Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Random Catchups

May 17th, 2010 Comments off

I know, I know, I’ve been ignoring my blog, during this last final season of madness.

I’m sorry.  To the four people that read this blog, I know, I’ve let you down.

But maybe I’ll turn it around and start my random digressions (it might be another di-word) as there are plenty of good things going on to write about.

Like how I started WeightWatchers March 30,2010 and have lost 10.8 pounds as of last week. 

Or, like how I started walking, with the intent to jog. I’ve walked/jogged/treadmilled 24 miles in the last two months.

I’m still Editor-in-Chief-ing at LOSTblog, but have a bunch of awesome helpers to keep the blog fresh, they want to do a full series re-watch, so I’ll be part of that, but not every episode.

I’ve got 9+ months of recovery under my belt, with the end in sight of my Celebrate Recovery step study that’s been really helpful in my examining my life, my emotions and a fruitful productive output for my sometimes self-destructive side.

So I have some boring things to write about, that I must tell the internet.  So stay tuned!

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Contemplating Jonah

August 21st, 2009 2 comments

I’ve been doing a better job at studying and preparing for Sunday School earlier in the week.  And this month long study on finding our place in God’s will has been one good passage after another.  Last week was Gideon, this week Jonah.

Jonah is a nice short book, you can read the whole thing in a few minutes, but it’s so layered and rich, it bears a lot of contemplation, and reflection.

But first, let’s grab a verse from Jeremiah that I ran across in my other quiet times.

The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

That kinda begs for some context, doesn’t it?  I’d read the surrounding passage, and it describes ‘one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.’  The passage describe him becoming like a bush in the wastelands… dwelling in the desert.  The examination of the heart/mind in verse 9 is the final determination of this man.  Our only hope is to trust in God.  Outside of that we are doomed to the selfish nature of our deceitful heart/mind.

Jonah understood that perfectly.

And he still did the exact opposite of what God asked of him.  In the belly of the fish, he was thankful to God for his rescue.  He gave thanks and rededicated himself to God’s mission.  And with fish guts still in his ears he trekked to Nineveh, and did as God bid him, and proclaimed their impending doom.  They listened, and repented.

The God did exactly what Jonah knew he would do.  God had compassion and cancelled the destruction.

That ticked Jonah off. Why? Because Jonah knew that He would do that.

How odd.


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Lost in LOST

May 28th, 2009 2 comments

If you’ve read my blog at all in the last week, you’ll know I’m embarked on the ambitious project of re-watching all of the LOST episodes to date before the beginning of Season 6.  So, please excuse me if I get a little (my daughter would say more than a little) obsessed with the topic of LOST.

The show itself is masterfully produced, the themes a seemingly endless maze of twisty little passages all the same. Going back to the beginning and re-watching it my thoughts return to what might be the best starting point for a potential möbius strip through time:

BLACKIE: I don’t have to ask. You brought them here. Still trying to prove me wrong, aren’t you?

JACOB: You are wrong.

BLACKIE: Am I? They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.

JACOB: It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress.

This is the struggle where our beloved Oceanic survivors were plunged.  I view this series through my series of lenses, part geek, part pop-culturist, part husband, part father… However, the over arching filter is that of my faith, and the more I watch the early episodes, the more I’m reminded of a passage from the bible:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

We have been viewing the continuing drama from the eyes of men, and have allowed the hidden battle of two mystical opponents to be obscured by the characters we’ve grown to love.  A struggle summed up by John Locke while explaining a game of backgammon to Walt in the series pilot.

LOCKE: Backgammon is the oldest game in the world. Archeologists found sets when they excavated the ruins of ancient Mesopotamia. Five thousand years old. That’s older than Jesus Christ.

WALT: Did they have dice and stuff?

LOCKE: [nods] Mhhm. But theirs weren’t made of plastic. Their dice were made of bones.

WALT: Cool.

LOCKE: Two players. Two sides. One is light … one is dark.

Seeing the characters from the beginning with that perspective shines new light on everything. Our characters, are they nothing more than pawns played against each other in an unseen game, where chance, choices are played along with strategy and foresight on behalf of higher powers?  Is Locke’s guru like wisdom, as we observe early in the first season could colored by influences of one side versus the other?  Do the manipulations of the various factions in the struggle effect the different passengers on the flight, and start to ripple outwards as we’re introduced to more of the inhabitants of the island?

Those questions along with others are worthy of inspection as we’re introduced again to Rousseau and Ethan, the mysterious, nameless whispers in the jungle, the shrouded others that plot against those plopped on the island by the coincidental fluke in the crash of Oceanic flight 815.

I’ll use this space to ramble more as I worry these thoughts in the back of my mind.


Categories: Faith, Television Tags: ,

Wretched man… continued.

April 27th, 2009 1 comment

Last November I wrote a post titled "Sifting” then pretty much just stopped blogging.  What a horrible and empty place to leave off.  Yesterday, I was blessed to hear a great sermon from my pastor on Romans 8, along with a challenge to memorize that chapter in the next six weeks.  It was a little twinge to hear him remind everyone that the chapter numbers aren’t inspired, that where chapter 7 leaves off, chapter 8 continues, and provides a solution to our fleshy dilemma.  I skipped over that part in that last post, so lets start back in chapter seven and flesh some stuff out.

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
      So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Romans 7:21-25 NIV

This passage shows that the struggle for a Christian is much different than someone that hasn’t accepted Christ.  A Christian seems to be having a dual nature, one that delights in God’s law, and a parasitic flesh that rebels against the law.  This duality would seem horrible trap should we end the passage right there, a constant struggle between sin and obedience.  We desperately need to get to the next sentence:

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-4 NIV

No condemnation for this struggle?  Is that what it says?  Why do we struggle with such guilt when we fall?  Is that another part of the flesh? the willingness to flay ourselves for less than perfect obedience?  We need to remind ourselves, constantly, that we are free. We need to remind ourselves, constantly, we are dead to the fleshy way of life.  We need to remember that the spirit is there to help us in our struggle.  We live, not according to the flesh, our sinful nature, but according to the Spirit, His perfect love for us.

This is grace: ‘For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.’ God’s requirements, met by God, freeing us from the penalty that we’d otherwise be doomed to pay.  It is already paid in full.

Categories: Faith Tags: ,

Left Behind Pizza

April 22nd, 2009 Comments off

Around 10 years ago, probably closer to 9 and a half, I started posting on a message board for fans of the Left Behind series of books.

Well before the worlds of tweets, facebooks status updates, and blog trackbacks, message boards were how I interacted with the masses of people that shared a common interest.

This community shared an interest in christian themes, but had a bit of disfunction running through it. A group of us split off and thanks to the husband of one of our members, started our own message board. Heady times before the onslaught of social media, to have an almost instant community of friends.

The message board still exists. Sometimes I even, post there. But largely the community has moved on. I moved on to blogging, and that has had it’s ebbs and flows. I still keep track of a few of my friends from The Pizza Parlor, as we called it. Some are now facebook friends or twitter followers. Many are just faded Yahoo! Messenger nicknames, always hidden because life moves on.

I look back now, fondly, at those sometimes unhealthy times of Internet absorbtion. Who I am today, was formed in the crucible of yesterday. I experienced 9/11 with the people on that bored, formed many opinions based on those interactions. Learned that while I could ‘turn off’ the computer, these people still lived and cared ( well maybe not Melissa, and I sometimes wonder about Wilbo 🙂 ) about me.

Social networking is weird sometimes, I met my wife on a pre-Internet social network. We wrote letters back and forth using emoticons in 1993, while I was on deployment. Social networking is part of who I am.

Categories: Faith, Learning, Life Tags: , ,


November 6th, 2008 1 comment

Being sifted is not your regular brand of temptation. It’s an all-out onslaught of the enemy to destroy you and cause you to quit.  It surfaces what you detest most in yourself and reveals the ugliness of self.  Not everyone has or needs such an experience.  — Beth Moore on Luke 22:31

which leads us to Romans 7… picking up in verse 18

I know that nothing good lives in my, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing…

What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God — Through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Head on into chapter 8, and pick it back up ~ verse 15:

…And by him we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

(~v. 26) … In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…

Renew my mind, Lord.

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Daily Walk 365 – Day 29

September 24th, 2008 2 comments

My purpose is to give life in all its fullness — John 10:10 (HCSB)

I decided to post this daily walk post today because of the first paragraph in the devotional text:

It takes courage to dream big dreams.  You will discover that courage when you do three things: accept the past, trust God to handle the future, and make the most of the time He has given you today.

Last Sunday we talked a bit about procrastination, in regards to Jesus’ parable about the 10 virgins.  Procratination wasn’t the spiritual thrust of that parable, but the living each day application can certainly point to what procrastination does.  It steals from yourself the valuable time of today, and posts that to a time in the future.  The thing about each day, is they each have 24 hours, each hour has 60 minutes, and each minute 60 seconds.  We can try to maximize our enjoyment by pushing work, tedium etc to the next day, but that only doubles the problem the next day.  How can we stop that cycle.

Consider and accept the past, don’t dwell on it.  Trust God with your future.  Be prepared for today.  Give us each day, our daily bread, goes the model prayer.  The Hebrews were given manna each day to subsist upon.  We have our 24 hours to maximize, and one in 6 meant for rest.

When it comes to procrastination, I’m am the cheif of sinners.  Today, I’ll do what I can to limit that which I put off to tomorrow.

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Daily Walk 365 – Days 20-23

September 16th, 2008 Comments off
  • Day 20 – Psalms 20:4
  • Day 21 – Genesis 18:14
  • Day 22 – 1 Peter 5:6-7

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. — 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)

Lord, may I continue to grow in You, and put away my childish impulses.

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Daily Walk 365 – Days 16 – 19

September 12th, 2008 1 comment

Well, I’ve been reading, but haven’t been blogging. Bad Jon.  We’ll let the bible verse plugin do the work on these days:

  • Day 16 – Psalms 37:23-24
  • Day 17 – Hebrews 10:23
  • Day 18 – Romans 8:1
  • Day 19 – Psalms 146:5

I’ve also participated in a couple of really good discussions.  First in my Wednesday class, we discussed the first video in ‘The Man I Want To Be’.  The video was titled A Man Who Believes, and I was blessed to have two of the men who joined engage in the questions, and get into their hearts, and discuss the “pep-talk” video that encourages us to live each day for Christ.

Last night our Thursday group got back into the bible study meat that I really enjoy.  Angie was kind enough to let me borrow her iPhone, and I used that to read and search the scriptures.  Kinda handy, but turning pages is probably better.  The discussion was awesome.

I have an annoying habit of pushing back against dogma, my hope is to tear apart something so we can better understand it when its put back together (kinda like my approach to electronics — that often have non-optimal results).  This past week I’ve been stuck on something in the Daily Walk devotionals, which strikes me as a bit dogmatic.  So keep me honest.

The Christian faith is founded upon promises that are contained in a unique book.  That book is the Holy Bible.  The Bible is a roadmap for life here on earth and for life eternal.  As Christians, we are called upon to study its meaning, to trust its promises, to follow its commandments, and to share its Good News.  God’s Holy Word is, indeed, a transforming, life-changing, one-of-a-kind treasure.  And a passing acquaintance with the Good Book is insufficient for Christians who seek to obey God’s Word and understand His will.

emphasis mine.

Why am I a bit disgruntled with that last sentence?  It smacks a bit of scripture worship, instead of God worship.  I have a very high view of Scripture.  I agree totally with the first portions of that paragraph quoted from above, with a caveat.  The caveat is reading scripture is a dead-end, unless you’re allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you its treasures.  Pharisees were experts on scripture, but as a group — spiritually dead (ask Paul).

Scripture without Christ (and Scripture is all about Christ) is dead.  Want proof, google ‘Atheist Bible’.  Some where, some one has compiled a list of scriptural contradictions and have read the Holy Bible with spiritually dead eyes, and as woodenly literal as most atheists claim a ‘fundie’ would read it.  They’ll use the same words in which believer’s draw life, and use it to discredit, attack, and blaspheme.  (sounds familiar?  the Pharisee’s always tried to trap Jesus with scripture too…)

The point is, we need to read the scripture with grace healed eyes, with the blood of Jesus still cleansing our souls, with his redeeming water of life filling our mouth.  Without trusting God, faith in Him, his word is dead.  Read scripture, as if your sitting on his lap, reading to Him, as your children read their first book, looking up to Him as you read, so he can smile and nod, or gently correct, or guide you to the next great part in his wonderful opus.

We are blessed, indeed, that we can have our own personal copy of God’s word to take with us wherever we go (even in our phones). For centuries believers studied scripture through the filter of a priesthood, not having access to the words themselves, and often unable to read them.  Today we must ensure when we read God’s Word, we open our hearts to his council, and let him continually heal us.

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Daily Walk 365 – Day 15

September 8th, 2008 Comments off

I read day 14, but passed on blogging it.  It was the sabbath.  Really.  (okay, so I read it this morning, okay? so stop with the furrowed brow, critical eye thing, m’kay? *)

So getting back on the horse, here is Day 15:

All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness.  And be kind and compassionate for one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. — Ephesians 4:31-32 (HCSB)

This is a verse that changed the way I communicated.  I read it first over 8 years ago, and was struck that so much of my communication was wrapped up in bitterness, I often wrote sarcastic insults, or ignorant slander.  It came across completely rude, and looking back I was embarrassed by my tone, and it brought shame not only to my self, but to the Lord.  Which is why we must strain to let go of the old self, and embrace the new self.  Being kind and compassionate, forgiving — those actions are often foreign to us, in our selfishness we want to hold on to our hurt.  That is ultimately harming ourselves.

Yesterday we studied Matt 18:22ff — the parable of the unmerciful servant — and had a really good discussion about forgiveness.  Later that night we had a double dose of forgiveness teaching in our ‘Men are like Waffles — Women are like Spaghetti‘ small group.  It certainly is clear that God forgives us, so we can forgive others.   The study last night had a six step vertical forgiveness process, that showed forgiveness as an act of the will, separated from the act of reconciliation.  Forgiveness is for our benefit, it doesn’t require any action on the other party (reconciliation requires repentance, and I think that’s usually two-sided repentance, since rarely is there harm done in only a singular one action way), it doesn’t require you forget or just let-it-go, instead you need to embrace the hurt a bit, then give it piece by piece to God, placing it in the proper perspective.  He can only forgive others, because God first forgave us.

DAy 14

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord, and not for me. — Colossians 3:23 (HCSB)

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