Paul is telling Timothy what he needs to know and says “…be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” (NIV 2Tim 4:2) It’s a verse I’ve heard many times of course but this last week was, for me, a pretty extreme example of its reality and application. I was on the road to San Francisco on business and spent four days in and around the convention center. I wasn’t carrying a sign or anything that would draw attention to myself or my faith but God had some adventure in mind. In those few days I was engaged in a half-dozen deep, technical, personal conversations about God and “all of that stuff.” There was the genetic cancer scientist on the plane down. There was the Harvard lawyer, ex-hippie AND ex-Christian at the fire pit. There was the Orthodox Jew computer programmer. A very dear and old friend who was a believer back in high-school but now joins the eclectic “us” of atheists. And then there was the very kind older man with a broad smile eating sausages who happened to be a genuine occultist…it was a strange week. Continue Reading…
by Jayson Tidland
I like clouds a lot and God the Father knows this. It is sort of hard to fathom why the creator of the universe cares that much about “our details” but he does. He knows our likes and loves and he often meets us on that level. In the same way, He cares about all the rest too. The good, the bad and the ugly. He wants us to invite him into all those areas.
Do you want exposure to eternal things? If you don’t get anything else from this story, get this…we can invite God into all of “our details.”
“Hide away, in wonder, wild,
These are times, quiet and free.
Father, present with his child,
Space and time bend a knee.
Storms and danger, troubles piled
These are times, quiet and free.
Father, present with his child,
Eternal things for all to see”
A path to cloud nerdiness began almost a year ago for me. Don’t be fooled by the interest though. I started paying a bit more attention the “ordinary things” like clouds. Undoubtedly, my head has been in the clouds but it’s not just the clouds I’m looking for. It’s this thing between me and Papa. Our thing…
A few days ago I was driving past one of those planned neighborhoods and a sign out front was inviting the “post active” crowd to come on in and have a tour.
It took me several seconds to grasp what the term was referring to. Was this a community for veterans? After a few beats I realized that in fact it was a polite but insidious euphemism for seniors. But it wasn’t enough to say “If you born before this date in 1958 you’re welcome here.” Instead it presumed to indicate your level of activity after that 55th birthday – your level of usefulness. “Now that you’re an old coot, sit down and take a breath. Lord know’s you’ll need it. And we assume that you are bored, thinking about fishing all the time, and basically useless. But that would be rude so we’ll call it ‘post-active.'”
One of the biggest mistakes of our current World enemy is the unchecked worship of youth and the consequent dismissal of wisdom. The wisest, most experienced, most mature members of our world often feel cast aside – and for good reason. Everything about the way we live our day to day lives is geared toward the young and the reckless while we get closer and closer to a Logan’s Run vision of our 60s and beyond.
Moses, on the other hand, didn’t hang up his staff at 60. In fact, he was still 20 years BEFORE his great mission to free Israel from Pharaoh. He was 120 years old when he moved on and the Word says that he was ‘Undimmed in his eye and still getting busy.’ (loose translation)
In The Masculine Journey john talks about kings as sages as the stages of greatest strength and influence in a man’s life. When all the hard work and refinement of the previous years comes to a razor sharp point and a man becomes a scalpel in the hands of God, truly able to separate sinew from bone and effect change in the world at a level no ‘warrior’ could dream of.
But if a sage of the Kingdom is put to pasture, or worse, if that man willingly retreats from the field for fear of feeling invalidated…the loss to the Kingdom is truly immense.
What I am about to share could happen to any of us. And does! In fact, I share life with a lot of people who have these kinds of ‘God experiences’ on a regular basis… and it is a completely normal experience. Yes, I use the word normal, though it is a hidden normal. Veiled in plain sight… lost in the noise and circumstances from a fallen world. The great deception of the enemy is to keep us from knowing who we are…
Eastern Oregon high dessert is beautiful. It was our 2004 bootcamp near Antelope OR. It was sunny with warm dry mild breezes; ideal conditions…I came into this camp with a lot of questions. Mostly the, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” kinds of questions. I had spent the previous several years sort of lost and wandering without much direction. I know now that I was groping at life as a drowning man gropes for something to stay afloat. I felt that I had no clear starting point. Who thinks about this stuff? Well… at some point, everyone… So there I was.
Names are important to God. They are part of his design for the universe. For us, they are a testimony and sign to all of creation. The name that Jesus calls us is who we really are. The voice that spoke life into existence is the same voice that calls us by name. He always names us aptly…It’s a glimpse of all we are, how he sees us! It doesn’t happen exactly like this for everyone, but here is what happed to me:
The afternoon session ended… and now all the men quietly went out and about for a covenant of silence time, me included. I headed for the nearest mountain. The questions on my heart were…” What’s next God?” and “Who am I God?” Two questions…
Part one: What is next? This mountain I was climbing was covered in loose shale and my footing was shaky… The trail was… well there was no trail… the terrain was steep. I was more focused on the question than my safety… My legs were burning, my lungs on fire but the question was bigger…The intensity was pulling me up the hill as if I were chasing after the answer. It was up there…
To add a little more context to this, I sort of saw two immediate life paths as it pertains to the questions. One was to continue down the rabbit hole with all the guys at Bootcamp NW… I loved these guys then, but not like I do now. I mean, it would have been easy to turn away…actually, more like fade away like I had always done. I would simply become (or remain) NOT critical to the plan. I had successfully avoided plenty of situations in life that fit the “much is required” description….especially if some vulnerability and exposure were involved. The old easy way of dealing with things was, well…safe and familiar. So this, among other things was the context of my question. What happened next I was not expecting.
I was nearly there now…A little more panting, sweating and grunting before I finally reached the top… Tired now, I just found a place to sit and enjoy the view. I was at the crest now. Next to me, on the ground, was an arrangement of rocks in the shape of a cross. Beyond that was the panoramic view of the entire valley below…the camp and the neighboring and distant hillsides. It was my first time up there, and something about the struggle and the beauty of it all just brought me to tears. And there was silence… and the question.
After some time went by, I caught a glimpse of a little paper booklet tucked under a rock that was part of the rock cross arrangement. It was literally right next to me! I pulled it out just to have a quick look and see what it was. It was just a little booklet for children (I guess) and it had pictures of gnomes in it. Nothing special. Trash I thought.
The booklet was missing its cover, so I had to read the little introduction paragraph to figure out what it was all about. The paragraph started out with simple lines like… ”Have you ever longed for a better prayer life? Do you ever wonder if God hears your prayers? Do you long to hear God speak to you? And so on…
“Oh yeah… Jayson…about that question…”
Oh my! The things I desired in the context of my question would represent a radical shift…“It’s prayer…”
Another wave of tears came. I flipped through the pages to see more, and the answer to my question began to unfold! This little booklet was about prayer! “Yep, It’s prayer! That’s what’s next.” It went straight to my heart. Did I mention it was written for CHILDREN with pictures of GNOMES in it!? It depicted little Gnomes praying in every kind of circumstance. God’s ironic humor! The emotion that followed was so deep and pure. I sobbed and the tears were like pure joy … imagining hearing, seeing or walking for the first time in your life…that kind of joy!
I was excited to get down the hill now! I had to tell someone! Ahh, but God was not done yet. If you remember, I came up the hill with two questions.
Part two: Along the way, God and I… we descended the hillside in a different route. The route was down a steep ravine that widened near the bottom of the hill, and there were a few trees along the way with shade where I could rest. As I was coming down I noticed two or three deer resting peacefully under a tree.
Just for fun, a sneak attack seemed in order. (please don’t judge me) After getting close as possible, I charged like a screaming mad man down the hillside! Like Gandalf charging the Orcs! By the time I got to the tree I was laughing beyond control! I claimed the very spot where the deer had been and dropped to rest. “Victory!” What a goofy thing to do, I thought. In the midst of laughter and self-satisfaction I hear God say to me, “You are my Scout”… (Laughter paused)… (Head scratch) “Umm…What does that mean?” Again I heard “You are my Scout.”
“Huh! Ok… I’m your scout.”
A little confusion in the absence of hopelessness must be akin to faith! There was peace about it even though I did not quite know what to do with the news. Like an unopened gift; you know it’s really good but have no idea what it is. That was the real beginning of the journey for me… Being a little slow to the process, it didn’t even occur to me then that God was putting me at the starting line of the journey… of discovery. His answer to my second question was to begin the journey of answering the new question. This journey entails doing and being and an abiding in Jesus. Who is “Scout”? Which is to say, who does God really think I am?
It is a better question…
The subject of our rightful name and why God reveals it to us is a good topic for another day. But I will say… God uses this in our lives in a huge way. It’s a critical piece in the process of walking with God and finding our true calling.
I don’t know if praying gnomes or elves will get you there. But as the word says… Ask, seek and knock….
….to be continued.
I’ve been sitting on this blog post for the last week trying to decide what I could say about the story, but instead I’m just going to tell the story and you can make any conclusions you like.
On Saturday morning of our April 2013 Bootcamp JB and I were running a little late to breakfast and we were the last people in the cabin. As we’re just about out the door I see a bird hit the big A-Frame window and fall the 20-30 feet to the deck. We walk out and see this poor creature is in bad shape. Its breathing ragged its eyes are rapidly dimming and something sharp and white is protruding from the side of his face. Our best guess is that it’s bone from his head – a compound fracture of the little guy’s skull. As I pick him up he’s shuttering, blood is coming off on my fingers and we both say, “we ought to put this poor thing out of his misery.”
But then after a short pause JB says out loud what also just came to me, “let’s pray for him.” So I fold my other hand over the top and close him in my hands and we pray. Nothing fancy, just “Father, please heal this poor creature.”
With that behind us, JB goes back inside to grab a box lid and some ripped up paper towels to give the guy a least a little warmth. Prayer or not, we were both expecting to leave this creature to die. He’s still closed up in my hands and I can hear his breathing get faster and faster, harder and harder. Hard to believe I could hear a bird breathe but I was convinced I was hearing his death rattle.
A few seconds later, JB comes out with the box top and I open my hands to let go of this wounded thing. But instead of a corpse, out of my hand jumps a perfectly alive bird. His feathers are straightened, his eyes are bright and the bone(?) is no longer jutting from his face. Not only is he no longer bleeding, but the blood from his face has been cleaned off.
Like something out of Snow White the little guy jumps right up into JBs hand, poses for this picture and then flies off to join his buddies.
Thanks to a friend, I’m pretty sure we had a male Violet-green Swallow (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Violet-green_Swallow/id) and while I don’t know it was bone in photo one, it seems the most likely possibility. Regardless, whatever was sticking out of his bloodied face, it was gone in photo two and there was nothing in my hands (except left over blood) when he popped back out.
Think what you will, conclude what you wish, but JB and I spent the last week in awe of our Father.