Fresh Oil

Can I tell you something? And I’m talking to followers of Jesus now. If tomorrow we were to wake up and find all racism gone, all prejudice erased, world-wide peace and harmony, every conspiracy theory solved, and “justice” meted out on a global scale; it would not be enough to satisfy our hearts. We are His, and He alone can fill us.

My dear brothers and sisters, what we need today is not to be found in anything birthed by the flesh. No , it is a fresh revelation of the wonder of the Son of the living God. Once again we need to go to that secret place where only those who worship him in Spirit in truth may go and gaze anew upon the beauty of the glory of Jesus. He is the radiance of the unseen God and the exact imprint of his substance, all that we need in this age or in any age to come.

It is the love of God in Christ, eclipsing all other loves that alone can soothe the storm in our hearts. There is nothing that this world has to offer that can bring the peace and joy that he alone extends to us in his Spirit. Once more we need to cry out to God that the eyes of our hearts may be opened that we may see the One through whom all that is or ever will be was brought into being. There is nothing: no system or authority or dominion or powers seen or unseen over which he is not God. And this God almighty has called us to himself!

May we turn away from lesser things that vie for our attention and affection and return again to our First Love. Forsaking all others, let us hold fast to that which we have first believed, knowing that he is faithful to give us all things. We are heirs of everything, joint heirs with Jesus, recipients of every spiritual blessing God has to bestow. And he shouts with a lion’s roar, “Come away with me my beloved!!”

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. Let us run again to that name and do the things we did when we first believed, and find him again in all of his majesty. Faithful One, Holy One, First Born and Ruler of all creation. It is he who anoints our heads with fresh oil and binds our hearts together as the love of God is poured out in us by his Spirit. We return again to the fountain of living water, and shall thirst no more.


The last thing any of us like to see is pile of jewelry all tangled up together into one big glob with all the pieces practically indistinguishable from each other. We look at all the knots and twists and turns, and we’re ready to give up before we’ve ever started. What was beautiful has somehow morphed into an absolute disaster, one nerve away from a trip to the garbage can.  HEEEEEELLLP!! Usually, someone with a lot of patience and some time can salvage the jewelry fiasco. But what about our lives?

I remember a time when I looked at my life, and I seriously doubted that it could ever be “untangled.” I had made such a mess of things. Potential and promise had been destroyed. The years of pain and addiction had wound around me, extended into the lives of my family and friends, and insinuated its chains into every facet of my world. One giant knot of hurt. I hated the sound of my own voice and doubted that God could or even would  help. Hopelessness.

I began to cry out to the Lord, desperate pleas to a God I thought I knew:

 God please, just get me right and then kill me before I can screw it up again! I don’t care what it takes; put me in prison, give me cancer, please just somehow get through to me! Jesus, I want to know you, not what they told me you were like, but YOU!!

He heard my cry. And with great love and patience and care and mercy he began the process of untangling all the knots- healing, restoration, and reconciliation. He saved me, and he’s still saving me today. Salvation! God, taking our death and giving us his life, untangling it all in Jesus. HOPE.

You have not gone too far.

When The Sun & Moon Speak

Yesterday, as we all watched the Eclipse together from different places across the country, as we all stared with wonder at the moment of Totality, something really wonderful happened. Magically (or so it may have seemed), all hostilities ceased, protests abruptly came to a halt, and we didn’t care about the color of the person’s skin who stood or sat next to us. As one were simply amazed. Watching some of the news coverage after the event, people said that they had cried not really knowing why and that they had felt a peace and oneness with everyone and everything. All eyes were fixed on the heavens, and somehow we knew there was MORE and that we  wanted to be a part of it.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.
 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.

[God] has planted eternity in the human heart…      

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature…

You and I were created in the image of God. No matter the color of your skin or if you are male or female, you were made in his likeness; you were made for Him. And though sin has brought death and separation, perverting our understanding of God and ourselves; we KNOW. We may not understand how we know or entirely what it even is that we know, but the truth is that when we behold the glory of God in his creation our hearts know that we were created for something more. And what we experienced yesterday as we watched the eclipse together was creation itself, the sun and the moon crying out, “God is here, and he wants you!”

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

[God] has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…

Know it or not, yesterday, we all watched the same “podcast.” In our hearts, we all heard the same message: “Come to Me, let me love you and show you who you really are.”


The Path Towards Totality

Today’s solar eclipse is but the beginning of a series of upcoming celestial events that have some saying it’s the end of the world, the beginning of the tribulation, or an indication that the “rapture” is about to happen. Could be, I don’t know. But what I do know is that we are most definitely on the path towards totality-Jesus is going to totally dominate.

Regardless of how men claim total and absolute power, the day is drawing near when Christ shall appear and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. Although the rulers of this world set themselves and take counsel together saying, “We will not submit to God nor allow him to rule over us.” The Father has promised the Son, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession.” And he shall rule them in totality!

We live our lives like there is no tomorrow, thinking only of how we can please ourselves. We have become so deluded that we deny even the simplest of truths. But the time is drawning near when the totality of God’s revelation of Jesus Christ shall be made known from one end of creation to the other. And on that day, when the total and absolute glory of God is revealed there will be truth and justice. Not the redefined powerless notions that we have made them to be, but the righteousness of God in totality.

While today is still called today, may we give to Jesus all that we are even as he has given us himself. Humbled, torn apart, and poured out upon the cross on a day in which the sun was also darkened, and God assumed the brokenness of his creation in totality.

He Brings Me Back

“The Lord is my shepherd…He restores my soul.”

We all get tired. Even in “well-doing” we can simply grow weary. The weariness usually leads to frustration, and then, if you’re not careful, you can start to “wander off.” We begin to think that God has forgotten about us, that he has left us to ourselves and moved on. All the things we thought he spoke to us remain unfulfilled, and bitterness threatens to corrupt our hearts and imagination. We say to ourselves, “Perhaps it would be better if I just went…” I don’t know about you, but I have just “went…” But He brought me back!!

Really, that’s what “He restores my soul” means: He brings me back  . When he wrote Psalm 23, David was thinking of the Lord as his shepherd ,something David himself knew a lot about as he too had been a shepherd. He thought of the way a good shepherd cares for his flock. He reflected on the way that sheep are prone to stray and get themselves “out of wack.” And he knew that he himself could be like one of those sheep. But he had also learned that the Lord was the ultimate shepherd, ready, willing, and able to come to the rescue of one of his own.

Listen, God does not hate you. You have not taken him by surprise, nor freaked him out by your behavior. He is intimately acquainted with you and knows you better than you know yourself. Even now, his goodness and mercy are chasing you down!! He longs to pour the fresh oil of his precious Spirit all over your life. Don’t fall victim to the guilt and shame that would keep you separated from the Shepherd and Lover of your soul. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. He has given his life for you, how will he not now give you all things? He brings you back!!

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.



I Know A Man

I know a man who knew from the time he was a little boy that there was a God who loved him and that he was called to share His word.

I know a man who as a child experienced abuse and abandonment.

I know a man who as an adolescent began to turn from the Light and descend into darkness.

I know a man who abandoned his family, his mother, his brother, and his own children.

I know a man who was a thief.

I know a man who was a liar.

I know a man who was a murderer, taking the life of his own unborn child.

I know a man who stayed locked in a room for days, staying high, drunk, ranting and raving like a madman.

I know a man who has participated in unspeakable acts of perversion.

I know a man who could not buy food to eat.

I know a man who sat in a parking lot for two days, with no money for a spare tire, until a stranger showed him kindness.

I know a man who in his brokenness was forsaken, written off, and left for dead…


I know a Man who is God.

I know a Man who bled and died.

I know a Man who is eternal life.

I know a Man who sought out the wanderer and cared for his wounds.

I know a Man who said to the forsaken, “I love you; you are Mine.”

I know a Man who forgave the liar, the thief, the murderer.

I know a Man who fed the hungry.

I know a Man who said to the immoral, “I don’t condemn you. I have come to set you free.”

I know a Man who said, “I will NEVER leave you, abuse you, or abandon you.”

I know a Man who heals broken families.

I know a Man who restores to the hardened the tenderness, awe, and wonder of a child-like heart.

I know a Man they call Jesus.


Caught In The Rain

I got up this morning and headed out the door for my morning……. I don’t know what you call it- I run some and I walk some. Any how, I knew by looking at the sky that it would probably rain at some point during the day, but it seemed all clear. So, I proceeded. As I made my way across Lake Murray Dam, looking across the lake, I could see heat lightning off in the horizon. Well, I made it across, but about a quarter of the way back the bottom fell out, and I walked/ran the last mile or so in the pouring rain. The Spirit whispered, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6: 1,2)

It is possible that as you walk with Jesus, you can find yourself caught in sin, caught in a place you know you shouldn’t be. It wasn’t planned, you didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “You know what, I don’t care anymore. I think I’m gonna ______ .” No, what we’re talking about here, what Paul was talking about, is more of being “caught by surprise.” Now, we could get into reasons for this “being caught,” but that’s another conversation. The fact of the matter is for whatever reason, you’ve been trapped. You’re still a disciple of Jesus, but somehow you’ve got yourself caught. Maybe even groups of believers are caught in this dilemma. You may be thinking, “Man, the whole church is caught!” What are we to do?

Whether or not we’re dealing with an individual or larger groups of people, the emphasis is to be on restoration. So often, in our self-righteousness, we want to lash out, tell them the reason why they’re so messed up and make them feel good and guilty about their present state. (I’ve had this disposition, and I repent of it.) We think to ourselves, “If this person truly loved Jesus, he wouldn’t be all jacked up like this.” But notice, Paul says that we are to treat the ones caught in an offense with gentleness. In fact, this gentleness is a mark of true spirituality. It is not a condoning of sin, but  compassion for a brother or sister (or the church) who is caught in an offense. It is a fruit of the Spirit (ironic that Paul lists these fruits in the preceding verses) in the lives of “the spiritual” that desires restoration and freedom more than proving how spiritual they feel themselves to be. It’s one thing to point out sin and problems, but the truly spiritual man or woman has a heart of gentleness, a compassion and desire for those who are  trapped to be restored. They are humble of heart for they know that they too, except for the grace of God, could be tempted and caught.

When we see people who have been caught in the rain it’s so easy to think, “What an idiot!” Some folks (like the ones riding across the dam this morning) even ride by, and try to splash more water on you-to further emphasize your idiocy.  But we should note that the truly spiritual desire to help bear the burden of those “caught in the rain.” The ones who are living by the Spirit are not content to sit back and pompously point out the obvious, they are willing to get a little wet themselves if that’s what it takes to help. They’re response is, “Do you need a ride?” or “Here’s an umbrella.” Instead of, “Man, you’re an idiot.” In this way the law of Jesus is fulfilled. They behave like the One who not only saw the sin, but totally assumed the dilemma, bearing it within Himself and providing the solution.

I made it back across the dam this morning. You could say I got soaked to the bone, but I’ll say that I was “baptized” in the cleansing rain. Lover of Jesus, are you caught out in the rain today? Can I tell you that you will make it back? You’ve come too far to give up, and God’s grace is enough to see you through. I pray you learn from the downpour you find yourself in, that cleansing and renewed zeal towards God be yours on the other side. I pray the “rain” reminds you of your first love, and the One who first loved you. I pray that you reconsider the kind intentions God has for you in Jesus. The clouds will break, and you will walk in the Son.


A Choice Between Trees

In our brokenness, we have become estranged from Love. All that is left to us now are but shards of a shattered reality which cut and wound us even as we embrace them. Thorns and thistles, the sweat of the brow remind us that “knowing,” apart from Love, yields a harvest of death. “Where are you?”

Apart from Love we cover our nakedness with shame and guilt, seeking desperately to hide behind a fortress of lies. Approaching footsteps ring echoes of terror as our new found insanity warps the very fabric of creation and distorts the image of Love’s intentions. “I heard you coming and was afraid.”

Our proximity reveals our betrayal. Love’s embrace is exchanged for a self imposed exile which foreshadows the hell of separation and fatality of realized appetite. Shuffling feet and the assignment of blame become the posture and vernacular of creatures who have willfully abandoned their place in Love. ‘”What have you done?”

In his brokenness, Love removes our estrangement. He was cut and wounded as he embraced the shards of our shattered reality. A crown of thorns and thistles, the blood of his brow remind us that only in knowing Love can we have true life.


“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel?
    How can I let you go?
How can I destroy you like Admah
    or demolish you like Zeboiim?
My heart is torn within me,
    and my compassion overflows.” (Hosea 11:8)

 There s good news for those of us who know the Lord, but find ourselves struggling: Your God loves us! And he will not let us go. Yes, he is holy. Yes, his Spirit grieves over our sin. But he loves us, and longs to heal and comfort us if we will only return to him. He does not hate us, nor is he waiting for the chance to “get” us. Oh no, quite the contrary; he is waiting, even yearning to have compassion on us and restore us to himself.

 “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces;now he will heal us. He has injured us;
  now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us,
    so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
    Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
    or the coming of rains in early spring.” (Hosea 6: 1-3)

Although the Father does discipline his children, those whom he loves; it is for our good that he does so. It is his love that tears and breaks so that we might see our need and return to the One who waits from on high to have compassion upon us. As surely as the sun comes up in the morning, we can be certain of his kind intentions towards us in Christ.

 “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,for your sins have brought you down.Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
    Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
    so that we may offer you our praises.

The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
    my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.
I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven.
Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon.” (Hosea 14: 1, 2; 4-6)

We may have been faithless. But he is faithful. We may be dry and all but withered. But he will refresh us and cause us to blossom once again. His love for us knows no bounds. It is he that has saved us and called us by name. He has not forsaken us though we may have wandered from him. Come now; let our broken hearts drive us to him. Don’t run away in fear. There is One who has born our sin, and poured himself out that we might receive mercy and know the love of God. This is the One who lives that we also may live, free from the sin that has beset us. He offers forgiveness, healing and restoration.

 “Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.” (Hosea 10: 12)