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Our Sufficiency is from God

I read in 2 Corinthians this morning before going for a jog on Ocean Boulevard West. I like running the morning, well before the sun rises. The stars declare the glory of God and the inhabitants of the earth are for the most part unheard and unseen in the stillness of the morning. Occasionally I see a few deer, once I saw a bobcat. What I actually fear stumbling upon, though, is a big alligator. I haven’t seen one since we’ve lived down South but I know they’re around.

During my time in the wilderness today I tried to do my work with the Kingdom of God in mind: I prayed and worshiped and confessed throughout the day. I long to see God. I told Him that again and again: I long to be with You, I long to find a resting place.

I thought and prayed for my second daughter a lot today. She worries me because she is very stubborn and sometimes openly rebellious. She seems totally ungrateful for the blessings in her life, and can be disrespectful to her mother and me at times. Since she was very young — perhaps 18 months or two years — she has tested the limits of rules and how far she could go before discipline descended. It makes me worry because I cannot identify with her attitude. I know it is basic human nature to be rebellious, but there are degrees. When I was 14, if I openly rebelled against my father I really believe he would have punched me in the face. I was afraid of his violent temper. My daughter does not have that concern.

At dinner I spent some time trying to talk to my children about the sin of pride. Pride is the original sin, a root of all kinds of evil. Rebellion flows from pride. I told my children I desire the best possible life for them. I have failed a lot as a father and husband and I know my efforts are paltry but I want to encourage my family to seek the everlasting Father.

Today, as yesterday, I felt very fatigued and sore during the day. I still have the remnants of a cold. Maybe I am just getting older.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. – from 2 Corinthians 2

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The Valley of Achor for a Door of Hope

Monday afternoon, 5 P.M., darkness falls. My time in the wilderness today was typical. A cute manager at one of my accounts routinely flirts with me. I don’t reciprocate but sometimes it causes me to struggle with my thoughts during the rest of the day –even though I love my wife and family, even though I love God and the Church. I am reminded nearly every day that without Him I would never be anything but a liar, an adulterer, a thief, a glutton, a drunk, a murderer, all that’s evil.

The road to Zion goes uphill, and there is a sheer drop to death on either side of the path, and I am always a beggar on God’s doorstep, seeking shelter and a meal. That He could love me in spite of my wayward heart is hard to believe.

Yesterday in church Pastor Bobby mentioned that a couple that has been in the church since our arrival wouldn’t be coming any more. It was a definite bummer and I thought about it all day today. I don’t understand people. I know there are reasons people leave churches, good reasons even. But I don’t understand how they can uproot without explanation or without saying goodbye. They just disappear. People seem hard and unloving, but often they will say they love you right before they disappear. I don’t get it.

I wonder whether anything in the American evangelical church system can even be salvaged. I wonder whether Father will have to circumvent it in the end. Not the Church itself of course, because she is eternal, but the traditions and iniquities present in the churches as organized, business-like systems. I talked with Andre yesterday. He asked whether I’d made any friends since being down here. I told him I had met people I like and care about, but that I didn’t have any friends like he and I are, where we can just talk about everything in life and human experience and not get offended or shocked or judged. He said he hadn’t connected with anyone like that either since me and Sikki left Delaware. But not from lack of trying. He’s tried to connect with men in his church, as I tried with the men of ALC years back. People are just uncomfortable with reality. People are complex but they pretend to be simple; life is a mystery but we think we’ve got it figured out. Nobody wants to admit not having a clue.

I go to church because I want to be obedient to God’s Word to fellowship, pray, and worship with other believers and it’s just a fact that church is where those believers gather. Plus I feel a sense of burden and am seeking opportunity from the Lord to be a part of the solution, if He wills. I have hope that God will one day soon reveal Himself to the Church again.

And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.

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Fret not yourself because of evildoers.

Yesterday the children of Hagar the Egyptian launched another wicked scheme on the world, this time in Paris. Ishmael is in the news every single day: innocent, unknowing lives are placed daily into the heated arms of Moloch. The world is blind and lost. “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

Yesterday I went for a jog in the morning and wished that I could run off the surface of the earth up into the starry sky. It was strong enough longing to nearly make me weep. It so happened that I was listening to a running mix by Ellie Goulding and at that moment her song “Burn” was playing. I don’t listen to pop music very much so I never realized that this song has some spiritual undertones, or at least it did for me yesterday before the rising of the sun.

I experience this sensation sometimes, where I wish my feet would leave the ground because my heart does not love it. I’m not sure what this occasional feeling could be but a kind of heartsickness for eternity, a longing for what is missing in the wretched wasteland that is this earth.

And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

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Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper?

It is five in the morning. Thankfully I don’t have to go to Wilmington this morning; I am feeling run-down and sick. Today shouldn’t be too hard on me, though. This morning I read in 2 Chronicles and Psalms. I use one of the Bible-reading plans through the YouVersion app. It’s a one-year plan but I have been at it for about two and a half years and am only just around 52%. So I guess it takes me five years to read the Bible. I don’t necessarily read every day, though.

I haven’t been able to exercise this week due to having a cold. I read somewhere that it’s fine to exercise with a cold as long as it’s not lodged in your chest. But when I am sick I really just want my body to concentrate on getting better: I don’t want to give it extra work. Of course, I have had something wrong with my chest for several years now — probably something related to my allergies that stokes my asthma. That was why I originally went to see an allergist in Delaware, and then a pulmonologist here in North Carolina. After several assessments and tests, neither of those doctors could tell me what is wrong, other than that I have asthma and allergies, which wasn’t news to me. Sikki is after me to return to an allergist down here and continue trying to find out what causes my frequent coughing.

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For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

I slept badly last night and awoke all achy and foggy-minded. I think I have caught the cold that’s been making its way around the heads in this household. I didn’t exercise or read the Word this morning. I drank a little coffee but felt like going back to bed. I’ve been in a weird mood all day and didn’t eat much. Thankfully no one asked me to do anything too labor-intensive during my time in the wilderness. I listened to NPR mostly while in the car. All the news is of ISIS and politics and race clashes and gun violence. The world is in a state of decay. I don’t understand people who feel the need to stay glued to the news cycle; the “news” should be called “happenings again.” It is all vanity and there are only individual souls in the Final Day: I am interested in the individuals who like me will stand naked and alone before the throne of God when the books are opened.

It rained in the morning but the sun came out around 9 or 10. It is supposed to be clear the rest of the week. But I still feel under the weather. What should I do with the rest of this evening? I have some clothes to fold. I suppose I could listen to the pastor’s sermon online since we didn’t make it to church on Sunday. I don’t feel like being entertained. I need some quiet time in the presence of God because I feel spiritually and physically off-balance. The world makes me feel dirty: I need the washing of the water of the Word. Tomorrow is my busy day at work. Perhaps I will just go lie down.

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We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.

We missed church yesterday because most of us are feeling sick. I spent some time watching a documentary about St Augustine and did some reading, but overall I felt poorly yesterday, too. Sikki is really not well and is planning to go to the doctor this morning. I’m trying to figure out if I should call out from work today in order to help her here at the house.

Read in 2 Chronicles again this morning. In Chapter 20 we have the account of Moab and Ammon coming against Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. Jehoshaphat was a man of prayer. I was struck this morning by the fact that God could have just zapped the enemy from heaven. Which He did, but He still commanded the people to “go down against them, stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf.” They couldn’t stay home. They had to go out and see the massive horde. They went out singing, and came back hauling spoil.

It is a principle of faith that faith is not mere belief or acquiescence to the truth: it requires action. It isn’t true faith until it has muscle behind it, though the strength of faith is not the muscle. I’m sitting here trying to think of a single exception in the Word, of a situation where God didn’t require some kind of human action — willingness and obedience — to enact His purpose and plan. What a strange God. It is a mystery that God chooses to work through and with obedient human instruments, when He doesn’t need us and could do everything Himself if He preferred. What does it say about Him that He includes us, partners with us, comes into the yoke and bears the burden with us?

EDIT: I ended up taking the day off because Sikki is so sick. Thinking I’ll make another video today at some point. But first I need to get Ryan ready for school and do some cleaning in the house. Had the idea to maybe spend some time on my Youtube channel doing a study of the various kings of Israel and Judah. I like that the heroes of the Bible have their many faults listed right along with their victories.