Saturday, January 28, 2017

Life Above the Timberline.

Tumbleweeds. They grow quickly, randomly sprouting in the open land where they are doomed to brown, die, break at their stems, and, pushed by the wind, roll helplessly until they stop, driven into spiny piles. There they decay, or are burned.
No one wants to be a tumbleweed. Insignificant, without purpose or personality or potential. A nuisance. Lost.

Redwoods. They have significance, are statuesque. They grow in groves to amazing heights and girths, and, despite small footprints relative to their overall size, survive storms and winds for centuries in communities where their root systems interlock, giving them stability and longevity that they would never have if they were to stand alone.
Everyone would like to be among the redwoods. Tall and beautiful. Held together with others in a cathedral of shaded protection. Content. A destination for those who seek rest.

God desires that no one should tumble like a weed – and that all would thrive like redwoods. Jesus died to rescue us all from the doom of living only to die, alone and without purpose in the world. Those who have the Holy Spirit in their lives, and hold eternal life in their present and future because they have taken hold of all that Jesus offers them, live tall and well in the community of heaven. This is God's plan, to grow people into a happy garden of health and grandeur.

Then, there are Bristlecone pines. These grow slowly, alone or in tight clusters, above the treeline where little else is found but sun and rock and snow. Blasted by wind and storms, their gnarled shapes bear the assymetrical wounds of hardship; broken limbs, scarred bark.
So few pines at elevation. Many seeds and cones can germinate and grow there, but few do.

These trees don't do anything that others trees don't do - they grow using water, sunlight and nutrients. They just do it in a place where other trees don't - closer to the sun in the rarified atmosphere, in a place of solitude. These trees may not seem as tall as the redwoods, but they, simply by their placement in the world, have roots thousands of feet above the tops of the tallest trees below.

Some of us will endure privation and personal isolation. Some will volunteer themselves into wilderness, and willingly enter into simplicity in separation from those in the forest. There is a rugged beauty and richness and maturity and blessing and perspective and strength that will come out of this type of prophetic, intimate life that will carry into eternity. 

Perhaps God has differently called you to this, an elevated life. Are you willing to stand in lonely adversity? Will you accept isolation in exchange for the increased clarity of a panoramic view? 
Are you willing to face privation and furious storms that those in the lower, protected groves won't feel? Are you able to cling tenaciously to, and derive all of your nourishment from, solid rock?
Are you willing to seem distorted, bent, unbalanced or broken compared to the trees in the forest, where life is cushy and normalized and less demanding? Are you willing to digest hardship into a composition of hard-wood strength as you stand against the powers of the air that those in the forest won't feel, see or understand? 

If not, that's okay. A redwood is an awesome tree, a wonder of creation. Revel in all that you are. Inspire tumbleweeds to join you and grow into something better. But remember that there is a place, higher and harder, where you can go if you feel ready to be something other. Someday.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Logging Out.

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John 21:25

If you were to meet the President of the US, you’d probably want a picture with him, an autograph, you’d tell all your friends about the meet up, and you’d try to chronicle everything that happened and all that was said. 
“I met the President!”
“No way! What happened?”
“He was walking to his plane and he shook my hand, and he said, ‘Hello!’”

If the President of the US became your best friend, you’d probably not swoon over hellos anymore. After the initial glamour of friendship, you’d not write down every detail of your contact, especially as you became closer and contact became more frequent. You’d be in touch too often to keep up, there’d be too many points of contact to cover. Eventually, you’d have half-hour-long discussions over weighty issues and not think anything of it at all.

I’m entering into this space with the President of the Universe. Last year, I kept a log of all the visions and voices and revelations and experiences that fell my way. Ten exciting things a day, so awesome. 2016 is a 120-page book of anecdotes from the edge. So much more to this life than I’d ever imagined the Christian life being able to be for me.
“I heard the voice of God today! 
- What happened?
He said, ‘You are not forsaken.’”
Not much to write about, unless you’re feeling forsaken like I was, and this simple message shines on you like a supernova of reassured relief, like it did for me. When you’re thirsty and the drinks of living water are infrequent and fresh, every sip is something to write home about.

This year, I’m struggling to keep up. Relationship and intimacy with God has grown in volume and depth and nuance. I was thirsty in the desert and now I’m in an open boat on a lake. I’m finding that I’m not logging everything that happens, even the really awesome stuff. There’s too much contact, and, while I’ll never tire of any word and every touch that comes to me, the supernatural is becoming natural for me. Always going to be super. But now more natural too. I don’t have to deconstruct everything; a punch is becoming a punch, and a kick is becoming a kick.

Yesterday, I had contact with two demons, and two angels. The angels gave me items of power, the demons got what they deserved. God told me something specificly and directly in His own voice. I heard some pointed teaching that put four new tools into my batbelt. I prayed in the Spirit for some people, and each transaction was powerful. I caught myself saying words to at least three different people that I know were rhema truth, breathed from the Holy Spirit though my mouth. I wrote a song of intensely personal worship. I read a Bible passage that spoke to me in five different ways. I found out just what happened when Jesus did one of His miracles, something I’d never learned while hearing the story deconstructed over decades of sermons and study. I had a half-hour-long tear-soaked conversation with God, much of it involving weighty policy matters.
And some other stuff. You’re getting the idea - so awesome, but — and this is an awesome but to have when you’re trying to track it all — just another awesome day in paradise.

Not Ho Hum, but How Am I Going to Keep Up? I would spend an hour logging it all and have to leave out most of the telling details. I’m understanding the verse that has to dump treasures into the pile titled “many other things that Jesus did.” 

I love You God. Everything You do and say, everything You are is a wonder to me. Seal everything we share, everything we do and say and are and discover and will and work, into my heart and memory. May each exploration and experience be kept until becoming a story for a campfire, useful to some ears that need to hear. Until then, let our story be written on the world, stream of consciousness, one chapter at a time, in the ink of blood and tears and glory, and read with eyes that only want to look forward. Let us log this now moment with love instead of letters, because we are moving together too quickly to look back. What lies ahead? Yes, Together We can log that.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

King's Ransom.

If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32

There once was a good king, who, as was his custom, would hear requests from his servants and citizens on a day in his great hall.

This day, a knight came before him, weary from walking in his armor.
"My Lord," he said, "I come before you as your servant to make request."
"You are welcome, and you are recognized," said the king in return, "I well know how you have traveled far and endangered yourself to uphold justice. What is your trouble?" asked the king.
"I come broken before you," said the knight, "for my horse of these many seasons at long last has become weary and lame, and I am unable to ride forth to extend the king's peace."
"Not so," said the king, "for you shall have a horse from my stable. And no mean horse, you shall ride my mount; my very own. For I know that as you go, I have no need to ride forth. Keep the peace for me in my name."
Then he gave orders that his horse, the finest in the land, should be made ready for the knight.

Next, an elderly serving woman came before him, stooped from years of labor in the castle.
"My Lord," he said, "I come before you as your servant to make request."
"You are welcome, and you are recognized," said the king, "For I have seen you these many years, how you have from sunrise to sunset worked to maintain this house. What is your trouble?" asked the king.
"I come broken before you," said the woman, "for my life-long husband has died, and being unable to keep our house, I find myself without any home."
"No, no," said the king, "what has been your workplace shall be your home. I have no bride as of yet, so your chambers shall be here in the castle. Live well here, and all who live here shall be your family, and know that you are yet loved." 
Then he gave orders that the queen's suites, empty these many years, should be made ready to house the woman.

As she left, a tradesman from the marketplace came before him, dressed well, but with lines of worry on his brow.
"My Lord," he said, "I come before you as your servant to make request."
"You are welcome, and you are recognized," said the king, "I know that you have ever transacted fairly in the market. And I perceive that you are vexed. What is your trouble?" asked the king.
"I come broken before you," said the tradesman, "for an enemy of the kingdom has tricked me in a business venture, and now I have nothing left. They have taken all and I find myself endebted to the king's treasury for taxes. I am unable to pay."
"I shall deal with this enemy," said the king, "for the now, the kingdom has need of your honesty. Go again and do well as you ever have."
Then he gave orders that the man's debt should be forgiven, and moreover, that the amount he owed should be given him from the treasury to renew his trade.

Finally, on this day, this most strange exchange. An orphaned boy was brought before the king in chains. 
"My Lord," said a guard, "This condemned boy comes to make request."
The king looked to the boy. "You are welcome, and you are recognized," said the king, "For I have been awaiting your arrival. What is your trouble?" asked the king.
"I come broken before you," said the boy, "sentenced to die, for I have been found eating the fruit of the king's orchard these many days."
"And what is the penalty for this trespass?" asked the king.
"The penalty is death," said the guard.
"This is an old law, and well known by all," said the king grimly. "And the law will hold. But you," and he rose and walked to the boy, "your trouble is at an end."
Then he gave orders that the boy's chains should be unlocked, and he led the boy to the his chair, and sitting him there, he removed his crown and placed it upon the boy's head. He then walked out with the guards and had himself killed as the boy would have been.


You have already given your very life for me. So, I trust You, as I serve as knight, to provide for me a means to move. As I serve to maintain Your house, I trust You to provide for me with living space. As I serve to move goods to those who need them, I trust You to provide me with the means to do this business. I accept the freedom You have afforded me. I accept Your unimaginable generosity, just as I have accepted the impossible sacrifice of Your life for mine.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

90 Days of Jesus.

So, it's the new year. Did you make a resolution? Did you make a resolution and already fail? Did you not make a resolution and think that you should have? Did you not make a resolution because you think that New Year's Resolutions are bogus and only for people who don't sack up and do what's best for themselves year round?

Resolution or not, I've been hankering to really examine Jesus up close for a little while now. I've made a resolution to look at the life of Jesus through the gospels before Easter. 

I'm going to read a bit a day for 90 days, from January 16th through April 16th. Each day I'm going to journal my revelations, and I'll be looking for a couple of things as I go: 
• What do I learn about Jesus from this?
• What am I to do?

The idea is that I will understand Jesus better, and better understand what I'm capable of in Him. I know, it's back to square one this year for me.

I've done the gospels, reading a chapter at a time, but this time, I wanted to read chronologically as a whole - if only as a fresh approach.
I created a combination gospel out of Matthew-Mark-Luke-John that may or may not be completely error free (there is a book out of a chronological gospel: The Chronological Gospels Bible by Michael Rood which reorganizes Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts and Revelation, but I was too cheap to buy). I'm not a Biblical scholar, I mean, I am a Bible scholar in that I study the Bible, but I'm not your seminary guy. I am your determined DIY guy. So my version might be a little rocky – not sure yet, I've not read it through. The upside is that my version is free.

Since the synoptic gospels overlap, some of the readings might seem redundant. I'm anticipating that encountering something verbatim back to back (to back, sometimes) will impress its importance upon me. So, yeah! Chronological; some days a triple sameness. Something different, and different is good.

If this sounds like something you want to do too, make a resolution to join in. Starting on the 16th. The pdf is available here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Open Boat.

You, misfit in your own life,
wondering if there is a place for you in this world,
knowing that you were made for something
but uncertain if that something is a place for you to land
or a role for you to wear
or if it existed in your past and you walked past it
intent on another lesser thing
and you've missed it.

Me, I wouldn't blame You God
if you let it pass me by
as I moved by it.
Not Your fault.
I have chosen wrong at times
and thought that it wouldn't kill me
or wanted to die 
and didn't care 
if everything fell to ruin.
So.

No one's watching.
Everyone's in the same space
caring about their own lack
and wanting the lottery to fall into their account.
But the cavalry's not coming.
And God is the one watching 
but only watching to see if you'll be different
and become who you are
to stand out from this forest of faded shadowy silhouettes
in color 
and in identity.

And I ask
What color?
Who? 
In this rowboat named Identity
Where I see only where I've been
and row until I tire
and think
Maybe if I set the oars down I'll feel a current.
But mostly I feel tired
and alone
and sad, again.

Why did You make me?
Why am I here?
I need a reason.
I want a thing to do that doesn't almost pay the bills
and doesn't make me say oh damn it it's Friday night and only two days until Monday again 
and Saturday and tomorrow's Sunday and almost Monday
and Sunday night and tomorrow's Monday
and it's 5:15 and almost time to leave
and we haven't done anything Together We
yet

I don't need to feel You all through me
But I want to
I don't need to change the world
but I want to
I don't need to work it all out and be neat and move with elegance and power
but I want to

But I want to
Wouldn't it be lovely
to have waaay more than enough
to step away from survival to hand away crazy 
wads of money
words of life
life
if
I had it, would I 
do it
I believe I would
I believe I would intentionally
and coincidentally
(if coincidences exist, because there are no coincidences in the You)
So,
A Structure to really make a difference in my circles
and in me
to heavenly give opportunity and opulence and openness
to those who never had a first chance to know who they could have been
if
(and here we don't insert all the hard knocks and evils because who wants to cry harder)
and A Margin to take time to really make a difference in my day
and in those
who heavenly are the one before me in this low place
where I find myself
where I would keep myself
even if the lottery were to try to float me away 
wash me away with green water
I would not be awash 
from here

So, why
or why not rather
because it would be wasted on me
because I'm alone but tied to others
who would not be able to handle more and less and depth and height
then 
how does one do this thing called God
because we all walk alone with You
and we all are naked before You
and I 
can't herd cats or lead christians 
for politicized people all want their vote and their way and everyone does what seems right to himself 
again
even those who claim Lordship claim lordship
in blindness and delusion and this-far-but-no-further
is far enough

Not far enough for me.
Not deep enough for me.
Not near enough for me.
Not sensical enough for me.
I want it all to make sense
not be sense, mind You
just to come together before it's all over here
and to know that I've played my role
as written
not to fail
  although I know I have failed
not to fuck it all up
                    although I know I have done that pretty well too
to overcome all that deficit and to leave something of a profit behind
to speak a profit
to walk something forward
to become what I was to be so
I don't lurch into bliss with blinking eyes 
and disappointment in You
for leaving me undone 
and me leaving this place unfinished


Which puts me back into the rowboat
here with oars up, looking back on the Finished Work of the Cross
and The Empty Tomb
It Is Finished, and I am dead to all that
and alive to all that
too
but 
still out here on the water
and I've rowed hard but did it even move me
or even in the right direction
there are no roadmaps here on the water
was I supposed to just rest and drift and enjoy the day
or was I supposed to hand over one oar and row Together
We are in the boat, I know, Together
with hints of wind 
to direct me

So I set my face to the sun
and I listen for breezes
Will I end like I began
Will I ever
end
or land
or will I 
will I need to stay in the boat until
until I
until the boat and lake and wind and I

I want to leave all this brokenness behind
Not broken, I know
this boat isn't sinking
feels broken
looks worse now than it did
creaky
but not leaky
afloat and capable of floating here forever
which is the problem
a motor would be nice?
a galley?
Nah, this is the brokenness
Me picturing my yacht, pulling up to rowboats and handing down motors 

My dream.
Your dream?
Me, in a rowboat with You.
Here.
Now.
No motor, no need for anyone to hand a motor down to me
or me to hand anything down to anyone
or anyone
just 
Together
We

adrift
and
moving
to 
eternity
one breath of breath
at 


with all the

in the

with no provisions or ambitions or destinations or purposes
just
simply
only 
Us
in an open boat
in the open
open
and open
for whatever
nothing
more

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Random Commentary Is No Tale To Tell.

I'm making a note here to remind myself - my later, older, forgetful self - that some clangin' and bangin' has been going on in the backyard box over these last long weeks. I've not logged any of it here as
• I'm not on a program or regular schedule worth tracking. This is not because I don't desire to be on one, it's a time issue
• Everything is on feel, so there's no weights/reps/benchmarks to track

• I have no fitness goals ATM
• I care less about this than I do about tracking all of what the HS is doing in my life, and I don't have enough time for that, so. Also, I'm not logging that stuff here, because, who would believe it anyway?

What I will note is that when I do get out for what seems like bi- or tri-weekly sessions, they look like this right now:

1:
Assistance antagonists (10 mins)

Hip Thruster/RDL, say
Main (14 mins)
Oly Squat, say

2:
Assistance antagonists (10 mins)

Landmine Iso Rows/Y-pulls, say
Main (14 mins)
Meadows Rows or Ring Rows

All I'm doing is pulling because I trashed my right rotator cuff bouncing OH presses off the bottom like a complete stoopidnoob, a failure for which I still punish myself, as you can see, and for which I am still paying the price of all things overhead. I am unable to static hang, and all pushing movements are right out.

Nothing's changing in terms of hypertrophy or composition. I'm doing IF just about everyday, with a noon to 6ish window.
Strength is down, but yeah, that tends to happen when you don't do anything constructive, and can't do anything but squat and ring rows.
Conditioning is baseline, if I can work in anything, work capacity will be the first addition; sprinting and MA.

So, saying that there's nothing to say. Nothing to say in a conversation with someone who only speaks infrequently, when he has time to blurt out a sentence or two, and those talking points are merely what's on his mind in the moment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Dream Image and Ultimate Insanity.

I'm dreaming every night, but I'm not remembering them. I not troubled by this. The usual nature of my dreaming, or what I can recall, are flights of movement and action and color and never any specifics. I remember only that some craziness happened - like the incoherent snippets of memory after getting clocked in a street fight. I know my spirit and the Holy Spirit are going on grand adventures, happy to run along without conscious-me tagging along. So conscious-me doesn't need to remember. The deepest parts of me are getting massaged and grown and stretched and pacified and purified while the rest of me is at rest. I'll take it.

Yesterday, Carl led an in-depth college-level-survey-seminar of all-things-dreams on GroupMe. He convinced me, at least, that I should pursue some divine knowledge while sleeping. So I prayed  yesterday:

God, I ask You for a dream tonight, one that provides clear direction from You.

Annnd, last night I had a dream. More like echoes of a dream, like usual. But, there among the confetti snippets of dream memory, I did hold to one very complete, razor-sharp and memorable image.
Since the dream isn't much of a story to tell, let me tell you a different story first.


Familiar with Dave's Insanity Sauce? The hot sauce that can remove driveway grease stains? I first tasted it after I came home from Thailand, when my mouth was conditioned into a spicy-food resistance that could lick a red-hot tailpipe and giggle.
We were in a hot-sauces-only store, I was going to buy a bottle of something crazy for my father in law who liked hot sauce, and I asked what was hottest. The retailer said Dave's Ultimate Insanity sauce.
I asked for a trial. The guy dipped a toothpick into the bottle and handed it over. I touched it to my tongue. I remember wondering if I had speared myself with the tip of the toothpick, because this slightest hint of Dave's had created a tiny black hole that was sucking all the loose shards of pain from all points in the universe directly into my tongue meat. 


Fast forward to after I'd gifted the bottle to my father in law, when we're making sandwiches and joking about putting some Dave's onto the sandwiches, and his mother says she wants to try the stuff.

Gram was the sweetest person in all of the Body of Christ. Jesus would shed tears at times hoping that He could have a heart of love like her someday. Never an unkind word, never any talk that didn't somehow cycle back to Godliness or a blessing or some manner of self-sacrifice. She's about 70, and slowing down physically, but still ramping up in her divine sweetness - until the world will not be worthy of it anymore and she is taken home.

Just trying to give you a mental picture if you never met her. We all know someone like her: the one upon whose prayers the entire church stands. When she dies, if someone doesn't step up their game, the church will close its doors, because all the love will have left the building.

She wants to try the hot sauce, and, not seeing too well anymore, she smacks the bottom of the bottle like ketchup and blops at least a quarter-sized ball of lava onto her sandwich.

Everyone: Whoa! Stop! Danger! Don't do that Gram! This stuff isn't like that! You're going to have a heart attack! It's going to eat a hole through you and down to China!
Gram: Oh, stop it, sweetie. Blop, blop.

This conversation goes in a circle for 5 minutes until Gram voices a grim edge to her sweetness and we all know that it's time to surrender. She is going to do this thing, and telling her not to is only hardening her resolution to add more sauce.

This was before a universal 911 phone number was instituted and people had to call emergency services by their particular phone number, so I go into the kitchen and ready her a post-tastebud-meltdown glass of milk, and check that the number for the ambulance service is magnetized to the refrigerator. I know what one toothpick tip of this stuff is capable of. She is liable to have that heart attack. 

I bring the milk back to the table in time to see her take the first bite. Gram, with grim resolve, remains immobile as she eats that whole sandwich.
  

She can't see. Her eyes cloud over into a drippy bloodshot pink. Basins of sweat pool in the folds under her eyes. She cannot speak. She will not speak, I think, even if she can, since if she might emit a squeak, the sound would be an indictment: I have misstepped and I must admit it.

This kindly elderly lady is suddenly someone monstrously grand in my eyes. A towering cliff that withstands crashing ocean waves for centuries and remains intact. A sun that burns, and is burned, for millennia and never flames out. What is her secret?

Stubbornness. And it's not hers only, this dark power. 

I look around the table, and there to my right is my little brother in law, who, at the age of 10 ordered a raw steak at a restaurant. Who knows why. Maybe being the guy who eats bloody meat sounded manly at that time to him. The plate came to the table, red and bleeding juice and still mooing as they say, and, rather than return the cut to be cooked, he mechanically chewed through the whole disgusting thing, obviously hating every second, but too stubborn to admit it.
And, on my left. There is my father in law, who I won't tell any tales on, as he is in heaven now and has the ear of the Almighty, and who, while alive, was famous for harboring no quit at all, ever, and who, like Gram, was the most loving and generous and self-denying man alive, but who was notoriously the stubborn-est of them all.

He's more stubborn than Gram, who is sweating but resolute and unmoved and upright, but only just so, holding herself together like some sort of human jellocake. If I were to touch her with my pinky finger, I think she might start to jiggle and vibrate and volcanically explode.

But she doesn't. Through sheer stubbornness she didn't. And she never admitted that the sandwich was hot. She never said anything, no matter how anyone tried to tease any commentary on the experience out of her. 

And I learned: I am married into a family with monumental resolve founded on a granite foundation of stubbornness. Stubbornness that will swallow burning pitch without flinching to avoid an admission of misjudgement. Stubbornness that can turn a Godly grandma into a stoic deathbot, incapable of acknowledging pain.
And I realized: Her stubborn blood also runs in the veins of my wife; the woman with access to my bank account and the block of knives in our kitchen.

You're making a big scary deal out of not much, you say. Stubbornness! Everybody is a donkey sometimes. This only becomes a problem during communication and conflict. It's not a spiritual issue, stubbornness, is it? It's not really an evil to beware? 

I don't know: Can anyone tell you anything? Can anyone question you on anything, or call you on anything? Do you always have to be in the driver's seat during any disagreement? Can you listen to more than a few sentences of anyone's anything before you drift or interrupt or contradict? Do you always have to be right? Can you ever say you're sorry? Can you ever be wrong? Can you ever admit that you might have misstepped into a pool of hot sauce?

Yeah, hot sauce. Which, brings me back to my dream. I have my usual dream(s) last night. I say "usual," but I don't know what the content is in my usual dreams.
What I do remember is a picture-framed dream portrait of Gram, my father in law, my wife, my brother in law - the whole surnamed family line - as static busts in a museum display. I have only that picture and the encompassing mist of dream-knowledge that all of these people are held by a spirit of Stubbornness. 

A spirit of stubborn? It's not even a thing, is it? The One talking to me via a dream says yes. And a generational, familial one that that. The Stubborns.

I woke up holding tight to this image and didn't waste any time. I prayed. I first prayed my gratitude to God, for answering my request to speak to me clearly and directly during dreaming, and then spoke to the spirit of Stubbornness down through the whole familial line, down through my kids, breaking it and replacing stubbornness with humility, receptivity, openness. Soft heartedness instead of hard headedness. Some tractability where there's been intractabilty.


That was this morning. This evening, L and H are having a disagreement, after everyone else has carted off to bed. The words were indistinct, but the tones of the voices made the messaging clear: 
I'm stubbornly stubborning your stubborn stubbornnesses, and I've stubborned enough stubbornnessing for one stubborn day!
Well, my stubborn stubborny can't take any more stubbornite from the avalanche of stubborn flying down from your stubbornstubbornstubborn stubborn range!

How do two stubborn people back down to show love when Stubbornness is a brushfire on their tongues? This will be a spiritual war that one prayer isn't going to win, I see. I'm glad that I was given a dream image to prep me for what's at stake, and to ready me a sledgehammer of Humility to smash against this long-standing red-hot iron-willed wall of Stubbornness.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Boots on the Ground.

Okay, I'm reviewing my year, and setting course for this next season. A year ago today, I got the first inkling that I should start prayer-walking to reclaim territory in downtown Bakersfield. I didn't know what that meant at the time, but I started in by prayer walking through the neighborhoods on my way to church.

I love the downtown, and I live in the tree-lined streets just bordering the concrete center of the city. The '01 is my zip code; 93301. This area encompasses the majority of Bakersfield's historic downtown, and Colonel Baker's field where everything originated in the 1800's:
I began to get serious about walking every street in the spring of this year, and got strategic about putting militant boots on the ground in early summer; stitching together a map and tracing neighborhoods, nooks, and nether regions visited in green ink. I spent some early mornings walking multiple circles around some buildings singled out by the Spirit - the abortion clinic, the Mason's hall, the Lectorium Rosicrucianum, a prominent strip club - and some places that got singled out for blessing and reclamation - defunct churches, crack hotels, residences. I faced off with crazed dogs, saw glowing sunrises, talked with broken transients, and discovered corners of my hometown that I'd never considered. 

I have only a few streets to mop up now, and I still need to do some blessing-walking around Bakersfield High School, which is closed off because the stadium is under reconstruction. My map now looks like this:
During the travels, the biggest change for me was that my mental map expanded from thinking in terms of territory to thinking in terms of inhabitants. Who lives here, both human and spirit? Who owns this space? ... And to pray, declaring, accordingly.

And now, What to do when I'm done? I don't get a gold star. Like the Golden Gate bridge, when you finish painting at one end, start over at the other. There's some streets that need a fresh coat of prayer. I'll find some cold mornings to get back out there now that the weather's changing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Punisher No More.

As a kid, I collected some of the darker comics - I had some Spider-man and some of the frivolous ones like Richie Rich and Archie, but I got older and was drawn to the darker anti-heroes before the anti-hero became mainstream; stone-cold angels of death and judgement. My collection was filled with Conan the Barbarian, Wolverine, the Punisher. All with some commonalities: misfit he-man-woman-haters who wanted to be left to themselves to do what they were driven to do; wander, making their lone-wolf way in the world, eluding a dark past, with no connection to others, keeping secretive and solitary, and, when cornered, showing their dark sides as the goodbad guys messing up the worsebad guys. 


Conan always fell into larger schemes as the machinations of the evil ambitious sought to make use of him, and always had to end up killing some slaver or witch, taking down some repressive city-state warlord, rescuing some woman who would inevitably leave him behind, or be left behind as he continued his wandering at the story's end. He never really wanted to help out, philanthropy was ever thrust at him on a spear tip.

Wolverine - and don't get me wrong here, not the sanitized Hugh Jackman Wolverine, I'm talking about the streetclothes-Logan-in-Madripoor ogre who was physically repugnant, full of disillusionment and hatred - was always siding with and fighting for the right but only after the wrong pushed into his isolation; never knowing who he was or who he should be or should become, and never able to meld into a wider community, or to find peace with any woman or friend. I remember being bothered that Logan smoked. But I wasn't bothered that he was full of disillusionment and despair. His doom felt like home. 

And the Punisher. He became my favorite. Frank Castle, his family taken from him, a burning hatred for all things hateful. Always looking for trouble to trouble. Daredevil, his foil, ever the attorney, thought that if Punisher knew what America stood for, he'd respect due process. But the appeal with the Punisher was that in the heart of the law-abiding and law-loving, there is the desire to short-circuit the system because it fails to deliver justice; to be the one to dispense justice. There are bad people out there, and someone has to be the antidote for evil. Someone to fight darkness with darkness; judge, jury, executioner. A never-ending crusade of killing the killers sounded like righteousness to me.

These were my superheroes. All with retribution as their primary superpower. None of these characters appeal to me anymore. I'm plenty tired of harboring a darkness in my heart. I'm not a minister of vengeance. I'm a minister of reconciliation. Love doesn't seek isolation, or step aside as evil makes its way in the world. Love overcomes evil, but with good.
There's still a natural man inside of me, wired with an innate desire to find a fight for justice - and I do. I do fight for justice - against principalities now, not targeting flesh and blood enemies. No man is my enemy. No man is safe from an undeserved blessing. Mercy has triumphed over judgement.
I will act as Punisher, but not on flesh and blood - instead, I look to punish the principalities and powers. Claws pulling the puppet strings in the spiritual shadows behind the physical stage. 

I've been hearing from various prophetic sources that I'm a Wolverine. Better to be him than the Punisher, in all events. Besides wearing the chops, I don't fully get the connection though. Maybe, like Logan after a mind-wipe, we both walk not really understanding our identities; like him, my past, and my possibility and promise and potential have all been taken from me, unremembered, unrecognizable and unrecoverable. I don't know what else might be my connection to him. The one who will do the dirty job? The one who will go in and slay the ugliest with his own ugliness? The one who is unkillable but wants to die inside? The one walking joylessly wondering if there is a place of peace somewhere, but won't ever find it because wherever you go, there you are, and his discontent disrupts any peaceable place he enters?
I hope not. These things were true until very recently, but my hope is, not true for long. Not true in the tomorrow.

What do I know? Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Choosing who deserves destruction isn't my portion. I can destroy, but how does that make me Godly? God is the one who destroys evil ... but with good. Only God would bless people from darkness into light, God is the One Who would curse not. Killing and destroying is the work of the dark side. Destroying someone who is a destroyer - sounds like a good deed could be done in that, but only to the natural mind - far better to turn a destroyer into a builder, and add another to the blessing of the kingdom of light and right.
Do I make my point? When it's kill or be killed, be killed. "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." Jesus said it. If this sounds like weakness to you, then you have no understanding of the power of reconciliation.

I know that chivalry isn't dead. Strength is to be spent into creation rather than destruction. This sounds like a repetition of the point above, but with an extension beyond the realm of mercy into self-sacrifice. The modern-day knight not only seeks to overcome evil with good, but surrenders his rights to his own itinerary, his self-sufficiency; and, instead, sacrifices self and strength for the needful and weak. He cannot go his own way, and pick his fights only when his own way is obstructed. Confronted by injustice, he must go out of his own way to step between the oppressed and their oppressor. Who will fling himself into a sea of blows to absorb some, as a sorrow-sponge in hope of bringing calm to the waters? 

I know that the day of the loner is done. I am a married man. I am a father, with children of my own, and I am a father with adoptive spiritual charges for whom I care. My place in the world is found in community and inter-relationships. Any wistfulness for a lone-wolf life of wandering and answering to no one has been loved out of me by a caring God and a committed community. Pretending that you're too hard for fellowship is a veneer hiding a deficiency.

I know that I don't wander the world seeking to find myself, or exorcise some demons within. There is nothing to discover on the solitary road, there is no healing to be found in some self-imposed silence. The darkness within was driven out when the Light of the World took up residence inside, and now I am the light of the world. I remind myself: Stop looking for darknesses inside, or anticipating them. Move forward. Squint with the light of the truth in your eyes.

I know that all things are made new. I know enough to stop trading blows with darkness, or seeking to - there is no real fight between light and darkness. I know to share the sufferings of Christ, and like Him, intercede even if it costs all. I know to look around myself, and find my worth via investment into those with whom I am connected. I know that I was made whole for a purpose; I know to look outside my own skin and bring the reconciliation I carry. 
I know that I am a Punisher no more. There is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus; there can be no condemnation now from me, now that I am in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Front Squat RoM - 2016091721

I've had some days between these logged workouts. Some were just air squats and lunges for 6ish rounds, like on the road. I did a day of ring rows and oly squats couplet'ed, but really. I wonder why I'm logging today, except to say this: I'm not on schedule. I'm not on a goal quest. I'm just doing lifestyle work, just who I am. Getting up early for morning watch and being too burnt in the PM to do a program, that's who I am right now.

Buy in
3 rounds, no timer
Band Rotator Cuff internal/external rotations - Grey band, which is too mucho
Hip Thruster x16+ out/in
2 rounds, no timer
Adductors x12ish, doubled grey band
Finish off the 4 Hip Thrusters
12 mins.

- 1 min -

Main
5/4 rounds, HT timer
Front Squat - AtG @ 135# x6's mostly
RDL, 163# x10-x8
12 mins.