“Everybody has a plan til they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

What about below the belt?  What’s your secret of getting back on the horse when you fall off and get kicked in the face?

I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ parables that took their form to sink in only with those who had “ears to hear”, namely his disciples, although even they didn’t get it much of the time.  So my question is what do we take away from his teachings that we know can’t be followed literally?  Ex. Plucking your eye out or cutting your hand off when it causes you to sin.  Was he just stressing the importance of self care, the opposite of which can leave us astray?

Surely, when the people heard these things, like you must “eat my flesh and drink my blood”, they must have felt punched in the mouth.  ‘He’s a healer, magician, def a teacher, but then how to we take these difficult teachings?’  Is He still our Lord and master when He seems like He’s setting us up to be torn down?

My only answer is He was trying to teach the reality and depth of destruction Hell holds for those who seek their own will instead of His.  By laying down a hierarchy with Hell at the top of the worst, He must have meant yes, there’s a cost to be counted in being His disciple, but the cost is nothing compared to losing your soul.

George MacDonald said in a poem, “it won’t seem difficult at all to follow your guide when you look down from heaven”.  This quote has kept me going recently.  Thing is, the hope of glory is our strength, but when we don’t cultivate that hope,  we begin to wonder if it’s worth it when we’re in the throes of hardship. 

How many times have I thought, ‘I may as well go to hell bc I can’t get past this awful addiction.’  We think in the now, thinking future planning too difficult when the now feels too real.  

Another thought I have is, “God, if you were cruel enough to create Hell, and to send more of your children there than to Heaven, then I might as well go to Hell bc I’m not sure I want to be with a deity who does that.”  The thing I keep coming back to is my old pastor, Randy teaching us about the Lord’s supper: “If you’re not in Christ, this meal is not for you.  If you’re blatantly living your own life in disregard of His calling, this meal is not for you.  But if you fall and get back up, fall and get back up, fall and get back up, this meal is for you.”

All we can do is keep fighting often times, especially when the only progress we see is coming back to getting back up.  Proverbs says, “the righteous man falls 7 times in a day.  But he gets back up”.

The devil has a plan too, until we submit to God and resist him.  Then he is the one with the punch in the mouth.

The Business of Ministry & the ministry of business

Where do we start?  Why are we trying to remake ourselves, get to the other side?

If we’re in ministry, we tell our financial supporters what business (aka busyness) our work is about.  “Well we offer after school tutoring, relationships, and Bible studies!”  But not all necessarily in that order, lest we return to the question of the title of this writing.

If we are highly ranked in Great Britain we might be the Prime Minister.  What business he must attend to!

So…It boils down to what an entity calls itself right?  Or is it more about what the entity does?

Maybe it’s about playing vs. working…all work and no play makes for dullness.  All play and no work turns the play into work.  Ah…but what if the work were turned into play!

What if the effort were all in the ride’s dragging our fat butts up the first uphill ascent?  After that, it’s pretty much up to momentum.  My guess is that we make our grand evolution based on what the ride was, not is.

Is is painful.  It’s unknown, unfamiliar, random…exciting!…adventurous!…and chaotic.

Was is more objective – ‘you were on that ride right beside me.  What did you think?  Mighty fun right?’…’uh right’.  

Ok so objective, nor even concrete have the last word.  But regardless of how it was in the moment, it was an experience…to remember.

So bust out that camera embedded into your telephone and “capture” the moment, so it can be “released” into an experience.

I have been pontificating lately on St. Paul’s admonition to the church to “take every thought captive, to the obedience of Christ”.  This adds another dimension to our conception of the Holy Spirit, does it not?  I mean, what happened to sensing and acting, you know, like the Jedi knights!

For me, my litmus test has become, if it’s scary and hard, it must be the right thing to do.  This too must be held captive, because an experience without a reference point, aka obeying Christ, is just that, an experience, a photo (not even with a real camera that you twist and stuff).

Pharmakeia?..or just Pharmaceuticals?

I was introduced to the concept of Pharmakeia by a friend who reiterates the directive given to him by his acting psychiatrist at the time.  My friend asked why was he being prescribed medication for what was called a psychosis.  The doctor replied, “For people like you”.

Sounds scary but is this attitude indicative of modern psychiatry?

So, Pharmakeia, as described by my friend is the idea that pharmaceuticals carry the potency of witchcraft.  As one myself who is dependent on psychiatric meds, I beg to differ bc of how I see the drugs help.  But does that mean that the pills are not witchcraft?

I suppose I should consult a witch doctor.  After all, I’d probably get a more thorough response than from most psychiatrists.  Thankfully my current doc is out of the norm, thoughtfully probing and diagnosing very logically.  I like how he says, “it’s not the diagnosis that matters so much as finding the right meds for the symptoms”.

 A friend has engraved it upon my mind that, “it’s your body.  You need to have the last word for what goes into your body”.  His thoughts have propelled me into more research before blindly accepting my doc’s advice.  But still I wonder, what about the notion of witchcraft?  Can it be ruled out so easily?

Last time I tried to go off all my meds, I foolishly did it all at one time.  It felt really weird for a while, then calmed me down, giving me a renewed vigor for life.  (After a few days I collapsed mentally and restarted the meds immediately).  I was starting to buy in to the witchcraft idea.  The first doctor that diagnosed me, at Vanderbilt, said I definitely had schizophrenia and (the dagger) he said I should never engage in a religious vocation.

Now, psychiatrists move quick.  They have a long waiting list and time is money, and they are not counselors, so you gotta be willing to talk symptoms and meds in a short amount of time.  He changed my diagnosis to bipolar to schizoaffective and back to schizophrenia (just for obtaining government benefits).  But again, he wasn’t out to go by the book more than to listen to me.  That’s why I’ve stuck with him for years.

I’m a Christian, and the spiritual forces at work in my and our world can be brutal.  But especially how it all affects our mental health.  My doctor doesn’t subscribe to talking spiritual, probably  with good reasons, like lack of time.  But I know I am comprised of more than a seemingly broken brain.  I am a child of God, made in God’s image, with His spirit living in me.  

So, at one point I tried another psychiatrist who is Christian.  Well, I quickly returned to the first because the Christian doc wanted me off all pharmaceuticals, replacing with natural supplements.  Needless to say this was preposterous and didn’t come close to a beneficial result.

But maybe he took that approach for a reason.  Pharmakeia reason?

I tend to think I’ll be on meds for life.  I guess I’m half and half on the witchcraft idea, but I know how I get without meds, and I tend to believe more in a good future for myself when taking the meds.

For me, the pharmakeia lies in trying to get me unstable by skipping or foregoing meds.  Lies, lies, lies.

What’s your experience with mental health medication?  Some swear only by natural sources like marijuana or mushrooms among other home remedies.

One thing that peaks my interest in Pharmakeia is how the doc tells you said drug will take 2-3 weeks to really work.  My experience has always seen the meds work the best when I first take them, as if the shock to my system is all that counts.  Waiting for weeks doesn’t help anybody.  Maybe the doc is selling you a line to get some pills off the shelves.

I think about Jesus’ response to the coin found in the fish’s mouth…”render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”.  That is, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Such things are too complex to figure out definitively.  We must pray for each other, and meet together.

“Where one or more are gathered, there I am.”

Testing the Spirits

“for many spirits have gone out into the world, and not all of them are from God”.

I’m writing this one today mainly to sort out something for myself.  Hope it applies to you and of course please reply if it does…

So I’ve been told up and down that when I feel a spiritual message, to test it.  This advice is clearly in the Bible, but how to test it is the rub of my writing.  The wisdom I’ve been given is to test the spiritual message with Scripture, because the Holy Spirit always agrees with God’s text.  Makes sense right?  Bc we believe the God who inspired the Bible is the same as the Spirit who is our guide today.

But of course, I’m sure you can attest…we can get a lot of messages and many can be something like…”you should stop and eat something now”…or “you should leave your job before finishing, bc your faith is more important”.  You know, stuff that we just don’t know how to align with the Bible’s teachings.

One thing I know always helps is verbalizing the messages we’re getting to a trusted friend.  One such friend I have confesses that he shares because “his dashboard is busted”…inherently, so he needs others to help with guidance, or interpretation.  So yes!, when I do talk it out with someone sensitive to spiritual things, and Scripture, I often see these messages I’m getting as, more often than not, plain silly, or sometimes even blasphemous.  (I know right, like why couldn’t I have seen the blasphemous ones coming?!)

So my question is, where does Scripture say that it is the scale, or mirror to hold up to spiritual messages?  One I can think of is “all scripture is God-breathed and useful for every good work”.  2 Timothy.  Learned it in College Bible class.  But it still leaves me hanging a bit.  I would say, ultimately, trusting Scripture, and other things, like God in general boil down to a question of faith.  

In the moment I ask myself, “Do I believe God is speaking right now?”  Most times, I would say yes, but it still sounds outlandish.  Like today, when I felt compelled to leave my sweeping duty for my parents, who actually paid me something for it, because my faith, or prioritizing to be more specific, was more important than finishing what I said I would do, and doing a good job.  Naturally, I bucked, responding to the spirit, “no I’m gonna do what I said I was going to do, and I’m gonna do a good job”.  Sounds like a solid defense right?…until the spirit keeps on, and on, until I surrender my notion that it couldn’t be God asking such an unusual request. So I yield, or ignore…

We MUST remember 2 things:

1- That Satan, our adversary masquerades as an angel of light.  He likes to sound like God, and most likely he likes it when we keep things to ourselves. 

2- That our help comes from God.  So even when we verbalize our struggle to someone else, that doesn’t solve everything.  After all, it often just paints you out to sound like a loon.  I often elicit others to pray for me, bc in one or more there is power, and also bc I don’t expect others to be the voice of God, illuminating a perfect wisdom about what my radio is receiving.

 A third, I would say of honorable mention, is “know that you know that you know”.  In other words, when you’re unsure, stick to what you already know, like…you know you gotta test the unction, you know you have certain bible knowledge for measuring (that the Holy Spirit WILL remind you of in perfect timing), that if right, it must be something God foreordained you to do, and that He is a God of infinite understanding.  So, if you don’t do the right thing then, He will make sure you get the tools to do it next time. And in time, you may get a hunger for doing the right thing.

This is when it IS such a relief to know we do have God’s words in a book, even if the related passages require faith to be understood as a road map.  And the important thing is that our faith develop, get stronger.  And if we do stray off the path, God is still on the throne, and He will use the bad for your good in the end, if you are His child.  (You know who you are!)  And I suggest that His spirit will remind us that God is always at work, whether behind the scenes or in them!  He always gets the last word, and even our temptations, even the ones we fall to or struggle with overcoming, are tools in his kit of molding us into something great!

Like right now, I could sit here thinking about time I’ve wasted not being out of the house, doing something good for God.  Or, I could remember that my good works are pre-ordained, AND that there is value in sorting things out.

“If you bear the cross cheerfully, the cross will bear thee.” – Thomas A. Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

The Mandalaurian – A review

So I’ve jokingly decided that the Mandalurian must be a Christian bounty hunter, fitting into the Presby-costal denomination…

He sure has a knack for justice, and a bit of compassion, along with killings to add.  But he has a good work ethic, something staying alive and keeping his ship in the air will do for you.

Being a bounty hunter, the first words of more than one episode are, “so what’s the job?”  Often times he is hard to coerce, enticing the viewer into extreme mission in front.

What can be left after all these sequels and prequels?  The only characters left to story about are R2D2 and C3po.  Well…Lucasfilm has done it again, spotlighting a rogue character “above the law” which is why he is so sought after by supporting characters.

Sporting the Dark Knight theme of being trained by masters of warfare, he tells us himself, “The Mandalaurians aren’t a race.  It’s a creed.”  He will not go against his motto: “This is the way” nor will he take off or let anyone else take off his helmet.

All in all, high viewing pleasure.

Things you can do on your butt

Things you can do on your butt

Play a video game, journal, watch the dog gnaw on a bone, check out new apps or podcasts, pray, watch the paint dry because you don’t have a tv, lament the past and the future while being stuck in the present, Facebook and twitter (consecutively), plan how long you intend to stay on your butt, write a song, record a song, listen to the song (no more than 3 times), sing along, sync devices so you don’t have to do what I’m doing now in retyping, look out the window, have a reverie.

New World Disorder?

Ok show of hands who believes in NWO…

I think it makes sense, from the masons to the secret societies guiding presidents like pawns, to the banks funding world wars, to e pluribus unum, all seeing eye…from Mordor.

I saw an article recently that was titled, “we love a good conspiracy”!

I think it wouldn’t be hard to dream up a Trump aka school bully v Biden, hippie pascifist dialectic. And forceful communication def has its place. I wanted to vote for Trump last night just by virtue of his commanding presence. Everybody needs a leader who can push folks around some. Biden reminds me of Dana Carvey’s rendition of George Bush Sr. on saturday night live. No “new” taxes.

Speaking of pascifism, lately when I see someone flash the peace sign, are they communicating, ‘leave me alone’, or ‘I hope it goes well with you my friend’? I believe peace as definitely been exalted as the ultimate commodity. I believe God’s PRESENCE is better than peace, or so I’m learning. To know a friend is there with you in the dark, seems better than being alone in the dark, though both have their place. Believe me.

Reconciling seeming contradictions in the Bible

“Blessed assurance”, that old hymn that speaks as thought the author had arrived.  Well this is where I falter.  Romans talks about the elect and predestination while Revelation and James speak about your works that will get you into the Lord’s kingdom.  

I totally get that you gotta do what you believe, not just be…believing it, and that doing confirms the believing.  But then “all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved”.  And the part that says all our works were planned out ahead of our time, and that they are only filthy rags anyway.

Sometimes, I think scripture “contradicts” to show how the entire coin, both sides of it are important to consider, if  you want the coin and not just a half of it.

But, really, aren’t we living in different times…of grace, not wandering around for years and eventually dying in a wasteland?  Well…aren’t we?

I submit that if Jesus said following Him meant picking up our respective crosses DAILY, he meant something about a progression we must undergo…namely sanctification.  That is, being made more like Him who we serve in love, so that when those of us whom He knows will be supremely content just to gaze upon his face in the new heavens and earth.

So, yes, “those who love their lives will lose it, and those who hate their lives for Him, will keep it”.  Our lives, if for him, is a desert.  It can be a mountain in a desert, or an oasis, or plain hot sand.  But the offer to be “more than a conqueror remains.  It’s not just getting over, but basking in what getting over entails.

Hebrews makes it clear that we are more than just pilgrims or sojourners who seek a better city.  This is we are, but more so, we are EXILES trying to get back to our home.  We are made in the image of God!

For a homebody like myself that rang true.  

What do you say?

Short Stories for Your Spirit

Today I’d like to recommend a book of short stories that was a favorite of the late , Wonderful apologist, Ravi Zacharias.  I heard about the book from Ravi saying he couldn’t go into scripture cold so this book, “A Packet of Surprises” by F. W. Boreham helped him in that direction.

The book is essays and sermons, very inspiring to the mind who likes subtle truth in illustrious form.  I’ll recount a few story cliff notes..

“A Squirrel’s Dream” is one I read recently.  All about a squirrel in a cage with a wheel.  All day he furiously runs on the wheel, like a rat in a race, trying to get out tension, induced by his dreams of the forest with boughs and limbs to jump from and to, and a nest in a hole in a tree to hide his wife and kids.  The chance comes when the cage is opened for his feeding.  But, the squirrel, like my current self I would say, goes back to his wheel, more furiously than ever.  After all, it’s only a dream right?

One of my favorites is “Waiting for the Tide”.  The author recounts his experience with a painting of a tiny boat adrift on an unknown shore.  The painting suggests that the folks in the boat must remain seated and ready to go, once the tide comes in and frees them from their temporary prison.  Waiting like a server on his table.  Totally reminds me of getting to see in person the cliff divers of Acapulco who in the same manner, wait for the tide to wash up in a pool in to which they seize the moment and dive in from a height of prob 150’!  Astounding!

So I suppose both these stories reflect the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, performing the first Passover with their sandals on and their staffs in their hands, ready to go.

One other I will mention is “Sermons and Sandwiches” in which Boreham describes the numerous accounts in Scripture in which “revelation” was combined with “revelry”.  In other words, there was so often a meal associated with Jesus’ works.  The wedding at Cana with the water turned to wine, Jesus feeding the disciples with fish after his resurrection, them feeding him when He first appeared to them after his resurrection, the feeding of the four and five thousand, and most of all, the Table of the Holy Sacraments in which we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

In Spirit and in Truth

“Veritas?  What is veritas?”  Pontius Pilate’s words to Jesus before he sentenced him to death.  What is truth, he asks?  Well I’m kinda led to believe it’s not an adjective but a noun, a person, not a concept.

Pilate was clearly a man with a seared conscience.  He might as well have wielded himself the hammer that nailed trespassers on crosses.  And bc of Jesus, Pilate became friendly with King Herod, which meant neither of them really had…or wanted the say so.  It was simply a power play ping pong match.

And so he mocks, “What is veritas?”  If Herod can’t decide and Pilate can’t decide…where is the Pope when you need him?

Well…what IS truth?  Seems like an adjective describing something clean, unspotted, without sin??  

The claim of the Bible is that Jesus never sinned in his lifetime, which is how he was worthy to be an atoning sacrifice in his death.  So shall we say that Truth is sinlessness…perfection…without causes for blame?

I would offer that like lord and Lord, truth and Truth are different.  There is one Lord and many lords, and many, subjective truths, and one Truth.  So if Truth is one, why couldn’t it be a person, or spirit?

Jesus said we are to worship in “spirit and truth”.  I suggest that these are one and the same thing.  He only separates them to demonstrate which spirit you are worshiping.

I can say this much…”I can’t handle the truth”.  Life is full of too much truth.  It truly is stranger than fiction.

But one thing I know…Jesus said he was THE way, truth, and life.  So could it be said that the vehicle to the way that leads to life is Truth personified in God’s Christ?

So fleshing that out, how do we go about hailing a Truth cab?  Sure.  We’ve ridden in one plenty of times.  We have the routes we need in our minds.  

Question I have is, will we hear the Truth cab when we cover our ears?