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The story continues here . . .

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(Credit to Milt Rodriguez, from whom I first heard this parable.)

Taki gazed out across the cool green lawns, admiring the rocky outcroppings which her landscape artists had created for her enjoyment. The sun could not reach her where she reclined, shaded by cypress trees and just beginning to be sleepy. A gate rattled and Taki looked up, expecting to see her serving girl bearing refreshments, but the man who strode through her gate was a stranger. A mild surge of alarm awakened in her breast. As he approached, she stood, watching him. He didn’t appear to be dangerous, and no one had ever hurt her. He was most likely some maintenance man she had yet to meet. By the time he reached her, she felt only curiosity.

The handler spoke in a low, soothing voice as he clipped a collar around her neck. Taki supposed she must be going to see the vet for one of her frequent check-ups and followed willingly. The vet had a quiet, gentle manner, and always offered treats when she had finished with her examination. Taki liked her. But this new human turned the wrong direction, and Taki immediately took notice. She had never been led in this direction before. She peered around her with interest as they walked. A few moments later, they stopped and the man tossed a bit of food into a crate that sat in the back of a vehicle. Taki knew this trick. He would close the door after she leaped in and she would be stuck there for a time, but it was not too great a price for a treat. What did she have to do besides sleep? And a crate was as good a place as any to do it. She gracefully jumped into the box, and in a few moments they were off, bouncing down the road.

Taki didn’t care for the bouncing, and with the back gate of the vehicle closed, she couldn’t see what was going on outside. It seemed that they bounced and bounced for a very long time. She felt the sun must have passed halfway across the sky by the time the jarring and jolting finally stopped. The rear gate of the vehicle opened and the handler snapped the leash back onto her collar. The sun, high and hot, washed out any brightness of color her surroundings might have had, but it felt good on her back as she leaped out into the light.

In every direction she looked she saw space. Openness. Nothing but golden grass and hot, sharp wind. Taki crouched in fear . . . not terror, not yet, but she had never seen such a place, never felt such a huge expanse around her. Always, Taki had been encased in a womb of walls — not too close, but not so far away as to fail to offer protection, insulation from the things happening around her quiet enclave. Here, she saw no walls at all, and so far as she could tell, nothing at all happening around her, either. Only the vast open expanse of nothing. She pressed her body against the warm ground and made herself as small as she could.

Every muscle taut, Taki furtively took in those sights she could see without moving, and smelled the smells. These were not the loud smells that drifted over the walls into her yard at home . . . smells of humans and food and the nearness of many kinds of animals. These smells were subtle, wafting scents of grasses and heat and the occasional hint of another animal. The smell of the Land Rover still lingered, and of her handler crouching nearby, quietly waiting . . . for what?

More later . . . .

Note to those of you reading on this page . . . my blog is moving to http://www.journeyintotheson.com. I’ll post the rest of this story there.

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Life From the Hand of God

Life From the Hand of God

I just posted this to my new URL. To read the post, click here!

Love, Cindy

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Reagan the Goldador

We just got a new puppy! He’s a little bigger now than in this photo, and it’s time for him to learn some manners. It’s important to dogs to know where they stand in the family pack. A dog who thinks he’s dominant over other family members can be dangerous though he may have a naturally gentle temperament.

Dogs don’t mind not being the top dog. They just need to know. One big indicator of pack order to a dog is who goes through the door first. And puppies want to go everywhere first. I’m not sure they’re trying to assert their dominance at this stage–they’re just excited to be going somewhere. Still, it’s the beginning of training for our little guy (well, second to knowing where not to piddle).

So Reagan is having to learn how to wait. Ouch! Poor Reagan. I tell him to sit. Sometimes he does. Then I give him a wee tiny treat. (Reagan is a BIG chow hound.) He gets all excited about his treat and jumps up and down–then he has to sit again. This time I might not give him a treat because it almost seems counter-productive–but then sometimes I do, because he’s so cute and funny. After awhile, he’ll sit for a few moments and I’ll slowly and (I hope) authoritatively say s-t-a-y as I reach behind me to unlatch the door. As soon as he hears the hinges start to squeak, he jumps up and lunges toward the door, all bounces and floppiness. “No, Reagan. Sit!” And we start all over again. (We don’t go through this routine first thing in the morning when he has to go r-e-a-l bad.) It’s a big deal, doing this every time the puppy needs to go out. I hope he gets it soon.

Our older dog is good about this. I tell her, “Back,” and she steps back and waits. Sometimes I let her just follow me since she knows not to go first, and sometimes I make her wait until I call her to come out with me. It makes sense when you think about it. The pack leader needs to go first. What if there are dangers out there? How will he/she protect the weaker members of the pack if they always insist on going first? And what if the leader has other plans for the day beyond the usual? How will the pack know if they’re all running off in their own directions? I’m sure you can see where this is going.

It’s our natural (fallen) instinct to run out of that door and do whatever we want to do. The Master can follow and bless whatever it may be we’ve gotten involved in. Sometimes He does, but if He really wants us doing something else, or if He’s decided we’re “big enough” to learn some manners, He may decide not to.

If you look back, you might see Him waiting at the door for you to come back and let Him go first. That’s a hard thing for all of us ‘self-made’ men and women to do. We’re used to taking charge, making it happen, if it is to be, it’s up to me. We think that’s virtuous. But is Jesus rolling His eyes and saying inwardly, “Puppies!”? Don’t be a puppy–don’t be a weak and weary lost sheep. Come back to the door and let the Shepherd lead you out into green pastures by still waters. He has plans for us, but if we insist on running out ahead of Him, we’ll never know what they are.

The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.”
(John 10:2-5 HCSB)

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We looked at the fifth sign in the book of John this week in our Ekklesia. I’ll share more in a couple of days, but I thought this verse list was interesting and enlightening. I put it together with E-sword and the Treasury of Christian Knowledge, which is mostly a list of cross-references. I thought Job 9:8 particularly interesting. I hope you’ll enjoy looking through this and perhaps asking God to speak to you through these portions of the word.

Matthew’s Account
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them.

Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”

“Come!” He said.

And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!” Once they crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. (Mat 14:22-34 HCSB)

Mark’s Account
When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. He saw them being battered as they rowed, because the wind was against them. Around three in the morning He came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass by them. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened. When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and beached the boat. (Mar 6:47-53 HCSB)

John’s Account
When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid!” Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading. (Joh 6:16-21 HCSB)

(Job 9:8 HCSB) He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.

(Job 9:11 HCSB) If He passes by me, I wouldn’t see Him; if He goes right by, I wouldn’t recognize Him.

(Psa 77:19 HCSB) Your way went through the sea, and Your path through the great waters, but Your footprints were unseen.

(Psa 93:3-4 HCSB) The floods have lifted up, LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their pounding waves. Greater than the roar of many waters–the mighty breakers of the sea–the LORD on high is majestic.

(Hab 3:8 HCSB) Are You angry at the rivers, LORD? Is Your wrath against the rivers? Or is Your rage against the sea when You ride on Your horses, Your victorious chariot?

(Hab 3:15 HCSB) You tread the sea with Your horses, stirring up the great waters.

(Luk 24:28 HCSB) They came near the village where they were going, and He gave the impression that He was going farther.

(Rev 10:2 HCSB) and he had a little scroll opened in his hand. He put his right foot on the sea, his left on the land,

(Joh 14:18 HCSB) I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

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Some time ago I had a dream about a river, and I never felt I got the full interpretation of it. A week or so ago, I was thinking about it again and I asked God to tell me more. I won’t recount the dream except to say that it concerns a river running across our driveway. It’s a long dream and this will make sense without it. Here’s what I believe I heard God saying:

It (the rest of the interpretation) has to do with foundations. My word in you must be your base, but you, in experiencing life, have filled in rubble that buries the Word in piles of things “set in stone” that the river must then erode and wash away. The natural course of a river contradicts this picture. In a natural river, silt builds up; the banks recede; the river spreads out and slows down. That is what happens to a natural river under the curse.

You don’t need all that silt and clutter in your life. You need newness and fresh, clear, pure water to wash away the things that choke the flow of the Spirit in your life. You need a constant influx of My healing, cleansing waters flowing swiftly. The river is your life, or a picture of it.

The river also denotes My church. All summer long and through the winter, streams have been melting a little here and a little there, flowing together, gathering. They can’t pause their flowing when once they have begun. I have been gathering them in preparation since long before you were even aware of the need or of My intent. I have been gathering them to prepare a fountain head for My new expression in you all. (Note: not a different expression, but an expression made new in newness of life.)

Don’t feel badly that things don’t seem to be moving–a trickle now and again that immediately seeps into the ground . . . This is not My beginning–not yet. This is My pre-beginning in you. Preparation work for the ground level of My sanctuary built not with human hands, but in My own way and time.

I know how to both build you together and deconstruct you and make of you a new thing–many new things, for as living stones, you reproduce.

The way of the lively water is deep. The way of the white water is swift. The way of the still water is deep, deep–deep and cold and pure. Yet all of these ways have their time and place in the river. No one but I alone can direct you down this most ancient of rivers, yet ever and always new. You will seek and find Me in the secret places where the river is gathered in hidden places, awaiting My timing and My command to flow.

The gathering of the river is secret. The quickening of the river is in My hand. The releasing of the river is imminent.

Do not attempt to tame or control or direct My river, for I alone have its reigns. I alone will command its floods and its turnings. But let My river run deep in you. Allow Me to wash away the rubble, the silt, the uncleanness in your lives. If you cling to it, you will turn your life into a swamp. Rubble collects yet more rubble until what should be a live river becomes a treacherous wetland. While it still sustains life, it has lost its distinctness from the world.

It destroys places to dwell in and attracts vile things–insects, predators of every kind. The weary are well-advised to stay clear of such places lest they stumble and do not rise again.

Do not fail to keep your banks–your separateness from the world. Let go of your rubble. Keep yourself connected to the source–My Son–who gives you all things and causes My Holy Spirit to flow deeply through you. Then you will not overflow your banks, but the flood, when it comes, will go deep instead, washing away those things unneeded, down to the true foundations–all the way to the bedrock which is Jesus Christ. There you are joined to all the other rivers, becoming one river that covers the whole earth.

This is My commandment–that you love one another–embrace one another in a display of true affection. Become one with the whole distribution of brethren over the earth so that My glory may cover the earth. If anyone does not join this flow, I say to you that he will dry up and no longer be a river, but only a dying pool–a breeding ground for unclean and undesirable things. This you have witnessed over and over. These have an appearance of life, but are dead. From such turn away lest you become like them.

My Word is pure. His bride is pure. Dress her in purest snowy linen; grant her gold of Ophir–hints of My glory within her, peeking out from the folds of her garments and the fastenings in her hair. Let her drink of the undiluted river of My Spirit–strength to look upon the mightiest King and, because she is undefiled with the world, not only to live in My presence, but to dance before Me in joyous innocence and love.

If you don’t understand something and would like to, ask. This is for the church (in particular, those involved in the organic expression of the church), and isn’t going to make sense to anyone else. If you’re of the church and don’t know the symbolism, ask and I’ll do my best to explain it. Some of it, though, I don’t fully understand myself.

Love in Him, Cindy

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Ladybug on Leaf

Frank Viola posted an excellent blog today addressing this question, and you should read it–with all of its accompanying links. However, I’d like to summarize just a bit here, since it’s a long blog, and it may take you a day or two to find a quiet hour to study it. I’d like to note, though, that Franks’ entire article is well worth reading, especially if you haven’t read his books. You’ll get a lot of good information from it.

In our western SD community, the term Organic Church tends to pull up images of “all my friends and my old lady sitting, passing the pipe around” (John Denver; paraphrased slightly). Very funny, not true. We don’t pass the pipe around at all–we’ve never passed a pipe around, nor even discussed the possibility. But we do sit around in front of the fire sometimes, if it’s cold. And we do share our portions of Jesus Christ with one another.

In the “house church movement,” the name Organic Church has been used to refer to any non-traditional gathering of God’s people, whether it fits the original intent of the term or not. Here’s a quote from T. Austin Sparks that more accurately defines the meaning of the term Organic Church:

God’s way and law of fullness is that of organic life. In the Divine order, life produces its own organism, whether it be a vegetable, animal, human or spiritual. This means that everything comes from the inside. Function, order and fruit issue from this law of life within. It was solely on this principle that what we have in the New Testament came into being. Organized Christianity has entirely reversed this order.

And here it is in Frank Viola’s words:

By “organic church,” I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering.

Put another way, organic church life is the “experience” of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it’s the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings. . . . Organic church is not a theater with a script. It’s a lifestyle-a spontaneous journey with the Lord Jesus and His disciples in close-knit community.

House churches are not all alike. I believe that God does work through all kinds of churches, whether they meet in a “church” building, a living room, a coffee shop, or the break room of a business. That said, simply meeting outside a traditional church setting does not mean that a church is accurately described as “organic.” I really do encourage you to read Frank’s whole article, as he describes this a lot more thoroughly than I have here.

Frank Viola works with a number of brothers and sisters in planting and helping organic churches around the world. Two of his brothers, Milt Rodriguez and Gary Welter, have agreed to come here to Rapid City, SD to help us. To start out, they’ll be doing a conference for us on the last weekend of February. I know, I know–that does sound a little institutionalized, but I can explain . . . really! This event has a number of purposes: to draw people together in our area so we can get to know one another and perhaps learn of others nearby who also want to meet in an organic way; to give us all some new insights into the ways God (the Father, Son, Spirit) IS community, and how He wants us to be community not only with one another, but also with Him; and to pave the way for possible future help from these brothers, who are a treasure trove of practical experience in living organic church.

If you live in the “five state region,” (you know who you are 😉 ), or even if you don’t but would like to learn more about how to learn to meet and live life together in an organic way, you’re welcome to join us, whether for the conference or for one of our regular/irregular meetings. We’d love to have you come and to have the opportunity to get to know you.

Love Always, Cindy

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