses at the burning bush, better than Job staring into the whirlwind, better than Isaiah in the heavenly throne room.
She held God to her breast, and she was not consumed by fire.
Is that because God said to Mary, “You be the big mommy and I’ll be the little baby.”

Why would God empty himself and become a baby?
Could it be that he wants what all babies want?
To be cuddled, to be chattered to, to be known just as an “I am”—an “I” with little accumulated “me?”
To be loved unconditionally?
To hear you say, “I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be”?

He loves you like that. Perhaps he longs to be loved like that?
How could we love him like that—when he’s good for nothing, just Good—like a baby?

Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the last and least of these, you do to me.”
At Christmas time, I wonder if God is sneaking into baby cribs and mangers all over the place, just so moms would pick him up and hold him tightly to their breasts.
… Or sneaking into the destitute and the poor, just so you’d love him when he seems to be good for nothing—just Good.
… Or sneaking into the worst of sinners, in the hope that you would sacrifice yourself just to find him there, buried beneath fame or shame or both.

Maybe he constantly longs to save and be saved.
(Babies constantly need “saving,” and in this way, we—his “mother”—are saved.)
Maybe he longs to love and be loved, just as every member in your body longs to constantly give and receive the life that is in the blood.

So, what does I Am want for Christmas? (Not gold, frankincense and myrrh.)
He wants what all babies want.
He wants you—to be held tightly to your chest, to be chattered to in love, to hear you sing: “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my beloved you will be.”

How could you wish God a Merry Christmas?
You could love him in the stinky mangers that constantly surround you.
You could even love him in the manger that is you.

Perhaps you are your own “last and least of these?”
Well, whatever you do to “the last and least of these,” you do to him.
So, speak it into the depths of your being, to the person beneath the persona, the “I” under all that “me.” Say, “I wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Dec 15 2019

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Envy (How Skipping “Church” Makes You Stupid)

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“My feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant…” (Psalm 73:2).

Envy will make you steal the Good, which is evil.
Envy will make you take the Life, which is death.
Envy was the temptation spoken by the snake in the garden.

To hope for the Good and the Life is Salvation.
To envy the Good and the Life is Hell.

Envy assumes that the Good and the Life are limited commodities that one can possess.
Envy is arrogance: literally, “praising one’s self”.
Envy is taking credit.

Psalm 73:3, 16-17 “I was envious of the arrogant” and “understanding this… seemed to me a wearisome task until I went into the sanctuary of God.”

Entering the Sanctuary was entering the story.
People didn’t enter to take knowledge of the Good and make judgments.
People entered to be judged, and the judgment made them good.

The Psalmist didn’t enter to learn that envy wasn’t good.
The Psalmist entered and woke from a nightmare—an evil delusion called envy.
And when he left, envy just seemed “stupid.”

“Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise their phantoms… I was stupid and nothing. I was like a beast.” (Psalm 73:20,22)

1. When you envy the arrogant, you envy evil, which is nothing.
2. When you envy the Good, you envy God, for “God alone is good.”
3. When you envy God, you envy the opposite of envy, for God is Love.

Envy is the desire to take the Good and take the Life.
Love is the desire to give your life to another and that’s the Good.

When you entered the temple, you entered the Story.
When you arrived at the inner sanctuary you encountered the End who is the Plot, and who gives meaning to every event in every story that’s any story.

In the Psalmist’s day, few but the high priest could see, but now we know: behind the curtain, between the cherubim, and on top of the throne was the Good in flesh and the Life enthroned on a tree in the middle of the garden: Jesus Christ and him crucified, the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

When you envy, you envy him hanging on that tree.
Who would envy that?
Everyone. This is Love.

“In this is Love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son—Jesus from the bosom of the father—as an atoning sacrifice for our sin” (1 John 4:10).

Envy is taking the Good and the Life from the Tree.
Love is giving the Good, and that is Life—the heart of God offered to us on a tree.

“Did God want us to eat from the tree?”
That’s the very same question as:
“Did God want us to crucify the Christ?” (There is a law against such things.)
“Did God want to make us in the image and likeness of Love?”
“Did God want us to know the Good and inherit eternal Life?

Perhaps we cannot comprehend the answer, but the answer will comprehend us and make us in his own image.

We took the life of the Good on a tree in a garden and everything died.
And God gave His Life on a tree in a garden and everything lives, and that is the Good:
All things new and humanity in the image and likeness of God.

Envy took the Life of the Good on a tree in a garden.
But the night before, the Good in flesh fore-gave his Life at dinner.

4. We envy God, and God has already given himself to us.

The Life is in the Blood. And the temple was all about blood.
Blood cleanses our bodies of waste and disease, and constantly delivers the good.
We think God is into bloodshed, but God is into blood shared.

When we envy, we take the Life of the Good and we hold it in our souls.
But when we worship in hope, we return the Life as praise and gifts of sacrificial Love.

In the Sanctuary is the Heart of God. The temple is his Body.
We are that Body, and everyone that’s anyone will be that Body.

5. Envy is stupid, for we are all members of one body.

One member of my body doesn’t envy the next member of my body.
But every member of my body hopes in all the other members of my body.

Envy seeks to make every member just the same, in fear of every difference.
Faith, Hope, and Love unite every difference in one body and that’s what makes every member happy.

Love is not a commodity. Love is a limitless and eternal communion; Love is God.
You have nothing to envy but God, and He’s already given himself to you.
Don’t envy Him. Hope in him.

Believe the Gospel. And envy will just seem stupid.

Dec 08 2019

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Advent-ually: Hope Fatigue

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Dec 01 2019

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Why Go to Church?

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Psalm 84 “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!"
“My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord…”
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.”

The Psalmist is singing about what the Israelites considered to be “church.”
He’s singing about the temple.
I don’t normally say, “My soul longs, yes, even faints for church.”
What made the temple so attractive?

It must have something to do with where it was, what it was, what was in it, and how you entered.

It was believed to be built on the spot where God made Adam in the garden of Eden, where Abraham went to offer Isaac, who was everything he had hoped for. It was the spot where David confessed his sin and offered to suffer for Jerusalem; the spot where his son would be crucified by, and for, Jerusalem, on a tree in a garden. It was the spot where the Old Jerusalem would be destroyed, and the New Jerusalem would descend from God.

What it was, was a stone tent—the tabernacle.
What was in it was what God had carefully stipulated to Moses.

In the heart of the temple, on the foundation stone, was a coffin (the word is also translated ark.) In the Ark was the “knowledge of good and evil” written on stone—the law.
On top of the Ark, was “the Mercy Seat,” on which the high priest would sprinkle blood; It was a Mercy Seat, a judgment seat, and a throne.
On either side of the seat were two cherubim, like those that guard the way to the tree of Life.

It was the Covenant of Law, literally encased in the Covenant of Mercy.
It was laws, contained in the story of Grace.
Standing on that throne, John saw the Passover Lamb, our Lord Jesus.

We took the Life of the Good (God alone is good) on a tree in a garden just outside the temple walls, and everything died.
But the night before we took the Life, the Good gave his Life at dinner. He fore-gave his Life, and everything began to live. In fact, “It is finished.”
Jesus is the Life and the Good; He is Love lost and Love that finds.

Just outside the Holy of Holies and a drawn curtain were lots of flames and knives, like the flaming sword that turned every which way guarding the way to the Tree of Life. And outside of that Holy place was a courtyard with an altar for sacrifice. And outside that courtyard, an outer courtyard for worshipping and feasting.

In Leviticus God makes it clear that anyone who eats meat makes a sacrifice… to something. The Jews were commanded to bring all meat to the tabernacle, so the priests could offer the blood to God. The Life is in the blood. Sacrifice is surrendering the life we take, to the one who constantly gives. The Temple was like a heart circulating blood in one giant lovely body.

It’s our ego that tells us the Life is our own and so dams the river and ourselves.
It’s the Judgment of God that cuts the false from the true, un-dams the river, and teaches us to lose “our lives” and find them in God… Life is a decision to Love.

Every story is the story of Love lost and Love that finds.

To enter the temple, one often travelled through Gehenna, and then the outer court, and then, through intermediaries, into the inner court, holy place, and finally, the Holy of Holies.
It was a journey, not only to a place, but a time, or all time in one place; Scripture tells us that it represents the age to come. And it’s inside was bigger than all the outside; it is the New Creation. It was the Beginning, and the End, and the Way from one place to another. It was—actually, is—the Plot to the Story, that is all things.

Once you trust the Plot, once you see that “It is finished,” the plot transforms every moment of the Story; A day in His court gives meaning to a thousand elsewhere.

Stories store meaning. Stories reveal persons. Stories unite people. Stories tell us who we are.

When my children were little, every night they would say, “Daddy, tell me the story of the day that I was born.”

Stories tell us who we are, and they make us who we are.

The Story of Superman, for instance, is not a story that a little boy can create.
But it’s a story that creates little boys and turns them into men.
It’s not a story of what the boy “needs” to do, but what the Superman has done.
The boy loses himself in the story, and finds himself in the story, for the story has found a place in the boy.

You can only live your story, by trusting the story that’s been written.

Entering the temple was entering a story.
Entering most churches is like entering a classroom.

We want “knowledge of the Good,” so we can do good, and make ourselves good.
The Gospel is the story of “the Good” knowing us, and making us, good.

The Gospel is: “God saves you from yourself!”
But we take the law out of the coffin, and try to rewrite the story, to make it depend on ourselves; There’s a reason it was kept in the Ark, covered in Mercy.
We turn, “God saves you from yourself” into, “You save yourself from God.”

We literally crucify the Plot, “God saves,” and everything dies.

To enter the temple was to enter “The Story,” The Story of Love lost and Love that finds; the story of the eschatos man, the Superman, Jesus, which means “God saves.”
The Story is not dependent on us; we are utterly dependent on the story.
The Story of Grace creates a heart of faith.

Maybe that’s why we “Go to Church?”
To be known by the Word of God.
To hear the story of the day we were, are, and will be born.
We are born through a torn curtain.
This is the sixth day of Creation and the seventh day is your home.

God is your home and you are his.
“How lovely is my dwelling place,” declares the Lord.

Nov 24 2019

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God’s Rest (and How to Enter It)

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Psalm 95 starts sweet, and we love to quote it: “Oh come let us sing to the Lord… Let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker (literally, ‘our Doer’).”
But we don’t quote the end: “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as at Meribah… for forty years I loathed that generation… Therefore, I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

We don’t quote the end of Psalm 95, unless we’re trying to get someone to do something that they don’t want to do, and that’s ironic, for “rest” is to do only what you want to do.

If I’m commanded to rest, I don’t rest; trying to sleep is the most unrestful thing I do.

Repeatedly, God commanded Israel to rest.
In numerous ways, he tells them why: “You will sabbath, for in six days I labored and on the seventh I rested, for all was done. I create you. I save you. And I sanctify you.”
Then God says, “Above all… You shall keep the Sabbath… Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death.” (Exodus 31:12-14).

The harder I work at resting, the less I do.
The Sabbath commandment is a death sentence and a promise: “You shall keep my Sabbath.”

Hebrews 3 and 4 quote Psalm 95 extensively, and then the author writes, “Strive to enter that rest.” That rest is God’s rest, which Moses and the Israelites “did not enter.”

And yet, we know that Moses was transfigured with Jesus and stood on the mountain in the Holy Land.
And we know that all Israel will be saved, for the Son of Man prophesies to the dry bones (Ez. 37), and the whole house of Israel rises from the dead, and God places them in the land.

“Today… Strive to enter that rest,” wrote the author of Hebrews.
He didn’t write “strive to rest,” and that’s good for that’s an oxymoron.
He wrote “strive to enter God’s rest,” as if God’s rest was a reality that one could enter, like a tent, tabernacle, house, garden or land.
What is God’s Rest?

The author of Hebrews says that it remains for some to enter.
It is God’s works, “finished from the foundation of the world.”
It is the Seventh Day of Creation, when God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good and it is finished.

Every week we’re commanded to testify that God’s work is finished, and that the seventh day is not like the other six days. It’s sometimes pictured as an eighth that, in Hebrew thought, is an endless seventh.

The seventh day is older than the first day and has no end, for it is the end and the beginning; it is not perishable, but imperishable; it’s not temporal, but eternal.

God’s rest has always been and will always be.
And God’s rest is all that is, for all that is, is what God has done, for his works were “finished from the foundation of the world.”
And you are his work… so is Moses.

This means that the Moses transfigured on the mountain is older and younger than the Moses that wandered in the desert.
And it means that you are already seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

God’s rest is reality.
So, what is unrest, but a lack of reality and the presence of evil?

So where is evil?
Evil is like an emptiness in chronological time, that is, space-time.

This world is not an explosion of somethingness in the nothingness.
It is an explosion—a big bang—of nothingness in the somethingness that is God.
But one day, the seventh day, it will be filled with Glory, just as Moses was filled with Glory on the mountain, and we will, and have been, filled with Glory—the manifestation of God’s Word spoken into the void: Jesus.

Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.
You can’t create yourself; you can only be yourself, now.
Your identity is not “an achievement;” it is a gift.

I enter God’s Rest, because God’s Rest, enters me… and then I know, “it is finished.”
I know that all that needs to be done, has already been done, so all I can do is what God has done and is doing, which is what I want to do.

I’m not the Creator, but I am the re-creator, the recreator.
The seventh day is a holy day, a holiday, when I only do what I want to do; and I can do all things in Christ Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Little children do everything, not because anything “needs to be done,” but because all has been done. And so, all their work is play: toy mowers and easy bake ovens.
Heaven is not doing nothing, but doing all things without the illusion of independence, isolation, shame, and fear.

God’s Rest is constant freedom, love, life, and ecstasy. And “it is finished.”
But it doesn’t exist, by definition, if there is a place where God’s work is endlessly unfinished and some of his children are endlessly not made in his image.
We can’t “enter his rest,” if there is no such place.

The dirtiest trick—maybe the only trick—of the devil is to get me to think that God’s Rest is dependent on me, when I am totally dependent on God’s Rest.

So How do we enter God’s Rest?
1. We must have faith that there is such a thing, which means:
2. We must die… to our own ego.

And that’s a miracle, for you can’t kill your ego with your ego, and faith is a gift of grace that none may boast (that’s your ego).
At best, we can position ourselves for the miracle; we can expose ourselves to the Judgement of God… And that’s exactly what Psalm 95 is all about.

“Come into his presence with praise.”
Worship is the sacrifice of praise and what we sacrifice is the ego.
“Let us kneel before the Lord our God our Doer.”
When I realize that all I need to do has been done, my ego dies.
That hurts. But it is a beautiful death; it is Life Eternal.

Nov 17 2019

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Moses: The Epic Failure…

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“A Prayer of Moses, The Man of God.”
That’s the title of Psalm 90 and why I chose to preach this Psalm.

I feel an affinity to Moses and have wondered what he would pray.
I feel an affinity to Moses, because he was an epic failure.
We seem to forget that, and picture Moses as Charlton Heston with a nice tan.

Moses was a Hebrew slave raised as an Egyptian prince.
If anyone would’ve, could’ve, should’ve set God’s people free, it would’ve appeared to be Moses.

When he was about forty years old, he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite slave and struck down the Egyptian.
The Israelites didn’t trust him, and Pharaoh sought to kill him, and so he fled.
Moved by his passions he tried to save Israel and failed.

That’s what Kierkegaard referred to as the first sphere of existence—the aesthetic sphere; it is to seek salvation through passion.
The second sphere is the ethical sphere; it is to seek salvation through obedience to the law.

When Moses was about 80, having herded sheep in the wilderness for 40 years, God spoke to him out of the burning bush.
And sent Moses to set the people free.
God performed astounding miracles through the staff of Moses and led the Israelites through the sea and to the mountain of God.

Soon the Israelites complained, for lack of water.
God had Moses strike “The Rock” with his staff.
The word “strike,” is the same word used to describe what Moses did to the Egyptian; Moses “smote” the rock and out of it flowed a river of living—that is, fresh—water.

Then God led Moses up that mountain where he gave him the law—“The knowledge of Good and evil.”

When the people were afraid to enter the promised land, God had them wander the desert for 40 years and die.
When the next generation returned to the edge of the promised land, they too began to complain, for lack of water.

God told Moses to “tell the Rock” to yield its water.
The ancients believed that it was the same rock that Moses had smote once before.
St. Paul writes that it was “the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.”

Moses says, “Shall we—Aaron and I—make water come out of this Rock for you rebels?”
Then he smote the Rock twice.
Then God said, “Moses you will not bring the assembly into the land, but you will be gathered to your people” …in Sheol.
Then God took him up Mt. Nebo—120 years old, showed him the land, and said, “you will not pass over.” Then, Moses died, there on that mountain.

He did not do, what he set out to do, although he had been given epic tools to do it.
Moses was an epic failure, and maybe each of us is an epic failure.

So, what did Moses pray? He prayed Psalm 90.
It ends with this request: “Let the favor of our Lord be upon us and… establish the work of our hands!”
The work of Moses's hands was the salvation of Israel… and Moses.
So, did God establish the work of Moses’s hands?

About 1500 years later, Jesus took Peter, John, and James up a mountain, where he was suddenly transfigured—literally “metamorphosed.”
Jesus shone like the sun… and then, Moses appeared with him “in Glory.”

Moses is speaking to the Rock on a mountain in the Holy Land, transfigured in Glory.
And Scripture is clear that the dry bones of the whole house of Israel will rise from their graves, be clothed in new flesh, and enter the land.

Did God establish the work of Moses’s hands? Oh YES.

Moses, the epic failure, is God’s unmitigated success.
And you, the epic failure, are God’s unmitigated and eternal success.
And once you begin to see it, it will entirely change the way you travel.

Kierkegaard called this the third sphere.
In the first sphere, we see that the fruit is good for food and a delight to the eyes.
In the second sphere, we see that the fruit is desired to make one wise.
In the third sphere, we see that the fruit is the Life of Christ, and that what we took he freely gives. We enter God’s rest, for God’s rest has entered us.
And we bear the fruit of Life.
We live by grace through faith, and this not of ourselves.
It is an entirely different way to travel.

But then, we might ask, “Why the journey? Why even try?”
Well, you can’t fail unless you try to not fail.
And if you don’t know your own failure, perhaps you won’t be able to know God’s epic, unmitigated, and eternal success: you.
If you don’t know that you, yourself, can do nothing, you will be utterly crushed by the weight of your own glory—you are the tabernacle of the living God.

The last time I spoke to my Mom was on a Wednesday a few weeks ago.
She kept saying “Peter, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.”
Finally, I said, “Mom, you don’t have to do anything.” And we prayed.
That Friday—a good Friday—the nurse came in to turn her in her bed.
She looked up and said, “I’m a butterfly and I’m going to fly away.”
Then she did. She was metamorphosed, like Jesus, like Moses…
She is God’s unmitigated and eternal success.

Nov 10 2019

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Messy Faith

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Nov 03 2019

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When God Laughs… (at You)

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“He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).

“Them” is the “the kings, rulers, nations, and peoples” who hate the Lord and his Messiah, and so, rage and plot to burst their bonds and cast away their restraints.
Those bonds must be a law written on the human heart, or a Word whispered into the soul: “Don’t exalt yourself; humble yourself, in the service of Love. I am Love.”
Could there be a bond more restrictive upon the arrogant human ego than that?
Every time I sin, I admit that “them” is me?

Does God laugh at me?

There are three classic theories of humor: the Superiority Theory, the Relief Theory, and the Incongruity Theory.

The Superiority Theory claims that we laugh when we notice that we’re superior and another is inferior.
That’s the way Satan laughs, or pretends to laugh.
It explains evil laughter, but not all laughter.
It can’t explain why a person might laugh at themself.

The Relief Theory explains laughter as the release of nervous energy.
But God laughs and God is not nervous.

The Incongruity Theory claims that we laugh at the recognition of incongruity between two perceptions of reality.
If the incongruity is resolved in a pleasant way, we call it comedy.
If the incongruity is not resolved, or is resolved in a negative way, we call it tragedy.
And so, the difference between tragedy and comedy is a little faith in how an incongruous situation may or may not be resolved.

Well God not only laughs, according to Psalm 2, he seems to laugh “at us.”
Why would a good father laugh at his own beloved children?

I can’t even begin to remember all the times that I laughed at my children.
But I didn’t let them know I was laughing. But now, they laugh with me, at themselves.
It’s the substance of all of our best family stories: how Becky would call my parents to come spank me, how Coleman would sneak into the back yard to eat dirt, how Elizabeth was convinced she knew everything in the world, and Jon was convinced the toilet would burn him with fire.

I can’t recall the number of times Susan and I would get angry at the kids (because we needed to), but then run into the next room and start laughing.
You see? To their tender little egos, our wrath was more merciful than our laughter.

Elizabeth was addicted to gum; she couldn’t help but eat it.
Once I sat her on the bed and said, “I’ll give you gum if you chew it with me.” She put it in her mouth started chewing, and then told me—at great length and with extreme confidence—how grown up she was, because she would never ever swallow her gum.

I then said, “Elizabeth, where’s your gum?”

A wave of horror swept over her four-year-old face. She cried out in absolute despair, “I swallowed my gum. I’ll never ever chew gum! I’m not a big girl. I’m a little girl.” Then she threw herself across my lap weeping, wailing, and lamenting.

It was an absolute tragedy.
But for me it was a comedy… and a tragedy.
A tragedy, for what you do to Elizabeth, you also do to me, even if it’s Elizabeth that’s doing it to Elizabeth.

I cried with Elizabeth, but laughed at her, inside… laughed at her and her gum addiction.
Do you suppose that God laughs at your addictions?

I didn’t laugh because I was nervous about her gum addiction—I was pretty sure it wasn’t permanent.
I didn’t laugh because I felt superior—even though I rarely swallow my gum.
I laughed because of the incongruity between her own perception of herself and the treasure that I knew her to be.
I laughed, not because she was less than she perceived herself to be, but because she was, and is, truly more than she had yet begun to imagine.

I laughed at her ridiculous little ego.
Her ego told her that if she could chew gum, then she’d really be something, king of the world, and impressive to me.
The reality is that she was already impressive to me, king of my world, and everything to me… and it had absolutely nothing to do with her ability to chew gum.

I laughed to myself, at herself, knowing that one day she’d laugh with me… and probably, we’d both chew gum in freedom!

Soren Kierkegaard argued that irony marks the boundary between licentiousness and law, but the boundary between law and grace is marked by humor.
Humor is the birth of faith in Grace… and God is Grace.

“Through Isaac (literally ‘he laughs’) shall your seed be named.”
Through laughter, we learn to call on the name of Jesus (literally, “God Saves”).
Faith in you is the promised seed in you and the birth of laughter.
God saves us from ourselves, and we laugh, for we are more than we have ever imagined.

In Acts 4, Peter and John quote Psalm 2 after spending the night in the pit of sorrow.
The house shakes, the Spirit descends, and I bet they laughed.
They laughed because God laughed at Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod.
They laughed because God laughed at sin, death, and Hell.
They laughed because God laughed at them and their failure.
God laughed at the temper tantrums of John, “the Beloved.”
And God laughed at Peter’s cowardice… that is Peter, “the Rock.”

When God laughs at you, laugh with him, at yourself—your ego.
Laugh with him, for you are more than you know.

Oct 27 2019

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When Sad…

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The Psalms are the songbook of ancient Israel. They would sing these psalms together in worship. And Psalm 88 is a song of unremitting sorrow.

“You have put me in the depths of the pit… Why do you hide your face from me? I suffer your terrors; I am helpless… You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.”

My wife once heard the Lord say, “Sorrow is every bit as powerful as fear when it comes to feeding the enemy…”

Sometimes when sad…
We let sorrow become an accusation; we become accusers.
We let sorrow become a weapon; we shoot the one who would bring us joy.
We let sorrow become a prison; I’m sad because I’m alone and alone, so I can be sad.
We let sorrow become an idol; I justify my “self” with sorrow.
We let sorrow become our identity; We wear “sad,” to feel happy.
And/or we hide our sorrow and hide from our sorrow and don’t feel sorrow… or joy.

We all have a secret sorrow that we can barely admit to ourselves, for it is our lonely selves.

Adam and Eve hid them “selves” in the leaves of the trees.
They suddenly knew that the sad they had was bad and so pretended to be glad, which will drive you mad.
They got religion… human religion.

So, what are we to do with our sorrow?

It’s fascinating that Israel died in the desert because they “murmured in their tents.”
So, God commanded Israel to come murmur in his tent, his tabernacle, his temple.

It’s as if he says, “I know you think it, feel it, and know it. Now come admit. Recite Psalm 88, before my throne, and tell me how alone y’all feel… together.”

Through sorrow, our fig leaves are stripped away, and our naked longing for love is revealed… and there is a world of folks expressing the same sorrow in the same pit.

But what if you really are alone… in a pit?

Thirteen years ago, I prayed Psalm 88 in a pit in Jerusalem.
I wasn’t alone, but I felt very much alone; I was about to be de-frocked by my fellow pastors for hoping that God in Christ Jesus had descended into every pit.
This pit is called the “sacred pit” (that is, “holy hell”).

Archeologists strongly suspect that it was used as a holding cell for Jesus after he was questioned by the High Priest, beaten, and denied by Peter, before he hung on the tree in the garden, where he cried “My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

It is a traditional belief among many that in that pit, on that night, Jesus prayed Psalm 88. “You have put me in the depths of the pit…My companions have become darkness.”

Jesus was alone in that pit.
And I was alone in that pit… with him.

Earlier that night, Jesus had prayed in a garden.
He asked Peter, James, and John to be with him, but he was alone in his sorrow.
He prayed, “nevertheless, not my will, but thy will.”
How could God the Son’s will, be different than God the Father’s will, unless Jesus had somehow descended into our will, our sin, our identity—the prison that is my own sorrow?
“…Not my will, but thy will”; that’s Christ willingly willing the Father’s will in the pit of my will—that’s the miracle we call Faith. That’s what it means to be born from above.

Earlier that night, Jesus told his disciples, “When a woman gives birth, she has sorrow, but once she’s delivered, her sorrow turns into joy that a man (an Adam, maybe “the Adam”) has been born into the world.”

Jesus is the promised seed planted in the pit of your sorrow, giving birth to the kingdom of God.

So, what are we to do with our sorrow?
I think we are to feel our sorrow with Jesus… you will find him in your pit.
Commune with Jesus in your sorrow and it will rise from the dead as Joy.

Jesus is in this pit with you and you are with him. That’s what you need to know.
My wife heard him say, “You must give me your sorrow.”

But perhaps, with the psalmist you still ask, “Why do you hide your face, Oh Lord?”
I asked that last week: “What good father ever hides his face from his own beloved children?” Immediately I thought: “Peek-a-boo.”

It could’ve been indigestion, but maybe it was the Lord.
Play peekaboo with an infant, and each time you cover your face, the infant will express confusion and dismay. But each time you reveal your face, the baby will express delight… and the delight will grow.

Psychologists say it’s critical for developing something called “object permanence,” which is faith that, although you don’t see Dad, he’s still there.
Well, your Dad is “I am that I am.”

Peekaboo develops faith in “object permanence” and faith in Grace. It develops faith that the Good is permanent and that the Good is Grace.
Soon the game will be over, and your sorrow will become endless joy.

All sorrow is a longing for communion with the Good, who is absolute Grace.
Communion with God is the Joy for which you are being made.
And where is God? He’s in the tabernacles all around you, and He’s behind the curtain on the throne in the tabernacle of your own soul—"Peek-a-boo.”

When sad, don’t feed the enemy with your sorrow.
When sad… Feel sad… with Jesus.
This is how God feeds us with endless joy.

He said, “This is my body broken for you. This is the covenant in my blood.”

Oct 20 2019

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The New, Living Way

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Oct 13 2019

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Crowd Sourced Encouragement

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Sep 29 2019

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Let Heaven Happen

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Psalm 150, begins, “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his Sanctuary…”
It ends, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

The Psalmist seems to think that everything that has breath would praise the Lord if I just “let” everything praise the Lord… as if uninterrupted, ecstatic praise were the default mode of the universe, and the thing that’s keeping all of heaven from happening is me.

“Let there be light.” “Let creation happen.”
I didn’t know that I had that power.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Everything does praise the Lord in reality, according to Scripture.
And everything does praise the Lord in the fullness of time.
And I’m commanded to let everything praise the Lord, right now.

So, how do I NOT let everything praise the Lord?

Well, if I make “me” praise the Lord, I’m not letting me praise the Lord.
Perhaps I can make myself sing, read my Bible, and go to worship when I don’t want to go to worship. But I can’t make myself praise when I don’t want to praise, because praise is a want—it’s like a new want, or a new heart, sitting on the throne in the sanctuary of my soul. “Praise him in his sanctuary,” sings the Psalmist.

Praising the Lord is “liking” the Lord out loud.

When my son was three and performing in the Christmas play, he poked all his friends, pointed at me twenty rows back, and yelled, “That’s my Daddy out there!”
He praised me and found his identity in me—no longer was he just three, but a 29-year old me.

And I’m praising him right now—a miracle capable of reflecting my love, my image.
When we praise, we lose ourselves and find ourselves in the one we praise.

To praise is to be human; to praise is to be happy.
It’s why we do all that we do—we’re looking for something that will make us praise.
Something that will make us lose our selves and find ourselves happy.

Well, we can’t let ourselves praise if we make ourselves praise.
Just as we can’t let ourselves be saved if we think we make ourselves saved.
Just as we can’t let ourselves be made in the image of God if we think we make ourselves in the image of God.

Paul tells us in Ephesians that we were predestined to live for the praise of God’s glory.
You were predestined for freedom, for praise is freedom.
Freedom is the ability to be, and the desire to be, who you were predestined to be.

As Isaiah prophesies (and Paul quotes), “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! … ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.”
To be created is to be saved, which is to praise God in freedom.

So how do I not let everything praise?
Perhaps I think I can make people praise.
Perhaps I think that some people can never ever praise.

Twelve years ago, I was publicly tried and defrocked, because I would not publicly confess that there was a group of people that could not be saved and that God took pleasure in not saving them. I wouldn’t publicly confess that NOT “everything that has breath will praise the Lord.”

The religious establishment can’t just let anyone praise the Lord, for we think we have the power to make people praise the Lord.
And so, praise becomes a threat that builds the institution but rapes the bride.
We tell people, “Praise God for he is Love, but if you don’t praise God, he will torture you forever without end.”
We teach people to honor the Lord with their lips and keep their hearts far from him.

Institutions can make things happen by consuming the life that is all around them.
A bride must let things happen by surrendering her heart to the Life that is her groom.

It’s true that, more than anyone in Scripture, Jesus warned folks about hell (both Hades and Gehenna). It’s also true that the folks he warned were his church.
He warned people that thought they praised and wouldn’t allow others to praise.
He said, “many will come from east and west and sit at table in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness.”
That darkness cannot last forever without end, but why would you want it to last at all?

So, how do I not let everything praise the Lord?
Perhaps I say some things can’t praise the Lord because I want some things to praise my ability to praise. Which is a sneaky way of wanting all things to praise me, for I think “me is salvation” and doubt “God is salvation,” that is, Jesus.

To be trapped in that “me” is to be trapped in hell and unable to praise.

I can’t make “me” praise the Lord, but perhaps I can present “me” to the Lord.
I can present myself a living sacrifice.

The sacrifice the Lord desires (and we desire to make) is not a sheep or goat, but the sacrifice of praise. “Praise him in his sanctuary.”

When I stand before the throne in the sanctuary of my soul and see my Father’s heart bleeding for me, my ego—my old man, my clay vessel—is destroyed and the breath that God breathed into me, in the beginning, returns to the throne as praise—even as my new man rises from the dead in worship… my breath—God’s breath in me—praises the Lord.

Jesus cried, “Father forgive,” and delivered up his breath.
That’s the breath that falls on the church at Pentecost as tongues of fire.
The word translated “forgive” is also translated “let.”
Let everything that has breath—it’s all his Breath—praise the Lord.

“Let there be light.” “Let everything praise.” Do I really have that power: to NOT let?
Well in a dream, I do have that power.

In reality, everything does praise the Lord.
But in my self-centered dreams, everything praises me… and everything dies.
Perhaps our Father is letting us dream a dream that turns into a nightmare, so we would wake from that dream and forever delight in his presence.

How do I NOT let everything that has breath praise the Lord?
I don’t praise the Lord.
And how do I let everything that has breath praise the Lord?
I wake from my dreams and become God’s dream.

Perhaps he’s waking you right now.

Sep 22 2019

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Rolling Away the Stone

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Sep 15 2019

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Where the Hell Is God?

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David cries “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck (literally, “soul”).
David feels like he’s drowning in the sea, like he’s descending into hell.
“Where the hell are you, O God?”

In the 1950s, scientists did studies on baby monkeys and found that they would bond with a fuzzy surrogate monkey mother instead of a wire surrogate, even when the wire mother was the one that gave them food.
Our primary need is for comfort and communion with another.
Our fundamental problem, according to some psychologists, and the Bible, is “aloneness.”
It was the one thing declared “not good” by God, even before the fall.
“It’s not good that the Adam (humanity) is alone,” said God.

In Psalm 69 David is asking, “Where the hell is the fuzzy monkey? Where is God?”

“[They] hate me without cause,” cries David in verse 4.
“Zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me,” mourns David in verse 9.
In verse 21, David sings, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”

According to Romans 15:3 and John 2:17, 15:3, and 19:28, when David sings “me,” Jesus is the “me” and it is he that is speaking.

So, where the hell is God? Where is my comfort? Where is that fuzzy monkey?
Perhaps he’s nailed to a tree in a garden.

Every morning, in my mind’s eye, I try to picture myself resting my head on Jesus’ chest just as John did at the last supper… and I find great comfort.
But sometimes when I can’t seem to find him and I’m drowning in despair, I’ll picture my hand strapped to wood, and another hand placed over my hand, as a nail is driven through both hands… and then, I find comfort, or the Comforter finds me.

I’m not finding comfort in wounding myself or Jesus; I’m already wounded.
I’m already suffering, and Jesus has already suffered.
“Despair is suffering without meaning,” wrote Victor Frankl.

At the cross I surrender my wounds and see that my wounds are his wounds, and those wounds are transformed into Glory.
Have you forgotten? You are his body…

You may say, “I haven’t suffered for Jesus.”

Have you suffered for the Truth? Jesus is the Truth.
You say, “I haven’t suffered for the Good; I’ve committed the evil.”
Yes, but if you suffer now, isn’t it because you love the Good and God alone is Good?

How could you suffer, except for the Good?
How could you suffer, except for Love and God is Love?

And how could you not suffer… at all?
I suppose you could try not to love, Love; you could try not to care about Truth, Life, and Beauty… you could hide your heart in hell.
You could hide in hell or you could face your wounds and surrender them at the tree.
You could “share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.”
We are least alone when we are with those with whom we’ve suffered.

You’re not alone in hell; someone has descended into that place with you.
Look, and you will see your wounds on his body and his wounds on yours.
He gives your suffering his meaning; he is “the meaning,” the Logos.
When you see it, you won’t be able to help but sing “hallelujah.”

Where’s Jesus? I think he’s hanging on a tree in a garden at the edge of time and eternity.
And where is that garden? That garden is in the sanctuary of David’s soul… and your soul.

The words of Jesus on the cross are coming out of David’s mouth in 1000 BC.
Jesus is dying and rising with David, just as St. Paul described in Romans 6.
“The waters have come to his soul;” David is being baptized into Christ.
“If we are joined with him in a death like his, we will surely be joined with him in a resurrection like his.”
Your old man is dead and cannot be justified; your new man is your justification and cannot die…he has more than conquered.

God knows you. Would you like to know God?

People go on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyworld, to get the Indiana Jones experience.
People go to the movies to get the Luke Skywalker experience… to be there when he saves the galaxy.

You don’t need to go to the movies, or pay $50 and wait in line, for the “Jesus experience.”
You just need to see that your wounds are on his body and watch as he makes all things new… even through you.

David’s song begins with loneliness and despair, but it ends with every creature praising the Lamb on the throne… and no one is alone.

You can only hide your wounds in hell.
Surrender them and they turn into Heaven.
Jesus is waiting for you at a tree in a garden; don’t make him wait any longer.

(PS My mother passed away the night before I preached this message, so in this sermon I tell some of her story and how she passed. She was "there when they crucified my Lord," and she was "there when he rose up from the grave." Of course, her wounds are Christ's wounds. She is his body.)

Sep 08 2019

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First, Run to the Fuzzy Monkey

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Sep 01 2019

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Awesome happy

By So thankful!! - Jan 03 2017
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Love the messages i have heard but won't download want to listen when I have no wi fi apple ipad

Life changing

By Ryan & Amanda Caldwell - May 31 2012
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Seriously