Home

When I was younger I used to always look at houses and plan which house would be mine. Just now I was thinking about whether that is a typical thing that children think about. Then I thought how funny it is that I have based my career in real estate and yet I’ve never owned a home. In many ways, I am still searching for my ‘home’ in the physical sense as well as in other senses.

It is so interesting to me because it is this automatic internal drive that is irresistable. It seems like there is something inside of us that needs a “home”, per se. No matter how much we roam, we seem to need a home base. A foundation to fall back on. People who will catch us.

Maybe as a child in a military family, that sense of home was never there and that is why I have always been driven by that. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up in the same community with a sense of belonging. As a military child, you never really belong anywhere or to anyone outside of your immediate family. Even blood family can be strangers in the practical sense. There are many good things about being fortunate enough to travel and visit different places. Yet there still is a need for a home base.

Along those lines, I was thinking this morning how this past year has been so intense. One of the most difficult years of my life. It felt like I was deployed to a spiritual war zone. Halfway in jest, this morning I asked God for my “deployment” to be over. I asked him for a break from the fights, for some so-called “home time”. To be refreshed and refilled. To recharge.

I know this world is not my final destination. This body and this planet are just pit stops on the way to whatever is next. It’s so difficult to find that balance to avoid being so heavenly minded that you aren’t any earthly good. To actually fully live in the moment without taking it too terribly serious. It’s such a fine line.

I am amazed through it all that God doesn’t seem to be in a rush to call us onto whatever is next. Senator McCain’s mother is alive at 106!! And yet another baby will die in utero probably as you are reading this. Thoughts that are too grand for me. Thoughts only our Creator, our Father can sufficiently and accurately answer.

But along the line of babies, I was wondering the other day – and just humor my random contemplations – but I was wondering if just like babies live inside the womb for nine months before they see what’s outside, maybe the same will happen for us? I reference verses that say we are in Christ. Maybe spiritually we are so limited by our physical vision. Maybe all this time on earth is just us spiritually percolating, per se. What if the dark galaxy that we see is only the inside. What if we are launched out of these bodies when they give out and what we see next is the equivalent of a baby opening its eyes for the first time after being born? Seeing as we are seen. Can you even imagine? I know that you can’t.

To think of all we’ve been through as a precursor to whatever is next – wow! Not the end. Only the beginning.

Work

It’s only crazy until you do it. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Embracing the lessons of rejection. Perfect love casts out fears of failure. Gives you breath to stretch.

One life. What would make this day count? Not for anyone else. Just for you.

Your ego only has as much power as you give it. Surprise, you are human like the rest of us.

What love haunts you?

I Wonder

One of the top responses I receive when I tell people that I believe every human will be with Jesus after this time on this earth, is that they think that means I am telling people that it doesn’t matter what a person does in their lifetime. That’s a tricky statement. I’ve learned to ask people to be more specific when they throw statements like that out at me. Otherwise my answer could have nothing to do with their real question.

But there are two different ways to answer that question. One way is to answer the question how I know they mean it: whether or not I think what happens to us after our physical bodies give out has anything to do with what I do here on earth. For me, now, I think we all existed in Jesus before He was born on earth, and I think when He died, we died. And when He rose, we rose with Him. So no, I don’t think the end result of what happens to me after my physical body gives out is dependent on me. I think it depends on Jesus. But what that looks like from now to the end result – I think I’m wise enough to probably not know how it all works out exactly.

The other way to answer their question is literally: does it matter at all what I do? I think yes, absolutely. To a point. Which is not me trying to dodge the question. I’m just speaking from experience. And experientially, I have never taken more responsibility for my decisions and choices than when I finally accepted God’s total and unconditional love for me. Notice, for me. Not necessarily all my behaviors. But when you know, you really know that you are securely loved – there is now real motivation to do better. The odds are not against you.

The flip side is that you cannot flippantly toss aside every failure as circumstances outside of your control. And yet, to a point. I’ve experienced situations where I’ve tried everything I know to try and the situation doesn’t work out. It seems like the door is shut. But for most of life, it seems like my choices matter more than ever now. When there are no rules, per se, you can’t put the blame for your screwups onto God and blame Him for the “formula” not working out.

I started thinking about this today in terms of wondering about how people debate whether there is “the one” out there for them to marry. It seems almost like a dirty trick if there is this person out there and you don’t feel like God gave you the secret decoder to figure out who they are. Nowadays I’m more apt to say it’s not God’s character to play tricks on us like that.

The more initially terrifying thought is whether there is NOT “the one”. Then that means everyone is a possibility. Then that means it’s your responsibility alone in regards to who you pick to marry. And you alone are responsible for that decision. For better or for worse. That puts the pressure solely on you if you married too quickly or ignorantly. In hindsight even.

Taking full responsibility would mostly give the deliberations about who to marry a much more serious tone. First you have to know yourself and figure out what you really value. What is really important to you. And then drop the fairy tale romantic crap. Little girls are especially indoctrinated with that fantasy crap. From Snow White to Cinderella to Beauty and the Beast. All crap. Just hang around and wait for Mr. Prince Charming to rescue you off to wedded bliss and riches. Am I jaded or is it true that isn’t likely to happen?

And yet there is an awesome connection when you meet someone with your same values. Undeniably. My point is most people jump the gun before they even get to that point. They confuse lust with like values. Or they connect in their brokenness. Which isn’t a sure sign of failure, but isn’t a great bet alone for success either. Others connect based on enjoying similar activities. But what happens when tastes change or abilities and resources change? What reason will you have to stick around then?

At some point commitment comes into play. But I’d like to believe there is still love out there that stays mostly without feeling pressured to do so. And so there comes my God. He knows who needs who. Sometimes who we need isn’t who we want right now. Or sometimes who we need right now is not someone we should marry. Maybe they were only in your life to learn something. But you incorrectly took it somewhere farther than it was supposed to go? Having the option of learning a lesson the easy way or the harder way. Scary to consider that choice may truly be up to you.

But on the flip side, I’d say more people settle for something is better than nothing right now. And probably keep repeating the cycle over and over until the repercussions finally slow them down enough to face the wreckage behind them and consider their part in it all. I’ve been there. Not raking you over the coals without including myself.

And yet I still have hope. Looking back and thinking of all the good that was still worked out of even the worst situations. Not that the good justifies the bad. But only that I think God’s grace can be found even in our worst failures.

And is it really failure if you keep putting one foot in front of the other and are a better person today than you were yesterday? I’d say no – failure is when you give in to giving up. There are times to walk away, but for me failure is defined by completely giving up hope for any good to be found in the future and giving up on God’s love for you. If you’re there right now, ask Him to help you see Him and help you see what’s good and where your hope is. He promises you will find Him if you seek Him.

I read a story today about a man and a woman who grew up in the same town in Mexico in different classes. The male was attracted to the female from afar but they never interacted because of the class separation. Then they both moved separately to New York and ended up working in the same restaurant and eventually getting married. How do you explain that? That’s too coincidental to be random.

So I wonder. With love as well as so many other things in life, what part is up to me and what part is up to God? And I find He answers my heart cries through experiences versus words and head knowledge alone. Be prepared to live it when you ask big questions like that. And hang on for the ride! Never a dull day with Jesus. I am thankful for this epic adventure of a life.

I Want

I was listening to a really good talk by John MacMurray the other day. He mentioned that God isn’t trying to muscle His weight around to get us to submit to Him in the sense that most likely comes to mind. Rather He works, and maybe I should say loves us to the point where WE want what He knows is best for us.

How different is the wrath of God in that context? It is wrath only in the passionate sense of never giving up on us. No matter what the cost. Only for our highest good. Not for His ego.

He doesn’t need ego. He is secure. He knows who He is. He is complete without us. Actually, the Trinity exists in perfect union. Always about relationship. As I believe Baxter Kruger says, others-centered self-giving love.

Remember how God walked daily with Adam and Eve in the garden? That is communion. Let’s even leave out the religious language: that is hanging out. Wanting to be with us. Having love to give and share.

He is not interested or satisfied with an army of robot minions. It never was that way. From the beginning. This isn’t about law. We are the ones who care so much about law. God is about relationship. Always has. Always will be.

He doesn’t want you to say and do all the “right” things. He is constantly showing you who He is so you will trust Him. For your highest good. And of course, His enjoyment. In the sense of wanting to spend time with you. It’s been that way since the beginning.

For God so loved the world. Will you ask Him for healing today? Maybe ask Him to help you see Him today. And also how He sees you.

Uncomplicated

“I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3)

“The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much;” (Ecclesiastes 5)

“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.” (Ecclesiastes 9)

As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” (Ecclesiastes 11)

“Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house.” (Nehemiah 3:28)

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord…” (Colossians 3)

Beyond Belief

“Reason can help you better understand what you see, but it will have a hard time convincing you that you never saw it. So too, emunah endures even when reason can’t catch up… the greatest vitamin you can provide emunah is plain exercise.” – Rabbi Tzvi Freeman

“the basic, root meaning of emunah is trust and reliance, not intellectual acquiescence in the truth of certain propositions… If one disobeys a command and is therefore accused of lack of emunah, it makes much more sense to say that one is being accused of lack of trust in the commander than of quibbling over the accuracy of statements made by or about the commander… loyal behavior, not systematic theology” – Dr. Menachem Kellner

“So you’re impressed with yourselves that with your emunah you can recite the kri’at Shema, nu? O you do so well…why, even the shedim have your da’as and emunah! But they shudder!” – Yaakov 2:19 (Orthodox Jewish Bible)

“The twice daily mitzva of kri’at shema is defined as a declaration of basic tenets of belief…” – Rav Moshe Taragin

Not to be just in our mouth, but more importantly on our hearts. What is inside will come out. Not only in our speech, but also, and more telling, in our actions.

“Therefore, let us approach the Holiest Place with a sincere heart, in the full assurance that comes from trusting — with our hearts sprinkled clean from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us continue holding fast to the hope we acknowledge, without wavering; for the One who made the promise is trustworthy.” – Hebrews 10:22-23 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Some say flying, but right now it feels like falling. And yet…

“Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God’?
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
(Isaiah 40:27-31 New King James Version)

“Ani maamin! Help my lack of emunah!” No longer claiming perfect faith. Our heart cries echo his prayer.

Jesus waited until the crowd gathered. They witnessed the blessing of a man who had renounced his independence.

“Peter said to Him, ‘You shall never wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!'”

And yet there must be something in Jesus telling the father of the sick child that prayer (and fasting) were the keys to deliverance. Is it a greater statement about how His prayer and fasting delivered us?

“And having been made shalem, to all those with mishma’at toward Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach, he became the source of Yeshu’at Eloheinu Olamim” (Hebrews 5:9 OJB)

“The feminine noun משמעת (mishma’at), meaning subjects, or literally group of guys who listen.” (Abarim Publications’ online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary)

“Mishma’at refers to the group of people who hearken to the king and are particularly close to him…” – Rav Amnon Bazak

My experience has been that prayer and fasting do not work like sorcery to make things happen. Rather, they realign my mind to hear and see more clearly, spiritually and otherwise.

A study in prayer is desired. But it’s too late and my heart needs time to process just the slightest taste of the glimpse of this magnificence.

“God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: ‘Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.'” – Isaiah 30:15 MSG