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December 13, 2006

The Doorkeeper

Spring Hill, TN

I have been drawn back once again over the last couple of days to Psalm 84:

“How lovely is your dwelling place O Lord God Almighty. Better would be one day in your courts than a thousand days elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tent of the wicked.”

I have always considered the lowly position of the doorkeeper in this verse as if to say, “If nothing else in the eternal kingdom, I guess I will take the position of doorkeeper. I might simply just settle for doorkeeper; I would rather be there than with the wicked.”

Of all positions of honor that could be held in the royal estate, the doorkeeper seems the lowest. Yet, my perspective is changing regarding the role of the doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.

_________________


A feast has been prepared full of rich cuisine; aromas fill the house tantalizing the senses. The table is set with fine linen laid out of brilliant white beneath candelabras, stemmed crystal, gold-rimmed china, and polished cutlery of every kind. Rooms are prepared with fresh dressings, down duvets turned for the weary traveler who, once filled with the fatness of the table, can find rest. A fire in the greatest of rooms burns boldly amid the serenity and peace of this beacon of promise, welcome, and hospitality.

I love these moments of feasting, and in my youth, I would wait in eager anticipation for the first guests to arrive after they had traveled the far distance.

I run to the door upon having seen them arrive as I peer out the window for what seems an eternity fo waiting. Finally they have come. The invitations have found their mark! The recipients have followed the directions; they are not lost after all! My father is not surprised; he made the arrangements and set the time. My mother is not alarmed; she had delivered the invitations herself and made preparation for everything requiring nothing of her guests. I gladly assume the role of doorkeeper.

I never have had to be given the task of doorkeeper. In fact, I never really am aware that I am the doorkeeper. There is no special excitement evoked within me in the mere fact of knowing that I am the doorkeeper. But, as I now begin to understand what it is that the doorkeeper is aware of and what I am about to reveal to the arriving guests, my understanding begins to change. For as the doorkeeper, I am also the child who is already receiving all of the blessings and benefits within.

I run to the door, turn the knob, and swing it wide to reveal all the goodness and the fullness of the promised feast, warmth, and rest. I give to the guests the first glimpse of home as the light pours out into the street and fragrance fills the air. Those passing by see it; they smell the aroma. Some stop and take note captivated by the display: a glimpse of hope, a promise revealed, a spectacle of the goodness, the kindness, and grace of the father. Others simply walk past on their own way. The guests enter knowing who they are, for they have received the invitation. The passers-by, once having seen the wonder of the glory revealed behind the door, know that the father is good.

To be the doorkeeper, to be the child, to enjoy and bask in all the fullness of the glory of the father – this is my task; this is my dream; this is my promise! Swing wide the door of the dwelling of the Lord, O Doorkeeper. Reveal all the grace, all the fragrance, all the warmth, and all the rest the Father has to give!

July 27, 2005

Trim My Heart

Otavalo, Ecuador

Last night, I was sitting in front of the fire place with my guitar trying to write a song, and I looked down at the coffee table at the unlit candle that was sitting there. It was cold and hard, and the wick slightly buried in its own wax. I was going to need to trim it and do some minor surgery on it for it to be lit once again and burn bright.

My mind reflected immediately to my own heart at times when it is left unattended, when I haven’t been in prayer and in God’s Word. At those times, I feel my darkest; I feel broken, cold, and hard. I am buried in my own selfishness and flesh, and nothing but the flame of God’s forgiveness and grace can burn that away.

Does your heart need trimming like the wick of a candle needs to be trimmed? Have you left your life unattended by the means of God’s Grace? If so, there is probably struggle, pain, and scars buried in the selfishness of your heart. God can heal you and begin to melt those things away. Often, scars will remain, but one day, the Bible promises to those whose faith is in Jesus that “When He appears, we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!” I John 3:2,3

I pray that the lyrics of this song will both challenge and encourage you this day. It is the daily cry of my soul to my Father to Trim My Heart.

Trim My Heart

Like a candle on the table
That no longer holds a flame,
The heart left unattended
Is covered up with shame.
Nothing but a fire can bring it back again
To burn away the selfishness and sin.

chorus
Like You trim a candle, Trim My Heart
Where it’s dark and broken,
Where it’s cold and hard.
With the flame of forgiveness
Melting all the scars.
My light shines brighter,
when You Trim My Heart.

The Word of God a fire
Shining light so I can see
The Father’s hand of mercy
Cutting deep inside of me.
Through the pain and struggle He never lets me be.
He lifts me from my self and sets me free.

bridge
I know my God is faithful In the dark when I’m alone
When my candle flickers, His Word will guide me home.

written by Dan Meyers
Pilgrim Road Music ©2005 ASCAP

April 29, 2005

Thought of God

Mons, Belgium

Several months ago I was returning from a retreat with some military guys in Germany. We were trying to find the gas station and ended up on back roads seriously taking the long way home. We finally stopped and got out of the cars, unfolded the maps and tried to assess our situation.

So caught up in our seemingly desperate situation, someone suddenly looked up to notice the place we were. It was beautiful. We were next to this mature orchard of apple trees perfectly lined up and well kept. The sun was low casting long shadows across the amber/green grass. The air was warm with a cool subtle breeze breathing soft upon our skin. It was wonderful – that perfect time of day that can stay as long as it wants.

We decided we were not in any real hurry and we all climbed the bank and sat there in the cool evening in the orchard and talked and laughed and told stories. Before long, our conversation had turned to spiritual things and speaking of what God has been teaching us in our lives through His Word. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and a memory non of us will soon forget.

As we decided to have a time of prayer together and worship in this natural cathedral of God’s creation, I laid down on the grass. My forehead rested upon the back of my folded hands as one by one we lifted our hearts to our creator. Somewhere in there, I opened my eyes and focused close upon the grass and dirt in front of my face. As I breathed I could smell the grass and the dirt. I began to think of how this grass and dirt was exactly what God thought it to be when He decided to create grass and dirt. The way it looked, its color, its fragrance – it is nothing short than the very thought God had upon it creation and by its very existence it glorifies God in its abiding state.

I turned to reflect upon my life and my own desires and ambitions. I am different than the dirt and grass. Yes – I too am created by God’s hand, but made in His image and in His likeness. Made to glorify him as well – but made for relationship and communion with the Holy and Eternal God. I am made to walk with God and to talk with God and to glorify him with every part of my being in continual worship and praise – every breath a respiring adoration of God’s unfathomable goodness and perfection. Yet, because of sin’s presence, I fall short in my process of human discernment and self-centered ambition. God made mankind to process and discern, to have ambition and vision, but not outside of our first purpose to glorify Him. My humanistic discernment often is very selfish and prideful.

Then again I looked at the dirt and grass. There was no dirt discernment; no grass discernment. It was not made for relationship with God – yet it abided as God designed it to abide – for His glory. Oh that my heart would learn to abide in His Word and in His Spirit and His design for me as His child and learn how to be, how to simply be the thought of God. Go ahead and take the long way home and talk with our Lord, lay down your burdens and chase the sun to the horizon with visions that if you could run fast enough, the sun would never set. Take a dive into the river of life and swim in our God’s bountiful provisions, drink from His hand and remember how to simply be the thought of God!

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil or
spin… if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
~Matthew 6:28b-30

March 31, 2005

Abide! Abide! Abide!

Greenville, SC

“By this we know that we are in Him: the one who abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked.” ~I John 2:5b-6

Abide, Abide, Abide!!!

This word is seldom dwelt upon. It is an action verb. It has amazing repercussions in our lives if we learn its measures. Abide! It requires endurance, perseverance, and depth.

Often in our Christian living, we consider the “doing” more than the “being.” We know what the Christian life is to look like, so we set out to achieve this appearance, this practice, this accomplishment of the Christian lifestyle. We look the part, but often are far from sincerely being the abiding child of God “rooted by the rivers of water – bringing forth fruit in its proper season.” Psalm 1.

Abiding does not seem to present great action! We hardly recognize the movements of abiding. Trees abide – though they might be moved in the blowing of the wind – they remain where they were planted. Year after year they grow taller and fuller without pomp, without circumstance. We often do not recognize the change without looking at photographs which register the difference, and much to our surprise, only then do we notice the great change in height and fullness.

As we abide in God’s Word, we drink deep of the promises of God. As we abide in the Holy Spirit, we are filled with all the Spirit has for God’s children, and the Fruit of the Spirit begins to be borne upon our lived and actions in this dark world. In all this – we begin to walk in the same manner as Christ Jesus walked – in His righteous obedience to the Father’s will.

Is this not how we ought to live? We find ourselves all too often challenged to observe what a Christian is supposed to look like, reading a verse that supports this, and then provoked to go and accomplish this task. This is our own efforts toward self-righteousness, a practice despised by our Lord!

We may ask the question – “Are we not supposed to strive unto good works?” Yes – but not by our own power or perfection. For a “righteousness apart from the law is revealed…this righteousness is even that of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all that believe.” Romans 3:21.

We have become satisfied in our own strivings to produce fruit that appears to be that of the Spirit. We learn to love, have joy, be peaceful, patient, kind, gentle, good, meek, self-controlled, and trust with contrived faith in God. But if this is self-derived, it amounts to no substance. It is nothing more than mere papier-mâché fruit that when the wind and rain blows in our lives, it is left falling apart and ruined.

But the Bible says that the Spirit bears true fruit of its own perfect nature, and these are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, Self-Control, and Faith – against these things there is no Law! If we ABIDE in the Spirit, our lives will be changed, and the fragrance and beauty of the fruit will be unmatched satisfying the soul and bearing witness to the perfection and transforming power of God through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Abide in Him, and walk as He walked, and the assurance of knowing you are in Him will spring forth in your heart.

February 28, 2005

The Discerning Pallet

Greenville, SC

I enjoy cooking. In fact, as a young boy I would help my mother in small ways prepare meals for the soldiers we would host in our home throughout the week. For some reason, she would ask me to taste the sauce, soup, or gravy to see what they needed for better flavor. At first I was limited in distinguishing the need whether to salt or pepper the dish. But, as I matured in my taste I would discern the need for garlic or onion – or maybe celery. Then it was on to basil or oregano, tarragon, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg or clove. As I progressed, my own pallet became more discerning of what was in dishes that I would eat prepared at other places.

As I travel to other countries and taste their traditional foods, my mouth explodes with a variety of tastes that send my creative cooking exploits to new destinations. Through time, I have developed discernment for herbs and seasoning and can combine them to create culinary satisfactions that at least spark my taste buds if not other’s tasting fulfillment as well. I want for people to enjoy and be satisfied with a more discerning and sophisticated pallet.

It is hard to describe a home-cooked farm meal from Tuscany with all its the intricate flavors to someone whose only connection to Italian cuisine is the American Pizza Pie. But they can begin with the basic flavors. My desire is for them to go on and be taken to new placed of appreciation and understanding of food and quality.

Can you see that I enjoy food?!

But this also applies to thoughts concerning the riches of God’s Word. We start in a basic study of understanding the character of God, and we grow. We become more discerning in our pallet regarding God's truth and begin to hunger for sound doctrine. These should be natural progressions in our lives as hungry, growing believers in the rich faith we have in our Holy and Eternal God! There are times when as I am learning and growing in God’s Word, I share my heart while tasting so clearly the abundance of grace and mercy of my Lord. I long for the hearer to taste it too and hunger to taste and understand more. But in those times, I also know that I personally am only discovering a fraction of the fullness of my delight in my Lord.

II Peter chapter 1 describes how we have been given everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him. This fulfillment of our need is found in God’s Word! We have the entire market available to us where we can explore and grow in a rich discernment of the Truth of the Glory of God. But so often we settle for the bland, pre-packaged TV dinner and never understand the bounty of the promises of God. God has called His children to these promises by His own Glory and Goodness so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires.

So – "Add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, it will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus. But, if anyone does not have them, he is near-sighted and blind and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins." – II Peter 1:5-9.


"Grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." ~ II Peter 3:18

January 28, 2005

This Light

Aniak, Alaska

I sit at the window looking over the cold, fleeced ground – snow hovering low under pines reflecting dark against the winter periwinkle sky. All expectations rest on the hope of spring – a distant hope, and the sun rides slow and low on the edge of the earth. The shades and colors become so clear against the vast whiteness that surrounds. And I think of home – far south where winter rarely subdues all life and color; where my eyes never rest from the variety of shades through seasons that provide most everything but the white of winter. How wonderful color is.

In the dark winter of Alaska, color is only evident for only a small part of the day reminding me that there is only color with the presence of light. The spectrum carries every shade providing all color that would be reflected from any object. Without light there is not color.

I was sitting on my back patio at the end of last summer in South Carolina on a particularly cool evening. The colors where amazing at every turn. The crape myrtles where vibrant pink, the flowers in the raised beds were deep blue and yellow surrounded by brown bricks against the backdrop of lush green woods and grass. As the sun set, the color became less and less apparent until only vague shadows remained. I tried to imagine the colors that had disappeared, and even in my best remembrance they began to fade in my mind with the sun.

In the darkness, I created my own landscape of color and truth. I could imagine an autumn forest, and brown grass; orange flowers surrounded by red bricks. I then began to get cold and began to search for something warm to comfort me. I felt around and found something soft, warm, something that felt as if it would cover me and wrap me up. Ah – this is good for me! This is what I need. As I lay there, light suddenly appeared allowing me to look around and see. It was not autumn – it was summer. The trees were not shades of golden color – but rather green and the grass, lush and new. The flowers were blue and yellow, the brick – brown, and as I stood and looked down at my borrowed blanket, I realized it was mud! My own truth was shattered by the light. I could not deny what the light revealed. But this mud was good for me – it brought me comfort. Yes – in the darkness I thought it did. But now in this glorious light – the truth is revealed and for me to deny what the light proves to be true is to call the light a lie! Oh how I desire to embrace what now I see! I cannot help but confess what surrounds me in this light!

And so it is in the heart of man. “We look for light, but there is only darkness – for brightness, but there is only blackness. We grope for the wall as if we are blind; we grope as if we had no eyes. We stumble at noonday as if it were twilight; we are as dead men in desolate places” – Isaiah 59:9,10. “The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light” – Isaiah 9:2. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” – 1 John 1:5. “In Him was life; and the life was the light of man” – John 1:4. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ forgives us for out sin” 1 John 1:7. In darkness, I created my own truth and could not see what the light revealed. But then God opened my eyes, and I could not help but confess everything in the light of truth.

If God has opened your eyes and brought you from darkness to light to reveal His glorious gospel of hope and salvation, confess all that His light reveals. Your sin that you so happily robed yourself in is not a royal ermine robe; it is vile and dirty – the light reveals it – you must confess it! The blood of Jesus will forgive you. The glory of God, His righteousness and holiness are not distant religious imaginings – this is the character of our creator God. Confess it and discover true life and the promises of God! All things have become new – in this light!

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12

November 20, 2004

Tiles

Heidelberg, Germany

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” ~Philippians 4:11b, 13


I had the opportunity some time ago to visit the Sistine Chapel in The Vatican City inside Rome. Michelangelo’s amazing work is displayed across the ceiling and droves of visitors enter the chapel’s doors every year to gaze upward at this marvelous wonder only later to leave in desperate need of a chiropractor.

But I had determined years before that I would take a significant amount of time to look upon the artistic tiling of the chapel floor. Think of it – unknown, unrecognized, yet very talented artisans spent hours upon hours on their knees laying these tiles in beautiful patterns. There was incredible thought and creativity put into their work and incredible skill only to have millions walk upon it and never notice while gazing at the “greater” and “more significant” work above.

I began to wonder what kind of tile I would like to be if in fact that was my purpose for existence. The Sistine Chapel might be nice for setting – but not so nice in the fact that I would not only be stepped on by disinterested patrons – but completely ignored! But perhaps worst of all would be a tile on a dirty bathroom floor, or perhaps in a dark closet or a forgotten room. No – I would rather be a tile in a ballroom where there is music and dancing and celebration, or even better, a tile at the foot of a king’s throne where knights are given honor and kings are crowned; where laws are decreed and mercy is granted.

But tiles are a curious thing. Regardless of their shape, size, or placement, a tile’s function is the same: to provide a hard, secure surface in order to provide a strong support for all who enter the space. If even one tile is missing in any place, be it a closet or the finest of rooms, it is missed, and the owner quickly seeks to replace that tile.

And so it is in our lives as men and women created in God’s image. We are made to glorify God by our very existence and enjoy His presence. God places us in different places – some more prominent than others, but our purpose is still the same, and it is never diminished. If I were lifted from the closet floor ad placed in a royal throne room, my purpose has not changed nor has the King’s delight in me! Even so, if the King chooses to take me from my place of comfort and place me in a darker corner, it is for His delight and for His purpose and our purpose is still the same – His Glory!

Rejoice in the place God has placed you, and be content with little or with much!

“My God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be Glory for ever and ever. Amen.” – Philippians 4:19, 20