The Narrow Gate

My beloved was once told by a Pastor's wife that the verse "Do unto others" was not in the Bible! While technically that is correct, the concept of it is though...
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12, ESV)
My blog today is not actually about the "Do unto others" but the verses that following along afterwards...
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy [1] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV)
The picture that comes to my mind when i read/meditate on these verses is one of having to persistently look to the goal. To make a constant struggle (for lack of a better word coming to mind right now) to stay on course. No cruise control, no coasting. For me part of that struggle is maintaining a balance in my walk with God. I have noticed that God has not allowed me the "luxury" of becoming "legalistic" (again, a word chosen for lack of a good alternative at the ready) in my pursuit of fellowship. For me practices of "read three chapters a day", or "make sure you spend time in prayer at the same time everyday" have been very short lived. You see, i like patterns, i like set plans. So much so that things can become 'robotic'. I am doing them out of habit and i am not concentrating on the task at hand. So for me my life is a pretty good example of Ecclesiastes 3:1-15:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

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. [1](from the ESV)

There have been times in my life when i have had to push, to strive, to seek God in one way... but that season never lasts in my life. There always comes a time when i need to lean more on grace and seek God in another - new/different - way. The saying "there is nothing new under the sun" is also from Ecclesiastes (1:9), but i believe this in regards to a lot of man's bits of "wisdom" be it from Monastic Monks, Hindus, or 'Buddha'. That does not mean everything is good for me.
"All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor." (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, ESV)
I think a good example can be found in how i consider myself a "samurai" for Christ. I seek to pursue my Lord (Jesus Christ) like a samurai of feudal Japan would serve his earthly (human) master - but in all things however i pursue to serve my Lord... it must line up with the Bible. For example, if i stumble and fail my Lord (aka as sin) i do not have to commit ritual suicide to appease His honor (or my own for that matter). He has already taken that failure and paid the penalty. I am called to trust and have faith in His grace, His sacrifice on the cross on my behalf. So, in the end i do not see the Ying-Yang symbol as a symbol of some eternal struggle between good and evil. That struggle has already been resolved. Sin may still wage its war, but in the end it has been defeated. No, for me the symbol represents my own struggle to walk the path that God has laid out before me. The path may be straight, but it is i who struggles to maintain that straight line. My own internal struggle between "license" and legalism. Back when i was a "baby" Christian i used to wear a "patch" jacket. They used to be fairly popular in the 80's. The jacket was sort of a canvas in which to put patches, etc. to display things about your beliefs. Sort of like bumper stickers for pedestrians. 8) Anyway, mine was one i had made while i was in basic training. On my left should i proudly wore a Ying Yang Patch (pictured right), and i would often get "guff" from my fellow Christians about it. That "guff" stemmed from a misunderstanding about what it was i was proudly displaying. I was not saying i believed in the eternal struggle of good and evil, what i was saying is that i was proud to be a member of the 29th Infantry Division. We all need to be careful lest we fall, but what is harmful for me may not be harmful for a brother or sister - and vice versa. We all need to work out our salvation with earnest (Philippians 2:12-13). I will end with this:
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour [2] to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (Acts 10:9-15, ESV)
"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV)


The Carolina Kittens are on the prowl

Words escape me right now. I like Jake Delhomme. He has been the best Quarterback the Carolina Panthers have ever had... but you can't ignore what's been happening on the field. Ever since the playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals last season Jake has been... well... bad. He has been having trouble finding his receivers consistently, and all too often he's been finding the opposing team. Thirteen, i like the number thirteen. Maybe because i really try and buck superstitions... but i have nothing against it. It's just a number. Unfortunately it's the same number of interceptions Jake has thrown this year. It's also the number of times he's been sacked. Neither are good. Four is another number i like. I'm not sure why really it just kind of... speaks to me. I think because it has an image of four sides. Four is also the number of touchdowns Jake has thrown this year... none of them to a wide receiver. Ever since Wesley Walls left for Green Bay i've wanted the Panthers to incorporate the Tight Ends more... but this is not a good number either. Especially since we are going into game seven this weekend... incidentally against the same team where this current trend started. Speaking about the number four, 4 is the jersey number of the Panthers oldest team member. He turned 40 today. On Sunday the Charlotte Observer had a really nice article about John Kasay (you can read it here). John has been a pretty steady influence for good around the locker room of the Panthers. He is the kind of man that people are drawn too, and he's been a consistent witness for Christ too. He is a humble man and does not like the spotlight at all. When he makes a 50 yard field goal i am so happy for him that i cheer pretty load, and when he misses a kick i feel bad for him. From what little i truly know about him i want everything he does to be blessed and successful - but i am pretty sure he knows that all things are working together for his good (and mine, and the Carolina Panthers players and staff). Unfortunately he too had a bad day last Sunday (unfortunately you can read about that here as well). At least once i pray that God would allow him to experience a Super Bowl win - maybe erase the disappointment he feels for his performance last time. I don't think he would see his overall personal value tied with such an achievement, but... still, i wish nothing but the best for him. The defense has been pretty good too, and that is what makes this even more hard to bear. For the past two weeks the defense has swarmed the opposing offense, even scoring a safety in each game. Not an easy feat to do twice in one year. Now i am hearing that the Coach Fox is considering benching Jake. I want him to succeed more than almost anything, but even he is seeing that he is not getting the job done. All i can do is wait and see what the coach will do. Personally, i like symmetry. I would like for nothing more than for Jake to get the nod this coming Sunday in Arizona and for him to have the game of his life. Four touchdowns, no interceptions or fumbles, 400+ yards, and for the Panthers to redeem the terrible loss from the playoffs last year. The Bible teaches me to have faith, that if i have it even in as small a portion as that of a mustard seed mountains can be moved... but i find myself doubting. That is how bad i've been shaken. I have lost confidence in the quarterback of my favorite team. I will pray for Jake to pull himself out of his slump... i will pray for a win for the team - without injuries to either team. Above all i will ask God to have His glory shown throw the game and those who play it... no matter who wins.


Music Monday - 20091026 - a trilogy

I don't handle changes to sleep schedule well. Truth be told, i don't handle changes well. 8) But things have been getting a little hectic at work of late. Lots of work, which is a good thing. But the result has been me having more trouble than usual keeping my thoughts straight. Coming into this morning i did not have a song picked out. Some floating around in my brain but nothing that stuck out. When i finally put finger to keyboard i decided i wanted to come up with a Michael W. Smith song. I just really appreciate his heart for God, and his passion often comes through in his music. With my affinity for storms, and rain i almost went with Healing Rain. I like the visualization of that song. In the end i went with a song that is closer to my heart... the cross of Christ. Where else do i find that my sins are forgiven? Lest there is a payment for it, i shall suffer for my own sins. But here is where i find that it has been paid in full. I've used this song once before, but i am using Michael W. Smith's version today...
The Wonderful Cross by Isaacc Watts When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died My Richest gain I count but loss And pour contempt on all my pride See from His head His hands His feet Sorrow and love mingled down Did e'er such love and sorrow meet Or thorns compose so rich a crown Oh the wonderful cross (2x) Bides me come and die and find that I may truly live Oh the wonderful cross (2x) All who gather here by grace draw here and bless your name Were the whole realm of nature mine That were and an off'ring far too small Love so amazing so divine Demands my soul my life my all Oh the wonderful cross (2x) Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live Oh the wonderful cross (2x) All who gather here by grace draw here and bless your name Life so amazing, so divine Demands my soul. my life, my all and the beauty and the shame in the glory of His name Oh the wonderful cross Oh the wonderful cross (2x) Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live Oh the wonderful cross (2x) All who gather here by grace draw here and bless your name
I do not feel that we can ever become too familiar with the cross. We are still friends with Christ. We are still forgiven by grace - Christ no longer hangs there, we are completely forgiven. Out justification is complete before the Father... but these are the results of the cross. We can not enjoy forgiveness of sins, with Christ, we can not experience fellowship with Christ, we cannot fully grasp the peace we now experience with God without Christ going to the cross in our stead. We may experience universal grace... we may experience prosperity on this Earth... but we will never fully obtain lasting peace and satisfaction in our hearts without Christ's accomplishment on the cross. It all points to, and emanates from, the cross. As a result... we experience the fullness of joy when we receive the healing rain of God...
Healing Rain by Michael W. Smith Healing rain is coming down It's coming nearer to this old town Rich and poor, weak and strong It's bringing mercy, it won't be long Healing rain is coming down It's coming closer to the lost and found Tears of joy, and tears of shame Are washed forever in Jesus' name Healing rain, it comes with fire So let it fall and take us higher Healing rain, I'm not afraid To be washed in Heaven's rain Lift your heads, let us return To the mercy seat where time began And in your eyes, I see the pain Come soak this dry heart with healing rain And only You, the Son of man Can take a leper and let him stand So lift your hands, they can be held By someone greater, the great I am Healing rain, it comes with fire So let it fall and take us higher Healing rain, I'm not afraid To be washed in Heaven's rain To be washed in Heaven's rain... Healing rain is falling down Healing rain is falling down I'm not afraid I'm not afraid...
It when we feel His forgiveness raining down on us we feel the freedom to worship, and praise, and rejoice freely. Although human emotions are finicky, easily manipulated, they are also indicators of genuine responses though. Sometimes you have to let it lose and sing... I have been searching for a song that would express passion and joy in what God has already done, but it's hard to find the songs on YouTube some times. 8) I remember a lot of songs that i used to sing in church... i can visually remember people clapping their hands, etc. But i've not been able to remember the song titles, or lyrics... 8/ Oh well... i trust the concept was conveyed... 8)


Ramblings one day at a time

Yesterday, after i already posted for the day... i realized that my ramblings can really get scrambled, and often my random ramblings do not really coincide with each other. Then there are days when i am either too busy, or just out of ideas. This made me think... why am i using up three or more blog thoughts in a single day? Instead try and focus on no more than two thoughts per day, and thus save extra ramblings to post another day. 8) Having said that today will most likely be a cacophony of rambling and random thoughts... so please bear with me. Starting tomorrow i will start new entries and save, but not post them. 8) I felt inclined to check on upcoming concert dates of a few artists and i was wondering why they were all so expensive to go sit in person to listen to them perform. Please don't get me wrong. Music is an art and i completely understand the need of such artists to be able to make a living, etc. so i am not complaining the fact that they charge to go see them, or even that they charge as much as they do. I am merely unsatisfied with the fact that i cannot afford to go see them live. But while i was just skimming over Jethro Tull's page i noticed Ian Anderson had an article up on how and why he picked up the flute in the first place. it's a really good read IMO. For those of you that are interested enough to follow a link, here it is: Ian Anderson's 'How to Play the Flute'. Anyone who 'stumbles' on to this little blog can see my affinity for most things samurai. Those who know me a little better (especially those who know me on facebook) know i really like the Flair application! Recently a friend sent me a new piece of flair (seen on the left here). It of course has been added to my collection. A collection that is now over 450 pieces, 67 of which i have created and shared with other facebookers. The application keeps track of how many 'credits' you have (you cannot add more pieces unless you have credits, which are earned by you sharing with others), but i have no need to worry about running out of those - i have almost 3800 points. Sad, i know. 8) Have any of you all heard of Pandora?!? I LOVE this website. You can stream music to your PC/Laptop/web enabled phone, and customize your very own 'radio station'. Once you create a user account you start by entering in a favorite group. Pandora then scans its own database of music and will play songs not just from the one group you entered, but songs from other groups that have similar play styles. Then, as the music plays you can help it fine tune the station even more by a simple click to tell them if you like, or dislike, and particular song. I've created three stations for whatever mood i might be in and am constantly running out of the free time allotted to me per month. 8) I love bonsai trees. I love how the look. I love the care the person who tends to them takes to not only shape and guide the little trees, but the displays they usually come in too. I think it speaks to a personally desire to shape and guide my own life. Something that is pretty impossible to do completely. In many ways i think humanity's desire to create art - in all forms be it music, painting, drawing, writing, etc. - is directly linked to how God made us. He made us in His own image and He created everything. We share in His ability to love, and create, and redeem. I feel that it is only natural for us to reflect such things, albeit in finite ways. 8) Have any of you ever experienced Deja Vu? I have. Both in the past and just now. I was talking with a friend and it struck me. The words being spoken, the postures, etc. Pretty freaky sometimes. I still remember the first time it happened to me. I was eight and i had just sat down to eat a bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal and i was reading the back of the box. I remember feeling a little weird but recalling it all very, very clearly. It's both pretty cool, and a little creepy. Of course then there is Vuja De ~ the sensation that you have not experienced it ever before. 8) I have a long term place in my heart for the New Orleans Saints. Maybe it comes from a desire to see the underdog prevail. Even before the Carolina Panthers ever played a game i had a soft spot in my heart for this team. For the past few years they have been pretty consistent in playing well. Especially against the Panthers. Now, i will never root for the Saints when they play the Panthers, but when my cats lose to them it does not sting as bad (like when they lose to the Falcons 8( ). When i was down in Louisiana to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, i made it a point to visit the Superdome. I've never even been to Charlotte and the Panthers' stadium. Drew Brees has been playing very well, and if the Panthers are not able to make a run for the post season i will be cheering on the Saints. Recently i added a lot of flair (yes i'm back on that subject 8) ). I made sure i had one to represent each NFL franchise, and then i added a bunch of pieces of some favorite comic book characters. One has been Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler. I really related to him as a child. He was different, even among his peers within the X-Men. I liked his swashbuckling style, his background of faith - even though i was not a Christian at the time. While i enjoyed several other 'heroes', Kurt was one of my top. Another one i really liked was the Green Arrow. He is not at all like me - i just always liked the Robin Hood story, and he looked the part. 8) I've especially enjoyed his story line once he made Black Canary an honest woman. Two memories of my childhood come to mind. Probably has to do with the season (Halloween). The first one was one i think i nearly gave my mother a heart attack. She was asleep on the couch on Saturday afternoon and for some reason someone had given me a rubber snake as a toy. Now, i knew about my mother's fear of snakes, but i still coiled that thing up right on her chest with the little rubber head inches from her face! Not a nice thing to do to you mother. LOL Years later she still had shivers, but she smiled and we remembered it with smiles... just not at the time. 8) The other was how i went out of my way to annoy my mother when it came to her superstitions. I would walk under ladders deliberately, pick up any penny i saw on the ground. I would always walk on the other side of posts from her, and if i ever saw a black cat i would deliberately walk in such a way that it would have to cross my path. My all time favorite number is 13, and on and on. I am still like that today. For about the past month i have been running on a treadmill (i.e. going nowhere fast) regarding my writing. Writing is therapeutic to me, and most likely my expression of my desire to create things as related above. I've been scribbling notes like made, and i have several ideas of where i will be going in the near future with each of my various threads, i've just not put fingers to keyboard. I've set pretty reasonable goals to move forward with. 100 words a day, and/or 3,000 words a month with the per day number being a guideline. I've often wondered why is it that i seem to enjoy shows that are destined to not last? I really liked Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The storyline was getting really good. Canceled after two seasons. The Unit was a really good show. I didn't necessarily like all of the "home front" story lines (especially where one of the wives was having an affair), but i (of course) really liked the mission side of things. Another Sci-Fi one was Space: Above and Beyond. This one was only on one season. Twenty three episodes, but i enjoyed it a lot. The story line was similar to Starship Troopers (not the movie, the book) in regards to the alien aggressors, but instead of following a "grunt" as the main character it is about a bunch of "flyboys" (and girls, if i can use that in a non-derogatory fashion). The last one i will mention here Max Headroom. This one lasted for two seasons, but that's not completely accurate as there were only ever 13 episodes ever aired (14 including one that did not air at the time). Friends of mine have enjoyed series like Firefly. So far i've not seen it. I am too nervous that i will then put myself on a quest to get all of the shows on DVD like i want to for the four i have listed so far. 8) When i was a kid and had just learned how to ride a two-wheeler i used to imagine i was a World War I fighter pilot. I have no idea why really. Jets were always too fast, and i'd not learned about World War II yet. But there was something about the old era Bi-Planes. I especially liked the Fokker DR1 - the German tri-plane. Even before i knew who Manfred Von Richtofen was. He was never a hero of mine, but i grew interested in reading about his flying career. Just like any legend, it is hard to discern the line between truth and embellishment. Another similar character i liked to read about was Carlos Hathcock. Both of these men became supreme in their military careers in time of war. Heroes and Villains in such cases are more often determined by who wins the war than the true character of such men. Have you ever wondered what you would do it you won the Lottery? Those obscenely huge amounts of money? I think about it from time to time (but you have to play to win, so this may never actually happen). First thing - i would find a way to donate a minimum of 10% of it to my local church and other organizations like Habitat for Humanity and The Dave Thomas Foundation. I would pay off the mortgage to my house right after. Before anyone says anything, the tax deduction is not worth getting $0.15 back on the $1. I would already be in a huge tax bracket from the winnings, and the next year i would be right back to being no where near close enough to one of the lines to make it worth it. My dream from there would be to set aside some of the money for my children to go to college and i would like to take my family on one nice vacation. After all of that, and maybe before the vacation part, i would love to establish what i refer to as 'self sustaining giving accounts'. Accounts that i could draw the interest from to give away to friends in need, or needs that i learn about in my local community. I would love to be able to give like that. Year after year. I say all this with confidence because God has not seen t bless me in such a way - and that's probably a good thing. I am not so sure i'd actually follow through with such noble ideals. Maybe someday i will find out...


Ramblings for a Tuesday

Ok, i know i was not alive when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, but how many of you all are not intrigued by all of the conspiracy talk? I have been to Dealey Plaza and the conspiracy museum there. I have watched countless specials on the History Channel and to be honest i still have no clue as to what truly happened on 22-Nov-63. In many ways i feel that we are still feeling the repercussions of that era in our political climate today. With all of the J. Edgar Hoover and FBI investigations that preceded it, and the conspiracy whispering it has bred a fed a level of distrust between the major political parties of America, not to mention the somewhat distrust of the American government and the people. I have my own thoughts as to the why and how, but the truth is i don't know for sure. I am even more unsure how this land will ever heal completely. Our little "experiment" is idling pretty rough of late. It's no wonder a Russian professor has declared that America will collapse by 2012 (read a Wall Street Journal article here). Democrats and Republicans often go at it both overtly and covertly. There are many citizens who are so deeply rooted in their belief in one party or the other they spew "poison" to anyone or thing aligned with the opposite party. Perhaps the spiral began during the Cold War right after WWII. Until we can truly get some kind of consensus in this country we will continue to lose our influence around the world. I don't have the answers, but i know what i feel... and i am not liking what i am feeling in regards to the state of my country. Ultimately my security is not found in my country, or even on this Earth. I do pray for my President, my country, my leaders, but mostly i pray for my family. That God would reveal Himself and that He would draw them close to Him. This past Sunday "my" Panthers pulled to within seven wins to make this all i'd hoped for before the season began. They managed an ugly win over a severely struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneer team. I am still not booking additional seats on the bandwagon. The next three weeks will probably set the tone of my expectations throughout the rest of the season. They host the Bills this Sunday, then they travel to Arizona and New Orleans. If they can pull of a win in 2 out of 3 of these games i may believe they will pull out a 9-7 season. This Sunday i was able to listen to the game via the NFL Mobile Live application on my cell phone. I hooked up some old computer speakers to it, and of course it was plugged into the wall for power, and listened to it while i painted DS2's room. Really cool. So, last night i am finishing up the little chores around the kitchen and i glance over at the computer to make sure it's turned off when i see that IMDB had a link to a new Book of Eli trailer! All i can say is i am even more interested in seeing this movie when it comes out in January. I know there are a lot of ways that this can spin badly for me as a Christian... but i must admit i am hooked and will most likely drop some of my money down to see it opening weekend. I have just read back over my blog for today... wow. I even took my Strattera this morning. Especially that first paragraph. I may have to limit these rambling blogs to just one or two topics at a time. In closing i did want to share that i have begun noticing an increase in my passion for the things of God of late. I hope that it has been coming through in my blogs of late.

Musical Monday - 20091019 - and any ramblings that come to mind

OK - before i get started on my usual Musical Monday offering i have to say - Dante Wesley! Dude! I don't care how hyped up you are, how aggressive you are trying to be, 1) You don't take out a player who has called for a fair catch, and 2) You DO NOT launch yourself at a player like that. Boo! (and not the Halloween kind either!) I am hoping the NFL not only fines you but suspends you for at least two games! I say that even knowing that the team needs you on the field because you are good player with a good heart, but that hit was completely uncalled for. Ok, because i am a little distracted here is my selection with my commentary to follow:
What Do I Know of Holy by Addison Road Album: Addison Road I made You promises a thousand times I tried to hear from Heaven But I talked the whole time I think I made You too small I never feared You at all No If You touched my face would I know You? Looked into my eyes could I behold You? (CHORUS) What do I know of You Who spoke me into motion? Where have I even stood But the shore along Your ocean? Are You fire? Are You fury? Are You sacred? Are You beautiful? What do I know? What do I know of Holy? I guess I thought that I had figured You out I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about How You were mighty to save Those were only empty words on a page Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees (CHORUS) What do I know of You Who spoke me into motion? Where have I even stood But the shore along Your ocean? Are You fire? Are You fury? Are You sacred? Are You beautiful? What do I know? What do I know of Holy? (CHORUS 2) What do I know of Holy? What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame? And a God who gave life "its" name? What do I know of Holy? Of the One who the angels praise? All creation knows Your name On earth and heaven above What do I know of this love? (CHORUS) What do I know of You Who spoke me into motion? Where have I even stood But the shore along Your ocean? Are You fire? Are You fury? Are You sacred? Are You beautiful? What do I know? What do I know of Holy? What do I know of Holy? What do I know of Holy?
There are several songs that i really enjoy regarding the Holiness of God, but this one struck me afresh this week. I feel that one thing that is generally missing from most of the pulpits in America is the sermon on God's Holiness. I, personally, do not need more sermons on how i should live my life. I do not want to attend a church about me. I have a desire to know my God more. To attend church to learn about myself is counter productive. Learning how to relate to God, who is infinite and objective, by trying to continually adjust myself, who is finite and subjective, is like trying to play pinball by continually trying to tilt the machine up/down/left/right. It is as we learn about God that we learn about ourselves - and thus we are in a much better position to learn how to adjust ourselves. I've said this before, but to try and reach a goal by using a constantly shifting aiming point is impossible. The best way to know God is to study and learn about Him. I don't care how good the evangelist, the speaker, the witness, unless the lay(wo)men are taught on how to relate to God from His perspective, the body of Christ (at least here in America) will never mature enough to be the kind of witness to the world that we are called to be.


Yet more ramblings

This past Sunday was a blur. My family visited another church (for a second time ~ reference my blog from 20091012), DD3 had her last soccer game of the Fall U8 league, DS2 had a lot of homework over the weekend, my beloved was fighting both a cold and DS2 (his homework), etc. As a result i was not able to watch the Panthers and Redskins game until around 6:30. Do you know how hard it is for someone who LOVES the NFL to not watch football on a Sunday afternoon?!? What a game to watch (for me). For the first 35 minutes of game time i was not very fun as a Carolina Panther fan. But things got much better after that. I still have several concerns regarding how the Panthers will do for the rest of the season, but i am grateful to see that they will not go the way of the 2008 Detroit Lions (sorry Amy). The next few weeks is the "softest" stretch so i still feel the Panthers have to win the next two, and then be competitive against both Phoenix and New Orleans - preferably winning at least one of these two, before i really have hopes for anything better than a 7-9 season. Things i liked - it was good to see the defense so dominant again. They were in the backfield, they were sacking the Quarterback. That safty was sweet! What i am not liking is the offensive struggles they had. Jake Delhomme and the receivers seem to be a little out of synch. Also, the running game has got to improve if they are to change their fortunes for the foreseeable future. More specifics have escaped me now that this is two days history. Yesterday, on a whim, i entered "christian tin whistle", just to see what kind of results i would get. The one that intreagued me the most was for Robert Rife. I enjoyed reading his Bio on his website, and glad to hear that he still plays the bag pipes and performs within the region (the North West). He also has some samples from two CD's he has produced, but i was not able to figure out how to order them. I still may not get them, but i was really happy to find a Christian bagpiper and tin whistle player. I was hoping to find some examples of some kind of Christian hymns or 'regular' songs, played on the Irish Whistle. I've wanted to learn to play this instrument for a long time. Who knows... maybe i can learn after all three of my children go off to college. Interesting fact (to me): I was in a bagpipe band in High School. One that was sponsored and run by the school. I only played the tenor drum for a little while but i loved marching with them! 8) And now for something completely different... When i read my morning devotional the first scripture i read was:
And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. (Daniel 10:10-12, ESV)
It seemed like God was speaking to me and my doubts of late. "...your words have been heard..." is an encouragement. For me the verses "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV) are sobering. Most Americans, if you ask them, would say that they are a Christian. But it says plainly here... not everyone who calls the Father 'Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven. Does that not strike fear into your heart! So what is the difference between those who will, and those who will not, enter the Kingdom on that last day?!? The key in these verses seem to be "...the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" and "‘I never knew you". Of late i have really focused on the knowing, and being known, by Jesus. How can one be 'known' and not just 'known'... kwim? How does one get to know anybody? You have to spend time with them. Spend time not just talking TO them, but with them. Spend time listening. For me this was telling me that my words were not just be sent up, but that He was hearing them. While i need to work on my listening skills - it was a comfort to know that God has been hearing my prayers right where i am. Prayers may not be answered immediately, but to know that He is answering them in His timing is an incredible blessing. Especially since my prayers lately have been for me and my family to be drawn closer to Him and to know Him more.


Music Monday - 20091012 and church search conclusion (?)

My family and i continue to search for a new church. It had come down to two. One is relatively near by, while the other one is about 25 minutes away. Yesterday tipped the scales to the one further away. Why is it that i continue to find one of two 'types' of churches. On one 'side' we find a church that has good teaching BUT we find several legalistic people, people who do not seem to practice what is preached outside of the pew (personal experiences with said people), child care (pre-school/elementary/youth) not very friendly, and not much in the way for families to fellowship together. Then on the 'other side' we find a slightly 'watered down' message but the people seem more genuine. The teachers in the youth are friendly and helpful, there are things for the family and youth to do. Do i come across as self righteous in these blogs? Do i seem stubborn or elitist? Because i desire in-depth teaching and accountability am i doing the things that we are seeing? I deeply desire a church home that desires to continually teach the gospel, that encourages grace filled accountability, that encourages the meeting together of the saints not just in teaching situations but relationship building ones AND service (i.e. ministry) opportunities. I am fully aware that a 'perfect church' does not exist out there, and yet... why do i struggle to find one that i am comfortable to bring my family too? The more i think about it the more i am inclined to think it is me. When i listen, read, or watch things about/by about men like CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Allister Begg, John Stott, RC Sproul, Thabiti Anyabwile, and John MacArthur, my spirit's hunger gnaws at me. I recently listened to an interview with one of these men and i remember this because i remember my spirit crying out to know God more... to be more passionate for Him. And there was a line that went like this, "Someone once asked me, 'how can i be as passionate as you are'? and (he) replied, if you want to be passionate you have to spend time with God. You have to study His word. (He suggested to) start with the gospels and the seven sayings of Christ on the cross." (off of memory, but hopefully just as accurate) So, what i am taking away from this is that i need to stop seeking to have my hunger satisfied from a pulpit and i have to take a more personal approach to feeding this desire. I'm not saying that i don't need to attend a local church, quite the opposite, but i need to stop seeking to have my hunger and thirst quenched strictly from the pulpit. I need to be more directly involved in the satiating of such hunger pains. I also want to guard my heart against the very things that we've been seeing in "deep" churches around us of late.
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10, ESV) This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, [1] for the servant [2] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:12-17, ESV)
To be honest i have leaned more towards spiritual slothfulness than becoming a marathon runner. I read the following from a facebook friend over the weekend, "Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 John Bingham looked mid-life in the face—and started running. Since then, he has completed 40 marathons and hundreds of 5K and 10K races... —and developed a whole new outlook." Famous quote: "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." (Thanks for sharing that Linda!) I am praying in Jesus' name that i may have the courage to start... OK... enough rambling. Last week, again on facebook, the I LOVE CHRISTIAN MUSIC♥ page shared the song below and it moved me. I know many of you may think that it was just because that it is in both English and Japanese that this is the case but i truly believe that it was more than that. I love hearing the praises of God sung in other languages. There is something moving that is hard to explain. Before i was a Christian there was a Chinese family that lived next door to me. Whenever i would get sick my friend's mother would make me dumplings. My mouth still waters... well, they also took me to church a couple of times, but the sermons and singing were always in Chinese. But even then it caught my attention. So, without further delay...
Found in You Written by Lisa Davidson Translated by Emi Shirasaya 救いの神様が 変えてくれたよ この人生を 救いの十字架が 永遠の命 与えてくれる 捧げよう すべて あなたを愛してるから イエスだけが 満たす魂 歌おう あなた讃えて イエス Salvation belongs to our God Nothing else could ever change My life the way You did Salvation belongs to the cross By the perfect blood You shed I live eternally My life is forfeit to You 'Cause I have fallen in love with the Saviour Jesus alone can satisfy my soul I'll sing Your praises forever My life is forfeit to You 'Cause I have fallen in love with the Saviour Jesus alone can satisfy my soul I'll sing Your praises forever Jesus すべては あなたの 中にある すべては あなたの 中にある すべては あなたの 中にある すべては あなたの 中にある All that I want All that I need I've found in You All that I want All that I need I've found in You All that I want All that I need I've found in You All that I want All that I need I've found in Your Love My life is forfeit to You 'Cause I have fallen in love with the Saviour Jesus alone can satisfy my soul I'll sing Your praises forever 捧げよう すべて あなたを愛してるから イエスだけが 満たす魂 歌おう あなた讃えて 歌おう あなた讃えて 歌おう あなた讃えてイエス