but made alive in

Does this story seem unbelievable to you? Can you imagine the joy of the family who had organized an unnecessary funeral? Does the entire idea of having someone who once was "dead" but now alive seem incredible? The media picks up this story for its emotionally-charged joy-to-grief/grief-to-joy angle, and many of you are reading this story today in complete wonder. And then missing the easy-to-see analogy.

That grief-to-joy moment can be yours for the taking. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. The Bible says that you, that me, that all of us were dead in our sin.

But Jesus says "I am the resurrection and the life." The Bible says that "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." And the Bible says that you need only believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you shall be saved.

That death-to-life is not merely a sensational headline. It is, in fact, the most important transformation that you can encounter in your life if you turn over your heart to Christ. Will you choose that this very day?


our hearts burning within us

Last problem, and one that probably plagues the most of us is where you have the gift and the calling, but not the heart for it. This isn't a problem so much as simple disobedience. In the other two, the heart is simply misleading one's thoughts. Not disobedience as much as deception. But call and gift and no heart? That's simply willfulness.

He has given you something. He has called you to something. The heart is always the last to follow.


who is called by

Problem two arises when you have the gift and the heart, but still waiting for that call. This is the advanced form of the disease described Saturday, where you figure the leading is taking you where you want to go. Now not only do you want to do something, but you're really good at that thing, too. Question you have to ask yourself -- do you want to do it precisely because you're good at it? Not because you're called there, but because you think you're good there.

Will the Lord provide gifts where there is no call? That's the thing of it all. He wants you to use it, no doubt. But the question is where. And I'm saying that sometimes the where isn't where you want it to be.

How then will you know whether or not you're being called? Again, I'm saying there is no doubt. If you don't know know, then you aren't called. Capricious statement and belief? No doubt. Right? Not sure.


let him be the first to

"God of Firsts"
* Living life on your own terms always leads to frustration & meaninglessness {Eccl1:9, 8:17}
* Living on His terms leads to fulfillment {Eccl12:13}
* Lord is a Lord of firsts {Gen1:1, 12:2, Gal3:8}
* His Word never returns empty/void {Isa55:10-11}
* Three stages in every work of God (J Hudson Taylor)
- It is impossible
- It is difficult
- It is done
* You can be involved in these milestones in His kingdom
- By going
- By sending
- By praying


do not let your heart be

Where am I headed with this? Calling, heart, and gifting -- these lead to something, yes? Together, I believe they lead to Godly success. When you have a calling from God that matches your heart for something which matches your gifting, we have what we call a hat trick. And what the Lord calls perfect obedience. He has given you something and called you for something and in your obedience you have that same heart for something. And you will bear fruit. You can't actually devote your career to ministry if these three things are not in sync. But when they are, liar watches out because he knows it is bad news for him.

Problem one arises when you have a heart for something, but no calling or gifting. You might desire to be on that stage leading folks before the throne, but if He hasn't given you that gift or called you on that stage, your vocalizations and all the instrumentation in the world won't change the fact that that throne actually seems to be receding into the distance.

It may not even be visible, save in the recesses of your heart. You say you feel burned out after doing this for awhile? You say you still don't feel comfortable doing what you're doing? You say you feel frustrated that fruit isn't being born? I have one guess: 2 of 3 ain't right here. And it behooves you to figure out where the other two are. Because that heart of yours is leading you astray.


if you knew the gift of God

A relatively new idea to me, this theory of gifting that the modern church has. Never heard of it ONCE until a decade ago. Perhaps not important enough to mention to young ones, although how they would choose their lives without knowing is beyond me.

At a fundamental level, I believe He has gifted us with a reason in mind -- and that reason being that He expects us to make use of those gifts. No Indian-giver, He's not taking them away if unused. But if you think you don't have a responsibility to use them, you'd be wrong. Do I believe that there is such a sin as the sin of disuse? It's really more a variation on the general theme of disobedience, really. But yes, sinful.

Can you develop gifts that you were not given? Probably. But never to the fruitfulness or potential of the true gifts given to you, methinks. Then how do I determine mine? If you think the answer is found in those ridiculous 40-question tests, you don't understand anything about anything.

If he bids me fly, etc. Take the step of faith, and when the water-walking comes second nature, you know you've found one. Those multiple choices will only mislead you, desires of the heart and all. Don't mislead yourself in trying to fit a gift not wrapped for you.


has filled your heart

That desire in your heart to do something is not your calling. It is what it is, a personal preference, a desire. You're thinking that all desires are bad, and that's only because you see desire in the lustful sense of the word. It can, in fact, be completely devoid of sexual context. You can desire to please God, for example. No issue with desire in that sense. In and of itself, nothing wrong with desire.

Desire in the heart is only part of having a heart for something. Having a heart for something means not only desiring to do something, but also having a heaviness there that drags your attention and focus away from all other things. It adds significance to it. The significance added to it pulls the desire away from the heart, and places it in the head. It makes that desire an interest. When someone says I have a heart for serving the homeless, they are stating two things: that they have a desire to serve in that area; and that they have a mental interest in doing so.

Where does the Lord fit into this? On one hand, these desires -- not your calling, remember -- are from you. They may or may not be sinful, that's the tricky thing. The Lord can give you a heart for a ministry -- He does that when He touches your soul -- but that should only increase something that was pre-existing. The heart for something must ultimately come from you.

I'm beginning to think I'm splitting hairs here. Hard to tell, but this is going somewhere.


but I have called you friends

Eph4 has one of the best of all starts, this calling from Paul to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. And this calling probably gets preached on every now and then, but usually focused more on careers or ministries.

But calling is often confused with internal desire. I've heard said "I know this is what the Lord wants me to do because it's something I've always wanted to do, and so He must have put that desire there." Really? Because I desire a twinkie right now, and I don't understand the theology that equates my twinkielust with the noble idea being stated by Paul.

Calling is something that originates from God. It should be clear. It may actually (and my guess is often) go against what you actually desire. Calling won't come from digesting a line of reasoning and deciding upon a best course of action. Calling is all at the level of the soul.

My theory? That most people don't know what their calling is because they haven't asked, and because they haven't shut up long enough for the Lord to tell them. Initially? Let's say 10% of believers know their calling. The other 90? Shut up and ask.


want to go away also, do you

These retroactions might seem ridiculous to you. I don't care. It isn't as if the thoughts are stopping; just the time and effort and will to place them here. Not five to spare? Maybe five to spare; but frankly, the will to spare to anything is a question right now. Going to have to find a different way to think about these regular ponderings. The next few days might be where this all heads.


had also seen a vision of

This is awful, just dreadful. Do yourself a favor and just read the book. This isn't one of your typical "Reading is fun!" crusades; those crusades are for cheerleaders and tweed jacket types. This is simply trying to do you a favor.

In any case, one overplayed piece of the movie lay in its depiction of how Vardon focused the rest of the world out of his mind's eye until all he could see was the flag and the green and surrounding wide-open fields. Ouimet had a similar focus visual with shimmering flags and greens. Heard athletes tell of the zone experience, and know something like it actually exists.

It's a wonder that skill hasn't been practiced towards worship. You are brought to the house of the Lord to meet Him there, and imagine the changed flock whose focus was not on the cellphone rings of the ignorant, or the wailing of the little ones, or the murmuring from beyond the closed doors. Imagine that focus on a shimmering throne surrounded by wide-open fields. Imagine that singing of yours being lifted to the rafters lifted instead toward seated wonder.

Great plus and all being able to see the others before the throne with you on that Great Day, but I'll tell you what. I won't see a one of them, my gaze instead lifted toward the shimmering, nothing else in sight but the only sight I need to behold.


and by that law

"How Good is Good Enough?" {Matt5:17-20}
* Intro:
- How will you answer before the Gate? Why let you in?
- Most will use the excuse of goodness; but what is the threshold?
* Jesus came to fulfill Scripture
- Fulfilled messianic prophesies
- Fulfilled requirements of Law
- Revealed true meaning of Law
- Fulfilled sacrificial offerings
* Law is unchangeable
- Can be trusted to the smallest penstroke
- Not a pick up and choose gospel -- all truth
- Even under grace, Law important -- reflects moral character of God
* New kind of righteousness
- Based on internal, not external conformity (obedience of heart, not body)
- Based on transformation, not sin avoidance
- Based on relationship, not rules
- True religion far diff from burden of rules {Luke11:46}
- Threshold is perfection. Only through Christ.


you yourselves are my witnesses

I like Ps40:3 because of its clear focus on the Giver of all Good Things. "And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." After the picking up and the setting upon a rock, after the saving and the settling, He heads to worship. It's the model of why God invented people. Jer29 says a similar thing. He has plans for us, for our welfare, and after, we will call to Him and He will answer and we will testify.

And it's not like we have to do anything in the testifying even. He's the one who placed the new song there. And not even a recycled one, but a personalized new one to replace that one we picked up from this world. The only part we played in this was the initial calling to Him in need. And that's certainly nothing to brag about.

There's a sermon in these notes somewhere. Too clouded right now to pick it out.


of all the wicked things

This should make more than a random EO posting, or a university rag sidenote. It should be, in fact, the headline of CNN and USA Today and the rest of MSM. It is more than their chaplain who has heard that it is a Godless place; and that is certainly more than the truth. It is in all sincerity the heart of evil in this country, and the sooner people realize that, the sooner the prayer cover can commence.

Encouraging news to hear that workers are headed to that barren field, and that the filters of evil aren't strong enough to keep out all men and women of faith. And perhaps that is why it isn't making the headlines it should be making. Too much attention. Too much attention.

And we know liar doesn't want that.


then watch out that the light

I'm astonished. And usually when I say that, I'm being sarcastic. But this time I'm astonished, for real. This has to have been the easiest thing to do -- make a blockbuster out of a bestseller. You have a built-in fanbase of 40 million plus, for crying out loud.

I'm astonished that liar isn't making better use of this opportunity. Wouldn't it be in his best interests to have made this a wondrous spectacle to behold? A flick all would flock to and see? Win an oscar and guarantee even more eyeballs glued to the big screen? All in the service of liar's kingdom? And instead, he lets the picture become bloated?

Maybe liar had the same thought as Sony Pictures -- with that big a guaranteed fanbase, maybe you don't care what happens, since the sheep will flock anyway. Why actively damn souls when they're actively damning themselves.


to keep calm and to do nothing

1Cor9 shows the humanity of Paul. Yes, he claims himself the least of the apostles, but really. You create flocks and bring the Good News to much of the known world, and that humility (while not false), not true. So one might think of Paul as a saint without struggle, one who -- unlike the ball-dropping post from yesterday -- asks for his props to be set on fire.

But 1Cor9 gives a small glimpse of human frustration. The rhetorical start seethes with underlying tension. The defense he begins in v3 reads more like rant than instructive epistle. But what's amazing is that by v17, he has focused his frustration to the reason he does what he does. Given that he always has the opportunity to stray from the path and embrace the world, why does he do what he does. And v19-27 is the answer in some of the most poetic prose in the Word, and a call for all to focus and persevere, and to do what he has done -- leave the frustrations to this world, breathe, breathe, leave the frustrations to this world and focus on the reason for all.


in charge of this task

Penned this a few months back. Back when the committing to memory was easier done than said. Now vv. Can't tell if it's going against the desire out of active blocking, or out of submission to the busyness of the world. In either case, more like slogging than automation. Juggling all these balancing aids on the path-walking is tricky. Focusing on one ball, drops another. Maturity, I suppose, is throwing them up with ease, eyes on the road-leader than the rotating and the whirling.


or who is the one

"The Magdalene Mystery"
* Who was MM according to Word?
- Devout follower & friend of Lord
- Introduced in Luke8
- First to see Him risen in John20
* Bachelorhood & celibacy condemned during 1st century?
- Norm to be married, but not impossible not to be
- No historical proof
- Prophets & other high clergy often single
* Lord & MM married? If so, then what?
- No Biblical or historical proof
- Even so, no impact on His deity
- Marriage (& sex w/in marriage) Biblical -- no inherent sin in marriage, ergo no effect
* MM in Last Supper?
- Gospel clear on 12 disicples there
- If MM, then where John, most beloved disciple?
- DaVinci painted all men effeminate (see King David pic)
- DaVinci noted as much in his notes
* MM sole successor to Lord?
- Based on gnostic gospel in reference to evangelism not church governance
- Eph2:19-20 clear that no successor, male or female, appointed by Lord
* Lord have children?
- No historical or Biblical record of such
- Even so, no impact on His deity
- Children a blessing from above; not sinful
* Jesus the original feminist?
- Yes, in sense of raised value of women
- No, in sense of equal roles


this liberty of yours

I like the scene painted in Ps124:7-8. v7 tells us that our souls can be caged like animals. It is possible for our souls not to be free. People think of their minds and souls as completely uninhibited, independent. It is clear from that line of thinking that they don't see the chains made to snare them. That trapper? Liar, of course.

Love that what makes the soul free is not some exertion of power by the soul. Rather, the snare is broken, allowing us to escape. v8 tells us where that escape route came from. Our help is in His name. Not in Him, but in His name. In the characteristics that make Him who He says He is. In the power of His name, a name whose very speaking can cause liar's helpers to flee. John8 informs us very clearly that the truth shall make us free.

That snare not broken by us, be clear on that. A blood-stained cross knocked that lock to bits, know that.


to be generous and ready to share

An interesting read. One sentence in there struck me as rather sad: "And there is little difference between the amounts that Christians and non-Christians earn, spend, save, charge, or donate to charities."

The earning being the same doesn't surprise me. All are called to be His followers, no matter where you fall on the income ladder. Yes, harder through a needle's eye and so on, not needing anything at the top. But on average, I imagine there should be no difference.

The spending/charging and saving doesn't surprise me either. Needs are needs no matter the end of the spectrum. Frankly, the teaching on not saving anything since you can't take it with you, probably has some affect on this statistic.

But giving the same? Lord says that even unbelievers will give their children bread when asked. How are we any different? I assume charities don't include church-giving, but maybe it does. But if His bride can't be any more generous than the world? Considering what I'm preparing for James 2:14-26 -- well, I'm surprised that I'm surprised really. Shouldn't be surprised at all.


has really risen and has appeared

I surprised you with multiple Cruise references, and even a double dose of Ben Stein. You think that will prepare you for a NASCAR reference? With a headline like that, it shouldn't surprise you.

That word -- "resurrect" -- is used rather casually by people. They speak of it in reference to careers that need a spark, to stalled projects at work, to failing businesses, to relationships being restarted. We see Frankenstein and think of monsters being brought back to life as a plotline.

But the profound nature of such an impossible act should never be taken casually, and should never lose its wonder. There is no grander miracle than death made life, none grander. Death is the end of the road, the absolute final stop. And to suddenly reverse course is not something common, or something plain. It is the most shocking reversal possible.

Never lose the wonder in relation to that word. A lamb on a cross paid for that word, made it the special word that it is.


and the meaning of this statement was hidden

Maybe Paul has some special power being the greatest of the apostles and all, I don't know. But I don't know what to make of his statements in 1Cor5. In v3, he talks about judging someone from afar. In context, it doesn't seem to me that he's using the word "judge" as if he has chosen some adjective, but rather some actual consequence or status. Then in v5, he discusses delivering up sinners to Satan.

How does one deliver another up to Satan? In our original sin state, we are already his. We have need for rescue. That's what the whole cross thing is about. Delivering another back to their original master, what's that mean -- getting him on the phone and filing a complaint? Attaching some spiritual return-to-sender stamp?

But then Paul reverses himself in the second half of that verse, stating that his intent in delivering up the one to liar is for saving his spirit on the last day. Not sure I get this whole body-spirit dichotomy. Frankly, the only reason I'm curious as to these verses' meaning is if this is some untapped power -- delivering others to liar -- sign me up for that.


He has lost His senses

1Cor4 has a great description of Paul. In his own words in v10, "We are fools for Christ's sake". That is his ministry. He is a fool. And he is not ashamed of his position or his actions for God. First, he knows that the foolishness of God is still greater than the wisdom of man. Secondly, he knows that all people, all people are morons. Because they innately wish to leave the Lord who loves them to seek after pointless things of this world; because they willingly turn their back on truth. Our internal nature is foolishness. So if you're going to be a fool anyway, be one for the Lord.

Thirdly, it captures the essence of this great faith: ours is a faith of ridiculous love. I wrote briefly about it earlier. His love for us makes no sense. Our love for others should make no sense. When confronted with senseless love, trying to make sense of it only points to God.

Fools? Yes. Certainly. Me especially. What ambition to want to be the fool.


nor will any be missing

You need to ask yourself this question? Time is like all of the MSM -- they hate the Lord. The times they headline an issue about top evangelicals or an Easter special is meant to sell issues to the pews, and not because they are trying to be either balanced or respectful. I don't even like Saddleback, and I know that Ricky needs to be one of the 100. Benedict, yes. As long as you're including entertainers, might as well throw in Osteen, liar's son.

Want to see an interesting issue, MSM? Check out the Lord's Top 100 when you're before the throne. Oh, that other thing with pages? That's the Book of Life. You won't be listed in that one either.


teach the way of God in truth

"Who Is Jesus Christ?"
* Did Constantine upgrade Jesus' status?
- Council: event of church leaders to discuss challenges to faith (ex: circumcision discussion in Acts)
- Reaffirmed or denied: not created
- Testimony of church fathers: Ignatius, Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, et al -- prior to Nicea, Christ is Lord
* How do we know?
- Name & Divine Character
- Works {John1:3, forgave sins, raised dead, et al}
- Claims {John5:21-22, John14:9, John10:25-30, John14:14}
* Most notably, by His resurrection
- 1Cor15:14-19: useless faith sans resurrection
- Death confirmed by secular historians, Roman soldiers, wounds
- Burial confirmed by secular historians
- Empty tomb confirmed by Jews; debate over how, not whether or not
- Followers confirmed His rising
- Disciples transformed (martyrs)


different, and His clothing became

Ordinarily, I'd rip an artist whose songs I think are cheesy or try too hard. The case can almost be made for this to fall into that category. And I'm not saying it isn't in that category now, or will one day end up in that category. I'm just saying that for today, I didn't find it that bad. Faint praise, indeed.

I think I'm more attracted to the idea of the song than the actual execution. Much has been made of the fact that Lord hung out with the rabble and the outcasts. And the lyric "my Jesus would never be accepted in my church" is a profound one. That message can't be repeated enough -- that all you so-called "houses of worship" steeped in dollar bills while frowning upon those with lesser means would surely have missed His first coming.

I'd be careful with taking that too far, though. It's a cultural thing. Lord came to those who were sick. That explains His hanging out with outcasts then. Now, though? The wealthy and the intellegentsia would surely fit that bill, seeing as how they routinely turn their back on faith. My guess is that they are among the neediest lot around, calling for a physician as loud as anybody. Perhaps He'd make a quick stop there first after all.


of time it has never been heard

Today is the National Day of Prayer. You'd think I'd be completely behind it, as almost nothing is of greater importance to your walk than prayer. If it weren't for worship, I'd be more unequivocal. But prayer, yeah, it's up there.

Then why no love for it? Lots of reasons, brother.

First, you have the notion of scheduling a day for prayer. You might think it's sending the message that prayer is so important, you're carving out your schedule to honor the practice. Nope. More like this. Lord needs your all. Unceasing, remember? A day is simply an insult.

Secondly, these things always work the same way -- asking for stuff. Asking for blessings. Asking for protection. Asking for guidance and strength. And where's the praise? And where's the repentance? And where's the conversation with your Beloved One? This only serves to weaken common knowledge of true prayer.

Lastly, your theme this year is "America, Honor God"?! You have to have a slogan for that to happen? How insulting to Him that you schedule a day out of your busy, busy life to spend time with Him and you have to tie a string around your finger to remember to honor Him.

I'll tell you how best to honor Him. Cut out the nonsense activities like this entire day.


the father knew that it was

I can't tell you how much this sudden news affected me. Not as a golfer, nor as a Tiger fan, but as a believer and as a son. As a son, there is something I relate to in the way Tiger adored his father for making him the person he is today. Years after the fact, a son can understand the discipline and sternness and sacrifice used to shape a character. I appreciate that about my father in the same way Tiger appreciates it in his father.

As a believer, there are parallels between the Father and His Son, and the Father and all His children. Tiger never stopped talking about his father. Tiger knew that everything he had was because of his father. Tiger loved his father unswervingly.

Lessons here. Learn them, self.


testify of the wrong

This is only going to get bigger in the days to come. Jenkins wants to portray the pope as the anti, but he's seen nothing till he sees a Mormon as President of the world's most powerful nation. The article towards the end quotes a Slate piece that says that "religious voters care more about core values than theological minutiae".

Mormons and Evangelicals don't disagree over "minutiae". That's the understatement of the millennium. That's like calling Mt. Everest a bit of a slope. The difference between Mormonism and Christianity is the same size as the difference between atheism and Christianity. They are not overlapping circles.

Romney can make whatever PR statements he wants. The press will cover this as they cover all religion -- badly. But the bride of Christ can NOT be fooled by this issue. Clinton over Romney? Yes, a wicked "believer" (I use that loosely here) over a non-believer any day of the week.


everything, to stand firm

Almost a year since I penned this, and he's still all over the airwaves, and not for positive things. It is strange that the culture buys into this image of his having completely lost his mind.

He speaks publicly about his faith, so we see him as crazy. He has the audacity to defend his beliefs, so he's insane. He views everything through the lens of his religious perspective, so he's completely nuts.

That's not insanity; that's faithfulness. Yes, faithfulness to a misled faith, no question. But faithfulness nonetheless. Would that all so-called believers spoke publicly of their own inwardly-held beliefs. Probably not a surprise at all, then, that the culture doesn't embrace him. Not a surprise at all.