Abundant life? (Christmas/ New Year thoughts).

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As focus drifts from Christmas to resolutions a misleading conception saddens me – “abundant life”. It’s preached as being God’s promise of abundant supply, riches, a prospering business, a new car etc. etc. Some even measure others by their prosperity. How odd to think that a God who chose to be born in a stable and wander the land as an itinerant preacher, sleeping rough with his followers, would be interested in such things.

Sure He cares for His children and supplies their needs as promised, but this gift of “abundant life” is so much more than that! Like the old picture of a child dropping her doll to receive a snow white dove, abundant life is so much more!

John says “in Him was life” the life, creative power to heal and mend hearts, minds and bodies. It says, “He came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly”. That this power of life can live in us to such a degree that it bursts forth on others, bringing life, healing, and peace. “Abundant life” is authority to access the power of the spiritual realm and perform miracles through that “life spirit” bringing forth fruit, not of sordid material possessions, but miracles of healing, redemption and changed lives. The former pales in comparison to the latter.

Just a thought when setting goals and resolutions.

Is Jesus crying this Christmas?

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Strange as it may seem, I think he cries every Christmas. Sorrow taints his joy all year long to see the pain, the hate, the sickness, the want, but it must be particularly tough at Christmas.

Why you ask? Surely he rejoices in the love and kindness prevalent in the Christmas season’s “conspiracies of love”? Surely he’s made happy by the love and praises of his followers at this time of year?

I’m sure our individual deeds and remembrance of him bring great joy to him, but I think this time must also bring great sorrow, especially this year.

Why?

You see Christmas originally celebrates his coming to earth to be with us, to save us. He came and healed the sick, preached peace, sharing, love for all mankind. He fought the politicians and religious bigots of his day, embraced the poor, the outcasts, the dregs of society and won the victory on the cross so we could be free of the hate, the evil, the fear and hypocrisy. He did it all, he won for us.

Yet as he looks over this war torn world, the evils performed in the name of God/ politics/ greed it must break his heart. Mankind is not free. The same evil forces rule this earth, the four horsemen still ride. He gave us an opportunity to follow, to heal the sick, rescue the afflicted, to love. He gave us power to free the world of evil.

Instead slowly Christianity devolved into a religion, embraced the corruptions of “politics”. Seduced by pride, abandoned pure love and began to operate in the fleshly realm rather than the spiritual. It lost its power to free mankind from the hate and even in some awful episodes became part of that evil.

Given light, mankind chose darkness, chose, pride, greed, hate, some knowingly embracing the powers of darkness most simply deceived, pawns in the game.

I felt a strange sadness in the air this Christmas, the joy more restrained. Every Christmas I spend a day giving out tracts with a message of love. My goal? – to cheer hearts and make folks smile (especially the sad lonely looking ones) and give them each a present from my heart – a chance of peace, of healing, of love. This year was different, many folks were preoccupied as if in deep sadness. Instead of happy smiles and Christmas greetings they looked startled, the smiles coming more slowly as if they thought, “oh yes, it’s Christmas isn’t it.”

I’m sure it has a lot to do with all that’s happened in Paris/ Syria etc. It’s hard to be happy when you know others are in need, when your own world feels threatened. I yet believe in the good hearts of folks. Like that great statement about when distressed by the calamities of the world, wait for the volunteers to pour in (he said it better.) When bad stuff happens you find heroes, selfless souls who go to help.

Even so, like us, I think Jesus knows both joy and tears at Christmas.

In the presence of God (short story inspired by a dream)

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In the presence of God I lingered unable to tear away, drawn like a magnet to the light. Yet questions remained, permeating our relationship.

It was enough that I was here I told myself, the suffering was over, I was free at last, no more pain, chemo, or disappointments, but what of Alex, the atheist, my friend? He’d been a good man, one of the best; he’d just been hurt too much. Life had not been kind to Alex. His bed across the ward had been empty for a week, now mine was empty.

Love enwrapped me.

“You want to know?” the presence asked. I inclined my head squirming within, who was I to question?

“You loved him.” The presence beamed, “I did too, I love them all. You wonder if I sent him to hell?” My stomach churned, but I nodded, there was no hiding.

“I do not judge as man judges, even in death there is choice.” My head jerked in shock.

“But how?”

“The state of their heart, the good or evil within draws them. Those that love me fly to My arms as you did, they revel in My love and presence.”

“But what about those that never even heard, that lived their lives in darkness?” The question escaped, Alex’s question, I couldn’t withhold it.

“I made a place for them.”

I saw a cavern deep in the earth, womb like, warm and comforting, pervaded with a soft red glow, where many slept curled in fetal position.

“I spent three days and nights in the bowels of the earth, and My presence remains for these.” The voice pervaded my vision. “It’s paradise. Not heaven, but a reflection of it. They walk in dreams, in healing. These never saw the light, not so much as a glimmer, – My presence would overwhelm them.”

“They lie here cuddled together father and mother, wife and child, families of ancient lands. I’d never cast them out, though they have worshiped strange idols. They are borne here to this soft, warm, womb where together they dream. This is not Hell or Hades, I wouldn’t send these ones there, but they’re not ready for heaven, not even the river, so they rest here awaiting My coming, bound in the depths of the earth, but not in a bad place. In their dreams the light intrudes, they remember forests of bamboo, hills, and mountains, flowers and trees. Through nature I gently lead them from the darkness.”

Music plays, soft, serene like the sounds of nature, lulling them in pleasant sleep.

“When they awake it will seem they slept a short time, but millennium shall have passed. The human mind is a fragile thing. They need to shed the cloaks of darkness, the fear, till one day I can lead them into the light and this time will feel but a dream for them.”

“Even the fires of hell are cleansing. It depends on the depth the sin has reached – fire cleanses all. My coming can be all these things, the touch of My spirit to those drenched in evil it is as a consuming fire, to those in darkness a comforting womb of earth that shelters and protects. To some a cleansing flow of water and to those fortunate enough to have come to Me the wind of freedom and desire. It’s all love, My love for My creation. Sometimes My presence can cause pain as with those drenched in evil, but I love them also and will not abandon them. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’m not some callous God watching over an experiment.

They choose where they go. Some run to the light, others shade their eyes and some, yes some, are consumed by it, like one who, drenched in gasoline, comes in contact with a flame, the flame of truth, and it burns and consumes them. But even for these there is hope, redemption. I would that none perish.”

I stood in awe overwhelmed by the love of God. I saw it now. It is not God that separates Himself from us, but we from him. Alex was forgotten in my thirst to understand.

“You spoke of water, a river?” God smiled and Heaven glowed.

“You wish to see it? Your heart may tarry there a while…”

An angel came, summoned by His hand, raw power and love emanating from its countenance. The angelic being took my hand and we were transported to a rivers edge, pale, translucent water gleaming with light.

“Come.” The angel directed.

As our feet entered the waters things of earth began floating away. Longing to immerse myself I rushed into its embrace finding no need to hold my breath. A soothing melody flowing from the depths enraptured me, but as I opened my eyes in abandon I realized the river was full of floating forms.

Startled I stood up looking questioningly at the angel.

“They sleep,” he explained. “their hurts and pain are slowly washed away. Come.”

We entered in a little more and I saw a body sleeping near the surface, face barely submerged. It was Alex.

“Some plunge within, like lepers seeking cleansing,” the angel  said, “for these it is faster, but he resists, he has yet to enter deeply. You can lie beside him and dream a while with him if you want. It would help him. There are others too…” I understood.

I sank into the gentle waves beside Alex. “Hello old friend,” I said.

THE SPARK. (re blog from May 26th 2014 flash fiction theme of “flash”)

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Flash!! Darkness entered my life in a sudden, blazing, blur of light. The curtain fell, an excruciating blanket of night, one of those unforeseen, irreversible accidents, and with it descended a cage of fear. At first the pain was too intense to permit ought but its rending presence, but slowly, stealthily it came, hedging me in, with its cloak of nothingness.
There was no solace. A man, led like a child, provider no longer, a dependent. My pride withered, my self image decayed. Slowly fingers became my eyes, a stick my mapmaker, my ears bodyguards. Days dragged to months and months to years…

My release came from an unexpected source – my nephew. In former days I had played the fiddle – he remembered.
“Play uncle, play!” he said. I was too morose. But youth will not be gainsaid. Eager ten year old fingers firmly placed the bow in my hands and at last I played. I felt the strings vibrate beneath my fingers as if in sympathy, the bow slid across the cords drawing a rasping song from the friction as if it understood. Tears fell in gentle streams as my fingers remembered past skill, but something was added. The music now sang my own heart cry, the strings echoed my sorrow, wringing forth a sweetness.

I heard a stifled sob from across the room. My brother was crying. I’d played many times before but never touched the heart of another. It was the first of many. From that day I have played, my fingers truly becoming my eyes with a sensitivity I never had before, born of that flash. A spark reduced my world to ashes, but like a phoenix I flew free, reborn.

A Lover’s Plea.

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Forged long ago, silken strands wrought hard upon earth’s iron anvil, heated within a furnace of trial and pain they yet forge a bridge between our worlds, a veiled link so thin and sheer it cannot be seen by human eye; only hands of faith take hold and dare cross the chasm below.
I wrought it of My blood and sinews, I who had no blood, who knew naught of pain or travail till earthly hands seized and drove in nails. I was pierced long ere that by the hate, envy and strife, searing My spirit like the pain tore through My flesh … they still do.
I left behind a trail of blood for others to follow, not in sadness but in joy. The silken cords remain, as lifelines they dangle just within reach.
Love was always there from the beginning and shall be there also when time closes and all that you know here ends. Love is a part of Us, part of Our being. When We made man in Our image We made him to love, to watch over, to care for creation. Man was born to love.

Watch a child, how it seeks to love and be loved. Yet they strive against it, they fear the pain, the humbling; but did I not humble Myself to become a man? Did I not hang naked upon a cross for all to see and jeer at? Did I not pay the price of humility?
Without humility there can be no love, the heart cannot be bared. The unprotected beating heart must unveil its secrets to another or there can be no love, no intimacy. There can be lust, but not love. Love lays itself open to ridicule, to hurt, to pain – as did I. Yet without love life is an empty shell, a husk. Anything worth something costs and the price of love is often pride, to trust another into those hidden secret parts.