Touching The Father’s Heart…

It was a good week.

But where to begin?

How often have I sat in my chair at night, praying to my King, asking for His touch, not realizing He is already right there… inside me… longing with great passion, for me to simply reach out and grab hold of Him? Like the prodigal child, often my mindset is to beg, rather than meditate on what I already have as His son. During the course of my walk I have found that though we drown the old man in the baptism of Christ, the carnal mind can hold its breath a very long time. So I must decide to die to it…just as the Word says. (Rom 6:6)

My beloved put in his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart was thrilled for him.” (Song Sol 5:4)

A certain woman in scripture was slowly bleeding herself to sheol. For well over a decade, she endured the steadfast grip of death slowly ringing the life, vigor and vitality from her body as she grew more and more frail under her unknown malady. We all know this person. She is commonly referred to as “ the woman with the issue of blood.” So often I have thought on that lady and how I am, regrettably so, frequently not like her, but rather like all the others that were touching Jesus at the same time.

Everyone there was touching our Lord’s clothes.. but only she was touching His heart.

Please understand what I am saying. The word states that without faith (belief) it is impossible to please the Father (Heb 11:6). This is a relational, not a positional statement. Positionally, we are already and always fully pleasing to Him (Col 1:21-22.)  Pleasing Him by faith is a relational statement. We are in a relationship with our Lord. There are things that bring Him incredible pleasure and joy. Accepting He is a good Father, and daring to believe He loves us so much that just touching His clothes will unleash that boundless love in the form of life and healing blesses God. It touches His heart. It really does.

Whenever we are in agreement with His Word, we are posturing ourselves to fellowship with Him. We fellowship in spirit and in truth. Without being in agreement with His truth on a matter.. there is no fellowship in that area of our lives. (John 4:24)

You see, He is the one who is touching our hearts. Moment by moment, He speaks to us about His love for His beloved, if only we would stop and listen. How often I have said to Him, “Lord, would ya just stop telling me how much you miss my company for a minute… I am trying to ask you if you love me!”

Too many of us just don’t realize that when we begin to accept how much He loves us, that we begin to feel His love, His thoughts and His passions. This is His heart.

And thus begins my story…

This past November, I was walking the retail store that I am manager of. Something was truly vexing me and I  desperately wanted to know His mind on the matter.

“Just sit with me, David.” was what I heard stirring deep in my spirit, over and over and over.

It was all rather frustrating. How could the Lord not possibly understand I was trying to listen for His voice? So how the heck can I hear His voice with Him speaking to me so loudly? As the morning passed however, my self-centered drive was slowly replaced with His peace as I reluctantly made the transition to put my agenda aside to listening to His leading. In doing so, little by little I began to realize I was becoming more and more aware of the people around me and less cognizant of myself.

And then it happened…Suddenly, as I stood there on the sales floor watching the interaction of everything around me…

I saw… Him.

I saw the Lord in every person I gazed at.  I saw each person as unique, wonderful, special, cherished and one of a kind. Every feature on each face was beyond beautiful. All I could feel was love for everyone of God’s children. Not only that, but I could feel the love of the Creator emanating through every person simply by the nature of their very existence. Before me was a room filled with priceless artifacts, hand sculpted before the foundations of the world were ever formed…and I could feel the Artist’s touch and view His personal signature on each masterpiece. Like a snowflake, no two were the same.

I had an intense, almost untenable desire to connect with everyone I saw in some unique personal way. To let them know how valuable, loved and wonderful each of them were to me… and to their Dad.  A customer I had never met walked past me and I tried to choke out a hello but could not muster the words. I simply wanted to hug him. I had felt this before to varying degrees but never on this level.  I was simply touching the Father’s heart.  Once I let go my agenda, my drive, my fears, His Sabbath rest was upon me.. . which is always available to His children. I had simply allowed myself to enter into it. Once again, I was incredulous with myself as to why I resisted Him for so long… and why I continually do so.

Silently, I asked God to hide me away.. make me disappear from sight so that I could just bask in His love and heart in the midst of His creation, and for the first time I had merely an inkling of what God meant when He said the whole earth is filled with His glory. (Isaiah 6:3)  I began to think on the words where Jesus said He did only what He saw His Father doing and I began to thank God for forgiving me of my worthless self-righteous endeavors and Holy Roman Crusades that were birthed out of many things.. just none of them from His heart.

And then I saw a man.

Pain was etched on his face as he was heading toward the door and I could tell by his gait he was managing tremendous discomfort. I stopped him at the door, asking what was bothering him. He told me he was going in for his third back surgery and that even with the invasive procedure the doctor’s had little hope for him. His lower spine was in ribbons and though he was only in his 40s, he would be forced out of his construction livelihood and into a very fearful early retirement. I offered to take the box he had just purchased out to his car and walked him out. At his vehicle, I quietly asked if he would be offended if I prayed for him.

It was not that I felt I “should” pray for him, or that, as I myself have so often said and heard, “I knew I was supposed to…” It was that I loved him. Love compelled me to bless him. Nothing more and nothing less. Love in the form of seeing how special a creation of the Lord this man was, and love expressed in the form of rage that one of My Father’s children was in pain.

I simply placed my hand on his shoulder, choked back some tears and softly spoke Life into his body. I commanded in the name of Jesus that the pain would cease and never return. I then hugged him and told him to keep in touch. That was just before Christmas.

This past week he walked into the store with a box of cookies. Walking right up to me he said,

“David, since my twin brother died 14 years ago I never believed in God. But I felt something in my body when you prayed for me. I have no pain in my back for the first time in years and I know it was not the surgery. You made me believe there is a God again. I came back here to tell you. Thank you.”

Then he handed me the cookies, gave me a hug, smiled, and walked out.

The power of the gospel is a kaleidoscope of gifts within the body of Christ,  meant to be expressed in many forms, with each form applied uniquely as needed.  But all forms are meant to express one thing:

The Father’s Heart.

The ability to convey the heart of the Lord toward His child, is what changes the person. It is what transforms others and sets the captives free. Jesus came to restore us to Himself, and to give us the power to do that for the world.

“Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’ ” (John 21:17-)

Two millennia ago, on the eve of Christ’s birth, the host of heaven exhorted man to not be afraid. Now, as each day marks the return of the King drawing nearer, I also rally you with the same words.

The world needs to be fed. We do not need the world. It needs Him. The strength and splendor of the lost realm of this broken world is smoke and mirrors. The bravado of those who profess to need no Redeemer belies the fear and impotence that results from being estranged from the Life of our Creator. Earth is the footstool of our Father’s throne. The coals of His righteousness have been branded into our being. The Holy of Holies is within us to bring forth His light to the lost. They need the goodness of His love to be released to them in power.

Please… dare to see what happens if we would allow the kingdom to break through our apologetics and mental ascent. Dare to cultivate relationship and not religion. Like the mighty men of old, be bold enough to jump into a pit on a snowy day to destroy a roaring lion.

Dare to touch the heart of the Father… and in doing so…

Feed His sheep.

Weddings and Funerals

“The fear of man brings a snare: but whosoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (Prov 25:29)

Confessing we have the mind of Christ is not enough to change our thoughts. We must examine what we are believing and drag them, kicking and screaming to the cross. (2 Cor 10:5)

The alters of our sacrifices before the Lord are stained with the blood of the carnal mind’s lies. Have no pity on what dies there. Do not mourn it. Spit on its grave.

I had the honor of being asked to co-officiate a wedding for a very dear friend of mine. The Lord had been dealing with me all week on a topic I was not too keen to discuss with Him. And being who I am, I decided to parley my negotiating with the Lord in the form of superficial compliance. After all, I knew better than to just say “no.” I’d have to be more crafty than that to escape His love. And so like Jonah, I purchased a ticket…and took passage on a vessel named ”Insincerity.”

“Sure Lord. OK. I’ll look at this pain I have been carrying around. You bet. Talk with you soon.. Can’t wait! Later for now.”

And so, in seven days time, in the midst of this beautiful wedding, standing at the podium, I read one of my favorite verses to the couple standing before me with a room of witnesses filled to capacity. I felt that all too familiar dull ache from an old scarred over wound begin to get acute. The last thing I am is a stoic person… I knew I was in trouble.

I read.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish things behind me…”

I stopped. Tears began to well up. I looked deep into the eyes of the groom and his imminent to-be wife.  Pain roiled within me. Frantically, I scanned the audience, who were hanging on my pregnant pause. I searched the crowd for something to anchor me. I couldn’t find my wife for some reason, but I did find one of my closest warrior-in-arms, a true man of God. Our eyes locked, for the briefest of moments that seemed an eternity. He saw me… really saw me, and in his eyes I heard his spirit say, “It’s ok David. Whatever it is, let it go.”

I silently wept there as I tried to choke out the last words to speak before turning it over to the other officiate.  Clinging to the remnants of whatever self restraint I could muster, I excused myself as fast as I could for the nearest bathroom where I unloaded a lifetime of sorrow in that spotless little stall (yes I must admit even in my agony I took note of how clean it looked). Before that porcelain alter I murdered some profound deceptions I carried around inside me up to that point in time about myself. On that day, I decided to put away the carnal mind on an area of His love for me. I said goodbye to “childish things.” That wedding was a funeral for me. A funeral without mourning and without regret. I never looked back. Ever.

Why do I share this?

I left the reception that day with a greater sense of rest and peace than when I birthed. A quietness and trust filled me with such peaceful strength that I was incredulous I resisted His leading to remove that painful lie.  Was it fun going through that experience? Well… no it was not. Can I fathom the greatness of His love that would not stop until I agreed with His Word regarding me? I can a little bit more now. And that is how He does it… little by little.

This latest study is on just one lie the carnal mind declares as truth: that worth is earned and can be gained and lost.

 https://dwmurry.wordpress.com/studies/the-carnal-mind-exposed-part-1-fear-of-rejection/

I dream of a ship often. A huge cruise liner that carries the bride of Christ.  A spotless ship, ferrying a spotless crew on a crystal ocean. Some of the flags on the mastheads have words on them such as “Freedom”, “Liberty”, “Rest” and “Love” to name a few.

And it is a far nicer vessel than the one I had boarded.

Shalom

He Draws Closer

New Year’s Eve.

Being the person I am, I have always been at odds with this day.  The idea of wishing in the “new” has been replaced in my heart with the prayer of agreement with what the Holy Spirit wishes to birth in His bride this coming season. The melancholy chant of “Auld Lang Syne” has many years ago been replaced with Keith Green’s classic “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt” as I reflect on not what has passed, but what eagerly awaits the children of the Redeemer, and whether I truly want it.

Passages such as Phil 3:13 (“…forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead..”) and 1 Cor 13:11 (when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child, but when I became a man I put childish things behind me.”) well up inside me and it is of little surprise that the spirit that is in communion with His Spirit sees thing differently.

Nostalgia, tradition, customs… where do they take us? How many things still lie dormant within me that shackle me to the lineage and fallen mindset of man’s traditions rather than on Christ?

And so it is.. that New Year’s Eve finds me home, with my children in bed and a dim light by which I type these thoughts as I get ready to ask the Spirit of Truth to once more shine in my heart and set me free of… anything. Whatever He wants. Let this season be a season of more liberty. More Truth revealed. More joy.

More….Him.

And even so, the man which is dead in us (Gal 2:20) still whispers from the edges of that light. It demands an audience. When ignored it will scream, and ultimately, beg and cry to be heard. He pleads. He implores and asks me to be reasonable about my ever pressing on into the deeper things of God.

“Lets not get to carried away, David.”  The old man will tell me.

” We will lose our ability to minister to people, if we become too sold out. One must maintain balance. “

A lie.

I recall a season around this time of the year when the gentle guile and soothing voice of carnality wooed me toward looking back. Pain, loss, sorrow and grief filled the view of my soul until my heart was bursting. It was then that I cried out to my Savior for His mind, His thoughts, His heart and His vision.

This battle took place on a quiet night a couple years ago. The arena was my son’s room. In that evening, on the other side of a torn and rent heart, a heart that broke as the ground breaks before the exhaustive drought just preceding the latter rains of due season, I came away with a peace and Sabbath rest that has never left me.  I wrote about that experience and I hope it works its way into the hearts of the reader in the form of encouragement. That its words may minister calm and peace to the restless spirit would be a great gift to me.

The Bedroom

Brothers and sisters… we look forward. We press on. We rejoice, for the redemption of all the world draw closer with every breath we take.  Tradition has a place. Nostalgia has merit. But nothing… nothing, can remain exalted above the One who purchased us with His blood. If its not drawing us to Him, it will ultimately estrange us from a revelation about Him that He desires to impart. There can be only one way to see things. Its His mind in us that produces kingdom life.

I pray that every one of His children, and all who gaze upon this humble offering of exhortation, know His peace in the coming year as never prior, and above all else, know Him.

Maranatha…

The Tree

Not long ago, I found myself taking a side road near home after a restful hour of driving. It was my day off and I decided to have some quiet time behind the wheel. I needed to breathe. I needed to take in the air and feel the freedom that comes to me when I realize I am in the strong arms of my Heavenly Dad. On the old county roads around rural NY I get lost in the views that sprawl out on all sides of me. Rolling pastures and green, lush fields are adorned with wild-flowers that manage to blossom under the relentless grip of mid-August’s pride. My heart always swells with a calm content when witnessing objects of beauty flourish under such harsh conditions.

Something compelled me to make a left, and I felt His peace as I consented, turning down another dirt road. Rock walls swept passed me on either side and I began to praise my Lord as I took in the rows of cornfields swaying confidently in the afternoon breeze. Several blackbirds were shrieking the cry of the triumphant as they swept low and out of sight behind the stalks and I was confident that at that moment they too were praising the Creator of slower creatures. Above, some high-altitude wisps of vapor were making their way light heartily eastward and a blue I rarely see was painted across a broad expanse of sky as I crested a slight hill.

Sipping my coffee I turned onto an unfamiliar road I suspected might escort me to my main route not far from home. I could feel the presence of His Spirit and I was, at that moment, already home. Home in Him. Home with Him. Free from care. All my uncertainties of life and the questions that regularly arise with the daily interaction of people estranged from their Savior were stilled. Suddenly, I sensed I was not alone. All that I saw, it seemed, was calling out for Father’s special touch. I had made my way up this road and found Jacob’s Ladder all around me. Heaven and earth had mingled. All of creation was crying out to their Master and I was caught up in the middle of it.

It was then that this little dirt road quickly descended a hill, turned sharply and I found myself passing an old farmhouse on the corner of the road that ended and forked into a main street. I pulled the truck over. Something was wrong. An unseen itch racked my soul with such agitation I began to bite my lip nervously.

And then I understood. Where this road was so quiet and isolated just on the other side of the hill, it had now ushered me to a highly developed suburban neighborhood. In the blink of an eye I went from “God’s country” to the heartthrob of humanity in all its hurried, frenzied futility. But that was not what was wrong. Life ebbs and flows and beauty is to be found in His presence no matter where I sojourn.

It was the old farmhouse. It sat at the corner of the intersection where the old country road met with a newer street. It held the best view of the entire area and I knew immediately that at one time it sat vigil over many hundreds of undisturbed acres. An owner of that old farmhouse generations past once enjoyed a setting similar to what I had just driven through moments ago. Now it was encroached on all sides. Modern raised ranches stood quite rudely only a few dozen yards away, giving no heed to any thought of privacy. A white post fence was all that kept the onslaught of modern advancement at bay, and in the name of sub-divisions and wills divvied up amongst siblings, suburbia had pressed hard upon this sliver of old heritage. The house was slightly tired. It looked weary of having to stare out across neighborhoods and driveways and automobiles that long ago lost the hard chiseled lines of its simpler predecessors. I took a hard look at the fence and tears welled up in my eyes as I realized a fresh coat of paint was recently applied that defied the world to attempt to take anything more. Whatever may have transpired in times passed this white wooden sentry would permit no further advancement upon the old farmhouse.

“You shall come no closer.” It said. “My borders are set.” A last stand.

On the corner of the property closest to the road, stood an enormous elm tree. It shaded most of the postage stamp property and much of the road as well with its farthest branches reaching well past the fence and almost touching some younger trees on the other side of the street. It occurred to me that it was only a matter of time before those branches would be trimmed by the highway dept. under the money-forged guiding arm of some of the more affluent homeowners of the area. In time the tree itself, standing so close to the road, would be under the hard gaze of the town council.

My peace was gone. Tears now streamed freely down my cheeks as I sat back and looked at the loss of something pure, something that seemed a little closer to God. That farmhouse embodied all that my heart yearned for and that was why it hit me so hard. Simplicity. Peace. An escape from the world and all its madness. Anger began to surge in me as I began to recall memory after memory of people being wronged by others. The weak being trampled by the strong. Those who have no advocate get swept away, and this tiny homestead represented all that was true and honest. Now it was but a shadowy reflection of what it once was. And no one notices. People were washing their cars, walking their dogs, and the pungent smell of charcoal ash which normally represented family and fellowship to me was putrid in my nostrils.

I cried. Long deep sobs that revealed a much deeper pain was lurking beneath.

“Why did you have me turn down this road, Lord? I was so enjoying my time with you. I cannot stand seeing housing developments crop up around old county lands. You know this.”

Bitter tears flowed as I surveyed my view that went from a piece of heaven to twisting into near hell itself for me. My blurred vision caught sight of the elm and I spoke to it. “I am sorry, my friend.”

And then it spoke back.

“It must all be swallowed up, David.”
“What does?”
“Death.”
“I don’t know what the hell you are talking about, tree.”
“Does not the Word say that everything will melt away? That ALL must be consumed? All of creation groans for the redemption of the earth. It longs for the day that all will be swallowed up in death, including Death itself. The triumph of the cross is the re-birth of His creation. Everything must die. And what will be revealed is the new creation. I long for this. I do not fear it or grieve it as loss. I groan in anticipation for it. What you see here must come to pass everywhere.

“You feel the sadness you do because you are trying to hold onto your own life. You are afraid of the death that awaits the world because you do not understand the life that comes after it. All of creation must be redeemed from sin. Everything is speeding toward that end. Do not be afraid anymore. Rejoice in it. True life is birthed from death.”

I soaked in the words my Redeemer was speaking to me through His creation. My mind cleared and once again I felt His peace upon me. Not as before. It was a more subdued relief and I understood that some deep mending was going on in my soul by the hand of the Holy Spirit. I knew that a healing had begun in me, and that this road He led me down was a beginning. There would be more. Quite some more I discerned. I sat there a long time.

I started my truck and as I pulled away, said goodbye to that old elm and to the white fence and farmhouse.

I strongly suspect I will see my friend the tree again. I’ll see him when all of time has taken its time under the guiding hand of the only One who truly calls all the shots. I suspect he will have more words of wisdom to offer me as I stop to ponder some other deep issue of my heart. He’ll be there planted beside another house. Overlooking a vast field. On another road.
One made of gold.