I’ll get over it, I am sure of that. But I know now why I still ask for forgiveness when I sin. It’s because asking, and receiving forgiveness is the only thing that brings me back home.
Some people think we no longer have to ask for forgiveness. I’m not sure what to think about that. Part of me says, “yeah, you’re right, Jesus took care of it all, on the cross.”
My mind knows this, and my heart does as well. But still, in real life, when I don’t ask for forgiveness, I don’t come home, I don’t respond to God, or listen to Him, or do anything that would remotely show any light within me. There is just something about asking forgiveness in the real world, in real time, when I sin, that changes everything.
In theory, I know I am forgiven. In theory, I know God sees me as perfect through Christ. But in reality, my heart needs to bleed it out, to be broken over it, and to come back to Father openly and honestly. In reality, the theory of being a believer doesn’t work too well.
Why do I need to feel broken? I don’t know. I just know that I do feel broken, and apart; apart from light, and apart from God. Not that I can ever be separated from God, because in theory, I know I can’t be. There’s that theory again.
What can I say? I know what I see, and I know what I feel. I know freedom comes as a part of forgiveness, and I also know that because of Christ’s death, I am now dead to sin. Yet I sin. Another theory that in practice, doesn’t work too well.
Or does it?
I am not smart enough to figure this out by myself. I know I am going to be with God tonight, deep in prayer, begging for an answer, but most of all, receiving forgiveness. I don’t care if it’s possible, I just know what I feel, or rather, what my heart feels. Even if theory says I am forgiven, practice proves I will be there tonight, asking it, and receiving it. Maybe I’m not there yet, with all this so called theory. Maybe I’m just not well-acquainted with grace.
But one thing always comes across my mind, that is, the thought that God’s mercy is new everyday. So I guess what I am saying is, I don’t necessarily believe that I don’t have to ask for forgiveness every day. I know I sin every day.
What is it about being humbled in asking for forgiveness that draws me so? Why can’t I just let it go, if I am already forgiven? I don’t know.
What I know is what I live, and my life begs forgiveness. I don’t walk perfectly. Heck, I don’t even walk “well”. But through it all, I still find grace in God, beckoning me home.
Father, I know what people say about me already being forgiven. I don’t care about that, because my heart still wants to ask, still longs to feel grace, every day. I suppose if I no longer desired grace, I might actually be dead. But something in me yearns to be reunited, every day. Something in me cries over the way I have been, the way I have treated others, and the actions I allow my flesh to be part of.
So I don’t really care what theory says, right now, God. If I am wrong, I know You will help me understand. But right now, my heart bleeds for forgiveness, for grace, and I am asking the only One who can give it.
I don’t know why Jon is like this, but I have to admit, I love him. Yes, he can seem irritating, and answering one hundred questions when I am in a hurry is no one’s idea of fun. Yet I can’t help but see him in a different light. I see him as a child, and when I do, I see such joy, such openness, and such willingness to share with everyone, that it amazes me how people could see him as only irritating.
Jon is a member of my Friday night Boy’s club, which is currently on hiatus. He rarely opens his mouth while we are all gathered, but afterwards, oh, Jon loves to talk with me, and with anyone, really, about their life, and about the things we discussed.
The amazing thing about Jon is, I have never, not even once, heard him offer to talk about himself. Most people will start a conversation asking you about your day, or how things are going, and the moment you answer, they are already telling you about themselves, and how hard it is for them. Jon never does this. In fact, unless I force him to tell me how he is doing, and what things are happening in his life, he will not offer it. I cannot remember a single time he has ever told me anything about his life without being asked. Sometimes, it almost seems like a game, like a contest of wills, to see if I can get Jon to talk about himself, and he fights it by asking more questions about me. It's really something to see.
Some people run away from Jon when they see him, and I admit, sometimes, it would be easier if I didn’t get tied down in a conversation where I am answering questions faster than Ted Koppel can ask them. But knowing all of that, every time I see Jon, I’ll say hi, knowing what’s coming, because I love him, and he is infectious with his joy.
Some people say Jon is slow, that he has a condition that causes him to be somewhat addled in the brain. But I’ll tell you this, Jon remembers everything he is told. He can come up to me, and recite word for word something I said last year. He remembers what I said better than I do. And facts!! Jon can tell you every single thing he has ever learned, he remembers it all. In Jon, I think we have a genius who doesn’t know he is a genius. He has sharp eyes, and he looks directly into your eyes when you speak. You KNOW he is listening.
Yet there are other facts about Jon that set him apart. I have never heard him gossip about someone else. He just won’t do it, and with him, it’s like he doesn’t even have to try not to do it. Jon might be called special in schools.
I’d have to agree with that assessment, but not for the same reasons the schools would call him special. He may have a social dysfunction, as some people claim. But to me, Jon is just fine.
I don’t think I will ever meet someone as selfless as him. To understand how selfless he is, you’d have to watch how hard I have to try to get him to talk about himself. It’s like in his mind, he doesn’t exist. I have heard recently of someone challenging people to go for a day without saying the words “I”, “me”, or “my”. (Can’t recall who said that). In Jon, I have someone who wouldn’t even have to try, it’s just the natural state of being for him.
So if Jon irritates people because he asks a lot of questions, I guess I can understand why they might say he has a social dysfunction. But I’ll tell you this. If someone comes to me, and starts talking about Jon’s dysfunction, I might just punch them in the throat, and end it for them. Because, if truth be known, I’d rather hang around Jon, than hang around someone who would slander the most joy filled, selfless adult I have ever met.
Jon is a child of God, and you don’t have to spend more than a minute with him to see it. How many people can say that about themselves? I know I can't.
1. My daughter giving me “the look”
2. My own ineptitude at parenting. Seriously, if I didn’t have God in me, Ally would be in BIG trouble.
3. Adam Sandler’s dry humor.
4. My daughter’s voice.
5. Writing a Hans und Frans skit
6. Receiving a timely email from a friend
7. Whenever I actually remember to think about Jesus, and the hope I have in Him.
8. When I have proven someone’s trust in me to be well placed. I know, it’s an arrogance thing, and I’ll get over it some day, but for now, humor me.
10. Simply talking with anyone, respectfully and cordially.
This list is in no particular order, and there are many more things I could list. But, one of the fun things about this blog is, I get to submit really bad writing every so often, and tonight is one of those times. The editor has spoken, POST IT!!
Why don’t you guys share with me some of the things that cause you to smile?
Those are the words of my daughter, Ally, who spoke this to me on the way home from piano lessons. She is twelve. I had mentioned that I wanted to write a post tonight, and she asked what I would write about. When I answered that I didn't know, she was puzzled, and asked, "How can you blog if you don't know what to write about?" I told her not to worry, that was pretty much how I always approach writing. Then, I asked her if I should write about her tonight. I guess you could say she gave me her answer.
Ally jumps in puddles of water, and laughs when she does. She slides across the ice, completely oblivious to the chance of slipping and splitting her head open. She sings, and when she sings, God smiles, and so does her daddy. Her voice is truly a gift from God.
Ally plays video games with great enthusiasm, and reads books at a pace that would put many adults to shame. Yet when she reads, she does it for the pure enjoyment of reading.
Ally works hard in school, and plays every bit as hard, and when I watch her, I keep wondering, will God help her to live this joy forever? Will she always be free enough to walk barefoot through the grass, without a care in the world, to squish it between her toes, and giggle?
Ally jumps on her trampoline, sometimes for hours, but she doesn’t do it to get exercise. She does it because she loves it. As far as I can see, Ally doesn’t do anything in her life that is a ritual. She does it… because she loves it.
After she got in the car tonight, I could see by the expression on her face that she had not loved school today. I asked her about it, but she was all “one-syllable” toward me. I began to fear I had upset her. However, I left her alone with it, trying my best to give her time to work through whatever was bothering her.
When we arrived home, she immediately began practicing piano. I had a run to make to the store, so I went to the piano room to let her know. The look on her face, even now, breaks my heart. I asked again if something was bothering her. She said no, and went back to practicing.
But as I made to leave the room, she sighed, and said, “Well, I guess I am mad at someone.” Immediately I thought it was me. Why am I so worried about that?
She made sure I knew it wasn’t me, though. She began telling me that a friend of hers had made fun of her lisp, and laughed at her. Yes, Ally has a slight lisp. She has a little trouble making the sound, “s”. My brave little girl wouldn’t allow herself to cry in front of her daddy, though. But I did get to give her a long hug.
She told me that her friend had already apologized, but Ally feels like she didn’t mean it. I understand that feeling really, really well.
We talked about this for a while, and although I know she is still thinking about it, she knows her daddy loves her, and loves her lisp. That’s right. I think it’s the cutest thing I have ever heard. When she sings with it, it softens every song she sings, in a way that no one else can. Some people might have a better voice, although she is young, so we just don’t know. But with that lisp, she rends hearts when she sings. At least, she does mine. The first time I heard her sing “Silent Night”, I almost cried, it was so tender, as if the song had been written for her voice alone. And when I hear her talk, the sound of her lisp is music to my ears. Daddies are like that.
Ally sang freely, and spoke freely, with joy.
Yet, because of this, Ally is going to be aware of her lisp in a way she never was before. She always knew she had it, but no one ever gave her crap about it. Now, someone did, and the sheer joy of just talking has, for a little while, if not longer, been stolen away. This all because of a thoughtless comment.
I never thought I could love someone so much as I love my daughter. To think of how she is feeling, to know what she is thinking about, well, it’s making me cry.
Ally jumps in puddles, as I said, and laughs. But the next time she says “nurse”, will she say it as freely as she used to? Or will she try to alter it, to make it sound “right”, so that no one will ever be able to tease her again?
Her freedom has been ripped away. I am sure the little girl who is her friend did not mean to do all of this. I am sure none of us, when we make fun of someone else, or pick at someone’s habits, mean to steal their freedom. But that is what I have seen happen today, and so often in the past, that any attempt to count it would be ridiculous.
Ally, I want you to know that I love you. I love that little lisp you have, and I don’t ever want you to change it. But if you do, I hope it’s because it just happened naturally. I want you to forget about what your friend said, and talk freely. Your voice melts ice. Break the ice around other people’s hearts, as you always do with me, and if there is a lisp, well, you know I’ll smile in love.
There is more to life than “fitting in”. You already have it. Don’t lose it. It’s called freedom, and whenever I see you jump in a puddle, I think of that joy I wish I had never lost.
What is the last thing?
Gaylord blew up again. This time, at two of my crew. This time, I did not remain silent. One of the guys he blew up at left the job site, and I don’t think he wants to come back. His last words were, “When you get this sh*t straightened out, call me. I don’t need to put up with this effing crap.”
I stood in disbelief as Gaylord raged for several moments, before I responded (no, I will not tell you what I said). He stormed off, and I followed, right after Jim, the one who left, said his last words and blew out.
I stood in disbelief? Why in disbelief? Because somehow I believed this wouldn’t happen again. Somehow, I believed that our discussion the other day had a lasting effect. Apparently, it didn’t.
As I said earlier, Gaylord stormed off, and I followed. He had disappeared into an unfinished apartment, and was talking with the general contractor, when I walked through the door.
The strangest transformation happened. He was as polite as he could be in front of John, the general contractor’s foreman. He explained that he was sorry for causing Jim to leave, but I needed to understand why he was upset. So, I listened, for about five minutes. Then, believing the conversation was over, he started to walk off again.
“Not so fast, Stoney” I said. (Stoney is his nickname)
“There are a few things YOU need to get here. First, I understand what you are going through. I even understand your frustration with this project. BUT, everyone is frustrated, not just you. You are not the only one working under a great deal of stress .”
Stoney tried to interrupt, but I wouldn’t let him, and I could see John would have cut him off if I hadn’t. “Furthermore, those men you just cursed out aren’t your employees, and you have no authority over them. From now on….” And here Stoney started to get angry, and tried to protest. Again, I wouldn’t let him.
“From now on, you don’t talk to them. You don’t say anything to them, except to help them. If you have a problem, you come to me, or you cuss out the project manager. We'll see how far you get with that. But you aren’t going to bitch at me, either. I’m the wrong person to piss off here, and if you don’t get that, that’s your problem.”
John jumped in, and suggested that we communicate through him, since Gaylord’s crew is actually his subcontractor. I looked at John, and told him that was fine, but I know it won’t work.
This project is messed up, and the project manager doesn’t get it. There is high stress at every point, of almost every day, and I don’t know what to do about it. I am just a carpenter, an owner’s representative, nothing more than an employee when you get past all the bs. But I have guys working for me that do not deserve to go through this crap.
The one thought on my mind this morning, before I head back to the jobsite is; what will happen today? I used to ask that question with joy and anticipation. Now, I ask it with dread, and anger.
I am not proud of the way I reacted. I am not proud of what I said. Really, I don’t know what else to do here. This isn’t the last time Gaylord is going to explode, and thus, it isn’t the last time I am going to have to do something about it. I recognized something in this situation. Gaylord is taking his frustrations out on others, and that isn’t going to stop, because he doesn’t know any other way.
There is no way he is going to learn new behavior by the end of this project, which will last possibly another year, and I don’t know what to do. My frustration with this is mounting, and in the end, I don’t think I want to expose the guys working with me to this crap anymore.
Today is a new day, and I already dread it, not for me, but for them. Well, also a little for me, because I don’t want to do what I fear I am going to have to do, which is to remove Gaylord from this project.
Lord, any help here would be greatly appreciated.
I do not know what circumstances lie ahead. And in my weakness, I will at times be anxious. But ever before me is Your peace, that which I do not deserve, and certainly did not earn. How many times, Lord, has the simplicity of Your peace kept me safe? How many times have I called to You, and You answered me, showering me with peace that I had no worldly reason to have?
You alone know of the nights of despair, of the rivers of tears, or the desire for an end. You alone know how long ago You saved me from that, and how softly You spoke to me when You did. You kept me from harm when I sought it for myself. And now all I seek is to know You.
Truth I will ever seek. I want to know everything, Lord, that you are willing to reveal. I am no longer pacified with knowing what I know. I want to know what You know, because what You know is only truth, while what I know may not be.
I admit this, Lord! I am not proud of what I know, except for You. If I were to stand before You tonight, still, I would admit that I am weak, and unknowing. You know it, You know it.
In me You have begun the work You will complete. In me, you have already changed my heart from one of arrogance, to one that is not so arrogant. I cannot boast in humility, because the truth is, I don’t really know what humility is. I wish I did.
But I do know this, You are the One Whom I want to know, You are the Truth I want to know. If I know nothing else but You, then I will know everything that is needed. You came after me with a jealous love, Lord, and I remember it well. I will never, ever forget how You chased me. And the times You gave me reason to believe, well, those were times I didn’t deserve the reason, and I know it. You didn’t have to, but You did.
And somehow, on my heart lie those words tonight, words to fall to sleep by, “You didn’t have to….but You did”
It seems to me that the buzzwords “open market”, and “free enterprise” surround this issue like cotton over feathers in a pillow. Sadly, these words and “national healthcare” should never be mentioned in the same sentence.
The rest of this post is my opinion, so if you don’t want to read my opinion, here is fair warning; leave without reading, because I am not afraid that I might offend some. Heck, some will always be offended, just for the cause of being offensive themselves.
Having said that, it is not my intention to offend anyone, but if enough people read this, I am sure someone will be.
Why is national healthcare not a matter for profit? For the same reasons that our military is not a matter for profit. National healthcare falls under the category of protecting the weak, the innocent, and the affluent. It falls under the category, therefore, of national defense, exactly because national healthcare is one device of the presidents oath to defend and protect the constitution, and the people of this great nation.
One device, I say, that must be used as a tool to offer healthcare to anyone who needs it, just as we offer armed protection to everyone in this nation, on all our borders, and in most of our international interests. Will taxes go up? Yes, they will. But isn’t it interesting that many in our nation have no qualms with ever-rising military costs, while constantly complaining if we should deem national healthcare a matter for the national budget.
Free healthcare is never free. If we as a nation offer free healthcare to all of our citizens, it will be paid for through taxes. Someone is going to foot the bill. Yet is it a bill we should be willing to pay? I say, yes, it is.
If national security is a concern, then national healthcare must be near the top of the list in specific concerns for this nation, and its government. We have seen our free enterprise system hand almost TOTAL control of the healthcare industry over to insurance companies, drug companies, and large medical institutions. All this we have done in hopes that every single American would be able to afford healthcare. What a glorious dream!!
Wake up!!!! The dream is over. It didn’t work, it isn’t going to work, and it’s time, right now, to do something about it. The insurance companies are not for the patients, they are for themselves, to earn profits at just about any cost. Even if that cost includes denying coverage for new procedures that might save someone’s life. In a life saving matter, why should an insurance company have ANY say in what is covered?
Life and death, and health, are not matters that should ever be decided by “how much will it cost?” It is a disgrace that our nation makes these life and death decisions based on what is inside of our wallets, or more aptly put, what is inside of the insurance company’s wallet. Again the question, why should any insurance company have any say in what type of care is provided?
Answer? Because we pay them to. Here is a radical question; how much less would healthcare cost if we outlawed health insurance altogether? My guess is, the costs would be cut at least in half. I have no numbers to support that opinion, and I won’t do the research to prove it. But if you take one look at every aspect of medicine in which insurance companies have their grubby little hands, surely you might see the same results. Insurance companies control billing practices, length of stay, what procedures are recommended, what procedures are actually carried out, what procedures are paid for, where you get your healthcare, who you see, what type of medication they can offer, and the list just goes on seemingly forever. What an asinine way to do healthcare. And we want to claim that our free market is the market the world should model?
My advice to the world would be, take one look at our healthcare system, and run away from it, as far and as fast as you can. It is a joke, it is a mess, and there are so many people who have absolutely no coverage whatsoever, that the government has lost count. Now, is that a healthcare system that sounds like it is working?
Sometimes, you just have to burn the trash. To pick through it, and salvage the very small pieces that are worth salvaging is a waste of time. Our national healthcare is one of those things that should be burned, and restarted, without insurance companies.
Well, how do we cover healthcare, without insurance? There is a very simple answer to that. I will give my opinion in the form of a question. If each citizen can depend on our nation to defend us, if we can pay taxes for guns, bombs, planes, ships, and nukes, can we depend also on paying taxes for healthcare? Can we hand over control of healthcare back to the doctors and nurses, in whose hands it belongs?
I say we can, and I say, it would cost businesses and individuals FAR less money to do it that way, than to do it the way we currently do it. Imagine our national defense in the hands of an insurance company, whose sole reason for being in business is not to protect us, but to make money for itself. When it came time to actually protect us, the insurance company would argue that this matter, or that matter, is not covered by the policy, and thus, we would have to protect ourselves. It is no small wonder why we don’t hire out our national defense to an insurance company, or open it up to fee market bidding.
National healthcare must be no different than national security, no matter what the initial cost. To leave matters of health, life, and death in the hands of companies whose sole interest in the matter is its level of profit is criminal, thievery, and our government is allowing it, nay, our government is encouraging it to continue.
Already, it is nearly impossible to change the status quo, exactly because insurance companies make so much profit that they can afford lobbyists who sole purpose is to sway our representatives into legislating for the large insurance companies. This is also criminal, it is against the constitution of the United States of America, to give any group, based on ethnicity, affluency, or any other criteria, any advantage in legislation. Legislation, as a LAW, cannot be bought. If it is bought, it is a criminal act against our nation, in short, it is treason.
Strong words, I know, yet are they untrue? If I go to Washington DC, and sit outside my senator or congressman’s office, how often will I see an insurance lobbyist meet with him? This is the way it works in our country, and we should be blind to it no longer. If you want national healthcare, if you don’t want to have to worry anymore how you are going to pay for healthcare, or insurance, or have peace of mind even through a difficult illness, then raise your voice, let it be heard, and let it be loud.
That all ended three years ago, when I got sick of carrying around a tool belt that weighed in excess of twenty pounds. I mean it. One day, I picked the thing up after lunch, and it felt heavier than a bowling ball. So, I put it down, and did an inventory.
I do not recall everything that was in this tool belt, but as best as I can remember, here is what I found:
One 20 oz. Hammer
One twenty-five foot tape measure, weighing approximately 1 pound
One Utility knife (yes, the same knife that cut the tip of my finger off!) weight about 1/3 of a pound
One Chalk Line Reel, about ½ pound
One Plumb - Bob, about one pound
Various screwdrivers, combined weight, around one pound
One Lineman’s Pliers, and one Robogrip Pliers, combined weight, one pound
One Pocketful of Drywall screws almost full to the top, around three pounds
One Pocket full of Nails, nearly full, around two pounds.
One pocket full of drill bits, around two pounds
One pocket full of miscellaneous, seldom used crap which I couldn’t find even when all this stuff was in my tool belt, approximate weight, five pounds.
And let’s not forget pencils, markers, safety glasses, spare blades, nail punches, steel punches, pin brads, a bottle of glue, and a cell phone, probably about two pounds all combined.
Then, there is the weight of the tool belt itself. Enough said.
Do you know what made me sick of it? Well, for one thing, trying to get the clasp closed without dropping half the screws and nails remaining in the pouches. Ever try doing dainty finger work with twenty pounds? It’s not possible. You just have to slam the clasps together as fast and as hard as you can, and hope your aim was true.
The other reason was because the tool belt had a tendency to pull my pants down. Oh, and it also forced my boxers up my butt. Not a pleasant feeling, ALL DAY LONG!
I wonder if Jesus ever had that problem with His tool belt? I’ll have to ask Him when I see Him.
Nevertheless, I do not wear tool belts any more, and I am no less efficient now than I was when I had every hand tool known to man hanging from my hip. In fact, I might be more efficient, because I am no longer pulling my pants up off the floor every three minutes. Give me a minute, I might be able to make a spiritual point here somewhere.............
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable." Isaiah 40:28
I love the book of Isaiah. I always have. But it’s like I am seeing it with new eyes.
I had no idea how much God describes Himself in this book. I don’t know if I ever really paid attention. The two verses I picked out to post here are just a very small sampling of what God has to say about Himself. Amazing!
To whom will we liken God? Is there another?
What likeness can be created to capture the essence of God? Can a cross do it? Can a dove portray His soul? How about a fish? Can a fish reveal God’s likeness?
None of these things can show God to us. They are symbols we sometimes use to display a message about who we are, but they cannot contain the glory of God. Nothing can.
We have this book we call the bible. We call it God’s word. I see here in Isaiah, and in many other places, that God has shown us something of Himself. In Christ, He showed us Himself. But in all this earth, there is nothing that can compare to God, no words describe Him fully, no power wearies Him, and no cleverness deceives Him.
What an amazing, awe inspiring, breathgiving God we have!
Isaiah is far more than a book of prophecy. It is a book of poetry, literally in motion. It is a book written through a prophet, but spoken to us, most of time, directly. I am not an Israelite, yet I find myself claiming to be a Jew, when I read this book. My heart harkens to His call, when I hear Him say “Pay attention to Me, O My people, and give ear to Me, O My nation”. (Isaiah 51:4a) How can this be?
God spoke through Isaiah, and told us about Himself. How many times have I read “I am God, and there is no other, I am God and there is no one like Me.”? Isaiah is a letter. Isaiah is a promise. Isaiah is a fingerprint.
I have enjoyed reading the book of Isaiah, and it’s probably because for the first time, I am recognizing my God in the pages of this letter. I knew a little of Him before, and after this, I will know a little more. But something tells me I will never again look at the book of Isaiah as merely a book of prophecy. I think maybe I will see more than just future casting. I think I will see God in the pages of this letter to me, a Jew.
Though my flesh sins daily, my heart belongs to God. I am not enough to overcome temptation. My memory reminds me of that every day. But this letter that God wrote through the prophet Isaiah, to me, almost seems like the first letter of the New Testament. And in that letter, God told us what He would do, and told us why He was able to do it. Can there be a greater peace, than to know that it doesn’t depend on me?
It’s Wednesday, and it’s already been a long week. However, I am feeling energized, because the last two days are definitely going to be shorter than the first three. I like to load up the beginning of my work week with hours, so I am able to cruise into the end, ready for short days, or available for emergencies, if necessary. I don’t really know where I learned to do this, but I appreciate the desire I have to work this way. It leaves a lot of options open to me.
Take catching up on a project I am behind in, for example. If I didn’t load up my hours in the beginning of the week, I’d have to wait until 4:30 PM Friday before I could begin bringing my schedule up to date. Working this way also opens up the possibility for quick little projects that most interior finish carpenters shy away from, exactly because they are too small. I find that these small projects, if done persistently, are the most profitable around. They also help bring in new business, from customers who are pleased that you took the time to schedule their project.
One of the biggest complaints I hear about carpenters from customers is that it’s so hard to find a contractor for small projects. I often hear them say that if they find a carpenter for a small project, they are far more likely to use that carpenter for the larger ones as well. Gee….didn’t Jesus say something about being trustworthy in the small things?
I know, “don’t spiritualize something that isn’t spiritual”. Well, I just did, and since this is my blog, I may do it again, and again, and again.
In fact, I find the idea of not spiritualizing things that many claim are not spiritual to be a false doctrine of sorts. Now, I won’t judge people for telling me not to spiritualize, but I will say that there isn’t anything in this world that God does not have His hand in. Having said that, what’s not spiritual? If God is Spirit, and He has His hand in everything, then everything is spiritual, at least that's my opinion.
To me, to say something does not have a spiritual element inside of it is to say that God isn’t aware of what is going on. I’d sooner let you pull every one of my teeth than believe that. Because the alternative to God not being involved in everything, to God not being aware, is that God is not in control. I can’t even begin to tell you how much peace I gain from knowing God is in control.
So if I spiritualize here, please grant me some room to do so. Yeah, I know, it’s a bit loony at times, but would you rather have me talk about my fish? By the way, Oscar is now eleven and a half inches long. Isn’t that special?
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Yes, Bruce, I have shamelessly stolen that from one of your posts a while back.
You all should go visit Bruce over at his YBMT blog. Bruce is the kindest man I have ever had the experience of talking with on the net. And…..he is also the very first person who ever commented here. He welcomed me, and in large part, he encouraged me without really knowing it. He is a dear brother, and I pray for him tonight to be granted joy without measure. Every time I see one of his comments, my heart swells.
Go on!!! Visit him, and say hi. I’m going to.
Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
Raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus, and live!
Now your burden’s lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus, and live!
And like a newborn baby
Don’t be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall….So
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus, and live!
Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain….then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus, and live!
And when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can’t contain your joy inside….then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus, and live!
And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side….and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus, and live!
Several times I have heard this song sung. Each time, it brings tears to my eyes. Tears of joy, tears of hope, and tears of remembrance.
The lyrics evoke memories in me all the way through, except for the last verse, which trembles my heart toward hope. Fly to Jesus, what a wonderful way to view death. That it be unknown, we do not doubt. That it be frightening because we are not familiar with it, and remain unwilling to taste it, we admit.
But to fly to Jesus!!! That is something I can picture. To be lifted above the grave, beyond my flesh, and into His House, where He awaits me, this is the stuff that Christian dreams are made of.
There is a lady in our church gathered, whom I know fairly well, that sings this song. Once, I saw her sing it with tears streaming down her face, and I wondered…How can this girl whose heart is both breaking and swelling at the same time sing so beautifully all the while through it?
As a carpenter, there are numerous tools I use. From cordless drills, to table saws, planers, to edge sanders and grinders, nearly every tool I use can take a digit, or a limb, and possibly even my life. At the very least, they can poke holes in you, such as a cordless drill bit slipping off the work and through your finger. Yes, I have actually had that happen.
Saturday, a razor blade slashed across the tip of my left index finger, the same finger which lost part of the extreme tip to a utility knife three years ago. I don’t know what is up with that left index finger, but it sure does seem to get in the way of razor blades a lot.
Just days before that, I was cutting some yellow pine on my table saw, when suddenly I heard this metallic ping. Not a good sound to hear, if you are a carpenter. When you hear that sound, it usually means some part of the board you are cutting has broken loose, hit the high speed saw blade, and is now a projectile.
Said projectile penetrated my neck, leaving a slight gash which several people at the jobsite commented was a hicky. Until they saw the blood, and the gash. Then they just wanted to know “how the eff that happened?” Ah yes, there’s the eff word again, huh?
When the projectile hit me, it felt like someone had punched me in the throat. Usually, I wouldn’t march straight into my house, and head for the mirror after getting hit with a piece of wood, but I wanted to see if there was anything stuck in the wound. As I looked, it became plain to me that I wasn’t going to die. I put a band aid on it, and went back out to my shop.
Before I returned to the jobsite, I took the band aid off. There is nothing like a band aid, or a splint, to cause people to ask the same question every time, all of the time, many times. “What happened?” Answer? ”Ummm, I fell off my hobby horse, rolled onto the floor, where I happened to land on a grenade, see, and it blew up, but all I got is this”
Seriously, I tend to lose all bandages and signs of wounds as quickly as possible, exactly because I don’t like to answer, “What happened?” In my profession, you could come to a jobsite nearly every day with one or two band aids to stop the bleeding, and then, you’d never stop answering “What the eff did you do?”
This is my work. I understand the risks, I love the job, and I wouldn’t do it if I hadn’t weighed the risks, and found them acceptable. Most of the cuts are small, and actually, you never put a band aid on a sliver. Heck, I get those two to three times a day.
I have known carpenters who have lost fingers, as well as arms. I have never met anyone who was later killed as a carpenter, but I have heard of numerous examples where it actually happened. The table saw incident snapped me back to reality. It can happen to anyone.
So why do I bring this up? Because I think being a carpenter is the most wonderful job in the world, despite the risks.
When I became a believer, I didn’t know the risks. All I had heard was that if you followed Jesus, most of your problems would be solved, and things would be a lot better. I must have heard wrong.
Following Christ can get you killed in certain countries. You can lose limbs, be thrown into prison, locked out of employment, not to mention be sold into slavery. And then there are the emotional risks. Take, for example, that God is in the business of working out our salvation with us, and that doesn’t always mean a safe trip to the store.
Sometimes it can mean betrayal, or loss of job. Other times it can mean losing sight of Christ, and feeling utterly alone, as if He has deserted you. This following Jesus is most definitely not safe.
There are numerous risks, and always there is the call to trust Him, the single, most difficult thing for a human being to do. To hand over control to Christ is akin to twisting our arms round and round until they break off. Imagine running around this world without arms. That’s what believing in Jesus can be like sometimes.
All in all, I have seen the risks, heck, I have tasted the risks, and still, I think following Jesus is the best thing to do. I watched today as a lady who had recently had double hip replacement surgery, knee replacement surgeries, and back surgery, along with loss of income, praise Jesus for all the good things He has done in her life. Simply amazing.
A few weeks ago, another lady praised Jesus, having suffered the abuse of a husband, and a house fire which stole her child, and her arm. She was in a coma for a while after the fire, and she didn’t learn of her child’s death for a days after she woke up. Yet there she was, praising God for all of the good things He had done in her life. Incredibly amazing!
Yeah, believing has great risks. But somehow, we thank God for all the good He has done in our lives. In the end, following Jesus is the best thing in the world, despite the risks.
Over at Messy Christian’s Blog, you’ll find a post she wrote, called The West is Morally Superior?, as well as dozens of comments discussing the issue of whether the west really is morally superior to the east.
I cannot believe some of the comments I have read there, by Americans!!!! This, the land of the free? What are our founding principals? That ALL men are created equal. And somehow, we moved beyond that principal? Or was it ever really a principal? Was it maybe just a mission statement, you know, something that looks good on two hundred plus year old paper?
America, this land that I love, and the people in it. This is my home. But there are some people who actually believe we are morally superior to the east. I am going to dispel that false belief right now.
Within the human mind, there lies something we call the ego. I have never met a single person who didn’t have a me, me, me voice raging inside of their head. Whether they were form China, India, Africa, Ireland, England, France, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, or the Untied States, every single person I met from these nations all had a me, me, me voice.
Knowing what I know about this voice, I know that there is no such thing as moral superiority. It is an impossibility for humans to achieve, maintaining this ego as we do. Take our thoughts, for example. Most of our thoughts are about us, are they not? Rarely do we think of others, EXCEPT in relation to US. We live in a ME centered society, ESPECIALLY in America. Merely believing in God does not change that. And now we find that in the time of need for many other Asian nations since the Tsunami, we have people actually squabbling over how much is being done by one culture over another?
Why? That’s the question. Why? Can anyone actually answer this question truthfully? Because if we answer it in honesty, we will only find ourselves right back at ME. I have actually read, AND heard the statement numerous times, “we gave more than them”. What is that?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s ego. It’s PRIDE!!! And to find ourselves judging an entire culture of individual people, yes, each culture is made up of massive amounts of singular people. There’s Bob, and Jane, and Mark, and Sammy, and Ally, and Brett, and Sherrie, and Elaine, Susan, and Rick, and John, and all manner of others. In The east, there’s MC, and Sivin, and Irene, and Daphne, and many, many other individuals. PEOPLE!!!!! All with the same feelings, the same hopes, some of the same dreams, and fears that one finds in any INDIVIDUAL anywhere.
How do we get so asininely petty? At a time like this?
East vs. west does not exist. There is no “Western” thought. There is no “Eastern” thought. There is only people, individually, trying their best to make it in this fallen world. I believe what I am seeing, but I don’t want to believe it. It makes me want to hide.
I hate the way people generalize about others. It’s so lazy. It’s racism. It’s murder. Murder of another person’s dignity. And none of us have any right to do that.
Can I escape the eruption? I have in the past, but tonight, I feel angry. This man had no right to explode at me, he doesn’t even realize that at this job site, he is much lower on the totem poll than me, as I am the owner’s representative. Yeah, not the man you want to piss off on a construction site.
Okay, so I’m writing now anyway, despite what I said. Throughout his verbal tirade, I said nothing. I listened as he grew louder and louder, and more abusive. And suddenly, I found myself wanting to laugh at him. AT HIM!! Again, not the best reaction, and one I’m glad didn’t come to the surface.
Still, I can’t help in my anger to feel some pity toward him. He is going through a nasty divorce, his wife having left him for reasons not understood. I can relate to that, and we have talked in the recent past about it. But today, he didn’t want to talk, he wanted to vent, and I was the target. I asked him a simple question about some windows, and he blew a gasket.
So, what do I do? The trouble with this type of blow up on a construction site is that if left unchecked, Gaylord may feel he has the right to do it again, but maybe next time toward someone else. I can’t have that, at all. We can’t have other contractors getting the brunt of a bully’s anger. And my anger about this right now isn’t helping me think straight.
I was embarrassed, and everybody wanted to know what it was all about. One guy told me he saw the look on my face, realized I wasn’t saying anything, and thought I was going to deck Gaylord right there. I would never do that, and I told this guy that. But somehow, the look on my face must have made him take notice, and for that look, I am regretful. Yes, I was angry, I still am. But what did he see in my face that made him think that?
I also noticed that as Gaylord was yelling, I was walking toward him, and he was backing away, and then he just turned and stomped off, while I continued on my way toward my destination as if nothing had occurred. Am I really that cold?
I don’t know what to do about this. I didn’t speak to Gaylord the rest of the day, and barely saw him. But if I haven’t worked this out by tomorrow, I am afraid of how I’ll be toward him.
God help me!! I don’t want to be an ass. Help me to forgive, and to understand, and be compassionate. But help me to help Gaylord understand also that he can’t fly off the handle any time he wants. How do I do that, Lord? How do I reconcile this mess? I wanted to laugh at him. What is it in me that would be that cold?
I wrote it. I don’t feel better. I still feel angry, and now ashamed at what has been in my mind. Forgive me, Father. And help Gaylord, please help him, somehow, let him know you are there. Help him to heal over his loss which I understand well.
For me, regularly, it’s either with my daughter, or at work.
So often, I will say something to correct my daughter, or to help her understand something better, and seconds later, I’ll be standing alone when a eureka moment hits me smack in the face. Yikes!!! Tom, did you really just say that? Then, I think about what I said, and realized that what I said is exactly what I needed to hear from God at the time.
Freaky!! One time, I was telling my daughter about human relations, and how handling them would be the most difficult thing she would ever face. I mentioned something about her needing to learn that everyone has similar thoughts, and emotions, and that in many situations, what would anger or hurt her would be exactly the thing that would anger or hurt someone else. EUREKA!!
I hadn’t been dealing with human relations very well at the time, and the words I said echoed inside of my head for a few seconds, until I just walked away, in utter amazement at how God had used something I was trying to teach my daughter as a lesson for me. Really, how DOES He do that?!
With work, it’s usually another human relations lesson. Learning how to love my neighbor as myself could have been just an intellectual exercise, you know, something I know in my head that never once gets transferred to the real world? But apparently, God would have me actually use what He teaches me, and most often, use it with those who work with me. Amazing!! What a novel idea, to use what I know!
Hanging Chad is what I call him. That’s not really his name, but I like the name I’ve given him. For all you too young or too far away to remember the significance of the hanging chads, check into the US presidential elections of 2000.
Hanging Chad is a slacker, but I love him. He’s young, around twenty-four, I think. Don’t get me wrong, when he wants to work, he’s very good at what he does, and very fast. It’s just that he’s not all that motivated. I admit there are times I am tempted to say something snide and cutting, in hopes that I will spur him on to ambition. But always, just before I am about to say something, there is this little voice in my head that says, “Tom, make sure it’s something that you would like to hear, something that won’t cause him anguish.”
But,……But,….God !!! Sometimes people NEED to be kicked in the but! Nevertheless, my thoughts have already ruined the choice morsel I was going to feed Hanging Chad, and so I am usually left with something like, “Hey, Hanging Chad, How long do you think before I get you started on……..”
By saying it this way, I am not abusing Hanging Chad verbally, yet he often realizes that I have something important for him to do that I would like him to start on as soon as possible. Had I lifted my voice spewing chunks, the mess would have been all over Hanging Chad, and nothing but resentment and bitterness would develop. Thank You God, for helping me to avoid another human relations disaster.
God shows up in so very many places in my life, but if I had to write about all of them, I’d never stop writing.
Where does God show up in your life?
It occurred a few nights ago, when Ted Koppel was interviewing Mark, the saint, Tom, the sinner, and Satan, on ABC's Nightline, that some interesting insights were revealed. Let’s join the story already in progress.
Ted Koppel reached for his cup of coffee, rolled his eyes upward, and repeated,” I meant what I said, Tom, and Satan, if you cannot conduct yourselves in a respectful manner, and not talk over each other, this interview will end immediately. Now, back to Tom” And with that, he turned toward the screen showing Tom, a well dressed, well spoken president of a well knonn shoe making company.
“Tom, would you tell the audience what it is about you that makes you so successful?”
Tom cleared his throat, paused, and then took up his narrative. “Well, Ted, you see, it really isn’t all that difficult to explain. I set my mind to do something, I make the plan, I work the plan, and I accomplish my goal. I am the master of my own destiny, so if I try hard enough, there isn’t anything I can’t do. I was raised to believe this, and it has served me well. If only more people could understand this, the world wouldn’t have so many destitute individuals.”
Ted replied, “I take it then, Tom, that you mean to imply that we are what we make of ourselves?”
Tom thought about that question momentarily, then responded, “Is there another reason for anyone’s success or failure? After all, who are you going to blame if you fail, GOD?” With a grin, he turned toward Mark, the saint, and snickered.
Now Ted swiveled over to Satan, who until this moment, had refused to answer any questions, save to use his opportunity to slander Mark or Tom according to his pleasure. “Satan?”
"What, Ted” was Satan’s retort.
“Do you have anything to add to this discussion?”
Satan looked directly into the camera, and spoke, “Ted, I hear this success story of Tom’s all of the time, and frankly, I say, poppycock! It’s bogus. The fact is, blind luck is responsible for his success, and he is a fool for not admitting it.”
Tom couldn’t keep still, “Now wait just one cotton-picking minute, you ass. I’ve had about enough of your …”
“Who’s the ass, You?” Satan cracked. “Or Mark over here, spouting off about how God is his ‘All in All’. It’s certainly not me, I only speak the truth as I see it, and I say, it’s luck. How would you know anyway? Have you ever roamed the earth like me? Have you ever seen the sun rise, and chased it until it went down? I can do it all in a single day, and not even be tired. Let’s see you try that, Mr. It’s All About My Plan. Bah!!! Garbage!!” spat Satan.
There were a few seconds of silence, and finally, Ted turned toward Mark, and asked, “Well, any defense or counter for Satan?”
Mark responded, “Satan is what God made him to be. Frankly, I pity him, but that’s neither here nor there. The truth is, some of what Tom is saying is true, however, I would caution that man is not in control of his own destiny. If you ask me whether a man can succeed with enough effort given a certain set of circumstances, I’d say, yes. But I’d also say that the circumstances which allowed his success were not of his choosing, and thus, his success depends far more on circumstance than on any real effort.”
“The man...is on…CRACK!.” Tom shouted somewhere out of sight.
Satan snorted, and said, “Pity me? Job once pitied me, too, Marky boy. Maybe I should test you, as well?”
Mark said nothing, and quickly, Ted asked His last question.
“Tom, tell us whether you think you’ll be in heaven one day, and why.”
Tom was mulling this over when Satan cut him off, “Tom ....in heaven?” With that, he started laughing uncontrollably, and his microphone was faded to hide the offensiveness of his laughter.
Recovering, Tom answered, condescendingly, “Ted, none of us really knows if we’ll be in heaven or not. After all, only God can be that judge. But if you must have an answer….”
"We must” Ted stated, sounding as though he regretted the fact.
“Then I’ll give you one. I know, I’m not perfect, but……..I think I’m pretty good. And…at the end of the day, that ought to be good enough. Yeah, I think I’ll be in heaven.”
When Ted returned to Satan to query him, all that could be heard was a renewal of Satan’s offensive laughter, so Ted chuckled, “Whenever you can catch your breath, Satan, feel free to give your response.”
Satan laughed for another twenty seconds, before composing himself. He stared into the cameras once again, with eyes that seemed to burn through the lens. “Ted, I’m not perfect, but….I think I’m pretty good. Yeah, I’ll be there, because that should be good enough.” Then, without warning, he stood, and proclaimed, “Behold!!!! I stand at the door and knock!! And if anyone is brave enough to answer, I’ll come in. But if the door is not opened, I’ll break in!” With that, he walked off, out of sight of the cameras.
Tom shot back with incredulity, "Satan, pretty good?!! Hah!!!"
"Watch it Tom! I can make your life ..........hell" The audience heard Satan chuckle.
“Well!, Sniffed Ted, in apparent indignation. “We won’t be asking him back!”
Off camera, Satan replied, “I’ll come back when I want, and you’ll like it, Ted. Remember, I made you!! I think you’ll have me back when I say you’ll have me back!”
Ted was now distraught, but quickly collected his poise, and turned toward Mark. “Mark, thank you very much for your respectfulness here tonight, It is for that reason, and that reason alone….that I leave you now with the last word.”
Mark looked into the camera lens as well, and smiled as he gave his reply, “Ted, the answer is yes, I’ll be in heaven. But not because I was pretty good, or even really good. The only reason I’ll be there is because of Jesus, because of what He did for me on that cross.”
Mark smiled at this, for he knew Ted would try to put a different spin on his answer, "No Ted, I was merely stating the facts. What I am as a person only Christ knows, for He is in me, and all things are known by Him. But, if you must assume anything, then I won't stop you. Feel free to embellish."
“Hey Mark!!” Tom shouted, “Can you SEE Jesus? I mean, can you see Him now? Is he like, floating above us ….?”
Now it was Tom’s turn to laugh, and laugh he did, right on through Ted Koppel’s closing statement, which went something like this;
“What we have witnessed here tonight, folks, is three very different points of view. I remind you, the viewing audience, that ABC neither condones any comments made here, nor are any of these comments necessarily the viewpoint of ABC. “
Satan again interrupted somewhere off-screen, “Yeah, that’s right. I’LL tell you what your view point is, Teddy boy.”
“No, I don’t think you will, Satan.” Ted replied. “Three very differing viewpoints, and none of them necessarily the truth. With that being said, I’ll leave you, the viewing audience, to decide for yourselves what to believe. After all, we are all able to agree on this, no one should force their viewpoints on another human being. With that, from all of us at ABC, Good night.”
"So Ted, we all know who Satan was here," Tom said off camera, "but tell us, who's the saint? Me, right?"
"You are what you make of yourself, Tom" was all the viewing audience heard Ted Koppel say. With that, ABC went to commercial break.
Well, if that had really happened, we’d all know a great deal more about Satan, wouldn’t we? Or would we?
That’s what I want. It’s what I have always wanted.
I am learning to live with the Spirit of God in me. Once, I lived in this debt system, this world, where I ended up with a pocket full of bills I couldn’t pay, and nothing to show for it. I am not talking about money….
Yesterday’s post now has a purpose. You see, I am learning to know God, and learning what it means to know He is always with me. In the words of my pastor today, “Yeah but sometimes, He’s just too Holy, isn’t he?” IreneQ made a good point; sometimes, we’d rather He wasn’t around.
We still live in this world full of temptations and systems of debt. We can do anything, but there is a price. No, we are not under obligation to pay that price anymore, but still, someone paid for it, and in some ways, the people we claim to love still do. I can make you pay for my arrogance, or my selfishness, without even a moment’s notice. We aren’t home yet, and there will always be price tags for someone who can’t afford to pay the cost.
This may sound like legalism, until you understand what I am trying to say. This world is a debt system, and there is always a price, even if we are free from the ultimate price. Sin costs. So what are we to do, act like we don’t know this? Go on our merry way, and do as we please? Someone will pay the price if we do. It may be someone we love, it may be us. This world costs, someone is going to pay.
Now having been freed form the Law, and having this deposit of the Spirit, we can know a better way. And that is what learning to live with God is all about while we are here. If I enjoy being around God, then I will do the things that please Him. I won’t tally those things up, and present a bill for services rendered. Instead, I’ll be thankful for the God who actually wants to know ME.
So how much do we enjoy being around God? If He is in us, do we love His presence? ALL OF THE TIME? Are we learning to live with God? Or are we fighting it?
Is there something about God that makes us uncomfortable? Actually, there are many things about God that make me uncomfortable to this day, like the way He sent the Israelites to destroy every man, woman, and CHILD in certain wars, just to judge whether they were obedient enough to be His people. And that He would punish them if they actually had mercy, or avoided a war He had ordained, and instead, made a treaty. These types of things make me very uncomfortable. Yet what am I to say? Am I to say, “How dare you, God?” Give me a break. Job was the most righteous person who walked the earth, and even He didn’t have the right to take God to task for the things He does.
So how do I live with that which I am uncomfortable with? That’s the real question. I can’t hide from it, it’s right there in black and white.
I think I live according to His grace. And if according to His grace, then I am able to live with Him, even if at times, He makes me uncomfortable. This is the God of Abraham, the one who speaks with a boom, not only with a whisper. In fact, of the times the bible talks of God speaking, only once can I recall an actual whisper. Truly, were God to speak to me audibly, I’d die from fright.
And yet here He is, inside of me, and how am I to live with this God? Peace. That’s how.
Beyond anything I have ever known, peace is the word I can use that best describes what it is to have God in me. That’s how I can live with Him, even when I am uncomfortable.
And in time and experience, as I grow closer to God, I know for certain, I will enjoy being around Him even more. It won’t always be pleasant, this I know. There are going to be some dark times ahead. But the light will always shine, because the Light lives in me.
Christianity is not debt management. It is not sin management. It is learning to live with God in us. We have this body so fragile in form, and inside this body is the Holy Spirit, whom we will not be without ever again. Learning to live with God in us means learning to enjoy the very presence of God. If I don’t like being around God too much, I am unlikely to do that which pleases Him. Jesus must have liked being around His Father an awful lot, because He ALWAYS did the things that pleased God. And therein lies our key.
We can run from that which we cannot escape. We can hide in vain. Or we can learn to live with God in us, because He’s not going anywhere. This world will continually assault us with things that look too good to be true. We may even want those things. But I think, the only way to stand against temptation is to like being around God. To enjoy Him.
We seek that which we enjoy, and if sin is something we find more enjoyable than God, then possibly sin is where we will find ourselves. That’s not legalism, that’s just the cold, hard facts about our flesh. But if we learn to co-exist with this God in us, even learn to enjoy being around Him, what will temptation look like then? I say, you will not leave your Master’s side when sin is crouching at your door, because sin will have nothing to offer that beats what you already have.
Learning to enjoy life with God is the only way to live free of debt. If everything we want is in God, the world will have nothing to tempt us with. Jesus spoke of this many times, but I recall the time He told us not to worry about what to eat, or what to wear, that our Father in Heaven knows we need all these things. I recall now how I used to worry.
I am on a journey, and I am learning how to live with God. Want to come along?
Please don’t fear if you currently don’t feel like you love God. He has you in Him, and He has enough love for the both of you. Rest in that. It is enough.
There is this presence in my mind, constantly. When I say constantly, I mean ALL OF THE TIME.
I can’t really say it is a thought, or a memory, because it both is, and isn’t those things. It’s more than that, and less than that, somehow. And, I wonder…..is this normal?
I think (using “think” for lack of a better word) of God almost constantly. I do not think of Him in actual thoughts almost constantly, actual thoughts are somewhat less. But He is on my mind, and there’s never a moment He isn’t. I have tried to measure this, to watch it, to remember the times when He isn’t, and as far as I can tell, I haven’t found any. I guess the best word I could use is “aware”. It’s like someone flipped a switch the moment I believed. And if I could describe the magnitude of it, I'd have to say it is getting louder.
I have this awareness of God in everything, in waking, working, walking, or wandering. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, I am always aware of Him. If I do right, He is there. If I do wrong, I am aware of His presence in me. I cannot say it is physical, because it doesn’t strike me as such. I cannot say this awareness is blind faith, because it is very real, almost just close enough to see. Then again, I can’t touch it with my mind, this presence. In other words, I can’t capture this awareness, and put a voice or a face to it.
I feel like I am not explaining this well. Words are failing me. How do I bring this across without sounding absolutely whacked out of my mind?
He’s here!! In my mind!! In my heart. He’s never gone. I wake up, and He is here. I lay down, and He is here. Does anyone else feel this? Am I normal, or obsessed? Oh, how I wish I could describe this one thing better than I have. How I wish for the words to draw a picture you cannot see. How I wish for the verbs and nouns, adjectives and prepositions to bring you into my mind, to see for yourself what it is I am saying.
God is not far off. He is here!! He is not a distant God, but a close God. He is not uninvolved, He is the reason, and the movement of everything in my life. He is ALWAYS here, always present, and as I said the other day, there is no place I can go where He is not. I no longer want to be any where He is not.
Oh, I know, we’re not supposed to have favorites! I won’t apologize. I don’t love my other brothers less, I just favor my youngest brother. Here’s his phone number………………….
The reason I was thinking of all this is because he wrote me a long email the other day. And, I have found it to be true, that even though we change, many of the people who love us still remember us when we were young. Furthermore, he helped me remember that I haven’t really changed all that much, at least not in what’s important.
He’s still my favorite brother. I still find myself thinking of him often. I still cheer him on silently, hoping for his best, and being thankful when he succeeds. None of that will ever change. Some things are meant to stay the same, from the moment we are able to remember. And sometimes, we scare those we love, when we don’t talk with them, when they see things in us they have never seen before. Sometimes, we scare them because they remember the way we used to be, and we cause them to fear that the person they knew and loved is gone forever.
My little brother and I had not spoken for almost a year, whether by phone, or email. We live over a thousand miles away from each other, and I missed him dearly. But I never once told him that. We were not angry with each other over anything, yet still, we hadn’t spoken. And during that time, something was almost lost. That something means the world to me, the friendship of my little brother. Not that we would have wanted it that way, and I don’t think we would have spent years and years not speaking with each other. But you know, things left unsaid are almost worse than things said that cause people to be angry with each other.
My little brother and I are talking again, and it’s because he had the guts to say a few things to me. It wasn’t easy for him, I am sure, but still, he had the guts. And that is how I remember him, a child who wasn’t afraid to try, and thus, to succeed. He is a man now, with a family of his own, a wonderful family. Still, he has the courage to say what is on his mind, but also the courage to accept what is on mine. And because of his courage, a relationship that had faltered this last year, a relationship that meant more to me than I can say, is getting another start.
Yes, I bugged him when he was young. But he doesn’t choose to look at it as a bad memory, he looked at it as something he missed. I was a pain in the ass, but I hope he always knew that I loved him. He could be a pain in the ass sometimes, too, but being who I am, I never let him know he was good at it. After all, part of being a good pain in the ass is being the best pain in the ass in the room. And as I write this, I arrogantly think, “there is no one better at bugging and teasing people than me.” Forgive me for my arrogance, but is it arrogance, if it is true?
My little brother is tough, too. He has suffered several hard tragedies in his young life, but he remains a good husband, a good father, and a good brother. Life has not been easy for him recently, as he and his family had to move to a different state because of work. Yet he still remains upbeat, and faithful. This world needs more people like my little brother.
I told him the other day that my daughter Ally now gets much of the bugging he used to get. Recently, I have taken to calling her affectionately Allyalorally (pronounced smoothly Allee-a-lorel-lie, and if you notice, the only addition to her actual name is”alor”, and “Ally” is used twice) She says she doesn’t like it, but my daughter smiles most of the time when she hears it. Still, with Ally, I tend to stop bugging her when she asks. My poor little brother, I wasn’t quite so respectful when he was younger.
Teasingly now, I say to him, “I must have done something right, look how wonderful you turned out!!”
I love you, little brother.
God bless you all greatly, and keep my little brother, and his family safe and sound. And please teach his older brother some humility. :D
I know, you can’t possibly love God, and be afraid of Him at the same time, can you?
This I know; God is huge, He is a God who knows everything about me, in this world of what, five billion people? How does He do it?
He blows me away! I cannot touch with my intellect what He knows, what He sees, what He does. I cannot begin to understand EVERYTHING. And that’s what He is in, all the details, all the plans, all the weather, all the giggles of little children, all the birds and puppies, the kittens and fish, the mountains, the sky, the stars and the moon. Everything is His, and there is nothing that is a surprise to Him. Before words are on my lips, He knows what I will say. How does He do that?
I cannot understand it. How many “things” are there in this world? How many people? How many sparrows? Yet He numbers the very hairs on my head? I can’t even do that! What type of being are we dealing with here? What type of being can do all this?
In the morning, He is there, right on my mind, and in me. He knows my routine, He smiles upon me, and my day is made before any other outside influence grabs my attention. At night, He is there, right on my mind, the last One I think about, coaxing me to rest, “there’s no more to see, today, Tom”. When I am sleeping, He is there, watching, waiting, protecting, and He is there for all these people, and all these things.
How does He do that?
There is no place I can go where He won’t be there ahead of me. There is no place I can do my evil deeds where He won’t see. I cannot even help an elderly lady across the street before He has seen the results of this kindness. I cannot walk without Him, anywhere, anytime, nor any place. He sees all that I do, knows all that I think, and that truly scares me. For if my God is so big, yet small enough to know me, out of all these people, and all these things, what must He think of me? I know He knows how much hair I have, but what does He THINK of me?
I can live in fear of the answer to that question, forever. Or, I can live with the answer to that question. To me, the answer to the question, “what does God think of me?” is Jesus. For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son……………
God loves the world. From the mouth of God. Can we believe such a thing? Can we trust what He says?
YES!!!! And may I just say, thank you God? Jesus removes the fear I have of God. He brings me closer, and makes me realize that if God says He loves me, it MUST be true. He will not wink at sin, but He has provided the way, the answer, if you will, and the answer is Jesus Christ. That’s what He thinks of us.
Not because we were so good that He just HAD to do something to reward us. Not because we were so close to being as smart as Him, that He had to bring someone else to confuse us, and keep us in darkness and bewilderment. Not because of any great deed we did, or any praise we had earned. Not because of our purposes, or our action, or of our design did He bring Jesus. No, He brought Jesus because He loved us, FIRST.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that what I am saying here isn’t also drivel. It may well be, and I hope you’ll tell me if you think so.
I have simply been pondering what it means to know Jesus Christ, and how I live my life according to what I know, recently. And, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t know much.
A few weeks ago, I decided to throw away all the doctrine I had known, save Christ crucified, risen, and as my redeemer. I felt that these things were all that was necessary for me to know, to inherit the Kingdom. Nothing in these last few weeks has changed that. Now, however, I have a challenge.
I am tempted to read a few books, by well known, and one not so well known, Christian authors. But I before I start, I find myself stopping, pausing really. I have to ask the question, “Isn’t this how you became so filled with garbage in the first place?” And so I must answer, “yes”.
If it is true, that reading a whole bunch of “Spiritual” self-help books is partly the cause of confusing theology and doctrine, why would I fill myself up with it again? Trouble is, it’s so tempting!!! I want to read what they have written, I want to hear new explanations, new insights, I want to hear everyone’s opinion of the gospel, except the Spirit’s.
You see, that’s the trouble. When I open these books, if I open them, there is a great chance that the moment I do, I close the Spirit. Why do I need the Spirit, when I have Max Lucado, or Chuck Swindoll, or Brian McLaren to tell me exactly what I should believe? Please bear in mind that none of these authors are going to say I should listen to them. No, I don’t believe the authors are the problem.
The problem is us. The problem is me. IfI choose to open a book written by a Christian author, rather than open the Word, and rather than just TALK with Him, and if I believe that book will give me answers I can find no where else, then I have limited myself to that author's points and views. I do not want limits anymore. I want freedom! I want to do the good works that have been prepared for me in advance, and I want to find out about them from the mouth of God. I want to remain free! I want to live with truth, and that truth must come from Jesus.
Christian publishing companies around the world proclaim that their founding principals are biblical, that their business is the business of God, and their foundation is Him alone. Do not believe this, it is a lie. I have spoken with numerous authors, and I myself, have been rejected numerous times, by these publishing companies. Sour grapes? You might think so, until I tell you of the struggles of one Max Lucado, and how unknown, he was rejected I believe some fifty times by the very publishing companies he writes for today. What was the reason he was rejected? Because no one would buy a book from an unknown author. Interesting principal of God.
He is not the only one. Some I have known have been rejected a hundred times, and some of what I have read of their work tells me these publishing companies are missing the boat, and withholding some awesome, Spirit-led writing from you, the church. And why? Because they won’t publish anything they cannot make money on. This is not wrong, mind you, in the world’s way of doing business. Publish books that don’t make money, and soon, you will be out of business, unless you have a hoard of money to withstand all the losses.
My point is, why are we buying books from liars? Why are we buying and perpetuating the filling of pockets for people whose claim is that their business is founded upon the very principals of God, and His Word? Clearly you see the problem? If money is the determining factor of who gets published, then the foundation of these publishing companies is not God, rather, it is money. That is the lie, and that is why I struggle so much with buying books recently, and only part of why I will not read some of these works. I get suggestions daily to read this and that, and I have no doubt that all of these books have been a great help to those who suggest them, and I truly thank all who take the time to make the suggestion.
However, what are we about? The favorite past time of Christians seems to be reading books by other Christian authors. Yet the first century church had only a few authors, and never has the church seen the power of the Spirit so manifested as during that first century. Do we rather buy watered down scripture, than read the very scripture left to us by these first century, inspired authors? Do we really believe that without these books we cannot make GOOD sense of the Word of God? Do we really need ten thousand authors telling us confusing message after confusing message, when all along, the Scripture has not changed?
It has become so bad, that indeed, can we even read scripture without using SOMEONE else’s foundation of truth and “fact” before we do? Can we read the Word without already previously forming presuppositions laid down by men, and not the Spirit?
Here…..I say to you now, if you open that Bible, the Spirit will speak to you. You do not need to trust the words of someone else. There is a place for preaching, but there is no greater time to learn from the Spirit than right now, every time right now occurs. You can learn from the Spirit taking a walk, talking with a friend or your children, sleeping, eating, using the toilet, taking a shower, and snuggling with your loved ones. But you can’t take these authors and books with you wherever you go. There are certain places they cannot come. The Spirit has no such limitations. Who, then, will be our teacher?
It is not wrong to read books by Christian authors. But if that is the extent of our learning, if we take what they say with us into reading Scripture, then we will only learn what they have told us, and our ears will be deaf to the Spirit. This is my opinion, so you can throw it away, and you won’t hurt me. But here it is the advice I would give from my opinion. Put the Zondervan Study Bible away, and get yourself a plain Bible, without study and notes. Keep the references, because they do help in pointing out past prophecies, but throw away the notes of “learned” scholars. Then, with blank Bible in your hand, let the Word of God speak to you, without outside influence. Christian authors they may be, but if they are not you or the Spirit, then outside influences they are. Save the time you spend reading their books for time spent with God. They cannot give you what God can, undivided attention. They wrote the book exactly because they can’t go with you wherever you go. But the Spirit can. If we empty ourselves of all the confusing doctrine, the Spirit most assuredly will fill us, and what will we see?
I say, we will finally see the truth, we will have spirits of discernment, and our walk, though honest without any place to hide, will at least be our walk, and not someone else’s whom we are trying to mimic.
This post is not written to offend you. I do not know everything, and I am certain that there are things I have missed. I am certain you can learn many things from these Christian books and authors, and I am certain they are all God-loving people. But of this I am certain too, and no one can prove this wrong. They are not the Holy Spirit of God, and because they are not, their writings are a watered down version of the real thing, which we have plentifully available. Let’s avail ourselves of the real thing first, and be filled with the Spirit, not with opinions and doctrines.