The deep inner workings of a beggar's mind

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Here in Your Presence

Why is it always late at night when I get into “worship mode?” I just wanna cry out at the top of my lungs and proclaim His greatness, but I’ll wake everyone up who lives around me. Then again, maybe that’s just what they need more than anything: A blast of truth to wipe away their darkness, a shout of victory in the midst of their chaos.

The Lord is so amazing. What’s almost more amazing, however, is my frequent forgetfulness of that fact. I get so caught up in everything except the one thing I should be caught up in. Then, at the most inconvenient times, I get broadsided by a glimpse of the splendor of God Almighty and just lose it. My emotions swirl out of control. I can’t keep the tears from flowing. My heart comes alive and I lose all concept of the passage of time. I can’t sit still. I lose track of the other people around me. In the depths of my soul, I feel His awesome weight of glory; His commanding presence. Then, the moment passes, and I’m left reeling in the wake.

The worst part? I don’t want it to end. But it MUST end eventually. There is still work to be done here. There are still souls crying out in their darkness and despair, seeking a Savior. I’m no great speaker, that I should command the respect of my audience. Nor am I an expert scholar, that I should know all there is to know about a particular field. Heck, I’m not even the greatest musician to ever walk the earth. I haven’t sold millions of records, I haven’t gone platinum, nor have I become known the world over. But, my testimony is true. My hope is sure. My message MUST be heard.

God, I don’t ask to become famous. I don’t seek money or power. I just seek You. I just need You. I love You. Even if I lose everything. Even if the floor falls out from under me and the very earth itself threatens to swallow me whole, I want to live the rest of my life in such a way that it screams to the world that there IS something more than what this life can offer, and it’s more beautiful than even the greatest painting, the most striking landscape, or the grandest new contraption that money can buy.

It’s amazing how much easier this becomes without the burden of a title. Of course, by the time I end this little tirade, it may very well have one. Funny thing about creativity: It never bites when you want it to, but when you slather on the repellent, INSTANTLY every mosquito in a five-mile radius is out for blood. Ok, maybe that’s just those annoying bugs, but it’s still a valid point. Another valid point is having too many blogs will spread you thin. Case in point, I have this one, another one on WordPress that holds my fictional tale, a tumblr that recently opened, a Twitter that sprouted wings a few months ago, the Notes I post on Facebook every now and again, AND the MySpace blog (that I haven’t updated in YEARS). At what point does it become “too much?”

I must confess, I was late to the online journal scene, but after establishing myself in all these outlets, I’m wondering when the stream will stop flowing altogether. It’s already been a great many years since my creativity has truly sprouted. There was a time when I’d crank out upwards of ten posts a month here alone, and for each post, there were the token five or six who’d respond. Now, I barely get any feedback at all. Not that it’s altogether a bad thing, but it kinda leaves me wondering if I’m actually doing any good by sneezing all over the Internet like this. Furthermore, is my sense of belonging and/or identity found in these faceless blocks of text? Is my sense of self-worth determined by how many people who enjoy reading what I post? Am I starved for all that impersonal attention I became accustomed to when I started blogging?

I also wonder what my vision is for each of these outlets. For a long time, this blog was my outlet for EVERYTHING. Then, it became an open mic for the poetry I heard in my head. Then, it became a soapbox with which to purify the world and proffer wisdom to the open-minded. What form has it taken as of late? A journal. A place to store my memories and memoirs. What do I want it to be? Then again, what’s wrong with it having multiple hats to wear? I’ve heard that MySpace was mainly for music before the social scene took over. Should I relocate my songs there (Then again, MySpace has stagnated quite a bit)? Twitter is for quick little updates and the occasional picture. Easy stuff. Tumblr is good for multimedia posts. Yet now it’s more of an introspective place for me. Then there’s Facebook. The side of me that everyone sees. The side of me that keeps in touch with friends and family. Perhaps my memoirs and memories are better suited there?

So where does that leave this little blog? Perhaps where it started. Perhaps a new place. For now, it’s a bit unclear. Where does it leave me as a blogger? Only time will tell, I suppose.

To the Ends of the Earth?

I was just jamming out to some of my favorite tunes on my computer and the song “To the Ends of the Earth” by Michael Gungor began to play. Being the musical person I am, naturally, I began to sing along. Then, I got to the chorus.

“Jesus, I believe in You and I would go
To the ends of the earth
To the ends of the earth
For You.”

And I just stopped singing. Then I started thinking (something which never fails to be dangerous for me). “Would I really be willing to go to the ends of the earth for Jesus? Could I really see myself in some remote jungle or desert preaching the gospel to those who need it most?” I’d like to answer a resounding “YES!!” to those questions, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not sure what I would do.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going on short-term missions trips, and to date, I’ve been to three countries outside the U.S., but, it’s only ever been short-term. And it’s only ever been to [relatively] safe places that have already received quite a healthy helping of the good news. What would I say if He called me to stay longer than a couple of weeks? How would I react if He sent me to, say, North Korea? What about Istanbul or India?

I can’t help but think of Abraham. He left his pampered, comfortable, familiar surroundings for an unspecified location. I’ll give you a second or two to mull that over in your heads. God just said “go,” and offered no hints as to where he was going, and no revelation of what to expect when he got there. He simply said “Go to the place I will show you.” AND ABRAHAM PACKED UP HIS STUFF AND WENT!! (Yes, I know his name was Abram before he left his home. That’s irrelevant to this discussion)

It seems like every day there is some form of new tragedy or another. I see all these videos and hear all these horror stories of places like Sub-Saharan Africa and its battle against AIDS, war-torn cities like Juarez and Darfur, and countries that have been hit hard by natural disasters in recent days like Haiti and Japan, and my heart just breaks for those people. Add to that the over 2 billion who have absolutely no chance of hearing the gospel, and the need is just staggering.

Ah, but those aren’t the only places the need exists.

  • “Well, of course not! The whole WORLD is broken. You only listed a few examples.”

That’s not what I meant.

  • “Oh? What DID you mean, Brian?”

I’m glad you asked! When was the last time you said “Hello” to your next door neighbor?

  • “What? What does that have to do with anything?”

Just answer the question.

  • “Umm….about that….”

Sadly, many Christians, myself included, barely know the people living next door to them. Call it American Individualism, Right to Privacy, or what have you, it doesn’t matter. The simple fact is we focus the majority of our attention on those people suffering halfway around the world, being perfectly content to ignore the person right next to us who just went through an ugly divorce. Or the distraught mother across the street who just lost her child in a terrible accident. Or the small business owner at the end of the cul-de-sac who had to lay off several employees due to financial strain. Do we even know our neighbors’ names? Have we ever taken a few moments out of our day just to introduce ourselves? If you answered “no” to the above questions, you may want to adjust your habits. (“Hear that, Brian? Get off your lazy butt!”)

Jesus told us to preach the gospel not only “to the ends of the earth,” but also to “Judea” (Our neighboring cities/counties), and “Jerusalem” (Our own neck of the woods). In fact, He mentioned those first. What’s wrong with our method? What happened to preaching the gospel to “every living thing?” Granted, not everyone will respond favorably to the message, but wouldn’t you rather rest easy in the fact that you offered them the solution and they denied it than allowing them to perish in their ignorance by never once trying to explain it to them?

Some plant the seeds, some water them, and then God Himself brings the increase.

We are not guaranteed our next breath. So why do we waste so much time debating amongst ourselves about musical styles and carpet colors in our churches while the world outside our four walls is tumbling headlong into Hell? Shouldn’t we be a little more concerned about our role as Christ’s hands and feet in the world? Shouldn’t we be a little more concerned about the guys we watch the games with or the ladies in our crocheting class? This is eternity we are speaking of, after all. We have no excuses that will hold water when we’re face-to-face with the King. I just pray the Lord will see fit to blow my mind with the ways He uses me. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want a lot of money. I just want to love on God and share His love with the world. Father, please give me an outward heart.

All Things New

“Peace, My son. Calm your troubled heart. There is nothing that happens which is out of My hands or out of My sight. It may seem of little consolation to hear those words in the midst of what you’re going through, but I assure you, not even a sparrow falls without My knowledge. I hold the universe in balance, I hung the earth on its axis, I spread the stars across the heavens, and I sit enthroned above it all. I knit even the building blocks of the cells together by the power of My hand, and I keep them functioning healthily. I see everything in this universe, yet still do not gloss over even the smallest details. I see every broken heart, every twisted truth, every dashed hope, every disaster and disease, and it mourns Me.”

“You may see Me as uncaring or harsh for allowing such evils to exist, but please understand, such evils exist outside of My original designs. Through sin, My entire creation became cursed, unbalanced, and broken. I hear it crying out for redemption. I see it waiting in anticipation for its revival. Fear not, its revival WILL come, I assure you (‘…Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away…’).”

“I have a plan in place; one that has existed since before I created any of this. That’s right. From before there was time, I saw this corruption, this pain, this death. Yet, I created. I knew mankind would betray Me and resist My will. Yet, I breathed My life into your nostrils. I knew the cost from before the beginning, yet I began it. My Son stood with me through the whole process, and even HE knew what He would have to give before I created humanity. Yet, He joyously assisted in the creation, He willingly took on the form of a human, and He followed My plan to the point of death, even the harsh death of a cross. What was the purpose? Why should the Almighty submit to such torture? ‘Behold, I am making all things new…these words are faithful and true. It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. ‘”

Talmidim (The Servants)

Once again, I find myself in a strange place. But it’s not a bad place. It’s that place of reckoning, that place of release. Like something inside has been sleeping, dormant, ineffective. However, something’s different now. It’s a quiet awakening, a quiet resolve. Like I don’t wanna stay here, but it hasn’t registered in my members yet. But there is a stirring. It’s not much, but it’s good. No longer listless, no longer content. There is more, and I want it. I’m tired of the same old thing.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 – “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

So now I am at a crossroads. I can choose to do nothing, ignore this feeling and let it pass. Or I can choose to listen. I can choose to let Him change me and bring me back from my complacency, or I can return to my routine. I can seek His face, turn from my sin and the demons of my past and allow Him to rekindle the flame inside, or I can keep wasting time on things that are worthless. So what will I do? Will I listen? Or will I continue down this destructive path?

“Lord of glory, make us worthy to possess Your name.”
“Lord of glory, make us worthy to possess Your name.”

My life is not my own. I gave that up a long time ago. So why do I act like it’s mine? One might say it’s our natural inclination, and, while true, our natural inclination is toward death. Toward destruction. And we don’t just drift toward it, we run our legs off trying to get there. For what purpose? Don’t we care about our lives? Don’t we realize what we’re doing to ourselves and those around us?

My life was bought with a heavy price. The heaviest possible. Christ, in His great love, gave His life for me. He died to open my eyes and cleanse my heart. He died to rectify the relationship between us and our Father. Why have I reduced it to a trite blessing? Why do I behave like a thankless, spoiled brat instead of a child of the King? A co-heir with Christ? It’s not all about me. It never was. Yet, it’s so easy to treat it as such. Since God chose me for a purpose, why in God’s name do I feel like I can just grind away wasting my life on other things? Why do I act like God owes me ANYTHING?! Don’t I realize how FOOLISH and SELFISH that is?! We’re so arrogant at times.

Ezekiel 36:22-23 – “…Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight…'”

So am I truly worthy to possess His name? No one really is. Nothing we could ever do in a thousand lifetimes could MAKE us worthy to possess His name, because it’s not about “being good,” it’s about GRACE!! God, in His infinite wisdom and power, CHOSE us. He called, and His sheep heard His voice. He revealed Himself, and we responded. He not only snatched us out of the very mouth of Hell, but He gave us a commandment. We are not called to just “get saved.” Getting saved is just the first part. It’s only the awakening. He calls us to spread His kingdom to the far corners of the world. To preach the gospel to every living thing.

What will we do to show God that we are thankful, not just about our “Get Out of Hell Free Card,” but about our privileged role in His kingdom? When will we rise up out of our comfortable pews and get our hands dirty? When will we seek God above all else? What will it take to unsettle us? Will it take another tragedy to get us to move? May it never be, Lord!! We’re eager to help when tsunamis hit. We’re eager to collect food for the hungry. We cannot stand by when terrorism rears its ugly head. But, what about when everything is more or less breezy? We’re not so eager to move then. We can’t even be bothered to knock on our neighbors’ doors and tell them that Jesus loves them. So what’s wrong with us? As we spend hours arguing over what color our walls should be and what kinds of music we should allow in our services, MILLIONS die and go to a hopeless eternity.

We have the answers the world is seeking, yet we hoard them for ourselves. We hear the truth on a weekly basis, but we just store it away in our little notebooks for when we need some encouragement or direction. How irresponsible. Believe me, I’m just as guilty of it as anyone else. What happened to pursuing God and seeking HIS glory above all else? What happened to being His hands and His feet? What happened to our holy mandate? What happened to our will to stay the course, even if it would mean giving up our own lives? Did we ever see God’s will as being so important?

“…And when we speak life, life happens. And when we speak healing, healing happens…And when we go and take what we found to a dead world, we’ll see it come to life again. When we take what we’ve found to a hopeless world, we’ll see hope come back. We’ll see the heart of our world start beating again, and we’ll see the color come back into people’s faces, and absolutely nothing will ever stop that. Mountains will move before us, and oceans will part before us, and the dead will raise before us, and the world will know that our God is a God that heals, that our God is a God that lives, and our God is a God that loves unlike anything anyone has ever felt before…”

The ONLY hope the world has is Christ. The only way they will hear is if someone tells them. The only ones who know the truth are those who have been redeemed by the Immortal.

So what will we do?

“Lord of glory, make us worthy to possess Your name.”
“Lord of glory, make us worthy to possess Your name.”

“I have given you a new life. Don’t waste it.”

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Writer’s Block

“It seems the well has dried up,” said he, a melancholy tone in his voice.

“Well, I suppose it’s about time,” replied the distraught architect. “It’s been floundering progressively in the last few years.”

“Flounders are flat, indeed,” stated the man, desperately attempting to change the subject and cheer up his friend.

“Flat out truth, that,” the architect replied in a chipper tone. “Truly fascinating.”

“Truth be told, there seems to be no end to the number of astounding creatures who live in the sea.” The man hoped they could run with this tangent for a while, to no avail.

“I would like to see more of them. Perhaps they would inspire me anew and remove this accursed writers’ block.” It seemed the architect was rather enjoying focusing on his sad state of mind.

“Why would anyone want to block a writer from doing what he does best?” inquired the man, obviously misunderstanding the terminology his friend was using. “A tragedy, that.”

“The tragedy here is your uninformed brutality. EVERYONE knows that writers’ block refers to a dry spell in their creativity. Have you no appreciation for the finer things in life?” The architect is puzzled and a bit flustered at this point.

As if not hearing clearly what his friend said, the man addressed the architect quite pointedly, “I’ve never refined silver a day in my life. What are you talking about?”

With a puzzled look on his face, the architect replied, “No, not refining silver, but the finer things of life. Do you understand anything I am saying?”

“Of course I understand why the children are playing, silly.”

“Children? Clean out your ears, lad!”

“Beer makes you glad? Well, why didn’t you say so earlier? I’ll buy you a drink,” said the man as he began walking toward the local pub.

“NO, NOT BEER, EAR!! ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?!” The architect’s face began to turn red as his anger began brewing.

“No, my skin is not glistening. I’m wearing long sleeves!” The man continued on his way.

“WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!”

Clueless, the man replied, “I stepped in a puddle of glue? I was wondering why my shoe felt sticky…”

I NEVER MENTIONED GLUE!!

“You want my pension too? I’m not sure if I can give you that.”

THIS IS POINTLESS!! WHY AM I EVEN STILL TALKING TO YOU? I’M GOING HOME TO WRITE AN ARTICLE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF AURICULAR HYGIENE!!” The architect stormed off into the night and proceeded to write a novel.

The man simply smiled and took a swig of the golden beverage in the mug before him, then said, “So much for writers’ block.”

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