monday morning...

and i mean EARLY monday morning. 7:00 am. which isn't really that early unless one has been up dancing the night away until 1 am. then 7 feels like the earliest time there ever was in the history of the world. but 7 am was when frank peretti was leading the morning devotions.

now one might expect a guy who writes books like this present darkness and piercing the darkness and a zillion more great books about darkness to be a debbie downer at 7 am in the morning. but au contraire, mon frere (being in montreal really brought out the french in me.) mr. peretti is one of the funniest and wisest guys that i ever had the privilege of seeing at 7 am in the morning.

the first morning he did something pretty spectacular. he taught an entire into to philosophy class in 45 minutes in a way that involved much laughter, a chair, and a story about chickens. still not sure how he did it. but it was a lot to take in at that early hour. and it was just a taste of what would come later in the week. basically he explained the Christian world view that God is outside of us and that He is eternal and that He is purposeful and relational and created us to be purposeful and relational and how that impacts everything that we think about the world and our lives. and then he clucked like a chicken and it all came together in some kind of 7 am feat of glory. i sipped my tea and tried to keep up. 

acts 17:24-28 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

the second morning he broke down a very familiar Bible verse, john 3:16. he showed us how that verse answered the BIG questions to life: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. 

the next few days he got into some of the flaws about the way we "measure" our spirituality by things like service in church. church growth. he compared the "system" of doing church to the plant in little shop of horrors. how it starts to consume every moment. every skill. every thing in sight as it grows and takes over. it starts out as a practical solution (ex. the sale of sacrificial animals in the temple was an expedient way for the jews to make their sacrifices) but soon it takes over the real spirit of worship and loving God. the practical things that must be done (martha tasks) vs. the sitting at the feet of Jesus (mary tasks) and how those two compete in today's way that we do church.

Experience supplies painful proof that traditions once called into being are first called useful, then they become necessary. At last they are too often made idols, and all must bow down to them or be punished. {j.c. ryle}
The real trouble is not in fact that the Church is too rich, but that it has become heavily institutionalized, with a crushing investment in maintenance. It has the characteristics of the dinosaur and the battleship. It is saddled with a plant and programme beyond its means, so that it is absorbed in problems of supply and preoccupied with survival. The inertia of the machine is such that the financial allocations, the legalities, the channels of organization, the attitudes of mind, are all set in the direction of continuing and enhancing the status quo. If one wants to pursue a course which cuts across these channels, then most of one’s energies are exhausted before one ever reaches the enemy lines. {john s. t. robinson}

i liked that frank called us "his kids" and that he took Jesus' directive to "feed My sheep" as his goal for this week. he wanted to feed our souls. give us some meat to chew on (even if sheep don't really eat meat.) he didn't ever seem like he had it all figured out. he talked openly and candidly about his disappointments in the last few years. his frustrations with the local church. the church he loves and serves so faithfully. he was "real". and he was really real funny. and real charming. and real smart. not sure if i will have another change this side of heaven to hang out with frank and barbara, but i am putting them near the top of my heavenly hang out homies (after c.s. lewis and corrie ten boom.)

i am still thinking and chewing on some of the things that he talked about during the 7 am early mornings throughout the entire week. especially about the baby chicken that he saw struggling to get out of the egg. and he helped that baby chick just a teeny bit. and the chick was then too weak to live. the struggle to get out was what he needed to be strong enough to survive. God designed the difficult task of breaking out of the egg to be just what that chick needed to build its strength. yeah, i am thinking a lot about that as i see my three little chicks struggle to break out of their eggs. thinking about it as i crack open some shelly areas in my life that i keep wanting someone to help me out of...

he talked about how God wants us to "go through the middle." we want to go around the pain. we want a bump less ride. we want to move quickly to the end run. but we don't want to go through the hard part. he said the advice that he would give a young person is always these words... "press on". plod on. keep walking. because in the end we will see that it wasn't us walking after all. it was God carrying us all along...

deuteronomy 1:29-31 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

God will carry you ALL THE WAY until you reach the place where He wants you to be. i can look back over the past 44 years of my life and see how He has carried me. all the way that i have gone until i reached this place. thank you frank peretti for reminding me of this.... i just wish you could have reminded me at an hour later than 7 am. 

 frank peretti. though this picture was not taken at a 7 am morning devotion. no one needs their photo taken at 7 am in the morning.

frank peretti. though this picture was not taken at a 7 am morning devotion. no one needs their photo taken at 7 am in the morning.

i am having a hard time getting used to having morning devotions without my frank this week. i keep hearing his voice as i read my Bible and hearing that infectious laugh that he brings along with him everywhere. if you EVER have a chance to go and listen to him live, DO IT! and read some of his books. he is almost as great as a author as he is as a human being.

so do you feel like you just attended a week of frank peretti devotions? well, stay up dancing until 1 am and then pull yourself out of your warm bed at 6:30, grab a cup of hot tea and read this at 7 am and you might feel a little more like you were there. or you might feel like taking a nap later that day...