Posts Tagged ‘Christian Living’

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Ground

December 7, 2021

Do we really need to select an analogy for that on which we place our feet?
It is not a playground.
It is not a battleground.
It is simply ground.

The ground is never the same if you don’t stay in the same place. It can be luxurious like a grassy meadow with maybe even a rainbow. It can be steep and rocky like a mountain side with maybe even some conflict to make you slide. It can be hard and fast like a concrete highway, moving so fast it is hard to focus.

We were not built for a specific type of ground. We were built to move, to progress, to transition, to grow but never to hide. We do not do well when we dwell too long on one type of surface. We cannot sustain the battles of the rocky ground indefinitely. We cease to function if we refuse to leave an oasis’ respite once recovered.

We do not do well when we cling to a type of ground because we have ceased traveling. If we don’t move, we cannot claim to be living. Living is loving the destination, the experience of something new in which to sink our toes, the longing for what is over the next ridge, around the next corner, the knowing that we are not home.

We need not worry about the ground we are on. We are not here to build a residence. We are passing through time. Nothing of the ground will last. We need not worry about the ground we are on, whether urge to flee from an uncomfortable occurrence or linger in the comfort of security. Look up from the ground, this is not your home. Look all around, this is not your town. You are a nomad, flowing through time. You have a residence but it is not on this ground. Be curious about the future, hold fast to the hope that will last. Trust that the ground under your feet will transition into something new, but above all stay on the move and enjoy the journey of true living.

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Promiscuous Mind

December 2, 2021
This is the time of year that Spotify provides the summary of your listening habits for the year.  I have started to see these posts from friends and family Instagram.  Therefore, the timing was perfect to run across this quote by Epictetus.    

I look at the hours devoted to specific podcasts and muscians and I wonder if we haven’t just handed over our minds. I have not gotten my Spotify summary yet, so I am not judging or confessing. I am making a plan. I know what I will be looking for when my summary comes in.

Have I had a promiscuous mind?

I am not against intellectual inquire, but let’s be honest, that is not what Spotify is primarily about. It is mostly about entertaining, amusing, distracting, and simply filling the time. Consider who you have handed your mind over to? Consider who has become your primary influencer? Before we ever offer the parts of our body to sin, we offer up our minds.

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PICK YOUR PAIN

November 30, 2021

“You have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” 

This is a saying in endurance sports. It seems that endurance sport is the rare place where suffering is exalted and even sought.  We praise those athletes that dig deep, feel the burn, and deny themselves to achieve their goal.

Sadly, the endurance sports’ lesson of suffering’s value fails to make it into everyday life.  Mostly, we want our everyday lives to be free from suffering. In fact, we not only want it free from suffering, but we also want it free from discomfort, frustrations, and general annoyance.

Not all pain is the same, but our reaction to pain, intense or minor, is the same.  Our inclination is to flee pain, avoid it, minimize it, remove it.  However, if everything that does not go our way is suffering in a degree, then it is pain on some scale.

Life is pain because life is a struggle with suffering. We struggle with all those disappointments that are not as we want; big and small; painful and annoying; consuming and distracting.

Perfection is the absence of suffering. 

Those who pursue perfection to escape suffering are the ones who suffer the most.  Humans are imperfect.  Society is imperfect.  Nature is imperfect.  If you demand perfection, you will suffer the more than anyone else.

There is only one who is perfect.

Therefore, life is a management of suffering in all its degrees while we await the perfection to come.

We don’t want to suffer the consequences of an immoral life. 
Therefore, we suffer the lesser pain of self-denial.

We don’t want to suffer want and need.
Therefore, we suffer the discomfort of self-discipline.

We don’t want to be crushed by the inevitabilities of life.
Therefore, we serve others and humble ourselves.

We don’t want to suffer eternal punishment for a sinful life.
Therefore, we lose our lives so that we might gain them.

Now, there is a paradox here for those who are in Christ. We are commanded to follow in obedience, to deny ourselves, to pick up our crosses and follow Christ. We are also told that it is God who is at work in us to will and to act in order to fulfill His purposes. This is the paradox that we all live. How does all that work? I am not entirely sure. However, I do know that within this paradox I have enough incentive and encouragement to endure. I have learned that when I embrace the denial of self, the power to preserve always comes through the Spirit, usually a while after I think I need Him, but in His time.

Suffering reveals our weaknesses.  It reveals what we value most.  Suffering is training.  It reveals perfection if we dare to look.  That is the knowledge that every “liver” of life needs to navigate through all the pain.

Suffering cannot be escaped, but we do have a choice in what we learn. 

Pick your pain or your pain will pick you; learn its lessons or pain will be absent of purpose.  So, dig deep, feel the burn, endure the race because perfection will have its day.

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QUOTE (Tim Keller) – Troublemakers

November 23, 2021

I have been listening to Tim Keller’s sermon series on wisdom. He referred to his devotional book during his sermon Knowing God. So, I bought God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life. Yesterday’s devotion struck me as so relevant to today’s issues that I wanted to share it. It is hard to make a case that our culture is getting wiser.

THE TROUBLEMAKER. Another kind of fool is the troublemaker. The mark of this person is constant conflict (Prov. 6:14). This is the opposite of the peacemaker (Matt. 5:9), the bridge builder whose careful, gracious answers (Prov. 15:1) disarm and defuse tensions. The troublemaker instead stirs them up. This is not the person who disturbs the false peace with an insistence on honesty. Rather, this is someone who always feels the need to protest and complain rather than overlooking a slight or wrong (Prov. 19:11). When troublemakers do contend, they do not present the other side fairly. Their corrupt mouths produce deceptive omissions, half-truths, and innuendo. Their body language (winking, signaling) creates a hostile situation rather than one that leads to resolution.

Troublemakers tell themselves and others that they just like to “speak truth to power”. But disaster will overtake the troublemakers (Prov. 6:15). As time goes on, it becomes clear that the troublemakers themselves are a reason that conflict always follows in their wake. They can be permanently discredited by events that expose them for what they are. But the ultimate reason for their downfall is that “the Lord hates…a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Prov. 6:16, 19).

Tim Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, Page 11

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Lost Meaning – Isaiah 1

November 22, 2021

What is this noise in my sanctuary?
This prattle sung in rythmic repetition.
Why these whispers during solemn prayer?
Hushed gossip of trivialities.
Where is My Word in this Sunday TedTalk?
Bells muting divine meaning and knowledge.

Stop bringing all this meaningless worship!

Light-shows manipulate emotions impure.

Your media productions are detestable to me.

Your striving for personal gain, purpose, and self-improvement, I cannot bear.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Where has the meaning in your worship gone?
Come now, return the meaning to your praise and worship.
Let you worship flow from true reality, from sins that have been washed clean.
Let your Sunday morn be a time of meaning in all sincerity;
Worship with meaning is pleasing to Me.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a prophet. I am not claiming to have a word from God. I am always hesitant in writing narrative for God or implying that what I have written is in fact from the mouth of God. The above is my application of the Word of God through an actual prophet, Isaiah. This follows along with the thoughts of DID ANYONE NOTICE.

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Baptism of the Holy Spirit – Mark 1:4-8

November 16, 2021

I had the opportunity to teach on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit . I hope it is helpful in understanding what is going on with the Holy Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit

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HUNTING SEASON – Psalm 91

November 8, 2021

Surely, O’ Lord, there is a season for a soul.
Are there boundaries for the hunters?
Are there times when you as the warden
declare some out of season?

He who dwells in your private reserve is free from pursuit.
Safe from those who desire his flesh.
I say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my preserve,
My God, in whom I trust.”

I am the elk hiding in the brush.
“Have I gone too far?”
“Have I crossed a line?”
Driven by forces, I cannot see.

Hunted by an intelligence greater than mine.
They desire my head; a trophy for their case.
They will tell stories of the hunt and boast of my fall.

Patiently pressing, I sense their presence.
They track me; oh, my careless steps.
A weakness to wander beyond the boundary.
Their calls inflamed my desires, blinded my mind.

Will I know when it comes?
When the trap has been sprung?
Pushed into a clearing for a clear shot;
will it be close or come from afar,
the shot that makes me fall?

I fear this day of terror,
When arrow, ball, or bullet might fly.

I must get back.
I’ve wandered too far.
O’ Lord, I am sorry. I need you now.
I am in trouble. I have no way of escape.
Can I make a break for it, before it is too late?

I will make the Most High, my dwelling place.
He will be my green pasture. There is none better.
The Lord will be my refuge; no harm will befall me.

I will not lose my head.
My flesh will be saved from the hunter’s banquet.
They will not boast over my defeat.

I hear the Lord’s triumphant call.
He has come for me.
He knows that I wandered too far.
Safety is in His presence.
I will cling to His side.

I will stay within the boundaries,
established by the shadow of His Holiness.
No longer will I listen to the false calls in the wilderness.
I love the Lord, I will never leave.

“Because he love me,” says the Lord.
“I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16)

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EMBRACING INFINITY

February 20, 2021

A new creation in Christ Jesus.  The Holy Spirit now residing within me.  I am not sure how this can be.  I don’t feel different as if wholly new but yet changed enough as to not be askew.  A temple to the Lord they say, but holy and sacred this temple does not stay. A grand edifice or pilgrimage terminus this temple is surely not. I wonder, based on what I see, how can He in me and what is a lot?

Made one in Christ, we are told as marriage is meant to be.  Why should I be surprised in struggling to understand the oneness of the divine when the illustration often eludes being defined.

As I gray, I have learned that oneness is much more than an act of coitus. Marriage is a blending. Where do I end and she begins? We are a new creation; something different than from what was when we said “I do”.  This new is no longer she and he but we.  We is an entity of one, a union not created by an institution.  Whole in all of me but nothing without all of her. Never to be divided without being blighted.  The we becomes a diamond, more precious than the separate carbon assignments.

Too often, the focus drifts to the parts mayhem rather than the gem.  Scrutiny is dedicated to the raw material rather than ethereal.  A temple is more than sweat and stone.  The value lies not in a bill of material alone.  Even more disappointing is when we miss the lesson in the example of the mortal which is pointing to more beyond the portal.

Oneness, in marriage, I cannot define.  I cannot explain how it can be, but I say look and see.  Oneness is on display when you cannot help but see the her when you see the me.  That is the moment when a glimpse is revealed of the mystery of this new creation called we.

The whole of wedded oneness is so much more than a goal. It is a sacred symbol written in our DNA. A new creation is marriage’s ballet.  This mysterious mixture of the infinite with the finite. Yet, unlike our example of mortal marriage, 50% XY and 50% XX, the spiritual composition is infinite God and something less.

Consider if the new creation was the number 7 in all its perfection.  What would my portion be?  Surely, not much more than 0.1 of a part can be me.  That is 70 parts, 69 His and 1 me.  That doesn’t seem right, so let’s make it a little more trite, maybe .0001, which will be 70,000 parts with only one of me.  I must confess that it still seems too much credit to the edited element of this new installment. Let’s stretch it out, further and further.  What are the portions to be?  Based on value, He is the treasure by far.  Test it toward holiness, what a joke, there is no contribution from my lowilness.  Examine the value inherent, my worth comes from His image, which is apparent.  What about my contribution to this new creation?  How can one be impressed by the ignorant who merely prayed yes?

Stretch out this mental marathon further to the edge of humilities dawn; divide by 10^-10, 10^-100, 10^-1000.  Move the decimals farther and farther to the right; go as far as your fright.  As humility pushes each place holder to the left, we come upon the cleft of zero’s nothingness, the absence of value, humility’s rest.  We encounter the mortal sin of maths innovators; dividing the numerator by numbers traitor.  It is not that the equation no longer works.  A quotient sin, as man defines, lies in the loss of vicinity, an inability to grasp infinity and the uncertainty in a human’s ability to do anything.

The same is glimpsed when this new creation is split.   A new creation in Christ is a phrase so commonly used, but how to comprehend the me’s and you’s. The infinite in me, no beginning and no end, the alpha and the omega, made one with the finite, infinitesimal me. How can this be?

Oneness, in Christ, I cannot define.  I cannot explain how it can be, but I say look and see.

This new creation is out of sight, but what can see is Him through my small light.  That is what is on display when one’s light burns bright.  If you see me in my small minute, then I have dimmed the infinite.  For those in Christ, when observed in this finite, you cannot help but see the infinite or so it should be.

I wonder if this isn’t the curse in which we all are enmeshed. We cannot be rid of this sinful flesh.  Our portion it must always thresh. No matter how large or small that portion remains, we struggle to find humility’s domains. The place where we can finally see the revealed glory of infinite God without the clouding of you or me.  Maybe, that is the blessing of death, the reduction to nothingness. Knowing my place, to truly participate, in the oneness of Christ Jesus and me.  No longer, Him in me with my portion trying to be stronger.  I long for the day when it will be, I in Him, complete, and all glory to Thee.  Then I will embrace infinity, where there is nothing left for one to do but to praise and glorify the One who is so much more.

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Oreo Cookie of Life

May 26, 2020

 

Most of the time we over-complicate our relation to the absolute (God).  Now, over-complicate does not mean that we are making our relationship harder than it needs to be.  

Dying to self is a difficult task requiring endurance and perseverance. Over-complicate usually means misalignment; doing things for the wrong reasons.

I have recently engaged in an enlighting task for myself.  I applied a tool of my profession, a logic diagram, to the analysis of my spiritual life.  I want my “what” to correspond correctly to the appropriate “why”.

A logic diagram flows purpose (why) into actions (how).  A well constructed logic diagram readily reveals the reason for every contemplated activity and allows for each activity to be crafted to achieve the true purpose.

My logic diagram resembles an Oreo cookie.

One wafer is to glorify God & enjoy Him / Love God; my purpose.  The other wafer is faith; my how.  Everything between those cookie wafers is my life.

Not very complicated.

It is very easy to allow our relationship with the world around us to dictate out relationship with God or have no relationship with God.  That means we have replaced our wafers and if you’ve got wrong wafers them you’ve got inappropriate relationships.

That is the sweet work of a faithful follower of Christ; getting the sweet filling of life appropriately positioned between the absolutes of God and faith.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/497549

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Sign in the Sad

May 24, 2020

Depression is something I don’t understand.  I gravitate towards answers that are conclusive with clear prognosis.  Depression does not accommodate either. 

Depression does not lend itself to a comfortable cause-effect diagnosis.  I want those whom I love to be happy.  I want to “fix” it for them.  Their sadness seems like my failure, even though I know it is not.  

Depression relegates solvers into supports verging on spectators.  

I have heard the explanation of causes – chemical, biological, neurological, environmental and the combination there of.  I don’t dispute their veracity while acknowledging their bothersome uncertainty.

I have often wondered if there is more intertwined in the uncertain explanations than the physical.

We are told that there will be a time when the experience of the depressed will not be limited in numbers.   Consider a world where the reality of the depressed is not unique, not a clinical diagnosis, but the universal experience of the whole. Where the joy has gone and darkness reigns.  Where the merry of heart have resigned and numbness ascends.  

Maybe, depression is more than a taste for an unfortunate few but a universal sign beyond that particular issue; a foretaste to when merriment yields to blindfolds being removed.  Reality being revealed to a world, which has chosen it’s own rule.  A reminder of the warnings of old, to the prophesies, where we are told, that merriment in what we hold will be banished beyond any gravitational fold.

Maybe, these thoughts are more imagination than inspiration, but I long for the depressed to be made whole now. Even if depression isn’t a sign, I am motivated even more to pray for the lost to be found, so that they never know the absence of joy, follow into the on-coming darkness.

https://soundfaith.com/logos-media-share/496874

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