his house like the spider's web

The random video clip below shows a recent speech by Pope Benedict XVI wherein a spider (most likely a Prot spider) crawls all over him. I can guarantee the spider would have burst into flames if that had been JPII.


to leave them, for they were

A week ago, my pastor preached a sermon on discipleship that mentioned that the fishermen who dropped their nets when called by Christ likely knew Him beforehand -- had, in fact, spent copious amounts of time listening to His teachings and witnessing signs and wonders before the call. Studied Luke5/Matt9/Mark2 story of the calling of Levi/Matt yesterday, and his dropping of his former life was also more than likely not a spontaneous reaction to the calling of God.

I think it's easy for us to imagine these dropped nets and careers as ideals of faith -- that meeting Christ is such a powerful experience it causes one to leave one's former life at the drop of a hat, even at first impression. I don't think that imagined faith ideal loses its luster in the light of the knowledge that these disciples had long known Christ to be something special, and that they were in fact, just waiting for the sign that would indicate He was ready to take on his kingship. You see, the leaving of one's BC life is no less difficult whether you've known Christ for ten years, or whether you've just been introduced.

Obedience to following the path He has laid out for you is not some singular point along one's faith walk. It is not that jumping off point. Rather, it's a continuous look for the snapped twigs and dropped clues that signal where He's taking you. And along the way, there are forks that may require you to leave behind that bread crumb trail you've been placing just in case you wanted to go back.

I could probably stretch this analogy even further, but I'll let it linger in your mind instead.


flees because he is a

At the end of Braveheart, before William Wallace is summarily executed, he is allowed to speak one last time. And he uses all that is left in him to utter aloud the word "Freedom." It is a stirring moment that reaches something in us that longs to be unconstrained. My littlest sweet thing is 21-months old and is carried or strollered around whenever we go out. And she can put up with this for only so long before she squirms in an attempt to walk on her own like the rest of the family. And when given that opportunity to do so, she literally squeaks in excitement and pleasure the moment her tiny feet touch the ground, and she's off and wobbly-running.

In both these examples, you might argue that freedom is a good thing. Wallace fights for political independence and freedom from undue oppression -- a good thing. My sweet thing squirms for personal freedom and freedom from (what seems to her to be) physical oppression not hindering the rest of her family -- (I suppose) a good thing. But because there are good examples of freedom, our spirits perhaps confuse all desire for freedom -- even the bad ones -- as some greater good.

Is freedom from personal obligation and duty and responsibility a good thing? Is freedom from a made promise or commitment a good thing? Is freedom from a spouse attached before the altar of God a good thing? Is freedom from church membership when things go awry a good thing? Is freedom from keeping your word a good thing? Is flight rather than persevering fight a good thing? Is running, always running a good thing?


through sunshine after rain

The clip below is a beautiful visual meditation of a great song that reminds us no matter the life situation, Praise the Lord. Every church in America could create a similar clip from examples in their own flock, and what a fragrant offering that would be to the Lord, testifying to His sovereignty and grace.

have been hidden from your eyes

In the last few days, Facebook friends of mine have been posting some petition to keep out apps that have the potential to read inbox messages -- just the potential, mind you. It reminded me of petitions against cameras on street corners, and complaints about federal wiretapping. A few years ago, there was discussion about GPS chip implants, allowing parents to be able to know where kids are at all times, and I remember thinking "That would be awesome!" And yet everyone around me was horrified that the government would soon have the potential to know where you are and what you're doing at all times. And I suppose I get why non-Christians would care about their privacy, but I don't know why believers do.

Unless you're at places you shouldn't be at (ex: adult bookstores), or doing things you shouldn't be doing (ex: getting drunk at a bar on the way home from work), what does it matter who knows? I don't care if people track me or read my emails. They'll see I lead a fairly boring life and do lots of stuff for church. And when I sin, then I sin. I'm not ashamed I'm a sinner. Even if the government isn't watching, God is watching. You do remember that, don't you, Luke?

I did hear one argument that if it one day becomes illegal to be a believer (that day is soon coming), and the government can track you, they can arrest you when they know you're gathering for underground church. But eventually even that argument is ridiculous. I'm ready to be persecuted for my faith, and to die for the sake of the gospel. Turns out most believers can say they would too, but when reality comes in the form of GPS chips and online apps, they shrink away.


little girl, I say to you

The video below shows that SCC is no longer trying to hide the fact that his one purpose is to make you weep uncontrollably. Mission accomplished.

and felt compassion for

It is always interesting to see what triggers our hearts' responses. Yesterday evening, my daughter watched the death throes of her pet fish of five years. We told her the fish wasn't looking well and she stared at the bowl in glistening-eyed sorrow, and when he flailed around and then fell silent and we told her that might have been the end, she burst out in heart-rending tears. Compare that to her response when we told her seven months ago that her great-grandfather had passed away -- silence, but no tears.

Contrasting responses are not confined to young children. I'll read the newspaper or scan CNN or pass by the evening news as they discuss this-and-that murdered family, or so-and-so abducted child, or whichever new hero passed away in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not a whisper of emotion will flicker within me. But whenever my wife tells me she's about to throw away some ratty undergarment of mine that I've had for years beyond acceptable usage, my heart will flutter because she's tossing out something that has been so loyal to me for so long. Don't judge me. Add your own contrast: passionate about a sports team but not the Lord; calm about the kidnapping of a missionary but livid that your waiter spilled your soup; tears shed over the death of a fictional movie character but no grief on Good Friday. And on and on, that list.

Which is why still one of my favorite quotes is "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God." Christlikeness is not just the behaviors that conform to Christ, but also the underlying heart. I'll know my heart is growing when the passing of T-shirts bothers me less than the passing of strangers.


followed Him, because they saw

"Come, Follow Me" {Matt4:18-22}
* For the sake of the call
* Context: disciples did not respond without knowing Christ beforehand; had spent lots of time with Him before His call to begin ministry
- Diff twixt disciple & believer
* Disciple is a fully devoted follower of Jesus {Matt16:24}
- Marks: obedience, service, desire to please Christ
- Spectrum: curious-convinced-committed
* Not all believers are disciples {Luke14:26-27}
- Church is full of half-hearted Christians/lukes
* Being a disciple is a great privilege w/ significant cost {Luke14:25-27,33}
* Disciples are devoted to Word {John8:31}
* Disciples love Him more than anyone & anything {Luke14:26}
* Jesus does His work through His disciples {Matt4:19,14:17-19}
* Disciples have a special relationship w/ Him {Matt12:48-49}
- Ex: saw Him transfigured, got parables explained to them, saw His resurrected form
* Baptism a public declaration that we are disciples {Matt28:19}
- God loves ceremony (see marriage, child dedications)
* Mark of a disciple: love for one another
* Disciple is devoted to making other disciples (evangelism/outreach) {Matt28:19-20, 2Tim2:2}


who can listen to it

Been awhile since I read through Daniel carefully, which is amazing considering I hold Daniel up there with Joseph as models of faith with no reported flaws. And the story of him and the lions' den in Dan6 is so popular, it often escapes us that it is not just Daniel's faith that played a role in his salvation. In v16, we are told that King Darius delivers a prayer to the Lord as he casts Daniel into the den. "May your God whom you serve continually deliver you" is what he exclaims. Then in v18, we are told Darius spent the night fasting for Daniel. Daniel gets all the credit here, and certainly he must have prayed for his deliverance, but it is Darius who is the standout here, at least for me.

Interesting theological question I am too lazy to look into right now, but does God hear the prayers of people who don't believe in Him? On one hand, He must since everyone's very first prayer for salvation comes when we are still His enemies. We do not know Him when we ask for Him to enter our hearts and take up permanent residence, and He hears that prayer. On the other hand, prayer is this privilege and power we have as children of the living God. Those not in His family do not have the direct access that we enjoy as believers. And yet here in Dan6, Darius' prayer was answered (or maybe just Daniel's prayer that is left unwritten).

I'm not coming to a conclusion here. As I said, too lazy.

and the other disciple ran ahead faster

I have a long history with running.

When I was a kid in a big family in a small house, I often felt so stifled, I'd ask to go outside and run laps around the tiny yard. In school when the PE teachers made us run laps around the indoor gym, I'd be the one running full speed and lapping those others who were halfheartedly trotting in the appearance rather than the spirit of the exercise. My best time in school was a sub 7:00 mile, not bad for someone with tiny legs and a small stride. During college, as a way to deal with grief, I ran the Cambridge loop almost every day for an entire Spring.

I have a long history with running.

When I was a kid in a big family in a small house, I often felt so stifled, I'd lie in bed pretending to sleep, my mind miles away in a fantasy where I wasn't in the family I was in. In school when the teachers would ask us about our summers and holidays I'd make up stories to mask the monotony of poverty and a childhood unlived. My best time in school was every minute I wasn't home, feeling bad as someone with large wells of pain and an infinite depth of sadness. During college, as a way to deal with grief, I almost leapt into the Cambridge depths in some final escape.

I find myself these days both running and running.

I feel as fit as I've been in years, slim and stronghearted. But I also feel as unsettled as I've been in years, discontent and weakhearted. And in both instances, I feel as if I'm going through the motions. Training for a 12K? Sorta. Running just to run? More true. Being obedient and spiritually disciplined? Sorta. Running just to run? More true. Is the solution to keep running till all these things sort themselves out? Or stop for a second just stop for a second and ask myself where. Where. Where is this all going?


with you and become one people

"Being Lake City Community Church" {Eph2:11-22, 4:1-6}
* If you are a believer in Christ, you belong to a community
* Our community originates through reconciliation {Eph2:11-16}
- Reconciliation through Christ changed relationship from hostility to peace
- Salvation not just about you/God, but also you/each other (two sides of a coin)
- Gal3:28
- "A redeemed community is at the heart of God's plan of redemption"
* Our community grows through discipleship {Eph2:17-22}
- Purpose of discipleship is to build the household of God
- As we grow in God & become stones, we grow others & gather more stones
- Goal is not to be the 1 glorious part of a body, but to be 1 part of a glorious body
* Our community functions through loving one another {Eph4:1-6}
- v1: The main topic/mission: worthy walk
- v2: The necessary essentials of success: humility, patience, love
- v3-6: The result: unity of Spirit, one body


and it is enough for us

Have I been lazy posting? Yes. Will I ever return to normal posting? Lord only knows. Does anyone care? Can't imagine so, least of all me.

"Joy of Contentment in Christ" {Phil4:10-20}
* Contentment = "state of being satisfied with one's possessions, position, & status in life"
* Joy comes through Lord's provision (v10) -- high points in faith walk often come after God provides special gifts
* Joy remains in a heart of contentment (v11)
- Where I am
- What I do
- What I have
- Who I'm with
* Contentment is learned (v12)
- Learned through being in need (same as "humbling self in Phil2:8)
- Learned through having plenty ("Wealth has destroyed the character of more people than poverty has")
* Contentment is strengthened by Christ (v13) -- "all things" refers back to v12
* Contentment is demonstrated through sacrificial giving (v14-20)
- Giving is good (noble thing) (v14)
- Giving is partnership (v15)
- Giving is ongoing (v16)
- Giving is credited eternally (v17)
- Giving is pleasing to Lord (v18)
- Giving is rewarded (v19-20)
* Application
- Learn contentment (resist comparison, rejoice in present, refocus on eternity, release to others)
- Grow in giving
- Trust Christ as Savior