Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.

It is Saturday morning. Thankfully I’m off on weekends and don’t have to venture into the wasteland today.

Yesterday in the wilderness I spent two and half hours building an NFL display in a store. I took pictures of it and sent them to my boss with the message, “By Monday this display will be destroyed,” meaning the customers in the store will have picked it apart. I am often asked to perform tasks at my job which are very time-consuming but don’t avail any discernible profit.

But there are things I like about my job. I like that I am always on the move. I wouldn’t like being stuck in an office all day, or in the same store. I’ve worked retail before, but I get bored with being in the same place for too long. I like that I am basically on my own. It’s pretty rare for my supervisor to say much about my job or come to visit my market. And except for a few brief exchanges with store managers and employees, I don’t have to talk much with people. Of course I also like that I report from home. When I did sales before, I had to ride from Millsboro, DE to Salisbury, MD to get my handheld and car, then ride up to Easton and St. Michael’s to perform my duties. I drove about three and a half hours a day. Reporting from home is much better.

So I guess you have to eat the seeds and spit the shells. Overall I am much happier here in NC doing what I do, than I was in Delmarva doing what I did there.

I notice that I said I appreciate not interacting with people too much. Last night I got home and Jessica had some friends here and I just laid in bed in the darkness. I had a headache, but I also preferred not to interact with anyone after working all day and being sleep-deprived, which I always am. We went out to dinner with a couple from church last Tuesday night, their treat: I had steak and crabcake. We went back to their place and chatted and prayed for about a half hour and I was STILL drained by the experience. I find myself odd, but I didn’t choose to be this way; I wouldn’t have made myself this way if it were my decision. I just prefer to be quiet mostly. Most of my existence is lived between my ears. I am a contemplative person. The knowledge that I am always in danger of falling into sin makes me want to pray and confess my neediness, my poverty. I like solitude so I can try to hear God, so I can think. I long to hear the voice and direction of God at all times, in all moments, whether I am working, reading, listening to music, running, making love, sleeping. I’ve met Christians who are bubbly and talkative and want to be with people all the time and I always wonder how they ever have time to listen for God.

I used to think I could somehow summon the power to change my personality so that I would be more sociable and outgoing. But I gave up on that, or at least I placed it in the Lord’s hands. If He would change me, He could change me. I think in His creative diversity He might’ve just made some people to be like me: quiet and thoughtful, but still very passionate for Him and His people.

It is a beautiful sunny day today, Halloween. Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses 498 years ago today. I slept and woke up with a headache. If it recedes I may work outside in the yard today.

From 1 Corinthians 7 (ESV):

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

Advertisements

For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.

I woke up at 2:30 this morning when Winston came stomping out of the boy’s room and let the dog loose from her cage and the two of them clamored around making a huge racket. It was fine since I had to go to Wilmington this morning anyway. I went for a jog on OBW and felt pretty strong. There is an app I’ve been using called Zombies, Run! that gives you challenges when you run and a whole backstory and zombie chases to make you sprint. That’s been fun. I have been listening to Neko Case this week. She’s not just a pretty face. I really love her music.

When I got back in the driveway a big, lumbering raccoon was eating dog food out of a bin on our front porch. He watched me for a long time as if annoyed because I interrupted his meal. I read a little in 1 Corinthians, showered, and got out the door. I found out this morning that there was a management position open in Wilmington and I wasn’t aware of it and the posting had closed.

I don’t care. I am in a strange place right now. I don’t have a career, or even the thought of a career. I don’t want to move up in my job. I hate the company I work for; I hate chasing dollars by selling sugar and chemicals. I suppose that means I should be looking for a new job. I feel as if I am in limbo, just as I have felt for the past ten years, almost. A full decade come July, working for a company I hate, in different roles throughout that time, and hating them all. Hating it with perfect hatred. I just try to do my work in the service of God and not worry about it much. Joseph worked diligently for Potiphar and Pharoah. Daniel worked for Nebuchadnezzar.

My wife gets up most mornings to make me a lunch of some sort. I am married to a godly woman.

Work was fairly uneventful. Chad worked with me at a few stops, though he basically just schmoozes with customers and doesn’t do much to actually help me. Not that I need much help, really. (TEN YEARS!)

I got home and fiddled with the video intro I’m working on for the YouTube channel I’ve made. Tonight I plan on just lying around. I’m pretty tired from getting up so early and tomorrow is going to be a long day.

I am praying for God to demonstrate His power in and through me. I am seeking occasion against the Philistines.

God is not slow concerning His promises.

Yesterday after church I worked outside for several hours. Cut a pretty large tree down with the chainsaw. Sikki and I sprayed around the house for bugs. Before dinner we took all the kids to the beach and walked for a while. She got stung by a honeybee that was lying in the surf. After dinner she cut my hair and we did a little cleaning, put the kids to bed, and made love.

I woke up at four feeling weird and foggy-minded. I wasn’t able to comprehend much and diddled on Facebook for awhile before heading out for a jog. The work day wasn’t too exceptional, except that my phone didn’t ring all day long, which I like. I had the blues for some reason in the early part of the day — that old sensation of feeling like a fool for following God and wanting to just screw the desperate, lonely women who flirt with me in the accounts. I saw Brother Ronnie at one of my first stops; he spoke in church yesterday. After seeing him, I started praying and gave the day and my life to the Lord. I live my life on the edge of a precipice and it is only the grace of God that keeps me.

This evening I have to try and sign up for next year’s insurance.

The days of my life were ordained for me before one of them existed.

Abide Under The Shadow

Hosea 4:12-13

My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore.

(KJV – …they have gone a whoring from under their God.)

They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is good.

I’ve been reading in the book of Hosea this week. Hosea is full of powerful, shocking imagery. This particular text interests me because it says that the people of God have left His shade for a lesser but more physically relatable worldly covering.

This is the essence of false, man-made religious practice in all its forms — including “Christian” forms: trading real, spiritual relationship and discipline for another kind of comfort that appeals to the senses, style preferences, or religious feeling and sentiment. Malleable, flexible, “reasonable” human devotion to those things we can see and feel WILL provide us a genuine sense of comfort and shelter for a time, and yet they can be as far from knowing God and walking in His ways as the starry hosts are from the dirt of earth.

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee… — Luke 1:35

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. — Psalm 91:1-2

Caught Up To God

Today is Tuesday. I have worked the first two days of the workweek trying to seek the presence and purpose of the King of kings.

On Sunday morning in church I felt an urgency to give a prophetic utterance during the song service but the timing didn’t seem right. I held back even though my heart was pounding and I really felt I needed to speak. I thought at the time it was for the whole church. The song service ended and the guest speaker gave his message. But at the end he asked if anyone had a word for him. He said he had a sense all week long that someone was going to give him a message. No one said anything and he went to sit down. My heart was pounding again.

I’ve given a few prophetic words in the past, but I am always unsure of myself. I wonder whether I am really hearing from God, or whether my thoughts are just running wild. The uncertainty is a concern for me because I know that Muhammad was unsure whether God was speaking to him: he believed he was hearing from a jinn. (One of his wives convinced him that his message was from God and he has gone forth to conquer and slay ever since.)

Anyway when the man asked if anyone had a word for him, I prayed and asked God not to let me represent Him poorly, and I stood up and went up front and delivered a message. I could barely remember what I said to him afterward.

I only mention it here because I really do desire to operate in spiritual giftings, words of knowledge, healings, tongues, etc. I want to be available to speak life and hope and correction — whatever God sees fit. The perfect man is a man who has let his ego wither, and seeks nothing of his own glory. I really don’t think God wants a bunch of rock star disciples. I think the aim of life should be the glory of God and Him alone. If He chooses to honor someone, that is His affair. I don’t need to be “Mr. Personality” and have everyone like me. I only want to be obedient to His purpose today.

This is the Last Time

I slept poorly last night and had to get up earlier than usual to go to Wilmington. I had sexual dreams about someone. Sikki has been sick and we haven’t made love in quite a while. I have dreams and wandering thoughts when we don’t have sex regularly.

I’m not sure whether I’ve been depressed or what, but I haven’t had much of a sex drive lately. It might have something to do with some weight I’ve gained since I became hampered in my breathing a couple years ago. I don’t feel too sexy when I gain weight or don’t exercise regularly. When we were moving to NC, I had to go see a pulmonologist because an allergist told me I had a strange growth in my lung. We moved to NC under a cloud of uncertainty about my health, our finances, my job situation, and of course wondering what the plan of God was. The pulmonologist treated me with Prednisone and took two CT scans, which showed that whatever was in my lungs shrunk. He told me to go back to the allergist thinking my breathing difficulties must be a reaction to something. That was almost two years ago and I haven’t followed up.

I won a video camera in a sales incentive at work. Yesterday and today I’ve been thinking about maybe opening a YouTube channel where I could post my reflections on life and the scriptures. It helps me to avoid temptation when I am focused on the kingdom of God, and specifically on what God wants me to do. God has said he wants me “in the harness,” so I am trying to be obedient to that word and seek opportunities for my gifts to be expressed.

I was thinking today about how many people have spoken into my life — the specific people who were obedient to the Lord and inspired faith and hope in me. I want to be like that: someone who points people to God, helps them along, eases their journey.

Is it time?

Father,

Is it time for me to write the vision? I’m forty now. You know that I am always one inch from falling off the precipice but I am also very in love with you and your ways. I desire to obey your voice and get back in the harness. I long to see the people in your church become a blessing to you — everything you had in mind when you died for us. I am willing if you will help me, Father.

People seem to be helped when I speak. They say I have a way of speaking about you that makes sense. They tell me I have a gift. Still, you prevent me from knowing whether anything is effective. How does one measure effectiveness in your kingdom? What makes something rich in your eyes?

Mindy says I should make more videos. She was referring to a couple of videos I posted on Facebook four years ago. I would like to write something that could help the struggling church. So many are hurting and there aren’t many teachers.

I am willing to throw more seed, but only if you help me, Alpha and Omega. My desire is to know you in the process. I am not trying to jump ahead of you and your timing.

Is it time?

Hannah’s Hunger: Motivation in Prayer, Pt. 2

This is a message I gave this morning at New Life Christian Fellowship in Supply, NC, with my personal notes following.

Hannah’s Hunger: Motivation in Prayer Pt. 2

Intro: Uncertain times, uncertain outcomes. “May the Lord establish His word.” – Elkanah

1 Samuel Chapter 1

Vs 18-19
>Hannah had a choice!
>Her hunger for God’s purpose had left her unable to eat, but after the time of travail, she eats. They worship. Though Hannah has not received, she has left the matter with God.
>They go back home. A lightning bolt is not received in Shiloh, there is no “instant miracle.” It is important for us to realize that the kingdom of God is worked out and comes to fruition in our unglamorous daily lives — in what we consider the “mundane” things of life.
>The same God who moves in us in Shiloh is at work in us as we interact with coworkers, go to school, accomplish our household chores, cut our toenails, everything.

Vs 20 …in due time…she named him Samuel…
>The timing of God is very specific, but it is not our time. God never seems to be in a rush. (Sarah, when it was “too late;” Jesus: revealed in the Roman Empire)
>Psalm 102:13: Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.
>Samuel: “Heard (asked) of God.” His name literally means, “God answers prayer.”

Vs 21-23
New life is a beginning, not an end
naked, messy, noisy, needy, HUNGRY
1 Peter 2:2: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby
Proverbs 14:4: Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
>We say we want God to move but we want someone else to change the diapers.
>Hannah serves God where she is: she need not go out and minister to everyone in the world. It is enough for her to influence her immediate circumstances.
>For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Mt 11:33), but DON’T GO OUT AND GET YOUR OWN BURDEN.

Vs 24-28
>“Make disciples, not dependents.” She releases him to God’s purpose; she doesn’t cling to him.
>The offering: a blood sacrifice, grain, oil and wine.
When you prepare a bull as a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a special vow, or for peace offerings to the LORD, then you shall offer with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-half a hin of oil; and you shall offer as the drink offering one-half a hin of wine as an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD.… Numbers 15:8-10
>Everything we give to God is something we received from Him first.

Chapter 2:1-11

Hannah’s Prophetic Prayer:
>NOW her voice is heard!
Vs 1, “I rejoice in YOUR salvation.” Salvation is from God alone, not from anything man can do or say.
Vs 2, Holiness is God’s “otherness,” the nature of God that is revealed when He does things in ways we would never do them. “Nor is there any ROCK:” meaning the firm bedrock, the solid ground of trusting in Him regardless of circumstances. “How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word!”
Vs 3. “The Lord is a God of knowledge.”
Vs 6. The Lord puts down what needs to be put down, and brings to life what needs to be exalted.
Vs 8. Is this not the testimony of the saints? THE PILLARS: He is in control.
Vs 9. “Walking on the edge of a cliff.” He keeps the feet of His godly ones.
Vs 10. He will “thunder against them:” 1 Samuel 7:10 “But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.”
>He will give strength to HIS KING and exalt the horn of HIS ANOINTED. What king? There is no king is Israel.

Vs 11. We can serve the Lord right where we are, even in a corrupt environment.

Vs 18-19. We hold a responsibility to serve the next generation and make sure they are equipped for the Lord’s purpose.

Vs 20-21
Some time goes by (more uncertainty–was Samuel to be her only child?), but the Lord blesses Hannah.

Vs 35 …I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always.
>And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Rev. 1:6
>And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Rev 5:10
>But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9
>Melchizedek

Q: Why was God angry with Eli? A: 2:29

Back in the Harness, Prophecy from Dennis Degrasse on 2/23/03

A man of God named Dennis Degrasse spoke this to me on February 23, 2003, at 8:10 PM at Abundant Life Church in Georgetown, Delaware:

Steve, I have the word of the Lord for you. God says His call upon your life is a sure call and it’s a true call. And God says He’s allowing you a time to adjust, a time for your family. But God says you need to be careful and watch even your emotions and your feelings. He says you need to watch over these things because He’s got a call on your life and because of that the enemy is going to attack you. He’s going to attack your soul, he’s going to attack your mind, he’s going to attack your emotions because he sees some of the weight and the glory that God has for you in your life. He’s going to do anything he can to cause you to stumble and fall, and God says be aware, son. Be aware because My call upon you is a sure call. I’ve not changed My mind because of any circumstances, says the Lord. I’ve not changed My MIND because of any circumstances, says the Lord. I have NOT changed my MIND because of any circumstances, says the Lord!

And God says you need to go get back at it — you need to get yourself back in the harness. He says that’s where you’re the happiest, that’s where you’re fulfilled, and that’s where your sense of completeness is. Not just in knowing God but in serving God, because He’s called you to it. It’s a lifetime call. It’s more than just a call: it’s your vocation. It’s more than a vocation: it’s who you are. You’re His man. Bless you.

The grace and mercy of God were revealed to me in this, especially the part where he said God had not changed His mind because of any circumstances. He spoke that very forcefully and was near shouting. At the time, I was in love with a woman I worked with, constantly lying, consumed with lust and pride, and Jessica and I were (of course) having serious problems. I probably didn’t even want to be in church that night. The messenger had no idea about this — no one did except me and the woman. His words were clearly of God.

The church gave me a copy of the prophecy on cassette; I transcribed it and have carried it around in my Bible for the past 12 years. Recently I began thinking about it again and realized that, although I have turned to a more honest lifestyle and am in a better place with my family as a father and husband, I have not been obedient to “getting back in the harness.” I have avoided commitment to ministry (service) for various reasons, but mostly because I felt a sense of alienation from evangelical religious practices and the Church itself.

The Lord impressed on my heart a couple of months ago that when I do not recognize or even desire the opportunities He brings, and further, when I don’t speak or act on those opportunities, I am withholding love from Him. Withholding love from the Church is withholding love from Christ.

With all my heart, Father, I offer myself to you and make myself available to your purpose. I volunteer my time, my creative energies, my longings, the whole entirety of my capabilities is in Your hand. Help me to be obedient and not to miss the real thing. Be merciful to me, oh my God.

Hannah’s Hunger: Motivation in Prayer

This is a message I offered to the Church on Sunday, 10/4/15.

Hannah’s Hunger: Motivation in Prayer

These are my notes:

Intro: this disturbing age. (Mass shootings, Islamic uprising, American decline, moral relativity, self-absorption, loneliness, confusion in the Church, etc.)

Judges 21:25. There was no centralized governmental or spiritual authority. The only leader-figures in the story are Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas.

1 Samuel 2:12-17; 22-25.

“…they did not know the LORD…” vs 12

” …the men despised the offering of the LORD…” vs 17

“…they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the Tent of Meeting…” vs 22

“…they would not listen to the voice of their father…” vs 25

1 Samuel 3:1b

Proverbs 29:18. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.This is what happened in Jesus’ day: people did not hear Him.

The age was marked by:

  • Spiritual confusion. (Judges 17, Micah, who hired a Levite as his personal priest to serve idols he had made, later taken by the Danites, who took the Levite and the idols, “all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.” Judges 18:31.)
    • Depeche Mode: “Your own personal Jesus.”
  • Reprehensible, almost unbelievable sexual perversion (Judges 19)
  • War & violence (end of Judges)
  • Famine (Ruth 1)
  • Moral relativity
  • Self-serving outlook, everyone looking out for “number one”
  • Corrupted priesthood: the ones who were supposed to be serving God and man — the ones who were supposed to be trusted — were consumed in the lies of the age
    • undiscerning (Eli with Hannah and Samuel, and also with the Lord)
    • didn’t know the Lord, were not acquainted with Him
    • showed no concern for the people
    • treated the offering as theirs rather than God’s
    • greedy & gluttonous
    • instant gratification “Give it to me NOW!”
    • promiscuous (married, Phinehas’ wife gave birth to Ichabod)
    • rebellious
  • WORST: Rare revelation, and even rarer response to prophetic vision

Philippians 3:18-19. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

1 Samuel  Vs 1 “Now there was a CERTAIN man.”

  • He is certain, sure-footed, a believer. A Levite, he worships Yahweh. A righteous man in the evil age.
  • Elqanah means, God has taken possession, i.e., the zeal of God on behalf of His people

Vs 2 “Peninnah had…but Hannah had not.”

  • In the ancient mind, children were a sign of God’s blessing & barrenness signaled a curse
  • The old idols of Canaan were all fertility gods, because more children meant economic betterment
  • Have you ever lived in the tension of unfulfilled dreams? Have you ever felt the barrenness of dashed hopes, even though you were doing everything right?

Vs 3 “The two sons of Eli were there.”

Vs 4-5 “For he loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb.”

  • As a father and husband, he gives portions to them in an act of blessing
  • He gives twice as much to Hannah, because he loves her

Vs 6

  • His kindness to Hannah causes Peninnah to suffer, who “rubs Hannah’s nose in it”
  • Peninnah is strong in the flesh and she makes sure Hannah feels the lack. She says, “You are FORGOTTEN by the Lord.”
  • Has God ever put a Peninnah in your life? Do you see Peninnah in the modern day church?

Vs 7 “Year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the LORD.”

  • A long period of time progresses
  • Have you yearned for something for years? Maybe to see a son or daughter come to Christ? Maybe to see more of God in your life? Maybe to change a bad habit or personality flaw?
  • Hannah does not look forward to these trips; they are painful for her. She does not rejoice. She weeps.

Vs 8 “Am I not better to you than ten sons?”

  • The action of the flesh (Sarah: Hagar → Ishmael. Rachel: the mandrakes → Leah’s son Issachar.)
  • Elqanah reasons the way we all do: he wants to allay her suffering.
  • What if Hannah had actually settled for this reasoning? What if she had buried her desire for a child?
  • Peninnah prevents it: “Her rival would provoke her bitterly.” Q: Why doesn’t God destroy Satan? A: Because Satan is useful for our being perfected.

Vs 9-10 “She, greatly distressed, prayed to the LORD.”

  • This is what we should do when we are distressed.
  • Not: forming political action committees, screaming, demanding change, trying to get others to agree with us. Verse 13: “her voice was not heard.”
  • Romans 8:25-26 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
  • Hannah prays, and in the process of her prayer she is partnered with the very will of God, who desires to bring forth a Samuel.
  • Q: Why did God choose a barren woman to move like this? Why not do like He did with David and pick a child from a family with eight sons?
  • A: Hannah in her barrenness is a living model of the empty, destitute age.

Vs 11 “I will give him to the LORD, and razor shall never come on his head.”

  • “Prayer in partnership.” This is unselfish. She doesn’t want to possess this thing, or put her mark on it. She is a vessel for the Lord’s use in accomplishing His purpose in the earth.
  • Think of the moves of God in the past: has man refused to put a razor on their “heads?”

Vs 13 “So Eli thought she was drunk.”

  • Those who are in the old way of relating to God will always misunderstand (and often  persecute) those who are hungry for something more.
  • Acts 2:15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

Vs 15-16 “…oppressed in spirit…I have spoken out of my great concern and provocation.”

  • Philippians 1:12. Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.
  • Genesis 50:20. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive

Vs 18 “The woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.”

  • After pouring out her soul in faith, she can rejoice in hope even though she has not yet received her Samuel.
  • The thing was accomplished in prayer.

Samuel: “God has heard.” God hears the cry of our hearts, and what He brings forth in us is a blessing for the world — the salvation of many lives.