Cover image of The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love
Religion & Spirituality

The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love

Updated 8 days ago

Religion & Spirituality
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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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iTunes Ratings

23 Ratings
Average Ratings

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
Cover image of The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love

The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love

Latest release on Jan 12, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 8 days ago

Rank #1: The Word Wins

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Oct 21 2018


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


Rank #3: At Home in Who You Are

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Aug 19 2018


Rank #4: Seven Wounds and One Blessing

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Aug 26 2018


Rank #5: Where Good Things Come From

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May 20 2018


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


Rank #7: Messy Faith

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Nov 03 2019


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


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

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Jun 24 2018


Rank #10: Hallelujah in Hell (the sermon)

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Apr 21 2019


Rank #11: What Are You Talking About?

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May 27 2018


Rank #12: What Hate is For

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Jun 10 2018


Rank #13: The Gospel of Perfect Wrath

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Aug 12 2018


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


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

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Jun 09 2019


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


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


Rank #18: Advent-ually: Hope Fatigue

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Dec 01 2019


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


Rank #20: Old Faithful

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Jul 22 2018