and brought them up on a high mountain

I'm afraid of heights -- but only to a certain degree. I have no qualms, for instance, of being on airplanes. I have many qualms about looking over a cliff face, even with a railing. I have no qualms looking out of windows in a building many stories up. I do have a problem with the Empire State Building open-air observatory. I have no problem rock-climbing. I have problems cleaning the gutters on a fifteen-foot ladder.

The difference in these situations leads me to believe that the actual height of the situation does not bother me; rather it is the levels of protectiveness that is the issue. Confined space like an airplane or building? Safe. Harnessed? Safe. Thin metal railing? Unsafe. Potential to spill off a small ladder onto unforgiving concrete? Unsafe.

Is it death I fear then? Even knowing my eternal destination, is it death I fear? I don't think so. But maybe so. No answer here.


one flock with one shepherd

Been thinking about this a lot lately: leadership in churches. All churches have elder boards that represent the congregation, and these boards (along with the pastor/rev) lead the church, decide the direction and vision. Two branches here:

On the one hand, I'm a natural leader. Relate well to people. Can convey empathy. Organized. Focused. And at this point in my walk, feel like I have the presence.

On the other, I'm a natural leader for work, not the spiritual. Relate well to clients, but how about to peers? Convey empathy, but empathize...? The organization and the focus -- well, that's fine. And sure, presence now, but where's it been? And why's it taken so long? And how long you planning on staying?

Are the best church leaders real leaders or something else? Must one actually care for the flock, or want to care for the flock? Ready or doubting? Me or something shadowed else?


was born blind

Been away for various reasons: holiday, tiredness, otherness. Reason for absence doesn't matter. Again, for me anyway. So missing a day shouldn't guilt me like it does, eh?

What to make of the annual news magazine coverage of religion during the holidays (specifically, Christianity). Make no mistake: none of these media come to the table with no viewpoint. Even if their investigations proved something, if it disagreed with their arrogance and personal bias, nothing will come of it.

Folks who read these magazines (looking at you Time and Newsweek) come with a bias anyway. So they're merely reaching out to their constituency. A wide-area boycott does nothing, realize. They only need so many to stay afloat. Fortunately, there is no threshold of constituency that makes a difference at the pearly gates.


his sight and he said

This may make no sense in reality but it's making sense in my head today. And it's the idea that words have colors. Similar to tastes being adjectives, there's something about being able to visually see sound, to sense something beyond the flat dimensions we place around the five.

In this case, I don't imagine Heaven to be a white place -- that's the imagery, right? The robes and the clouds and the purity? That's all well and good, but suppose beyond the visual, the other colors emerge. Not talking about the gold and the bronze and the jewels mentioned throughout Rev -- but the worship.

Hallelujahs are blues, I tell you. And the holy holys red. And the salvation belongs green. Just throwing guesses out with no real motivation. Except the hallelujahs I know to be blue.


for this reason i have

This is what I meant to post yesterday. Thought about backdating it but didn't feel right about lying on Christmas. In any case, here it isPosted by Hello


for His message was

For many, the only message they'll get about Christmas will come from the lips of a cartoon character. Fortunately, that cartoon character says it better than I ever could.

Linus, take it away:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


used for the poll

According to a Newsweek poll (the fullness of which can be found here):
* 79% of Americans believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, without a human father
* 67% say they believe that the entire story of Christmas (the Virgin Birth, the angelic proclamation to the shepherds, the Wise Men, etc.) is historically accurate.
* 55% believe every word of the Bible is literally accurate.
* 82% believe Jesus Christ was God or the Son of God.
* 52% believe that Jesus will return to earth someday
* 62% favor teaching creation science in addition to evolution in public schools
* 43% favor teaching creation science instead of evolution in public schools

Some of these figures are heartening, and others confusing. Example: 82% believe He's the Son of God, but only 79% believe in the virgin birth -- what do the missing 3% believe?

55% believe the Bible is literally accurate, and yet only 52% believe in His return? Again, the missing 3%, where are you taking the literal accuracy?

55% believe in literal accuracy, but only 43% believe in replacing the false dogma of evolution in schools. The missing 12% of literalists, start at Gen and believe what you say you do.

were found in this Daniel

can they be meant to snap you out to draw you closer to remind you even though they've always been the other way to snap you to draw you further to remind you can they do both


and made loud lamentation

considered by many to be the most joyous season on the calendar and yet always the hardest for me to survive they're always increased during the season blaring about seasons past and seasons to come and always this sense of lacking and always this sense of never enough and always this sense of too much too much and how must the others feel and always the reminders reminders reminders and no matter the nearness this sinking feeling passing once the survival happens of course but still such a very very long season


and served the creature rather than

Here's the leading paragraph of a story that is not getting nearly the press it should be getting:

NEW YORK Dec 9, 2004 — A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday. At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

Oh, really? You don't say?

The article goes on to say (excerpted -- the full article can be found here):

There was no one moment of change but a gradual conclusion over recent months for Flew . . . biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says . . . "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism," he wrote. "My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."

Flew told The Associated Press his current ideas have some similarity with American "intelligent design" theorists, who see evidence for a guiding force in the construction of the universe.

Here's something more for Flew to chew on -- a big I told you so from the NT:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Rom1:18-22)


up and covered him

imagine this is your path to the presence or some other narrow windy path covered over with the leaves of your baggage hidden by the overgrowth of yourself imagine the path however feels like eternity but stands in actuality measured in inches of your will the destination is sunlight  Posted by Hello


and they sang the song of

I don't get anything out of Christmas carols, usually, which is probably a problem. Maybe it's the fact that they're all you hear from Thanksgiving onward on TV and on every radio station. Maybe it's the secular familiarity, in advertisements, classrooms, and malls -- played without intention or meaning. Maybe it's the fact that they existed in my mind before I even knew what's what.

Today was a bit different. Maybe it was hearing them sung live in a sanctuary. Maybe it was their following other songs whose purpose was worship. Maybe it was because I now know what's what. Had to keep reminding myself that the presence is always there for the drawing near, familiarity breeding apathy or not.

saw it, they gave praise to

More on the thing we've been focusing on lately. There are four types of people in any given congregation on any given Sunday during any given hymn/song:
1) Worshipers: Have the snapping trembles; know that the time is all about them & Him, one-on-one.
2) Singers: Sing because they think that's what you're supposed to do; just do it, but don't feel it.
3) Listeners: Sit (or sometimes stand if everyone else is doing it) and do nothing; think those leading the worship are there for their entertainment, or something; don't see that this is an active and critical part of worship. Songs aren't like sermons for the soaking -- listening is akin to doing NOTHING.
4) Unbelievers: Unsure what to do; maybe lipsync a song, usually casually observant; respectful of the worship going on around them, without them.

What's the diff twixt 3) and 4)? Outwardly nothing. And that should give those in 3) some reason to shudder.

What's the diff twixt 3) and 4)? Inwardly everything. And trust me, to God that's plenty of shuddering material for consumption.

2) is a step up from 3) and 4) -- but that's like the winner of a worm-eating contest. If you aren't in the 1), you're missing the whole point.


hypocrites, does not each of you

Seriously, first He feeds the thousands. Then in Matt15, He repeats the incident -- and the second time around, the response of His followers is no different than their first response. On the one hand, it seems really boneheaded -- you're following someone working miracles left and right, you know He's special in ways only a relation to God could be, and He just fed the thousands a few days/weeks earlier. If He asks a similar question, for goodness sake, you might still have the baskets from the first time around to give you the answer and the right response.

Then again, following Him is never an easy task. I know my repeated sins are probably far stupider a repetition. The casting of the first stone is easy, I know.


the earth will mourn

Matt14 kills me because it shows such a human side to Jesus. People see Matt14 for the miracle of the loaves and the fishes and the thousands of fed mouths. But people don't see the other miracle here: the miracle of God incarnate in human form -- so human, He mourns for the loss of His cousin.

His first reaction to the news is to try to isolate Himself and to get some time alone to grieve. He doesn't get that chance immediately because there's a horde of people following Him -- not too different than say the widow of someone famous trying to grieve privately, but crushed by public expectation. This is when the divine side of Him comes forth. Instead of focusing on His own very real needs, He takes the time to serve the thousands. Then afterwards, He sends His disciples off and finally gets the chance to be alone.

There are other lessons here, I think, about the proper response to the death of a loved one, but let's just stop at the miracle of divinity made humanity.


went to his home

Short analogy while I have it in my head. Me: tired, not well, want to go home. Him: my strength, the healing, home. The appeal to Heaven to me is not the idea of a place where only good things happen, and all your dreams are fulfilled. The appeal of Heaven is not a sparkling white city with streets of gold and all wear robes of silver and crowns of grandeur.

The appeal of Heaven is finally, finally belonging. And knowing you are home.


to be swept away with the flood

Matt12 overwhelmed me this morning. What to focus on, what to focus on. I'll give you a listing of the potential posts for today -- which as in the past, I may follow up on, well, whenever. The ones:
* Desiring of compassion not sacrifice hearkens to OT (I think) with Him desiring a repentant heart. Had a thought about this last night relating to the whole hand-raising thing for a later time. But in short, not talent, but a worshipful heart.
* He won't contradict the law. Doing good not equal to work is what He is saying. If you are being your natural state, it is not work, ergo...
* Sinning against Holy Spirit/unforgiveable sin. Still can't resolve.

Stopping here. Overwhelemed.


that is the one for whom i shall

Changing tunes, are we? Not sure. Thinking all along this was for me. But lately, thinking some of this benefits us all, really. At the same time, there's the whole this-is-mine-don't-steal-ideas-from-me mentality. But then there's the whole when-I'm-preaching-everyone-will-hear-anyway piece.

When I'm preaching? Hold your horses, crazy. Too much to figure out in there to bring it out here.

First, figure out who this is for. Maybe not mutually exclusive, but maybe so.


is a difficult statement

People think it's easy being a follower: simple, blind faith in things unprovable. They have no idea the level of courage required of all who believe. These days, you're mocked for holding morals; mocked for not believing in the foolishness of pseudoscience; mocked for clinging to inspired teachings.

Matt10 tells us that He doesn't think today any different than then. Not much of a motivational speaker, He tells his followers (then):
* Evangelism won't be your calling due to the high pay
* You're sheep in the midst of predators
* They will scourge you
* Family will betray you (and you family)
* You will be hated
* They will persecute you
* Boy will they malign you
* Killing? Yeah, your body

Trust me -- there's no courage required to mock, or take the broad road. Narrow's the tough ticket.


his personal presence

Breakfast with Jesus? Breakfast with God? Simply Breakfast with Him? My wife suggests Breakfast with the Savior. Whatever the case, a work focused on bringing people/churches to the presence.

Based on a previous post of Peter, focused on the whole redemption from the crowing incident, the jumping into the water, the privacy and intimacy of the beach. Chapter for an intro. Chapter for the background of the redemption. Chapter on the actual redemption conversation. Chapter on the idea of jumping by instinct, braving the cold. Chapter on beating the other fishermen (maybe same chapter). Chapter on the reward on the beach. Chapter closing with Peter in Acts.

Publishers, start your engines.


when the true worshipers will worship

Posted prior: no excuses; you need to draw near and lift them up and be there. Here’s the outline for that:

- Remember AL Wild Card vs Yanks? Griffey and Edgar?
- Remember Seahawks comeback against KC in KC, Derrick with six, Skansi from Krieg, 17-16?
- Remember Jordan v Utah, wrist bent, retire with the ring?
Hands raised? To celebrate what? Something meaningless.
But not to God in song?

I. Why the need
A. Because distinct diff twixt in Him/with Him and in His presence (Mary & Martha)
B. Closer you are to Him, the more you will feel and draw from His power – you can do nothing away (hem healing)
C. For your own good, for your own pleasure (hem and M&M)

II. How (Rev?)
A. Eyes closed
- Remove fear of others watching
- Remove vision of others modeling
B. Thoughts clear (and many times A will help with that)
- Just you and Him (remind self)
- Enter in holy of holies
C. Hands raised (doesn’t matter how)
- Start slow (palms up)
- Head to shoulder height
- When there, all up to heaven

III. Application
A. If believer, draw nearer, nearer, nearer Lord to thee
B. If not a believer, you are missing a thrill greater than any playoff chase, any last-minute comeback, any search for a championship. You are in fact missing the whole game. Ask Jesus to draw you close, closer Lord to thee.

Idea of 1-yr itinerant. Will need 52, you know. We’ve got two down, at least in form. Scraps of maybe half-a-dozen else. Let’s keep it up.

enter a second time

You have to know that one of the greatest things about Him is that He doesn’t give up on you, ever. Even when you feel like you can’t do it, or don’t know how to do it, or don’t want to do it. Even if you think that it doesn’t matter, or isn’t in you, or it’s just too early, or there’ll be another chance. He says I can, I know, I want you to. He says it matters to me, I’m in you, it’s not too early. He is the great Second Chance.

Reminder: you really can’t do anything. Never have been able to.



observe how great this

Have to get this, because it's amazing for all the right reasons.

The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty,
Let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice.
He wraps Himself in light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice, trembles at His voice.

How great is our God, sing with me,
How great is our God, all will see
How great, how great is our God.

Age to age He stands, and time is in His hands,
Beginning and the end, beginning and the end.
The Godhead, three in one: Father, Spirit, Son,
The Lion and the Lamb, the Lion and the Lamb.

How great is our God, sing with me,
How great is our God, all will see
How great, how great is our God.

Name above all names,
Worthy of all praise,
My heart will sing
How great is our God.


11.35, deux

Just clearing my desk and came upon my outline of an earlier idea. Let me rid myself of the scrap by immortalizing the outline here.

- One of my favorites
- One of most famous
- One of most powerful
- One of most telling about character of God
- Known by toddlers and adults
- Answer to trivia question

First, dispel myth of weakness in weeping (i.e. Big girls don't cry, men don't cry, "cry like a baby")
Who wept?
- Joseph (CEO of Egypt)
- Job (friend of God)
- Peter (rock of church)
- Jesus Himself
- Commandment in Romans

I. Says of God
A. Sympathy for mankind (why we weep for others)
B. Feels sorrow (for Lazarus)
C. Regret (for fate of mankind upon death -- separation)
Note: wept twice -- also in Luke over Jerus

II. Says of Us
A. Friend of God
B. Beloved of God
C. Worth it to God

III. How to react
A. If believer in sin, turn from sin -- that death not you anymore
B. If believer in dumps, know you are beloved (be loved), weptover
C. If not believer, what are you waiting for?
- Why you weeping (angels, Jesus)
- In Heaven no tears
- Weep with joy


according to the pattern you have

Speaking with my wife yesterday, I made a connection which completely changed the way I think about my search for true religion, religion in general, and God. The revelation was this: for sufferers of OCD, Catholicism is the perfect religion.

Think about it: Is saying the rosary and its patterned Our Fathers and Salve Reginas any less different than checking the front door lock three times? Is crossing repeatedly in the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit any different than not walking on cracks on the floor? Is the whole liturgy and recitation and chanting any different than whispering under your breath whenever you pass by a street whose number is even?

The greater questions: do we seek religions that conform to us, or do we conform to religion? Is religion merely a reflection of us and not of God? Is God's image in us meant for us to fit Him, or our image of us defining Him to fit us?

And really, all these numbers in the Bible that I'm understanding and not understanding -- is it the numbers or me?


of the will of man

They say that if you force yourself to smile, even if you aren't in the mood to smile, but if you keep forcing yourself to smile, you will actually feel yourself wanting to smile eventually -- that by willing yourself to do an action, you can proactively change the underlying feelings behind the action.

I believe this is so, and I have been experimenting with it in another action: worship. The scenes described in Rev are clear when discussing worship before the throne: everyone is doing the same things, whether it be prostrate, hands raised, or voices raised. There is no variation like you see in church where some are standing, some are seated, some have raised hands, some are merely lipping the words half-heartedly. No, in Heaven you cannot but help to fully worship. Which makes it clear that here on earth, some issue with will prevents people from fully experiencing the snapping trembles.

Here's where the smile approach comes in. You can force yourself to worship, and if you do, you will eventually change the underlying feeling of not wanting to. This is not a matter of new Christian vs old Christian. This is not a matter of traditional staid Christian vs charismatic. This is not an issue of quiet, reserved person vs outgoing person. This is an issue of wanting to fully worship vs not wanting to fully worship.

The struggle of will is twofold. First, you are wrestling with the Devil, and be not unclear on this point. He does not want you in the presence, that's a certainty. So you already have a base level of resistance in the standing, the singing, the raising of the hands. The second struggle is overcoming your own internal feelings -- which are really the front being used by the first struggle, mind you.

But you're not an outgoing person. But what if people see you. But you've never done it before. But you're embarrassed by what people will think of you. But you feel a little silly. But you used to get irritated by people who do that. But you've never understood the reason for these things before. But your relationship with God is of the quiet type.

Here's the thing, luke (as in warmth): these are excuses no better than involvement of a canine with your schoolwork. You're not outgoing? You will be with God in Heaven. People will see you? They will before the throne. Never before? Never experienced the snapping trembles either; you don't know what you're missing.

The other objections fall flat in the face of the sheer truth: amidst a congregation of whatever size, it isn't you and them in worship. It is you and Him. It is you in the presence. The others will disappear, especially when you close your eyes and experience the presence. You won't feel it at first, but that can and will change. Those underlyings will change, and when they do, these questions become moot the next time won't they?


and lead me in a level path

Definitely its own Sunday, this idea. Clearly related to rising, and it's a good idea, so maybe its the kickoff. Here's where the stairs come in: your whole life, everyone's whole life is a struggle to climb to the top of a four-step staircase. Four steps doesn't seem like a lot, but the difference between story one and two is an eternity.

I/You/We start at the bottom step. You begin your life and spend most of your life living in this pit of sin. If all you know to do is live within that pit, you think you're doing all right with yourself. Thing is, you're in a pit, man. Looking up is when you see Him, hand out, asking you if you'd like help out of that pit. Take His hand. Take His hand. Because if you do, that's step one.

Once you're out of that pit, you're ready for step two. Crawling out of that pit, even with an extra helping hand, is tiring. You're exhausted, spent, and often face-first on the ground. Looking down, you see the effort of your struggle out of the pit has stained your robes, has stained you and you again find yourself looking up. Only this time, the helping hand reaching out to you is nailed to a cross. But take His hand, because this is the only way past the second step, friend.

Now that you find yourself clinging to the cross, above the ground, above the pit, clinging CLINGING to that tree, you find yourself looking for that next step up. Step three already finds you in a place from which you cannot slip, a place from which you're already above where you deserve, but it's still not where He needs you. And looking up, again, you peer into the Heavens and there He is still above you, and there's that hand. And if you take that hand, that ever-reaching hand, you can proceed even further. There He is reigning in Heaven, waiting for you to see and live beyond the whole clinging. You don't reach Him yet at step three, but being that close with the snapping trembles, you know you're not that far at all.

You won't reach the fourth step here, brother (sister). That fourth step is pretty much taken for you. At your end, you'll take that fourth step and find yourself looking up still; there He is, enthroned. Waiting for you to take His hand one more time. He's got somewhere for you to go, where there is no looking up; arisen you are.

and they will level you to

While in the presence, this image came to me. Its explanation to follow later. Posted by Hello


God has sent speaks the words of

Consider Gabriel. Unlike Michael, not known for his power, but his gift of gab. Imagine him on day one, wondering what the task was when called. Given the order to speak to an old man about a mere pregnancy, imagine the arrogance of a mortal man questioning his message from God. Imagine almost the bored response of someone ready to return for other (hopefully) more important duties.

Then imagine day two. Imagine being called for the grandest task possible for a communicator. Imagine the sheer wonder of a message beyond comprehension. Imagine the privilege of being the one to be the first to announce the onset of the grandest plan in all the universe.


take special note of that person

Every parent looks at his/her children and wonders about their future. Every parent also looks at his/her children and recognizes their specialness, their uniqueness. Every parent thinks about how his/her children's specialness, uniqueness will shape their future.

But only Mary, the mother of God, had to think of these things before her child was born. Only Mary was given some certainty around the specialness, uniqueness of her child. Only Mary was given some certainty about her child's future.

The heartbreaking perspective from which to view Mary is this: she could not foresee the third: how her child's specialness, uniqueness would shape a future that ended on trees upon which she would wish He would not climb.


have given me I lost

We're back to names again with Matt1. The Gospels take an inordinate amount of time to reconstruct the lineage of Jesus traced purely back to God. In one way, this used to trouble me. The point of His birth in a manger was to show the humble roots by which He entered the world: no place to stay except a stable, no bed except a manger, a disgraced mom, a carpenter's son, a man of Galilee, etc. All this paints a good context. And salvation is to come from the Jews, so He had to be Jewish, not arguing that point. But part of David's lineage? Direct descendant of Isaac? I'm thinking the humbleness could have been taken even further if traced from an even more unwanted lineage, no? Cain? Abraham's son by a mistress? Just thinking aloud.

I'd be remiss to ignore the 3 mentions of 14 right off the bat. As an even number, as a number containing 4, I have to say I don't see what the specialness is in 14. I also don't understand the whole lineage thing as outlined above, so I'm missing something.


and reaching forward to what lies ahead

Previously I wondered why Rev is in there at all. When you come upon the end, you'll understand. First, in Rev19, you have perhaps the most exciting and gripping and pulse-pounding and stand up stand up STAND UP lines you will ever read in any book ever. Then, you have the wondrously peace-giving description of Heaven in 21. Then you end with the poetry of 22 that bookends with the poetry of Gen1 perfectly.

The prose and the pacing and the tone, if not the message itself, close the sense of accomplishment from the straight reading. Slogging through the middle, I always forget the finish. This is a lesson I need to learn for future reading, if not for all of life.


two hundred denarii worth

Every word in there is supposed to be there for a reason. Every word in there is no less golden than any other word. Every book is to be seen as valuable; every chapter to be seen as instructional.

Why then do some of the Rev chapters make it seem like these tenets aren't to be trusted? Why do some of these spark the wonder of why Rev is here in the first place? Sure, Ezek and Levit could make the same arguments. Either I'm missing something, or I'm missing something.


because of the great number

Numbers have always been important to me in irritating ways. I have aversions to even numbers (especially 4 or 6). I have affinities to odd numbers, especially primes (and especially 1, 3, and 7). I can't read or see a number without first internally digesting the worth of that number. The mathematician/nerd in me values unique numbers with special properties.

Throughout the Bible, one of the most attractive features to the stories told are the adherence to these special numbers. Three is a magic number in more than just a song. In Rev, we see 7 always getting its special due (albeit in incomprehensible end time visions). We also see 144,000 [though even, 144 being 12 squared, with 12 for some reason holding special meaning to God (tribes, disciples)]. There's something about 40 that I can't figure being a 4 and an even number -- yet God holds it special with the flood, and the days in the wilderness, and the days after the Resurrection, etc.

When the Bible was written, these numbers hadn't the special study and properties attached to them later by Renaissance mathematicians. But God destined these numbers for greater things since the very beginning.