Wrestling With God

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Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God. (Exodus 29:45-46)

The incarnation proves God’s desire to be with you.

Let that sink in. God wants to be with you!

He does not want you to be in slavery to anything because it keeps him from dwelling with you. The Lord brought you (wants to bring you) out of Egypt
(read: slavery, addiction) in order to dwell with you.

Do you ever read scriptures, like the one above, and think, “This seems nice, but that is for Israel”?

Where do you think Israel got the name Israel?

It’s from the story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord (God). In Genesis 32:22-31 Jacob wrestles all night with an angel. Toward the end of the wrestling match, the angel changes Jacobs name to Israel, “because you have struggled with God…” (vs. 28).

Do you ever struggle with God? Do you ever wrestle in the night with thoughts of “why, God?” or “how, God?” Do you ever read the scriptures or hear a sermon and begin to wrestle in your mind with the words that are written or spoken? Or, how about this; do you ever watch the news and begin to wrestle with the way things are and wonder, where is God in all this? I know I do.

When we do this, we are Israel.

Think about it. Have you ever wrestled with someone? I mean, physically engaged with another human being in a wrestling match? I remember wrestling with my kids when they were younger. I was never out to hurt them, I only wanted to engage with them; and they with me. Wrestling is an intimate act; it is a way to dwell together.

The worse thing we can do is stop engaging; stop wrestling. God is in the wrestling. He is there engaging with us. Like Jacob, we must not let go until God blesses us.

What is the blessing? To know Him. It is his nature to reveal himself to those he created. We get to know him when we wrestle with him; engage with him. Don’t stop engaging with the doubt; the fear; the questions. Don’t let go too easily.

Don’t just settle.

I have settled for a season. I just stopped wrestling and settled. Here’s what happened: I became cynical. Cynicism is a symptom that we stopped engaging with God.

Jesus chose the disciples, according to Mark 3:14, that “they might be with him…”

Do you believe that?

He wants to be with you, not only to wrestle, but to walk with you; to share his life with you, that you might in turn share his life with others.

An Advent Blessing 

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It has been said, “Wise men
still seek Him”

Our hearts are purified
In the search for you.
Lead us on Holy One.

Though the path is often
Dark, let us keep in step
With Christ your Son;

Guided by your Spirit.
May our hearts not
Grow weary when the

Way becomes hard.
You are our destination;

Your life- our life
Your strength- our strength.

Direct us in this journey
That leads us back
To our true home.

The Road I Travel

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The sun rests on the tip of
His finger, clouds come
From the pores of His skin.

The sky is His breathing;
Night, inhaling;
Day, exhaling.

Trees, the hair on His arm
Standing excitedly on end;
His nerves, the road I trod.

Closing His eyes, the earth
Stops turning, the ocean
Becomes a tear forming

In the corner. The moon, a
Speck on His eyelash. The
Snow covered mountains

Are His teeth. Out of the
Valley, His voice whispers
Your name. The Milky Way

Is the shape of His heart;
The stars, the expression
Of His emotions.

Fire In Your Bones

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John the Baptist preaching at the Jordan (Matt. 3:1-12)
A poem for the 2nd week of Advent
(year A)

Come and turn yourself around
Return to the path – this is holy ground.

I’ll set your feet on the proper way;
Make straight the path; today is the day.

Who are you to claim righteousness from a creed,
While continuing to live in selfishness and greed?

Look up, the only hope is in His way; Listen closely to what He has to say.

Come, be cleansed; dying you’ll live;
Discover the true self in the life he’s come to give!

Come to me, find the way home;
I’ll baptize the outside,
He’ll put the fire in your bones!

Lifting Up A Prayer

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The prayer I pray is a prison cell made of
Blocks of cemented cautions and demands
Hurled into the sky.

I hold God imprisoned in my fabricated faith;
In fear that if I let loose the grip I may die
… Or burn in hell.

Yet hell is reserved for those who can’t let go;
Who keep themselves chained to the shackles
Of their own systems.

Prayer is the meeting place where darkness
And light shake hands, and the soul becomes
Aware of the freedom in which it abides,

Where God unfurls His wings and I rest
In the shadow of them; cooled by the
Breeze of their flapping;

Lifted, by the realization of my own wings;
Lifted upon the wind of the Spirit, and
Hurled into the sky.

A Poem About Grief

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Drowning in this house of
Memories the flood rises over
My head. I grab hold of your

Hand hoping you’ll pull me out.
But you are grief’s wet blanket
Pulling me under; deeper still.

I rise to take a breath before
Allowing myself to be pulled back
Down. Underneath,

Silence fills my ears
And light dances on the waves
Above, expressing its own

Beauty. Again I rise to grab a
Breath, preparing for the duration
Of difficulty. My desire is to swim

Again; to take control of this
Overwhelming flood, but soon
The water will reach the ceiling

And enclose me in a watery grave.
I rise again for one more breath
Going back down, I greet

New Reality, waiting for me to take
Up residence in this Atlantis.
She hands me the key that

Unlocks the door to realization
That I can breathe
Under water.

Precious

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I am dust of earth
A vessel composed
Of compost.

My soul is the
Neurons firing in
Holy places; the

Space between Heaven
And Earth. My hope is
Set on compassion to

Propel desire toward
Your throne. A shadow
Cast upon my soul,

You remind me of my
Heavenly home. Your
Covenant cuts into

My flesh. Etched upon
My mind; engraved
Upon my heart is

Your precious Law.

At The Threshold of Artistic Exploration

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One of the greatest challenges to finding your creative, artistic voice is to overcome perfectionism. As a professor of art I see an epidemic of the disease of perfectionism. I want my students to know that perfectionism keeps them from giving themselves permission to make the art of their heart. So I wrote this blessing for them. And you, if you feel like applying it to yourself. I certainly need this reminder for myself.

You are at the threshold of artistic exploration.
Listen.

The Spirit of creativity calls out from the caverns of your soul.
Your heart is thrilled at the possibilities for novelty and newness.

But there is another voice whispering from somewhere in the back of your mind.
It is the voice of perfectionism.
Suddenly something black shrouds the presence of possibility.
Suddenly your body begins to beckon backward, while your soul
Reaches for the grace of creative impulse.

In this moment your body requires permission to return to the soul.

May your heart be filled with freedom to grant the permission your soul needs.
May you escape the chains that hold you in the prison of self imposed expectations;
And your soul soar into the landscape of artistic expression
Where the Spirit is allowed to shape the art residing in you;
The art that sets free those in bondage to fear and brokenness.

Permission brings forth possibility.
Perfectionism stifles your power.

May you find within yourself the power to push back perfectionism.
May you find yourself free.