behind you; hide for a little while

Been scouring Godtube for wonderful videos -- not just to add some more media to these pages, but also because there may be more videos that are as wonderful as the other great one. The one below doesn't hit you in the heart like the Lifehouse skit, but I like the clear symbolism. All of us wear masks that we present to the world to see: beautiful, joyous, strong, or in control. And in reality, we are the opposite of these things. And only the truth and purity of Christ can bring the truth of ourselves out for all to see without shame. I also love the nail-piercings on the palms represented by hearts. If ever hearts meant love, it meant them on the palms of God.


a deluding influence so that

In 1Sam12:14, Samuel tells the people of Israel that if they "will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God." Sammy ties the king's walk and decision-making to the obedience and heart of the people. Their faith will affect the king's faith. This leads to two important conclusions.

First, the Israelites are partly responsible for Saul's evil. David is always held up as this polar opposite of Saul, and perhaps it had less to do with some innate good in David and innate evil in Saul as it had to do with the collective good or evil in the nation during their respective years of leadership. That also means that some of the stupid decisions a pastor has made or stupid thing a pastor has said (Haggard, Osteen, et al) might possibly be the flock's fault.

Secondly, tied to yesterday's praise for Piper, it's that much more critical that pastors seek purity over popularity and truth over entertainment. They need to disciple their flocks so that their flocks can grow their faith -- in turn growing the faith of the pastor. Reminder to all shepherds that if you want to be closer to His robe, ignoring the body is not the route to go.


that he is telling the truth

If I haven't said it yet, shame on me, but John Piper might be the best Pastor in America, the opposite of Joel Osteen. The focus of Piper's sermons is never to better yourself or to make yourself happy or to find ways to fit your faith into your very busy life. His sermons are about how God is the center of all things, and how we need to figure out how our lives fit into our faith.

In a recent sermon series, Piper confronts the true meaning of being born again. Rather than wonder why believers look so much like the world, or trying to figure out how to make small inroads into a congregation's behavior, Piper is willing to take on the pathetic state of American churches by telling the truth: the majority of Christians are not born again.

Piper's passion won't put him on the NYTimes bestseller list like Osteen, or bring him to Larry King like Rick Warren, or even make him popular with his own congregation. But it will make real disciples, true disciples, people whose lives are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Did I say "might be" the best Pastor? Take away the lack of certainty. No doubt about it.


and have seduced the inhabitants of

This article is a must-read for all believers, especially those who have any part in shaping the vision and goals of a church. From a starting point of good intentions, churches desire to seek the lost and outreach to their community. And the Willow Creeks of this world choose to do so by stooping down to the level of the seekers and drawing them in by any means necessary (concerts, skits, service programs, sports tournaments, etc.). And for many churches, this means becoming entertainment-focused.

I remember an instance almost thirteen years ago: discussing the music of David Wilcox and the difference between his fourth and second albums and how everything seemed overproduced; and then praying that our own worship and Friday night gatherings would avoid that same trap.

I find myself now a week from a staff/elder work session to discuss outreach. This article reminds me that there is a tricky balance between outreach and discipling. And that we need be careful that in our efforts to entice, that our ends don't justify all means.


the outcome for those who do

Tiger Woods is destroying the field at the Buick Invitational this weekend. Seems like a foregone conclusion, doesn't it? Even Tiger said that they don't hand out the trophy on Saturdays. Still a lot of golf to play. But many will see the 8-shot lead and call it over, deciding the end is a foregone conclusion.

Friend, do you think your end is a foregone conclusion? Because it is, in one of two ways. The first way is if you haven't accepted Christ as your Savior yet. And that conclusion ends before the throne of God, and no matter how good you think you've been or actually been, it won't be enough to earn your way into Heaven. Because only perfection is allowed there. The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death. And the Bible says that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man may enter into Heaven but through Him. Without Christ, your conclusion is eternal separation from God and all that is good and holy and wonderful.

But the Bible also says that Heaven is open to all who call upon the name of the Messiah. The Bible says if you believe in your heart and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. That conclusion is a guarantee, and unlike golf that determines its outcomes on Sundays, your outcome can be determined any second of any day. That moment you accept Christ as your Savior. And this second conclusion ends in eternity with the Almighty who loves you.

Take His outstretched, nail-pierced hand today, my friend. And see where it leads you.


because there is no truth in him

It's not difficult to look around the news every day and find a sign of the end of the world. Our culture is spiraling downward so quickly, it's a wonder there's not a tangible shaking of the very air around us. But I'm fairly certain that a new reality game show might take the cake for signs of the end-times.

I'm not sure what the most distasteful part of the show is: the fact that honesty is so difficult to achieve that money must be offered in exchange for it; the fact that despite the amount of money being offered, total honesty is still difficult to get in exchange for it; the fact that the contestants on the show willingly admit to all sorts of vileness; or the fact that these contestants are probably quite representative of all people, myself included, in terms of vileness. People enjoy watching car wrecks; even if these wrecks are mirrors of their own souls. Any wonder the ratings for the show are through the roof?


of God, the Almighty

A former pastor of mine told me I was a "Big Godder". A little godder has an image of God that can't save them from their darkest trials; A Big Godder says my God has grace sufficient for all things. A little godder says well, maybe god used evolution in the creation of the world; a Big Godder trusts in the literal Word of God for all things. Evil people like Tony Campolo that are little godders have weak gods who can't deal with the problem of suffering and evil in the world; a Big Godder understands that an omniscient God has greater plans for all things. The video below reminds me about my God, my Great Big God, my King. You figure out what your King can do. My God can beat up your god.


you are of your father

Sometimes when I hold my newest sweet thing, she stares at me for minutes on end without changing her expression or turning away. She will stare into my eyes, not knowing that there are far more interesting things to be looking at than a poppy who adores her. And yet she continues to stare. Despite having already stared at me earlier in the day, and despite having stared at me many times over previous days, she still stares at me with her full focus, all her attention trying to figure me out.

My wife keeps telling me that my children aren't really mine, that they are on loan to me from God. I think it's some mother philosophy she probably picked up from Beth Moore or Ann Graham Lotz or some other MOPs favorite. And while I recognize what Ps24:1 says about all belonging to the Lord, including the world and all who dwell in it, and while Ps139 is clear that He crafted and formed each individual within the womb, I still find it hard to accept that my sweet things weren't crafted specifically for me to have.

Despite this disagreement over her ownership, she stares at me with her full focus, all her attention trying to figure me out. It's not that difficult a question to answer. Her all might not be for me, but my all is for her.


received him back as a type

Yesterday I wondered whether a person could have two versions of himself, and how one could distinguish between real and fake. I obviously didn't understand that the choice might not be twixt real and fake but perchance twixt real and real.

1Sam10:6 has an interesting prophecy from Samuel to Saul. Samuel tells him that "The the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with them and be changed into another man." Even before that part of the prophesy had been fulfilled, v9 tells us that "when he turned his back to leave Samuel, God changed his heart."

I forget that when we ask the Lord into our lives, we are not some new and improved version of the old, but something altogether different. I suppose, then, that the converse is true -- that when we allow evil into our lives we achieve a negative something altogether different. We are not some singular snapshot, but rather a portfolio of shots, each some image of ourself, all real.


who will genuinely be

Reading 1Sam9 and it always surprises me to see what Saul used to be like. In v5, Saul is worried about potentially causing his father to worry about him being gone too long. In v7, he's concerned with not having a visitor's gift for Samuel. In v21, after being treated kindly by Samuel, Saul wonders aloud whether Samuel has the wrong guy since his lineage isn't the greatest.

There is such a lack of guile and arrogance and bloodthirst in the young Saul that we barely recognize him as the same man who chases David all over the map later on and makes bad choices as a king. Dealing right now with a family member who continues to make bad choices and in his moments of clarity when he seems like a purer version of himself, the contrast to the worse version is just as striking.

Which is the real? The one that makes bad choices, true nature revealed, or the one we long it to be, the one with less ill?


to become children of God

"What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?"
* Intro
- 45 million unborn killed since 1973 -- more than combined population of a dozen major US cities
- Only in Word can we get clarity of emotionally-charged topic
* When does life begin?
- Unborn created & known by God {Ps139:13-16} (no child an accident)
- Unborn called babies {Luke1:41; Gen25:22} -- same word used to describe both born & unborn children
- Unborn protected as persons {Ex21:22-23}
- Unborn called by God {Isa49:1; Jer1:5; Gal1:15}
* Throughout early church history, most theologians against abortion (Calvin, Augustine, etc)
* What about choice?
- 1Cor6:19-20: not your body
- Moral obligation to protect all life (women, minorities, unborn, et al)
* What about forgiveness?
- 1John1:9
- "Nothing God wants more than to offer you forgiveness for all wrongs"
- David's sin led to death of child. His response? Ps51
* Application
- Politically (support pro-life candidates)
- Prayerfully (abortion not medical, political, or philosophical issue -- spiritual)
- Personally (volunteer, give up for adoption, adopt)


the future, so that they may

Another reflection on my father.

My college graduation took place on a picture-perfect Thursday in June. Tens of thousands of friends and relatives of my fellow graduates were lined up early in hopes of grabbing good seats. My father was not one of those in line. While my mother and sister saved seats, my father met me in front of my dorm to take pictures. Commencement began with a parade march from my dorm, around the main campus yard, and then around to the graduates’ seating area. For the entire march, my father was always ten to twenty yards away trying to capture the perfect image.

After lunch later that afternoon, I saw him sitting quietly by himself in the shade. I walked over to him and said, "You must be exhausted, what with having taken approximately a million pictures." He replied, "I’m fine, actually. I’m just sitting here thinking that after all these years imagining this day, it’s hard to believe it’s finally coming true." I realized then that I’d been wrong all these years. I always thought my father was proud of me only because he’d have something to brag about to his friends; that his son was a Harvard grad. No, he was happy for me, knowing that from that point on, my life was going to be markedly better. Even if he didn’t admit it, I’m sure he was a little tired; I imagine carrying a vision of a son’s secure future for twenty-two years can really wear a person out.

My father enjoys holding my new sweet thing when he's feeling well enough to do so. On several occasions he has glanced up wistfully and stated, "18 years until she graduates high school. 18 years -- that's a long time." He understands that the chances of his actually seeing her graduate in his state of health are enormously slim. And yet, he still carries that vision inside him, even the slimmest of hopes of seeing a secure future for his loved ones some wondrous thing.

There's no religious lesson here. This just makes me sad.


also ought to wash one another's

My father is 71 and has congestive heart failure. In addition to battling his age and failing ticker, every few months his gout acts up and causes his feet to swell painfully. The past two days, my mother has called me to come over and massage some medicine into the skin of his feet because my hands are stronger than hers.

Background: I hate feet. I think they're ugly. Touching another's feet ranks on my list of favorite things to do higher than walking on hot coals, but below getting slapped in the face.

Massaging my father's feet was a special experience, though. The only reason for the call on the second day was because after the first day, the pain and swelling had gone down significantly as if I were some miracle worker rather than a passable masseuse. But even had I not received the second call, I might have volunteered regardless, the first day was such an experience.

Before the Last Supper, Christ washes the feet of His disciples and then lectures them on servant leadership. It is easy to think of this servant leadership as merely a model of humility, and such it is. But it is more than simply a lesson for CEOs of manufacturing firms to spend a few minutes greasy at the assembly line.

I picture Christ washing the feet of His disciples not just as an act of humility, but also as one of love. A few hours hence, He knew where He'd be: before kangaroo courts hastening His hour. And after four years of ministry with these friends of His, how could His last act of service not have been done lovingly? And perhaps that was His greater lesson -- not just that humility was a virtue of the highest order, not only that true leaders serve their servants, but also that true leaders do that service in great love, treating even the lowliest as having the same fundamental worth that all the earth has before Almighty God.


all received, and grace upon grace

At the top of the page I created to list my personal goals for 2008, I have a simple mission statement: "The purpose of these goals is to ensure that I am the person I want to be, and more importantly the person Jesus wants me to be in Him." All I want to do is be who Christ wants me to be.

Churches have their own mission statements. Most have to do with growing community: within the church and outreaching to unbelievers. Do a quick google search for "church mission statement" and you will get some 477,000 links to various ones. Not going to pick on any one church's sentiments since the point of this post isn't to criticize what others are called to.

After discussing missing grace at a meeting last night, I decided on the ride home that I want a simple one for my hypothetical future church: To share the overwhelming grace of God to all. I want the church to continually ask itself whether or not the message it is sending to everyone is how much Christ loves them, how crazy God is about them, how utterly and completely and totally in love with them God is no matter how utterly and completely and totally wretched they are. And if a ministry can't answer that question? Sorry. No place for that at Bethel.


with you, and whenever

Met with a brother this a.m. and discussed the concept of having choices. As I walked through the three choices he had in front of him, I weighed in with a new thought: a theoretical (to us) fourth choice. That choice can't be seen by us right now but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Our puny human minds see time as linear, whereas all of eternity is laid out before an omniscient God like a series of photographs. He doesn't need to go through B and C and D to go from A to E. It's His set of photos, so why not just place E next to that A?

We see choices bound by these temporal threads. But when you consider that third choice that seems like it's more of the same, consider it in a light not bound by that sand-timer. Perhaps that more of the same is a choice that opens up another choice some two years down the road that would not open up if one of those other choices is first picked. Perhaps picking that safe third choice is really picking that E without you knowing it. All the more reason to make sure you have the Almighty in your corner acting as Guide. He knows the shortcuts, trust Him.


in purity, in knowledge

Yesterday in an an ABF studying the Gospel of John, we looked at the temple cleansing in John2 and talked about Christ's reaction to what He saw. Good discussion followed on God's response to our encroachment on God's holiness.

Nearing the burning bush with dusty shoes encroached on His holiness to the point God had to ask Moses to take off his sandals. Disrespecting His holiness at Meribah cost Moses entry into the promised land. In my reading today of 1Sam6, 50,070 men of Beth-shemesh perish because "they had looked into the ark of the Lord." (v19) In v20, "the men of Beth-shemesh said, 'Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God?'" The whole need for Calvary is because eternity isn't possible when our sin nears His holiness.

It is fundamental to our understanding of who God is that we clearly get that next to love, His most fundamental characteristic is that He is holiness perfected. And even our smallest sin is too much for Him to bear. I don't let my children get near me if they are sticky and I adore them. Multiply that by a zillion to see that despite His great love for us, our sin and His being cannot co-exist.


how does it read to you

Recently joined a cool site for people who like to read. For the past six years, have been compiling annual booklists and reviews to swap lists with friends. Think of this post as my attempt to better your mind.

Top Ten Books (2003-2007) as read by me:
1. Meditations in Green by Stephen Wright
2. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
3. The Known World by Edward Jones
4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
5. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
6. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
7. Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle
8. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
9. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
10. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


whom He loved standing nearby

Check out 1Sam3:10: "Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel said, 'Speak, for Your servant is listening.'"

In Ps23 when David proclaims "The Lord is my Shepherd" he is not merely being possessive. No, he is in fact proclaiming one of the great foundations of the faith: our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God Almighty is not some distant deity that thunders from above. God is interested in an up-close and personal interaction with us. The incarnation of Christ is the obvious point-of-fact, but the Word is littered with such interactions.

And here in 1Sam3:10, we get such a picture. God can clearly project His voice into our mind and hearts, but He doesn't do that with Samuel. Instead, it says the Lord "came and stood and called." Rather than yell at Sam from the Heavens, rather than feeding Sam His voice into Sam's head as through a transmitter, the Lord came and stood in His room to speak to Him, like a friend visiting another friend. This matches Moses' experience with God, face-to-face, friend-to-friend. Sometimes I wonder whether the birth of the Messiah and His life on earth was a last resort, the only means of saving a broken world, or whether He came to earth simply because from Heaven, He missed us.


and their mighty men are defeated

Watched an amazing movie this evening. The movie is a meditation on good and evil, particularly the relentlessness of evil. We live in a broken world filled with evil so evil it can't be imagined. And those working for good can get overwhelmed by that evil.

In 1Sam4, the Israelites get routed by the Philistines. So they march the Ark of the Covenant into camp and cheer its arrival. The Phils actually hear the cheer and are frightened by the knowledge that the Ark is in the camp with the high probability that God is on the side of the Israelites. So what do the Phils do?

They decide to keep fighting the Israelites.

You might have expected the Ark to have made a difference. In most stories like this, the presence of the Ark helps the Israelites rout their enemies. But in this case, tens of thousands of Israelites get slaughtered by the Phils and the people of God are defeated. Same story as No Country. Even those on the side of good can get overwhelmed by evil.

Not because God isn't strong enough to defeat evil, don't take your thinking down that alleyway. Down that alleyway is where evil wins. No, the side of good loses at times because the Lord allows it to happen. You're focused on the battles, yes, won and loss by the Lord's will. Look to the war, though. Relentless or not, evil doesn't win. A blood-stained cross is proof of that.


they thought that He was speaking of

1Sam3:1 sets the context for the calling of Samuel by stating that "word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent." Curious statement, this. First, it implies that there was a time prior to this when visions and the voice of God speaking to people was common. During those times, did people not still wonder at the awesomeness of being contacted by the Almighty? Or did they walk around taking it for granted. Were there people in a room and one of them would talk and then Did you say something to me? Sorry, no, I was talking to God. You know how that is. Of course. This morning He told me to smite Isaiah.

Secondly, the statement implies that the Lord goes through phases where His direct presence on earth is more necessary than at others. What would qualify as an era where He spoke to lots of people? What would qualify as a decade when He would go silent? What would bring back an age of frequent visions?

Lastly, I think many assume there are no more prophets, that the last prophets had spoken when Messiah finally arrived. But perhaps our definition of prophet need be analyzed. Perhaps prophet doesn't necessarily refer to those with actual prophecies to speak, but rather to all who hear the direct voice of God or are given visions. In which case, even now prophets walk among us. If so, what is He trying to tell us?


else besides Him

Still watching a wondrous video as often as I can. While away from video today, instead listened to the song that so perfectly matches the drama. The complete lyrics can be found online at various places.

The chorus haunts me. And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you? Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

The video shows various temptations that distract us from remembering how good it is to be with the Lord: sex & relationships, money, alcohol, vanity, depression. But even if you aren't being distracted by "big" temptations, simple apathy & the daily rhythms of life block that walk with yours.

Your picture: this road ahead of you that you walk, and when you need the Lord you contact Him.

Reality: this road ahead of you, Lord walking. And He's not standing still. And if you aren't actively following, that robe gets farther and farther away. Sometimes when you catch up, you are moved by Him and you remember how it couldn't be any better than that.


do you owe my master

Thinking about yesterday's sermon on money and the Christian, specifically the point made about freedom from discontent. Contentment deserves its own sermon at some point, for sure. And while commercials and the marketing industry deserve much of the blame for the desire in us to spend, spend, spend, one thing that should be given its due for our failures is our own sense of entitlement.

Americans have distorted the Declaration of Independence's term "pursuit of happiness". They perhaps think that the whole endowed by their Creator means it comes from the Bible. It does not. This pursuit of happiness, especially, has created in the average American a sense of entitlement.

Note to all: you are not entitled to the newest fashions. You are not entitled to eating out at restaurants on a regular basis. You are not entitled to cable television. You are not entitled to cellphones that can take pictures. You are not entitled to Christmas presents. You are not entitled to yearly vacations. You are not entitled to watching the latest Tom Hanks movie.

Debt is a serious spiritual issue. It reflects an inability to make non-selfish choices. It reflects an inability to have self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit. It reflects discontentment with what the Provider of all things has given you. You want to pursue happiness? He's reaching out His hand to you and telling you to follow closely.


his wealth between them

"Right On the Money"
* Based on Biblical philosophies outlined by Crown
* 2300+ verses in Word on money -- equiv of Luke & Acts together
* Importance of sound doctrine on money
- How we handle $ affects relationship w/ Lord
- Much of our life spent making/using $
- $ serious competitor to Lord for our attention
* Lord wants us to be His
- God owns everything {Ps89:11,24:1}
- God entrusts things to us (i.e. stewardship)
- Our spending thus becomes a spiritual decision
* God wants us to be free
- From sin {2Cor5:21}
- From debt {Prov22:7, 1Cor7:23}
- From discontent {1Tim6:6}
- "Nothing more freeing than being content w/ what we have"
- More TV you watch/more catalogs you browse/more shopping you do = more you spend
* God wants us to be wise
* Ways to gain wisdom
- Prayer {Jam1:5}
- Word {Prov}
- Seek counsel


went and traded with them and gained

Still musing on my post from yesterday on bargaining with God. I call it bribery since we're in no real position to extract anything from God. But as I mentioned earlier this week, just started 1Sam1, and in it, we get Hannah bargaining with God. She pleads with Him and promises to give up her son if He grants her one. Her psalm of praise in 1Sam2 gives us a clue as to how the Word sees her: faithful and giving the Lord all the credit.

We get a similar scene in Judges11. Jephthah makes a deal with God: the first thing he sees at his house for victory over the Ammonites. He ends up giving up his daughter to fulfill his side of the bargain. And this is not seen as shameless bribery; au contraire, Heb11:32 reckons it faith. What to make of this?

Two things. Like everything else about faith, the intention of your heart makes a difference. In my case, bribery for one man to win an election is more to satisfy my beliefs and my desires rather than to honor God. In contrast, Judges11:29 says Jepthah is filled with the Spirit when he makes his vow. Perhaps the Lord looks on some negotiations as intentions to glorify God rather than to extract something from Him, and so He allows those to occur.

Secondly, to the extent that we're playing with His resources, God humors us to test our faith. I give my kids allowances for doing chores, and they get to spend it on things like gum. Since they don't carry money with them, when we're at the store and they see something they want, I pay for it and they pay me back when we get home -- with money that I had given them in the first place. I involved them in the transaction even though I basically bought it for them.

Perhaps the Lord is the same way. He's given us all these gifts and resources and thoughts. Perhaps He doesn't see our attempts at bargaining as pathetic. Perhaps He sees our heart and sees our intentions and sees these children of His begging for what they want and smiles and says "Well, let's see where this goes..."


danger that this trade of ours

Rejoicing this morning with the news that a strong believer scored a major victory last night. Found myself all week praying for the results to be where I wanted them to be (also prayed that the devil's choice Jezebel wouldn't win, and praise the Lord she finished third). I could hear myself making "promises" that if Huck captured 2008 via the Lord's power, I'd do A,B,& C.

Thinking this morning about our futile attempts at bribing God. Make no mistake, these are not negotiations. That third stage of grief is improperly labeled bargaining. Bargaining and negotiating can only occur if you actually have something to offer the other party. And understand this, we have no upper hand with God. He doesn't need our service, our resources, our gifts. Hello? He gave us all these things.

What we casually see as bargaining is actually bribery. We think God is somehow going to be enticed by our offers of more Godliness or more generosity or the end to some vice. Lord wants these things without His giving anything to you. He already gave us eternity, and here we are demanding more by trading away something that should already be His? Someone needs to take a class on negotiations and it isn't the Almighty.


attention to the public reading of

Time in the Word is important, no question. Question: quantity or quality?

For some reason, churches push the quantity over the quality. Even my own has an annual tradition of selling One-year Bibles and preaching the importance of reading through the Bible in a year. I've already done that countless times. By countless, I mean ten times. Still. I've done it in order and by designated reading schedule (NT and OT). I've done it chronologically. Obviously the downside is that it means on some days, I'm merely reading without understanding so I can get through the chunks I need to get through for that day's reading.

Last year, I did three psalms a week and 12 other books. Only 13 books for the year. This year, still the 3 psalms a week, in addition to 9 other books. Only 10 books this year, with some readings being a half-chapter for the day. The intent last year and this year is allowing more time to reflect and meditate and digest smaller pieces of the Word at the sacrifice of not getting to a particular book for several years.

Obviously, the Lord ideally would want quantity and quality, no question. But I'd rather set myself up for success where I can chew on two dozen verses rather than set myself for the potential of allowing Satan to distract my time in the Word with O my goodness look how long today's reading is.


who cry out to him day and night

Question: what role do spiritual leaders play in the prayers of others?

Began the year yesterday reading the first half of 1Sam1. Hannah prays to the Lord in the temple, with Eli the sole (earthly) audience. v10 says she is weeping bitterly and quite distressed -- enough for Eli to think she was loaded. I can imagine the scene of Hannah wrestling with the Lord in prayer and not feeling like she's getting anywhere, she has been struggling with the same prayer for so many years, so many trips to the temple, so long has she lifted up the same petition. In v17, Eli calms her by sending her off in peace and offering his own complementary prayer: "may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him." Eli's intercession has Hannah leaving happy.

Does Eli's intercession make the difference between Samuel and not-Samuel? Does Eli's prayer aid Hannah's so much that the Lord answers hers? Is the Lord waiting on Eli's participation in this greater plan of His?

Questions there aren't earthly answers to. But it makes me wonder if I'm paying enough attention to the prayers of the flock I lift up. Perhaps someone is suffering because I'm not interceding enough. Perhaps it's my faith that's the issue not theirs.


and it became perfectly calm

Finished 2007 in Philippians, ch.4 to be exact. And as Paul winds down his letter, I was wrapping up my year in similar fashion. No wonder then that the letter resonated. v4-9 particularly felt like a reminder of all the things learned in 2007, what to grasp onto for 2008. And within them, even more particularly, v7.

The peace of God.

I don't do peace well. My body for one is in constant motion. My mind for two never sleeps. My anxieties for three replay worst-case scenarios on permanent loop. I don't do peace well. Prayer for day one even now as I type away at a quarter to two, and for every day till 2009 is grasping onto the peace of God and learning how to do it well.