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...
    Good site on the statistical analysis done on MLM distributors
    Good summary of the lies that many believe about MLM
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!