Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Book Review : The Heavenly Man

I recently ordered and read this book after seeing it on Amazon while searching for "Chasing the Dragon". I was excited to find out about it and like Chasing the Dragon, could not wait for it to arrive. I just had a sense that it was going to be life-changing.

I think I read this book in about 5-6 days. I just could not put it down. It was like reading the book of Acts, only these Acts of the Holy Spirit just happened in the last 20-30 years. I was so encouraged to read this story of God's faithfulness, mercy, and grace. Furthermore, I was deeply challenged in my walk with the Lord - challenged to live a life of laying aside the unimportant, for the prize of knowing Jesus and the power of his resurrection.

Brother Yun did not seem to use the opportunity of telling his life's story to exalt himself, but humbly encouraged the reader to take their walk with the Lord seriously. This is a constant theme coming from Chinese Christians and a very good one at that. Persecution and the threat of death, imprisonment, etc, really makes you take a look at how you live your life!

If you want to be challenged in your walk with the Lord, or need to see that the Lord is still doing great and mighty things in our day and age, read this book!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Occasionally I struggle with wondering if I really know the Lord or not. When I read verses in the gospels about those whom the Lord says "depart from me... I never knew you", or others in 1 John about believers not sinning, sometimes it derails me a little bit. I start to wonder "am I one of those people?" If I am, then I am in big trouble. My sins are still on me. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand these bouts to be subtle attempts by the enemy of my soul to get me to focus on my righteousness rather than Jesus'. Nevertheless, sometimes these struggles are really tough.

I've been experiencing just that sort of struggle for about a month. At the same time, I've really wanted to see the Lord work and move in my life. I am reading a book by Terry Virgo called "The Tide is Turning". In it, Terry speaks of the life of Joseph and how the Lord gave him dreams. He also frequently quotes from the prophet Joel where the scripture speaks of "sons and daughters prophesying" and people having dreams and visions.

I love dreams and am thankful for even the bad ones. I frequently ask the Lord to reveal himself to me through my dreams. So, last night as I was going to sleep, I asked the Lord to do so. "Give me some dreams Lord".

He answered my request!

Just before I awoke this morning, I had the most unusual dream. Let me give some context...

When I was a young dork, I used to scratch things into my arms, write stuff on them (you know, like fake tattoos, etc), write people's phone numbers, crass comments, etc, etc. Sometimes (as intended) the scratching left scars resembling what I had scratched into my arms. Girl's names and initials, "SKINHEAD", swastikas, etc. these are all things I had scratched into my arms at one time or another.

Well, in my dream this AM, I had developed some sort of strange medical problem whereby all my old scars were resurfacing, even the things I wrote on my arms with ink were visible, kind of like when you erase stuff that's been on a dry-erase board for too long. It was all there, perfectly legible. It was very unsettling, and very painful. I felt like my arms were experiencing all the pain they'd ever experienced all at once. Along with the old scars and marks, were some new ones that were very obvious, painful, etc.

In my dream I called the doctor and was arranging to come in and see him and then suddenly really felt stupid in my dream because I was seeking medical attention for something so strange. Then I woke up.

"What a strange dream! What was that about Lord?"

"Look at your arms" came the Lord's reply into my mind.

"You see any marks? Any scars?"

"No" I reply.

"Neither do I" responded that quiet inner voice of the spirit.

Ahhh, I see the connection!

So I got to pondering about my whole wrestling with whether or not my sins were still on my head. The old ones, even the new ones. It was very clear to me that the Lord was letting me know that they were not. My arms were just fine. Normal as normal can be.

So I got to thinking some more about some of this scar stuff...

You know, if I keep whacking/beating my arms till they turn beet red, sometimes I can see the remnants of some of those scars and scratchings (not the ink though). When I don't beat my arms, I cannot see them. I think sin is the same way. When we beat ourselves up, we can usually see some remaining scars from what the Lord has healed. When we leave ourselves alone and rest in Him, we cannot see them.

Thank you Lord for dreams and clean arms!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Elders, Overseers, and Bishops, Oh My!

Some really great things are happening with the group of believers we worship with. The Holy Spirit seems to be moving us towards being governed not by a single pastor, but by a group of elders (aka. overseers, pastors, etc.). As we're walking into this, we're really seeing some neat things happen. As we're starting to recognize that God's plan for the body of Christ (aka. the church) is for EVERY believer to be involved, we're not only seeing more leaders take part, but more people exercise their gifts.

It's really neat to see everyone contribute to the edification and well-being of everyone else. We're experiencing a freedom and sense of expectation that I've never seen experienced within the four walls of a church building.

Many, many people are against the notion of no single pastor. My challenge to those persons... Let the Word of God judge our ideas about what Church is. Do the same for your ideas too. You'll have a hard time finding a scriptural basis for a single-leader!

I hope to share what's happening in our midst as things unfold!

Hosanna Maranatha!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Getting Behind the Ball Again

It really bugs me when my kids won't trust me. I constantly have to encourage my kids to trust me.
Here's an example... I'm trying to get my sons to learn to catch a baseball properly. They're so afraid of the ball sometimes it's mind-boggling! It usually goes something like this: I get really close to my boys and tell them exactly what I am going to do, and exactly how they should anticipate and prepare to catch the ball. I throw them the ball, they turn their head away, and them the ball lands squarely on some sensitive part of their body with just enough force to elicit an "ouch", or in some cases tears and screams.

They just don't want to listen to what I tell them! They fear that if they follow my instructions, they'll get hit in the head with a baseball. The funny thing is, it's their fear of getting hit that makes them turn away, and thus miss catching the ball, resulting in injury. Rather than accept my admonishment and change their technique, they eventually give up and go inside. I was the same exact way when I was a kid!

I used to get hit in the head all the time as a kid learning to play baseball. And I've been hit in the head a few times in my walk with the father! Just like my boys, the problem was not with the pitcher, my instructor, the ball, the game, my brother, the sun, my dad, etc. but FEAR!

In my walk with the Lord, I am finding out that I am STILL the same way! My H-Dad says "Get behind that ball, glove up", and I look away and hope not to get hit! The Lord is good though! He's such a good dad, even when I am a son lacking the confidence to get in front of the ball, He keeps admonishing me patiently despite my failure to listen to his gentle instruction.

When I started walking with Jesus in 1990, I was ready and willing to listen to any instructions I got from the Father. Then, I found my way into organizations (all "church"-based by the way!) that slowly deteriorated my confidence and trust in Jesus, and/or my confidence in how to relate to Jesus. This has been particularly true in the area of the act of worship (not the attitude so much). As a new believer, I enjoyed the freedom to worship Jesus in spirit, soul, mind and body. Then, many came along whom slowly turned my attention away, whom insisted that God does not work like he used to, that God was no interested in a soulful response from his kids. That my heart was dark and could not be trusted or engaged in a worship. I should have just kept my eye on the ball and listened to my father's instructions!

That sure explains why for 15 years I felt like an empty cistern in dry and thirsty land! God designed us as emotional creatures! We're admonished all through the scriptures to pursue God with ALL our hearts. Sure, we cannot live by emotions but we can certainly respond to truth as a whole person, emotions included!

For 15 years, I've lived in this dryness of soul. Praise be to God, he's gently leading me back to a right understanding and a freedom to allow him to engage my emotions, showing me the error of looking away from the ball, and foremost, teaching me that the pain I've had is from getting hit by the ball when looking away in fear!

Not any more! No more soulless worship. No more 'those things ended after the epistles were written'. No more 'the Holy Spirit does not work that way'. Everyone who's been telling me those things themselves lead a dry and crusty life!
For years I'd been believing that God would not, heh, could not speak to me through another person's prophetic utterance. That tongues of another language were of the devil, the enjoying the worship of God by lifting your hands or God-forbid shouting or shedding a tear in response to God was a sign of being a 'weaker brethren'. These people are just spiritually jealous and don't want to see anyone else experience joy that they themselves have not or do not enjoy.

I repent! Jesus I repent for turning away from your instruction! Throw me the ball again. I'm ready to step into it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I'm not Irish, or Catholic, and I don't purposefully wear green on Saint Patty's Day. Aside from a pint of Guinness perhaps and some special meal from my Irish wife, Saint Paddy's Day usually come and goes for me without notice.

I once heard some song lyrics that I thought really sounded profound and really encouraging. I later learned that they were derived from none other than a prayer consider to be "St. Patrick's Prayer.

All differences aside from Catholicism, this is a beautiful prayer - I don't care who wrote it!

As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me.

May Christ shield me today...Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

Wow! What beautiful things to say! Whomever wrote this, Saint Patrick or another, they understood the need of an abiding relationship with Jesus. Oh that I might have this mindset daily!
May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.
-A pilgrim

Monday, March 12, 2007

Who's getting sick of MLM?

I sure am! What a bruise on the body of Christ.

Okay, before you flame me with comments about how your MLM is successful, or how you're not such and such, and how your product is different, etc. let me explain some points of view...

First, I am deeply concerned about Christians being involved in MLM. Not a Christian? Well, I feel bad that you're being suckered into a lie, but your already living in a matrix of lies (by not knowing Jesus), so I don't expect you to see the truth for what it is. However, those who know Jesus should know better.

Second, I understand that some network marketing/MLMs are okay.

Here's a simple rule of thumb I have on the matter: If the profit potential for the "business" comes from the product and NOT signing up others to sell the product, it's at least not likely to be a scam. If the profit comes from signing up others, sorry to tell you, but it's a waste of time AND you're ripping off your friends and loved ones. If it's more of the latter than the former, you're in the wrong business.

Third, even if your "business" passes the rule of thumb, examine your motivations in the bright light of scripture.

There... I said it. Go ahead and send me hate mail and nasty comments!

So why am I writing this again? Because I know so many people who are pursuing these bad MLM opportunities it's getting kinda sick. I am in the process of writing down all my thoughts (there's a lot). Until then, I wanted to share some observations, some links, etc.

First, the thoughts...
  1. Worry about money is sin. Whatsoever is not of faith is Sin (Rom. 14:23).
  2. Does MLM (or other business) turn every relationship (new and old) into a business opportunity?
    1. How does it fit into Go.. preach... baptize?
  3. Does God bring people into our lives so we can "sign them up" for the business, or "sign them up" for the kingdom of God?
    1. Can you really do both?
  4. Are MLM "meetings" really what God had in mind for the biblical fellowship of believers together?
    1. What do you find yourselves talking more about, the "business" or Jesus?
  5. Guess what! All MLM companies use spiritual/religious jargon in their marketing! They all have people who are using their great wealth to fund missionaries, plant churches, feed the hungry, cure disease, etc.
  6. Jesus said that the widow's mite ($.02) was MORE than the gifts of the wealthy contributors. God does not great amounts of money. He wants our hearts. If you're not giving sacrificially now, you won't give sacrificially when you're making more money.
  7. How can one reconcile "seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you" with the idea of investing all one's free time into a business (not just MLM!)
  8. If you're involved in MLM, how many hours have you dedicated to it this week? How many hours have you dedicated to reaching those whom are lost and headed for eternal separation from God?
  9. Godliness with contentment is great gain! Is your "business" causing you to want more out of life? "Has God really said?" has been a classic scheme of the evil one from the beginning!
In fairness to the MLM'ers out there, I'll add that I myself am convicted about some of the above (and should be!) as it relates to how I spend my time and energy. These questions should be asked about all our lives, not just those involved in MLM.

Now, some links...
  1. http://www.mlm-thetruth.com
    Good site on the statistical analysis done on MLM distributors
  2. http://www.mlmwatch.org/01General/10lies.html
    Good summary of the lies that many believe about MLM
  3. http://attitudeadjustment.tripod.com/Essays/MLM.htm
Thanks for permitting me the soapbox time. I'll get down now that I've vented!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Real Community

I've been pondering for some time what it would look like for followers of Jesus to really live in community in this day and age. On my street alone are dozens of "christian" friends. Many of them I see a only a few times a year. We live hundreds of feet apart and don't have community!

In the new testament, particularly in Acts, I read of a group of people who were devoted to one another in love. People whom sold their own possessions and pitched in to help one another and meet other's needs. They did not seem to be working to get a bigger house, new car, or running to the soccer game either.

Today, when we see people do that sort of thing, (live together in close community) we jump to conclusions that they're a cult, etc. In my experience, it's often "church" people who are most likely to be against the idea of this kind of close community.

What community look like on 21st century western culture? We can barely stand to give each other 15 minutes and converse beyond the weather and the weekend football games. How can we live in community like the first-century church? Is community the same in every century and culture?

Is community a fruit of our walk with the Lord, or is it something to do in obedience and response to what we see in scripture?

Does it form itself (divinely of course), or is it the purposeful pursuit of believers?

I like the idea of a common life with my friends in Christ, but at what point is "community" reached? How do you know when you have it? How much should it be strived for?

I do know that I live in a culture that trumpets the virtues of community, but is feverishly creating a lack of community in the process. How did this happen? What is God calling me and my family to do?

These are the things I am struggling to find.

Hearts of Fathers

I was reading this AM in the gospel of Luke. A wise friend encouraged me to just read until a verse or idea stood out, rather than seek to digest volumes of scripture in one sitting. So it was this AM.

So it was that I happened to take a particular notice of Luke 1:16-17. In summary, Zachariah (a wise old dude) was being visited by the angel Gabriel, whom was telling him that he and his wife (Elizabeth) would become pregnant with a child. This child would be the one to prepare the way for the Messiah. Of course, this child was to be John the Baptist (JTB)

Anyway, Gabriel is telling Zachariah all about what his son is going to be like and do...

"He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people" - Luke 1:16-17
Cool stuff, right? Well I've read that countless times before, but this time I noticed something I had not considered before. Yeah, I understood that JTB was coming to prepare the way for the Messiah (Jesus) and would have the power and spirit of Elijah. But what/how is he going to do it?... turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of disobedient to the understanding of the righteous!

So it stood out to me that out of all the important things one would think are necessary to hear and be prepared for the Messiah, there were only two simple items. Turn fathers' hearts towards their children, and turn disobedient hearts towards understanding.

Then it hit me. God must place a premium value on the heart a father has towards his children. Perhaps there's some fundamental design of the heart of a father that when properly aligned with God's purpose has a preparing effect on people. Perhaps it's not just on the father, but on the society and culture in which fathers dwell? Maybe it's even fair to say that to be prepared to hear the Messiah, fathers need their hearts directed to their children?

I have many new questions now to pursue...

What were/are the things that captured the hearts of fathers so that their not toward their children?

How did JTB's message impact fathers to turn their hearts? What did he say?

What were the "disobedient" disobedient to? Who were they disobeying?

Are the disobedient synonymous with the fathers whom needed their hearts changed?

So, I am looking forward to how the Holy Spirit reveals some of these answers and further things to seek out.

Any insights on the matter? Feel free to comment.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Today I had the occasion to attend the memorial service of a young girl, Olivia, who passed from brain cancer recently. Boy what a mixed set of emotions! I did not know her well, but as a father could really identify with how her parents must be feeling. To lose a child must be excruciatingly painful in all aspects of our being.

Knowing the Lord really gives one an unusual outlook on death and dying. Most of my life, I've grown up hearing people say smarmy things like "Oh, they're in a better place now...", etc. Yes, I know it's true, but I wonder if most people find comfort in hearing things like this? In many ways, I wonder if it's harder that I know the Lord because I tend to want God to give an account for His reasons for allowing a person to die. If I felt we were all here by time and chance, how would I feel about it?

I felt somewhat conflicted sitting there, realizing that God is not going to dole out answers to these heart questions I have yet feeling supernaturally compelled to glorify and worship Jesus all the more. In many ways, my heart worshiped the Lord more at this memorial service (with only two songs! ;-) ) than at services intended for praise. It must have been a God thing, because I was feeling pretty crumby about the whole ordeal.

I don't know that I have the view of death that I know I should and long to. I vacillate between being totally fine with it one moment, and being very uncomfortable with it the next.

Hearing of Olivia's final days was encouraging. The Lord walked with this young lady through the ordeal! She was a light, and continues to be from eternity. I hope and pray that the Lord will give me His view of death and dying.

Until then, Hosanna Maranatha!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Post-Christmas Ramblings

I read on the news of the furious Christians who insist that we not remove "Christ" from Christmas, that we have "Christmas Trees" and not "Holiday Trees", etc.

I don't know about you, but most of the Christians I've known barely include Christ in Christmas to begin with... How then can we complain that those who don't know Christ want Him removed from their attention. The Christians don't even pay particular attention to Jesus during Christmas, except in cutsie Christmas card cliches, church pageants and the salvation army guys dressed like Santa (Salvation/Santa? Go figure!).

"Ok kids, let's get up early and read the Christmas Story in the Bible before we over-indulge for the next few days." Yeah, Christ is fully worshiped as we feast on food and drink as many around the world will not eat. How many hungry people could we feed with the resources spent buying stuff for each other that often finds it's way into a seldom-used existence on a shelf somewhere?

Does Jesus really relish that we celebrate His advent by celebrating materialism, putting up decorations, singing of snow, chestnuts, mistletoe, etc? Is that why He came, so we could have more stuff, and smell the fresh pine-scented air?

Did Jesus have much to say about Christmas Trees when He walked among the disciples two thousand years ago? Sheesh, I sound like a Jehovah's Witness! Some are probably thinking I sound like the scrooge.

Christmas is great. I LIKE Christmas. Really, I do. I just wish that it could have more to do with Jesus than it does. I wish that we, as worshipers of the Son would invest more of our efforts, attention, and resources into things that matter to Him. Let's keep the trees, the wreaths, the greenery, and yes, even some modest gifts. Then, let's experience the true joy of advent and go out and bring hope to the needy, gifts to the poor, etc.

So that's my challenge to self as I write this. I want to break free from the cultural view of Christmas that exalts everything except Jesus and brings rot to the heart.

Any other takers?

The balmy-cold gray days of winter

What is it about winter in the northeast? We can never seem to have a solidly cold, or solidly warm winter... always just enough of each in constant rotation to keep one nearly miserable. Not enough cold and snow to get into something fun like dog-sledding, and not warm enough to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Everything is just gray. Yuck!

With the indecisive weather seems to come a similar spiritual experience too. Warm, then cold. Warm, then cold. Why is that? Who knows? Fortunately, God's love for me doesn't change when I am fickle in my attention towards Him. Perhaps people have their spiritual winters too? I know I seem to have several per year. Sometimes for a year or more at a time.

I guess the benefit is that the winter brings rest and renewal in a weird, depressing and boring kind of way. It's kind of like nap time was when I was a kid. Not something I relished, but was probably good for me. Just like the earth is resting this time of year, perhaps we do to?

I look forward to breaking through the "winter" of the soul soon and experiencing more "son". Till then, I guess the gray, balmy-cold days of winter will have to do.

First Post, Oh Yeah

Heh there. I've had lot's of stuff on my mind for many years. I'm not one to journal because my handwriting aint so good, so I thought, why not just blog my thoughts and provoke others to wrath with some of my ideas? So, that's what I intend to do. I don't know or care if anyone will read them, but it will be good for me to write it out, and perhaps good for someone else to read as well.

What to write about?

My chief aim in life is to "know Christ, and the power of His resurrection". That's what I'm about, or at least want to be about. That's all I want to be about.

Like you, I've got a 'normal' life of getting up, going to work, being a family member, etc. so some of that is bound to infiltrate my thoughts as they appear on these pages. However, what I really want to do is share a little bit about what I am learning in some of my own searchings to know more of Jesus.

Sound like religious B.S.? Well, religion it's not. I don't intend to use this space to make any religious arguments or defend a position. Knowing Jesus is not a religious pursuit! It's a journey!

For those who've found Him... press on. Abide. For those who don't know Him, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He will! And your life will NEVER be the same again.