people will welcome me into

There is no better way to end a year, there just isn't, than to welcome a new beloved one into the kingdom. It really does feel like hard work. It really does feel like an impossible task. It really does feel like something for others more gifted. And those aren't lies from the liar; those are in fact true statements. But it has absolutely nothing to do with you. You take the step of faith. That's what you're always called to do. You take the step of faith. But that step of faith is merely stepping aside so that the glory can take over from there. And when the glory takes over, brother, isn't it worthwhile? You can imagine the fireworks display in Heaven and you would be underestimating the rejoicing. Those imagined hallelujahs aren't imagined but shadows of the greater truth.


in which all who are

An excerpt from tonight's thing:

When you accept Jesus into your life, you immediately find out what your real name, what your real identity truly is: it’s child of God. Jesus Christ did not die on the cross just for me. No, he died for everyone. Everyone in this room has a name in store for them; it is waiting there for you to pick up. And that identity is child of God. The Bible says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” The day you choose to follow God, He gives you a new name, a new identity. And just like Cassius Clay doesn’t exist anymore, your old identity no longer exists either.

If you’re not a Christian, my friend, I’ve got some great news for you. You can be somebody, you can have an identity, you can belong, you can truly, truly belong. And you don’t have to earn it. And you don’t have to work for it. At the end of Napoleon Dynamite, Pedro wins the election and celebrates. Do you know that all of the angels of Heaven will celebrate if you turn over your life to Jesus? That’s what the Bible says. They are waiting for you to change your life. All you have to do is do what I did. Answer that nagging feeling in your heart. Answer that feeling in your heart that you don’t feel complete. Tell God that you want to belong to Him. God has already paid your fine. He is looking for you to accept His gift. Because He’s looking for you, He is looking and looking for you.

Who do you want to be?


so they watched him

You read an article like this and it might frighten you, the power of the government to see whatever you do on the computer in your free time. You think about the wiretapping and the spy satellites and the grocery store barcodes. You think about phishing and credit card scams and ID theft. You worry about all the people you do not know who know your every move.

You worry about all that, and yet none of them know you completely like God does.

God doesn't need the wiretapping to know what you say. God doesn't need the spy satellites to see your every move in darkness. God doesn't need cookies to trace your every mouseclick and move of your hand. And that really should frighten you if you do not know Him as your Savior. Because in your thoughts and in your actions and in your reactions and in your just very being, you are sinful. And no holy, righteous God can endure that dirtiness.

Removing cookies won't save you. Wearing aluminum hats won't save you. Never logging on won't save you. But God has good news for you, friend. He has an outstretched hand, nail-pierced, that reaches out for you and says "Take this, please." No need for fear in love, He says "It is finished." The ledger is clear. No worry about any eye looking into your darkest corners, because that looking has already been done, but through cross-colored glasses, God looks through cross-colored glasses into those darkest corners of your heart and mind and soul and still that nail-pierced hand reaches out take this take this please.

Take it, please. Are you ready to face eternity without fear?


do you show us as your

Let's be clear about this. The only reason to even create a show like this is because you hate Christianity. And that's fine if that's so. The vast majority of the world does so, and they will meet their fate on JDay. I just don't understand it for two reasons.

One, you must have learned some lesson from the material success of Passion to understand that the millions upon millions of believers in this country have disposable income. Why think the Mountain Dew generation the only ones worth targeting? And two, you must have learned from Target et al that boycotts are sure to follow when you present Christians and their flaws. I don't argue with you that all Christians are flawed and that showing them warts and all with a greater theme of searching for Him in the midst of the flaws is a sound message. I argue that that isn't your point in the first place, so arguing from this ground is pure sophistry.

Net: contemporary media hates God. What's new?


had given all things into His hand

Abundance and giving been on my mind lately, especially so after a day of getting and a day of purging. But also especially so after a lifetime of not getting and a lifetime of getting. Then when the topic arose among brothers, struggled with the duty to defend the practice or compromise the practice. And like all other topics in this space, work it out in a truthsearch to avoid the blindwalking.

Not surprising that all sorts of views exist on the topic, and many searching for the answer in truthsearching ways. At first, surprised that there appear to be a growing viewpoint against the straight tithe. But then I realized what was occurring. Always expect the tide to turn against the truth. Truth is easier to defend than attack. Sin is always easier to defend and justify.

Believers who think they are prayerfully seeking truth in answer to giving don't understand the basic questions. Any search that leads you to feel better about giving less is not from the Lord. Do you really think a God that gave His all wants you to feel better about you giving less? Try working out your rationalizing at the throne.


will be proclaimed upon the housetops

If you came here yesterday looking for me to bring you the message, don't be surprised that you found nothing. One, like last year, too much happening. Two, like always, this season is as much one of tears as of smiles, shadows as much as light. Three, like day one, this space is me working out the faith, proclaiming when prompted, but really working out the faith. Four, why expect the message to resonate all the more on yesterday than on any other? That proclamation will be coming at you whenever it can, and best strap yourself in and not look for it on one day, but any.

Because that is the real message, isn't it? That He is looking for that walk 24/7, 365.


on a journey for a long time

"Journey of Faith" {Matt2:1-12}
* Intro: Polar Express a story of a journey. Matt2 discusses a journey as well, one of faith.
* All will face a choice, an eternal one. What will your response be?
* Arrival of Magi
- Despite Christmas stereotypes, didn't arrive at His birth, but likely months afterward (possibly a year later)
- Were astrologers/priests. Privileged. Probably more than three.
- Mentioned 6 times in Daniel
- Answered in faith & obedience
* Agitation of Herod
- Crazy & paranoid
- Responded in fear and anger and selfishness
* Adoration of Magi
- Gold: Symbol of royalty, nobility
- Frankincense: Expensive perfume used for most important events, usually royalty
- Myrrh: Perfume used as a burial spice. Foretold purpose of His coming -- death.
- Warned by God in dream to return home a different route. Reflects His hand in divine plan.
* Application: How will you respond?
- Hostility?
- Indifference?
- Belief & worship


will rest on him

These guys appeared on Jay Leno of all places to sing songs from their latest Christmas Album. Linked a few days ago to one of the songs on that album that has been breaking my heart lately. In a recent interview, they had this to say about that song:

I noticed that of all the 12 songs on your album, "Joseph’s Lullaby" is the only one written by you and MercyMe. How were you inspired to write the song and why was it the only MercyMe original?

Our whole intention was to make a record of songs that we grew up with and change them up a little bit, but we kind of stumbled on writing "Joseph’s Lullaby." The irony is when I originally wrote the song, it was called "Mary’s Lullaby." I wrote it from Mary’s standpoint and it was in a higher key, a real falsetto, and it just wasn’t right. One day, the producer’s wife said, "Well, it’s kind of odd that you’re singing from Mary’s perspective, being the guy. Why don’t you do Joseph?"

It just hit me like a ton of bricks. I never knew why it didn’t cross my mind to do that. So I went through the song and just put some more masculine lyrics, and it took on a completely different life. As a father myself, I wondered if he [Joseph] went through the same things I did. Did he become instantly protective, did he have an idea of what was to take place through the life of Christ and become even more selfish and hold him closer?

We started writing the song in December 2004, a month after my 2-year-old son was diagnosed with diabetes. I spent a week in the hospital watching my son. I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t fix the diabetes, and it was a really hard time, but it played a role in helping me write the song. I never understood why you never heard much about Joseph. I’ve always wondered, from a father’s perspective, how he felt, especially since, technically, Jesus wasn’t his child, though he didn’t love him any less. There had to be something in Joseph that just wanted to hold his son and say, "Regardless what life brings and what’s to take place, tonight you’re mine, you’re safe, and just find a way to sleep."
Reminder to self: this is how the Father thinks of you, too. Only difference is He knows what life is going to bring to you -- and still all He wants for you is to rest, sweetly rest, in Him. The heartbreaking isn't all about you and your son, but you and His Son.


but is completely clean; and you are clean

Been thinking about humbleness today. Had dinner with a living saint and his humbleness resonated. Jesus preached multiple times throughout the Gospels on first being last and servant to all and so forth, so this is not a new topic. But it is new to me how often this is repeated throughout the Bible and why.

This season alone we are reminded of the appearance to shepherds, lowest of the low. We are reminded of the manger birth. We are reminded of the lineage of scrubs. But what occurred to me was how well all that fit in with the salvation and the redemption. Because if He didn't mind resting His tiny holy head in a dirty stable, He isn't going to mind residing in your filthy heart.


they were watching him closely

Take your pick of worthless television attempts to remove the wonder and power of the Christmas story. Each year, the networks either attempt to placate the faithful with Christian themes, or go to war with the faithful by using history and science in ways they weren't meant to be used to cast doubt on the truth.

If the faithful truly turned their back on the media -- cancelling subscriptions, refraining from reading CNN, turning off the TV during primetime -- in serious numbers, in numbers representative of the blue state/red state divide, you don't think the media would turn from its wicked ways?

You wonder why the media have devolved to the state they are in. I'll tell you why: because you aren't doing anything to stop them. One day, instead of turning away and then turning back to see if they noticed you turned away, just turn away and stay away.


and did not know where it came from

Expecting a critique on this, right? Going to refrain from a full-scale beating. Who would doubt that the world hasn't already prejudiced people to believe that faith is behind ID, and that faith and secular law don't mix well? Not going to go there. I'll let God's statement on JDay do the talking. Can't wait to see the lawyers try to persuade the One True Judge how, in fact, the One who mastered death isn't smart enough.


therefore you too have grief now

Between this and this, it's clear that this season isn't one of sadness just for me. While Joseph and Mary had it rough, I contend that they didn't know that the ending of the path that began with the announcement of their special Son would be Golgotha. So their love was not conflicted with sadness but rather of wonder and awe and pride.

But the Father knew. The Father knew with joy that His plan to save the world was nigh. The Father knew with love that His obedient Son would save the entire universe. The Father knew with justice and righteousness that Satan would not have dominion for eternity.

But the Father knew with sadness as He placed the child into the manger that the end would be aloneness on a hill and separation and great hurt. And all the victory in the world cannot erase that fact from the loving hands placing Him into that manger.


and the glory of the Lord shone round about them

"Joy to the World" {Luke2:1-20}
* Intro: Christmas story so familiar to all -- too familiar
* If not careful, we lose all the wonder and joy of the miracle of Christmas
* Birth in Bethlehem
- Luke emphasized humility of birth
- Tiny town, strenuous journey, animal trough, lack of midwife
* Angelic announcement
- Announced to lowliest of jobs
- Dirty & unclean spiritually (too far and busy to maintain cleansing rituals)
- Nomadic & untrustworthy, often thieves
- Dirty & unclean physically
- Points out that salvation for all
* Shepherds' response? Glory and praise
* Application:
- He is sovereign, even when unseen
- His purposes often achieved via suffering
- Easy to miss what He is doing


and a time to laugh

Last dregs of conversation prior to sleep, and often what results are random speculations. But who's to say random speculations are worse off than purposeful thought? In either case, mused on whether or not God has a sense of humor.

Con thoughts: It's ridiculous to assign human attributes to God, who is nothing like man. Why think that His sense of humor is anything remotely like our sense of humor? God has better things to do than to sit around and laugh. He's more concerned with the sadness He feels from lost souls.

Pro thoughts: We are made in His image. The Lord was once man, thus being fully human, He also would have had a sense of humor. Why create us with a sense of humor if He also did not have a sense of humor? Plenty of stories in the Word make one laugh. Laughter is a natural outpouring of joy, and we know the Lord is all about joy.

Concordance: It just occurred to me that I could simply look it up, and lo and behold, the Psalms discuss His laughter (2 and 37 to name just two). Suppose that was easier than senseless meanderings of thought.


so that darkness will not overtake you

Yesterday, my attention was drawn by Gen4:7 and the description of sin. We think of sin as an action. "I sinned yesterday." We think of sin as a noun. "Jesus died for my sins." We think of sin as an adjective. "Yesterday, my behavior was quite sinful." But we don't think of sin as a pronoun.

Gen4:7 says sin is crouched at the door. Gen4:7 says sin has a desire to get you. You might consider this speech to be simply a turn of phrase in the same vein as "opportunity knocks". But that would obscure the living creature that sin, in fact, is.

What if sin were like bacteria? Every living creature on earth is infused with millions of bacteria. This explains how innocent babies are born sinful in the same manner they are born with bacteria. Sin is this living thing inside you that grows. And as any addict of any sin can tell you, that growth is often unstoppable.

What the Christian walk actually is is the regimen needed to cut back the growth of the beast. He doesn't call Himself the Great Physician for nothing. Our new bodies in Christ are just that -- bodies made without the wicked bacteria. Something to think about.


and in pain to give

What's hard for everyone at Christmas time is balancing the theoretical notion of Dec 25 as the arrival of the Messiah on earth, of God Incarnate, with the practical and very real notion of their past experiences with Christmas, flesh themselves already. Your soul appreciates and reflects upon the meaning; your heart can break as it reflects upon your history. The season saddens me, no matter the growth I experience on the soul level. Love Him all the more, and know Him all the more, and so can appreciate all the more. But the hurts of noels past do not go quietly into the night.

On those years prior to the knowing, Christmas is what it is to all -- days off from school for the receiving of presents. But for some it's simply days off from school. And in those cases, those days off are themselves no present. Often heard my parents deride the holiday as an American concept, that Asians have no use for such customs. Growing up, one views such a perspective as stubborn clinging to old traditions, as stubbornness against the tide of assimilation. We're no longer in the jungle, one might assert to deaf ears.

I appreciate it now for what it probably is -- a better reason than "because we can't". No parent lacks the longing to shower gifts upon those they love. No parent lacks the longing to be extravagant. But pride restrains the truth in ways that make the truth more palatable. That palatable truth even moreso for themselves. Far better to forsake tradition on the grounds of principle than on the grounds of an inability to provide. Our hurt in not receiving was probably twice as painful in not giving.


then I was senseless and ignorant

You make me want to swear sometimes. What in the name of all that is holy are you thinking? It's bad enough that liberals are trying to remove the Christ from Christmas. It's bad enough that PR firms are trying to make the giving all about materialism rather than the gift of God to earth. But for you to send the message that Christmas is about the family and not the church? What kind of message is that? The Lord did not spend His first night in straw because of family, but because it was the only way to correct our sin. It was the start of a plan. He doesn't want us at home roasting chestnuts, but rather with our brethren in worship, celebrating His goodness and mercy.

Do me a favor. Stop being so seeker-friendly. Because the message you're sending the seekers is all wrong. Do me another favor. Seek Him yourself, as you've clearly lost the way.


and make straight paths

The side notes for Acts22:4 reference Acts9:2 which references the famous John14:6. Love Paul's casual use of "the Way". Used as such, it indicates that this was the manner in which they were referred regularly by others. Used this way, it indicates the fame they were achieving in changing the world. Used this way, it indicates a movement and a journey. Used this way, it indicates the singular truth about the gospel as the model for true life.

Where then did we lose our way?


to those from whom you hope

"Immanuel - God With Us" {Matt1:18-25}
* Intro: Narnia a land of neverending winter, darkness, despair. No hope.
* "Is there any hope?" is the cry of all humanity. Matt presents birth of Jesus as giving of hope to world.
* Virgin birth conceived
- Larry King interview: virgin birth answer of singular importance to all world history
- Lord son of two people of faith: humble ma and righteous pa
* Virgin birth clarified
- Lord speaks to Joseph for encouragement to carry out plan
- Name chosen to clarify and emphasize purpose of birth to world
* Virgin birth connected
- Not random, but fulfillment of prophecy
- "He died like a mighty God" J Lane
* Virgin birth concluded
- Through genealogy
- Through virgin birth
- Through prophecy fulfillment
* Immanuel indication of hope


in me may you have peace

I mention here that memorization of the Word is a means to an end that is itself an end, and that the sheer process of memorization and being in the Word is a step toward getting yourself right so that He can aid you. But have found myself lately realizing yet another benefit of it all -- quiet noise. Instead of the questioning and the doubting and the tempting and the wronging I'm getting the following and the asking and the believing and the trusting in this never-ending loop to the point where it's going on when I'm not listening instead of the goings on when I'm listening. Nice to be in this place, is all I'm saying.


as when a lion roars

No reviewer can place personal feelings aside and review something objectively (research the Jewish media backlash against the Passion, for instance). So don't expect a fair shake as I review Narnia.

In a word (or two, depending): Spot-on.

In a bunch of them: just a perfect adaptation, and one which will make the evil folks at Disney enormously wealthy, ironically. Well-filmed action scenes, great scenery design, perfect Aslan, and faithful to the book. All of the correct dialogue referencing the Christ allusion remain.

Churches will be brought to a paradox. Watch the faithful adaptation and let the depth of emotion of your faith enrich the vieiwing experience. Or boycott the film to prevent the coffers of Disney from overflowing. Decisions, decisions.

Mine? Go see it. And then see it again.


cannot hate you, but it hates me

An example of what I've been saying all along. There is no such thing as a non-religion. Even if you consider yourself an atheist or an agnostic, you adhere to a set of beliefs (that there are no beliefs or that you don't know if there are beliefs). This isn't simply semantics, but the point that opposing points of view are just that -- opposing. To claim that one side is rational, and the other blind faith is not honest. Those that claim that religions breed intolerance and hate do not analyze their own feelings of hatred (which they call moral indignation) which arise during their irrational speechifying.

Slap in their big, fat faces, huh? One of us will be facing a shock to the system on JDay, professor liar, but it shall not be me.

even of yourself, let go of your

Don't bother subscribing to try to read the rest of this piece. I'll save you the trouble. Her conclusion is that yes, the rich fantasy world of Narnia and its adventure and magic can still survive without the Christian subtext. She goes even further to suggest that the Narnia books were never meant to be Christian allegories.

Wrong on both counts, liarsgirl. One, on the former, enjoying a work and missing the message is like visiting the Grand Canyon and enjoying the trip there but never actually seeing the Grand Canyon. Sure, you've enjoyed the vacation, but you did not enjoy the Grand Canyon. You may have enjoyed the Narnia series as a child sans subtext (as did I), but that really wasn't Narnia then.

Secondly, on the latter, maybe you should actually read some of Lewis's essays where he discusses his writings. He has stated that "I did not say to myself 'Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia'; I said, 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen." Ergo, Aslan is Christ. In another letter, Lewis stated that "The whole series works out like this:

The Magician's Nephew tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia,
The Lion etc. - the Crucifixion and Resurrection,
Prince Caspian - restoration of the true religion after a corruption,
The Horse and His Boy - the calling and conversion of the heathen,
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep),
The Silver Chair - the continuing war against the powers of darkness,
The Last Battle - the coming of Antichrist (the ape). The end of the world and the last judgement.
Sorry to "spoil" some books you may have enjoyed as a heathen and wish to continue to enjoy as a heathen after hearing the truth. But if you reject the truth, you reject it. Trying to hold on to it despite your rejection is simply dumb.


or any deformed

You might think that the world gets me the most riled up, but you'd be wrong. It is not the idiocy of the world that frustrates me the most, as by their evil nature they cannot help their ignorance. It is the idiotic acts of believers or pseudo-believers that gets me the most riled up. Because these "brothers and sisters" if indeed there is a saved bone in their bodies should know better. And attaching themselves to the world is all the more aggravating.

Case in point.

I don't know what Bible you are reading, but the real Word is quite clear on sexual sins and sexual temptations. The Bible is quite clear in its condemnation of lust. How one can be a pastor, a shepherd of the flock, and claim that nowhere in the Bible does it condemn nudity, or that the idea of a tittilating Biblical calendar would be kosher, I don't know. I won't be the one answering before the throne for that one.


according to the tradition you received

Sharing this to the flock anon. Figured maybe the wider flock could use this reminder, too.

In July of 1996, my wife and I were married. That December, we celebrated our first Christmas together. Now because we were starting our lives with nothing, all we could afford that year was this tiny fake tree that looked like it had come from A Charlie Brown Christmas. My wife was teaching at the time and one of her students gave her this big, ugly Santa Claus head, our first ornament. That big, ugly Santa head began a tradition. Every year since then, my wife and I have bought a new ornament together. We try to choose one that represents something memorable about that year. In 2002, for instance, when my wife was pregnant with our son, we got an ornament that had two bears hanging Christmas decorations together – one of those bears being a pregnant mommy bear.

When our children were born, we added to this tradition. Each year, not only have my wife and I gotten an ornament for ourselves, but we’ve also gotten one ornament for each child. And just like the ornaments that we choose for each other, we try to choose ornaments that represent that child’s year. For instance, last year, my daughter liked Garfield. When we went to the Fair, she kept getting into line to give Garfield hugs, so we got her a Garfield ornament. This year, my son has a fixation on all things Batman – thus the crouching Batman now hanging on our tree. When the children are ready to start their own families many years from now, they will take their ornaments with them and hopefully build upon this tradition with their families.

For us, this ornament-collecting tradition represents the singular truth that Christmas is a celebration of the faithfulness and goodness of God to the world. Christmas is the celebration of a God who loved the world enough to place His own son in a manger. One of my favorite names for God in the Old Testament occurs when God refers to Himself as the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” That name represents the fact that He is a God who is good and faithful to us not just once, but year after year, and to generation after generation. Each year when my wife and I look upon our tree and see the ever-growing ornament collection, we are reminded of His love and goodness to us every year we have been married; we are reminded of the fact that He carried us through each of those years. When our children look upon their ornaments many years from now with their own families, it will be a testimony of God’s faithfulness to us, and to our children, and hopefully to our children’s children.


when it happens, you may believe

I briefly wrote before of what is in my head today. And memorizing the scene has it more clearly active in my mind's eye, so perhaps that is framing my perspective. (And it may behoove you to scan John6:15-25.)

But what if He was called to listen as He withdrew alone? What if He listened in prayer up there alone, not paying mind to the time of day? Imagine His disciples unsure of where He is. Maybe He crossed to Capernaum, says one of the twelve. Even if He's not there, says another, He's probably with one of the five thousand now, and He knows where we are headed. So they attempt to beat the darkness.

And He comes out of His chat with the Father who tells Him to head down from the mount and head to Capernaum, and He gets to the shore and looks about and sees neither the five thousand nor the twelve. And amazed that they left His side, He lifts his eyes and sees a bobbing craft three or four miles hence. And just before He moves to the remaining craft, the Father says no. Not the boat. That boat is there for the multitude's eyes tomorrow. That lone boat is a sign unto them. Go to the boat. And He looks up to the heavens to better understand. Go to the boat. And He looks across the wind-blown waves. Go to the boat. And He looks at His sandaled feet and then back to the heavens. Go to the boat.

In perfect faith, He takes that first step of faith, no different than Peter's first step soon forthcoming, but that first step of faith. But no sinking He. Eyes to the heavens, ear to the Father. Go to the boat. And no sinking He, He keeps taking those steps of faith, the waves higher and higher but no matter, just the steps of faith, keep taking those steps of faith. Go to the boat. And then He comes upon them. And frightened they, they wield oars in disbelief. But It is I. It is I.

It is I in perfect faith.


only, but in order

"The King of Grace" {Matt1:1-17}
* Intro: Crown, robe, scepter usually represent kingship. King James V of Scotland sans external still king. Matt focuses on kingship of Christ, Lord w/o trappings.
* Starts right away w/ declaration of royal lineage via 2 of most sacred Hebrew dads (Abraham, David). Lord promised a king via both lines.
* Grace of God seen in inclusion of scrubs (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba)
* If He called sinners to His own lineage, of course He would invite us to be in His spiritual line
* Grace of God can be seen in history of three eras:
- Abe to Dave: wandering, slavery, warfare
- Dave to Bab exile: Evil monarchy, idolatry, warfare
- Exile to Christ: Captivity, 400 years of silence, oppression
* Despite silence, captivity, scrubs, perfect plan still in place
* He is always in control, and He can always use even the likes of you


in heaven continually see the face

Interesting surgery. Ground-breaking. Revolutionary. Historic even. But as the surgeon himself said, not lifesaving but quality-of-life changing.

The lifesaving change? Your acceptance of the Lord.

The Bible says that in Christ you will be a new creation. The Bible says that the old will pass away and you shall become new. That surface change you underwent is just that, surface only. But your salvation would be a change you cannot comprehend.

Unlike this surgery reserved for those severely disfigured, salvation is offered freely to all. All are disfigured by sin, whether visible or not. No team of experts need to be spending hours to change you. You can be changed with just one word. Yes. Yes to His offer of eternal life. Yes to His question "Can I come into your heart?" Yes to His offer of true change.

Are you ready to become truly beautiful?


they presented to Him gifts

One of my favorite carols bar none doesn't get the credit it deserves. I mean, I can imagine that it is hard to place it above the heralding angels, joywishing, and fidelis adeste-ing and all. But this just deserves more attention.

Other carols focus on the season's reason, as they should, and focus on different aspects of the Christmas story -- Mary, the manger, the wisemen, the angels in celebratory joy and wonder, the child Himself. Heck even the city gets its own piece.

What draws me to the Drummer is that he is me. Nothing, nothing can I bring to the throne of grace. Nothing, nothing can I do to thank Him enough for the greatest of gifts. Nothing have I but what He gave me. So that last verse hits me every time where all drummer, all I can do is what He has given me to do for the singular hope of being rewarded with one priceless smile.


are the living beings that I saw by

You're telling me that you've seen, really seen 1Cor6:3 before? If you had, you'd be as astonished as I am. Paul casually throws it out in his little discourse on judging others, but matter-of-factly states it as if it were extremely common knowledge that we'll be judging angels. How does this v not get more attention? And what does it mean?

Why or how could we judge angels? Which angels? The ones who've been taking care of each of us all this time? The ones battling howlers for us? And what are we judging them on, the shininess of their wings? Their actions on earth on our behalf? And how variable are their actions and characteristics that we could possibly judge between them, though we know liar himself was once one of these? And what happens to those we judge and deem to be less than shining perfection? Do they really lose their wings?

How are you not as fascinated by this as I am?


sends forth His word and melts them

The world and its workings can be summarized by the last section of Acts19. You, world, are a lot of Demetriuses. Your prosperity depends on maintaining your businesses as they were prior to the turning. The prosperity is key here. You want to know why the media attempts to dilute the faith? There is no controversy in peace and controversy sells. You know why evolution is vociferously defended? University posts across the country with budgets to protect. You know why Hollywood criticizes believers? Because their desire for sin is their reason for being.

In all of these cases, remember. Those silver trinkets that you call your reasons for being? Silver melts before the flames, people. Will melt before the flames.


and the power of darkness are yours

Mel Gibson could make a heckuva scary flick on Acts19:11-20. And the scarier thought is that this is not an outlandish vision of a demented soul, but rather a portrait of the truth. What is striking about the event is the magic at work here. Take me to task as you will, Prots, on my use of the word "magic". I use the term to describe all supernatural powers, light or dark. The condemnation to me is not on all powers, just the dark.

In any case, back to the striking. It is striking that both sides have use to what is available. And it is striking that unless you know what the heck you are doing, best to stay completely away. The howlers will overrun you if you are fooling in warfare you have no business fooling in.


to be gratefully shared in

"A Song for Thanksgiving: Psalm 100 -- A Call to Radical Gratitude"
* Ps93-100 Enthronement psalms
* Psalmist wants exuberant worship, worship at full throttle
* "Noisy sheep" - Church in MI cited for exceeding local decibel limits, for ex
* Problem of inhibition. Can do it for sporting events but not for Lord? (Sound familiar, self?)
* Not just noise, but joyful noise
* Problem of self-centered focus. Attend service to receive rather than to give
* Gratitude based on six knowledges:
- Who is God, that the LORD is
- Where we come from
- How privileged is the relationship
- How good He is to us -- How good He is
- How much He loves us
- How faithful He will ever be
* Focus of all six knowledges is not us, but Him
* In John10, Jesus fulfills the OT shepherd call


is turned over within me

In 1964, a brash Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston in a match whose result even he admitted surprised him. He was so delighted at the outcome that he bounded about afterwards declaring "I shook up the world!"

Separate boast and taunt from clear reality, and note the remark of the Jews in Thessalonica. They disrupt Paul's teachings and bumrush a believer's house to bully men who they refer to as "these men who have upset the world". This would be the same as if it were not a bounding Ali but a wounded Liston declaring his taunt.

It is disconcerting, then, that what once was a world-upsetting vision and faith has now become so mainstream as to be tailoring the world-upsetting message to not upset anything, but rather to assimilate. This is the devil's argument against the Willow Creekers of the world. Tactics where the faith becomes like the world upsets nothing except perhaps the Lord.


and scorn your name

Gal6:7 is a clear warning for all, believers and the uns alike. On the sheep hand, for all who think that their secret sins are expunged somehow by their accepted grace, do not be deceived. The mocking you do is in front of His face, waving that get out of hell free card. Your consequence will be doled out, you shall see.

On the goat hand, for all who think their open hostility to the faith is somehow expunged by their belief that the faith is not real, do not be deceived. The mocking you do is in front of his face, with your hatred not below the surface at all. Directions for the lake come with that package you receive at the throne.

An interesting thought that whenever we go against Him, it is mockery and not just simply disobedience. The message here is that taking Him for granted or going against Him implies He is not real, or He cannot respond -- mistaking His silence for nonexistence or impotence. Rather it is extreme patience knowing His time is soon forthcoming.


which is mixed in full

This has been getting some press, but I'm going to knock it from a different angle. See, the believer in me says that the parents of those boycotting are doing the right thing -- taking a stand against the godless corporations who feel that businesses have an obligation to take social positions.

But I'm going to knock it from another, also from the believer in me. Whether or not American Girl dolls support godless causes or not, these things are A HUNDRED DOLLARS a pop. And accessories cost more. You have parents making collections of these thing for kids. You're worried about the message you send kids by buying products from corporations whose views your child isn't aware of in the first place? Maybe your other message is that spending A HUNDRED DOLLARS for a toy is sensible. Maybe your other message is that we didn't tithe faithfully in December because we'd rather spend the money on extravagence than on the house of the Lord.

Maybe your other message is that mommy and daddy have no common sense.


will be made well

Been awhile since I pointed the spotlight on an important minor. But that while is now over. Consider: Acts16:22+

Go on, consider. I'm waiting.

The jailer. I imagine this as a large man in the mound of flesh sense. All his life, given no image other than that of a mound of flesh. And he takes his duties seriously, hoping seriously that emergencies like escaped prisoners fleeing willy nilly never actually become nilly.

Imagine a riotous crowd flooding towards his humble jail. Imagine them knocking knocking KNOCKING. Imagine the sudden onrush as the door succumbs to their madness, and the voices and the loudness and the probable torches and the demanding of safety for the imprisoned.

Imagine after this little episode of terror and sweat that he settles himself down, settles his nerves, settles his eyes into darkness. Before the shaking and the sudden rumblings and the noise and the what's that noise it could only be the doors and the chains and here comes the willy and the nilly and the worst imaginings imagine his worst imaginings coming to bear on the same night as the terror and the sweat and then end of all ends they will come and they will imprison ME and I will be among those I have until now mistreated and I cannot bear the shame of becoming what they always said I was all along this mound of flesh and where's my sword and I can't believe this is happening and then

and then

And then what happens to all who at the end of their lines, at the end of their ropes, at the end with nothing left to cling to see something completely aberrant, completely not what they expected -- that suddeness, that being different, that not of this world.

Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

You've already answered that, friend. That's what the whole being before your knees in terror and sweat at the end of all ends and looking for the One who makes your worst imaginings to be nothing as you imagined is all about. Being at the end and looking for the only beginning.


but the end does not follow

You could read this and try to guess the stance that I will take. Easy ones include attacks against the legal system and their neverending quest to make sin completely legal everywhere, all the time, in the hopes of following the will of their father the liar and subtly convincing people that legal is the same thing as morally right.

Another easy one would be to attack the media in their ever-constant battle to negatively portray religion, and their attempt to create sympathy with vicitms everywhere, all the time, in the hopes of following the will of their father the liar and subtly convincing people that sympathy is the same thing as the moral high ground.

I will take to task, rather, the Jezebel at the heart of the story. Rather than face up to the fact that her sin led to her consequence, she chose the way of the world to deal with her problems. She chose to defend her sin. She chose to stay in a world whose beliefs she doesn't agree with. Why not go all the way down her chosen path and find where the way of the world takes you?

Perhaps it is because she already knows where that road leads. But trying to escape one road by bringing that road with you towards what you know is right makes little sense. If you don't think there are consequences to your sinful actions, Jez, you should try a little more studying.


it became perfectly calm

I'm thinking of Isa26:3 today, but not any version other than the KJV. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee." In moments of panic and terror and need the staying on the Thee is easy, is in fact, too easy. But the panic and the terror and the need overwhelm the ability for the focus needed to feel to feel that perfect peace. That v is not for those times alone, but for those times of no feeling whatsoever. That lack of feeling, that apathy is easily confused for perfection or peace, but is in fact neither.

When you allow yourself the moment to stay on the Thee, and to feel not a calm before the storm, but like His walking on the raging a calm within the storm, that right there, why would you ever leave that? Because that staying on the Thee is so difficult. It is in fact the whole walk of faith that will take you that lifetime to master.


you would love me

a year later almost to the day and like the last a feeling of such want for the closeness as to feel good pain the knowledge that all I have and all I can do and all I can be is all not of me with the response that all I have and all I can do and all I can be is all not for me
in remembrance of me still being remembered forever remembered remember


the LORD highly exalted

Sometimes when listening and trying to draw closer, I imagine I am the one doing the string-plucking or the keys-pressing. I imagine I am the one in harmony, the one hitting that one just so. It is not an envy object, no, but rather the desire to be the one that makes that pleasing sound to the Lord. What it is is the still wrong notion that He wants that perfection in pitch. Just need to continue to remind that that perfection in heart, that right there is beautiful, is to Him just so.

he answered, but later he changed

Want to venture a discussion with you on Simon. Not the one you may be thinking, the old Peter. Rather, the ancient version of Copperfield. He is the perfect analogy for the believer. Imagine that all he wants in his former life is to be what those around him were calling him: "the Great Power of God." That's what we want, what me and you used to want. To be recognized in our own works and actions as being important to the force behind the universe.

But along comes the truth, and we recognize that all that we have done to that point are shams, cheap tricks, mere facades of something more real. And we who were amazing others before have become amazed by others after. The real great power given its due.

What follows later in Acts8 can also be interpreted as our walk shortly thereafter. Because the old Simon still has grips on the new Simon -- the new Simon doesn't quite get it all yet, still new. His response to the onceSimon admits that he doesn't know nothing, needs the nowPeter to lead him to the truth of the great power. The walk of faith is having the nowPeter in us completely erase the onceSimon in us.


seemed to them like nonsense

Three words: What. On. Earth. This is how you market the Word? With gloss and sheen? With headlines like "Sexcess"? With fashion tips? You think that the ends justify the means? That you can justify this exploitation of His precious Word by claiming that your goal is to get young men into the reading?

God doesn't want your help. His Spirit will lead men into the Word. God doesn't need your help. He doesn't need a PR firm to do what the moving of His Spirit can do. And God certainly doesn't think that appealing to base interests and using the bait and switch technique is somehow advancing His kingdom.

All wrong, brother. Madison Avenue has blinded you to the truth: that He doesn't need the world's trappings; He is, in fact, the exact opposite.


a stumbling block to me

Tell me again how this makes sense? You'll say to me that preventing sin is the responsibility of those in authority. You'll say that removing temptation is a good thing and nothing to be ashamed of. I don't disagree with either of your points.

But first, slippery slope there, happy feet. It is not possible for you to remove all hindrances. Give me a stick of wood for a gift, and I could turn it into a weapon to do harm. Give me a doll, and I could use it in sexually inappropriate ways. Sin is in the heart, not in the object. That gift could also be, as it is for me, a means of drawing ever closer to the presence.

Second, the role of those in authority is better served not as gatekeepers, and preventers, but rather teachers of self-control and discipline. Integrity is what you do when no one is looking. Ergo, teaching them the controlled will is the better gift.


found such great faith

This deserves to be not only the lead story on ESPN, but also the lead story on Beliefnet, Christianity Today, and in a perfect world, CNN. It is the story of obedience, not charity, though, as this story makes it out to be. It is the story of love, since obedience is love. But the obedience here is not from son to father (although that is partly it); it is rather the story of obedience to God.

Michael Redd honors his mother and father, a commandment. He keeps his promise and does not bear false witness, a commandment. He tithes faithfully, a command if not a commandment. He keeps Bibles in his cars, and if he does indeed read them regularly, he is obedient to keeping His word at the center of his thoughts. This story is not a simple love story, but rather a grand faith story. And one in a perfect world is lifted up for all to see.


I have been speaking figuratively

I'm the one turning regular stories into salvation messages. So not calling up kettle here, but this blog tying popular culture to Christianity might take the cake, as far as cake-taking goes. Can't read all the cake-taking, so just focus on the one below:

'Lost': The Island Giveth, the Island Taketh Away
Posted by Sherry Huang
Nov. 11, 2005 | 1:35 p.m.

Death claimed Shannon Rutherford this week on "Lost," the second death of this series (after her stepbrother Boone) but the first of this season. While the last episode (before a bunch of recent repeats) left off with a feeling of hope, this episode left off with a feeling of futility and hopelessness. After seeing strange visions of Walt, Shannon spends the episode begging for someone to believe in her, not just in her story but in her deeper potential of transforming into someone new.

Struggling with self-esteem and abandonment issues, Shannon says, in a pivotal scene: "Everyone thinks I'm worthless." Once she reveals this, she is free for the first time in her life—her words and her old self washed away by the rain pouring down on her, a metaphor for immersion baptism, as the sins of her Jezebel-tinged past (namely, her incestuous one-night stand with Boone and her years of keeping house with older men in order to swindle money from her stepmother) are washed away.

Yet, instead of a burst of light breaking through the rain to fully complete the transformation from old to new, Shannon is promptly killed, just as she releases her yoke onto the shoulders of her savior, Sayid, who declares his undying love. Although the rain seems to wash away Shannon’s sins, it does not fully cleanse her because her repentance is incomplete; she does not fully express regret about her past sins or seek hope in the island, which should be her true savior.

Even though Sayid seems to be her savior, he is really a false savior; instead, she transfers her hope and desperate codependency from one idol (Boone) onto another (Sayid). Because Shannon’s repentance is not entirely true, instead of being saved, she is punished, and it is Ana-Lucia who literally casts the (accidental) first stone—a bullet. As Shannon dies in Sayid’s arms, the horror of the island’s judgment reverberates: "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23a, NIV ).

Despite having finally found self-worth, the island ultimately judges her life worthless—and beyond redemption.
I don't know how to respond, really. The rain as baptism. The Jezebel reference. The death as judgment. The island as judge, apparently. All too much, a bit forced. But that's what good evangelism is -- forcing the issue of salvation into all contexts in order to illuminate the need for God no matter the discussion. That pop culture or otherwise, all conversation leads or should lead to the cross.


said nothing in secret

"Compasses that Point to Mankind"
* Introductions are important. Most important one made throughout history.
* JtheB uses "Lamb of God"
- Animal sacrifices assert need for atonement
- Foreshadows slaughter of true lamb
* Moses lifting up serpent in wilderness
* Moses, manna, and the true Bread of Life
* Ancient Chinese message
- Robert Morrison and discovery of Chinese language foreshadowing
- Righteous means "lamb over me"
- Ship not ship w/o 8 people (Ark)
- Covet = woman and two trees
* Indian Vedas
- Spotless lamb slain for mankind
- Upside-down tree (rooted in Heaven) with gash in side to heal
* Sawi Peace Child
* Eternity in the heart


will take vengeance, vengeance

Oh, Pat. You have it all wrong. Perhaps He will destroy the town for its unfaith. Perhaps He would have rewarded their righteousness had they gone the other way. But vindictiveness in response to sin is pre-grace. We, in fact, can and should keep turning to Him regardless of the number of eyepokings we deliver. It is an empty faith where God tallies a sincount with a limit, over which His back is turned. That's no Savior-on-the-cross that I know.


are then found to be false

Unlike Mel, Anne, and the Baldwin, you are not what you claim to be. You cannot in one mouth say you are a believer going back to your Baptist roots, and state that you wish your child learns "about Jesus and Jesus' life, why Jesus came here, why he was on earth. He came here and died for our sins. He came here to teach us how to live." And then in your other mouth say "At the bottom, there's really not that much difference between Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists."

Which part of a loving God dying for you do you not understand? Which part of grace-won salvation do you not understand? Which part of John14:6 do you not understand? One of the four -- the one you claim to cling to -- has a cross of life. None of the other three do. The other three are roads to the lake. If you do not see the difference between them, good luck getting your son to understand. For both your sakes, I'll pray you actually one day become what you claim to be.


turned back and no longer followed

Luke22:32 reminded me of an earlier musing on turns. But back up a bit to v31. It expresses first that just like in Job, liar had to ask, beg for permission to do even the littlest thing. Secondly, he was permitted to do so. Thirdly, that the Lord prayed for strength for Cephas.

But fourthly, the encouragement that he would lead again once he turned from his turning. That the return would be a turn of triumph. That the return isn't a physics concept of returning the energy and velocity from the release, but rather a strengthening upon the carom. A great reminder for all that the turning from the fall need not always be done in shame.

as I have loved you, so

John13:1 doesn't get anywhere near the press it deserves, but it is one of the single most beautiful verses in all the world. It is written with this melancholy of passing, a knowingness that change was coming, had come. There is an expression of love that Jesus loved those He loved in the world so much, leaving for Heaven was almost done out of sorrow. There is an expression of love that knowing the grief and separation He was to endure, leaving for Heaven was almost done with some trepidation. But the singlest expression of love comes at the end, the statement of loving them loving us loving me to the end. To the end. Leaving for Heaven was done with complete and utter adoration for all the earth, singleminded in His love to the cross. There simply is no more beautiful expression of love in all the Word.


anyone who has faith in me

Been pondering the theological belief of Jesus being fully man and fully God at the same time. Impossible to ascertain the truth obviously. But about to enter the realm of potential blasphemy (or strictly ignorance, more gently). But what if the miracles performed by Jesus were not acts of God in the sense that Jesus was using power no one else had; what if instead His acts were, in fact, acts of man -- but of one with perfect faith?

Jesus Himself expressed dismay and frustration that the disciples would come to Him unable to cast out the toughest demons. He tells them that even an ounce of faith would move mountains. If that were true, wouldn't perfect faith be able to walk on water, turn water into wine, and resurrect the dead?

Not denying His full divinity. But the truth is that the story is even better when told that a fully divine Christ never once used powers beyond man during His life; that He in fact faced all human trials with the same human endurance and same human faith -- except all done to perfection? Isn't that the story? That were I fulfilling my potential, I'd have the Himalayas right where I'd want them?


will be loved by My Father

Switching from this to this. Might have made the switch sooner if I actually payed attention to the lyrics beyond a passing listening. The lyrics make me recall an earlier post where I assert that you that me that we know absolutely squat about love.

The world's notions of romantic love dooms mankind to think of His love in very human conceptions. Those who've never known the world's notions of love may never have an inkling of how much better His love is than what the eye can lust for. But never having known love, they might miss the first stirrings. Those that have known the world's notions compare the physicality of world love with the mental and spiritual aspects of real love and choose immediacy.

All of them, all of them so mistaken. They sell themselves short. The world's notions are hypothetical impossibilities. His love was real to depths greater than we will ever see. What the answer to the call really is, is the admission that you know that there is a greater definition of love out there that you want to experience; that you cannot define love without a blood-stained cross.


who walks in his integrity

Struck me, perhaps in preparation for another sharing in the spring, so note the date. He says in Luke that "he who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much." Your initial thought might be that He means that the littlest sins and details are every bit on the same level as the bigger ones. Another thought might be that there is a character trait by which the righteous bear integrity in both the small and the large.

What if I were to pose the idea that without showing success in the little faith tests, He doesn't give you the strength to pass the big ones?

Context for the sharing: the workplace.
- Paid for 40 hrs/week -- do you leave ten mins early on Fri?
- Given two 10 min breaks -- do you stretch that to fifteen each?
- Email -- do you also make that for personal use?
- Vacation and personal days -- do you make them interchangeable?

Not speaking because of perfection in the little things, Heavens no. Repeat the motto: not for you.


will exalt and magnify

Catching up after a busy weekend...

"How to Tell God You Love Him" {Matt23:37-38}
* Expressing love to God is worship
* By singing to Him {Ps95:1, Rev5:11-13}
* By talking to Him (Ps116:1-2} -- PRAYER
* By listening to Him {Matt14:23} -- PRAYER
* By publicly identifying with Him {Matt10:32}
- First way via baptism
- Second way via communion
* By being committed to Him {Rom12:1}
- Membership
- Maturity
- Ministry
- Mission
- Magnification
* By giving to Him {2Cor8:7-8}


the former troubles are forgotten

You might be overseas in the midst of this. Or you might be home reading the coverage. In either case, the thought in your head might be that the chaos and fury currently raging through the Paris suburbs is quite newsworthy.

Not as much as the chaos of your soul, friend.

That fire, that anger, that widespread destruction? All of it in your future, should you not be able to avoid that lake of fire and beyond. The AP reports that "the current unrest is unusual in terms of its duration and the way it has spread." Do you feel that unrest in your heart? That longsuffering unrest, the way it curls its icy grip throughout your being? Shall stay that way for all eternity without the Lord.

That raging in France? Likely to end after a few more days of government intervention as the proponents of anger wear out. That raging in your soul? Not likely to end without the intervention of the Lord God Almighty. You have a decision to make. The end result is far more newsworthy to all the angels in Heaven than any international unrest to CNN, friend.

Stop the violence. Now.


following him and entered

I never noticed the phrasing of John12:19 before, but it's interesting. "Look, the world has gone after Him." The Pharisees may have hyperbolized a large crowd, but it's still the biggest understatement of history. I wonder if men in the midst of history ever wonder about those turning points they find themselves in. Did MLK know that he was on the verge of a revolution? Did Copernicus and Galileo?

Imagine having the world go after you.

You can picture those that actively resist the tide as curmudgeons, but it's sad really. You cannot fight against the grain of time. Unbelief is ultimately pitiful.


for he is a liar and

You want to talk about fairness of reporting? You want to talk about an unbiased media only seeking truth? You want to talk about objective truth without predetermined slant? Then explain this.

The main headline is a declaration of the finding of the first light. The smallprint goes to the professor who expresses doubt? You spend the first 60% discussing the exciting results before finally mentioning the cautions that surround the guesswork. The last sentence is a throwaway line about an adjustment that cuts a prior guess by half. That doesn't get more press?

You want the beginning? Go see Gen1:1. You want complete falsehood? Go search your one-sided lies masquerading as truth.


this precious value, then

Listened to a song today that I hadn't heard in awhile. The song in question speaks of His ability to look beyond the mess and find the art that He crafted with His loving hands. Even at your lowest, you will not lose that shine, that which makes you beautiful to Him. He can reach that far down and clean off that muck and pull out that gold. Even at my highest, I know that I am not that lustrous, and it is all He can do to still reach down and clear off that muck and show me that that gold so close beneath that surface, still has so far to go. And that He, that His hand, is still offered to all.


who walks in the darkness does not know

Speechless. The former queen of horror a believer? The former writer of, for all intensive purposes, quiet erotica a sister in the kingdom? First a member of Korn, and now Anne Rice? Next you'll tell me Wes Craven and Stephen King were spotted at a Promise Keepers rally.

I'm not surprised in the power of God to redeem anyone. I'm perfect proof that even the lowest of the low can see the light. What's surprising is for those who dwell in darkness as a living to turn from the shadows. Many revel in the shadows as a way of identity. And to be able to escape that from which you have had terrible success -- a grand lesson in the power to save.


into one the children of God

"Serving Together" {Phil2:2}
* Base: All are ministers
- Are family
- Need each other
- Are more effective together
* Trust
- Be faithful
- Be confidential (opposite of gossip)
- Be loyal {Prov17:17}
* Empathy
- Slow down -- speed misses details
- Ask questions
- Show emotion
* Accommodation
- Of needs
- Of differences
- Of faults
* Mission-oriented
- Like the roots of mighty redwoods -- tangled


among you as the one who serves

Strange enough to wake up and find yourself grown. Stranger still to be aware of the growing, conscious at the instant of growth. That next level, I didn't even know it existed. Perhaps like donning combat gear, the preparedness steels the nerves; the stepping into the role activating abilities reserved for the occasion. More likely, simply a reflection of the path to the plateau, complete dependence. And the moment of growth simply an outpouring of the closeness.

On the growing, it is one thing to work to make the self the better. It's completely terrifying but wondrous to feel that need and that desire to make the other the better. Going to have to get used to these sandals. They have been upon the feet of many far greater.


take these things away

Interesting. Even more hints of thievery. Surprised? Of course not. Liarsons always go back on each other, mixing their howlings. Imagine a work of pulp meant to appeal to people's antiGod sides making it big. And then later being found to be a construction of stolen cliches.

Revel in that pile of mammon, Brown. See you at JDay where the only thing you will be writing is your name on a ticket to the Lake.


appeared to them as nonsense

Don't even bother reading this. First, it purports to answer questions about Heaven, which is impossible speculation. Secondly, rather than actually answering any questions, he begins almost every answer with an "I think" or "I suppose". Why bother writing a Q&A if you have no definitive A? Most egregiously he answers the most important question about Heaven completely wrong:

33. How do you get to Heaven?

This is the most important question anyone can ask. The answer has already been given: It is free. "Let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price" (Rev. 22:17). Faith is the act of taking.

It sounds crazy, too good to be true. But it makes perfect sense. For God is love. Love gives gifts, gives itself. God gives himself, his own life, membership in his family. We are made "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). For God is pure love, and pure love has no admixture of stinginess in it.
You quote Scripture without saying anything about the Son? And you even say it is the most important question and yet list it 33rd? Really, why even bother, luke? Why even bother?


the way where I am going

This interview is worth reading, if only because of his answer to the third question. Great phrase used -- "it is the Jesus thing to do." Touches on the whole WWJD thing. I think what has always turned me off about that whole movement was its fadishness, and the effeminate bracelets, and the pop culture mentality. But what's clear about movements like a Saddleback focus on the poor for the sake of His name is that it is no fad to follow His command to love like you've never loved before. It is, in fact, the whole point.


on the road, while He was explaining

Saturday's post probably warrants some explication. Other than variety for variety's sake, the image came to me during prayer. I titled the piece "Solid Answer". The chosen images are all there for a reason:

* The three squares at the bottom parallel to the one rectangle across the top represents the Trinity, three in one
* The rectangle across the top and the two squares at the bottom are actual cross-sections of a stone wall, signifying a firm foundation
* The third square, bottom left, is a white rock, representing our Rock, with the white representing His holiness
* The three nails have obvious crucifixion significance
* The nails point to the cross, the solid answer
* The center rectangle is a blown-up version of the cross above it, cropped to focus on the intersection of the beams; its resemblance to a crossroads is not coincidental

Next one, yours to interpret.


who gives us the victory through

It would be really easy to let liar make moments like this into causes for sin. But this is more victorious than self-congratulatory. He tells you to take His hand upon those waters, but in waters that choppy, trust me, getting to that hand is no moment of backpatting. Rather, reaching the other side indicates not your success but His, and being that close, you see that.

Pride? No. More like a recognition that He is proud of you.


the pillar and support of

"How We Help Each Other Grow" {IThess5:11a}
* Intro: Heartbreak Hill
* By accepting each other in humility {Rom14:1}
- Especially w/ disputable matters (for ex: style of worship, translation of Word, style of preaching)
* By admonishing each other in love {Col3:16}
- For purpose of restoration, not just righteousness
* By praying for each other's growth {Jam5:16}
- Character more imp to Him than comfort
* By encouraging each other's obedience {Heb10:24-25}
- Role is to stimulate obedience and good deeds

Note: Going to disagree on the examples listed for disputable matters. I'd argue that style of worship is not negotiable (all your heart or not at all). I'd argue that translation of Word is not disputable (either literal and true or not at all). I'd argue that style of preaching is not disputable (either true to Word or not at all). You want disputable, discuss favorite foods. Getting closer to Him is not disputable.


the Spirit of truth comes

If I have not done it yet, it is because I failed to capture it here. But rest assured it has danced within my head before. So really, I'm correcting a notion I have yet to utter. In any case,

sometimes the simplest advice is the richest, deepest, and most difficult path.

It is an easy recommendation to state that the answer to every ill is time in the Word and prayer. It is, in fact, the automatic response to almost all occasions for many believers. I have (mentally) derided these action steps as simplistic, overly so.

Simply wrong.

In reality, these are practical steps to the real solution: getting right with God. Through these steps, you will be conversing and interacting and in the end being. Case in point: memorization of Scripture. Seems like something best left for classes or quizzes or board games.

No, no, and no.

The delving and the committing to mind is all part of the getting right, getting close, drawing closer. And it will feel different at first. It will be difficult, in fact, liar and all being who he is. It will feel ridiculous. Similar thoughts, I have had all. But there comes a moment where you see, yeah, this isn't so bad, this is in fact what He wants, this helps every which way.



that Jesus had silenced

It's not always calmest before the storm. Sometimes it's the loudest. The buildup continues and the noises are becoming more vocal and being given more opportunities. But the thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. Not so much the front and center as the sideeyes this time. Either this indicates a wondrous focus I never knew I had, or it indicates the leaning, a complete dependence for strength on the fount. Clearly the latter.


is a difficult statement; who can listen

Worth commenting upon. But not in the praiseworthy way you may think I should. I hear you, little bits of God are a good thing; you never know what will stick once the Spirit is at work.

No doubt.

Here's the thing: why care about the complaints? Why not be completely overt rather than subtle? Afraid of a loss of some sales? The other side doesn't care. You know how many church boycotts are called for against Disney, or Proctor & Gamble, or particular movies, or other such products? And the response? Not a whiff of change in corporate policies supportings gays or antilife causes. Because those boycotts don't work because the bride doesn't band together on anything. You think the lovers of darkness will unite against your statements of faith and boycott you or something?

Remember, He hates the lukewarm. Don't be afraid.


by force to make Him king

Been dying for a Lost reference, so here goes. In the pilot, Jack discusses his tactic for handling fear. It's a simple count to five after which he does not allow fear anymore time. That is a perfect picture of the struggle of faith. It is listening to God for direction. It is letting Him remove all of the potential distractions. It is then making that countup to faith before cowboying up and not letting liar have any more time with you.

You can talk about free will all you want, because it's an integral part to faith. Having the choice on whether or not to subject that will to His will is what it is all about.


would be fighting so that I would

"What Destroys Relationships and What Builds Them?"
* Pride destroys relationships {Prov13:10}
* Humility builds them.
* Selfishness destroys relationships {Jam4:1-2}
* Selflessness builds them.
* Insecurity destroys relationships {Gen3:10}
* Love builds them.
* Resentment destroys relationships {Job5:2}
* Forgiveness builds them.

I don't know about you, but these neutered sermons meant to appeal to the masses is killing me. I don't need flashcard antonyms. I need a sincere struggle, a wrestling that will snap my hip forever. I suppose the idea is to bring them to the watering hole and hope for a sip. But at this rate, when will they ever be ready for the flow?


what will happen when it is dry

Matt12:43 is perhaps the most frightening v in all the Word. You can take your Rev v's and their visions of the burning and the gnashing. But 12:43 paints the image of not just the spoken to unclean spirit, but also the unsaved spirit. And its fate is a restless, always seeking, waterless place. That eternal rest is in Him. That answer to your soulneed is Him. Thirsty? Living water, friend. John Calvin need not boom from on high about the fire and the brimstone. This single line and its painting of a barren picture, a barren soul in a barren future -- if I weren't already among the beloved, I would be running running to the nearest kneerest for help.

with you now and to change my tone

No matter how often it occurs, when the world hits the Spirit and the world folds, it's still striking how quickly the Spirit speaks through the world's mouth. Take this for example. The Godspeak coming from a Baldwin's mouth shocks my ears to no end. I mention this not in a bad way at all. I hope the shocking continues. I never want to be at the point where the power of God to completely flop the world ceases to amaze me.


who had sneaked in to spy out

The scary thing about Matt13 and the tares parable is this realization: those tares are NOT nouns but pronouns. Those stumbling blocks are people. Those seeds from the liar are people. Those obstructions to salvation for others are people. Liar can send the howlers. Liar can send the lions. But liar can also send people. You're not always looking for the wolf in the sheepfold, but for another sheep sent by the wrong one. Alot harder to spot the liar's worker when he's sitting across from you with a smile and a latte.


you did not choose

Ethics question: when choosing sloth over diligence is paired with love over apathy, what then? On one hand, you have the idea of managing time so that these choices are paired. On the other, when the spirit moves you, falling down is not the option. You can make the case that there are 24 hours in the day. You can also make the case that love is the greatest of the attributes.

Not trying to defend anything. Trying to be proactive when the choice is presented again.


for you, that your faith may not fail

Often it's the howlers preventing the rest with the nagging in the head. But apparent that some cases can be the Spirit gushing like a fount. In cases like that, get up. Passed along wisdom:

In John 11, Martha meets Jesus as He arrives in Bethany and is angry with the Lord, angry. And she basically accuses Him of letting her brother die. Similar to our disappointment when we don't see or understand the Lord's decisions, Satan can use that confusion, hurt, and anger against us. But what is remarkable is Martha's response shortly after her accusation of Jesus. It's pure faith, and acceptance that she knows who He is, and that His will be done. For us, the answer to our anger toward God is a reminder that He is still who He says He is, and that the walk of faith is about not letting our non-understanding of Him and His will interfere with the walk.

Praying for you. For your walks of faith to not stumble.


according to God's gracious choice

Always plenty of examples of the haters of good in these pages, and not enough of the inspired ones. Either that scarcity represents my Hobbesian outlook, or the scary scarcity of reality. In either case, not scarce today.

Man of principle, indeed. Giving up a job, giving up security, giving up for the Lord is always rewarded. Choice of prayer or the road, and he chose the road. Choice of God or man, and he chose Him. Great football coach? Who knows. Great teacher in the classroom? Who knows. But he taught his kids something that will live with them for potentially all eternity. In the choosing, always choose up.


or covetous man, who is an idolater

Envy is a sin and all, but check out number nine. What's egregious isn't that he appears on the list; as the most famous of the evangelicals, as a striking man of God, there is plenty to envy. What's egregious are the reasons listed for the envy. Bestselling author (read wealth)? Pastor of a large church (read wealth)? 90% income giveaway (read wealth)? Meaning behind his job (read purpose).

You want purpose, hardheart? You want wealth? You can have both by softening up that stone and accepting His free gift. But if you'd rather have the earthly temptations, get to it. There are others on that list more deserving of your sin.


in pairs ahead of Him

"Reaching Out Together"
* Intro: We are wired to be with others. God created man alone but said it wasn't good.
* Pray together: Make a group prayer list.
* Appeal to common interests
* Reach out in love
- Ask for a deeper love for others.
* Tell your story
- Everyone has a testimony. Every salvation is its own miracle
* Nurture friendships
* Expect Him to act
- Faith is believing what He says about Himself is true. It is believing that He will do what He says He is going to do. It is trusting that He will answer your prayers.
- Never give up on anyone.
* Represent Him with your life


one of these little ones

You're no stranger to these pages. You tell me why this doesn't get more press. No, it's not because of Katrina and Rita coverage. No, not because of the Roberts hearing. No, not even because of ongoing Middle East crises.

It's because it's clear that science doesn't regard those in the womb as lifeless masses. It's clear that those in the womb are living beings deserving of the best medical care possible. It's because the media doesn't want to budge from its unholy alliance with the left.

Keep looking for reasons to bury your heads in the sand as far as infanticide goes. Just as science can see those in the womb, the Lord can see those sins hidden in the deep darkness. All exposed before the throne, wrong ones.


through the foolishness of the message

"Word Wars" was an entertaining look at the professional Scrabble circuit. One of the protagonists in that movie was GI Joel Sherman. In a recent interview he says the following:

Did you know that you are listed alongside Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax on this website of Jewish American sports figures? How does it feel?

I must admit I did not know that. It would be bragging to say I'm alongside those great athletes when I'm clearly listed in a separate category among a handful of others *most* people still have *not* heard of. Several other North American Scrabble® Champs have been Jewish and they're not listed, presumably because the Wikipedia contributor who compiled that list found my Jewishness mentioned in "Word Freak" and the same info is not readily available about them. I won't "out" them because I don't know how they would feel to share that listing as well.

My own feeling is ambivalent: it's nice to be noted, but I'd rather my born religion was not the criterion for my inclusion, as I have been an atheist since even before my Bar Mitzvah, and have militant aversions to all religion/hypocrisy/mind control.

Nice job comparing religion to hypocrisy and mind control. Get this straight, though. Hypocrisy is not inherent to religion, but to man. Religion in and of itself is not the issue, but rather man's corruption of it. As for mind control, this from a person who spends more than half a day playing with tiles, memorizing obscure words, and chasing after a dream of a living through a board game. There is an illusion there of your mind being in control, but it is not truth.

It is a mental talent to pluck words from the ether and make them score. But just another example of how mental prowess does not equate to intelligence in the least.


so loved the world

I hope I don't live to the day where The Verse, where John3:16 makes me feel any less yearning. In its simplicity lies eternity. In its simplicity lies the mind of God. In its simplicity lies the answer for every emptiness.

Everything else, the other wrestling is all about comprehending the little details, because the greater message has already been answered in perfect simplicity.


better for him to have a heavy

The thing about weights in weight-lifting is that it's never enough even though it's often more than enough. The goal apparently being to make it so enough that the question of whether it's enough is more than apparent. But what if those weights are millstones large enough to weigh down a soul? Would the desire still be there to weigh enough that the soulweight is more than apparent? Answering before the throne is full of the tremblings in every which way. And to seek more of an answer than you are prepared for is faithstepping all the way, boy I tell you.


now a certain man was

This isn't for you; it's for me. This is my release. There are voices left and right and front and back but the one dead center, that's me, that's me. I fought myself every day this year, yes, and most days I won.

I came here seeking my own thoughts in ways that make sense to me. Still do. Hardheart, I condemned you with the best of them. But my real desire is for your Darryl to be child, stone to soften.

I don't promise anything for as long as this takes me. I don't imagine the sensemaking struggle ever lessens. But the best part of the wrestling is that He responds. He called me, and I answered. He called again, and I took down a message for you. Jesus called. Call back...

is here and is calling for you

Darryl, huh? Names and how they stick to you are funny that way. It's rare that one gets to choose one's own name. And when they stick to you, for positive or for negative, they often stick for longer than you may care.

There is one area where your name, your identity is your choice. And that is the appellation "Child of God." The Bible says in John 1 that "to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." That choice is yours, friend. All those other names? None of them will stick to you before the throne. And unlike Darryl, modeled after one of earthly fame, this name is from the creator of all.

All who see you, and call you by name? None of them offers you all eternity. But when you pass from this world to the next, the one who calls you by name, He'll call all His children, all children of God, and offer them that eternity.

Will you be one?


for the unholy and profane

Has got to be the most tasteless ad ever. Actually, not tasteless as much as stupid. And it's not the Jesus gambling thing that has me irked. Still unclear on the Christian thought on gambling. Because it treats luck as a god? Because it doesn't depend on Him for provision? Or simply, like alcohol, the association of the Savior with activities deemed unseemly?

No, the atrocious part of the ad, the actual blasphemy, is the mixing of anything less than complete awe and love at the Last Supper. The most intimate of setting, where He displayed His love and foresahdowed the Saving, and instituted the Remembrance. No other rituals in Christianity, just this one.

Nothing touches this sacred event. That is the ghastly part. You could have had them singing instead of gambling, or cooking instead of gambling, and the result is the same. Utter, utter blasphemy.


His disciples were together

"Why We Need each Other" {Rom12:5b}
* Need others to walk with {Eph4:16}
- Community God's answer to aloneness
- Community not the same as crowd
- Reading about not the same as living out
* Need others to work with {Eccl4:9}
- Community is God's answer to fatigue
* Need others to watch out for {Phil2:4}
- Liar bigger threat than crooks, terrorists
- Community is God's answer to defeat
* Need others to wait and weep with {Rom12:15}
* Need others to witness with {John13:35}


You were born entirely in

Finally back to the NT, and you can physically feel Him returning to your soul. Must be a reason the howlers block your OT trek. The OT focus on the Father instead of the Son is something, so I can understand the blocking of a means of exploring His mind. But the saving comes from getting closer to the Son anyway, so to me that seems backward.

In any case, quick contrast. Luke1 focuses on the birth of John and the soon-to-be birth of the Savior. Contrast that to the intro of John where v12-13 discuss your birth in Him. One gospel is all about the One and the leading up to how He came to be; the other is all about you and the One, and the leading up to why you came to be.

See it's this type of interlocking that will make the next month simply wondrous. Welcome back.

faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth

Congratulations. No, seriously. Well done. But don't think that will be followed by good and faithful anything. That success of yours is only of this world. And you might be very proud of that, but I tell you this. On the throne, He isn't finding that wondrous. Maybe you've heard of the silos and the storing. None of that carries over into eternity. All of you spending all your time ensuring that it continues to grow into imponderable sums will find the price of a ticket to eternity is still too too far away. And you all are going to find that trading that logo and your soul for worldly success was one of liar's biggest successes, not yours.


all these things, pondering them

Approaching, quickly approaching the year of this. On days, it's a stretch to complete thoughts too incomplete, too swift to record. On others, it's a need to vent, a need to praise, a need to finalize. Unsure of where this continues. There was the thought a while back about switching it to sermons for the week, but that seems too large a commitment to uphold. There is the thought of varying some more, including more of the arts or some such expression.

We'll take it as it was when this began: willingness to explore His mind and my mind, and how they connect in whatever ways they do.


already laid at the root

What's wrong with these people? I mean, these are artists I respect -- well some of them (not looking at you, Jeremy). Let me get this straight: music inspired by the book? That book is based on the Book, which should be the only source of your inspiration. Why be two degress removed when you can be at the faucet drinking?


not as the world gives

When a man earns your respect, you take the opportunity to admit your error and stress your admiration and respect. So, Mr. Warren, I am taking you off the cynic's list and into the remarkable. Don't get me wrong. You and I still have some disagreements. But when you go from life to community to purpose-driven nation -- hot diggity if that isn't a vision that would make Him proud to the point of tears.

Now that's a bride you could be proud of.


who has this hope fixed

Trying something different, practice making perfect and all. Especially if you think it's one of your gifts. But more importantly because it's your calling.

Start here. Go ahead. I'll wait.

There are no administrative errors in real life, friend. There is no correction after the fact, no changed minds every four years regardless of the prevailing winds of thought. That scorecard check at the throne will be thumbs up or down based on your sin, and that's not one you will win without help. That help is from the abundant love of God above, a love willing to lay its life down for you.

No mulligan, friend. Accept the free gift of love.


where then is that sense

Topic for later, perhaps for the young beloveds -- occurred to me on the drive home that His love is senseless. Or rather nonsensical. The life of faith is one where the heart is filled with such nonsense love.

Examples: Jacob and his mom. Joseph and Mary. Jesus and you.

Characteristics: Extreme devotion. Extreme actions based on that devotion. Devotion in the face of reasons not to be devoted.

This might not be headed anywhere. Your definition might be that defines all love. And maybe you're right.


even He who comes

"Setting the Table for a God Visit" {Exod19}
* Remember His faithfulness {Lam3:23}
* Celebrate future
- His treasured possession (trash/ring story)
- His kingdom of priests
- Priests have direct access
- Priests represent Him to people
- Priests are dedicated to serving Him
* Commit with the Community
* Prepare self spiritually
- Set aside time
- Take spiritual inventory/reality check
- Pray diligently
* Get ready for a God visit

Note: Why use Exod19 instead of obvious imagery of readyman?


serve me while I eat and drink

Yes, I know there are reasons for it. Just unsure what it accomplishes. Test of faith? Test of devotion? Test of sacrifice? I mean, there are other ways such tests are accomplished.

The end result is usually concentration on everything but God. On the pangs. On the pains. On the cravings. Test of focus, maybe? If it's a prayer thing, this only adds a layer of distraction. Wouldn't you rather be sated and focused on prayer than famished and distracted in prayer?

Powerful weapon, I'll take your word on it. But if impossible to use, hard to be well-prepared.


with power from on high

So that's your answer, liarson? That He is not powerful enough to stop a hurricane? He can create the universe with a word, but not powerful enough to stop His creation? Perhaps we should start listening to rabbis who claim a less than omnipotent God?

Maybe your god isn't omnipotent. In fact, we know he isn't, the liar. But my God is a great God. At the throne, you can challenge Him to a feat of strength, Campolo. See how far He can toss you into the lake.


of them and boil in them

of all of them the seething has to be the root of all of them you can make the argument that it is present in all of them it lurks even when positive so hard to focus when the only focus is on red


get up and pray

Straight up, there are few ideas as wonderful, as beautiful, as pleasing to God as this.

It's sad that there are no equivalents for adults at their workplaces to display their faith and to lift up their coworkers. I don't think it's because there are no possibilities.

Pole = Watercooler?
Pole = Copier?
Pole = Reserved parking?
I think it's because men lack spiritual leadership. I think it's because adults fear their peer pressure is somehow more significant than that of their teens.

I think it's because liar has convinced you there is no need. But there is a need. A huge need.

See you at the cross.


were all struck with astonishment

If you read the Word, there are a lot of things you will find that will utterly shock you, jaw dropped, tracks stopped. I submit to you perhaps one of the biggest of the sentence shockers: Ps137:9.

"How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock."

I literally am not sure where to go from there. The contrast between blessing and grotesque violence. The brutality against little ones. The placement of this in psalms that are generally lifted toward the Lord. I am not going to rationalize and explain why this is in there, or its purpose for edification. I won't question His inspiration of it.

But I won't defend the position that this tastes like honey.