Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

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“When I wish I’d never been born…” – Feb 6

February 6, 2015

“Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest,…” Job 3:11-13

English: It was a 'dark and stormy night' ... ...

A sleepless mind fills with thoughts from visions of the night. The assault of daily troubles awaits the cover of darkness when conscious defenses teeter upon dreams. Thoughts are brought in stealth. Ears receive the whisper of a powerlessness to remedy what tomorrow holds. Trouble weighs the sleepless mind to suffocating depth in the same feathery pillow meant to comfort.

…man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.  (Job 5:7)

Trapped by troubles, exhaustion breeds dread into a desperate groan for release. Thoughts are conjured in this state of malaise that no stalwart practitioner of manliness will ever confess.

“If only I had never been born…”
“If only I would never awake…”
“If only my heart would fail…”
“If only a vein in my head might burst…”
“If only for a quick act of random violence…”

“If only…then I would be free from all that troubles my soul.”
“If only…then I would have rest.”

fall treeI have never had the troubles of Job. I have never endured the trials that he bore. Yet, I heard the same whispers as he under the cover of darkness within the privacy of my own skull. Maybe, Job and I are alone in our confused search for rest but I doubt that.  I have never admitted to these thoughts because I did not want my loved ones to think that I was suicidal and in need of counseling.

I am not suicidal and neither was Job.

The desire of Job’s lament was not for death. I believe that his thoughts meandered to the loss of existence as the release from the burden of his trial. It is a path that my own mind has meandered.  Thoughts of death are a confused route to achieve an intrinsic desire that few ever identify accurately.

Our souls long for rest.

Rest is what every soul desires when the yoke of a fallen world weighs heavily upon us.  Consider what we truly want when we bear the laden burden of troubles:

When we are in pain … we want rest from hurt.
When loves are gone…we want rest from heart break.
When abandoned …we want rest from loneliness.
When confronted with failure … we want rest from expectations.
When penniless…we want rest from need.
When addicted…we want rest from desire.

In times of great trials, our flesh cries out for this intrinsic desire – rest. We all come to the same desire as Job, whether it is due to great trials or insignificant annoyances. We all want rest. We want enduring, everlasting, rest.

This type of rest comes only to those who are in Christ. Death is only a source of rest to those who will enter into the loving arms of their heavenly Father when their time in this fallen world is over.

Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, for I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-29)

All of creation groans for the rest that Christ promises to those who come to him. As Children of God, we can know this rest in part, as we continue to walk in the Spirit along our individual paths of sanctification Christ has pioneered for us. We will not experience this perfect rest until we come to our eternal home.

It is in those dark nights, when my soul is laboring and heavily laden that the Spirit himself bears witness with my spirit. The Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God and if a child then an heir – an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17) The Spirit reminds me that I am His despite my confused thoughts for rest. I don’t want this life to end for a mere escape from trouble; a jump into the abyss.

I just want to go home.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  (Philippians 1:21)

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  (Philippians 1:23b)

Like Paul, I just want to be with Christ, which will be far better than anything this world has to offer. My hope is what comes through in those dark nights of indecipherable groaning. It is the inward groaning of a Child of God eagerly awaiting his adoption as son and the redemption of his body. (Romans 8:23)

For in this hope we were saved.  (Romans 8:24)

I believe that it is in those nights when my mind swirls with dark  “If only…” thoughts that the Spirit, who is always with me, steps in and helps me in my weakness.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (Romans 8:26-27)

It is the Spirit who takes up my improper, inarticulate, longings to pray and intercedes on my behalf. Most of the time, I don’t know what I really need but on some occasions I am sure the Spirit’s intercession has included, “your beloved needs rest.” I imagine that in some cases  my Father’s response to the Spirit was:

Refresh his hope.

Remind him that all things work together for good, for those who are called according to My purpose.

Remind him that no one can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Open his mind to the reality that if God is for him, who can be against him.

Show him that he is a conqueror through Christ who loves him.

Ask him, who can bring a charge against him, God’s elect.

These thoughts and so many more have come to my mind in response to groaning, “if only…” thoughts. We truly have a great and awesome Helper, who knows what we need and when we need it. He has always been faithful to me and I know that He always will be, even when I get confused and don’t know what I really want – to rest in Christ Jesus.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for sending your Spirit.  Thank you for giving me a hope beyond this world and all its troubles.  Help me to keep my eyes on the Spirit and to walk faithful with you.  Spirit, thank you for interceding for me.  Thank you for giving meaning to my confused groanings.  Thank you for sustaining my soul.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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FAST FLEEING – Jan 25

January 25, 2015

“You have neither art nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God” Acts 8:21

I have done it to myself. training bible

At the beginning of the year, I laid out my annual training plan.(Training Plan)  I have been following the plan very consistently. It has been helpful to have a purposeful plan for both my physical and spiritual training. My January has been more productive than any in recent memory and I believe that is due to these plans.

For me, the advantage of a training plan is that it allows you to schedule, as a self-coach or personal trainer, the activities that you know are necessary for continued improvement. I rarely feel like doing hard things. Therefore, the hard workouts don’t seem to come up on my playlist when I am making my selection on what I feel like doing.

I have just such an activity schedule for next week. I placed this activity on my calendar in the comfort of my Christmas vacation. It is an activity that I know I should do, but I never get done; I am scheduled to fast next week.

Fast! What have I done to myself?

My earlier coaching-self knows the importance of fasting. The Coach knows the scripture references on fasting. The Coach spouts his most convincing passage to fast:

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.” (Matt 9:14-15)

However, my present training-self immediately resorted to the typical response, when he realized what was scheduled for him. My trainee-self rebelled against my coaching-self and tried to get out of it.

I had double scheduled this week and was planning on going to my son’s NCFCA speech and debate tournament. I could not possibly fast through that week.

This excuse normally works.  Fasting is never convenient.  I usually can come up with some reason as to why I can’t go without eating.

But then, my work scheduled changed. I have several critical projects that will not let me take next week off…suddenly I can fast again.

“Fine; I’ll do it,” my trainee-self conceded to my coaching-self.

My training-self then began to re-hash all the old reservations about fasting. I have not done well in past fasts. I don’t feel very spiritual when I fast. I actually feel the opposite. All sorts of nastiness comes out of me when I fast. Fasting seems to be counter-productive. The trainee-self made a convincing argument that the Coach doesn’t know what he is talking about by inserting an activity that is clearly not going to develop continued improvement. Fasting is not for me. What is he thinking?

This excuse has always been the closing argument to get out of fasting.  Fasting makes me feel bad and very un-spiritual.  Therefore, I should not do it.

And then, I listened to this video by John Piper:

One of the purposes of fasting is to actually expose all the nastiness that I normally can keep hidden under a full belly. Fasting allows us the opportunity to deal with our nasty inner selves through prayer as they are revealed.

“Alright, alright, alright; I’ll do it,” was the capitulation of my training conscious.

I resolved to the fact that I am going to fast this coming week when the Trainee took one last attempt to get out of the maniacal scheduling of the Coach.  My nephew did a month-long juice fast about a year ago. I was amazed at the amount of weight he lost. I have been trying to lose weight. The Trainee began to wonder how much weight he might be able to lose in a week-long fast. It would be awesome if I break my metabolism loose and drop a substantial amount of weight. I began to focus more on the athletic benefits of a fast rather than the spiritual.
However, the Trainee immediately recognized that his heart was not right regarding the purpose of fasting. “It will be useless,” the trainee reasoned. I do not want to be like Simon the Magician who tried to buy spiritual gifts for all the wrong reasons. I should not fast with a heart that is not right before God.

This is a particularly sweet excuse.  The “my heart is not right” excuse has gotten me out of a lot of things that I did not want to do.

And then, I read verse 22:

Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.  (Acts 8:22)

I suddenly had the first nasty heart condition to repent before the Lord as part of my fasting period.

“I give up. I’ll do it,” the humbled Trainee whispered.

All the debate within my own head, reveals why the Spirit has consistently laid fasting upon the heart of my coaching-self. As all of my excuses have fallen, I have come to an even firmer resolution that I need to do this hard thing. I need to fast. My rebellious training-self has a lot of hidden nastiness that needs to be dealt with.

I realize that this resolution would probably never have happened if my coaching-self had not placed it into the training schedule. That is the power of a plan. Therefore, I am going to fast. As ugly as it may be, I am confident that my future self will be grateful to the obedience, even though it has been reluctant, of the present me in following the Spirit’s call to obedience.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being so reluctant to give up my food.  Forgive me for all the excuses that I have come up with not to do what I believe you have been drawing me to do.  Help in the coming week.  Lord, enable this period of fasting be a blessing to my soul and bring glory to you.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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AM I SICK – Dec 29

December 29, 2014

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

After a month of eluding, it has happened.

An occasional dry cough has mined down into my bronchi to produce the rattling notes of illness. My sinus passages refuse to work in unison. They are contented to take turns passing air while the other throbs with the pressure of an impassable clog.

I am sick.

I had successfully managed to avoid this cold as it passed through our household. Germs have filled the confined atmosphere of a house sealed against the frigid winter weather. These germs have systematically progressed through my family – son to daughter to wife… and now to me.

I thought I had successfully eluded the buggers since wellness prevailed through our home for more than a week. Yet, there were signs that all was not well for a few days.

Sleep has been restless;
Sinus pressure has built;
And a tickle has been maturing in the back of my throat.

My wife asked me how I felt this morning and made an observation as to why my immune system may have now succumbed when it had been able to fend illness off for so long. “We haven’t been eating well lately,” is what she said.

It is true. We came off of our diet cleanse (SOUL CLEANSE) through the Christmas festivities. We have not been eating horribly but it surely hasn’t been as well as before.  Our diet might not be the sole reason for my illness, but I surmise that it was a significant contributor.

I came across a survey at Ligonier Ministries recently. The survey purported to take the temperature of America’s theological health.

TheStateOfTheology-InfographicThe survey concludes:

  • Answers are reflective of our “made-to-order” god.
  • The majority of Americans perceive “goodness” to be a better description of people then “sinful”.
  • The majority of Americans aren’t convinced of a literal heaven and hell.
  • Pluralism is rampant within our culture.
  • Our culture is anti-theological – we are in a new dark age.

The survey demonstrates that many professing Christians are theologically sick. After writing this blog for a couple of years, these survey conclusions do not surprise me. I regularly get emails and comments from individuals purporting beliefs that are anti-theological.  I wonder if one of the contributing reasons for the theological illness of America is our typical Christian diet.

I read Psalm 63 as part of my daily Bible reading this morning. I was struck by three words.

Earnestly
Thirsts
Faints

We will not earnestly seek after someone we don’t value. We will never wait for our thirst to be quenched by someone we don’t trust. Surely, we will never exert ourselves to the point of passing out for a belief we doubt.  I find these words very convicting because they do not describe me to the degree that I would like.

The passion of the Psalmist is the natural manifestation of a healthy soul. It is the result of someone regularly grounded on a dietary foundation of sound doctrine. It is through sound doctrine that the value of Christ is expounded; the trustworthiness of God is demonstrated; and doubts are answered.

Doctrine is not a bad word.

Doctrine merely means knowing what you believe, why you believe it, how to live it, and how to share it. It is anti-theological to reject doctrine just because it is doctrine.  This attitude resigns us to a life of chronic spiritual aliments.

Let’s embrace a regular diet of theology and the passion that will come from a spiritual healthy life.  If you are interested in my thoughts on how to cure bad theology, check out CURING BAD THEOLOGY.

“People are cutting themselves off from 2,000 years of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of the Word of God. We never want to exalt tradition over Scripture, but we still need to recognize that we are par of the historic body of Christ.” ~ Stephen Nichols

PRAYER: Father, thank you for your word.  Thank you for the centuries of ministry by the Holy Spirit to your children.  Lord, I want to be passionate about you.  I want to thirst for you.  I want to seek after you earnestly.  Give me that commitment to follow you and be obedient to you.  Draw me closer to you.  Heal me of my chronic spiritual aliments.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I STILL HAVE A DREAM – Dec 27

December 27, 2014

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior gave, in my estimation, one of the great political speeches of American history. On that day, he encapsulated the purpose and vision of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in a mere 17 minutes.

He encouraged the nation to hope.

He showed the nation that there was something worth dreaming for.

He reminded the nation of the injustice that the black community was suffering.

He elicited our founding principles “that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights of  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ and asserted that America had defaulted on its promise of  “the riches of freedom and the security of justice”.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior had a dream. It is a dream that I share with him.

“…that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

“… that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

“… that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

“… that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“… that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

“… that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” I share his dream!

~ Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.; I have a Dream

I was not alive when Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to cast this dream to America. Yet, his vision has been my adult hope for the race relations of United States.

Therefore, I have deeply despaired over the images that have appeared on my television screen during 2014. I have witnessed the violence of demonstrations in Ferguson, New York and across the country. I have been repulsed by the injustice of rampaging demonstrators assaulting and destroying property in the justification of injustice.

I read this morning of the wakes for the New York police officers killed in retribution for the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

What have we come to?

Dr. King appealed to the civil rights movement:

In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

I feel my hope for freedom and the security of justice from 1963 being lost in the wrongful deeds, bitterness and hatred of 2014. What has happened to the high plane of dignity and discipline? Where are the majestic heights of Dr. King’s “soul force”?

Has the reality of life killed the dream we’ve dreamed?

I have been reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. So, my thoughts have returned to the injustice of his creation in order to make sense of our current reality. I wonder if Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of a dream lost to a horrible and unjust world fits the hopelessness of many engaged in the protests.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

It seems to me that the interior despair of Jean Valjean described by Hugo so many years ago is the source of the hatred and bitterness behind what we have seen this last year.

He (Valjean) asked himself whether human society could have the right to force its members to suffer equally in one case for its own unreasonable lack of foresight, and in the other case for its pitiless foresight; and to seize a poor man forever between a defect and an excess, a default of work and an excess of punishment.

Whether it was not outrageous for society to treat thus precisely those of its members who were the least well endowed in the division of goods made by chance, and consequently the most deserving of consideration.

These questions put and answered, he judged society and condemned it.

He condemned it to his hatred.

He made it responsible for the fate which he was suffering, and he said to himself that it might be that one day he should not hesitate to call it to account….

Anger may be both foolish and absurd; one can be irritated wrongfully; one is exasperated only when there is some show of right on one’s side at bottom. Jean Valjean felt himself exasperated…

From suffering to suffering, he had gradually arrived at the conviction that life is a war; and that in this war he was the conquered. He had no other weapon than his hate. He resolved to whet it in the galleys and to bear it away with him when he departed.

Les-Mis-ValjeanI have seen much exasperation this last year. It appears to be an exasperation cloaked in hate, manifested in hopelessness, waging a losing societal war by burning down its own communities. It is an exasperation that appears to condemn the American dream in hatred for being a dream that cannot be.

This is my conclusion because I do not believe that violence springs forth from the high plane of dignity and discipline or the majestic height of Dr. King’s “soul force”.

Are there dreams that cannot be?
Are there storms that we cannot weather?

Should we weep the loss of Dr. King’s dream
to the realities of a cruel, inequitable and unjust world?

I do believe that those in the poverty of black communities do not have the same trust in their security of justice that I know. I do believe that I have been endowed with a freedom of opportunity by the “chance” of my birth that most in poverty will never know.

I also believe that most of those subjected to this justice system are there, just as Jean Valjean, as a result of wrongful acts of their own making. I believe that the ladder rungs of the American dream reach down to all levels of poverty, allowing anyone with the will to climb the freedom to rise above their condition and escape from a culture of despair.

I do not have the answer to our racial problems of 2014. I do not believe that the answer is in more legislation and laws.

I believe that the answer is in redemption.

Les Miserable is a story of redemption.

Dr. King’s dream is a vision of redemption.

Redeeming our society into something better than it has ever been; a society where blacks and whites really will join hands as brothers and sisters. We need each other. Our freedom, blacks and whites, are inextricably linked.

True redemption is what our country needs.

A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.  (Isaiah 40:3-5)

I still have a dream but my hope is personal redemption of those who are suffering. My hope is that they will be freed from their despair, bitterness, and hatred by the only source that I know is capable of the monumental task – Jesus Christ. Through Christ, all things are possible.

What we need are voices crying into the wilderness of the black communities saying “prepare the way of the Lord”.

We need voices condemning the injustices against blacks.

Equally, we need voices condemning wrongful deeds and physical violence; condemning those who seek to satisfy their thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We need voices calling the struggle against injustice to the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We need voices to call us to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

That is when our society will begin to take its next redemptive steps on the road toward racial harmony.

Therefore, in the words of Dr. King:

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair,
I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow,
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

PRAYER: Father, heal our land.  Cure us from our violence and hatred.  Remove our bitterness and despair.  Give us hope.  A hope that will not disappoint.  A hope set upon you, the living God, who is the Savior of all people.  Lord, send us leaders who will lead us in righteousness and unity.   Give them voices to call us from the wilderness of  enmity.  Father, bring forgiveness and understanding to our country.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SEEKING GOOD SOIL- Dec 22

December 22, 2014

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:23

Two days past the solstice, my heart has returned already to thoughts of gardens.

While I relish my garden’s production of vegetables and fruits, they do not inspire winter dreams. For me, a preoccupation on production leaves gardening in the language of prose.

A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space — a place not just set apart but reverberant — and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.Michael Pollan

While the world could greatly benefit from more who turn a spade in the simple prose of production, a plot of soil takes on that unique designation of garden when the production of that plot harvests emotions, feelings and meaning beyond the yield of any farm.

Garden poetry emerges through careful crafting of landscape elements with the intent to evoke an emotion. The unique gardener’s vision of selection and placement creates the sense of a privileged place which differentiates a garden from a plot of productive soil.

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.Claude Monet

Water Lilies

Garden poetry inhabits my winter contemplation.

These contemplations have been revolving around a garden inspiration which came from a recent visit to Monticello. Monticello’s West lawn has a winding path bordering between the lawn and Thomas Jefferson’s various botanical plantings. Jefferson walked along this path as his mode of daily exercise.

Monticello's West Lawn

Monticello’s West Lawn

Jefferson’s path is the inspiration for my North lawn.

While I currently do not need a pathway for physical exercise, I do need a pathway for spiritual exercise. I struggle for consistency in the spiritual discipline of prayer. Therefore, the privileged space I hope to create of my North lawn is a deeply personal masterpiece for my soul.

I’ve been dreaming and planning; drawing and erasing; researching and mulling over a prayer walkway. I hope to create a pathway that will lead me through a secession of prayers. As I walk along the pathway, there will be a variety of stations to lead me in my prayers for the various aspects of my life. Therefore, the selection of plants at each station of the pathway is essential to evoke the recollection and intent of the station.

I have been mulling stations for the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; governments of the world, the United States, Idaho, and my county; the Church universal, ministries of the seven continents, my local Church; my immediate and extended families; others – friends and associates; sources of enmity and enemies; work and provision; deliverance from temptation – seven deadly sins; and the concerns of self.

The selection of plants and structures which will produce the desired recollection has been a delightful way to pass the dormant season. However, I have encountered a hindrance common to many a gardener. Many of the plants that I would like to select will not be happy in the environment that they would be forced into. I do not have control over the climate and only limited control of the soil. Therefore, my plant selection must be subservient to the climate and soil of the planting.

My mind always seems to wander back to the parable of the sower when I think about gardening.

Example soil horizons. a) top soil and colluvi...

Have you ever wondered the composition of good soil?

How much nitrogen or phosphorous does it have?
What is its optimum pH range?
Is it free draining or does the clay content need to be high?

Jesus tells us that good soil is that in which the seed of the Word of God has been planted and the person hears the word and understands it. This person then grows in that good soil to produce fruit and yields a hundredfold, or sixty fold, or thirty fold.

But is the soil the same for everyone?

Just has God has created a variety of plants that thrive in different environments; I believe He has created variety in His children specifically suited to the environments He intends to send them.

God has gifted some to specifically thrive in intense heat of lifting their candle high;

Others flourish in the deep shade of ministering to the oppressed, abused and depressed;

Some blossom in a free draining flow of new thoughts and opportunities;

Others bloom in the saturated conditions of single familiar passages.

English: Soil types by clay, silt and sand com...

The seed of the Word is the same for us all. However, I believe the characteristics that constitutes good soil varies as widely as the personalities of God’s children. We make a mistake when we assume there is a prescribed formula that ensures the Spirit’s work of sanctification in our lives. We can end up trying to force ourselves into an environment into which we were never created to flourish.

Sanctification’s wonderful discovery is learning the soil or soils that God has specifically designed us to flourish in. It is why some produce a hundredfold in foreign soil as missionaries. It is why some people can bloom in a calling that I could not comprehend participating. It is why some need new soil free from a polluted past.

Every Child of God has a bountiful place in our Maker’s masterpiece garden.  We just need to find the soil that is best suited for our soul.

 

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the variety that you have created in plants and people.  Thank you for creating and calling your people to all the environments of this world.  Lord, lead us by your Spirit to those soils in which we were designed to produce in the masterpiece of your redemptive plan.  Father, you are the Master gardener.  You have created a poetry in creation that we so often overlook.  All of creation proclaims the intent of you, the Master Gardener.   Open my eyes to see.   Help me to display you in all that I do and produce.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SOUL CLEANSE- Dec 17

December 17, 2014

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14

Weight and height are used in computing body m...As a year’s end rapidly approaches, I get a little retrospective. I was looking over my 2014 resolutions and was disappointed in the general lack of accomplishment. I was particularly disappointed with the progress toward my body weight goal.

I was 200 pounds at the beginning of 2014. My goal was to be 186 pounds at the close of this year.

I exercised more consistently this year than I have in my entire life. I ran more miles than I have ever run. I pedaled over more asphalt than I have ever cycled before. I followed the black line in my pool lane, lap after lap, for more laps than I thought possible (for me). I did the Jilian Michaels Body Revolution and P90X3.  I took a fitness test and it said that I have the fitness level of a 21 year old.

Yet, I was 204 pounds as of November 1st.

I know  I have put on muscle but that only explains a portion of my weight gain. My bathroom mirror exposes a lot of things, including the myth behind my rationalizations. The reservoir of fat that accumulates above the dam of my belt has persistently survived through the drought that I sought to subject it to. The reality is that the drought was not as severe as it needed to be. I no longer have the metabolism of a twenty-nothing. I can’t eat whatever I want and just workout a little more to stay lean.

My weight is a frustration because I do not eat excessively. I don’t drink carbonated-sugar colas or snack on junk food.  I have only an occasional dessert. My only meal of substance is dinner. Yet, the weight has persisted through a year of consistent exercise.

2014 has conclusively taught me that if I want to be lean then I have to watch both the quantity and quality of what I eat.

Therefore, my wife and I decided to treat ourselves to an early Christmas present – a Vitamix  and  Dr Oz’s two-week cleanse. My diet has been replaced by fruits and vegetables with a little bit (6 oz.) of protein for dinner. That is not very much.

However, this initial phase has been enlightening as to how much our grocery shopping has had to change. Our refrigerator crisper is now overflowing with produce that is actually eaten before it has a chance to rot; frozen fruit and Greek yogurt has replaced the ice cream.

When we made this concerted effort to refrain from our normal diet, we were able to access how many compromises were being made in what we consumed. They had not been huge compromises, but they all accumulate – right above my belt to be precise.

In general, we have been consuming the better rather than the best.

So far, I am very pleased with the results of our Christmas present. I am down to 196 lbs and 186 lbs seems possible by the time the 2015 triathlon and cycling season starts.

As I stared into my bathroom mirror and giggled in frustration the deposits that I hope will be gone by spring, I wondered about the fitness level of my soul. I live in a world with many very good things, a lot of neutral things, and a whole plethora of bad things. I take into my mind a regular diet that feeds my soul.

I believe that we can be spiritually fit with chunky souls.

We may know the basic principles of God.
We may be secure in the elementary doctrines of Christ.
We may  be steadily maturing in our faith.
Yet, we still retain that persistent “baby fat” of an immature follower of Christ.

Is your soul lean? Mature faith is lean faith

What is the diet of your soul?

Are you feeding your soul the solid food of the mature believer or the milk of the immature?

Is your diet filled with the things of the Spirit or the compromises of the flesh?

I believe it is good to do a periodic spiritual cleanse. When we make a concerted effort to refrain from the normal diet of what we allow into our minds, we are able to access how many compromises we make in our soul’s diet. These compromises might be sinful, but they don’t have to be. We may have merely substituted the better for the best. Compromises don’t have to be huge but they can accumulate to pull our eyes off of Christ and make us spiritually fat.  I believe that this process of stepping back and assessing what we let into our minds is instrumental in allowing the Spirit to train our souls to discern between good and evil.

Let us not settle for the better. Let us push on to the best. Let us push on to maturity with a diet that will feed a lean soul, fit for the work of our Lord.

PRAYER: Father, you have been so good to me.  Thank you for my faith.  Thank you for the maturity that you lead me in through your Spirit.  Father, teach me discernment.  Show me the difference between good and evil, better and best.   Lord, give me a desire to have a lean faith.  Give me an appetite for the things of you rather than the things of this world.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ELISHA EQUATION – Dec 7

December 7, 2014

“Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots and fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:17

mr finchIn a recent episode of Person of Interest, Mr. Finch was inquired as to his favorite equation. “What a fascinating question”, I thought. I don’t even remember his answer as I became lost in the consideration of whether I had favorite equation.

I really wanted to have a favorite equation. It seems such an intelligent thing to have. However, the opportunity for pride was quickly dispelled when I finally concluded that I know only a few equations worthy of being a favorite and those lacked the obscurity that pride necessitates in making others feel inferior. Nevertheless, I pursued the question of equation preferment.

As an engineer by education and profession, I have taken a lot of math classes. I survived mathematics not through any special abilities but through sheer determination. “Math for math’s sake” never intrigued me. It was only when I began to understand the beauty of its utility in physics that I began to enjoy it, which is probably why I am an engineer rather than a mathematician.

I have always been enticed by the ability of mathematics to describe the world we live in. The fact that we can use very simple and elegant equations to calculate the path of projectiles still fascinates me. The magnificent utility of a simple right triangle’s mathematics is fabulous.

I love mathematics that I can visualize in my mind; this mathematics makes sense with the physical world that I know.

We live in a 3-dimensional world. It is natural for us to visualize a 3-dimensional world. I even can understand the 4th dimension as space-time. It is the world of mathematics and physics beyond the 4th dimension where I become shaky.

The dimensions beyond the 4th are of an existence beyond our senses and the mathematics looses most of the simplistic elegance of Newton’s laws in my opinion. I guess that is why, beyond the 4th dimension, my ability to visualize the language of mathematics falls apart.

I really wanted my favorite equation to be one of quantum mechanics. As much as I long for the Schrödinger equation or Heisenberg equation to be my favorite, they are not. I don’t really understand them or the physics that they are calculating, no matter how much visualizing I attempt.

However, my lack of understanding does not diminish my belief in the existence of a 5th dimension. We are told that physicists are close to proving the existence of a 5th dimension. I have only to read my Bible to see that it exists.

What is it that you believe Elisha and his servant
saw along the horizon of Dothan? (2 Kings 6:8-19)

space horizon

Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be open to see what existed but was beyond his ability to see. We know they could see their physical 3-dimensional world. We know that what they saw within the 4th dimension – time. They were looking into a world that existed beyond our physical world yet parallel with it.

Sort of sounds like the 5th dimension to me.

I believe that Elisha and his servant were given the ability to split the fabric of our dimension and peer into another to see its inhabitants – the servants of God. My guess is that there is some mathematics that describes the physical phenomenon that allowed Elisha and his servants to see this other dimension. I wonder if it has a name. I think I will call it the Elisha equation until I know its true name.

I sit at my desk and gaze out my window into the white fog. I can imagine it parting like a curtain to allow me to see what I know by faith is there. Unfortunately, I don’t know the Elisha equation and God is not doing it for me, so I will continue to live by faith.

However, I do find great comfort in the existence of the Elisha equation. I find great comfort in the reality that God and His servants are truly with me even though I do not see them. They know the Elisha equation and can aid me in any manner that is in accordance to God’s will. Therefore, Elisha’s words to his servant still ring true to us:

Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. (2 Kings 6:16)

My favorite equation is the Elisha equation.

It is an equation that I don’t understand, cannot derive, nor even describe but I believe to be true. It is an equation that describes a condition in a world created by my God in such a way for Him to send His own Son from one dimension into another to condemn the sin of my flesh in order that the righteous requirement of His law might be fulfilled in me.

That is a pretty glorious equation and an incredibly glorious God.

star-trails-from-space-01

PRAYER: Father, thank you for creating the world as you did.  Thank you for being near.  Help me to remember that I am never alone and that even interstellar dimensions cannot separate me from You.  Thank for making me a child of God.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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