Straight from my very own “that one site” news feed, here it is again after a one month hiatus *drumroll*… Memes that make me go, “Huh?” I didn’t visit that one site all the month of March so I didn’t get any memes downloaded to comment on, and at first when I signed back in I didn’t see any memes. But, I should’ve known that it was a fluke, and some great guy’s firing from our local walmart sure has spurred the meme momentum as of late. It was an injustice and if you want to see the story from a Springfield, Missouri station, check this out. Anyway, onto the fun…
This is a quote that I’m sure has been said before, but lately I have been hearing it on the radio associated with the new film, “God Is Not Dead 2.” Since I have been hearing that radio ad over and over again, I have had a struggle about what God glorys in. At one point in the ad, you hear a crowd chanting “God is not dead He is surely alive,” in a protesting sort of way. It really irritates me. It is not a good chant, and how real is it to believe that Christians would actually chant that. I am embarrassed for God in this… But then I wonder, “Should I be?” I suppose God can gain the glory even if it is stupid, am I right? It reminds me of this whole Trump fiasco; I don’t want my liberal relatives believing that in any way I would be associated with who he is nor what he may or may not stand for. In the same way, I don’t want my unbelieving relatives thinking that I am in any way associated with “Christian” things I find lame. But, isn’t God glorified anyway? And then there is the whole “get an amen” thing as well. Moving on…
Thanks for the card, with the… monkey? Wait, is that me, or is that you? That little cute guy doesn’t look like he is dipped in crazy sauce nor a psycho trainwreck. But I suppose it is all perspective, yes?
Do food stamps look like this?
Okay, here is an example of the memes floating around my news feed right now. This guy Frank was the only good thing about walmart down here in little West Plains. It is amazing the amount of support this guy is getting too. I’ve never liked walmart, now I like it even less.
Steven suggests that if you drop all this you’ll become a psycho trainwreck dipped in crazy sauce at the beach wearing a raincoat.
They would? At what may I ask? Hmmm… maybe that hidden message in the back will help. It looks like “cafe p*something something* ss”. Maybe “press”? Cafe Press thinks our founding fathers would be shooting by now? Why the two flags? The original flag plus the new one? I’m sure this guy is talking about the amount of squirrels in our backyard right now, and the fact that I don’t even own an air gun makes him mad that I’m not taking matters in my own hands. Oh well. I think the squirrels will just get ran over out on the street anyway. Those things that the founding fathers would be shooting at will be taken care of soon enough anyway. This one was just awarded the honor of being re-memed by myself. Here we go…
There now. That picture speaks volumes now, doesn’t it?
Posted only for the cultural timeline. California and possibly soon New York is passing a $15/hour minimum wage. Will it make the economy stronger? We may have time enough to see… but I doubt it. That we have time, that is.
I don’t think that is God.
This is borderline psychosis man. Just calm down then and go get some coffee. Like many of the memes I repost here, I wonder about the person who originally conceptualizes their meme. I mean, I know people like coffee, and they get their t-shirts that express their need for coffee instead of violence, but this is really disturbing…
Good statements and such here, well most are alright, but it is the drawing that got me here… Is that an arm? Where is his hand? Is he standing, sitting or squatting? Annnndddd, how can you be a fierce enemy and live by the word of God?
I’m assuming Mao Tse Tung said this? My instincts say he didn’t, although it is a jumbled confusion of guns. Let me see if I can figure out what is being said: Gun=Power, Communism>Guns(?), Communism (does not need) Guns. Nope, doesn’t make sense. Therefore a communist must have said that.
The Thing: Comic books. Spock: TV. Edward Scissorhands: Movies. Paper: Paper. Lizard: I don’t know. It’s not really a funny joke, but why is the conclusion that if you get it, you have great taste in tv shows?
I don’t know who Red Forman is, but he looks grumpy. So is this person saying the older he/she gets the more they identify with… his grumpiness? Oh, yeah. I get it. It is not about grumpiness, but about his grumpiness. I guess I don’t have good enough taste in tv shows to understand this one.
Is this really a billboard? Someone tell me it isn’t…
Strange Confessions: I was dreadfully afraid to get sick in the car while I was growing up, because I didn’t want to get fined for littering if I threw-up out the window.
I have a vague recollection of a conversation with one or more of my parents regarding those signs you see on the freeways warning of fines if you littered. All sorts of scenarios went through my mind regarding string, rice, ice, apple cores. But the most perplexing thing that was given birth in my brain was, “Is vomiting out the car window considered littering?”
I sincerely put forth my query and they told me that, yes indeed, throwing-up out the car window was littering. “Who has to pay?” I asked. I was informed that they would pay but they would expect remuneration for the foul fine. I doubt if my parents ever said remuneration to me, and I never considered an upset stomach coating the black asphalt speeding perilously by, to be a work that they had done for me. Who were these policemen who would hate a child enough to watch them speeding by as the green faced warrior of warning and chaos spewed forth its venom and then pursue them to the ends of the earth just to make sure fines were distributed to the innocent? It was just an undigested bit of beef or blot of mustard or an underdone potato that caused all the mess anyway… how could they consider fining the poor sick lad who didn’t want to be slapped for mussing the car all up?
My mind pondered this for some time, and then I ingested the information, took it for what it was worth and vowed never to get sick enough to vomit out a car window.
As some trigger in my brain released this long forgotten information, I wondered at its genesis. Did my dad, for as the more I write the more I recall, tell me this just to have a bit of fun? Or did he tell me this because his dad told him? My Grandfather died before I was born and the only thing my dad told us about him was that he owned a spaghetti factory by the union station tracks near downtown Salt Lake, and that he punished him once for messing with a dishwasher and broke his arm. I also recall a picture of him someone, somewhere had of him strolling down the streets of downtown Salt Lake City in finely pleated slacks, polished shoes, double-pocketed button up shirt and a straw hat perched nonchalantly on his noggin. Did he tell his son stories to mess with him? My dad was an only child. I am the middle.
Perhaps I recall this story to purge it from who I am. Many people find it a ridiculous notion that our relationship with our fathers drives our relationship with God. I many times feel as if I am God’s comedy release. Even now, with so many things frustrating and mocking me because of my own fate, makes me feel that God isn’t angry with me… He just likes having a good laugh at me once in a while. Purge it. Purge it. Purge it. Thank you for the recall of such innocence of youth, brain, for it is to purge bad theology that effects my heart. Nonchalant hat tips to my God.
This entry is to announce the end of Clickbait Spoilers, even though so far there have only been three. It has been very frustrating opening sites, just for you I might add, that are slow to load, crash my computer, and have lots of horrific little pictures enticing me to click more and more. I thought that maybe I was adding some value to the world by making sure you didn’t have to click on the lure of “you won’t believe what happens next,” and in doing so maybe making you laugh at the foibles that are the life and times of internet living. But the suffering was just too great. I see these clickbait headlines and just wonder why the person who shares them just doesn’t tell us why the woman cried after hearing “this” for the first time, or the two words you don’t say to breastfeeding mothers, or whatever it is these sites are trying to get us over there for. And Christians are the worst propagators of this very thing. I suppose I understand that people want more clicks on their sites because it generates revenue, I guess; I wouldn’t really know about generating money from your site. I just have felt dirty when I click on these; again I want to say that it has been just for you.
I wonder about whether or not Christ, or more specifically God, was a clickbait kind of guy. “Noah! There is a giant wooden thing I want you to build, and you won’t believe what I’ll do when it’s done.” Does it matter that Noah was obedient or was he curious about it and decided to click? “Give me five loaves of bread and two fish, and you won’t believe what happens next.” Would it be that some people just didn’t stick around to find out? Most people, in fact I might be persuaded to say that all of them decided to see what did happen next, and you know what? It paid off baby!
There was a time they didn’t stick around to find out what happens next and that is when Jesus told them that they had to eat His flesh and drink his blood in order to have life. Can you imagine what kind of clickbait headline that would have to be to drive away people today? People have this insatiable curiosity to the lure of being shocked, or not knowing, that it almost drives us to it. But it seems as if these promises of amazement leading to us shrugging our shoulders and just saying, “Meh…” adds to the sense that there is nothing incredible anymore.
I see on that one site that so-and-so has liked this story and it gives you a subtle sense that something might be valuable in clicking: I usually don’t. But when someone shares it, and doesn’t actually tell me what it is, it makes me mad, because what little value I have placed on our “friendship” leaves me to wonder why they want to lead me astray in a clickbait catastrophe. Sure, most don’t think about what they are sharing as trouble to people like you and me, as it really isn’t, but that culture of “Tonight at six we’ll tell you why this mother beat her son in public and she has been lauded as a good example of parenting,” makes me a little sick inside, especially after this foray into finding out things for you that you normally wouldn’t click on. And that is the thing, isn’t it? That it doesn’t really pay off. Maybe it might make you think, “interesting” for a second or two, but the only really, truly thing that gives us an ultimate pay off is God. His lure is not false. His promises will not let you down. If you truly know Him and give Him your life, you will know that He is no bait, but He does want to catch you and hold on forever, but for His glory and nobody else’s.
I see all these famous people who claimed Christianity for so long and we uphold them… then they deny Him and His Church and fall away. They were clickbaited by something other than Christ. I know the lure of spirituality, but it will never pay off in the end.
So long “Clickbait Spoilers,” I hardly knew ye.
As you may have seen from my previous writings, the last several years of my life has changed to within myself a very specific conviction towards valuing in the utmost, our relationship with each other. It began in a men’s study I was involved with and the reading of a book called, “The Exemplary Husband.” One of the chapters was about relationship. As men we tend to build in our lives priorities. Sometimes our priorities are skewed in that work is our main priority, then family, maybe sports, our friends, and the like. Then we become a Christian and we are told that God should be first, then our wives, our family, our church… You know, we have a more sensible priority list. This book introduced the idea that it is not the things in themselves that have the priority, but the relationships. We should look at it as: Our relationship with God is priority one, then our relationship with our wives, and so on. Another thing I learned in this group was that the reason marriage was so sacred is because our relationship symbolizes the relationship of God within Himself or furthermore, between Christ and us.
Tonight, we initially looked at the creation and how God called all things good until he looked at what was missing or unfulfilled in Adam, and that was he was not in relationship. Being in relationship is the reason God created us. He said that He was making man in His image and in that was the relationship God had with Himself. In the Godhead, God is complete through the relationship He has with Himself. Ponder that for a time. Dwell on it. He did not need to make us, but made us to glorify Him in our relationship with Him and in our relationship with each other. One of the most beautiful poems, according to the pastor, was the one Adam said about Eve. It was not about Eve, but about himself. “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Adam, in his relationship with Eve saw himself. He saw himself fulfilled in Eve. He was fully created for the purpose of relationship and now saw that through Eve, seeing himself fully in that. Does that make sense? Well, look at it this way: when Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God, that relationship was broken, they covered themselves up, hid from each other, and we’ve been doing it ever since. We are not fulfilling our purpose, we are not knowing ourselves except through the relationship of each other and in God. Because of the sin in this world we are constantly hiding from ourselves and from others. We fear being truly known. We are broken and our relationships are broken.
We need to remember the gospel and our purpose in fulfilling the gospel in its freedom and it’s relationship. We need to know that there are two things that ruin our relationships mentioned in Galatians 5:26, “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” It is the challenging and envying one another that ruins relationships. To challenge means we look down on others, thinking ourselves superior, it is always a negative connotation and never about spurring on others. When we envy, we look up at others and are bitter for what they have or who they are, we feel inferior. Superiority or inferiority are the two things that destroy a relationship. The relationship here between relationship with each other and the freedom we have because of the gospel is this superiority and inferiority. When we think that we are superior we know we can do the things that please God. When we are inferior we are always ashamed at our failures and think we are horrible people. Because of our superior or inferior thoughts we cannot have the true relationship with God that we should have, that we were made for; it breaks our relationship with Him.
So how did we get this way in that we always compare ourselves to each other? The answer is also in the verse, our boastfulness. This word means empty glory. We try to glorify ourselves because the emptiness we have. We fill ourselves with glorying successes or the failures we have in trying. In the sin that sprang from that first sin we are hollow because of our unfulfilled purpose, so we constantly try to fill ourselves with things that don’t fulfill, and furthermore, we boast in that, creating feelings of superiority or inferiority in ourselves and others. Something inside us makes us believe we’re not great, so we have to boast about our greatness. So again, it comes down to the brokenness of our relationship due to our superiority or inferiority.
Look at what Christ says in Matthew 7, “I never knew you.” In that he wasn’t saying they weren’t good enough or humble enough, but that He didn’t know them. The final exam, as you might say, is about how much He knew us.
We look at psychology and it ways of solving our human dilemma, and it focuses more and more on that people just don’t see the value enough in us. Christianity says that it is sin and that we compare ourselves to others and it is the cause of all brokenness.
One of the things we also do is look at others and become attracted to people because of what they can fulfill in us. Can we spend a good time together? Will they bring me into this circle of friends? We look at what others can do for us in making us feel worthy or give us the glory. When we do this we are devouring each other. Galatians 5:15 says, “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” This made me think of Hieronymus Bosch’s depictions of hell, where people are eating each other. This superiority/inferiority and the brokenness of relationships is in many ways a hell we have created for ourselves. When we look at others for what we may gain, we are using them, or devouring them, consuming people for our own gain. One girl I’ve been talking with about boundaries, said that she needs people. Now, we all need people, but when we need them in a very needy way, where it gives us fulfillment just to be around so many, it is as if we are devouring them. That is a boundary she must keep; not to have people around for the sake of your own neediness. I very much understand this attitude. Her and I are alike in so many ways. I see her in me 25 years ago.
We now see because of Galatians 5:13-14, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”” that our only options are to devour or to love, and it tells us in these verses that in love we are to serve one another. How do we choose to serve over devouring? It is by the Spirit of God that we accomplish this.
Philippians 2:5-7 “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
We are to walk by the Spirit and not regard yourself too highly. Empty yourself, become that servant. No longer look at what others can do for you, thus devouring them, but see what you can do for others.
Self-examination time: 1) Do you give, when there is nothing to take? 2) Do you sacrifice or feel as if you should be served? 3) Are you moving toward people who give you nothing in return? These are difficult questions. The Christian life is never as easy as it seems.
One thing I did ask after. He stated that he had to take a break from relationships, because they are so hard, is that a proper attitude? Even Jesus had to get away by Himself away from others for a time. I love you Jesus, You are my perfect example. Amen!
A friend of mine gave me a very large tire so I could roll it up and down the slope in my yard. I was inspired by the show, “The Biggest Loser”. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but occasionally I’ll sit upstairs as my wife watches and I can write, or read, or do nothing. “The Biggest Loser” is a show that catches my attention more than most. It is inspiring to see people hitting a goal they set for themselves, or your heart breaks when they fall short and they have to make a choice to either give up or keep striving toward their goals. Some of the exercises they do involve a very large tire. They flip it over many times, they hit it with a sledge-hammer, they step or jump up onto it repeatedly. “I can do that,” I thought, and asked my friend if he had a tire. He wanted to know why and I told him. He laughed and said I wanted to play Sisyphus in my own backyard. Since then, my workouts with the tire have been off-and-on. There are weeks I consistently get up and work out, then months go by without the tire moving.
Today I was out in my yard striving with the thorn trees that continually spring up here and there in the places I don’t normally mow. When we bought this house four years ago, almost half of the yard was given over to the wild; our yard is 1.8 acres, so it is a significant change from the .18 acres I was use to in Salt Lake City. Over the years I have fought it back with push mowers, rakes, shovels, riding mowers, large trimmers, tractors and brush-hogs. The wild area now just takes up one small corner of the yard. This year I have gone out and hand-cut these 1-2 inch thick trees down with a pruning saw that has been in my possession since it was at my parents house over 30 years ago; I think it still has the same blade. They don’t make them like that anymore. Last time I was out there cutting trees, it was so hot and humid, I could only cut down about three sections: around 9 trees. Being a 45-year-old overweight man who can’t consistently push a tire around his yard, I quickly wearied myself. There was many more sections that I wanted to finish up before I came back in the house. After cutting about 5 trees down, I began to feel light-headed and took longer breaks in between cuttings. I prayed to God that he would give me strength to finish this job because He equips the called. I reasoned that I was called to finish this job, this goal, and He would make it so. At one point I was so weary, my vision started going grey around the edges and I didn’t want to pass out where I was, because of the poison ivy and bugs all around in this wild area. I quickly stood and half ran, half stumbled to a semi-clear area and threw myself on the ground. Finally, when lying, what I imagine to be a tick and chigger infested ground, became more terrifying than my weariness I rolled over and slowly finished the job.
Going through my mind was the frustration at how quickly I wanted to give up. I thought about the tire in my yard and how long it has stayed in one place. I thought about my job and how it is so much like being Sisyphus; I’m pushing this rock up a hill and it just goes back down, and I have to do it all over again with 8 people telling me 20 different ways to get the rock back up the hill. Well now more, sir; no more! It is done. I am done being a Sisyphus in my health and in my job. I have had some very fuzzy goals when it has come to them both. Well, that is over too. I’m done talking about how much I need to finish my resume. I’m done talking about how much I need to get consistent with my health. I need to set goals and strive for them. When I meet an obstacle, I must consider what must be done to get around it; and stop letting it let me give up quick flash in a hurry.
Take my writing for instance: This is my hobby and I let so many things get in my way to write down what I think needs to be said or shared or disseminated. I make excuses about others motivations and see no point in going on, but my point is to get better, to know myself more and to share that with you; being that I am the rebel that I am.
I’ve had a hobby of eating better and I have, except for the time that I suck down a whole bags worth of Dorito’s at a potluck, or guzzle that “last” Dr. Pepper because I desperately needed it.
Talk is cheap. Sometimes so is writing. I can write about this until I’m blue in the face. My goal this week is to finish my resume, finish a consistent beginning to a new workout, and stop drinking soda. If you are reading this, please let me know on that one site. I’m going to set a calendar date for next week, then I’ll let you know how I did, then start it all over again. Habits are built on repetition, and, most importantly for me, can not be done with out God. I have written recently about our freedom we have and that when we condemn ourselves it is of no use. This week it has been a focus for me. I have failed and almost instantly, I condemn myself, but I deny that this is not of the Lord, and it is not me sinning again but just myself displaying characteristics that goes against who I am in Christ. It is sin, but, I can’t continually condemn; that is of the devil. I need goals, encouragement, and just to stop condemning myself.
The era of Sisyphus, struggling and failing over and over again is done. Thank you God for revealing everything as a gospel story, and giving me the strength to be the man I need to be, for my wife, for my family, for my church family and co-workers. I need you every day.
There has been a question posed to me about how I get rid of the idols in my life. I realize that in the previous post I may have not been as clear as I always am in my own head. The response to idols in the sermon is to realize the love of God for you, dwell on it, read about it, make it your own. That seems to be the indication in verse 9 of Galatians 4: “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?” If we know or have known what God has done for us, how is it that we maintain our idols, our sin? We will never fully rid ourselves of the sin nor the cause for it until the great uniting, but our sin should be dwindling, growing steadily smaller, making itself less of a nuisance in your life than it did, say last year or twenty years ago. The thing about believing in the love of God and what it does for you is a difficult and yet simple thing to understand, and as I thought about the question that was asked of me, it became clear. So I’m a gonna dole out some fine wisdom to you right here and now…
But first, of course, a little background of thought that led me to these things. I am reading a series of books right now called the Codex Alera. Okay, you’re wondering how a science fiction series can explain simply about the how we fully grasp the love God has for us, but just be patient; I’ll get there. After all, God communicates with us in many different ways, which is sort of my point… So anyway, there is a race of people called the Marat. These people are divided by tribes in which they have a certain animal that they can bond with, they discover what tribe they are a part of in their teenage years. Their needs and desires, lead them to be a part of that tribe. They aren’t even referred to as male or female until a choice is made or a test given, they are whelps until they day they become part of a tribe. For example, Kitai is a whelp of the Gargant clan, (a gargant is like a large elephant I’m guessing). Her father is of this clan, he is largely built, strong, stubborn, is a homebody and is very much humor filled, much like the gargants. Her mother, who has died, was part of the Horse clan. Horse clan types are tall, muscular, and have a strong desire to roam, to see what is over the horizon. During a trial, Kitai’s life is saved by a human boy, Tavi, whom she has a strong contempt for, but still very much interests her. Because of the boy’s actions, Kitai’s eye color changes to match Tavi’s, indicating that she has joined a tribe, a unestablished tribe, but a tribe nonetheless. She is alone, brought there by her interest in Tavi and being saved by him. She now has a vast amount of knowledge to take in because no Marat has ever existed in human culture.
I was just reading this last night and it struck me how this connection of the Marat is similar to our connection with God. God does not connect with all of us in the same way. Some people make deep inner connections and reflections by keeping a journal. Some see God in the love they see in their children’s eyes. Others can just open the bible and make that strong connection there. Relationships with a spouse may be God’s redeeming connection to some. In all these things we see God, we are thankful to Him, but there is something in all of us that we have to find for ourselves that truly makes that ultimate connection in seeing how utterly in love God is with us as an individual. For me, it is the stars. Standing outside in the middle of the night, looking up and seeing the vastness of everything else that is not me, forces me to contemplate how completely worthy of awe my God is, and what it took for the Creator of the universe to visit my heart and make His residence in me. Stars. I can’t fully explain the amazing power God reveals to me by looking at the sky, because it is just for me. Just like you might not be able to explain how God connects with you. We are all unique in the way He created with us and we have to find the way He reveals to us who He is. That is probably why some people might not find that, or don’t see a relationship with God as something as life-transforming as it is supposed to be. They become Christian and someone tells them to start writing down what they learn, and they lose interest, and don’t find the Christian life that exciting. Go out there and discover what your connection is with the savior, think about how exciting life can be when you know the end, and that He is waiting for you in the place you can connect best with Him.
Tonight was first night back to worship services at Township Line since we got back from vacation. I was reminded when the leaders were saying it was going to be challenging to do this, because it was going to be hot: and tonight was hot. It is good to be a part of something that people still are galvanized about even when it is extremely difficult. People were saying to each other how hot they were, but with a smile on their face. It would be so easy to just say, “Not tonight,” and go on with you day, not worrying about it and stay all night in your air-conditioned house. Also, you know what? We had visitors. A surprising amount, and in particular, a surprising type of visitor. Perhaps more about this later, when all is said and done and the dust has settled.
First off though, I wanted to share something regarding my speaking with our Tuesday night fellowship group. We met Saturday morning for brunch and I was able to share some things that have been on my heart, in terms of my job, my wife’s teaching, the direction in our life, some needs we would like to see fulfilled. One thing that really struck me from the conversation was that they told me to be eager and excited and looking forward to what God has for us. I generally look ahead to a major transition with fear and trepidation, because of some past missteps. I needed to be corrected in this, because God does care and love us and wants to give us good things. As my sister-in-law reminded me last week, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” When people have been asking me how things are going or if my job is going well, I have to remember this. It is a perspective changer for sure. So tonight when people asked me my most dreaded question, “How is work going?” I tried to turn that perspective of looking forward to His change for me in this and it changed what I usually say, which is “…mmm okay” or “same old, same old.” I just tell them I’m looking forward to what God is going to do in my life in my job and in my family. It is very much freeing indeed.
Back to what happened tonight: After dinner and singing, I went over with the children’s group to help out as usual and I was told that if I wanted to sit in the sermon I could. “You don’t need me?” I say. “Nope. I think everything is taken care of tonight. You’ve been here every time,” is the response. “But I haven’t been here for the last two weeks?” “It’s okay, we got this.” They really didn’t need me? I didn’t dwell on it too much, because I was just glad to sit down and listen to a sermon tonight. Also, several people said they missed the Sunday Scrutinization thing, so I decided to give my loyal fans what they wanted: hard note taken and great summary… (That sounded funny to me, didn’t it to you? If it didn’t then you’re not reading enough of my stuff.) Anyway, I sat down, didn’t have my bible, or a pen, or my notebook, or a chair for that matter. Some young kid had stolen my chair next to my wife, and I had to kick him loudly out of my seat! I disturbed a lot of people, but it was the principle of the thing! It was my chair. I lugged it there and I’m a gonna sit in it. Well, once I did get my seat back and everyone settled down, my wife provided me with a half a sheet of paper and got me a pen. Isn’t she great? I started taking notes and noticed I had some sort of sore on the side of a knuckle on my writing hand and it made writing very difficult. I couldn’t take as detailed of notes as I usually do, so what I’m going to do is just type out what I wrote, word-for-word, and tell you my gut feeling about the whole thing. Here are my notes:
Gal 4:8-11 Changed my viewpoint
Judaizers -> Jesus +
enslavement -> to good things
v8 – non Gods – idols/nothingness
how do we become enslaved?
How are we free?
idol anything we have/do to gain approval outside of Christ
my idols – comfort/familiarity
1 Jn 5:21 sums up entire book – idols
idolatry is fundamental root of all our “problems” in life
why do we fail? -you have an idol
when we “blow” it – look at what is our idol
look at all the things we use to cope with life
epithermra – things we over desire 1Pt2 being noticed, included, loved
stop and look for the chains to that idol
v9 Free? God’s love
Well, there you have it. An insight into my wonderful note taking; with injured hand. Quick summary: He said that this section completely changed his view when it came to seeing his sin and when he counsels people. Of course Galatians has to deal with those nasty Judaizers who went around telling people that they weren’t doing enough; it is Jesus plus whatever they were selling. We were being enslaved all over again after being freed from sin. But how is it we come back to enslaving ourselves to things that are less important than God’s love, salvation and freedom. Although there is an idea that we are to put ourselves under the mastery of our Lord; that is why we call Him Lord you know, because we are to be His slaves, a rebellious and ornery slave, but a slave nonetheless. We all have idols and those are anything we have or do to gain approval outside of Christ. We can look at all the troubles in our lives and trace it back to some sort of idol. We were surprised, hurt or troubled by something because of some expectation we have in our life and specifically because of an idol we have in it. Comfort and familiarity are strong idols in my life. Also, after heavy consideration and asking questions at the end, I sometimes have self-condemnation as an idol in my life. Sometimes thinking that I’m just too horrible to deserve what He has offered, AND given to me I condemn myself as unworthy of Him. That is something I’ve put before God. I’ve been satisfied at times with my status quo of sinfulness and doubted His love for me, that He could fundamentally change who I am, that I am more important than Him. Look at that! Us self-condemning, those who have a tendency toward depression, are saying that their sin is bigger than God. Oh the Gall of it all!
His love is the most powerful force in the universe: it changes animals to those who are righteous. I think of that story in Daniel about the king who said his creation was grander than God and God changed him to an animal that ate grass for several years. Then God opened his eyes and this king praised God, with all his heart. When God changes us from sinful, enslaved human to righteous and saved saint, that should be the most glorious, most humbling thing we are to ever encounter. His love changed me. Has it changed you? Do you see His love in your life day-to-day? Sometimes we forget who we are because of the wiles of the world sways us and tempts us away from His love. “Come to me, all you who are weak and weary, for my burden is light and easy,” He says to us. We should be excited day-to-day what He has for us. Have you forgotten? Has this world taken you to a path of disappointment, heartache and pain? He is calling you. He wants you to cast all your cares on Him. I will speak of it, how I am excited about what He has done and is doing. He loves you, and that is your triumph over our idols. Remember, idols are generally good things for us, but we take them, or trust them too far. When they become more important than God, then is when they became idols.
You know, I love self-condemnation, but when has it ever loved me back?
Today was a completely fantastic day! God is at work in West Plains and especially through the fellowship of Township Line. I still am amazed and thrilled that He brought me into this group to see Him grow bigger and more incredible with every week. And this weekend has just begun.
Thursday we went to the West Plains Motel to hand out some flyers announcing our meeting at the park on Sunday night. The motel is almost all low-income residents and many of them need a little hope in their lives. Our family was the only ones going around and we decided that it might be prudent to ask the office if it was okay to knock on doors and hand out flyers. The lady at the desk didn’t give us approval as she wasn’t the owner, and I was able to leave some in the office. We walked around and talked to some people outside their rooms and told them about our gathering. (If you didn’t know, Township Line is gathering in several different places around the community this summer for meal and services, to get to know people and stretch out our leadership/relational skills.) Many people’s responses were positive and I hope many can come and see a people blessed and sharing the blessing of love and grace He has given us.
Today was another adventure with this group: A woman in our fellowship wanted to have block parties in differing places where some of the members live and serve and present the gospel to children. This was the first morning she had it and it was at her house. She was nervous about getting everything together and that kids would even come. There were a few kids that came and a little late at that. But she needn’t worry as God is at work in His people and what took place honored God and I believe got some of the kids thinking.
The puppet group was invited to do a song and skit that was supposed to be the majority of presentation of the gospel. The puppet group we were involved in at our former gathering, sort of dissolved after the leaders of the team started going to Township Line. (God has seasons in mind not only for His people, but also for those gathering in His name. I have no ill will towards the former fellowship we gathered with, it was just time for us to move on. I’ve never considered it a severed relationship, just a different one. I still love and see many of them and hope for growth and love to grow there.) So we have a few puppets and a new stage was built, so this was the trial run. It was a lot of fun as my wife and two youngest daughters helped out for a song. (My oldest, who started out in the puppet group with me, was taking the ACT, so she wasn’t able to make it.) My wife and I had a skit planned where she stood out front and interacted with a puppet in talking about “Whosoever” shall be saved. Well, since we had such a late start, my wife had to go pick up our oldest from The Test at the time we were going to do the skit. We had a back up plan of one of the guys replacing her. He stood in and was great. He did some ad-libbing; of which my wife was adverse too, and did a great job talking to the kids at the end.
Tonight we had a community dinner that we provide once every few months or so, that people from all over come and enjoy a free meal, and we get to meet them and find out what is going on in their lives. We got there a bit early and people were working and trying to get things prepared. Some kids were underfoot and I proposed to give them all a little walk before people started showing up. Walking down the block, we heard some loud shouting and raucous behavior down a blind alley. Three very tall, shirtless college basketball players came out and I put myself between the kids and these “boys”. As they were past us, I called to them, “Are you guys hungry?” They turned and looked at me and hesitated, then answered the obvious, “Yeah.” I told them we’re having a free meal of steak and hamburgers just down the street and they were invited to come. They said okay, but I wasn’t sure if they’d show. They did show up and brought one of their friends with them. It was great. I got all their name, although I don’t remember any of them, and found out one was from Dayton, another Pittsburgh, and another Atlanta. I wasn’t able to talk to the other one, but I find it incredible when I find out where people came from and then find themselves in little ‘ole West Plains. Some of the other guys from our group got to talk to them and it was wonderful that they came. At the time of their leaving, (with bowls of fruit cobbler and ice cream in their hands), one of them gave me a hug. It was incredible and I’m tearing up now as I type thinking about what a blessing it is to be blessed by someone you don’t even know, nay barely let them pass by as God used my voice to call out an invitation to them. What fun! I met lots of regulars who come to these community dinners and many new faces. This is such a great opportunity to meet people. There was an announcement about tomorrow’s services and some woman I was talking to asked me what denomination we were. I told her we were non-denominational and that we believe in the bible and that Jesus is our savior and died for us and we don’t have to do anything but accept His gift of mercy and forgiveness to be with Him forever, but that doesn’t mean we can do what we want, our lives should reflect the thankfulness we have and shared with those in the community and that is why we have these dinners. She was smiling and very interested, then told me she was a Catholic. I told her a little bit of my background, growing up Catholic in SLC. I told her she should come tomorrow and she said she would hope to.
God is so good. I’m reeling with joy. My cup overflows. I am so thrilled to be part of this work and I am continually praying for His Spirit to move in and through His people here in West Plains. I have shared with some of those in our former group about this summer movement and invited them. Many are enthusiastic and say they will come, some worry that it will look bad to gather with those not of their group. I praise God that one day all division will be wiped away and we can come to Him under His banner and praise His Name forever and always. Amen. And please continue to pray for this time, thank you.
Even in this dark time when there is so much uncertainty, and I watch the news and feel depressed and distressed, I know God is at work in the little things, the small bits, and it grows and grows. Thank you God.
(Author’s Note: I won’t be writing Sunday Scrutinizations for the summer because in addition to my flyer/dissemination leadership duties, I will also be with the kids during the actual sermon time, but I will be writing about what is going on and hopefully interview the people in leadership in this movement.)
Strange Confessions: I am petrified that I am being forced into a position to make another wrong choice in my life, as well as the fact that I think it might be God working in me for another major transition ahead.
Since I’ve been a Christian there have been some decisions in my life regarding a major purchase or job change or how we raise our children that I attempted to listen to what God would want me to do, but ended up feeling the pressure of a deadline or dissatisfaction or I just plain didn’t have the patience to wait for a clear picture. So I found myself in many peculiar positions of getting what I thought I wanted, yet it turned out to somehow be a cosmic joke played on me with added strain added to reveal the impertinence of my actions. I won’t go into it all now, because A: I’m not sure if I’ve already told you about some of these situations I’ve put myself in, and number 2: the stories behind these decisions is not the point.
My point is that these last two sermons I have absorbed these past two weeks have revealed in me the perilous point I now find myself in. I did not write at all week last week because of a funk I’ve been under. Let me just say it outright: I’ve been selfishly depressed.
The Perspectives course I have been taking, which started out grand, has rusted the gears in my mind because of the view I hold of myself. Who am I, that I could possibly begin a journey that would lead myself and my family to a point of excitedly getting to experience a culture that would be both a challenge and a blessing, to share our lives with people outside of the framework of our own wearisome culture? That is my thoughts my friends. Yes, don’t start convincing me of the argument that God uses the weak and the foolish and the blind, for I know all that. It is my Performance Record that gets in the way.
Work has been the other great “sign” or “challenge” or “prompt” that has given me the idea that things are pushing me to another change. Yet is it just me being more and more dissatisfied with work that I want to leave or quit or even get fired just so I have an excuse that it really was God pushing me? I really do believe that the way things are going at work, things are going to quickly come to a head and a decision is going to have to be made about what are we going to do next. Then I look at my Performance Record, and I see that maybe things aren’t as light at the end of the tunnel as they seem.
My 16-year-old daughter has been driving more and more lately, and she is very unsettled in the way it is so difficult in planning for her to work some, earning extra money for the college degree she is planning on and we have outright told her there is nothing for her from us in that regard. I failed out of the high school all my family went to, lost the grant I had in college due to selfishly staring at my navel through the drug-induced haze pouring through my mouth, couldn’t do well enough at the community college to strive and push myself into the betterment of who I always thought I could be. Then I jump from job to job, not climbing any corporate ladder I always convinced myself wasn’t for me and find myself in a managerial/design position I knew was a home run, but is drowning in the excess of poor communication and a series of managers not close enough to delve into the whys and hows of the complexities I have tried to convince them of, but find that every issue I bring up is my fault and my problem to handle, because after all, didn’t I take a class for that? I want to provide to my children the means to succeed if not the funds, but it seems that the mists of my poor Performance Record is finally catching up with me, and is convincing me that it is too late to do anything about it.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the sermon recently had something to do with a performance record of sorts. We have gotten into a series on Galatians, and last week was about the “Reversed” gospel. There were people going to the territory of Galatia convincing the new Christians that there were things they had to do to earn God’s favor. There were 4 points or acid tests that summed up the focus of the sermon, things that we had to take and see if they were true in our lives, to see if we were following a “reversed” gospel:
- Fear of man: Who am I trying to impress? Where do I gain my approval, acceptance and security from?
- Internal Power: God called you. Are you forgetting that when God speaks, action follows? Whose power are you relying on?
- Illumination: Do you truly understand what the gospel is? Where are you gaining your understanding?
- Relationship: Are you delving deeper into a relationship with the one who saved you, or abandoning it because it is a duty to serve Him, and not a delight?
When he spoke about who I am trying to impress or gain approval, acceptance, security from, I thought I don’t care about what other people think about me… but that isn’t true. I either want people to know me better from reading what I write and approving of it or, I dismiss them altogether if there is any semblance of rejection. I realize that even as people gain what they need from other men, avoiding them so that you don’t have to face rejection is another way of saying you thirst for man’s approval and not God. Sometimes it is even the case when you feel superior and reject all others as dumb or uneducated or filthy, that you might not be giving people the opportunity to reject you, and thus, you respect the opinion of man… in a roundabout subconscious sort of way.
My Performance Record is terrible in this instance.
And thus, we come to it. Yesterday’s sermon also had 4 points. We looked at the question of how do we really know if we’ve been converted. The four points in this instance were:
- Performance Record: Are you concerned more with what you are doing than who you are?
- View of God: Are we putting our idea of who God is and putting against what we see in the Bible, or are we accepting the change of view in revelation of Him. If God is a god we have created in our hearts than that god cannot change who we fundamentally are. We will always struggle with our “mistakes” rather than our sins. Paul understood that God would never become a man, that God would never cease the sacrificial system. When Jesus came to Paul, he asked the question that held it all for him, “Who are you Lord?”
- Relationship with Christ: There is no try in Christianity, there is just be one. Our failures don’t make us who we are, our relationship with the one who declared, “it is FINISHED” makes us who we are, and we should start behaving like we believe it is done instead of always trying to please Him.
- Who gets the glory? Are you taking the credit for what God has done in your life? It is the man who understands the Weight of His Glory who has been converted.
Understanding the concept of the Performance Record really resonated with me.
Our entire society is based around the concept of what we’ve done, and we believe it is the same with God. God reveals our performance record in the sermon on the mount. Have we killed anyone? No. But have you hated or gossiped about someone? Have you committed adultery? No. But those who have looked upon a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart. And it is about our heart, right? Not our actions. All of us have sinned and there is that chasm that separates us from Him. I look at the performance record of my life and it is the failures that are glaringly obvious. It overshadows all. Light should light up the darkness, but the darkness of failure seeps in like an oily smoke, distorting the view of all the successes, the things that should be my focus. Oh, what a terrible, tortuous thing it is to compare ourselves with others. To see friends and family going past me, the weight of failure keeping my eyes downcast, only seeing the shadows that could have been. I need a Scrooge or a George Bailey moment to see the light… no, I need a God moment everyday. I need a wonderful wife moment, a beautiful children moment, an incredible fellowship group moment, a home with a roof moment. Woe to the weeds of life that are so tall and out-of-place that the eye is drawn there, and this change that is just over the horizon makes my sorrowful performance record give weight to all the doubt, fear, hatred, dismay, discouragement and failure that is the past.
LORD, take this weight from me. Work in my life and through your word and through your people to renew the hope I know is just under the surface, waiting to sprout again. Bring about the reminder of a life that is eternal with You right now. The weight of weariness I see in the world everyday is not reflecting your glory, it is the beauty life in your people who I need to reflect on. The thoughtfulness of my wife, the joy of my children, the concern of a friend. You are in them all, reflecting the things I need to see. I know this weight is a lie. You are the truth, You are the Way, You lead me to comfort and peace. I take over and lead to failure and sorrow and You stand apart, waiting for me to look up into Your face. I love You for showing this truth to me in the way You have given me. Thank You for Your Spirit, alive and living in me. Show me Your way, that I may walk with You, and be where You are, no matter where that is. Thank You God, Thank You!
I am disillusioned by politics and I wish more people would become as disillusioned as well. The opportunity is there, they just have to snatch it and hold it close. There is no shame in that. I’m not calling for people not to participate in the political system, but to just not expect that your particular party is doing what you voted and/or expected them to do. I have been disillusioned since the middle of George W Bush’s first term. I would have considered myself a liberal by the time I became politically aware; sometime in high school. Calling myself, at the time, politically aware is a misnomer. The only thing I was aware of was that Reagan was evil, at least that is what I heard, or thought, or understood. Come to think of it, I don’t know where I got that idea. I just somehow knew he hated the environment, women, poor people and peace: of course he was evil. Opinions change.
My political understanding eventually came under the influence of my new-found faith as well listening to talk radio. I regarded life, and accountability and responsibility above all things when it came to politics, and I saw liberals as having none of those qualities. I went from one political spectrum to the other in a matter of months. When on one side, I dismissed any ideals of the other. That all started to change after GWB began throwing money at stuff to try to fix it. I soon realized that Republicans were no champion of the nation, the state, the individual. They didn’t provide the hope or ideal that they were supposed to be propagating to their constituents. Now that I see such a perceived failure of the other side, I expect many who follow the personality in charge to fall away in droves, following the tact of a reasonable person to realize no political party can truly accomplish what the ideals are set apart to be. It seems, that this is not the case. Many are sticking like the stubborn symbol representative of their party. Come on people! Step away from the politicking mass and fight for reason! Alas, in my disillusion, I seem to be standing alone. Nothing really changes, just the names and whether or not there is a D or an R following.
I see though that a healthy dose of disillusionment is what sets a reasonable, accountable, responsible person apart from a fanatic. Democrats are, it seems for the most part, fanatics. Yes, there are some Republican fanatics, but they are not trying to shut down the voice of the other side. Liberals are viciously trying to shut down conversations on abortion, on creation, on rights, on health choice, on religious liberty. They are unwittingly shutting down our freedoms. They don’t see that forcing people to accept what they are offering, that they are shutting down choice, and freedom. They are amazingly proud of their president, but can’t really say why, but don’t ask them, for it is an attack and you’ll be deemed a racist. You think perhaps I may be exaggerating a bit? I visit many popular culture websites, ones that deal with science and science fiction, fantasy and the “Con” life, movies and television, discoveries and history, comedy and the drudgery of life. Some headlines of articles that deal with the political stance of a cultural issue have words like “Idiots,” “Evil,” “Hate,” “Stupid” forgoing to end an argument by calling the particular conservative names. If you are any type of conservative you know what I’m talking about.
I really try to stay out of the arguments. In fact, on that one site, I have chosen to stay out of politics altogether, except for this one last political blog that I will link to. I’ve had some rather unfortunate situations occur with relatives and friends that I never intended. That one site is not necessarily the forum for civil discussion. So, what I want to say, needs to be said, then I’ll try to keep my peace.
First off let me say that I don’t hate anyone. I may get furious at the driver who is intent on not following any rules of spacing between cars at any miles per hour, but I don’t hate them. Nor do I hate your lifestyle choices. I don’t hate the person who believes life is less important than casual sex. In the same way I don’t hate the person who finds my belief in God and His creation, insane, and at the same time insults and degrades Him. No one is trying to stop you in your lifestyle or beliefs, at least no one who is reasonable. I want to encourage healthy debates. For me those choices are meted out on a personal and individual level. If you ask me what I think or feel or believe, I’ll tell you, and I’d like to know more about why you have chosen the way you think, feel and believe. If there is one thing I am, it is open, to hearing about you. I find it the most interesting thing, to find out why people believe what they believe; it is a part of our heritage, our culture.
Setting the healthcare issue aside, as well as foreign policy, wealth redistribution, immigration, non bi-partisanship, education, and Constitutional issues, this current president has done a fine job. I’d commend him on something specific that was worth standing up and cheering for, but one alludes me right now. The actions taken on the issue of marriage, of the current government, is what has brought me out of my political bomb shelter.
A conservative such as myself, may be seen by history as such a one as the KKK is seen now, if we do not bring the argument to a reasonable transcendence as to why we understand marriage in the way it was created. Within that statement lies the main problem: “created”. “One man, one woman,” we shout from the trenches. Others are more calm and willing to reason, but are rarely heard. For me, marriage is a sacred word. God gave it as a gift for mankind, as a symbol of what our individual relationship to Him is to be like as well as to propagate the species of man. If two women or two men are born or develop a strong sense of oneness between each other, and feel that someone of the same-sex will fulfill a purpose or completeness within them, then I am happy for them. I will not disparage or fight against what they deem fulfilling. Let us set aside why they may have come to be this way, for this conversation is about the term: marriage. Call their relationship what you will, make a new term, for marriage has already been taken. Yes, I understand the desire for acceptance of society and co-opting the word will hasten the day. The abuse that many have suffered in the name of religion, morality and normality is shameful, within all aspects of race, culture or creed. We should be just as loving and forgiving as our heavenly Father. Yes, I believe that actions and thoughts regarding what many a couple do behind closed doors or sometimes even out in the open is sin. I, am a sinner. A sinner who has been given Life and Life abundantly. God has and is still dealing with me in many areas of my life marred by my choice to sin, whether in action or thought. He deals with me on an individual level. What may be something I accept as good in my life may be seen as sinful to someone else. I fully expect God to deal with me or the person who sees me as sinning, to change our hearts and attitudes to His right and true way of thinking. If He does not do it here, than He will definitely in the life to come, when we will finally face Him. Many of my fellow Christians would never see a homosexual having the ability to truly come to Him, but I do not. God draws whom He will and those will have a choice, and God will accept them into His family, as they are. If God sees it necessary to change people after they come to Him, He will do so, or they will be in rebellion against Him. He is accepting and willing that all will come to Him and He has made it ultimately possible because of Him coming as a man and facing all temptation as man faces. It is on an individual basis that God changes, not corporately. He will never force you to come to Him, for that is not love.
Speaking of forcing, it seems that is what is happening to us conservatives. We are being forced to accept that what God has given as sacred is being used as political fodder to force an acceptance of what is sin. I hope I am not the only one speaking in such a way, trying to reason, to present our side. What I do think is happening is that some may see an article on homosexual marriage, find out the author’s perspective is conservative than dismiss it out of hand. I saw a video the other day of a conservative group on a college campus trying to interview participants of a Feminist conference. Someone found out the interviewer was from a conservative group and started telling everyone not to talk to her because of her background. She was followed around and as soon as she found someone to talk to, participants would tell the interviewees and mouths would close. Was that reasonable? It was a disgrace is what it was. That is what is happening today. Civil dialogue is being thrown out the window for shouting down your opponent. Battles are being won by insults. It makes me sad, very sad to what our freedoms has brought us: bondage. There is coming a day that what I say here will be marked as hate speech. It is already in some progressive European countries. Woe to us who have for so long given ground in the culture war, because of apathy and poor arguments, yet this is the way it was dictated to go. We have suffered too long contemplating self. This country was so great our only opportunity was self-examination. Let us look to the opportunities of not staring at our own navels. Go into the world and see what we so take for granted. Show the love God has poured out to us, if not for God than whatever you are thankful for and put it toward… not focusing so much on ourselves.
This started out as a statement I just needed to say regarding the horrifying political climate of today, but has grown into something I did not expect. I pray for this country and the relationship we have with each other, that we can talk again, share ideas and thoughts and why we do what we do or believe what we believe. It hurts me to think that so many relationships have been severed because of who is elected or what laws have been passed, but it doesn’t surprise me because even within the Christian community divorcing each other over the color of the carpet. I look toward the day when all will be made right. I look to the day where I am shown the error in my thoughts and deeds. I look to the day when all nations and cultures will gather at His feet praising Him and His works and His justice and His righteousness, in true unity and true diversity. I pray that we Christians will look beyond our own personal preferences and just desire to share the love that God wants us all to display, because He made us and loves us just as He intended us to be. Thank You God, thank You!