A Caged Lion

Ever been to a Zoo? When the kids were little we use to take them every year. Even 7u113RdFfJakK7e9BR11Z6lFBmp9c7CN8iYT5D4fg4Q,Tdvmg1xmO7U_inmrhXFiuWYSImC4w7yd6HTB0j7R_3I,0uWglXGXqgZJMQynfx5sm9xD3SNh7FL8JewuMHlieVwnow we go every so often. Besides the monkeys, the large cats are my favorite, the Lions, tigers, and cheetahs.  I don’t know why. Could be the size of the lions and tigers, or the stripes and color of the Bengals. The leopards and cheetahs just have this slick, sleek look about them.
I remember one time at the Dallas Zoo, we were watching and listening to the Howler Monkeys, favorite monkey by the way, and all the sudden this earth shaking roar from across the zoo was not only heard, but felt. My wife and I just looked at each other. We had never heard anything like it, so we had to go investigate.  l6U9-d0pFyVju7QvjpTNXr21owdZur4qG5Ks1GM7HsI,Dd4UlU5v38Ahw5sszFy25l7InmznRxjrChYcY1PMIOo,JZ-83D6UGlfFN-CfHd7OSp7zH8LB98WEcFHeAFx2ktEWhat was making this sound?? As we approached a single cage, there in side was a Bengal tiger, with it’s massive claws spread out, mouth wide open, teeth bared it just keep letting out a roar that filled the zoo.  The tiger had something inside of him that he was wanting to express, make known! He had something to express for everyone to hear, and feel..
If it wasn’t for zoos, people like me may never get to see one up close and personal. But to see these majestic creatures in their natural environment, how awesome would that be?
Even in the grandest cages and well equipped captive environments these cats areY5rbrAISndwEExU67KWC2SkqxxbTEzR4ZpwGlk_RyNM nowhere near what they were meant to be. In a closed environment we will never experience the agility and speed of the leopard, only a mere shadow of its capability at best. Being feed by handlers and tamers, spectators will never see the strength and power of a tiger or lion as it grabs it’s prey.
I feel for them. Even though I am grateful for all that zoos do, to help fight extinction and increase population, but still you are looking a wild animal. Something that is made to roam, hunt, and rule it’s environment, now can only roar. At most they can do is hop from one station to another and swat at a few old tires to get some exercise. They are made for so much more..  But so are we!! Are we NOT??
I have found myself so often like these cats, enclosed,  caged… maybe for my own good and protection, but never turned loose to be who I was created to be. At times I find the church to be a lot like a zoo, they offer safety for the animals, a place to help nurse animals back to health.. But, the animals can never reach their full potential, flex their muscles, and be what they were created to be while enclosed.
VND2M_oO21C5W-i7kPAAlmJLEeIjc9rwZwvM1mpw450,zomEOeuj0Qd8T138DUac0TVp0nJdwKbF5Jn_DVPnMG4   I feel at times we have experienced “trainers” come in to teach some tricks so that the spectators can have a good show and demonstrate a little of the strength and ability of these majestic creatures, (ourselves). Or is it the “tamers” who come in to keep under control that which is by nature born wild? What is not of man and is not predictable…?
Yes, people of the world can come and check out what is not normally experienced outside the cage, “church” . They can experience a good show, see some of the lions strength with out being in danger. They can get a quick glance at the sleekness of cheetah and leopard, without having to risk getting to close. If the show and demonstration is good, people will talk about it and invite others to see, very few ever have the chance to get in the cage.
xxHbS-DvXKfZ_B8AOc48tQN27gZq4PoUWtRTCC5aubE   Have we taken what is wild and free, tamed it and contained it, so that we can draw those who are interested with out risk and minimum discomfort??
At times I feel enclosed. At times I feel I was created for so much more. There is something wild in my soul. Something not tamable! Something born of the Spirit.. I too roar occasionally, but usually it’s out of frustration more than being a part of the hunt, a call of the wild, as an expression of freedom. I feel people will come and hear the roar, sense the intensity, and may even see the power from within, but human nature is one that loves to control. We cannot unleash that which is wild. It’s scary! It’s Dangerous! Someone could get hurt…  So that which is caged is only a shadow of that which it was created to be.
The Bible even describes us this way. Paul says “The righteous are as bold as a Lion.”  And in Numbers 24, God gives us this, Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse them? (Numbers 24:9) I don’t know if you have felt this way? I don’t know how you feel about yourself, if you have ever felt a strength you have never released? A Call deep inside, you can never put your finger on? Is there a roar inside you? You should! Because Jesus is called the “Lion of Judah” and if you are clothed in Him, you bare his Image! Then His strength is yours! “The works I do, you shall do also and Greater works than these!” Because “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the World.” See “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” So, “He who the Son sets free is Free indeed“.” “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
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We need the church! It is a place for healing and restoration, but we aren’t meant to live in it, to stay only in that cage. We are made to move about the country. We are created with various gifts and talents to be used for the kingdom, to “go into all the world.. to make disciples.”

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Winter, I Really do Love it

IMG_0798For He says to the snow,  “Fall to the earth,” and the torrential rains, His mighty torrential rains, serve as His sign to all mankind, so that all men may know His work. The wild animals enter their lairs and stay in their dens. The windstorm comes from its chamber, and the cold from the driving north winds. 10 Ice is formed by the breath of God, and watery expanses are frozen. 11 He saturates clouds with moisture; He scatters His lightning through them. 12 They swirl about, turning round and round at His direction, accomplishing everything He commands them over the surface of the inhabited world. 13 He causes this to happen for punishment, for His land, or for His faithful love. (Job 37)

Winter has finally come.! It seems like forever since we have felt the presence of the north winds.  I think back to a song from the Muppet’s Christmas Carol, (one of my favorite movies,) and it goes,

When the north wind blows it chills you,
Chills you to the Bone.”

I am sitting in my room looking out the window seeing the sun peak over the houses, starting to IMG_0826melt the sleet that fell last night. It’s cold. I wrap up in one of my favorite sweaters, put on some warm socks and slowly feel my arms, legs and feet pulse with some heat.

I love the cold. I really do! I love when I can bundle up. Maybe it’s the thought of how fleeting these moments are. Or, maybe it’s how the sweater wraps around me like a mother holding her baby, feeling comforted and warmed by the touch. I even like the glow of our fake fireplace, feeling the heat blow across the room, watching the flickering of the electric flame jump around. I just find these moments inviting and welcoming so I rush to them and I’m in no rush to let them go.

But there is also another side to the cold that “Chills me to the Bone.” Like this season of weather , so is the season of my heart, at times.. I feel the icy fingers, the numbing of that which should be warm to the touch. I feel hardened, as water that has now turned to ice, like in my dog’s water bowl that has been left outside. Now I have to take a hammer, or something stronger that the ice to break it up so that the dogs can have something to drink. And so my soul, it to must be broken again. My heart, iced over with the cold of indifference, frozen with the greed or lust from the world around. The North wind of wanting more is blowing on the River of Living Water that is in my inner most being and if I do not guard my heart, ice soon forms. Maybe this is why Proverbs 4:23 says Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

IMG_0785     I’m sitting in my room, nice cozy and warm for the most part. My toes are still frozen, though. But it’s not the physical I should be focusing on. What has caused the “springs of life” to stop flowing? What has frozen the “rivers of living water” ??? I’m not as cozy as I feel. I’m not as warm as I should be. I do not need to adjust the fireplace or wrap myself with another blanket. Only one thing melts the heart of stone and gives life. “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.” (Jeremiah 20:9) “Thy Word I have hid in my heart..”

It’s these seasons of Change, it’s the cold winds that push the birds south, the animals into their dens. It is the changes in weather that make things go deeper, that drives about change all around. So let this season of winter blow.. Let it howl. Let the sleet, snow, and ice come. Let it drive me deeper in to the arms of the One that can warm the soul, for “with You, Lord, is the Fountain of Life.”

58609_536514256359106_227370861_nMay this time of cold, ice, and harness drive us to the warmth of eternity. It will be when we are truly cold, knowing our souls great need, that we will want to be “baptized with fire.” (Luke 3:16)  While we are cozy and comfortable in our own clothes we will not look to be “clothed with immortality”, to “be clothed in Christ”.

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

  I’m sitting in my room.… pondering..

For He says to the snow,  “Fall to the earth,” and the torrential rains, His mighty torrential rains, serve as His sign to all mankind, so that all men may know His work. The wild animals enter their lairs and stay in their dens. The windstorm comes from its chamber, and the cold from the driving north winds. 10 Ice is formed by the breath of God, and watery expanses are frozen. 11 He saturates clouds with moisture; He scatters His lightning through them. 12 They swirl about, turning round and round at His direction, accomplishing everything He commands them over the surface of the inhabited world. 13 He causes this to happen for punishment, for His land, or for His faithful love. (Job 37)