Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Dawn

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace
Numbers 6:24-26 from NIV

No insights today, no lectures... However, my newest baby girl was born at 8:02am this morning happy and healthy.  Her mother had a very easy labor and is also doing fine.  Today I just wanted to celebrate Tabitha Rose and the beginning of her new journey!  God bless her little soul!  Just a warning, posts might be a little eratic for a couple of weeks! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Random Verse

   Have you ever grabbed your Bible and just let it fall open and read what comes up?  I find it a really interesting exercise that might lead you to verses that you normally wouldn't be interested in.  That is just what I did today which a couple of sections and I thought I would craft a post out of what I read.

   The first verse that really caught my eye was Psalms 5:5:
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all those who do wrong. (NIV)
   I've spent a lot of time writing lately about intolerance and how I feel it is a travesty.  Not surprisingly this verse popped out at me because it really encapsulates how I feel about the whole thing.  I see a lot of press reports about absolute intolerance in today's society and to be honest, it is a continuation of past crimes.  How about a pastor that wants to put gay people in an electrified pen and allowed to die off?  I don't know about you, but that bloody reeks of arrogance to me.  It is also a gross violation of many of the values I have tried to emphasize on here.  God hates all those who do wrong.  Even if you believe homosexuality is a sin, you aren't going to manage to get into heaven by treating it with another sin.  Yes, I know the verses in Leviticus and Romans, but here is a hint, if you would drop the arrogant hate filled act you would realize those verses and their meanings are debated (okay, maybe not Leviticus but the Law isn't upheld anymore by most faiths).  If the truth behind them were absolute then their wouldn't be this debate in the first place.  I don't speak for God, though I feel the Spirit speaks through me.  However, I don't see the same God saying, "starve gay people to death," who also said, "love your neighbor as yourself."  People like Charles L. Worley are why people are turning away from God and Christ and if you are driving people from Grace then how much more of a sinner could you be?  Open your eyes people!  Hate fueled by fear is not going to guide you down the narrow path to heaven.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Eleventh Commandment

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy .
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill .
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery .
  8. Thou shalt not steal .
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.
   The foundation of God's law.  It is simple and elegant.  I don't know what compelled me to use the King James Version but for some reason it sounded right.  Perhaps it is the poetry that so eloquently elaborates what is said here.  This is the will of God.  I see people get lost in the rest of the Law all the time, trying to justify what they are doing by picking and choosing what parts to use and what not to.  However, this is it! This is the cornerstone upon which righteousness is built.  Without these principals there is chaos and pain.  The land suffers and people wail.  Boil it all down and there you go. 

   Jesus added an eleventh commandment to that list, one that sums up all the Law.  A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  (NIV John 13:34)  Nowhere in that list do I see anything about hating another ethnicity.  There is nothing about hating gays.  There is not a word about going to war with Muslims.  I don't see anything about stoning women who have sex out of wedlock.  All I see is a brilliant list of things that any person should strive for.  This, in my opinion, is the cobblestone that paves our way into the glory of Heaven.  Don't get my wrong, there is a lot of other goodness in the Bible as well.  We should give generously, for example, but these eleven things are the pillar of our faith.  Even if you aren't a follower of Christ this list shouldn't be hard for you to understand.  Be kind to one another, love one another, take joy in one another.  Anyone who hates, does not love.  Anyone who hates, defies the eleventh commandment.  Anyone who hates, defies Jesus.  You get to choose where you stand.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Those Pesky Red Letters - Book of Matthew - Part 4

   Thank you for reading part four of my series, Those Pesky Red Letters.  Writing it has been more involved than I thought it would be.  It would probably do you well to go back and check them out.  You can find the start of the series here.  From there you will find links to the various posts in the series.

   In the last post I wrote on the Jesus and his proclamation about obeying the law.  I have been giving it a fair amount of thought and I personally feel that he was referring to the commandments of God and not all of the detailed Law and ritual of the Jews.  Lets take the first section of examples of Law, murder.  You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.'(NIV Matt 5:21)  Here Jesus gives a couple of examples about treating people with respect as well as murder.  This section could really have been titled "Respecting People", but murder is such a vicious subject I think that it clouds the meaning behind this text.  Don't forget that Christ also talks about insulting people here as well.

   When Christ said, When anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement (NIV Matt 5:22) wasn't he telling us to guard the spiritual part of us that compels us to commit crimes?  It is also worth noting that some texts add without cause after brother which is quite important.  When you synthesize it all together you find that Jesus was warning us that our heart controls our actions and that we are in danger when we let that happen.  However, in his infinite wisdom he also concluded that there are times when anger is justified and right.  For us today we have to use the teachings of the Bible to determine the path to follow.  When it doubt open your Bible to Exodus 20 and read.  If what you are planning or thinking are covered anywhere in those commandments then you risk sinning.

   Next Jesus speaks to us about divorce and adultery which are separated in the NIV and I don't think they should be.  In my opinion they are of the same vein and refer to the Seventh Commandment, do not commit adultery.  Again he uses language that shows us that temptation is paramount to action.  If we let our lusts run rampant then they will begin to taint the rest of our lives.  I'm sure we all have stories that illustrate the dangers here.  The issue of divorce is very important as well, and I feel that there is a lot more to that verse than can be literally interpreted.  It goes into woman's rights as children of God and that marriage is a union before Him that isn't to be taken lightly.  When a man signs a piece of paper divorcing his wife God does not acknowledge it and considers the couple to still be wed unless there was sexual infidelity.  When those people find other partners they are adulterating because their union is before God and not the law of men.   I think there is a whole post here that I will get back to one day as God guides my words.

   Now we get to oaths.  Jesus tells us that we are not supposed to swear by things and that to do so comes from Satan.  Simply put, we shouldn't have to boast oaths to be honest and upright.  There should never be a need to swear on anything and if you do they are not yours to use as collateral.  All things belong to God, even the hair on our heads.  I have also read that Jews used the various oaths listed here so that they could break them at will since any oath that didn't carry the name of God wasn't binding.  I am sure that had a part in the teachings as well.  In the end it is simple, really, as long as we are honest and true then everything we say is just and oaths are simply not needed.

   Part five will involve the final concepts and teachings in Matthew 5.  I hope to have it up soon.  Thank you again for reading!  I hope it helps you to find your way in God and if you know anyone else that could use it, please feel free to share!

Part 3 <-Previous Next-> Part 5

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Those Pesky Red Letters - Book of Matthew - Part 3

   Sorry it has been  couple days since I posted but I needed a little time to clear my thoughts and refocus.  Call it writer's block if you will.  Anyway, lets start where we left off, the parable of salt and light (Matthew 5:13).  This is one of those verses where context is huge.  In the age of Christ salt was very valuable.  In fact there were times that Roman soldiers were likely even paid in the mineral!  Therefore, first and foremost, people are the wealth of the earth.  But wait, there is more, isn't there?  Salt is essential for life and the people of Biblical times would have known that.  That is one the reasons it was valuable in the first place.  It also enhances food and makes it taste better.  It isn't hard to see that Jesus was telling the crowd in Matt 5:13 that mankind is important to the world and makes it a better and richer place.

   The other half of this parable is one of my personal favorite verses of the Bible, especially 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV)  Doesn't that phrase read volumes to you?  As a people we aren't supposed to hide in a corner, we are supposed to get out and help people.  In fact, if it wasn't for that verse this blog probably wouldn't be here.  When another person looks at what you are doing they should be able to say, "wow, I wish I were that selfless and kind.  I wish I could do good things for people like that."  When you put the two together you get the big picture, don't you.  The first paragraph (5:13) lets us know how important what we do really is.  The second (5:14-16) tells us that people pay attention.  When we do things our actions are shown to the world.  It is important that we make the right choices and show how happy and healthy that lifestyle is.

   Verses 5:17-20 are a bit of a conundrum for me.  There is a commandment here that Jesus himself breaks.  The other issue is that there are parts of the Law of Moses that are hard to apply to society today.  Women aren't likely to sacrifice doves after they menstruate and we probably shouldn't stone a woman if she was raped.  As I understand it, church leaders commonly accept that we are no longer bound by Law.  Even Jesus talks about how the laws given to Moses were written as they were because the people were "hard-hearted".  This section is one of those areas that I think we should pray on.  It would be fun to get some discussion on it going as well.  It might not seem like much, but some of the arguments that are forefront in the media today are really tied to the concept that is written here.  Do we give the people around us grace, forgiveness and a little latitude or do we hold them fast to very strict Biblical Law.  Right now the church is in a grey area somewhere in the middle with different sects leaning more or less towards one extreme.  I think there is a lot of fear of change and that our faith can and will adapt.  Maybe we should quit fighting God and let him guide that change?  My personal feeling is that we should error on the side of hope and compassion and not condemnation.  The next two or three posts will still be in chapter five of Matthew.  As always, thank you for reading and God bless!

Part 2 <-Previous Next-> Part 4

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Those Pesky Red Letters - Book of Matthew - Part 2

  Okay, do me a favor.  Head over to your bookshelf and grab that dusty old tome.  You know, the one with the cross on it?  Once you do flip forward to a book called Matthew and read chapters five, six and seven.  Take your time with them, read them over and over.  Don't worry, I'll wait up for you.  You might also want to catch read the earlier part of this series found, here.

   Done?  Good.  Now it's time to dive into them a little bit.   I don't think that the importance of these scriptures can be overstated.  This is our first true introduction to the teachings of Jesus.  These three chapters will give you context and inspiration for everything else in the Bible.  If you are wondering where you should start.  This is as good of place as any.

   The Beatitudes.  Quoting our friends over at Wikipedia we learn,
  The term Beatitude comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means happy, fortunate, or blissful.
and it really fits.  Verses 3 through 12 give you a great primer regarding what faith in Christ is supposed to be all about.   

   5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit,
     for theirs in the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
   5:4 Blessed are those who mourn,
      for they will be comforted. (NIV)
   5:5 Blessed are the meek,
      for they will inherit the earth. (NIV)
   5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
      for they will be filled. (NIV)
   5:7 Blessed are the pure in heart,
      for they will see God. (NIV)
   5:8 Blessed are the peacemakers,
      for they will be called sons of God. (NIV)
  5:9  Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NIV)
   You know, I hate to say it but some of those don't sound like our current old-school Christian leaders, do they?  First and foremost I want to mention that Jesus liked to teach in parables, basically meaning metaphors.  However, this reads more like a prayer to me and I think it is pretty easy to take it as it reads.  The poor in spirit are all of us, really, but I think that it can be made a case that these are sinners.  People who really need God are blessed by him.   People who mourn and are meek, let's rejoice in them.  They mourning need our love and the meek need shelter.   Righteousness is a word that has been corrupted, in my opinion.  From the Biblestudytools lexicon we can get a better feel for the context of the word.  Dikaiosune in the Greek of the Bible means integrity and purity, it goes right into the next verse but it is bigger and more powerful and all encompassing.  I think that it is mentionable that Christ brought this up twice, really emphasizing the part about being pure of heart.  If you can clean your heart of it's sins then the rest of your actions will naturally follow suit.  However, I think it should be said that righteousness isn't self-righteousness nor is it a justification for oppression and violence as it has been used by Western culture for 1800 years.  It is a state of mind and a state of accepting God and trying, to the best of your ability, to emulate Him and His teachings through Christ and the prophets.  The last one, I think we have all felt or done.  I have been on both ends of the spectrum.   

   I was hoping to do the Sermon on the Mount all as one post but it is obvious to me now that it is going to be too big for that.  If this small section of it took up this much space then I think God is telling me that there is much more here to say.   The gist of this little section comes down to blessing all of those around you, whether or not you want to.  Give grace to people and try to be a wholesome and upright person.   This is extremely hard to do and you will fail, just as I do, but the more we try the better life is for us and those around us.

Part 1 <-Previous Next-> Part 3 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Those Pesky Red Letters: Book of Matthew - Part 1

   To make each part more easy to digest I am going to try and keep the articles to around 500-800 words or so.  There is no more logical place to start in the New Testament than the Book of Matthew.  Keep in mind that I am going to be quoting from the NIV and though they are generous with allowing quoted material, I would likely be breaking their agreements if I posted every red phrase in the Bible.  I will instead be listing verses for you to look up on your own unless I feel they are really important and then I will post the verse in full.

   The first time we see any red letters in the New Testament is during the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist.  John was very humble in the face of Jesus but the Messiah insisted on being baptized anyway.  This verse is Matt 3:15 and is a reference to Jewish law and custom.  Personally I think that it was a way for Jesus to be "credible" to non believers.

   Moving forward to Matt 4:4 Jesus quotes from the Old Testament (Deut 8:3) when he is being tempted to create food by Satan Matt 4:7 (see Deut 6:16) and Matt 4:10 (see Deut 6:13) also fit the same vein.  When I read this I think it is likely a parable about the temptations within ourselves and the importance in denying the lusts of the flesh when coming to God.  The final verse, Matt 4:10 I think is important enough to actually quote Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"  Now keep in mind that the word Satan originally meant enemy or adversary.  When I read that verse I really think the the adversary is myself and I am constantly struggling to keep myself clean and pure in the face of God, which my sinful animistic nature is trying to prevent.  To me it is all about denying that primal side so that we can be good people and make proper, intelligent and Godly decisions.

   4:17 is an interesting verse and one that I can feel will hold much more meaning for me in the time to come.  For now, however, it is like trying to grasp water.  I can feel it but I can never hold it.  On face value, though, it means that heaven is for the repentant and not the proud.  If nothing else, we can take that from it.  4:19 Is the call for Simon-Peter and Andrew to follow Jesus.  I don't think it can be stressed enough that these men gave up their entire lively hood to follow Jesus.  It is a testament to sacrifice that would be a good lesson for us all.  The next time you can't make it to church because of some prior engagement ask yourself if you are living up to the example of the teachers before you.  I don't think you are going to burn in hell if you miss service but it is always wise to self reflect when things come between you and God.  Make sure his Will accepts that and it isn't your will that is driving you.

Introduction <-Previous Next-> Part 2

   Matt 5 is where the teachings really start to come.  The next three chapters are nothing but red letters so I think that they will deserve more words than I have left here.  Now that we are primed to study the words of Jesus Christ lets read our Bibles and pray for the wisdom and guidance that they contain.  God Bless you everyone, I'll be writing part 2 soon!

Those Pesky Read Letters: Introduction

   In the debates I have been reading and watching unfold online lately I have noticed one thing.  People don't like those red letters in their Bible.  Now, maybe you have a version that doesn't have any of those strange red letters so let me tell you what they are.
   You see, over 100 years ago a man by the name of Louis Klopsch (who was also the editor for The Christian Herald) who was inspired by the book of Luke 22:20 "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (NIV)  The first Bible was published in 1900 and it was a success.  Ever since you will find many Bibles labeled "Red-Letter Edition" or some similar vein of semantics.  

   In this series, which I have no idea how long it will be, we are going to explore those Pesky Red Letters and how they pertain to my life and my learning to follow Christ.  I debated if I wanted to do the four Gospels in parallel or one at a time and I finally decided that each book is of such phenomenal importance that they truly deserve their own place.  Again I want to remind everyone that I am in no way a Rabbi, I am just a simple student exploring God's Holy Word.  Please don't take anything I say as an exhaustive treatise on the subject, instead let it inspire you to open your Bibles and read for yourself.  Read those passages, then take notes.  If you would like to debate on my interpretations then please comment!  I hope this series enlightens both myself and anyone who happens upon this blog.

Next -> Part 1

Saturday, May 12, 2012

And I Pray, A Poem

And I pray,

My heavenly father
Forever your name resounds
Forgive your children
For we have lost what once was found

Somehow dogma
replaced faith and grace
We've lost everything
While caught up in the race.

The body is corrupted
By many abuses
But do not worry
There are those who refuse

To stand with those
Who are lying hypocrites
Spilling their bile
While digging ditches

There is a new generation
Born of Christ to carry the Cross
We will stand and deliver
No matter the loss

So pick up your shame
Come to the cause!
Let the dead preach to the dead
And give the living no pause

Freedom from sin
There is no such thing
But all will be forgiven
If you love, only one, the King.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I'm not scared

   Sometimes I take the title from what I write and other times the title comes to me first and I craft a post around it.  This is one of the latter.  In the last couple of days I've taken a stand against fundamentalism and I firmly expect to be rebuked for it.  I'm not scared.  Jesus was not a Christian.  Period.  He was Christ, but he was a Jew.  Here came this guy who spoke with absolute authority preaching things like "turn the other cheek" and "being a peacemaker" and he downright infuriated other Jews, even to the point that they hammered nails into him and hung him on a cross to die.  I am no messiah, I am not a pastor, I am a humble servant that is learning as I go along but certain truths have struck me from my reading. 
   Perhaps that is because I am an infantile Follower of the Way and I haven't had years of dogma to cloud the Bible.  Maybe it is just inspiration.  I don't know, maybe I'm just plain wrong.  None the less I have stood up and made my voice heard, and I am not alone.  I am discovering just how many of us there are out there.  People who don't let phobias and prejudices rule our lives.  People who can read the scripture and see that salvation doesn't come to us through hate.  It comes through love and joy in God.  There are others out there who feel this, I see them struggle with it but they are scared, and why not?  They are likely to be attacked mercilessly for their views but this isn't the first time a Disciple has been attacked by members of their own faith for a disillusioned opinion, is it?  History is full of them, martyrs, poets, scientists, you name it.  All people who weren't afraid. 
   I am planning a couple of diatribes this weekend, one is about verses in the Bible that we wish would go away and how we emphasize parts of scripture and hide from others.  The other is going to be my interpretation of Romans 14 which I think is an allegory telling us all to accept that each sect of the Body of Christ is different, can be different and we don't need to attack each other.  I also want to write about canonization, especially the closed canons that have lead us to the Bible we have today but I don't know that I'll have enough research in place to get it done yet.  I think the first and last are going to stir up a bit of debate, but thanks be to God for leading me to a church where that debate is encouraged and healthy.  God bless you and thank you for reading my stuff.  People are telling me that I am inspiring their faith and I can ask for no greater praise.  Don't take what I say as Gospel, instead let it guide you to the scripture and other wonderful inspired books and choose for yourself.  No matter what faith you belong to, no matter who you listen to, your faith is yours.  Please do your best to honor it, listen to it and learn it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lets Call it Reality

As I look around me I see a world blanketed by greed, grasping and clenching at each one of us. People reaching for everything around them at the expense of others, taking what they can just to enjoy their own lives without care of those from whom they take. Looking how much we all take from one another to benefit ourselves, from those we care for as well as the advantage we take from those we don’t. Even though we may glance off a smile of thanks that is not what is truth in though, for the truth in thought in our minds truly is one of only satisfaction knowing we got what we wanted and nothing more. You may quam with this theory but in fact it is a reality, look deep in your mind and take a serious thought to what you have gained through life. Granted yes there are things in lives that we have earned and worked hard for but this is not of which I speak of, it is the things in life that we gain as too please the moment in time. Without knowing this to be the action given or taken, the giver gives without hesitation as we are all most times willing to help those around us but most often only on occasion, hence the theory of blanketed greed. This is what this world breeds as is what our governments and medias promote, creating a world of hate racism depression lust and Greed. Never ending sorrow is the destination of this world if this does not change, continued disease starvation and death on many aspects of what each of our lives need for survival. Be it hunger for religion, food, acceptance, love or mercy, this can outcome can only be changed if everyone changes their actions for corruption is everywhere and none can hide from it.

By. Sir Sprouts McGee

Regardless of controversy I have still decided to post this poem, my words!

Thank you Sprout, you need to continue to write my friend.


I will hold the hand of the Muslim, the Jew and the Hindu. I will task with the Shinto, the Buddhist or even the Atheist provided that we walk into the light and grace the human race with love and justice, compassion and peace. The time is at hand that we stop this useless self destruction and hatred for one another. If we have the same goals then why is it so hard for us to unite? Why can't we set aside those years of fear and abuse so we can bring the light of our goodness to the darkest corners of the globe? The gay marriage debate has illustrated how skewed our priorities are. People starve, women are raped, children are murdered yet there is this endless diatribe of filth coming from both sides. You want equality? Let's first look at ourselves. All of us. The pathetic injustices in this Nation pale in comparison to other parts of the world. If we continue to bicker, to fight and waste our energy then nothing will ever be solved. I may sound like some leftist hippie but the truth hurts, and trust me it when I tell you that it hurts me most of all.

A Challenge

   This just popped into my mind... Satan literally means adversary and God is love.  By that thought wouldn't Satan be hate?  How then do we get to justify hating groups of people?  The history of the fundamentalist church and hate have entwined themselves far too many times in the past.  Now we have a Pope who upset because his predecessor apologized for the plethora of sins that the Catholic Church has committed?  Where did we go so horribly wrong?  We are letting our "Father's" shape the voice of the one, true God.  A revelation is at hand!  To continue to grow, to continue to be the body of Christ we need to first walk in his footsteps.  Christ didn't change the world because he hated people.  He changed it because he swallowed his pride and walked with those that the mainstream Faith hated.  I ask you all now, do you walk with Christ in Love, or that other guy... by refusing to embrace people.

To Kill an Appetite Feed It Nothing.

   I had a diatribe ready to go on gay marriage since it is the big topic of the moment but it has all kind of evaporated away.  God called on me to fast this morning and so here I am.  Those of you that know me know that I struggle with food more than anything else and lately it has began to take me over.  It probably seems odd but I can get to a point where everything seems second to it.  It is a classic addiction. 

   First of all, I am happy right now.  I feel fulfilled and my faith is first and foremost today.  I am planning on dedicating the day to God and prayer as well as learning and growing in my faith.  Everything else is getting pushed to the side so that I can focus today.  It is a shame that I have to work but with the baby coming that is a hard obligation for me to break.  The good news is that I can still listen to the Bible and sermons on my phone while I go about my daily tasks.  Tonight will be about learning and research.  This is the first time in a long time that I feel like I am not being ruled by my lust for food.  I have given control to God and the weight that has been lifted off of my shoulders is immense.  That sense of helplessness is gone.  I am not a slave today.

   If you have issues in your life perhaps a fast should be a consideration for you.  If doesn't have to be food, either.  Sex, caffeine, TV, shopping, anything that could be a condition that is conditioning you to a way of life makes for a good fast.  Try it, give yourself to the Spirit and see how you feel.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

You Can't Always Get What You Want....

   Jealousy.  I wish I could say that I have a controversial stance that I could take... but I don't.  None the less, lets talk a bit about it and wrap it up.

   This is a subject that I wrestle with, though recently I have gotten a little better at it.  Since I work on the lower end of the pay grade in medical I have naturally gained a number of friends that have far more means than I do.  It has always frustrated me to see what they can get and what I can't.  The trouble is, and I am now starting to see this, those things aren't making them happy.  They get so riled up in the pursuit of what they don't have that they forget to enjoy what they do.  I know one guy, a great friend all in all, that works himself to death so he can change his life.  He could honestly afford to do so without killing himself but that need for stuff won't let him lower his lifestyle and enjoy his opportunities.  I know another that tries to run away all the time, avoiding responsibilities while spending way too much time in the bottom of a bottle.  All because he has let the need for success override his need for contentment.  Now with some clarity it is easy to see why that life is dangerous.

   Andy Stanley wrote that we should celebrate others to cure jealousy.  When I read it I decided to put it to the test and he is right.  When you make a conscious and concerted effort to congratulate people on their successes it takes the fire out of your envy.  I was really amazed at how well it works.  I'm not perfect, mind you, and that guy who is driving my Ford Raptor around town gets to me now and then but the simple act of telling someone that you are impressed with their accomplishments is such a great tool in moving forward.  You can't love your neighbor and hate them for what they have all at the same time.  To truly love you have to be happy for one another when fortune strikes.  What it all comes down to is enjoying what is already here and trusting that God will give you the opportunities that you need, even though that might not be the ones you want.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thanks everyone

   From the Darkness, Light just hit 500 views.  I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for reading and responding!

The Lamp

   This popped into my head last night while reading Luke, I thought I would share.

Luke 8:16 "No-one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. (NIV)

   Faith is like a lamp.  We are the flame on top.  We can burn bright, flicker or even be snuffed out.  Sometimes it can be relit after many years of storage.  Now, the wick is Christ.  He gives us the ability to burn.  Without it, the flame has no source and though it can burn it can easily run out of control becoming destructive and not a source of joy.  Fire is a source of life but without control and purpose it can be the bringer of pain and death.  The oil is the Holy Spirit.  The wick channels it and gives it to the flame.  In the same way Christ gives us a way to channel the Holy Spirit.  When you put the three together they work in harmony, making the flame light the darkness.   Now you might ask, "but where is God?"  Who do you think is holding the lamp up high, so it lights the way?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Harmonious Inquisition

   Ah, music, how do I love thee?  I learned what "every good boy does fine" and "face" meant before I really knew how to read them out of a book.  Music has always been a huge deal for me and it is rare that if I don't have a song playing that there isn't one in my head.  When I found Jesus, my music tastes were in for a kick in the nether regions.  To be honest, I still haven't figured them out.  Luckily there are bands like, Skillet, As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red and Demonhunter to name just a few that can keep me sane while I wrestle with one of the hardest subjects for me.

   Now Christ said it isn't what goes into a person that defiles them, it's what comes out.  Of course he was speaking of food but I found more depth in that scripture that relates to other things.  The trouble is, I feel what I hear.  I can almost see much dancing around, I can feel the crescendos bringing my energy levels up and then crashing them down.  The words can move me, though not as often.  I gave up true Satan embracing death metal like Deicide years ago, but that would have been an easy one.  What about Lamb of God?  Phenominal band, lyrics that are politically based but usually don't attack God, maybe some of the hypocrits that follow him, but not God.  With that said, they are named Lamb of God because a church wouldn't let them play with their previous name, Burn the Priest.  There is, most likely, a problem here somewhere. 

   Then there are musical art bands like Meshuggah.  Not very much in the way of Christ, but not against it either.  Most of the lyrics are fairly abstract.  My vote here? "Maybe," and that is the problem.  I have a lot of "maybe's."  There have been a lot of subjects that are taking much of my energy right now and I haven't had time to pray over this to the extent I would like to.  For the time being I am erring on the side of grace.  I have come so far and grown so much but I don't know that I want to risk slipping because of a song that pumps up my adrenaline.  I would love to hear other peoples opinions and how they dealt with them.  I think a little debate on this subject would do me a lof of good.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Not What I Expected: Tithing and the Poor Family Part 2

   Wow!  The response, both positive and negative, from my post on tithing has been overwhelming.  I've had support, dissension, dissension from supporters and support from those most vocally criticizing my article.  First and foremost I want to give my deepest thanks to my wife, my father-in-law Dan, Pastor Jon and Bryon McCoy for their insight and wisdom.  Even though things got heated it was a great learning tool for me and I hope that people who read it gained insight as well.  Since the last post was, um, engaging I thought I would continue the theme.

   In my home-schooled days before college I found myself fascinated by philosophy, and some of that thinking guides me to this day.  I am analytical and I enjoy discussion and thought relevant to a subject.  Learning is my primary passion in life and, at least in my opinion, philosophical thought is one of the best ways to handle subjects that empirical thought falls short on.  I read a book once, the title of which has escaped me, but the thing I remember was that it spoke of a three-part process for learning.  First was the "thesis" which I will consider my previous post.  Secondly you have to analyze it from the opposing point of view, this is the "antithesis".  After you have explored both, only then can you bring them together and form a "synthesis".  This will be my antithesis.


   Two weekends ago my daughter came up to me, upset because she doesn't have enough money to sponsor a tiger with the World Wildlife Fund.  She has been at it all spring and feels very passionate about helping animals.  She is also eight.  This child could get herself all sorts of toys with that $100 dollars but instead she is choosing to work this summer and give it all to charity.  Here I am struggling with a few bucks going here and there and my daughter wants to give everything she has, just so she can help an animal she will never know.  It is humbling, to say the least.

   My first reaction when she told me was to talk her out of it.  Isn't that a shame?  Here is a child trying to do a completely selfless act and her father wants her not to do it.  I got ready to arm myself, and started vetting the WWF but they seem to do what they say they are going to do for the most part.  That money may only symbolically go to a tiger but it still goes to aid animals all over the world.  Even if I told her that she would still want to give, yet I didn't feel any generosity.

   I grew up poor, there were times in my life that my family ate dried onion soup mix for weeks because it was all we could afford.  I've worked hard and though I still fall near the poverty line it is only because of the sacrifices my wife and I are making for her education.  It has been rough at times, and we owe people a lot for the generosity and giving that we've received.  Now isn't a great time for me to be generous, but maybe that makes it the best time to be.  I know that is a contradiction, but think about it.  If I give now when it hurts then when I am in a better position to give I won't feel as saddened to give more.  Instead I'll be joyous because there is more I can do.  Isn't it odd that in our lives we are always trying to teach people and end up learning more than we give?

   When you apply this to tithing... actually, no.  I am not going to use that word.  The New Testament isn't about law and requirement as much as it is about joy and hope.  Lets just call it giving.  I think that above word carries a connotation of requirement.  To me it feels like something you see in the opulence of Rome and the Catholic Church.  I guess for some reason I find that word oppresive.  So, giving, when we give without reservation it does feel good.  It is nice to know someone sleeps better tonight because of our generosity.  That is the true meaning of giving.  Taking what we don't need and bolstering those who do.  That doesn't have to be money or even material things, I think, though a warm meal or saving someone's house from the bank could mean more than anything else.  Some people just need you to give time, others maybe just need love and understanding.  It is all about asking God for the wisdom in every situation that there is need and how to give what is necessary without regard for yourself.  In Romans it is said that "love is the fulfillment of the law,"  but giving is part of love, so giving is part of the law.  That is what is all boils down to.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


  I can't say that I'm surprised that I stirred up a bit of a hornets nest with my position on tithing.  Looking back I probably could have been gentler but I certainly felt that it needed to be said.  I have had discussions with people on both sides of the isles and it has given me perspective.  Perhaps my faith was too young for that topic, maybe I am too naive.  I still hold firm that tithing has nothing to do with giving to your church.  It is an act between you and God.  There are so many ways to give and pour out what you have to those in need, it's a shame that it has become a platform to make money.  I have a feeling this is going to be a long week for me but it will be worth it.  I think I will dedicate this week to prayer on the subject.  All I can do is continue to let God guide my hands when I type.  God bless all of you, thank you for reading, may the Spirit guide you as it is guiding me.