Friday, February 29, 2008


Psalm 130:3
If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that's why you're worshiped.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Being the Beloved...

I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection... Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence. BRENNAN MANNING

1 John 3:1
What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we're called children of God! That's who we really are.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A tribute...

I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

My brother Charles is right, I won't be here much longer. I can't do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.

My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you.

I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.

4/8/1947 - 2/24/2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


What hang up, hurt or bad habit is festering inside of you?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Breathing Underwater VII: Every Day With God

Breathing Underwater…with the breath of God and not drowning.

What’s wrong with the world?

“Dear sirs: I am.” G. K. Chesterton

Breathing underwater with God’s breath is for EVERYONE.

Patrick Morley in his weekly email highlighted the plight of men in five statements. These could be easily applied to women as well:

First, we're tired.

Second, we often have a lingering feeling that something isn’t quite right about our life.

Third, our lives are not turning out like they planned. "I thought I would have more impact."

Fourth, a lot of us feel like our lives are coming unglued.

Fifth, most of us feel like nobody, with the possible exception of family, really cares about us personally.

It sounds like we all need God to help us Breathe Underwater!

We need to bottom out to take the first step. And we sometimes need to bottom out to go to the next step! Gravity roller coaster: we can easily be fooled that, “I’m okay now, I don't need to do that step.”

Step 1: I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.

My reach always exceeds my grasp.

Man to psychiatrist: ‘I might have a problem…’

Psychiatrist to man: ‘I think you’re obsessed with sex.’

‘You’re the one showing me the dirty pictures!’

Step 2: I believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

We grow up learning this lie: ‘Total trust is suicide.’

Step 3: I choose to commit all my life & my will to Christ's care & control.

Following Christ isn’t a ticket to heaven; rather it is a way of life that transcends death.

Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair. G.K. Chesterton

The experience of being accepted is the beginning of healing for the feeling of being unacceptable. Lew Smedes

Step 4: I will examine & confess my faults to God, to myself, & to someone that I trust.

Either your past is serving as a springboard to a better tomorrow, or it is the proverbial albatross keeping you from moving forward today. Les Parrott III

If you uncover it, God will cover it. Ed Young, speaking about sin

Step 5: I submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to begin removing my character defects.

What do you think about the idea of giving God blanket permission to clear out everything in your life He views as a character defect?

How do you feel when you consider surrendering?

A character defect is anything that keeps you or me from being in touch with the reality of ourself, others and God. The purpose of getting free is to be able to do God’s will.

What’s one defect that gives you pleasure?
What about one that has helped you survive? (eg independence)
What is one defect that you really don’t like?

What kind of resistance are you encountering or putting up?

Step 6: I will evaluate all my relationships with the help of God. I will offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I've done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

Matthew 5:23-24: Leave your gift at the altar & go and be reconciled.

You can’t walk in someone else’s shoes and step on their toes at the same time.

The death of the past occurs as you forgive old wounds and make amends for your mistakes.

What excites you about this possibilty?

What scares you?

How will it affect you to do this in your family?

My memories of being bullied by my brothers.

If we are not willing to see and accept those events in which we have been the source of others’ suffereing, then we cannot truly know ourselves or the grace by which we live. Greg Krech

Step 7: I will continue to take personal inventory with God, and to allow myself to draw closer to Him through prayer & meditation.

Mark 14:38
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

There are no other surprises out there. Andy Pettite, speaking on his steroid controversy

When you’re tempted and things are going bad, who you gonna call?

Lately, when anger comes up I try to ask myself “What am I working so hard to protect or avoid?” Every time I ask this question and breathe instead of trying to run from or shut down the conflict, my anger eventually turns into compassion for myself and for my so-called “attacker” who most likely is defending one of his or her own hurt places. The words “I feel afraid or sad” come out more easily… our eyes go soft. We get to help each other heal. Annie O’Shaughnessy

"Don't go breaking my heart." I gave you my heart- so don’t go breaking my heart!

You must continually ask, 'WHY am I doing this?' The WHY always determines HOW LONG. Your perspective always determines your persistence. Rick Warren

Jesus promised his disciples three things--that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy and in constant trouble. G.K. Chesterton

This is the way to Life.

Relapse. The enemy? Hurry, busyness and noise.

"How then can we either reach this God, or avoid Him? The avoiding in our time and place is fairly easy. Avoid silence, avoid solitude, and avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, health, status and above all your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them carefully. But you'd be safer to stick to the papers. You'll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with sexy or snobbish appeal.

About the reaching or finding God, I am a far less reliable guide. That is because I never had the experience of looking for God. It was the other way round; He was the hunter (or so it seemed to me) and I was the deer. He stalked me, took unerring aim, and fired." C. S. Lewis

Would you rather be right or well?

How do you react to, “I needed my past. It brought me to God.”

Ephesians 1:17-23

Ephesians counters 4 primal desires we have:

To become a City Builder- Genesis 4 & 11

To become a Fire Lighter- Isaiah 50:10-11

To become a Wall White-Washer- Ezekiel 13

"Wall whitewashers cannot welcome tribulations as friends. . . Character isn't the goal of a wall whitewasher. Safety is.” Larry Crabb

To become a Well Digger- Jeremiah 2

My own fleshly desires to control my own life (being a city builder), to create a plan I know will work (fire lighter), to protect myself against the uncertainties of life (wall whitewasher), and to find my own ways to feel good when I want to (well digger) are countered by Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 64:6-12
"... all our righteous acts are like dirty rags." City building? Destroyed! Well digging? Desert! Fire starting? Everything is burned up by God! No walls are left to be white-washed- everything is exposed. We are vulnerable.

We try to fill up that ghastly hole in the pit of our stomachs that is really in our souls. We try to fill it with food, with power, with sex…we begin to realize that this hunger will never be satisfied, not in this life. It is the hunger for the face of God, and the only possible food is prayer. Maggie Ross

“What God, are you wanting to do in me through this shaping?”

Ephesians 3:16-21
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

The early catacombs are covered with art, with the most popular depiction being the resurrection of Lazarus. They were obviously fascinated with that story. Could it be the story they lived out of as a persecuted people? They didn’t flee Rome in the midst of the horrors they might face. Resurrection began for them before death. There is something worse than death- being lost.

There was also something better than life- to be found by the Father. ‘Lost No More’. It’s better than the pidley life we crave after: our city building, our fire lighting, our white washing, and our well digging.

"God's love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure. Were it based on anything we do, and that "anything" were to collapse, then God's love would crumble as well. But with the God of Jesus no such thing can possibly happen. People who realize this can live freely and to the fullest. Remember Atlas, who carries the whole world? We have Christian Atlases who mistakenly carry the burden of trying to deserve God's love. Even the mere watching of this lifestyle is depressing. I'd like to say to Atlas: 'Put that globe down and dance on it. That's why God made it.' And to the weary Christian Atlases: 'Lay down your load and build your life on God's love.' We don't have to earn this love; neither do we have to support it. It is a free gift. Jesus calls out: 'Come to me, all you Atlases who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.' Brennan Manning

It’s okay to not be okay. You don't have to fake perfection. You don't have to pretend you have it together if you don't. Just come as you are with your past, pain, challenges, and junk. God promises to meet you where you are, but He won't leave you there. He’ll begin a work of transformation in your life.

A prayer of honesty:
Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I ask of you, O Lord; ... Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

1. Thanksgiving
Lord, I realize that all, even myself, is a gift from you.
Today, for what things am I most grateful?

2. Intention
Lord, open my eyes and ears to be more honest with myself.
Today, what do I really want for myself?

3. Examination
Lord, show me what has been happening to me and in me this day.
Today, in what ways have I experienced your love?

4. Contrition
Lord, I am still learning to grow in your love.
Today, what choices have been inadequate responses to your love?

5. Hope
Lord, let me look with longing toward the future.
Today, how will I let you lead me to a brighter tomorrow?

Father, open my eyes and my heart to your people and the world. Help me to know the depths of your love—and that I am loved.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ephesians 4:26b
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

An honest prayer...

“Father thank you for today. Please give me the desire to quit my addictions. God I need you. Please forgive me of my past and present sins. I want people to not see the person I used to be. God please protect my friends as they are exposed to evil each day, please guard them. God help me find the person you want me to have. In you name, amen.”

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Boss says, "Let Your Light Shine!"

Matthew 5:14-15
"No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house."

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Your words...

words! what do they mean?
do we know what we say
to each other?
you interpret these words?
are they to the point!
do they linger in your mind?
are they poetic, rhythmic?
are they translated?
colloquial, deceiving!
how are you! no not war with you!
hypocrite, no contrite, why so?
how to repair
this damage caused...with words
better not to speak
than be heard and misunderstood!
nonsense, we owe it to others
communication is godly
we only reach consensus
if we talk, interpret, repair
hear our faults, we all err
to err is human!
words, only words.....but
words kill, maim, destroy
one chance!
Raymond Jean-Marie Barriere

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Nasty Red Lizard

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Breathing Underwater VI: Relational Lifelines

You can try to swim away but you will only die tired.

Surrender to God, to what He is doing in your life & stop fighting Him. In order to fulfill your dreams you have to wake up. Reality time.

My fear of all the previous steps paled as I faced the prospect of revealing to another, face to face, my very soul. I was going to show this person the throne room of my inflated, controlling self, my trophies of selfishness and abuse. As I did my moral inventory, I saw that I had perpetrated these hurts in order to fix and change other people, my wife included, and to cover the pain and other bloated feelings that might reveal the shame of my powerlessness and failure to be “enough”. It was pretty painful to realize all this. But when my pain and isolation had gotten strong enough, and I shared my list with another person, a kind of miracle took place. J. Keith Miller

There are things in our life that are harbors and safe houses for all our shame and secrets, things that we would just die if anyone saw or knew about, or so we think.

The miracle was that Miller realized he was not the shameful person he always thought he was. He wasn’t uniquely awful. Have you ever felt ‘uniquely awful’?

Shame and the fear of failure often wins the inner battle of our lives. We have a flimsy shield with our confident mask. Are you guarded in making a coommitment to change things? What if I decide to change & can’t, or won’t actually do it? Here is a step of commitment.

No one can get rid of the spirit of judgment by an effort of the will. As long as I am obsessed by a friend’s fault which has shocked me and made me reproach him, no matter how much I say to myself: “I do not wish to judge him,” I judge him nonetheless. But the spirit of judgment evaporates as soon as I become conscious of my own faults and speak freely of them to my friend, as he speaks to meof those which make him reproach himself. Paul Tournier

“Inside I felt hopeful, free. I wanted more- in fact, I wanted it all! I finally thought, “If life can be as different as it is for me after getting some of my reality straightened out through committing myself to God and the process, then maybe I can trust God with my whole future. I can actually enlist God in the entire inner battle with my shaming self.” Sue

Last week the step didn’t say, “I now promise to clean up my whole life.” It said that 'I am going to quit trying to straighten out my character defects’. Some of you are thinking, ‘Quit trying? I can’t do that. That’s irresponsible.’

What it really means is that we are going to detach from trying to control our life and our character defects. Instead we’re going to face them, name them, and turn them over to God for healing.

The greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army

It’s ironic. As I quit trying to run the world, my life has become less stressful. After I humble asked God to remove my shortcomings, some of the things about my behavior that I’ve been powerless over for years- I mean serious character defects that were ruining my marriage- have gradually disappeared. I don’t pretend to know how this works, but I do know that because I want to see the truth about my life- because I know that this willingness will eventually lead me to freedom and serenity- I’m not so afraid to see my own faults and admit them. Roger

Step 6: Evaluate all my relationships with the help of God. I will offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I've done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

Matthew 5:7,9
"Happy are the merciful. Happy are the peacemakers."

Ephesians 4:31–32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Job 5:2
Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.

Job 18:4
You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? Or must the rocks be moved from their place?

None of These Diseases, by Dr. S.I. McMillan, has a chapter titled, "The High Cost of Getting Even". McMillan writes that it might truthfully be written on many thousands of death certificates that the victims died of "grudgitis". People often say from between clenched teeth, "I'll get even with them if it's the last thing I ever do". Sometimes that’s the way it actually is.

Mark 11:25
If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.

"That hurt." Admit it. Explore & allow yourself to feel the vulnerable feelings. Expressions of emotion- ‘What’s wrong?’ Guys don’t have vulnerable feelings, do they?

Make a list of the hurts you want to forgive. There are other choices, though:

Repress it: just pretend it doesn’t exist, ignore it—push it out of the way.

"A psychological process in which memories and motives are not permitted to enter consciousness but are operative at an unconscious level. Repression is one of the reactions to frustration and anxiety. It serves as a means of altering conscious motives and ideals."

Suppress or deny it: “It’s no big deal, it doesn’t matter, they did the best they could.”

Confess it: “I’d really like to close the door on my past. I’d like to get closure so this person doesn’t hurt me anymore.”

Release the offender & let it go. How do you know when you have released an offender fully? You can think about them and it doesn’t hurt anymore. You can pray for God’s blessing on their life. You can begin to look at understanding their hurt, rather than focusing on how they hurt you, because hurt people, hurt people. So you begin to understand their hurt. That’s when you know you’ve released them. You keep forgiving them, keep forgiving them, until finally you can think of them and it doesn’t hurt anymore. How do you forget a divorce? You can’t, but you can get rid of the pain. You can let go of it.

Do it to an empty chair if necessary.

Hebrews 12:14-15
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Now make a list of those you have hurt:
Is there anyone I owe a debt to that I haven’t repaid?
Is there anyone I’ve broken a promise to?
Is there anyone I’m guilty of overcontrolling? A spouse? A kid? A brother? An employee? Friend?
Is there anyone I’m overly possessive of?
Is there anyone I’m hypercritical of?
Have I been verbally abusive to anybody?
Physically abusive? Emotionally abusive?
Is there anyone I have not appreciated or not paid attention to or forgotten an anniversary?
Is there anyone I’ve been unfaithful to? Or have I lied to anyone?

This step helps us learn some key life lessons: we grow by learning to share the painful mistakes we make. Mistakes are how we learn about life, as long as we don’t choose the lie of self-sufficiency.

“Keep your mouth shut son & they’ll always over-estimate you.”

Pain causes a fight or flight response. Jesus said, ‘Turn the other cheek’. We can use pain as a doorway to intimacy and wisdom.

What is the message of this pain?

How does God want me to use it as fertilizer for growth?

If we really resist, choosing to stay in our blame we may have a stronghold.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Fault-finder, gossip and a critical spirit.

We may think we have the spiritual gift of criticism!

These are not from God. Do you know where they come from? These take our eyes off of the perfect love of Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, and cause them to be fixated on our faults and imperfections.

This is how you know whether or not you’re with a ‘safe’ person.

I used to be proud of my sarcastic ability and criticism. Not so anymore. This is a big deal people.

Galatians 3:2-4
Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

The prayer of brokenness, “Without God I can do nothing,” is an antidote to an independent, faultfinding spirit.

There really is no self-help. There’s help from God and help from another source that’s not God. I think you know what I mean.

To write our moral inventory is one thing. To share it with another ramps up the honesty and is a real challenge for us shame-based people. But to actually face the dishonest, abusive and harmful things that we’ve done others with them, face to face, is to rekindle a deep fear and shame of a new magnitude.

"We must constantly build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear." Martin Luther King, Jr.

The responses of others will vary. Sometimes people will accept you sometimes they reject you. Their responses are about them.

Romans 12:17-19
Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Job 11:13-20
Reach Out to God
"Still, if you set your heart on God and reach out to him, if you scrub your hands of sin and refuse to entertain evil in your home, you’ll be able to face the world unashamed and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless. You’ll forget your troubles; they’ll be like old, faded photographs. Your world will be washed in sunshine, every shadow dispersed by dayspring. Full of hope, you'll relax, confident again; you’ll look around, sit back, and take it easy. Expansive, without a care in the world, you’ll be hunted out by many for your blessing. But the wicked will see none of this. They're headed down a dead-end road with nothing to look forward to—nothing."

This is about peace with God. Peace with others. Peace within.

Genesis 6:6
God regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and it pained His heart.

Fortunately for us He had another way to deal with us wayward souls.

Let's celebrate Communion together.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hold On

It will find you at the bottom of a bottle
It will find you at the needle's end
It will find you when you beg and steal and borrow
It will follow you into a stranger's bed

It will find you when they serve you with the papers
It will find you when the locks have changed again
It will find you when you've called in all your favors
It will meet you at the bridge's highest ledge

So baby don't look down- it's a long way
The sun will come around to a new day

So hold on
Love will find you
Hold on
He's right behind you now
Just turn around
And love will find you

It will find you when the doctor's head is shaking
It will find you in a boardroom mostly dead
It will crawl into the foxhole where you're praying
It will curl up in your halfway empty bed

So baby don't believe that it's over
Maybe you can't see 'round the corner

To hang between two thieves in the darkness
Love must believe you are worth it
You're worth it

Saturday, February 16, 2008

You Dance Over Me...

Dear baby: God danced the day you were born. What a day of joy as He gave you as a gift to Himself. Through your infancy and teenage years He will continue to rejoice over you, because His love is never based on your performance, never conditional by your moods, and will never know any shadow of change. Brennan Manning

Zephaniah 3:11-17
On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride.Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill.

But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD.

The remnant of Israel will do no wrong; they will speak no lies, nor will deceit be found in their mouths.They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid."

Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!

The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's your choice...

What do you say?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't Give Up! You are Loved!

John 3:16
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don't make a fist no
Take this mouth
So quick to criticise
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean
This love is like a drop in the ocean

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
And let it break

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Storms, walking on and breathing underwater

How long have I been in this storm?
So overwhelmed by the ocean's shapeless form
Water's getting harder to tread
With these waves crashing over my head

If I could just see you
Everything would be all right
If I'd see you
This darkness would turn to light

And I will walk on water
And you will catch me if I fall
And I will get lost into your eyes
I know everything will be alright
I know everything is alright

I know you didn't bring me out here to drown
So why am I ten feet under and upside down
Barely surviving has become my purpose
Cause I'm so used to living underneath the surface

Everything is alright

How are you being shown your brokenness?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Breathing Underwater V: Go For A Swim!

Yes, yes I did have a birthday this past week. Because of it I was reminded of what Eubie Blake said on the occasion of his 100th: "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself."

Most days, my goal was to keep my head above water. Every day without drowning became a good day. Joe McKeever

Brokenness is the heartfelt admission that without Jesus Christ I can do nothing.

We are stubborn independents with a drive to manage our own life. We don’t yield the baton of our life too easily, even to brokenness.

Listen to the words of Frederick Beuchner concerning AA:

I'm not an alcoholic but I have had a lot of alcoholism, one way or the other, in my family, like so many people. Through that I have found myself going with some regularity to meetings of groups like Adult Children of Alcoholics and Al Anon, families of alcoholics. I have been as nourished really by what I have found going on there, as I have been in a spiritual way by anything else I've done. For people who don't know what is going on there, it is very instructive that there is no preaching, nobody lectures anybody else, there is no program as such, there is no building. The AA groups and the related groups usually meet in the basement of a church, or something like that. There is no budget.

No hierarchy. Nothing like that. It is simply a group of human beings coming together with the common problem of alcohol, or in this case -- my case -- alcohol-related problems, saying we simply cannot live full human lives without each other and without -- they don't say God because some of them do not believe in God -- what they call our Higher Power, which might be God if you are a believer or might just be the power of the group itself. Miracles happen. I've seen them happen. In little ways, I think I have experienced them happen in myself. I just can't help wondering to what degree this is perhaps what the church originally was, that is to say, if you went back to the earliest days of the Christian community before there were these great buildings and programs and preachers and rummage sales and choirs and all the rest of it, I suspect you would have found something like this. A little group of people coming together wherever they could and simply helping each other and helping each other find a God who would help them became human beings. I think there is good reason for that. Not only is it my feeling, but I have a feeling there is also a good scholarly reason this is true. Another thing that impresses me so much about them is that, if you are an alcoholic or in any of these related groups, if you find yourself having bad times anywhere in the world, all you have to do is look up AA in the phone directory. You will find a stranger, a member of that group, who is not really a stranger, who will come at any hour of day or night to somehow be there for you. The question I have asked myself so often is "If you as a Christian found yourself having hard times in a foreign port or a strange town, (A) Would you think of calling up a church and saying, 'Come, help me'? and (B) Would the church be prepared in any way to come and do whatever you needed to do?" I am not going to answer that question but I am going to say that if the church would not be there to do such a thing, then you wonder what is so big about the big business of the church.

The trouble is that the churches have become so big, so organized, so rich and so complicated that I somehow think the best thing that could happen to these huge churches would be for the building to burn down, their money to be lost, their church calendar to blow in the wind like dead leaves and all they have left would be each other and God. I suspect strongly that would be the best thing that could happen.

I believe with all of my heart those words that Beuchner wrote.

Some of you may not have been ready for Step four that’s okay God is very patient. He’ll just wait until the pain builds up enough…we have to want to be delivered. This brings us to Step 5:

Submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to begin removing my character defects.

I spent a fair bit of time in dental offices as a youngster. Teeth removed, braces, broken teeth, you name it- it wasn't fun times. I always stiffen up at the thought of going to the dentist, even to see my good friend Dr. Nathan! I still don’t like the way he hides the needle, though!

We often view God as a mean dentist, especially contemplating Steps 4 and 5: "Get in the chair Stew, I have some work to do!”

Listen to what Jesus says about us in our brokenness & of how He will treat us:

Matthew 12:20
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.

God the Father loves you. His son Jesus has shown that love in human terms. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to accompany us on the journey to eternity. Eternity has already begun.

John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

“I will never leave you or forsake you,” says God. We’re in good hands people.

You matter to God. With that in mind...

What change am I ready to embrace?

The 12-Steps idea has actually been around for a long time. Read Daniel's account and see the steps:

Daniel 9:1-19
"Darius, son of Ahasuerus, born a Mede, became king over the land of Babylon. In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, was meditating on the Scriptures that gave, according to the Word of God to the prophet Jeremiah, the number of years that Jerusalem had to lie in ruins, namely, seventy. I turned to the Master God, asking for an answer—praying earnestly, fasting from meals, wearing rough penitential burlap, and kneeling in the ashes. I poured out my heart, baring my soul to God, my God (Steps 1,2, 3):

'O Master, great and august God. You never waver in your covenant commitment, never give up on those who love you and do what you say. Yet we have sinned in every way imaginable. We've done evil things, rebelled, dodged and taken detours around your clearly marked paths. We've turned a deaf ear to your servants the prophets, who preached your Word to our kings and leaders, our parents, and all the people in the land. You have done everything right, Master, but all we have to show for our lives is guilt and shame, the whole lot of us—people of Judah, citizens of Jerusalem, Israel at home and Israel in exile in all the places we've been banished to because of our betrayal of you. Oh yes, God, we've been exposed in our shame, all of us—our kings, leaders, parents—before the whole world. And deservedly so, because of our sin. (Steps 4 & 5)

Compassion is our only hope, the compassion of you, the Master, our God, since in our rebellion we've forfeited our rights. We paid no attention to you when you told us how to live, the clear teaching that came through your servants the prophets. All of us in Israel ignored what you said. We defied your instructions and did what we pleased. And now we're paying for it: The solemn curse written out plainly in the revelation to God's servant Moses is now doing its work among us, the wages of our sin against you. You did to us and our rulers what you said you would do:
You brought this catastrophic disaster on us, the worst disaster on record—and in Jerusalem! (more 4 & 5)

Just as written in God's revelation to Moses, the catastrophe was total. Nothing was held back. We kept at our sinning, never giving you a second thought, oblivious to your clear warning, and so you had no choice but to let the disaster loose on us in full force. You, our God, had a perfect right to do this since we persistently and defiantly ignored you. (say goodbye to blame)

'Master, you are our God, for you delivered your people from the land of Egypt in a show of power—people are still talking about it! We confess that we have sinned, that we have lived bad lives. Following the lines of what you have always done in setting things right, setting people right, please stop being so angry with Jerusalem, your very own city, your holy mountain. We know it's our fault that this has happened, all because of our sins and our parents' sins, and now we're an embarrassment to everyone around us. We're a blot on the neighborhood. So listen, God, to this determined prayer of your servant. Have mercy on your ruined Sanctuary. Act out of who you are, not out of what we are. (4 & 5)

Turn your ears our way, God, and listen. Open your eyes and take a long look at our ruined city, this city named after you. We know that we don't deserve a hearing from you. Our appeal is to your compassion. This prayer is our last and only hope: "'Master, listen to us! Master, forgive us! Master, look at us and do something! Master, don't put us off! Your city and your people are named after you: You have a stake in us!'"

The list we made last week was all about what separates us from God. Do we love that list more than our God?

Why do I act this way?
Why does it bother me when someone says that?
What am I afraid of?
What have I failed to accept about myself?
What am I avoiding?
What's missing in my life?

The people who followed through with Step 4 and did make the fearless moral inventory are those who are in relationship with someone else who asked them, “Did you do it? No? Let’s sit down and do it.”

Ecclesiastes 4:12
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.)

The more we work with our lists the more accepting of our brokenness we become. We also open ourselves up because we are willing to let God use us in ways God chooses rather than ways we choose. We become clay in the Potter's hands.

Would you give up anything that Jesus asked you to? Anything? The rich young ruler failed that test.

Mark Driscoll says the two most common religions in North America are Christianity & sex!

In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis writes about a group of people who take a day trip from Hell to Heaven. There’s a guy in the story that has a red lizard on his shoulder. The lizard represents lust. This lizard torments him, constantly lashing him with his tail. A lot of us feel tormented by lust, but we're not sure that we really want to give it up. An angel offers to kill this red lizard, but the man hesitates. He says, “Well, maybe not today. Today’s not a good day to kill the lizard. Or, can we do this gradually? Slowly?”

Meanwhile, the lizard keeps saying, “Don’t kill me. You can’t live without me. It’s unnatural. You need this. You deserve this. I know I’ve gone overboard in the past, but I’ll be good from now on.”

The angel keeps saying, “May I kill it? May I kill it? I can’t do it without your permission.”

Finally, the man says, “Yes.”

The angel strangles the lizard, and the man screams, “You’re hurting me.”

The angel says, “This isn’t going to kill you, but it is going to hurt.”

Eventualy the angel kills the lizard, and the guy grows stronger and brighter, and the lizard turns into a white stallion, the man jumps on it and gallops off, free from lust.

Do you ever feel like that guy?

Vacillating between wanting to be free from whatever it is that holds you in bondage, but not sure you really want to fully give it over to Jesus?

Maybe you’re still hanging on to something, sitting on the fence, torn between following Jesus and following your self. One foot set toward freedom & healing, while the other foot is set back towards bondage, idolatry & sin.

What's your red lizard?
Have you told anyone about it?
Letting go of it and allowing it to be killed is a part of handing the baton of your life to God.

Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first, and the lesson afterward. In the area of sexuality & lust our lessons have hurt us deeply. God wants to free us from the pain & the shame. He wants to show us how to steward that pain in order to help others.

We keep in touch with the sad times because it is then that we are most aware of our own powerlessness, crushed in a way by what is happening to us, but also most aware of God's power to pull us through it, to be with us in it.

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

There are alternatives to stewarding your pain. The most tempting is to forget it, to hide it, to cover it over, to pretend it never happened, because it is too hard to deal with. It is too unsettling to remember.

"Don't talk about things that cause pain. You can't trust the world with those secrets. Those are family secrets. Keep them hidden. Keep them hidden from each other. Keep them hidden from yourself. Don't allow yourself to feel them." Lies!

That path will numb our hearts. What are the effects of a numb heart?

"Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation." Pharmageddon: the use of drugs to finaly relieve all of our pain. It won't happen without God!

I have come to discover that the very journey of brokenness is what the Spirit uses to pour His life and energy into me, and I in turn pour that life and energy into those the Lord places in my path. It seems to have taken me a ridiculously long time but I am a stubborn pupil...

“Man’s greatness and wretchedness are so evident that the true religion must necessarily teach us that there is in man some great principle of greatness and some great principle of wretchedness.” Blaise Pascal

"The true Christian's nostril is to be continually attentive to the inner cesspool." C.S. Lewis

Don’t stop at partial brokenness- smell the full load! Allow God to help you make your fearless moral inventory and then,

Step 5: Submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to begin removing my character defects.

The Shawshank Redemption: chapter 32 1:57:40 – 2:00:26

We all have a journey similar to Andy's; we must go through our own inner cesspool to find freedom & God's healing.

The prayer of brokenness:
God, without you I can do nothing. I want to know you more. I desire your holiness more than relief from my pain or my own pleasure. I confess that I have many fears, many anxieties, and that I hold back. Help me to give myself completely to you, and then be freed completely by you, and give you and you alone the glory, and I’ll be grateful. Amen.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Step Five...

Submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to begin removing my character defects.

Confession prepares us for what God is going to do among us. Max Lucado

Our prayer is not for a season of brokenness or a moment of brokenness, but a lifestyle of brokenness. Not of our picking and choosing but of divine planning. Let us not be an unfinished work God. Help us to remain silent as you create a sanctuary for Your dwelling. Humble our arrogance, dethrone our ambition, uncover our motive, break through our facades, stomp out our complaining, and fracture what we think we know.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A world of Hurt

We are it seems to me as Bunyan saw us -- as pilgrims making our way through all the perils that our own appetites and wickedness create to an ultimate enlightenment. The pilgrimage is endlessly made from generation-to-generation and from age-to-age. The way is always the same way; it’s more likely to be found by the lowly and the pure of heart than by the strong and the proud. Malcolm Muggeridge

Friday, February 08, 2008

Everybody Hurts

Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What wound has pierced your heart?

Let God redeem your story- be a good steward of your pain. It may open a healing door for someone else.

Psalm 40:1-3
A David Psalm
I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn't slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Come clean as your sin is sure to find you out!

Psalm 51:1-6
Generous in love—God,give grace! Huge in mercy— wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down.

You're the One I've violated, and you've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I've been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you're after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Come Clean & Say Goodbye To Your Gorilla....

Colossians 3:5-11
And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That's a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It's because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn't long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it's all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Breathing Underwater IV: Come Clean

This series was partially inspired by a comment Anola made after witnessing a struggling grandfather: “I don’t want to get to 75 having not dealt with my issues.”

The days seem really long, especially in the cold but the years are actually short.

So many of us are living life trying to keep our head above water.

This series is about Spirituality and the 12-Steps. Spirituality is all about an interactive relationship with Jesus and the degree to which you are in touch with your own reality. The 12-Steps are a path that help us walk in that relationship, or help us find God’s breath, His spirit to help us Breathe Underwater.

Where do we start?

Step One: I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable.

“Will I ever break free? Am I doomed to stay in this spot forever? How did I end up here?” There is hope…

Step Two: Believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us. Oliver Wendell Holmes

We need to do more than just believe in God- we need to hand our life over…

Step Three: I choose to commit all my life & my will to Christ's care & control.

Give the baton of your life over to Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 6:2
For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

We're all in need of salvation, especially deliverance fro our predicament.

This is about taking the dys out of dysfunctional. Getting beyond blaming. There is no blame.

The website is funny precisely because we experience significant portions of our life in that emotion.

God please help me to have a soft and pliable heart, that you may have full reign to teach me, guide me, and mold me into your image. Help me to see myself as I truly am and to know you and your love even in my ugliest, most defiant, and most vulnerable, grace-needing state. Reveal to me the ways that I look at the world that are contrary to your kingdom.

Lets ratchet up the honesty. This is a real challenge. Choose to come clean...

Step four: Examine & confess my faults to God, to myself, & to someone that I trust.

This is all about beginning to clean up the past, to let go of guilt and shame & to gain a clear conscience. Isn’t it exciting at the possibility of learning to live shame free and the way God wants us to live? Lets take this step together and continue this journey.

This is the bridge to reality.

Faith is a refusal to panic. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Can you lie to yourself? Are you in denial? Take these steps toward knowing yourself.

What lies in the way? Victimhood.

It can be wonderful to be a victim. I get to be right. I am misunderstood, mistreated, and miserable, but at least I know I'm right. I'm in pain, but my pain is at least a little bit satisfying. The end all and be all for life's perpetual victims is self righteousness-being the one who is right, good, or special. I get to be the star of my own drama.

If I'm really suffering you can't expect much from me. As the suffering one, I should be appreciated, treated special, or helped. You can't expect me to put out too much energy for others in this condition. You can't expect me to do much for myself.

Blaming also allows me to avoid looking at myself. It’s most often displayed as self-righteous anger. Or contempt. Or disgust.

A study by Dr. Glen Affleck discovered that people who blamed their heart attack on others were more likely to suffer another heart attack within eight years! Those who perceived benefits from their heart attack such as a renewed appreciation for life had a reduced risk of subsequent heart attack.

Blaming is a denial of who you are.

Do you know who you are?

You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.

Colossians 3:3-4
Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

Blaming, resentment, and suffering ooze out of the gap between how a situation is and how we want it to be. We see this gap and attach meaning to it. I want you to love me a certain way. You don't. I think this means I am unworthy, or that you are a bad person, or that somehow I can't be happy. In reality your inability to love me means nothing. The meaning I give to it is what causes me suffering. It causes me to resent and to blame. Suffering is eased when I accept you the way you are, whether you love me or not. Suffering is eased when I accept myself as I am.

Step four is crucial to acceptance & overcoming our victimhood.

How do you know if you are “doing well” with God? How do you decide if others are doing well?

Usually by how good a facade we put up- Churchianity. Well-dressed, well-spoken, “I’m fine, really” kind of dialogue.

They pounded nails into his hands. After that, well, everyone wore hats… Anne Sexton

Anne sexton was a confessinal poet who suffered from bi-polar disorder. She lived the lie that told her she was useless except in her ability to please men. She committed suicide not long after writing, Awful Rowing Toward God.

Come Clean.

What would church look like if every member were just like me? Properly humbled, I began concentrating on my spirituality, not everyone else's. Phil Yancey

The United States is said not to deal fully with its past. To which I say good for us. Too much dwelling on history can become a prison. Condoleeza Rice at Davos Summit

Not paying enough attention and dealing with our past is probably even worse Condi.

Galatians 5:16-18
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

This is basic brokenness.

Brokenness 101: Victimhood, denial, control & shame. All sections of the 101 course.

We see the results of our brokenness, our self-will: moral failure; unhappiness & an inability to do what we know is right to do. Like telling the truth. Fear gets in our way because we are afraid we won’t get what we want if we tell the truth (control). A little boy is asked what a lie is & he says, “It’s an abomination to God and a very present help in times of trouble.”

The outcomes of the flesh, our self-will are listed in Galatians 5:19-21. When we live from our self-will this is what you happens along the way to getting what we want. Contrast them with the fruits of the Spirit. We need to realize that the old life is not best dealt with in denial, but rather confession & pursuit of the new life.

Brokenness isn't like cancer, a disease that temporarily afflicts us- it's our dominant condition.

The need of our brokenness is to have full dependence on the Father, just as Jesus did.

The primary function of our will is to trust God. To turn away from God & trust one’s self is the primary corruption.

Psalm 23: I am my shepherd & I am in real trouble!

Say what you need to say- come clean.

Phil Yancey writes of being asked to visit an AA group with this invitation from his friend, “Come along & you’ll get a glimpse of what the early church must have looked like.”

“Hi I’m Tony & I’m an alcoholic.”

A local church is the last place they would stand up and declare, “Hi I’m Tony & I’m an alcoholic and a drug dealer.”

Now why is that?

Historian Ernest Kurtz writes that AA came about when Bill Wilson, tired of his alcoholism & exhausted by six months of willing his own sobriety realized that, “I don’t need another drink, I need another alcoholic.” This led him to Dr. Bob Smith who would cofound AA with him. Church is a place to say, "I don’t need to sin, I need another sinner.”

"Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities." C. S. Lewis

When we finally have to eat and taste our own hard-heartedness, our own emptiness, selfishness and all the rest, then we open up to grace. That is the pattern in all our lives. I have wept over my sins and felt tremendous sadness at my own silliness and stupidity. How about you?

What do I feel guilty about?
What am I ashamed of?
What have I regretted?
What do I want to change?

And you ask God to help you answer these questions.

What do I blame others for?
What am I resentful of?
What is something that consistently re-occurs in my life that is unpleasant, painful and negative that I am powerless over?
What am I afraid of?

What fears seem to ‘pull my strings’?
What effect is this having in my life?

Do you relish pointing out faults? Of who? Pronouncing judgments? On whom?

Write all of these down. Come clean.

I am very aware that this can be painful. It can also be very relieving.

As I did this moral inventory my denial crack began to open at a deeper level. When I listed the first item and confessed to the harm I had done, it was as if I was pulling a thread out of my mouth. Tied to that thread was a string, a rope was attached to that, and a chain was attached to the rope. Hanging from the chain was a bucket of garbage filled with all kinds of things I had denied and repressed for years. As I brought each new bit of knowledge to the surface and wrote it on paper, an amazing thing happened. Suddenly some of my lifelong fears subsided; some of the restlessness, the inner turmoil, and the fear of intimacy and of love began to dissipate. Fresh breezes began to blow through the basement of my life, where all those hurts, pains, fears and resentments had been stored. J. Keith Miller

My prayer will be that God stirs things up for us. I know that He has been.

I confess that I often use humor to deflect pain and keep control in a conversation or social situation. It has entailed several apologies over the last while & my coming clean about it. It's humbling but also freeing to come clean.

James 5:16
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

"He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, not withstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final breakthrough to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, theydo not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everyone must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a regal sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!" Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There is a little video on YouTube about a man going to confessional with respect to adultery. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

"The discipline of confession brings an end to pretense. God is calling into being a church that can openly confess its frail humanity and know the forgiving and empowering graces of Christ. Honesty leads to confession and confession leads to change. May God give grace to the church once again to recover the discipline of confession." Richard Foster

Hebrews 4:15-16
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

If we see God as a loving Father, we will draw near to Him; if He seems to be a harsh judge, we will withdraw and run.

1 John 1:9
If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.

God, I offer myself to you - to build with me and to do with me, as You will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Your will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Your Power, Your Love, and Your way of life. May I do Your will always!

"Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble." Dr. Bob

Step four: Examine & confess my faults to God, to myself, & to someone that I trust.

Matthew 5:8
You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

God while it seems more than I can stomach, please whisper to me about the times and places where I caused pain to those you love—those I should have loved more. Walk me through this... Help me to come clean.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

John Piper on the prosperity gospel...

Psalm 31
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the LORD.

I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.

Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.

Because of all my enemies,I am the utter contempt of my neighbors; I am a dread to my friends— those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.

For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."

My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.

Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you,which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you. In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.

Praise be to the LORD,for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!" Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.

Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Cry out to Jesus...

In prosperity you pray from the lips; in the depths you pray from your heart. A. N. Simpson

Psalm 130
A Pilgrim Song
Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life! Master, hear my cry for help! Listen hard! Open your ears! Listen to my cries for mercy.

If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that's why you're worshiped.

I pray to God—my life a prayer— and wait for what he'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.

O Israel, wait and watch for God— with God's arrival comes love, with God's arrival comes generous redemption. No doubt about it—he'll redeem Israel, buy back Israel from captivity to sin.

If out of the depths we cry we will cry ourselves out of the depths. Alexander McLaren

Friday, February 01, 2008

Step Three is as easy as...

Well, maybe not quite this easy but as Jesus says,

Matthew 11:28-30
If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.