Monday, September 2, 2013

The stuff of hope, the traces of the invisible.

Hebrews 11:1-3 : Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Faith in God is a sure hope. When people tell you to have faith, they're either implying the rest of the sentence "Have faith in God" or they're just using the fluffy language of today. Having faith without an object is like having fat free Crisco. Lard is fat, if you take out the fat then what is it? Nothing.

The chapter continues giving examples of people acting out their faith in God. The verses remind me of James 1 where he talks about faith and works. In verse 18 he answers a hypothetical objection: "But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." By acting out your faith in God you are demonstrating what your mind and words proclaim.

To put this another way, imagine a person who invents baking techniques in his mind. All day long he just sits and thinks of new ways to toast bread, bake bread, and make sandwiches with that bread. If he spends that time thinking of food he should eventually get hungry and do something about that bread. But this person has faith only. Imagination only. He just sits and thinks of the good food his bread would make. Now a person with faith only, is that bread-less baker. He will never end up with anything of substance if he just sits and thinks of bread. He has to act! Thoughts don't become things without action! Faith is fluff without works! Faith in God with action can move mountains.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jumping Jehoshaphat! or Taking up my bed.

Mark 2:5-12 :  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

I was that paralytic, lying on a mat, helpless to give Jesus anything but my presence. I thank God for my friends, who took the time to dig through the roof where Jesus was preaching. He spoke right to my heart and said "Son your sins are forgiven." That's all I really wanted. To know that my paralysis wasn't some sin I or my parents had committed. To know that even if it was, God had forgiven me. When he continued on and said "Rise, pick up your bed and go home." I was filled with a glorious warmth. I could feel my body again, I could feel my hands! Not only that I was strong enough to get up of my own accord; I was alive again!

We were all stuck in our sin, dead and helpless to do anything about it. But God took care of us and loved us enough to send his son to heal us and revive us. Jesus loved us enough that he obediently left his father's side to be with us on earth. The holy spirit loved us enough that he would fill Jesus and demonstrate the power of God's words.

When the scribes asked in their hearts "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" they answered their own question, but were unwilling to accept the answer. Jesus was God. He alone could forgive this man's sins. He recognized how easy it was to say words and knew that people wouldn't just accept him at his words. He had to go further and demonstrate that his words mean something by healing the man.

We are the scribes. We need proclamation and demonstration to believe. People need both truth and a demonstration of that truth to believe it.

The gospel is our proclamation and the holy spirit will help us demonstrate that it is real. When we bring the truth of God's word, the story of what Jesus did for everyone, we must ask God to back it up with demonstrations of his power. This can be anything from healing, miracles, or transformations. People today are scientific or at least intellectual and just telling them that Jesus died for them doesn't mean anything without something tangible to back up the truth that he's still alive.

If you believe in Jesus ask him to demonstrate his power to your friends who don't. If you don't believe in Jesus, ask him to demonstrate his power to you.

Thank you God for loving us enough to forgive our sins and heal us.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Give thanks to the Lord or Beans and rice again?

Psalm 118:1-2
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let Israel say,
    'His steadfast love endures forever.'"

Giving thanks to God, who technically created everything, who made the earth, the sun, the moon, the other suns, and you seems like it should be easy. He made you. Why is it hard?

The first thing that we humans have against us is something called homeostasis. When you change your environment there are biological reactions that occur in you to maintain your body temperature. There are other reactions that maintain your blood pH and glucose levels. Biologically you remain the same because there are internal processes that keep you the same. Psychological homeostasis is similar. People who win the lottery are ecstatic and remain so until the euphoria wears off. When they've adjusted to their new environment, that's their new normal. People who have babies have to adjust to less sleep and less time spent as a couple. Speaking from experience, this gets easier with time, it's my new normal.

When we live life day-to-day we have trouble seeing things that happen every day as something to be thankful for. These things are just normal. The sun rises, the blankets are warm, the cat is soft, the coffee is good, the laptop turns on, the sink has running water, the fridge is full of food. Things are as they should be.

Reflect and thank God for these things! They are normal for you but you must actively see them or they'll be totally invisible. He has blessed you with many things because "his steadfast love endures forever!"

The second thing is we are prideful. I don't like thanking an invisible force for invisible things. Thanking God feels like being Pip and thanking Magwitch. Obscure reference? Yes! In Great Expectations Pip spends years receiving money from an unknown benefactor. He owes this person his living but doesn't know who he is. Sometimes God feels that distant and impersonal. How can I thank someone I haven't even met? Ah, good question. You see there's your problem. Meeting God, being with him, worshiping him in spirit and truth, reading what he did with others before us, praying and talking to him. All these things bring us close to this amazing being who created us. He formed you in your mother's womb. Get to know him, and thankfulness will flow out of you like it does David in this Psalm. Your pride will melt away.

Beans and rice again? God thank you for giving me food to eat! Thank you for giving me a loving wife who likes to cook! Thank you for a freezer that keeps the food! Thank you for electricity, farmers and trucks that allowed these things to get to me so cheaply.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sometimes judging is a habit or Does that guy have clown pants on?

Matthew 7:1-2 : “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Yeah, this is a rough one. This immediately makes me think "Judgment day will come, and when that comes, then I'll be judged." In practice, however, as soon as I judge someone for their faults I start to notice those same faults in myself. The truth of this verse becomes apparent.
"What if they're wearing clown pants?" Firstly, people wear clown pants for many reasons. They're clowns, they like the roomy feel, they found them in a bin, etc. Secondly, if you're thinking metaphorically as in, "what if they're doing something so ridiculous that judging is warranted?" Maybe you need to think about why you don't have their freedom, to not follow social norms. Maybe they have reasons you don't understand.

The ultimate purpose of this verse, in context, is to counter-act hypocrisy. When you judge someone else, you ultimately reveal that you need judging. Jesus points our judgey eyes back at us and says "take the plank out of your own eye" first then help your brother.

In real life, I think this looks like mutual confession. If you find yourself judging your friend for some sin, do an inventory of your own heart and you may find that same sin. Instead of silently chiding them or faulting them behind their back, have a conversation with them. Ask them if they'll work with you, to pray to God and help remove the "plank" in your eye, and then help them remove the speck.

I spend a lot of my day in my own head. Solving problems at work, reading email, reading books, listening to podcasts and focusing on me. When I get home I talk to Kelly and watch TV but 75% of my day is in my head. I think a lot of people are just with themselves and in order to live with yourself you have to justify your faults. I have to find reasons why I do what I do otherwise there'll be a cognitive dissonance. This is how I can spend all day wearing clown pants, walk around outside and feel normal. My pants are justified. To me they are my life. What's wrong with my fashion choice? Then I notice someone else wearing a sweater vest and I think "Ha, look at that chump."

That attitude can become habit. "I am right and the rest of the world, if they're not like me, is wrong." I can become blind to my own foibles and make a fool of myself trying to rid others of theirs.

God help us with our pants.

Monday, August 26, 2013

How to get up early or What's that noise at 6:00am?

You've come for the coveted knowledge. The "How-to" guide on how to get up early. You're here and boy are you not prepared. Strap yourself in because the ride is going to get bumpy. Here comes the bomb-splosion.

You set an alarm.

But seriously folks! How do you get up early? Well, let's define early. I allude to 6am in my title and maybe 6am is early for you, but maybe 5am is early. I don't know, it could be 8am is early. When you have a baby ANY time is early because you haven't slept in 14 days and just opening your eyes is a fountain of frustration. So let's say you want to get up at 6 and you don't have a baby. I envy this hypothetical you. You can go to bed whenever you so choose and during the night you won't hear the frustrated cries of an infant who's lost its binky.

Step 1: Determine a wake-up time that is suitable for the amount of activities you'd like to accomplish in the morning. If you're morning consists of getting dressed, moving your hair into a respectable configuration, and walking out the door, then you probably only need about 15 minutes. If you require food, coffee, time to drink that coffee, a shower, tooth-brushing, bible-reading, blog-writing, bill-paying, cat-petting and dog-relieving; you may need more time.

Step 2: Set your alarm for that time.

Step 3: Get up when that alarm goes off. This step is infinitely difficult. Beyond any amount of difficulty you will face in war, famine, genocide, oppression, dictatorship or jail. Your morning-mind is a punk. You can argue with it for hours and never act. This is why I like to formulate little phrases for myself for getting up in the morning. Phrases that counter-act my mind's unassailable logic. Logic that keeps me in bed indefinitely.

  1. You forgot to turn off the stove
  2. There's a spider under your pillow
  3. You're two-hours late
  4. Stop being a little kid, get out of bed

These phrases play on fear and shame. You have to get down to your lizard brain in the morning. Your human-brain has figured out how to sooth you through hours of hallucinations. You have to snap it out with a fresh unavoidable slap in the amygdala to get you going.

Step 4: Do this every day until it becomes a habit.

What's that noise at 6am? It's your alarm, and you forgot that Monday isn't a holiday this week.

Doing something, anything, other than this

I get antsy sometimes. Riled up at other times. Angered into action, even. Those times are few and far between because I'm a relatively content person. Well, maybe not content, but at the least it is not in my nature to upset the status-quo. That is probably why I've worked at this job for 5 years with almost no change. That is why I've lived in Boston for going on 12 years. I just don't find compelling reasons to change my living situation very often. I am a bump on a log until the log rots away.

Today is almost no different than the last 730 "today"s that have come and gone. Probably no different than the last 3650. However, today I have read through 4 years worth of my blog posts on here and I feel different. I've gone through waves of devotion to God and waves of self-loathing. I've been super excited about the Second-coming, and super inspirational to people. Mostly I realized that I really like it when my thoughts aren't just in my head. My head is a bad place for them to remain. They require air and light and water.

I've promised in the past to post more often. I've failed in the past (I'm looking at you 2012 Dave) to post at all. You, my dear readers, like my words. Therefore, you will get my words. I'm not promising how often you will get them, but you will get them regularly, on some sort of scheduley basis.

In fact-I'll give you a topic for my next post. It'll be just a title for awhile and then one day, while you're checking your Google+ account, you'll see that title turn into a full-fledged smiling, shiny post. The world will be a better place on that day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


There was a brief time about 4 or 5 years back when I went to "early morning prayer" every day for 40 days. This was a feat accomplished by friends pushing each other towards a goal. My friend Matt and I wanted to get there every single day no matter if it killed us. Those times in prayer were so amazingly powerful, sometimes I feel as if I've imagined them. We were on the front lines of battle, waging war against an unseen enemy. God was by our side and he was directing our words and thoughts. During that time we played music as a way of directing the flow of things. Often the songs coincided with the things we were praying about. Sometimes the words in the songs inspired us to new heights of intimacy with God.

It was during one of those songs a man cried out "Purity oh God!" That line struck our hearts to the core. We knew that we were standing on holy ground and that only the "pure in heart shall see God".  We confessed aloud the contents of our hearts. Asking God to cleanse us from impure thoughts, impure words, impure ways. We wrestled with the sins of our city, knowing that Boston needs Jesus. We were set alight, ablaze and all our impurities were slaked off in the fire of God's presence.

God is holy. Jesus makes us holy but we can't just stay there and not live out that holy life. We must be holy and to be holy means to do holy.

Today's "My Utmost for His Highest" is a good guide toward that direction.

Remember, it's not how far you've gone down the path, it's what direction you're going. God is always calling us to turn his way.

Monday, March 25, 2013


This is a good place to start. I remember this chapter (in Celebration of Discipline). Sell stuff and remove the things that are unnecessary from your life. My goal then is to make a list of the things in my house that I can sell or give away, and then start doing it, all the month of April. Here are the verses from the chapter: Eccles. 7:29 Lev 25:23 Ps 62:10 Prov 11:28 Luke 16:13 Luke 6:20, 24 Matt 6:21, 19 Matt 19:16-22 Luke 12:15 Luke 12:33 Luke 12:16-21 Matt 13:45, 46 Luke 6:30 1 Tim 6:9 1 Tim 3:3, 8 Heb 13:5 James 4:1, 2 Eph 5:5 1 Cor 5:11 1 Tim 6:17-19 Phil 4:12 Deut 8:7-9 Deut 8:17 Matt 6:25-33 Psalm 24:1 Luke 6:35 Matt 5:37

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Google is everywhere!

This is delightful, is now is part of google. It couldn't get much better. Although it is a little funny that google is turning into the mold of the internet. You close the door and wait long enough and you come back and it's covered in google!

I'm excited though. This makes my new day resolution to restart my blog that much easier. My plan is to use this blog as a morning study spot. I'll get up in the morning, before the baby is awake, before Kelly is up and type out my thoughts on what I'm studying. In the process I'll move closer to where I'd like to be mentally. Clear and free. Disciplined and obedient.