Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lessons learned

"If you can't see Christ all around you, then you generally don't see Him hardly anywhere in this sinful awful world. " from post "What to say?"

I've been at this long enough that I'm quoting myself now. That's something.
I go back and read past posts to remember things sometimes and ever since I reread that statement from my 9/25/06 post, it's been stuck in my head.

The past 5 days have been busy and at the same time amazing. I've learned a lot (that's my idea of a good time) and I was able to find a spiritual application to some of the mundane things I did. I wonder sometimes that maybe seeing God in everything makes things more superficial and less deep - I"d rather have 1 deep well, than 12 little pots - but that doesn't change the things I learned this week.

So brace yourself for a longwinded post.

I learned to think before I act.
Filling up the hot water heater in the new house, we noticed that even after the tank 'filled', water kept running. My dad and I went through the whole house (including peering underneath). Finally we discovered a moldy damp section of wall next to the laundry connections. Sooo, my dad whipped out his trusty utility knife (with my permission) and carved a 2'x2' hole in my wall. Finding nothing but very dry insulation, we later discovered that the pressure relief valve on the water heater was open. My dad flipped the switch and the water stopped running.
I wonder how many times in our lives we act and damage relationships when we need to just sit back and think on things for a minute.

I learned to ask ask ask.
My dad had taken time to explain every little doodad on the hot water heater EXCEPT that pressure relief valve. I'd thought about about asking him what it did but never did. I wouldn't have "Fix hole in wall" on my to do list right now if I had.

I learned that everything takes preparation.
I went to my new house Friday to paint. Everyone that talked to me that day knew I was going to go to the house and paint. When I got there though, I ended up pulling out a bunch of nails from the wall. Then I put some mud in the cracks and holes all throughout the two rooms I was working on. Then I did something else while it dried. Then I went back and sanded all the mud spots smooth. Then I had to wash the walls to get all the loose dust off. Then I had to take all the switch plates off. Then I had to put tape all around the edges. By the time I'd done all of this, it was too late at night and I had to return the next day to actually paint.
It was somewhere in this process that I realized God has done something similar to my life. God decided to make me a who knows what ( I haven't seen yet in His plan what my end result will be). So first He had to fill in some of the cracks in my life. Then the most difficult part came when He returned to sand away the rough edges left behind. He didn't just wake me up one day and make me what He wants me to be. But He worked, and worked, and worked and is still working today.

I learned that surface cleaning isn't enough.
My old house was generally clean enough. I swept and mopped the floors, vacuumed, and kept things generally picked up. It suffered randomly from what my brother calls "Flat surface syndrom" a condition whose symptoms consist of most flat surfaces suddenly being considered a shelf and having things stacked on it. But for the most part it was clean.
And then I moved my stuff.
Five years worth of dust and gunk was layered underneath my stove and fridge and other large appliances that don't move. It was utter filth. But you didn't see it before.
That made me think about how we clean our lives. An elder in the church may spend his whole life trying to weed out the sins in his heart, the sin of greed, lying, laziness, self-righteousness, pride, or jealousies. But he may never confess to God that he needs help to overcome his addiction to child pornography, or maybe his hate filled thoughts of how to physically hurt a neighbor. The big stuff in our lives stays covered up so that no one sees it. We don't even look at it ourselves. I want my heart to be clean. Not just superficially clean, not just clean to the eye of a casual observer, but deep down under every stick of furniture clean.

I learned that some burdens are a lot heavier than they look.
We were trying to move my piano and weren't making much progress. It's an electronic piano, so it looks as though it's just a cheap (but shiny) piece of plastic. It looked light. Between my sister-in-law and I, we managed to get it five feet to the door. Finally I walked next door and got a group of guys to come aid us. The first thing the main guy said after he got it into the van was, "That thing sure is a lot heavier than it looks!"
I agreed wholeheartedly.
But it made me think about some of the burdens we bear.
Teaching Sunday School to a group of kids doesn't seem like a heavy burden. But for me, it would be. Playing the piano for the song service, isn't a burden at all to me, but for some it would be quite a load.We look at peoples lives and we see some burdens, but what we don't see is the weight of them. For me, that lesson just cautioned me to be more careful. It warned me that I could think someones burden is light, and act upon that, and I might actually end up to be the straw that could break their back.

And last but not least.
I have learned to keep walking.
At 4am this morning I unloaded my last car load of stuff from the old house. As I walked to the front door carrying my load it occurred to me that everything necessary was going to get done one footstep at a time. When the load gets heavy or the project seems to be just too big, I just have to keep walking. Walking one step at a time gets me from room to room to room. With each and every step my house will come together.
In life, I'd rather go than stand still any day. So I struggle to remain positive when I have to stop and wait for the next sign from God as to what to do or where to go. So taking yet another step and moving to a brand new city, as a direct leading from God is wonderful for me. My wall didn't anticipate when all the prep work would be done and it could finally be painted, but this creation does look forward to each new step in the process where God gets closer and closer to His finished work in me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My shelter

Life returns to semi-normal tomorrow. Today was spent staring at phone wires and prying things apart, scrubbing a lot and unpacking. It's been a good day.

My tv guy showed up today to set me up again, and he agreed with me that the previous owners of the house seemed to have some kind of disorder. The living room alone had 5 jacks set up where cables could run in, and there were at least one (sometimes two) in the rest of the rooms (they did the same with phone lines, except didn't bother putting them into the walls, so they just dangle from their stapled up wires). Cables were strung all around outside the house and he couldn't make any sense of it at all. It took about 4 hours for any sense to be made, but, in the end, I have tv again.

Unfortunately that probably means my productivity will take a sharp decline - I hope I'm joking.

I've learned a lot in the past several days, and I'm looking forward to hopefully posting it tomorrow. I don't want to lose these lessons. I've enjoyed them. But, alas! I must head home to finish make a dent in the unpacking.

Monday, February 26, 2007

My comfort.

I tried to think positive and hope for the best, but something I'd been worried would happen today, happened. And it hurt. It hurt enough that I did something I rarely do. I cried. For the entire 20 minute trip from my old house, to my new house I told God just how badly it hurt.
Would you like to know the wisdom-filled words from the all-knowing master and creator of the universe? He said, "I know."
And that was enough.

In other, brighter news, my move is complete. For some reason my phones don't work so I'll get to tinker with that tomorrow. Slowly, everything will settle down again. The move went well, and surprisingly swift. God is good, and gracious.

He is kind.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My last night

I'm in a strange room. It's the same room I've been in for the last 1,862 days and nights, but it doesn't feel the same.

The tv stand, once packed with videos, tv, cd player, cd's and more, now sits in it's corner empty with strange dusty squares that show were stuff once was. The bookcase, once overflowing with books sits empty as well. I remember emptying that case and painfully chosing books to give away or sell, just so I wouldn't move them. Even if I didn't enjoy the book much, it still hurt to part with it.

The walls that once displayed my extremely varied tasted in art - they're all empty now. My desk looks strangest of all with every last scrap of 'stuff' gone except the bare basics to make my computer run. And even that will be gone in a few hours time.

Five years doesn't seem like that long. Everyone else in my family has been stationary for longer. My brother and his family are working on 9 or 10 years in their home, my parents have been in their home for over 15. In the last 10 years I've moved 4 times. This will be my fifth.

The last several days as my home has slowly emptied and been packed away, I couldn't help feeling a little bit lost. Everyone looks forward to going home at the end of the day. But until things settle down, neither the old house or the new house feels like home.

As I drove to church, I was talking to God about losing that sense of being at home, of not having that place that I can go to and call my own for awhile. That's when the words to an old hymn came to my mind. "Anywhere is home, let come and go what may; Anywhere I roam, He keeps me all the way; So for His dear sake, my cross I’ll meekly bear;Anywhere is home, if Christ, my Lord, is there."

Tomorrow is the day that I move, and I'm ready for it. Because until that day, I can't unpack my things and begin making the new place 'home'. I'm anxious for that day, and I'm willing to do whatever needs to be done to expedite the process and make sure everything necessary is taken care of to ensure everything is done right. And it's that very attitude that makes me wonder if the whole process is wrong to begin with.

The bible makes it clear that this world doesn't have a home for me; that I should feel uncomfortable here. That I should be constantly striving and making sure I've done everything I can to have everything and everyone around me ready for the day of a much greater move; our final move. There's nothing inherently wrong with what I'm doing, but I believe there is a danger to it. There's danger in making a comfortable spot for yourself here on earth, because when you do that, you lose the sense of urgency, the sense of longing, and you accept something that is second rate.

It's much like sating your hunger with a peanut butter sandwich, just before the Thanksgiving dinner. With that sandwich you're able to set aside your hunger that would have you going to the cook every five minutes asking if it's ready yet.

I don't want to set aside my hunger. And if a bunch of foolish knickknacks tempt me to do that, then they need to go.

Tonight, I don't feel like a pilgrim in search of a city. But I understand what that should feel like just a little bit better. And that's why I'm longing for home. I just hope I don't set my heart into my earthly home and forget to keep my heart longing for that final home. My earthly home will have to do though, and it will do - temporarily - if Christ My Lord is there.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Straw # 4,752

It's hard to believe everything that has happened in the last two months.

Mid-January my mother approached me saying that she and my dad wanted to sell the house I was renting from them. They've been in a land dispute since last year when I made the mistake of staying home for a vacation (my vacations always seem to bring bad fortune, I'm just lucky the house didn't burn down) and the stress of fighting the city was too much. That, and my dad is convinced there is something shady going on with one of my neighbors that he's hiding his property under his own name when he's actually representing Taco Bell (or something) and so I might end up with a drive thru in my backyard. So they want to sell.
So I needed to move.

About two weeks later, on a Friday, I made an offer on a house.
The very next Friday I received my first foster child.
Two weeks after that the foster child went to a permanent placement.
Two weeks after that (today) I prepare to move into the new house.

I was coming to God on a pretty regular basis reminding Him of a promise to not put anything more on us that we can bear. I'd been counting the straws and each time He added another one I was almost certian that one more straw would indeed break my back.

Inbetween all this were weekly Wednesday morning visits with my mother. These visits consist of her sitting at my desk and trying not to cry about my fathers physical condition. Not to make light of it, but apparently he's becoming very lumpy. They don't know what the lumps are exactly, but mom is under the impression that they are growths of cancer on his bones. So she sits, and she tries not to cry. Meanwhile I sit and pray that I say the right thing. And I wonder how many straws her back will carry.

Today, I'm relieved knowing that my phone won't ring for awhile with another foster child (I have to get my new house ready for their inspection first), and that I no longer have to growl about the mortgage broker that somehow through all this I never actually met, and only spoke with once.

You forget just how light it feels sometimes, when the weight of stress comes off. I've found myself randomly just taking a deep breath and sighing with relief. You just feel better knowing that the worst is over.

The easy part begins now. I have to fix the house, and move into it. Those things are easy. Time consuming, but easy. I'm blessed. I'm relieved. And I'm happy.
And it's all more than I deserve.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A post

Once again, another link to a post. I've found more food on the internet this past month than the last 6 months combined. So here is a link to an article by Dan Edelen over at Cerulean Sanctum
I liked the post, and figure people don't always go to the links I provide, so I'm posting -what I think- is the best of the best in the article. Enjoy!

Fumbling the Torch
My mother’s generational wisdom should’ve fed me, but by the time I realized I needed it, she was too far gone to help. And I didn’t know I needed it because I was too lost in my own media-driven stupor. Because the generation before me was, too. It was all I knew.

In the end, the torch I should be passing on to my child resembles a paper matchstick.

All that wisdom—gone. When my parent’s generation dies off entirely, so goes heritage, at least for many like me. We won’t remember all the second and third cousins. We won’t know how Christ changed that one great-uncle. Those salvation stories won’t be repeated around campfires any longer. The Bible passages that changed a generation will retreat into the book, to be remembered no more. And the hard-earned wisdom gained through decades of walking with Christ will blow away like dust along with the folks who learned it through bloody prayer, but took it to their graves.
What a grievous loss!
I wish we could grab our old people by the lapels and beg, “Don’t die before you instill in us what you learned about Christ. If you’ve been to the secret places, show us how to get there, too!” Don’t leave our generation to reflect on what might have been!

I'm a bad example

It's happened before. It's actually happened before with this very same lady. A lady was teaching at our church and she started talking about how some people discourage you by saying "You can't do that". She was doing fine.

Then, unfortunately, she pointed me out. She referenced the fact that I was buying a house and said people had told me I couldn't do it. "Right?" she asked.

There was a brief moment while I tried to figure out how to not totally ruin her example when it flitted through my mind that at some point on this blog a complete stranger suggested I join the big sister program rather than be a foster parent. It was a stretch. Ok, it's a stretch resembling the length of the state of Texas, but I made a huge stretch and nodded so the lesson could go on. (Ok I lied. She hung her whole point on my answer, so I lied. Speakers, teachers, preachers, conversationalists everywhere, help me stay honest by not hanging your point on my answer unless you KNOW my answer. That's also a warning, I hate lying, so at some point I might be willing to crash your example by giving an honest answer. I'm working on it. So BEWARE.)

Thankfully she did.

But after she did, I took a moment to appreciate the truth of the matter. People don't try and tell me things are impossible. I don't even remember the last time someone said something was impossible. I appreciate that. Most of the time I'm neither encouraged or discouraged by people, they tend to just watch and see what will happen. I appreciate that too in a way. Resounding encouragement is a great high. But if I fall flat on my face, the first thing I'll do is mentally roll through the names of people that thought it was a "GREAT idea!"

I remember a year or so ago that my mother, 50+ years old, unloaded a futon from a pick up truck, and hauled it over to a house. When I asked her why she didn't just come get me for help, she told me something that I doubt I'll ever forget. She told me that was going to get me, but had thought a moment and said to herself "Jeanette would do this own her own, and if she can do it, I can do it."

Thinking about those words, and my life and the lives of those around me has made me realize something. If I decide something is impossible for me, I might be influencing the decisions of those around me as well. If they think I'm stronger than they are, and I wouldn't do it, they might not try themselves. That's a heavy responsibility. I'll be the first to tell you not to do something like that. I'm most definitely NOT a good measuring stick to decide what's possible and impossible. But, I've seen a pattern of people seeing me do something then doing it themselves.

So, troubled by the responsibility of things entirely out of my control, I wondered at the solution. If some random person out there is going to do what I do, because I've done it, how can I keep them out of trouble?

Then, the answer came. Last night at church I just happened to use the phrase "I can do all things", then driving home I passed a church sign that irritates me to no end by reading "The two most power-filled words - I CAN" I'm almost entirely convinced that those words should be "GOD CAN" (truth be told I've already pondered the legal consequences of, uhum, changing their sign for them). After spending yet some more time irritated by their sign the answer came to me.

I'd be happy to tell anyone and everyone I haven't done a single solitary thing. I can't move futons, I can't buy houses, I can't parent a child. GOD CAN.
If you want to do what I do, then you're going to have to learn to do nothing. And I do mean learn. Doing nothing is the hardest thing I've ever done. And the only way to learn to do nothing is to do nothing and let God teach you to do nothing. -- I'm serious. I can't even do nothing on my own. A friend of mine is talking about (after she buys a house and fixes it up) becoming a foster parent. She doesn't have God though, and I worry for her. There's a formula to being able to do something and it starts with God. If you follow my recipe and leave out that key ingredient, you could wind up in a huge mess.

So, my responsibility lies in promoting my key ingredient. GOD CAN.

Do you?


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I don't want to be the gingerbreadman.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

My mother stopped by the office this morning to visit. She brought with her some news from her church. If you attend church regularly and love your church family, the kind of news she had to share will make you stop a moment.
Her pastor was fired.

It was a decision made by the three deacons of the church. Those are only facts that we know for certain.

There are rumors of other things. Rumors of literal pre-meditated destroying of the church (selling the building and taking the money), coercean and greed - rumors though are simply that, rumors. But as I sit here pondering the rumors I've just heard, I started thinking about the verse I quoted at the beginning of the post.

You think certain people are 'safe'. You can go to your pastor and confess a sin to him, because he's a pastor so obviously he wouldn't be tempted to gossip about it. You can share your secrets with the deacon because he would never hold it against you. You can leave your child with the Sunday School teacher, because they would never assault your child. You can leave your purse unattended, because your church family would never steal your money. You can tell the church family you'll be gone for a week on vacation, because none of them would ever break into your home while you're gone.

Some of these things we don't think anything of. And while I don't think we should live our lives filled with distrust for our Christian brothers, I do think we should dispel the notion of 'safe' people. Paul said beware lest you fall. He wrote it in a letter sent to the church in Corinth. He didn't address his statement to the 'bad' people, or the struggling people, the ones that ony went to church once a week, or the ones that didn't tithe, the ones that didn't worship in the worship service, or the ones that spent half their church lives badmouthing the pastor. He addressed it to the church. And every member thereof.

I'm not safe. You're not safe. The tempter stalks us as a lion. He might have an easier time picking off small snacks from the weak, but he's willing to chase long and hard after some of his stronger meals. By the grace of God I'll outrun him. But I know the only way to do that is to keep running!

I don't preach. I can't even teach. So this post might not hit anyone else. But I hope one day I'll go back and read this and remember. That I'll remember 'safe' people fall, and that I'm not safe. And maybe that constant sense of danger will keep my eyes open. Honestly, it's worth every precaution I can take.

Run, run, run as fast as you can.
You’ll never catch me,
I’m the gingerbread man.
I ran from the baker and his wife too.
You’ll never catch me, not any of you.

He climbed up onto the fox’s back,
Who licked his lips and wanted to snack.
He climbed onto the fox’s head,
Who loved the taste of gingerbread.

Run, run, run as fast as you can.
You’ll never catch me I’m the gingerbread man.
He trusted the fox to help his plan
And that was the end of the gingerbread man.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Finding Treasures

I was crawling around some blogs this morning and happened across a blogger from the past.

Bob use to blog at a site called Gratitude and Hoopla, but he ended up closing it and I lost track of him.
His son, Nate, ran a blog called Eight Strings but after several several months of no posts I finally quit checking in on it.

Now I've stumbled across Bob who now blogs at "In the Clearing" and Nate blogs at "Into The Desert"

Finding Nates "Into the desert" this morning was like finding a radio station that only plays all your favorite songs. Nate asks the questions I want to ask and says the things I'm thinking better than I could ever write them. He's well worth reading, and links to both blogs are now posted on the right.
Check them out, it's well worth it.

I'll Have Everything

I understand better, now, what it means to give place to the devil.
I thought I understood it before, and I'm sure I probably had a good general idea, but seeing a live demonstration of it in my own life, certainly clears any confusion up.

Last week I was reading an e-mail from a friend. While I was reading the e-mail, it was almost like the devil just walked up beside me and handed me a lie. As though it were a physical thing to be handled, I held it, inspected it, then told him it was a lie and moved on with life.
He was quiet, and not very forceful. But, an hour or so later he returned. Again, he quietly spoke the same lie. This time as I inspected it, I saw it had some truth to it, but handed it back anyway.

This kept on for awhile and by the time I got home from work I'd held onto the lie longer and longer, seen more and more truth in it, and it had discouraged me.

As I sat around frowning, suddenly an entirely different voice asked me a question that I hate almost as much as I hated the lie. God simply asked me "So what?"
Whether the devils claim is a lie, or is absolute truth, it doesn't matter. Ultimately it didn't seem as though the devil was as big a problem as the place of importance I'd given my friend.

My hope, my joy, my peace come from God. Everything else should just be a blip on the screen. I hated Gods question, because it's hard to live like that. Putting your hope and comfort in people is nice. It's mostly nice because you can SEE them. And I don't know about you, but sometimes, some days, it's hard to keep all your focus on your invisible friend.

My next step was a common step. When I'm faced with a problem and I don't know what to do, or don't know how to do what I'm suppose to do, or, worse yet, don't want to do what I'm suppose to do, I go to my piano. But this time I ended up writing God's song. I've written songs before and normally would never tell anyone, but this time is different because I didn't write this song. God did. I wrote it down, I played it, and I even sang it, and I didn't agree with a word of it in my heart. I knew I should, but I didn't. So, feel free to leave a comment saying it's the worst song you've ever heard. You won't hurt my feelings. I didn't create it, I just wrote it.

I'll Have Everything

I don't need the streets of gold,
or the beautiful gates of pearl.
I don't need a billion diamonds,
Twinkling from the skies above.
I don't even need to hear
The angels ancient melody.
For as long as You are there
Lord I know,
I'll have everything.

I'll have everything,
My heart has ever needed, or wanted.
I'll have everything my soul has ever desired.
I'll have wonders that these simple eyes
Have never imagined
And the riches that to this day have never been told
When only Your face I will behold.

It's hard to sing that song, while holding onto the world. It's hard to sing it while holding onto someone else. It's especially hard to sing that song when you believe you're lying. But there is another aspect to the song that I didn't really see until later. Read the song again with a change...

You don't need the streets of gold,
Or the beautiful gates of pearl.
You don't need a billion diamonds
Twinkling from the skies above.
You don't even need to hear
The angels ancient melody.
For as long as I am there,
Don't you know,
You'll have everything.

You'll have everything
Your heart has ever needed, or wanted
You'll have everything your soul has ever desired.
You'll have wonders that your simple eyes
Could never imagine.
And the riches that to this day have never been told
When only My face you will behold.

It can either be a song of adoration to Him, or a song of promise from Him. I haven't lived up to my part of the song, yet. Some days I don't think I ever will live up to that. But even as He knows this about me, it hasn't changed His song of promise.
And that just makes me try all the harder.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I'm packing. Or I was at least. In the middle of what I'd like to describe as a productive frenzy when I came to a grinding halt as I discovered papers. It's a miracle I still have any important papers because they tend to end up 'placed' somewhere. Unfortunately, those 'places' aren't generally discovered until something as dramatic as moving every single object in my house.
Back to the subject though. In these papers as I went through each one, I discovered a yellowed piece of paper with a typewritten poem on it. It matches some of what I was saying last week, so I wish I'd found it earlier but it's still a great poem, so I thought I'd use it as an excuse to take a break from packing share it with you.


Upon a stand a book does rest,
of all the books this one's the best.
The cover's soft, the color's red,
My Book of Life, the title said.

The book's so rare it can't be sold,
the title words are etched in gold.
But does this cover try to hide,
the tear-stained pages trapped inside.

Some pages torn by hurt and pain,
the ink spilt here and left a stain.
A missing page that grief ripped out,
the blank page here is filled with doubt.

The part right here in blood was wrote,
and it's the most important note.
The One who wrote His name is true,
my name belongs in His book too.

He is the one who made this book,
a gift to me and that I took.
To show that I appreciate
to Him this book I dedicate.

This book's not done, my life lives on,
but when it ends and I am gone.
My heart has only one desire,
another book it might inspire.

Mountain Climbing

I'm wishing God kept His promises the way I expect Him to.
He does keep His promises, I'm not saying He doesn't, He just doesn't do it "the way I expect Him to".
Read this:

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

That comes from 1 John chapter 1.

What Christian feels he's been cleansed from all sin? or that he's been cleansed from all unrighteousness? Actually, reading the whole chapter just confuses me.
First it says He'll cleanse us from sin, but if we say we have no sin, the truth isn't in us, then it says He'll cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Make up your mind. Do I have sin or don't I?

Actually, that isn't much of a question at all, because I can answer that one easily. I do. I do have sin. I'm tired of sin. I'm tired of seeing it in me. I'm worn from looking at my own life and seeing so many stains of my sins. I sincerely, and with a grieved heart CONFESS.
There isn't one sinful charge in the world that can't be brought against me. How many have I murdered in my heart by my thoughts? How much have I stolen in my greedy, jealous thoughts? Who haven't I hurt? Who haven't I cheated? Whether in thought or in actual deed I've done it. And He knows I've done it. I'm guilty and I admit it, and I need Him to do something about it.

I don't want Him to leave me here in my wretchedness. If I thought killing a cow, setting it on fire and sprinkling blood all around symbolically would cleanse me from unrighteousness, I assure you I would have long since purchased myself a cow.

But it won't.

Someone, the only Someone, that can cleanse me has already died.

And I need His cleansing.

To try and describe it, it's like mountain climbing. You reach a peak where you're able to see higher up the mountain and anyone looking at you - rather than the mountain- thinks you've gone a long way. But when you turn your eyes to the mountain, you see the long long journey that's ahead. You see the steps you haven't taken and it makes where you're standing seem not nearly good enough.

Where I am isn't good enough.

Don't get me wrong, I'm amazingly glad to have made it this far spiritually, but I can't tell you how much higher I need to climb. How desperately I need to climb. A life without climbing, is no longer worth living to me.
I wish I could describe for you what the Mountain looks like, how high it is, and how insignificant it makes you feel clinging to the side of the Mountain seeing how mind-blowingly huge it is.
It's more than I can take in.
He's more than I can take in. But, OH, I want so much more.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sent to bed without supper

That's what it feels like. It feels like I've been sent to bed without my supper. It comes with the vague feeling that I'm being punished, though I know that I'm not. Now I'm sitting here, getting ready to go to bed, and I'm hungry. So hungry it hurts, and I wonder how I will be able to sleep.
That's what it feels like when we cancel church.
I've always heard you're hungrier than usual when you're growing.

I never imagined what hungry felt like. I never imagined craving the food I'm craving now. I never imagined craving worship time. I never imagined craving God. I hungry, and I want more.
I'm so glad to be hungry.

***I feel compelled to add a note in case this happens to be one of the few posts my pastor happens to read to clarify. I'm not complaining that we cancelled service, just expressing how glad I am to be hungry for more of God. I don't think I would have realized the extent of my hunger without having to, as I put it earlier, miss a meal.***

Friday, February 16, 2007

Walking through the bible

Just a quick note...I tried my absolute best to fix everything, but I wrote most of this post with an 8 yr old keyboard that no longer produced the letters 'w','s','x','c', or the number '2'. So if you see some words that don't look quite right... I'm sorry. Believe me, I definitely tried to catch them all. I've spent the last several days convinced I could "fix" this piece of junk keyboard, and finally broke down and got a new one so I could actually finish this post.

I hate throing aay something I've ued thi long but if you think you don't ue thoe letter muh you hould really try going ithout them for ahile. Your bigget hallenge ill be getting on the orld ide eb.

Moving on,

Leviticus 26:23,24 And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
There is something scarily ominous in these verses. For years of my life I didn't walk with God, but I never felt as though He was walking contrary to me. That seems like another thing altogether. Another scary thing altogether. I hope pray that I never find myself failing to turn from a wicked way after He's punished me for something, and then find that He's now 'walking contrary to me'. God forbid.

Numbers 7:11 - 89 click the reference to see the verses.
What I learn from these verses? God likes to teach me patience.

Numbers 8:19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the work for the children of Israel, in the tabernacle of meeting and to make atonement for the children of Israel that there by no plague among the children of Israel when the children of Israel come near the sanctuary.
God's not the least bit afraid to be repetitive if He wants to make Himself v e r y c l e a r.

Numbers 11:1 Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.
Simply put - I am SO glad no one has mentioned Him doing that anymore.

Numbers 12:8 (God is speaking about Moses to Miriam and Aaron) I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings.
If there is one complaint I have with God, it's that I spend half my time with Him trying to figure out what He's telling me. Dark sayings? Dark sayings??? Trying to figure out where God is leading and what He is saying today is often like trying to see black crayon on black paper. You can't read the words, but you can kinda feel something is there.

Numbers 14:28 (God is speaking here) Say to them, 'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you:
To give you just a small glimpse of what happened before these verses - the children of Israel have said, (and I'm paraphrasing here) "This "Promised Land" is unattainable, we will die here."
And in verse 28 God responds, "OK, you will then."
That verse... It's a verse that could be preached on a thousand times, songs should be written about it, poems should rhyme about it, and Aesop should have fabled it.
I just hope God never says that to me.
The whole story is very eloquent -not to mention one of my favorites- and actually pretty short, the brunt of the story starts at Numbers 13:17 and ends at 14:10 at least that's the verse where they decide to stone Joshua and Caleb.

Number 16:15 Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, "Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them."
I don't know about anyone else but, even when I'm angry I can't imagine approaching God and saying "DO NOT DO THIS!" But then, I don't spend a lot of time talking to God face to face like Moses did either.

Numbers 14:13-19 & 16:22,45,46
It's a few too many verses to post so I'm just going to give you the gist of them. If you click on the scripture references in bold above, it will take you to the scriptures.
Each of those scriptures represents a time when God is ready to strike the children of Israel, and each and every time Moses tries to convince God not to kill them all off. Each and every time it makes me wonder all sorts of things. The biggest of which are:
First: Does God bluff? If He destroyed them like He wanted to it seems like He would have broken His promise to Abraham. Is there some way around that that I'm not seeing?
And second, He wanted to kill them because of their grumbling... I shudder to think how many times Christ has had to intercede on my behalf to keep Him from throwing me in front of a bus or something.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm just thinking out loud

I think, a lot.

Generally the largest portions of my thoughts aren't even worth thinking, much less blogging about, but today is different.

Today I'm thinking about how good God is. I think He's gracious. I think people don't use the term 'gracious' enough, and they definitely don't use it often enough in reference to God. I think people are fools to try and live without Him.

I'm thinking about how much He's given me, and how much He's taken away. And how grateful I am that He's taken away all that He has. I'm grateful for the problems I've faced, grateful for the problems I haven't faced yet, and grateful that I can - and do - know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the problems I've yet to face He will carry me through.

I'm grateful that someone like Him, cared enough to find someone like me.

I'm thinking today about how wonderful it is to know Him, even as little as I truly do know Him. I'm overwhelmed by the small glimpses He's given me of how much He has to offer if I can only let go of the worldly barriers that hold me back. I'm excited and at the same time aggravated to know that He would do amazing, miraculous things with my life the more I let Him. The aggravation comes from knowing that for some insane reason I still hold back from Him.

I'm thankful that He's a God that there isn't any good reason to hold back from. I'm thankful for the relief that's there every time I remember that He's a God that I really can trust; trust with everything that is in me. In a world where I'm constantly analyzing peoples motives, their words, their actions, I don't have to analyze His except to see how I can imitate them.

I'm grateful for the people He has brought into my life, both past and present. For the things, both good and bad, that they've taught me. I'm most grateful for the ones that He meant to have the biggest influence on my life, because they are the ones that had to put up with my rather strange nature.

I'm grateful for my life. Whether you believe in predestination or not, I know I'm profoundly blessed that He has chosen me. I'm grateful that He didn't just bring me into His fold, but gave me work to do, and empowers me to do that work. I'm grateful for every time He's shoved me down and forcefully reminded me that I cannot do this on my own. And then He picked me up again and started working through me (again, and again and again).

I am a desperately seeking, surprisingly found (as in no longer lost), and utterly grateful soul. And I'm thinking you, everyone, should know that very same feeling.
That's just what I'm thinking.
I might not be thinking this tomorrow though. I get distracted by other things sometimes a lot. But regardless of what I think tomorrow, I'll still be that same soul.

And I can't tell you how glad I am.

Clips from an interesting article

I've been scouring the net more intensely lately and that's why you're seeing so much activity all of a sudden.

I just stumbled across this article, I'm not even sure how at this point since I believe I got here through clicking a link, then another link, which took me to another link, which led me to this article. I can at least give you the link to the article - Click here

It's entitled "We can't do megachurch anymore." And the truth of the very first lines caught my attention

One day a preacher said to a friend, "We have just had the greatest revival our church has experienced in many years."

"How many did you add to your church membership?"

"None. We lost five hundred." —Brennan Manning,
The Ragamuffin Gospel

And then reading on...

God is doing something at Garnett Church of Christ that seems counter to what I previously thought God would do in a church. The Spirit, I believe, is teaching us that it's not about people populating programs but about God inhabiting every moment of our lives, most of which happens outside the walls of the church.

And we're learning that these church walls must come down.

More mundane blog information

If you check out the right hand side you'll notice that some of my links have changed. Several of the blogs I'd linked to were no longer being updated and so I scrubbed them. And a couple of the links I rarely visited any more, just because I wasn't getting as much out of them as before, left as well. The links that are left (or new) I visit almost daily. If you keep your eyes peeled I will soon begin posting links to other sites (not just blogs). I don't know if they'll interest you or not, but hey, I wouldn't think anything I'd write would interest you either and yet you're still reading this so...

It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Showing off cool new tricks Learning HTML

I've also been coveting wanting to educate myself in html code so I could cross lines through text like so. Now, more than likely you'll have to endure watching me abuse the code practice using the code every post often.
Knowledge is a wonderful thing.


I figured out how to post videos. It's one small step for me, one giant leap for my blog.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand

Lyrics to the song mentioned in the previous post:

Promised Land

1. On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
and cast a wishful eye
to Canaan's fair and happy land,
where my possessions lie.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

2. O'er all those wide extended plains
shines one eternal day;
there God the Son forever reigns,
and scatters night away.


3. No chilling winds or poisonous breath
can reach that healthful shore;
sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
are felt and feared no more.


4. When I shall reach that happy place,
I'll be forever blest,
for I shall see my Father's face,
and in his bosom rest.

A post

I don't know why this post struck me but it did. Some of the personal blogs just talking about people and bloggers don't generally effect me but I felt an inner urging, a drawing towards this blog and almost instantly scrolled through the posts until I found this one as though a magnet were drawing me. I felt stirred from the moment I saw this post and read "Dear Friends". I don't know why it moved me, but it did. Maybe it will stir something in you as well.
The post was rather long and so I'm putting the first several paragraphs, if you'd like to read the rest of the post click here.

Dear Friends,
What a week it has been. A week ago we were watching the sun come up after a sleepless night, surprised that Al was still with us, although he had slipped into unresponsiveness, and wondering how much longer he would have to wait to go home.

It was hard to see him suffer. In some ways it was merciful that he was no longer conscious. The previous day he had been so thirsty, and we had only been partially able to quench his thirst, because it was hard for him to swallow, and more than a drop or two of water at a time tended to make him choke. For me, that was one of the hardest things in the whole process. So I think we were relieved that around 2 a.m. on Monday he passed beyond consciously feeling that thirst.

At about 10:00 Monday morning Al began to struggle to breathe. I had the impression from books or movies that when that characteristic breathing (what used to be called the “death rattle”) began, it was a matter of just a handful of minutes before the person passed away. But for Al it went on for ten and a half hours. We kept praying that the Lord would take Al home and end his suffering right away. And we kept waiting. We sang, we prayed, we talked, sometimes we laughed, and we waited. The hours rolled by, the nurse and others came and went, and still we waited.

At the time we wondered why the Lord waited so long to take Al. I don’t mean that we were railing against his judgment, or questioning that his wisdom was best; I think the Lord granted us all peace and trust that he knew what he was doing, and that he was doing it out of love. But we were curious what purpose was being served by making Al wait so long.

The first answer to that question came when our friend Mike, the oncology nurse, came over after he got home from work. He explained that Al was a young man, and underneath the cancer, and even the fibromyalgia, he was a strong man with a strong heart, and it takes a long time for a strong heart to wear down and stop. If Al had been 99 and frail, he would not have had to linger all day. That was helpful information.

So, we waited. We took shifts so that we could eat and take care of other details, but at least two people were with Al all the time, stroking his head, his hands, his feet, moistening his dry lips, talking to him, playing or singing music.
The nurse had told us that it is common for someone to have long pauses between breaths, even pausing for up to 30 or 60 seconds and then resuming breathing again. We had seen that many times on Sunday, although never a pause longer than 7 seconds and not at all on Monday. She had also explained that sometimes the final breath happens but the heart keeps beating for while, and she described how to check for moisture on a hand mirror held near the mouth to tell when the heart has stopped as well.

Al’s breathing had been regular, though labored, all day, without any pauses between breaths. But around 8:30 p.m. the people who happened to be with Al at that time noticed that there was a long pause after a breath. After a number of seconds they called downstairs and we all bounded upstairs to Al’s bedside. Still no new breath. Alasdair had his hands on Al and could feel his heart still beating. Then it seemed to stop, although we couldn’t be sure. I was fumbling hurriedly and clumsily with a hand mirror trying to figure out how to hold it right. But by God’s providence, our friend Mike was there and was able to step to the side of the bed, ascertain with competence and quiet expertise that Al’s heart had indeed stopped, and assure us that he was gone.

Then we all broke out into tears, and smiles, and hugs, and crying, cheering Al on, shouting, “You’re home!” “Run to Jesus!” “You’re free!” “You made it!” “Go get him, Dad!” “Run!” We held each other, and sobbed through our smiles, and just let the sweet knowledge sink in that Al was set free and was seeing Jesus face to face, wrapped in the warm embrace of his savior. Then we simply had to sing something. Nothing short of a song would do to express the relief, and joy, and overwhelming turbulence of emotions swelling up out of our hearts.

So we sang, “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand”. We had sung that same song earlier in the day through tears of sadness and yearning, aching for Al who was still waiting patiently but eagerly on this side of the “Jordan” to cross over into the promised land. This time the emotion was entirely different. We still sang with flowing tears, but they were tears of joy and relief that Al had crossed over and safely arrived in that eternal day, where the poisonous breath he had struggled with was banished, where sickness, sorrow, pain and death were obliterated and where he was seeing his Father’s face.

My strange --but happy-- life

It was 2:45 am and I was trying to head back towards home. I'd travelled 30 miles to another town to pick up newspapers and haul them back to the people back in my town waiting for them.
I was parked at a stop light and my street was about to become a one way street so I had no option but to turn, and since it was a one way street I was turning onto I had no option but to turn right.

I looked to the right before I turned and was surprised to see three cop cars completely blocking the way.

I reversed just a bit and took the block just before the street I needed and came out just one block down and went back to the street I needed. The way was clear, so just before I turned right onto the street I looked to my left to see if I could see what the cop cars were all about.

There weren't any there.

It took me less than a minute to make that short jog down the block and I'm convinced I should have at least seen one of them driving off. It's just one of those weird things that happens that make you wonder if God just saved your life or if you're simply losing your mind.

I remember back when I first started making these trips in the dead of night for the papers. Heading back to the interstate on a main and seemingly safe street I noticed a man standing on the side of the road. I usually watch those people pretty close because I have this freakish concern that the person might be drunk and down on life and try to end things in front of my car. I don't know why I think this way, I just do.

This guy however, was different. This guy lifted his arm, fully extended and pointed a gun at my car. I'm not paranoid enough to think it was a real gun, it could have been a water gun, or just some dark object that looked like a gun I didn't know, and quite frankly didn't care. I remember imagining what it would be like (it's pretty easy to imagine, I've seen a lot of action movies) and I remember hoping that if something did happen that a telephone pole or sign or something would be close enough to stop my cars motion before I hurt someone.

My life is strange. But I like it. :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A life without subplots.

In the last year or so I've gotten the opportunity to get to know someone just a little bit. I know most of what I know about her by just watching her, and a little bit more from the few conversations we've had. I'm glad to know her. I'm glad to know people like her exist.

In one rare conversation she mentioned how much she likes the tv show "Greys Anatomy". Armed with that knowledge, I went home and told my TIVO to record the show so I could see what was so great about it.

Initially, something bothered me about the show. I couldn't put my finger on it but it was almost irritating to watch. The problem was that I just couldn't figure out why. So I kept watching. I've seen about four episodes now and finally my problem with the show has hit me.

***Spoiler Warning, if you like the show and haven't seen the Feb. 8th episode you might not want to read on.***

Last night I was watching the latest episode. There'd been a ferry accident and search and rescue were trying to pull bodies out, the doctors from the hospital went to the scene to help out as well. There was blood everywhere. People were trapped under cars bleeding and dying, there were those that had been burned, those with limbs broken, and people with internal and external injuries that without those drs initial aid would have died.
The scene was gruesome.

And the very second two doctors from the same hospital met up with each other in the mess, one of them asked the other if she was upset because she wanted to get married and he hadn't asked her yet.

I actually had to back my mind away from the bloody mess and try and remember what had happened earlier so I could figure out why he was asking her this.
And that's when I figured out what bothers me about the show.

I've seen dozens of shows where the entire show revolves around people and their relationships, their love affairs, their past, their struggles for a job they really want, their fights for promotions and their unrestrained jealousy over way too many things. Those things are superficial. Nearly all of them have been foolish. But I didn't mind them because that's what the show was about.

But seeing the foolish and superficial right next to life and death, next to pain and suffering, next to fear and loss -- I just can't put those together.

I was happy to figure out what bug was niggling at me.

So this morning as I blow dried my hair while singing a song about offering my life as a living sacrifice to God I realized I was living out that very plot myself. And I realized that while I can rest easy knowing the show I'm watching is fake, God doesn't have that assurance about my life.

How many people have slipped into the realms of hell while I wrote this post about why I took issue with Greys Anatomy? How many people have I come in contact with that I could have ministered to and witnessed to that I was too caught up in the petty details of my life to minister to?

I heard a song just recently that made the claim that most people hear about Christ 15 times before coming to Him. It was talking about your place in that line. About how important it is whether you're the 4th mention or the 12th mention because you never know that you're not the 15th. And I wonder how many times I've missed my chance at being 15. Or being the 4th or 8th or whatever number I was on the list.

I guess, for all the things I've said I'm just thinking that I don't want God to change the channel on my life. I don't want Him frustrated by me focusing on the petty things in life. I don't want Him irritated by my lack of urgency in the midst of bloody catastrophe. So I need to daily make sure that if someone reads the story of my life they'll see me focused on the pain and suffering around me, not saving an extra 35 cents by buying the dish soap on double coupon day.

The story of my life
is very plain to read
It starts the day you came
And ends the day you leave
The story of my life
begins and ends with you
The names are still the same
And the storys still the truth

I was alone.
You found me waiting and made me your own
I was afraid
That somehow I never could be a woman that you wanted of me

You're the story of my life,
and every word is true
Each chapter sings your name
Each page begins with you
Its the story of our times
and never letting go
If I die today,
I wanted you to know

Monday, February 12, 2007

Musings of a Piano Player

I don't play the piano well. I don't play badly, but I don't play very well either.
And that's how I ended up experiencing what I experienced Sunday.

When you have a talent that falls somewhere around mediocre you have to concentrate on the one thing that could possibly make it better. So last week I spent some time thinking about that.

I've thought over and over again during some of our song services, that should Jesus Christ be sitting in one of our pews, the tone of our worship would change. We'd sing different, we'd sing more passionately, we'd sing wholeheartedly, we'd sing through tears and we'd all note the words we were singing, rather than just singing the words.

So sitting at my piano, considering this thought, I wondered how the same thing would apply to my playing. So the experiment began.

I went to church Sunday morning and began to play. Looking through the open lid of the piano in my direct line of sight were the pews on the opposite end of the church. So, I planted my audience there. Mentally I was playing for my King, and my King was sitting right there in that pew. Within a few minutes I knew it wasn't working. My playing hadn't changed, I felt nothing of any noticeable difference in the song service and was about to call the whole plan a flop.

That's when I realized the touch of ignorance in my whole plan. What talent I do have, isn't my own. Every single note I play comes out of Gods graciousness in my life, so I was really attempting to play on my own for a King that knew I couldn't. Suddenly that pew on the opposite side of the church seemed too far away. And I realized the problem with my plan lay with where I put Christ. I put Him in the audience.

I repented, right then and there I realized my error and told Him how foolish and absurd my plan was. And then I moved Him to His rightful place. I asked Him to sit on the bench with me and help me play.

Instantly the change happened. My sound didn't get better though, actually it started to get a lot worse. My hands began shaking and I felt entirely overwhelmed in His presence. You play a lot of notes in about 60 seconds time, and for those 60 seconds I was worse than useless. So I did the only thing I could think of that would keep the song service going.

You're not going to like what I say next.

I kicked Him off the bench.

If I've read it once I've read it and heard it 50 times. Feed yourself on your own time. If you're in a leadership role in Church, maybe you know what I'm talking about.
Since I'm not entirely sure what to say to justify or condemn my actions I'm going to move on to one more thing.

While Phoenix was here, mornings were more hectic. And I almost entirely forgot to take the vitamins that have given me such relief in my hands the last two months or so. I'd remember the pills randomly throughout the day but not while I was in a spot where I could go take them. Within two days my hands were already worse than they were when I first started the pills. Randomly my hands would either refuse to move when I told them to, or they would move when I wasn't telling them to. The strangeness of it all plagued me every day, throughout the day -- except when I sat down to play for church.
I could barely play at home, and I can't tell you how nervous I was when I sat down each time at church, but God always allowed the problems to just vanish during that 15 minutes.

God is more than enough for me.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tithing logistics

I got caught up in something today and discovered the easiest way to walk away from sin -- listen to someone else with the same sin.

I was fiddling with my checkbook today, writing out my tithe check. Suddenly I remembered something and considered writing out another larger check. Immediately I was wondering some very horrible words, "Is this really necessary?" I then started pondering the logistics of tithing and percentages and what all you actually have to tithe off of.

Then I thought about how all the money is Gods and how I expect that God will protect me and bless me (not necessarily financially) because of my obedience in giving.
That instantly led me to the next thought -- should I really be giving just so God will bless me?
Upon that thought I was reminded of the admonition to be a cheerful giver. Unfortunately I was too gripped with figuring out the rules of giving to be happy about giving, especially if I couldn't be convinced that I wasn't giving just to get.

So, I decided to look up online information on tithing, this is just a sample of what I read:

Rick said,
"Is child support taxable?
If you say yes, then what if the ex-husband paid tithing on the money first?"

Connor Boyack said:
Tithing is paid on one’s increase. No refunds are given for one’s decrease (omitting for the time being church assistance programs etc.) So if I bought my house for $200,000 and I sell it for $300,000, do I owe the church $10,000?

Roland said:
A few years back when we were renters we found a big IRS tax benefit by paying our tithing a year in advance. The oversize charitable deduction would swing us into a lower tax bracket every other year.

bill said:
If I earn $50,000 this year, instead of paying $5,000 in tithing, I buy $5,000 of tithing free bonds this year. Since the interest is tithing free, then I would not pay tithing on the $500 of interest the bonds earn. Is this correct since the bonds are tithing free or do you pay tithing on the interest?

After reading a few too many of those posts I was sick of the nitpicking. Sick of how obsessed they were with making the most out of their money by shorting God. I'm all for making the most of your money, but when you're doing it by seeing how little you can give God, that's where I see the error. And that's when it hit me, I can't give God too much. It doesn't matter if I sell everything I own and from this day forward give every single penny I receive to God; He'll never come back and say "You shouldn't have given that much."

So I give, and with that has come a joyfulness that something as stupid as money might make God pleased with me. And that has me pretty cheerful.

Just a little bit of foolishness

I still feel like a kid. Even at 25 yrs old, if you asked me I'd shake my head and tell you not to listen to me, because I'm just a kid.

I packed my foster child off into a car with a CPS worker this morning, then a went to the store and picked up boxes so I could start the process of packing, so that I could soon move into a house that I'm purchasing. My name will be signed to a mortgage. A mortgage! Who in their right mind would let ME do something like this?

I can't tell you how strange it feels. I half expect that at any moment some older parental figure will pat my cheek and ask if I'm done playing now and then they'll send me back home.

I'm glad to grow up, I'm glad for the continuous change in my life and my heart. I'm glad to be able to take steps because it means that God has led me somewhere. I'm glad to know He sees a need for me in a place. Everyone has old stuff in their house that was one thought necessary, but now a few years down the road it only sits in a closet.

I don't want to be God's old stuff. I want to be used.

Vickie Lynn

I stopped off at a blog I check out every now and then called A Man Coming Alive, and from there I found a link to a really good post over at Sand In The Gears. The blogger there was posting about Anna Nicole Smiths death and I can almost promise you, whether you're into news about people like her or not, this post will grip your heart. So check it out -- seriously.
CLICK HERE for the post.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm hungry

There's a silent war that's raging deep within me
My lower nature fights to dominate
My spirit man is poised and locked in battle
With the carnal side of me I've grown to hate.
The trumpet of my prayers plays toward Heaven
A voice of desperation in my cry
Lord, strengthen me that I might not yield myself to sin
But keep Your righteous banner lifted high.
Lord, I hunger for holiness
And I thirst for the righteousness that's Yours
That my mind would be cleansed
And my spirit renewed
And this temple that You dwell in
Would be pure.

My heavenly home is bright and fair! My earthly home... not so much.

This has been a crazy year already. I'm not even two months into it and already I'm wondering what on earth life will be like by December.

The appraisal finally went through on my house. It appraised for $15,500 more than what I'm paying for it. I take that as a good sign. Everyone is hoping that signing all the final papers and closing on this will happen on the 15th of this month. That's when the real work starts. Though, the real work is much easier than sitting around waiting for something to happen.

39 days into the new year and so much has already happened. I can only imagine the next 326.

My future (though temporal) home.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Christian Lifestyle links

Here are the links I said would arrive to the article I went on and on about yesterday.

The Christian Lifestyle Part I (The Overview)
The Christian Lifestyle Part II (Pursuing God)
The Christian Lifestyle Part III (Obedience)

There are several other articles by this same author (Ron Cook) and also articles by several others as well if you want to find some more. They are all provided by PBM (Providence Baptist Ministries) Desktop Publishing here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Forfeiting what's not mine

I've self diagnosed myself with a very common disease. This disease leaves me given to fits of delusions of grandeur.

The term I used yesterday of "forfeiting my life" has almost a poetic sound to it in my mind. It sounds good, almost noble to have done such a thing. But even as I typed it and it fit the writing of yesterday and what I was trying to say, I knew there was something wrong with the term.

You see, to say I've forfeited my life, it sounds as though I've given away something that was mine to begin with. And it wasn't mine. My life isn't mine whether I continue to claim authority over it or not. I have been purchased. I've been bought with a price. A high price at that. I am no more my own person than the poorest slave to have ever been sold.

In 2005 I was driving little Mazda Protege when an 18 wheeler decided I was in his way and tried to leapfrog my car without slowing down. Unfortunately my compact car wasn't compact enough at the time (he fixed that little problem) and it ruined my car. I hobbled it back home and that very same day my co-worker brought me an old car that she no longer used. We agreed on a price and I purchased that car from her.

Imagine now, if I had to discuss and gain her approval each time I wanted to buy new tires, change the oil, or have it inspected? Imagine still how amazingly frustrating it would be if she told me no to my requests, or exerted her control to make me wait on repairs and such.

That's no less what God has to deal with each time He tries to work and create in me what He wants me to be. How many times will I tell God no or make Him wait? How many times will I just verbally claim authority over myself, when in actuality He's the sole purchaser of my life? My life is not my own. I have forfeited nothing.

How much easier my life would be if I'd simply quit trying to exert control over someone elses purchase.

More snippets

If you read my earlier post today, the link I provided you was to part two of the article on "The Christian Lifestyle". At some point - probably later today - I'll post these articles so I'll have them forever and not lose them. At the moment I'm just posting the snippets that just jump out at me. I hope these snippets speak to you.

Let us get humble hearts. Pride is the spring of disobedience. "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?" (Exodus 5: 2). A proud man thinks it below him to stoop to God’s will. Be humble. The humble son says, Lord what wilt thou have me to do? He puts, as it were, a blank paper into God’s hand; and bids him write what he will, and he will subscribe to it.

Beg grace and strength of God to do his will. "Teach me to do thy will:" as if David had said, Lord, I need not be taught to do my own will, I can do it fast enough, but teach me to do thy will. (Ps. 143:10). And that which may add wings to prayer, is God’s gracious promise, "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes" (Ezek 36: 27). If the loadstone draw the iron, it is not hard for the iron to move: if God’s Spirit enable, it will not be hard, but rather delightful to do God’s will.

Pursuing God

The title of this post are the actual words I put into google this morning while searching. I cannot describe for you the longings of my heart any more than I could draw for you the Eifle Tower. My skills just aren't that adept.
The best description I can give you of myself right now is 'unsettled'. Every now and then there comes a period where I'll struggle against God. My actions are no more sophisticated than those of my foster child screaming and stomping his feet. I adamantly begin clamoring for Gods attention and will be entirely unsatisfied until I get it. That is where I've found myself the last several days, and how I ended up googling 'pursuing God'.

"The Christian Lifestyle" This link takes you to one of the results I ended up at this morning. The entire page is long, but -- to me -- well worth reading. Here are just a few snippets that I found some meat in.

"Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."James 4:8

...However we must ever keep in mind that "we pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit" (A. W. Tozer). "The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him. All the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand" (A. W. T.).
Psalm 84:2 says, "My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God." Our pursuit of God is created by our hunger for righteousness. For those that drink deeply from the well of righteousness there is a longing for God that produces a healthy heart relationship with the Lord. Our heart is not painfully unsatisfied, but rather has found the source by which nothing else could supply its needs.

It is a great privilege for Christians in that they may "draw near" unto God as accepted worshippers. It is both an act of the mind and heart whereby the soul is under the sweet influence of the Spirit and it irresistibly turns to God in Christ as its only center and rest (A. W. T.). "There is, therefore, no condition of heart more to be sought after than this desire to draw nigh to God, since his law or requirement is that we furnish this evidence of a genuine longing for the special blessings He desires to give us. This being true, we must agree that the highest state is one of hunger and thirst, intense desire for more life, more holiness, more power, closer communion with God, more of the divine likeness in the soul" (J.J. Blackburn). Psalm 63:1-4 says, "1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name." Here the Psalmist indicates that he is not able to do without God. His greatest desire is to seek out the hungering and thirsting that he has for the mere pleasure of looking upon Christ. It is with the whole of the soul that he seeks God; it is his wish to seek God in such a manner as a merchant would seek that which is most precious to his trade and profit. Such should be our desire to draw nigh unto God. With our every effort we should seek that close and intimate relationship that would fulfill the desires of our soul. We should seek to gaze upon that which is holy, to run headlong with blind desire into the arms of our loving Father.

...God then is the strength of our soul; He is our sufficiency; we then believe that we are not self-sufficient in the changing of the heart; we cannot on our own come to a self-resolution; we cannot institute the change without the power of God. He works in us both to will and to do, and that of His good pleasure. In our pursuit of God we grow close to Him, we become more holy, and in the process, our definition, understanding, and application of the divine law so conditions the soul that we operate according to a "pure conscience."