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Friday, October 31st, 2008 - 3:18 PM

"Don't You DARE Tell Me Rap is Crap"

Toby Mac

Every time I come across this song I am almost brought to tears. It is poignant power, righteous words of life to those who listen. It is a song by Toby Mac, written from the perspective of some of the most "famous" artists in the Christian music scene (Toby Mac, Kirk Franklin, Mandisa). Their style of music parallels one that, when secular, offers some of the most corrupting and vile lyrics in the music industry. Typically, unfortunately hip-hop and rap have this stigma because of the subculture that influences them.

Let me tell you how much Light this song shines. It is enough to bust up some blocks. Who cares if it's a particular style of music... maybe it's not your favorite. Listen to the words and hear the passion of ones who could claim fame and glory for themselves... but throw it aside as garbage, in exchange for giving God Almighty a shout of praise! I say this song is a beacon. It brings me to tears. Even though I'm not famous and don't have the exact same challenges as these artists do, I have seen the affect of darkness on my life. And yet I sing with these men (and woman) with much intention, "I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul!"

Listen to "Lose My Soul"

Some people of the "older generation" might have trouble hearing the words. Read them on the first link above as you listen to catch it all. Powerful, inspired words.

It's okay if you don't like this style of music. I challenge you to read the lyrics though. See if you find a bit of yourself somewhere in there. I certainly do. I'd like to see grandmas and those in their 20s appreciate this song in the same way, regardless of its style because I think it really has something to say. This world needs a kick in the pants, and a few harsh words are in order! Let's declare Jesus our King!

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Friday, October 31st, 2008 - 12:04 PM

"If It's Dark, You Can't See and You're Going to Fall"

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

I John 2:9-11

Is there a more obvious metaphor than this? The word "stumble" has two immediate meanings that come to my mind. The most obvious image is of a person physically tripping and nearly falling due to some obstacle or uneven ground. The second, referred to in this passage is stumbling in the way of sinning, falling away, losing sight of God and His truth, etc.

The connection between the two uses of the word stumble is ridiculously obvious, and I like how this passage describes it. If it's dark, you can't see. If you try to move around in such conditions, you are going to fall down and crash into things. Duh! In a spiritual sense, when we are not constantly attached to and looking to God, the only Source of Light in the spiritual world, we are basically guaranteeing failure and a life full of sin. Don't want to look to Jesus, and prefer to turn your back on Him, even if for just a little while? It's like turning off the light switch in a gauntlet full of ferociously spinning axes where the only path is randomly positioned platforms barely large enough to stand on, surrounded by vast chasms and bins of spikes at the bottom. You have to leap blindly to make it to the next platform, guaranteeing death and destruction.

Almost every video game in the world has levels with obstacles and platforms like this. A confident player can fairly easily traverse such things when he can see. Try beating a game where you can't see anything and there is no sound effects to guide you. You can't even see your character on the screen... it's one big black box. The only feedback the game offers is a big fat "YOU LOSE" every time your character dies, which is inevitable. That's the kind of "yippy skippy" fun challenge you are asking for by filling your eyes with darkness, entertaining evil, loving the world and its charms, and taking lightly your heavenly Father's instructions.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23 ESV

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

I John 1:5-6

Okay, so that's good and fine, right? Everything said so far is fairly conceptual and not very practical, you say? Well, consider this. Have you sinned enough and are beginning to feel the negative effects of it? When you read Isaiah 1 do you, as I have many times, see words that describe how you feel sometimes (Click here to read Isaiah 1:2-6;16-20)? If you are still having "fun", you have a couple choices: 1) listen to God and take your life more seriously - turn your back on sin, even if it seems okay to you, and you are enjoying it, or 2) after some time of spiritual negligence, things will get out of hand, and you will suffer much loss. Sin is an infectious cancer that desires to claim your life.

So how do we keep from sinning? I think most believers know the answer to this question. They just don't want to invest the time and effort, stepping out of their comfort zone. It's easier to do things in secret and hope everything will be okay in the end. How do I know? Well, I'm a sinful person too. I've struggled with great and dark things and failed to turn to the Light for long periods of time, much to my detriment. I have suffered great loss as the result.

The answers are the simple, obvious ones we learned in Sunday school years ago, lessons with the power to keep us from sinning. Pray, read the Bible, gather with other believers, worship God in song, etc. You know those things that some people think should only be done "at church"? Well, realize the junk in your mind if "at church" is even in your vocabulary*. There is no "at church" as if it was a location or building. The kingdom of God is in our hearts. We are the church! Our weapons and armor against the darkness include these spiritual disciplines that some reserve only for Sunday gatherings.

Here's a challenge for you: do you find the longest book of the Bible the most boring? Psalm 119 is pretty stinking long. I used to think it was kinda boring because it seems David just says the same sort of thing over and over again. Now that God has opened my eyes, and His Light is in me in greater measure, I love the Bible and this passage that describes love for the Bible.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

Psalm 119:165 ESV

When we think of our lives and actions, we don't necessarily always think of such metaphors or apply them - like this one about stumbling in the dark. Perhaps it's about time we keep these things in mind and become aware of the darkened world we live in and even allow God's Light to expose the darkness still to be found in us. When we don't allow our lives to be exposed and permeated by the Light of Jesus Christ, we are quite literally blind. We will pay for our apathy and outright rebellion dearly, either in this life or the one to come.

If there was a theme to describe most of what I'm learning lately, it would be "Light versus darkness" and our access to freedom from darkness. It's not that I haven't read the Bible before by any means, but never before have I see so many references to this theme. It seems to be one of those concepts that is carried throughout Scripture. It's so compelling to me, that I'm working I've felt led to work on a project that will focus on this topic and how it applies to our lives as believers.


* I'm not calling for some legalistic change of vocabulary. I also say "I'm at church" in various contexts. However, it is a wrong thinking if "church" is associated first with buildings and locations, and every once in a while realize that, "Oh yeah, WE are the church!" Hopefully we understand that, so that we don't get into the habit of only BEING the church when we are "at church".

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Friday, October 31st, 2008 - 4:35 AM

"A Musical Day"

Today there was a musical theme going on. In the morning, I decided to listen to music instead of the Bible. I am pretty selective with my music choices and generally listen to Christian stuff - that will build me up or encourage me in some fashion. I don't do this to be goodie two shoes or legalistic, nor would I condemn a brother or sister for listening to secular stuff. It is a personal conviction for me because I have discerned that music has an intense effect on me. All my life I've collected only CDs that minister to me in very specific ways - either 1) to comfort me in very lonely and sad times, 2) worship God passionately, 3) challenge or convict me of spiritual things , or 4) make me happy with a great "vibe". I generally think to myself before making a selection, "What sort of mood am I in... what is it that I need to hear?"

I decided I needed to listen to Rescue's latest album, "Before the Throne". Let me tell you, this is a great CD! Me likey. Not only is Rescue's music very well arranged and distinctive, but almost invariably the songs they choose are very powerful for ministry. "Rescue" is a fairly accurate term that describes some of the themes found in their music. Many a time I have been rescued by turning on their spiffy tunes.

I randomly decided to give Rescue's web site a quick visit. I noticed the designer's link at the bottom and decided to click on it. I'm not a big fan of Flash only sites (especially when the entire site is contained in a pop-up that gets blocked), but I was impressed with the music on the designer's web site. Aaron Altemose, I can see, is an extremely gifted individual. Not only does he apparently do Flash web design work, but he is a brilliant musician. Looking through his song selections, I was astounded at the rich sound and variety of styles represented.

Looking at Aaron's site reminded me of my great interest in music. My interest is more of a distant dream, and I have scarce done anything about it. Little known fact: I feel like I missed the chance to become a musician - not for fame or career... but perhaps to the same degree that I am a "artist" now. It's possible I may have more musical bones in me than I have visual arts skills. I'm not a musical prodigy by any means. I struggle to learn just like many people. Nevertheless, I feel music moves me greatly. I often have tunes in my head, and I wish I had a way to record them. It's much the same as with my art - bunch of ideas that I can't translate into reality.

For a number of years I was enthralled with digital music. I downloaded a bunch of sound-related computer applications called "trackers", as well as some synthesizers. I messed with ModTracker a bit, but was more fascinated at the time with the power offered by Jeskola Buzz. I wrote a few simple melodies, but didn't invest much time to produce anything of musical merit. Rather, I spent countless hours appreciating the work of others, downloading digital tracks that I throw under the title of "MOD files". This style of music - though theoretically unlimited in variety - is one of my favorites. It is similar in nature to some music found in video games, which I also often like. Though digitally produced music can sound exactly like any style of music or set of physical instruments, typically there are elements included that are synthesized or otherwise computer-generated. I find myself attracted to the depth that is offered by this genre, though there is definitely some that really stinks. modarchive.com is the authoritative site to host and download such music tracks.

Linked to from modarchive I noticed yet another piece of software - fortunately open source - that I downloaded and may mess with some day (though probably not). It's called MadTracker. It looks like it has some potential for being a useful music creating tool.

Back when I was into all this stuff I envisioned myself becoming a digital musician. There was not a strong enough pull to inspire me to stick with it though. Now, I'm trying to learn to play the guitar (snail's pace) and wish I could play the piano. But again, I don't have great motivation to push myself to my limits. I've always been pretty lazy in my musical pursuits, wishing that the skill would just be natural, rather than resulting from continuous and regimented practice.

Perhaps with some early training or lessons, I might have had an entirely different life, with very different interests and scenes. Now, I tend to see myself as having missed the musical opportunities in life. There are several things I always thought would be ideal for life and work - I guess you could call these things my "American Dreams". I wanted to either 1) be a professional musician, specifically leading worship or touring as a Christian artist, 2) be a martial arts master to the degree that I could make a living off of it, either by performing or teaching others, 3) make video games, or 4) own my own business that has some form of very creative output, possibly in the form of silly entertainment. All of these dreams seemed completely unattainable, so I pursued not a one. Now I feel old, not so sharp, and incapable of pursuing anything dreamy. It would have been interesting to see how my life might have turned out had I pursued one of these dreams fervently.

As the musical theme progressed, my friend Chris sent me an email with a song he thought I might appreciate. What are the chances - on the very day I take a break from constant Bible reading by listening to music and thinking about music! It was a nice instrumental piano piece, inspired by the passage of Scripture Dave preached on last Sunday. I appreciated the arrangement, and it helped to spur all the musical thoughts above and in the other post about the Song of songs (which was my attempt to start this post here... and went off on a tangent), in turn also helping me to think about other things regarding Christ, His church, and what I see as profound mysteries. So thanks for sharing that song, Chris.

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Friday, October 31st, 2008 - 4:26 AM

"Morton Freewiller"

My boss has been relocating to a different office this week. In the process of clearing out her old office, she is getting rid of stuff. Today I scavenged her rejects and inherited what I feel is the greatest find since Moby Dick rode the waves of aquatic whiplash and small, crumby wafers. If I had infinite time, I'd make a bunch of short, nonsensical video clips with this character, for it is quite an appealing face with much potential for comical qualities. We'll see. I named him Morton Freewiller. His first words were "YO Toad!", "FA Spew!", and "KO Dirt!" Obviously with each of his inconsiderate outbursts I became more upset. Who can handle such rivalry and juxtaposition?

Morton Freewiller

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Friday, October 31st, 2008 - 2:29 AM

"3D Glasses For 3D Movies"

Journey to the Center of the Earth

On the way home after the Smith community group I decided to get a movie. Got Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brandon Fraser. I wasn't greatly impressed with the movie. It was a fairly predictable and campy film. However, I'm not an overly critical movie critic and generally enjoyed it in spite of it all. It is definitely a film with a younger audience in mind, which can either be annoyingly juvenile or refreshing (void of "adult" junk). I was okay with it and got a couple brief chuckles. I generally don't mind Brandon Fraser's silly style of movies with exaggerated action that makes you go, "yeah right!" Besides, Brandon's voice, face and big smile reminds me a tiny bit of my brother-in-law, Micah - and that's a good thing.

To my dismay and annoyance, I noticed some severe ghosting as I began watching the movie. It took me a couple seconds to realize I rented a 3D stereographic movie. I realized immediately that I needed some 3D glasses for my brain to translate the anaglyphic imagery.

I set to work at finding household supplies to make some glasses. 3D glasses are very simple - two transparent lenses, one red and one blue. It occurred to me to find some clear plastic film and "paint" it with Sharpie markers. I looked at ziploc bags, but they were too cloudy. The first thing I tried was cellophane plastic wrap, which is fairly clear. It was a tad on the flimsy side and was difficult to work with. My second idea was to use some "crystal clear" packaging tape. That was halfway clear with minimal distortion and cloudiness.


Homemade 3D Glasses Version 0.0083v Beta

Supply List

  • cardboard or tin foil
  • acetate sheets (best), crystal clear tape or stirdy cellophane
  • red and blue Sharpie permanent markers
  • a string, rope or a bunch of rubber bands
  • scissors
  • garbage can (a waste basket or trash bin will suffice)

supply list

Instructions: Though cardboard would be far superior, I suggest using the less effective (but cool and shiny looking) tin foil to form the body of the glasses. Roll out a piece that is a couple feet long. Fold it over itself a number of times until it is a strip about 2 inches wide. Using the scissors, poke two holes spaced apart to match the distance between your eyes and cut ellipses, rectangles, stars or hearts for the eye openings. Cover the two holes with clear packaging tape, wrapping around the tin foil, careful not to produce any creases or folds in the tape. Paint over the openings that are now covered with packaging tape with Sharpies - one side red and one side blue. It doesn't really matter which side is red or blue because these glasses are symmetrical and can be flipped either direction on your "head-face". Twist the excess tin foil on both sides of the lenses for something to wrap around your head or ears. If this is not long or sturdy enough, tie a string or chained rubber bands on both ends of the foil - enough to wrap around the cranium, aka mind-melon. When finished, you should have something that resembles the picture below. At this, throw your invention in the waste basket because it is a piece of junk and absolutely won't work. Cut your losses and start over.

Homemade 3D Glasses


Homemade 3D Glasses Version 1.0

Supply List

  • CD jewel case - the old-fashioned, clear variety
  • blue and red Sharpie permanent markers
  • a human hand, rope or string

supply list

Instructions: Take apart the CD jewel case, keeping either the front or back panel. Paint red and blue regions with the Sharpie markers, spaced apart to match your eyes. Make the shapes large enough to cover most of your field of view. Tip: to fill in an area with the marker, apply with long strokes in one direction (not short, back and forth). There is a "sweet spot" on the marker's tip that paints better... rotate the pen around until it produces nice strokes without scratching off your previously filled area. Use the human hand to hold the large rectangular "glasses" in front of your face. If you don't want to exercise the hand, wedge the hi-tech device to your noggin with a rope, Rambo style. Prepare to be mobbed by fans who celebrate your keen sense of trendy fashion.

Homemade 3D Glasses

Note: with both sets of glasses (the ones in the garbage, and the big plastic rectangle), try switching the red and blue from right to left, rotating or flipping the apparatus. There are a number of web sites with sterographic or anaglyphic imagery you can look at with your new glasses, including plenty test images on the Wikipedia article. I'm not sure there is a rule of thumb that all movies follow. If neither rotation yields popping 3D imagery, either 1) you are using the first version of the glasses that should rightfully be in the trash bin and need to upgrade your eyewear to version 1.0, 2) both inventions totally stink and should be thrown in the garbage can, or 3) the movie you are watching is not a 3D movie, so you are wasting your time - except for the reward of having some mega fashionable glasses for everyday use (though don't come crying to me if you go blind - either color blind or total darkness, as I wouldn't suggest wearing 3D glasses except when watching 3D movies).

"Who-what are you!?"

"I'm your worst nightmare!"

"Who, Batman? Rambo?"

"No, I'm Homemade 3D Glasses Guy"

"Wow! The variety of your styles is imbued and exasperated with studious synchronicity and wallop-punt-tackle potentiality!"

Homemade 3D Glasses Guy, Version 0.0083v Beta

Homemade 3D Glasses Guy, Version 1.0

P.S. I ended up watching most of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" without my 3D glasses because they didn't work very well. I just put up with the severe ghosting and horrid imagery. Because of this, I feel creating these two 3D glasses was very rewarding. Now I can make a fool of myself!

In truth, I'd prefer to stare through my ViewMaster for hours on end (similar dual-image 3D "technology"). I just need to get some more slides. I only have a few. I think it would be a cool collection to start.

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Thursday, October 30th, 2008 - 2:57 PM

"We da Bride!"

Just now, a while after I wrote that last post, I have more thoughts on the subject of the bride. I wasn't at all intending to write that... just sort of came out as I was "trying to write about something else"!

This is just food for thought. I feel it is possible based on what we see in Scripture, but don't quote me on it or consider it Gospel by any means. Some things occurred to me regarding the bride and Groom. The Bible says that husbands and wives here on earth are a mysterious mirror of Jesus and His church. Keep in mind that the church is also called His "bride" and His "body"... coincidence? Well, think about how it happened in the beginning. Man was formed first, and woman was taken out of man. Later, the two became one flesh. This is deep stuff, folks... and "new to me". Naturally, Christ was not ever "formed". He simply was. He is the Alpha and the Omega. Nevertheless, it's an interesting parallel or potential symbol to see us taken out of Him - created out of His imagination, by the command of His Word, formed by His hands, His breath in our lungs, etc, etc, etc. And one day, in some mysterious way, we will be made One with Him.

Sound daring, bold and blasphemous? Are we to become "gods"? Careful now. I say that junk just to warn against taking it WAY TOO FAR! There is but one God. There was one who made the mistake of wishing to replace God... look what happened to him - he was cast out of heaven, and now he is the enemy of our souls and corrupter of all things. Don't you dare go down a path - take the "example" as a warning and cast pride aside insomuch as you are able with the Spirit's help. I want to praise and glorify Him as the eternal King!

Who knows what we will become. It has not been made known. We know, however, that when He does appear, we will be made like Him. For we shall see Him as He is. He is the firstborn from the dead, and we are to follow in like manner by the power of His quickening Spirit. Did we in our deadness ask for such a gift? I daresay no. We all despised God. His wrath was stored up against us. Yet even so, He found pleasure in shaking the earth to its foundations and bestowing ridiculous wealth and gifts upon captives, even setting them free.

Again, I find it amazing and mysterious that, though we are children now, apparently there is yet another mystery of what we will become. How strange, scary and humbling. Who the heck would be so bold as to ask God Almighty to be His child? Who would know that such a thing was possible. The Pharisees and Scribes who searched the Scriptures endlessly called Jesus a blasphemer and crucified Him for such a claim... though ironically they claimed God as their Father in their own defense (Mark 14:60-64 ESV, John 8:37-42 ESV, John 10:25-39 ESV)! Yet we are born again with Him and are given much the same?! And to think that yet another mystery is waiting to be revealed to us in heaven regarding a nature that He bestows upon us?!

May He do His will as it pleases Him. Yet let us humble ourselves before Him. He may choose to lift us up, but let us not presume so. His grace is sufficient, and we should not live or race well just for the hope of a reward... except that reward be Jesus. I want no other gift than more of Jesus. If I'm made like Him, or we become more unified as a husband and wife become one flesh, so be it. Who cares about the mysteries not yet revealed. Just give me Jesus!

Read these verses carefully, and don't allow yourself to go off on some tangent of weird philosophy or imaginings. A time will come soon (and has already come, though hidden and a shadow of what it will be) when deceptions and myths will be commonplace, and our minds will be susceptible to deception - save for the merciful protection of our Commander in Chief, the Lord of Hosts. Declare the name of Jesus and ask for the Spirit as you consider all things. I tried to include the full context, but consider them as part of the whole of Scripture and never forsake the Gospel by which you were called out of darkness into His marvelous Light.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you - just as you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. Now this is eternal life - that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me at your side with the glory I had with you before the world was created.

"I have revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your word. Now they understand that everything you have given me comes from you, because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you. Everything I have belongs to you, and everything you have belongs to me, and I have been glorified by them. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I kept them safe and watched over them in your name that you have given me. Not one of them was lost except the one destined for destruction, so that the scripture could be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart.

"I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. The glory you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one - I in them and you in me - that they may be completely one, so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, even if the world does not know you, I know you, and these men know that you sent me. I made known your name to them, and I will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them, and I may be in them."

John 17:1-26 NET Bible

Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious - not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great - but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:25-32 NET Bible

(See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God's children – and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. Dear friends, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure).

I John 3:1-3 NET Bible

Consequently, that last passage, I John 3:1-3, was another on the list of passages from Mr. Zimmerman's math class. :) I think he was a very thoughtful man, though quiet. I wrote a poem about him once. If it's not already on my site somewhere (don't think so), I'll have to post it.

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Thursday, October 30th, 2008 - 2:20 PM

"He Wrote a Symphony in My Heart"

The Song of songs has come down from heaven and dwelt amid the souls of men. The Spirit who moves like water and wind sings a melody to us all. We have but to listen. Be still. Sing Him a dirge until He comes, then change your tune. Blessed are those in whom He dwells. Our lives are a sweet symphony to the King of kings. How I wish I knew all the proper notes to play... but somehow my befuddled attempts mix and match with those of other "failures", and we all together become the most beautiful bride this world or the world to come will ever see! Imagine the march on that final day! How glorious it will be. The groom awaits for those who are called to be made ready. Let our beauty shine brightly so that our Lord and groom is pleased!

The music is written. It was written before time began. The Master Composer awaits his instruments to take place. Will we let go of our strife and settle down? Better yet, may all things bright and dark form in us something entirely new, an enchanting melody. May all the characteristics, story and unmatched vivacious color be imbibed in sweet sorrow and joy. May the Song never end. Let's sing His praises even now. Rehearsal session has begun. Consider each moment and movement as though it was your final and greatest performance, not as for men, but for the Song of songs.

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 - 8:02 PM

"Another Lazarus Has Come"

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame." But Abraham said, "Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us." And he said, "Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house - for I have five brothers - so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment." But Abraham said, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." And he said, "No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." He said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."

Luke 16:19-31 ESL

I find this scripture fascinating on a number of levels. To me it differs from most of Jesus' other parables. The majority of the parables relate a fairly commonplace example that the average person in the original Jewish culture (and even now) could associate with (whether they understand the deeper meaning is a different story).

This parable about Lazarus and the rich man parts with the standard parable pattern, giving us a glimpse into what more resembles a prophetic vision. I mean, this is fairly bizarre stuff. Lazarus inside "Abraham's bosom" is practically screaming for a silly drawing! :) I have no way to verify if Jesus shared this parable solely to illustrate a point. The story may reveal otherwise undisclosed factual details about what Hades or hell is like (not necessarily one and the same).

Whether symbolic for illustrative purposes or a clear picture of eternal things, it may not be possible to ascertain until we arrive to experience it all ourselves. My basic, underdeveloped stance is that I can't imagine Jesus, who is God, would fabricate a parable that has no basis in truth or reality just to make a point. I think it's safe to assume everything Jesus says is truth and has significance down to the very choice of individual words. If any words are inspired, it would be His!

Who knows if the parable accurately describes hell, Hades, or some intermediate "holding place" (hypothetical post-death, pre-judgment). Does Abraham have special access privileges, and does he hang out around the border lands regularly? Is there a chasm separating, but not so great that audible communication can occur (would seem odd, considering the depravity of one side against the perfection of the other)? These and many more curiosities are created by this mysterious vision.

The facts and figures of this narrative are not hugely important to me right now - though they are potentially very thought provoking and certainly not void or unworthy of study. I didn't receive a huge revelation concerning heaven and hell from listening to this passage today (save that for another time). I feel any conclusions I come up with would be speculation on my part anyway, and not very profitable.

Impressed upon me during this latest review of Luke 16:19-31 are the passage's obvious prophetic qualities. I can't make all the synaptic connections in one post, nor have they all emerged for me. Nevertheless, I have been observing interesting things regarding the resurrection here and in other passages.

There is no question this passage has allusions to Jesus' victory over death. Keep in mind, this parable is told by Jesus, prior to His death and resurrection. He is sometimes a little cryptic in prophesying of such things, but this is by no means the only prophecy of His future, yes His very purpose for coming to earth in human form was to die. In other passages Jesus outright says He will be handed over to man, killed, and on the third day will rise again. It can't get any more blatant than that!

I call this parable an allusion because it is not an obvious statement that Jesus will rise from the dead. Rather, it is an outline of the entirety of God's plan, packed neatly into a few sentences. These sort of concise overviews appear dotted all throughout the Bible, this being one of many. This is why Jesus says those who came before Him were speaking of Him.

One of the most common and shortest summaries of the Bible is "Moses, the prophets, and Jesus". I've seen this quite a few times recently. "Moses and the prophets" refers to the historic time period of the Old Testament. It can also refer to the tangible written books themselves (The Torah, or "Pentateuch", and the rest of the Tanakh - mostly "prophets").

I can understand the rich man's desperation. After his death he is sent to a place of torment and separation. He now realizes the wages for his life of excess, sin and lack of mercy. He worries greatly about those he left behind and wants to spare them a similar fate to his own. Can you imagine the agony? I'm not sure where people go when they die, since we are now caught in a period of time before Jesus' return and the judgment. If indeed deceased human souls are collected to a conscious plane of existence (they may just be "sleeping" unaware - who can know?), surely there must be immeasurable loads of regret and cries of woe from those who did not believe and accept Jesus while on earth.

The thought of such a situation should be enough to cause us all to take God and His ways very seriously - to seek out the answers only His Word can offer about life, death, and salvation (and much more). Don't wait until it's too late! No one knows the number of their days, my friends.

The rich man is convinced that there is something Abraham can do to save his unbelieving friends. "If only I can go tell them myself or have someone sent miraculously - then they will believe and turn from their ways!" Abraham (and Jesus, as the Narrator) knows better and informs the rich man (now poor) that God has already sent Moses and the prophets. Not only did those recorded historic events actually occur - a testament to the existence, love and power of God - but a book is also written about it, one that is freely available and widely distributed: the Bible. To take it further, in Romans we read that ultimately no one has an excuse, for...

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools...

Romans 1:18-22 NKJV

Jesus prophesies by telling this parable that even if these friends of the rich man see someone who rises from the dead, they will persist in their tragic unbelief. It is my consideration from reading Scripture that Jesus is greatly sorrowful over this inevitable loss of souls who are darkened in disbelief (a developing topic for more posts). It is a sad reality to choose a deception. The deception offers us riches, power, and other promises of opportunity afforded by this dark and cursed world. Such things are fading mirages and meaningless. They provide pleasure for a time, but their increase corrupts the soul of man... until it is utterly lost.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works."

Matthew 16:24-27 NKJV

Though, take heart, friends! Though I'd not encourage anyone to wait, all are offered the same gift. This dark world corrupts us, and not one of us can earn our way to heaven by good works. Nevertheless, there is one man, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sins. And yes, the price for all our sins is paid. Don't underestimate the power and love of God by assuming your sins are more than His great sacrifice could cover or that He will flinch when exposed to your darkness. God said, "Let there be light, and there was light". The same God who created all things can surely also restore them.

God requires one thing of us: to believe that His Son Jesus came to the earth in the flesh and died for our sins and rose again from the grave, victorious over death for our sake! Confess this and accept His will for you, and the fate of the rich man will not be yours. With Christ, not only do we have a rich reward awaiting us in the next life, but each and every day of this life is transformed with meaning and purpose beyond our understanding! No, it's not an easy road to travel. Following Christ is no walk in the park. Yet hear my witness that I wouldn't trade it for any route or any other reward. There's no shortcut. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Will you believe, even though a man rise from the dead to warn you of the rich man's demise? I tell you One has come already... and He was preceded by Moses and His prophets. Will you listen to His words, or will you cling to those things you hold dear? I pray you let Him in. The man who was once dead is alive and knocking at your door even now.

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Romans 5:6-10 NKJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 NKJV

The glorified One who has power over death itself declares boldly and with Love (whom He is) from His holy heaven, while sitting beside the very throne of God Almighty Himself:

"Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' - and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked - I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

Revelation 3:17-21 NKJV

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 - 4:04 PM

"Oh Dear!"

The Scriptures are so rich to my heart, I cannot even believe it! It's insane! I wish I could quit my job and study the Bible all the time! I simply cannot stop thinking about every single thing I'm reading... yet I will not stop. And I will not ask God to tone it down. More! More! Gimme more!

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 - 3:40 PM

"Annoying!"

All day I'm at work, listening to the Bible in my ears. I am constantly hearing revolutionary truths being revealed to me, and I want to write about it constantly! It seems scarce a verse goes by that I don't see massive amounts of interesting things! Annoying that it's too much or too distracting? Hardly! It's annoying that I have to work :)

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 - 12:59 PM

"Yes, I Want to See Jesus"

Then He said to the disciples, "The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!' Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day."

Luke 17:22-24

Yup, this is talking about me. It's a prophecy that is fulfilled in our time, and I am not the only one it is fulfilled in. In fact, I doubt there is a believer out there in whom it is not fulfilled. We all want to see Jesus! Sometimes I long to see Jesus or to have been alive during the years He was here on earth, in the flesh. Hey, sorry, I'm only human! I'm flesh and blood too, and it's not easy to not be able to interact with God in a way "enhanced" or "aided" by my senses.

It's not the case that I need to see Him in order to believe. I just desire it strongly because I love Him and want to be with Him. Not to mention the trials of the flesh here on earth are very severe, and it seems more sensory access to God would be liberating and empowering. Nevertheless, I'm beginning to finally realize or trying to anyway: That when Jesus goes, He says it will be better that He sends the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth.

John 14:15 NIV

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

John 16:7 NKJV

To be honest, I've long struggled with that whole idea. I feel like just recently I am beginning to appreciate the actual person of the Holy Spirit more. I am trying to learn more what His roles are. He is the one in me, the one making the Scriptures come alive to me, the One who comforts me through the massive junk and difficulties I face. In short, He is the very God I interface with. It may even be true that all my prayers go through Him... not sure. I want to learn more about Him, so I don't just look to Jesus and God the Father. I want to appreciate the Spirit more. Of course God is One, and He cannot be divided, nor should any reasoning go that direction. His nature and Person are very amazing and worth looking into. I want to know Him better. I find no better way to learn about Him than by reading and studying His Word, the Bible.

One thought that occurred to me regarding it being "better" that the Holy Spirit come:

When Jesus was on earth, he was fully man. As far as I know, He didn't use infinite Godhead powers and manifest Himself in many places at once. His Spirit was attached to a single body that occupied a particular volume and space - exactly like our spirits inhabit a body, and we can be "located" by a point on a map at any given time.

For someone to meet with Jesus or talk with Jesus would be very challenging. Talk about lack of "quality time". Sure, he fed 5000 people and preached to many more, but could He speak personally with each one and treat them like a brother, sister, daughter, and son? Not really. Yes, it would have been amazing to see God in human flesh. Yes, it would be amazingly powerful to meet God, to shake His hand (a huge hug would be better by far), to worship at His feet, and to have your tears physically wiped away. Can you imagine looking into His eyes? I can't even begin to imagine. Some day...

Nevertheless, it would not be possible for every person who believes in Him to have full, satisfying access to Jesus. Now that the Spirit has come, we each have 24/7 access to God. The Spirit lives inside each one of us who have been transformed by the new birth. He is not limited to one point in time and space.

Of course I don't think this is necessarily what Jesus meant when He said it would be better. Nevertheless, it was a new realization for me, so I figured I'd share it. I'll hopefully have more truth revealed to me as I continue to read the Scriptures. I simply cannot get enough! May it ever be so. It is very easy to get lazy with spiritual disciplines. May I ever be in enough trial to send me seeking, asking and knocking. I never want to have so much provision in this life that I have no urge or need for God. I never want the trial of riches and fame. I would prefer to parry such a blow and reflect it to the fame and riches of God, my Father.

Another thought occurred to me, this time about Christ (reread the first passage above, Luke 17:22-24). In the end times, there will be many false prophets and christs, even the anti-Christ who will deceive many. It seems even the elect may be tempted or enchanted, though I believe God will empower and spare them. Nevertheless, I can see how a strong desire to see Jesus Christ or to demand to experience His presence in the flesh could lend itself to being deceived in such a foreseen time. It would be tempting to follow a person who put on many attributes of Christ, especially if they were loving, caring ones.

Nevertheless, may this serve as a warning - to believers and nonbelievers alike. Jesus will not come to dwell on the earth when He returns. He will come ridiculously fast. So don't follow after anyone who claims to be Christ, and don't get excited when someone says, "He is there! Let's go!" Not only is it not worth your time, but anyone who claims to be Christ but isn't is surely aided by incredible powers of darkness. The last place you want to be is following closely such an evil person - even if there are charms, promises or miracles given.

And He said: "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them."

Luke 21:8

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 - 9:11 AM

"Receiving Sinners"

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, "This Man receives sinners and eats with them."

Luke 15:1-2 NKJV

If they only knew what they were saying! Praise God that Jesus, the Great Physician, came for the sake of the sick. Those who think they don't need such mercy because they are not so bad are simply walking embodiments of the Pharisees. And let me tell you, unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Sound easy? Feel like devoting your life to righteous, devout living? Fine. But even when you have done this, don't think you have earned anything except honor in this world. There is but one way to receive honor in heaven and be accepted as holy. Jesus died in our place, putting our own sins on Him. Our sins are dead and ineffective because of His work on the cross. We simply have to accept His sacrifice for us and live for Him as though dead to this world.

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness...

Romans 3:23-25 NKJV

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

I John 1:8-10 NKJV

Okay, so that sounds extreme - "we make Him a liar" if we say we haven't sinned. Why is that the case? It is because the Bible says everyone has sinned and stands condemned already. The Bible is God's Word. If we say we have not sinned, we are saying God's Word is not true. It is to say He is a liar.

In the same way, assuming we are good enough to approach God or earn His favor is a deception. The Pharisees and scribes of Jesus' time were very zealous for the law. While some of them were corrupt and lovers of honor and money, there were indeed some who sought to be obedient and faithful. Nevertheless, not even their best efforts can save them on the judgment day. Does that mean we all have to commit our lives to more effort than the Pharisees put out, abandoning everything and pursuing nothing but religious office and servitude? No, for not even that is good enough. Fortunately it is much easier than that, for a righteousness apart from the law has been revealed.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

Romans 3:21-22 NKJV

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:16-18 NKJV

Oh, and once you have accepted Jesus' sacrifice for you and have entered into the kingdom of heaven... don't think you have nothing else to do. Those of us who are part of Jesus' body must also receive sinners just as He did. Shall we, in our pride, make Jesus someone who He is not? Will we form Him in our own image, making ourselves gods, choosing who will receive mercy and who will not? Will Christ cease to offer mercy? May it never be so! If we fail to forgive those whom He is ready and willing to forgive (or has forgiven), don't think it will bid well for us.

Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"

Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

"But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

"So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

Matthew 18:21-35 NKJV

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 - 1:31 AM

"The Old And The New Are The Best"

old couple
Take a close look at this image. It is absolutely beautiful. It shows the story of two people who fell in love, and whose love stood the test of time (well, that's what it says to me).

I've come to the conclusion that very old people and very young people are better than the rest of us. Kids are generally too young to be filled with dark baggage and spend most of their time learning and having fun. Old people have mellowed out, have endured and won battles over the tumults of life and are full of wisdom. I've concluded that I'd rather be in one of the two groups. I envy those couples that stay together until they are wrinkled and old, still holding hands. Sometimes they look at each other with such love and acceptance. It makes me almost cry to see it (this is the testimony of people like Johnny Cash and his wife that I referenced back here). I had hoped that would be the outcome of my life. I don't fear aging. I'm seeing signs already. All this stress is giving me a head full of white hairs. It doesn't bother me. One step closer to the day I see Jesus Christ my Lord! One step closer to being made more like Him through the trials of life.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:17,18

Believe it or not 2 Corinthians 3:18 was a memory verse from high school math class of all things. Yup, Mr. Zimmerman compiled a list of verses that we were encouraged to memorize. I wonder if I still have that piece of paper with the printed verses somewhere... Consequently, I remember some of them still - though I'm not so sure it helped me in math.

I had not noticed verse 17 before. It is an awesome verse. In fact, I might say this is God's verse to me - the one to describe the work He has miraculously done and will continue to do in me! I am overjoyed to read it. Indeed, I wish to boldly shout and share the Good News...

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!

Readers, please make the connection between this verse and what is said around Luke 11:13. I know you want to be free (if you are not already). All you have to do is ask and believe. Your Father is waiting to pour out this Gift upon you. Ask earnestly and don't give up.

Let me share again this bold testimony of the Light: The Spirit of the Living God is falling on me, and there is nothing I can do about it! He is making all things new! I ask again for more of the Spirit of God to dwell in me richly. I want to be obedient and to be more like Jesus. Lord, pour out Your Spirit on all people! Show your mercy and greatness of heart! You are Truth, You are Love, You are Light! Break the power of darkness in this world! Oh my God, accomplish it. Even use Your servants to fight the forces of evil. Set the captives free from bondage. I long to dwell in Your house. Make me the lowest of servants, just that I can be near You as much as possible. I don't need a title or honor. I just want to see Your face and have You hold me close. You are my Great Love. You are my Salvation. Forgive my horrid lack of faith.

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 - 1:18 AM

"Finger Picking Good"

candlelit guitar Phil

Okay, finger picking not so good. The last several days I've been playing around with picking the strings with my fingers. As in arpeggios on chords and junk. I have no skill. I know nothing of music. Nevertheless, I enjoy plucking individual strings as opposed to playing boring old chords all the time. I would record something and put it on here, but it's nothing. I am one of those people (are there others?) who just plays repetitive notes, going up, going down, etc... kinda like a trance, just enjoying the sounds. No music involved.

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Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 - 9:14 PM

"Need More Jesus, More Spirit Power"

The last couple days I've felt severely drained. I can't be sure why. I feel like I need a severe Spirit lift again. I've been thinking a lot about faith: a LOT. I'm on the verge of taking some pretty big leaps of faith. I am trying to learn more about faith in general and am testing my own motives before I take the plunge. A passage that stuck out to me today (regarding prayer):

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."

So He said to them, "When you pray, say:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one."

And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

Luke 11:1-13 NKJV

I was greatly affected by reading this passage again today. I don't know for sure what to do with my situation or how to act in faith. Yet here is one thing that is reliable and true. God has answered many prayers since this whole life changing thing happened. One in particular I'd like to point out was my prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit with power, in the same way as the disciples did in the early church. He has been doing this. Maybe I'm not healing people like crazy or converting thousands to the cause of Christ or have a burning tongue of fire on my head. Yet God has given me of His Spirit in an unprecedented dosage. It's as if the Spirit is answering my call for companionship. Though my flesh screams for someone I can touch and interact with, God is providing just enough for me to still be reliant on Him.

I'm not sure how literally to consider this passage concerning prayer. It seems to indicate that consistency or persistence is going to affect the outcome of prayer. I'm not sure what to think about that. Sometimes I feel like continually praying for the miracle I hope for is "getting old" to His infinitely wise ears! He already knows what's best and what He's going to do. He certainly doesn't need my advice. Yet I don't know what else to do but cry out to Him and express my desires and longings.

The parable of the father giving good gifts to his children is one of my favorites. It's so simple. It seems like such a clear message. If I were to ask a question such as, "Is God really going to answer my prayers directly? It seems most of the time He prefers to answer in His own time, in ways that are different than what we expect or ask for." But this passage seems to indicate God isn't going to give tricky or bad gifts at all. He's not going to give us a scorpion when we ask for an egg. Just like an earthly father doesn't deny his child a good gift.

This passage is ended by saying, "how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" To me that sounds very specific. It doesn't say, "will give us what we ask for, just like our earthly fathers, yet better!". So I don't know if these concepts can be applied to any prayer, or if it's just talking about God giving us His Spirit in limitless supply. I am indeed asking for more of the Spirit and am receiving an answer. However, I also have very pressing issues and frantic prayers, for I am needy.

I need to know whether I should have assurance of what I hope for and be convinced of receiving an answer to things I cannot see. Should I hope against all hope? In reality, there is no hope for my situation outside of Jesus Christ. Yet I don't know what He wishes to do. I don't know how to believe that my specific prayers will be answered. It seems His sovereignty allows Him to do whatever He wants, in spite of what we pray... as He should. Yet the Bible seems to offer so much hope for us in our prayers, and condemns a lack of faith.

It feels pathetic to pray like this, "Do whatever you will, Lord, whatever that might be." That feels like a complete lack of faith (not to mention pointless... because even without praying, He's going to do what He's going to do!). It's like saying, "Lord, you never give us what we ask for specifically, so it's hopeless to list out specific requests. You're just going to do whatever it is You want anyway, so I'm just hopelessly confessing that reality by submitting to whatever your sovereign will is." While there are bits of truth in that prayer too (admitting God's sovereignty), it feels weak and lacking in faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God. While Jesus was on earth, He was constantly saddened by people's lack of faith, calling them a faithless generation - including His own disciples! I don't want to be faithless, let me tell you! But how do I pray specific prayers in faith, believing I will receive what I pray for? I'm still learning.

Man, I'm so lost without God. It would be a hopeless sight to discover what my life would look like without Him. I get sick just considering the hypothetical, much less seeing a vision of it. Yet the perspective is valuable - to remind us of our constant dependence on Him.

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Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 - 8:44 PM

"Who Can Understand Faith?"

Perhaps if we understood faith, it would no longer be faith? Don't know, for I haven't even figured that out, much less faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

Something has changed recently in my life regarding a lot of things, including faith. It is so much change that I truly don't comprehend what's going on. My mind is incapacitated by it all, and I feel recklessly tossed into an ocean of truth and possibilities.

I cannot coherently describe what's going on as I sit bewildered by the moving of God in my life. I feel hopelessly overwhelmed by His presence, yet at the same time I long for more! I am flooded with Light and Truth, but I feel empty, as if there's no amount that can satisfy! It's totally bizarre.

Of course I'm sure my thirst for all things spiritual and my need for God is amplified by the severe hole left by missing companionship. I sense an unfortunate connection between my devotion to God and the toils and trials of life that would otherwise be intolerable without Him. Sure, it's a great "habit" to run to the Master in times of great need. Yet I wish devotion to be self-sustaining so I no longer have to run back and forth, responding to this and that.

I don't want to be doomed to times of trouble just so I can be a faithful disciple in His hands. Nevertheless, I wouldn't trade His presence for that of anyone else, or any other material reward.

I find it rather "easy" to believe that God is - that He exists. I don't feel there is any room for doubt there, because He has proved His presence and sustenance throughout my lifetime. Not only that, but I believe wholeheartedly what He says about Himself in Scripture.

Sadly, my belief is not always life-transforming. As P.J. always said, the goal is to move God 18 inches, from the mind into the heart, or "gut" his fond substitute. To believe truths in one's mind is pretty easy. Having such truths transform one's being entirely is a different challenge.

Of course I believe God is good and that in general "He rewards those who diligently seek Him". I have been going through an amazing time of reward the last few weeks. Then doubt creeps in and tells me that it is yet another of those spiritual high points. Sooner or later I'll be back to my needy self, unfit for most Kingdom work. Rather than my gut telling me that, no matter what, God will love and reward me... it rather tells me not to get too excited or hopeful.

I want to get to the point where my faith is sustained by the gut feeling that God is on the verge of doing something miraculous. It's too easy to slouch in a deep couch and assume we are not even worthy of His kindness. And in reality, we are not. Yet God chooses to call us His children. He has made us worthy through Christ. As our Father, He enjoys giving us good gifts, like any earthly father would. Impress this in me deep, permanently! That's what I must believe to the very fiber of my being, no matter what it appears to my flesh what hell is breaking loose around me.

Even so, it is not good for a man to be alone. After all God has done, I feel severely weakened by my loneliness and longing for a true, loving companion. Debates circle around in my mind. What should I do? What sort of commitments should I boldly declare before God, disregarding logic and considering all things lost for Him? What does He expect of me in light of dire circumstances? I'm trying to be patient, to await His deliverance and perfect timing. Yet maybe He is waiting for me to do something! Aaah! For the moment, I feel the safer course of action is to wait on Him, rather than act rashly... at least until I feel I have some assurance for faith to act upon.

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Sunday, October 26th, 2008 - 8:36 PM

"K, Stop the Press, For That Was Amazing!"

One of the many goofy things about blogs is to know how and when to publish things, and in which order. I have at least a dozen things I want to post, with probably the potential of a few hundred more in the back of my mind. Then there's the occasional straggler that I should have written about six months ago and completely forgot. So the author has to choose: should I write them in chronological order, write about the ones I'm passionate about now? Hmmmm...

Skip the 12 and however many else for now. I want to write about this evening, while it is fresh. I just went to one of the most amazing church services in recent history, if not all time. Church is always good in some way or another, but today was simply awesome. Now, the normal list of things that are often recounted as making a service "good" or "bad" really bothers me. I'm not talking here about the sermon was really "good" or the music was really "good", and then I felt free to leave because everything was "good" in my eyes. Sometimes that seems so trivial.

At the same time, I don't know how else to say it. Those sentences would be accurate, but inadequate and trite. Let's just say the Lord was present in power and authority, and the forces of darkness ain't gonna like what God is doing in His church... yet they cannot prevail against it! The poignant power of the Word was present in dynamo ridiculous force. No holds barred, we need a kick in the pants, and I believe God will shake us and prepare us for the storms that come our way. He is so merciful and gracious to us to prepare us, so that we will not simply be tossed to and fro, hopeless to the wiles of darkness and gloom, discouragement and what seems to be short supply.

I want to see that sermon online somewhere so I can link to it. Naturally, the Spirit was speaking specifically to our body at Ethnos, but I feel it was pretty amazing... and it has a wider message for the church out there as well. Of course, who has time to sit down and listen to sermons. I know, I don't really like to do it either. Not that I don't think I'll benefit, but it's a big investment, and we certainly cannot listen to all the sermons of every church in our area, much less the world. So I pray God speak through preachers everywhere in powerful ways in this age.

Of course, as usual, Dave's amazing sermon so directly related to what I've been thinking about this past week, that I felt the need to crumble in awe at the unlimited power and wisdom of our God, who is able to provide all things for us at just the right moment. If I end up getting a recorded version of the sermon, perhaps I'll be able to share some more specific thoughts and reflections.

Dude, the whole thing was crazy this evening. I sensed everyone was more sensitive to the Spirit, and it was almost too much to witness! Yet I pray and boldly beg for more of this! We have so much need for the Father's hand in our lives. We cannot survive in this world without our head, which is Jesus Christ. The one who has a sword in His mouth, bright shining eyes and appears as a lamb slain... this is the One who has command over all, and He loves us sincerely. Nothing escapes His notice, and He's not too busy to intervene on our behalf. He is mighty to save, mighty to save!

Paul, Meredith, worship team: you were amazing tonight. I couldn't help but notice each component of the music and smile at seeing how worshipful you all were, even while just "warming up" and "practicing". I enjoyed it so much I cannot describe. The worship service was inspiring, not in a feel-good way, but in an equipping, empowering way. The Lord will provide for you, the Rameys somehow. I hope faith isn't lost in the meantime. He's sovereign though, and if He called you - which He did - then He will be faithful to provide. If He tests you or disciplines... boy, that hurts, but consider the payoff in the end. Please Father, encourage these precious servants by Your vast provision. I've seen You do this so many times, even in my own life. You've never stopped providing and sustaining throughout time, or we'd all become dust or vapors.

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Sunday, October 26th, 2008 - 2:42 PM

"Don't Get It Wet or Tom"

Had a good time with Marcus & Tammy last night. I watched Marcus play "The Force Unleashed", an incredible Star Wars video game for the Playstation 3 (I should write a blog entry just about that game!). The three of us went for a walk, got some vittles, and then watched "Vexille", a very cool 3D Japanese animation movie.

As I was about to leave, Marcus noticed something quite humorous on the plastic DVD case from the movie rental company. Among other things, the printed instructions say "Never clean the bar code area or get it wet or tom during the cleaning process". I cannot even believe he noticed this, and more astonishing, apparently no one who publishes on the web has noticed it yet either (we did a Google search immediately, and as of this moment, no one has mentioned it). We are talking a major movie rental establishment here! There may well be millions of these cases printed in error. I guess most people just don't care. I'm sure someone else has noticed it.

Neither one of us would have cared either, had the spelling error been something simple and recognizable - a standard typo. This one is different. We both found it hilarious because neither of us, after several minutes of thought, have any idea whatsoever what it should or was trying to say! It would be interesting to see what "tom" means, besides some guy's name! I do recall noticing that recently the cases changed format... perhaps it was because the rental place noticed the mistake too. Hopefully no one got fired over such a silly thing! :)

At any rate, Marcus gave me a great salutation as I was walking out the door to leave, past midnight it was, me riding my bike home (context means everything for neology). He said, "Don't get it wet or tom." So is coined a new expression. "Don't get it wet or tom" is a salutation expressed when people part ways. I guess the closest equivalent would be, "Don't get wet", a common thing to say when parting, and it's raining outside. But rain isn't absolutely necessary for "don't get it wet or tom" to be applied. After all, it wasn't raining last night.

So, I'm not sure if my other expression spreading attempt worked out... speaking of that, go check it out right now! It's Wu Shu Sunday, the coolest day of all! Press F5 or "refresh" your browser to see all the image variations :) Hopefully "don't get it wet or tom" will get a little more exposure, since the source of it has much wider circulation. If it does, credit my friend Marcus for coining it and discovering it. If this makes it into some expression or phrase source history book, let it be known that here is where it started. October 26, 2008 in Beaverton, Oregon.

Don't get it wet or tom, and DaColas to all!

Phil

don't get it wet or tom

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Sunday, October 26th, 2008 - 1:39 AM

"Doctor Do Little Because I Don't Have Money"

As I was riding over to my friend Marcus' apartment, I did a very foolish thing. I woke up to an empty apartment again, my only company being the Holy Spirit of God. Not even the stuffed animals are true company because they don't exist, except in my imagination :) So after doing little more than talk to the only Company that matters this morning I called Marquis Eden to see what's up.

Turns out I had an appointment with destiny's child, the blackened pavement of doom and destruction. Huh? I said I fell on my face but was protected once again from severe injury. I've been asked several times by well meaning people, "How do you ride while holding that huge drink?" My answer used to be a short quip, "Eh, I do it all the time." True. True.

The new answer is this: "I grab one side of the handlebars with both of my hands and crash into the pavement." What's so cool about that? I call it the one man Oktoberfest. It's so close to Halloween that I felt compelled to dress up as "Bloody Knee and Sweaty Shirt Boy." Let me tell you my friend Marcus was really impressed with my sneaky disguise when I arrived.

My episode became an instant classic as people stopped on the road to check out the scene. I did several bows as the crowd cheered. Little did they know I'm a highly skilled stuntman and am planning to do this one man parade every year around this time... gonna put Beaverton on the map for good! Forget the Rose Festival, Bloody Knee and Sweaty Shirt Boy is in town!

As those in Australia would say, "Bloody knee!" Here in this wild west country we simply say, "hocus pocus alimagocus", and the astonished audience sits in juxtaposition, superimposed with algebraic formulas and wah wah inquisitional platitudinous injestion!

Truth be told, read the above story minus the part about me being a stuntman. I have no skills, but I like Jackie Chan. He's el stuntman extraordinaire, risking life and limb for the sake of entertainment! Woo hoo! Or perhaps I should say wu shu!

Don't cry over spilled death juice
I call this photo, "Don't Cry Over Spilled Death Juice". Here is shown the very cup that caused my downfall. I guess Pizza Schmizza ain't got the same "lucky" fortune for me as Panda Express! That'll show me to "Follow my gut" :) Credits: Photo taken by my friend Marcus on his spiffy iPhone 2

It's interesting to me how God must be watching out for us. Not just me, not just the ones who call Him "God" or the ones who fall down in worship to Him. He looks "down" on all people and in grace, sustains the entire world by His hand. I might have died today or been severely injured. Let me tell you some things about the facet of the world called "bike safety". When you need to change your brakes, do it. Because if you hold a huge pop when you ride around (most people do these days because without safety hints like mine, it's unknown what you should or shouldn't do - it's simply not common knowledge!), you only have one hand to brake, and if that particular brake doesn't work very well and you approach a red light, you might be tempted in a bind to reach over and grab the other brake with your free hand, and then you will fall head over heels in love with black destiny pavement child. Or was it destiny's child, aka the blackened pavement of doom and destruction? Perhaps it's just about time to call it quits and stop writing so much in my blog. Sounds like a dumb idea to me...

Don't worry about "not the stuntman" aka SuperPhil. I'm quite alright. I may have a bit of a bloody knee and bruised heel... but the One whose heel was bit has crushed the head of Satan... and that same One protects me as long as my life endures, which the number of days only He knows! Remember, Jesus was bruised for us! Whomever crushes Satan, it is Christ... for we are His body, of which He is the Head! May His name be forever praised!

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.

Genesis 3:15 NKJV

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Romans 16:20 NKJV

Want power? Well, don't! But rather seek first His Kingdom and His will. Seek to know the One who calls you out of darkness.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name."

He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

Luke 10:17-20

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV

"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Matthew 6:31-34 NKJV

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 1:18-23

Do you want freedom over the darkness in your life? Do you believe Jesus is Lord of all by His death and resurrection from the dead? If you answer "Yes" to the second question, then the first question is already answered for you. It is not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord Almighty that all things are possible. Without Him, nothing is possible at all. Do you want the authority to be free, to call Jesus "Lord" and not be rejected by Him in heaven before God? Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Way to heaven, the only way to the One and Only Father and Creator of heaven and earth. There simply is no other name by which men can be saved!, no other Gate by which we can enter the safety of His rest. It is only by the power of Jesus Christ that we can be declared before the majesty of God on His throne to be dark free.

The Jesus whom I preach is the One who has authority over Scripture. Why? Because He wrote it. Do you think it was written by the hand of man? True, but these men were filled with the Holy Spirit of God, every one!

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV

Do you think you can learn all there is to know about the Bible by reading it once through? In Jesus' day there were men whose entire life was summed up by reading and studying the Torah... and they entirely missed the point! They missed the fact that it is all talking about Jesus! Will we who read now regard it as mere words on a page and think we have found better truth than they did? I tell you no! It is by the Spirit of God that these things were written, and it is by the same Spirit that they can be understood!

Is the Bible just a book of stories and anecdotes that some fools wrote thousands of years ago? Why has it topped the charts for all this time? What makes it so special? Why do I and millions of other people care? Why is Jesus different from the rest of the "religious leaders" and sects of the world? Will you be the judge of such things? I pray for you that you dare not! Our best hope of knowing the Scriptures well is to rely not on our own understanding, but in the fact that if we are in Christ - by the redemptive work of His blood on the cross - we have His Spirit in us, and our minds no longer need be darkened by the deception of this world.

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written:

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

I Corinthians 2:6-16 NKJV

Who is this "Jesus"? I'm not noble or wise, nor am I good with words. My speech is weak, and only with my computer (Google searches and Biblegateway) and bits and pieces of the Word that God has written in my heart can I even begin to tell you who this Jesus is. But I will continue to try. I will seek to learn more each day for as long as His breath continues to ebb and flow through my lungs. My mind is clear on these things, why? Because Jesus Himself has made it so. Otherwise I was in a drunken stupor, before the Lord equipped me for His works, ones I presume by faith He prepared for me before the foundation of the world. That His name be above all other names, that a name, a word, a gesture, a breath - may they all return to Him, for He is the One who made them all!

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, "What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!"

"Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching - and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

Mark 1:21-28 NIV

I hope you are amazed and bewildered by the words in green. For they are the very Word of God. They have crushed me, yet I rejoice, for the sword that slices to divide me is the very power of God! There's something amazing going on here. It's no joke. I'm no impostor, nor am I trying to convince anyone that I'm cool and wise. Jesus is making all things new... and He is answering the prayers of you, my friends, who are praying. Doubt the words I speak all you want, for my existence is but a breath, a fading color. However, don't doubt the power of God, who is able to do all things. I point anyone who looks at me to the Father of Lights. I would prefer to be nameless and let my name be swallowed up by the name that is above anything or anyone who even has substance or being so that we as men give it a name with the scattered letters and characters devised as languages. His name is Jesus. He has the power. He has the grand ultimate fist, and there is no power available to gather or muster that can question or challenge His. The rest are myths and shadows compared to the glorious splendor of His Light. Drop all to void once again, as it was in the beginning, for the rest is as silent before Him, the glory of this age and the one to come!

And pray for my knee that hurts a bit... for I have no money for a doctor, for I'm just a monkey's uncle :)

Consequently, I think astrology is dumb. Most of the time I can't see the constellations in the sky very well. I found one called Monkey's Uncle though. In reality, I don't study the stars much at all. Yesterday, as I was taking a ride late at night. I looked up and remembered one thing: The Lord made it all, and He cares about me too. By the way, what do a busted cup, bloodie knees, monkey's uncles, and astrology have to do with each other, and how does it all relate to the Bible? Hmmm... good question. Perhaps I should have divided this really long blog entry into about seventeen. Oh well. I have about seventeen more to write anyway! And then after I've imagined myself using the power of Hiro from Heroes to stop time (or go really fast), I'll delay tomorrow, finish the seventeen, then have seventeen more to write. Waitaminnit, wouldn't a person like that get really tired, because they would forget all about things like sleeping when it's dark and doing stuff when it's daytime? Sounds like me, minus the superpowers. Huh? What? It's getting late... I better go to slee... write another blog entry.
Monkey's Uncle

And then someone says, "Didn't you know that you lose credibility when you combine such silly things with really serious things?" Well good. That's the mysterious way I was made! If God can use a fool, He can use anyone, right? I hope so, otherwise I'm absolutely hopeless! Yet my hope is in Him. Besides, as I mentioned above, it's the green words that matter. The rest is gangrene in comparison.

Ha! I challenge you, Google. Try to index this one in the proper place! I bet you can't! Oh, whoops. That probably means they won't even try. Man, what was I thinking!? Yes, I'm a web designer. I know better... but do I care right now? No... I don't have time to care. I guess that means I'll have to make up for it by writing a niche post that is really specific and well structured, with well-placed keywords aplenty... or just another fun, scatter-brained, mixed-bag one.

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Friday, October 24th, 2008 - 8:37 PM

"Just Forget About It"

Jim Carrey - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

For those who are wishing to erase those painful memories, take heart, the leading powers of the world are working on it. Read how scientists have managed to erase specific memories in mice. I can't help but be reminded of a quite interesting movie. If you've seen the movie, you probably already know which one I'm talking about.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet was a brilliant film. The somewhat complex and colorful plot follows the story of two people who meet by "chance" - though the film is more about destiny and fate than chance. It's about the memories that people encounter and store up through life, and what it would be like if we had the ability to erase some of the more painful ones. I'd strongly caution viewers to expect a few inappropriate scenes, without which the film would probably be practically perfect in every way, like Mary Poppins (the movie and the fictional character).

I think many people don't realize how ridiculously good of an actor Jim Carrey is. If all you can think of are crazy faces and silly jokes, you haven't seen his best work. He is an incredible talent. I wish I could fully recommend this movie, for it has aspects of genius... but I do so only with reservation because of some of the content. :( The name alone is worthy of an Oscar, which consequently, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind rightfully received.

The film and this news article brings up an interesting point. I think we all have memories we'd like to erase at times. I myself have gone through some immensely painful and dark times. Nevertheless, I've maintained the perspective and belief that it is in these times of pain and trial that we are tested and approved to become the very people that we are. Through the Old Testamant of the Bible we receive the story of the Israelites, showing God's faithfulness in spite of their lack thereof. I believe our own stories do the same. It is in our weakness that the strength of God is declared. It is in the darkness that the Light shines.

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

As with most of my blog entries, I'm just peeking through the door of possibilities. Most of the time when I write, I end up making new and exciting discoveries through the process of writing, rather than communicating the completion of ones already made. So bear with me, please. If it's too much to read, no need to feel obligated. But I cannot stop sharing what God is doing in my life, for He doesn't stop doing what He is doing! Praise the name of Jesus!

So I'm not willing to subject myself to a mind-sweep if and when such a device is invented. All my memories are precious to me, for they are God-sightings. If I were to erase all that I consider "bad", I think much of God's work would be undone, and I'd be left the fool of a dark shadow, a destructive path of lies and sorrow set before me. Yet God is good, and I wish not to destroy the memories that I look back at with great fondness, even the painful ones! For me the painful memories, though encompassing much time in my past, point me only to Christ Jesus my Lord. The brightness of the good He has done so far outshines any difficulty that I am humbled to worship Him constantly in tears. Scriptures like these are not anecdotal or forced by effort in my life. They are the story of my life, and I rejoice greatly as I read them.

I hope you don't skim over or skip these verses I so "painstakingly" cut & paste here :) I know I am tempted to gloss over such things - cuz I think I know what it says already. Consider this though: it's not my words that have the power, it's God's Word! Though the story God is creating in me also has power and is something I rejoice over, it is by the power of the Word that it is at all possible! All of this... see all of this I've been talking about over the last few weeks? Guess what? Every bit of it has come out of being absorbed in the Bible and by the Spirit of God speaking in my heart! I encourage anyone and everyone to seek after God's Word fervently and without ceasing. The moment I fail to do so is the moment I lose.

Mordor

A battle is brewing on the horizon. Even so, it is here at our doors. Think of when Gandalf looked out to see the fiery storm over Mordor with ominous discomfort. However, don't fear. The darkness better be shaking in their boots, for the Lord Jesus Christ is the true Light that not only is coming into the world, but He is here. He is alive, and let me tell you His enemies will all be placed under His feet!

God's Word will not return to Him void after having been sent out to me by His grace... for His miraculous changing and healing waters have flowed through me, and there will be a harvest of joy, gladness, and praise! He can and will do the same for you as you feed on the tasty morsels of His Word!

Consider what God has done
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?

When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover
anything about his future.

Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 5:3-5

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust -
there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.
For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.

Lamentations 3:19-33

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Friday, October 24th, 2008 - 6:44 PM

"Oops - Another Oldie But Goodie"

As I was looking up and confirming the lyrics for that last song, I found another from the same era of my life. I continually admit that these songs from that time are the most affective in my life. They were seemingly etched deep back then, for they keep coming back, over and over again. This is yet another one of those lost to time though. I haven't thought of it in ages.

For those who have a bad "big church" experience growing up and are the movers and shakers of this whole new postmodern movement, with some seeds of animosity toward things past and traditional... I'm sorry. I feel as though you really missed out on something awesome. I wish I could share it. God has worked in the lives of the saints throughout all time. I have seen His hand move mightily throughout the span of my lifetime, and I respect my elders greatly. It was because of their faithfulness to God, commitments to righteous and devout living that I am able to freely declare that I too am alive in Christ. I hate to see how the world is losing its salt and light... yet the Lord still reigns, and it is our "turn" as the present generation of the Body of Christ to "do something about it". But let's not throw all away in haste. While God is doing some new things - to be sure, and far be it from me to deny these things that are good - yet He has always done so throughout what we refer to as "time"... and some things never change!

Therefore the Redeemed of the Lord Shall Return

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return,
And come with singing unto Zion;
And everlasting joy shall be upon their head.

They shall obtain gladness and joy;
And sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Isaiah 51:11 KJV

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Friday, October 24th, 2008 - 6:20 PM

"Put On the Garments of Praise"

I biked home as usual, but since I was coming from a different direction (stopped at the bank), I choose to go a different way. I said, "It's not that much difference [in distance and route], but it is different." I purposefully chose to go the different way because I like to do things differently, change things up every once in a while. I give that little detail not because it relates to the rest of the story, but to help you live the tale with me, for it was real, and it happened.

As I was going the different way, I crossed Hall and started riding south. Oddly I felt something dark. Darkness is not foreign to me, for I have dwelt there and have only recently been exposed to the Master and His Light. However, because of His power at work in me, I was hyper-sensitive to this feeling that came. In about 2 or 3 seconds I was instinctively responding in the power of the Spirit, with the Word of Truth on my lips like never before. I felt empowered. Not to my glory at all, but to God be the glory! Awesome! Crazy.

Immediately (as Mark says so often in his Gospel, whether or not he means what I mean, which is "immediately"), a song came to my mind that I can honestly say hasn't been sung by me for years, perhaps more than a decade, plus some. The song was from God Himself. Why? How can I be so confident? Read the song, sing it if you know it. It can be from no other. All this happened in less than a minute, and I was not only delivered from whatever was trying to weigh me down, but I am full of joy!

By the way, this song is seemingly pretty scarce. It took a while to find it on Google. When I found it, to my surprise, I remembered every single word. Even though some songs are fairly archaic and "old-fashioned" there is undeniable power in song. Try memorizing Scripture. It's kinda hard. But how many songs are in your head, word-for-word? I'll bet hundreds! Many of these are directly or almost directly quotes from Scripture. Coming soon... I will do something regarding this... secrets, and more secrets. How can a song like this, with somewhat non-standard lyrics be stored in my heart? Why would it be recalled after 15 years or so in such a moment. Leaves no room for doubt in my mind at all. The Spirit of the Living God is falling on me, and there is nothing I can do about it (the theme for yet another "secret" soon to be revealed, Lord-willing).

Put on the Garments of Praise

Put on the garments of praise
For the spirit of heaviness
Lift up your voice to God
Pray in the Spirit and with understanding
Oh, magnify the Lord

Lift up the hands that hang down
Lift up the voice now still
Give unto God continuous praise
Sing forth from Zion's hill

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3 NKJV

What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

I Corinthians 14:15 NKJV

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,

Hebrews 12:12 NKJV

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Friday, October 24th, 2008 - 12:28 AM

"Church Doodlers Don't Go To Hell"

Beethoven Calls Me Custard Movies

Woah, zesty title, eh!? Yes. Whoopty-do.

I just remembered I intended to append that Mechanical Pencil post with a testimony about last Sunday's church service. Oops! I forgot. Now that I remember, I simply gotta say it.

Last Sunday everyone was invited to draw with some simple art implements on a big table at church - yes, during the service! WOW! Is that cool or what?! Why aren't you going to this church? :) Yup, when I was a kid, I was the king of drawing. Now I suck royally, but I was a genius in my day... or at least that's what all those compliments from adults made me feel like! In all honesty, I've never been that great. Any skill I have is from ridiculous amounts of practice... and by practice, I mean worthless doodles. Seriously - I could prove it if you looked at my early drawings! (or just take a look at my galleries, which include many of those! HA! Bet you didn't know the purpose of this web site was to show everything I've EVER done! Yep... but I have a long way to go... need to scan thousands of junks in).

Looking back, I can honestly say that my drawing almost assuredly stared in church - or thereabouts. It's the primary reason much of my artwork is either 1) totally senseless, or 2) divinely inspired :) Huh? What a combo! Yup. Most of the time I feel like I can't do anything at all artistically. Then all-of-a-sudden I feel empowered to change the world with art, a gift to be able to create. You could accurately say this very web site wouldn't exist at all if I didn't doodle in church. Story of my life. I've always understood art as a gift from God. If only I had such powers to create beautiful things like He does. Yet it's good that my skills are weak. For His power is perfected in weakness, eh? Yup.

So yeah, I was wishing I was one of those adults around the table last Sunday. But the table was too full. And as I mentioned before, I haven't had a mind to do anything artistic lately, much less something inspirational. But I'm feeling quite a bit more revived after getting that new Papermate Pro Touch II 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil. Woo hoo! Watch out world, here I come!

As you can see, my skills are honed to perfection and haven't lost their charm over the years - this "Beethoven Calls Me Custard Movies" is my latest creation. Hot off the press...ure of my prized Papermate Pro Touch II 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil! Don't you lecture me about which side of the hand the thumb goes on... I learned that a long time ago... the answer is: it doesn't really matter.

I got a dog, and her name is Breta! She's half Brazilian, just like my nose.

Breta and me

I can hardly stand having to explain myself... but for those who don't know me too well... I'm not quite insane... I just like to look the part sometimes... with blank stares and very silly things... oooo... it's Wordnesday again, like dancing wiffle ball supreme! Weeee! The primary annoyance is having to Google everything I come up with, to make sure it isn't somehow suggestive! Man it sucks to have to change my ideas sometimes!

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Friday, October 24th, 2008 - 12:17 AM

"Taking Notes With Google Docs"

Google Docs logo

Not that I'm that far behind the times (still don't have a cell phone - by choice!), but I just started using Google Docs (resistance is futile, though I'm not a big fan of world domination). It's very cool. I like it especially because, not only is it the coolest AJAXy technology in sight, but it allows me to take my documents around, without worrying about which is the last revised version. It will be my new way of taking notes, lest I forget the very name by which I'm called.

with love and asparagus,

Blaine

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Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 - 10:48 PM

"What's the Big Deal, I've Got High Time"

I never foresaw myself as a teacher or a preacher. As I'm writing these very things I take pauses with closed eyes and come near to tears. Yet perish the thought that I remain silent, and I cannot! In my adolescence I was intentionally stoic in demeanor. I wrongly thought emotion was a sign of incredulity. I didn't know how to let anyone in because I felt the only person who rightly belonged there was God Himself. Okay, so that sounds like a pretty good justification for such an ideology: WRONG. Who am I to dictate what is right and wrong? Very true indeed. Who am I?

I'm no teacher, though my precious Great Grandma Pauline Shanks would put in a word for me. Why? I don't know. However, if I forget this word locked in my heart since childhood, I cease to be human, I forget my God and am as good as dead. Wow! What?! Yes. When I was young, I greatly admired my Great Grandmother. Who doesn't? Well, this is different, I dare say. The woman was a child of God, a light like no other in this generation (I intend to tell this story in more detail). My family seems to be gifted with these sort of gems.

The question is, what becomes of those of us left behind in this ever darkening world? For goodness sake, let's live up to the pure and good calling of God! Isn't He as much accessible to use today as He was to our forefathers? A week ago I might have coyly answered such a question, siting examples of Billy Grahams and those with apostolic authority and near blameless living. "Look at the cruddy generation we are all part of, yokels" I might mutter under my breath. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way.

Who are we, men and women? Are we not the very children of God? Are we not called out of darkness as much today as Peter, James, John and Paul were? Do we not have access to the same Holy Spirit of God without measure? Good grief, yes! Stop doubting! Forget Thomas, use me as your example from now on if you must! Doubting Phil. I was blind, yet now I see!

He-Man
"I have the power to cut my hand off!"

Take heed, friends. It is not from the Holy Spirit of God Almighty that such deception and lack of boldness come! The stinking stupid power and authority of Satan is still at work in this world. This world is veiled in darkness, though it need not be so! As He-Man says with clenched fist, struck with lightning from above, "I have the power!" A bold declaration for fictional molded plastic, but not a deception at all for those who are alive in Christ! If fiendish fools and those that clench wealth and filth as their idols claim "power", who are we, the sons of God Most High to deny the gifts we are given!? I for one am sick of it.

The Deity of Creation, the Holy One with Unlimited Power and Dominion over all is our King. He is a Person. He is real. He is our risen Lord. Do you think the fatheads of this earth will stand up to the Mighty One in the last day? I tell you: NO. Neither will you nor I, except as His bondservants for eternity. He has called us brothers - and so we are - yet He is first in all and through all! Is this a threat? No. Yet let me share what the Lord has to say. We are not given to a spirit of fear, but One of power! There is no power in this creation with dominion over the soul, nor is there one who can rightfully influence a child of Light to dwell in darkness or be bound therein. Not one. No! No more. Let me tell you who the Masters of the Universe are. They are One. His name is Jesus. All powers will bow to Him - let's make it "Today"! No one said we had to wait. In fact, someone said we shouldn't.

Jesus Christ is Lord!

As an adult, I am neither a turtle nor an ostrich. I cannot keep people outside my rustic shell, nor do I wish to. I may be the world's worst communicator, unfit to be host of the bold witness for Christ Jesus my Lord. Nevertheless, I will not shut my face, or my bones will cry out and the rocks scream! By the blood of Jesus, I have the power! If I die for it, so be it. Jesus is my King. I am prepared to fight the darkness in myself, and then to challenge others to do the same. His kingdom come, His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Shut the door, keep the devil in the night. No need to light a candle, it's already lit.

Wut up with dis? Huh? Why am I spewing all this stuff? Let me tell you I have asked for blessing upon blessing from God. In my utter depravity the Lord has answered my prayer. I asked for the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and the same anointing that the "holy" men of old received. Who am I to doubt His ability to fulfill this request? How many times I have doubted. I'm tired and in need of much rest, but I will not rest until I receive one. If I rest on my own accord, I am dead inside. My rest is in Him who made the heavens and the earth. He gives me more than enough sustenance. The Word of God is my food. His Spirit is my only company. All else has failed, yet I need no one else. I want, I lack, but He provides.

I dare to ask for even more, and I am humbled to the core and broken to bits when He answers with manna from heaven, a dispensation of purity and grace. Who am I? What have I done to be counted worthy? I am just another like you. You all have the same rights. My God doesn't play favorites. If He did, I'd be crushed. Receive Him, please, while there's still time. I beg you to ask, for He has much to give. I don't want Him all for myself, though I will not give Him up for anyone. Yet I plead with you to share. Let Him in. He offers You His hands, nail pierced and all.

May the Spirit of God bless these words to those who need to hear it. I was the one who needed Him the most. I heard Him speak, and I could not shut up what (whom) He wrote on (in) my heart.

I could not see Jesus and asked with tears to see Him. I am ashamed of my request. No one has seen God nor will see Him. Yet He has seen fit to give us His Spirit, who lives in us. We are His temple. The curtain has been torn in two! If someone claims to see Him, be careful. He will come like lightning, and we will be gathered in an instant to Him! Humble me more, so I am willing to accept Your dispensation, Lord! Forgive me for my weakness. I only want to experience Your presence. If I'm slain, then I die. But please don't listen if I ask You to relent. I am nothing without You, less than a handful of lost dust.

My God can do anything. What can yours do?

I could share a thousand verses today, for it was the Word of God that could not be locked inside me when I heard it. But one in particular inspired me to write this evening.

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Romans 13:11-14 NKJV

I had no idea the expression high time came from the Bible. It fascinated me and resonated in my ears all day, among other things. God is very good, and to live in Him is the only sensible option.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17 NKJV

Sorry, another verse... couldn't help myself! :)

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Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 - 5:51 PM

"Okay, What Are the (Risks) Odds?"

Naturally, I'm on the mailing list for my church. Nothing odd there. However, most weeks I'm too lazy to read through the entire newsletter, to my shame. It's kinda dumb not to because every time I read it I find something really cool - unless Chris includes something I wrote! Stop that! :) At any rate, there has been an uncanny connection the last several months between the work God has been doing in my life and what is happening at church. I'm talking obvious stuff. I'd have to be massively superstitious to overlook it - which consequently I'm not... unless you're along the lines of considering faith in a completely invisible God superstitious! Feel free to label me this fool, as I'd rather be a fool for Christ than a simple person for myself!

I just now read the newsletter for October 9, and here is what I found - hopefully "safe to post", since it's in the past now:


Ethnos: Risk Management

Mark your calendar! On Sunday the 19th we will be conducting a Risk Management Training class required for anyone ministering for the Kingdom on behalf of Ethnos Church.

What is Risk Management and why it's important? Simply speaking, the risk we are speaking of is any uncertainty about a future event that threatens your organization's ability to accomplish its mission. For us here at Ethnos Church, risk management is part of our preparation for serving our community in a safe and nurturing environment. Things (or assets) that may be at risk may include some of the following: people, property, financial assets, and goodwill in the community. Furthermore, risk management is a discipline for dealing with the possibility that some future event will cause harm. It provides strategies, techniques, and an approach to recognizing and confronting any threat faced by Ethnos in fulfilling our mission.

The three main questions that we may need to address are the following:

  • What can go wrong? (risk)
  • What will we do? (preventive and remedial measures)
  • How will we pay for it? (liability)

Okay, so you're thinking "Big deal! What does that mean or count for?" I might have had the same reaction - and surely would have - had I read this newsletter prior to 4 hours ago. Nevertheless, I've been thinking about a course of action for my own life that has much risk. The only difference is that I labeled my document "Pros & Cons - Risk Assessment". I'm sorry to bait and switch, for I cannot yet reveal what this calling is. And yes, I can believe none other than it is a direct calling of God. Yet, I testify to anyone reading, and I admit no lie at all in this report, that just some hours ago, I wrote much on this exact topic. The odds are so outstanding and blaring that my head is on the verge of another brain shake... yet I believe the Lord will bring me through, for this is an astonishment of His glory, not a broken body in the flesh. My testiment is this: I just wrote 3026 words on this very topic according to OpenOffice.org's word count feature. I boast not in myself, but in the Lord. For this is yet another confirmation to me that He is at work in my life. I hope this is encouraging. I know how discouraging it can be to read stuff that's supposedly encouraging. I've been there so many times I can't stand it. But now I have much encouragement from God, and I wish to share... please be patient with me as I hint and peck at the issue without shouting it from a hilltop (coming soon, Lord willing).

So, sure, I missed that particular Sunday due to unforeseen circumstances. One could read into that and suppose that this is all chalked up to mere circumstances and chance. Perhaps, but then I must reduce the God of the universe to a cube that fits in my box of choice... and I'm unwilling to stoop so low. I missed that Sunday for a reason, and much has happened since then. I dare say as Joseph did that, what may have been intended for evil (missing church ain't that bad... but let's just say it was an odd Sunday), God has used to bring about much good (Genesis 45:5). I dare not compare myself to Joseph... but I can't help but notice God at work.

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 - 6:01 PM

"First Things First, Mechanical Pencil Boy"

Monday I was looking through our vast selection of art supplies at C2F. My sister expressed interest in getting some watercolor supplies, and I made a birthday present out of it. I have no idea whatsoever how those items will get to her in Peru. I guess it's the thought that counts, right? By the way, it's been a stupid long time since I visited my sister's web site! I am so used to looking at their blog(s) and Facebook, that I sometimes forget about the web site. Speaking of that, Kapow, now there's a link on my site!

pen filing system

GET ON WITH IT! It's pretty much impossible for me to look at art supplies and not find something for myself - the very reason you typically won't find me wandering the aisles. In this case, I saw something I wanted before even going out to get the stuff for my sister. As if I didn't have enough already, I bought another mechanical pencil.

Huh? Why? Well, I've been feeling very artistically uninspired lately. Anyone who frequents my poorly maintained galleries will readily agree! Crazy idea, I figured buying a new pencil might help. Well, it kinda did. I told myself that if I was to do such a thing I would have to put it to use immediately. Otherwise, it would just get filed away with my others :).

As fate would have it, I had a perfect excuse to employ my severely lacking art skills - ahem, and to buy yet another mechanical pencil. I needed a background for this week's Weekly E Special, and it just so happened that the featured product was a drawing book. Perfect! While surely everyone thought I was wasting time doodling, I was deeply focused on work-related stuff...

It may well be the worst drawing I've ever done, but at least I fulfilled my purpose and now have a pretty spiffy mechanical pencil. The theory goes that the more you pay for something, the better it is, right? Well, that's my theory anyway. At least the pencil has a cool little hardness slider, so you can indicate if the contained lead is 2B or not 2B... sorry couldn't help myself!

Here's my new pencil in all its extraterrestrial joy:

Papermate Pro Touch II

For the record, I almost always use a 0.5mm thickness lead when I draw. 0.7mm, the more standard size for mechanical pencils, is way too thick for me. I'd go thinner, but then the lead would probably constantly break - breaks enough as it is! The pen on the top has nothing to do with the pencil other than to show the other tool I used to complete the drawing shown below. It has some small pen marks to accent the dark areas. For the record, I do this kind of photography at work all the time (and clipping paths, sizing, etc). It used to be part of my full-time position - product photography for about 16,000 items we stock. My responsibilities are constantly shifting around. We now have two guys in the marketing department that do most of the product photography. I still do stuff on special occasions - still enjoy it for the most part, though it can get tedious.

What attracted me to this particular mechanical pencil was the steel grip. Though it is entirely unnecessary and possibly uncomfortable after long use (ironic), I couldn't resist. Oh, me other mechanical pencils were very jealous of the exposure and requested to be featured as well. Rightfully so, these are the guys that drew pretty much everything you see on esotropiart.com - be that ever so NOT impressive!

mechanical pencils

more mechanical pencils
Oops. Found a couple more. It's amazing what turns up when you are looking for something completely different. I'm not sure I've ever used these two, but they are well worth including in my review.

Relevant Supply List
more-or-less in the same order as the photos

  1. Wacom Graphire 4 stylus - used for everything I do on the computer nowadays
  2. Pentel Forte Pro II A75 0.7mm mechanical pencil
  3. Pentel .e-sharp 0.5mm mechanical pencil
  4. Pentel Tranxition 0.7mm mechanical pencil
  5. Pentel Tranxition 0.5mm mechanical pencil
  6. Pentel Forte Pro II A75 0.5mm mechanical pencil
  7. Papermate Pro Touch II 0.5mm mechanical pencil
  8. Pentel PD155 Cool Lines 0.5mm mechanical pencil
  9. Pentel PG503 Graph 500 0.3mm mechanical pencil
  10. Koh-i-noor Aquarell Soft Woodless Graphite Pencil - less commonly used. I actually have the product pictured here on Amazon too and use it quite a bit - the closest thing they had

To be honest, I'm being very unfair here. I also use a host of art markers and fine liners to touch up my pencil drawings. Not one of those tools is shown here, but seriously - that would take a whole post in of itself! I totally don't want to do this, but it's kind of a useless post unless I do: comparison and review...

Mechanical Pencil Comparison & Review
ranked in the order that I like them!

  1. Wacom Graphire 4 stylus: Wasn't it obvious from the beginning? It's a somewhat sad reality that a properly used graphics tablet stylus is by far the most versatile tool in the artist's arsenal. Any sort of natural medium can be accurately simulated on the computer due to the pen's pressure sensitivity and ability to sense tilt, multiple buttons, and so on. Sometimes I get sick of the fact that this tool is so vastly superior, and I go clench my pencil and paper in defiance. For quick sketches, there's still nothing better than the tactile feel of pencil on paper, I have to admit. It's called instant gratification. Seriously though, can anything beat the undo ability? Make a seriously pathetic mistake, just press CTRL+Z and start over!
  2. Papermate Pro Touch II 0.5mm: The perfect thickness for gripping. Lightweight and top-heavy so that the weight is toward the drawing surface. Cool spinning lead hardness indicator. Unusually awesome twist-to-reveal built-in eraser. Not cool enough for me to use, cuz I don't use built-in erasers. Deep plunging lead cavity that is not likely to fall apart. Classy, though completely unnecessary multi-tiered point - could be tapered like most others.
  3. Pentel PG503 Graph 500 0.3mm: It is truly a toss up between this pencil and the Papermate Pro Touch II above. They are very similar in several aspects. Lighter weight fully rotatable metal grip with lead weight indicator. Multi-tiered point. Extremely retro 6-sided body tube, reminiscent of a classic yellow #2 pencil! Primary benefit being a 0.3mm lead, my only pencil at this size. I'll probably have to special order refills (totally worth it). Offers slightly less comfort and tactile feel than the Papermate.
  4. Pentel Forte Pro II A75 0.5mm: Practically perfect in every way. Great thickness with extra comfort rubber grip. Metal pocket clip covers the ugly transition between the body and the "clicker/eraser". Standard stock built-in eraser. Plastic cap is way too loose and fell off immediately, eternally lost. I started liking the look of it without the fathead cap though. Brand lettering is almost entirely worn off, a testament to my approval and use.
  5. Pentel Forte Pro II A75 0.7mm: The same as the 0.5mm version above. I wouldn't mind "accidentally" losing the eraser cap for this one too. I think it looks better without it.
  6. Pentel Tranxition 0.7mm: A little fatter around the grip than I like, though not unusably so. The unique feature of these pens is the retractable lead loading mechanism that hides inside the plastic body. The release button is located in the pocket clip. This mechanism was admittedly enough to get me to buy the pencil, but it serves no practical purpose, forcing a second click to get the lead in position for use. Simple built-in eraser with plastic cap that surprisingly doesn't launch off (not yet) when the mechanism is quickly retracted. Too much plastic in my opinion - doesn't have a feeling of holding something substantial. Potentially takes away from the feeling of weight and resistance when drawing.
  7. Pentel Tranxition 0.5mm: The same as the 0.7mm version above.
  8. Koh-i-noor Aquarell Soft Woodless Graphite Pencil: I've always liked these drawing implements. They are very versatile. Simply put, they are one huge, uninterrupted cylinder of graphite - unlike standard pencils that are surrounded by wood. The outside has a thick laminated coating, so there's no messy black fingers. The added weight of the composition makes for a brilliant substantial feel. Perhaps a drawback is having to sharpen them. This is generally a plus, as it allows for great variance of shade, from sharp to broad strokes. If I must use some sort of "natural media" pencils, I choose these over standard graphite pencils any day (if I remember I have them). Though highly unlikely, it is possible to snap them in two. There can be inconsistencies in the lead that cause for unexpected light and dark lines (rare).
  9. Pentel PD155 Cool Lines: Well said. It has "cool lines" screen-printed on the side. Skippy swirly shapes. Otherwise, the pencil is cheap plastic, including the pocket clip. The grip is easily its primary plus, as it feels fairly good in between the fingers. It has a hideous side-clicking lead mechanism. I never liked the side-clicking variety. In fact, I can't stand them. It may seem more natural to click from the position, but since it's only on one side of the pencil, it has to be rotated until found. Besides, I'm used to the classic top click and can't be untrained to like this type.
  10. Pentel .e-sharp 0.5mm: Kinda ugly translucent plastic body. Composed entirely of brittle plastic, including the pocket clip. It's too long in general, with an odd grip. Not at all an attractive pencil, yet perfectly as functional as the others. A cheap alternative.

It Definitely Spelled Less Time With Wiggy Marole

Wiggy Marole

Q & A

  • Question: Why does this drawing look so entirely stupid?
  • Answer: The Papermate Pro Touch II came stocked with HB lead. This type of lead produces lines that are not very dark, and tends to dig more into the paper. I prefer something softer and darker, like 2B or so.
  • Answer: I'm not that good of an artist, and I spent very little time on this.
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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 - 5:04 PM

"My Election is Firm"

Okay, brothers and sisters. It is my clear calling to speak further on I Corinthians. Hold me accountable to it, please. It may take some time, but I will start soon - Lord willing - before my mind becomes a zombie again.

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 - 4:13 PM

"Oh My (Serious Lack of) Goodness!"

I've been listening to Acts, Romans and I Corinthians today. I didn't realize I had reached the "border" of Romans and thought I was still listening to Romans. I was hearing things like nuts there, of course. But then I Corinthians started playing... um, HELLO! Heaven forbid I don't write something about all this I'm hearing! Of course I already emailed myself about 5 other topics to write about... so who knows if I'll get this far. I may have to skip ahead, cuz I can hardly stand it!

And regarding the title of this post... read slowly and thoughtfully - and hold your head tightly, lest it explode!

So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God."

Mark 10:18 NKJV

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV

Talk about confounding the wise... some would say this is an indication that Jesus considers Himself "less than" God. How about you search the scriptures for yourself and come up with your own answer - I have mine! :)

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God - and righteousness and sanctification and redemption - that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD."

I Corinthians 1:26-31 NKJV

Oops! Did I just talk about what I intended? Did I give it away? Perhaps I did... but that's no excuse not to write more! It's funny - I looked up "confound the wise", remembering that there was a scripture about that somewhere... just so happens it's in I Corinthians, the very passage that confounded me to write this very post :) (once upon a time I considered myself somewhat wise, but I'm finding my only boast is in Christ!). As they say, "Circular logic will make you dizzy!" If you want a brain ache, read this: Circular Logic. I, just recovering from severe brain ache, didn't read it! That would be a sign of insanity! Okay, so maybe I'll read it later... okay, probably not. Wait a minute, I'm talking to myself!

By the way, if you were praying for me today because of my frantic post last night, worrying that I was losing my mind - THANKS. As I hope you can tell from this post here, your prayers are more than answered. Now pray that the reverse doesn't happen - that my head is so full of thoughts that I have a melt-down! In fact, this may have been what caused the first effect, I'm still trying to figure it all out. I know, stop trying, and just enjoy it while it lasts, right!? Sorry, I'm trying. Easier said than done. By the way, don't actually pray what I just said - please. I'd rather my head explaud with such knowledge than miss out.

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 - 12:00 PM

"A Scent For Aching Soul"

A smell just now reminded me of airplanes and airports in Brazil. Oh man, good memories. All those memories of waiting for the flights in Teresina, Fortaleza, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and so on... The times sitting in the Varig office in Teresina, waiting to see if we could change our tickets... the trips to Rio, Fortaleza, Recife, Porto de Galinhas, João Pessoa... the walks, the malls, the smiles and laughs, nieces and nephews, faces aglow... the camp where it all started in the outskirts of Teresina... juggling in the square... going downtown, self-service restaurants, renting movies at the nearby shop, the loud air conditioner on a blisteringly hot day... oh man... what bliss this smell. Like the one of the wooden sculpture... brings tears to my eyes, comfort to my heart. May it not all be in vain nor lost. May it come again. May we live again. Memories flood back to me I pray. The goodness of the Lord has touched me. My life is a journey of joy. I take the sorrows in turn, for the goodness far outweighs them! How I long to return to Brasil. I feel it more a home than here. Things more familiar and beautiful come from there. Only God knows if this is possible.

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 - 10:40 AM

"Luma, the Heart Heaving Dog"

I thought this was a pretty funny article on How to Draw Anything (in 1 step). I tried the techniques offered. It becomes apparent to me from the Q&A section at the bottom that I need a new hobby.

Luma, the Heart Heaving Dog

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Sunday, October 19th, 2008 - 12:02 AM

"He Is"

There's a ridiculous amount of work to be done in me: much to repair, much to learn, and hopefully much for me to do. Seemingly primary among my lessons is to at least partially grasp God's sovereignty and authority. It is also being impressed upon me with renewed clarity the identity and nature of Jesus Christ.

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?"

"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied.

"I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.

Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?"

And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."

"I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go." This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me."

John 18:1-9

I don't recall reading before this detail of Judas and the soldiers falling down at Jesus' words. It's an awesome account. I'm not versed well enough in the original languages to know the exact phrase Jesus spoke. To me, it sounds as if Jesus is identifying Himself with God Almighty, the "Great I AM". This seems a reasonable assumption, seeing that the very utterance wields enough power to throw an entire regiment of soldiers and priests to the ground!

There are a couple other places in Scripture where Jesus uses similar words to describe Himself.

And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.

Mark 14:60-64 KJV

"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

John 8:58

When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord's voice: 'I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

Acts 7:31,32

It was for words like these from Jesus that caused the Pharisees to tear their robes and cry "blasphemy", condemning Him to death, so we have to assume there was an obvious connection in their mind between Jesus' "I AM" and the name ascribed to God that they were all too familiar with.

Grrr... my brain is quite literally fried. I can't think of the other thoughts I had... hopefully that's enough to inspire you to further consideration of Jesus' authority.

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Saturday, October 18th, 2008 - 11:48 AM

"Super Bleach"

super bleach

Friday I was listening to Matthew and Mark at work. Several verses really popped out at me, including Mark 9:2-4

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus' appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Mark 9:2-4 NLT

I thought it a little charming and funny that Jesus' glory was described in such everyday human terms. Isn't that how we are though? How else can we attempt to describe the divine except in our own terms? We search for words that do justice to what we see, hear and experience. We hunt, yet we cannot and will not find appropriate words to describe God and His superlative attributes (here's a great attempt to describe King Jesus!).

In that light (pun intended), some descriptions have just enough "snap" to them to wet the appetite of our imagination and produce an image of appreciation in our minds. For me, comparing the appearance of Jesus' transfiguration to bleached clothes made me appreciate a tiny sparkle of what it must have been like to witness His transfiguration or current glory.

Perhaps it's just because I have done my fair share of laundry and currently have a huge backlogged stack I need to work on today. And of course I have those seventeen year old socks and underwear that no bleach on earth can whiten - or repair the holes!

And then there's my life, which is equally tainted by the less-than-fantastic choices I've made and the darkness of this world. Then I turn to Jesus, and His transfiguration. Imagine if we were to see Him today: He's glorified, at the right hand of the throne of God! He is the very image of God, and the fullness of God is found in Him. I bet He could un-stain my old garments. I bet He can wash my heart and mind as white as snow! He has, He does, and He will!

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

I John 1:5-7 NIV

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land;

but if you resist and rebel,you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 1:18-20 NIV

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Friday, October 17th, 2008 - 8:37 AM

"Become Monks"

become monks

Who knew our little song in high school would prove to be a prophecy of things to come. This little image appeared on MSN today. Better not flunk, smelly skunks!

If anyone besides Jim Guys catches this inside joke, I'd be really impressed.

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Friday, October 17th, 2008 - 12:58 AM

"Golden Sunshine"

Find the withering, fading spill among the sorrows solemn. Bid me come hither, shine your golden spiel. Redeem with sunshine, ride the waves. Call me from whence the angels came.

Golden Sunshine

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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 - 5:07 PM

"Already Takes Too Long"

I remembered one of my occasional habits: I like to use the Portuguese word for already, which is (the J is pronounced like the "ss" in "fission" or like in the word "pleasure" - the zh sound). Why do I use this word? Because it is so short and efficient. Can you imagine writing "already" a bunch of times on a report like this? I can't bear to do it. I've used this word as a substitute a number of times.

already

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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 - 12:23 PM

"Red Cross Paperclip Deco"

A couple weeks ago I made this little decoration for my desk at work, using the colored paper clips I had available at the time.

red cross

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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 - 12:16 PM

"He's Alive, and So Am I"

Well, for those "many" readers who were obviously concerned that by some "hand of fate" I'd not survive to see another day... here I am! Jesus Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. I have died with Him. I died in my sin. Yet I live because my older Brother Himself is the very gate by which I find pasture, in Him is newness of life!

Each day I live by the grace of God. The hand of the Lord sustains me each moment. If one day I don't return to work or to greet you in person with the love God has given me, don't mourn for me. Instead, rejoice, for I have gone home! I long to step over the threshold, for my home is not anywhere near where I've laid my head to rest all these years. There's a sabbath rest prepared for me, and where that be, my Savior also be waiting for me!

I'm Alive!

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Thursday, October 16th, 2008 - 1:34 AM

"Spirit Pour Down, Don't Stop"

One week ago, Thursday, I prepared to ride my bike home for lunch, as is my normal practice these days. Since I purchased rain gear, I've kept it with me at all times. You know Oregon weather: the "knowing" is that you "never know"! Dark clouds loomed above this day, but it felt pleasant outside. I fully suited up as I left.

Sure enough, the rain poured down in amazing quantities! You know how at times something can be so annoying or tragic that it is funny or joy-inducing? Well, this was one of those times - the rain was so ridiculous, that it made me giddy and full of joy! Either that, or truly the Spirit of God was present. I tend to think it was a bit of both, though let's give God the full glory for it!

As I was riding home with buckets all around, I was smiling and racing! I rode extra fast, splashing through the puddles on purpose. Earlier in the week I bought fenders for my bike - back and front. While these fenders afford partial protection from the road spray, my "reckless driving" counteracted any benefit they provided. I got drenched from every direction.

When I arrived at home, I searched for my keys. No pocket yielded metallic delockers to mine fingers, thumb nor palm. Hmmm... can't eat at home, so I went to Panda Express. Somehow in this mess, this message came through a flood of emotion:

"The Spirit of the Living God is falling on me, and there is nothing I can do about it!"

That phrase was so impressed upon me that I repeated it dozens of times until I got back to work and was able to write it down verbatim. It may become the motto for a web site I'm dreaming up. I was so "full of it" ("it" presumably being the Spirit of Jesus, my Savior) that the rain felt like a blessing, and when I made it back to work, I immediately asked a coworker to snap a photo to capture the historic and nutty moment :) I also took a couple pictures of my irresponsibly spotted coat! :( The really basic lesson I learned that day was to ride slowly when it rains. Fast speeds counteract any protective measures taken by spraying water everywhere!

first rain

first rain

first rain

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 - 11:28 PM

"Lord Willing That I Should Live"

How do "Christian Sayings" or the very Scriptures lose their power? Or do they? I say they don't. Nevertheless, it seems to be the case that some beautiful words too often repeated lose their ability to sharpen the soul and make a listener and doer out of them. This is a shame. Just like the whole WWJD movement became propaganda and lost much of its original, profound purpose, so too have other valuable ideas lost their meaning.

As I left work today I found myself using a Christian expression that sounded cliche to myself. Cliche not because I use it too much, nor do I think I misused it. In reality, I have rehearsed this phrase in my mind since I first read it long ago. Most of the time I resist saying it audibly, for it seems it would quickly become cliche to listeners' ears. Even so, it just slipped out.

Coworker: "See you tommorow".

Phil: "Yes, Lord willing that I should live, I will see you tomorrow."

Boss: "Where are you going?"

Phil: "I'm going home."

Immediately after I said "going home" and released the cliche, I realized again the truth of the rehearsed thought. The Lord God is sovereign. We can make our plans. We can attempt to secure our lives against an uncertain future. Yet only He knows our beginning, our end, our tomorrows.

"Home" I thought to myself. Perhaps my life will be demanded of me, and I will not see these people tomorrow. And in that case, my statement will still be accurate. "I'm going home", friends. Whether I see you or not, I'm going home.

Look here, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit." How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog - it's here a little while, then it's gone. What you ought to say is, "If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that."

James 4:13-15 NLT

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:13-34 NIV

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:6-11 NIV

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 - 11:10 PM

"Rock Fortress of Solitude"

Rock Fortress of Solitude

At the right time, in the last half of my cabin retreat, a song came to me. I hadn't heard or sung it in a very long time. It's a precious song, from the golden age of my worship. What does that mean? Well, I mean there was a time before adult life began to crowd out my awe of God... back when the songs presented in traditional church were precious to me, when I revered the worship leaders as if there was no higher calling. All those songs are precious to me still - too many to list. Here's a charmer from that age.

Praise the Name of Jesus

Praise the name of Jesus
Praise the name of Jesus
He's my rock,
He's my fortress,
He's my deliverer,
In Him will I trust.
Praise the name of Jesus.

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 - 1:05 AM

"Call Me, Or Call You?"

Seems things happen when I go to Panda Express now. Not superstitious, but I like to read and consider my "fortunes". This one's a keeper. Let me tell you the Good News of Jesus Christ! He came as a baby. He is Christ the Lord, Immanuel! This same babe died for our sins as a man, fully God in the flesh. There's pardon for sin! Someone served our death sentence, and we are free as we confess and believe in Him, even Jesus Christ. Let's celebrate!

Good News

Good News

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Monday, October 13th, 2008 - 2:10 PM

"A Peruvian Bear"

When I saw Google's logo this morning, I was surprised to see Paddington Bear associated with a sign that said "Peru". I had no idea there was such an association. Interestingly enough, when I looked up the story, the fictitious bear is indeed from Peru. And I just so happen to be wearing my one and only Peru shirt. Coincidence? Maybe. The statistics have to be pretty outstandingly unlikely though - that I would unknowingly "celebrate" Paddington Bear's origins!

Paddington Bear visits Machu Picchu
Paddington Bear visits Machu Picchu

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Monday, October 13th, 2008 - 12:43 AM

"Thanks, Peruvians!"

Thanks guys, for the cool T-Shirt from Peru. I love T-Shirts - they are pretty much all I wear. I have two categories of shirts I like: 1) Batman shirts, and 2) Brazilian shirts. I wish I had enough to wear one every day all the time. I will add this Peruvian shirt to the same "liking" quality as my Brazilian shirts, with the special extra point of being from my beloved family! God bless you guys! I miss you. I'm wearing this shirt for the first time and will have it on at work tomorrow.

Peruvian T-Shirt

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Sunday, October 12th, 2008 - 10:27 PM

"A Fasting First"

I've never fasted before. It's kind of a weird practice that I was never taught how or when to do it. The last several months or years this thought has passed through my mind briefly. But I've not done anything about it. As part of my recent spiritual retreat, I decided to give fasting a try. I don't report of it to impress, for I myself am not even impressed.

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18

So that tells us not to fast or practice any other spiritual discipline to be seen by men (like praying and doing charitable deeds should also be done in secret per the prior verses). I'm hopefully not dancing on the fence of disobedience by even mentioning the fasting I've done. For lack of much specific instruction or testimony about fasting, I feel kinda clueless and naive about it. Do people still do this? If so, please share your story, if you feel you can do it without disobeying this verse. Now that I have fasted once, I figured I'd give a basic report on my experience. Maybe someone else, who has also been wondering about fasting or considered doing it, will come across this and find something useful. I'll start out by copying what I wrote about fasting in my journal:

Keep in mind that I'm neither a physician, nor would I say my observations below are medically sound... they might be, but then again, they might not. They are simply experiential observations from my own perspective in the midst of fasting.

Monday October 6, 2008

Today is the last day of my 3 day fast. Some interesting non-spiritual observations:

1) I feel as though I've lost some weight, even in these few days. My pants feel ever so slightly looser, I can pinch a smaller fold of skin on my stomach, and my side profile seems flatter and less accentuated there. I guess my body, being fed no sustenance (other than a swallow grape juice and small fragment of saltine cracker - yesterday's communion), has been "feeding on itself". Of course I would never recommend anyone pursuing fasting as a way to lose weight. A diet that ends in death or extreme sickness or malnourishment is not a very wise or successful diet. Besides, I'm sure there is a twofold anti-diet effect that takes place after a fast is broken: a) hunger has set in, and the natural reaction would be to eat more than normal or possibly indulge in worse types of foods to compensate or "reward" oneself. b) the body probably naturally "latches on" to nutrients when it is finally fed again, and the metabolism is probably lowered from relative inactivity, so more is probably stored initially to compensate.

2) Water makes all the difference. Before deciding to go to the cabin on this fast I looked online to see how long a person could survive without food. Of course there is no exact answer, as it depends on a rather long list of variables. A general answer would be anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months. However, one resource I read said in addition that living more than about a week without water would be nothing short of miraculous. I kept that tidbit in mind and have been drinking water regularly throughout the days of my fast. In fact, because I've been drinking adequate water, I hardly feel hungry or any adverse effects. I do sense that without water I would quickly weaken, moreover. So while fasting, water makes all the difference. Because of how fine I feel - not even hungry after 2+ days - I almost feel guilty, like I'm not fasting at all! Perhaps God is simply answering my prayers by sustaining and protecting my body.

Sidenote: One reference online said that if any adverse effects or extreme hunger are experienced when fasting, don't continue. It could be dangerous! It's not a discipline or exercise that is supposed to sicken or kill you! I included this verse in my journal just because I happened to be reading in this part of scripture. While Jesus' example isn't one for us to "follow" in my opinion, I decided to include it here for reference. I certainly wasn't lead by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, as in the case of Jesus. So it is not meant to be a verbatim resource for us when fasting, methinx.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread."

But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, 'People do not live by bread alone.'"

Luke 4:1-4 NLT

Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone, rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. For all these forty years your clothes didn't wear out, and your feet didn't blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.

Deuteronomy 8:1-5 NLT

It turns out that some of my suppositions might have been correct, looking back. After returning home, I found out that I indeed had lost some weight. About seven pounds! But then my secondary guess came to be true as well. I quickly gained it back - probably because of increased appetite after the loss, or psychological compensation, even if I wasn't actually hungrier.

There were a couple moments during the fast where my stomach had a couple brief pains, but as long as I continued to drink water, my body seemed to be satisfied and relatively comfortable - not sure if that defeats the "purpose" or not. I need to study more about fasting and figure out exactly what is the purpose, to my shame. I just felt led to do it, regardless to my understanding. I trust it may have lent itself to helping me not get distracted in my efforts to seek God over the weekend.

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Sunday, October 12th, 2008 - 5:30 PM

"MegaStats"

Sorry, folk. Until I create a new EsoFeature and have bike stats as a separate entity, I will continue to bore the world and clutter the internet with my random numbers and statistics. It's been quite a while since I've recorded them here, so it'll be quite a number of them. Someone must have thought, "Woo hoo! He finally got tired of putting these stats on his blog, so I don't have to bother seeing them anymore." Sorry to get your hopes up.

Bike Stats: 09-25-08
Distance 11.38 miles
Ride Time 58 minutes, 30 seconds
Average Speed 11.5 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 30.5 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 09-26-08
Distance 7.67 miles
Ride Time 40 minutes, 56 seconds
Average Speed 11.1 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 19.4 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 09-27-08
Distance 15.34 miles
Ride Time 1 hour, 6 minutes, 12 seconds
Average Speed 13.8 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 30.0 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 09-28-08
Distance 8.34 miles
Ride Time 47 minutes, 57 seconds
Average Speed 10.4 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 29.5 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 09-29-08
Distance 7.75 miles
Ride Time 42 minutes, 24 seconds
Average Speed 10.9 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 19.3 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 09-30-08
Distance 10.60 miles
Ride Time 48 minutes, 57 seconds
Average Speed 12.9 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 26.0 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 10-01-08
Distance 7.59 miles
Ride Time 41 minutes, 26 seconds
Average Speed 10.8 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 20.0 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 10-02-08
Distance 24.25 miles
Ride Time 2 hours, 52 seconds
Average Speed 12.0 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 25.5 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 10-03-08
Distance 3.80 miles
Ride Time 22 minutes, 26 seconds
Average Speed 10.2 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 18.2 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 10-08-08
Distance 7.68 miles
Ride Time 41 minutes, 6 seconds
Average Speed 11.1 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 21.5 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 10-09-08
Distance 8.87 miles
Ride Time 48 minutes, 40 seconds
Average Speed 10.8 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 20.0 miles per hour
Bike Stats: 10-10-08
Distance 5.77 miles
Ride Time 34 minutes, 29 seconds
Average Speed 9.9 miles per hour
Maximum Speed 21.0 miles per hour
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Sunday, October 12th, 2008 - 5:04 PM

"Wow, That Was Weird!"

The forces of darkness have been pouring out attacks on me lately, the closer I walk with God... not that He has distanced Himself and needs to return to me, but I have distanced myself in many ways, and am finally somehow having the scales dropped off my eyes, particle by particle. And I take no credit for even this, for it must be God who is tearing the barriers down, the ones I have created through life's mistakes and misconceptions built up through the years. At any rate, I felt I was attacked once again today, and from the most unlikely of sources.

It was weird, for in the battle, I felt I was not alone. I didn't feel beat down or helpless. In fact, I felt the Word of God was on my lips, and was not misused or misunderstood - not that my own understanding is great, for it is not! The very things God has been teaching me through meditation in His Word came to use in an instant... I felt it was the sword of the Spirit. Yet another thing I'm trying to understand - okay, conceptually, yes we have the armor of the Lord, which includes the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, belt of truth, sandals of peace, breastplate of righteousness, and so on. Today the Word felt like a sword. I wasn't trying to use it as a weapon, but it somehow parried the blows shot toward me, without my own intention.

And after it was all said and done, my mind was totally at rest. When I should have been totally annoyed or blood boiling, I had a sense of peace. I wasn't even worked up as I walked away from the battle. I just thought, "Now that was weird, unexpected!" I felt the Lord was with me to fight my battle. Sounds pretty conceptual and not very specifically revealing - I'm sorry. I just wanted to thank God for being with me through that difficult moment. I don't even know how to take up armor or put it on... but somehow it was already there at my disposal. With excitement, I will continue to seek the Lord, in prayer and in reading His Word. If results like that occur, how exciting can it get? The closer I walk with Christ, the harder it may get, even unto death. But I know by His promises that He will be with me. Even if I fail to remember that in the heat of battle, it seems He remains regardless - in spite of my doubt and forgetfulness! Wow, What a Mighty God we serve! What a Mighty God we serve! Angels bow before Him, heaven and earth adore Him! What a Mighty God we serve!

Armor of God
Wow, if I put on the full armor of God, I might look a little like Megaman!

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Sunday, October 12th, 2008 - 1:19 AM

"St. Patrick's Curse Never Felt So Good"

7-Eleven

A couple of days ago I brought Steller Cactus inside. There was a note on my front door from the apartment management about impending pressure washing. We were to clear our patios and such in preparation. This written notice has produced a spiny intrusion that has since been a great hazard in my household.

It seems that no matter how I contort my body, I somehow come in contact with the tiny needles. They attack in groups and tend to form painful clumps in my shirt or skin. This afternoon I got stuck with a needle as I turned the light off, even though I'm pretty sure I didn't touch the plant. The needle has been bothering me all day, and wasn't sticking out far enough to extract with my fingers.

In a desperate effort to ease my pain, I walked to 7-11 in my slippers after midnight. Talk about an unlikely find! They specifically had a pair of tweezers for sale. Who knew? Now I am free of cactus induced annoyance. I warned the clerk there to never get a cactus! Speaking of 7-11, happy birthday, my Sweetness!

Steller Cactus

Steller Cactus

7-Eleven tweezers

Huh? "St. Patrick's Curse"? Well, on that day of green, people go around pinching those who don't wear green, right? Well, then pinching is the curse. In this case, a pinch - by tweezers - is exactly the relief I needed!

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Saturday, October 11th, 2008 - 11:59 PM

"Blessings Upon Blessings Upon Blessings"

Karl & Nadya

Today was a treasure of life, a joyful jewel in whatever crown I get or don't get. Gimme a crown so I can put this in it, cuz it was pretty awesome! I was severely blessed to be able to witness in person the beauty and glory of Christ in the form of Karl and Nadya, my beloved brother and sister in the Lord. I was blessed some years ago to witness the growth of their love firsthand in Brazil. I was there to see my friend Karl go through some of the same feelings I went through when I met my precious love.

Brazilian flag

Today I went to their U.S. wedding reception, some 3 years after they got married in Brazil. What a joy to see them! What a priceless moment when I received the strongest hug I've felt in ages from my beloved friends Karl and Nadya. To feel you both close as we prayed together - a moment to record in stone and present as a pleasant sacrifice before the King of kings! My soul is flooded with joy, as I see the magnificence of God in their faces! Thanks for inviting me. I didn't know beforehand... was a bit nervous, but now I realize how much I really, really, really needed that! May God open the floodgate of His richest possible blessings upon you, my friends. For that is what He has done for me through you. I am poor. I am a crushed ruins of a shipwreck. Now the Lord has seen fit to bless me with spiritual riches beyond my wildest dreams!

Waitamminit... how could I have gotten all that from just seeing you guys today? Am I completely nuts? Those reading must think so. So do I. I'm nuts! But that's okay. I have never been afraid to admit it!

Thanks, Dave, for taking me. I would have included the other picture I took that includes their precious Kylie... but she had delicious spaghetti all over her cheeks, and I wouldn't want to embarrass her! :)

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Saturday, October 11th, 2008 - 11:43 PM

"Oh, the Beauty and Holiness of God!"

Brazilian flag

On my first trip to Brazil I bought several souvenirs. I fell in love with the place. I also met the love of my life there, but that's another story. I was very attracted to some of the wood carvings there - can't remember if I purchased this in Fortaleza, Teresina or Brasilia (bad memory recall). I don't think I've ever put this up since I brought it home. I think it has just been sitting somewhere. Anyway, I picked it up and smelled it today. Suddenly a rush came over me. I remembered once again - has been happening a lot lately - all the wonderful things God did in my life through going to Brazil. I have nothing but cherished memories and longing to return there. The smell brought all this back. My response, aside from tears, was to exclaim, "Oh, the beauty and holiness of God!". Praise the Lord of creation who made such things as to arouse the senses in such a way. Praise His name forever! Among the synapses of my brain are memories so precious that words and tongue fail miserably to describe... The Lord sits enthroned in my heart, and through Him, I will live forever!

my brazilian Lord's Supper wood sculpture

Brazilian wood sculpture

Piauí flag

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Friday, October 10th, 2008 - 2:44 PM

"Nothing is Too Difficult For Thee"

Ah, Lord God
Thou hast made the heavens and the earth
by Thy great power
Ah, Lord God
Thou hast made the heavens and the earth
by Thine outstretched arm
Nothing is too difficult for Thee
Nothing is too difficult for Thee
O great and mighty God
Great in counsel and mighty indeed
Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing,
Nothing is too difficult for Thee

One of my favorite songs of all time. I was singing it yesterday, as it came to mind once again. Such comfort. Such truth. Jeremiah 32:17. Nothing is too difficult for the One who raised Christ Jesus from the grave. The same mighty power that is far above death, but is Light, Life and Love is availed to us and at work through us who believe. That same Spirit dwells in us!

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Friday, October 10th, 2008 - 2:30 PM

"This Too is Nothing"

I have so much more to write! My head is continually exploding! I cannot stand having no time to write all these things. I want to tell the story of how Jesus has been good to me... how He almost killed me with His goodness! I just hope I don't forget!

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Friday, October 10th, 2008 - 8:59 AM

"Call Me Johnny Bibles"

Johnny Cash

Wednesday when I returned to work from the cabin, a special surprise was awaiting me on my desk. I received the Johnny Cash Audio NKJV Bible that I ordered. Everyone in my department was wondering what the package was. I showed them my black shiny package. Woo hoo! Captain Cash's voice is like no other. I've been listening to it ever since.

Let me tell you, if I could hear the Spirit of the Living God speaking through a computer generated voice ringing in my ears... then how much more in the powerful and unique voice of Johnny Cash! I've already been rendered speechless and motionless by the effectiveness of the Word of God in this format. Only better things are in store for the Word coming alive in me through the power of Jesus Christ!

I was really wishing that I would have received the CDs before going to the cabin so I could take them with me. But it didn't work out that way. I still have to report fully on that experience... I'm in a combined state of still processing what God showed me and forgetting it all at the same time. So I need to write about it, but I've not fully realized what to write... but if I don't start, it will all become a flash in the pan of my worthless memory. I also have much to write about the testimony of greatness in Johnny Cash's "example"... hopefully I'll remember to write that too.

Thanks again, Jeremy, for answering my question about "What are you listening to".

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 10:54 PM

"Okay, Let's Try that Again"

Whoops. I don't know where all that came from... I couldn't stop typing. I want to glorify the Lord. I want to bask in His presence all day long! I want to see His face. I want to cast all that I once held dear before His feet and kiss His feet, for He is Lord of all creation. There is nothing that doesn't fall under the authority of Christ Himself, for He is God.

So I went to the cabin, starting Friday, going through Tuesday. Why did I do it? I wasn't sure how to answer that question myself. I am in a horrible situation. My life is constantly at an end. My light has stopped shining. The love is all gone. Fire is no longer burning. Heat is cold. I have lost myself. I am at the bottom.

Last time I met with elder Dave, I told him something like, "I wish I could seek God all the time, pray, read the Bible. But who can do that? We have to live too." (not verbatim, per my horrible memory). Since then it has been on my heart that I am horribly desperate for the Lord, His presence. Okay, let's say it goes back WAY farther than that! I was steeped in sin at birth. I was born blind! Inwardly I longed to be free, not even knowing what freedom was! I didn't know that Christ was the answer, how could I? We are all sinners, not one of us seeks God or is capable of such things.

Immediately after saying that horribly revealing thing to Dave, I realized the answer... "Um... why did I say that? Why did I just reveal my very weakness? The thing I choose NOT to do. I can seek God all day long. I can choose to be in love with Christ Himself. I can make a determination to be obedient to Him. It may take much effort and heart bending... but I can do it. It is the very thing I was made for. I was not made to work, to eat, to sleep, to play. I was made to seek the Lord Himself. If I lose out in this world, what does it matter? What happens if I neglect the salvation of the Lord? What happens if I spend 5 seconds of time not thinking about Jesus Christ when I could have done better? All my days I have thought of only myself. All things I have done to satisfy myself. All things I have done to hurt others... I have received nothing for these crimes. There is no legalism in being in love with Jesus. I cannot earn His favor. He has already given it." Okay, so I didn't think any of that. I just started writing stuff again! What I realized as I said that to Dave was, "I can praise God, seek His Word, live for Him more." It was a self prognosis, an obvious look into the emptiness of my soul in need of more of Christ.

Okay, that's an "introduction"? or something. I need to interrupt myself again or something. Try to follow if you can :) Sorry... too tired right now! I'll have to continue tomorrow. I'll probably write something completely different, something coherent. It's hard to make sense of what happened anyway. ZZZZZZ...

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 10:25 PM

"My Spiritual Retreat"

I wasn't sure if I could do this... I wasn't sure if I could write about this... the memories are fresh, but they are fading. The Lord of creation is sustaining. The friends and family are praying. I have strength enough to write what will come. The last few blog entries have been quick and sharp - straight from the heart. I have felt overcome by a power, some Spiritual force... not because I'm inspired - not because what I write is worth anything... but because I'm so broken... so toiled, that my fingers simply type... and my only hope is that darkness does not appear on the screen. For my soul is wretched and sought by two sides. And whomever shall win? This is the story of good versus evil. Jesus is the Light. He is salvation. He is purity. He is God. No One compares! The only Gospel of Jesus Christ has been written. Hate what I write. But the Good News of what God has done through me not only continues, but I must perish if I don't record it! Jesus is Lord. I am but His humble servant.

Ha ha... programs crashing. Jesus doesn't work in this way. He has power over computers... but His power needs not be displayed against me, for I worship Him. The enemy doesn't want me to write what I am writing. But if God be for us, who can be against us?! Claim the power of Jesus name, He be forever praised. The ruler of the power of the kingdom of the air has failed. His dominion has a short number of days remaining! There is no darkness in the Light of Christ. God was pleased to display the fullness of Himself in Jesus, His Son. All others fade. All others fade! Jesus dwells in unapproachable light, all who approach Him must be so on bended knee! I long to touch His toes, but that's not enough! He has called me "brother" and cleansed me from sin, from deep within. My chest is full of Light. My heart is full of Light. My eyes are full of Light! My brain is full of Light! The Spirit of the Living God is within me. No darkness has claim here in my soul! Satan must flee in Jesus name! Jesus has all power and dominion forever and ever! Jesus! Jesus! Praise the name of Jesus! Glorify the Lord with me, saints! Praise His name forever! He is Lord. He is God. All are below. He is above! Great is His name in all the earth! Glorify Him with me! Great is the Lord! He is mighty to save! There is none like Him! Folly are all those who do not seek Him!

Create in me a pure heart, O God! Defend my case in court, O God! Righteous in Your dwelling place You are, O my God! I cannot stand to hide from You. There are no secrets from You. Nothing is hidden from You, O Lord, my God! May we all stand in Your presence, unashamed, for we desire to live with You forever and ever! You are Light. You are beauty. You are crimson solid white gold of fire and power beyond compare! Words fail to describe You. You are lofty, beyond our description. You are KING. You are pure! You are holy. Make us holy, as you are. Not so we can steal Your glory. We want YOU to be praised above all! You are God! You are the righteous One! All powers, all darkness bows before Your name. Your face is too bright to look into. We long to see the eyes of your beautiful grace peer inside our souls and burn out all the darkness! Let there be no darkness there! All the sin that we hold dear, all the idols. Destroy them in Your holy grace. Your holy name is above all! Beat that, Satan! Beat me with broken software and crashing junk?! No, for I have the power of CTRL+C and CTRL+V... ain't just here now (CTRL+Christ, CTRL+Victor). It's in another program. It's saved on the desktop. Beat that! Huh! Do you think you control the power over Christ Himself!? The power of Christ is above you. You are nothing. You cannot stand in His presence! He broke the power that you thought you had! You made a stupid mistake by trying to be like Him. Did you think He was your brother? Did you think you were brighter than Him? Did you think you could beat Him in a battle? Did you think your arm was stronger than His? Mighty is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who steps on your head! Strike His heal, and you will die. No brother of Jesus are You! Jesus is your Lord. Jesus is your Master! Fire awaits you, for you have no power! You think you stole this world. You think you own the souls here. No one but Jesus is our Lord! No one but He can satisfy our souls. We hate you, for you are against the Lord of Hosts, the bright and mighty King of earth. Yes, even earth is His. He died to "earn" it. The souls here are under His control. He alone has the power to cast into hell or save. You have no power. Your time is limited. Fear and cower in shame, for you chose the wrong god. The power of Jesus Christ and the living Word of God is in me. No one can take a captive except the Lord of Hosts. I will follow Him all of my days. He will lead me beside still waters and green pastures. Even the darkest place is no place to hide! Not even you can hide from Him. He will find you out. The souls that walk the earth are in His hand alone! You have no claim over any of them! Jesus Christ is Lord of all! He owns it all, for it was created through Him, He sustains it by the power of the hand of His Father! Jesus and God are One. The Holy Spirit, who is one with God and Jesus is in us who are now considered the body of Christ! That's right. Jesus did not leave this world. In fact, He has only increased His dominion in the form of many---we are all His temples. We are the ones who are against you in this world! No one can stand in our way, for Christ Himself is in us! We will not succumb to your small plans of darkness. We will expose your weak powers. We will destroy your work in this world. The Righteous King Himself has declared it. There is no one besides our God! He sits enthroned on high! He is the Lord! He is our King! No one can stand against Him. He is our righteousness. He is our Light. He is our salvation. No one can stand against Him! Praise the Lord of Hosts. He is righteous and holy. He dwells in unapproachable LIGHT. He is the Light. We ourselves cannot bear His presence! Yet He calls us to Himself! He gave Himself for us! He died to set us free! No power can stand up against us, for the power of Christ Himself has set us free!

We are captives of the Love of Jesus Christ. We willingly follow Him into battle against the dark forces of this world! We have no Lord except our God! We follow the One who saved us from death! We will not dwell in darkness any longer. He fights our battles. He stands firm before us. He lights our way. He is our Salvation. No one can stand against us. We are the body of Christ. He is our Power. The Holy Spirit is within us. No darkness, no shadow, no corner will be a place for rest. We will shine them out! Sin has no place in us. Jesus is our Righteousness. His robe is beautiful. His face is shining. He is alive in us. Great is His faithfulness! Fall before His face, for Jesus is God Himself! Declare His name above the heavens! Shout of His righteousness on the rooftops! Hear O heavens, listen O earth, for the Lord Jesus is God! He Himself has made our salvation and our rest sure! We will enter the rest of the Father who reigns on high! Great is our God, in Him there is no darkness. He is the power and the dominion and the glory forever and ever!

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 10:01 PM

"Testify!"

Someone prayed that I would get some strength to continue. Based on Sista-power of hearts, calls of Dad, ears of Jason, and comments of Mom... I will continue. I may not get sleep... but I must complete the good work to which Christ has called me... tonight! I will not let Satan "Fhew!" it out! My memory is fading... my brain is emptifying... but I will not allow it in Jesus name! Sleep or no sleep... haven't slept since I got back... but I will press on!

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 9:01 PM

"Thanks Jason"

Thanks Jason, for the talk this evening. I don't even honestly know what I was talking about most of the time. My head was astir, and much of it was just pouring out. Ask anyone who knows me well, and they will not call me a conversationalist or communicator. I was not myself... for good or bad, I hope I didn't discourage you! You were a great encouragement to me. My story is incomplete. It is still in process. I have no idea where God is taking me. If I did, He would not be Lord. I don't want to know until I arrive. Then I will praise Him, wherever that place or time is.

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 8:59 PM

"Thanks Dad"

Sorry I missed you tonight. Thank you for calling me at work. You usually ask me how work is going. I usually answer, "Nothing" or "Same thing" and so on. Instead, today you asked to see me, to see if I was busy. Thanks for that. In fact, today was an amazing day at work. God's Spirit was upon the people, and I feel He inspired joy, fun and unity between people who do not even directly honor or acknowledge Him... because that is how good He is! May God's joy be spread to all people.

I'd like to take you up on your offer another time. I'd like to hang out. The only reason my life is a bit busy right now is because I'm trying to fill each time slot as quickly as possible, so I'm not left idle, alone, sad, etc. You can have those slots too! Love you.

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 8:47 PM

"Sisters are Gold From Heaven"

Thanks, beloved Sis. I was hurting a lot. I wasn't ready for bed this evening. My heart is afflicted. My soul is weary. I needed to hear what you said. Don't stop praying. I wish I could have been there with Mom & Pop when they came! My eyes are worn out with tears. Your hearts and cabbage patch kid hug are enough to sustain me at least until tomorrow morning! Good night. I love you. Have a nice day in the morning.

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 8:38 PM

"Nope"

Big plans averted. Can't concentrate. Head exploding. Jesus, draw near. Fill my empty head. Peer inside my skull and see how big the cavern is. You Sir are bigger still, fill everything in all!

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 8:04 PM

"He is Lord"

Celebrate the sovereignty of the Lord today, and He will lift us up. He will not bind us.

Cower in fear at His immortal presence. You cannot flee from Him. He does not die.

He is Lord, He is Lord. He has power over Death and Hades. In Him no darkness dwells.

Almighty is His name, He is fearsome. His wrath flares up, yet He is slow to anger

Rich in love. It is in this wealth that we dwell, with all creation we are bound to His love. By Him and through Him we are all sustained.

Flood my heart, my eyes with Light. My salvation comes from You alone. Jesus is His name! Jesus is His name! The One who saves me and floods my eyes with Light!

Let there be no doubt who He is! He is the perfect reflection of Almighty God. Jesus is His name!

So much pride has brought us to the point where we need His image of humility to be reflected in us. Not U.S., not Us, but us. Mistakes made, lessons learned. How far back to slavery we've gone, yet His Light redeems us each and every one. We are not bound, except to His love.

There's a reason I'm alone.

Un-Sponsored Poetry, No Gospel, Just Some Thoughts

Did a Google search afterward... Jesus is Lord interestingly found this... didn't read the whole thing (that would require patience)... but it reflects some of my sentiments, especially as hashed out in my conversation with Jason this evening.

Who can justify themselves or find praise in what they themselves do? Who would listen and no one should. Jesus is Lord, and He alone is sovereign.

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Thursday, October 9th, 2008 - 1:49 AM

"Prepare to Meet Your Maker!"

Dave and I were playing an RPG video game this fine evening, and one of the expressions used by someone in our party of heroes said, "Prepare to meet your maker!" before unleashing an assault on the enemy. Another expression heard frequently in the game, used in the same circumstance is "Say your prayers!" Funny expressions to find in secular games, showing how potentially very meaningful phrases are overused, and our ears become immune to the value or beauty in such idioms.

At any rate, I was impressed by the first of these expressions, "Prepare to meet your maker". This is exactly what I desire to do, and even now, He is making Himself known to me. Not only do all of us face inevitable death, and thus we will "see our Maker"... at least long enough for Him to pronounce judgment on us all... then afterward, a continued contact for eternity, or separation and darkness (and few are those who "make the grade" - not one in of ourselves!). At any rate, we also have the opportunity to meet our Maker while still on earth. We need not wait until death do us part our bodies. Let us strive for the latter, rather than the former. For perhaps in "meeting" Him now, we will reduce the fear normally associated with being told to "Prepare to meet your maker!" For me, such a phrase brings a smile to my face and warmth to the heart.

So, as the Holy Spirit says:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the desert,
where your fathers tested and tried me
and for forty years saw what I did.
That is why I was angry with that generation,
and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.'
So I declared on oath in my anger,
'They shall never enter my rest.' "

See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said:

"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion."

Hebrews 3:7-15

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Friday, October 3rd, 2008 - 12:02 AM

"I'm Going to Let It Shine"

Mom, Phil, Sis

Lately everything has been bringing me to tears. God has softened my heart so I am sensitive to seeing Him at work in every situation. It is a beautiful thing to see how active He is in our lives. I cry because I am so overjoyed at seeing Him working through others and in me, and also because I am sad for not having noticed nearly as much before. I once was blind. The scales have fallen and now I can see! Look what Jesus did for me, it's a miracle! I can see!

 
Phil

Today I was surprised by a message on my phone at work. It appeared while I was on one of my errands, away from my desk. Lone behold it was a message from my mom. She sang me a song. It immediately touched my heart to the core. It was the song I needed to hear more than any other. She was listening to God, and God was speaking (singing) through her. It was as if Christ Himself was ministering to me... I'm realizing this more and more - that the very Body of Christ (us - the church) is truly that - the Body of Christ! Jesus was once on the earth for a short time, God incarnate. He walked around, laughed, ate, slept, taught, healed, etc. Now that we have the Spirit of God in us, we have the same power as He does! We are a continuation of the presence of Christ in the world! What a privilege and mystery - something to be taken very seriously.

 

I was so ministered to by my mom's song, that I want to share it here. It reminded me of being a child, perhaps there's a deeply hidden memory of hearing my mom sing when I was a little boy. At any rate, I felt something like that, and for a moment I felt like I was a child again (though most of the time to some degree I feel this way, aside from the torturous aspects of adulthood). I especially love the "No!" and the blowing sounds... it's the "right" way to sing it.

soccer Phil

Sometimes I'm absolutely astonished that the simplest of "children's" songs are the most profound and wonderful of all. Besides "This Little Light of Mine" that my mom sang, "Jesus Loves Me" is another gem. The truths are so simple that they confound the most complex theology, for they are more accurate and poignant than much of the rest. It makes me wonder what I thought about such things as a child. Most of my childhood memory is repressed or lost. I know I had an astonishing childhood. I am getting glances back to some of it, because the newness that God is creating in me reminds me of the innocence and intentionality I had quite a number of years ago... before the burdens of adulthood took their hold.

I brought my PC microphone from home during lunch and held it up to the phone handset to get a weak recording on the computer. Tried to beef it up a bit. I hope you are blessed as I was!

Listen I'm Going to Let it Shine!

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Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 - 2:43 PM

"How Fast Can You Pray? Slow Down"

I'm highly considering going away for a long weekend to fast, pray and worship. I want to seek the face of God. Please pray for me this weekend. Also, if anyone has a prayer request, please share it with me. You can make it private if you want. Please let me know before Friday if you read this, so I can include you in my prayers.

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