“All I have to do is Act Naturally” NOT

“All I have to do is Act Naturally” NOT

“Acting Naturally” for me is, unfortunately, completely contrary to being God’s man. What to do? What to do? Well, “to do” is the key…

“Doing” for me is not – or is no longer – something that comes naturally. I like to sit, to think, to write, to watch, to rest in the sun (like our grown-old dog, Poochie – that’s him above, going for a walk). Featured Image -- 14820I’ve written before about my struggles with following up planning with doing. This morning, I’m contemplating this in a new way. (See? Just pondering…) But I’d like to think that writing this post is, in fact, completing a process. (After all, “to be” a writer is my goal – it is what I want “to be doing.”)

Certainly, I can speculate about why I tend toward inactivity. For most of 2015-2016, I was hospitalized or in physical rehabilitation from severe health conditions. kid-leashI can see, too, a family history, perhaps because my parents grew up during the depression and their parents’ way of not spending was just not doing. (I do have to point out, however, that this led to frequently getting together with extended family, which is and has been a good thing.) Then, there are those stories about me being tied to a tree or kept on one of those kid-leashes. (I shudder at the thought – what could more effectively Pavlovianly limit a person’s desire to go and do?)

The virtue that I think defines the follow-through I’m missing is diligence. So, to start this morning’s topic, I searched BibleGateway.com for it in the AMP translation. The first hit was

Proverbs 4:23
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
for from it flow the springs of life.

At first glance, this didn’t seem of help to me in becoming active. On further thought, though, this watching over my heart is an action at the root of my issue. To me, it infers not closing my eyes to God’s standard, which is not my own, which takes a big effort to follow. (My major addiction, sex, is a perfect example. Keeping to God’s standard for human sexuality continues to be a huge unnatural thing for me, but that’s another post.)

Further down the list of search returns were these verses:

IMG_3765Psalm 119:4
You have ordained your precepts,
That we should follow them
With [careful] diligence.

Proverbs 12:27
The lazy man does not catch and roast his prey,
But the precious possession of a [wise] man is diligence,
[Because he recognizes opportunities and seizes them.]

Now, these get to the heart of the matter! My preference is for the lazy river, but life and growth happen more consistently in the rapids. The noun, precept, is defined as “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.” It derives from the Latin words prae + capere, “before” and “take,” which were combined to form praecipere, meaning “warn, instruct.” If there is anything that should alert us addicts especially, it is a “warning.” (The trouble I find is that I always want to know “why?” and then I feel obligated to put it to the test, guaranteeing my learning it the hard way.)

This is one of those “easier said than done” things, summed up nicely in Ephesians 5:15-17:

 

IMG_3763
me, about to mow for the first time in years!

Therefore see that you walk carefully [living with honor, purpose, and courage, shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people],
Making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.
Therefore, do not be foolish or thoughtless, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is (ME: and not your own will). 

Walking carefully and grasping firmly are both very conscious actions. In them, we are advised to be more than normally aware, to check and recheck ourselves, to not be habitual and thoughtless, to not forget because my mind is wandering. (This may be what is meant by “staying in the moment?”)

effortThere’s a fear here: to always be choosing, deciding? Every second of every minute of every hour of every day?! Not only does it sound impossible to do, the very attempt sounds absolutely exhausting. “No rest for the weary?” What a burden it seems!

So I searched on “peace rest.” The answer that was given is the whole point to faith and belief in Christ:

Come to me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation].
Matthew 11:28

Life in this world is not easy. It was never meant to be easy or thoughtless. As a follower of Christ, I am constantly tempted by the world’s “easy way,” and, when the effort of following becomes too much, Christ is my refuge. By focusing on him and not on the weight of the world, I can “do this.”

img_3337IMG_3741
First, we walk, then we run. Then we soar on wings like eagles.

Here’s a great song that expresses my feelings today. It’s Worn by Tenth Avenue North.
Buy the digital download here..

Tipping For Hope

“So, what do you do?”

imageDo you dread the question? How do you answer, when asked about what your time on earth is worth? I know what I want to say, but I also know how crazy it sounds in this modern, post-Christian world. “I live for Christ, to tell of the Good News, however I can. I blog. I worship. I teach. I Share God’s Story in my life. But, oh yeah, I gotta work this ‘job’ to pay my bills because I don’t get paid in money to do those things .”

Maybe it’s the question. “How do you earn your living,” is inquiring about one thing I do. “What are you so passionate about you do it for free (but would accept donations for),” asks something completely different.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not selling hope. I refuse to. How can I determine a price that you should pay for “the life which God has promised?” (James 1:12 GNT) “I want to give a little hope to you.” (Third Day, Tunnel) That’s why I proclaim:

Come and hear, all you who fear God. Let me tell you what he has done for me.
Psalm 66:16

…be doers of the Word.
James 1:22

I alone know the plans I have for you,
plans to bring you to prosperity and not disaster,
plans to bring about the future you hope for.
Jeremiah 29:11

I want to broadcast the evidence of my life that proves to me that God exists and that Jesus Christ is everything the Bible says he is. First, he is life-saving, he’s rescued me from multiple rock-bottoms. He’s life-changing, making new life possible. Then he’s life-giving. I have another chance through and with him. Last, but certainly not least, he’s life-filling. Saved, changed, reborn, I have new purpose and new value (and values).

And I disclose, freely, that he – my faith, my belief in him – is what keeps me alive, what keeps me going, through dialysis three times a week, through endless temptations to think and look and touch lustfully, through days when I want nothing more than to hide under the covers. And, oh yes, through times when I feel like and think seriously about quitting. But, I believe! He helps my unbelief.

Jesus will do this for anyone. Everyone. What can I tell you about him?

Is sharing a two-way street? What is new life worth to you? Would you tip for hope?

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…about not writing, option 1

How do you write about not writing?

One way is to write no matter where you are. Technology has made it possible to “speak and be heard” nearly everywhere we can go. This morning, I’m sitting one-armed in my dialysis chair using my iPhone to post this. (Sorry, no images today.)

1 Peter 3:15 NIV

Always be prepared…!

The important thing I’m focusing on right now is that what I am saying does not change, only how (via technology) I say it.

The “old ways” are best for the what to say and do; the “new” ways merely give options for how we say or do it. 

So, when I am seeking for ways to write about not writing, I can just do it, right now. 

Your turn! What’s the craziest, most unusual place or way you’ve posted?

Why Do I Fear NOT Turning Back?

Why Do I Fear NOT Turning Back?

My Dear Readers,

I’m in need of encouragement. Today, something may happen that will have an immeasurable psychological impact on my comfort level. I “say” I am a writer and blogger as a means of earning my way; it may come to a point where I have no other choice. Or chance.

Thorin: “You’re afraid.”
Balin: “Yes! Yes, I fear for YOU…”
– The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug

You see, my self is ever mired in James 1:8 (a double-minded man). I desire, and believe (help my unbelief!) that God has called me – and literally paved the way – to a life of service to others via Sharing His Story in my life. But I do love my padded golden cage, and this makes me consistently irresolute. Shamefully, I don’t/can’t/won’t fully trust Him.

“When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships.
As a result his men were well motivated.”
Remius, The Hunt For Red October

Quite often, I lack motivation to pursue this vision intensely. I’m pretty laid back in mood and effort – perhaps even lackadaisical? It is, so to speak, the way I am. I avoid all or nothing scenarios. (Yet I believe that is the way Christians are led to live. Be Living Believing.)

And these past few years of recovering (on disability) from severe health issues (with a few more years to go before I am transplanted back into the “real” world) have been made safe by not one, but two, fallbacks. (If I fail to earn a living as a writer/blogger/speaker, I have job – to me, a four-letter word – leads.) But suddenly, Plans B and C are in jeopardy, before Plan A has really gotten started.

“Follow your bliss.”
“Where you stumble, there your treasure lies.”
– Joseph Campbell

I’m certain you all will understand my fear of not turning back. Dare I risk the certain discomfort and stress of risking all? Of forcing myself into a life of making my bliss a “should/have to do” instead of “enjoy/want/like to do”? Of committing to this one thing? (How long can one keep all options open?)

The thing is, my life IS a story of repeated miraculous provision – those just-in-(God’s)-time rescues. The evidence throughout my past is refutable. We’ve never not had our basic needs abundantly filled. I have every reason to

Trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding;
– Proverbs 3:5-6

He has made my paths straight (although kind of like a stock market uptrend), yet I still resist submitting 100% to him.

It pays to take life seriously;
things work out when you trust in God.
– Proverbs 16:20

Dear Followers, you have read some of my “work” (it hasn’t felt like toil). I need assurance that it “sells”. Is it worthy? Please comment. Can you make me sure?

The only bad decision is no decision, because it leads to inaction.”
– Jonathan Fields

The featured image is our senior kitty, Squeaks, who came to interrupt my writing this post. Kind of just like the doubt and fear that hampers me figuratively.

To Speak Of Knowing What I Can Not Prove

My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Let us take a moment to speak quietly. Let us each be quick to listen, thoughtful in our response, and very, very careful to watch for even the slightest resentment in our words. Everybody knows a gentle answer turns away wrath, while a harsh retort stirs up anger.

We are all the same, are we not? Don’t we all have eyes? Don’t we have hands, bodily organs, a human shape, five senses, feelings, and passions? Don’t we all eat the same food, get hurt with the same weapons, get healed by the same medicine, and warm up in summer and cool off in winter? If you prick us, don’t we all bleed? If you tickle us, don’t we all laugh? If you poison us, don’t we all die?

And if one of us is verbally treated badly, what then?

I speak just of speaking in this post. Discourse is truly what connects us in a civilized society, written or spoken. But there are at least two layers to it. On the surface, our meaning might be plain, but, buried between the lines, there can be a very different thing. Sometimes we hope it will harm. Don’t we all know this?

We all stumble in many ways. Is there anyone who is never at fault in what they say? Is there anyone who is perfect, and able to keep their whole body (and tongue) in check? I have only ever heard of one, Jesus Christ. And he taught and showed – he was a living example of – what is then the best, kindest, most honest, and purest reply.

(Apologies, but this is not a post about what Christ actually said. May I suggest a study of The Bible if more information is desired?)

My point is that Jesus spoke quite honestly with those who disagreed with him, even when there were no facts or data or statistics – nothing provable – to be had about what he said (specifically about the corruption of the Pharisees, etc). He spoke of knowing what can not be proven, yet is still truth. Parables, allegories, analogies, metaphors were helpful in doing this.

I’ve read and heard many opinions about Christ – in regards to whether he was truly who he said he was. But – regardless of the state of the speaker’s faith – none denied that there was a man who, roughly 2000 years ago, turned the world upside-down as the founder of Christianity. This is history, and we all believe history happened, don’t we?

Likewise, history documents many other social and political events and movements, wars and the causes for, in, and of them, and world-changing individuals. Those who did good and those who did evil. Those who brought great evil here: assassinations; enslavement; genocide; swindling of basic human rights. Can we agree on this? That these things happened, and they still happen today, and that no person or nation is NOT susceptible. “Caveat Emptor” remains a necessary watchword.

We can disagree on the why this happen(s/ed). I believe that humankind was created to be good, but, in falling (in the proverbial Garden), has been broken – beyond our own ability to repair. Hence the need for salvation, for being made right with our Creator. We now individually must specifically and intentionally choose good – and can quite easily take the other path.

We can choose poorly because of greed, or hurt, or hate, or simple ignorance, or purposeful deception by another. It is this latter cause I am writing about today. Knowing what can not be definitively proven. We can be very sure, with history as our witness, that there are people who deceive and manipulate to get what they want, and that sometimes what they want is power over others. These people will seek to conceal their methods. To hide what they do. For everyone who does evil hates the light – for light will expose his deeds.

Same as it ever was.

These days, I keep no doubt that there’s at least a grain of truth in any rumors and allegations I hear. And I hear so many! They are, in themselves, damning evidence. We all know. We don’t need it to be proven to us.


This post took a while to put together, and I could spend a lot more time on it! But one thing about blogging is that it is meant to be more of a concise form of writing (as opposed to a book). Hope you enjoyed reading this and can see the point I was trying to make.

Regarding the ‘why’ I wrote this today, I hope it’s obvious that it is about the US presidential election. “Corruption” and “government” go hand-in-hand. It’s one of those things you’re either realistic or foolish about; one of those things we just ‘know’.

And, yes, I quoted or paraphrased Bible verses, movies, songs, and even Shakespeare in this post. Kudos to you if you recognized:

  • The Merchant of Venice
  • James 1:19
  • Proverbs 15:1
  • LotR
  • Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
  • John 3:19-20
  • Talking Heads

Bought For The Boughs

Here’s a visual for Lord of The Nerds fans: imagine you’re half-sized and perched on one of the countless boughs of an infinite Treebeard. You’re seeing the world from on high; so different a view it is! You feel the breeze on your face, ruffling your hair and rustling the green leaves. You cling tightly to your seat as it sways, back and forth, its owner taking great strides. You smell earthiness – creation. You notice close by, all your loved ones (equally proportioned), and just a bit further away are even more halflings sitting among the leafy branches. You hear all their voices as a buzzing chorus or, if you focus, individually. Over all is the soft, rumbly voice of the great Ent, Himself, and you all converse, with you saying brave things like, “The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm;” and “Take us south.”

This is the picture this morning’s Tw/G (time with God) has conjured for me. God is like a universal tree, and we are tiny beings raised to sit among His limbs, talking merrily with fellow believers, and praying that He listen to our requests to head toward the battle in the hopes of rescuing even more Hobbits and friends. There are two important messages growing from this imagery.

One is the price of the ticket to this ride. It’s been paid for, in full, by the mighty Vine. All we need do is raise our arms, like a toddler asking to be picked up. We are bought for the boughs.

The other is that any who wish for the light are welcome, and are equally positioned, blessed to be cargo in this canopy. And all are equally concerned with the fate of those still aground. We are trying to

…count others more significant than yourselves…
Philippians 2:3

“Getting humble is recognizing all people as the careful works of God, equally worthy of love and sacrifice.”
WiRE devotional “Gotta Get Humble”

“It’s still all about me – I’m not being able to ‘focus’ on helping others – too much… ‘work’ and ‘business’…”
My journal, 2008

Is humility an intentional thing? Certainly! At least, at first it is. It can be a learned behavior, practiced until it becomes habit, done without a second thought.

“Humility is NOT thinking less of oneself, but thinking of oneself less [often].”
Cliche

WiRE suggests these things to do:

  • Initiate a conversation and listen more than I talk
  • Serve in a way that’s mundane or difficult, (even unpleasant)
  • Help anonymously
  • Give someone the credit they deserve, even if I deserve some, too

I have seen people consciously do these things for me, and it encourages me to try and not be the one just being heard, or being served, or given the credit. “I know I still make mistakes,” (name that song), and I make them when I am still the focus of my own thinking. And I pray, asking God to ‘Take me south.’

The Choice In Being Chosen

I attempted suicide only once, but I think about it often.

I was not a believer when I tried to quit life, but I literally met Jesus on that day. He stepped in to take my place, like a divine stunt double. It was an intensely spiritual experience, and it left me in belief – now I know that God, The Creator, exists. He is real, and everything He says and does can be trusted. This is why I live.

I agree, as The Bible explains, that God chooses to give faith to some, but that He hopes for all of us to receive it. He offers it freely to everyone, through circumstances or simply the beauty of creation. I pray for understanding of the human part in rejecting or accepting it. It’s possible there may be none, because

2 Corinthians 4:4
The ruler of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They cannot see the light of the Good News – the message about the Divine Greatness of Christ.
Christ is The One who is exactly like God.

But God did get through to me, and so, daily, I choose to continue desperately clinging to my Savior. I think this is The Choice In Being Chosen. It is a determined reaction – like fight or flight, but carefully thought out. Reasoned out. I reevaluate every option, but I can not deny what I know to be true. So I decide against giving up.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
That is why we never give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.
We have small troubles for a while now, but these troubles are helping us gain an eternal glory. That eternal glory is much greater than our troubles.
So we think about what we can not see, not what we see. What we see lasts only a short time, and what we can not see will last forever.

Therefore, being unable to refute the evidence of all six of my senses, I live with hope. Whenever I wonder, “Why?” I have to consider the uniqueness of my life. It has been unbelievable, miraculous so many times. Again and again, I can conclude only that there must be reason behind it. There must be meaning, given – not by me, but by my Maker.
What could it be?

1 Peter 2:9, 21, 23
He chose you (believers) to tell about the wonderful things He has done. He brought you out of the darkness of sin into His wonderful light.
This is what you were chosen to do. Christ gave you an example to follow. He suffered for you. So you should do the same as He did.
…He let God take care of Him. God is the one who judges rightly.

The purpose is living out what God has already done: He saved me. He is giving me a second chance, for the second-thousandth time. Is this not something to boast about??

Jeremiah 9:24
“But if someone wants to brag, then left them brag about this:
Let them brag that they learned to know me… that they understand that I am the Lord, that I am kind and fair, and that I do good things on earth. I love this kind of bragging.” This message is from the Lord.

There is a foundational choice: to believe. And I intentionally build upon this the Fruit of the Spirit: peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness (humility), faithfulness, gentleness, and, above all, self-control. All these are choices I make for how I behave. They are each a product of the self-control that faith provides, of knowing that God is asking me to act a certain way. And others see (and hear) my actions more loudly than my words.

1 Thessalonians 4:4,7
God wants each one of you to learn to control your own body. Use your body in a way that is holy and that gives honor to God.
God chose us to be holy. He doesn’t want us to live in sin.

Sin is pursuing my unfulfillable desires. Lust of the flesh and eyes, and claiming pride in my own efforts instead of recognizing and confessing and admitting that there is one who is greater than I am. One who is Master. I am one part, small but crucial in some way, of Him who is the Whole.

1 Peter 2:12,18
There is one body but it has many parts. But all its parts make up one body…
God has placed each part in the body just as He wanted it to be.

Oh, I still doubt, frequently. I am an unsteady foot, distracted by my desire to be some more glorious part of the body, something ‘higher up’. I stumble and trip on the cracks of each day. I follow self-pity right down to that same old decision point. And God’s hand is always there to lift me back up, that others might know.

2 Corinthians 4:15
…and so the Grace of God is being given to more and more people…