Inside The Chrysalis

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”  Psalm 130:5-6

I remember as a child, during the sweltering summers of the Florida heat, when an occasional mosquito would find it’s way in my bedroom.  Without air-conditioning the windows were extended as open and wide as they could stretch in the event a slight breeze may catch the sill.  The screens did their job for the most part, although I found it strikingly remarkable how the mosquitoes could find the four or five BB holes left there from . . . well, what else is a boy to do when he’s sent to his room and he has a BB gun?  The nights were hot and very sticky with that humid Florida air.  I begged most nights for that breeze!  With no hope of relief I fought hard to drift to sleep.  But the mosquito knew exactly where to find me!  Worse, he knew exactly where my ear was in which to announce his presence.  This sound, this buzzing sound was and quite frankly, still is, the worst noise in the world!  My only hope, my only escape was to retreat.  Despite the heat, the sealed, fortress-like fabric of my sheets were the perfect cover.  I pulled and tucked myself in and under the covers until I could barely breathe.  Inside the chrysalis.

Time has no measure inside the chrysalis.  Jonah spent three days in his, the Hebrews spent forty years in theirs.  Life is full of cocoons, both big and small.  But life inside the chrysalis is never easy.  It appears lonely, and may include a sense of abandonment.  After all, a caterpillar never shares his cocoon with another.  The journey inside the chrysalis is the second phase of a threefold process God uses in soul-making.  The life inside the chrysalis transforms!

The author, Sue Kidd says, “A creature can separate from an old way of existence, enter a time of metamorphosis, and emerge to a new level of being.”  Transformation happens!

Lord Jesus, it is dark, it feels lonely, and it’s hard to see what is happening inside the chrysalis of my life right now!  I ask you to work the clay, whittle away from my heart that which does not look like the man You called me to be.  And while I wait and put my hope in your word may I be attentive to the call, sweet whisper of your Spirit within.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  II Corinthians 5:17

Life Is Liquid

“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”  Hosea 12:6

They say patience is a virtue, but at times it feels more like torture than anything virtuous.  Waiting is not something we are just wired to do — or at least do easily.  In fact, we are forced into moments where waiting is necessary and since we are aware of our own discomfort with waiting, environments are created around us to distract us or deceive our senses into thinking we aren’t really waiting at all.  Amusement parks are good at this where long lines form to ride a spectacular ride, they will snake everyone in line back and forth in order to give the appearance of a shorter line and to create the effect of a line that is always moving.  A line that seems to be moving is the line I’ll jump in at the grocery store!

Life is very similar to this — it is fluid — always moving.  This reminds me of the crazy waters dumped on New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.  For the first time since they were engineered by the Army Corp of Engineers the levees were challenged that protected the city from rising waters.  It was said they would never break, but the water became too great a challenge for the banks of the levee.   Slowly they weakened against the subtle force of rising waters and the water spilled into the city bringing unimaginable destruction.

Water flows to the path of least resistance.  My life has always somehow found it’s way following paths of least resistance. It feels easier that way doesn’t it?  But, before long it’s flooded.  God said (I didn’t listen), “Mark, the water is going to get deep, be patient I’m building the levee!”  But life seemed to pour it on and pour it on in volumes I was unable to manage and I wasn’t going to allow anyone else to take control.  So, I constructed my own walls to hold back the turbulent liquid of life — I did it my way. [Big mistake!]

Hindsight is always 20/20 — we look back and see the mistakes, usually coupled with more knowledge today than then.  It’s a measure of growth and includes an experience where life has been sharpened and more thoroughly engaged.  But there is something that comes with a spiritual hindsight that sharpens the focus of our vision and pierces the soul.  It allows and readies us  to wait.

The scripture is filled with patience!  I think of Simeon in the courtyard waiting on the coming Christ child.  I think of Noah waiting for the waters to subside.  I think of Elijah waiting on the ravens.  I think of Joseph left in a pit to die then sold to slavery.  I think of the blind man.  I think of the father of the prodigal son.  I think of Nicodemus.  I think of Jonah in the belly of a great fish. I think of Moses, then Jacob for Rebecca.  I think of the people of Israel and their journey to the Promised Land.  I think of Paul in prison. I think of Mary and Joseph.  I think of Daniel in the den.  I think of Sarah to bear children.  I think of our Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, on the shore, in a boat with stormy seas, with Mary and Martha, and I think of Him around the table with twelve He had chosen knowing their faith would be challenged.

It’s a time of waiting He calls us to.  This is because our time of waiting on Him is a picture — a reflection — of Him imprinted upon our spirit.  Nothing exemplifies this better than the story of the father waiting upon his prodigal son.  It is a story of waiting, a story of redemption and unconditional love.  It’s the best picture we have of our own Heavenly Father awaiting His children — you and me – to return to Him.  But He waits.  So also, I wait on Him.  It is a period of time, while the world flows by, for me to embrace, to fellowship, to awaken to life flowing not the path of least resistance, but flowing straight up!  Sue Monk Kidd says it best in her book, When The Heart Waits, “Crisis, change, all the myriad upheavals that blister the spirit and leave us groping–they aren’t voices simply of pain but also of creativity.  And if we would only listen, we might hear such times becoming us to a season of waiting, to the place of fertile emptiness.”

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  Romans 8:25

Rejection And Sorrows . . . He Understands

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Isaiah 53:3

I’d like to think it was a silent night on the night of our Savior’s birth, but I believe Bethlehem was far from quiet that night.  When people travel from all over the world for the Olympics, is the Village quiet?  When thousands descend upon a stadium for a game, are the roads, hallways or arenas quiet?  During the days of Mardis Gras, are the streets of New Orleans silent?  The answer to each of these is a resounding, “No!”  It was the busiest night in Bethlehem.  The census was underway and people had traveled from miles around.  So many had flooded the streets, overnight accommodations were slim to none.  Everyone was busy, so busy they missed the arrival of God himself in their own backyard.

Unnoticed by many, Christ was born to be noticed only by a few.  Those who listened, those who trusted, those who believed in something bigger and more hopeful than themselves — they came, bringing gifts, proclaiming the arrival of the King, welcoming the One they had been waiting in the courts to arrive.  A subtle entrance, a grand reception — but only by a few . . . the rest would reject Him, hurt Him, fill Him with sorrow.

It’s difficult to believe He understands the pain of rejection.  It’s not easy trusting the human sorrow He experienced to know the deepness of my own sorrow.  The truth is however, He does understand.  He understands and promises to heal the brokenhearted.  But, like those in Bethlehem that night, I all too often forget to listen, forget to notice, forget to see, forget “to taste and see that the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever!”

Lord Jesus, rejection sucks — that’s me being brutally honest!  You have promised to be my Comforter, my Healer, and NEVER reject me!  Your love for me is not conditional and never weakens!  You are seated upon the throne and I am seated with you!  I know you understand every ache in my heart!  Continue to refine me — burn off that which is unrighteous as I strive to be holy as You are holy! I’m so glad you understand!!!!

 

Glory Carrier

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Colossians 1:27

Immanuel, God is with us — with me!

Those same words, spoken of the prophet Isaiah of the virgin Mary declared the glory of the Lord on . . . and in . . . Mary!  She would become the chosen, the favored one from most High, to carry our Lord, her Lord and bring Him, the glory of God in the Highest to earth.  God Himself, through Christ would place His feet upon the ground and walk as we walk, talk as we talk, eat as we eat, hurt as we hurt, grieve as we grieve, thirst as we thirst, become hungry as we are hungry, grow tired as we tire, pray as we pray, plead with the Father as we plead with the Father and surrender His will to the will of the Father as the Father desires us to surrender to Him.

The glory of God Himself was growing, cell by cell, the same as is written in Psalm 139 — Mary had become a Glory Carrier!  Special?  YES!  Unique?  YES!  Exclusive? NO!

I too, am a Glory Carrier!  You, too can be a Glory Carrier!  It is the most unique, most special, non-exclusive gift EVER — FOREVER!

Glory to God!

“‘Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you!”‘  Isaiah 60:1-2

In The Face Of Impossibility

“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.'”  Luke 18:27

Certainly reading the scripture invokes the thoughts of the impossible becoming possible.  Story after story, from Noah to Jonah, from Adam to Moses, from Esther to Sarah, from David to the blind man.  But no story captivates the trust, the belief in the impossible more than Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It is a riveting moment of wonder, curiosity and faith.  Mary had no clue how the impossible would become possible. Why might that be?  Because all things impossible by man is beyond possible by God.  Mary simply had to trust that despite what appeared unlikely, through He who promised would become a reality.

“‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’  The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most high will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth you relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’  Then the angel left her.”  Luke 1:34-38

I find myself asking as did Mary . . . “How will this be?”  I doubt and question the nature of things, events and circumstances in my own life where and when it appears impossible.  But I know you are seated on the throne today and I know that you have made promises.  Promises to keep me and sustain me, to give me strength when I am no longer able to keep my step, to give me wisdom when I don’t know the answers, to provide when all is gone, to love when love is unrecognized, to embrace me when a heart is long unheld.

Lord Jesus, remind me of these promises.  It is your will I seek and your sustaining grace that I consume.  Remind me often that despite my flaws, I am free, so very free and whole!

Broad Shoulders

As a part of my study yesterday I read a post from one of the blogs I follow from Scotty Smith out of Nashville, TN.  It was though this prayer was written for me.  I wanted to share it with all who read my blog in that you may learn too of the broad shoulders and loving heart of Lord Jesus.

I am posting it below, but if you would like to learn more about the original author, I have placed a link to his blog here.

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A Prayer about Jesus’ Broad Shoulders and Loving Heart

     For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isa. 9:6-7

Dear Lord Jesus, knowing the government of the whole world already rests on your shoulders profoundly humbles me and gladdens me. It fills me with a joy second only to knowing your shoulders fully bore the sin of the world, including mine. As this day begins, I raise my shoulders and face to bask in the radiance of your glory and the wonder of your grace.

Lord Jesus, in you are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. You are Wonderful Counselor. I look to you for knowledge of great mysteries and insight into things eternal; but you’re also the one to whom I look for counsel on handling fresh disappointments, dealing with old hurts, and stewarding unfulfilled longings. You care about everything.

Lord Jesus, you uphold all things by the power of your Word. You are Mighty God—the one who created and sustains the entire universe by the power of your word; the one in whom all things are being summed up. You’re also the one who gives me power to humble myself when I’d rather stay proud, and strength to boast in my weaknesses when I’d rather be self-sufficient. You are Lord of all things.

Lord Jesus, to see you is to see the Father. To know you is to know the Father. In this sense you are Everlasting Father. You care so tenderly for the needs of the world—even the flowers of every field and the birds in every sky; but you also care about me. You didn’t leave me as an orphan. Through your work, I’m not only declared to be righteous in God’s sight, I’m able to declare God as my Abba, Father. You bear all my burdens.

Lord Jesus, no one else can pretend to be the Prince of Peace, for you alone paid the price of peace on the cross. Even as you are presently “shaloming”—bringing the increase of your government and peace to all things, so you are advancing the reign of your grace in my life. Forgive me when I look for wholeness, contentment, and healing somewhere else, for it cannot be found except in you. You don’t just give me peace, you are my Peace.

For your broad shoulders, big heart, and coming kingdom, be glorified, O blessed Messiah and Redeemer. So very Amen I pray, Lord Jesus, in your matchless and merciful name.

Pain Of Cain

“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”  Romans 6:16

Sin carries such a heavy burden on the soul it causes our bodies to sag and slump.  It saturates our very being with guilt and shame so as to reflect the disobedience in our hearts.  I’m reminded of the child that has disobeyed their parents, but confesses nothing of the such.  He goes about his day thinking and feeling the pride before his fall.  Not until he stands before his judge (his father and mother) does he begin to feel the weight of the sin of disobedience.  And once he does, his head drops, shoulders slump, eyes turn away, a frown appears and a strong desire to be somewhere other than here manifests itself.

Cain experienced this with his brother, Abel.  In case you’ve forgotten the glorious details of this amazing story (Genesis 4), allow me to shed the highlights.  I would encourage you to read it, read it again and then read it slowly!

In response to God’s receipt of the brother’s offerings, Cain became angry.  Cains body reflected his anger and his heart stirred in his countenance.  God asks Cain why his face is so downcast.  And then, the most profound words perhaps in the entire Old Testament are spoken by God directly to Cain.  He said, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”  WOW!!!!  Perhaps the first . . . . okay, the second lesson on sin!  It didn’t work the first time, so now God is spelling it out to Cain.  Sin doesn’t own you!!

But Cain, in his sin and shame, responds much like many of us respond to our own sin.  Filled with shame and guilt, we listen to the lies about who we are, what we are like, what others must think and rarely recover from the self-inflicted wounds to our own heart.  Cain felt so ashamed of the most horrid of crimes he committed, killing his brother, that he condemned himself to become an outcast from God’s own sight and a target to any who find him.

God’s response?  The most amazing grace ever found in Scripture!  While Cain felt certain his punishment would lead to death, God’s plan . . . God’s way was and is much different!  God said to Cain, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.”  WHAT?  God raised His glory from the ashes of ruin in Cain!  Through the pain of Cain came the salvation of the world!!!

How might you ask?  Well, Cain was used to build a city. Then, through the descendents of Adam’s third son, Seth (because Cain killed Abel) came Noah!  WOW!

Salvation of the world through the pain of Cain!  Who knew?

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”  Genesis 4:7

Hide And Seek

By Ken Boa

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:8-9 NIV

Everyone has experienced the cycle of sin and shame. It’s a dreadful place to be, a box canyon with three sides going straight up. We enter by way of sin, and wouldn’t dare to look for a way out since we don’t think we deserve it (and we don’t). And if we hear the sound of someone passing by, we can’t even call out for help. To do so would presume that the person wants to help us (adding presumption to our sins). We know no one could want to help one such as us (which is not true, but it is what we think). And so we hide in our canyon of shame.

There is only one way out of our shame, but we often can’t see it. The way out is to simply say what we have done—confess it to God—so that we may receive his forgiveness which is always available. And yet we are usually too ashamed to lift up our eyes, much less our voice, to him. So what does he do to get us to speak? He seeks us out. In our moment of need, when we are hiding from him, he comes looking for us—and he speaks first. Without our even knowing it, he changes our confession to a conversation.

God did this first with Adam and Eve. In the perfect Garden of Eden, the first couple sinned. Hearing God approaching in the garden, they ran and hide themselves among the trees. Did God see them? Yes. Did he know what they had done? Of course. Was he gently willing to allow them to tell him in their own words rather than accusing them directly and deepening their shame? That’s exactly what he did. By rhetorically calling out, “Where are you?” God drew Adam out from his hiding place. Seeing the patience of God, Adam released himself from shame by confessing his sin to God.

Is your identity today “Ashamed”? It need not be. Know that God is walking in your garden seeking a conversation that leads to confession, and freedom. If you lift your eyes, you will see him. If you lift your voice, he will hear you. He seeks you for only one reason: To find you and set you free.

God’s Promise to You: “When you hide, I see you and will seek you out.”

Signed, Sealed and Delivered

” . . . the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”  Romans 8:26

Those were the days — remember?  Sitting there, teacher standing at the chalkboard with her back to the class and there’s something, something desperate that needed to be told to the girl three rows over and four desks back.  She sat too far to whisper and the message was far too long and private to pass along.  There was really only one way for it to get there.

So, I gathered my thoughts and wrote a note.  Choosing my words carefully and getting straight to the point, I crafted my note while time stood still.  Do . . . you . . . like . . . me? . . . (checkbox) YES or (checkbox) noCheck one and pass back.  Confident, yet petrified, I folded the paper to nearly the size of a postage stamp and sent it out on it’s short journey.  I handed it to my friend next to me and asked him to pass the note back to this girl.  The only problem?  Well . . . I forgot about the teacher!  Big mistake!  Just as the note left my hand she turned around to ask the class a question and bamm!  Caught . . . red-handed!

There was nothing more humiliating in 5th grade than getting caught passing notes — horrible!  Worse yet, if the teacher read them aloud.  To my fortune she didn’t do that, but did collect it, read it to herself and asked me to stay after class.  I never did find out if she liked me.

Ever feel like your prayers get intercepted and never reach heaven?  Ever wonder if the “big man upstairs” actually hears your voice?  Ever feel like the quiet, well-thought prayers that are neatly folded and sent never get received, but in desperation you frantically wad up the prayer and throw it in His direction with greater chance of it nailing Him in the head and getting His attention?  I have often wondered these same things!

But here is what I’ve learned — and it’s because of who I am in Christ that I know this to be true!  Our prayers in Jesus’ name look much like the bum on the park bench.  I know, you’re thinking — maybe yours do, but I like to think a little better of my prayers.  But hear this out.  He is worn, appears meaningless, smells of age and weathered with time.  Definitely not someone you want to hang out with — especially in close quarters.  Then, this bum who in this case represents our prayers approaches the king’s castle.  Our impression would be that this bum would not be allowed to enter the gates of the kingdom — after all, he’s dirty, smells and appears meaningless.  But that’s not the case!  Why is that?  It’s because of who he is and to whom he belongs.

You see, this bum belongs to me — he’s my prayers — and I belong to the King!  So instead of the bum being asked to leave, he is welcomed — but not just welcomed, celebrated and adorned.  He is greeted with excitement every day he visits and never does the king grow tired or stale with his presence.  Every day to see him is like the first day he ever visited.

My prayers are signed by the King Eternal!  My prayers are then sealed with His blood!  My prayers are then delivered — with an absolute guarantee!  How mighty awesome is that?!!!

May I always remember the truth about my words to my Father.  That I am heard, adorned and celebrated with every breath, with every word . . . that he longs to hear my voice about my life, my concerns, my hopes, my dreams.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”  Romans 8:16-17

by:  Mark Cruver

What’s In The Title

For me, this blog represents a place where I can express things in my mind that often make more sense to me if I get them on paper — or at least the computer screen.  Sealed & Seated came about because of my own lack of understanding the truth of who I am in Christ.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.”      Ephesians 1:13-14

Key to this verse in my life was the two words “Having believed.”  The truth of having been sealed with Christ was good for me to know.  In fact, I can say I probably heard it a thousand times before.  But faith comes through believing it — that’s what drives behavior.  If I don’t believe it to be true, then I won’t live like I believe it!  So I know and believe that I am sealed within Christ  —  my life IS Christ!

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”    Ephesians 2:6-7

It was always a special day on Thanksgiving to circle around the family dinner table and find the place where my name was written.  It was MY place!  Chosen for me, designated for me, prepared for me!  God has gone before us and prepared that seat!  Through His resurrection I too have been raised and placed in a seat with Him!  It is MY place!

by:  Mark Cruver