set apart for the gospel

This story will never get the exposure it deserves. It is reported straightforwardly. It should be sensationalized in the way useless stories get the usual front-page billing. I guarantee that it would have received national attention had the reception been something less than positive.

I am almost glad that it is not presented as a surprising reception. A surprising reception would mean the reporter felt the church's normal reaction would have been a cold shoulder. No flock wants that to be their norm.

One other bit to note: Jones has the perfect read in his little comment "If the Gospel message is enough, he said, why the loud music and MTV-quality production?" Those blaring megachurches do have a lot of explaining to do, Mr. Jones. And you ain't the only one asking that question.


the heart of man reflects man

Visited a school today whose staff could barely contain their fondness for each other. They spoke of their trust in each other. Of their friendship that extended beyond school walls. Of their willingness to do more than required in support of each other's work. Of their shared mission and bonded commitment to achieving that mission. Just a wonderful model of perfect collaboration.

It always saddens me to see models of love in action that shame the church. A flock that shared all the above qualities would receive its reward in smiles from above. No wonder the world feels no urgency to follow Him -- His flocks seem no better off. The church should never be the lesser of two of evils; it should be the most reasonable choice of every free will.


the thing molded will

Penned this some time ago. Two years to the day and got to be part of the displaying of a piece of the canvas. That canvas is detailed in ways you can't even see unless someone else holds your hand and points out the intricacies, fills you in on the marvelous ways that canvas was hand-crafted. Two years to the day, and got to hear a still unbelievable tracing of a circular detail beyond the organization of any mortal scriptwriter. Need to remind myself that one day, perhaps soon, that ornate design will be me inlaid in a posture of obedience and others will trace that little spot now lighted and listen as their hands are held and the guide reaches out to me with that pointer and says, "See here? Wait until you hear how this fits in with this."


directions, having the desire to depart

What do you seek to gain by pretending to be another you are not? Do you think that by replicating all they do you become something greater than you are? A mimicked form of a king is still a pauper. And that analogy one step further, you aren't even mimicking the King, but rather jesters garbed in populous robes. Those mimicked ones followed their own visions and were rewarded for their path-following. They have failed you all in leading you to believe that somehow it was the path that was important rather than the following of their individualized walk. It is a test for you, a test you are currently failing. And that test requires you to stop just stop and listen really listen and find out where that voice is coming from and what it is saying. And when your eyes begin to adjust to that light in the darkness you can step out of the shadows and be yourself rather than some other. And when you do only then will you find yourself being like them in having followed that road your road all the way to its end.


the pillar and support of

I've trained myself not to listen to the voices. Because 99 out of 100 times they are trying to lead me astray, or trying to hurt in ways only they are all too familiar with. That 1 time of light is often crystal clear to the point that disobedience would require Herculean effort. Not that that effort isn't possible, I'm just saying.

I like that when that 1 time isn't crystal enough to break through that veil of stupidity I have built up, there's always the wondrous one acting as a failsafe. In moments like that where the voice is external and angelic and no possibility of mistaking it for anything but the truth, you see the full plan of how a spiritual union can work -- one as the crash test barrier to stop the random hurtling of the other.


by the will of God I may succeed

Every now and then you get one right. You are full of sin. More sin than you care to face. More failed attempts at good than actual good. You can do nothing right most days. And you come to those moments where everything is set up just so and you can see that failed good materialize right before your eyes. And you know you have every right to pick up that failure and run with it.

But instead, you turn. And you find yourself at the end of it all actually having not failed. And that brief instant of recognition of the non-failure feels wonderful. You know that you are still a lost cause and that plenty of other failed goods loom before you, and you won't last five minutes really, before one of those failed goods is in your hip pocket. But I'll leave you alone and let you enjoy that brief instant.

By "you" I mean me, of course.


shall be shaped like

This story reminds me that one of the great sins of the modern world is how it reverses one of the great truths of the Bible. Gen1:27 tells us that man is made in the image of God. And yet everywhere you look, you find man fitting God into an image he can swallow.

Don't like a just God that condemns sin? Focus on an ever-loving God that tolerates evil. Don't like that God of compassion? Pursue righteousness down the line of legalism. Don't like what the Word says in Paul's letters? Make up crazy nonsense like contextualism and accept only the parts of Scripture that interest you.

We will find ourselves before the throne one day, every one of us, and the first thing we will notice after our eyes adjust to that blinding light is how He looks so different, so very very different from the papier mache deities we have erected.


the darkness rather than the light

Gen15 describes the Lord's initial covenant with Abram. v1-11 describes the day conversation filled with guarantees of direct heirs, promised lands, and unseen heirs uncountable. The first half of v12 sets the scene for the night conversation as the sun descends. Then second half of v12 hits you in the eyes with a surprise:

"and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon [Abram]."

From there, Lord paints a picture of four hundred years of slavery. One of those "not to be a downer" conversations. We remember the rosy covenant, but leave out the vision of longsuffering that accompanies that promise. Either it's because we choose not to focus on the gloom, eternal optimism and all, or we are not good at facing reality. But interesting to see that visions from God aren't always scenes of picaresque beauty. Sometimes that image of the glimmering streets of gold are preceded by paths of stone, narrow paths of faith hard-won.


He is in the wildness

Yesterday, a brother in prayer used the term "become undone by your love". What a remarkable prayer and turn-of-phrase. Even more remarkable is the sentiment. The prayer reflects a heart willing to remove the blinders, remove the protective borders, remove the constraints of normalcy, and willing to turn itself over completely to another's love, and to whatever consequences accepting that love and returning that love entails.

I think of sloppy loud tears before a dinner crowd. I think of a humble return stinking of swine. I think of Hem-grabbers and palm-throwers. I think of tree-climbing midgets and pallet-lowering friends. And I think of silent weepers making that short journey down aisles toward that shining altar beckoning with a tale of forgiveness.


was alive and had been seen

"Sanctity of Human Life"
* Intro: How do you approach life? Pos or neg? Good mood or bad? Life or death?
- Life made up of choices
- Choice is not your choice, but God's
* Sanctity of life based on who God is
- 2 opposing worldviews: God not Creator v God is Creator
- God not Creator popular because it means we are not responsible to God
- Lord Creator not just of all living things and all of Creation as in Gen1:1, but also of living things today {Ps139:13-16}
- Lord's work is wonderful (v14)
- From embryo to end, God takes all the credit for life
- Ps139:16 answers question when life begins
* Sanctity of life explained by who we are
- Uniquely-created by God
- Made in likeness of God -- "likeness" = internal qualities
- Made in image of God -- "image" = external form
- Gen9:6 condemns murder because you are killing a creation made in His image
* Sanctity of Life demonstrated by what God does
- Lord chooses to give us life
- In Jer1:5, Lord expresses pre-knowledge of entirety of life
- In Job31:15, that pre-knowledge exists for all people, not just prophets
- Eph1:4: before all of Creation and Gen1:1, our lives chosen and known by God
- Lord chooses ending of life
- World focuses on "quality" of life rather than sanctity
- Lives deemed non-quality possibly exist for others' growth {John11}
- Death an enemy of God {1Cor15:26}
- Death in the Lord's chosen time, not ours {Ps139:16}
* So what?
- Life sacred and belongs to God
- Choice: live for God or self?
- What will you do with the precious gift of life given to you by God?


from the beginning made them male

The modern movement of Godly men has it all wrong. The spending-time-in-the-wilderness, Jesus-was-a-cowboy, steakeating, testosterone-filled, hairy-chested God is inane. There, I said it. Maybe I'm less of a man because I don't find the idea of an afternoon at the firearms factory a good time. Maybe I'm less of a man because raw meat doesn't make me smile. Maybe I'm less of a man because stalking elk isn't the image I have in mind of a moment of intimacy with God.

That movement is not Spirit-driven. This may sound like a focus on how to be a Godly man, but it actually is focused on just the man part of the phrase. And if you're only going to choose one word to focus on in that two-word phrase, you've chosen the wrong word.

Sure, it's great to get jazzed up by grunting along with others while enjoying Braveheart. But that has absolutely nothing to do with the undrossing I need to do so that I can better follow the Master. So, sorry I'm turning down that invitation to join Fight Club. But I'm too busy right now tending to my sheep in the field.


sheep hear My voice

Long time ago (though it surprised me how long ago), I wondered whether or not it was a good thing to be a prophet. One of the aspects I didn't ponder for long enough was the relaying of the message to the world. If you are one of a chosen few spoken directly to by God, what are the chances others will ever believe or listen to the message you are carrying?

Makes the discernment of the voice even harder. Not only is there the doubts surrounding your worthiness and your calling and the certainty of His voice, but also there is the worry over whether or not all will consider you beyond sanity. Secondly, there is the great chance that you have overplayed your hand, that your self-importance magnified your role in things. And if pride is a major stumbling block, all the more reason to doubt the message being handed to you.

Uncertainty makes message-bearing very difficult. One thing, however, is certain. That if you are the only messenger, keeping your mouth shut is not the safe choice but the last option.


He loved standing nearby

People find inspiration in early morning light coming over a hill. People find it in a turned phrase or stirring elocution. People find it in a living idol. People find it in a set example or a pointed reminder. Christ at one time whispered a miracle and touched the impossible, and it spurred folks to follow Him in city-stopping droves. Reading over my musings from yesterday and I wonder why I ever lose that interest sparked by the amazing presence of God. Worship is the ongoing act whereby we remind ourselves that losing sight of those robes is an active (or passive) choice. But the glimpse of the flowing garments never fully disappears behind a tree, and it is always less than a thought away.


while a promise remains of

Gandhi has a famous quote: "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems."

I like the quote because it speaks about the gap between who we are and who we could be. It is this potential that I am reminded about when my tendencies head toward the world rather than toward God.

On the road now, and I long for much. I long for the wondrous one. I long for the sweet things. I long for a familiar bed, and a skull-crafted pillow. I long for rest, and I long for more than a weekend home.

And yet I don't long for more time in prayer. I don't long for more time in the Word. I don't long for a walk that is never more than an arms-length away from an indescribable hem. I don't long for worship, and I don't long for the rest saved for the heavy-laden. And the quote reminds me that who I could be, that potential me is someone who could do so much.


Revealed one of my many favorite pastimes in last post: people-watching. There's a scene in the movie Wonder Boys (this is no recommendation for any to watch this movie, btw) where three main characters, all writers, pick out various folks in a bar and create a backstory for that random person. I don't go so far as to create whole backstories, but I do love wondering about their lives.

One of the great things about God is that He has hand-crafted unique stories for each individual; no two journeys are alike. And not only has He taken the time to craft these individual stories, but He knows each of these stories intimately. Like a master storyteller, He could take hours to intricately detail each tale, reveling in the little things.

And one more level beyond even this, not only has He hand-crafted your story, not only does He know your story, but He makes you feel as if your story is that important. You are not the center of the universe, no. But one of the great things about God is that every now and then He makes you feel as if you are.


Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us

At an airport this evening waiting for a connecting flight. Watched my plane come into my gate and then watched the deplaning passengers. A lady was there apparently more anxious than even me for the flight to arrive. She just stood there glancing at her watch and jittering. Line of passengers seemed to end, and there she was still jittering. Finally, the last passenger aboard came out escorted by an attendant. Lady's anxiety became joy as she scooped up her roughly eleven-yr-old little girl into her arms. Two kisses and another hug later, and the lady showed her ID to the attendant, and then off went mother and child.

Scene made me think of Luke15. Gospel tells us of the Prodigal Son. Many preach on the father who rushes out to hug his long-lost son. Have heard before that the picture described by Luke is a father who is always staring out his window anxiously awaiting his son's return. No new insight to add to this scene. Just like finding daily scenes of an ordinary life that reflect the great love of God. These reminders are always out there. Always wonderful when the Lord takes the time to point out these scenes to you and then make that connection for you. "See that there, my child? That's how much I love you."


and it is enough for us

"God is Sufficient"
* Main point: "God has all that we need all of the time"
* All we need is available to us through God {2Pet1:3}
- All deal w/ life & Godliness; He supplies all things pertaining to such
- All we need not all we want
* Sufficiency of God gives us spiritual strength {Eph3:14-20}
- "Filled w/ fullness of God"
- As we get filled, we become like Him
* Sufficiency of God gives us every spiritual blessing {Eph1:3,18-19}
- "Immeasurable greatness of His power"
- Lack of maturity drives us not to lean on Him for blessings
* Sufficiency of God best viewed through honest reflection of own weaknesses {2Cor12:8-9}
- "Have grown great skill in masking our own weaknesses"
- "Very hard for God to work in life of a stubborn mule"
* Repent of self-sufficiency {2Cor3:5, Jam4:6}
- Must be humble to receive grace
* Embrace being completed by God through Christ {Col2:9-10}
- "You have infinite quantities" of fruits of Spirit in God
* Choose to serve -- you are equipped to do it {2Cor9:8}
- "What God has for you is not just for you, but for you to share"
* Admit your need for Christ on a consistent basis & approach Him {Heb4:14-16}
- God helps those who help selves is HUGE lie
- God helps those who recognize they cannot help selves


my eyes have seen your salvation

Clear reason why this story is making headlines. As it should be. Not every day what once was lost now is found. Not every day that something long since without hope brought back from presumed death. Not every day that new life brings great joy. Not every day these things once realized are rightfully attributed to divine intervention.

But it is every day that this can be repeated in all who are lost, all who are dead. It starts with the recognition that you are a sinner without hope of eternity, and ends with your acceptance of Jesus Christ as your Savior. And that process won't capture national headlines. But it will produce a celebration in Heaven that will be replayed at your arrival.

Today can be the first step toward this wonderful story. Today you can meet your salvation if you put your faith in Christ. And if you do that, my friend, your Father in Heaven will be as overjoyed, more overjoyed than any mentioned in these types of stories. And He will clothe you in the eternal robes of Heaven. Take that step today. And be part of the grandest story ever told.


at all times, praying

This article is everything that is wrong with modern understanding of prayer. And that follows not too long after my other rant on poor prayer understanding.

Prayer is not time to be set aside, my fundamental problem with all modern movements who believe they have the true path to a better prayer life. It starts with the idea that you can steal little moments during the day like in the shower or climbing up stairs to bless God with your presence, your precious few free moments. It ends with concerts of prayer that hold Communion hostage, or with daily minute counts.

Lord doesn't want your free time. Lord doesn't want your stolen precious moments. Lord doesn't want your scripted timeslots and lists and accomplished goals. Lord desires a nonstop conversation with you. Lord wants you to have a heart that is free to lift all things small big important useless funny surreal private worshipful dirty wise your total all things to Him. And He wants that at all times. The way to get there is not by finding the spare moments. It is by rearranging completely your poor understanding of it, and producing a heart and mind that is never more than a thought away from Him.


nor do they understand

Brother over tonight, and in discussing the success of something despite its many faults, used the term "inexplicable grace of God" to explain it (not defend it). I'd bet that many believers or otherwise have issues with the concept that some things can be explained no other way. With a shoulder shrug and shaking head, they exclaim it as if embarrassed. And why is that?

Nature of rationalism and humanism and other evil isms in opposition to the truth take as a fundamental premise that they must be able to comprehend something or else that some thing is either false or unworthy. They sit atop some high horse of privilege as if they had earned some ultimate right to know or understand all things. And thus the inexplicable grace of God is not acceptable.

It is always acceptable, and it is behind all things, even the things we believe we understand or were given grace to understand. You might be atop the highest horse possible, but even with head back as far as it goes you wouldn't be able to see how much higher God is than you. I suppose it is not so much that they feel they have earned some right atop that horse that these people hate. It is that they are reminded again of their place, their very secondary place.


appeared in a different form to

Somewhat related to yesterday's musing on Ps22-24. Trying to focus more on the psalms this year as they come up thrice weekly under the schedule I've drawn up. And simply reading the first four and finding myself reminded that each of them inspired and divinely assembled. Not just a few have their own character and message, but all. Perhaps a straight run-through or a daily make them as scan-empty as Ezek, but when taken separately and thoughtfully approached, each have their own identity. Meta-lesson here on Word-reading in general, or something even deeper: people.


Me three times

Doing some initial research on Ps23 and saw mention that Ps23 (Shepherd psalm) follows Ps22 (Psalm of the Cross -- so-called because of its focus on suffering). Going to extend this thought a bit further. Ps23 precedes Ps24 (King of Glory psalm). The three together are meaningful. Book idea three follows.

Interesting trio of imagery set together: Sufferer, Shepherd, and Sovereign.
* Shepherd and Sovereign can't happen without Sufferer. Two and three are so because of one.
* Sufferer and Sovereign are due to Shepherd. One and three are undergone by two.
* Sufferer and Shepherd made all the more special in Sovereign. One and two are improved by three.

I've expressed before that when we dissect the nature of God into individual components and then fixate on one, we lose the grandeur of the united whole. Ps22-24 prove that as well as any three consecutive chapters. To be expanded later on my bookshelf.


walking on ahead of them

At yesterday's little gathering of the brethren, I didn't dwell on the application as much as I should have. The one that occurred to me as I prepped was the idea of spiritual inheritance. Isaac and Israel are called out in the Heb11 Hall particularly for their passed-on blessings and not for any other deed of faith. It was their faith in the Lord as the One who holds the future in His hands that is emphasized.

As one who is consciously ever-thinking of secure futures, I plan for college; I plan for insurance; I plan for six months of expenses. I take clear steps to change my present to affect the future of the sweet things. But if I have not thought of the parallel planning required for a spiritual inheritance, I shall have failed the sweet things no matter the size of their largesse. No trust fund offered today carries with it eternal benefits.

Note: follow up at next gathering. Start should be focused on our finish.


feeling a sense of awe

"God Who Dwells in the Heavens: Personnally Involved in the Universe" {Rev4:11}
* God in Christ Who is Peaceful & Approachable
- Rom8:28: Lord has purpose for loved ones
- Phil1:6: Lord will not leave you unfinished
- Phil4:13: Lord strengthens us
- Phil4:19: Lord the Provider
- 1Cor10:13: No tempting beyond tolerance point
* God in Christ Who is Unsettling & Awe-inspiring
- Realm of natural world: Lord's power hidden in shaking of earth
- Realm of animal world: plagues, ravens, talking donkeys
- Realm of nations & leaders: govts rise & fall by His will
- Realm of spirit world: 1King22
- Realm of salvation & deliverance from sin: can not be saved until He makes you ready


explained to him the way of God

Some brothers and I met this am, and all currently caught up in the OT. Faced with the familiar Gen passages, and still finding the insights afresh. Wondrous one made the connection twixt Adam/Eve covering sin and the Lord covering sin with His blood. Nice parallel.

Brother this am asked about the imparting of God's command about the tree and fruit avoidance. Was Eve present for the communication or was it secondhand? In Gen2 when that command is issued, she is in fact not there. But in Gen3, she repeats what she heard to liar. Either she is repeating something she herself was also told, or she was repeating something given to her from Adam.

Take whatever political side you wish to take prior to answering this question. I don't care if you wish to pin that colored ribbon to your shirt when you do. Doesn't change the timing of the first sin. Perhaps it is easier for you to swallow or to place blame. All it serves to prove is that we can rationalize many things when we have the mind to do so. Read into that.


of the age to come

I've spoken before about my issues with the young growing older. Others age around me and the despair never grips me the same. Facing that aging and though the despair is clearly not present the nagging of the something clearly is. Perhaps a connected sense and reminder of the little ones' growth. Or perhaps all that growing no matter the focus will always be an issue. And why should that be? Don't want to seek the analysis for in the seeking the despair finds vines to climb.


and none of you asks Me

I keep forgetting that Beliefnet is infiltrated by the devil. And I keep reading articles that only serve to irritate me by their grand stupidity. But they're no different from the rest of MSM, so I suppose it should be expected. Their latest piece is another piece lacking an understanding of God that still attempts to pass itself off as exactly the opposite.

It's not that I want to defend prayer for parking. The article's implication that believers need to focus on the bigger changes in their lives rather than on the little things is certainly a good encouragement. But to make the blanket assertion that the little things shouldn't be brought before God is inane.

Prayer is no either or. It is not one type of thing. To think the Lord doesn't want to be bothered by the small things misunderstands God at a fundamental level. He has the capacity to handle all things -- it's not as if He has too much to do so we shouldn't add stuff to His pile. That's ludicrous.

Secondly, it's the same as telling a parent that their kids shouldn't come up to them if they have a little paper cut that needs a kiss, or a button that needs to be sewn back to a bear's eye. Instead, the children should only come to the parent if they've broken a leg or crashed the car through the garage.

The entire issue is that this piece is written from a perspective that considers prayers and answered prayers as somehow related to God's feelings about us. Prayer and their answers are not immediately connected. Prayer is your conversation with the One leading you. And that conversation doesn't need to be universal matters of weight. The best practice to increase your time with God is to speak to Him about anything and everything, not simply to save up your time until something big comes along. Sometimes that Father of yours wants you to tell Him that silly story about what you said and then what she said and then what you said and how you both laughed because that seemingly small thought shared makes Him smile.

That's what love is after all.


the one who also had leaned

Prepping for Sunday, and Heb11:21 has an image appropos current situation. Without working laptop, sitting here on zero minutes of rest and actually putting pen to paper like some neanderthal being entertained by the radio by candlelight. And this image of elderly Jacob, elderly Israel propped aright only by the strength of carved wood.

End of his life much like most of his days, really. That popped-out hip the cause of plenty of cane-leaning in his day. And the cause of the clear faith exposed in Hebrews -- the faith of an old man knowing all the days of his life, and all those days for his family which he won't see, all of it held up, propped aright by the hand of God.

You think leaning on yourself is leaning on something. Look in a mirror, and see that sprawled body? Leaning on nothing. Not a great place to be.


and they have tired you out

Sorry for the outage. Laptop issues. Sloth issues. Will issues. Went back to the time-honored custom of paper journals. Like a 14-yr-old girl. Sans butterfly lock clasp. I can assure you virtually, however, that these retro-dated thoughts were, in fact, recorded. Somewhere. Mostly in my head.

Get to be back before the brethren end of March. Spirit will be speaking on rest and renewal. A quick preview:
* Intro:
- Summary of prior characteristics of God
- Purpose of sabbatical: R&R
- R&R not just for pastors, but for all
* Lord of rest
- Rested on 7th day
- Commandment #4
- Ps23:2
* Lord of renewal
- Ps 23:3
- Rev21:5
- 2Cor5:17
* App
- Unrested? Rest
- Unchanged? Change
- Unbeliever? Trust


but we will all be changed

This sports story does discuss a good way to start a new year. This fits with most folks' views on New Year's resolutions. With a new you. A different name. A slimmer body. A healthier diet. A new learned skill. An ex-habit. A revamped wardrobe.

A new coat of paint doesn't change the underlying house with the bad foundation, friend.

Davis to Williams, 210 lbs to 180 lbs, smoker to non-smoker -- sure, all good ways to start a year. But a truly GREAT way to start the year is by actually doing something to change that underlying you. And the only way is by going from unbeliever to believer. A saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the only change with eternal results.

That 2007 you without Christ? A dressed-up 2006 version. That 2007 you with Jesus as your personal Savior? A child of the living God, with a place in Heaven earmarked for your arrival. Will this be the year for you, friend?