no longer remembers the anguish

Going to be on time for a change.

Speaking to a brother this morning, and the notion of liar's memory came up. Liar has photographic memory. You think it's you with the great memory, when in reality it is liar.

Thinking about those ill words spoken to you? Thinking about that time that you were hurt? Thinking about those conversations, thinking about every spoken word and every unspoken word? Thinking about the nuances that may or may not have occurred? Thinking about that sin? Thinking about that person?

All from liar.

It is clear why it is so easy to remember scenes of greatest hurt down to the tiniest detail -- the words, the facial expressions, et al -- with clarity beyond anything created by Sony. Lord says He places sin as far as east is from west and yet we feel we cannot approach Him in the states that we are in. Lord says He wants to use us, and yet we cannot be used by Him in the heart conditions that we are in. Lord says He wants that walk with us and yet we cannot step upon that sea because of the memories that fill our hearts.

Spiritual amnesia. Coining that phrase this morning for possible development at a later date.


and you will receive, so

Met some brothers this morning. One spoke of being asked what he wanted from the Lord. And after answering, then learned that what he wanted from Lord was so small, that there was so much more to ask for from Him. That He had, in fact, far more things in store to give should the brother only ask. That our expectations of God are down here and His expectations are way up here. I've got hands that are indicating different levels right now, but you simply can't see them. Great lesson on the abundant nature of God. He has always provided more than enough, and always will surprise the faithsteppers with more than we had imagined when we pointed those toes toward the raging waters.


nor do we know what to do

Choices are overwheleming to me. Always this fear of picking the worse of the two, or the disobedient of the two. That fear can be crippling. Spoken of choice as a test. Spoken of choice as a blessing. Neither case makes the choosing any easier.

Have a new favorite that speaks of characters with extraordinary powers. They haven't shown anyone with precognition, but that is the power I'd most want. Then all this choosing might be all the easier, knowing which path leads to where. I understand that trusting means not thinking about the direction; I understand that the seeking His will means not thinking about my own predilections. But I also understand that I am the one -- and the wondrous one and the sweet things -- who faces the outcome, and that unknown outcome can't stay far away enough from me.


to guide our feet into the way

Hebrews is best-known for the faith Hall of Fame in Heb11. I mentioned earlier that the idea of rest might also be added to its notoriety. But in a twelve chapter book, six chapters are devoted to speaking of the priesthood of Christ, with mention of the word priest in most of the others. Hebrews is a discussion of what being a priest really entails.

Christ is the model priest, and Heb goes into great detail about why. Over the past few months I've tried to better understand the role of pastors and priests, and the Word is clear on their calling as a shepherd of the flock. Then how does that connect to the cross?

Flash. Perhaps of the obvious. I cannot see.

On the cross, Jesus made it possible for everyone to get close to the Lord; His death constructed that bridge. The central role of shepherd is to enable the flock to be closer to Lord, no? When we speak of faith, kinds that belong in a grand hall, we need to speak about the kinds that enable a man to care about another's proximity to the throne.


and you want to do the desires of

Yesterday's musings on the importance of the cross had me musing today on the Passion of Christ -- not the Gibson flick, but on the term itself. Well before Mel made it famous, Good Friday marathon masses have been based upon the Passion for centuries.

Using the term "Passion" to refer to the Gospel paintings of the crucifixion is interesting. They originate from Middle Age dramas that coined the term, and have since carried through Catholic terminology to modern day usage. If you use a concordance, though, the word "passion" occurs only 10 times in the Word, and all in very negative usages. It is interesting that the church has co-opted liar's word and made it into something critical to faith.

All of us have our own passions. We are passionate about something -- our families, a favorite sports team, a particular movie, a political cause, a favorite food. We understand passion at a very basic level. And the Lord's passion was being obedient to His Father and loving the world on a cross on a hill. To understand passion in that way explains why the cross is so central to all we do and all we are.


on the cross it was

Leaders at home discussing a plan tomorrow night to place a cross in the sanctuary. I'm sure your first response is "Are you saying there isn't one there now?!" I know. One exists, but hidden by a screen meant to jog those with poor memories.

Your second response might be to ask "What discussion could possibly occur beyond when and where and how?" At least if you're a regular to these pages you might. Because if you can think of a reason to even argue the point of whether or not we should, hardheart you're in the wrong place.

Because of my absence, I'll give them all the benefit of the doubt and assume none are arguing against the necessity for a more visible tree. I'm actually glad for the absence because I'm not sure I could contain the vitriol which would rise against any who'd dare. There is no faith without the cross, and no life worth living without the faith. And there is no church that can call itself faithful without a devotion to the cross.

Looking forward to the notes from the meeting tomorrow night. And the first thing I will look to is the first thing I always look to, reminding myself never to look away.


value, then, if for you who believe

"How to Be Wealthy Forever" {Matt6:19-24}
* Intro: "when you know what we know, you can afford to be generous"
* Durability Test
- How long will treasure last?
- "store up" = hoard/stockpile
- Paul & Provs speak of saving for little ones, so not against all savings
- Heart attitude is issue at stake here
- Where treasure, there heart -- not vv
- Lord wants you to treat your walk as precious possession
* Eye Test
- Where do you focus your goals?
- Light = Heavenly perspective
- "What excites you most: Heaven or earth?"
* Master Test
- Whom do you choose to serve?
- "God's quarter went down the sewer drain."
* Biblical doctrine of rewards
- Salvation unlosable gift; but rewards earned and losable {1Cor3:12-15}
- Faith determines eternal destination; works/behavior determines eternal rewards {Rom14:10,12}
- Believers will experience differing degrees of rewards "according to deeds" done on earth {2Cor5:10, Rev2:23}
- Not sinful to be motivated by reward {Heb11:24-26}
- Lord's 3 motivations: fear of punishment, hope of reward, love of God
* Application
- Be rich toward God {Luke12:16-21}
- Be rich in good works {1Tim6:17-19}
- Give to needy


with you now and to change

Recently, been actively praying for very specific events to occur. And in these very specific events, I am attempting to change the heart of a person, willing them to some desired outcome. Call it the opposite of the stoning of the heart. That got me to thinking about the reasoning behind this course of action.

Have read about instances of the hardhearts. Have heard stories even in person of folks whose hearts were changed from some previously held position. Have felt it occur in my own heart even. Does this mean that our likes and dislikes are not ingrained opinions, but rather something more whimsical? Does this mean that our beliefs are, in fact, the direct result of answered or unanswered prayers? And what of this new power, the ability to effectively change reality for another being?

Parking these thoughts. If or when this works, we'll revisit my thoughts on the matter. Or maybe my thoughts will change, shifted by another's prayers.


if you release this man

Snippets from tomorrow morning's thing:

I think that the modern American church focuses too much on youth ministry. Every church states that it wishes to invest in the future. And while that is indeed a noble goal, God doesn’t promise the future to anyone; the Lord could come again any day. And yes, it is easier to raise children early, immersed in Christian values and teachings. But one of the drawbacks of this focus on youth is that men’s ministries get underfocused. I believe if we examined church budgets and church ministries across the country, you would find that youth ministry gets resourced the most, followed by women’s ministry, followed very far behind by men’s ministry.

And what this resource disparity causes is an atmosphere where men, the spiritual leaders of the home depend on the church to spiritually lead their children and wives closer to God. Because men have found a good church with good ministries for their family, they feel that their responsibility as spiritual leaders is already completed. The responsibility for developing spiritual maturity in our families does not end with our finding a good home church.

Men need to be passionate about God in their own homes. Men need to be the ones that talk the most about loving God. Men need to be the ones that need to set the example of reading the Bible every day. Men need to be the ones that take the lead in memorizing Scripture, not their children in Awana. Men need to be the ones that see prayer as a first response rather than a last resort. Men need to be the ones that showcase the fruits of the Spirit.

Shelve this idea along with Breakfast and Grass. For a future moment.


to see you, even as I recall

Going to admit to something: since the day, have listened to my own message three or four times in its entirety. Did so on the flight home today for some reason. One could use this against me and say that its the height of arrogance, pride enjoying puffing itself up. And while I freely admit to falling prey easily to pride, I really don't see that as the culprit in this scenario.

I'm not even going to say it's because I like hearing the points themselves. Granted, I need the reminder, but that's not causing the rerun listening. The only thing I can think of as being behind this all is that every now and then, I am comforted by the reminder that on days I let myself fully be used by Him -- when I place myself aside completely and trust in His power -- great things can happen for Him. Liar tries to convince everyone of their uselessness. It has served me well to literally tell myself that, no, in fact, that is not the case when used by Him.


He was speaking of literal sleep

Last few weeks have been restless and tiring, so it is obvious why Heb4 caught my attention so. When I think of Hebrews, I think of the supernatural in Heb1, or the procession of faith heroes in Heb11. I think of Melchizedek in Heb7 and the explanation of sacrifice in Heb9-10.

But I don't think of rest, and it is rest that is the subject of Heb4. Hebrews obviously speaks of the eternal rest we have in Christ, sure, but I can't help but think of the day-to-day rest offered to those in the faith. And while I am trying to meld the spiritual with the mental with the physical, I can't imagine the Lord isn't offering rest in all ways and manners. He does say "Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest" after all.

Not making any strikingly insightful comment. Just noting that Heb4 speaks of something I am long-desiring, and I know the answer to this is the same as the answer to all others: it is in Him.


had searched for him and had not found him

Articles like this make me sad for scientists. Look at the adjectives scientists use to describe the moon or space exploration. The moon is "priceless". They hope for a "better understanding" of the moon and space. Space enthusiasts have "long hungered" for a return to the moon.

My friends, all men have an internal desire to search for answers. That need for exploration? Built inside you by God. That hungering and need for better understanding? All part of how wonderful the Lord made you. The Lord has placed eternity into the hearts of men.

But you have misplaced the object of that longing. There's a reason all that found knowledge only makes you look for more. You will never find the end of the searching where you are looking. That hole inside you is shaped to be filled by Christ alone.

And when you find Him, you will wonder what took you so long. You will wonder at the perfection of fit. You will long and hunger and desire only for a better understanding of the plans He has in place for you. You can find that satisfaction if you place your trust in Christ today. Will you end that search today?


and he looked at Jesus as he walked

After hearing's yesterday's thorough lesson on importance of fasting, going to try it soon to look for His clear leading. Always thought of fasting as a Lenten obligation and devotional act to Lord. To view it as a means to seeing Him closer on the same level as prayer is altogether new to me.

The great thing about faithwalks is not only that the path is never the same, but also that you can find new ways of moving. Most can only see that solemn, paced treading. But to know that skipping and running and dancing is not only not discouraged, but strongly encouraged? That's something altogether exciting. And if that simple act can indeed bring the awakening, liar will be disappointed to know I have found a new weapon.


for the food which endures to eternal life

"A Hunger for God" {Matt6:16-18}
* Intro: why we worship as important as when/how
* Meaning of fasting
- "Christian's voluntary abstinence from something for spiritual purposes"
- Fasting assumed -- "when you fast"
- Fasting on same level as giving and prayer -- mentioned 30X in NT
* Reasons for fasting
- Never to earn His favor; cannot earn His love
- To strengthen prayer {Ezra8:23, Dan9:3}: "doesn't change God's hearing; changes our prayer"
- To seek His guidance {Judges20:28, Acts 14:23}
- To express grief {Neh1:4, 2Sam1:12}
- To seek protection {2Chron20:3, Esth4:16}
- To express repentance {1Sam7:6, Joel2:12}
- To humble oneself {1King21:27-29, Ps35:13}
- To express love for Lord {Luke2:36-37}: "one of love languages Lord enjoys"
* Fasting honors God -- privilege not obligation
* "If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: 'This much, O God, I want you.'" -- John Piper
* Motive for fasting: issue not public fasting but fasting for public
* Reward of fasting is God's pleasure


they were told not to hurt

Catching up with a litany of posts. Will try better to take the ten minutes to share the thoughts live. Difficult when discipline is no longer a personal strength but something to be chased after. In any case, take a gander at John5:15-16:

"The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus . . . ."

Been reciting this v for many months now as part of the soaking in of John, but it caught me today for some particular reason, so I assume it was for some greater learning. The v is a reminder that our actions cause a reaction in the Lord. Lord tells us that we are His witnesses, that what we do speaks volumes not only about us, not only about our relationship with Him, but also directly about Him.

I cite stories all the time about the ridiculous actions and words of believers. MSM is waiting to pounce on every mistake made by faithwalkers. Non-believers are waiting for these off-path steps to justify their unbelief. And in this particular story related in John, the result of a man's statements not meant to harm resulted in the persecution of the Son of God. Powerful reminder to mark what you do unless you can imagine yourself enjoying the imagery of the Son on the Cross.


so that you may know and understand

No greater fear than fear of the unknown, as its said. Reason being, in my recent and not-so-recent experience is because liar is a wonderful liar. His best lies are half-truths steeped in the unknown. He takes what you do not know and expands that to show you all that you do not and cannot know. And for a perfectionist, for someone with OCD tendencies in all things, it creates a perfect storm. Need for completion? Check. Complete knowledge of all that is unknown? Check. Grand recipe for disastrous results? Done.

That is what trust in the Lord is all about. Not just trusting the Lord in the truth of His realness, His salvation, and His resurrection. Not just trusting Him for the fundamental truths. But also trusting Him in all the unknowns. That your need for completion rests and ends with Him. That you don't need to know so long as you know the One who does know.


and pick up your stretcher and go home

Been listening to one of his hits on repeat recently. Have an almost natural desire to dislike the almost too-contrived heartstring pluckers that form the basis of every one of his songs. He's like the musical version of a hallmark card. But his voice and music have the same quality that another artist has -- this way of striking the emptiness within you and bringing forth melancholy and hurt.

The one I've been listening to has some powerful lyrics:
And even though I'm walking
Through the valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
He will carry me
Recently been wandering through the shadows and can't find that light that leads through the darkness, can't see the exit through the thickness of this fog. This song has been giving me the patience to wait for the One to bear me through the noise to that place of peace I long for.


who will entrust the true riches to you

These pages have many references to the likes of Osteen and the other purveyors of the blasphemy that is the Health & Wealth gospel. Get Religion has a whole write-up on the recent Time magazine discussion of it. I'd refer you to my previous thoughts on it, but I'd rather not waste my time reminding myself of how often I was throwing up in my mouth.

The thing of it is, the Health & Wealth gospel is a sibling to the Randy Alcorn vision of Heaven and its mansions and sparkly crowns, no? It appeals to the human sin of greed. It's like a very clear bribe to be converted. Get prosperous here on earth. Then head upstairs to the mansion in the sky on the boulevard paved with gold. It's like a trophy wife marrying a man for his millions.

It is why, I suppose, the Lord states that He seeks a repentant heart above all things. Lord doesn't want you to love Him for His riches or His promises of goodness to you. Lord wants you to realize your state of need, your need for salvation, and then seek Him as the answer to all things. Appealing to people's avarice and downplaying their salvation need is such a twist on the truth that only the devil can be behind it. Time and Get Religion need not merely state the conflict that that belief has with Scripture. They need to flat out call it what it is: liar's lie.


your Father who speaks in you

"Jesus on Prayer" {Matt6:5-15}
* Intro
- Little bit of knowledge often the key to start
- Lord gives us the starter on prayer in the Lord's Prayer
* Right attitude in prayer
- General principle: If motive to impress others, no benefit from Lord
- Right audience: Lord is the hearer; Do in public what you would in private
- Secret prayer: Again, public ears aren't the ones that matter
- Sincere prayer: Much of prayer learned from habits of others till they become your habits; pray w/ meaning
* Lord's model for prayer
* Remember to whom you are speaking
- "in Heaven" establishes His grandeur, His place in universe
* Remember to pray for His glory
- For people to honor His name
- For people to submit to His reign
- For people to do His will
* Remember to pray for our needs
- "our" not just your
- For Him to provide
- For Him to forgive (not salvation, but relational distances)
- For Him to protect


if you wish to be complete

Sometimes the solution is the simplest, right there in front of you. Sometimes you see it there, know it's there the entire time but are powerless to reach for it. Sometimes you think that you will just get there without having to reach. It is wonderful that sometimes He knows you can't reach, can't reach, and so He reaches. And in those times, you see the wonderfulness of the solution. You leave wondering why He doesn't simply solve it for you sooner, or solve it for you all the time knowing your inability to reach sometimes. But you know that He wants you to reach, that by reaching and stretching you grow and that's all He wants all the time. Not just the sometimes. And sometimes you understand it all.


I who speak to you

Had a discussion tonight about praying in bed, and the idea that one can lull oneself to sleep by praying and allowing thoughts to wander. As expressed by a brother, if your mind is racing and meandering and causing you trouble, better to use that time in prayer, no? Better to be with the Lord than simmering in your own thoughts. Pray without ceasing, remember.

On the other hand, why would I use time before the throne as a sleep aid? Your conversation with the Lord should be so alive that it would be the last thing to do in bed since you'd be consumed with wanting to be in His presence all night. Conversation with Him shouldn't be so one-sided that your mind can wander without consequence. Prayer is a privilege not to be wasted.

Prayer is not something reserved for moments of boredom or insomnia or need. We do not come to Him when we feel like it, or when our schedule permits. Prayer changes us, not the other way around.


by this all men will know

Not trying to exalt myself here and risk later getting asked to move to a seat of lower distrinction, but I will note my happiness and proclaim the cliche that great minds think alike. Just earlier this week I bemoaned the recent Christian men's movement toward focusing on power and might. Well, today EO bemoans a related topic. The ending is particularly eloquent and insightful:
During the early ‘90s, “wildman” retreats were all the rage as a way for men to get in touch with their mannishness. Men would head to the wilderness take off their shirts, beat on West African drums, and bond with each other. While we may laugh at such goofy behavior, this neo-testosterone movement within Christian circles isn’t all that different. We’ve simply replaced the mythopoetic “Iron John” with a mythic “Iron Jesus.” But young men don’t need a Jesus who strolls like the Duke, squints like Eastwood, and snarls like Rumsfeld. They don't need Jesus the wrestler or Jesus the warrior. They just need Jesus the Savior.
The Christian men's ministry attempts to fashion a macho Jesus make two critical mistakes. First, they attempt to fit Jesus and God into man's image of man rather than the Bible's image of man. Man's image of man, for example, has the woman raising the children despite the Biblical command for fathers to bring up children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We can't allow our biased and narrow views of our own gender color the truth about who the Lord is and what He wants out of our own gender.

Secondly, they put God into this box, this single-characteristic box. God is power, yes. But He is also love. And compassion. And mercy. And other characteristics that Rambo might find "soft". Lord can't be placed into this box where we define Him by the character trait we deem most important. Lord is all things, and focusing on one aspect of His greatness will prevent us from seeing the entirety of what He has in store for us to learn.


that the power proceeding from Him

Been trying to learn this lesson for a few months now. Concurrently, bringing the lesson to other brothers to get them to learn it with me. Isa40 always been one of my faves, especially for its famous ending. Not going to focus on the beauty of the ending where it starts at v28 (but go ahead; be my guest and pore over it; you're a free man). Just focus on v31.

Lord lets us in on the secret of gaining strength to soar and not tire and not wear away. Lord instructs us to wait upon Him. Upon Him for His wings and His legs and His strength and His energy. He never calls us to use our own because the outcome on that task is inevitable. He tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing. v31 is the reminder that the call for us to act means for us to use what comes from Him.

For someone with as little patience as I have, it is the most difficult of all commands: Wait.


was real, but thought he was

I'm sure He wants authenticity even if you can't index search for the word in the Word. I'm sure He wants the genuine even if the search gives up just two. I'm sure He wants only reality, reality being truthfulness. But He also wants joy and peace and love. And sure He wants the heart changed beneath, but maybe He also wants the act, hoping the act brings about the change beneath, I don't know. I just know that beneath right now is like the arctic right beneath the floe, churning and churning, moving without peace.


clothed with power from on high

Paul urges us in 1Tim6:12 to "fight the good fight of faith". At some point I will have to discuss at length the battle imagery used by Paul throughout his letters. A concordance tells me that the word "fight" occurs some 106 times in the Word; "battle" another 186. This struggle between Lord's people and wicked, us and liar, us and ourselves is critical to our understanding of faith. On this I have no doubts.

Stands to reason, then, that an organization like this exists (click on "The Books" if you want the full identity), or that books like this become bestsellers. They tap into the male testosterone, which apparently runs near the place where righteous anger is stored -- I think it's left of the gall bladder. Anyway, read this review to get another take on the male faith phenomenon.

These things target men of faith and attempt to stir them to action, so no quibbles here. Not having read any of those books, I can only rely on summaries, reviews, and conversations to create this notion I have of what they're saying. I guess I still have these doubts about whether using muscle-fueled imageries of men makes sense given what I know about how the Lord works.

I mean, He makes a point of choosing Abel over Cain, Jacob over Esau, and David over his brothers. Part of it is to remove our reliance on our own physical strength and passion. Does He want barbarians, or does He want His strength made full through our weakness? I might be arguing with strawmen far removed from these movements. I could actually read the things if I was interested in arguing with non-straws, but I don't care to. What I need to learn about my faithwalk I'll get from Him directly.


glorify Me together

"Experiencing Biblical Community" {Acts2:42-47; Rom12:1-8}
* Intro
- Why shows like Friends & Cheers so popular? Because they tap into human need for companionship, place where support occurs
- All faked; but place exists where it can be real: church of God
* Authentic fellowship illustration: shallow-rooted Redwoods need each other to survive
* Experiencing & expressing gifts of the Spirit
- Illustration: school clothes for grandkids -- modeled not ignored
- All blessed w/ gift
- Gifts meant to be used for others
- When gifts unused, cheat self and cheat brothers and sisters
- Illustration: spilled dessert & different gifts
* Share faith as a team -- evangelism not solo activity


to be put on the list

Speaking to two brothers this morning, and the topic of worldiness arose. Briefly scribbled some thoughts on this topic a while ago, but worth revisiting.

I believe one of the root causes for the desire for separation from the world can be tied to the believer's unnecessary need for the Law. Freed from the Law under Christ even though He didn't come to dispel any serif, that I understand. The lazy believer, however, wants the Law. Easier to check items off the list: no drinking, no smoking, no dancing, no gambling, no R-rated movies, church every Sunday, et al. Easier to pretend all is right twixt you and the Lord; see, you have this checklist all marked off with your personal goodness.

Lord doesn't want a checklist. He wants a changed heart. He wants to see you struggling at every moment trying to discern His voice through the noise. He wants to see your heart not going over items, but rather listening to His Spirit. Separation from the world meant to fulfill some arbitrary notion of order and right and wrong doesn't prove a thing to anyone but yourself. And you shouldn't be seeking to prove anything to yourself, because you don't matter.


beaten times without number

I imagine it's like an old house being weathered through a storm where coats of paint fleck off in the barrage of raindrops and windhits and uncovers the previous coats of colors that have prevailed through the years in most cases the colors don't wander from the center dramatically shades of self same as always finding myself weathered barraged windhit finding myself reflecting the same shades of self same struggles the same