FaithFUL

So I understand the rationale behind and the reality of holding your tongue.  We are in a battle and giving free rein to your thoughts, esp. your complaints is letting your shield down to the enemy.  Thoughts are natural, common to the human race.  Letting the tongue, a little thing prone to evil, take over is a problem.

So my issue today folks is twofold.  First is well, how do folks, especially members of the body of Christ connect without honest communication?  Sign language?

Second, yes, I would rather be touting God’s attributes than my own problems, but what about in the case of desperation?  Emergency even?  I need a life raft.  I know you’ve got one.  So…do I say God is good all the time!..and expect verbalizing that to get me a life raft?  Maybe..

Regrettably, if we’re being honest, this life is meant to be lived by faith.  Now wake me up when you figure this one out.  All I know are words like perseverance, patience, hope.  None of these are walk in the park concepts to be actualized.  I myself am even catapulted from such vocabulary to make statements like scripture is not as useful as I once thought.

But yes, I just reread about the character Faithful from Pilgrim’s Progress, who was martyred in the town of Vanity Fair for upsetting the usual fanfare with proclaiming truth as the only commodity he would buy.  Reminds me of Jesus saying in Revelation that he “who is faithful unto death” will be given a crown of life.

Well as our protagonist Christian and Faithful are coming upon Vanity Fair, their friend Evangelist tells them that he who stands firm til death will be the better off between them because he will arrive to the Celestial City first.  Well, Faithful seemingly grabs the opportunity to go home, openly defies the townspeople, is executed and is escorted out of there via fiery steed and golden chariot!

Jesus is big on longevity.  A Long Obedience in the Same Direction – Eugene Peterson.  The folks who get to judgment to say “Lord, Lord” are the ones to which He will say He never knew.  Because He had in mind not so much flash in the pan so as everyday hand to the plow, not looking back.  I mean, we’re surrounded by a “great cloud” of witnesses, not to mention our own family.  Let’s put the millstone and the depths of the sea behind us, please. We don’t want anyone to get hurt. 😉

So I get faithFUL but it seems a bit different than exhibiting faith.  The former to me says steadfast, tough, standing the test of time.  The latter suggests more of an attitude, that may have to last a long time, but it banks on what is unseen, and lives accordingly.  Also, faith seems to be about preparation.  I believe Abraham had to wait in faith a while for a son in order to prepare him for the test that lay in wait.  And what stakes!  All those sand on the seashore descendants to come!

We also are taught faith is connected with righteousness..the Lord’s righteousness no less.  Maybe Abraham’s faith was converted to righteousness in some way because of the enormity and duration of the assignment.  But later on, we are taught that “the righteous must live by faith”, which is amazing to me because our righteousness is imputed, given by Jesus himself through his blood.  So in essence, Abraham’s faith is turned on it’s head because of the New Covenant and establishment of God’s kingdom on earth…NOW IT’S NOT THE ONES WITH FAITH WHO ARE GIVEN RIGHTEOUSNESS, BUT IT IS THE RIGHTEOUS WHO ARE GIVEN FAITH…as a charge.

And faith is about repeating the overused phrase, “I can’t complain”.  Because to complain is to doubt, and that is simply not faith.  So I submit that this is the nicety that should be employed regularly.  This one is real.  When I say God is on His throne, when I really need to talk to someone, it is true and wise, but I think faith in this instance is having the boldness to ask for help.  The tongue is dangerous, yes, but where it begins is in the heart.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it.”

However…David found it profitable to ask the Lord for clean hands AND a pure heart!  From a washed heart of stone made flesh, yes, the tongue can proclaim good, even wonderful things.

Prioritize your Passion

I have a complex maybe you share.

If you’re a believer in Christ, you may know the verse, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.   My issue is in seeing fear of the Lord not as a conduit but as an end in itself.  I often times don’t feel like I graduate into wisdom, but stay stuck, not in what I believe God can do or in who He is, but just plain being afraid, and ashamedly annoyed by God.

I just heard a good sermon on fear.  The end is what struck me.  While anticipating a surprising ending like in The Untouchables, and so many others, the body of the sermon was about God being with us, keeping a firm grip on our little hands.  I get that.  But what got me was what David did when he was in the wilderness, for example, hiding and fleeing from the king’s anger toward him.  Psalms sprang up out of these moments! Why?  Because David’s PASSION was the Lord himself (not His attributes, or gifts, kindness, etc.), and because David intentionally remembered that this was his primary passion, namely Jesus.

My question is, how does this work? How do you give wings to your passion when you know The Lord is obviously with you, so much that you cower from and try to block out His still, small voice?  Maybe you blog.  :).  Or compose music, art…Create a distraction?

Well I will say confidently enough that David wasn’t writing music (creating his art) for a fanbase in search of a recording label.  It wasn’t entirely utilitarian.  I daresay it wasn’t even in search of a blessing. Protection? Yes. But David’s heart was just a God seeker.

I submit to you that David was simply going back to the well, tapping into His source and drinking the water that doesn’t stop quenching.

Ah so the. hook…what can be gleaned here?  

I’d say it’s a matter of direction.  Like when you’re afraid, which direction do you go?  Fight or flight?  It seems to me David was showing us a 3rd, or maybe 1and2 combo approach…  Flee the impending trouble, and boldly enter the throne room with confidence. Can’t successfully have one without the other. 

So…sounds like some other, large body of people we remember. 

THEM: Why should we die here of starvation, when back in captivity, at least our bellies were full? 

It sounds like David had to think quick – Seek the Lord’s emminent deliverance, maybe somewhat miraculous…  Or figbt with Saul, who was in hot pursuit.

For David it was no question.  He had seen God’s mighty hand and known His presence for years.  Why would he not throw himself at the Lord’s mercy?  The Lord was his passion, his very great reward, his sun and shield. 

No, he couldn’t…no we can’t..see King Jesus with our eyes, yet.  But we do know how our eyes can betray us.  David wasn’t worried when he could see Goliath, or the lion or bear for that matter, right in front of him.  And consider the vision examples throughout Scripture: John the Baptist’s father Zechariah losing his eyesight for a time bc of what?..unbelief.  Paul on his way to Damascus: led by the hand because he couldn’t see, probably so he wouldn’t blow off Jesus’ appearance as a hoax..  And the blind man Jesus healed, on the Sabbath, as to intentionally put a stumbling block in the religious teachers’ law observance, because of their unbelief.

Do the math.  Saul had no goodness left in him because of this malicious spirit in him.  God…the ‘other’ king required of David trust, remembrance of the past, confidence in the future… 

To us, avoiding Saul is the easy answer.  But God was asking David to think.  No true or false here.

And God very well may have made a request of David, maybe a difficult one…  

My point is, being an overcomer is not the simple task of choosing the right button to push.  Much prayer is needed, humble reliance upon divine grace, that is, submitting and resisting.  You know, challenging stuff like trust and obey…for there is no other way…to be free.

Now I’m not an expert on how much free will we need at a given time and how much reliance on God, or how all this works.  I do know “the zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this”.   “Do not worry child, for your Father has been pleased to give you the keys to the kingdom.”  I’m sure this last one increases blood pressure all around, but does having this about the keys said to you make you squirm with joyful longing or anxiety.?

The praise song says “Give us one pure and holy passion”.  

In the book of Revelation Jesus urges us to return to our first love.

Me..?  I’m not sure how to cultivate my passion.  Maybe I’m just starting to identify it.  I know part of my passion is blogging…about passion 🙂

My main tactic is to try to plan for the times that are most stressful or disappointing or whatever, and work in on your calendar a block there for your passion.  If you need to use a larger or different color marker for the striking out I’m ok with that.

If strumming and singing isn’t enough, then learn some new chords or scales.

“At the end of the day you’re a another day older”

– Les MIserables

The Key to Hope

What’s your focal point?…your joyful memory or teaching for example that keeps you going?

Do you have an Ebenezer? (Pile of stones to commemorate God acting in your life at some point)

Do you listen to the Holy Spirit, communicating maybe one point of joy, in your time of need?

Do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus’, as you attempt to walk on water…to Him?

Maybe you’re like me, wanting a bit of each of these, like a recipe of devotionals you’re accustomed to digesting rather transluscently.

There’s also the need of those around us.  Are you good at taking yourself out your perspective, reminded that your personal growth is merely a strutter sharing the stage.

What’s MY motivation?  Better yet, why do we need a motivator?  Shouldn’t we, like our Latin American neighbors for example, be so wrapped up with each other in community that caring for one another is what’s normal.  Much more than me me me.

One thing I take away from Jesus’ time on earth, is He offered a potpourri of solutions, almost as if he were tailor making the solutions for the individual He was ministering to.  To the rich man, “sell everything you own”.  To the lepers, “Go show yourself to the priest”.  To many, “Do you want to be healed?”

We know better than to call Him a chameleon.  I think He was communicating his humanity.  ‘Believe it or not, I DO feel what you feel.  I AM obeying the law perfectly.  I DO need to stay connected with the Father.’ 

Jesus himself is the answer to the hope symbol.  But isn’t His multifaceted wonderfulness enough to draw us away from wanting just one good reason, or one good idol?  

For me, I’m wanting to grow in my awareness of his humanity.  It’s easy to know Him as Lord and Master, but brother and friend is more challenging for me.  It reminds me of a friend I made in college.  

It was a big school so a bit difficult to make Christian friends.  He was certainly a big man on campus, so when he first picked me up to go play Frisbee it definitely made me feel like I was someone, or at least that I was WITH someone.

The early church was built on the foundation of men and women who had been WITH the Savior.  So we must remember that we ARE someone when we remember that we can still spend time with him.

Ah.  There’s the ticket.  Don’t look for the right devotional or mind tickler.  Maybe if you’re like me, that’s your idea of spending time with Jesus.  But it must go deeper.  

I’m not gonna preach that we need to pray more, gain more knowledge, or find any skeleton key that unlocks the door to progress.

One thing I do know is we need each other.  So message me with your thoughts.

SO I talked to my shrink…

…and he cured my Corona virus! At least the fear of it…or at least my awareness of it…for 20 minutes.

So I’ve dabbled in the magic arts, ergo online counseling. Started well enough. Just like the shrink at home…pointed questions dwelt on, unnecessary reminders of stuff we talked about last week, jostling office items around during our session, etc.

Yeah so the term shrink it turns out does not refer to the size of your problems. But I did get a hat and a ring with my shrink’s initials on them. anyway…

Word to the wise, avoid larger scope issues and get down to the nitty gritty…symptoms. Why? Because shrinks are adept at this issue, and they love talking about them.

And what else makes a good shrink? 10 minutes late starting equals 20 minute (not 30) session!

He was nice tho. Had a nice southern drawl.

Tapping the Divine – Better or Worse?

Would Moses have gone to Egypt more willingly had he had a smaller sea to practice on parting?
Would Noah have built the amazing boat had he known for sure somehow he was gonna be justified for his actions?

Do you ever think life would be better if we could get an idea, just a glimpse maybe of what God’s up to?

A trusted friend recently told me upon answering a deep theological question about knowing God’s will…”well…it’s a mystery.”

Upon him saying that it felt like honey on my tongue. That we can all lean back, and do without having to know why.

But then maybe the doing is not so independent of the why.

Me…def spinning my wheels like ever. I feel like I’m finally gaining ground, then the door of woeful challenges slams on my foot. Just as I’ve started to figure out the formula. ‘Do such and such by 9am. When you decide to fast, make sure not to cheat. Work harder in the morning to make the evening lighter.’

I’m sure we can all identify with the struggle of productivity. But…when we ache to get behind the scenes for a second, couldn’t that just speed things along?

O yeah. God’s timing isn’t ours. He is slow to anger (very grateful). He transcends time and space. I’m glad we have a personal being in all of this, but the book of Ecclesiastes tells us our lives are just vapors, in and out. So..where does the nicety of God maybe being slower to act then we are come in?

One thing I’m sure I learned from Divine prompting is the concept of when you need to turn around, do it as quickly as possible. Don’t wait for things to make sense, or the feel like it to come in. Act in faith…Preaching to the choir I”m sure. Bc when the lights go out you just gotta follow the sound of your friend’s voice.

But then, maybe in God’s sovereign thought process, I was meant to find the last task a bit too sudden and huge to be completed at the drop of a hat. So…here I am getting some blogging done. Feels like a whiny session but then we all like to whine a bit at times right?

I read earlier that Hope is what makes the light of the tunnel big enough to be worth following, or maybe important enough. The fear of death propels many of us to keep striving for life. But here, rather the hope that all things will be new can enrapture us.

I’ll close on this idea. The theological term, Immanuel means God with Us. Us faithful Christmas lovers all know that. But have you thought on John’s revelation considering the term Immanuel? Mind-blowing. 

Immanuel is both the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth part I, AND the beginning of Jesus’ life on earth part II. When we die we go to heaven, but when our bodies are resurrected and the old earth’s time is spent, we won’t go to heaven. Heaven will come to us! The New Jerusalem! God With Us!

The Battle of the nudge

Every man’s battle is not mine and mine is not theirs. Theirs may be more feasible than mine or vice versa. So what is it that makes it EVERY man’s?

My vote is we all come from the same, personal, artist, i.e., one who initiates and develops a craft. So if we are family, then we must have something to talk about. I’m leaning toward the nudge. Lol.

What is the nudge you ask? I say to you it is the very reason behind you having that question to ask. If you don’t know what it is, you’ve been frozen half your life, or you’re stuck in that old river de-nile.

Should we heed this moving of our seeming conscience? Would it make us look crazy?..Feel crazy?..or wind up being much ado about nothing, likening our chances to fight it off harder the next time it surfaces?

..and it will resurface. When I’m in the dentist’s chair, at the grocery store, virtually any public place where I could reveal my inner ability to speak to strangers.

Well…what if I don’t want it to come back around? Can I take pills to make it go away? Can I do more cardio, more intensely? Can my counselor/pastor/podcaster help it subside?

Jesus chimed in. 2 sides, no middle ground. Try the other. See where it gets you.

Sure makes me coming back for more. But then Jesus…why do you ask so much of me, how do you expect me to carry a cross every day? I know you did, but that was You (God), not me.

Couple things I know about the nudge. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going! Soon all those around are warmed with its glowing.” That is when a tiny grain of faith takes the worry off of me, and becomes the gratitude for we.

So…if alot of good tends to come from a little, seems like I would be busier. No answer for that one just now. But I do need to check out one more podcast..

More than feelings..(take your meds!?)

Maybe a good teaser for a monologue about how as John Locke put it, “Love is the act of making the other better”.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that quote. But I digress. The angle I wanted to steer toward has to do with moderate to severe mind altering (LEGAL!) medications.

Now I have a friend who struggles with anxiety pretty bad. But he refuses meds because he “wants to be able to feel”. I totally get that. I admire that. But I guess my approach could be said as “I want to be able to feel the meds”.

Disclaimer: the aforementioned individual pastors a large church. I take care of a dog and a rather unruly roommate. I mention this because it seems unethical for someone in his position, esp. of accountability to try out mood altering pills. But for me…Bring on the crucible! Forge me in the fire of experimentation…And I wonder why I have this kind of time on my hands.

Let’s see…point for this entry. Probably that I lose my thought if I write more than 10 words per sentence. :/. Humor aside. I gotta admit my admiration for my friend def leads me to see the grass as greener on his side of the fence. My meds certainly help me through the day, and they help me not get in trouble (later episode). But I’ve always thought, when I take a med that actually works pretty well, I’m cheating, I’ve got the code to save the princess!…and I’m not sharing.

Here’s the thing though…If you have any reverence for the Holy Book (Word of God, the Bible), you may know the letter to the Ephesian church mentioned that those of us who are “In Christ”, they are already seated, in their spirit, “in the heavenlies. To me this means, the spiritual world is, albeit far fetched to our unwilling imaginations, more real than what we see, touch, taste and feel. When Jesus said to store your treasures in heaven, he wasn’t talking about stuff you wait til the end of your life to deposit. No, you got auto deposit, so get it in gear.

the tough thing to grapple with is, are my meds hindering my looking above? My testimony is I’ve been doing a sort of evangelism lately, briefly encountering folks at public places. Now mind you, this work unnerves me to death. When I’m afraid, I cry out, go look for a bandaid. Fear rooted in alot of lack of faith, or in my pride, or unwillingness to learn. Point I’m trying to make, is I’m not gonna sit here and say there is no drug that can help. Clearly no drug can solve the problem. But there are some out there that will mask things pretty well or well enough at times.

My housemate and I were just talking about how Jesus came not only for the sick…but within that category He included…sinners, probably even equated the two categories. So be encouraged that if you do have a debilitating, in this case, mental struggle, you are strong in God’s kingdom. But sinners, even more. I know in my case my sin so often is an addendum to my sickness taking its toll on me. It doesn’t have to go that way. I can make better, on time choices. “But when we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father”.

Me, I’ve tried the med-free life, for a time, til it got tough. But this entry is not about whether or not to ingest a pill. Just wondering, Paul said to fix our eyes on Christ. That makes me so often visualize myself straight up raising my stare off the pavement and onto Jesus’ eyes, like Peter leaping out of the boat. And Jesus, always pressing the other side of the envelope. Did He say to Peter, I commend you for your faith? Know, Jesus was the rock that he is, speaking to the rock of the church in training. Don’t lose faith, Peter. Don’t put your hand to the plow and let go.

as far as psychosomatic meds go, keep an open line with your doc, or switch to one you can talk to. If you want to get off of stuff, do it the doc’s way. But in all things keep in mind, the place being prepared for you, for all of us sealed by the Holy Spirit, is our clear and present reality. Not depression, not anxiety or grief…not principalities, nothing can separate us from our Father’s love.

and turn to him when things get hard. for me, I’m a bit of a whiner. I can’t bring myself to pray in hard times bc my pride gets in the way. I say things like,”it’s no use saying I’m sorry…again. I’ve just gotta change my behavior”. All along forgetting that changed behavior begins on your knees.

One last thought…I love discovering new implications of Christ fulfilling the law. That is, sinners in Jesus’ day were they who Jesus spent time with, partly to stick it to the Pharisees and their religion with the law. But also to show He was the one who could forgive sins, mostly evidenced by a miracle. But also, to fulfill the original fall of man from the garden. Sinners are sinners because they are born under the law, and often times because they have little to no hope of cleaning up.

If you think you’re a sinner who is dependent on Prozac and the like, be encouraged. Hillsong in my fav song King of Kings sings “then from heaven you came running. there was mercy in your eyes”. Mercy has triumphed over judgment bc judgment has not understood it. What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”. Keep your eyes on Jesus and lock your car. In other words, keep taking your meds. Lord sabaoth, King of Angel Armies will make a way.

wisdom for getting…

..Back in the saddle again

Will I ever not be afraid of good works?

Remember –

•  if He is for us who can be against us?

• Greater is He who is in us

• He is strong to save.  He rejoices over us with singing.  We can come straight to the throne room bc He loves us.

• He has plans to prosper us, not to harm.

• He gave us a spirit of love, of adoption (more difficult than blood child), not spirit of fear.

• Love covers a multitude of sins.

• Think on things that are pure, peaceable…glass half full

• Concentrate on the future – on HOPE – PREPARE!!!

obedience and trust

am I alone in seeing these words, “the way to happiness in Jesus” as to be the most arduous words in scripture?

“it’s the same old story…no guts no glory”.

I have observed there are times when this flows. But the vast majority of my time is spent cowering from the first step. After all, the first step unveils the invisible bridge. But it’s the enduring perseverance that wields the holy grail.

As a kid, I never quite grasped the benefit of obedience, or that trust was found inside obedience. I reasoned that the disobedience was more fun or interesting, or just cool, or even that it was uncontrollable at a certain point.

I love how in the New Testament how Paul admonishes Timothy to not be afraid of a youth (himself) instructing this elders. This gives a “know it all” like me hope. Maybe I shouldn’t trust parental or peer wisdom so much as that from God in me.

But then I gotta get folks to bounce ideas off of. Bc I surely wouldn’t want to go on some voice in my head, right? Thankfully I don’t have to obey these folks or their advice, but I desperately yearn for someone who understands where I am.

But God made us so uniquely wonderful that this wish may never come. Maybe the safety in many counselors is inerrant in that we should not be seeing safety, over faith at least.

I had a friend of a friend who died recently, who was known to obey nearly every idea that came across his brain. Now obviously that is impossible, but what a concept of remaining open to God’s nudges. my guess is that what he deemed achievable was what came to fruition, while the completely outlandish were exiled to the occasionally.

the only conclusion I can offer, is trust and obey when you hear God nudge you in the little things. this will bring confidence for accomplishing those bigger things.

Crime and time..

Who remembers being grounded? Serving time in the room for something you feel destined to repeat. Seeing that correspondence carry out to adulthood can spell disaster. As adults, time away means time lost, in our vocations, relationships. after all, we don’t know when our last day will come, or when God will come back, assuming we’re not talking about sabbatical.this time lost can lead to setbacks psychologically, or at worst, road blocks without seeming detours. life is full time, part time being too demanding with the stops and starts.

But what about being or getting in over your head? Can a drowning man swim his way out? His mercies are new every morning, but when apathy starts to return to life, will we care? one might ask as did David Bryrne, “well, how did we get here?” Have your retraced your steps to the last place you remember having it somewhat put together?

We must be vigilant, but there are certainly times when this idea doesn’t pay the bills. So…take it one day at a time. baby steps. Sing praise to your Creator, “in the middle of your enemies”. Resolve to faithfulness in handing the battle back to who it belongs to,
God. Perhaps, be vigilant in the little things, remembering we will not, we can not be trusted with larger things without first being faithful to baby steps.