Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.
Resounding Silence

Resounding Silence

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … In him was life, and the life was the light of  men.  The light shines in the darkness …

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above the deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting light …

Meteor by Jim Begley

And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.  And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

How silently, how silently

The wondrous gift is given!

For Christ is born of Mary

And gathered all above

While mortals sleep, the angels keep

Their watch of wondering love …

Nativity by Keith Johnson

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them … And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you:  you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased!”

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell …

O morning stars together

Proclaim the holy birth

And praises sing to God the King …



He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God …

No ear may hear His coming

No eye may see his birth

No one may sing to God the King

But in this world of sin

Where meek souls will receive him still,

The dear Christ enters in …

Be It Unto Me by Liz Lemon Swindle

And the shepherds went in haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning the child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them … And the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen …

O holy Child of Bethlehem

Descend to us, we pray

Cast out our sin and enter in

Be born to us today …


When they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going in to the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him.  Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

O come to us, abide with us

Our Lord Emmanuel


Angels still sing for Him.  Wise men still seek Him.  Shepherds still find him …

Merry Christmas!





Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  (1Thessalonians 5:18)

Another translation reads “Give thanks in every circumstance …”  What if we made it our aim to do that today?  What if we are actively thankful for each and every thing that happens today?  And then what if we add tomorrow to today; and then the next day after that and the next day after that?  What would our lives be like?  What would the lives of those around us be like?

Suppose the first thing we do when we wake up is to take a few minutes and think about just some of those things that make us happy?  Think how you might feel inside if you do the same thing at night just before you fall asleep?

For sure, we will grow in faith because it takes faith to be thankful in every circumstance.  Think how strong our faith will become as we give thanks over and over again, especially when our natural inclination is to do just the opposite?

Also, think about how quiet we will become inside as we fill our minds with good thoughts, thankful thoughts, happy thoughts.  Wonder at silencing much of the chatter that howls through our minds like autumn winds through leafless trees.  Better yet, contemplate driving away the enemy who prowls about like a roaring  lion.

monolakewidesunrisesinemacropemail150dpiIf we simply choose to be thankful, we can become very different people, better people; but what if we take it a step further and add joy to thanksgiving?  What if we choose to rejoice always?  What if we choose to delight in every circumstance? What will happen then?

Peace will happen, deep peace, peace that passes understanding.  Peace that cannot be explained, only experienced.  The kind of peace that changes the atmosphere around us; peace that is so pervasive you can cut it with a knife.  First in us and then in those around us.  Heavenly peace!




Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.  The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman to him who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in their midst they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such.  What do you say about her?’  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.  Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus looked up and said, ‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again.'” (John 8:2-11)

woman-caught-in-adultery1According to the law, the woman caught in adultery deserved to be stoned to death.  This is what Moses commanded.  Death by stoning was the prescribed punishment for the offense.  The sentencing guidelines were in place and no one would have considered the expected punishment unjust.  There was precedent for it; other women committing the same offense received the same punishment. In fact, one could reasonably argue that it would be unjust not to stone this woman in light of all the other women who had been stoned before her.  How could it be fair to treat this woman differently.  So you have to wonder what Jesus was thinking? How could he simply ignore the longstanding rules that required the woman to be stoned?

And what about those women caught in adultery after the woman in this story?  Certainly there have been others after this woman who were stoned to death?  It doesn’t seem fair that she should go freely on her way when others suffered violent deaths for the same offense.  What was Jesus thinking?  Surely he had to be concerned about breaking precedent or, more importantly, creating new precedent?  What about all the people, who would hear about the woman in this story; likely some would decide that it’s no big deal to commit adultery and choose to become lawless?

Do you think Jesus was worried about them?  Do you think he stopped to consider the ramifications of the way he handled this situation?

What was it that enabled Jesus to lay aside precedent and not be concerned with those who might take advantage of  God’s mercy?  It was love.  Jesus had a higher gear than the rest of us.  He was not limited by norms, precedents, fairness to those who may have been treated differently before. or those who may be treated differently afterward.  He was compelled by love and it empowered him to see things differently; love enabled him to see possibilities that others couldn’t see.

It’s easy for us to listen to this story and see it from Jesus’ point of view.  From a distance we can identify with what he did and why he did it.  We can even imagine ourselves doing the same thing.  But what do we do when faced with situations where we have to make decisions about people?  Do we alway follow the rules?  Do we consider fairness to others in similar positions.  Are we bound by what others may think or overly concerned about creating bad precedent going forward?  Do you think Jesus  was ever concerned about fairness, or what others may think, or creating bad precedents?

We have rules and we need rules, but who rules us?  Do rules reign in our hearts or does Jesus reign in our hearts?  Sometimes we choose rules over love; we make the decisions because rules require us to make those decisions.  But there are times and circumstances when love requires more of us.  No doubt we feel safe making decisions consistent with rules.  After all who can fuss at us for following precedent; how can anyone criticize us for doing “what we are supposed to do”?  We may even feel like we are acting nobly or with high purpose when uphold the rules?  However, we need to be careful because love frequently demands that we take risks; love often asks us to do things that make us uncomfortable.

Small minded people are able to follow rules very well but it takes a large heart to follow the demands of love.  The scribes and Pharisees knew exactly what to do with the woman caught in adultery.  But we are not scribes and Pharisees and love requires more from us; love inspires more in us.  Jesus calls us to follow him, not rules.



What Wondrous Love Is This?

What Wondrous Love Is This?

A couple of weeks ago, I was at my son Ryan’s basketball game.  Just before the game started, a friend of mine asked me if I would prayer for her because her neck was hurting and she had heard that I had prayed for a few people recently who received healing.  So I put my hand on the back of her neck and prayed for healing.  The whole thing lasted less than a minute.  Afterwards she told me that her neck felt warm and better.  I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by that, but I took it at face value that she felt a little better but nothing dramatically different.

Last night at another basketball game, she told me that she had been in a lot of pain before we prayed and that she has experience no pain in her neck since.  Well, that’s amazing isn’t it?  My friend believes she was healed by faith and, more importantly, she believes that the Lord touched her just to show her how much he loves her.  For my friend, it’s personal, sort of like receiving a Valentine’s gift from someone who loves you.  The healing she received is very real, but the love of God that produced the healing, is the more substantial and powerful gift that she received.

One of the things that is interesting to me about her healing is that the Lord responded to her faith and my faith and still made a little miracle happen.  My friend and I know each other well.  Even though she asked me to pray for her, I don’t really think she believed that she would be healed.   Even if she had heard that I had prayed for other people who received healing, she could not have had much faith that my prayer would really make a difference.  After all she knows me and has known me for a long time — there’s nothing in our past that would give her any confidence that something supernatural would result from my prayer.

Senior Buds

Senior Buds

For my part, she is my friend, and we are at a basketball game, surrounded by lots of other people making lots of noise.  When she asked for prayer there was nothing about her request or the look on her face that would inspire confidence.  Honestly, even though her request was sincere and she did look like she really wanted to be healed, there was nothing about the time, place, setting, or anything else that suggest healing might really happen.

I suppose what I am getting at is neither one of us had much faith that she we would be healed.  Really, I would say her faith and my faith were very small, maybe even as small as a mustard seed?

So my take away is this:  God loves us very much and if we give him even a slight opening he pours through it with love.  From my friend’s point of view, you can be sure that she has no higher opinion of me or my level of faith than she did before, nor is she impressed with the level of her own faith.  She is, however, impressed with a lingering assurance of God’s very personal love for her.

A few weeks ago, a few of us were on a “Treasure Hunt” (I will have to explain what a treasure hunt is in another post).  Four of us were together, a little before 9pm on a Wednesday night, walking through the parking lot on our way into a local Walmart.  As we approached the entrance to the Walmart, a man exited the Walmart passing to our right.  I called out to him, “Sir” and he kept walking.  I called out a second time, “Sir” and caught his attention.  As he stopped and turned toward me, I asked him if he had a problem with his ankle.  He said, “No, why do I ask”?  I told him that I thought I noticed that he was limping slightly. He went on to tell us that he did not have a problem with his ankle but both of his knees give him problems.  In fact, he said, “I am going to have surgery on my left knee tomorrow morning”.  I asked him if we could pray for him and he gave us permission to do so.  I asked him if we could put our hands on each of his knees as we prayed and he agreed to let us do so.

So we gathered around him and began to pray for him right there in the Walmart parking lot in the very cold air.  I put my hand on his left knee and one of the other people with me put his hand on the other knee. We prayed for a few seconds and then I asked him (his name was Jerome), if he could feel anything going on in his body in response to our prayer.  He said, “Yes, I can feel heat in both of my knees”.  I told him the reason he can feel heat in his knees is because Jesus is healing him.  I asked him if he would mind walking around and to try to do something with his knees that he could not do before to demonstrate that he was  healed.

Before doing so, Jerome asked, “How did you find me?”  He said, “I am not even supposed to be here.  I live somewhere else and there is a Walmart much closer to my home.  I don’t even know why I am here.  I have never been here before.  I came to this Walmart and I am not sure why.  I went in to the store, but I didn’t buy anything.  Then I walked out of the store and here you are.  This is so strange.” He was absolutely undone and could not understand what was going on.

I told Jerome he had to walk around to see if he was better.  He began to walk and then he started lifting his knees up in the air.  He told us his knees were feeling much better and that he didn’t think he needed surgery anymore.  None of us had ever seen Jerome before and we haven’t had any contact with him since we prayed for him.  So we don’t know whether he canceled the surgery, whether he had the surgery or what has become of him.  We do know he believed at the time we were with him that he received healing to his knees,  But more importantly, he experienced an overwhelming sense of awe that somehow God had mysteriously arranged everything about our encounter with him and it made him feel almost as if he had stepped into a different reality.  Of course we know that different reality is the Kingdom of God, which is very near and spinning our world around.

On January 30, 2015, the Alleluia Community Healing Team held a healing service at Sacred Heart Church in Warner Robbins, Georgia.  There were about 250 people present and somewhere between 35 to 40 people received instantaneous healing of various problems.  Many of those who were healed gave public testimony of their healing.  Some of those present were healed of long standing problems, things they had suffered with for a number of years.  Some of the reported healings were of relatively small things, others were healed of more substantial illnesses or injuries.  However the one common denominator for all those who gave testimony to their healing was their very strong sense of God’s love for them.  For each of them, it was very personal.  Certainly the healings were important, but the love of God overshadowed the healings.

Who Let The Dogs Out

Who Let The Dogs Out

What does it mean to have faith?  When we ask God to answer our prayers, do we really expect him to do it?  When we ask and don’t immediately receive an answer,  do we usually just give up and assume that for some reason, unknown to us, he doesn’t want to do what we are asking him to do?  What does it mean to believe, to trust, to have confidence, to be faithful?  What do we have to do to see more of our prayers answered?  Maybe we can learn something from the Canaanite woman?

And behold a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.’  But he did not answer her a word.  And his disciples came and begged him saying, ‘Send her away, for she is crying after us.’  He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’  But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’  And he answered, ‘It is not fair t take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’  She said, ‘Yes Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’  Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith!   Let it be done for you as you desire.’  And her daughter was healed instantly.”  (Matthew 15:22-28)

The Canaanite woman shows up and cries out.  She’s not just asking, she is begging and in a very loud voice.  In fact, she was so noisy and continued for so long that she was irritating  the disciples.  She annoyed them so much they begged Jesus to send her away.  I wonder how often we cry out to the Lord in this way?  I wonder how many of us think its okay to cry out to the Lord like this?  We may not know that Jesus prayed this way too.  “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.”  (Hebrews 5:7)  Perhaps we need to follow his example.

Another thing we notice from the story is that, initially, Jesus ignored her; he didn’t even respond to her at all, not a word.  Likewise we frequently encounter silence when we bring our needs to the Lord?  We get nothing in response — not a word, just empty quiet.  What happens then?  Do we continue to ask or do we give up?  Do we persist in prayer or give in to unbelief?  Do we press forward or do we lose confidence, not only for our current need but for future needs as well?  But  the Canaanite woman kept crying out; she would not quit and she wouldn’t take no for an answer.

At last Jesus spoke to her, but not in a way that she could have expected.  He told her that it isn’t fair to take food that belongs to the children (Jews) and give it to the dogs (gentiles).  He essentially tells her that she has not part in what he has to offer and neither does her daughter.  You don’t have to be a Canaanite woman to be offended by this rebuff; nevertheless she presses in even harder, saying “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table”.  First, Jesus ignores her; then he offends her, but she refuses to budge.  Jesus, clearly impressed, exclaims, “O woman great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you desire.”  (Matthew 15:28)

What kind of faith is this?  Undoubtedly,  she believes Jesus can do it; she trusts that he is able to do exactly what she is asking him to do.  Yet the faith she demonstrates  seems to be more than simple belief or trust.  It is more like she is fully persuaded, maybe even “divinely persuaded” that he is able to help her daughter.

No doubt this woman had  great faith just as Jesus said, but I wonder if that’s why Jesus answered her prayer.  After praising her faith, he says, “Let it be done for you as you desire.” In other words, he gives her what she wills/wants.  Compared to this woman, I cannot help but wonder if I “want/will/desire” enough?  Perhaps that explains why my prayers sometimes go unanswered?

Likely the Canaanite woman’s passion is driven by desperation.  Maybe she knows that Jesus is the only hope for her daughter whom she obviously loves very deeply.  Maybe we need to be more convinced that Jesus is the only hope we have for the answers we seek?  What do you think?



I believe we all have a longing inside of us to love fully, to be loved completely, to be good and to do good.  So often these feelings remain unfulfilled because we not sure exactly what it is we want and usually we have no idea how to get from where we are to where we want to be.  This longing is really a deep desire for wholeness, holiness.  It’s not holiness the way we normally think about it — that is a kind of “super goodness” where we do everything right all the time.  Rather it’s a through and through goodness that grows effortlessly out of being perfectly loved and responding in kind with all of our love in return.   This idea is articulated very well in the passage that follows.

“My Jesus, it is truly easy to become holy; it just takes a little good will! And if He finds this minimum of good will in a soul, He quickly gives Himself to her. And nothing can stop Him, neither our faults nor our falls, absolutely nothing. Jesus hurries to help that soul; and if the soul is faithful to this grace from God, she can in a short time reach the highest level of holiness that a created being can attain here below. God is very generous and does not refuse His grace to anyone. He gives even more than we ask for. The shortest road is faithfulness to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.” (p.142 St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary: Divine Mercy in my Soul)

This is a message for people who aspire to holiness, people who want to respond as far as possible to God’s love.  Perhaps you have never aspired to love God as much as he can possibly be loved; if not, beg the Holy Spirit to put that desire in you.  Beg Him to leave you restless until you have that aspiration.  Then you will be really happy for: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)  (Thoughts from “In the School of the Holy Spirit” by Jacques Philippe)

Maybe we should pray for the desire to love the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as much as we possibly can and for a restlessness until the Holy Spirit places that desire in us, not just one time, and not half-heartedly, but every day,  and whenever we think about it throughout the day.  After all, what do we have to loose, but the very life that leaves us discontent day after day after day.  Grace and peace!

10,000 Hours

10,000 Hours

“Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.  The Lord God has opened my ear …”  (Isaiah 50:4-5)

What would happen if we lived our lives waking every morning to hear the Holy Spirit opening our ears to hear?  What if we made it our sole aim in life to cultivate an ear that hears what the Spirit wants to teach us?  What if we spent 10000 hours, one morning at a time, developing our inner ear to listen to Jesus and then doing whatever he tells us to do?

That is exactly what Jesus did.  Morning by morning he woke to listen to the Father.  And then he went about doing what the Father showed him needed to be done.  He demonstrated exactly how we are intended to live, life at the highest level, morning by morning, one day at a time.

Of course we have important things to do, goals to achieve, tasks to accomplish, people to see, work to be done, lives to be lived.  But how can we live the way we are meant to live, the way we want to live, unless he opens our ears to hear?  And how can he open our ears unless we generously dispose ourselves to listen?

We try so many things to make our lives better — to be better — to experience happiness and fulfillment.  We dabble in this and experiment with that — always looking for something that will unite our splintered hearts and finally make sense of it all.  We look everywhere but fail to see that which is hidden in plain view?

No doubt we have tried to open our ears before without seeing any real results; just like hundreds of other things we have flailed at that promised benefits they never seemed to deliver.  But I am describing something entirely different:  the idea of laying hold of a relationship with the Holy Spirit and not letting go, no now, not ever, no matter what happens — whether we see immediate results or not.  This is radical, even violent and not for the faint of heart, but it will deliver results.  The apostle Paul describes it as “… forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [pressing] on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)  It is the choosing of the better part (see Luke 10:42) and building your life on, in, around and through it.

We all have dreams, things we want for ourselves and those we love.  Often, we are afraid that if we really choose the “one thing” we will loose everything else.  But the truth is everything we want in life is hidden in Him.  Deep down we know this; deep down we want this.  Maybe it’s time to do something about it  — be radical, practice a little violence on yourself.  Begin now to open your ear to the Spirit who is ready to teach anyone with an open ear.



Sometimes circumstances in our lives make us feel as if we are trapped  with no escape.  No iron bars hold us, no chains are locked around us, no doors imprison us, yet we feel and act as if we are surrounded by armed guards whose sole purpose is to keep us right where we are.  Notwithstanding the difficulties we face, we are not helpless!

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”  (Psalm 118:17)

We have options.  We can decide to live in an entirely different way.  It’s simple really, but no one can do it for us.  We can continue to allow these make believe, illusory walls and limitations, define who we are and how we live or we can use our God given wills and decide to walk in the freedom of the children of God.  It’s entirely up to us.

… I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live … ” (Deuteronomy 30: 19)

We often forget how much power we have in the choices we make.  We are not required nor expected to live life according to the idea that “what will be will be”.  Meaningful living requires choosing on our part.  We are not free to just accept whatever comes our way.  The Lord sets a choice before us:  we can choose life and blessings or death and curses.  If you feel like your life is going nowhere fast and you just can’t catch a break, maybe you need to choose something else.  We cannot ignore this issue; not to choose is to make the wrong choice.

A lot more is at stake here than just our personal happiness, though that, in of itself is enough to make it worthwhile.  When we choose life and blessings, we do so not only for ourselves but also for our descendants, our families and our friends.  Choosing life and blessings releases a stream that will flow down to those who follow us and will refresh those around us.  The choices we make really do matter.

We are surrounded by enemies and we are engaged in a spiritual battle.  The Lord promises to fight for us, but we must also choose to fight for ourselves and for those who depend on us.

Certainly, we face real challenges.  We need faith to believe that God will give us whatever we need in the present moment to overcome our current difficulties.  We also need hope to believe that the choices we make today will mean real change in our lives over time.  Finally, we need love to sustain us in our pursuit of life and blessings.

Photograph compliments of Jim Begley




I was at a meeting earlier in the week with a group of people.  On the way out, I was looking for someone with whom I needed to speak.  Before I could get to that person, a friend stopped me to thank me for some advice I had given him and to explain how much it helped him.  I recognized that my friend was excited to share this with me, but, honestly, at that moment I was more interested in my own mission.  So I found myself half engaged in one conversation thinking about another one.

While praying the next morning, I realized that I had missed the more important conversation pursuing the conversation that mattered more to me.  In my mind I immediately and almost involuntarily asked my friend to forgive me for missing the opportunity, for not caring enough about him in that moment to give him my full attention.  Then, one after another, image after image, came to mind where I had done something similar to others.  So my prayer continued:  please forgive me, please forgive me, over and over again and again.  I was suddenly aware of all the times I missed what was right in front of me to see, to hear, to love because I was more caught up in my own little world.

Thinking about all of the encounters with various people that I have had in the last forty years, I started to do the math.  If I just missed one opportunity a day (not much of a stretch there), that’s 365 a year for forty years — which calculates out to 14600 offenses, most of which never even showed up on my radar.  I resolve to do better!

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God … For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night … Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  (Psalm 90:2,4,12)

I often wish I had more time.  Sometimes I regret that I haven’t used my time better.  Undoubtedly I feel like I have wasted time; but just as often, I feel as if I have used every moment available to me.  I suppose that I am bothered less by what I have done or failed to do in a given moment than I am by the overall sense that I have failed to use the time I have been given to do “those things” that come to mind at odd times, in quiet moments and in the middle of the night — “those things” that I never seem to get around to doing — “those things” that follow and cling to me like a shadow.

milkywayIn my weaker moments, I blame it all on time.  I tell myself if I just had a little bit more time, or a little bit less to do, I would get “those things” done.  Deep down I know that I am mostly doing what I want to do and “those things” that aren’t getting done, aren’t getting done because I don’t want to do them bad enough.  Once again having come full circle, like the proverbial dog chasing its tail, I am confronted with the truth:  the problem is me — I am always the problem.

Conversion is needed here, deeper conversion and more love.  I have enough time to do what he wants me to do.  But I need more love  to recognize what that is and to do it.  Love changes a foolish heart into a heart of wisdom.  Love opens the door of time to the timelessness of eternity.  Love opens our eyes to the truth and it makes faith possible.

Love is working in me.  I know this because I am beginning to see where I couldn’t see before.  I see the need for change, radical change.  Love gives me hope that real transformation is possible and, in fact, is happening — slowly but surely, little by little, I am becoming new, better.

I want to live today, just today, with an awareness of God’s presence and with an understanding that there are “those things” he wants me to do today.  Today, I want to keep my eyes, ears and heart open to what the Holy Spirit is doing, so I can participate — so that the time I have been given will converge with God’s time and make a difference for eternity.  Love will find the way.

Photos compliments of Jim Begley


Burning Bush

Burning Bush

I want to be a burning bush.  My heart yearns, aches really, to be surrendered to Jesus so that he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.  I have been reading a lot of stories over the last several months about ordinary (very ordinary) people who have been extra-ordinary by so disposing themselves to the love of God that his love flows out of their hearts in streams of living water.  I long to be like that.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Mid’ian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  And the angel of the Lord appeared to him out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.  (Exodus 3:1-2)

Everything about this story is especially ordinary except the burning bush.  Moses, alone in the wilderness, is taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep.  Nothing about this scene suggests that something awesome is about to occur.  No musical score is playing in the background to alert us that Moses is about to encounter the living God; but then it happens — something amazing appears right before his eyes — the bush radiant with fire, but not consumed by it.

Lots and lots of things about my life are ordinary.  But when I pray I feel the fire burning in me.  Sometimes the fire rages and I can feel its energy inside me.  At other times it may just be smoldering, and from time to time, I cannot tell if it’s burning at all; but, whether I am aware of it or not, I know it burns.

www.wowphotoshdr.comI want the fire to consume me — to take away all of my darkness, to purify me.  Because, I believe if I can just dispose myself more to him, he will make me better, and you will be able to see more of Jesus in me.  “So I strive for … holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  (Hebrews 12:14)  For, when it is all said and done, I do not want to be the reason you do not see him.

Even so, the holiness I strive for is not an external holiness.  I do not long to look good on the outside; rather I yearn for purity and goodness from the inside out.  The kind of purity and goodness that comes from the love of God being poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  I am looking for the holiness that comes from the life of Christ dwelling inside — the fire that never goes out.

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Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders

Do you ever wonder what is was like for the Father and the Son before Jesus became man?  They had glory in each other’s presence.  They were complete together, the Father loving the Son and the Son loving the Father.  Before giving himself up to death for us Jesus prayed:  “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made.”  (John 17:4-5)  This was his prayer and it’s our deepest desire.

Glory in this context is something like fame, honor, exceedingly great reputation, indescribable beauty, luminosity, brilliant light, or as Augustine suggests,”brilliant celebrity with praise”.  The following verses give a sense of it.

Yahweh then said to Moses, ‘Again I shall do what you have asked, because you enjoy my favour and because I know you by name.’  He then said, ‘Please show me your glory.’  Yahweh said, ‘I shall make all my goodness pass before you, and before you I shall pronounce the name Yahweh; and I am gracious and I take pity on those on whom I take pity.  But my face’, he said, ‘you cannot see, for no human being can see me and survive.’  Then Yahweh said, ‘Here is a place near me.  You will stand on the rock, and when my glory passes by, I shall put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with my hand until I have gone past.  Then I shall take my hand away and you will see my back; but my face will not be seen.  (Exodus 33:19)

I saw a brilliance like amber, like fire, radiating from what appeared to be the waist upwards; and from what appeared to be the waist downwards, I saw what looked like fire, giving a brilliant light all round.  The radiance of the encircling light was like the radiance of the bow in the clouds on rainy days.  The sight was like the glory of Yahweh. (Ezekial 1:27-28)

bodie milkyway rising monolaketufasIn the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night.  An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them.  They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid.  Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.’ (Luke 2:8-10)

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp stands, and in the midst of the lamp stands one like a Son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest; his head and his hair were white as wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.  (Revelations 1:12-16)

[Jesus] is the radiance of his glory, the exact representation of his nature, and upholds all things by the word of his power.  (Hebrews 1:3)

Jesus is the Word of God, Faithful and True.  He existed in the beginning with the Father and everything was made through him.  He is the Son who was, is and always remains in the heart of the Father; and he came to make the Father known to us.  (See John 1:1-3, 18)

Scripture tells us that the Father loves us so much that he gave us the Son so that we might believe in him and have eternal life.  So the Father sent Jesus into the world, not for condemnation, but to bring us salvation.  (See John 3:16-17)  Many have believed, many continue to believe and many will believe in the future.  But not everyone.

When Jesus spoke to the people and performed signs and wonders there were many who did not believe in him or in the works that he did.  Even though light had come into the world, many loved darkness more than they loved the light, because their deeds were evil.  (See John 3:19)  The same is certainly true today.

warmsunrisecroppingworkingJesus came into the world to save us — to show us the Father and to enable us to share in their life — to live with them, in love, forever.  He spoke about the Father, he taught about the Kingdom of God and he performed signs and wonders to demonstrate the authenticity of his message.

What signs did he perform and why did he do it?

Just to mention a few, He changed the water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana.  (John 2)  He healed the official’s son there as well.  (John 4)  He restored the lame man laying beside the pool in Jerusalem who has been ill for thirty-eight years.  (John 5)

Afterward, responding to those who were persecuting him Jesus said,

… the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, the Son does likewise.  For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel.  (John 5:19-20)

… I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.   If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true … for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me.  (John 5:30-32, 36)

Jesus also fed thousands with a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread.  He walked on water.  He commanded the storm to cease and it did.  He cast out demons.   He raised the dead.  He told many people the secrets of their hearts.  He passed through crowds when they were trying to kill him.  These things are recorded for us.  But as the gospel of John reports:  “… there are many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  (John 21:25)

Why did Jesus perform these signs and wonders?

Certainly, he was motivated by love and compassion.  But primarily, he did it so we would change our hearts and minds, and believe the good news.  Repeatedly, Jesus told those who resisted him, if you do not believe my words, believe for the sake of the works that I do.

‘I told you, and you do not believe.  The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe …’  (John 10:25-26)

And when those he was speaking to sought to stone him for his message he answered them

‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?’ … If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.  (John 10:32, 37-38)

sunrise horse farm fences 1Even with his friends and those who believed in him, Jesus didn’t rely solely on the spoken word, but demonstrated the authenticity of his word with signs and wonders.  When Jesus encountered Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus, she said,

‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  And even now I know tht whatever you ask from God, God will give you.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’  Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’  Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives  and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?’

… Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’  Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?’  So they took away the stone.  And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I know that you always hear me, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you sent me.’  When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus come out.’  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’  (John 11:21-26, 39-44)

Jesus, by his own words, tells us that he performed this miracle so that those standing by might believe.  If we accept him at his word, this means that even the Son of God, the Son closest to the Father’s heart, the only perfect man, born without sin, full of grace without measure, in whom the fullness of God dwelt, used and depended upon signs and wonders to confirm his preaching and demonstrate the authenticity of his message, enabling many to believe.

If Jesus needed signs and wonders to confirm his message, what do you suppose we need for people to listen to us?


Photos compliments of Jim Begley