Still, Like Water

Empty footbridge over the lake
It is only with total humility, and in absolute stillness of mind that we can know what indeed we are. ~Terence James Stannus Gray

be still.pngI beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. ~Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Romans 12

Oh beloved, it is true. There is so much of us that has to go. And most of it is stuff within us that is all to precious to us. The list of things to be jettisoned is long and wide and deep:

The right to pleasant circumstances.

The right to be accepted.

The right to be successful.

The right to my possessions.

The right to be rescued from my circumstances.

The right to see results.

The right to know the specific will of God.

The right to understand my circumstances.

The right to be proven right.

The right to be loved.

The right to have a mate or children.

The right to be used by God the way I want to be.

The right to live in the place I choose.

The right to the job I want.*

Our rights in general.

And this, is the pain of death that is going on inside of us. Though we have already died with Christ, there is so much programming and tapes that need to be cut. There is so much garbage in the waste bins of our emotional makeup.

This fool of a writer is not good at this.

There are so many times, where i really feel the need for people, especially those close to me, to realize that my life is being poured out for them. I have made so many mistakes in the past; ruined so many things and people and circumstances, that i get hurt when people don’t see that i am finally getting it right after 45 years of getting it wrong.

He must increase, but I must decrease. ~John, The Prophet, in John’s Gospel 3

What to do?

Absolutely nothing.

The reality is truly that we have given our lives as a living sacrifice to our King. And if our King deems that our lives be poured out over rugged terrain and mixed with the dust of the earth. Quite simply brothers, we need to come to a place where we realize that a living sacrifice does not give orders back to the One receiving the sacrifice.

Can we see it though? There is an upside. It is here, in complete stillness and surrender that we finally begin to get some clarity on where we are supposed to be going with our lives. We finally get to the place where we can here Him speak… And when we do, we truly find another thing we have been looking for all the while: We hear Him tell us how much He Loves us. We hear Him saying how proud HE is of us. We hear Him telling us that HIS grace is sufficient, and that all is well.

So, are you going through the pains of death to your own self? This fool of a writer does. And just when he thinks the thing is dead, The Holy Spirit shows me some more things that need to go. However, what i have learned is something that may be of benefit to you. I have never – not once – regretted letting go of anything. EVERY time i have let go of some little thing, He has poured more goodness and freedom into my life than i could ever have imagined.

Tonight is your night beloved. Time to be still.

Makala_FF 2016Written by Makala Doulos: Makala  is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

*this list is from another, unknown author

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 101; Proverbs 9

Daily Quote:  What then are we afraid of? Can we have too much of God? Is it a misfortune to be freed from the heavy yoke of the world, and to bear the light burden of Jesus Christ? Do we fear to be too happy, too much deliver from ourselves, from the caprices of pride, the violence of our passions, and the tyranny of this deceitful world? ~ François Fénelon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.~Romans 8:33-34

The Cost of Our Work

Dying Earth

We have spoken of trying and trusting, and the difference between the two. Believe me, it is the difference between heaven and hell. ~Watchman Nee

Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,” … Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again He appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. ~The Encourager, in Hebrews 4

Oh beloved, it is true. We are tired. So much has happened in our lives. But mostly, we are tired because of our efforts to try and live a christian life. And it is this “christianism” or “churchianity” that is nearly the end of us.

There is an opposite to this. And it is so very opposite, that we have a hard time even beginning to believe that it is true. Everything within us rails against the prospect that we have been getting it wrong. We think that our efforts to show G_d our gratitude are the way to go.

We know that we are sinners. We know that we are broken. We know that we need to live for God. We know God, in Jesus, has already given everything for us… But, something is teasing at the edge of our soul. We read His Word, and it tells us… but we think that we are just getting the interpretation wrong. Our fear (and our enormous pride) won’t let us see what is right in front of our face.

Something is not right.

We are exhausted

and bruised

and frustrated

and hurt

and failing

and doubting

and becoming bitter

and, just wishing things could be better in our walk with Him.

We have counted the cost of following Him, but what is happening to us seems far from abundant. It feels like we have been cheated. We don’t even feel the joy of His Presence, and the lightness of losing everything to gain Christ. Instead, we are just worn out. We are beginning to wonder if we got something very, very wrong.

Can we see it? We have indeed gotten something VERY wrong if we are in this place. We are to strive in this Life He has given us. But, we are only to strive for one thing – and one thing alone. We are to strive to quit striving. We are to shatter the idols of our busyness and effort. We are to slice up our lists of things to do, and we are to let His Word cut deeply into who we are.

And when we do, something amazing happens. We finally get it. The gargantuan Love of G_d has already saved us in Christ Jesus. There is nothing do, but rest in this certainty. Instead of trying to claw and trudge our way home, we find that we are already seated at table with our Lover and King and Dear Friend. And it is here, in this reclining at the table of Grace, we find strength we never knew could even exist.

Oh yes, there will be great labors and even deeper pain in the future. But now, everything is different. We are beginning to get it. It is joy that is our strength. It is Love binds us together with Him and it is Grace that empowers us for the work in His fields quite white unto harvest.

So, are you tired? It happens. But, are you worn out? Are you fraying at the edges? If so, you may indeed want to focus your efforts on just one last work: stopping. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to rest in Him. The cost of any other approach is just too high.

Makala_FF 2016

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala  is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 93; Proverbs 1

Daily Quote: “It is the Father’s life, and the Father’s life alone, that ever lives the Christian life. It is the Father’s life, and Father’s life alone, which will live the Christian life in you. Embrace a formula or a list in order to “live the Christian life,” and you are doomed to frustration.” ~Gene Edwards

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ~Romans 8:31-32

 

Living Beyond Fear

Superhero Kid

What would you do if you had no fear? What would your life be like if you had no fear? What would you attempt for God if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would you plan to do if you were convinced that God would resource you? What would your approach be to setbacks and challenges if you were empowered by God’s faithfulness? ~Graham Cooke

But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.” ~from Isaiah 43

Oh beloved, it is true. There is a place for fear. But it is not in this world. We are getting it dreadfully backwards when we have no dread of the Almighty and are scared to death of the littlest things in this life.

Lest any of you brothers reading this think that i am writing from some place where i do not have an understanding of what is going on in life, may i present a few details? i have been in a near plane crash in Costa Rica, followed by some bad guys in Palestinian Territory (really), stopped and questioned by a radical Muslim on a trash mountain outside of Jakarta, and survived a knife attack in the Philippines. And each time, G_d was there with me in ways that go beyond words.

Yeah, the life of an international worker can be a little exciting.

But, beyond this, i have had truckloads of the opportunity to be afraid of the more daily things. Like…

What people think of me

Where my next paycheck or meal is going to come from

How my health is working out

Being misunderstood by my spouse

Dealing with waves of chronic pain

Loss of relationship with children

Being disliked by coworkers and students

Being misunderstood (sometimes purposely) by those who could not believe what G_d was and is doing in my life.

There’s more… Each of us could come up with a long list of thing about which we could be afraid. And nearly all of them seem reasonable. But, they are not. Can we be honest with ourselves? Fear is nothing other than a lack of faith. Fear is my damnable pride getting in the way of truth. Fear is an excuse to avoid the unavoidable truth of the Gospel.

Read the passage beloved. The cure for fear is not just believing real hard in some self-powered attempt at faith. No, the cure for fear is to rest in the one thing that draws us towards real and abiding strength. Love is the cure.

But, can we see what kind of Love this is? The Love of G_d is not some sort of warm fuzzy feeling (though this fool of a writer is sure that He has those for us too). No, the Love of G_d has traded away influence and interest in nations to get ahold of us. The Love of G_d is a lifesaving, firewalking, river-fording, and all-consuming Love! We a precious to the very One who defines value itself. We are honored by the One who is more honorable than 10,000 princes of the purest royal houses.

Oh my!

Yeah.

Can we see it? Love like this grows something powerful within us. Love like this steels the heart and calms the nerves. Love like this drives out fear. And this is exactly what the only One we should fear intends. For as we look to Him and become dreadfully aware of our fallenness in light of His dreadful perfection – we see the one thing we never thought we would see: Acceptance in His Son, and Love beyond our wildest dreams in His eyes. Forever.

So, is fear dogging you lately? Maybe you could take it from an old guy like me out in the field. Fear is a liar. It was one of the best things i ever let go of. And when it wants to poke its head up in my life, i pray for the grace to look away from the foul thing, and just look into His eyes. When i do, when i look into those eyes – the fear is gone – replaced by the strength of His Love.

Tonight is your night. Time to believe you are Loved.

Makala_FF 2016

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala  is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 86; Proverbs 25

Daily Quote: “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.” ~Karol Józef Wojtyła

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. ~Romans 8:28-30

Trauma Care

Emergency room entrance

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

After 9/11, the level of security and fear escalated in America. People understood that we weren’t exempt from the extreme evil of the World. It actually made us think a little different about our comfort zones. It affected us in various practical ways; the way we renew our license, passports, traveling, schools, etc… Americans flocked to churches, government officials, clergy, counselors, therapist, medicine, and the like…it really shook us.

That happened on a universal scale, but how about the trauma in your personal life? Most men, in my dealings, won’t admit or deal properly with the trauma in their own life, moreover stay in denial that it even existed. Wake up, stuff happens! Loss of a spouse or child, divorce, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, substance abuse, even the lack of meaningful love can be detrimental and traumatic. Whether we like or not if we don’t pay attention to these areas, they will manifest themselves in other compartments and behaviors, Ask the people closest to you? Unchecked trauma will only produce drama.

However, we can experience true freedom when we invite God to walk us through those traumatic issues. He reminded His people, in this passage and many others, that everything has purpose, even pain. Don’t waste your experiences! Life will get messy but God is faithful to see you through, and to use it for His glory and your good.

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

Juan Mendez_FF 2016Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full-time staff member at America’s Keswick.

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 85; Proverbs 24

Daily Quote: “If we have got the true love of God shed abroad in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do.” ~Dwight L. Moody

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. ~Romans 8:28-30

Humility vs. Pride III

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

I believe the speech reveals the conditions of the heart. And if pride is present that to will be exposed. “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.” Plato

God gave humanity many of His characteristics like our ability to reason and process through circumstances. Hench, we are far above any other created thing in these areas. However, in Genesis 11 we observed how this can quickly can be used unproductively for kingdom work. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”(Genesis 11:4)

They forgot the judgment in Noah’s time and wanted to make a name for themselves. This story reveals that as sin continues to grow and humanity’s ability to use the common language; they could eventually be like God. The language was not the problem, nor was construction undertaking; those together simply revealed the heart and the pride of man. Consequently, God is not moved and gently rectified the situation by confusing their language.

One of the main concepts that is uncovered in this devotion; with the proper perspective, in humility, mankind can choose to use their verbiage for good. “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. Solomon. Communication is as a grace of listening, as well as a grace of speaking.

Thank you guys for all the prayers for my family!

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and full time staff at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 117; Proverbs 26

Daily Quote: “Other men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope.”  ~Gilbert M. Beeken

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name. ~Psalm 33:20-21

In case you missed them:

Humility Vs. Pride I

500px Photo ID: 89209135 - 1/3 photos for the 4th week of self-portraits -  This week's theme is "Reserved." This has been quite a journey of self discovery, for Reserved I wanted to express a faceless man, the lack of identity and the camouflage with the

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)

I have been wrong, I have made many mistakes, life and people have crushed me plenty of times; and most of them left me in despair. In addition, losing a loved one has way of bringing me to my knees. These are all situations that push or should push us back to a broken state before God.

However, I have been asking God to keep me in that state of humility in spite of life’s condition. You might think I’m crazy, but I believe if I can keep myself with a broken sprit and a contrite heart, that God doesn’t need to do it for me, or at least as often. I am certainly not the example of the humblest person, but that doesn’t stop me from checking my motives and dispositions.

The beauty about Humility, besides the constant command in the scripture, is that it reflects the attitude of Christ. It sets us apart from our natural prideful make-up and forces us to total reliance on God. It allows us to be in a right fellowship with God. James mentions, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” And all of us could benefit from the grace of God.

Humility is characteristic and evidence of the Christian faith. It understands who the boss, who is in control, who is right. Even secular recovery starts with admitting that they are not in control and need a power greater themselves. The good news; we know that power, we know that person. Jesus Christ humbled himself to the will of the Father and at the right time the Father lifted Him up and made His name above every name. Take down, and He will lift you up.

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 103; Proverbs 12

Click Here to Download our 2016 Daily Bible Reading Plan

Daily Quote: “To love someone means to see him as God intended him” ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: 

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him. ~Psalm 28:7

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Prodigal Humility III

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And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” ~Luke 15:13 (NKJV)
Today I am picking up where I left off with humility. If you remember I had found some notes on my desk that I got some time ago concerning humility in the life of the prodigal son. Now within these notes is the term Colony 101. For any of you who know Chaplin Jim Freed, the parable of the prodigal son is one of his strong suits and he uses this parable to help us Colony guys get our heads around The Fathers forgiveness for us when we repent and turn 180* to Jesus and seek to live an exchanged life. Over the years I myself have seen the layers that is in this parable so I think this would definitely be Colony 101 stuff.
Now previously I suggested that this young man may have practiced some sorta pseudo-humility by asking for his inheritance before his father passed on. After all, just walking up to dad and saying, “Dude, I can’t wait for you to die so can I have my stuff now?” fly’s…right? Well in the 1st century dem’s was fightin’ words and this guy would have gotten his tail kicked in or at the very least got nuttin’ when dad died (however in the 21st century kids really do have the brass to ask for this thing to actually happen, just sayin’). But for the sake of illustration Jesus chooses to begin this parable with someone who is obviously morally wrong and this would have gotten their attention. (ya think?)
So there is no doubt that the prodigal was seeking instant gratification and from what I see in these notes I got there is this statement… “He was the Dead Sea of all his intentions”. Hmmm…that’s like saying he swims in “Lake Loser” right? But do you realize that there are contemporary counterparts to the prodigal and maybe you see them in your everyday? Those folks who are down on their luck riding the bus or the train, walking down the road with all their possessions in plastic Walmart bags, locked up in jail, on television running for president (oops let that one slip, sorry) or maybe they are like 40 totally different men at the Colony of Mercy. You could say that these people had their chance in life—like everyone else—but they threw their chance away. Maybe, in a way, they deserve to feel humiliated…
Well, when you look into Luke 15:15-16 you can see a movement to justify that statement. We tend to focus in what is going on to the prodigal but I see a fine display of attitude from people as well. I see man’s ability to humiliate in verse 15, I see man’s ability to exploit in verse 16 and what I don’t see is man’s ability to show grace and mercy. It’s at this moment in the parable that Jesus will flip the script on what should happen to us when we are in that spiritual “famine in the land” moment. It’s this moment in the life of the prodigal where humiliation becomes humility.
Now just because the prodigal finally comes to his senses, realizes that he has sinned against heaven, his father and isn’t worthy to be called a son doesn’t mean he got the whole idea of humility down. OH NO, because what it took was the father’s response to the very sight of him. Running down the road in a robe and sandals ain’t no easy task but for the “pater familias” to do this is unthinkable in the 1st century…well in any century. If I do this, I feel that I’m falling flat on my face no matter overjoyed I would be seeing my son CHOOSING to come home. Choosing to come home is the humbling action that has the father showering his wayward son with love and grace. Putting better clothes on him, shoes and a ring on him is the father showering him with mercy.
So why is this a cool parable? Well I guess I’ll just have to take my shot at answering that the next time I am with you. But until then think about the audience that is hearing this parable…those wacky Pharisees. All the way up to this point everything that Jesus has spoken to has gotta be seething in the hearts of those men, after all, they have the ability to humiliate and to exploit just like those that done so to the prodigal when he became in need. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t already done so to those people that YHVH Himself handpicked to bring into the Promised Land. Now does this stuff still happen in the 21st century? You better believe it…Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married with two adult children (you may remember them from summer staff) and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 96; Proverbs 5

Click Here to Download our 2016 Daily Bible Reading Plan

Daily Quote: “Let us, from the beginning, admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous, as pride. Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will disclose how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how weak we are to obtain what we seek.” ~Andrew Murray

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: 

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid? ~Psalm 27:1

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