Monday, January 15, 2007

Just Some Thoughts...

So here I am on a Monday morning, chilling on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in my apartment in downtown Seattle. It’s a clear, crisp morning and the snow-capped Olympic mountains over the Pudget Sound look beautiful. I enjoyed sleeping in today, and right now I am currently relaxing on my couch wearing some addias pants and a hoody reading the book “Leaders Who Last”. This is a new class that I am taking at Mars Hill. I had been praying for a mentor and for someone to connect with, so I could continue in my journey to become a better leader. You know, so I could be a little more disciplined and focused on God’s calling for this life that I call my own. I have recently received direction from God to continue on in the Navy, so now I suppose my next few steps will be instrumental in my approach towards applying leadership to my occupation at work. I am excited to see what lessons I learn from God through Dave Kraft the author of the book and pastor teaching at Mars Hill.

All this to preface what I really want to write about this morning…. Here are some concepts outlined in Ch.1 of Dave’s book. He discusses in great detail the significance of practicing “holy habits of the heart”…. I like his language; however, I initially balked a little at what he was suggesting these things were. These habits include a daily quiet time… daily prayer… daily journal writing, but also things I do really appreciate like enjoying the beauty of God’s creation… experiencing genuine fellowship… feeling God’s Spirit in the midst of belting out a song at the top your lungs… etc…

My intent here is to hash out my resistance to daily Bible study, prayer, and journaling, because of course I have been taught that these practices are essential to Christian growth… Not to mention, I have tried them off and on throughout the years with varying measures of success…. If I must be brutally honest about my current status, I have not been doing any of these things on a daily basis but more like a weekly basis. Or maybe even every two weeks… I get connected at church… I am usually reading a book about God during the week… I go to community group… and I do a few worship jam sessions a couple times a week… However, I find generally myself lacking in the journaling, daily reading of the Word, and daily quiet time realm… In my experience, these things easily transition to mere legalism where I just go thru the motions…. And really that just makes me sick to my stomach……..

I find Dave’s explanation for this phenomenon in my life to be a little exhilarating and a wonderful relief… Not only does he address the difficulties faced in the adhering to these disciplines as way of gaining favor in the sight of the Lord… ie earning my standing to sit at the right hand of Jesus so to speak or earning my salvation…. But he talks about the only genuine motivation to do these things MUST be out of a heart for experiencing an ever growing, exceptional intimacy with the Lord by simply delighting ourselves with the Word of God King David style… It’s about putting forth effort to get a feel for all that God has done for us verses us doing a lot of legalistic, religious crap to get something from God the Father… whether it be affirmation or earning salvation etc. We have already been approved by God… we don’t do good works to get to Heaven…. II Tim2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one APPROVED, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” Notice the past tense there….

Here is the best part of what I feel like is a new revelation to me as a paradigm shift, if you will…. There is a comparison made by a John Ortberg quote regarding different methods of boating as a metaphor for our spiritual lives… There is the motorboat where we control everything from speed to direction. If we just put enough “gas” in the tank we can do whatever, go where ever and make our spiritual lives good by pure unadulterated force… ie legalism…. Then, there is the raft….. This picture is just someone who just unashamedly claims grace for EVERYTHING as a method of gaining spiritual insight… For example, we will just float around aimlessly and not really do anything but experience life as it comes without rhyme, reason, or purpose… Clearly, these are two extremes… The really cool metaphor is the sailboat………….. The power comes from the wind… but the sailor has to practice putting forth effort in order to be competent in discerning the direction of the wind and rigging the sails in a manner that will provide propulsion for the boat. The wind is the Holy Spirit and the sailor is the Christ follower who must daily practice rigging the sails to be proficient in following the leading of the wind…..

Dave Kraft often likens the development of the spiritual life to a surfer riding a huge wave or a horse back rider moving in sync with the horse… Both these pictures are people learning the “unforced rhythms of grace”……. (From The Message Matt 11:28-30) These are some very helpful metaphors that demonstrate the Holy Spirit as our power supply. Christ followers canNOT do anything on their own. We are in desperate need of the Holy Spirit’s guidance. John 15:5 style “I am the vine; you are the branches if any man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…..”

For my own practical understanding… I could say it like this… My spiritual life could be like me learning martial arts… learning racquetball… learning scuba diving… learning soccer… I have to exercise discipline and put forth effort in order to be proficient at any of these hobbies of mine, so surely it would make sense for me to practice being in the Word of God that I might be more experienced in discerning the Word of God. Some of these things, I’ve lost proficiency over time, because I do not do them regularly….

Now that I think about it… I think this is the same lesson that I learned some time ago in college which set my heart ablaze…. God’s word is the Sword of the Spirit… (check the tattoo picture)… I think I will end on this note:

In order for us to be seasoned veterans/warriors in the Kingdom of God we must continually wield the Sword of Truth daily in order to become effective and efficient at forcefully advancing the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men. We must first allow God’s Truth to daily cut the filth of sin from our hearts, so that we might be convicted and changed first… Once He reigns in the deepest recesses of our hearts and we are fully submitted to His Majesty, THEN we can be about the King of King’s business by speaking/wielding the GODSWORD in love to free the hearts and minds of others struggling under the oppression of sin by slicing the shameful chains of bondage and battling this darkness with the Light of Christ Jesus, our Lord…

Sunday, October 15, 2006

BLOGTIME...

Well.... Chances are that I don't really have any readers anymore on this site largely due to my long and often unexplained absences... Something to do with the whole navy thing..... I think it's called deployment... Of course, that does not explain all of the other lapses in time but oh well....

For those who might not know, I have recently moved back to the mainland. I am living in Seattle, WA. I have been here a little over a week... I just got my truck here, and I am still awaiting furniture and the rest of my earthly possessions to arrive.... I signed the papers on a sweet place downtown with my new roomate who is a hard core PEN state guy... Good times...

I guess there is not a whole lot else that I can think of to write about other than to give another website of mine a shout out... I succumbed to the madness that is known as myspace.... I suppose that I could be related to one of many lemmings that are all just jumping off the same cliff..... so be it !!! :) Without further adieu ....

http://www.myspace.com/emmausroadwarrior

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Conviction

So there I was... sitting in my stateroom had a few minutes to sit down, take a deep breath, and read through a little "My Utmost For His Highest" this morning.... And BAM..... I get slapped in the face by reading a few little statements that were written many years ago by a person who is no longer facing the challenges of carnal humanity...

When I read quotes like :
Am I prepared to trust the penetration of His Word into my heart, or would I prefer to trust my own "innocent ignorance?"

I do not have much choice but to take heed that these lines were specifically designed to get my attention.... I might as well read it as "the penetration of GODSWORD".... (The word tattoo' d on my back w/ a sword piercing a flaming, stone encrusted heart)

As much as I would like to scream at the top of my lungs YES YES YES... I am fully prepared to let the sword of His Word pierce my heart... I am faced with the task of becoming wholeheartedly obedient... which is what I desire... but so often I balk at the prospect of admitting publically that I was wrong... or apologizing to a co-worker or friend for something... or whatever the call might be... I so often just long a little bit to trust some innocent ignorance... which really might be more like ignorant innocence... The worst part part is that there is no excuse if you know better....

Yes... we have the freedom to choose due to the loving nature of an all powerful, omnipotent God.... I am becoming more and more appreciative of His care, but it surely does not ever get any easier to submitt... To lay down life out of love so speak in total obedience, so that His will should prevail... and in turn His Kingdom be advanced in the life I've been graced with stewardship over.... which has been purposed to spread the Kingdom thru the quality of the relationships I have been blessed with... Craziness...

All this to say, I've been convicted on an issue... I should stop typing... and go make amends Math5:23-24 style...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

FINALLY.... A POST...

My my my…. How time flows like a river never ceasing ever surging forward regardless of feelings felt, circumstances changing, the living of life, or the pain of death… I find it quite difficult to make time to write on a consistent basis of any kind… Though I do enjoy it, when I slam on the brakes long enough to make an attempt to compose some kind of cohesive progression of thoughts into a form of heart-felt expression…..

I have been reading a book written by Larry Crabb… The name is “Inside Out”… God has been speaking to me through the words of this man thru the medium of those pages… His in depth look at issues of the heart is of course right up my alley, since it is a theme that continues to persistently pursue me over the years of my life… I’ve come to relish any discourse relating heart… to being passion filled…. Spirit inspired… and a citizen in the Kingdom of God …. Who is Love Incarnate… For the longest time, I insisted that I was pursuing the heart symbology… and the admirable aspect associated with having a heart on fire for God… However, it has come to my attention that I have merely been inclined to heed God’s pursuit of my heart from time to time.

Much to my dismay… am I beginning to grasp the depth of my selfish motives and the stain of corruption that is the sinfulness of my physical nature….. The number of times that I have stubbornly refused obedience… rejected the life giving water offered so freely… sold out to enjoy the desires of the flesh for the briefest moments of pleasure at the expense of storing up treasures in Heaven to be enjoyed for eternity with my King….. Not to mention the harshness of my judgments on others..... Praise God for the ability to claim grace….

All this being said, I would like to explore the notion of living in present circumstances and reconciling the pain of loneliness, the suffering from rejection, and the overarching disappointment that I find in this thing called life…….with the knowledge of an all powerful God whose very definition is love….. How am I supposed to cope with the angst of living in a broken world with my shortcomings and the shortcomings of so many other imperfect beings????

These are the thoughts that have been running rampant in my head in the wee hours of the morning and the latest watches of the night (literally… I stand late night watches) I have come to the conclusion that God’s people could/should use these things as a reality check… Call it Ultimately Reality, if you will…. I am not trying to be over dramatic… I want to be brutally honest with the current conditions that humanity has come to consider “NORMAL”… or as STATUS QUO…..

For so long… I have denied… and/or refused to accept the true conditions in which I find myself… What do I mean by that??? Good question….. lol … I guess I want to truly recognize every longing that I have ever had that has gone unfulfilled and every desire that has never been satisfied… I mean really sit with it… feel the pain of rejection from broken relationships in my past… sit and ponder the effects of loneliness eating away at my person….in addition to just plain recognizing the fact that I am more than disappointed with this thing I call life… It may sound as if I am doing a nice swan dive into the depths of masochism, but I assure you that is not my purpose nor my intent….

I choose to believe that we were designed to experience perfect relationships, unconditional acceptance, and experience the total absence of fear as we know it… It’s becoming clear to me that we simply were not designed to deal with pain of loneliness… suffering from rejection… and or disappointment at all……….. This would make sense as to why I am having such a hard time dealing with all the evil and hurt that can be found in this world… How come it’s like this??? The only answer I can conceive of is the sinfulness of men…

I guess I want to recognize that all of my desires for perfect relationships and longings for better days are clearly legitimate… YES… I said legit…. My first inclination is to stuff these things…. .Ahhh.. come on… It’s not that bad…. Or… I did not really want that relationship anyway….
But I am beginning to see that these are not healthy ways of dealing with it… It’s so easy to deny or just minimize the junk, so I am not forced to feel the sting of disappointment…. The hurt… So I’ve been created to have so much more… so what?? Should I be bitter that I can’t have what I want so badly now??? Probably not….. ok so no… Definitely not…

I suppose my primary issue lies with how I go about ensuring the fulfillment of these legitimate needs/wants… If I am to be honest, I find it quite difficult to come to terms with my corrupted state and the need for help from God….…the utter necessity to have the Creator as a close INTIMATE part of my life… I wish to be more consistent in my yearning to learn to LIVE in my current state and not deny it… not try to escape from it…. Not sleep it off… eat for comfort… or whatever poison of choice might be…

I must EMBRACE my state and feel ALL of the pain …..utilize it as a path leading towards the embrace of my God…. If am all good or convince myself of that… why do I need God??? What do I need, if I am content to live for the NOW… in selfishness…. Where is the passion??? Where is the intensity of my faith???? NOWHERE….. I end up bored… mechanical… and annoyed at following rules so I can be a good Christian….

… Living by faith…clinging to the hope of heaven… that one day my heart will experience what I was TRULY created for….. I am not to live for immediate gratification… out of selfishness… I am to learn the lessons of giving is BETTER than receiving… Do away with this state of mind where I take what I can from who I can whenever I can… My soul wants to learn and genuinely live out the greatest commandments to Love the Lord our God with all our heart… soul… and mind…. .and to love our neighbor as yourself… as two in the same…. THIS is my TRUEST purpose and mission and should be my primary passion in life.. to be focused on my relationship with God and in turn focus on others…

“Either sin in our lives will reign and the abundant life God has for us will fade…. Or God will reign in our lives and the sin nature will be put to death…. “ From the words of Oswald Chambers… Utmost For His Highest….

Let’s talk about Jesus’ talk losing your life to gain it… we must die to self… in order to truly live…..If the Son of God came as the second Adam to earth and had to deal with the death blow of sin…. Who are we to think that we will not experience sorrow… pain… suffering…for now?????? He LIVED the perfect example for us to follow… Isaiah’s prophecy foretold it..about Jesus being a man of sorrows…. Nothing in Him that was attractive… Crushed for our transgressions… By his wounds we are healed…..

As you might have noticed…. God has been dealing with me quite severely about such issues…. It sucks to find that I am so fickle… so quick to run to lesser loves in order to appease the pain… it’s just easier for a quick fix which numbs the pain… but just leads me one step closer down the path to Sheol…. (hell)….. Too often I pretend that everything is fine in the world.. and that I am ok… that I am “happy”… that I don’t sin… THAT bad…. That I am not subject to a selfish corrupted nature… but there is hope in clinging to Him… and openly accepting the grace as it is ever offered to us….

Wow…. .If you’ve made it this far in my probably redundant ramblings… Kudos to you… My prayer is that His Kingdom would be furthered in your heart and mine as you read the words up above as I process these thoughts.... To Him be the glory……..

Wednesday, May 24, 2006




WOOOOOWWWW.... Do you know how difficult it is to place a picture in your profile??? I've just expened about 30 minutes of my life attempting to figure this one out. Oh yeah... sure there are lots of easy little help links to do this... and do that... Alas.... all to no avail... At least I figured out how to post a pic directly to my blog...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Paradigm Shift....

So I am running around doing my normal schedule at work which equates to ever changing plans, staying awake for extended periods of time doing various tasks, and learning how to survive with high levels of stress on a daily basis as well as facing the oh so fun lessons of responsibility and accountability...... Learning how to deal with the frustrations of
"being flexible" .... working with difficult personalities that clash with my own.... all the while fighting the prevailing sentiments of cynicism and pessimisms surrounding my work place.... generally having very little "personal" time to myself for reflection, prayer, playing guitar.... shoot... evening eating and sleeping!!!!! All of this I have come to fondly call the "GRIND"....

At this point in time I will cease boring you with the endless laundry list of details, gripes, and challenges that I face every day. Just know that they are the context from which I am writing all of this.....

So I slam on the brakes this morning for a few minutes to blog about a startling revelation from today's reading in His Utmost For His Highest..... My goal here is to attempt to hash out what I think God is trying to tell me about thru this writing....

The buzz phrase that really thru me for a loop this morning is this:
"The purpose of God is not to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God"....

This is truly a mind shift that might seem at a glance easy... obvious... and a given... but I think it is radical, revolutionary, and exetremely difficult to maintain on a consistent basis.... I've been saying prayers for about as long as I can remember.... Being a prayer warrior in the realm of the intercessory so to speak isn't exactly my strongest forte, but I make a point to at least try to pray regularly....

But to sit down and to really ask myself... Why? What is the purpose of my prayer??? What do I really want out of it??? What am I shooting for??? Am I shooting to get a need met??? Am I lifting up a need for another person??? Am I genuinely praising and thanking God for who He is and what He is about??? I guess the punch line here is I really must examine my motives or I must ask God to.... in order for me to truly come to a place where I genuinely wish to discern the mind of God... If I am brutally honest with myself... I do believe that a good portion of my prayer life has more to do with my own will.. and not necessarily the will of my Father... Thus, my constant reaction to many situations is to complain... or to be frustrated to the point of doing something negative... or just being plain depressed, because I feel like God doesn't care or isn't listening to me...

The kicker is to me on that note is that I am sure that He listens all my " I want... I wish... When will this happen... " etc.etc. He just doesn't really care about my will so much... His mission and goal I think can be found in John 17... Where Jesus was praying to the Father about being one as they were one......... God wants to be so intimate with me that I will be "one" with Him... The point of my prayers is that I learn what He wants... So I can ask Him about all the things He is trying to do... His Kingdom purposes... and in turn this is the actual reason that I was created... aka my TRUE purpose in life.... in other words.... I WAS BORN FOR THIS!!!!!!!!!!!! In the most literal sense...

It's soooo hard for me to wrap my mind around this... God set me in my life with my family... my friends.. even the people I don't like...my geographic location... My current occupation... He specifically placed the deepest desires of my heart in me to be fulfilled at HIS appointed time (not mine)... all of the circumstances I find myself in... the challenges.... the difficult changes..

ALLLLL of these things are the backdrop in which He has chosen to reveal His Person to me... Because as a result of all of these things my reactions will lead me to prayer.... which will either take me into a deeper more understanding relationship wtih Him..... or... I will shy away from Him and be less like the person He created me to be...

So I guess the important thing about prayer is not only the content... but the motive behind the content... If my motive is to Seek His Kingdom first and come into a more intimate knowledge of Him... then God's purpose would be accomplished IN me.... My character will be confirmed to His will... otherwise... I will be just spinning my wheels in the mud or getting dragged down into the muck and mire of despair and depression....

Hope you were able to coherently follow my rambling madness this morning.. I don't know if all that makes perfect sense... but I do think I am on to something big??? What do you think??? Comments from the peanut gallery are much appreciated....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

HAPPY B-DAY TO ME!!!!

What better day to break the latest posting silence but on the day that I turn 24??? Today was quite possibly the most stressful birthday that I've experienced today... EESH... I have been working on some things for days and the mission absolutely refuses to be accomplished. I must have made over 40 phone calls and 30 emails... Things are still not quite where they need to be... All I want for my birthday is resolution on some stuff at work... Don't need money... don't need things... I just want some stuff that's been hanging over my head to be DONE... Very frustrating when other people don't care about the priority of your mission and just give you lip service... so it goes....

Ok, enough venting... I'm sure that everyone has absolutely wretched days from time to time so I will spare you further details... I did try to leave a little hang time in there with the whole tattoo posting...>>> Yes that is right... You are looking a are a newly tattoo'd man... Well, you reading the blog anyway... If you check out my pictures website, you will see the addition.

http://groups.msn.com/MrbeansTravels/shoebox.msnw?action=ShowPhoto&PhotoID=30

Here is a brief explanation...

GODSWORD ....
Heb 4:12 "For the Word of God is living and active sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Eph 6:17 "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."

Stone Encrusted Heart...
Ezek. 36:26 " I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

Burning Flames Surrounding The Heart....
Luke 24:32 "They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us one the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

Transformation is the theme, if I had to give it one. It's a symbol of the affect God's Word has on our hearts. As our hearts are pierced, they are transformed from cold, unforgiving, hard stone to warm, soft, vunerable, lifegiving organs that are utterly essential for living LIFE...
As the heart of stone is pierced the stone weakens and begins to crack and fall apart liberating the heart to beat freely, unhindered.
Finally, the flames are also a result of the GODSWORD changing our hearts and in turn transforming our very souls into passionately burning flames giving us the motivation and energy to hunger more for more of Him in our lives. (His Light, Love, and Kingdom Purposes...)

I suppose it's a symbol of the process God uses to change people's lives. At least, this is how I view it. What do you think???

I should really study more about all the heart, flame, and sword symbology in the scriptures... Maybe I will post on that next time.....
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