“Prayer for Spiritual Strength”

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Eph 3:14–19.

My Take on Judges Ch. 2

“And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:12)

The book of Judges goes through several stories after the rule of Joshua during which there was peace and obedience to the Lord. During this time the Israelites had forgotten all the things that the Lord had done during Joshua’s time. They were a generation that was corrupted by the world around them. They served other gods above the Lord.

“Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:18-19)

These Israelites literally served other gods. Idol worship existed in every household at that time. Although the god of the Israelites asked them to follow only him, they went their own way and basically tried to assimilate into this local culture and it brought them destruction.

In our world today idol worship means a very different thing. In our world we worship wealth, prosperity, power, relationships, careers, sports teams, politics, hobbies, comfort, all these things. You could add a multitude to this list of things that we put above god.

Now, there’s this story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman at a well that meets Jesus. (See John 4:16-26). They chat a bit. They talk about worship. Jesus says to the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:22-23)

The Old Testament God was angry. “Whenever [the Israelites] marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14). But god keeps giving them rulers (judges) to bring them back to himself. He gives them chances to be redeemed and forgiven.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan, he is telling her that worship should be directed at the Father and no one or thing else. Everything else is a false idol when we put them above god. They can be tools to bring others to god, but they cannot replace god. Plus these idols do not have the ability to forgive our sins the way Christ can. Ultimately we are all ruled and judged by Christ himself and he is good, forgiving, and gracious. The story of the Israelites and the Judges is what we deserve when we are disobedient. When Christ died, he was sacrificed with all of our sins on him so that we no longer bear them. We are free from the wrath that the LORD would have put upon us. Because he has already done it by sacrificing his son.

Psalm 40

Psalm 40
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

I waited patiently for the Lord; 
he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, 
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, 
making my steps secure. 
He put a new song in my mouth, 
a song of praise to our God. 
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will. O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O LORD,
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me;
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether who seek to snatch away my lfe;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!

As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the LORD takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer; 
do not delay, O my God!”

 

Hope

What do you hope for? Where does your hope lie? What are your hopes and dreams? So I start to think about what I’ve been “hoping” for lately. I’ve been hoping for peace. For clarity. For relief of stress. I’ve been hoping that going back to work will go smoothly. I’ve been hoping that I don’t get tired and drained and that I won’t spiral down again. My hope in the world is dwindling and I hope that it gets better again before it gets even worse.  I have all these things that I’m hoping for. But it’s simply semantics. These are desires, not hopes.

Well then how do you define hope?

For a follower of Christ, hope is not what you desire to achieve or have things for yourself or anyone else. Hope is our relationship with Christ himself. We hope for our meeting with Christ. Our hope lies in relating with Christ. And we dream to be united with Christ.

“For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:24-25

We hope for our relationship with Christ. We hope that we can make it stronger. We can spend more time with him reading his word, talking to him in prayer. As a community we can gather to read the word and reflect and eagerly get to prayer and pray for each other in our hopes in Christ. We can hope with joy. We hope for Jesus’ presence.

Hope is the confidence we have in Christ that he will do his will. He has given each of us gifts of the Spirit so that we can work together to build up his body to do his will.

Colossians 3:12-17

Happy first day of October! Today was baptism Sunday at church. Seventeen people were baptized, immersed in water, publicly proclaiming Christ as their Lord. It was beautiful. In that spirit, I wanted to share this passage from Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV).

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Stream of Consciousness

“Now’s your chance!” it said to me. “You should drive recklessly!” it continued eagerly. “You’re already going fast enough!” “No one will know it was on purpose…”

God help me I screamed at them. I cried out to God. Please help me. I don’t want to do this. I want to live. I want to go to my doctor’s appointment. Suddenly I heard the words come over my speakers, “Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.” I sang with the hymn, fully engaged in it. It tended to clear the voices enough for me to be stable and make the drive bearable.

No one please tell me it’s the enemy. That’s all I hear from everywhere. “Oh, that’s the enemy attacking you.” “God has already won the war, and he will again.” “Ok…but that doesn’t solve this dilemma of these voices that aren’t mine, they’re not God’s, they could be a demon’s, but I can’t fully believe that demons are real. And especially them being in my head. There must be another way to explain this.

Even now as I write this, two of the voices were having a conversation about something that I wasn’t a part of, but they were too loud I couldn’t hear my own voice trying to figure out how to express how I responded.

Moving on. I just got trapped peering into a cabinet type space that led to something, but you couldn’t quite see it. He (some random he) opened the cabinet door. The door was salmon orange. Inside was a single white shelf. And blackness as far as you could see. We were trying to figure it out. And then I opened my eyes and it was gone.

After my doctor’s appointment I went to see some freindos at my old store. That was cool. Then my favorite bookstore. Good times. Then I drove home. Stopped at another book store. Met a girl from my inpatient group program. We catched up slightly. It was good.

Got home. Was tired. It was hot outside. I told mom I didn’t want to do this Whole30 diet anymore. So I ate a piece of cake. I was feeling pretty bad. I didn’t want to do anything. I was struggling. But at the last minute, I decided that I would in fact like to go to class this afternoon. It will make me feel better. And it sure did! I lifted 135# front squat. That’s respectable I guess.

Violence, Workout, Peace

Had my morning coffee time today. Got to spend it reading a book about the history of violence among several different people groups and their religion. And how their religion ebbed and flowed from violence to peace, and then back to violence again. And the cycles just keep going. So far this is all ancient history. Soon hopefully we’ll reach modern times and see what the state of things is at this current critical stage. That was my morning.

Got to CrossFit and had to jump rope, and then deadlift. My 3×5 deadlift weight was 135#. That was at 75% of my max, I could lift so much more weight I’m sure. The workout afterward was no easy piece of cake. We had to do 4 sets of 100m 90# sled pull, & 20 10# wall balls. That just about demolished me. But I felt awesome.

Finished my Porterbrook reading. Cooked some chicken. Continued to read my book about the history of violence. Took a nap. Got up, got ready to go to my Porterbrook meeting.

Met with the ladies. We got right into our discussion. We had so much to talk about. All of us really connected to the readings for this week. We talked about evangelism and gospel communities. We realized that you can’t just walk up to someone and say, “Do you love Jesus. Why not? Well you should do this for Jesus to love you.” That’s clearly not how it should be done. But instead it should be natural. You build relationships with people. You care for them in general. You hang out with you’re friends. Share about your own story on why you became a Christian. Your story might inspire someone to want to learn more. You do have to be authentic and intentional to create natural relationships. In gospel communities we should strive to share our lives together. For example, if you’e hanging out on the couch watching netflix, I should be over at your house also watching netflix. We ought to be watching netflix together. It’s our mere presence that can make it much more of a deep relationship. Simple everyday things done together.  Call someone over for a simple breakfast of toast and coffee. Maaaybe throw in some scrambled eggs.

We talked about so much more. It was truly a wonderful and deep conversation about how we ought to present the gospel to people outside of the faith.