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Archive for April, 2021

Where I grew up as a kid back East, everyone lived in neighborhoods.  The people who lived on your street were part of the neighborhood, almost like an extended family.  In a strange way, we were all connected by our neighborhood – it defined us, shaped us, and supported us in ways that exceeded even our families.

I see Life in a similar way.  We all live in a City of Life, and we have chosen to reside in certain social neighborhoods within that City.  These neighborhoods are defined by their jobs and careers, their moral or immoral values, or by their hobbies and pastimes.  Whatever it is in Life that drives our hearts is what determines our social neighborhood.  It is not the physical streets of brick and pavement, but the avenues of the heart where we really reside, and our neighborhoods are populated by those whose life’s pursuits are the same as ours.

Just as in the physical world, there are a lot of reasons why we choose our spiritual neighborhoods.  Some of us just settle for wherever we live, while most of us move around the City of Life until we find the group that we feel most comfortable in.  And, of course, there are always the homeless that wander around with no home at all.

Throughout the City are many different precincts that overlap and share streets with other groups, some crisscrossing each other, some running parallel, and others merging for a short distance before diverging from one another.  We see each other in the marketplace, waving hello to friends from the Political neighborhood, the Military compound, the Business precinct, and others, but at the end of the day, we always come home to the street that we live on.

The Spiritual neighborhood that I moved to many years ago is unique in that all the streets here point to the ocean. While other neighborhoods are focused on the present, the Spiritual neighborhood looks to an eternal land that lies over the Sea of Death. There are a few distinct major areas in this neighborhood each with their own main thoroughfares heading to the coast – Christian Blvd, Islam Blvd, Hindu Ave. and a few other less broad streets – but since the seacoast is very irregular, they all point in different directions.

If one was to look at the ocean to which these streets lead, you would see many bridges leading out to sea.  Almost all of them extend over the horizon, but there is only one that that makes it all the way across to the land on other side of the ocean.  From where you stand on the seashore, you can’t see the other side of this great ocean, so it is hard to see which one of these bridges is the true Bridge.  Some people believe that all the bridges will join together somewhere out there over the ocean, so it really doesn’t matter which one you travel on, but most folks believe that there is only one that makes it all the way across.  All the others fall short.  Of course, everyone believes that their bridges is the only one that makes it all the way to the eternal life that awaits them on the other side.

Each of these neighborhoods have a myriad of side streets, all claiming to be the best street to lead directly to the true Bridge.  Some people have spent a lot of time figuring out why their street is the correct one and offer reams of analytical scholasticisms to prove their point.  Others just assume that theirs is the best and could care less why.

That would be fine if it wasn’t for all the friction that this causes.  I have watched a lot of neighborhood rumbles take place, not only between the main Spiritual sections of town, but also between the smaller neighborhoods within each section.  Turf wars can be bloody, or they can be calm dissertations of futility, but they all serve one purpose to identify which street you belong to.

Why are they so contentious?  Well, one could say that it is because they don’t want the others to ignorantly fall off into the ocean by taking a long walk off a short pier.  But then why do they get so angry and adamant?  Maybe they are really just trying to prove to themselves that their neighborhood is the right neighborhood, and their street really is the best street – or at least it seems that way, especially to folks from other parts of the City who, from a distance, watch these skirmishes (or crusades, depending upon which side you are on).

I saw myself standing under a streetlamp looking at my roadmap.  There are several Maps, one for each neighborhood with several different versions, each claiming to be better than the others.  The funny thing is that, even with the same version of the same map, people from different streets see different directions.  I’m not sure if that is a matter of perspective or choice, but it sure can seem confusing if you don’t know where you are going. 

I’m not sure why they like those other streets.  Some of them are very dark like Wicca St., some have artificial fluorescent lighting like Mormon Ave., and others are broad and easy streets that were built a long time ago like Presbyterian Blvd.  I suppose that they like the look and feel of their own street because it appeals to the desires of their hearts.  Some like dark streets so they can hide in the nooks and crannies there, others like to have their own lighting systems that they have made up themselves, while others could care less how bright it is as long as they don’t have to change the light bulbs.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I chose to live on my particular street in the Christian neighborhood because the streetlights are brighter here, and I can see better on this street than some of the dark alleyways chosen by some of my neighbors.  Mine isn’t a broad avenue like some of the others – it is strait and narrow – but it is brightly lit.

There is no doubt in my mind that this street leads directly to that Bridge over the Sea of Death and will ultimately take me to my eternal home.  The map I am holding points me in a simple and clear direction, so I don’t have to guess as long as I keep that map before me.  I can feel the ocean breeze coming down the street and can hear the sounds of the seagulls, and down at the end of the street, I can see a faint glow that filters through the haze on the horizon.  As I walk the length of this street, I can smell the scent of Beulah Land that lies over the ocean. 

This is the way, not because I think so, or because my parents settled on this street, or because of my friends and neighbors live here, but because I can hear the sound that calls me over the sea to a land that is fairer than day.

… And that’s what leads me on.

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EULA

Do you know what a EULA agreement is? Have you ever read one?

I have no idea what the E.U.L.A. stands for, but I’m sure I could come up with something appropriate. A EULA is that long multiple-page legal agreement in tiny print that you see whenever you install new software.  Remember checking YES and clicking on to the next page?

I never read those things.  I can’t.  And I have tried hard. I always used to blow past them in my rush to get finished with whatever installation I was doing.  I mean, how bad could it be?  What are they going to do?  Take my kids?  Throw me in jail?  I don’t have any money, so they can’t get that.

And then I began to wonder, just what exactly am I agreeing to?  So I tried reading one.  (Yeah, you know what that was like.)  You can’t do it – you physically can’t do it.  Round about the 3rd or 4th paragraph, your mind begins to get weary.  You have no idea what you’ve just read, and you have 90% more to go.  You struggle on in a half-hearted attempt to force your way through, but you already know it’s hopeless.

It makes me wonder – are lawyers really that smart?  Or are they operating in some other dark and diabolical extreme?  (Hey, I don’t blame the lawyers.  They’re just circling around like any good predator that smells food.)

So what is the point of these EULA’s?  I not sure anybody knows, but it seems that it is nothing more than, “Don’t blame us if anything goes wrong.”  If you install their software and it fries your computer, tough — don’t blame them.

What if God was like that? 

What if God just tossed us out on the Earth and said, “If you want to breathe, then check the Yes box … and don’t blame Me if your life turns out rotten!”  In others words, “Good luck. Hope you make it.  Don’t call Me if you don’t.” 

But, thank God, He hasn’t done that.

Oh sure, God has a EULA, but it is the opposite of what we would come up with.  True, there are some conditions and it is not a free ticket to ride.  God is a God of judgment as much as He is a God of mercy.  You can’t just check the Yes box and keep blowing on by with life.  You’d better read the EULA to find out what you’re agreeing to.  But if you check the No box, you already know what you’re in for.

But when the hard drive of your life has crashed, when the software that runs your life is corrupted, when there’s not enough memory or computing power to go on, then God’s EULA says, “Blame Me.  Let Me take your sins, your problems, your hard drive failures, and all your corrupted files, and I will make you whole again.”

What an incredible deal!  God is willing to take our miserable rotten sins, our misery and pain, all our failures and defeats, and trade them for the precious blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  There is no greater deal than that.

Some of us will check the Yes box without ever realizing what the EULA says.  Others will refuse the offer, thinking they don’t need it, and they will check the No box. 

And then there are those who come with broken hearts, corrupted and failed lives, who have given up on the hope of ever being restored in life.  It is to those souls who are ready to commit themselves to the mercy of God that His EULA is written to.  In checking the Yes box, they give it all to Jesus and agree to the terms of His contract.

The contract and terms of God’s agreement are in the Word of God.  It is legal and binding, and whether we agree to it or not, Jesus did.  He signed it on the bottom line in His own blood and checked the Yes box when He gave His life for us on the Cross.

There is no greater deal written in Eternity.

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Elections

— I am starting work on Volume 7 of the “Voice in the Wilderness” series and here is an excerpt from that coming book:

Ahh, Election time!  The time when the worst and the best of us is brought out.

More than any other event in our society, Presidential elections expose our souls and illuminate who we are as Americans.  For the rest of the time, we cover ourselves with a blanket of geniality and blunted purpose, but every four years, we rip off that covering and rise to the righteous fury of our beliefs.

It’s the American way.  Been that way for over a couple hundred years.

It’s more than a function of organizing our government and choosing a political direction.  It is the call to stand up in a holy cause.  Hearts are pumping, blood is flowing, and our souls awaken to battle. 

Democrats rise to the challenge to fight against the beast of social ills brought on by the Republicans, and the Republicans rise up to fight the ugly monster of liberal government and social immorality brought on by the Democrats.  The Libertarian and the Constitution parties struggle to fight against the moral decay of the Democrats and Republicans.

Oh yes, it is a wonderful fracas of debate with each of us on the side of the “good guys”, and none of us understanding how in God’s green Earth our opponents could possibly believe the things they believe.

In a funny way, it is our salvation.  Our answer to the call is what defines our humanity.

Nowhere in nature can we find such a thing as this.  Queen bees are not elected; they just are.  Birds and lions could care less; chipmunks and seals haven’t got a clue; fish don’t even know where they are going; and ants don’t think about anything other than work.  We are alone in this crazy, emotional drive for righteousness.

And then, after an evening of election results, the waving of victorious banners and the licking of wounds, we again settle down to life as usual. The fury of battle and the storm of emotions fade to the background of our lives, and we leave the arena to the politicians.  We, on the other hand, return to our workplaces and social lives right next to our former enemy combatants.  And life goes on until the next 4-year cycle brings us to the forefront of battle again.

This call to war somehow defines our American soul.  It brings definition to who we are and what we believe.  It is the humanizing element for us as Americans, without which we would be very much like the ants.

But it is the ensuing four years of community in between that redeems us.  Our ability to share the product of our election as fellow countrymen is a unique American trait and is what makes us most proud to be Americans.

That is, until the next election when we once again raise our swords to rush forth and slay the dragon.

Brother Dale

dale@revivalfire.org

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Hope you enjoy our 2-1/2 minute cartoon. I certainly enjoyed creating it.

If you want to know more about the 4 Steps to Revival, please contact us at: dale@revivalfire.org

Praise the Lord,

Brother Dale

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