Beyond Ashes

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In Ashes

What sustains the flame,
While I sit in my ashes,
Tempered by my shame,
With tear-burdened eyelashes,
Like ripe fruit bending branches.

Blest fruit of her womb,
Chosen olive God crushes,
Atonement’s perfume,
Man’s oil of ever gladness.

Seen through blurry tears,
Radiant hope in the blackness,
A death promised without fear!

I will rise in Him from these ashes,
Because when He speaks I hear,
Fasting while selfishness passes,
‘Til in the hungry Christ appears,
Becoming one with others and my ashes.

By Chris Clody
3/3/17

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Green and Peaceful Pastures

As Lent finds me, I pray that I continue to endure with courage. Courage to lower my defenses and reveal God’s beauty and humility. Endless are my prayers to engage others with the best version of myself. As Lent teaches and I listen and realize, that best version is the very image He breathed within.

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The Rest You Seek

I Am the rest you seek,
I Am the rest you seek,
Serene are my pastures,
Giving strength to the weak.
For I Am your rescue,
Your ransom and peace,
Open your hearts,
Awake to My mercy,
Find Me the humble,
The outcast,
The meek.

Come to Me brother,
Reconcile your sin,
Bathe in my mercy,
Let forgiveness begin,
Give me your burdens,
Your worries,
Your sorrow.
Give me your hurting
Your end of your rope,
For I Am your rescue,
The Giver of Hope.

I Am the rest you seek,
I Am the rest you seek,
Forgiven forever,
I Am the Word God speaks,
I’ll raise you in splendor,
From sin’s desolate bleak,
Rejoice with Me,
And sing of this glory,
Come live in my love,
My joyful,
Heartbeat.

By Chris Clody 2/20/2016

Still We Suck

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Maybe it’s the early morning walks in the bitter cold with a mini-schnauzer who I swear was born to enjoy the Iditarod. By the way, talk about trust between the men and (usually winning) woman and their dogs. Maybe it’s that very trust that helps us understand what love is really all about. And yes…in a snuggly sort of way, I love my hyper, little Mia!

Oh yeah, this sucking thingy… Lent is more and more becoming less of a hardship or checking the new charity box endurance challenge and more of a jump into the abyss of myself. Let me explain. Consider ourselves born facing the whirling of all space and time, dimming as it enters a hole into our chest. The inhalation of possibilities is euphoric to our egos (especially those born with larger holes).

We all simply suck.

Yet, the ingenious vision of Lent, despite its common malpractice, offers a chance to turn. This incredible chance is preceded by first realizing why and how we suck. Why were we created to seemingly receive astronomic quantities of created awe surrounding the churning, dark, mysterious density hurling towards the center of ourselves. The moment of Lent’s true purpose is ‘given’ when we realize that what comes in must come out! Lent explodes in life and cosmic abundance, this moment of hysterical release while witnessing the sheer omnipotence directed as purpose and power flowing through us. God created us to turn on trusting volition to experience what was already happening behind us. My brothers-in-arms-and-prayer witnessing the outside of ourselves exploding in this whirling dervish of inconceivable joy unite in these moments of awe and humility. The magnificence hiding behind a humble turn! Just even a passing glimpse levels the Everest of hardened hearts.

So I beg, truly, break your eye-rolling ‘fast’ from chocolate, chips, beer, coffee, sex, porn, dressing up as a plushie…whatever that holds no inertia to turn and leap from that huge sucking sound… and realize the omnipotence of transformational love.

The beauty of Lent is learning to turn towards love. In other words, we are attempting to ‘fast’-forward our understanding why we were all meant to become ‘Easter people’. (Peeps? – I’ll let that go.)

Ultimately we’ll come to allow through us a love that is patient, kind, not envious nor braggadocios. Love that isn’t rude, selfish, or easily angered or resentful. Love that rejoices in truth not injustice. A profound love with a capacity to bear all things, believe all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Quite simply – a love that never ends (happily paraphrased from our most popular wedding vows – 1 Cor 13:4-8).

Look, we ALL suck and will continue to suck but it’s worth turning around to see the outcome of Grace. (For the contemplatives out there consider replacing Love with God’s charity towards us.)

Sidebar: Funny how Lent coincides with New Year’s resolutions and political primaries. Try to remember love is patient and bears all things (Yep, even offenses!).

“Most of us were taught that God
would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so
that you can change. It is the inherent experience of love that
becomes the engine of change.”
–Richard Rohr

Be brave and face the awaiting transformation of your soul and heart.
Become that little engine of change that said it could.

His,
Chris

Looking within… Oi veh.

This morning the word repent took on a slightly different tone then its typical groan. If it is true that our God is the God of all hearts, then to repent should be more than just a half-spin around but rather a halt to our momentum, becoming still, and look bravely within.  A needful gaze within our own heart to face the demons ruling our darkness of our casual parade through sin.

Sadly, I believe, true repentance, cannot be done alone since it’s the joyful work of God. This process will reveal why we truly ‘fear’ God. Despite God’s capacity for wrath, it is not why I fear Him. Ultimately it is the vastness of His willing forgiveness that leaves my jaw slag. ‘Worse’, it is His remarkable invitation through Jesus, this God-man, who prefers to not bridge safely over our miserable consequence, but plows through it, holding (sometimes dragging) me through why and how mercy is given to those who need it most.

As I finish some of my long walks down memory lane with my Brother and begin another, these following words spilled out in prayer.

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Walk With Me

Jesus take my hand,
and walk with me awhile,
help me face myself,
and purge this darkness,
that holiness reviles.

Unless held by you,
I can’t stand to face,
this sadness alone,
Mocked by sneers of sin,
that fills my heart with stones.

My legs grow heavy,
still you hold me high,
Now feels so surreal,
Smiling in my repent,
Gazing deep into my eyes,

Breathing into me,
I plunge my depths within,
Seeing woes through this mercy,
This Alpha helps love begin,
This Omega crushes all my sin.

Brother!
Fear not!
Be of Good Cheer!

Of all things you say!
while loathsome regret,
enjoys its final maul.
You wipe my loneliest tear,
Convincing me,
Love has conquered all.

by Chris Clody 2/11/2016

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Sin Eaters…

One of my favorite movie lines is found in the Bourne Legacy:

sineaterByer: No, it’s not. Tune in to what I’m trying to say to you. Do you know what a sin eater is? [Aaron mouths no] Well, that’s what we are. We are the sin eaters. It means that we find the moral excrement that we find in this situation and we bury it down deep inside of us so that the rest of our cause can stay pure. That is the job. We are morally indefensible and absolutely necessary. You understand?

I’m not sure how my mind makes connections, nevertheless, I will attempt to connect this concept with my gripe against Americanized Christianity and it’s approach to Lent/sin. Today’s comfortable, cotton candy words streaming from pulpits or open stages, whether priest or pastor, vestments to Hawaiian shirts, seem more concerned in soothing our egos to further advance job security and growth of their church.

Lent is facing the well hidden, completely defensible, sin buried deeply within us. Sin is very personal.  We know all its desires to keep it well fed. We actually believe this sin is our due, our self righteous reward, and sadly our strength.  Sin is alive to us, our self offering – but dead to God. Listen to Romans 6::13, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” Welcome to the purpose of Lent.  This has nothing to do with jokingly giving up ice cream but rather a focused death of personal sin.  Consider the remarkable failure of traditional Lent practices about giving up ice cream and think about how antibiotic resistant bacteria entered our lives.  If you have a bacterial infection and do not take the full course of antibiotic to kill the bug, guess what, ….it gets stronger.  How? If you only spoon feed yourself two of the prescribed five days of the yukky stuff and happily kill off eighty percent of the infection, then what happens to that remaining twenty percent of creepy crawlies? Despite feeling  a little better, you have now shown your enemy your war plan for next time giving them plenty of time to begin figuring out a way to become resistant.  Imagine what happens with ice cream! For the rest of the year, some of the remaining non-lactose intolerant will eat it with a vengeance, as if it couldn’t effect them.

Lent is clearly not about ice cream, cookies, chocolate, or chips. Lent is about maturing.

Lent is daring ourselves to look deep within, removing the moral excrement hidden under the facade of righteousness, and killing it over a prescribed regimen of forty days. Lent is not only for people, but all governing bodies spouting Christian grace through Christ. And yes…it is always time to houseclean.

Are you as tired as I am? Is this concept even new? When will Christians, in all positions, garner the courage to stand up and say enough!  When will the fear of job security of the preacher turn to God and not self comfort?  It amazes me that although I heard it preached many times that we will all stand naked under the clarifying light of God, yet… sin still seems to be the preferred offering instead of righteousness to God.

Oh yeah, as for sin eaters, there was and is and will be only One…

Pray for me since God has been more than patient, abundantly merciful, ever-loving, and unexpectedly forgiving with me!

His,

Chris

A Risky Path Finds Holy Ground: LENT

Radical, self-giving, unhesitating, and genuine is the love mentored by our Savior. It is in the housecleaning of repentance that we not only find how deep we buried our true self, but an unexpected, inner wilderness that beacons towards a risky path of love.  Here in the desert of our being, hot sands become holy ground.  I pray you find it’s worth the walk….

Inner Wilderness

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Stumbling through my inner darkness,
A Light glows beneath a door,
Opened only when I confess,
Desert sands replace the floor,
The sun burns hot, yet I explore.

Is this my Hell or Holy ground?
My prideful thoughts begin to war,
Cursing at this door I found,
My burning flesh begins to brown,

Endless are the desert swells,
Holding sin like burial mounds,
Mirages tempt like water wells,
Dismissing all that ransoms Hell.

This risky path I walk alone,
Pulling the clapper on pride’s death knell,
Because the love that I’ve been shown.

Returning through the door I’ve opened,
Darkness flees from reaching light,
Liquid sun paints once dark golden,
Humility grows with new sight,
More repentant, more contrite,
Knowing this desert cross bears God’s delight.

by Chris Clody 2/25/2015

Seek and you will find.

His ,
Chris

CHILDREN OF THE DUST

It is within the genius of Lent, that we choose to prune so that the crowded scions of our hope are given the opportunity to blossom.  For some, simply allowing their feet to experience the forgotten contact with the hot desert sands is enough to renew their gratitude for their comfortable shoes and dare to consider their role in helping the shoeless. For some, it is acquiring a new habit for the betterment of themselves and the sake of others after forty days in discipline.  It is the yearly chance to scream and shout at the hot sun while begging in repentance under the shades of grace.  As we choose to run from our magnetic lusts towards better housing for our soul, we ultimately realize our bittersweet lot in life.  Ultimately, as the old offer their last breath and a new draw their first; all must eventually come thirsty to the well as children of the dust.  All born of dust struggle with an unquenchable thirst sated only by the living water mercifully offered through Christ.  Yielding to un-negotiable Truth in light of our misgivings is difficult, yet literally a necessity for our survival.  Without drinking deep from the font of Life, the clays of faith cannot be formed into vessels to carry the hope God has planned for all of us.  Yes, one day, even these earthen vessels will dry up and disintegrate back into the dust they once were, yet now will be blown by the gentle winds of forgiveness.   Truly, if we accept our smallness knowing that hope waits to carry us in exile from all our frailties into indestructible life, then the joy of Lent has found refuge in our souls.

Peace,

Chris

Children of the Dust

We are Children of the dust,
Running to and from our lusts,
A hope of clay blown by gusts,
Searching for water to trust.

Faith forms clay in just one drink,
Christ grows larger as I shrink,
Earth and Heaven’s only link,
My life pushes towards Trust’s brink.

My Lenten desert calls me,
To make my path straight and free,
To enjoin my cross gratefully,
With the one on Calvary.

From dust I came,
To dust I’ll return,
Repenting shame –
For my soul’s concern.

Lord,
Lead me through your wilderness
,And carve me from pride’s excess,
Hold me in Your holiness,
And put my faith to your test.

 ©2012 by Chris Clody 2/27/2012

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