And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:6, ESV)I have been becoming more "thirsty" (I think, i hope, and i pray this is so) of late. This is a very good thing in my opinion. But as i look around i am not sure where to go to attempt to quench such thirst. Draw from the wrong pool and a poison can set in. By God's grace i have such a wealth of resources to turn to... but i am not sure exactly how to do it. That sounds... odd i'm sure. I'm not exactly sure how to pursue this on my own... and i am even more unsure if/how to approach someone to try and mentor me... especially as it's probably going to be over the web. Verse for today: Revelation 21 : 1-8, ESV Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place  of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,  and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
I was reading my "One Year Book of Hymns" and stumbled across a hymn entitled "I Am Not Skilled To Understand" whose words blew me away. I didn't bother searching for the melody: its obscurity indicated antiquity. So I started from scratch and sang it without the chorus for over a year at our church, which seemed to embrace it as it was. But I wanted to take it over he top. Sitting at a red light one night, a melody of excitement and a lyric that seemed to pull together the concept of Christ, my Advocate, always pleading my case, was born. And the song finally exploded on the chorus like I always knew it should. i do not understand everything, but I know that Jesus Christ loves me and is alive defending me. That calls for a big chorus.
-more thoughts in cd jacket
-=-=-=0=-=-=-While running from one thing to another yesterday i was able to follow along with the Panthers game. For the first 3 quarters i was not a happy camper. The Cardinals were walking all over the Panthers. Then something happened... i was smiles. I was even able to watch the final three plays (William 16 yard run to secure a first down, and the two kneel downs by Jake). I know it was not much, but i really enjoyed watching that run. I looked over the Buccaneers and the Panthers schedule for the rest of the year. I am not going to judge who has the tougher schedule - but i am grateful for the one game lead the Panthers currently enjoy. The NFC South might come down to the final two weeks or so of the season! It makes the Monday night game the Bucs come to Charlotte all the more exciting for me! I have decided to not get my hopes up for the Super Bowl... i just want one thing for Christmas... and that is an NFC South championship for the Panthers! Verse for today: Isaiah 55 : 6-9, ESV “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise, for disaster will arise suddenly from them, and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?
I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. 
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.
Ever notice how easy it is to succumb to anger? How quick we react when we have been "wronged"?
YODA: Run! Yes. A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger… fear… aggression. The dark side of the Force are they.
Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.
What is hardest is to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These are things that need to be painstakingly nurtured, reinforced.
LUKE: Vader. Is the dark side stronger?
YODA: No… no… no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
LUKE: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
YODA: You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.
What is it that holds us back? We know these things (as Christians) intellectually, but why is it that we fail? Because we are inclined towards laziness and selfishness. It causes us trouble, it takes work. We succeed when we put off the old and take on the newness in Christ. When we die to ourselves we no longer care for what we want, but what we can do for others. There is a part in Eric Haney's Book Inside Delta Force that speaks volumes (to me anyway):
LUKE: I'll try
YODA: Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
LUKE: I can't believe it.
YODA: That is why you fail.
All day long, I crossed that mountain from one side to the other.... I would arrive exhausted and breathless at one RV (check point) only to be sent to the next back on the other side I had just come from. The mountain was too big to contour around, and the lay of the was such that I could never anything approximating a direct approach or maintain the hard-earned high ground for any length of time. Never getting anywhere, back and forth across the same mountain. It was a masterful torture. But then I had a revelation. What difference could it possibly make if I crossed back and forth over this mountain until doomsday? A mountain is a mountain, time was time, and route selection was route selection. The only that that mattered was speed and ground made good.... The frustration and mental torture I had been suffering were completely of my own making - and completely within my power to disregard.- and -
I was physically spent and sore in every part of my body, But as I reflected on what I had undergone, I felt a calm sense of satisfaction and contentment. I had not just survived an ordeal, because survival in a sense if passive. No, I had conquered. But conquered what? I had to think about that a while, and then I realized: myself.What had Eric Haney realized? That when he no longer minded, it no longer mattered. I think this post better describes yet another aspect of why i admire the samurai so much. The strived to die to themselves every day in order to serve their lord. "If by seeing one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in 'the Way'. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling." (from Haguakure) Am i perfect in this... not by a long shot. But i feel that it is a noble pursuit. Verse for today: Hebrews 9 : 24-28, ESV For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.