We are the Listeners

Photographer: Matt Bernstein

15Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 1:15-18

Faith. Prayer. Wisdom.

God uses us who seek Him. Our faith is loud and our words are the fruit of our faith ever from God and will never go unnoticed. Speak a soft, gentle word for our Lord. Speak His name. Walk in His way. Walk with godly integrity. He sees us and others will too. We will inspire, but not for a flash of self-edification, but a sincere word of praise to God. We will be heard by all. In actions and word.

…and the saints shall pray. Keeping the praying encouraged,  thanking God for them for they speak out and are heard. They will pray in intercession to the Father that wisdom will rain down the spirit of God and fortify each vowel and consonant with punctuation that shouts Jesus. It is a perfect circuitous path of listening, praise and prayer, then listening, always.

God speaks to us all. Some listen and say much, some little. But for both we pray for God’s wisdom. He speaks and we receive. Edification to our Lord comes in our choice to speak His word.

But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not. Jeremiah 20:9

How, Lord? You say that we will become weary holding back Your word. For Your word is a fire that burns in us. We therefore find the circuitous path is followed by we who listen, praise, and pray, and listen again. We are set apart in You Lord. All saints are on this path of hearing Your voice. If our heart is not on fire with Your word, then it must not be discerned as Your word. I ask. For certainly if we are followers of Jesus, co-heirs to eternity, You speak to us. Maybe those who do  not hear want Jesus but do not wish for the consequence of a walk in His footsteps. Then the deaf ear is a shield and Your word is blocked. But O my Lord, I know You will find a way into my aching heart: The aching hearts of the saints. Know that there are we who speak loud and we who pray loud and we who do both. It is hearing and really listening to God that matters. For as we listen, His word will not be contained. Bless the quiet and the unwilling followers with boldness for boldness will help them along our Savior’s footsteps and bring Your light.

Let us see Father. Let us listen to the wisdom of Your apostle. For we are enlightened and find hope and a calling in Your word because we have chosen to accept the consequence of a walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Help us Lord. To seek a higher calling, we listen with acute ears, craning to the heavens to meet Your incline to us. We are thus preparing for a higher calling.  Be mindful, our consequence is the result of our action  to follow Christ and it is good. We hear you in this walk and we are known. We see others, and they are known. All pray. All praise.

…and You hear those You set apart Father. You are pleased that we walk on a path that is not just on a circuit but ever moving toward you as one body on a straight line. We listen and act and all the while we become closer to You. So help us.  Raise us up Father. Anoint us with the oil of the Levites. Let us be the sweet incense that is fragrant to the saints and to the world. The fire burns hot. I can bear it no longer. It flows to a lost, but not forgotten world and they see. They are confounded. We saints edify You and pray fortification for the body. For it is not one,  it is many who hear. Are we enough? Give us the eyes of understanding and we follow Jesus. Serve the ones who listen. We serve You Lord. It is our beautiful consequence to a choice we made, forever changing our lives and joining us together-knit at the heart as one body.

We are the listeners.

Rick Stassi

February 26, 2012

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Release, My Bound Heart

Artist: Loriann Signori

9 How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Psalm 119

O Father I give all of myself to You now to do with as You wish. Amen

Our heart was and is defiled. We have come from a place where our heart is putrefied in the ungodly ways of the world. All of us have been and are still sinners. We know that our journey is a constant one in His way. He is perfecting, ever-completing us until the day of the Return of Christ Jesus. Yet as we were defiled we need not lay claim and pay homage to that defilement now! We shall acknowledge our sin and make an oath of repentance. For in His way, we walk without a defiled heart. O our once contaminated heart! We believed the world. We were deceived because death has a deceiving sweet fragrance for which to lure the outwitted.

So how can I cleanse my heart? I was tasked with this endeavor recently. I searched my heart thoroughly. I took note of all things that currently and in the past, have bound my heart in sin. The list is long. Follow the Lords precepts and count your sins. Write them so you may see them. It serves you well, this exercise. We will see the clutter of the lack of forgiveness, lust, dislike, foul language, distrust, and more. Is this just me?

So how can I cleanse my heart? In this inventory we now have the chance to acknowledge past and present clutter held tightly against the walls of our heart. The very place we are promised the indwelling of the Spirit. The Light. The light and darkness – we cannot appease both simultaneously. We cannot straddle the fence of light and darkness. To cleanse our heart -to purge darkness, we acknowledge and cast off the darkness with an oath of repentance, a vow to cast burdens on the shoulder of Jesus.

We take heed according to Your word, Father. Cast our burden onto the shoulder of He whose burden is light. According to Your word Lord: Matthew 11:30

The cleansing of our heart is a special invitation to the Spirit who already works in us. Now with less clutter thus clearing a conduit between us and God! With the clutter in our heart, we walk on God’s path with ankles chained. Slow progress. With clutter cast off,  we have the brisk gait of a Spirit-filled life. Our one-on-One relationship with the Holy Spirit and the precepts of our Lord are now clear. Clarity brings growth. His commandments ring in all fullness. However, if we do not choose to do this inventory, the burdens from our past-our present, delay our walk into godly fruition and hold firmly against the walls of our heart like a plaque. We do not know the fullness of the Lord’s work. Our progress is slow but he will progress us. He is the Master surgeon Who will perform the work that is well required on our hearts.  We choose: Quick or drawn out.

With a cleansed heart and with clarity, we hear God. We see Him with a greater clarity. The Spirit moves in us with greater fluidity. We adhere closer to His commandments. His laws. His freedom for us. Chains are broken and we are restored in greater fullness today than yesterday. This process is giving ALL of ourselves to God. Not a portion. We already stated that oath! Yet, we see that all of our self isn’t necessarily all.  Acknowledge the past pain, hurt unto others, lusts of the flesh, hatred for man, gossip… Cleanse the past. Cast it away. We are saved to be sure and clear. But to see the fullness of God’s work today through His spirit, we clean house. With a clean heart, the Spirit is able to give His gifts, and we will see Him. Feel God. Know the perfect law of liberty as freedom – the response from God, as we first respond to Him with obedience.

Believe He does a great work in us. Even as we walk with chains. But also believe, we can loose these binding chains to walk with a brisk gait along His path.

For a new day dawns and we are thus refreshed. Release my heart that is bound, In Jesus’ Name.

Rick Stassi

February 24, 2012

The Violin of Our Heart

Artist: Rick Stassi

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3

We are thus restored.

Jesus Christ has renewed us from lifeless ash

To the flourishing green leaf of spring growth.

Vigorous.

Full of life, we are.

We unfurl as we grow,

Ever-reaching toward the glow of our Father, the warmth,

The Light.

He is our Lord.

He is Lord of all Creation.

…and I have patience. I wait on Him. For He welcomes our inquiries, our wonderment, our marvel, our seeking. He answers in His time. But know we are blessed! As we ask, He inclines an ear. He bends down toward us to show us He cares about what we are asking. He has His timing but He wants us to know in our period of waiting and patience, He leans toward us as a Father to His child. “Bless you my child”, He may say. “You wait in perfecting patience and I will answer”, saith the Lord, again, He may say. He hears us. Discouragement is released. For here in these verses God promises He hears us. Discouragement is a lack of trust when indeed we are promised. Rest in His promise.

…and I am delivered. My feet may sink well up to my ankles in clay that holds my gait from movement.  I stand in a well and look up thousands of feet and see a pin-sized light that is the top of the pit and my impossible exit. Yet, He removes me from a pit I have probably created myself and now reside in, entrapped. He frees my feet from a path where in each impossible step I become more and more trapped. I chose this path? Why did I stray? However, I have faith He will deliver. He returns me to the path that is built upon a solid foundation. Jesus. “You have shown perfecting trust, child”, He may say. I am empowered in growth.

..and He blesses me. A new song pours forth from  my mouth; no from my heart to my mouth. It rings out, a beautiful sound. The peel of a bell. The violin of my heart in symphonic rhapsody. I am blessed and all sound is in His glory, from Him, to Him, for Him. Many will see. Many will hear. It is to His glory we respond. He delivers, restores, and we sing a new praise. We are evangelists.

For what man digs a pit, climbs in, is entrapped, rescued, and then thanks himself? Foolish. His rescue is God’s hand.

For what man strays onto a miry, clay path and sinks to his ankles unable to move, is freed, walks again on solid ground, then thanks himself? Foolish. It is God’s hand. We grow stronger in our faith. It is Him helping us in our follies.

Finally, what man sings a new song for our Lord each day? The man who knows Jesus Christ who is our bedrock, our Salvation, our Deliverer! A godly man – in character and integrity all from God.

See this: There is an internal deliverance, an internal trust – ever-perfecting us. Then as we are willing to wait on and trust  Him, we sing forth praises so all will hear. Praise God for His way. He appoints a time to listen, a time to  hear, and a time He will act. We learn these stages-they are part of our perfecting process. Then He tells us: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World”. This is our song! We shout it out. The peel of the bell. The violin of our heart.

Rick Stassi

2/19/2012

…for He Loves Us

artist: sean seal

7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.

8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7,8

He tells us again and again. We are blessed. He asks not much from us and He asks all from us. For as we may say “I can trust” or “I have hope”, He sees our heart and we talk as we cower behind anguish that will halt our very track. The Lord will not deceive. He says we are blessed as we trust in Him. We are blessed as we place our hope in Him. Our anguish shall not envelop us and reduce us to words of escape, but we shall believe God with more than mere words: all of our hearts. Anguish is no match for Trust. He will pluck us from the sea of pain and we shall have rest. Blessed and comforted. Yea, we make our world big and God knows it is small. He sees our hearts and His eyes see our attempts to claw from the iron cage we are now trapped in, the one built from a bad day, a wronged word, a piercing glance. Our trap: We build it, we walk in, but we do not hold the key to exit. Ah, but He does. He frees us from our self-made trap, a trap that is built in the absence of trust, in the lack of hope. He frees us. We see Him with the fullness of our heart, and though we may languish in despair for a season, we know our key is in the fullness of our trust and hope. We are free of these things that bind. Our Father asks little but asks much…

He asks much. So, mere words of trust and hope are a start but how can we use them for a life free? Man will cry upon the Lord and not know Him. Man will curse the Lord and know Him not. We may cry trust, cry hope with our mouth, but what does our heart say? Here is where God looks as He will match what we say with what we mean. Sincerity. Submission. Faith. The latter the strongest. For we can be sincere and we can lay our lives down, but how wavering a faith do we hang on too? God knows our heart. As we again claw through the mired season of anguish, without a stronghold of true faith, our hope and trust thus is diminished. How much does He ask? Is it only a blessing we receive?

He asks us to mean what we say and speak it from our hearts across our lips. We talk to Him. He smiles in Fatherly fashion – pleased and welcoming. He is ever-beckoning us to His awaiting arms. Yes we are blessed and blessed is good. We are seen precious in His sight. We laid our life, as Jesus laid His life. Down. Every last breath of life. Down.

Now we are not ours but His. We gave in sincerity therefore we now learn a continual sincerity. Learn! He doesn’t even call upon us to be a perfect child. He will take on that matter….In our sincerity of Faith. Followed by hope and trust. How wonderful He is. From our sincere heart comes the love language of hope and trust that our Father is near. Our Father will always be with us. We see His loving eyes as our vision glazes with tears of joy. Our key, ever-present, our heart now pliable in His hand. Let Him. We are saved. But the transformation from insincere to sincere was not so easy albeit a requirement of our Father. For our ego holds back tears, beats at the inner walls of our entrapment. Our ego is a friend of the enemy at times. Cursed and abusive. But we lay our lives down and our ego thus dissipates into a mired abyss. It regularly returns, but the key we hold! The key is sincere hope and trust. Remember? Rest in that. Make your words more than mere words. Speak to God from a sincere heart and free you will become.

We will fear no drought and flourish in the greenness of a well watered tree-deeply rooted drinking the waters of the Spirit. Our heart is sincere. We love our Lord and He watches us.  For He loves us!

Rick Stassi
February 14, 2012

The Sun Continues to Warm

Artist: Heidi Brummer

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
19 To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.
Psalm 33:18

He has a watchful eye on us. His care is for us as we sleep and in our waking hours. He is a part of each of us. So mighty a God to be Eternal and to be personal simultaneously. The Sun shines and warms the skin of all without discretion. The sun is great and mighty with a wrath that will destroy all close by and in its path. How small the Sun is among the billions of other suns. God is so much greater. How grand God is among all the other gods.

And the Sun sets giving leave to darkness, cold and dismal. Our God is aware of us at all times. We are the ones who hold a reverence for Him that is above all else. It is the fear of the Lord. He gives us life and we return reverent love. He is perfect in His watch over us, comforting each moment. He gives us instruction in times when we want it and times when it is right to Him. How awesome is the exchange of reverences for this watchfulness.

Next to our reverence for Him, is our hope in Him. He requires little but He requires much. It is not a paradox or riddle. For as it seems reverence and hope are simple byproducts of our human emotion, easily meted out, the requirement is to give all of our life. To understand this condition, this relationship, we first submit under His grace through Salvation. We are born-anew giving us the Spirit of Counsel, of Discernment, of Direction. To truly have reverence we must be in a position of wisdom to fathom just who we are in a relationship with. Most cannot pass through the narrow gate  into the realm of understanding.   This is because the enemy of this world feeds and builds Man’s rationale. Reason is of a wisdom that seems right to man, yet has no foundation.

“Sometimes what seems right is really a road to death.” Proverbs 16:25

Shakespeare knew, in Hamlet, that if something seems right, it can just as easily be faked:

“These indeed ‘seem,’ For they are actions that a man might play. Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2

How sad. The dilemma of man is far worse when he knows there is something else that encompasses the soul but cannot approach it. We have compassion for this dilemma for we thus have arrived in God’s view.

So, on: We have salvation in Him. We are far above Man’s dilemma. We are of direction on a path with His protection and mercy. His Word is our shield as we cast away the enemy world, the darker places, as we call upon His name.

…and our heart shall rejoice. Tears stream, spines tingle, joy draws nigh. We trust in Him with all of our being and we are fruitful, faithful, as He is reliable and life-giving. Our dance culminates in beautiful harmony as His steadfast love, mercy, is upon us and we have hope in Him.

Our relationship seems simple! It is, if we listen and watch His words float from the pages of His Book of Life.  We embrace concepts, instruction,  and parable and store them in our heart, always dear, truth in all ways.

“Praise Him,all ye people” Psalm 117:1

 Yes praise Him, trust Him, and fear Him in a reverence that seems right to we who are set apart. It confounds man. Poor man, poor reason. Our purpose resonates in a perfect dance of trust and protection, hope and watchfulness, attentiveness and instruction. It is a perfect dance.  The Sun continues to warm, confound, and the reason of man is limited.

Rick Stassi

2/10/2012

the first faith to the last faith…

Artist: Sean Seal

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Romans 1:16-18

How can there be shame in the gospel? For it is Good News of the revelation of God , of Himself, to mankind to show perfection and flesh as ONE. What we first ‘heard’ we then ‘saw’ and now ‘do’.

The shame in the gospel is thus: Jesus was denied by those closest to Him. Jesus was mocked and scourged (Mark 10:34). The Messiah – the unblemished Lamb that came to be the propitiation, or complete appeasement, of sin, was spat upon and hung on a cross with a thief.

But even, more! We deny speaking His name as it is not a part of our cultural vernacular. Jesus is considered and outsider to conversation because we are uncomfortable and the one we converse with is as uncomfortable.

It can be said shame exists even in our walk with God. However, here it is said “I am not ashamed”. Say it and pray it.

In the gospel is God’s revelation of righteousness.  As Matthew Henry states (paraphrased) the first faith is from God, Christ yet unseen, to the last faith, Christ thus come and risen. The just or righteous, the obedient and law-abiding, shall live by the last faith and we shall know this faith is evolved. For as once faith was unseen and then fulfilled through the stripes on Jesus’ back,  it is also our initial commitment to Him,  and the works of obedience we do and loyalty we have thereafter.

Wrath of God is now the eternal separation from our God because there is no righteousness where faith is absent. Where faith is absent, God yearns for our heart. We believe God.

No wrath is greater than eternal separation in our unrighteousness and what seems righteous to the world is folly. Every man has his set of values. Each man a little different. Without a focal point of moral judgement and an Absolute moral standard, all is relative, it is Relativism. The concept is a simple one. A relative moral standard is diluted by the very body that claims it’s truth.

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” 1 Cor 1:25

Man alone in a self-centered wisdom cannot even approach God’s wisdom. Therefore, a claim that has been diluted holds even less merit. Man is foolish in his claims of goodness.

So let is be said, we are saved into righteousness through Jesus Christ and our hearts soar to His elevated throne. Righteousness is for we who are just. We who are just are righteous because we have faith. We have faith because we know that faith was first heard then seen on the cross. I plead you hear these words. Seek Jesus unashamed. Follow Him unashamed. Speak His name to the world so man will hear. It is Good News that all sin is appeased and placed on the cross and death is defeated. Life is born for we who seek it. We have eternity. We are the just and faithful.

Rick Stassi

2/5/2012

One love, unwavering…

Artist: Sean Seal

19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; Deuteronomy 30:19,20

Life and death are set on a table before us. We choose one or the other. The choice made to join in a covenant with God sustains and preserves the frailty of our lives [a]. We are obedient in the covenant we choose with life through God.

Life is a blessing – death a cursing. We make the choice of life. An eternal choice with the sponsorship of our most loving Father through His grace. His grace personified in the person of Jesus Christ, who we join with and learn a love beyond all other. In our choice we have life – for Jesus is life and the truth of all mystery shall unfurl like a sail that catches a fresh wind. The fresh wind blows to us and we are filled with His spirit. The Spirit is wind that refreshes and sees our desire to be closer and press into our God. The Spirit sees us and knows us, so He helps us to be the servant we desire. God is pleased.

Our love for God is unwavering. We are a part of this love which is the love most high, again, manifest in Jesus Christ. As we are of this love we too emanate a love that is unwavering. We do not regret that we did not love enough yesterday or vow we will love more tomorrow. We love steadily and on His path today. Unwavering and constant. Eternal.

So, as we are confident in our love for our Father, then we too are confident of our love for all man. Our compassion will not ebb and flow like the waves on the shore. It shall engross our outward perspective. It shall not be cut short over emotion because the love we commune in with Jesus is higher than emotion. It is steady. As you may not doubt your constant love for God,  do not discount your ability to overcome your feelings and emotion as you love in this world.

The emotion, we collide with, for the ones around us must not captivate our heart, but must hone our perception of what godly love is. As we feel, we focus on God and overcome emotion, then love as Jesus loves. Unending and unwavering. Our Father sees us try to places many opportunities in our lives to sharpen our hearts with a fresh and outward love. A love unaffected by the fouling breeze of this world. We surpass this in Jesus.

We have confidence. I implore to equate this: We love our God admittedly always and steadily. We therefore love our family without the ups and downs of feelings. And on: we love those all around us in this fashion.

For feelings are not the end, but are part of the means that capture our eye toward God. Just as in trials, we do not succumb to the means, but seek wisdom in the end. The end is an acute focus on God. He speaks to us in this way. He demonstrates His love through all means. The most common is our feelings and emotions.

Bypass the urge to get captured in your emotion. We are emotional by nature; but, remember, our prerogative is to love and  this love is like the sea – not like the lapping waves on the sand, ebbing and flowing. Praise God for His revelation. He is truly a loving God. I commit myself to this love. His love.

Rick Stassi

2/1/2012