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JOHN'S BLOG

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Jun 03,2010

I was thinking about the name of Jesus. How it means "God saves," or, "God is our deliverer, our salvation."

Which got me to thinking about the idea of God as Deliverer, as opposed to, say, the preferred idea of God as Preventer. It made me realize how much I want God to be my Preventer more than Deliverer, meaning, I want him to prevent bad things from happening in my life. Prevent means it never happens to me. Deliver means I am in deep trouble and need God to rescue me. I think we all prefer the notion of God as Preventer. 
And yet, God is so much more often presented in the Bible as Deliverer. My goodness, just read the Psalms. "Arise, O Lord! Deliver me!" (3:7). "Deliver my life from the sword" (22:20). "For he will deliver the needy who cry out" (72:12). And just think about the history of God's people; it is one deliverance after another. Paul's life is as well, which causes him to say, "On him we have set our hope, that he will continue to deliver us" (2 Cor 1:10).
Not prevent. Deliver. It is a very different view of life with God.
Now, let me be quick to say that I believe God is also our Preventer. Scripture also presents him as our shield. And we have no idea all that he has shielded us from. Which is actually my point. You don't notice God as Preventer, or shield, because you don't know what was going to happen to you since God shielded you from it. All we experience is those things where we need God to rescue us, to be our Deliverer.
I think it would be helpful to come to terms with how much we'd all prefer God to be our Preventer. Because when we hold fast to this view, we experience a lot of turmoil with all those things that don't get prevented. Why did God...how come this...did I not.... You know how this works. Notice how when he doesn't prevent bad things from happening, it often throws us for a loop. We get shaken. We go to doubt, or some sort of self-accusation and blame. It causes a lot of distress.
But when we realize God is our Deliverer, it helps us not be thrown by the fact that we sometimes find ourselves thrown into the furnace. God has not abandoned us. We have not blown it. We understand God is far more Deliverer than Preventer, and we can then cry out with confidence "O God, deliver me" and wait with hopeful expectation that he will deliver.
Anyhow, the categories are beginning to prove helpful, so I thought I'd share them.
05 AM
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May 06,2010

One of my favorite movies is an old Robert Duvall picture called Tender Mercies. Great story of an alcoholic country western star who hits bottom hard, finds Christ and a woman who loves him, gets his life back together. Anyhow, the theme song of the film has stayed with me for years. The central line being, "The hardest thing...for me to face...Reality." 

Ain't it the truth?
Which got me to thinking about TS Eliot's line, "Humankind cannot stand very much reality."
You know how this works. Are you still praying for Haiti? What do you even remember about 9-11? You watch a film about starving children and everything in you intends to help but three weeks later it's gone. There are things about your own life you get a glimpse of - something in your thought life you'd better get a hold of, something in your marriage you'd better face, something about your health or your finances - and three days pass and it's gone.
The hardest thing, for us to face, Reality.
It's the old trying to find our way back into Eden thing. We just want life to be good. This RULES us. (You are aware, aren't you, of how much this rules you???) We avoid the disturbing or demanding parts of reality as a matter of daily practice. We just want life to be good.
Which got me thinking about Elie Wiesel's book, "Night." It is his harrowing personal account as a Jew in eastern Europe when the Nazi's came in, and eventually sent him to concentration camp. Early in the book Wiesel describes how the Jews reacted to the encroaching Nazi threat. First, windows of Jewish businesses would be broken. "This will pass," they said. Jews were thrown out of business. "This will pass," they said. Jews were bullied and beaten. Forced to wear the yellow star. "This will pass," they said. Jews were rounded up and confined in a locked "ghetto" part of town. "This will pass." Jews were taken away, and when one escaped and returned to tell what he saw, about their brutal execution in the forest, I kid you not, the Jews said, "This will pass." 
They just refused to face reality.
The first time I read this I thought, "Impossible! How could this happen? How could they be so naive??!"
It's a good thing we don't let this happen.
Especially not with spiritual warfare. We face that head on, and deal with it, daily.
Or do we?
07 AM
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Apr 27,2010

Let's change the world.

I mean it. Let's change the world.

This thing we do over here called Ransomed Heart has basically one mission: rescue hearts, and thus rescue lives, and thus bring the Kingdom of God, and thus change the world. Okay, maybe thats four things, but its really all one.

And the way it happens is one life to another. We don't have a big TV show or huge ministry platform or whatever. This beautiful movement happens by word of mouth. Here's where you come in.

We wrote this wonderful book called Love and War, and the folks who are reading it are loving it. But very few people know about the book for some weird reason. We need help to get the word out.

So, we're going to give a free copy of Love and War to our friends like you who blog, asking that you blog about the book. That way, we spread the word in the best way possible, by one heart to another. By word of mouth.

If you have a blog, and you'd be willing to write about Love and War, we'd love to send you a copy. If you already have a copy, but want to blog about it, we'll send you another copy anyways, and you can pass it along to a friend. All you need to do is click here: https://www.ransomedheart.com/blogsignup.aspx

We'd also love it if you'd write a review on Amazon as part of this effort to get the word out http://snipurl.com/lwamazon

 

By spreading the word, you rescue hearts, lives, marriages...you change the world. How cool is that?

03 PM
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Apr 15,2010

A few years ago Morgan gave the guys on the team a book called The Everlasting Stream. It sounds like a devotional, but its not, not even a Christian book. Its a book about a big city guy whose life is utterly transformed by spending time with his rural father-in-law, hunting rabbits in Kentucky with the men he has been hanging out with for more than fifty years. Its become an in-house favorite here because its description of masculine culture is so good, and so dang funny.

Anyhow, last weekend I dropped into a version of the everlasting stream.
I was out in Grand Junction, picking up an old Volkswagen Thing that Luke and I are going to fix up as his first car. I found the Thing on Craig's list, and was looking forward to meeting the guy selling it. He turned out to be about 70 years old, living on the rural side of town, his 5 acres covered in old tractors and stuff. As we sat inside his small farmhouse, drinking day old coffee, I found myself really enjoying this old man. Soon his two buddies showed up, and I got the idea that this is what they do every Saturday morning. Picture guys in their 70's, sitting around chain smoking Pall Malls in a single-wide. Dean is the character selling the car. Billy is his cousin. Kirby is a bit younger; I get the impression he's sort of looking after these old guys. Its right out of Second Hand Lions.
Billy (to me) "You ain't drinkin his coffee are you? That's yesterday's coffee!"
I look at Dean, and he sort of smiles and shrugs, "Yep...it is."
This stuff is inky black and strong; it would strip grease off an engine. He has a massive urn of it. I get the impression its what they drink all day long.
"So Dean," I ask, "what do you do with all these parts?" 
"O, I sorta fix tractors up and sell 'em."
I already love this man. 70 something and his hobby is fixing tractors and selling them?! I also feel like a weenie. I hope they don't ask me what I do for a living. "O...I help people connect with their inner child."
Billy "Hey, I brought you some donuts." He puts a greasy brown lunch bag on the counter. I sense this is all ritual; it has happened just this way for years.
Dean "Don't look like you brought many."
Billy "There's a half a dozen in there."
Dean looks at the small lunchsack "Must be mighty small donuts."
Billy "Their CAKE donuts, you twit."
On and on it goes. I thought I'd just grab the car and blast the 5 hour drive home, but I am enjoying these old characters so much I have to linger. Billy still uses Dippity Do in his grey hair; it is swept back in a nice wave. He too is chain smoking Pall Malls. But he is also using an asthma inhaler. So, once in awhile he'll take a shot of the inhaler, put it back in his pocket, and take a deep draw on his cigarette. This whole scene is out of a movie.
Kirby "You know why he has me come over, don't ya?" Looking at Dean, he continues, "cause he don't read or write. I gotta help him know where to sign the title and count the money."
I have never to my knowledge met anyone who doesnt read or write. Dean just sort of shrugs his shoulders. 
Billy "Hey, I brought you some hydraulic fluid." I'm thinking, when is the last time I heard somebody say, "I brought you some hydraulic fluid " in a conversation, like you'd say, "Hey, I brought you a Starbucks." I am loving this. Then Kirby gets upset
"What?!! I brought you some hydraulic fluid! What are you doin with all this fluid?"
Dean sorta shrugs his shoulders again and sheepishly says, "My tractors leak a bit."
I'm crackin up. This is the culture I spent summers in as a boy, sitting around old farm house kitchens with grey haired men from another time, another world. A world that is very attractive. They are sort of awkward in their affection for one another. But then we step outside and need to get the car out of the old barn and hook it up to a tow bar on my truck and suddenly these men are spry and nimble; they handle tools with grace and ease. They jerry-rig the whole thing so fast I just stand back and enjoy.
It is a beautiful world of men that more of us could use in our own lives.
06 AM
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Apr 01,2010

by Ezra Pound

 
HA’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.
 
When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man         5
His smile was good to see,
“First let these go!” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Or I’ll see ye damned,” says he.
 
Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears
And the scorn of his laugh rang free,         10
“Why took ye not me when I walked about
Alone in the town?” says he.
 
Oh we drank his “Hale” in the good red wine
When we last made company.
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere,         15
But a man o’ men was he.
 
I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men
Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury.         20
 
They’ll no’ get him a’ in a book, I think,
Though they write it cunningly;
No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere
But aye loved the open sea.
 
If they think they ha’ snared our Goodly Fere         25
They are fools to the last degree.
“I’ll go to the feast,” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Though I go to the gallows tree.”
 
“Ye ha’ seen me heal the lame and blind,
And wake the dead,” says he.         30
“Ye shall see one thing to master all:
’Tis how a brave man dies on the tree.”
 
A son of God was the Goodly Fere
That bade us his brothers be.
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men.         35
I have seen him upon the tree.
 
He cried no cry when they drave the nails
And the blood gushed hot and free.
The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue,
But never a cry cried he.         40
 
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills o’ Galilee.
They whined as he walked out calm between,
Wi’ his eyes like the gray o’ the sea.
 
Like the sea that brooks no voyaging,         45
With the winds unleashed and free,
Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret
Wi’ twey words spoke suddently.
 
A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.         50
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.
 
   
 
05 PM
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Mar 23,2010

It's spring break, and we are in the desert for a few days. Why? People who live at 7,000 feet don't ask. Because last week my yard got another 7 inches of snow; 3 more are due tonight.

So, we ran away. To the desert.
The desert was my great escape when I was living in Los Angeles. It was the only wildness you could get to in a couple hours. I spent a lot of time with God here. So did many of the early Christians.
I love the beauty of the desert. Austere. Ascetic. Clean lines and simple, spare arrangements. Silence so deep your ears ring. Vastness, and in the next turn, intimate scenes. A Zen garden kind of beauty.
Anyhow, I was walking this morning and found a barrel cactus with a beautiful ring of new yellow flowers around it's top, like a crown. Cactus don't bloom often; they certainly don't bloom for months and months like roses do.
I love cactus. I especially love cactus in bloom. They arrest me. I'm not sure altogether why. But there is something about beauty in the midst of such harsh conditions that grabs my soul's attention. To see a circlet of flowers where there is normally a crown of thorns speaks poetic and symbolic volumes.
As I walked away from my lingering look, I was wondering why the fascination with cactus flowers.
The phrase came to me, "Even Here."
Meaning, even here, in these conditions, where things like rattlesnakes and scorpions thrive, even here beauty asserts itself.
It's sort of like nature saying, "It can be done."
When life is harsh, beauty can still prevail. We need to know that. So God gives us, among many reminders, cactus flowers.
12 PM
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Mar 17,2010

Okay, I love this holiday. St Patrick was a warrior, sent into a raging pagan country to bring a Gospel of Life and Freedom. He gave the Irish a Story that put all other stories in context; he gave a passionate people a Gospel of the heart. He captured their love of nature and helped them see the Creator's heart. He understood the spiritual battle, and equipped them to fight it. Instead of leprechauns and shamrocks, I give to you today the "Daily Prayer" of St Patrick:

St. Patrick's Breastplate

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness

Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,

Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,

Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,

Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In the service of archangels,

In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In prayers of patriarchs,

In predictions of prophets,

In preaching of apostles,

In faith of confessors,

In innocence of holy virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today

Through God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptations of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill,

Afar and anear,

Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness,

Of the Creator of Creation.

06 AM
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Feb 18,2010

So, I'm walking across the parking lot today back towards Whole Foods. I'd finished my shopping, put the bags in my truck, but I'd forgotten a fork. To eat my lunch. Anyhow, I'm walking cross the parking lot when I hear a voice yell, "John!"

I look around, don't see anyone, and keep walking. 
I hear, "John Eldredge?" and this time I see a guy climbing out of his car, smile on his face. He introduces himself, a Wild at Heart Boot Camp alum from two years ago. It was good to see him. "I'm leading some guys through Fathered by God!" he said. "Wow, way to go! How are things going?" I asked.
Tears welled up in his eyes.
"My wife is having an affair."
I was devastated for him. We talked for a bit about what is going on, he held back the tears, we prayed. Then we parted.
I'm still sobered by it. A chance encounter? This man doesn't even live in Colorado. I never, ever walk back into the store for a second time. It was Jesus, I know.
And partly it was for this good man, so we could talk, and pray.
But God was also speaking through the encounter to me...to us.
Stasi and I never planned to write a marriage book, you see. It stills feels weird that we have. But I am seeing more and more that this is the Next Front in the Great War. The enemy is raging, and homes are falling. "There is evil all over her," this man I spoke with in the parking lot said.
Indeed, there is. Against all of us, married or single.
And so I find myself thinking about what it means to strengthen ourselves in God. We say our prayers, every day, because it strengthens us and prepares us for what may come. (I think most of us realize we must be strong in Christ for whatever may come.)
What about strengthening our relationships as well? They need it, though it might not seem like they do. This man didn't think so. Not till now.
12 PM
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Feb 06,2010

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her" (Matthew 26:6-13)

Often as I move through my day, trying to navigate the whirlpools of this world, the relational, spiritual and social whitewater, I will often turn to Jesus in my heart and ask, "What do I need to do, Lord?" My question is usually fueled by some twist or turn I don't know how to handle - some test or trial, some oncoming battle. Life as usual. His response is nearly always, "Love me." 

That's it? Love you? 

That's it. That is what is most needed.

For when I love God, my whole being is re-oriented, re-aligned, healed. When I love God, the internal effects are almost immediate; they are often profound. I can't hold onto that grudge, not while I am loving God with "all that is within me." I can't covet or worry or fear. When I love God, really, it changes everything.

And this is why he said, start here. This is core. Love me.

05 PM
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Jan 17,2010

It's Sunday. Stasi and I were just sitting in my office at home, talking about the fact that this is the week we start the Love and War Tour. I said, "Okay. Anything funky between us this week," (I was already feeling the funkiness, the "you don't really like me" stuff), "anything that feels weird is NOT true. It's not us. Anything that feels like diminishment this week, or accusation, is NOT true. This is a Tour week." She nodded, sighed. We both shared a sober look.

Moments earlier we were checking email, and then I suggested we watch the trailer for the new HBO special on WWII in the South Pacific. It was, as those sights and sounds go, sobering.
Now I'm realizing it wasn't coincidence.
We wrote Love and War to rescue hearts and lives and homes and all that follows when a heart and life and home is rescued.
To say we are hitting the road this week makes it sound like "just another conference." We can even get lulled into that ourselves. But it is not. This is the Kingdom of God, advancing in a war-torn world. It is beauty and life and love and hope breaking forth.
I hope you'll join us. We'll be in Abilene, Austin, Orange County and Seattle this week. Tulsa, Omaha, St Louis and Charlotte in February. You can learn more and grab the cheap tickets at www.loveandwar.net.
Oh, two things: Tell your family and friends! Help spread the love. And would you pray for us? After all, Love and War is far more than a cute title. 
Thanks!!
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