Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pharisees, Lawyers and Believers.

Buckle up folks, we're getting Biblical for this one.
I had a conversation the other day that sat in my mind like a pebble in your shoe.  The context was resisting an evil man and the text is as follows:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

-Matthew 5

I brought this up to a brother in the church I was attending as the subject matter was lawsuits. What is the righteous measure? When I read this passage, I believed that the emphasis was laying down ones own life for awareness to God. Another idea was posed. Two brothers were sitting at a table discussing this with me and they gave me a broader context of the passage that I was previously unaware of. They stated that they saw the context of this passage to mean the Romans as an evil man, and that submission to them was merely a self preservation of life. I thought long and hard on this. The subject refused to leave my mind. So do I only" not resist an evil man" if my life is in danger as my brothers suggested? This seemed dismissive of the greater thrust of the Heart that I believed that the Savior was pointing out.

No offense to my brothers in this discussion, but I felt to minimize the thrust of the heart issue for the sake of a technicality was to in essence, take away from scripture. In my opinion to  intellectualize the passage is to be guilty of the same mindset that I think the pharisees were getting rebuked for.
Let me give an example:

Who is defined as a neighbor?

And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”  But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.  And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,  and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”  And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Luke 10

... seeking to justify himself. Do we take this to mean our neighbor is only Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon? Why would we do that same thing with the context of an Evil man in regards to the Romans. Does not resisting an evil man mean only being nice to North Koreans or Russians as it would be?

It doesn't seem to add up. To try and make that case would either be a mistake in understanding, or an action of  a lawyer seeking to be justified. ( I'd like to remind my readers that my focus is the idea here and not the individuals I was having the conversation with)

What I do see in the Messianic movement as a whole, as I have written several times, is this looming imperialistic intellectualism that is opposite of the heart focus that is becoming prevalent.
 This intellectualism is a breeding ground for pride in one of its most dangerous elements... looking almost right. A person looks at a scripture or a set of scriptures, then they intellectualize the passage to their understanding. Now, based on their understanding, they begin to justify certain actions and thoughts based on their interpretation of a passage. They may then teach their interpretations of a passage or surround themselves with people who will only agree with their interpretation of a passage. Then they being to criticize or rebuke others that do not adhere to their interpretations of a passage.   When in inevitable criticism arises and actions are called into question that is when one of two things will happen, the first being  repentance in humility which is derived from transparency.

Let's look at an example:

 But when Cephas( the Rock, Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.  The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Galations 2

and God says the same thing to Peter in Acts 10

 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.  But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.”  As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled.  And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.”

Peter owns it and states that he was doing damage with his whole "Us, Them" Mentality. Peter's issue was choosing traditions and imperial intellectualism over people and what we should be doing

"“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,  but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him."

But more often we see the second outcome when ones is question or criticized about  their intellectual interpretation/ vanity/ pride

And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’  you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
 -Mark 7

Right from the mouth of the Savoir is the EXACT thing that I am discussing. Lawyering. Intellectualizing. Redefining the discussion to a frame that distances from the heart of an issue into one that is more preferably justifiable. Using the commands of God to one's own interpretation to keep from doing the heart of what God calls us to do.

He doesn't stop there. To further emphasize the point I am reiterating look to this passage

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;  therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.  They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.  But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,  and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8 But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Matthew 23

And this passage

 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt:  “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18

But lets get back to that "not resisting and evil man"

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12

Bless those who persecute you.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind. Do not be wise in your own estimation.

I just cut my own heart out with a broken bottle on that passage.
I don't think I can even finish this blog. The rest of the passages are at the bottom

 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

1 cor 13'

4 [a]What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? [b]Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask [c]with wrong motives, so that you may spend it [d]on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “[e]He [f]jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

James 4

 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.

John 15

7 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

John 10- The example is that we lay down our lives.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Note From The Editor

Thank you to all my loyal readers.... Both of you.
Also thank you to the everyone who took the time to read my last post, even though it upset many people. I don't think that the sum of all of my blog hits this year are equal to the hits that last post received. Some left anonymous angry comments about how I didn't  give the names of the people in many of the scenarios that I mentioned. First, The irony of posting about not naming names anonymously was not lost on me, I laughed about it later. I'm still having a chuckle about it now. Secondly, The main post that I didn't post names was because this wasn't about them. If I have something to say to someone, I generally say it to that someone. What I was writing about was concepts and things that I see in regards to people, not the people in of themselves.

When it comes to writing, one of the rules is to write what you know. As this is; a private blog, a place as advertised where I write my thoughts on God, man, sin, death, failure, triumph and all the laughter and anguish that they produce... I write my thoughts on various things that I know. I know frustrations at times through the wide reaching aspects of those who call them selves believers in God. Sometimes those frustrations are small aspects that I see that I find curious as to why things were done a certain way. I write doctrine as I understand it. I write transparent shortcomings when I do not meet my own expectations of what I value and hold to be true and right. Sometimes my thoughts echo a call to a higher standard for myself, and even my readers in the body of believers. That's right, both of you.

Now to clarify something that many people took issue with ( allegedly, as nobody strictly came right to me to discuss the issues they felt that were talking about them... but instead talked to a friend and a friend of a friend who talked to a family member who had a meeting and phone calls were made, but I digress)

"What good is it to discuss word pictures, arrangements of Hebrew letters, place values, star positions,  iconography ... when you haven't the essentials of love?
"hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."

Some of you read this passage and felt that I was speaking against such things as Hebrew letter pictures, or Number commentaries or star positioning. I was not speaking against such things but attempting to draw the conclusion that these are extracurricular academic ventures in regards ministry. The thrust must be interpersonal relationships and the aspects of heart improvement, life improvement, love improvement. These are intellectual candy. Candy is good. Everyone loves candy. If you eat candy every day all day your teeth will rot and you'll have other minor side effects such as death.

Another conclusion that was drawn from the italicized passage was the suggestion that I was chastising  a specific group of people as not loving. I fully admit that I could have done a better job clarifying my points and I understand how some people got that conclusion even though that was not my intent.  It wasn't to say why are we doing A, B, and C when we don't have love at all, and we're failures and hypocrites who don't have relationships with anyone. I can see how that could be interpreted, and again, not my intention.  In one conversation I had with a gentleman ( heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another he was bothered by my post) He explained that he was hurt because He's a numbers guy and felt that I was saying that he doesn't love. In reality, my writing my post, I wasn't even thinking of him specifically. I assured the man that He is one of the most gracious and loving examples of righteousness that I have be fortunate enough to have met. I hold him in high regard because in his communication with me he has always been gentle and humble. I apologized for offense that I may have caused him even though it wasn't intentional, and I felt that the relationship grew a little deeper with better understanding from the exchange.

 "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
                                                 -Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Last Sukkot, I good friend of mine did a brief teaching titled "The Why". In it he discussed the importance of not just giving orders but explaining the Why we do the things that we do. We have customs and we have traditions, and many times we do them because.... well, it's what we do.  Intellectualism and knowledgeable study is an asset. It is a strength. I acknowledge that.
But why? What are we gathering wood for?  Occasionally we drift far from the Why. The Why is a Crucified Messiah for the sin of man. My sin. Your sin. Both of you.
"Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies" This caution isn't to say that by searching knowledge one forsakes love. This is the concept that I was trying to convey, the warning that knowledge and intellectualism can and does often distance a person from the very real and humanizing truth that we're all called to Love foremost. I quoted the passage about the pharisees as an illustration of a rebuke that the Savior gave to the scholars,The intellectuals, the learned men who know the Torah through and through, but have let that Knowledge case them to drift from the anchor of love.
The why.

I'm sure some would ask if I was implying that they aren't loving enough. I'd answer, are any of us? Can we ever?
... shouldn't we try?
....  Can't we do better?

With love and apologies from all of us here,
( Me, I count as two)

- Jay M. Muratore-

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Disgraceful Aftertastes.

This is my December post, a few days early.

I read the news and right now it's saturated with the Ferguson riots.
 I've listened to some commentaries, both professional and ignorant, talking their various points on both sides of the issue. Things are tense right now at the time of my writing this, because  One side says that  a thug got what he deserved, and the other side says that a crooked cop didn't.
The idea of getting what's coming to you has been on my mind for months now, and I have even seen it creep into ministries.
"So and so has done all this and they need to get what's coming to them, until they change and repent."
"I hate to see So and So walking away from the faith, but you know, oh well, that is their choice... they'll get what's coming to them."

Now sure, we all have free will, and yes sometimes people can be stubborn jackasses bucking the bridle or the Messiah. I know that, and I see that.

I know of a place where there was a huge rift that tore into the body of Christ. A family was hurt, a leadership was hurt, and I have heard BOTH parties say that they want restitution and restoration...   but both of them see it as the responsibility of the other one to repent and make it right with them.
I've seen people surround the hurt leadership for the fact that they are leadership, and they speak softly and are often perceived to be the Lord's anointed. There is much talk about one party not submitting to leadership by humbling themselves, repenting and making it right with the church... in doing so, they are not submitting to church leaders and in rebellion.
When I hear this, I see parts of truth but there is something sour on my ears when it's spoken. I don't think that anyone has considered the possibility that perhaps they are in some way following the example of the leadership in that they have not humbled themselves and gone out to the other party for the sake of a relationship.

I've been wounded by people in my life. There are sorry's, there are apologies and then there are heartfelt pleas for forgiveness in wrong doing.

Admittedly, there have been times in my life where I have told people that I was sorry that they were offended. That took no accountability on my behalf to express to them that I understood that there was hurt feelings and to any degree was I accepting responsibility. I apologized that there was something wrong with them in essence. It's terrible.  Then there were other times when I have given apologies. I've said that I was sorry and I meant it because some off handed remark I made I know I probably shouldn't have said and I do want to make peace and not fight with the person and they matter to me.  Then there are the heartfelt pleas for forgiveness when I've humbled myself and come face to face with the pride and arrogance of my words and actions... I know that I have exalted myself and my own righteousness over my brethren. That is where there is weeping. That is where I have gone to my brother and sister and I have cried over the ways that I have wronged them and asked them to forgive me."For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."

In the example of the family and the leadership, neither party wants to embody the text as it says
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."

If we put 1/10th of the effort into grace, and forgiveness, compassion and mercy as we do into pride, judgement and in essence trying to be the Holy Spirit to other people in the messianic movement...
That would be true combat against darkness. That would be true heart changing materiel.

Can you imagine if Abraham, on hearing that God was going to destroy Sodom would have just said "they have it coming because they wont repent and come out here to me where I am and sit at my feet and hear the word I have to bring. I hate to see them destroyed but they have it coming?"
What about Jonah? God tells him to go out to the ninevehites so that they'll repent, but he becomes proud and angry and stubborn. What if he so proudly told God " they have to come to me to repent"

What if you swear you haven't done anything wrong?
"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering"

I actually was talking to someone  at an old church about how someone was hurting and broken hearted about some things and that we as a church were losing them. Their response was the quintessential "so, that's their issue"  I was shocked by such a statement. I was later reminded of the passage that says
  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?  You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. 

I know of places that have put leaders on full time payrolls before they've even gotten the church a phone line.  They then struggle monetarily and there is then underscored the demand for the people to give more and do more to compensate for a drastic measure.  People do need to pull their weight in a community, but when the focus of your sermons becomes a repetition of shortcomings citing scriptures about why and how a people are not doing what is right instead of inspiration and  loving encouragement without demanding pressure to do what is right...  something is heavily out of balance.

We do not know what Holiness looks like outside of the Savior.  There are people that would get upset at that and say that they Torah is the outline for holiness...  and I would argue that the Torah is a blurry picture, an out of focus snapshot of the Savior. The Messiah tells us in clarity what the Torah leaves to some personal interpretations.

I know a church that was sued for all of its equipment by a (in my opinion) crazy shady sneaky man. The man was after the money he could get for it all( in my opinion)  but he was operating under the thinly veiled guise of the entire thing being about church business. This man was wrong and what he was doing was completely evil. That being said, What should be done in that situation? They fought it in court and there is something to be said about justice. However, I could never quite get past the part that says

"But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.  Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
If everything that we have belongs to God, then who would the evil man be stealing from?  The Judge. IF we were to make every effort to keep our brothers and sisters from sin, instead of just saying your sin and it's consequences are your problem and you'll get yours by going your own way and that sucks... I believe we do right. Through generosity one can keep another from becoming a thief.  Through mercy we keep another from resentment. Through seeking forgiveness we keep others from succumbing to bitterness.  Through gentleness we can keep others from haughtiness.

It's not us vs them.  It isn't leadership as God's anointed vs the people of the world or community as our Messiah states:

"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."

What good is it to discuss word pictures, arrangements of Hebrew letters, place values, star positions,  iconography ... when you haven't the essentials of love?
"hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."

How can we rid the world of the things most prevalent in our own selves...
There needs to stop being the WE and THEM mindset and leave only the US.
What if we loved God so much with our actions that we set down our lives to help keep another brother and sister from sin.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I like that show, The Walking Dead. 

It isn't so much about the gruesome zombies as it is the portrayal of people trying to retain or in some cases regain their sense of humanity in the most grueling and inhumane circumstances. 
For seasons now, I've watched characters grow, and fall, and fail, and strive to be something stronger and better than they once were and in this, I relate. In it, I see a people that once took life for granted, fighting daily to keep hold of it.  A people that struggle to fight a sense of safety and security among a constant threat and in many cases, clever enemies. Isn't that just us? Aren't each of us trying our hardest to not get bitten by the world and succumb to the mindless hatred that is so often inflicted upon us?  Aren't we all struggling for safety? Aren't we all looking for the few people we can trust so life doesn't tear into our back while we're distracted or weak?

I grew up with an apocalyptic mind. It isn't hard when you turn corners and you lose loved ones, friends, safety, security.  Instead of wondering what could happen in the world, I started to just bet on the worst case scenario and was not often surprised. That, my friends, is a really sucky way to live. There isn't much love in that either. It's cold. It's awkward and it is isolating. Happiness is such a foreign concept in this frame of mind, because if you have something, it can be taken from you. When you are constantly expecting the worst from a situation, you're always expecting the worst from people. It's a way to stay alive, but it is no way to live.  I'm reminded of the Warning of the Messiah that says "because of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold"

Boldness was a trait of mine that I remember from when I was a very young boy. Somewhere along the way, it was suppressed and that sense of adventure was cast into  very deep dormant state. I fully believe that I can do anything that I set my mind to, and I have had countless people tell me that over the years. The draw back was that there was still this remnant of old thinking, I don't want to do anything, because what is the point of building an empire to have it toppled? Why make a mark on history when it all seems so futile? I don't have a pressing need to not be forgotten in grand scheme of the greater sense, it just isn't me. I've had people in my life tell em to be someone, and others say be someone else,  and all this did was foster in my mind a desire to be nobody in particular, least of all myself.

All of this is to say that I'm in a great place right now. I moved across the country on two months notice. My rent is paid through the end of the year. I have money in the back, and a full fridge.  I'm awake. I'm alive. I feel as though I have crossed over into an uncharted territory where I feel like a pioneer. There is so much possibility here. There is so little negativity here... so far.
Failure didn't even cross my mind coming here, but as where I am from there were handfuls of people that told me I was making a horrible mistake. I feel like I have met the eye of the bear, and I can wrestle the beast to the ground. I see an endless string of possibilities and I'm not the least bit intimidated by any of them.  I'm building a happiness, carving it out of the land.  I've got a plan and by God's gracious provision I will prevail. I have regained my boldness, and I have remembered what it means to be mighty. I am not shackled by recollections of sadness, I am educated by them and I am free from their repetitions. I don't see bad road and broken relationships here, I see unwritten pages to be ascribed with promise and the ability to laugh at adversity. I'll love strong. I'll laugh at awkwardness because it's funny and it doesn't define a person.
" The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance to the full, till it overflows".

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Off Sides


Flag on the play, offensive, 5 yard penalty, repeat first down.

I've been walking the path of a believer for a while now. When I first started applying Christ to my life, I was running before I could walk. I'd blast my Christian death metal on my busted Walkman that had a rubber band holding the mix tape in the machine. I'd wear bright orange shirts that said things like " there is a God, and its not you" as I stood in front of the fortune tellers booth at the Renaissance fair.

I've been in churches so big that it would take you an hour to find a parking lot or a seat  I've been in churches that only had 4 people left in them.  I've seen churches with only older people, with set ways and traditions. I've seen churches of only young people with a lack of temperance or maturity. I've seen pastors sin and shrug it off while others have sinned and stepped down.  I'e seen spiritual people who seem a little crazy and I've seen insane people pretend to be spiritual.  I've seen men who swear like truckers with giant holes in their ears show up faithfully and serve with a gentleness and compassion. I've seen young men, sharp dressed in neatly pressed slacks who say please and thank you sit in service one day, and then sleep with several girls the rest of the week.
I've seen young people who were dedicated to each other kiss each other at church and I've seen other "couples" demonized for even daring to glance at one another.
There are those who chase down pastors to rub elbows to try and feel holy and closer to God I guess. There are those who know that these men are just men who struggle and fail just like the rest of us.
I've seen people encourage positive changes in another persons life.  I've seen people that demand changes in lives that they don't have the authority to demand.... and I've seem them with hold grace, mercy and compassion until they get submission.

Flag on the play, Unnecessary roughness, the defense will get the ball, first down.

In time my understandings and studies have drawn me deeper and challenged commonly held perspectives. Over the years I had to let go of parts of my own traditions that were in clear conflict with scriptures.  I "progressed" into a movement that touts a deeper understanding, a higher caliber of study, and a more spiritual conceptualism.
I doubt that they realize how often they hold other brothers and sisters, other believers, in contempt or regard them with such condescension.

There are some things that stick with me lately.
David being mocked by a man for the loss of his crown to his son. The humility that he showed by saying, yes, maybe what this fool says is the truth of God.
When I look at my church, I ask myself "who amongst these men are like david, and who amongst these men are more like the one who mocks him?"

David showed a sense of grace in that moment. The fool showed an arrogant contempt and fleshly supremacy.
Another thing that sticks with me lately is the passage about the shepheards of Israel and the coming judgement that is soon to be upon them. They lead the sons of israel upon the rocky mountainous path, and they did not give them peace.
Where are the boundary lines between a spiritual adviser, and being a spiritual abuser? What constitutes a cult, apart from a denomination? I hear of places that are often taken in by some charismatic shmuck. Remember when the end of the world was supposed to happen this month two or three years ago because some dingus with a glint in his eye thought he was given some special key or road map?

I've seen so many people walking around prophesying doom.
And I remember that the words of my Savior were to love one another, forgive one another, be gracious and merciful to one another, to serve one another, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned and look after the orphan and the widow...
... and yet we pack the houses with people that want to talk about star charts, circumcision, number values, how to tie fringes, lineages, tithes, the precise details of a sacrifice...
and day in and day out, I would deem that they are unchanged by service.
It's like collecting sports cards with all the statistics and various players and  teams and positions.... but never playing the game ourselves, even though we're on the team, and our coach has called the play, given us the ball and told us to run it in.

Ironically, in our pursuit for deeper understanding I feel the we have lost the deepest meanings.  " You tithe mint and dill, which is good, but you have forgotten the weightier matters of the torah, Justice, mercy... "
Sure each tithe could have a significant symbolism behind it, and be used for a specific purpose that tells us something about a culture, and a people  and we could argue for a thousand hours about how completely and utterly paramount that is...  and yes, it has its place...
but does it change lives?  Can the doctrine we believe be absolutely right, but we're all completely wrong? Can we speak in the tongues of angels with all our wisdom and have it not amount to a single thing other than an obnoxious clatter without the real love part?

I'm pretty sure that somewhere along the way we started throwing out things that we used to believe, and something in one of those boxes we still needed.

Ezekiel 34

Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.  So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
1 cor 13
 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Flag on the play, Offsides, repeat first down.

We've got to reset our formation.
Because anyone we've got is too many to lose.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Truth be told...

Socrates said that the unexamined life isn't worth living.

Isn't that supposed to be a major element of Christ like living? Introspection and self examination as your heart and desire is to live and follow the example of the creator?

Truth be told,
There are days that I look at my life and I examine its pieces and parts and I think to myself... I hope that I am not part of a lukewarm faith that cause my savior to puke... pukewarm faith.

There are days when I read passages like these...
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. (James 2)

I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. (rev 3)

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (rev 3)

... and I pray for God's forgiveness and that when he take me, may it be on a day that I'm closest to him.

Truth be told I worry about the church too a lot of the time.
We're concerned about star positions and we're up in arms about the various calendars, and we've got many long winded sermons about parallels and shadow pictures of tribes and the Messiah. We get divisive over these things. I've seen people get riled up about the name of God or if you call Yeshua, Jesus.

The day of atonement is coming up and I'm looking at my own flaws and failures and I know that there are areas in my live that I need to address and pick up a phone for.

I wonder how many in the church are really humble enough to pick up the phone for their wrongs and transgressions.
I saw it once. In my years in this "movement" and all the days that it encompassses. I saw it truly and honestly once where men wept on the necks of each other as they brought out heartfelt repentance to one another.

.... it isn't the feel good gnostic superiority "why don't they understand like we do" "deeper meaning" style of church.

It is deep, and it is simple, and it is real, and it is vulnerable, and it is humble and there is this way about it that leaves you face to face with they way you are and the way you have been with people...
and you're on your knees knowing what you've been capable of because your brothers and your sisters that have striven with you, who have been neglected by you, minimised by you, chastised, slandered, insulted by you are standing before you...
and having begged their forgiveness for your transgressions against them .... It's impossible to stand before God with pride in your heart.

" I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. ( matt 5)

there are people that are embarassed and ashamed of issues and trials that they have gone through in their lives.... and they are embarrassed to come through the doors...
Truth be told, in infuriates me that that a lot of the time the church wont go out to meet that person and help carry their burden or help wash away their embarrassment with the fortitude of godly forbearance.

Truth be told I hear it a lot in church about how many people come to service because they want the really meaty stuff.... they don't want the milk, they want the deep and meaty word of God, they want the good stuff.
many of these people say that their plate is too full when it comes to being there for those who are hurting and suffering.
To tell you the truth... it hurts me. It does not escape my eyes, and it resonates within my heart.

there is a quote I heard the other day that hit me pretty hard.

"If the church is not for the suffering, then the church is not for Christ."

For me, I'm trying. I fail. I get tired. I get weak. I want to give up. I want to let go. I want to turn my back on all of it.

.... but that would make me just as much of the problem.
and God is not deserving of my arrogant defiance.
He knows it. He helps me with it, but he is not worthy of my rebellion.

I came to the church because I needed a place where I could speak of my brokenness among others who would understand, not with mind but with experience.
Truth be told, I do feel that with a lot of people in my church.
God's grace be upon their effort.
The house of God is a place for the truth to be told....

foremost, by action.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Memorandum.

A comedian died.
He lost the war in the battle for his life.
I've read some that have said he made a choice and that it was selfish.
I have read others that have stated that it is the nature of a disease.

The Death of this comedian has effected me.
In what way, you might ask... since I never knew him personally. I've merely enjoyed his work and his films.... It isn't like we played cards on the weekends or even so much as ever shared a cab.

Well,  I knew his fight. I know the solitude and the disconnect that occurs sometimes.The nature of depression. I know it as both an non-believer and as a man of faith.   There is something that he fought against, with a vigor that people struggle to define. The deep sorrow. He made millions laugh, and I am sure to some degree, that was all that he was known for to many.  I know that I have a God given talent for laughter and some have even described it as a near super power. They've said that I have the ability to effect the mood of an entire room. They would say that I could brighten the world on even the down-est moments. They also were upset when it worked the other way. They would be upset when I was in grief or sorrow, because others would not feel that contagious happiness that I could often share. I felt, disconnected.
Like some how I was no allowed to feel the things that people feel. Just as someone might see a prostitute as an object for the feeling or sensation that they could derive from her, I have often felt that way with humor. My intellect dismissed. My advice, disregarded. Why? Because they only wanted to see someone who made them laugh so therefore all that I had to offer was considered a joke.

This comedian, His war...  He could see the silent hand that pulls so many people under. He could stand n the balance between light and darkness and have the boldness to try and call people to laugh. Some saw that as entertainment. I saw it as combat. He fought hard. He fought well.  As one article put it, he helped thousands of people have a respite from how miserable this world can be. He gave them a break from the madness.

There are so many people that want to turn a blind eye to the madness. They would rather numb themselves to it than let it make them uncomfortable. From discomfort comes action and reaction. I myself struggle with the scope of awareness that I hold. To shut all things out makes me numb and paralyzed, which is part of what I damages people to start with. To embrace everything is to be so heartbroken that you can't even put on pants.

I often tell people that I see too much. That I've seen too much.
Most people know me as the man that shows up, when their wife walked out on them, when their mom died, When they've lost their job, when they're hurting and their suffering and they down in the mud.
I show up because being there is love. Showing up is a form of combat.
My heart gets heavy with the palpable darkness in life, and I fight to be something/ someone that I know the world needs. A faithful friend and brother.
It's Ironic that all this is coming from a guy with trust issues I suppose.

The other day I poured some of this out on the phone with my brother. He listened and he didn't try to suggest fixing anything. That was refreshing. There wasn't a list of things to try harder at, or to do more that would translate in my mind to having said that the suffering and despair I feel sometimes is a justified and deserving result of not being better in some way shape or form. Because in essence I was on the phone with him for at least forty five minutes  crying as I stated that I am at war, and I am fighting, and there is proverbial blood that pours from the wounds inside and though I am mighty and though I am strong, I am weak and somethings broken.

By listening to my heart, and my words  and demanding nothing.. his actions were soothing. His actions stated that I matter, and he requested nothing of me in recognition of that fact. I matter because I do. Not I'd matter if only, or I'd be better if.
I cried, on the phone, at work, in the office as I let myself feel some pains that I've held back.
I mentioned how hard this verse hits me:

"But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” 1kings 19:4

I admit that there are times in my life that I have prayed that God would take me. There are days and times when I've been broken down and felt so overwhelmingly alone.
Many of these times, I confess, have been in crowded rooms... Some of them churches.
I read something today that resounded with truth.

"We won’t give you some cliche – but something to cling to — and that will mean our hands.
We won’t give you some platitudes — but some place for your pain — and that will mean our time.
We won’t give you some excuses — but we’ll be some example — and that will mean bending down and washing your wounds. Wounds that we don’t understand, wounds that keep festering, that don’t heal, that down right stink — wounds that can never make us turn away.

Because we are the Body of the Wounded Healer and we are the people who believe the impossible — that wounds can be openings to the beauty in us."

I hold strong to the belief that Light is stronger than darkness and Good will ultimately prevail over Evil.
I fight ugliness daily, within others and within my own self.
The death of this comedian threw me a little bit. He fought for 63 years, and then fell.
That is more than half of what I've got.

Solitude, By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
    Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
    But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
    Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
    But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
    Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
    But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
    Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
    But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
    Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
    But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
    For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
    Through the narrow aisles of pain.
Share this text ...?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Spiritual application of Coke and Diet Coke

In my last post I started what I hoped to be a series of posts intended on helping those in, or attempting to understand the messianic movement.  I touched on the frustrations with some in the Messianic movement with our brothers and sisters in the Christian Church. I wrote about how those frustrations must not be allowed to take a root and spring into bitterness and self righteous anger.

Tonight I want to touch on something else that I see, as a caution to my brothers and sisters.

There is a mindset that tends to permeate with those who come out of a predominantly protestant background when they begin to study the first half of their Bibles.  Once a believer discovers that 1) there is this thing that is called the Torah 2) it is for us, who believe in the Savior, what we often see is a complete submersion into the Torah and the idea takes hold that the Torah and the Messiah are the same.
They are not.
There are many who would read that last line and just stop, close the page without seeking the context in which I differentiate. Yes, The Torah is God's self disclosure to the world. Yes, the Savior is that word made flesh. Yes, that is the definition of what righteousness IS and Is not...
However, I submit that the Torah ... though the path of the Messiah, though the foot prints of those who wish to follow in the ways of the Messiah, Though the Torah is Holy, Righteous and Good... It is not the same

Most of you remember when you were kids, or you have kids... and you tell them to do something like, pick up all the things off the floor in their room. You walk in and there is absolutely nothing on the floor of their room, because they have thrown it on the chair, the bed, the dog, the bookshelf.
Technically, they complied with what your directive was, even though your mind was telling them to clean their room or put all the stuff on the floor where it goes.

The Torah is God's set of instructions to His children and His bride.
The Messiah, Is the proper interpretation of that set of instructions.
Messiah =/= Torah
Messiah > Torah.

Take for example, Coke and diet Coke.  Made by the same manufacturer, both have caffeine. Both come in a can usually. They look similar. However, diet coke is an impression of the regular coke. It taste similar but not quite right with a strange aftertaste.  It's coke that is missing something...
In my opinion, it's coke that is missing the point of coke.
I won't eve touch on the counterfeit doctrine of Pepsi, and yes this is a joke.

... like the flavor of Pepsi, but I digress.

There are many who come into the Messianic movement and they become so zealous for the Torah, so Zealous against Sin, that they they tend to lose sight of the attributes of the Messiah that emphasized patience, mercy, love, compassion, gentleness, long suffering, Joy...
Many of these people, even within Messianic Circles, earn the nickname Torah Terrorists. They'll spring up and commit a spiritual malpractice by administering a lethal dose of truth without checking a patients chart or clearing it with the attending physician upstairs.

Consider the charge of Yeshua/ Jesus against the Pharisees  Matthew 23:23:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Now I believe we can get a deeper insight into some of this same mindset, again from the Savior, in his rebuke of the CHURCH of Ephesus in revelation 2:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;
and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.
‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent."

If you are new to the ways of Torah as they pertain to the Messiah, I would caution you right here that the entire point of the Torah is to show you how to live as the Messiah lives.... The focus is the Messiah. The emphasis is the Messiah. Don't get into that mindset of " I have spent so much time in the church studying the gospels, now I have had enough of that, I am now going to focus on each individual commandment"

... that my friend, my brother or sister, that is an error. That is not balance. That is going from far left field to far right field.

The Torah says to love your neighbor, The SAVIOR tells us that pretty much every man woman and child we meet, even our enemies... they are our neighbor. Without the Messiah's proper interpretation of the Torah, The hard hearted stiff necked man would only be nice to the people on either side of his house.
I don't want the caffeine free, sugarless, diet with a funny aftertaste version of what God wants for me...
I want the FULL flavor of his purpose and intentions for my heart. Better yet, I want that bottled imported doctrine that is made with real sweetness that I can share with someone on a particularly nasty summer day.

The Torah didn't die for my sins, but one who followed it Perfectly Did. I love them both.

I just love one more. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

You Mad Bro?

This is what I hope to be the first post in a series of posts geared towards those in, or interested in understanding, the Messianic movement
A Messianic help guide. #1
A little tiny bit of background.
A long time ago in a land far far away ( actually it was probably about 30 minutes from the pace I type this) I had my first encounter with a Messianic community. I had attended Christian churches for years and there were issues in doctrine that I did not see as being in fluid harmony with the entirety of scripture.
God led me to a church to help show me the answers that I had been missing in relation to the holes in doctrine and the cohesion of scripture. I saw a body that prayed together in service. I saw a body that had teaching, and the vast majority of congregants had their bibles out to see not only if what the man behind the pulpit was teaching was true, but they were also given an opportunity to share scriptures and passages that helped build upon the message that was being conveyed.
I hadn't much seen that in a regular service.

I admit, after a time of studying for myself what the word had said, and seeing the faulty logic of some of the christian churches that I love, and people that I love as it did not line up with the fullness of biblical integrity...
I became bitter and angry at the church.
1) for never teaching me the fullness of the scriptures from the start
2) in some circumstances, mocking the very scriptures that my heart loves.
3) disregard of God's commands for sake of traditions, specifically the removal or revision of the 4th commandment from "God's Sabbath" to "the sabbath of the Jews" or " take A sabbath"

Now if you are new to the Messianic movement.... I would caution you on some of these points.
I would warn many of you who come in this movement to either try not to get stuck here, or if possible, avoid the anger and the bitterness all together.  In fact, God ended up using a pastor that I love very much from the christian church to point out the fact that I was harboring bitterness against the church.... something that is not of the Messiah.

For those of you reading this who are not part of the movement, you may have experienced someone like the way I was... or, if I've know you long enough you remember the way that I was.
If the bible is a sword.... wielding it without training is going to hurt a lot of people. Think about the scriptures like a scalpel. It is an instrument intended to be wielded by a surgeon for the purposes of healing.... without that training its just a knife that is going to scar people and possibly take their life.

There are many of us that come to the Messianic understanding of the role of the Torah in the life of believers in the Savior. Many of us come out of the world, into the christian church, and then through Gods direction and deep study we wind up in the Messianic understanding.

Too many of us come into this movement angry.
Too many of us, instead of loving our neighbor as ourselves, get angry at our neighbor for not following the commands of God.
Too often, we say  we don't have to love our neighbor, because our neighbor doesn't love God with their actions and therefore they are my enemy...

.... But the Messiah said we are to love our enemies too.

Too often, we come into this movement with this anger that isn't focused on US doing what GOD has told US to do... but instead, being MAD about THEM not doing what GOD told US to show them how to do.

There is even a Messianic site that post scriptures and references on facebook that often posts a lot of really good and positive things...
... and then there is that one issue...    They get mad at people who go to church on sunday.
Now we know from scripture that the Sabbath is on the 7th day and all that. We know that the Sabbath is not on Sunday....
|...but beyond that, there is nothing wrong with meeting together to hold a church service on sunday. It isn't the sabbath, but there isn't anything wrong with meeting on sunday and praising and worshiping God.
It isn't the Holy convocation that God stated is His day in Lev. 23....   But it is also not something that is evil.
I would doubt that those people would be up in arms about a tuesday night bible study... same concept.
So, there in many of their posts there is this subtle aggression based on friction and resistance that I am sure that they experienced when they left the Christian church.... A type of unspoken grudge that many of these people have... but here's the problem...

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.- Lev 19:18

Some people, seeking still to justify themselves might be inclined to say in their hearts " But who is my neighbor?"

"But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Love yourself, Love your neighbor, love your enemy, love the levite, love the priest and love the samaritan all the people who don't do the things the way that you do them ( or are supposed to do them)

As an example for Messianics everywhere... we must as a people let go of the aggression we held against the church. Most churches follow more Torah without knowing the Torah than many of the churches that know Torah. Does that mean that they are without fault? By no means. Does it mean that we should extend grace and humility as we pray for our brothers and sisters that have not received a fuller revelation of the fullness of all scripture as being for the believer? Yes.

Preach the way of the Master by being a beacon of His loving compassion. Let the Holy Spirit do the job of the Holy Spirit.  Don't try and make man in your image. Trust me on that one. I've been a tyrant about some of these things in the past.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Don't read this one

This post contains censored swearwords.

I remember one time I was in a place of reflection and being broken hearted. I was in this very raw and broken awe of God, His grace, and His mercy.

I remember I said something controversial and provocative that drew a lot of backlash.
I said "Jesus only died for the F*** ups"

It had some people absolutely appalled. How vile a thing to say. How uncouth an utterance.

Yeah, it was devoid of tact. Yeah, there are dozens of different ways that I could have conveyed it...

yet,  there I was sitting in reflection of that undeserved mercy with the heaviness of all that is my sin and my failures pressing deep on my heart so hard that I felt like it was crushing me,
Disgusting by a moral standard having fallen down and ran away and hidden and touted my proud face and angry words.....

I'd F*** up.

... and he still died to redeem me.

The bible states that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  being justified as a gift by His grace...
 through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.
 This was to demonstrate His righteousness,
because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just
and the justifier
of the one who has faith in Jesus
- Romans 3

"Have faith," The man dying for me had said, "And I WILL make you something NEW"

We live in a broken world, with hurt people who want blood. We often look out at the broken people and we want to break them even more for how we have been hurt by them....

.... and then there is this man, dying for us, while we ourselves were/are/are going to be, F*** ups.

He says, "You want to help me heal the world?"

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
 But I say to you,
 do not resist an evil person;
but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

And there is the definition of perfection....
I can tell you in the year(s) since I initially made that post,

.... I'm still pretty lousy at Mercy and Grace and Loving my enemies.
When I feel wronged I get loud and I yell and I tell all the people about how wrong it was.....
....and I don't love enough.
... I don't fix enough.
I don't die enough....
I still get pretty indignant and F*** things up for myself and others. In my flesh, I perpetuate the brokenness of society.
I become part of the problem instead of a reflection of a solution.
That one sentence... That one controversial sentence... contained the stark contrast of mans vulgarity and God's compassion.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Every other day this week it would seem that there was an earthquake. If you were to absorb the news that is coming through the tv or radio or the web its talking about wars.  One country is invading another country, This country will not negotiate with that country, this country violated that countries sovereign airspace.

I started thinking about the end.
I began thinking about Evil , and how it runs its course.

To be honest, when I used to think of the end of days I figured it looks something like Detroit in riot. There would be cars burning and trash blowing around, people running down a two lane road screaming as they tried to elude a wild mob of cannibal rapists or something. Also, there would be lava spewing out of the ground that for whatever reason everyone is just ignoring.


Isaiah 14 talks about Lucifers fall from Heaven:

“How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
13 “But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’

the Devil had ambitions to make himself  like the Most High..
He's a liar, a thief and deceiver.

To the knowing eye evil is a very clear cut and dry thing.
To the man who sets his ambitions on self exultation, evil looks close enough to good.

We HAVE GOT to be more discerning.

It is not well to say that something has good therefore it IS good, because the adversary is a counterfeiter.

I was thinking about how often in our lives we are so embracing of lies because WE say in our hearts, that THIS is good.... instead of looking at what GOD says is good, and what is evil

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!

Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble
And dry grass collapses into the flame,
So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust;
For they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Think about where we're at.  The world of the adversary is one of appearances and lies
We call lusts, love. A counterfeit.
We call greed, blessings. A counterfeit.
We call truth, bondage. A counterfeit.
We call life, a choice. A counterfeit.
We worship God in the ways of the pagan, and we say it is a sin to keep His Feasts and Festivals.  A counterfeit

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

Now how are we to know the way that is false, if we do not know from the scripture, what way is true?

 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

So, what do we do with all that seems good?
Test it according to the scriptures that we may see if it is in fact good, or an illusion.
Because there is a way of a man that seems like wisdom, but in the end leads to destruction.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pray, earnestly, and honestly. Then do.

John 13:36 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”
 Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”
37 Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.”
 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me?
Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.

Believer, take a minute to prayerfully ask yourself if you are Peter.

Are you laying down your wants and your wills and your desired plans for how you want to establish your life and your empire and your crusades against the darkness to win souls to Christ  so that all people will know how spiritual you are and how Holy you are and how much you love God....
.... and are you dying, for Him.

" I WILL lay down my life for you" He said.

and our gracious and loving, Merciful and wise Savior asked,
"Will you?"

as if to say, Will you not only stop your breath but will you stop your self indulgence and self reliance and will you lay down YOUR life, for me?

Yeshuah ( Jesus) Knowing that this is one of the men that wouldn't stay awake and pray with him
Knowing that this man would be embarrassed to be seen with Him.
He asks that question that He asks us each day....

"Will you? Will you lay down your life for me?"

Will you look at the Word of God, and say... that isn't for me.  Will you read about the way our Savior walks, and say, That's not what I like?  Will you pick up your cross and die to your self and follow Him, representing that sacrifice of selfish flesh.... and obey the commands of the Father who sent His Son to save you from death and rebellion?

If we cannot stand for righteousness in times of peace,
How can we stand for anything in times of war.

Peter failed.
Our Savior restored him.
From that moment on Peter laid down his life for God until they killed him.

Be the Peter that was living like Christ.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Everyone is looking for something.

The work was done, so I sat for a moment as she was waiting for her car to come around to pick her up. "What are you up to tonight?" She asked. "I'm sure I'll just head back to my apartment and fix a drink and sit in my recliner. You?" "I've got homework due at before midnight that should probably get done" she said. Her phone rang. Her tone was at war with the words they represented as she uttered the syllables for "Its okay" " its fine" "I'm good" through gritted teeth. I could hear a mans voice on the other end trying to explain something that didn't need explaining.  "It's okay, I'll just go home."

She hung up the phone and something akin to manners compelled me to ask if she was alright. She told me about a party she was going to attend with her ex boyfriend and how much she had been looking forward to the beer pong. That shared with me a little about where she was. There is a question that keeps coming up in my mind when I find myself engaged in conversations of a serious or semi-serious nature. "What are you looking for?" I asked her. "What do you mean, 'what am I looking for'?" "Everyone is looking for something" I said. "I'm not looking for anything" she replied."Things just have a way of finding me. This job found me, and the job I'm about to quit this one for sought me out. There is nothing I am looking for. I'm just want to have a good time."
"So you're looking for thrills? Everyone is lookin for something."
"I guess so" she said. "What are you looking for?" She asked. 
Some rocks skip lightly  along the surface of the waters trying to bounce their way to another shore. I am a stone that was made for the deep.
The silence between us grew as my mind was a flood with the things that I am looking for. "Well....?" she asked.
The first word I managed to press forward was "trust" 
Information and transparency are weapons that can fairly easily be turned against a person when surrendered to the wrong hands. However, the only way that a person knows that they can trust someone is hand them the blade to see if they swing. The other words seemed to flow easier once that first one fell.
"company.... understanding.... transparency... Sacrifice."I continued.
She added "I think everyone is looking for those things, but there isn't enough of them in the world. Trust is a huge one"
"Everyone is looking for something," I echoed. " I'm looking for the things that I hope exist within me, to exist within others."
"the world doesn't have enough of those things" she said. 
"Be the change you hope to see..." I said, as I pushed my chair back in."...A pleasure talking to you"
"As always, a pleasure talking to you"

As I headed towards the stairs, I thought about how in 5 minutes we went from beer pong to a higher aspiration. From skipping stones to sinking into substance.I can see that she wants to tell me all her thoughts on life, and who God is in her head, not because she wishes to proselytize her sense about him...
But more I get the sense she's been waiting for someone to say " He's not who you think." 

Monday, January 27, 2014

If I had a daughter...

If I had a daughter, I'd buy her dresses and shower her with attention. I'd hope to maker her feel like she is special and give her my love and affection. I'd carry her home from the hospital and I'd watch her sleep. I lay down my life without so much as a peep.
If I had a daughter I'd pray for her every single day. That she'd remember the wisdom that I'd attempt to live on display. That she'd grow up wise, not just smart as some people do. She'd see most mistakes before she made them or carried them through.  I'd teach her to be careful when carrying thing, and each day let her know the joy that her smile brings.  I tickle her to hear her uproarious laughter and stand between her and disaster. I would safeguard her innocence and teach her of integrity, teach her to grow in the ways of God and what it means to truly be free. I'd teach her of sin, and what it means to be right. That the way to defeat shadows is to remain in the light. I'd teach her what Peace means to the soul, at the same breakfast table lined with cereal bowls. I'd teach her that women are warriors and the ways they wage war. How to fight, what to fight, and what is worth fighting for.
If I had a daughter I would teach her about boys. The things that make them stupid, and how they can consider girls as toys. I'd tell her of her worth, about honor and praise. Teach her not to succumb to the temptations flesh craves. I would educate her about finding an honest and true man. Not a boy that breaks a heart just because he can.  I'd teach her that some days will be lonely waiting for some worthy guy. That there are many brands of poison appealing to the eye. I'd teach her that the body is a temple to not be given away, and to not listen to the words that any snakes may say. I'd tell her that love has the power to heal a soul or devastatingly destroy, and is a sacred thing that should not be shared with just any old boy.
If I had a daughter I'd evaluate the man of her choice. His style, his dress, do I hear godliness in his voice?
Is he a pansy, a thinker, a bruiser looking for a fight? I'd teach her that discernment isn't right and wrong, its right and almost right.
If I had a daughter I'd want to trust that I'd raised funny and sweet, and that these types of features would attract the man I'd meet. She'd grow to have opinions and she'd argue with me, and i'd cave when I'm wrong eventually.  I'd weep when I held her, all the days of her life this wonderful product of love I'd made with my wife. She'd teach me about God by the way of the Father's hand, and it would break and re-enforce me in ways I do not yet understand.  From the moment she'd be announced, to the moment I'm dead, love, laughter, peace, dread,terror, and hope would forever swirl in my head.

Yet every time I am reclined and she'd come lay on my chest, I would thank God for my child and count myself a man blessed.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Auto Trader.

When I was younger I remember buying my first car. I didn't go to a dealer or craigslist or any sort of used car lot. No, I turned to my brother who at the time, I was sharing an apartment with. I paid him $500 bucks, and in return, I received the title to a 4 door 1975 Plymouth Valiant. It was parked in our apartment complex for a while because my brother wanted to impress girls so he bought an Acura Integra. The car was smurf blue, the paint was faded and missing in some places. The interior was ripped and torn and was held together with safety pins.  There was a dent in the back bumper from being hit with a backhoe.

I looked at the car, and I saw both what it was currently and then I saw what it was created as and, could be again. I took it to the mechanic and he told me the reason it wasn't starting was that the distributor had issues. Once I got that fixed I started her up and she would roar. She may not have looked like much but she had a slant 6 engine in it that roared like a lion. I once raced my brother all the way home from his work, against his Acura flying down the freeway maneuvering this tank with precision and admittedly a hair of youthful recklessness. It resulted in a tie as we both reached the driveway about the same time.
Some of my absolute best memories were had with this car.

I had another car/truck/thing that I purchased years later. It was an Izusu Amigo that was missing the back that I purchased from an impound lot. It had this nasty carpet that was in the back that someone had laid in there, and zip tied it to the seat backs. I pulled all that out of there and kinda converted the thing into a small truck with the help of my old roommate. I bought some roll bars and some high beams, because when I saw the car/truck/thing I didn't see what it was, I saw what I could make it into. It ran well and I had so much fun with my friend Matt as we gave a seriously custom paintjob for about $3.95, in our best attempt at cammo.

I ended up selling the Amigo and getting the 1965 ford galaxy 500. This thing was a glutton. I was spending $78.00 to fill up the gas tank, and this was years ago when gas was cheaper.

Earlier I was talking to a man about a pickup truck that has a LOT of miles on it and it has a dent in the back passengers side, and one of the two gas tanks has a burned out fuel pump.... but this truck is for sale.
I told him I am interested.  He got in and he started the engine up and it roared a mighty roar.  He looked at me kind of confused at my interest and he told me that it was a piece of crap. I told him, that it has its flaws but it has character.  The scratches tell stories, and though it may have some issues to work out, it has much value.

... and I said all of that to get to the heart of the this post.

Some of us people, need our carburetors cleaned, and others may need their engines overhauled...
... and though most of us have had accidents that have totaled us...
Or have been blindsided by circumstances in life that were beyond our control...
... though some of us may be missing parts....
In the eyes of our Creator, we are never without value, purpose or worth. We are never so far beyond His restoration.

HE is the only one with the parts to do it. HE is the only one with owners manual.

Jeremiah 30:17
‘For I will restore you to health
And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord,
‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
“It is Zion; no one cares for her.”’

Isaiah 61:7,
Instead of your shame you will have a double portion,
And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land,
Everlasting joy will be theirs.

Psalm 51:10,12
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

Acts 3:19-21
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

Your value and worth as a person is not dined by someone who has used you when you are shinny and new only to toss you aside for a newer model. Your worth isn't stated in a social consensus. The only person that can tell you/ show you your worth is God. Less kelly blue book and more Lambs book. The only fulfillment to be found is with the mechanic Christ.

Smurfette kinda looked like this:

This was the Isuzu.

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The Ford Galaxy 500
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