The bags are packed and its time to take the journey to the coast to visit with my daughter Xalina and to celebrate my granddaughter Jasmines 2nd birthday! Woo Hoo! Will be back online Monday or Tuesday ... Have a blessed weekend!!!
“My own belief is that one regards oneself, if one is a serious writer, as an instrument for experiencing. Life – all of it – flows through this instrument and is distilled through it into works of art. How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work. And at some point I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and as artist, we have to know all we can about each other, and we have to be willing to go naked.” -
May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
I mean wow! My life longing has been held in this quote all my life. "how one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work." And I feel more and more as time passes I am more and more naked to myself. I see more, reveal more, and allow for more of of my inner being out into the light of day. The art that wants to come through, the words that have been waiting for me are getting closer to the surface... getting ready to make their leap into the world of Being.
Reading this quote was such an affirmation in my day. Can I hear an amen?
"Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people premission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Some brief thoughts ... In John 9 we have this familiar story:
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.His disciples asked him,“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,that he was born blind?”Jesus answered,“Neither he nor his parents sinned;it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
Notice how so many folks are always looking around for what people did that was bad, in order to explain why God is punishing them. The Tsunami, New Orleans, Good grief, I even saw where a rabbi in Israel is claiming that gays are responsible for God sending avian flu!
When “bad” things happen to me and to those I love is my first reaction to point a finger at God and blame Him for the misfortune? Or is to raise my hands in worship and prayer and trust that He will work on my behalf as He sees fit and whatever He does will be good and perfect because He is good and perfect?
Still, Jesus seems to say that we must look for the work of God not in disasters but in healing. To do the work of God is to work towards healing the pain, not to heap further pain upon those already suffering.
Certainly, God is capable of destroying evil and suffering--but not without destroying human freedom, or a world in which free creatures can function. How do we as Christians respond to the problem of evil? With sorrow. With sadness. With revulsion. With perplexity. With questions that have no answers ... Each of us has had wrong thoughts ... evil thoughts. Each of us has done something wrong — something evil. Why does God allow evil within us? None of us deserves to escape punishment, and yet God allows escape, too! If we ask why there is evil, we should also ask why there is mercy. Let us fight against evil and needless suffering, starting with ourselves!
You are the book of Romans. Zealous in your beliefs, you aren't ashamed of the Gospel of Christ! You are viewed by others as the take-charge type, and inclined to being a bit bossy sometimes, but they admire your leadership qualities!
Drats! I was hoping for something like Psalms, or maybe even dramatic like Revelations! But alas ... Romans again ...
Jesus said this famous line in Mark 6:4, "Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor." Living in a small town as I do I think I can understand this. Not that I'm some heavyweight prophet by any stretch ... But the familiarity part.
It was no different with Jesus. I can imagine the townsfolk going, "Anyone from around these parts has got to be a loser!" Or words to that effect. The good citizens of Nazareth must have been saying, "We don't care about the stories of the miracles or the healings and certainly not the fish story - this guy has got to be a fraud!" How can somebody you grew up with, or watch grow up, somebody whose habits, idiosyncrasies that could have flat got on peoples nerves on occasion ... And to have that somebody start acting like, well, He is somebody!!
I think that a major lesson from this passage in Mark is that there is this tendency to be a whole lot more enamored with "impressive" strangers than with the people we know all to well. It's all in the mystery I think. That accounts, at least in part, for sexual affairs, romantic flings and the like. If the person really the goofball you were hangin' with the way their family and pals do, you probably would stay a million miles away! The thing is that the "prophet" or that truly special "somebody" could be right under our noses ... We might think we know to much about them!
Something like 20 years ago, Astrophysicist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi aimed the famous SETI radio telescopes of Socorro, New Mexico at a galaxy naked to the human eye (she knew it was there based upon the radio waves it emitted), and she used a synthesizer to transform the radiation of galaxy UGC 6697 into discernible frequencies that human ears could hear. Essentially, she discovered that the frequencies heavenly bodies emitted could be related to human ears in the form of gigantic and almost overwhelming music. Although this “space music" is much different than anything that humans would create, Dr. Terenzi analyzed it and realized that although it sounds somewhat random to our ears, it actually represents a complicated system of tonality that is produced by the spiraling nature of this galaxy. The symphonic nature of this galaxy evokes the idea of a million piece orchestra, an orchestra in which no two instruments are alike.
Wow! I find this stuff amazing,astounding even! I believe that the stars do sing. Scripture says the rocks will cry out if we don’t praise Him. There have been many times that I have wished we could just shut up for one day so that the rocks praise Him, but I don’t think it would sound like what I imagine. I can’t wait for arts and craft time in heaven with the Creator God. And believe you me, this isn’t sarcasm. Think about how much we are wowed by “special effects” and then think about what it would be like not just to manipulate, but to actually CREATE. Pure, unadulterated ORIGINALITY! Wow ...
Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor. ... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
Been going through Pauls letters of late … We owe to St Paul some of the most beautiful and profound reflections on the mystery of how God acted in Jesus and the meaning of that action for humanity.And who can skip over that 1 Corinthians 13 thing ….
And there are just those times when I intensely dislike the Apostle Paul — his wordiness, his tendency toward braggadocio, his schoolmaster scolding tone. There are times I think, if I met this guy at a church conference, I would do whatever it took to get away from him! He was intense to the point of creepiness; a little whoo-hoo for me , for a lack of a better word. I’m disappointed at times by what I read as his concessions to the mores of the dominant culture that seem to go against his own vision of the Reign of God.
On the other hand … Sometimes I admire Paul. I think he was probably much more socially radical than what he gets credit for. I admire his grasp on the concept of God’s grace, and his chutzpah in arguing for full inclusion of Gentile Christians in the Jewish/Christian community. I admire his relationships with female leaders in the Christian community; very revolutionary stuff for a former Pharisee. I admire his rhetorical skill … And sometimes, when I think about the things that annoy me about Paul, it occurs to me that many of them are probably the same things that annoy me about…me. Oh my … Just some thoughts …
I just finished watching the 1994 movie "Immortal Beloved" and it has to be one of the best movies I've seen for awhile! It pretty much is a biographical puzzle. Beethoven after his death left a letter addressed to his "immortal beloved," with no hint as to who that person was. As a last testament this document may have been faulty, but as a biographical puzzle it was great, inspiring two centuries of fevered speculations, of which this film is the latest and most romantic and oh so sad.
I don't know if the movie has solved the puzzle of the unnamed beloved, but I care not, because it has done something more valuable: He has created a fantasy about Beethoven that evokes the same disturbing, ecstatic passion we hear in his music.
Beethoven is played in the film surprisingly by Gary Oldman, who at first seems an unlikely choice.Then we see that he is the right choice. He plays perfectly a man on the edge of madness, obsessed with women, even more obsessed with Karl (Marco Hofschneider), the young nephew he hopes to turn into a prodigy. He wages a lifelong campaign of hate against Karl's mother, Johanna (Johanna Ter Steege), telling his brother Caspar (Christopher Fulford) she is a foul slut. The movie proposes an interesting explanation of Beethoven's hatred of her and love for her son, one which sensible biographers will question, but that fits perfectly with the terms of the story.
Beethoven's deafness is a subject through much of the film, including a precious scene where the Rossellini character leads him from the stage after he grows confused during a public performance, and another in which he touches the wood of a pianoforte to hear the music through his fingers. He tried desperately to conceal his deafness, fearing it would destroy his livelihood, and in the movie they sometimes reproduces what he can hear: Low rumbles sounding something like the music of the whales.
Beethoven writes to Schindler (the one trying to find the "Immortal Beloved", at one point, arguing: "It is the power of music to carry one directly into the mental state of the composer. The listener has no choice. It is like hypnotism." I rarely do anything close to movie reviews, the quote pretty much sums it up! I now have to find the soundtrack!!
In Galations 5 we have a list of the "fruits of the spirit" which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. We may be told at times that we are to conquer all sin and reconstruct a personality to reflect being a Christian. Praise God it is to be so but ... What of us who are lacking in some of those "fruits" no matter how hard we try? E-gads! There goes that temper again! Know what I mean? How many of us bang our heads against the wall being what we are supposed to be? I know I have. OK, I'm kinda good at self control, but the patience thing? Oh my! Not all that kind at times ... joyful??? ... well ...
Ultimately I had to face the fact my entire reconstruction project of my personality is in ashes. Here is a quote by J. Heinrich Arnold I would like to share. ("It) is not a question of our own doing; it is a matter of making room for God so that He can live in us." Letting God do the doing as it were. I cannot be reconstructed ... But must be grown, day by day, month by month, year by year by Gods indwelling presence. You know the Holy Spirit which we are to bear fruit of. God is not wanting to work with a whole different personality ... He chose and created me! Same with all those other personalities in the human mosaic! "Our duty is to become more of ourselves, not less" - Thomas Merton.
Most of us know the Lazarus resurrection story in John 11. I came across a commentary on it that shows an aspect I never thought about. It goes like this:
"Put yourself in the place of Lazarus as you read (the story.) He's alive again but wrapped in binding cloths. He needs help getting free of them, Identify what binding cloths are wrapped around you, keeping you from being the fully alive person God intended."
Actually this is a picture of our own "resurrected lives" in Jesus. We're alive for sure, but we need help getting rid of those binding cloths, the garbage binding us. Once started I found I can make a rather extensive list of things binding me. Things such as guilt in several areas, old hurts I seem to lack the faith in God to heal, my stubbornness, *gasp* this renegade thing I have going. The list can go on ....
Yeah ... God wants us to be more of ourselves, not less. When I get to heaven I'm not going to be asked, "Why were you not like Moses," or Billy Graham, fill in any hero of the faith. I'm not gonna be any of those. But Tim, this rather flawed personality God Himself has chosen to dwell! Obviously, with infinite resources, God can assist any of us who are willing in that custom process to be more of ourselves ... Cutting the ties that bind. It begins with a trust/faith in God's best, and He will liberate our true selves, not bind it ... With/in all circumstances.
Just wantin' to share what I learned from scripture and prayer this morning. The scripture is from Mark 9 and its about a father who has a son who is demon possessed, frothing at the mouth, thrashing all around that kind of thing and the disciples have no power to cast it out. When Jesus comes on the scene the disciple were engaged with the teachers of the law about the situation. Of course its all talk as the teachers had no more power than the disciples did. Jesus asked about what they have been talking about the father told the story and then said "I asked the disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."
Jesus is maybe tired from the journey down the mountain (right after the transfiguration) pretty much frustrated with them all. He rebukes them and then demands for them to bring the boy to Him. This is the background and here is Mark telling the rest of the story.
21 So He asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. 22 And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." 23 Jesus said to him, "If* you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" 25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!" 26 Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, "He is dead." 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" 29 So He said to them, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer *and fasting."
Here is the thing that struck me ... Jesus doesn't pray here yet he said "This kind only comes out by prayer." I've read this probably 100 times and never saw this! He doesn't go off to the mountainside for a day of prayer, call up the prayer team or anything like this. He just stands and delivers ... And off run the demons!
Now one can saw you know that was because he was God. But elsewhere it says he was fully human. (Phillipains 2, Hebrews 2:17, 4:15) So to me the question becomes why didn't he pray?
I think what happens (And I can tend to do this) is that we as Christians bog down in bickering on occasion, why this or that, this church is to liberal or right wing or whatever. And this can make us rather helpless in the face of crisis ... A desperate Mom who's faith is about gone, rather eroded by doctors, psychologists or even Pastors trying with all they got to do something ... And nothing gets done ...
Jesus says it only comes out by prayer and what I think it means is our lives have to be continuously be in prayer. A person doesn't run marathons without training. And we can't meet the brokenness of the world head on without our lives bathed in prayer. How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work ... To be able to stand and deliver when things are going down we have top be in prayer before we get on with our lives when we get up ... And beyond!
Its all about Jesus really is it not? We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people premission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fears, one by one, our presence automatically liberates others. And off run the demons!
You are under considerable stress and you are almost about to 'blow your top' but you are fortunate enough to be able to exert control. Control is the name of the game and it is so good to realise that whatever the situation may be a this time - it will pass. You need to get away from everything for a while and if you do, you will find that, strangely enough, it will seem that most of your problems and situations will seem to wash away, just as the sea may wash away 'footprints' in the sand. Always anxious to accept the role of the leader, as indeed you often work well with people - but try to stay out of the limelight. You'd like a life of ease with no one to rock the boat and someone who understands you is so important in your life.Although you are, deep down, a very caring person, you are very particular in the choice of friends and indeed very demanding at times. You can be most quarrelsome and controversial and it is because of this argumentative trait you can at times explode into open conflict - conflict with even those you may care for and love. It is because of this inherent argumentative streak in you that may have resulted in broken hopes and dreams.Whatever you strive to do, something always seems to be holding you back.
There is no subterfuge in you. You are a clear thinker and all you demand from life, in a relationship, is a partner whom you can trust and with whom you can, together, develop a foundation of trust based on understanding. You are your own person and you demand freedom of thought to follow your own convictions. You have no interest in 'two-timing' and all you seek is sincerity and 'straight-dealing'. You need to be needed and would like a situation where you will no longer be subjected to pressures and demands from those about you. There is no harm in 'dreaming' but it is you - and only you - that can be able to realise those dreams and to turn them into reality.
Wow!!!!! Nothing like being analyzed first thing in the morning! lol I would have to say this thing is about 75% accurate though ...
When thinking of God's style of doin' biz, the word that seems to come to mind is 'ironic.' I mean really ... Only every so often does a nice and tidy straight forward approach to a problem is ever used. Oh ... Occasionally ... A woman gets sick, Jesus heals her that kind of thing. Even in my own life I've seem similar. But for the most part, God seems to let the plot continue off in a bunch of seemingly perilous ways. Then somehow upon looking back on things, weaves all these threads into the answer .... The route home ... Only from the top of the mountain does the landscape really make sense.
I guess that this should be no surprise really. Paul had his thorn in the flesh ... Which he gave thanks for! In the Old Testament we have Joseph saying to his brothers, "What you have intended for harm, God intended for good." (Genesis 50:20) God the Father did not save Jesus from the cross, but in what has to be considered ironic, saved others through His death. The bottom line is, a sovereign God uses 'bad' things as material for good.
My own life story has things in it I resent, many things to repent, pain from various things, times of poverty, wrong choices of course, broken relationships, broken dreams. disappointments ... But I think God is like an artist ... Able to take various imperfections and fashion them into something even more exquisite. I have growing confidence, as my faith grows, that even my individual life is in some small ways contributing to a bigger story. OK, maybe a bit part in the overall play, but a part nonetheless that touches others. We all do. God has given us a good world and wants us to enjoy it. Yet we also live in a fallen world full of injustice and evil, something's even of our own hand. Even these are redeemed by God, who makes all things new! Not everything is good to those who seek Him, but everything is capable of becoming transformed!
Instead of catching the Inauguration ceremonies on TV I decided on a walk along the river with Charlie dog. Why not you know ... chasing birds ... critters ... sounds of nature .... prayer and pondering ...
Today for me is a day of reflection. It is for me, a day of looking back and it is a day for looking forward. Which brings me back to the Inauguration … Its great seeing people looking ahead again, change is needed for sure. Lets keep President Obama in our prayers and continue to look forward.
Here is an interesting tidbit from the book of Daniel, chapter 10:
Daniel 10:13, "But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia."
Boy, would I love to see the film clips of that battle! There also seems to be a correlation between Daniel's time of self-denial and prayer in verse 3 of this chapter and the duration of the battle. But I wonder ... Why did God allow such a conflict? He certainly could have blasted away at any demonic opposition which dared raise its head! Shazam! I think it shows the need for persistent prayer (Luke 18:1). In any event, obviously prayer has reverberations way beyond what we see here on earth. I have to wonder ... Did Daniel ever pray casually again after learning about this? I think not ...
One of the first things I came across online this morning was this comment, "So I ask you a question: Which holiday honors a philanderer, a drunk, a liar, plagiarist, and a cheater? Answer: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. ..."
My first thought was, "Oh my God ..." I still find it hard to believe that Christians can be so quick to diss other Christians ... even dead ones! Let’s face it! People are going to frequently fail and let us down because all mankind is under the influence of a fallen and sinful nature (Rom. 3:23). Although Christians are forgiven and have God’s presence in their lives, they still make mistakes and will sometimes fail. The Apostle Paul described his own conflict with the old nature: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Romans 7:18).
The fact is from where I see it, irregardless of his "sins" and perhaps some specifics of his faith, few men embodied the Christ like quality of selfless sacrifice and service, at least in the 20th century, as much as Dr. King. He remains an example for us all!
Three years ago, Barack Obama was a Senator, spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King National Memorial in 2006. On that morning a couple of years ago he told the crowd:
"Unlike the others commemorated in this place, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a president of the United States - at no time in his life did he hold public office. He was not a hero of foreign wars. He never had much money, and while he lived he was reviled at least as much as he was celebrated.
By his own accounts, he was a man frequently racked with doubt, a man not without flaws, a man who, like Moses before him, more than once questioned why he had been chosen for so arduous a task - the task of leading a people to freedom, the task of healing the festering wounds of a nation’s original sin.
And yet lead a nation he did. Through words he gave voice to the voiceless. Through deeds he gave courage to the faint of heart. By dint of vision, and determination, and most of all faith in the redeeming power of love, he endured the humiliation of arrest, the loneliness of a prison cell, the constant threats to his life, until he finally inspired a nation to transform itself, and begin to live up to the meaning of its creed…
In the Book of Micah, Chapter 6, verse 8, the prophet says that God has already told us what is good. ”What doth the Lord require of thee, the verse tells us, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?“
The man we honor today did what God required. In the end, that is what I will tell my daughters…I will tell them that this man gave his life serving others. I will tell them that this man tried to love somebody. I will tell them that because he did these things, they live today with the freedom God intended, their citizenship unquestioned, their dreams unbounded.”
Amen! It is not like I agree with all that President Obama says, but on this one he is right on! He alluded to Moses in that speech, and in Martin Luther King's last speech over 40 years ago in Memphis, Tennessee, King also alluded to the journey of Moses and the Hebrew slaves who escaped from bondage in Egypt, only to wander for 40 years in the desert.
To recap the Exodus account, after four decades, God called to Moses and told him to stand on the mountaintop, to look over the land God would on the Israelites. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” [Deuteronomy 34:4]
King concluded his final speech with:
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” April 3, 1968
I find it sad that unlike other holidays, less than 40 percent of businesses shut down on the third Monday in January. MLK Day is still treated as one of the best times to buy a mattress, or go to a sale! Do we as a people really need a legally politically mandated moment of pause in order to raise something to the level of divine imperative? Are there not values that are worth our attention because they are values that are valued?
It’s hard to separate the life and legacy of Martin without examining his ties to the church. It’s not a religious holiday, but it's difficult to celebrate all he did without allowing his spirituality to shine through in some ways. I think that Martin Luther King Jr. Day should not be spent in reflection. I'm not sure Martin would rather not have that. Martin Luther King was not about taking the day off and reflecting. His life was about making changes. I don't he would like to think of it as a day off. I'm sure he would like to think of it as a day on!
OK ... I know .... Not the most exciting title for a post ...
One thing becomes obvious when going back over the Old testament is how the Hebrews incorporated God in all aspects of their lives. The ancient practice of praying the Psalms also reflect this. And it makes sense ... Who else do we trust the vastness of human emotion. The despair, hatred, bitterness, weariness, ecstasy, longing and desires? The Psalms show us that we are to offer our lives ... Our Holy, sometimes messed up even desperate selves ... undiluted to God.
In the Psalms particularly, our Lord seems to commend the Psalmists' honest expression of their real emotional state to God, without affirming their harsh and hateful words. I think as a result, we are encouraged, following the model of the psalmists, to allow our own hurt, and hate, to come openly before God. (There is no room for hiding in our relationship with God. He knows us at the very deepest levels of our being—in ways we do not even know ourselves. If we choose to cloak the anger and hatred that lurks in our hearts, we are fooling no one but ourselves and may do ourselves irreparable harm. Anger and hatred cannot be healed unless they are acknowledged and expressed.) Yet, ultimately the psalmists' imprecations are evaluated as wrong-hearted, and decidedly un-Christian!
Yet Jesus had some very strong things to say about the “vipers” and “whitewashed sepulchers” he encountered among the religious leadership of his day. So, if we are serious about shaping our lives in imitation of Jesus, then we will have to name evil for what it is. We may also need to admit that our own limited experience may need to be challenged and expanded by the suffering and angry agony of a broken world. Maybe then we will truly learn how to read the psalms of imprecation honestly and faithfully. May it be so!
The book of Psalms has been called God's prayer book and to me it shows what ones prayer life should look in real like. In the New Testament it is called "praying without ceasing," and Paul brings this up in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-19:
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit."
In other words Paul is connecting unceasing prayerfulness with being connected to God no matter what is happening to us and around us. It's the centering of all our lives in the practice of the presence of God. To me, "unceasing prayer" is the discipline, the Holy Habit if you will of speaking all of our words, thinking all of our thoughts, taking all of our actions in the mindfulness that God hears, knows and sees. Its not so much what we do ... It's more the way we are, or becoming. Its being awake and aware to the reality, though we can't see it, we know by faith it's there. (Hebrews 11:1)
Fear should not silence our reading of the Psalms we don't "like." On the contrary, we should humbly follow the example of the psalmist who wrote Psalm 139. Immediately following the heated plea that God "...would slay the wicked" (139:19), the tone of the psalm changes decisively. As the psalm concludes, the psalmist turns his eye inward, inviting divine scrutiny. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (139:23-24).
OK ... I have to admit I practice this rather inconsistently. I tend to long stretches of utter obliviousness to God. I mean Jesus is there and all and then I complain is that He is not there. (Makes sense? lol) But I can attest to a growing skill ... rather halting ... Kinda makeshift probably ... But a skill nonetheless in unceasing prayer. With me it's a continual, (and usually silent) dialog. A conscience and deliberate gesturing toward and response to God. And over time it becomes un conscience and instinctive. But if we don't begin and keep this habit we lose what we worked hard to acquire. It's like learning a language, say Spanish, and never using it in conversation!
Just sharing something I've been working on myself ... yet again ....
Please be seated. Please Rise for the Gospel. You may be seated. Stand together as we sing our hymn. Lutheran Aerobics. Stand up, Sit down repeat.
You would probably have to grow up in a Lutheran Church to find this hilarious! I did of course and was even named after one! *sigh* I still miss that old Church on occasion .... The friends, fellowship, jello and potlucks .... Even the services although I thought they were so boring at the time ...
It’s been sunny and in the forties of late here in the mountains and I thought to myself, “Hey …. It would be a great day to take the short little drive and shoot some great pictures of the mountains refected in the lake!” Alas … here is what I found.
One awesome and interesting quote I would like to share with you all ...
"One morning this past spring I noticed a young couple with an infant at an airport departure gate. The baby was staring intently at other people. and as soon as he recognized a human face, no matter whose it was, no matter if it was young and old, pretty or ugly, bored or happy or worried looking he would respond with absolute delight.
It was beautiful to see. Our drab departure gate had become a gate of heaven. And as I watched that baby play with any adult who would allow it, I felt awe struck as Jacob, because I realized that this is how God looks at us, staring into our faces in order to be delighted, to see the creatures he made and called good, along with the rest of creation. And as Psalm 139 puts it, darkness is nothing to God, who can see through whatever evil we've done in our lives to the creature made in the divine image.
I suspect only God, and well loved infants, can see this way."
Sweet little thing, aren't you? Maybe a little TOO sweet. Time to spike that sugar with some habanero! Try adding chocolate orange Toad Sweat to your next batch of brownies or grab a bottle of Key Lime Toad Sweat to sprinkle on your popcorn next time you tune in to a Brady Bunch rerun. By the way, Marie Sharp's Fiery Hot sprinkled on a bowl of Dorritos is the only known antidote to an Oprah Moment.
Hey, I haven't been called "too sweet" in quite a long time! If ever ... lol What a strange quiz ....
Come close, Lord, and hear my prayer as I come with great hesitation seeking reconciliation to you, my God.
I find that my lips will hardly form these words, and yet, if I am honest, I know that at times there has been hidden in my heart a resentment toward you, my God.
The reason, Lord, is that from the start you have shaped my world, formed my body, gifted my mind and placed me within my family. I have held you responsible when these seemed unjust and, though afraid, have often wanted to raise my fist to you.
This, Lord God, is one of those times!
Be patient with me, Divine Master, because from the spot where I stand, I can see only a small part of this universe. My vision is confined to a limited today, to a few yesterdays. I cannot grasp the full sweep of your divine reality, of which my life is a tiny but important part.
I know in my heart of hearts that you love me without limit and that you desire only that which is good and wholesome for me. With that knowledge, I can embrace, without understanding it all, what you have hoped for me from all time.
I embrace my body, my family, my place in history and even this present situation for which I can see no simple resolution. Lord God, please accept my pardon and embrace me with your divine affection.
Smile upon my simple efforts to serve you, praise you, and make you proud even as I sometimes stumble through my life. Thank you, my Lord and my friend, for your patience and your gracious acceptance of my forgiveness.
This I ask, through your Son, Jesus Christ, who with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, forever and ever.
"Forgiving is love's toughest work, and love's biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural. Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love's power to break nature's rule." Lewis B. Smedes
Genesis 16:13, "And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me."
The fact that our God sees everything was a thought that really bugged me, especially during the teen years! lol Usually when something like that is brought up its used to say God is always watching you to punish you when you have done this or that and the other thing. But ultimately the fact is that this is far from the real truth ... far indeed. God, however, is neither a policeman nor a Santa Claus. God does not send us to heaven or hell depending on how often we obey or disobey. God is love and only love. In God there is no hatred, desire for revenge, or pleasure in seeing us punished. God wants to forgive, heal, restore, show us endless mercy, and see us come home.
Thou God seest me really means this; God loves you so much He just can't take His eyes off of you! This is why He follows us "... down the nights and down the days, down the labyrinthine ways of our mind, and in the midst of tears and under running laughter ..." (Francis Thompson.) The reason why He will NOT give us up and will NOT lets us go. Its a Love thing ...
Just felt led to put that out there. Have a blessed day everyone ... In His presence!
Some acquaintances are doing a bible study on one of Beth Moore's series of studies. When I unleashed a "I just can't stand ..." statement, Rich wanted us to try and start saying something in lieu of "this bites," "I hate ...," "I can't believe he/she is...."According to him, Beth Moore says around their house instead of using those terms they use "Blessing" or "Not a blessing". For instance, instead of saying "I can't believe she wore that outfit" one could say "That wasn't a blessing." Or when something goes wrong at work, instead of griping about it one might say "that's not a blessing." It might seem like semantics but I think it's an interesting twist on outlook and perspective. (kind of a half glass full perspective)
But alas, I don't see myself sticking to this idea ... to generic, maybe even cheesy. The spirit of this idea sounds good but the execution is weak. Wheres the passion? Not that I go running around saying "I can't stand ..." all the time.
I've struggled with this issue for many a year ... How does one really forgive one persons inhumanity to man? Things like pedophiles, rape, domestic violence, severe emotional abuse, the list can go on and on. Time and time again I come across this ... My family members, neighbors, coworkers ... How does one forgive such wounds?
It's hard to imagine for those of us who have not suffered in this way. It's easy to say the standard Christian response, "Just forgive" those who have done these unspeakable crimes against you. Is that all Christianity has to offer? How do they get to this point of forgiveness? More than anything we need Jesus to cradle us, with divine love, hold us in His arms with gentle care and firm protection and restore us to ourselves as a treasured and loved being.
And that's what He does ... Before we forgive, Christ comes to dwell in us by faith. Paul uses this image repeatedly for God's relationship to our bodies and souls ... The image of a temple. 1 Corinthians 6:19, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" NKJV -Our bodies are sacred places! The flame of God's presence shines in them! Our minds and bodies may be tattered, they may even be desecrated by human hatred and folly ... And yet they are holy, sanctified as the dwelling place of the Holy One. Our "temples" will be restored one day to their full splendor. This restoration starts in the here and now when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ makes a dwelling place in our fragile bodies. Acts 11:9, "But a voice from heaven answered a second time, 'What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.'"
Eventually the time to forgive will come for the wounded ones. They may forgive with one part of their soul while desiring vengeance with another. They may forgive one moment then take it back the next time. They may begin to forgive the lighter offenses but not the major ones. Such tentative and hesitant attempts are not even close to full fledged forgiveness, but they are a start. Let's remember and be careful not to trample underfoot the tender plant of forgiveness that seeks to break through the hard crust of vengeance they have protected themselves. If we water that plant with the "living water" of God's inexhaustible love and goodness, one day it will grow sturdy enough to bear fruit. The Potter is at work (Isaiah 64:8), He will bring to completion what He has begun! (Philippians 1:6)
You have escaped damnation and made it to Purgatory, a place where the dew of repentance washes off the stain of sin and girds the spirit with humility. Through contrition, confession, and satisfaction by works of righteousness, you must make your way up the mountain. As the sins are cleansed from your soul, you will be illuminated by the Sun of Divine Grace, and you will join other souls, smiling and happy, upon the summit of this mountain. Before long you will know the joys of Paradise as you ascend to the ethereal realm of Heaven.
This is how you matched up against all the levels:
A great quote and a good excuse to put some Van Gogh on this blog ....
John Wesley asked his mother, Susanna Wesley, "How do you define sin?" Her reply was perhaps more penetrating that many formal theologians could develop: "If anything weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes away your relish for spiritual things; in short if anything increases the power or authority of the flesh over the Spirit that for you becomes sin however good it is in itself."
This could very well be the strangest article I've come across yet ...
Divorcee: Forget the kids, I want my kidney back
Broken hearts are a staple feature of many divorces, but one US man has added a novel twist to his settlement by demanding that his estranged wife undergoes surgery to give him back his kidney.
In 2001, Richard Batista showed his dedication to his other half by stepping forward when doctors said she was in dire need of a new kidney. The doting husband beat odds of 1-in-700,000 to be a viable match.
But he claims that his wife-of-19-years repaid the heart-warming gesture by shacking up with her physical surgeon - a charge both of them deny - and says he now wants the organ returned to his body.
"This is my last resort," Batista said. "I didn't want to be in the public eye." Despite the animosity, Batista insisted he would donate the kidney all over again to his hopefully soon-to-be-ex. He fondly recalls a visit to her room on the day after surgery.
"There was no greater feeling on this planet," he said. "As God is my witness, I felt as if I could put my arm around Jesus Christ. I was walking on a cloud."
Yes! As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:18-20Something my pastor said a few years ago in his sermon has stayed with me through today ...Because of the way the world works, because of all the NO's we hear from the time we're tiny tots ... How difficult it is for us to trust in Christ's YES to us. Could it be there are times we return to being that little boy, cringing, our lips quivering, waiting for the accusatory finger and the angry voice...but instead we hear a YES. ... That the God of the universe wants US to rest in Him, even if we in the past, or even are currently dropping the ball as it were ...
Just thought I would throw that out there in the wee hours of the morning ...
1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.
Today was the day of the long awaited Chiloquin Elementary School Christmas Pagent! Alas, last months was canceled because of blizzard conditions. Today however, was the day of the big performance ... Here is my daughter Hannah (5th from the left) and the rest of Miss Henson's Fourth grade class, kicking into a rousing number called "The Fruitcake Song." The show must go on does it not!
I posted on my very brief idea of should I become Amish awhile back. Not that I'm hankerin' to become Amish ... I just like electricity to much! lol Anyways I saw an interview with an Amish Bishop and wouldn't you know it ... A lot made sense!
These are not exact quotes as I'm trying to pull them out of my head ... But take electricity for example ... I guess the Amish aren't against it per se and even use it in their barns! Just not allow it in their homes. Just not conducive to a family life "God wants us to have." You don't go to bed when you ought, get up when you ought, then there's the invasion of TV's, stereos, all sorts of things that "disrupt the rhythm of life. They just "take up your time." Hmmmm
Then there's cars .... They even hire people to drive them in them. But alas, it makes it to easy to get away from one another. "People ought to be with those they no and love, instead of wandering off God knows where.
Then there is the telephone ... They have phone booths I guess, but again, not in their home. "They just invite people to interrupt you whenever they like. If you are in bed with your wife you can count on it going off!" LOL Seriously, he said that!
I can't say I'm ready or willing to give up the modern world and become Amish ... But technology needs a muzzle on it I think. Especially TV programing! And caller ID and the answering machine has to be one of the best devices ever invented!
I don't think that one could never accuse American Churches of having overwhelmingly good architectural style. Our European friends have us beat hands-down in that category, as can be seen in this photo of a breathtaking church in Iceland.
I will confess that viewing pictures of the magnificent churches and cathedrals of Europe sometimes make me wonder uncomfortably about the wealth that went into their creation. But gotta be something to be said about gathering to worship in a place of such stunning architectural beauty and I find myself wishing that a stronger aesthetic streak ran in American circles.
I may have noted this link before, but it seems relevant here:
Some of these new churches are striking, but they seem less about spirituality and more about showmanship. I will not deny those are impressive structures, but why do they all have to look so much like airport terminals? lol
You've heard all about the disputes: "Silent Night" banned at the "holiday" program, artistic references to the Bible censored and faith-inclusive children's programs facing discrimination. Now some people are fed up with public school treatment of Christianity and have launched a campaign calling for a rescue of kids from government education programs – a "Call to Dunkirk." The name Dunkirk is famous for the hundreds of thousands of World War II allies saved in May 1940 when a flotilla of pleasure boats, fishing craft and others rescued the soldiers from the beaches near Dunkirk, France, where they were trapped by an advancing German army. Full article here: http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=84603
Looking at the video I would have to say that was one of the most offensive propaganda videos I think I have seen in a long time!. Equating public school teacher to Hitler (with convenient Hitler film clips to boot!), Stalinist collective farms, calling public schools "soul killing government indoctrination centers," is a bit much, don't you think?
My thoughts? Well-run Christian schools and quality home-school programs are certainly a viable option for Christians. If one perceives that the public schools become a tool of social engineers to teach anti-Christian messages, then Christian parents may find that removing their children from public schools to be the only option. However I think the problem with the public schools is the lack of parental responsibility for the academic and behavioral advancement of their children. It is no wonder that so many Charter, and Home Schooled children do better than our public schools, they have greater parental involvement and ability to only educate those students they desire. The point of the Social Engineers is valid problem, but NOT the main problem. I would submit that neglecting parental responsibilities IS Anti-Christian.
The mechanism exists for school accountability through school board elections, PTA's, and state and federal grievance procedures. This again has been neglected by the all to often "Too busy to get involved" parent. the problem is that our schools are merely the symptom of a societal breakdown and not the cause. It does however become a vicious cycle, but I believe we should "fix" the society and then the educational system will follow. Their "successes" with certain charter schools only reinforces what the problem is. It is NOT a viable alternative without a quantum shift in our culture back to parental responsibility which schools and homes have NOT supported.
I believe that as Christians we should become more involved with our schools not less! Even using the World War 2 metaphor .... We came back to take the land, not just withdraw from it!
Personally, I am convinced that I am "only scratching the surface" when it comes to knowing God and experiencing the present reality of His Kingdom. It is hard when everyone seems to be experiencing something and you are not. I had a lot of that feeling when I ventured into the Pentecostal world. When everyone appears to get "slain" and nothing happens to you, you can feel a little out of place. I have since learned that many simply conform to what appears to be happening to others. Someone might call it "faking" but having been there myself, I am a lot more merciful! When one looks at the "fruit" obviously a lot of these people have it down!
On the other hand, when I do experience something tangible of God, it is so powerful to me that I am sure it must be the main event! There is this big pull to say that my experience is the one to expect if you know God. If you buy my theology, you may become frustrated and despair of knowing God if you don't have the same experience. My theology then drives you away rather than encouraging you.
I think we should never be encouraged to neglect who God made us to be! I think that our spirituality easily forgets how personal and intimate God is. I just wish we could all be more honest about what we actually experience ... Yes, there are some general similarities about the spiritual life, but most of it is very personal and unique. Someone with ADD is not going to be a good contemplative for example. We humans have such a bent to want to 'fix' everyone according to our experiences. My creativity, such as it is, and who I "am" comes from my thinking style, my ability to skip around and see things from different directions. That's not something I want to lose. It seems to be a negative quality only in regards to how some (maybe most?) people see spirituality.
Many of us see God in a little box. Maybe the key is learning to see God everywhere ...
I know ... A strange question but I'll throw it out there anyways ... Is it okay to hate smug, religious authoritarian hypocrites? Because Jesus would call them things like brood of vipers and hypocrites. so like, can we? Frankly, I think on the Christian walk, its normal to experience a season where we become pharisaical, then what happens when or if we too pass through that phase? It being a harder thing to realize about yourself. like most Pharisees can't see that they are Pharisees, they think everyone else is soft on sin or this or that.
"I don't want to go to that church because there are too many hypocrites there!" I'm sure you have heard this said before or maybe you have said it yourself. Well, no one is perfect and what better place for hypocrites to go than to church. The good news is that once through the phase, a person learns some humility and an ability to accept others, no matter how "stupid" they are. Nothing is easy about this Christian thing ...
Give me, O LORD, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downward;An unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out;An upright heart that no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.Bestow upon me also, O LORD my God, Understanding to know you,Diligence to seek you,Wisdom to find youAnd a faithfulness that may finally embrace you,Through Jesus Christ, our LORD
I came across this quote on love that I would like to share ... I think it is right on!
"When falling in love, we seem to float on air. The whole world seems wonderful, and we take in stride people who normally irritate us and things that normally frustrate us. A particular person's idiosyncrasies, which normally rub us the wrong way, no longer affect us adversely. For a while, we simply seem to be able to love anyone to love our neighbor without any effort at all. These momentary occasions can give us a glimpse of what it would be like to love our neighbor all the time."
There is this question that I've come across which I found intriguing, "Can wounds (in and of) themselves become a source of healing?" It just seems a paradox ...
In Isaiah it says, "By his wounds we are healed," which pretty much answers the question but raises another ... How? New Testament Christians were exhorted to view their own suffering not as just a random thing, nor as retaliation of wicked people around them, not even as punishment for their own shortcomings ... Suffering was to be viewed as communion with the Savior who endured the cross.
Paul writes, "I want to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection," It's easy to give a hearty "Amen!" to that one right? But then Paul goes on ... "The fellowship of his suffering, becoming like him in death." E-Gads! There must be another way! Health, prosperity, name it and claim it ... But alas, this seems not to be the case.
There is this strange, dark comedy I saw again recently called "Being John Malkovich." The gist of it is that a man finds this dirty, cramped, cold secret passageway that takes those who venture in, (Shazzam!), into the mind of John Malkovich. Then you find yourself behind his eyes, feeling and thinking as John does, responding as he responds ...
Perhaps this works as a metaphor here ... The wounds we go through become not just healed wounds. In fact, it is becoming more and clearer to me as time goes on that they'll remain in some degree unhealed until heaven. But they do take us deeper into the fellowship of Christ's suffering. They help us to hear His voice in the Word ... To really hear the inflections of anger, heartache ... and joy. We feel them deep to the core! We can then share His Word with the anger of a betrayed lovers heartache, the urgency of a parent warning their toddler who is wondering unaware into the street. The whisper of a father who wants his daughter home, anytime of the day or night, dressed anyway the want ...
The value of our wounds is to be made into His image. We get to really see, think and respond to people as Jesus does. The twelve step group, coworkers, the lady next to you in church ... And to speak to them as He does. "Go in peace," "Woe unto you," "Come to me," and the voice is the same as His voice ... In empathy ... In love ...
I'm a 55 year old college student majoring in fine arts, with 4 children (12, 18, 25, 26) and live in the metropolis of Chiloquin, somewhere in the mountains of Oregon. I am planning to go to Portland State University in Spring 2012 and major in Graphic Arts. My interests include photography, camping and other outdoor activities, as well as writing and a new interest in watercolor.
This blog is just stuff I've been writing about, some thoughts, articles I find interesting, Christianity, stories and lots of quizzes .... My it challenge, inspire and make you laugh on occasion as well! Life really is interesting!