Restless

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MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“My bowels, my bowels! I writhe! The walls of my heart! My heart is restless within me, I cannot keep silent, for I hear [in] my inner self the sound of a horn, [the] alarm of war.” Jer. 4:19

Living upon this planet at this moment in time should aways captivate our hearts for more. Why were we born? What is my purpose? Have I gotten caught in the here and now? Do I, or have I surrendered to His will and let things become weightless? Kevin Ott calls it “Inconsolable motion” (the motion that refuses obstinately, passionately, religiously to be comforted or lulled into slowing or stopping. It refuses to settle and fears self-contentment. It’s always straining to see what’s beyond the horizon. Its eyes are “impregnated with distance”.) My friend there is always more that God wants to reveal of himself in us and through us. Not that we try to gain more in this world, we gain more of Christ. We become enlarged in our restlessness.

I have always loved the story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus, where Jesus meets up with some disciples right after his resurrection. After they brake bread together Jesus vanishes and their eyes were open. Did not our heart burn within us…? (Luke 24:32) When the uncomfortable comes knocking, open the door because more than likely he is up to something big. Oswald Chambers says, “We need to learn this secret of the burning heart. Suddenly Jesus appears to us, fires are set ablaze, and we are given wonderful visions; but then we must learn to maintain the secret of the burning heart— a heart that can go through anything. It is the simple, dreary day, with its commonplace duties and people, that smothers the burning heart— unless we have learned the secret of abiding in Jesus.”

Kevin Ott goes onto to say, ‘this humble longing, will take you to something grand. It will grow to massive proportions. You will suddenly want to look along the beam of creation itself, to see the grand tapestry of meaning that encloses on every side and to see how everything in the caused world, from the galaxies beyond the Milky Way to the sea stars in the tide pool, work as point-markers to the Uncaused Someone behind it’.

Lets not get to settled on this side of heaven nor get caught up on the rabble of voices. Become impregnated with God.

 KISS THE RIVER

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper

Ps. 1:3
This last week was a week of weeks. Rodney Howard Browne came to our church and held revival meetings. For four services I was caught up, renewed, refreshed, I laughed and wept under the presence of God. For many they will never be the same. This last month was rather unusual, our house was flooded in the great 100 year flood of Covington and that same day I realized I had shingles. OUCH! It was a one- two punch to say the least. A month later I have recovered from shingles (thank you Jesus) and our house lays gutted. So this week became my quest to seek Him in a fresh way. It was good for me to have time to “kiss the river again”. So many folks from our church had never been in these sort of meetings and it was so special to see them getting touched and changed. I felt his love and assurance service after service and His presence deepening. The river comes and takes things that are no longer needed and leaves a deposit or residue behind. In this case, the Holy Spirit comes and washes away the coating of the world and leaves an imprint of Him upon our soul. This song comes to mind after this week, We sang this song for many years in revival.

“And I remember sitting down beside the river

The water moving, heaving like a living breathing thing

Moving closer, I was strangely drawn and then I

Heard you call my name
And now I’m drowning, drowning in your life

Somehow I’m living, I’m living just to die

Just like the river, rolls into the sea

So I surrender to the sweetest love, rolling over me
It’s funny how the memory can fade, but then I’m

Still reminded, when I smell the rain and I feel

Moved to kneel and live it all again

AND I WILL TRY TO KISS THE RIVER”
Spurgeon says in speaking of the hunger of Christians; “They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eye-balls, they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ, they are blessed the more their experience widens and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in their hour of death, and best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness.”
So where do you find yourself today. I pray despite the storms you find yourselves in –you will keep wading out into the deep and Kiss the river.

THE SWEETEST OF ALL LOVES

The love of Christ which passeth knowledge.
EPH. 3:19
This is one of those passages that causes us to think about the incredible greatness of our God. His majesty is impossible to describe, we touch the edge of it only by revelation and that by grace through faith. Paul says that all of creation can’t even portray this greatness. The heights of the heavens, the depths of the ocean, and the expanse of the horizon still fall short of telling the greatness of His love. Paul’s prayer is that we would explore the height, the depth, and the width of His love. Only then can we begin to know the unknowable and begin to be filled with the fullness of God. As we drink in His great love for us we are drinking in His Spirit. It is in drinking that we expand our capacity for His love and begin our great exploration that can never end. It is impossible to become bored with God, His greatness never ends. In other words, eternity will be a never ending unfolding of the glory of God to His sons and daughters. The further we go, the greater the experience and enjoyment. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this verse.

“When he was enthroned in the highest heavens he was very God of very God; by him were the heavens made, and all the hosts thereof. His own almighty arm upheld the spheres; the praises of cherubim and seraphim perpetually surrounded him; the full chorus of the hallelujahs of the universe unceasingly flowed to the foot of his throne: he reigned supreme above all his creatures, God over all, blessed for ever. Who can tell his height of glory then? And who, on the other hand, can tell how low he descended? To be a man was something, to be a man of sorrows was far more; to bleed, and die, and suffer, these were much for him who was the Son of God; but to suffer such unparalleled agony-to endure a death of shame and desertion by his Father, this is a depth of condescending love which the most inspired mind must utterly fail to fathom. Herein is love! and truly it is love that passeth knowledge. O let this love fill our hearts with adoring gratitude, and lead us to practical manifestations of its power.”
So go ahead, launch out into the deep. It’s in that place of deep calling out to deep that our hunger and thirst begins to be satisfied. This is what we were created for; nothing less can ever be enough. We were made for this journey, the journey into the depths of His great love.

REAL FOOD

Is. 55:1 “Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;

And you who have no money,

Come, buy and eat.

Yes, come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without price.
Our hearts are hungry. From the day we are born we are all in search of something. But what is that something? Some find that satisfaction in their accomplishments or their career. Some find it in belonging to a movement or a political campaign. Still others try to satisfy their hungry soul in parties and carnal pleasures. The problem is this, none of those things are the food we are hungry for. We are spiritual creatures and only God Himself will satisfy the longing that all of us share. What is your food of choice? Are you trying to cover over the disappointments and lack in your soul by stuffing your life with something other than the Lord? Jonathan Edwards preached often about delighting in God alone. Listen to his thoughts on this topic.
“This excellency of Jesus Christ is the suitable food of the rational soul. The soul that comes to Christ, feeds upon this, and lives upon it; it is that bread which came down from heaven, of which he that eats shall not die; it is angels’ food, it is that wine and milk that is given without money, and without price. This is that fatness in which the believing soul delights itself; here the longing soul may be satisfied, and the hungry soul may be filled with goodness. The delight and contentment that is to be found here, passeth understanding, and is unspeakable and full of glory. It is impossible for those who have tasted of this fountain, and know the sweetness of it, ever to forsake it. The soul has “found the river of water of life, and it desires no other drink; it has found the tree of life, and it desires no other fruit.”
Total and complete happiness and satisfaction; that is the promise we have in Christ. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about an easy life where everything goes right, I’m talking about a life in God that is more than enough for us on the worst of days. While others find their happiness in their successes and accomplishments those become secondary to us. We have found a food that completes and satisfies us; we have found the food we were designed to live on and for us, nothing less will do.

HAVING HUNGER

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

I thirst for God, the living God.” PS.42
“If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” John Piper
Having a hunger for God all the days of our lives takes a major God intervention. It is not our natural vent in life to stay passionate for God. Unless your Enoch! Augustine even says our hands are so full we have a hard time grasping God. I believe sometimes we just have to reevaluate our lives and ask him to do whatever it takes in us to create this supernatural hunger. It’s learning to value our communion with him so much that our lives depend on it. Taking His word as precious promises for our meat and drink. Learning to drink daily at the fountain of Christ isn’t as easy as some would think. David knew as in the Apostle Paul it’s an all or nothing kinda life. Has the desire awaken in you to become radical enough to count the cost and thirst for HIM? Even in our setbacks and disappointments we can step out of the negativity and know that God has something bigger, more stunning then any of us can ever imagine. When I allow this Holy Ghost take over so to speak, my life takes on a higher dimension. It’s not me fighting the world, me fighting my enemies, or me tackling every project in my own strength. Thank God, when he takes over and gives me this supernatural hunger something supernatural happens. He gives me fresh affections, an ability to become holy, amazing love for the body of Christ and others. I find even my politics become guided by him. Imagine that!

Piper again says this:

“The strongest, most mature Christians I have ever met are the hungriest for God. It might seem that those who eat most would be least hungry. But that’s not the way it works with an inexhaustible fountain, and an infinite feast, and a glorious Lord. When you take your stand on the finished work of God in Christ, and begin to drink at the River of Life and eat the Bread of Heaven, and know that you have found the end of all your longings,”

Even when we are filled to the full, we still remain unsatiated and expectant. God has so much for us, we have only just begun, my soul ‘thirst for God, for the living God.”

REALLY, REALLY, THIRSTY

Psa. 63:1 ¶ O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

There are some things that just cannot be put off; thirst is one of those things. Drinking is a constant part of our lives. Often, we are consuming water without even being aware, it is just part of what we do. If we are ever in the uncomfortable position of being without fluid, things begin to go downhill quite rapidly.

Recently I became aware of how much we take water for granted in our daily lives. We have well water at my home and somehow our well became contaminated. Suddenly our whole routine changed until we could get our well fixed. Something that was common an quite ordinary became precious and took quite an effort to obtain. David is singing about this in today’s Psalm, he is exiled in the wilderness in need of water. Actually, what he is really crying out for is living water. His exile kept him from the tabernacle where he participated in daily worship. You don’t miss your water to the well goes dry. David missed the tabernacle with singing, the sacrifices, the ark, and the shekinah. He longed for that living water. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes today’s verse.
“Thirst is an insatiable longing after that which is one of the most essential supports of life; there is no reasoning with it, no forgetting it, no despising it, no overcoming it by stoical indifference. Thirst will be heard; the whole man must yield to its power; even thus is it with that divine desire which the grace of God creates in regenerate men; only God himself can satisfy the craving of a soul really aroused by the Holy Spirit. My flesh longs for thee; by the two words soul and flesh, he denotes the whole of his being. The flesh, in the New Testament sense of it, never longs after the Lord, but rather it lusts against the spirit; David only refers to that sympathy which is sometimes created in our bodily frame by vehement emotions of the soul. Our corporeal nature usually tugs in the other direction, but the spirit when ardent can compel it to throw in what power it has upon the other side. When the wilderness caused David weariness, discomfort, and thirst, his flesh cried out in unison with the desire of his soul. In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. A weary place and a weary heart make the presence of God the more desirable: if there be nothing below and nothing within to cheer, it is a thousand mercies that we may look up and find all we need.”
So is your thirst shouting to be heard? Just as there is no good substitute for good old H2O, there is no substitute for living water. Maybe you have been out in the wilderness, it’s time to return home to the house of God.

ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS

MERRY TUESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY-

Christ said, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head’

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog about watching two beautiful eagles soar above us while kayaking. Funny how one can get a different perspective when you look way beyond you. Christ has put eternity in our hearts, and He made us to seek Him all the days of our lives. That day kayaking we saw the osprey making its nests, the gators waking up from their unusually long winter. Just as the animals understand the seasons of their life and are accustomed to it, so we must learn to give sway to eternity everyday.

McClaren again goes onto say;  “Transiency is stamped on all our possessions, occupations, and delights. We have the hunger for eternity in our souls, the thought of eternity in our hearts, the destination for eternity written on our inmost being, and the need to ally ourselves with eternity proclaimed even by the most short-lived trifles of time. Either these things will be the blessing or the curse of our lives. Yield yourselves to Him! In conscious unworthiness, in lowly penitence, let us cast ourselves on Jesus Christ, our Sacrifice, for pardon and peace! Trust Him and love Him! Live in Him, taking Him for the motive, the spring, and the very atmosphere of your lives, and then no capacities will languish for lack of either stimulus or field, and no weariness will come over you, as if you were a stranger from your home. For if Christ be near us, all things go well with us. If we live for Him, the power of that motive will make all our nature blossom like the vernal woods, and dry branches break into leafage. If we dwell in Him, we shall be at home wherever we are, like the patriarch who pitched his tent in many lands, but always had the same tent wherever he went. So we shall have the one abode, though its place in the desert may vary-and we shall not need to care whether the encampment be beneath the palm-trees and beside the wells of Elim, or amidst the drought of Marah, so long as the same covering protects us, and the same pillar of fire burns above us. Then eternity in the heart will not be a great aching void, but will be filled with the everlasting life which Christ gives, and the vicissitude will really become the source of freshness and progress which God meant it to be. Everything which, when made our all-sufficient portion, becomes stale and unprofitable, even in its time, will be apparelled in celestial light. It shall all be lovely and pleasant while it lasts, and its beauty will not be saddened by the certainty of its decay, nor its empty place a pain when it has passed away. Take Christ for Savior and Friend, your Guide and Support through time, and Himself, your Eternity and Joy, then all discords are reconciled-and ‘all things are yours-whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and ye are Christ’ s, and Christ is God’s.’

I will drink to that! Yes indeed!

Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

MERRY WEDNESDAY BY PARRIS BAILEY

I love the story of Hudson Taylor, he founded the China Inland Mission many years ago. I guess you could say, he went through some pretty rough stuff. He lost some of his children and in the end even his wife. But he writes of a beautiful encounter with God that helped him in the rough times. He said, “Do not let us change the Savior’s words. It is not “whosoever has drunk,” but “Whosoever drinketh”. It is not of one isolated draught He speaks, or even many, but of the continuous habit of the soul. In John 6:35, also, the full meaning is, “he who is habitually coming to me shall be no means hunger, and he who is believing on me shall by no means thirst.” The habit of coming in faith to Him is incompatible with unmet hunger and thirst. It seems to me that where many of us err is in leaving our drinking in the past, while our thirst continues present. What we need is to be drinking-yes; thankful for each occasion which drives us to drink ever more deeply of the living water.”
When his wife died of fever and some of his children, he made the choice to send the rest of his children back to England. Let’s read his account. “How lonesome were the weary hours when confined to my room! How I missed my dear wife and the voices of the children far away in England. I understood why the Lord had made that passage so real to me, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst”. Twenty times a day, perhaps, as I felt the heart-thirst coming back, I cried to him, “LORD, YOU PROMISED!” YOU PROMISED ME THAT I SHOULD NEVER THIRST.” And whether I called by day or night, how quickly He came and satisfied my sorrowing heart! So much so that I often wondered whether it were possible that my loved one who had been taken could be enjoying more of His presence than I was in my lonely chamber.”
This passage has been kept in my heart through the years. The Lord promises us to fill our hunger and satisfy our thirst if we would but come to him. He is able to heal us and redirect our issues! His joy will meet our need. Today I will decide to drink again, not live off the past or hope for some unforeseen expectation. Today He is enough for me!

HOUSE OF BREAD

Mic. 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose coming forth is from of old,

from ancient days.

All of us like to eat. One of the main features of our Christmas celebration is the food. From special treats to full on meals, our Christmas celebrations are packed with food. I wonder if that is connected to what Christmas is really all about; hunger. Maybe Christmas is really about a different kind of hunger that people really can’t wrap their head around, spiritual hunger. There is a craving inside of every man that can only be met when he comes to Bethlehem, the house of bread. Here are some thoughts by Louie Giglio about that spiritual hunger.

“Your heart was created by Him, for Him. You can fight and claw to gain the world, but without Jesus, you will never be completely satisfied. If there is a growing discontent deep inside your heart—a hunger that hasn’t been completely satisfied by the people, pleasures, parties, material things, or accomplishments—today is the day to open your heart to the idea that it is Jesus that you were made for. But you have to walk away from “less,” and ask Him to become your “more.” Jesus is enough for you, and He is here.”

Here is one of my Christmas poems also about that craving inside all of us.

Hungry Heart 

Restless heart you struggle so Searching for repose Looking for that place of rest That rest man seldom knows

Lonely heart-You’re grieving so When will the sadness end You get back up- to face the world To just fall back again

Anxious Heart-You worry so
Your trust seems far away
Who can you trust when things go wrong Who will you trust today

Ambitious heart – it never ends Will there ever be a time When you can stop this torrid rush And place your hand in mine

Hungry heart has found its food To still this longing soul
To satisfy the heart of man To make the sinner whole

In Bethlehem the house of bread Not far from Calvary
I gave my life for you my son That you could feast on me

When all of the special feasting starts this year let it jog your memory. Let the celebrating and the eating turn your thoughts to that other food. Remember, there is a different kind of feast spread for all of us this Christmas.

John 6:35 ¶ Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

The real food is found at Bethlehem.

LOVE SICK

“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.” —Song of Solomon 5:8

Have you ever been love sick? To the rational mind, love sick doesn’t make sense, but to the one struck with it, it is very real and can be quite painful. I remember my first reforestation trip going to the mountains of Oregon. On the first trip I had to leave Parris by herself with our new born son. We had been married just over one year and it was our first time of being separated. I was beside myself. I don’t want to get into the embarrassing details but let’s just say I was love sick. We were apart for only a week but it felt like a year to me. This is the condition Solomon is describing In Song of Solomon. In this powerful book, the Lord describes this love sick condition. When her lover is gone, the Shulamite can think of nothing else. She is helpless and hopeless without him. Charles Spurgeon speaks powerfully on this condition in his comments on today’s verse.

“Such is the language of the believer panting after present fellowship with Jesus, he is sick for his Lord. Gracious souls are never perfectly at ease except they are in a state of nearness to Christ; for when they are away from Him they lose their peace. The nearer to Him, the nearer to the perfect calm of heaven; the nearer to Him, the fuller the heart is, not only of peace, but of life, and vigor, and joy, for these all depend on constant intercourse with Jesus. What the sun is to the day, what the moon is to the night, what the dew is to the flower, such is Jesus Christ to us. What bread is to the hungry, clothing to the naked, the shadow of a great rock to the traveller in a weary land, such is Jesus Christ to us; and, therefore, if we are not consciously one with Him, little marvel if our spirit cries in the words of the Song, “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, tell Him that I am sick of love.”

Love sick cannot be faked. It is the spontaneous response to separation from the object of your love. Are you love sick today? Do you feel separated from the lover of your soul? That can be a good thing spurring you on to the greatest of all pursuits, the pursuit of God.