Monthly Archives: October 2016

I Miss…

There were people in my life.
I’ve opened my hands,
And they’ve slipped through like hourglass sands.
I miss…

Twirling on his arm to Orinoco Flow
Sitting with snacks and talking angels and demons with her
Challenging him to teach me a point of theology
Listening to her argue hip-hop as a musical genre
Watching a new age Jesus with them and bonding
Eating Asian food with them to the flavor of kamikazes

I let go too soon.
They slipped away too fast.
What was lost can never be regained.
But even that knowledge can’t plug the hole in my heart.

Maybe…

If I pray hard enough,
If I wish long enough,
If I want great enough…

We’ll all pass through the crush of the crowd,
And meet up on the other side.
I could only dare to dream.

Make it real.
Take away the pain.

Show Me

Jesus, why is Jane Doe in my life?
She doesn’t listen.
She isn’t human.
She doesn’t care.
She isn’t my kind of person.

*silence with a slice of sighs*

Is she a soul My Father created?
Is she someone I died to save?
Is she made in Abba’s image?
Does she have worth simply because she is?
Isn’t that more than enough?

*silence with a side of remorseful sorrow and silent resignation*

Impure in His Presence?

I’ve written in the past about how I love worship and how God inhabits the praises of His people. I also love worship because I always believed that nothing impure could stand in the presence of God and if I could just get over my shame and guilt I’d be a little cleaner because of time with Him.

While it’s true that time with Him in His Word and prayer does improve righteousness, attitude, and wisdom, I was trying to find the Scriptural basis for the notion that nothing impure could stand in the presence of God.

After a few searches, I started feeling queasy. In Job, we see Satan goes right up to the throne of God (Job 1:6, Job 2:1) with the other angels (presumably those still following God).

Satan also approaches Jesus, who never sinned, while Jesus was fasting in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11 contains all the details. In effect, Satan was permitted to test Jesus three times over food, power, and proper targets for worship. Jesus of course passed.

Impure spirits were regularly in the presence of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 1:25, an impure spirit challenges Jesus and tries to reveal His identity before the proper time. In Mark 3:11, the impure spirits are constantly bowing and trying to identify Jesus before the proper time.

Mark 5:1-20 describes another time impure spirits were before Jesus. A seriously disturbed man lived in a graveyard. When Jesus was passing by, he began to yell… or the demon began to yell. It tried to identify Jesus and accuse Him of coming too soon to torture him and his evil buddies. They knew His power–they begged Him first not to send them away and then to send them into some pigs. He obliged. They killed the pigs, irritating the farmer and related merchants.

Now Isaiah and Revelation do have some interesting passages. They do talk about the impure not being fit to follow the Lord and be in the presence of the Lord.

Isaiah 35:8 (NIV) — And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.

Revelation 21:27 (NIV) — Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

As much as it would make life easier if these verses were immediately true in our here and now, both Isaiah and Revelation are prophetic books about a future that has not yet come to pass.

So, what I said is true in the future, but it’s not really true in the here and now. In the here and now, the impure can be in the Presence of Holy God. They are either infinitely rebellious or quivering, shaking, and uncomfortable.

And maybe sometimes they’re a lot like me, or am I a lot like them? The difference is that I can and have chosen Christ and I have His righteousness covering me. At some point, I will not be rebellious, quivering, uncomfortable. I will be perfected and changed in the twinkling of an eye, forever whole and praising the One I love.

Zombie Breaking Free

Author’s Note: Insomnia bites. I don’t even remember penning this one, but it’s in my journal in my own scribbling. I suspect on some level I was watching (and interacting with) a televangelist. Enjoy!

I was a walking zombie.
I was dead in the moment–
Always suffering the past,
Fearing the future,
Rejecting the present.
I wanted supernatural faith
Without seeing the Christ moments in spreadsheets and dish pans.

I can’t change the past.
I lived dead to life.
I didn’t love the process
So I couldn’t see progress.

But I am free.
This moment is mine.
Christ lives in me.
There is no excuse.

This is the moment God placed me here.
His will is to love from the pain.
He gives super joy in the boring natural.
Jesus resurrected my faith, hope, and love.
The past is my foundation for victory in the present.
Christ owns my future, and it’s not yet mine to see.
I will never be pain-free or perfect in this life,
But it won’t kill me,
For Christ’s abundant life is more than enough.
I belong to Him, and He manages progress, not me.

Gifts — Protestant versus Catholic

If you ask a Christian about what the gifts are, you get a different answer depending on the denominational pew.

Protestants faithfully point to 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and list word (message) of wisdom, word (message) of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing (discerning) spirits, speaking in tongues, and tongues interpretation. Later, in 1 Corinthians 12:27-30, they add apostleship, teaching, and helps and again list prophecy, healing, miracles, tongues, and tongues interpretation.

Catholics on the other hand start to talk about gifts instilled in them at Baptism and further sealed at Confirmation:

  • Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Counsel (Right Judgment)
  • Knowledge
  • Fortitude (Courage)
  • Piety (Reverence)
  • Fear of the Lord (awe and wonder in His presence)

Because of the Socratic method and something called the old Baltimore Catechism, most could answer the question but not give a Scripture reference.

I would like to suggest (thanks to a lesson by an associate pastor on something completely different) is that these gifts are Biblical and do exist… in Isaiah 11:1-5. I would suggest that you review this passage in several versions of the Bible; for my purposes, I’ve used NIV, KJV, CJB, and ICB. For argument’s sake, I’ve avoided Catholic versions like Douay-Rheims.

Wisdom: This is referenced in Isaiah 11:2a, “The Spirit gives him wisdom….” (ICB)

Understanding: Again, this is in Isaiah 11:2a, “The Spirit gives him..understanding….” (ICB)

Counsel (Right Judgment): Two different parts of this passage reference counsel or right judgment. The first is Isaiah 11:2b, “The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of… counsel… .” (CJB) Also, if you accept right judgment as a form of counsel, Isaiah 11:3b-4a states: “He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.” (NIV)

Knowledge:  Isaiah 11:2c in all versions references spirit of knowledge.

Fortitude (Courage): Fortitude and courage are not directly referenced. However, the word might at the end of Isaiah 11:3c in NIV and KJV could refer to a strength derived from fortitude or courage. The CJB and ICB both use power, which again could refer to a quality derived due to fortitude or courage.

Piety (Reverence): Again, this is not directly referenced. Three versions of Isaiah 11:3 however talk about qualities that could be argued to derive from piety or reverence. In the NIV, the phrase is “delighting in the fear of the Lord.” CJB talks about being “inspired by fearing Adonai.” ICB talks about having gladness from obeying the Lord.

Fear of the Lord (awe and wonder in His Presence): This is mentioned in Isaiah 11:2c in all versions except ICB.

Five out of seven directly referenced isn’t bad. That’s 70%, and it’s a higher accuracy than most meteorologists… or so I’m told. 🙂

Thoughts on a Sweater

It’s autumn in my corner of the globe. Leaves are falling and fading, crunching under feet. The haze is getting cold and damp, nearly oppressive in a painful way. We’ve not yet had a good frost. But who knows–maybe by the time this entry posts we will.

I’m starting to pull out my heavier clothes. The first thing that comes out is my sweater. It’s my favorite. It’s all shades of earth tone browns in a heavy knit.

I’m told it’s Irish wool and hand knitted in Ireland. I’m not sure of that, but I can see the patterns of the knots–if it’s not hand-made, the machines are a little too human.

I bought it a few years ago in a consignment shop, and it brings back bittersweet memories. Dee the shop owner had become a good friend over the few years. I often learned about fashion from her, and I often taught her that any rule could be broken and result in a good outfit.

I felt guilty about my purchase. She was closing her shop. Aged parents put too much strain on her body. She was trying to get rid of everything to reopen in a new location with a narrower focus on imported conversation-starting outfits. I paid so little for the piece. I think she might have given it to me if it weren’t for my foolish pride.

Of course, being the nerd I am, I had to look at Irish wool making and sweater weaving. I read about the sheep, I saw videos on creating yarn, and I watched as sweaters got knitted.

One of the most fascinating stories involved the patterns in the sweaters as well as the knots. It was said that the pattern of the knitting combined with how the knots were hidden on the inside were like a calling card — so unique that fishermen’s bodies washing up on beaches could be identified by the patterns of weave and knots.

In some part of my mind, I wonder if our lives look like sweaters to our Heavenly Father.

Are our good choices and good deeds the weaving on the sweater of our lives? Are our sins and failings the knots hidden on the inside? When we wash up on the shores of the crystal rivers of eternity, can He identify us by the patterns of the weaving and knots?

Although we’ll never know until we get there, I’d like to think so.

WWJD Powwow Style

Author’s Note: This piece is definitely meant to be a lighter piece. I do caution that it could be perceived as irreverent. If you’re prone to sensitivity to irreverence, you’d best wait until my next post. 😉

If Jesus were a modern American, would He go to a powwow? And what would He do there?

Most Christians wouldn’t come. But I don’t think He’s like most Christians. He actually changed His path to go through Samaria, a place the religious leaders of the day hated, to talk with the woman at the well, a person hated for unwise choices in life.

The Christians who did come would probably hand out tracts or try to evangelize. But I’m not sure that would be Him either. He used stories to teach. Very rarely in a crowd did He open a scroll or tell a sinner directly that he (or she) was going to hell.

So what would Jesus do at a powwow?

He turned water into wine at a wedding party. He scooped up children, hugged them, and blessed them, probably with laughter.

He’d buy fry bread. He’d smoke with the elders. He’d buy some beads and baubles to encourage art and work and to give to the children later in the day. And He’d dance with joy and laughter.