The Eternal Circle

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Ephesians 5:25

 Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride. A picture painted by God. He created this institution not to just  procreate as some would say. There is a realm of love of which Jesus is in the center. It is a circle, a perfect circle and marriage is on that circle, rotating about the radius point, around Jesus. I am subject to God’s word as a Christian. I am therefore likened to the way of godliness in Jesus Christ: Love my wife even as Christ loves us. Fairly obvious in meaning greatly poignant in the reality of my responsibility in my marriage.

Mind’s wander and thoughts creep. Love is painted by God and marital relationship authored by God. My wife, appointed by God: an eternal investment. This investment requires emotional deposits. The relationship requires a man to be a sanctuary of security and safety for his wife. The marriage requires a commitment to stay emotionally focused on my wife.

It is full-time and it starts on a circle: love her, respect her, treat her like a fragile vessel. I know she is comparable and appointed for me. Then as I listen to God and put His word into action in my life, His blessing follows. She submits and feels secure, feels loved, feels the spark of that first day many years ago when our eyes first met.

It is not easy and as with our walk in Christ, there are obstacles in our path. We see many couples run off in opposite directions when faced with obstacles. First there is emotional absence  and the longer a man in absent, the further the relationship separates. They may stay together, but both are losing touch with each other. It is disparaging, but not necessarily a permanent reality. I choose God’s way of learning from obstacles. Perpetuating that which is a gift from God. One He will be sure to perfect over time. I ponder how I certainly fall short.

Remember the circle. Love, emotion, sanctuary, submission, love. This is the eternal circle. I love my wife. I do not need to be taught love, because Love abides in me. Love is therefore emitted from my heart as I connect with God and then my wife.

This is what I believe. God tells me. Love her like Jesus loves the church. It is a tall order. But also remember, whatever is appointed by God, the evil one hates. Just as God hates darkness (Proverbs 8:13), Satan hates marriage. Years pass and children come and go: our images change and our needs change. I am capable of shirking off the arrows of the enemy, because I am centered on Jesus. My marriage is capable of the same. We are a divine appointment. God’s will. We are one heart, one life. If my heart breaks for what breaks Jesus’ heart, it certainly breaks when I look into her eyes glazed with the tears that I have caused.

 My marriage is from God and it is holy for that reason. I pray strength to be the strong sanctuary for her as God is for me. All works together to glorify God.

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
Colossians 3:18

She seems to always have patience. We talk and she may open a conversation that quickly sours. Why does it sour? Criticism is poison to my pride: any criticism. Humility is the elixir. The conversation is focused on what she needs and how I can provide that need. But I stubbornly believe  I already provide! I protest, and the circuitous argument begins again. Another row of bricks. Thanks to me whose words and actions supply mortar. The wall grows higher creating a safe place for one.  Communication is simple enough. Or is it? I fail many times…Most of the time.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
1 Peter 3:7

 When there is criticism, the bristly hairs stand on the back of my neck. I am tense. I begin a process of shutting down. Communication has already begun to fail. At that moment, God enters. I remember the eternal circle. My wife and I are one. She is valid in her critique. After all don’t I criticize? When my neck stiffens, I try to remember humility. I am her sanctuary. It is my goal because I love her. She is given to me by God and we are joined at our side. One comparable person under God. One heart. My heart breaks to think of emotional absence. Dank and dismal is the sanctuary she runs alone to.

Stop and just do it. More action than words create security.

At Her Service

There is hope in all situations and the hope lies in trusting God. Begin by serving her. Jesus served and He is the King of kings. I can serve always and in all ways. I am not above serving unconditionally. With service comes the blessing of a loving gaze. Sanctuary returns as my shoulder broadens to accept a cheek, a tear. Hands held tightly; never let go. This is my wife. This is my goal. The Lord has already provided and now He helps. He is my trust and a joyous blessing comes out of that trust.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22

Look at you wife. Look at your spouse in her eyes to her heart. She is God’s gift. Mistakes and criticism are overwhelmed by love and sanctuary. All on the eternal marital circle. Remember…

Rick Stassi

March 30, 2012


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The Sun of Righteousness, the Bridge to God

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Revelation 12:10,11 (KJV)

When was my day of reconciliation? When did I cross a divisive line scratched in mankind, from one world to the next? The line I sought was as wide as a chasm that could not be crossed without a bridge. This bridge was my Providence and the chasm was deep. Temporal life on earth was reconciled with eternal life in heaven. I crossed this line to know one side from the other.

There was a calling with many decibel strong. An external ring; O my knotted stomach. “There must be more!”, I thought, but what is it? Where is it? Woe to he who does not ask this question. This question is the first step to an enlightened awareness. This illumination is not a candle that burns on our mantle, but one that burns with an eternal inextinguishable flame. It is the “Sun of Righteousness”

But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise

Micah 4:2

There were many gods that pulled upon my soul. I was stretched one way and the other. All were vying for my attention but it was just not right. The  illumination that is from the sun and the moon, rises and sets. Light then darkness. There was a loud voice in my soul that whispered to me saying there was a Sun that never sets. The Son of Man, Jesus Christ. He gave all for me, He stands for the highest of all love,and He is accepting of all still under the temporal sun.

He is loving but He is jealous of  other gods and our time stolen by them. He will not tolerate them sharing our time:

 “…for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

Exodus 20:4

So we who ask if there is God in sincerity will be led to Him through Jesus. We will try to sneak through, like I did, by way of a temporal light hoping there is enough illumination to see God. The light dims, fades. Jesus is the bright path to the Father and he who looks upon Him, looks upon the Father [a]. I asked God blindly in this darkness and the temporal earth, the temporary light of my earthly walk, gave way to an eternal Light. God revealed Himself in His glory. He showed me Jesus, the bridge over the chasm. There is truth and there is love. Together they are shown illuminated by light unmatched by the lesser lights. My salvation. My Savior.

The curse of this world, the wondering curse of he who accused me of my wrongs and who piled guilt, regret, rage, upon my shoulders, now writhes in anguish. He is no match for the Light I walk in. The accuser is death and is now thus defeated as I bade farewell crossing the bridge between God and Man. The crossing is effortless. I was carried across and in this transcendence, I lost my ‘self’ that was once held in the throngs of darkness. It is now illuminated in the rebirth of my soul: my salvation by the blood of my Savior. Death is defeated.

Death remains defeated for me. My word is strong because it is wisdom imparted from God because I am reverent. It is His word that cuts to the core of hearts. My testimony stands strong because Jesus is my testimony. I asked God, He answered. I tried various ways to reach His outstretched hand: even pushed aside the very One who offered to carry me to the Master. But soon the sun set and my self-deception that I could be with God without Jesus was extinguished. So in darkness I groped to find the switch to turn on the Light. “I am Love” were His words to me. “Cast your burdens upon my shoulders” . He is truth and across the bridge I went into God’s arms.

There is a way that seems reasonable to all man. He is pinned down by the accuser of all we have ever done wrong. But through our reason, we can also see Jesus. Yes, it is reasonable. God reveals His Son who is the Sun of Righteousness to us because we asked and finally succumbed to Him on His terms, walking His way.

The temporal light dies and gives way to the eternal Light. Our efforts are in vain as soon darkness hinders our search. God bridges temporal and eternal with Jesus Christ. His light is unmistakable and clear.  There is no deception. The dragon falls and we are sustained in God’s Light forever.

Rick Stassi

March 26, 2012

Our Fruitful Walk

“…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;…”

Colossians 1:10

There is a path I walk upon. It is a path set before me by God, Himself. It is a place where I may feel purpose in life, see a greater calling to my life, and feel  a closer connection with God and Man. This path began with my acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Savior. He is my Lord. Through His blood, my burdens may be lifted off my shoulders; my guilt may evaporate in the Cloud of His spirit; my heart may be purified and refined. For I am not owner of this body anymore. I am His.

Artist: Laure Freudenberger-Carlisle

I seek worthiness in His sight. Even as He always loves me, there is expectation that I must see and hear what He tells me. It is how I grow closer to Him.  He tells me to walk upright with the virtue of one who has accepted a gift so great in Jesus. My worthiness is in this knowledge and acceptance. I see my past, I see a place where I changed, I see my current life. There is an elevation change. Where I am now is much more preferable than where I was. My acceptance of Jesus is pure, sincere, and with passion. There is no compromise, rationalization, or human reason that causes me to stray from His way. He is truth. I know this truth, as it is dwells within me: the Truth, the Spirit, God Himself. Acknowledge this truth and walk a worthy walk.

I listen, I hear, I respond. In our response comes fruit. We are a branch that is pruned in the early hours of springtime, parting with branches that point inward, downward: withered. We are the branch that points to heaven. “Always prune just above the second bud“, my papa said as he taught me how to prune a grapevine when I was young. Those buds burst to leaves and then there is the fruit born with focused nourishment because it grows on a branch set apart, others pruned and gone, drawing from water of life deep in the roots. I am a branch set apart. I am sanctified in Jesus Christ, the Living water. Therefore, my walk is fruitful. I build on God’s word. Worthiness to fruitfulness.

I walk a path that  is pleasing to God and in that process, I see things change in my life! O how things change. As I mature  in Jesus, God is refining me daily. I can count on it for He is faithful. It hurts sometimes. But Jesus died! He died to give me this opportunity to walk on God’s greener grass. One drop of His blood purifies. Am I just walking through a life and learning a higher moral value? Well yes, that is part of it. Good morals and good people. Is “good” good enough? I focus above good to perfection. Jesus is perfect. I know this because God told me. I learn God’s nature as I learn perfection is a focal point personified in Jesus Christ. I look, you look, we all see Him. His heart smiles, I grow in wisdom and in fruitfulness.

I can withstand all hurting because I am assured God is working. What joy to know He cares about me! You and I.  The pain is really my feeling the hands of the Potter stretching, kneading, molding…I change. Then I encourage change through the very emanation of what I store within. His light that is within because the molding process shines a light deep into my heart and soul, seeking. “Found one!” I remember a grudge, an obstacle that hinders His work . Finding, acknowledging, releasing. Grudge is placed upon the shoulder of my Savior.  In pottery it is a bubble in the clay. Clay does not fire well in a kiln with that bubble. In pruning, it is the uncut withered branch. Fruit does not grow plump and sweet from a withered branch. The refining process bring us closer to God.

As I walk in worthiness, I feel the pinch of His pruning. “Two buds”! Thanks, papa. Thanks, Abba. True knowledge in You grows.

(c) 2014 Rick Stassi

March 24, 2012

for catherine f. who taught me to own what i write. I happily own this.

Our Marvelous Father

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
He does great things beyond our understanding.
Job 37:5

Our God is a marvelous God. From the heavens He waits. He watches our every move. He discerns our thoughts. He sees our path of which He Himself has set before us. He is interwoven in the fiber of our lives. He abides in our heart, He holds us in His hand. He places a protecting wing over us. Our God is truly marvelous.

There is evil that lurks. He seeks a small crack in our armor. An armor that is fortified in hope and trust through a faith in our unseen God.  This evil swirls about us trying to confuse. We keep our path straight, our eyes are forward. Ever-forward we walk because we have set our heart upon this path of faith and have made agreement with our most powerful God that we hate evil along with Him. (Proverbs 8:13)

We hate darkness. Yet if we are distracted for but a moment, we succumb to the very thing we hate. Distraction is practical from evil’s perspective considering  our nature. We are seeking the Lord in one moment then seeking the pleasure of darkness of the world the next. We vow an undying love for our Father then curse an angst we walked into charged by the fleeting whims of the world. Our lust, our avarice, our hate.  But we have His grace. We need not stay hidden in a shadow. God sees us anyway. Come forth and confess!

The evil world is confounded as it pounds against our armor of faith. Pounding that resonates in our hearts that we allow to empty as easily as a glass of water poured to the floor. The echo of temptation in an empty heart. Our reason changes. We rationalize. “Just once!”, we say. The toe-hold of evil thus exposed at these words. We cannot be sustained in these two worlds. (1 John 1:6). God sees and evil lurks.

Surely in our refining process both worlds lie before us. Free will. We fall, we get back up. We succumb to evil, we remember God. He welcomes us back every time we cry for Him. “Help me!” My heart aches, my mind swirls, my eyes wander, my mind doubts. We are all there in our own times, but our God is a marvelous God who is holding the hand of a child that is obedient one moment and whose mind is distracted the next. Pull away, come back.

Each time we pull away, we  have a trial in our life. A lesson in life. The imparting of wisdom our consequence of self-inflicted straying? That is how good God is. We will not return empty. God sees us grow. Then we do. It takes us a little longer for us to realize how marvelous He is. He works in our lives. He leads us down His path. He holds our hand. So, fear not, child of God. He is with you.

Artist: Tracy Wandling

Life does not go the way we plan always. We walk one way and a brick wall changes our course. In a field of bramble we, in one moment, declare our ownership of our lives. (Judges 9:15).Then our skin tears in a thorny mistake. We have strayed. But can we remember where we came from?  God knows.

Remember there is God and Flesh as one. He wore the thorns of bramble on His head. He died for us. He is Jesus. When we feel the weight of a burdened trial, remember Jesus. He fills our hearts. The pounding on our armor. “Let me in!” cries the evil one whose pounding  now is muffled because we are full of His spirit. Evil lurks, then slinks away. “Another day” he says.

Feeling down? Is hope fleeting? Maybe you have doubts about how God works in your life. First know He is with you then know He loves you. Fall back on your faith in Him as trust and hope follow closely. Agree with God: Hate evil.

Things in our life work out. We look back and know. We made a mistake and God turned it to good. Did we change paths? No, we are ever on His path. Straightforward and faithful. When you feel down, see the face of God with you. He does marvelous things in your life. Be expecting and be assured.

Rick Stassi

March 16, 2012

Merciful Lord, Build Your Sanctuary

Artist: CONNIE CHRISTENSEN

1 When Israel went out of Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2 Judah became His sanctuary,
And Israel His dominion.
3 The sea saw it and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
The little hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you turned back?
6 O mountains, that you skipped like rams?
O little hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of waters.
Psalm 114

O that we are living sanctuaries that are under God’s dominion. What a great picture of His love. What a great picture of the omnipotent God whose very presence causes mountains to fall. What a great picture that the strongest stalwarts of  protest and the frolicking, frivolity of the apathetic  prance away in His presence…

We are a living sanctuary. Our bodies are temples. These are vessels where the Holy Spirit has residence. So many pictures as God teaches us through stories and metaphor, pictures and symbols. He is almighty.

We speak not the language of this world. We were captive but destined for release at His will. The language the world speaks is drowned in our own Red Sea as the suffocating waters overtake the foolish ramblings of the world. As in the Exodus, we were neither cast off nor did we steal off in secret night, but walked to God in His glory: all witnessed. We walked in desperation, in weakness, in humble seeking, but we did so on our two feet to His open arms. Free will.

The strength of mountain and the lesser hills…How they protest. With every debate, with every apathetic casting of stones, God shows his strength and power over His domain. For every strong ram and frivolous lamb, shall skip away in His presence for apathy is foolish and strong-willed disagreement are worthless from the perspective of being within God’s dominion.

We see His face and all others are separated because where we go, the sea closes back up, the river runs again after us. Waiting, ever-waiting for another soul to cry for mercy. At this cry, a single ram, a little lamb, leave their once safe stronghold and wonder, “Why is there emptiness?”. These are the ones who will see light in darkness. There is hope for the wicked. Most will flee in His presence, some will reconcile reason with action. The fool’s reason produces foolish action. Soon some will see.

… and a new sanctuary is born from stone. A heart immovable becomes malleable in His hands for there is no alternative as Man ever seeks inside. Deeper and deeper. It is certain the mind is complex and will accommodate the insatiable searchers of solution for their malady. But there is an end to each mind. Complexity of our thought is mere frivolity over time. The debate: “There is no God!” flees as the ram. The fleeting attitude of frivolity as a lamb, soon tires. The grass dries.

But then there is God’s mercy.  The sea opens, the river dries and the ram and the lamb walk together: the strongholds of objection and the frivolity of apathy. They walk together through these dry places. For as His presence causes those to flee, His mercy ever-beckons.

They shall flee but some will come. Our Lord is a merciful Lord. His omnipotent presence, but His gentle touch. Shall the ram skip away with the lamb? Mostly yes. But a few will look back and see that a once powerful stronghold-a powerful debate and the apathy, are meaningless in the perspective of time. Time itself becomes meaningless. God dries the waters for the crumbled mountains, for the rolling hills. For therein lies a picture of the how the strength of a strong tongue of objection, of human rationale, or the voice of the apathetic who really care not for all will turn to dust, won’t it? The picture shows that the end of human wisdom doesn’t approach the wisdom of God.

We have crossed our wilderness, our river, our sea. Soon others will as well. For the mere strength of the Lord turns heads and they will skip off or kneel and pray: “O, Father, I am at my end. Build Your sanctuary within my heart”

Rick Stassi

March 9, 2012

In the Service of a Mighty King

Artist: Heidi Brummer

5 Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;
6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
7 with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
Ephesians 6:5-8

Keep in mind, we are born-again to serve. We are not the proprietors of our selves, but in allegiance, obedience, and service to our One God. We gave up the focus of self interest when we surrender to Jesus Christ. Without adhering to connotations of slavery, especially in the United States, the term is servitude for and toward another. This is a voluntary willingness to serve others. It is the state of abandonment of our own self-interest in favor of another’s. Under all conditions and it is not easy! This is our Christian dilemma as we are wired for survival and self-preservation. To truly seek the character of the godly man, we must walk in the steps of Jesus Christ who came and served all.

This is but another contrast to explore. Man is the spiritual lead and head of a household. He is leader without forceful domination, but in gentle service to those in his domain. The family, his friends, all others, everyone. We as men must follow the example of Jesus Christ and wash the feet of our families. This projects a leadership that is in the realm of a wise God. He made this not as a paradox, but as the perfect example of leading. We lead in sincerity of our Savior. For Him and as He did. We lead not for the pleasure of display, but with the fortitude and sincerity that it is in our hearts and it is for the glory of God. This brings respect and a willingness for others to believe our godly character.

We place and advance our service to a level than supersedes common wisdom. We are not less of a leader; less of a person. We serve as if all we serve is for the Lord, Himself. In this case, would we not do all for Him without question? Without complaint? We laid our lives for Jesus as Jesus laid His life for us. We gave up self-interest. Our interest is in seeking and serving a loving God. We must adhere to this service at all levels and places in our lives. For how can we serve a mighty King and withhold serving our wife, our family, those in our path? God gives us many chances. We stiffen our necks as we think situations to be unreasonable. They are reasonable. We are in the perfecting process, we will fail, but we must persevere.

Finally, we love because we are first loved. We serve because we were first served at the cross. Jesus died in service to us. For the death of our sins, for the freedom from our ‘self’, for the beginning of our walk. Beware, the ‘self’ will hold us captive. It is an object with insatiable desire, hunger, vile nature. We withdraw from and abandon this object. We are not ourselves held captive to our ego any longer. Jesus first showed us, God continually teaches us.

It is a beautiful life when we see how God’s contrasts serve our understanding of Him better. A world of those serving; a world of those loving: all without condition, is a good world! It is a perfect and complete design. The master is the servant just as the Master washed the feet of the disciples. What wonderment is born. The heart softens of the recipient of this nature. Serve and love. It is our prerogative; more importantly, it shall be our desire. We will be of this nature willingly and with zeal. Lose yourself. Find your place in God’s domain. We made the step in the first place because He beckoned and we answered. Be a servant and please our Lord for doesn’t He serve us?

Rick Stassi
March 3, 2012