Six Hands At An Open Door!

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11

It was the worse time of year for such a long journey. The weather was deep and sharp — the very womb of winter. Summer palaces on slopes gave way to sore-footed cursing men on camels. Night fires going out, a lack of shelter and muddy roads replaced palatial terraces with silken maids. There were hostile cities and unfriendly towns. There were inns charging high prices and there were dirty villages. There were times they traveled all night with voices singing in their ears. There were times when feet kicked empty wine skins and the sky hung low with regret.

They were weary pilgrims who had traveled months from a palace in Iran (ancient Persia) only to be guided by a lone star hovering over a house in Israel. They were by name: Caspar (or Gaspar) of Tarsus, Melchior of Persia, and Balthazar of Saba. They were by faith from the priestly caste of Zarathustra — Magi, Wise men, even Kings — who as part of their religion studied the stars. They were searching for the one who had removed his robe of divinity and wrapped himself in human skin. They were looking for the one whom angels worshipped, who would bring hope to the world from the placenta of a peasant. They were hoping to find the Light of the Universe, to occupy themselves with the Maestro so they would never have to simply study the piano again.

As they reached the temperate valley, amidst the snow and fog of the afternoon — the capricious monotone of a journey’s end — they stopped! Exhausted by the thought of being slapped again by the wave of broken dreams or being over-looked again in the endless race to the top of the mountain. They were afraid to trust again… tired of their mail (prayers) coming back to them with no return address. So they sat for a half hour among the violins of self-pity mingled with the memories of cracked crowns. That’s when the youngest amongst them went in all alone to see the child. He found that he was like himself, for he seemed to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out, full of wonder. Then in went the second, who was a man of middle age. But to him, the child seemed to be of his own age and appearance. And he came out quite dumbfounded. Then in went the third, who was much older in years; and to him it also happened as it had to the other two. And he came out deep in thought. When they were all together, each told the others what he had seen. And they were much amazed and resolved that they would all go in together. So, in they went, all together, and came before the child and saw him in his real likeness and of his real age. And they all reached out in unison to touch him. Six hands at an open door fell on hands and knees! They had seen birth and death, but this was different. Like death, this was hard yet easy. Like Life, this was bitter yet sweet. Then they worshiped him and offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And as they returned to their palaces (their kingdoms still clutching other gods) they prayed that every Soul mount the stairs and turn the handle on the door of immeasurable peace from the one who was birthed into the cold night, and then slept on the sunrise of eternal Hope and uninterrupted Possibility!

The Feeling In the Dream Was Joyous!

“The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.  While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.” Matthew 1:18-20

His heart said yes. His feet shouted no. Indecision blew through his mind like multi-colored leaves dancing in an autumn wind. Here was the newest family on the block. Strangers to all until tomorrow! A scandal waiting to happen in the night!  Fourteen generations had passed from Abraham to King David. Fourteen generations had crossed the ancestral bridge until the Babylonian exile. Fourteen generations had reached over from Babylon until the day Christ was born. And from those numerous lines cut from a single genetic tapestry came Joseph and his fourteen-year old bride-to-be Mary.

Now in the silence and sanctity of time Joseph waited to see how his soul would respond. For despite all his fears he had surrendered to love. It had taken him years to get to this place where the heart and inner eye were opened . . . Where a man surrenders his personal strength in favor of a higher power . . . Where a man renounces his individuality for intimacy . . . Where a man understands that God heals the world two by two. Joseph had dropped his armor for harmony. Love had freed him and healed him from the tear in his holy fabric. But now the same cords that bound them together became discords (ropes) that fettered his heart and retracted the silent hooks he had placed in her. Joseph’s heart was crushed by the weight of its own anticipation. He felt as if a piece of him was being ripped away. He felt as if a limb were gone. Though he knew a separation of their bodies did not mean a separation of their souls, Joseph felt betrayed! Even still, he wanted disconnection more than he desired divorce. So he prayed the silent prayer all men pray when the longing of love no longer sets them free:

Lord, help me to restore my power!

Until then, please protect me!

This is the price of a man’s falling armor . . . that even when the darkness of the past is removed, there is still the threat of war. So God came to Joseph when his camp was at peace.

“While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream.”

And where Joseph was blocking his healing or full empowerment or the full experience of love and joy, God showed him his wounds and removed its sting and replaced it with the experience of beauty, the abundance, the power and the joy that is His wish for all mankind. In his dream, Joseph was rejoicing because he knew Mary was a vessel that would carry God’s wish to all mankind; that this burden would forever be removed from his heart; that God’s holy truths, the currents of His love and power would remain to bring light to the center of every living being; that he would forever believe in the power and faith and in the light within him; that he would forever celebrate the feeling in the dream which was joyous!

Raining Tears on His Feet!

Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. Luke 7:38

It was customary to offer water to honored guest so they could wash the dust off their feet, to prevent the world’s impurities from entering one’s household. It was also customary to greet your honored guest with a kiss and to anoint them with oil as a sign of honor and respect. Yet Simon decided to do neither. Simon is a High Priest. He is an educator, a man who has studied the ancient Hebrew text from his youth. He has also devoted himself to follow the Law and its traditions to the letter. He is highly respected by his community and revered by his contemporaries. His education had afforded him a life of possession and position. It had taught Simon how to be an intellectual but not how to be an impassioned individual; how to be a skeptic but not how to be a servant; how to be in control but not how to comfort.

So here, we have the situation of Simon, a Pharisee who welcomes Jesus into his home, who has witnessed signs and miracles; who has sensed the sensation surrounding a Savior; who is secretly one amongst the crowd; who is standing at the doorway and peering into the window of the Salvation. And that’s when Mary enters the house, blown in by the gale winds of sin like a particle of worldly dust. She is impure, uneducated, scorned and has violated every tradition Simon holds sacred. Just by being female she is a second-class citizen. Just by entering the house of a Pharisee she is moments away from a certain death. There were crowds outside saturating the seams of the wayside but there were no women allowed inside. Any daughter of Eve would have to capture their miracle discreetly— a touch of a garment! A brother’s resurrection! An overthrown stone! Mary is too ashamed to look up. She is too afraid to look around. So she instead cowers on the ground, weeping, saying nothing, honoring Jesus the only way she knows how.

The room grew silent except for her sobbing. Simon fought back his embarrassment. The men gestured their outrage. Some had slept with her. Some had bribed her. But all knew of her. She brought to Jesus the things she valued, her worldly possessions. They were the only things that gave her a desire to live until now. She had lost everyone and everything. She was treated in the city like discarded trash. Since she could remember, things, not people, had anesthetized her pain and brought a drizzle of joy. But now her drizzle of joy had turned into a rain of tears. And now the very things she thought made her attractive and desirable she gave without compunction to the Lord.

Jesus looked into her swollen eyes, her make-up smeared face of mud and perfume, into all her sorrows, all her failures, all her mistakes, and exchanged them all . . . All of her hurt for humility, all of her labels for love, all her pain for His peace. Her tears were no longer trapped by her reputation and so the dam of condemnation, which had imprisoned her heart, burst out to Him in a flood of emotion, and her tears began to flow like a river, a new life, a new journey, until they washed her hair and found his feet. She didn’t say a word to Jesus. She didn’t change her ways. She didn’t make a vow to be perfect.  She didn’t know what would happen to her life after she stood up again. The only thing she knew for certain was her love for Him . . . Her worship to Him . . . The thanksgiving in heart towards Him . . . Her testimony because of Him.

And so, Mary did what she knew to do—what she had always done. She gave herself away!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Echo of Heaven!

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Now what I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will go up to heaven for us to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may do it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may do it?” For the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may do it. Deuteronomy 30:11-14

He had fed five thousand. He had healed an only child. He had given authority to Seventy-two others to cast out demons in His name. But one was still hungry. One wasn’t satisfied with retreating demons. One didn’t stop to marvel at the bowing angels. One wasn’t content with the stars in the sky. One follower had stepped away from the crowd, personal pursuits and position to seek the King.  He had found Jesus alone praying — and with the innocence of a child asked him for His heavenly address: “Lord, teach us to pray!” So Jesus taught them . . .

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven…”

This was not a moment for trumpets but for triumph. This was not a moment for purple robes but for purpose. This was not a moment for armies but for amnesty — the amnesty of anxious silence.

There was a glint of determination in his eye and a margin of certainty in His message. He was teaching them to peer through the fog of religiosity and the shadows of doctrines and creeds and instead stand eye-to-eye and heart to heart with Him.  He was teaching them not to set their hearts on lesser passions even if it brought the reward of miracles. He was teaching them that the wheelchair of disability was too small to hold them; that the shopping mall of self-pity was forever closed.  He was teaching them to settle for nothing less than the Father Himself.

Their minds were quiet and unresponsive while their souls attended the schoolhouse of heaven. Hours had passed and still no one spoke a single word. Nothing had changed but the spiritual chisel had transformed the clay. There were still many forms of inner and outer worship but now there was but one language.  And so . . . from that moment on . . . they understood that it may be right for them to weep, but it was no longer any need to despair; that what Jesus was commanding would no longer be hard for them to do, nor would heaven ever be far away. For this was the Echo of heaven: They had pain here. They had no pain there. They struggled here. They had no struggles there. They had hatred here. They had love there. They had tears here. They had laughter there.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will go up to heaven for us to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may do it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may do it?”

Your miracle is not in heaven. Your destiny is not beyond the sea. It is here. It is now! So when it is cold on earth, you can take comfort in knowing that you are wrapped in the warmth of heaven. And Christ too is here to help ensure you live your life with a clear voice; that you someday become the hope you pray for — that you one day become the echo of heaven on earth!

The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

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Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Matthew 11:28-30

They were tired and weary. Worn out from effort! Burned out on religion! Claims became crosses. Belief became burden. They had failed to do the things that needed to be done. Had misused spiritual power. Had abused Kingdom privilege. Had denied heaven and invoked hell. Had stepped out of the child and stumbled into adulthood. Had stepped out of innocence into insolence — out of strength into stress. The dirt of the world mixed with their original dust. So they prayed that God would help them recover their lives, to show them how to see it differently. They prayed that they might again know the strength and power within them; that God would transform the experience of age into wisdom and knowledge and greatness!

For this reason they positioned themselves to walk past the obsessions of their youth, the meaning of owning a midlife, and their fear of aging. Yet in their hearts fear remained because they saw age before they could see the Sacred Elder. They saw the Angel of Death inching closer because they could not see the surrounding Army of God’s glory. They looked at themselves through the lens of physical transition and saw a weaker vessel because they could not see the soul’s progression or their higher assignment or the recycling of their energy or the remodulation of their cells. They could not see that simply walking with Jesus was their proof of being purchased —of accepting the abundant life, which lifted all eyes above the illusion of doubt, failure, fear and even death.

Leave not this world until you finish your assignment. Choose to live and not die. Let your Truths touch wisdom. Let your love be larger than death. Let your leaving be eternal. Let your heart find healing. Surrender your darkness to God and receive the arc of destiny. And while you walk with Christ— wait!  Wait until all fears and pain bow down to your peace. Wait until your bond breaks your burdens. Wait until hopelessness meets Hallelujah. Wait until your goals and dreams experience the unforced rhythms of grace.

Dear God,

Hold back the fears!

Hold back the tears!

Hold back my last breath!

Hold back death!

And instead . . . Open beauty!

Open love!

Open dreams!

Open doors!

Open favor!

Open real rest!

And stillness!

Open relationships!

And tender moments of Selah!

Open the sacred privilege of Amen!

And the eternal return to forever!

Prophesy To The Breath!

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The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3

They covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground. Then he asked, “Son of Man, can these bones live?”

God only asks a question to elongate the light — to hinder the downward spiral —to provide the blueprint for the miraculous. He only asks to move the whole world towards wisdom. And as the whole world moves towards wisdom, it tilts the mountains towards peace. The peace of God is a hollow flute through which He plays His song of love. It is the aroma of heaven raining down on the earth —wetting the dust, soaking the soul, producing the breath of oceans and blue skies. It is the art of angels painting unconscious bliss on the canvas of the dream. It is taking one step further to turn pain into promise. It is taking one step further to trade grapes for grace. It is taking one step further to total transformation.

So God told Ezekiel to “Speak to the bones” that they might live again. And suddenly there was a rattling noise all across the valley. Then as he watched, the bones came together and muscle and skin formed over the bones, but there was still no breath in them. Then God said, “Prophesy to the breath”! The grave of exile opened and the dead bones rose again.

Through the grace of God, the total metamorphosis of mind and body and spirit are possible. Through His grace, He is casting out all violence and all anger. Through His grace, He is casting out the harsh and critical nature. Through His grace, He is casting out all darkness and unforgiveness. Through His grace, He is creating a restful home inside the soul. Through His grace, He is requesting new life; a life that is no longer an undetermined quantity of dry bones scattered in a desert valley. But rather a life filled with more love, more compassion, more tenderness, more tolerance, more power, more health, and more aliveness. This is the sacred space of His power and His glory! This is the earth crammed with heaven! This is the tide that brought love back to shore.

Is This What You Were Expecting?

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The blind see, the lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised; the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. “Is this what you were expecting?” Matthew 11:4-6

Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. Tell them that the kingdom is here. This is not what the twelve expected! Jesus had become a religious celebrity and as members of his entourage they were looking for fringe benefits. They misunderstood their purpose. They misrepresented their power. They misread His prayer. The pilgrimage with Jesus was their opportunity to change their thinking and to transform themselves into the person God wanted them to become. And because the pilgrimage was a process for spiritual change it represented the highest level of prayer — the prayer for nothing — the prayer for everything! This was their opportunity for deep and profound silence. This was their encounter with their miracle. But this is not what they were expecting.

Jesus had left the physician in the village yet time after time blind eyes were open. The lepers’ philosophy and the prostitutes’ rationale had also been left there. He was freely teaching the simple and poor about the beauty and blissfulness of moments. He was bringing them closer to their own divine power. His compassion was so great that it did not argue with their logic. Instead, he simply reminded the blind — Light exists! Instead, he whispered in the ear of the prostitute — Love exists! Instead, he picked up the lame by washing their feet. Instead, he danced with the demon-possessed until all shadows surrendered to grace. But still this was not what they were expecting.

They were expecting fame and fortune and the power to sequester a kingdom. If only they could have been still long enough to see that all these things, that all the deep desires of their hearts depended solely on them; that they possessed the divine power to become what they believed. They had participated in a thousand miracles. They had listened to storms obey. They had collected grave clothes from the once dead. They had been privileged to touch the Master’s robe. Yet even in the most blessed of lives, there are times when our emotions descend on us and impose feelings of confusion, emptiness, meaninglessness, anxiety, anguish, darkness, and misery. The disciples were no different except the choice they made was to follow love to its completion.

You have a treasure within you but first you must leave your expectations in the village. You must accept your pilgrimage! You must accept loves Impressionistic painting! You are so blessed but you don’t know — Light exists! You are so highly favored yet you don’t realize all your shadows have surrendered to grace. When you look at your life what do you see? Do you see the same portrait as before? Do you ever touch the unseen particles of cheerfulness, kindness, gratitude and forgiveness? Do you enter the higher level of the sanctuary filled with the love and bliss of His presence? Or is your relationship contaminated by the invisible energy of conflict and problems? God is waiting for you to come closer and closer. He is waiting to give you the desires of your heart but first you must impact the negative energy field of your immediate surroundings: The blind see, The lame walk, Lepers are cleansed, The deaf hear, The dead are raised, The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.

Is this what you were expecting?