Silent Night, Holy Night

Christmas Picture Two

I read a daily devotional this evening about a family that immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands.  They had three children, all born her, who later married three spouses each from different countries.  Well during at least one Christmas they were all gathered and they sang “Silent Night, Holy Night” each in their own language.  So I am guessing 5 different languages is probably the correct count. The devotional also quotes Luke, chapter 2, where the inspiration comes from.  Luke 2:8-14, “ And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.  And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.””  So I wonder what a multitude of angels praising God sounds like? 

As I write this I am listening to different versions of “Silent Night, Holy Night” on YouTube.  So far I have listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, some German choir singing in German, Sarah McLaughlin, and Pavarotti singing in Italian, along with Mahelia Jackson.  I am fixing to hear it performed by Johnny Cash with Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis.  Doubt I will listen to Justin Beiber or the Barenaked Ladies though.  Why have they all stopped their careers to do this song?  Don’t they realize they are joining voices with the heavenly host to praise God and to proclaim peace to those in whom He is pleased?  What do those verses in Luke tell us about angels and the proclaiming of the coming of the Lord, of God Himself and what does it proclaim to us?  Just found a rendition done in Persian with worship by Farsi.  It is the most stunning of all the ones I have heard, very holy and lifting me into worship of my Lord and Savior.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njS03C1tnrE 

We are each shepherds and we each tend our own flock by night.  Yes, nights are dark and they can be lonely and scary but we are dutiful to continue to keep watch night after night.  This verse in Luke says that angels will come to us in our night and will bring us good news.  The author, Luke, makes sure to tell us that when this angel comes to speak to us we will be frightened but that the angel will minister peace along with wonder at what is happening. 

Notice too that the good news is not what we would expect for the coming of someone to save us.  No white horse, no drawn sword, just coming as a babe, an infant, so totally helpless it would seem.  Not the way I would do it but then I am not in charge.  This verse simply calls me to be a witness to the coming of the Lord, to the love God has for all mankind. 

Am I willing to have my night interrupted by proclamations and worship and multitudes of angels?  Am I willing to go down to the village, to the stable no less, to bear witness of something so incredibly awesome as to defy everything we conceive of for this type of event? 

What is a heavenly host and what do they look like and sound like?  Angels are bad enough but now we have something else and lots of them, all making noise.  If you have served in the military and pulled guard at night in a hostile environment noise is not your friend, you want quiet, you want a silent night.  Yet here comes a multitude making lots of noise proclaiming that a baby has been born.  Maybe if they were proclaiming that the marines have landed and the cavalry is charging that might fly.  But no, nothing like that, just one more little infant that is helpless, more watching for the shepherds. 

Yet this Christmas Eve I for one am in a dark place, a night of sorts, and I am keeping watch over that which I have.  Yet this infant, now the risen Lord, still beckons me to witness His birth this Christmas.  His eyes are still pure, clear, and innocent as only that of an infant can be.  They pierce my soul, my heart, my mind, with such a blaze of light, of hope and mostly of His love.  Love that is for me and desires to be through me, to bring the light and the love to all the world.  He beckons me to lift my voice with the multitude of heavenly host and proclaim the coming of the One promised for forever.  If I add my voice it will then have the noise of a croaking frog joining in saying that indeed peace has come.  Peace has come as an infant, the Lord Himself has come in the form He chooses and it is not just good but it is very good.  Now I can be at peace as I stand watch at night.  Our world is dark, it can be said to be at night, dark and scary.  May an angel pop up by you this Christmas night and proclaim the good news of the birth of Jesus, the Lord, and the Christ and may he bid you to be a witness to the Lord of life.  May you join your voice with the multitude proclaiming glory to God in the Highest. 

Merry Christmas to one and all.  We have a Savior.  We have a Lord who is worthy of singing praises to, of being at peace resting in His arms.

 

The Gospel of Prayer

I have not blogged in a long time and for that I apologize.  No excuse will be offered for it would just be an excuse.  What I want to write about today has been on my heart for some weeks now since I learned of this prayer need.  Please join in payer and please spread the prayer need along to others.  Now the interesting thing is I cannot share the specifics of the prayer need because there is great danger concerning it.  The danger is the heavenly realm as well as in the physical world we live in where this need is.  So here goes saying what I can say without saying. 

First, I believe there is a spiritual world that is just as real as the physical world we live in.  There are many names for this and I won’t bother to try and begin getting into it.  And just as there is a God and Jesus Christ His son, our savior and Lord, there is a devil, Satan.  If you drop the letter d in devil you have the meaning of who he is, evil.  I Peter 5: talks about our adversary, the devil, who prowls around seeking whom he may devour.  And if he has half a chance he will. 

Now, so as to not give him any more due we serve the Almighty God Himself who through Jesus Christ has defeated Satan, the devil, and who lives and reigns.  The devil has no right on the life of a believer.  But until Jesus comes back, and I hope it is soon, we live in a fallen world where evil loves to party and make misery. 

With that brief theology lesson out of the way here goes with the story.  There are countries in this world where Satan has a much greater influence over the affairs of mankind.  You may be wondering if it could get worse that what the United States is going through right now (yes, this is a cheap political shot) but it can.  There is a woman who is pregnant with her second child.  The country she lives in does not like children, does not like multiple children and also likes to decide which sex of child can live or not live.  They will be ruthless to snuff out this life and cause grave circumstances in the lives of the parents.  Now this woman is a believer in Jesus Christ as God’s son and savior.  That is something else that this country looks very unfavorably towards.  So just starting out she and her husband have two strikes against them.  Well folks, they are not out because it takes three strikes in baseball to be called out.  With God nothing is impossible. 

Now, why has this gotten to me so deeply?  I don’t really know but I would like to offer some images that I think might help explain it.  I see a mother who believes in God and believing in God means believing in love.  Evil is the opposite of love and it hates love, seeking to destroy it.  But a mother’s love is beyond comprehension.  I am a man and I can’t get close to grasping it, I just see it and know it is real.  And this love is for the child she is carrying within her, moving, growing, sharing oneness with the mother. 

And evil is there seeking to destroy this helpless child, to rob the mother of being able to love and nurture and bring forth life into a world that is so desperate for love. 

All this pulls my heart and I would love nothing more than to go and camp out where this woman and her husband live and stop evil from attacking and killing.  But I can’t.  What I can do is pray and then I can pray some more.  Finally I can keep praying.  I can call on all the powers of heaven to intercede for this family in a far off country, people who I do not even know their names seeking God Himself to have mercy and to allow this child to be born into the loving arms of a mother who is spending nine months in fear and dread that evil will come knocking on the door to claim this precious life.  God, have mercy on this situation. 

That is what I can do and that is what I am asking for help from everyone who reads this blog post.  Would you please join in prayer for this un-named mother and her husband that God would intercede and bless them with a healthy child that they can love with the love of Jesus?  Then, would you please comment and simply say “I will pray for this child.”  Let your voice be heard in a small way. 

The interesting thing about this type of prayer is that we don’t know.  I know there is this situation, I do not know the name of the mother or the father (perhaps her name is Mary and his name is Joseph?) but I do not know the world into which the child will be born or its future.  I certainly do not want to play God.  But I do not want to see evil triumph, to rob and steal and kill. 

I believe in love and hope and I long for the day that a report might reach me that a child was born and that a mother and father are celebrating the new life.  That I will also blog and pass on.  But I ask you to seek God for this couple and I ask it in Jesus Holy name.  This is the gospel of prayer.  Amen.

Faith is…..Again

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5UR_Y3yOF8

Before I begin the attached YouTube song is called “Out of the Blue” by Don Francisco and is found on his Grace on Grace CD.  I own the CD but this is not my YouTube upload and I have not secured official permission to post the song.  If you like it please go and buy his music for a very rich blessing.  The song is saying that God comes into our lives and shatters life as we know it and brings in His life.

I like how God speaks.  He not only displays a mastery of language but also that of the fine art of communicating, that is getting across the point He wants to make.  Further, God has a very rich sense of humor.  You gotta love it!

Consider Numbers, chapter 22.  Again, I leave you to read the story and to read the full context, not just pick and choose.  At the start of the chapter the king, Balak, was trying to get Balaam to come to him to help keep from being wiped out by the Israelites.  This had been going on for a while when God finally released Balaam to go, but to only speak the word God told Balaam to speak.  So the next morning Balaam gets on his brand new, circa 580 (or so) B.C. donkey which came complete with leather upholstery and takes off.  Now, God was not happy with Balaam’s attitude and put an angel with a big sword in the middle of the road to deal with things.  Note that the angel had a big sword.  Balaam never noticed but his donkey did and they went round and round a few times about going on until the donkey had had it and just lay down refusing to go any more.  So Balaam smites (don’t you love King james English, smite) the donkey and God really lets loose with the art of communicating.  He gives the donkey a voice.

“Hey dude, what for are you beating me?  The donkey continues to discuss this matter with Balaam with it being a two way conversation.  Personally, I think I would have stopped with the first words out of the donkey’s mouth in bewilderment.  Balaam, nah, he just kept on arguing with a donkey.  There is a sign in a BBQ place I eat at that reads never get in an argument with a fool, bystanders might not be able to tell the difference.

My point is not the story of Balaam but rather how God communicates with us.  The point is that God does communicate with us.  God knows us, knows our needs, wants, thoughts, rights and wrongs.  To the very depth of our core being He, God Himself knows you and me.  You aren’t going to hide anything from Him, you aren’t getting away with anything, so don’t even let the thought linger in your feeble little brain.

Bare your heart and soul to your God, the God of heaven and earth.  Let it all hang out and while God is the master of communication we are but rank amateurs at best.  Cry to the Lord and even further seek for others to cry to the Lord on your behalf.  God does not need elequance to listen and hear us.

So what am I saying (or trying to say) and what is the point of this post?  First my motivation in writing this evening.  Over this past weekend I got hit with the proverbial sledge hammer.  Now mind you this is not a bad thing as being hit with a sledge hammer is often times.  Rather it was facing some facts concerning a situation and the reality found therein.  I hurt and felt deep pain but I must confess that I knew that I was going to be hurt regarding this situation.  Knowing it is coming is supposed to help one handle things but nah, never happens, it still hurts even though none of the parties involved wanted anyone to get hurt.

So, being me I took this pain to heart and curled up like the baby I am and woe is me, nowhere left to go but wallow in self-pity.  Have you ever done that?  Probably.  This went on for a full day and a half (actually a little more) until God communicated with me.  Now we bring in the long preface to this post.  For a donkey God chose to use someone’s blog, as in my own.  I received a note from WordPress that a post of mine from June was liked and commented on.  Cool, let’s go see who it was and what they commented.  So I went and of course I had to reread the post to see what I had said.  Can you saw Hee Haw here?  It’s donkey speaking time!

The post is titled “Faith Is.”  Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  I posted and talked about faith but deeper than that I talked about Jesus Christ.  That is what I have to post about and talk about.  He is my all in all, Jesus is my life and my confession.

Here I am wallowing in my self-pity, woe is me.  It took God to use my own words to remind me that I am a person of faith and my faith is that there is substance greater than anything, repeat anything, that may try and rob me of the life I have in Christ Jesus.  My faith is evidence that He is greater, that God Himself is working in my life for His good pleasure to accomplish greater things in life that I could ever dream of.

People who read these words, do you hear what I am saying about you?  You are loved by God, the most high God of the Universe.  More importantly He is as wrapped up with loving you as much as William and Kate of England are with the new royal baby.  You, you are loved and cared for beyond your wildest imagination.  Sledge hammers may come but your father in heaven is there for you.  My you be blessed with His presence in your life.

God Is

God is.  Simple noun and simple verb that make a complete sentence and therefore a complete statement.  It can also be the jumping off point for a lot more and there are countless expositions of the nature and character of God.  Wherever you want to go with it you can and it would be valid.  But that is not the point of this simple post today.

This morning I went to the gym for a workout.  My time on the floor was good, not great, and I accomplished a lot in terms of exercising my body.  Generally when I finish on the floor I spend time in the hot tub followed by the lap pool.  Feels really good to first loosen the body and stretch muscles I have just worked.  Then the lap pool is very cool and sucks all the skin back tight and just washes me all over.  Wonderful.

So the hot tub jets are operated by a timer that cuts off the action after 10 minutes which is a reasonable time to not get overheated.  So I am in the hot tub and the jets and pulsating action quit and I was left sitting in a nice really hot tub of water.  A compulsion came over me to seek the presence of God.  Right there and right then.  Before I describe this I will say that God is always with us, always present (whether we like it or not) always available to us to commune with Him.

So I closed my eyes and began to adore Him and worship Him, and I began to dwell on who God is, what does that mean?  My first leading in this thinking was the heavens above, the universe we live in.  The world of stars and galaxies and all the other grandness.  I thought of the galaxies which right now are in massive collisions,  greater than anything we can conceive of, the black holes which swallow all matter just out there right now.  Then I thought about particle physics, the smallest things man studies and knows about.  We can’t even see them.  If science is lucky they will take a picture of the trails left when they are able to collide two of them, and God is.  He is above, below and all around it all.

I moved to the lap pool and began swimming broad backstrokes doing laps, back and forth, back and forth.  God is, God is present, God is.  As I was floating on the water God is under the water, holding me up.  God set about for hydrogen and oxygen to be able to combine just right to form water.  God allowed heat to warm the water.  While on the floor I had seen on of the trainers working with a blind lady.  God is the creator of the phenomena we call light.  God set the conditions for light to act both as a particle and as a wave, characteristics necessary for it to behave like we know.  To allow for the diffraction of light in the atmosphere, light from some 93 million miles away, to produce the blue sky, the yellows, oranges, reds, and myriad more that we all love to watch.  God is who set about the absence of light, darkness.  Ever tour a cavern where at the very lowest point the tour guide is obliged to have you sit while they turn out the lights to show you what total darkness it?  Yet Go is, her is there and He is the author of it as well as the comfort in it.

I thought of our earth.  Now, in our culture we think of north as being up.  So I pictured God, with His index finger at the south pole, spinning the earth like a top, just watching it in amazement as it spun round and round.  Think Harlem Globetrotters here folks.  Pretty cool huh?  God just spinning the earth, with us on it, watching and enjoying His ability.

So, do you think about God?  How do you think about God?  Give that question a few minutes to sink in.  God is not limited and we are created in His image.  With God nothing is impossible.  What is the God vision He wants to share with you?  Will you reach for all that He has and break out of the normal?  Our normal is really second or third class.  After all we are talking about God here, God and you and me.  Last Saturday I stopped by the place that cuts my hair.  On the side they make hula-hoops (yes, I am old enough to remember them) and I asked to borrow one.  Because it was the first weekend of summer I tried to hula-hoop after all these many years.  With everything God I ask you simply, why not?

Faith Is

I would like to start out asking for the forgiveness of all who take time to read my blog.  Most of my posts, well, all of them, are my thinking aloud to myself and working through the thought process of a topic that comes to me.  I do thank you for taking the time to read what I put down and hope and pray that it helps you challenge yourself in walking with the Lord.

I have started reading a book by Derek Prince on the Will of God.  In the opening chapter (I have just started reading it after all) Derek quotes from Hebrews, chapter 12, where Paul talks about Jesus being the author and perfecter of our faith.  That is the key that struck me and has me thinking.  You should see the wheels turning and the smoke coming out of my ears.

Now, yes, Jesus is the author of my/our faith.  But I had not thought about Jesus as the perfecter of faith.  What does that look like and where will that lead me?  I like to start with root word meanings.  Faith, that which we believe by; believe what, how, why?  The spiritual realm is unseen in the physical real in which we live, so it is something we cannot see and touch, there is no feely to it.  So is faith blind or senseless?  I think not, I think we can and should “know” what we believe.

Consider Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  This is the King Jimmy version which I love.  Faith is substance and evidence.  Those are both very tangible words.  Substance,  I picture reaching down and grabbing a handful of earth, to hold and feel.  Evidence, name your favorite court drama, the court is only interested in evidence, facts, what the witness knows to be true.  No opinions allowed.

By faith we hope for that which is unseen, we hope to hold that which is precious to us and that precious thing is God Himself who makes himself available to be held and seen.  And in Hebrews 12, quoted above, Jesus is perfecting this faith in us.  Oh, what glory we behold, what love can be so great.  Jesus wants us and is working to make perfect our sight of spiritual things, the spiritual realm about us, our spiritual lives, to be fully fulfilled in Him.  That is His goal for each of us and His work by the Holy spirit to bring about.  I say embrace this and welcome it with all of your being.

Reading in the area of Romans, chapters 3 and 4 (you get to do some of the work here) Paul then talks about faith compared to the law.  The law is harsh and hard, it is final, a yes or no proposition.  Faith seems to challenge the law but it does not, faith confirms the highest law, the law of the love of God, the law that says God is supreme and in that supremeness He choose all who would have Him and Him alone.  By faith are we justified and made righteous.  An image I offer is of you being brought into the great court, the high court.  You stand before the judge who hears the evidence against you and by the law is bound to find you guilty as charged.  Guilty, the word rings out though the court as the gavel bangs down loudly and the sentence is pronounced, guilty, guilty, guilty.  But then, yes, then, the judge rises from his seat, takes off his robe and walks around to the front of the bench to where you stand.  He joins you there and there he proclaims, “I will pay this debt, I will pay the price required of the conviction.” 

You have been freed, you have been set totally and completely free, just as if your crime had never been committed.  You are made righteous, whole again.  Can you imagine?  The depth and breadth of this freedom, granted by the same as who condemned you, done by his own free will.  He came down from the judgment set to pay the price for you.

It takes faith to see that, to grasp it, to hold it, to shed tears over the receipt of such love undeserved.  Faith in the unseen, the unknowable.  But we do know, we do believe, we do respond to this love, by faith and faith alone.  Yes, there is so much that I want, that I think I need, but that is all so shallow because the reality is that the spiritual realm is of so much greater importance that our physical real.

And Jesus is the perfecter of our faith.  So much can be said there that this post cannot begin.  But let it be sufficient that He is at work in our lives to bring us to Himself and His Father, perfect and whole.  That is happening right now, right now, day or night as you read this simple word.  Embrace that He is and you are and that it is alive and that it is well with your soul, for it is.

If just one Wang

This is both a call to the church and is a personal thank you to someone very special to me. Right now they are half way around the world answering God’s call on their life. They did not say Lord, send someone else, nor did they choose where they went. This person heard God call and obeyed.

A few weeks ago an email went out saying that they had learned of a person in very serious need of Jesus and a touch by the Holy Spirit. He had shared shared some things that indicated darkness in his life. So the call went out for prayer that at a meeting set up that Jesus would reach this young man. The young man’s name is Wang. Please keep him in your prayers as the light is reaching him and he is being led to the Lord.

Now comes the part that applies to you and me. Are we answering God’s call? Are we walking in the place that He has for His purposes? Are we touching lives for the Kingdom of God? Are we comfortable in our homes, in our society, in our lives? Are you?

I am not saying you or I is called to go halfway around the world but I am saying each of us is called of God to be the glove that His Holy Spirit fills and uses in this world. Yes, God wants to touch lives through each one of us and He really does not want us to be comfortable.

Kairos is a prison ministry and twice a year in the units where Kairos is located weekends are held where 42 inmates, convicted felons are allowed to come out of the general population to participate. I have sat with convicted murderers and other violent criminals and shared the love of Jesus Christ with them. Is it scary? Yes, at times it can be but when you go you go in the name of Jesus Christ.

I know people who cannot go into prison and I do not think I could go overseas on an extended call. Maybe health reasons, maybe things in the past that do not allow such efforts. But, and this is the important but, each of us is called. You, my friend, are called by God for His good purposes, for His Kingdom. Go, seek it, find it, and embrace it. Go, and go quickly. Eternity means so much more than anything now.

If just one Wang is reached by my friend over the course of 2 years then those 2 years are more than worth it and I would send them again. If one inmate comes to Christ because of Kairos then Kairos is worth it all. So I leave you with “If Just One Wang.”

When I Gaze

This post originated while at the gym tonight.  I have a pulled groin muscle which at this time really hurts, as in pain.  When I hurt my thinking goes way off track which can be good or sometimes not so good.  The thought processes are altered because my mind is distracted (in this case by pain).  There is actually a psychotherapy technique called EMDR that uses a distracted mind to help patients approach problems.  That is a totally different subject that is way off track.  So, on to this post.

I don’t know what you believe or what led you to your beliefs.  Me, I believe in the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible.  To further clarify that I believe that Jesus is all He said He was, that He died for our sins and that we can invite Him into our hearts to live as Savior and Lord.

Music to me is meant for the heart.  Yes, I know that there is all kinds of technical and even mathematical aspects to it, but I like music that moves me.  Quite often it also speaks to me, volumes, about life and love and good and bad and about people.  I would like to share about three songs (of the many) that have had great impact in my life and which help me gaze in awe at the most wondrous, and Awesome God, the Great I AM.

The first song I heard live in 1971 and it is “Shauna’s Song” by Barry McGuire.  I was a new Christian and he performed during a seminar I attended.  Several aspects of it still stand as a testament to God’s love.  Barry was also a fairly new person in Christ and the testimony of his life and that is exhibited in this song is one of a life changed and transformed completely by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  It was so clear and obvious that Barry had been touched by the Holy spirit and made new.  The Christian term is Barry had been “born again.”  Here are the lyrics.

Shauna’s Song

I don’t know            why he loves me

I don’t know            why he cares for me

You know I ran from him, oh yes, I ran from him

I turned my back and slammed the door in his face

But still he said to me, said, “I love you”

Said, “I love you”

I don’t know            why he wants me

I don’t know            why he’s so concerned for me

You know I’ve hurt him so, oh yes, I’ve hurt him so

But still he comes to me with his arms outstretched

Whispering these words, “I forgive you”

Says, “I forgive you”

I just don’t understand a man who’ll stand and say, “I forgive you”

Say, “I love you”

But don’t you know

Now it’s true

I love him, too

Like Barry I don’t understand how God could love me how God could send His only Son to die for me, how Jesus could and would choose to die for me and love me.  But He does and He did.  Jesus hung on the cross to pay for my sins.

When I talked in the last post about gazing at the Great I AM I used the picture of astronomy because it was a very good image of gazing at something so vast and awesome and unknowable.  I don’t care what science says, they really don’t have a clue about the greatness of the universe.

Over Christmas of 2009 my wife of 37 years, Deborah, died from cancer and it shattered my life.  Well, God often speaks to me through music and this was no exception.  The first music He gave me was a song by Julie Miller titled “All My Tears.”  Like Barry when you see Julie in the context of her music you see someone who is very spiritual and very much in touch with God.  To me there is an innocence in her love for Jesus.  God gave me this song as being Deborah’s song.  Here are it lyrics.

All My Tears

When I go don’t cry for me
In my father’s arms I’ll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I’ll be whole

Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus’ face
And I will not be ashamed
For my savior knows my name

It don’t matter where you bury me
I’ll be home and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away

Gold and silver blind the eye
Temporary riches lie
Come and eat from heaven’s store
Come and drink and thirst no more

So weep not for me my friend
When my time below does end
For my life belongs to him
Who will raise the dead again

In and through these word I knew Deborah was home, healed and whole.  There was great peace which came (and still comes) from listening to this music.

The final song has a slightly stranger story behind it for me.  I don’t like a lot of modern Christian music because it seems to lack a depth of knowing and loving Jesus.  A lot of modern music seems written to sell and to stimulate, not to express the Holiness of the relationship we can have with the Father.  This is just some of my thinking so please don’t hammer me for it.  I am not making an absolute statement here.

I have worked in prison ministry with a ministry called Kairos where we go in for a weekend and “Listen, Listen, Love, Love” 42 inmates at a time.  There are broken down to 7 different tables where they sit with volunteers.  During the first Kairos weekend I worked after losing Deborah I was sitting at the table with inmates and ours was in the back of the room.  Over the course of the weekend we sing songs.

Before I go on I should say that I believe in the Holy Spirit and I believe there is a supernatural world that is all around us.  I love the Holy Spirit, believe in the Baptism in it and have seen God do miraculous things in this world.  Really.  Oh, and that is not part of the Kairos plan and is not encouraged.  The book contains the plan and we strive to stick with it.

So we were having a singing time and were all standing up having a good time.  Our music leader lead us in a song I suppose I had heard before but I had never “heard” it before like I heard it that day.  The song is “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me.  I swear I hadn’t heard it before today, okay.  Well, the Holy Spirit took me, in the spirit, up to heaven and there I was in the great throne room of God.  And Deborah was there to greet me with this great big smile that simply radiated with her eyes bright as can be.  Now you are probably thinking yea, the guy goes to heaven and sees his wife and she is hunky-dory.  I would be thinking that too so I don’t mind if you do.  But, this is my vision of heaven so follow along.  Then Deborah takes me by my hand and she leads me over and introduces me to Jesus.  The message God had for me came through loud and clear, it is all about Jesus  Here are the lyrics to “I Can Only Imagine.”

I Can Only Imagine

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk

By Your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face
Is before me

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

[Chorus:]
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I
fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the sun

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You

I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still

Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I
fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine
I can only imagine
yeah
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I
fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine
yeah
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever,
forever worship you

I can only imagine

When I went to the gym this evening I played these three songs in a loop over the course of about an hour and at times I buried my face in my workout towel and cried, weeping over the emotions these songs stir up in me, songs that stir up Christ in me.  Just like my vision which occurred in prison, it is about Jesus and the depth of the meaning of knowing Him.  Do you have a belief that is strong enough to carry you through life, through good and bad, to take the weight of all the wrongs in your life (called sin), a belief that can stand in the storm?  I do, I believe in God, the God, the Great I AM.  And along with Barry I don’t know why He loves me.  And with Julie I know that one day all my tears will be washed away when we see Him face to face.

To gaze at the I AM can be outward, heavenly, or it can be inwardly, inside each of us.  Gaze, be in awe.  Dare to look and seek to know Him who is.  Yes, we truly cannot comprehend Him but we can gaze and we can seek to but touch the hem of His garment and be made whole.

Below are YouTube’s of the three songs.  For Barry it is his performing it live, laid out like the question it is.  All My Tears has been done in many variations by many artists.  I give you Julie singing it in a simplistic version that I think lays open the music and bares it for the soul.  I Can Only Imagine is Mercy Me’s original version of the song.  Blessing on you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rxv6Os66U3I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YzreoXax1A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_lrrq_opng