Friday, March 30, 2007

A worthwhile investment

This time last week, I was praying for a miracle. I'm sure that was apparent from all my posts, but one of the specific miracles I needed was for God to grant me the ability to be a gracious receiver. My church was throwing me a housewarming party and unfortunately that meant gifts.

I've never been a gracious receiver. Never. Looking back, I might have been able to pull off gracious, except for all the long pauses where I had to take a deep breath and remind myself not to say anything but words of thankfulness. So after seeing the last person out the door I returned to my house and literally sat and stared at the gifts wondering what to do next. I didn't move a single bag that day. Or the next day. Or the day after that. Finally, nearly a full week later I was tired of avoiding them so I made the decision to do exactly as they tell you to do with a band aid, rip it off fast and it won't hurt. So I tried that. I hurriedly emptied bags and found places for the things. I literally prayed I would see familiar walmart brand names, so I'd know they weren't too expensive, and instead found the JcPenney stamp on almost everything.

That's when the pressure I've felt all along changed drastically. I have many people that are expecting good things from me. There's a pressure that comes with that knowledge that drives me to do well. But that pressure changes entirely when people spend their hard earned money to buy you nice things that will last, because they expect you to do well. They've invested. I feel obligated to make sure they see a return on their investment.

All that leads me to my main point in this post, so follow me on this if you can.

Most of us have someone, maybe just one someone, but there's someone out there that we know we've impacted their life. Not just a child or family member, but someone other than family that you grew to know and ended up impacting their life.
I've got one person like that. When I joined CASA, she talked about joining CASA. As I became a foster parent, she talked about becoming a foster parent. And when I went through the process of buying a house, she talked about moving. So I encouraged her to consider buying a house rather than forever renting. She closed on her house yesterday, and I couldn't be more proud for her.

She's someone that most people wouldn't expect anything great from. People overlook her, or try not to look at her. Some of the opportunities I've had, she'll never have, because she makes a rough first impression. It took time to get to know her and see her heart. But she had dreams of her own, hopes and desires. I wasn't the only cog in the wheel that spurred her on, but I'm glad that I could be a part of it at all. I told her things were possible, when she didn't think they were (she informed me multiple times that she'd never be able to get a home loan), but it happened.
And having someone believing in her, helped give her the courage to try.

Even though sometimes I wish I could shrug off the weight of peoples expectations, I realize how lucky blessed I am to have those expectations spurring me on, making me work harder. And that's why I wanted to post this. To spur you on so that you will spur others on.

Almost everyone has dreams. But it takes faith and encouragement to make those dreams into goals. And it takes a whole lot more faith and encouragement to make those goals reality. The homeless bum on the street corner may have at one time wanted to be a doctor. The trashiest hookers in Los Angeles were at one time little girls that may have wanted to be a veterinary, or a marine biologist, or an artist. And that drunk you met 15 years ago? I bet you never would have known that God had called him to preach the gospel.

Be an encourager. Encourage the lady checking you out at walmart. Strengthen the resolve of the kid that mowed your yard. Let the words constantly be on your lips from the moment you get your sausage biscuit from the lady leaning out the window at McDonalds, to the last person you see before crawling into your bed at night.

If you don't want to live in a world where people just simply exist from day to day, draining the welfare system, and wasting their lives, then maybe you should do something about it.
I believe you can make a difference.

I'm happy.

It almost seems unchristian to be this happy.

The biggest flaw in my happiness is the worry that maybe I really am too happy. One-Sided used a common quote recently in his comments here about how if you don't find yourself bumping into the devil every now and then you might want make sure you both aren't going the same direction. I've heard quotes like that all my life. And they always make me hope for a little bit of trouble in my life just so I'll always know I'm walking the opposite way of the devil.

The problem is, I've got a little bit of trouble in my life right now, and... well, I'm still happy. Doesn't that just beat all?

I've had more troubles before, especially when my hands acted up and that got my feathers all ruffled, but, now, after that, I can't help but think everything else will just fall into place. It might will take work, but it will fall into place. The bible says the steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord, and while I hate to presume to call myself righteous (ironically enough it seems self-righteous), I know that my steps are ordered. And so I'm happy. Because however things turn out, God was in it.

There are several issues that come up where I struggle because I want my own way in something, and I'm not 100% sure God is going to agree with me and I get frustrated. Even knowing Gods way is best, there are just some things I am willing to fight for, even to my own detriment. I'm foolish that way.

But this happiness, you just can't buy it. Most of you reading this right now, I know you, and I know at least some of your struggles and concerns. I wish, this happiness and peace were a thing that could be grasped and I could smear it all over your hearts.

I wish I could give you hope, and knowledge of Gods intricate working in your situations. Standing back from it all, it's easy for me to see God working in the situation because I'm at a distance. As much as my heart is invested in so many of your problems, I can see the plan at work, and take confidence in it. I can't wait to see where all the chips fall.

Psalms 16:5-11

The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Master Musician

I think it was the sudden change in weather that has my piano all messed up. It went from a perfectly good instrument to something that makes me wince. So last night, when I was playing it before church, I almost stopped playing. I kept thinking the song is nice, and the melody is nice, and this could be pretty music…but it’s not.

And that’s when I began wondering how often God says the same thing about me. I think most people have been in the position where they were doing something that could easily glorify God and yet they did it with a bad attitude. Maybe the group was doing something different from what they enjoyed, or maybe you knew the family gathering wouldn’t be pleasant so instead of making the best of it that you could, you went with a bad attitude. God could have used it, and made it something beautiful, but you were out of tune.

Fortunately, my piano tuner doesn’t mind explaining things as he goes along, so I’ve learned a lot about piano tuning. Every single note on my piano has three separate strings that have to be tuned to just the right pitch for the one key to make the correct tone. Then he has to make sure that he’s got all the correct tones for all the correct keys so that when you blend two, three, or four different keys together, that all the tones are just right so that together they make the appropriate tone as well. It takes a lot of work to be in tune. And interestingly enough, the special “detail” notes (the high notes) tend to fall out of pitch faster he said.

So you might be able to play the piano and not notice the notes that are out of tune, but if you want to add the high pitch notes to make your song special, that’s when you’ll notice something is out of kilter. But, he said, you can’t just have someone come in and tune those high notes because that could throw the rest of the notes off tune with those notes.

It’s complicated to tell you how I can apply this to my own life, just because there are so very many ways I could apply this. I want my life to be in tune. I want the melody that the Master Musician plays in my life to be pleasant to His ears. With each note in harmony with all three strings, in a perfect tune that only His ears will detect.

That still left me playing a discordant sound Wednesday night and tempted to stop playing. And when I was tempted to stop playing I realized all the times that my life has been discordant to God. And I found myself praying with all my heart that God would never stop playing in my life, even though I often sound bad. And bad notes sound even worse to a masters ear.

I want to take you back to the hopeless feeling I mentioned in yesterdays post, because I can think of no better way to describe it than this example. My piano is hopeless. It’s only hope is that someone will come along and play it, and that someone will come along and tune it. It can’t fix itself, it can’t play itself. It can give joy to others, but only at someone or Someone elses hands.

And so I played, and I kept on playing until the very moment I had to stop. May God do the same for me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I just happened to be the one that answered the phone. That’s how I ended up with an angry lady yelling at me on Monday. She had jumped to a conclusion (that we wouldn’t hire her) and no amount of telling her she could be hired would sway her. Each time she questioned why she wasn’t hired, she would interrupt me just a few words into the answer with a new conclusion (a new wrong conclusion that supported her old wrong conclusion) that she had come up with based on just those few words.

I had a three hour drive home that evening to consider the lesson that woman had taught me.

If I’m forever drawing conclusions, then I’m probably not learning.

When I go to God seeking answers, I wonder how often He’s in mid-lesson for me when I draw my conclusion that supports what I’m already thinking. So basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to jump to conclusions.

It’s tempting to come up with a solid answer, because it would ease this helpless, and hopeless feeling. It’s hard to describe feeling hopeless without people thinking you’re unsaved. So getting this out right is unlikely. But here’s what I can tell you, and I can only hope it makes sense.

Sunday, sitting at the piano feeling broken, I came to a full realization that I am hopelessly lost without God. Even in my salvation, without God working in the day to day events in my life, I’m hopelessly lost and utterly helpless. Trying to do good on my own just meets with failure. My salvation; who I am today, any good trait you see in me is only by His grace and more than that, it’s only by His willingness to overcome me. I’m the flaw in His plans for my life. I’ve had God show me this chasm before, the chasm between my wretchedness and His goodness, but it’s easy and comforting to shove that memory to the back of your mind. So He showed me again.

In the posts on the gift of healing, I said the right words. And I thought I meant them. But I didn’t, at least not as He would have me to mean them.

I said I didn’t need to see to believe, but expect to see because I believe. That’s not true. I thought it was, but it wasn’t. I need to see to help me believe. I need to see. I want to see. I'd love for Him to write on walls, send angelic messengers, or have people wake from their graves in the cemetery and flip a city upside down. Anything, anything that would erase the notion that I really am just walking around with an invisible friend. Even if you're convinced your invisible friend is there, you always wish He weren't invisible. It's as simple as that.

And worst of all, I said I hoped it wasn’t my fault I didn’t see signs and wonders. In my heart I had already declared it wasn’t my fault, it was Gods. And so God gave me a perfect opportunity to use my alleged faith, and I failed. God put me in one of the easiest positions possible, He told me to lay hands on my nieces shoulder (she has a abnormal bone growth there) and I didn’t. I didn’t. Those words probably don’t echo for you when you read them, but they’ve been reverberating in my ears and in my heart for the last 3 days.

People have often jokingly say they were surprised when God answered their prayer and that they guess they shouldn’t have been. I think that statement defines a problem many of us have and that I in particular failed in. You think you have faith, until God does something and you realize you didn’t really believe He’d do it.

It’s hard not to draw a conclusion from all this right now. This helpless, hopeless feeling is far from comfortable. But it has me reaching out for my only help, and my only hope.

God, please don’t give up on me. I confess I’m foolish and stubborn beyond compare and I’m sorry. I feel helpless to change it without Your help. Please, work Your will in my life, despite me and use me, despite me. I came to You before in arrogance, and I was wrong. And I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I hate that, of all things, I failed to reverence You in my quest for more of You.
I still want more of You Lord, now, even more than before. I’ve liberally thought of You as a friend for some time, but now I have a stronger sense of You as a Savior, as my Savior. I needed to feel that. My foolish demands for signs and wonders have changed now. Father, I am weak, so I beg You to fill me with Your strength. I’m faithless, so I beg You to fill me with faith, and a knowledge of Your faithfulness. And Lord, I’m hopeless, help me to hope in You. I still seek Your gifts, for I believe the desire itself comes from You. But I pray You’ll help me to seek them humbly, and then one day use them boldly.
I ask these specific things Lord, not so that my days might become easier. But so that I might be a vessel that brings honor to Your name. I fear I have failed to do that, and I know I will never bring You honor on my own.
Search me, O God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
In the name of Jesus Christ Your perfect Son, I, Your imperfect child come to You.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It wasn't what I expected. I pounded at His door seeking His power, and He broke me. He broke my heart, and He broke my spirit. And even now as I look back at what was in my heart as I began this search, I can't tell you how sorry I am. I can't tell Him how sorry I am. I was so blind.
My search, my plea for more of Him in my life, is a good thing. But first He had to purge the bad elements from my search.
I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if He has to that many more times before I see any of the things I'm longing to see.

I'm working out of town Monday and Tuesday, so this will be my last post until Wednesday. That's especially good since it generally takes me awhile to find my even keel after God digs at my heart. Though even as I type that, I wonder about how wonderful it would be to forever remain off keel due to Gods working.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Is that you, Devil?

I get skeptical when people say the devil is attacking them. I believe He does attack people, I believe that firmly. But I also believe some things just happen. Traffic jams, coffee spills, tires go flat and water pipes burst. I believe the devil could be responsible for those things at times, but every time something goes haywire in your world is not a sign that the devil is out to get you.

That said.

I'm wondering if I got the devils attention. I would almost have to have him graffiti his name on the wall of my house in order to firmly believe something like that, but I'll allow myself to wonder about a lot of things I'm curious about.

Since I've gone off on this tangent about getting more from God, I've been experiencing some strange things. Without going into too much creepy detail, weird things are happening at my house at night. Blogger, for the first time ever, has made me retype entire posts during this week (when I first started blogging about my seeking), and I just found out that a friend sent me an e-mail with her own experiences concerning people that actually had the gift that I'm seeking -- and the e-mail vanished without reaching me.

I don't know how other bloggers work, but my posts take nearly an hour to complete. So when you do all that, and then literally watch your post disappear before your eyes for no reason (I recreated the moment and can't even make the post disappear), you start thinking 'is this worth it'?

As I forced myself to start over I told myself over and over that the post wasn't important, why on earth should I spend the time redoing it? But I did, and moved on. But as I did, it started the ball rolling in my head. What if I'm doing all this for nothing? What if I fight and struggle and kick and shove only to find myself in Pauls situation where God asks "Isn't it hard to kick against the pricks?" It's tiring to push. Trying to grow isn't easy. How many times will a kid fall off his bike in one day before he decides to get off the bike and kick it? I'm not ready to kick my bike, but I have considered how easy it would be to shove the bike in a corner and head inside saying "Who really needs to learn to ride a bike?"

And this was after only a few weeks of effort. And I realized that if I learn nothing else, I need to learn perseverance. There's a race to be run that is suppose to last me my entire lifetime, and if I can't make it through a 100meter dash, then it's no wonder this Christian is so weak.

Strangely enough, the thing that gave me strength was the very idea that hit today that maybe the Devil is actively against me getting more of God. I can think of no higher honor than to actually become an annoyance to the devil. I guess that's why I'd have a hard time believing that he's behind all the strangeness the last few weeks. I can't imagine I'm even remotely close to being even a speck on his radar. But the idea that I might be that very speck will keep me fighting.

That said, may God grant me wisdom and strength.

Amazing Grace

I'm going to die happy.

More than that, I'm going to live happy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My ordinary EXTRAordinary God.

It's the difference between standing next to your father and having him hold your hand, and having him grab your hands and spin you round and round with your feet dangling high off the ground.

I've been defrosting our little fridge here at the office. The job was done and I was on my knees with a rag sopping up all the water that had somehow escaped the odd jumble of containers I'd assembled to catch it all. And on my knees in this quiet little moment I found myself talking to God and asking Him to amaze me. Once I was done I reached my wet dripping hand in between the narrow space between the fridge and the water cooler so I could grab the power strip and turn it back on.

I turned it back on, and realized about that same time that grabbing electrical stuff with literally dripping wet hands, was probably not the safest idea in the world. The words "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." come to mind now.. and I wonder if He was tempted to give me an immediate and shocking answer that would have indeed left me jolted and amazed. If He was tempted He over came it, and for that I am most definitely grateful.

But the whole prayer connects me right back to the same thing I've been yanking on for quite awhile. I want to see God move. I want the powerful God that can do all things to do something extraordinary. I don't need to see signs and wonders to believe, I believe already, and that's why I want to see signs and wonders. He can part the seas, bring the dead to life, He can have the terrorists in this world suddenly and massively confused so that they begin killing themselves and end the war.

He can make a donkey talk, the sun to literally stop moving in the sky, He can split the world into continents, He can create or destroy life with just a thought, and can make an entire world with galaxies more than 7 light years away -- in only 7 days.

I think He can handle our needs.

But, so often it feels like He's like a Mozart that only plays chopsticks, or a Da Vinci that only draws stick figures. What He does, daily, pales to transparency compared to what He could do. And I don't want to live like that. I most certainly don't want to be the reason I'm living like this. If it's Gods choice, ok. But if it's because I don't have enough faith, strength, or maturity then I don't accept that at all. Teach me, strengthen me, grow me into maturity so that I can be everything that I've been created to be.

It's been the constant cadence for weeks, 'I want more." Lord willing it will be a constant cadence of my heart for eternity.


I got this through the e-mail - courtesy of Larry (OneSided) over at My Side of The Story. It was a link to

"Kiva lets you lend to a specific entrepreneur in a developing world - empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty."
According to the kivas website they currently have a 100% repayment rate. Though they do tell you that as with any investment, you run the risk of losing your money if the business fails.

It's just something interesting to look at, and consider. So look, consider.

Location: Faatoia , Samoa
Activity: Seamstress
Loan Amount: $850.00
Loan Use: To buy a new model of sewing machine to replace her old machine and additional fabrics and materials for sewing
Repayment Term: 12 - 16 months
Status: Raising Funds
Victoria Togi is married with 3 children. Both she her husband gained good results in school but were unemployed due to high unemployment rates. Both she and the husband struggled to look for opportunities to get some source of income to provide for their needs. Victoria then applied her knowledge of sewing kid’s clothes to get some money, and then managed to join SPBD, that really helped her financially in setting up her business. She’s no longer struggling but working hard now to keep her business growing. And with her requested loan she wishes to expand her business, and provide quality service to meet the growing demand of her customers.

A little bit of politics

I generally don't try to be political. There's just too much that I don't know about politics, government, and history.
I was surprised last night when suddenly out of the blue at church last night someone said something unsupportive about our President. I got the distinct impression they wanted our troops home right now. I think my shock came mostly from how out of the blue the comment was, rather than surprise that some of my 'own' would feel that way.

This morning though, while making my routine trip up and down the MSN home page for their news articles, I ran across Richard Engals video diary article "I've seen so many ugly things" and spent some really intense time reading it. It's an intense article. But, towards the end of the article he mentions the "Love the troops hate the war" attitude here back at home, and he questions one of the troops about how they feel about it. I wanted to share this section of the article with you.
For the whole article click here ----> Richard Engal: "I've seen so many ugly things."

"The war and coverage of the war over time has become much more political. Especially as criticism in the United States has intensified. The soldiers here understand that criticism. They hear it. And they take it personally. They don’t want anyone declaring all of their hard work to be a failure. That means what they’ve been doing, what they’ve been dying for, has been for nothing.

Engel asks soldier: A lot of people at home now say, "Love the troops, hate the war." Does that argument work with you guys?
Soldier: No, if you’re going to support us, support us all the way, support the war. If not, go along with your lives and we’ll take care of it here. You can’t support the troops and not what we are doing over here. Because people are dying. You know what I’m saying? You may say, “Oh, we support the troops,” but you’re not supporting what they do, what they share and sweat for, what they believe for, what we die for. It just doesn’t make sense to me."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Gift of Healing 3

I was talking to a lady, just barely touching on the subject of healing, and she announced (not realizing that I would later obsess over the subject) that the reason people aren't healed today is because we (I assume she's referring to Christians in general) don't exercise our faith.

So, continuing on my journey I looked up 'exercising your faith'. One of the mannnny links I pulled up was this. <--- click there

A lot of the articles I read were almost what you'd expect. To exercise your faith, you need to get out there and use your faith. Other than trying Gideons tactic of laying a fleece outside and asking God to wet it down, or keep it dry, I can't think of any creative and good ways to do something like that.

I briefly considered the notion of planting myself in the yard of a house that we want torn down to see if that particular mountain would move, but could only imagine it would be a really bad decision. Plus in an article I read recently, the author made a really good point about two separate incidents where one of Pauls companions became sick. They pointed out that the use of a spiritual gift is suppose to be led by God, and not used for our convenience. I can buy that. Especially if it means my picture doesn't appear in the local newspaper in the fruit and nut section.

But the article that I linked you to took a different and -this part is important- biblical approach to 'exercising your faith'. It's a quick and easy read, very clear and I couldn't ask for it to be more concise. It's well worth taking the time to read. The very first part pretty much says "read your bible". And when the steps to getting what I'm going after are things as non-energetic as reading and virtually impossible to gauge my progress on, I can almost guarantee that that is the correct step in my goal. I hate steps like that. But it's never failed to be the right step.

As I search for steps, and things that I can do to quite literally, get what I want, even as I do all this, I know that this isn't in my own ability to get. Much like the gift of tongues, God gave it to me as He willed. And with the gift, comes the power to use it. But at the same time, you wouldn't teach a baby to ride a bike. They have to gain muscle, stamina, balance, coordination, and so much more has to be learned just to walk, much less ride a bike. The bible talks about the young in Christ vs the old (see ref.) and I don't want to be a young child forever. I want strong meat, and the ability to do more. So I ache to grow.

Talking to a friend last night about money, she mentioned that she isn't saving any money so that she could go on a trip that she would like to be able to take next year. She saw the financial goal as impossible, and so she isn't working towards it. My words to her came back to haunt me this morning as I realized how they applied to my condition as well. I told her simply this:
If you think it's impossible, and you don't save, then next year when the time is here you'll discover that it is impossible.
But, if you think it's impossible, and you still save, then next year you may very well find that it wasn't so impossible after all.
This time next year, if you have saved your money and then find that you still don't have enough money to go, you will at least have a small nest egg that you wouldn't have had otherwise.

I've long since said that God doesn't have to give me anything. He's given me so much already... I can't say it enough, He has given me so much, so very much already...that I could never ask for anything greater than what He's already done. But, I seek anyway. And if I come to the end and discover that I'm wrong about the whole thing, or that Gods plans for me don't include this particular spiritual gift, that's ok. But, this time next year, even if I don't have a new gift, I will have more of God than I would have had otherwise.

And every little drop, every step farther down this road, is just bliss.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gift of healing 2

I admit, I had no idea people believed this way.
Reading up on the gift of healing I read several different people that stated that the gift of healing is actually.. well... a healing. Say you're sick and you got healed, poof - that's the gift of healing.

I could be wrong, maybe you believe their way as well, but I just don't see it like that. To me that idea doesn't fit in with all the other gifts that are mentioned right next to that one. So it doesn't jive to me. So I'm continuing on under the assumption that there IS an actual gift of healing that a person can have and use as a God given tool to heal others.

Here's one problem/concern I have.

You've heard the songs, sang the songs, and loved the songs.
"And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain." (Old Rugged Cross)
"In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see, for 'twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died," (Old Rugged Cross)
"Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord, to the cross where Thou hast died;" (Draw Me Nearer)

There are other cross related songs that have the same general phrasing in them, they have you singing how much you love the cross, cherish the cross, and want to be near the cross.
And I just don't get it. I'm not there yet. It seems, spiritually, like something I should think... but I don't.

I, vividly remember watching the Passion of the Christ when it first came out. And I can't tell you when anything has ever hurt me so badly. I was breathlessly crying during some of the worst crucifixion scenes - enough to make a scene observed by anyone within a three - five row radius. I remember pleading with God, as though it would have made a difference for an event a couple of thousand years ago, that it would end, that it could just be over. It took well over a week for me to stop crying.

I hated that cross.

I remember, in the movie as the worst was all over, that Mary came, and sopped up her sons blood. And instantly, the idea/knowledge that the blood itself was precious, and cherished, was easily grasped and still remains in my heart today.
But the cross, I hate.

Just as a note: The bible (to me) talks about the cross of Christ as more of a gospel, a teaching(1 Cor 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness...). These songs (again, TO ME) talk about it as a wooden beam ("stained with blood so divine").
As a teaching, I am humbled by the cross. As a wooden beam, I hate it.

The teaching of the cross and blood of Christ are generally connected with healing. So, if I'm seeking the gift of healing (assuming there is such a thing!) then I want to make sure my views and feelings on the related topics line up with the word of God. It seems unlikely that I'd receive the gift of healing that was purchased by His blood if I didn't appreciate the preciousness of His blood. Same goes for my feelings on the cross.

The other lesson that was imprinted on my heart during that movie was the need to make use of that blood. If you chop off your thumb, just so I could have 50 cents, if someone runs up and steals that 50 cents from me I will do everything in my power to get that 50 cents back just so your sacrifice will be worth while. I won't be content with 25 cents, or 49 cents. I want every penny. Christs agony, His suffering bought me freedom. And with that freedom He bought me access to the ultimate power source of God Himself. I serve a God that can bring the dead to life again, I should not be content with enough power to heal a paper cut.

It's like living in the house of a master craftsman, yet having the house in total disrepair. It's not just problematic for me, but it looks bad on my master craftsman as well. One of the things the other brother, in the story of the prodigal son was told by the father, was that everything the father had was at the sons disposal, there was no need to feel like a servant. We get angry and frustrated because - I'll correct that right now - I get angry and frustrated because so often I feel like I'm blindly serving a Power, when I'm suppose to be walking in Power. I want to live as a bonafide child of God. I have access to His home, His goods, His authority and most importantly HIM. I don't want to accept less, if for no other reason but that it seems to look bad to be a great and powerful King with a scruffy kid that struggles from day to day just to exist. (I'm just giving you a mental picture of His greatness vs our weakness, not actually talking about physical or spiritual survival.)

Again, I'm learning, so if you think I've lost my mind and gone down the wrong track in all this, tell me. I'll be back again with more in a later post.


I don't know how to explain it without everyone thinking I'm suffering from low self esteem. But it's been a recurring thought... the thought that I'm ruined.

This is a hard post to post, just because I doubt my ability to get my thoughts across clearly, so that the idea of being ruined, isn't a bad thing. I can only suggest that you try and keep an open mind and read to the end. Maybe, you'll wish you were ruined as well.

To describe it, I could reference cooking. You have your basic ingredients, and you're stirring everything together. With these basic ingredients you could be making a pancake, or a chicken batter, or even a cream to put in macaroni and cheese. But at some point, some vital ingredients go in, that will turn the direction of your product towards the end result - what it's intended to be - and there will be no possible way for you to make pancakes from it. In effect, you've ruined it for pancakes. It's not heartbreakingly bad, just a fact.

There came a point in my life, where things shifted and I realized the things God had added in my life were vital to me becoming exactly what He planned of me. I look at other directions my life could take, some of them expected of me, and I can't help but think that I'm ruined for those directions. The ingredients for something entirely different have been added, and there's no way to unscramble the egg and remove it from the batter.

In a way, in every way actually, I'm glad to be ruined. It's hard enough to focus sometimes as it is. There are so many directions to go, so many things that can distract me, that can tempt me to turn my life in other directions, to add ingredients in my life that God hasn't intended for His Master recipe.
I wonder sometimes, what it would be like, to not be ruined. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn't trade a single ingredient, no matter how painful, for anything. I wonder also if it was hard for Him to allow me to be ruined. But then, if He hadn't allowed it, would He have been trading what could have been for something as flavorful as dry toast?

Reading this post, I know I haven't made my point. So maybe this post isn't for you, so much as it's for me. And one day I'll look back on this post and remember. I'll remember how grateful I am to be ruined.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Gift of Healing 1

There's a lot to blog about today. I'd like to blog about my trip to Mexico, mainly because I can't tell you how excited I was to be there. But something else is weighing on my mind and heart and so I'm going to talk it out.

I'm praying for the gift of healing.

There are a lot of great spiritual gifts, but this is the gift that weighs on me. This time last year I was searching to be able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. God mercifully, and I do mean mercifully, gave me that gift. And now I want more.

I've never understood the sick in the church. I've never understood Christians, solid, God-fearing Christians that are diseased and live their lives through a disease. God is God, Almighty, King of Kings, Creator and Invincible. He can do it. Whatever it is. He can do it.

So why isn't He doing it?

It's either Him or us. Right? Either I'm stopping Him, with a lack of faith or He's holding back for a reason (judgement -again, my fault- or teaching purposes generally come to mind). If there are more reasons that would help explain things, feel free to add them.

I recognize that there are a lot of reasons and explanations for some things. But not all things. The fact seems to be that there are people out there, that could be healed, that simply aren't. And I don't want to accept that. Everyone in churches will tell you that there is power available to you to heal the sick, cast out demons, work miracles, but when you walk into our churches you aren't seeing those things happen.
As miraculous as it is, and as grateful as I am for the miracle, I don't want the only miracles I see in my church to be financial or the fact that we're growing. When the bible talks about signs and wonders it never seems to be talking about those things - except maybe the time the financial miracle was money plucked from the mouth of a fish.

Everyone knows the old slogan "Be all that you can be". And I guess that's ultimately what I'm driving at. It's not so much specifically about healing, though that is the specific area that burdens me, but about not being as strong as God said I could be. Though, even that part confuses me since surely my faith is at least the size of the mustard seed? Is that what's missing from the whole equation? that my faith really isn't even that big and that's why no mountains seem to move?

I'm not discouraged. And each of the questions I've posted here, have already been presented to God. I'm growing, and learning, so be gentle if you judge me for this post. But if you see that I'm in error about my opinions, I can't ask this of you strongly enough - tell me.
There will be more posts on this as I study it further. I am so grateful to be where I am today spiritually, but God forbid that I would ever be content to stay here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The way the cookie crumbles

Hello, and happy Saturday evening.
I have returned from Mexico, bringing back large amounts of prescription drugs for all my parents many ailments, and spent more than 25 hrs, in a 42 hour period driving the car while my dad tirelessly searched for talk radio stations at a volume that would surely give a deaf man a headache. And I can't tell you when I enjoyed myself more. I went to Mexico!
But, I'll expound on the trip later.

At the moment I have far more important things to do. You see, I'm in the process of ruining food. It happens, many times when I try and cook. Not every time, but often enough for me to rejoice when a simple recipe turns out right.
Tonight I attempted something I've made many times before. It's a recipe (award winning I might add) from an Internet friend from Canada. She makes her living setting up booths at any/all craft fairs available. She's a great friend to have, especially when you're a klutzy cook and can use all the help you can get.

So tonight, I pulled things together and began cooking, wondering if the klutz gene would come out. And just so you know, I enjoy it when the klutz gene comes out in my attempts. It keeps me humble, and it's generally a mess of mistakes that I wouldn't be able to do on purpose even if I tried. It might mess up my plans, but it makes me smile for a very long time after while I try and figure out how things could have gone so wrong.

Tonight, only two things went wrong, wait, make that three, ok, 5 if you want to get technical.

I was going along well, until it came time to add vanilla. That was the moment I discovered I didn't have any vanilla.
So, in my typical fashion (it takes a lot to upset me), I shrugged it off and said "surely they won't ruin just because there's no vanilla". My words were almost prophetic. They didn't ruin JUST because there was no vanilla.
I moved along another step, adding the egg and beating the mix. I added the flour then, and ended up staring at it trying to figure out why it looked funny...I realized then, that the step before, I had stopped doubling the recipe. So I went back and added the extra ingredients I had neglected. I thought then, that this wasn't turning out too well.
THEN, I turned to get a teaspoon so I could measure the baking soda and salt.

That's when I discovered the first item to be "missing" from the move. I had no teaspoon/tablespoon measuring devices.
So after searching all over, I finally grabbed a spoon and determined that I would take a wild guess.
I don't cook much, and have very very little experience at seeing what a teaspoon amount of something looks like. But, even seconds after I'd made the jump, I knew that a teaspoon amount was not anywhere close to a plastic spoon mounded with baking soda. It was too late then, and I knew it would take an actual miracle (a miracle along the lines of making this double batch feed 5,000 people) to make this mess taste good.

Sure enough, it's nearing midnight now and the batches that have come out have, well, let's just say they haven't been good good. My closest comparison would be to have you imagine trying to eat a ball of cotton, with chocolate chips. I could probably market them, if I only knew of a disease that made your mouth produce too much moisture. Or maybe market them as gag gifts, like those pieces of gum that turn your teeth black.

Making a mess of things is far more fun than you'd think.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Almost Christian songs

I'm always surprised when I hear a song, and I'm thinking, "What an awesome Christian song", but then one or two of the lyrics makes me question my assumption and I check out the song only to discover that it's not actually a song about God. Another example, besides the one I'm posting for you here is "Where You Are".

I think this song has two words in it that, if changed, would entirely change the song.

"Before Your Love"

I wonder how I ever made it through a day
How did I settle for the world in shades of gray
When you go in circles all the scenery looks the same
And you don't know why
And I looked into your eyes
Where the road stretched out in front of me
And I realized

I'd never lived
Before your love
I'd never felt
Before your touch
And I'd never needed anyone
To make me feel alive
But then again,
I wasn't really livin'
I'd never lived...
Before your love

I wanted more than just an ordinary life
All of my dreams, seemed like castles in the sky
I stand before you and my heart is in your hands
And I don't know howI'd survive without your kiss
Cuz you've given me
A reason to exist

I'd never lived
Before your love
I'd never felt
Before your touch
I'd never needed anyone
To make me feel alive
But then again,
I wasn't really livin'
I'd never lived...
before your love
I'd never lived...
Before your love

And I don't know why
Why the sun decides to shine
But you've breathed your love into me just in time
I'd never lived
Before your love
I'd never felt
Before your touch
I'd never needed anyone
To make me feel alive
But then again
I wasn't really livin'
I'd never livedI'd never lived

Loving God, loving each other.

I love people. Unless I get an automatic bad vibe from you, I expect good things from you. I'm able to disagree with you and still love you. I hope you have good things, good experiences, and only as many bad experiences as absolutely necessary to make you who you're suppose to be. I believe more things are possible for you than you know. And if I can help you achieve those things, I'll do my absolute best.

The problem is, my love for most people is still superficial. Even if I do all those things, it's still superficial. A lot of the people I love, I don't really know. I know one collects roosters, and I just happen to know a few of the others snore, and I know one of them use to paint (art, not houses). But that's not much. It's an ok relationship, built with trust and love. But not a lot of depth.

And that's when I started thinking about my relationship with God. And I realized that a lot of my relationship with God is superficial as well. It's been 5 years, growing in Him, and I would have thought that by now I'd know His nature better. That I'd be able to know what He'd say, before He said it. Maybe not all the time, but more often than I do now.

I'm a personal person, so I wish I knew things like, of all the colors He made, which one He liked best. Or if maybe, we think the forbidden fruit was an apple just because God likes apples best of all the fruit He made. You don't read much about art in the bible, but you read a lot about music, does that means He likes music better than paintings? But, when you read the descriptions of Heaven, it's pretty obvious that He likes visible beauty. In the eternity that He's been around, what's His best memory? Is He especially proud of the time He called fire down for Elijah's water soaked wood, or is He still listening to the eternal echo of Martin Luther King saying "I have a dream"?

I may never know, and when I get to Heaven I may be too busy to ask. But here on earth, I don't want to just serve a God that knows me. I want to know Him too. In some ways I do, but in some ways it seems as though I know hardly anything.

If you spend enough time with someone, you get to know their quirks, their mannerisms, their sense of humor. You know the very things you can say that will make them smile, and the very things that will frustrate them. You also, and this is more important to me in a relationship with God, but you also know what gifts will especially please them. And which gifts only the thought will be appreciated. When I offer God a gift, I want it to be something He particularly wants specifically from me. Not just something I offered.

But the only way I'll do that, ever, is to spend more time with Him. Not just church time, because, and it goes the same for my church family, church time is more of a public time than an intimate time where I can get to know them. If I want to know God, I need to invite Him into my home. I need to spend time just talking with Him, and listening to Him talk.

I cornered my pastor and his wife in his hospital room earlier this week, and spent some of that quiet time that I'm talking about. The fact that they were a captive audience, literally unable to leave, helped tremendously. I spent an hour and a half there, and could have easily stayed hours more. And I look at my own private time with God and don't see that same thing. If I spend an hour and a half with God, it's just not as real as it is with "real" people. And I need it to not be that way.

I need more.
I think by now God's probably getting tired of this constant cadence from my side of the conversation, but... I need more. I just need more. I don't want a shallow or superficial friendship with God. I'm not even satisfied with a somewhat deep relationship. I want what Moses had, doubled. And I'm just not going to be satisfied until I get it.

Weird things.

Blogging is sparse this week.

Yesterday was plain rough, I wasn't feeling well and actually ended up going home mid-day. That's why you had no post yesterday. But, life feels much better today so I'm back at work and you'll see your regular post today.

The same can't be said for the rest of the week.

Let me tell you why. I'll enjoy telling you why.
I love peculiar things, I love the desperate measures people take in desperate times, I like the uncommon, unnatural and unusual.
So, when my parents asked me to drive them to Mexico this week so they could buy drugs (it's prescription drugs, but just calling it drugs makes me grin), I couldn't help but jump at the opportunity. It helps that I'm the only one in the family with a passport, and my dad is strangely concerned about the new laws that say you won't get back IN without one.
My mom's alzheimers medication runs $180 dollars here in the US, and in Mexico it's about $40. Does anybody care to explain to me how that robbery came about?

So, tomorrow I head off to buy cheap prescription drugs that in Mexico apparently don't require prescriptions. Do you do any weird things?

Monday, March 12, 2007

It's my birthday!

My God is amazing. He is the inventor of creativity itself.

He is the imaginer and creator of laws of gravity and pink flamingos, physics and peacocks, flowers that follow the sun across the sky, and birds that have to regurgitate food they've eaten in order to feed their children, wasps, bees, roses, pear trees, seasons, ice, snow, sleet, and a sun that both causes cancer and prevents it. He designed bodies, both human and animal to fall into unconscious states called "sleep" in order to rest itself. And still made time to ensure that the oceans would only go so far.
He made stars that no man could possibly count, and then He named them. And He still knows their names, and He knows when each one falls.
He designed galaxies that even our most powerful telescopes will never be able to see. And then He designed the human eye to process more information in a split second than our computers could do in 30.

And then, 26 years ago, God made me.

In all His vast creativity, He created me. He created me with my quirks, and mannerisms. He created my sense of humor and my eyes. He created my fingers that He knew would one day play the piano, because He created a gift for playing and put it inside me. He created me lovingly, and knowingly, seeing ahead the things that I would go through. Yet, He created me any way, not sparing me the pain He knew would come, because He knew the end result. He created me for a reason.

He created me, and brought me to this earth, knowing that He would have to wait while I searched for Him once again. He would have to wait while I rejected Him. He would have to wait through my trials until I reached out for Him. He created me, knowing the joy that He could hardly wait to pour out on me once I finally found Him.

I walked through my home yesterday and it was as if happiness were a tangible, physical thing I could reach out and touch. It is a cloak that surrounds me and so often overwhelms me. I had no idea, life could feel this wonderful, I had no idea knowing Life (the King) could feel this wonderful. I'm so glad to be alive, and living. There's a difference between "alive" and "living" and I'm glad to be both. So many only have 'alive'.

So, being "alive", I celebrate it.
"Living", I celebrate it differently than most.

My celebration begins tonight with a birthday cake. At some point, probably when I moved out, I became too old for such things and so the birthday cakes ended. It wasn't a big deal, but most of the time birthdays seem like a normal day anyway and so my birthdays began going by without even me noticing it. So I made myself a birthday cake.

It gets stranger.

As things progressed so did my cake. And today, I'll make my birthday cake, take a piece to anyone I love that I can take it to, and then -here it is- I cut a huge slice and set it outside. I may have killed a few stray cats, I'm not sure how cats do with cake, or squirrels either for that matter. But it's Gods piece. And so it goes outside for God. If I were a bit more obsessive I'd build a fire in my backyard and burn it. But I'm not that obsessive yet. Yet is probably the key word.

God -I can't even type His name without feeling something stir within me- has made life worth living. And He can do the same for you.
Seek Him, passionately pursue Him with a complete disregard to outside opinions or ridicule. Seek Him in unorthodox ways, whether it's putting cake on your porch or climbing up on your roof to pray. It doesn't matter. You can find Him in easy ways, and easy places, or strange places. Seek Him with a childlike exuberance to find Him. Seek Him desperately knowing that you're lost entirely lost without Him. When Angel or David (my niece (9) and nephew (6)) start looking for me in the house, they know life -the ability to eat, drink, go places- depends on finding me.

Seek Him and when you think that you've already found Him, keep seeking to know Him. To know Him better, and better, deeper, purer. As He changes you, what you see in Him will change as well. The lessons He taught you 5 years ago, will have a different meaning as you grow and your understanding changes.
And it's just wonderful.
I'm so glad to be alive and living.
Happy Mybirthday.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Am I wrong?

I dug myself into a hole over at the blog "TentPegs" on his post "When Rochester Comes to the Table"

Read through the comments and you'll see where I chimed in and where the host Patrick Mead attempted to correct me. I use the word "attempted" only because when I read the post he directed me to, I wasn't swayed. I in no way mean to belittle what he did, because if there's one thing I wish more people would do, is correct me if they think I'm wrong.

I disagreed with a few things in the post he directed me to: "Discerning the Body". But, since I recently posted on it here, I'm wondering if everyone that's read my opinion on the subject thinks I'm way off base.

So, if you think I'm wrong, way off base, or even downright blasphemous, now is the time to tell me.

I believe

For those that don't know me, or think they know me:

I believe in God.
I believe Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, 100% man, 100% God.
I believe Jesus Christ died on a cross for the remission of our sin. And I believe it worked.
I believe in the infilling of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
I believe that you can be saved even if you haven't been filled with the Holy Spirit.
I believe that if somewhere in my walk of serving Christ, I decide to stop serving Christ, that when I die, He will honor my decision, and not force His presence upon me.
I believe in doing so, my salvation, so painfully bought, can be lost.

I believe God has a plan for my life. A good plan.
I believe every sorrow I've been through has had a purpose. Whether to create in me the person He wants me to be in order to fulfill His plan for me, or to remind me that my actions have consequences.
I believe that even when it's my own foolish actions that bring me pain, God will use that for a good purpose as well. Whether I ever have the privilege of seeing the result or not. I believe it.
I believe that I have no right to feel anything but sincere and utter gratitude that one such as He, would draw to Him one such as me.

I believe that the Bible is the very Word of God.
I believe it is 100% true, even if the translation passed to us throughout the generations have not been 100% accurate.
I believe there is a Heaven and that, by His saving grace, I can go there.
I believe there is a Hell, and that by refusing His saving grace, I can go there as well.
I believe there is a Devil, who seeks to destroy this world, and turn every person away from the love of Christ.
I believe that very devil has demons, who walk this earth doing the bidding of their master.
I believe that there are such beings as Angels.
I believe that Angels do daily warfare against the demons of this world.
I believe that Angels have done and daily do miraculous signs and wonders. We just aren't always aware.

I believe that I am saved by Gods grace, not by works.
I believe that as a growing, and passionate Christian, that I am enabled by Christ to do works, and should do them.
I believe in the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.
I believe that if my life shows none of those fruits, you have reason to doubt my salvation.

And I believe, that if God had not intervened in my life, I would have chosen to end my life. I believe He was gracious to me, patient with me, and that I can trust Him with everything every single thing that is in me. He's changed my life, and given me hope, and a future. He's made my life worth living, worth fighting for, if for no other reason but that every minute I'm alive is one more minute I might be able to do something for Him.

I believe
He can do the same for you.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another good post

This post was found over at Cerulean Sanctum. I've chopped out some of the best paragraphs for you, but if you want to read the whole post -I would reccommend it- then CLICK HERE.

Kingdoms and Bitterness

If I were bitter because my neighbor shot my dog, poisoned my well, and plundered my fields, I would be angry at a flesh-and-blood person. I can see him. I can have a relationship with him. I can forgive him.
But if I were bitter because the government shot my dog, poisoned my well, and plundered my fields, there’s no individual flesh-and-blood cause for my anger. I can’t see the government system. I can’t have a relationship with a system. How do I forgive a nebulous entity that is neither him nor her—and may even include me?

While forgiveness is always called for when dealing with any wrong, even those perpetuated by a system (in as much as it is possible, especially toward the most guilty individuals within the system), the proper Christian response is to bring the Kingdom of God against the system, against the kingdom of darkness (or even murky grayness) it represents. Too many of us fail to see that systems that break people’s spirits get their power from demonic sources, and we Christians must wrestle against them.

It is easy to tell bitter people to forgive. It is far harder to roll up our sleeves (all the while remembering our Kingdom cannot be vanquished) and fight systems that breed bitter, broken people. That first answer consists of words, the second of blood, sweat, and the strong right arm of our triumphant God.


If ever a company has garnered my ire, it was my mortgage company. I held my tongue (my house was hanging in the balance, I'm no dummy) and prayed the whole ordeal would end soon.
Finally it was over.
I didn't have to deal with them anymore, but in a rare moment of me being willing to let something slide, I chose to let sleeping dogs lie. I left it alone.

Until yesterday.

They had required I have a check in their files for $495.00 and assured me that they would give it back to me at closing.
They didn't show up at the closing. (My surprise overwhelmed me)
So they said they would mail it to me.
Amazingly enough, instead of mailing it to me, they mailed it to the entity the check was made out to, and amazingly enough, they cashed it.
So I called the mortgage people and was finally (I have my house now) as forceful as I enjoy being. For the first time in our dealings they actually began returning my phone calls. It was a wonderful thing.

Fast forward to that very evening. I went home and checked my mail and there was a letter from my mortgage company asking me to please write a short testimonial for their company, and if possible enclose a picture of me or the house or both.
Needless to say, I'm happy to write the testimonial.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I just wanted to leave you with a quick addition to my last post... I quoted a lot of chapter 7 (of Joshua) in that post. The very last verses in that chapter pretty much state the carrying out of Achans punishment (death - not just his, but his family as well).
Reading of Achan and his childrens death hit me. But as easily as those verses took my breath away, the very next two verses in chapter 8 restored it.

1 Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city."

He didn't just send them off, He spoke to them, He reassured them, and then, He offered them the plunder He'd denied them in the last city. This is discipline at it's finest.

Love AND fear the Lord.

Ok here's the story. The condensed version at least.

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down. - I like that line.
God had told Joshua about certain things that the people weren't suppose to take as plunder, only Achan found some things that he really liked. So he kept them.
Joshua sets off to continue his conquest with a neighboring city and sends guys to spy out Ai. They come back saying "We can beat these guys easy." Only since God was angry with all of them because of what Achan did, when they went out on their supposedly easy conquest of Ai, they didn't do so well. They ended up turning tail and running back to Joshua who was equally upset that they lost.
Joshua sprawled on the ground before God and asked Him why on earth this had happened. And what would begin to happen to the people once others found out that the Children of Israel (whose very nearness struck fear into the hearts of any neighboring King) had had to run from their enemies for once.
So then God tells Joshua about Achan, and told Joshua he had to get rid of the items taken as plunder pronto.
And this is what happens next. (Reference is Joshua 7:19-26, whole story is in chapter 7)
Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me."
Achan replied, "It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath."
So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.
Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. Joshua said, "Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today." Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since.

I admit, I found myself hoping that somehow Achan would make it out alive. There was something in his confession, it seemed humble, and 100% honest. I pictured him scared. 36 guys had died already because of the battle they'd lost because of his sin. And in Verse 18 in chapter 6 he had specifically been told: "But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it".
I'm sure some people could see arrogance in his confession. But I saw (maybe chose to see) fear and humility. I can only imagine his terror as all his possessions and - worst of all - his children are gathered around him and marched out of the city. It's one thing to sin and get yourself stoned, but your sons? your daughters? That's a whole different ball game.

Now... to my point.

The God that demanded their stoning is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There isn't even a shadow of turning from Him. But you don't hear much about that God.

And that's why I get nervous during communion time.

People generally object when I start pointing these scriptures out, but when the bible talks about communion, it makes a special point to mention what happens "If you drink it unworthily." 1 Cor. 11:29-30 states (though if you're actually checking you should read the whole chapter 11:
"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
I know people, and I'm sure you know people, that spend half of their time at the doctors. They have 7 diseases and 13 medications, 4 of which are to counter the side effects of the other 9.
I don't point to these people and say (or even think) they've obviously taken communion when they shouldn't.
But I've often come to God, with the list of sick people in the church, and asked Him "WHY?" If you're God, and we're Yours, doesn't it look bad on YOU for the lot of us to be sick half the time?
And then since the scriptures that promise us healing, don't seem to be getting me anywhere I look at the scriptures that promise us sickness. And I have to tell you, I shudder. I shudder and I wonder.

I know the loving God. I don't believe at all that our every trouble is because God is punishing us. But surely, we serve a God that does punish. David's baby still died, Saul (King Saul) still had his kingdom stripped from him for choosing sacrifice over obedience, Moses stood across the river from the Promised Land God refused to let him enter, and Annanias and Saphira both dropped dead.

I serve a loving God. But I serve a loving and a just God. And that's why I worry, I worry that people no longer serve God with fear and trembling. We're too busy being lovey dovey to realize that our Father really will take us behind the woodshed and whup us if we disobey Him. And I don't want my family, my church family, my friends, my acquaintances, ANYONE, to get so comfortable that we forget to respect. I dread that we would fail to hold the cup with the reverence of someone that understands we're holding the blood of a King, not having a snack courtesy of our beloved Friend and Comforter.

I looked at the last paragraph and thought that would be a horrible ending to this post. So, I'd like to leave you with a bit of good news.
There are several instances in the Bible where a blessing is removed, as well as a curse is removed. He is a loving God and there is only one unpardonable sin, and taking communion unworthily isn't it.
God loves, God forgives, God is good.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Unexpected good stuff.

I don't mean to sound judgemental, but when I know that the page I'm reading is written by a Bishop for the United Methodist Church, I just don't imagine I'm going to find a unique post on loving and worshipping God. At least not one that I'd enjoy so fully as I did this post. I'll be going back to his site often now thanks to Milton Stanley at Transforming Sermons. In his posts he referred me to this article on "What's the point of worship?" written by A Peculiar Prophet.

Here is a piece, the rest is at the linked to title above.

Love is not love if it is simply a matter of obeying rules, running errands, and performing duties. Some things we do just because we enjoy being in the presence of our loved one. So we sing songs, write poetry, dance, clap our hands, share food, or simply prop up our feet and do nothing but enjoy being with one another. In these purposeless moments of sheer enjoyment, we come very close to what love is all about.

If someone asked a Christian, “What’s the purpose of your worship? Why do you gather on Sunday and sing songs, dress up, kneel, march in processions, clap your hands, shed tears, speak, eat, and listen?” We could only say, “Because we are in love.”

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dog days of March

Often my co-worker and I look like we have too much time on our hands... primarily this image of us is crafted because we, well, have too much time on our hands.

We've painstakingly nursed an injured pigeon back to health after we were told had slammed into the back of a car. We spent weeks bandaging and cleaning the crazy thing (I have a strong dislike for birds within 3 feet of me). Then finally we watched with bittersweet excitement as we finally took it outside to try and fly again, only to have it get about 20 feet up in the air and then crash back down. We went back to our ministrations and actually found someone that wanted it as a pet.

Office life, you've got to love it.

Today, I noticed a guy walking to our office bent in half. He opened the door and it turned out that he was bent in half because he was trying to hold onto the collar of a little terrier that had been found wandering in the street. He let it in our office and asked us to call the pound, but then had to leave. We called the pound and were more than a little nervous when they announced that they didn't have anyone on duty this afternoon since "the guy" had to go home early.

So our new dog wandered around in the office and relieved himself on our office plant.

After about 15 minutes of him I wondered if the guy that nabbed him had jumped the gun and maybe his owner was eating lunch or something right near here and might be still around. So, connecting an old telephone cord to his collar (this is an office you know!) I held onto him while he ran to the corner. Just then an old man in a blue pickup truck driving by yelled "That's my dog!". He blocked traffic for awhile, and explained that his wife had alzheimers and had let the dog out of the truck. I loaded him up into the guys truck and parted ways.

Our dog day had ended.

I'm a huge fan of the out-of-the-ordinary. Nothing brightens a day or changes a day quite like it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm becoming PC Politically Correct a Practicing Christian.

I've had to become overwhelmingly decisive.

I could make decisions before, but was never called on to do so at the rate I am now. My days consist of ordering people around now. Store this here, install this there, remove that from the wiring, put in a new phone box this one is outdated, no, I don't need that service plan but this service plan over here will do. When I get home from work, my day has already been prioritized as to what's most important. Do I unpack today or fix the hole in the wall? Do I move all the furniture and put the dumb rug down or should I fix the door lock?

I'm constantly deciding what, when, where and which one, and that takes away my trend of staying quiet and staying out of trouble. This constant decision making gives me a more forceful feeling that came across easily in yesterdays post. And I'm glad.

I don't think there is a happy medium between forceful and quiet. But I do believe in a happy balance of being forceful when necessary and being quiet when necessary. Having it within you to be either one when called upon, is a good thing. I just hope I can be careful to not step out of forceful to harsh.

I am going to be careful with this post, and hopefully will succeed.

Love one another.

Love one another.

Love one another.

Love your fellow church brothers and sisters enough to love them whether they brought sandwiches to the church dinner or the same cold plate of mush that no one has identified yet. Love them enough to love them enough though they don't sing loud during the song service. Love them enough to love them even though they can't sing worth a flip but they sing louder than anyone else in the congregation. Love them enough to love them even though they turn you down when you ask them to start a church newsletter, or a calendar, or a womens night, or a prayer meeting. Love them enough to love them even if they turn you down for every single thing you ask.

Love them enough to encourage them to read their bibles. Love them enough to encourage them to pray. Love them enough to not speak anything negative about them even if you feel justified. Love them enough that they know whatever you said is an exhortation, not a criticism. Love them enough to be an example of what they can grow to become.

But most of all, love them enough that they feel you love them.

It's hard to believe in love. It's hard to believe in a God that loves you, a God that willingly and brutally sacrificed His Son for you. It's hard to believe in those things. That's why so many of our population choose to believe in nothing. Because refusing to believe in anything, is easier than hoping for something.

Whatever church you attend, whatever job you work at, whatever grocery store you shop in, whatever city you live in; practice love. Practice it in your every word, your every deed, and most importantly your every thought. Practice it and practice it until you get it right. Practice it until you notice people gravitating to you. Then you know you're getting closer.

Then, as they gravitate you, point them to your Source of love. The only One that would be able to plant a love in your heart for all the flawed people you'll come in contact with.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

No, the devil didn't make you do it.

Is the devil your scapegoat?

I believe, and firmly so, that the devil does attack us. But, everything bad that happens to you is not an attack.

Do you eat out 5 times a week, then complain that the devil has got your finances all bound up?
Do you have a bad attitude at work and then complain that the devil is holding you back from promotions?
Do you drive recklessly then complain that the devil was attacking your family the day you had the accident?
Do you ignore your doctors instructions, then complain that the devil is attacking your health?
Do you fail to witness to your co-worker then complain that the devil is working overtime in their life and that's why you haven't won a new convert?
Do you constantly think about the negative side of things then complain that the devil has you discouraged?
Do you neglect your cars maintenance then complain that the devil is attacking you when you suddenly find yourself car shopping with no money?

I could go on and on and on. But I'm hoping my point has been made. So many of the things wrong with our lives, so many of the things that take our time and energy, money and happiness, are our own fault.
I know in my own life, I tend to let things go and go until finally what was a $20.00 fix, turns into a $500 problem. But that's not the devils fault. The devil may have started the ball rolling downhill in our lives at some point, but there's a time when we have to wake up and realize that we're now behind the ball running downhill and pushing the ball ourselves because it's a lot easier to push downhill than up.
Our time, our finances, our health, our things (car, home, appliances, etc.), and so much more are all messed up because -get this- we don't take care of them.
It's outrageously easy, and even spiritual sounding to be able to blame your problems on an attack of the devil (or worse, Gods failure to keep His promises). But ultimately, when I get to heaven and confront God with why He didn't give me such and such, He'll probably show me how He did give me such and such and I spent it (money, or time) on something else.

I understand that we do wrestle with principalities and powers, and that the devil does attack us. I recognize that when God is trying to do something great, or move at all for that matter, that the devil will indeed want to stop it.
But I also understand, that I'd rather complain that the devil has my finances than clip coupons.
I'd rather complain about the devil than do routine maintenance on my car.
And I'd most definitely rather complain about the devils hold on this sinful world than risk embarrassment by witnessing.

And I don't want to complain anymore.