Able, Not Willing

I can do this.  But will I do this?

A good-hearted soul spoke a blessing into my life recently. The content below is paraphrased, and reframed as a general blessing, as opposed to a specific blessing:

 

“God loves you and He will turn your sorrow into great joy. He will show up, and give you ___________ and ___________.”

 

This person cares enough for me, nothing short of kind and unselfish, to speak good words, words of life, into my life.  The idea that God would speak to, and through, this individual with a message for me is awe-inspiring (no sarcasm here).  The fact that God will do something big in my life, specifically, is amazing to me.  Having said that, I am stirred by this scenario, a scenario that has happened before, the scenario where one tells me what God is going to do in my life.

Here is the rub.  What a man or a woman tells me, that God is going to do, may be accurate.  Or, maybe not.  At times I wonder, “How does someone know for sure that God told them this?”  Is it possible that they misunderstood God?   One amazing attribute of God is that His mystery.  It’s not always fun.  Sometimes it’s painful.  Regardless,  part of our journey, especially if we embrace this part, is to sit … as still as possible, as quiet as possible …  in that mystery; the mystery of God.  When someone tells me, “Bro!  God can do that!”  My response is, “Oh yes … I know.  I know that He can do that, and whatever else He wants to do.   But will He?”  Interesting, how as individuals, we have opportunities to do something, but we are unwilling (to differing degrees).  Some of this is about doing what we are supposed to dod, and when we are supposed to do it.  To put it a different way, sometimes we don’t do what we are capable of doing because we are not supposed to do whatever it is we are being pressured / asked to do.  So, just like life itself, this stuff can get a bit messy,eh?

 

 

Fathom . . .

 

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. (145: 3)

An odd word.  Five occurrences, NIV?

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
  2. Job 11:7 “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
  3. Psalms 145:3  “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
  4. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
  5. Isaiah 40:28 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Fathom [fath uh m]

noun
1. a unit of length equal to six feet (1.829 metres), used to measure depths of water 
2. (mining) a unit of volume usually equal to six cubic feet, used in measuring ore bodies
3. (forestry) a unit of volume equal to six cubic feet, used for measuring timber
verb – transitive
4. to measure the depth of, especially with a sounding line; sound
5. to penetrate (a mystery, problem, etc); discover the meaning of …

Dialog:

“Man, I tell you: I get really frustrated when I cannot figure something out. That’s the way I am wired.  I want to understand everything, fully … And this whole God thing, there are some parts of Him and how He works that I just cannot figure out.”

“So, instead of experiencing the freedom, some peace, from not having to understand it all, you choose to be frustrated.  That, in itself, doesn’t make much sense.”

“Why would I experience freedom, or peace, because I cannot figure something or someone out?”

“Because it is totally, completely, full-blown, established that you cannot ‘fathom’ His greatness.  That cannot, and will not, change.  You and I are able to sit in that greatness, and be cared for.  We don’t have to carry the stress around figuring God out.  Because when He does something different than what you halve already experienced, then you have to figure that out.”

Final thoughts.  If it is true … His greatness no one can fathom … then this is a freeing truth, a massive rock to stand on while fierce sledge-hammer waves pound that rock … Hardships do come; oh yes, they will come. Isolation, alienation, futility … they may also come.  But, if it is true … His greatness no one can fathom, then there is a reason to move toward Him, with both thankfulness and requesting His deliverance … because He is great beyond words, beyond our comprehension.

Let’s bust a move.

Good Morning, Short Message, The Message

Romans 12, 14-16 … The Message

14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

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

Romans 12.  One version … NKJV ? takes 17-19 and says “Revenge is mine says the Lord.”  This is good stuff for good people who have been treated with betrayal, hardships, trauma, disrespect, injustice, abandonment … It is ultimately not our responsibility to make sure that justice happens.  And, I think this concept is difficult; for some people, more than others.

Have a great day everyone.

Desert … A Waiting Room?

“In the desert …you can remember your name, ’cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain …” 

From the song “A Horse With No Name”, performed by a group called America.  ‘Came out in 1971, Europe, and in 1972 – – – the States.

The desert: frequented by Jesus; and JTB (John the Baptist); and Paul, maker of fine tents.   Desert Fathers spent years in the desert, as did Desert Mothers.  Desert Children?  No.  No Desert Children.  It was during the 1st and 2nd centuries when these “Desert Fathers”, these “Desert Mothers”, migrated away from the more heavily populated areas … into the desert.  These Desert Fathers carried with them a supernatural desire to focus more intently on God.  Society had become like a sinking ship to the DF’s (Desert Fathers) because of sin and mediocrity. The desert.  Individuals still find themselves in the desert, a metaphor (oh, there’s that word again).  St. John of the Cross wrote some words, somewhere in the sixteenth century, about this desert experience.  He referred to this desert experience as “the dark night of the soul”.

Gerald May wrote a book entitled The Dark Night  of the Soul, based on the sixteenth century work written by St. John of the Cross.  Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers pursued the desert, entered these harsh, dry, lonely, places on their own.  Many sojourners of the “here-and-now” find themselves in the desert … not their intended destination.  Strange things happen in the desert; and pain, deep and soulish pain, may come along with a glimpse of transcendence, priceless, sacred, gifts of wisdom and discernment.
 One of the many quotes I remember from reading Dr. May’s book goes like this:
“There are gifts of the dark night, but they do not come until morning.”
A crude word picture has come to mind many times when I think of these desert experiences.
I walk into the medical clinic, to see a doctor.  The woman behind the counter has me sign in, and then tells me, “Okay.  Now, please have a seat in the waiting room, and then we will call your name.”  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  I wait to see a doctor.  I am experiencing pain, a need for healing.  And, I have to wait, and wait, and wait.  This waiting involves disruptive stillness, deafening silence.
My waiting process, my desert, is a place where I consider what the questions are, and  I attempt to listen, and not focus on what I think I need to say.  These desert experiences are some of the more profound opportunities to re-discover prayer … My last piece, in all of this, is a memory I will always cherish.
I had a two-day silent retreat in a place on the way up to Mount Evans, outside of Idaho Springs (Colorado).  I had no idea about what to expect.  I spent time being still, praying, reading.  Before I knew the daylight faded into night,  I hit the pillow sometime around 10:30.  A few hours later, I awoke to stomach pain which led to prolific nausea.  I made it to the community restroom / facilities.  I crawled into a stall, and stayed there for several hours, laying on the cool linoleum, unable to move because of the continuous vomiting.  I literally called out for mercy.  Finally, I had a strong sense that the vomiting was over.  I hobbled back to my room, sat on a fairly large comfortable reading chair, turned the lamp on low and stared upward, asking God why He had put me through that.  I cannot explain the peace that emerged, and poured out on me like a thick, fragrant molasses.  This mix between the hellishness of my nausea … and the indescribable peace afterwards was an unprecedented encounter.  And I’ve never had anything like that happen since.
Tom Petty wrote a song with a great line:

“The waiting is the hardest part.”

Truly, I would be honored, privileged to hear from you, about your deserts, and what you have learned from them.

 

Something Is Wrong . . .

Something

… is wrong, and yes … some things are right.

And, yes: there will always be something wrong.

And, yes: there will always be some things that are right.

For some reason, maybe I know what that reason is, I sensed the strong pull to take time out of the bedlam to acknowledge that something is wrong.  By acknowledging that something is wrong, I am brought back to that daily choice of pursuing what is good, pushing through resistance, being thankful for the Father’s presence, in spite of what is wrong.

  • I don’t ask for enough;
  • I don’t pray very often;
  • I don’t spend as much time with my son as I would like …

Such a small list.  And yet, that kind of list is not what I should focus intently on.

There are many good things.  And I think that’s enough for today.

Twenty-eight things are wrong with this picture. Can you spot them ? I think this is meant for children, but nevertheless it’s not that easy.

 

 

 

 

Valley of Elah: There’s Going to Be Some Trouble

They came from the south … 

at least that is what some say.  Mean-looking fellows.  And in this case, their looks matched up with who they were.  

These thuggish men were born and bred for battle, and intimidation, and violence.  Bullies, they were.  Bullies indeed.  They were the bad-guys of the Hebrew Bible, residing in a place called Phillistia.  Phillistia went from Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north.  A giant of a man, Goliath, traveled with these fighters who had been pushing their way into the Valley of Elah toward a place known as Judah; a place controlled by Israel.  Now, just a few thoughts about giants:

Goliath was 13 ft.  Gath, Goliath’s stomping grounds … no pun intended … was a place where other giants lived.  It is believed that Goliath had brothers who were giants there in Gath.  Archaeology is producing more evidence, as time rolls on, of the reality of giants.  Studies of the Nephullum, the Rephaim, the Anakim, all suggest that giants were not uncommon.  It is also believed that the Philistine leaders hired giants to fight for them.

This land … the Valley of Elah … was a strategically advantageous area of real estate.

  1. It was close to the sea;
  2. It had travel routes;
  3. And it was a great location for a potential resort area with pool, tennis courts, free wireless, free continental breakfast … Maybe?  No. ‘Wasn’t going to happen, not at 1010 b.c.

Seriously, the Philistines (from Phillistia) were on a mission.  Here is a diagram that gives you a bit of a picture of what was going on.  Note the red route.

Reconstruction of the battlefield in the valley of Elah ( Reds- Philistines; Blues-Israelites) / http://www.biblewalks.com/sites/ElahValley.html

The resident king, a fella by the name of Saul, was given some good intel about these boys from Phillistia coming up into the Valley of Elah.  The alarm was sounded, and the Israelite military guys high-tailed it to Socoh, where they  blocked the Philistines.  There was a ridge on the south of the Valley of Elah, where the Philistines gathered up, established their camp, drew up their battle line.  Across the Valley of Elah, on the north side, there was another ridge where the fellas from Israel gathered, set up camp, and drew their own battle line.  You probably know the rest of the story.  One of my paraphrased versions of what happened, there, in the Valley of Elah is found in another one of my posts that is similar to this post.

I often return to the story of David and Goliath because it inspires me, and because it is powerfully applicable to our lives.

 

 

 

Once I Was A Wild Man

Once I was a wild man, and Old Man was in the wild man.  One wild man, among others, who I looked up to was John Belushi … my high school days, on through early college years.  A solid candidate for the quintessential wild man.  

‘Few fellas, couple of years older,
inspired me during these years.  They were definitely cool. I know they were definitely cool, because they told me so. They were, in fact, wild men.  Women mysteriously gravitated toward them. 

Because of John Belushi, because of these two guys who looked after me whenever they could, I was focused on, highly attentive to, being a wild man.  In an uncharacteristically sober discussion following one of my stunts, standing up on a chair in a bar yelling “TOGA! TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!”, one my friends told me: “You know, Bro, being a wild man is not always where its at.”  As soon as I heard it; I blew it off.  I knew … being a wild man was my calling.  Funny how you can “know” something at one point in your life, confidence  unshakeable, and then a few years later … what you thought you knew to be true was in fact a “non-truth”

1986, March, I was at a bar down the street with a bunch of folks I worked with, on top of the world.  I do remember walking out the door of the bar, homeward bound.  At some point, I became aware of going backwards in my 1973 Dodge Charger, passenger side of the car bumping and screeching along the guard rail.  I miraculously turned the car around and got my idiot self back to my apartment, eyes as big as tennis balls.  I still tremble at what could have happened, and immeasurably thankful that no one died as a result of my neanderthal stupidity.  Things were getting crazy, and less enjoyable.  As a philosopher, by the name of B.B. King, once said, “The thrill is gone.”  He didn’t just philosophize.  B.B. King played some amazing music at the same time.

1987, fall, shortly before midnight, a profound change came in my thinking and in my life, from the unknown: unknown, at least initially.  The unknown became the Known.  It was a God-thing.  Change for the better.  Old things gradually dropped off.  Old Man faded. And yet, Old Man kept coming to visit, even though he was unwelcome.   He talked a lot.  The Old Man still comes by, sometimes quite ramped up ready to start trouble.  As Old Man started to fade, my wild man started to fade.  It was tough.  It was like … a loss.  I grieved the loss of the wild man, while sitting in an unprecedented peace acknowledging that this wild man had to go. I had found a new calm. There were better decisions; still mistakes, but different kinds of mistakes, and … yeah … better decisions.  The big thing, though, was my future. If and when I quit breathing, I would be in a good place, not a bad place.

Then, something strange emerged out of the fog, after a number of years.  A wild man stirred in my soul, my heart, my mind.  I was wary, as you can imagine.  This was a different wild man.  A wild man that stood apart from the old man.  I was a bit confused, and I gradually realized that this was the wildness of God.  Even though the old man and other thugs tried to gang up on guys like me, I decided I wasn’t going to be the enemy’s whipping-boy anymore.  

I allowed for a redemptive imagination.  I thought of Aragorn … who went up against the worst of the worst.  A wild man.  I stood with Moses, the bad guys coming for us on one side and the intimidating Red Sea on the other.  A wild man.  I walked swiftly behind Jesus in the temple watching him turn tables over disrupting the Pharisees.  A wild man.  I sat in the boat with the 12 guys that hung out with Jesus … there on Sea of Galilee, a mean storm on the verge of obliterating us when J-Man stood up and said “Hey!  That’s enough of this craziness!  Be still!”  And the waves disappeared, the ocean was smooth like a glass, the wind was history.  A wild man.  I had a better understanding, now.

It made sense that men are called to be wild men … redemptive wild men to stand up for what is right, to stand up against the lies, and the mind-games, and the attacks from the spiritual realm (for those who allow that to be part of their theology).  I think of courageous, passionate men, who are willing to fight for the death for what is right, like the “Three Amigos”There are many wild men who have been a part of God’s fun …  God shows His wildness through men.  We see it all the time. I’m still trying to figure this out.

 


 

I Can Only Speak for Men … Women? Don’t Know

“Misfortunes one can endure–they come from outside, they are accidents. But to suffer for one’s own faults–ah!–there is the sting of life.”

Oscar Wilde

Self contempt comes, and not rarely.  I’m practiced at this art.  A particular expression from the past, and thankfully it faded out of popularity: “Don’t go there … “

When self contempt comes, I still tell myself, “Don’t go there …”. I still ask a question: “Why do I go there?”  There has to be more to this than some quirky idiosyncrasy that a few guys do, that most guys don’t.  In fact, I know this is not something I just wonder about.  This is something I know about.  I read some words from a guy by the name of Paul (quite a while back). My mind and heart connected with his thoughts immediately.

“O wretched man that I am!

Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Romans 7:24

All of this is huge, immense.  So much to be said, but less said – – – the better.  If God is love, and He is, then running to self-contempt doesn’t line up.  Not only that, self-contempt doesn’t work …  depending … on what it is we want to do.  If we want to hide our glory, self contempt can work.  If want to manipulate others by using our self pity, self contempt can work.  If we want to take ourselves off the hot seat of standing in the gap, fighting the battles, persisting in prayer, then … yes … self contempt can work.  But for me, self contempt doesn’t work.  It torments me when I let it get in.  I can relate to Paul.  I can almost see him gritting his teeth, enraged at himself, wishing he could die.  The fist: clenched and crashing the floor.  And like this post, the storm of self contempt comes to an abrupt end, as the first verse of the next chapter speaks  freedom so calmly, so eloquently, so truthfully:

https://i1.wp.com/neuething.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/condemnation.jpg

 Romans 8:1 

http://neuething.org/http:/neuething.org/free-from-condemnation

Courage, Authenticity, And Man Watched A Chick Flick

Something is wrong, here.  I come to write about spiritual pieces.  I think I am supposed to be somewhere else.

Let me explain what happened, and then I will make a graceful-or-not-so-graceful exit.  Okay, well, you see … this is what happened.  My wife talked me into watching a chick flick called Little Women (1994).  I’m wondering if I need to put on some sackcloth, and maybe a few gallons of ashes.  There was this exchange between Jo March and the professor, Friedrich.  Since we are all writers, I wanted to share some of my encouragement that sneaked up on me while watching this film.  But, please don’t tell anyone that I watched a chick flick movie.  

Little Women (1994) Poster

Friedrich: (having read Jo’s latest book) “There is nothing in this of the woman I am privileged to know.”

Jo:  “Friedrich, this is what I write.  My apologies if it fails to live up to your high standards.”

Friedrich: “Jo, there is more to you than this. If you have the courage to write it.”

This idea … a redemptive, glorious, idea … of “calling someone out” to step into their glory is something that has gripped me for a number of years.  Not a “nice” idea, or a comfortable idea, or a fun idea.  God calls us out; those who love us call us out; the Word calls us out.  My reaction, sometimes?  “No!  What if I don’t want to go where you are calling me to?”  God the Caller is always right, but sometimes I don’t hear so well.  When the caller is not God,  they may not be accurate.  But if the caller has earned my trust, and they are calling me out with respect, with love, then I need to acknowledge their care for me, and their courage … to take a risk, stepping out to use their voice for a powerful reason. I suppose that is why I like this exchange between Jo March and Friedrich.

And, fellow bloggers, I am really sorry that I watched a chick flick.

 

 

 

 

Wants to Hide and God Knows Her

This post comes from “Be Real, Please!!, found on one of my blogs: “Other Side of the Trees” blog (http://tdanieldavis.wordpress.com)  This post is rewritten specifically for SpeakListenPrayDon’tBeStupid.

I learned about a woman, today, who wants to be Barbie  As I am writing this, I think of the woman … at the well, where Jesus came and talked to her.  Why would I suddenly think about the woman at the well?  Maybe I will know the answer to my question when I am finished; maybe I won’t know; maybe you will know.  Being a guy who lives at 8800 feet in the mountains, chops wood, snow blows, a family man, psychotherapist … I have no interest in Barbie, never have.  My daughter does not even like Barbie!

But …

This story was surprisingly disturbing.  My heart is heavy beyond measure for this woman.  I see this story as a vivid and disruptive metaphor for … fear of authenticity, fear of intimacy: both coming from the enemy, in the form of deception and lies.

“Blondie Bennett, Barbie-Obsessed Woman, Uses Hypnotherapy To Make Herself ‘Brainless’ … “

Is it just me? Or does the title of the article sadden you, as well? Here are excerpts from the article in the Huffington Post.      (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/19/blondie-bennett-barbie-woman-hypnotherapy-stupid_n_4815495.html)

    • A California woman who describes herself as Barbie-obsessed says she uses hypnotherapy sessions in the hopes that it will decrease her IQ.
    • “I just want to be the ultimate Barbie. I actually want to be brainless,” Blondie Bennett, 38, told Barcroft TV. “I don’t like being human, if that makes sense… Natural is boring… I would love to be like, completely plastic.”
    • Bennett … five breast augmentations … other procedures in the hopes of attaining her goal. But now … undergoing hypnotherapy sessions two-to-three times a week in order to dumb down her thoughts.
    • She says it’s working.
    • “I’ve had 20 sessions and I’m already starting to feel ditzy and confused all the time,” Bennett told the Daily Mail.
    • She … loves her looks, (but) her plastic features tend to turn off a lot of people … friends and family don’t approve of her lifestyle.

Live Authentically

I am not able to get past my belief that this story is about a woman who has great pain: not so much physical, but emotional … psychological … possibly traumatic.  We can all agree that life is intense, and at times some of us want to hide.  At other times our hiding is found in joining the crowd.  To be so passionate about removing your pain to the point that you don’t want to think, anymore, about anything … It feels tragic to me.  I hurt for this woman, and I wonder if she ever cried out to God from a dark hour. Sometimes we wonder where God is. But God is there.  We cannot ever buy into the lie that He is not with us.   https://i1.wp.com/joshfults.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/where-are-you-god.jpg

Then, my last thought, this is a jagged picture of the deep desires to self-medicate.

http://joshfults.com/2013/05/21/apologetic-wednesday-where-are-you-god/

I Feel Your Pain

To desperately be someone other than who you are.  Why?  Because of the pain.  And when it comes to pain, your pain is your pain.  I have NOT walked in your shoes.  But Jesus has walked in our shoes.  And Jesus is the one that can reallly FEEL YOUR PAIN.   And to some degree, I can feel this woman’s pain.  And I think you can, too.

GOD LOVES US WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT.

 

God loves each of us as if thereGod loves each of us as if<br />
there

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

Read more at http://www.quoteswave.com/picture-quotes/25713#hp2k8mvKqwwUZArY.99