All Things Are New

All Things Are New

There we stood, on the edge of promise and defeat. And although we stand alone, we’re not alone, for with us is a great and mighty army beyond number as far as the eye can see. We, just like the ancient nation of Israel, are standing at the border, about to enter our promised land. Shall we allow our own weakness to stand in the way? How about fear? Are the giants going to destroy us, or shall we destroy them? Who knows, because here we stand, waiting for someone to take that first step.

Suddenly the ground reverberates as a booming voice shatters the desert, that was so recently shrouded in silence. ” Go in and possess the land, for I the Lord have prepared it for you.” Our choice has been made clear for us now, shall remain on this side of the valley and remain in our unbelief or shall we rise up as a phoenix from the ashes, discarding all doubt and march forth and take the land that lies before us, ripe for the taking.

As the swirling desert winds subside, I see standing before this army, is our King. He is adorned with majesty from on high, as He sits upon His mighty white steed. His appearance outshines the blazing desert sun and His brilliance is beyond description. The great assembly before Him is suddenly silenced as their King raises His sword high in the air, marking His signal to prepare for battle. Once more, He turns to those behind Him and lifts up a cry; “Come, take the land with Me. Behold old things have passed away, all things are new!”

Life Used to Be So Simple or Life Makes It So Hard

Life Used to Be So Simple or Life Makes It So Hard

How often have we heard someone, even yourself say, ” If only I could do it all over again? ” I suppose the sentiment here is that if only we could go back and fix all the mistakes in our life; to have a do-over so to speak.  That could repair so much heartache, or would it?

Imagine if you will that you’re taking some time for you, so you go for a walk. For me, my favourite place for solitude is the forest. There’s a peace that can be found when you’re alone with your thoughts. The birds and the breeze that is rustling the branches of the trees above. I suppose another reason is that you may not feel so exposed when you’re surrounded by nature.

So off you go, alone with your thoughts as you begin your walk. The weather is pleasant enough, so you continue deeper into the rich canopy that is the forest. After a few minutes, you stop and close your eyes. As you breathe in the rich fragrance of the damp earth and fallen leaves from long ago your senses far more alive. You feel, smell and hear far greater than ever before as you become one with nature, and that’s when it happens.

As you listen to the sounds of the forest, suddenly a new sound invades your senses. At first, you’re certain it to be leaves rustling in the breeze, but as you listen again, you’re certain that you can hear either something or someone darting between the tree. As you slowly open your eyes, you stop and listen again and nothing. So you decide to continue on and enjoy your walk.

After a few minutes, you hear it again and you’re not certain but you could swear that you saw a flash of something off to your side. As you turn your head to where you thought that you may have seen something, you call out, “ Is anyone there? “ Following what seemed to be an eternity, you see the head of someone peeking out from behind the tree. When this curious wanderer sees you they quickly hide behind the tree once more. This time your voice is a bit softer as you call out, “ It’s ok, I won’t hurt you. Why don’t you come out so we can meet? “

At first, the wanderer peeks out again and then very timidly he steps out from behind the tree. You say hello but there is no response as the wander cautiously looks you over to make sure that you’re as safe as you appear. In an attempt to gain this strangers trust you take off and reach into your backpack to see if you have anything to eat. Slowly you pull out an apple and motion towards this curious visitor if they would like something to eat. He nods his head as his eyes look towards the apple in your hand.

Slowly, you both step towards each other and you can’t help but feel his insecurities, loneliness and fear, so you look right at him so that he can see in your face that you’re safe. But as you do look directly at him, you think that in some way or another that he looks familiar. You’re not quite sure from where, but somewhere or another you’re certain that you must have known him. As you get closer, you notice that a small brook lies between the two of you. Not wanting to startle him you decide to remain on your side of the brook, you carefully reach out, holding the apple for him to take. You notice that this boy looks no more than 13 years of age, but you can’t be quite sure. Your thoughts begin to go in a million different directions as you try and remember who this is.

As his hand touches the apple in your hand, you suddenly realize that this stranger is… you. You don’t know how this can be, but sure enough, this person is you. Of course not you as you are now but you as you once were. Everything within you wants to step across the brook that currently divides the two of you. You think of all the things that you want so desperately want to tell your younger self. All the things to look forward too as well as the things to look out for. You begin to think how different your life would have turned out if only you knew the pitfalls to look out for.

So as you steady yourself to make the leap across the brook you look once more into his eyes and you can’t help but notice a hint of wonder, innocence a spark within his curious eyes. His or your eyes stop you in your tracks as wisdom holds you back from crossing the brook. Yes, every fibre of your being wants to reach out and hold him and tell him that everything going to be all right, but you know that if you do you will only extinguish that spark within that he will so desperately need as he lives your life.

So instead you give him the apple, you smile deeply towards him and shake his or your hand and say goodbye. As you walk away, your mind starts racing with the thoughts and memories of the past. You almost turn around to warn him but then you see a new butterfly emerge from its cocoon and then it hits you.. without the struggle, there really is no life after all.

Prepare For Battle

Prepare For Battle

Hurry, wake up.

What, what’s going on?

We need to get moving.

Why?

The enemy is here.

What, here with us?

Yes, now we must be moving forward.

But where are we going.

To the front.

The front, huh, wait, what front?

The front, where the battle is taking place.

What, if there’s a battle going on we need to get out of here, why can’t we just leave? I don’t know how to fight.

Yes, yes  you do and fight you must. The enemy has surrounded us and spies have already infiltrated our  camp.

But, I don’t know how to fight.

Do not fear, just stay by my side and use the weapons of your warfare.

But there are only the two of us, and already I can hear them coming towards us, we will be destroyed.

No, that is where you are wrong my young friend. Open your eyes and you will see the glorious army that has been sent for our deliverance.

But I can only see the darkness, where are our deliverers?

No, you don’t understand. When you use the eyes of your mind you will see only fear, you need to open the eyes of your heart if you are to see by faith.

I still can’t see anything.

Be still my friend, be still, do not fear. I am by your side, now look, but only with the eyes of your heart.

I think I see something.

What is it that you see.

I don’t know, it’s small, but they look like tiny lights, hundreds of them, no thousands.

Keep looking.

They’re starting to look bigger, or is it closer, I don’t know. They look like many jewels.

Keep looking.

Wait! They’re not jewels at all. They’re lights, they are the brilliance of thousands of warriors dressed in armour that shines with the intensity of the midday sun. Are they here for us?

No, they are here with us. Now stay by my side and do not leave. Raise your mighty weapons for the enemy is upon us.

What’s Your Story

What’s Your Story

“I had always felt life first as a story and if there is a story, there is a storyteller.”

G.K. Chesterton

From the beginning of time, we have told stories, whether it has been the exploits of the day’s hunt, reciting a sonnet to the object of one’s affection, or my favourite, reading bedtime stories while snuggling with my children. Stories are powerful and are far more effective than dry narration when expressing the heartbeat of life. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus taught and expressed the beauty of heaven, not through well-planned lessons in theology; Instead, He used the language of stories.

In a simple greeting, we ask one another. “how are you?” When what we’re really trying to understand is, “what’s going on around here?” In other words, tell me a story. Stories can bring clarity and understanding, where previously none existed. They are the stuff that unites us, be that a group of people, friends or an entire culture, stories have a power, that in some ways, define us and provide us with purpose. Yet many of us may echo the sentiments of Samwise Gamgee as he asks a very simple and yet profound question.

“I wonder what sort of story we’ve fallen into?

An excellent question and one deserving of an answer, for life, occasionally appear like something that we’ve fallen into and is completely outside of our own control. But just for a moment and take a deep look into this theatre, we call life. Your story holds all the makings of one of the all-time greatest legends ever told. The Storyteller is creating your story as it has always been intended to be, an epic drama, and we play a crucial role on this stage that is unfolding before us. The Storyteller of this tale has held nothing back, nothing has escaped from the production of this wondrous story, your life. Sadly, unlike the fairy tales of old, the performance that we have fallen into, rarely ends ‘happily ever after.’ Yet life is no longer a fairytale that has been recited many times. No, this adventure that we are part of, is being written as we live it and don’t try peeking at the last chapter to see how it end, as I said before, it’s still being written. Your life is a story of epic proportions. So go, live your story, your part is crucial to the entire plot, and without you, well, there’s just no story to be shared.

The Highway of Brokenness

The Highway of Brokenness

A Highway shall be there, and a road and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others, Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray. Isaiah 35:8 NKJV

The oppressive sun was relentless as it beat down upon the barren landscape, and the sky was it’s co-conspirator with not even a wisp of cloud to soften the harsh rays. A lizard took shelter in the shadows of a rock where the lizard took refuge from the blistering sun, yet there was no shade wide enough for the weary traveller. The cracks that grew deep on his face matched those of the parched soil that was baked hard from the seemingly never ceasing sun. It had been far too long since the rains mercifully soaked the desolate terrain, thus denying all who ventured across the desert of the streams of life. Desperately the parched voice of the traveller cried out for mercy from the relentless sun. “Where are the streams that crossed this once fertile plain. I’m dying out here as my soul like this once bountiful land is now completely dried up.” The only water to be found was the tears that streaked across his weather-beaten face.

As the traveller cried out in his desperation, suddenly he was bathed in a wonderfully radiant light. Although the traveller had no idea what the light or its source was, he mysteriously found himself drawn to its beautiful light. As he drew closer to the light, he began to see a figure yet still indiscernible within the dazzling brightness. As he drew closer yet, he could make out the figure, it’s that of a cross. The traveller curiously yet tentatively approached the cross. To his wonder, at the foot of the cross, he saw a door and above the door he saw a sign. Taking a moment to adjust his eyes to the bright light he saw an inscription that read, “Enter only he who is broken and cleansed by the blood.” Stooping low in order to enter, the traveller couldn’t make it through, for the pack that he carried, was far too heavy and large to make it through the small doorway.

He tried many times over to enter through the door, but to no avail, for he was not yet broken, nor had he yet known the taste of the cleansing blood. The traveller once again gazed upward to the sign, but the sign was no longer there but had been replaced by a man nailed to the cross. His eyes were drawn to the hands and the feet of the man. They were bleeding and were pierced as they were held firm to the cross by large ugly nails. As he looked closer, he saw that face of love now beaten beyond recognition that was bleeding profusely from the awful crown of thorns that he wore upon his head. The traveller was overcome with grief as he witnessed the brokenness of the One who said, “not My will be done, but Yours be done,” as he drank the bitter cup of sinful sorrows to its dregs. The traveller looked back upon the blood soaked face of the Saviour and then to his own pack that he carried upon his back far too long now. As he looked back to the face of the Saviour, it was at that moment that he knew that it was his own pack that nailed the Saviour to the cross. Falling to his knees he removed the burdensome pack from his weary shoulders. Grateful to finally remove the pack, he laid it at the foot of the cross.

As he laid the heavy pack down, the traveller was startled by the sound of the doorway of brokenness opening to him. Although open, the way was narrow, so the traveller had to get down on his knee’s to pass through the doorway. Once on the other side, the traveller took a moment to gain his bearings. As he adjusted himself to his new surroundings, he looked around and saw a highway stretched out before him. It meandered upwards to greater heights that the traveller had ever known. The banks of the highway were shrouded in darkness, obscuring the many twisted nettles and sharp boulders strewn along the banks of the highway, but the highway itself was bathed in a glorious light as it traversed upwards towards to the heavenly places.

Behind him, the traveller could see his pack, now being fought over by the imps of the darkness for the worthless objects the traveller once deemed to be of immense value.  As the traveller looks upward, he no longer saw Jesus stretched across the cruel cross, instead he now walks before him on the highway, overflowing with resurrection life. As the once weary traveller now restored by the power of the resurrection life drew closer to the Saviour, he saw that within his hands, he carried a pitcher. Seeing the traveller, He ran to him and asked him to hold out his heart to the Him. Just as if he was holding out a cup, the traveller held his empty heart out to Jesus. As Jesus looked inside the traveller became uncomfortable, wanting to hide as Jesus looked deep within, it was a painful scrutiny as his heart was laid bare before the sinless Saviour. To his relief, Jesus didn’t look at him with rejection but instead with complete love and acceptance as his heart had been cleansed by the life-giving blood. Jesus then took His pitcher and filled the travellers heart to overflowing with the new wine. With the power of the new wine and the triumphant Saviour before him, the traveller began his journey now with great rejoicing as he celebrated the freedom he now received without cost. When the traveller looked away from Jesus, he saw once again the imps from the realms of darkness holding out to him many temptations and accusations of the past.  The traveller tried to ignore the imps and their offers as he walked upwards, but since his eyes were now no longer on Jesus but gazing into the darkness, he stumbled and fell into the nettles and the sharp boulders causing great pain and unnecessary suffering. He cried out to Jesus. Jesus, please rescue me. Jesus, with His strong hands, pulled him back onto the highway and he once again found himself at the foot of the cross. He found himself unable to continue along the highway as he was now snared to the edges of the highway by the sharp nettles. Crying to himself he knew that he was trapped by the snares of self-pity and condemnation. Again he looked at his former pack that lay beside him. He knew to pick it up again would mean death and darkness. He then heard the words of his Saviour call out to him, “there is therefore now no condemnation in Me. Follow Me.” The traveller took his pack and once again laid it at the foot of the cross.

Immediately he found himself on the highway of Holiness. This time, he saw that there were others on the highway as well. As they travelled together in unity the journey was a joy, for together they were able to encourage one another along the way. However, that joy was soon overshadowed with bitterness as the traveller looked at his fellow travellers with eyes of judgement. He wondered why some of his fellow travellers were on the highway as well. He tried to reason with others who would listen, questioning why these so called followers, shared the highway with them. Thinking himself to be far superior to the others, he lost sight of their Saviour and walked off the highway into utter darkness. He soon realised that he couldn’t see where he was going, as the darkness of his own pride surrounded him blocking his way. He tried with all his might to get back on the highway but the climb was too high and his strength was too weak for the task. Others on the highway reached down to him to help him back up, but he was too stubborn to accept their help, after all he needed no one, for in his estimation, they only got in his way. Defeated by his own pride, he sat down in the filth of his sins. It wasn’t too long before the pain of loneliness began to overwhelm him. Surrounded by the filth of his own creation, he once again cried out to Jesus to rescue him. To his dismay, the Saviour didn’t come. Instead, his former travellers called out, encouraging him to come back with them. They reached out to him, but the gap was too wide. It wasn’t until the traveller looked around and saw that his pride would continue to hold him down unless he rejected pride and accepted the offer of help from his fellow travellers. As he stood up, the former gap was broken as his heart was once again broken. Easily the hands of his fellow travellers reached his own and soon, with their help, he found himself at the foot of the cross.

This time, he was sure that his sin was far too great to rejoin Jesus and his fellow travellers. As he gave up all hope, he knew he had nothing to offer. To his astonishment, the doorway of brokenness swung open to him again. He again crawled onto the highway, but he was far too weary to take another step. This journey thus far had taken every last bit of strength. His body beaten by his own guilt, he called out with his last bit of strength, “Lord it was at Your cross that I first found life, but now I am weak and near death. I want to follow You, but I have nothing left to go any further.” Exhausted, the traveller collapsed to the highway. As he silently lay on the highway, a beam of light entered his weary body. The light carried in it life and the sweet renewal of fellowship with his Lord and friends. Jesus came to him once again with the offer of new wine. The traveller took the cup and drank deeply refreshing his weary soul. Jesus, filled with compassion, looked down to the traveller and offered his hand. This time without reservation, the traveller took His hand in his own and allowed himself to be lifted to his feet. Jesus embraced him and said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, for in Me you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The Banqueting Table

The Banqueting Table

When I think of my days so long ago, lost and alone. I called myself a child of God, but who am I kidding. No one wants me most certainly not God. So there I was roaming about life aimlessly, for all intents and purposes an orphan seeking the scraps that have fallen from the table, barely surviving, alone and without hope.

 

Little did I know that a feast, a banqueting table had been laid out before me. “No longer shall you survive on old stale scraps, crumbs. No no, you were made for far more than that. Come up here with Me, I have prepared for you a banqueting table, and the best part is, I have prepared it in the presence of our enemies. Come up from them and sit with Me, enjoy all the fresh abundance that I have created for you. Look around and you will see others join you there as well. They too were once outcasts and unloved as well but now in my name, the blessed name of Jesus, you shall no longer be called orphan or outcast. You are beloved, mine and best of all, you are a part of My family. You are chosen and bought with a price. You belong at My banqueting table. For all you need and shall ever truly desire is at My table.”

 

As hopeful1 looked upon the incredible bounty laid out before him, he began to doubt if this was truly for him. With eyes downcast, he spoke to his Lord. “Surely Lord, all of this must be destined for another. I have never been welcomed to any one’s table before, this can’t be for me.” His Lord stood there before him for a moment and stared at His beloved. Those same eyes, now brimming with tears and filled with compassion, remained fixed upon his beloved. Finally, as He began to speak, His voice started to quiver. “Oh my son, you have believed all the lies that have been told all your life, haven’t you? You have believed that you are worthless, that you’re junk. Don’t you know that when I created you I made you as My workmanship My masterpiece.”

 

Hopeful1, with his head and shoulders hanging down, slowly began to nod his head as he agreed with his Lord. After what seemed like an eternity, hopeful1 looked up to his Lord, although he was not quite able to look directly into the eyes of his Lord. With his voice barely above a whisper, completely lacking any conviction he said: “But Lord, You don’t understand. I have tried to be good so many times and as always, I’ve failed, I’ve failed you.” Once again, hopeful1 looked down, unable to look his Lord in the eye. Unexpectedly, hopeful1 felt the strong hand of his Lord on his shoulder. Timidly, hopeful1 once again looked up into those gentle eyes. As he did, his Lord reached His other hand to his hand, saying; “Rise up my love, stand on your feet. I have prepared this table for you, not because you are good. I know all about your failings. I also know all about My redemption and oh how I wish you would too. In the beginning, I said it is good. Stop trying to be good, I, through My redemption have made you good. Come up and join Me, My good and faithful servant.”

 

With confidence now restored in his Lord, hopeful1 joined Him and took his seat next to His Lord at His table. Before him lay a feast. The extravagance was unlike anything hopeful1 has ever seen. All of his needs were readily supplied by his Lords abundant riches in this glorious setting.

 

Prior to dining, his Lord looked over at him with a cautionary look and spoke. “But beware there are many imitators out there whose tables are filled with all sorts of delicacies, but these delicacies will only cause you to grow fat, lazy and complacent. Eventually, they will be at the root of death within you and those within your influence. Ah, but I have let you know My Heart, My secrets. When you come to a banqueting table and the head of the table is set for you, it’s a trap. Flee, flee as fast as you can, instead, run to Me, your strong tower, your hiding place. In the shadow of My wings, you can take refuge and then you will see that it is Me who is calling you up to sit with Me, for it will be I Am who is sitting at the head of the table. ”

a new day

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