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Breathe in, breathe in, all His raging beauty.
On February 18, John Paul Jackson passed into the arms of his Father. I don’t know how qualified I am to speak of someone I knew as a drive by father. That’s not a term of dishonor. Not all of us are given the gift of exemplary proximity of spiritual fathers or maybe we avoid them, knowing our wax and feather wings may be called into question with wisdom from the Daedaluses God sends us our way. My life has had the space between the lines filled in by a handful of men who have inspired by just living, posed parables so I would think and not be lazy and just believed in me like God does.
I’m grateful for the man John Paul. I have been a teacher for his Streams Ministries courses since ’04 and eventually was ordained under his umbrella of influence. I was close enough as perhaps a third string quarterback to know some of the weaknesses but I also knew his vengeance to make things right when he saw as his Lord saw. I saw him linger to speak with those hungry, long after the late night conference ended. In our years of going to Burning Man, I felt obligated to send John Paul a synopsis of what happened every year or we sent a copy of the heart wrenching sentiments the Burners wrote in the guest book of their encounters. John Paul’s response was always the same: tears and gratitude for what God was doing “on the margins”. He sent us into the new age fairs and Burning Man as a fruitful fields when many of his contemporaries could not see it. He stood by our learning curves with is characteristic knowing smile.
He made a habit of impartation in his teaching courses as a hug, sometimes with a long line of staff trailing along with him. Part of his way of doing “father”. The hug was always with a smile, an encouraging word or a prophesy you more often took to the bank. It would bear interest. I had a few.
He opened the door to legitimatize and honor our First Nation brothers and sisters like few others before him.
His attention to character in teaching and life practice earmarked his ministry. Brendan McCauley says he brought cleansing to the prophetic. Some chaffed at it, many rejoiced. I remember seeing him on a major Christian TV program pleading with the prophetic voices that were making prophetic statements through the broad influence of media to apologize publicly when they made erroneous predictions. He had tears in his eyes. I later saw him at a conference. He asked what I thought of the TV program. He said the network asked him not to come back. I could trust a man with scars on his back and tears in his eyes.
I’ll always remember the eyes looking inside us. He always said he only knew what God showed him. We learned that that was quite a bit. One scene. It was fall of 2003. Teacher training class had ended in New Hampshire at some forgotten lodge. Johnny Cash had died that day. The worship team broke into the start of worship with a smattering of Cash songs. John Paul was in the playing percussion and motion mode of his life. Freedom and creativity was another mark of this ministry. Somewhere in the transition into more “traditional” worship, Deep in worship, I had a vision, a major visitation with Jesus arraigned in king and priest splendor. He gave me something. Later in the hug line, John Paul more or less (in my spirit addled and weighted memory) squared me up and interpreted the vision in linear words about the direction of my destiny my life in the years to come. God knew I needed to share what I had received with only a select person. God told him instead.
His heavenly visitations were not contrived nor the lessons to be trifled with. The line between the unseen spirit realm and this present place was not one of duality for him. He co-existed in both. He taught us to pursue this place of His glory, this raging beauty, knowing we would be burned and scarred for joy.
I am a fairly left/right brained balanced guy. Not near enough taken in the right brain leaning realm of seers to know the breath of angels. John Paul opened doors of possibility for me.
Thank you John Paul for filling in the space between the lines.
God shared his secrets with his friend. His friend is by His side. Because it was better, John Paul has elected to stay. Watching us.
I want to say something definitive here. I think his anointing has been splintered to the many that opened their hearts to a character with honor lifestyle.
A few days after his passing the Lord resurrected a prophetic word John Paul gave in 2000. I thought it was for a friend beset by trials. I realized my friend was emblematic of many. Fifteen years later I believe the prophesy of the Forth Row is ripe.
It’s worth the time to read this:
Thursday March 27, 2014 – Saturday March 29, 2014
March 27- March 29, 2014
River Rock Vineyard
321 High K St.
Belgrade, MT 59714
$105.00 early bird cost Register at least 10 days before March 27.
$135.00 regular cost
Alumni cost is $65, payable at the door. No manual is provided for alumni students.
No refunds will be issued due to the expense of pre-ordering manuals for this course. However, in the case of an emergency resulting in a missed class, the student will be issued a 12 month voucher to attend another class taught by Rob Mazza.
Thursday Mar. 27 Registration 6:00pm
Class 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday March 28 Class 9:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday March 29 Class 9:00am – 9:00 pm
Quality Inn Belgrade
6261 Jackrabbit Lane
Belgrade, MT 59714
La Quinta Inn and Suites Belgrade/Bozeman Airport
6445 Jackrabbit Lane
Belgrade, MT 59715
Sorry, no childcare provided.
None. While it’s not required we find that taking Streams Ministries The Art of Hearing God is helpful.
It is morning. It is day two of another day of rest after a week filled with hours long teaching in heat, dust and sessional smoke from field burning. That was the north. I’m enjoying the cool and clear air here in the east – Serere, Uganda. Morning is not a quiet affair. Every bird vies for the opportunity to “awaken the dawn”. I feel the unrestrained notes giving the impetus to life and growth to the land, primarily, the cultivated fields below. A kick start to photosynthesis via sound waves.
I was speaking with Abraham, one of the young employees at the government operated agricultural institute here. He enquired how I found my time here. I conveyed that I appreciated the rest and quiet I was getting (I had laid about quite a bit yesterday and only broke the repose for a walk up the near hill for a view and another walk to the unfamiliar fields of sorghum, sesame and millet). Abraham like his namesake is a clear eyed soul who faintly smiles and lucidly says “This is village life. Quiet”.
The house I am being generously hosted in is large, comfortable, perhaps built in the 60’s but is not the center of living. The heart is under the spreading branches of an unidentified tree that’s ablaze with white flowers. While there is a kitchen in the home, the women led by an ancient mama cook in large pots over open fires by this tree, It is here meals are shared, the fruits of their labors are tasted. It is here they sit and putter about in the Atesso tongue. Women processing life, concerns and laughing. A full contingent of chickens surround the activities nipping at winnowed grains and the fragments of cooked maize fallen from hands.
The tree would the chosen place if one was to teach the ways of Jesus if one could see that impartation does not take a pulpit but eyes, tonality and proximity. Truth wrapped in something like banana leaves. This is where Father would have seen them all before he chose to approach them with an offer of the deeper portals of heaven. This is where bread (if they ate such a thing) would be broken. This is where heaven’s songs are translated to earth and back again. A goat skin drum would echo the deeper longing of the earth’s cry for the day when all sons commune.
This is where I exchange a few words with Abraham.
Katie and I and a fourteen year old daughter of a friend of ours are tube floating down a sluggish stream that’s living in late August and before its time. It’s hot for Oregon this late July. Our tubes, mind of their own, turn the lazy circles of a drunk, ambling toward overhanging branches laden with blackberries and the oft present tree branch. We spin. We come together and hang onto one another’s tubes. We hang on to our circles to share.
Naomi is from Ontario, the Oji-Cree nation.
“I love moose tongue. It’s chewy. The moose are big there”
“Have the caribou come back?”
“One showed up in the village. My grandmother says the last time the tribe saw one was in the 1880s.”
“Are you a big fish eater?”
“Walleye mostly. Sturgeon.”
“Do you eat the eggs or the meat too on the sturgeon?”
“We eat it at ceremonies. We eat it all. My grandmother says it dishonors the sturgeon if we don’t eat the whole fish.”
We spin in slow circles along this flow.
We are at the Wiconi Family camp. It’s Indian Christian life for a few days. I am like the branches overburdened with fruit branches, so much that they lay unpicked. This culture is ignored for its positives. The salmon and trout so filled the waters at the time of Lewis and Clark in the Western U S, there was an abundance that anyone could survive on them if so desired. In Paiute land on the Pyramid Lake, fish were harvested and stacked like cordwood on trains bound for city markets. I have seen bait fish swirl in circles on this lake feeding the present future generations of their fecund ancestors. The circle of life unbroken.
We round danced after the talent show last night, cleansed from within from family shared laughter. Indian jokes and gently poking fun at one another filling the space between the lines. Richard Twiss, their founder passed on to the circle of witnesses above this year. “Why can’t church be like the TV show Cheers [The bar where everyone knows your name]?” Harry Bizzel said to me once. This comes to mind as we danced the circle, holding hands through the diversity of four different songs and drumming. An old tradition, tribe, family. I had a vision once with the globe of the earth being encircled by rotating words…”EVERY TRIBE, EVERY TONGUE, EVERY NATION”.
I am there again. This time with family. I round dance with my wife on one side and Namar, a black man on my other hand. I fight back tears. Visions are hard to shake.
Wheels within wheels. It’s our theme for Burning Man. Our research tells us ( and two well known prophetic voices) that the mystery in Ezekiel of the Creator’s glorious circles and fires and whirlwinds and eyes endlessly watching us is still largely a mystery. We enter the endless circles crying to our elders – show us more. In the Spirit our search and cry to The Elder makes us Kings and Priests and even though we know in part, the part grows and the circles expand. Even our seeking Burning Man friend Lorisa says the human eye is a circle within a circle. Oh Creator make my eyes so much so and more to bring in heaven with a kind look to the fatherless. “Come and join the family, the tribe”.
Last night I wanted to be Indian. I sold my teepee years ago and I long to sleep in the round again, to hear the star song in proper alignment.
This morning, Casey, an elder, sanctified the pow wow grounds with his tobacco pipe by walking in a circle and praying dedication to the Creator, pointing his pipe in the four directions and toward heaven and earth.
“The wheels on the bus go round and round…”
” And the seasons go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down…and go round and round in the circle game”
“Will the circle be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by. There’s a better home awaiting…”
Families, tribes and tongues – wheels within wheels and then again – covering all aspects.
We are not dishonoring the sturgeon. Not this weekend.
In between the stuff of life we get into, we get into more stuff that’s life giving. The line for me between “ministry” and the things we have to do day to day is not a hard edge. In the last month and a half, we have been remodeling this funky add- on house of ours. The older part dates back to the 40’s and the newer bedroom to the 90’s. After six years of staring at things we want to change and collecting info on mid century modern influence and how to do it on the cheap, we made the commitment to tear stuff up. Between the dream of what will be is a plethora of behind the wall realities.
The closet we removed from the living room to open up the kitchen view left me initially with a void outside wall with no insulation. No insulation? This is Idaho! Then I had the sinking feeling if I removed the kitchen wall – well it might be important to the health of the ceiling above. My friend Rick who is a good and experienced carpenter came by and confirmed my suspicsions. Several days of work later, we surgically installed a carrier beam above. The view is better from the kitchen now and the house will stand.
Last week I removed a previous window installation and to my chagrin, the earlier owner had left a stud sawed off with no connection below and no header (a built up beam above the window) to carry the weight of the roof above. It was more a surgery to break out enough of the inside and outside walls to make things right for double the light in windows to come. In the meantime there’s this mysterious old black electrical cable was exposed in the process. Michael, another all round carpenter, comes over with a tool to tell me it’s safe to remove it.
I am in a swirl of appreciating the process God takes us to a place he’s prepared for us from the beginning. I think staring at magazines and internet research of what will be was long in waiting and then… I got to the dirty work. Life imitates art. I am part of a small team that interprets dreams in a Hebraic way at a small cafe in town. Last week two spiritually hungry women have dramatic encounters with God because of a dream they had. For one, we stared at the walls in the dream and said “Father, something’s not right”. For this one it was easy. She’s been around our process long enough to have a fair grasp of what God was saying in the dream. She’s learning to hear the still small voice. We go fairly quickly into a Father’s blessing and some direct statements about who she is. Blessed are they that hunger…
For the other woman, the cuts into the wall had to be more precise. The slow unveiling of broken a stud leading to a lie in the foundation from childhood needed more consideration. I could touch her hands. Her eyes were nervous, like the birds that would get trapped in my woodworking shop on occasion. She said she was raped a few months ago and few knew this information. The things men do to houses. Empathy and building trust transcended the pry bar here. She could, in time, come back and pour oil on the Masters feet with her hair and eyes locked in a pool of tears and trust.
“Be careful how you build”, the apostle Paul said.
It’s 6 a.m. Monday morning. I’m driving past spring fields of verdant promise and scattered homes in Bozeman, Montana. My head is in rewind over the timeline of the weekend.
Saturday. Katie and I taught a seminar on Father’s heart and his relationship to us as becoming sons, as becoming daughters, as becoming Life giving. I spoke this over five hours with some trepidation. My inadequacy was in explaining the ocean that is the Father in love and holiness. Where was I when He laid the earth’s foundations?
Sunday morning at River Rock Vineyard left me with the same tentativeness as I approached the podium with my wife.
I had three movements of a symphony moving in my head.
“Where is the entry ramp to this, Father, or do I park it and walk in the woods?”
We muddled a bit in the woods until the musical notes came. An hour later we all cried a five hankie symphony to Father’s heart.
Katie says through six different ways I called the people to take their life to the hungry masses and not dam them up in their families and churches. Got the point across…we guess.
The back end of the meeting was a gift to us. Honor spoken to us for some decades spent in that Valley of Flowers. We filled the other hankies. We watered together. We blessed together this land and the people. Perhaps it’s greener.
It’s Monday. I’m in the retraction mode with a heart full of pollen, petals and ponder to offload. I pull off at the empty Sypes Canyon trailhead and make my way to a place where I can find aloneness with God. The trail is inviting, well worn but it’s the rocky hillside capped with peak-a-boo bare patches in the treed heights above that draws me.
Thanksgiving requires a climb. Elevation and quietness seem to be a prelude to the next moment. Hand gripping rough stone abstractly dappled with yellow and orange lichen and sweat get me a seat amidst the tenacious. Arrowleaf Balsomroot with its big bright yellow flower heads crowds the slope of these semi-arid hills of Western Montana. They tolerate a mere mortal nestled in their communal joy. I grasped at the grey green leaves of sage at my feet. I deliberately crush them to release the incense. Crushed and rubbed them on my face. It is to remember. To remember the decades of prayer alone in places like this.
I am a stranger to the angle of vista before me. The prayer, the praise, the homage seems inadequate for the valley below and sky above.
“Unto Him who sits on the throne….”
The yellow heads crane their necks up continually. They smile. They wait for who we really are.
I took an early morning walk around Surrey B.C. There is a fence between me and the object of mutual attraction – an overgrown, wild undeveloped portion of a golf course. I am relegated to the asphalt path of suburbia. It’s not the golf course that beckons but the wildness between.
I have spent the weekend working with students to coax them out of a lineal Greek thinking into a more fluid poetical thinking in order to interpret dreams. Those enigmas in the dark that throw up roots of mystery everywhere along the path of comprehension, they can only be navigated by the understanding of metaphor and parable. “How is it you do not understand?” Jesus said. He said this often.
We had wonderful, receptive students. We made headway. But today I am tired. I need a quiet place, a wilderness of Engedi.
Beyond this fence are fir trees to caress skin. The patch boggy ground would give a sure promise of wet feet. I would enjoy the hunt for the wildflowers that speak a softer tone that the domestics. I would relish startling a cranky squirrel or hearing the secret language of an old acquaintance the chickadee. There are brambles of blackberry to lightly lacerate. I would gladly give blood to this land for its life in return.
Sun patches highlight pulpits of reflection in openings. I need an opening. I remember a story. Fifty years ago an Araphoe woman threw handfuls of soil, obfuscating other voices council of straight lines of cultivation on my searching heart. As a young girl her father took her to the woods and intoned, “This is your church. You can talk to your God here anytime.”
I curse the wire, the steel and the stupefying order that separates me from the vitality on the other side.
Seems like when spring hits in northern Idaho, it’s a flood of dreams and aspirations that flow into honey do lists and my own desires of things to do when the sun finally warms the surrounding canvas of possibilities here. Yesterday, between a the knee deep investment of time in remodeling our older home and the friends that drop in, I had some time to catch up and plant some more garden.
When laying out the next row for planting Little Finger and Danvers carrots, I noticed an inordinate amount of volunteer potatoes had sprung up all over the warmed soil. No doubt they were the result of the rototiller’s claws finding what was hidden from view and rendering it to bits. I marvel at the synergy of Attention Deficit, economy and a heart to want to preserve growth in my head. I took much time to gather up the plants and dig them in their own space. I marvel at how little a scrap of potato with a reproductive eye would reveal the green leaves of what would become the positive result of the great law of sowing and reaping.
I think of God’s economy where ultimately nothing is wasted. How often to we recount the words “All things work together for good…” hoping against all hope when the final shoelace breaks. Rewinding our history with a keen eye aided by the Spirit we can see the truth of these words. HE was there at the foundations of our earth and in all the process.
I thought too of the bits of potato planted, discovered and reaped eventually in my journey. There was a time when I carried a burden for fathering on a duel level; for myself and the cosmos I find my feet planted in (I still carry that burden – maybe always will on the macro level). I remember pulling over on the Gallatin River in Montana, on my way to a morning prayer meeting, sobbing uncontrollably at the pathos of Abraham wanting a son. Genesis 15:2 wailed at me on a winding two lane road. I scrambled for a turn out to be safe with this shoot out of dry ground.
But Abram said, “Lord God, what will you give me, seeing I go childless,
and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damasus?”
Eliezer as faithful. Extraordinary as he was, he would never deep in his spiritual DNA be a son, filled with the dreams and inheritance of a real father’s blood and beating heart. I felt the longing of a greater Father over his own crown of creation.
Over the progressing years the bits of volunteer potatoes came to me on the flip side. I was looking for a spiritual father. God in wisdom sent me “drive by” fathering from a plurality of fathers. Spiritual men who I intentionally or unintentionally had a proximity
of a day or two or a few weeks. They would impart a needed piece that I would grab, shelter and hill up deep in proximity to my spirit. Spirit communicates, recognizes spirit. Deep calls unto deep. They knowingly or unknowingly contributed something toward my future harvest by being naturally spiritual in demeanor. Naturally spiritual in nature sounds causal but, far from it, it is a life set on fierce intentionality. That translates as pain. That translates as life radiating out. The meaning of father is life giver.
Nothing in a true spiritual sense grows without being broken first – really death unaligned parts of the soul. Dark nights of soul. Dark nights of the spirit. The groping toward the light and warmth above. Wheat, corn, and potatoes – precious seed going into the ground and resurrected better, more than the single precious seed that went before. “This is My body, broken for you.” Out of lives broken for the Master these men shed small pieces that I gathered up, each having a reproductive eye of wisdom, understanding or knowledge that furthered my future field.
So yesterday, I hilled up the promises of life. In the rows are not potatoes but altars of remembrance. Father, I see you more as you are in another increment. I worship at the thought of your ways.