Coming About

I have been feeling and expressing all kinds of frustration and anger over the past few days because my Gmail accounts were hacked…as well as all of the accounts which my Google browser held passwords for.   I was not thinking about the truth of what I said in How to Win the War.  In fact, it took anger at my blessed neighbor to come to grips; she has been doing very poorly lately but got herself out of her chair to yell out her front door at me that my dog was “doing dookie” in the yard.  Really?

I struggled with my reaction to that…and everything else…last night.  (I have had 3 credit card companies reduce my credit limit to at or BELOW my credit balance because of a credit report pulled last December…when I couldn’t make house payments, moved here, and put the house up for sale.  One card had this month’s minimum payment set at $792.00…the minimum due… and reported my status as OVER LIMIT.  My credit score is now 551 primarily because of my credit allowance to credit balance ratio.)

Okay, I got that out.

Time for my sailing analogy.  It is time for me to make a course adjustment.  I have been sailing off-course for about a week.  I have been focusing on spiritual battles and race-war distractions.  (I am not implying that inequities in the laws governing the treatment of blacks is not an issue.  It is.  These laws must be changed…NOW.)  But, the REAL enemy is drawing us off course and is pitting blacks against whites and blacks against police and protesters against military and protesters against police and ….  We are distracted by these confrontations and the evil one and his minions and those who believe his propaganda are the ones perpetrating these evil deeds and as long as we don’t recognize this as a distraction from the real war, it appears to the world that they are winning…but they do not…have not…and won’t.  Remember who the enemy is.  Remember Who has won.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”  That is from Isaiah.

Back to my sailing analogy.  The appropriate action which one should take to make a course adjustment, depends on how far off-course you are.  Sometimes you just move the tiller a bit to the left or right.  The tiller (your mind or the thoughts you focus on) moves the rudder…which is underwater, therefore hidden.  The rudder would equate to your sub-conscious or perhaps your spirit or soul.  You can make subtle adjustments to your tiller (thoughts or focus) by reading scripture that refers to God’ goodness, Jesus’s commandments, and the strength and protection of the Holy Spirit.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  That is from Philippians.

If it is not enough to just change your focus or thinking, then you may need to ‘come about.’  Tacking is another word for ‘coming about;’ what you must do is switch which side of the boat your sail is leaning toward.  It requires a major shift of the tiller (and, therefore, the rudder) and causes a change in how the wind affects the sail.  What may be required is a major change in what you are focusing on.

Think of the wind as everything that affects you emotionally or spiritually.  That would include the news, events around the world, what’s going on in your family, your city, your country.   That also includes the Holy Spirit, prayer, and scripture.

Your sail, responding to the wind, is what propels you and gets you where you are going.  If your sail is picking up ‘bad’ or ‘foul’ wind, which means it is wind influenced by something (like another boat or bad teaching that you are following or ‘bad’ news, or fear, or hate,….), then coming about and making a major course change can move you into better wind and will greatly improve your journey.  The best wind is the Holy Spirit.

To get out of a ‘foul’ wind,  pray:  present to Jesus all of those issues fouling your life (hates, grievances, injuries, resentments, abuses, fear, guilt, …) and ask to have your sails filled back up with the good pure wind of His Spirit.

(Aside on how to present those issues to Jesus:  imagine a hamper or a bucket….like one you would bail with.  Imagine or list all the crap that you can think of and a few you aren’t aware of …Jesus will know…imagine putting all that stuff in the hamper or bucket and laying it at the feet of Jesus.  Imagine putting it at the base of the tree from which He was crucified, if that helps.  Then back away.  Do Not pick it back up.  Then pray that the space opened up by the releasing all of that junk…that that space be filled up with good, clean, pure Spirit from God.)

When you are sailing under a good wind, you can make progress in your journey and do constructive things to improve the world, as well as your own life and your eternity.  Good wind comes from your own relationship with God…your creator.  Good wind does not come through your church membership.  Good wind does not come from just reading the Bible.  Good wind is the Spirit of the Lord which comes to you Directly…not filtered…not translated…not through association with others.  It is directly to you…directly from God.

If you are unable to connect directly with God, your creator, ask for His help.  He will give it.  He will bring to mind those things which are fouling your wind, and when He does, immediately put them at Jesus’ feet; do not dwell on them or relive old injuries.  Give them immediately to Jesus.  And when residual stuff comes up, and it will, give that to Him, too…over and over.

You are not fouled….your wind is.  You are a sturdy, well-built, little craft.  Get out of the foul wind and sail on.

I’m heading next door to apologize for my dog’s having gone “dookie” in my neighbor’s yard and to see how she is doing.

(Thank you, God, for this deliverance.  To You be the Glory.)

(Yes, that is a picture of me hoisting a sail …many years ago.  I have stopped stealing images from the internet and that photo is the only one of my own that I could find quickly that had anything to do with sailing, sails, and wind.)

 

 

Whose Lives Matter?

“It is a love of God and Christ that begins our journey to truly embracing our neighbors and loving them no matter who they are.”

You cannot legislate love. It must be lived and demonstrated.

You cannot force another to be different or to have a change of heart; You must be different, first…and have a change of heart, first. Then, you can show others how it is done.

PLEASE, look at each other and find the good in each other.”

Please.

Make it Real – Going Public

Have you ever noticed how when you mention God in conversation (no, not that way…), that things suddenly become real?

I was having a difficult time finding funds for gas.  I had funds on a card the gas station didn’t take.  I did a work around through my phone by doing a funds transfer from the unacceptable card to another card and then, again through my phone, from that card to my refillable gas gift card.  The attendant swiped the gift card; …nothing.  I murmured, “Come on, God, help me…”  Another attendant looked up along with a customer.  I swiped again.  It went through and I murmured, “God is good.”  When I looked up, everyone was smiling.  Some were smiling to themselves.  Many were nodding.

Why is it when people pray out loud, they sound as if they are speaking for your benefit or for the benefit of the room and not as if they really are speaking to someone?  Have you ever heard anyone say out loud, particularly in church, “Okay God, let me ask you this…”   or even, “God, I want you to know something…”  It’s always in a ‘recite the creed’ tone of voice.  If you don’t sound like you believe in God, how is anyone else going to believe in God ….or even believe that YOU believe in God?

A friend of mine has been battling dark forces for years.  She’s good at it.  She is a prayer warrior.  She advised me to speak ‘out loud’ when commanding the evil ones to get away from me, in the Name of Jesus, etc.  I will explain why I believe speaking ‘out loud’ makes a difference:

There have been many times when I thought I was going to do something but didn’t.  In ‘psychiatry/psychology-speak’ this is often referred to as ideation, such as in ‘suicidal ideation,’ a rather derogatory term meaning you’re a wimp and you haven’t got the nerve to do it.  (I don’t want to think about how many people have gone through with suicide just to prove ‘friends,’ family members, and doctors wrong.)

There have been times when I thought I was going to cross over into on-coming traffic…but didn’t.  There have been times when I thought I was going to jump off of something high…but didn’t. There were times when I thought I was going to take bottles of pills…but didn’t.  It wasn’t out of fear that I did not do it, because there have been times that I have done it.  More benignly, there have been times I told myself I was not going to go into a store…but did; furthermore, I told myself I was not going to buy books…but did.  I confess…and digress…

My point is this: taking it out of the mind of intention and into the verbal makes it more real for me.  My imagination and mind of intention are not trustworthy.  And I don’t think I am alone in this.  I read an article yesterday that mentioned cognitive behavioral therapy…or ‘talk’ therapy.  Talking about how one thinks about things, situations, and life; and how one behaves as a result of one’s thoughts; and talking about making changes (not just thinking about making changes) gives it more oomph.  Verbalizing affirmations is what gives them power, not just the present tense of the verb.

It is similar to what the Apostle John says about “In the beginning was The Word…” how at creation there was a difference between when there was just the Mind of God and when there was Christ: the Logos or the Word.
The Word.
God uttering Christ made Him real.  God uttered Christ into being.
I’ve read and heard a great deal about how naming a fear gives you power over it.
God calls us by name.

I believe the invocation of a prayer…the speaking of the prayer…makes it manifest…or maybe just more likely to be manifest.

Am I making any sense?  Talk to me…

 

(The image above is borrowed from the internet.  I did an internet search for “making it real;” don’t do that.  just don’t.)

 

Shadrach, Meshach, and whatshisname

I’m with them.

They had been thrown into a fiery furnace for not bowing to an image of  Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.  Similarly, I am finding myself in a bit of a ‘warm environment’ which I believe is due to my not giving in to demons and other annoying influences.

Read what they said to Nebuchadnezzar:

our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.  (emphasis, mine)

I serve God, through Jesus, with strength and conviction from the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus, saved by His blood by the Grace of God.  I look to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the very Father God to protect and save me.  But if He does not, I will not turn from God nor will I stop drawing close to Jesus and neither will I stop turning to the Holy Spirit for guidance and protection.  I will not worship anything else.  Emphasis, MINE.

Are there any questions?

Christ’s Embassy

” We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

God does make His appeal through us.  Jesus is not here.  We are.  We are His hands and feet…as well as His lips and fingers.

Much of what I have read recently came together yesterday the way rivers, streams, and runoff come together to produce torrents and flash floods.  I have been quite busy scribbling notes as the Holy Spirit fed me insights, connections, and brilliant ideas.

At some point I thought of writing this all in a book … a book of instruction for individuals and churches.  However, the penlight of the Spirit revealed that I was being drawn toward the trap of anticipating notoriety, fame, success, and reward.  It didn’t take much convincing to change my mind.  So, nope, I’m not going there.  I will lay it all out here as individual posts.

First of all, God is responsible for this work.. He directed it.

Jesus led me to the blogs, books, and writings which have been blended to support the concepts put forth here. He planted the idea for me to write this and even made me slow down in my reading at the parts that were key to the development of these ideas. The Holy Spirit gave me joy when the concept really started to take off and I depend on Him to pave the way for me to get the necessary permissions to borrow the essential truths from the various sources of research and insight. Jesus orchestrated the book; I am merely conducted the work and performing the writing. Furthermore, any spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors are His. (Just kidding)

As I wait to get permission from specific publishers, I will set up the environment of what I hope to address:

Have you ever turned to a church for help and were told “no,” or were merely ignored, or were referred to the state or country department of social services? …even if you were known to be Christian and a member of that denomination?

Have you ever wondered why mega-churches thrive and smaller churches are failing?

Have you ever wondered why the seriously struggling in our neighborhoods have a stronger faith in God than those who seem to be truly blessed by God?

Have you ever experienced yourself drifting from your faith when hardships lighten up?

Have you ever wondered why so many of the wealthy and successful blow it by falling prey to drugs, addictions, adultery, crime, and suicide?

Have you ever felt alone within a congregation…misunderstood, ignored, marginalized?

Has it ever taken you a week to do what you could do in 15 minutes…if all the time you had was 15 minutes?

Do you ever get drawn off track by enticements, doubts, pride, addictions to validation, fear, or memories of abuse?

Do you ever feel that you have something to give but no one to give it to?  There is no one who wants it?

I am going to present a new way to be a ‘Believer in and Follower of Christ…’ a BiaFoC.  Okay, that sounds awful but I may in fact use that acronym because the term Christian carries along with it a bunch of associative junk that I intend to avoid:  preconceptions of what a Christian is, does, and has done…the details of which I will leave for another blog and, hopefully, a different blogger.

As I mentioned above, I hope to present advice and guidance for individuals as well as ‘BiaFoC Collectives,’ heretofore referred to as churches…a term and concept that has its own associative junk.  In fact, mainline churches with their council-approved doctrines, prayer manuals, and pre-ordained services may not be flexible enough to consider the recommendations I will make.  Some of what I will propose, I borrow (if not steal) from existing denominations, with slight modifications or blending.  In truth, I am gleaning the best practices of many denominations and suggesting a hybrid.  I can do this because 1) Jesus is suggesting it and He is the Executive Director.  I don’t need anyone else’s approval; 2) I am not having to make these ideas fit within any existing paradigm.

I am a free agent.  I no longer ‘belong’ to a particular denomination.  I belong to Jesus.  I am not ordained or formally educated  in theology, apologetics, or doctrine; a seminary education limits one’s options and can weaken one’s faith…(which is another subject that I will not go into, here.)

I will address a variety of issues:

  • four stages of BiaFoC faith and the keys to staying in the optimum stage;
  • techniques for identifying, shedding, and ‘keeping shed’ one’s personal demons;
  • keeping protected from the evil one and Practicing the Presence of God
  • fundamentals of the BiaFoC Collective…
    • its strengths and key components (“divide and pair up”)
    • the critical mass of BiaFoCs
    • the critical mass of issues
    • key practices
  • doing enough but not too much
  • the right way to measure prosperity and success
  • balancing intake and outflow
  • “Reach out”…not outreach
  • being public

I am excited.  While I await permission to proceed, I will be composing drafts.

I am not a salesman; ask my brother if you don’t believe me.  In fact, over the years, I have tried many times to market the products of my God-given talents (painting, photography, graphic design, writing,…) all to no avail.  Furthermore, I doubt my writings here get very far; the typical post of mine sees less than 10 views.

If what I present appeals, use it.  It comes from Jesus.

 

 

 

America Is Not A Christian Nation

I am re-posting this article because the author(s) make an excellent point:

” We need to show our coworkers, neighbors, relatives, and friends Jesus. If you want the Country to follow God more closely; The solution starts with us carrying out the Great Commission. When we start carrying out the Great Commission more effectively, I believe that is when you will see the changes you desire in the nation. ”

I would suggest changing the title because it leads one to believe that whether or not America is Christian is a significant issue. Besides, how does a nation become a Christian?

There is a great deal of good information and wisdom, here, though. I recommend this be passed along.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

Clear Communication

Lately, I have been very outspoken about the evil one, his minions, and people who have bought into his propaganda.

This morning, during several attempts to communicate with followers that I have not heard from in a while, the system has reset itself and deleted what I had typed.  I consider manipulation of communications and censorship to be workings of the evil one.

Cutting to the worst case scenario, if anything suspicious happens to me, my brother has been given instructions on how to communicate with you and to let you know.  You know that if anything suspicious does happen to me, it is likely because I have told the truth and that the truth is a serious threat to the evil one.

May God bless us all and thank you, Holy Spirit, for protecting us. (In Your Name, Jesus, I pray that I may only convey what is true and helpful to those desiring to remain with You in eternity. )  Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

One Shot

Sometimes I only have one opportunity to make an impression on someone. I can focus on making a good first impression of myself or I can focus on giving a good first impression of Jesus. I prefer the latter because I am more comfortable drawing attention to Him than to me. I didn’t used to be that way but I am that way now.

I also follow a good rule of writing: “Show…don’t tell.” Good story writing involves describing a character or event through examples. Jesus used parables for that very reason. Joseph Campbell says myth, stories that tell truths but use events that may have never actually happened, are excellent ways of conveying wisdom…universal truths. Fans of Uncle Remus and Aesop know that stories about animals are effective ways of describing typical human behavior in an entertaining and non-confrontational way. Likewise, Jesus told parables that were not attacks on anyone but could convict the human heart.

When I meet someone who does not know me, my best effort is to behave the way Jesus would toward that person. As I seldom interact with religious leaders, I don’t usually address people as hypocrites, blind guides, or blind fools. You will find Jesus using such terms in Matthew. When Jesus talked with ‘common folk,’ as we are, He spoke gently and with love. Even when He addressed the woman at the well, whom He knew was an adultress, He didn’t call her names, He said, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” No sneering, no rancor, no attacks, no condemnation…simple fact to point out that He knew to whom He was speaking. He did not even mention that she was ‘living in sin.’

I am quick to point out, however, that Jesus has a right to point out her situation. I do not feel authorized to dance so closely to judgment. If necessary, though, I will point out fact if doing so would would lead into constructive criticism. For example, last fall, I did observe a young manager criticize a new employee. It embarrassed the employee and was not in any way helpful. I called the manager over to my car and quietly, and in a kind tone, pointed out, “When the young man came over to my car and asked if anyone had spoken to me, no one had. When you criticized his decision of where I should park, you cut his feet out from under him. If you want to move up in management, you should motivate and empower your team mates, not demoralize them.” My daughter and I went by that same facility yesterday and the young manager remembered me with a big smile and she cheerfully went out of her way to take good care of my daughter’s needs. (The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is found in the Gospel of John.)

Now, you may have noticed that with the young manager, I did not quote scripture, nor did I even mention Jesus. I may, in the future, visit the facility again and when I do I may hand her a business card that has the url of this website….or I may not. I will have to determine at the time if the situation feels right for it. Sometimes I introduce Jesus; sometimes I just try to behave like Jesus…until the right opportunity presents itself.

I am all about the Hippocratic Oath of “Do No Harm.” When I have only one opportunity to make an impression on someone, the Last thing…no, the thing I Never want to do is turn someone away from Jesus. Condemnations, attacks, threats, warnings, accusations (almost) Never work. (I added ‘almost’ out of respect for my previous essay, “Generalizations are Generally Wrong.”) Jesus rightfully attacked the religious leaders of His day. I am not Jesus. Those religious leaders were (in their own eyes, anyway) the most righteous people in Israel. Only Jesus, truly the Most Righteous human ever, had the authority to call them down. I ain’t righteous. I ain’t Jesus. It ain’t my place.

By the way, the image at the top is a photo I took while on the boat with my brother this weekend. The boat we were on was moving at near top throttle to the right. The boat I photographed was clearly moving at (or near) top throttle to the left. I took one frame. The image is not cropped. Notice the nearly static images in the background. (Fellow photographers will appreciate these details.) I had one opportunity to make this shot.

Pruning, Topping Out, and Cutting Back

This morning, I was reading Mike’s post titled Bearing Good Fruit on his wonderfully written and inspiring blog, Seeking to Reflect Jesus.  I read how easy it is to “gloss over” scriptural references we have heard over and over such as “God is the vine grower, Jesus is the vine,” but for some reason, Mike’s words hit me between the eyes (you know, that place where my brain is supposed to be.).

I even exclaimed out loud:  So, that’s what is was…last year when I lost my job, my house, my savings, my credit, my credibility, my friends, and nearly my life…I was being pruned… topped out, and cut back.

Well, I must say, a whole lot more fresh air and sunshine is being let in. The new growth seems to be good and strong.

I’ll let God and others evaluate the quality of my fruit (my writing, my taking care of my next door neighbors, etc.).

If I focus on my own wake (to mix a few metaphors), to evaluate how well I’m doing, then I’m not watching where I’m going and could hit a stump or run aground.

In the past, I have become addicted to the validation (praise, thanks, compliments, etc.) So now I just keep my eyes to the next task and my feet and hands moving without regard to ‘stats’ or pings or whatever.

To throw in another metaphor (from cooking; specifically, to smoking meat) “If I’m lookin’, it ain’t cookin.”

Thanks be to God, and to God be the Glory.