Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

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“ENSLAVED” – Feb. 24

February 24, 2020

“Then He said to them, ‘Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'” Matthew 22:21

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

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I am a slave,
but I am not unique.
I am a slave,
but so are you.
We are slaves but
not in the way you think.

We are slaves of many masters.  We serve them all, typically without title but all hidden while still in the open.  Yet, their authority is enforced when the bounds of their reigns are transversed or challenged.  We were born into the bondage of our initial master, whose realm was established at the beginning, when it demanded our lungs to accept this new product called air.  Next, the bounds of nutrition were delineated through pangs in the belly.  The bounds of consciousness were defined by the needs of sleep.  As we mature, new bounds were yearly discovered.

We all labor to serve the Master of Flesh.  Our bodies demand obedience to biological needs, requirements for the preservation of life.  This realm redefines slavery as “self”.  You may say, “my body is not a master,”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Master of Flesh.  Try to exert your freedom from hydration.  Try to exert your freedom from food.  Soon, your flesh will punish your liberty with pain until you yield or die.  The Flesh is an unyielding task master.

Many live their entire existence solely under the tyranny of Flesh, laboring to satisfy its demands.  Some even cede more authority to the Flesh through addiction and/or neurosis.   Yet, all yield to the essential demands of the Flesh from the dawn of every day to its setting.

However, the flesh is not our only master.  As we mature, we enter the realm of another, the Master of Work.  Work’s realm includes all those activities mitigating Flesh’s tyranny.  I want leisure.  Therefore, I must work to be able to take a vacation.  I want amusement.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a hobby, go to a movie, eat gourmet food.  I want more comfortable housing.  Therefore, I must work to be able to have a better home.  I want to be happy.  Therefore, I must work to be able to consume and feed my craving for happiness.

Work is not a private affair.  Work is a public engagement and therefore ruled by the cultural and governmental masters.  This realm redefines slavery as “citizenship”.  You may say, “my government is not a master.  I live under a constitution.”  I say, “are you free from it?”.  Try not obeying the Masters of Work.  Try exerting your freedom from taxation.  Try exerting your freedom to take another’s property.  Try exerting your freedom to live without clothing.  Try exerting your freedom to cry ‘fire’ in a fireless theater.  Transverse the bounds established by the Masters of Work and you will find your time relegated to satisfying the Master of Flesh.  You will become preoccupied with the necessities of existence because the means to mitigate the tyranny of the Flesh will be removed by the tyranny of Work.  Work is an unyielding task master.

We all yield to the essential demands of society in order to have a slice of the prosperity ensuing from our obedience as cogs in the economic mechanism of Work’s realm.  Even if Work could be freed from the Masters of government and culture, it can never be truly free because it resides in the realm of a third master.  Work cannot be free because work is not an end in itself.

The extent and quality of freedom in the flesh and work can only be experienced through obedience to the Master of the third realm in which we all reside.

The Master of the Divine inhabits a realm that was before the Flesh and before Work.  This realm defines the freedoms of those realms and our allegiance to those Masters.  God created the realm of the Divine.  He is the Master of all.  Yet, Satan rebelled against Gods’ rule and when he fell so did all of humanity.  You and I have been born into rebellion against the Master of the Divine.  Yet, we were not born free.  We were born under the tyranny of Satan, who bent the Masters of Flesh and Work into wicked task masters.  It was never meant to be this way.  The Divine has been redefined as “enlightenment”, “science”, “atheism”.

Our inward desire for liberty is an echoing call of creation.  We misunderstand it to be an inherent right of mankind.  It is actually a memory of creation, longing for a world ruled by the true Master; longing for a world where the flesh and work have no power to harm.  Our desire for freedom is incomplete.  It actually is a desire to be completely free to serve the Master as we were created to serve.

low section of man against sky

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Freedom is the freedom to do what we want.  When we are truly free, our nature takes us fully to God, the Master of the Divine.

So, I am a slave.  I am a slave to the Master of the Divine.  I live as an ambassador in the realms of the Flesh and Work.  I pay the requisite requirements to inhabit these realms, but they are not my Master.  I owe them no allegiance.  I will readily say my farewells to the Master of Flesh when the Master of the Divine bids me to return.  I will readily give what is due the Master of Work and give unto God what is His.

I am a slave to only one Master and He is good.  I will serve no other.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for serving other Masters.  Forgive me for forgetting that you have set me free to serve you fully as I was intended.  Thank you for binding me to yourself.  Lord, you know that I am prone to wander.  Let your grace, like a fetter, chain my wandering heart to you.  Take my heart and seal it in servitude for your courts above.    I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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True Forgiveness – Genesis 50:19–21

February 20, 2020

“Then Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you planned evil against me, but God planned it for good, in order to do this—to keep many people alive—as it is today. So then, do not be afraid. I myself will provide for you and your little ones. And he consoled them and spoke kindly to them.”

Aside the cross, Joseph’s is one of the most profound examples of forgiveness for me.   Evil was done to him.  He was hated, enslaved and imprisoned by his own family.  Yet, when it was within his own power to return evil for evil, even justice for evil, he did not. 

He actually consoled, spoke kindly, and provided for the needs of those who had planned and implemented evil against him.  That is what forgiveness looks like.

How did he do it?

1. He didn’t focus on the wrongs done.

2. He didn’t focus on the wrong-doers.

3. He didn’t focus on himself.

4.  He focused on God and the goodness of God’s plan.  

5.  He accepted his role in short-term suffering for the long-term glory of God.

Truly, a lesson to mediate upon.

https://ref.ly/Ge50.19-21 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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“ADVENTUROUS PERSEVERANCE” – Feb. 17

February 17, 2020

“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” 2 Thess. 3:13

person pointing at black and gray film camera near macbook pro

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An adventure, by definition, is the unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity. My wife and I embarked on an activity at the beginning of the year that is not unusual nor hazardous. Yet, adventure seems it’s most earnest title. The title might need to be categorized in order to do it justice. The adventure is more accurately described as an adventure of the mind. While still not unusual, it seems a little mentally hazardous to our self-esteem.

We have become rebels in the Code Red cult of weight loss. This particular cult is exemplified by specific rules; drink your water, get your sleep, eat real food, no snacking, and be done eating by 6:30 PM. Oh, and no sugar!

Our lives have been transformed due to this weight loss adventure. The adventure excitement emanates from when it is working, and swings to discouragement when it does not. One becomes a bit captive to the scale as rebels weigh every day. There is the adventurous excitement of fitting clothing long banished to the museum of “What I Once Was”. Then, there is the hazards of the plateaus of complete rule obedience yet the scale does not display equitable obedience.

These unusually hazardous circumstances baffles the mental resolve of any weight loss adventurer.

assorted map pieces

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This morning my scale sent me into the treacherous waters of uncertainty and questionable resolve. I had done everything right, earning the anticipation of celebrating seeing digits that I have not observed for 2 years. I don’t know why I create weight memorials in categories of 10, but I do. I excitedly anticipated the proclamation that I have once again entered into the 180’s weight class. For me, that can be 189.9 pounds. It simply means that I no longer will see a 1 and a 9 preceding the stubborn pounds that I am incrementally assaulting.

I have been on the frustrating plateau of the 190’s for a month and a half. Yesterday, the plateau of the 190’s was assaulted with monumental resolve and certainty. My morning  started with a chest and back workout of push-ups and pull-ups and ab-ups. Throughout the day, the rules of Code Red were followed like a good rebel religious zealot. The pincer maneuver, to ensure the success of this full assault, was a long bike ride augmented by the vigor of it being a windy day.

The assault had all the elements needed for a celebratory victory over the obstinate 190’s. Except, it didn’t. This morning arose with all the hope of a goal achieved only to be dashed by the reality of a 1.6-pound gain. Rather than basking in the celebratory light of realization, I find myself in the hazardous gloom of reality. Sometimes, when you do everything right, it simply doesn’t work out as planned and we rarely know the reason.

Expectation can be a hazardous adventure. Short-term expectations are the most hazardous. Perseverance characterizes the route through the hazardous barriers of unrealized expectations. One must trust the process, otherwise, hands flung-up in resignation will become the anthem of all our adventures.

Perseverance is essential for all adventurous endeavors; athletic, academic, career, relational, and spiritual. Perseverance is critical in the spiritual life of a Christian. Particularly, when we are residents in a nebulous plateau of spiritual doldrums. One might be doing everything right. One might make great assaults upon a goal with certain expectations only to experience regression and disappointment.

These are the times to trust the process. These are the times to trust the Perfecter.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1b-2a

Too often, we get fixated on the wrong things, just like my fixation with a number on a scale. My goal is not a number on a scale. My goal is to reduce the fat on my body. I want to be fit for all the benefits of fitness. Therefore, the short-term expectations of a scale display should not swing my resolve to such an extent.

empty highway overlooking mountain under dark skies

Equally, my spiritual resolve should not be dependent upon expectations that are surrogates of faithfulness. Our spiritual goal as Christians should be fruitfulness, blossoming from minds set upon the Spirit, eyes fixated upon Jesus, daily; even when we feel unfruitful. The perfection of our faith doesn’t follow a standard operating procedure, nor a regimented timeline.

Jesus is the perfecter of our faith. This means that He is perfecting our faith exactly in the manner that He intends. We just need to trust the Perfecter and keep our eyes fixed on Him while running our race even when the course before us doesn’t seem clearly marked out.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to praise you from the plateaus.  Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you.  Teach me to set my mind on the things of the Spirit.  Thank you for the faith that you have pioneered within me and the perfecting of the faith, which you have already accomplished.  Lord, don’t stop.  Please continue to perfect me in the power of your Spirit for you glory and fruitfulness.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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Genesis 46:27

February 16, 2020

“All the persons of the house of Jacob who came to Egypt were seventy.”

God created a nation, as plentiful as the sand on the shore, from 70 people.  That blows me away!  

Too often, we live within the constraints of man’s wisdom with man’s rational.  Nothing is too inconsequential for God.  Not my measly gifts not your’s.  

The mysteries of God lie in the obedience of following, just like Jacob when he was told to go to Egypt.  Most of the time God keeps the navigation duties to Himself.  The question we always face is whether we trust him enough to go along for the ride.
https://ref.ly/Ge46.27 via the Logos Bible Android app.

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GETTING OLD (Reading Snippet 2-15-2020)

February 15, 2020

I have been reading “Stoic Six Pack (Illustrated): Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Golden Sayings, Fragments and Discourses of Epictetus, Letters from a Stoic and The Enchiridion” by Various Artists –

The below quote made me consider how much my perspective on aging has been influenced by my culture’s worship of youth.  It truly is the envy of another’s blessings.   Oh, how I want to “cherish and love old age” in myself and others.  That requires a good deal of independent thinking!  

May God richly bless you in the amazing grace that you are currently experiencing.

“I owe it to my country-place that my old age became apparent whithersoever I turned. Let us cherish and love old age; for it is full of pleasure if one knows how to use it. Fruits are most welcome when almost over; youth is most charming at its close; the last drink delights the toper, the glass which souses him and puts the finishing touch on his drunkenness. Each pleasure reserves to the end the greatest delights which it contains. Life is most delightful when it is on the downward slope, but has not yet reached the abrupt decline. And I myself believe that the period which stands, so to speak, on the edge of the roof, possesses pleasures of its own. Or else the very fact of our not wanting pleasures has taken the place of the pleasures themselves. How comforting it is to have tired out one’s appetites, and to have done with them! “But,” you say, “it is a nuisance to be looking death in the face!” Death, however, should be looked in the face by young and old alike. We are not summoned according to our rating on the censor’s list. Moreover, no one is so old that it would be improper for him to hope for another day of existence. And one day, mind you, is a stage on life’s journey.”

Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/8029tUJ

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“DID ANYONE NOTICE” – Jan. 28

February 4, 2020

A DEVOTED LIFE

“And he said to me, “Son of Man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary?…” Ezekiel 8:6

This is a post inspired by this article from Pew Research Center: Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population


If your life never spanned beyond a day, would you know the sun sets?
If a shadow never moved, would you recognize the dimming of radiance?
If Fall never yielded to Winter, could you comprehend a sweltering sun?

How can you miss what you’ve never known?

Did any Priests see it go?  Did any holy man know?
Did the sacrifices seem different?  Did the smoke feel distant?
Did worshipers sense an absence?  Did any prayers miss His presence?

Did anyone notice God’s glory go?  Did anyone see a covenant’s closing…

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INNER CLAVIN – Nov 7

May 30, 2019

A DEVOTED LIFE

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  1 John 3:2

Cliff Clavin Comes Calling

It’s a little known fact that “the tan”  became popular in what is known as the Bronze Age.

I wonder if you know that the harp is a predecessor of the modern day guitar. Early minstrels were much larger people. In fact, they had hands the size of small dogs.

If you were to go back in history and take every president, you’ll find that the numerical value of each letter in their name was equally divisible into the year in which they were elected. By my calculations, our next president has to be named Yellnick McWawa.

I hear there’s a tribe of men in the Middle East called the Eschonites, they’re…

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Anarchy of Thought

April 25, 2019

“Anarchy reigns in human thought: we walk in the woods, without compass or sun, lost among the brambles and briars of infinite detail.”
Charles Wagner, “The Simple Life”

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MASTER OF OFFENSE – July 25

May 11, 2017

A DEVOTED LIFE

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all thing, endures all things. Love never ends…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

taken___liam_neeson_by_antsupoju1-d4z8mwd“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you have emotional expectations, I can tell you I have limited means to fulfill them. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a life time. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you walk away, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will be your friend, I…

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Spiritual/Secular Personhood – March 10th

March 10, 2017

My morning routine takes me through a progression of reading.  I have two broad categories; Bible/Devotional and Secular (business/news/technology/sports).  For the secular category, I use the app feedly to pull a sampling of internet happenings into a smorgasbord of current events and ideas.  I flip through the articles picking a few that catch my eye as interesting.

Rarely, do the categories of my morning reading coincide.  That is what surprised me during this morning’s ritual.  This article, in Forbes of all places, was an insightful read for people actually engaging in their working world as complete embodiments of spiritual/secular personhood.

Do You Believe In God, But Not Intuition? http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucekasanoff/2017/03/10/do-you-believe-in-god-but-not-intuition/

Let me know what you think.

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