Lord, behold he whom you love

Yeah, I can understand how this is how the anti-Christ will spend his last hours on earth. Thanking those around him. Asking someone to read him the Bible. Listening to a final Mass. Hearing the wondrous verses from the Book of John. I can understand how when the anti-Christ passes on, those around him will be praying for him. Will be actually joyous rather than mournful because they know he's going to see the Lord. Makes perfect sense. I'm sold.

Jenkins, send me one copy of each of your books, will you? Twixt you and JPII, one being anti, well, you can guess which one I think has the higher skin temperature threshold, scrub.


for you a Savior, who is Christ

Read this because I have very little to add. Don't miss the two points: that "the gospel cannot be squeezed into a 'nutshell'" and that there is no gospel without Jesus. There is no Christianity without Christ. The Lord wants all to come to Him, sure. But not with blindfolds on. Truth still matters.

Willow Creek can call a soul and lead it to its knees. But unless those knees are bent before Messiah Christ, they bend in vain. All you followers of a diluted message lack real faith. Real faith is only called to bring others to the singular question of belief in Jesus or not. Not god or not. Jesus or not.

Jesus or not?


has one who judges him

This story is interesting on so many fronts. But not the whole stripper evangelist angle. Nor will I get into the argument about whether a church is being a good steward of the Lord's rescources by paying for lapdances.

What's interesting is that JC's Girls nails the correct points where it matters. The Lord calls out to sinners, and sinners can be believers. This is a religion full of sinners. I said as much a while back. The media makes use of man's innate desire to prioritize sins when it isn't about that. It is self-righteousness to spit on these believers.

Lord looks down at these ones, and He doesn't see sinners. He sees sinners saved by grace reaching out to the lost. And if you are one of the condemners, He sees you as a sinner saved by grace. Except you aren't reaching for the lost. Take a good look at that picture, friend. A good, long look before you judge.


choose me but I chose

Perusing this and the gifting awoke.

That title says it all doesn't it? Already know that Mike and wife will already be at the gates. But you? What if '06 was your last year? Mike says "Life goes on." But the continuation of that quote isn't true. It won't be up to you alone to decide what happens; rather a just and righteous lamb of God on a throne will decide. And the future before the throne will be decided based upon your ability to adhere to perfection. You might think, like Holmgren, that this last year, you'll just want to go through it happy, and meet at the end. Sorry, friend. Justice is at stake. And your mediocre record of refraining from sin will not cut it. Short of 241-0, you will not cut it.

But this decision isn't in the hands of agents and families and players and friends. This decision is yours. If you accept Christ right now, right now, where you spend the many years after '06 will be settled. A guaranteed longterm contract with the Almighty. You will be on His team forever.

Make that choice today.


Satan, who leads the whole world astray

Not a coincidence methinks that during the same weekend/week I am prepping for Eph6 and listening to an old schooler preach on Eph6 that a CNN Correspondent would post the following on a blog (although for the sake of your sanity, just read the original blog post and not the minions of liar commenting on the post). Two thoughts in response to the blogging:

One, clear reminder of a point to emphasize this Sabbath -- liar's great lie is that he doesn't exist. Paul has to make that warning to fellow believers because it is easy for them to believe the lie. How much easier for unbelievers to swallow that wholesale? And of course MSM will take part in the lie; they couldn't exist without the lie. If liar was shown for what he really is, all would flock to the cross.

Second, liar is taunting me. He knows that it doesn't matter whether or not the topic of his existence is discussed 24/7/365. This world is his, and the more people irrationally debate his non-existence, the more he likes it. He believes I can do nothing, and perhaps he's right. Perhaps he's right.

Although he should remind himself that I know of him, and I know of me. And I know I stand firm, stand firm in the strength of His might. I need not do a thing. Not a thing.


no one dared to ask Him

"The Problem of Unanswered Prayer"
* Reminder: Believers in spiritual warfare {Eph6}; Prayer the weapon
- Ted Turner turned from Lord due to unanswered prayer
- Ps106:23: Moses in breach in prayer -- stayed hand of Lord
- If prayer so powerful, why not pray? Unbelief
* 12 reasons why prayer unanswered
* Jesus not Lord of life
- Own desires collide w/ His will
- His will won't move; we must willingly yield
- If not in His name, no access to power
- Start day w/ statement/prayer of obedience
* Unconfessed sin
- Isa59:1-2: separation from Lord
- Ps34:15: attentive ear turned toward righteous
- Isa1:15-16: washing necessary
* Not forgiving others of trespasses
- In Lord's prayer {Matt6}
- Matt5:23: Can't come to Him w/ grudges


will give further directions

A few days back I discussed the whole goad-kicking issue. Occurred to me today that sometimes I don't understand the reasoning behind why the kicking would ever start. Why would you not want to know where you should be headed? Coming from an OCD, why would you not want that decided for you? When isn't safety a paramount concern?

Up early this morn and goaded to knees. Could have kicked. Maybe would have kicked. But thought never crossed the mind. That pressure, that pulling, that prodding -- no different than nuzzling and scratching and petting. Again, why ever kick?


as you have promised

trying to keep the commitment and finding the thoughts that come aren't always from the other side perhaps the commitment shouldn't stick wondering on the one whether keeping hold of something without its accompanying other things makes any sense and whether emptiness kept in a jar holds any value to the jargetter at the same time understanding that He kept hold of far harder things to hold and what does that say about my holding? chalking it up right now to the thought that even empty holding means something and that the other side doesn't even want that a commitment of any kind to Him fearing a slippery slope I guess too late others too late


If it were, my servants would fight

Lightning going to strike twice. If you didn't expect a Stein reference yesterday, you're surely not expecting back-to-back dingers. Fly away, baseball. My oh my. Ahem.

Again from here but posted here for exposure (yeah, like more here than there):

Lately, there has been much gnashing of teeth in the media and on liberal talk radio about Protestant preachers urging their megaflocks to get involved in the fight against abortion on demand. There has also been a good amount of muttering about Republicans using churches to promote the vote--up or down--on a few of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench. And of course, there is ever more screaming about what secret plans the new Pope might have for controlling American Catholics in their views on abortion and homosexuality.

All of this, it is darkly hinted, is a violation of the Constitutional bans on the Establishment of a religion, a new and sinister development in political life, and a threat to the Republic.

What foolishness. Who was was leading the marchers heading towards the Pettus Bridge in ( or near ) Selma, Alabama forty years ago during the heyday of the Civil Rights movement? Ministers and nuns in clerical garb. Who was there in Birmingham? Again, men and women of the cloth. What was the greatest political/moral figure of the twentieth century in America? A Protestant minister, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Who was leading us from the pulpit, sounding out fury at the seemingly endless Vietnam war? The Reverend William Sloan Coffin, a minister of the Gospel. Who was at all of the anti-war marches? Ministers and priests and rabbis. No one was complaining about that, for some reason.

Who thundered against slavery and urged on the Civil War? Henry Ward Beecher and other men of faith in the north.

This is what has always been going on in political life in America. The political is the moral. And the moral is the political.

Men and women of faith have always been involved in political/moral issues as long as there has been politics and as long as there has been religion. (Think of Moses urging the politically explosive issue of freeing the children of Israel from bondage, or of Jesus telling followers it was fine to pay taxes to Caesar.)

The only new thing is that now it's conservatives marching for life and preaching for life, not ministers marching for civil rights or disarmament. But surely men and women of the cloth are not just allowed but commanded to assert their moral beliefs on issues of supreme importance. Men and women who wear the cloth do not check their first amendment rights and their moral duties when they take their vows. They never have, and they never will. And we are far better for it.
Just a great reminder that it is liar who tells you that religion and beliefs should be completely separated from your politics. Your politics represent who you are; and who you are is made of what you believe. Great reminder that the men and women of faith have always led the charge for righteousness and justice, and doing so in these darkened days should not and can not be guilted into submission.


would not allow them to

Going to go out on a limb here and say that you aren't expecting me to make any religious points based on something said by Ferris Bueller's teacher. You'd be wrong. Making the forwarding rounds in our circle is a little piece apparently published for CBS. Thought it might be a hoax similar to the fictitious Vonnegut grad speech from a few years ago, but checked its veractity here.

In any case, I'm quoting his relevant text here:

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.
The best line is the point he makes about America not being an "explicitly atheist country". This is due to people's training to look for opposites in order to relate things. And if they hate God, they look the other way and think that killing God is the correct solution. It's high time that the majority really be tyrants over the minority for once and take a stand for their belief.


to what lies ahead

Rom1:29-32 lists a who's who among the devil's children. They should make a facebook or something and sell mugs for money. In any case, one in that list struck me this morning. It follows boastful in v30.

inventors of evil

No matter which translation you look in, it's the same. You're so evil, you're making up new ways to be evil. You're spreading unrighteousness in places it didn't exist in before. You're the opposite of the Creator, who made things for good; you make things up for the sake of rebelling against God. You're constantly daydreaming of ways to be like your father, him of the lies.

You think that characteristic is only a remnant of old Rome, but you'd be wrong. Start with the modern legal system, and the packs of ravenous lawyers bent on twisting laws and the Constitution to suit their evil beliefs. A right to infanticide guaranteed by the Founding Fathers? RICO laws meant to silence protestors? Zoning ordinances meant to take down crosses? Free speech modifiers meant to silence the faithful? You think your creativity is an asset. It is, liarschild. It is. But you're on the wrong side of the throne.


shines to the other part

"How to Be a Contagious Christian" {Matt5:13-16}
* The Problem: Darkness
* The Plan: Witnessing
- Being salt
- Being light
* The Danger: Failure
- Salt often mixed w/ sand
- Eventually becomes sand
* Application:
- Build relationships
- Make a commitment to prayer
- Pursue personal integrity
- Point them to Jesus


sees the evil and hides

Going to try to draw attention, for what it's worth, to how despicable the media (or MSM as everyone is calling it these days) really and truly is. I've railed against them before, yes, I know. But you can't see how much they hate God until you know what they are really up to.

Case in point: infanticide.

The press refuses to use the language of the pro-life. Everyone is aware of that. But to actively hide the dangers of abortion to the country? Have you seen what a big deal the press makes when national studies prove something may or may not be harmful to people? Like hormone therapy for women? Or for fatburners? Or for anti-depressants? If there's a remote chance that something is slightly or potentially harmful, here comes the press with their "investigative reporting" and their sensationalism.

But here comes this study, one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on abortion that indicates there is harmful effects to the mental health of women who undergo abortion, and guess how much press that got? Or the results from this study that discusses the harmful effects of the murder pill. Lots of national coverage there, huh?

CNN, NY Times, et al, you want to focus on Bush's slipping poll numbers? Go ahead. I guarantee you that before the throne, issues of popularity won't rank as high as the issue of whether or not you contributed to slaughtering His little ones. Headline for you: Lake Really, Really, Really Hot.


and those who commit

This to me seems like we're missing the whole point. Like the rest of modern Christianity, it is no longer about Christ and how we follow Him. It's all about seeing How He fits into our existing world. And rather than seasons of remembrance that supersede secular holidays, we have seasons of exceptions to secular holidays.

Christ doesn't call you to lead so He can follow. He walks and says "Come and you will see." You've got the leader all wrong, buster. Modern Christianity seems to think that carrying your own cross means carrying it sometimes, and then leaving the cross on the ground when we feel like it.

That cross is priceless. And when the Willow Creeks and American bishops think they are just putting that cross down for awhile, they are actually grinding it into His flayed shoulder. Don't avoid the image, church. It is the truth. Face the truth and change.


will be able to resist

Acts26:14 caught my eye, specifically for the Lord's statement to Paul:

"It is hard for you to kick against the goads."

The why persecuting gets the most press, but this goads statement is a curious one. Commentaries I've seen on the v don't bring up any particular Jewish turn-of-phrase. All pretty much say the same thing -- phrase refers to a mule rebelling against prodding by its master. Basically, Lord says it's actually more work to go against the Father's will. Diverging from the walk of faith isn't an accident, but a force of your own desires. Makes sense.

What was more interesting is that the use of a unique word like "goads" should be unlikely to occur elsewhere in the Word. But no. It actually occurs once more. And check out Eccl12:11:

"The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd."

I don't think I ever saw such NT references in Eccl before. But well-driven nails? a Shepherd with a capital S? Make your own link twixt these two v's. I'll be busy still pondering the unlikely coincidence.


and looking in, he saw

Feeling the need (or leading?) to eventually preach on this. Two points came to mind. The first is the obvious ISam16:7 reference of man judging by external, but God looking at the heart. That's a given.

The second and deeper point is that you can be far lovelier when you are not the one in the mirror, but rather the mirror. You are not called to look like anything; you are called to reflect the loveliness that is the Lord. The walk of faith is the struggle of being the cleanest, clearest glass possible, shining a light not coming from you. Obedience is merely allowing yourself to reflect. You are lovely, yes, but not really you.


you may have life in His name

All Christians should stop believing in God and read this for the clear explanation of why this must be so. Really, the argument is even so clear throughout Scripture that I am surprised that more preachers aren't delivering this message to their flocks. In the OT, God mocks the silver and gold creations that become the objects of worship. He doesn't mock that they are called "gods", but rather that they can't do anything. Remember the whole fire race in Samuel? I can imagine the YHWH mocking "god" on that hill. In Acts, Paul threatens the Ephesian livelihood by challenging their god with the truth of the Father and Lord Jesus.

I've discussed in more posts than I care to link the importance of names in the Bible. But this is the first time I would remove a name from usage. Do we dare be brave in the faith and say that we no longer refer to Him as God and only use those terms appropriate for the living Almighty that He is?

We will try. And we will try to deliver that message to the faithful.


are so quickly deserting Him

Everything wrong with modern Christians is contained here. That such a concept as quick-read Bibles exists tells you how far people have fallen from the Way described in Acts. The faith then consisted of a lifechanging walk where people gave up their literal all to follow Him. The faith now? Christians on a clock confining God to schedules.

How do you expect revival and miracles and His power displayed when rather than seeking His Word and the truth contained in its specifically-chosen words, you look for the quickest way to get the daily chore of Bible-reading out of the way. How do you expect a changed world when rather than seeking Him, you seek how He fits into your busy life?

Those Bibles should come with a disclaimer in the front. Danger: Could be hazardous to your soul.


and brings good news of happiness

"How to Be Happy" {Matt5:1-12}
* Intro: God calls us to be diff. SermonMt is the set of instructions on how to do so -- and be happy
* Setting:
- Audience: crowds & disciples -- curious, convinced, committed
- Theme: Pts to Matt5:20 and greater righteousness; law/works not good enough
- Purpose: Intro to rest of speech on righteousness
- Setting: Seated on hill; official like a rabbi
* Blessed=fortunate. All needs met w/o external (Cyprus)
* "poor in spirit": Humility. Recognition of spiritual bankruptcy, that apart from Him, nothing. In position to exp God
* "those who mourn": Repentance. Assoc w/ confession of sin, not death. Mourning for having grieved God. "How long has it been since you agonized over your sin?"
* "meek": Submission. Meek not weak but strength under control. Related to taming animals.
* "those who hunger & thirst for righteousness": Spiritual hunger. Desire for Him rather than world. Emptiness will be filled by God.
* "merciful": Righteousness produces mercy -- a loving response to needs of others. Heart for God creates heart for others
* "pure in heart": Holiness. Christ is the standard.
* "peacemakers": Thermostat v thermometer
* "persecuted": Obedience. Willing to accept persecution, to endure as He endured for you


calculate the cost to see

This story makes me sad. I suppose it should be an uplifting one, a radical minister bent on saving souls gives a small offering for the chance to sow seeds. I suppose it should make me happy that one of liar's children had a mustard seed enough to allow himself to be a target for seed-throwers. I suppose it should make me smile knowing that we never know how God will use even the tiniest of cracks in howler armor to completely rend a man.

I suppose all of that should be true.

I tend to see the sadness instead in a world where there are those who believe that a soul is only worth $504. The Lord bled for that soul, a value beyond comprehension. Even sadder still, there are those who will attempt a similar stunt, figuring this an easy trade of time for cash, $10/hr being far better than minimum wage -- not seeing the truth that the wages of sin is death, and the outcome of an hour can change a life. Saddest of all may be those who snicker at the stunt, believing someone rooked an old man out of $504 because a soul isn't worth it. Liar is the one telling you that souls are cheap or not for sale. Both are his biggest lies of all.


shall have open spaces

This is an interesting post for many different reasons. Not only is it a discussion of the relation between science and faith; not only is it an honest perspective on reconciling science and faith; not only is its ultimate point true -- that His sovereign hand in Creation need not fear man-made science; but it is also a powerful phrase to imagine in other aspects of your life.

God is in the gap.

He is in the gap between your abilities, sustaining you when you cannot sustain yourself. He is in the gap between your steps of faith, supporting you even when you waver. He is in the gap between your lives, that here on earth and thence to Him eternal. He is in the gap between your moments of peace, stengthening you during the fight.

Powerful reminder, that there is no space in your life unaccounted for, or which He does not fill.


one of these little ones who believe

Google "Living Last Supper" yourself and you'll see the 565 references that pop up. Here are some of the examples I found. Apparently quite popular. First version of this play occurred in 1954. I'm sure over the 5 decades since then, more modern versions appear. Understandable. But I hope they don't change or modernize the first soliloquy from the original, which explains a scene in John 1 I'd always wondered about -- Nathaniel and the fig tree incident.

The version of the play I have says:

"In my country, when working mothers go into the fields, they place their little babies under the shade of the nearest fig tree. The large leaves shelter the babies from the hot rays of the sun. So the Master was actually telling me that He had known me since the day I was born."

The sweetness of that recollection resonates. He has chosen you since the very beginning. Anecdote from my own life: mother seeking to claim my little ones, asking for them while they were still womb-resting. Always turned her away with a polite, "No, this one's mine." And the Lord was like that for all believers. Seeing you in the belly, finding you lovely. Claiming you from the liar. From the very beginning. Knowing you since the day you were born. "No, this one's mine."


Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt

Not going to spoil it all early. Random samples for coming Sunday eve:

it is not an ordinary table we come to this evening . . . Because if you were to look at just the individual pieces of the Lord’s table, you might not think much of it . . . The idea of “price,” the value we place on something, is important to think about when at the Lord’s Table. The concepts of price and value mean something in Communion . . . [this] question must have crossed God’s mind at the beginning of eternity . . . All of us by virtue of our sin must pay something for breaking God’s Law of Righteousness. And the price we must pay? . . . He looked at the hopelessness of our futures, He looked at the eternal separation from Him that was our destiny, God looked at us . . . Because there was a very clear price to be paid for our sins, there was a debt that needed to be paid . . . That’s why the Lord’s table is no ordinary table; that’s why the Lord’s table is precious . . . in the silence of your hearts think of this idea of price and value.


and he began to be in need

Reviewing John4:46-54 and my eye caught on a minor: royal official. Good model of faith. Can imagine him as me.

I imagine him as a man used to controlling others, a royal official full of power and authority. He tells people what to do all the time. That's, in fact, what he does for a living. And things happen under his watch. He commands a problem fixed and it is fixed. He wants something done and it is done. But this one problem isn't fixing. This one thing isn't getting done. This son of his is sick, still sick, and no amount of power and authority is changing that fact. And after a week or two, and after throwing his weight around and arranging the best medical care possible, still nothing, still this high fever and ague.

And then he hears about Him.

And desperate dad that he is, royal official yes, but still a dad, and he rather than arrange messengers to beseech Him, he knows that wouldn't work somehow, he heads there himself. This time, he is the one doing the something rather than others doing that something. And he arrives before Him, and beseeches Him, this time not throwing power and authority at all to get something done, but pleading for something to get done.

And then he hears Him.

Healed by a word? Dare he believe it? But He is everything he imagined He would be and more and just in His presence he knows that He has true power and authority and royalty and he knows he is nothing before Him and so he goes. Does he look back every now and then? Does he wonder whether or not he should go back just to check? Does he get outraged that He didn't want to personally come? No, his desperation brings him to his realization of need which is the start of all faith and so he goes.

And then he hears them.

Healed. Fever? Healed. Ague? Healed. All? Healed. And he himself believed. And his whole household. And that living that was promised? Not just the son, but all. And the royal official, desperate dad no longer but grateful son himself believed. And his whole household. These minors, good lessons of faith.


its protection is taken from you

nice one liar sneaking one liar forget sometimes the whole door pouncing waiting pouncing while looking and lifting the others forgetting sometimes and then the pouncing but didn't knock me from the closeness liar nor stopping the lifting or the others only good reminder that that door needs to be shut


shall be one flock and

Brief message sans outline or notes. Based on John 21 and breakfast with Him. Key theme: your background doesn't matter. Your skills don't matter. Your experience doesn't matter. What matters is always the obedience to the call. Reminder of one of my favorite anecdotes, true or otherwise:

John Wesley: If only God would give me wings, I'd fly for Him!
Charles Wesley: Brother, if He bids me fly, I'll trust Him for the wings.

Better than the mesage was the gathering after, and for once, not a forced reunion, but rather a collective and communal testimony to God, of His singular ability to unite the ununitable and make them one family. Still getting used to the family, but like them, like them very much. And in Him, love them, love them very much.


from you but only raw

I noted a while back a quote that should define the heart of not just an elder, but also any brethren, and any friend. Mutual heartbreaking should move you before the throne faster than you can respond with an ouch. And when the response is automatic, then you know you're getting somewhere.

But there's also something deeper, a twinge of where you want to be. It's not just the em- and sym- pathy twins that move you, but the incomprehensible hurt as if you were the victim, that for a moment catches your breath. And in that moment, you can feel for them as He feels for them -- a realness unmatched. Go there. That's where you and your quote want to be.


to them apart from the crowd

Don't know how I feel about this.

Position 1: Isn't this what you red-staters want? Isn't this what society has been pushing for? The complete isolation of religion away from surrounding culture? Don't other groups (ethnic groups, sports fans, hobbyists, etc) do this in various ways, move to communities where their beliefs are not mocked but shared? Aren't we supposed to separate ourselves from the world?

Position 2: Christ doesn't call for us to isolate. In fact, just the opposite. That's what the whole Great Commission is all about: go out to those that don't know and love God and get them to know and love God. God doesn't call for you to shield yourself from unbelievers; where will your witnessing opportunities be if all around you are your brethren?

Position 2 is probably the correct one to take, but on days where the devil's winning, Position 1 looks awfully tempting.


all things into His hands

Acts16:6-7 raises some questions. v6 says that P&B were "forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia." v7 says that "the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them" to go into Bithynia. Questions?

* Are we speaking physical preventative measures? Did they lose their ability to speak in Asia? Was there way continually blocked by boulders and such as they tried to trek to Bithynia? Is it against our knowledge of God to think that He isn't physically involved in this world? Doesn't He remove job offers when He doesn't want you to move? Prevent the sale of your house? Let you get sick the night before your plane takes off? Do we believe He can't/won't work this directly in our lives?

* Are we speaking more spiritual conflicts? P&B up all night fretting and anxious, knowing they shouldn't be in Asia and Bithynia? P&B preaching to blank stares with no success? A weighty conscious, an ever-present nag, a knowledge that your actions aren't working? We know He works this way, removing the peace that signals a faithful walk.



in this way in former times

You can find its defenders or its detractors. I don't care which side you're on. You pick and choose your faith just as I do mine, I'm sure. What was nice about observing today is the comfort familiarity brings. One hopes that one goes through more than just motions, that the individual parts be something more than a warm blanket. There is danger in the familiarity and warmth becoming the whole. But sometimes there's nothing wrong with that comfort. It fits and makes you remember the feeling of the initial fitting, the day when you realized that all of it, everything made such clear sense.