Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Park Bench, Bus Bench, Whatever.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared. 
But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

Sometimes, paradoxically, we’re given what we’ve earned. 

In the “Tale of Two Benches,” Archbishop Niederauer describes sitting on a bus bench. When one waits for a bus, one is filled with expectations: The Blue line bus should be here at 8:11. If I look up at 8:11 and don’t see it, I begin to panic. At 8:13, my day is ruined. I want to get off this bench and get going somewhere else! The bus should be here now!

The park bench, however, is a time to sit and listen and watch. We wait for nothing. It's a sunny day, nothing's scheduled. The local squirrels that showed up yesterday may or may not be here today. And, that is okay. We don’t call the city squirrel police if they don’t show up when we want them to show up.

Both of the benches might look and feel in exactly the same way. You might find the same wood, the same metal and the same back rests in both of our benches, yet our expectations will be radically different. Niederauer uses this image of the Bus Bench to describe those times we ask (or demand) things from God and the Park Bench describes those times we are simply communing with those things greater than us in the universe. Sometimes we pray either way.

In general, the park bench is more about Being, and the bus bench is about Doing.

Prayer might be better, and living life more enjoyable and more "easy yoke," if we were Park Benching all the time. But prayer is a verb, and our prayers move us into action. There is a time to go and do, and God has placed passion in our hearts to move us to the bus bench. We are His workmanship, created for good works which He has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Sometimes the bus bench becomes the driver's seat as we drive the bus.

And, the corollary is also true; the park is a place to play and practice and perform, not only to spectate. We can do tai chi with the group there on the grass, we can swing on the swings, we can dig in the sand, we can place the park bench into our tennis shoes and walk the perimeter of the park for exercise and an ever-shifting viewpoint. We can talk to the squirrels and we can walk on the water of the pond.

Because we have all things doesn't mean that we walk in all things, yet. The park is a place to practice what is our passion - which is, at its most foundational, a passion to know the Lord. So we work our passion as we sit and converse with the One next to us on the park bench. But this work isn't "work," it's the flow of our innermost self finding our reason for being, and that's all sweetness, not labor.

Okay, so not Being vs Doing, but Mary vs Martha. My takeaway is that, at work or still, I still pursue. Not to be better in all the stuff to be a better Disciple, but to be better in all the stuff is what I am made for. It’s a religious work to make merit in order to please God. It’s no work at all to please oneself by chasing the passion of doing what I see the Father doing. Pursuing the things of God is still a part of who I am - I who cannot help myself but to die to the Less and press into the More. And the pressing in, if not done out of compulsion, is really living.

Here on the bench, any bench, we Be and Do best when it's out of who we are. Let the pleasure of passion lead the way. The compass needle points toward our pleasures because we flow best when we are being and doing in our true selves, pleasing the God Who created these passions within. Mary's addiction to recollection and relationship into the Father’s pleasure is the truest park bench course. Pleasure! If Martha had only done out of her desire, instead of some egotistical need for recognition or self-righteousness martyrdom or to be good enough. Pleasure is ours for navigation and God placed it in us to draw us, for the gospel is good news. Religion tries to make it hard, or a system, or something to whine about and Martha-do, when the pursuit’s all about enjoyment. We, as the credo says, were created to love God and enjoy Him forever.

Freaking Enjoy, and in this chasing of your own compass needle, find the true North of the Father’s pleasure. Pleasure in passion, a passion for not only yours but God's pleasure as well, because He enjoys as He sees us enjoying our lives – like a father enjoying watching his children play and laugh.

As a toddler, still only three years old, I have everything that a superhuman has; in my DNA, in my future, in my innate abilities, in my access – but this doesn’t mean that I am walking in these... yet. Walking some, toddling some, but intent on fluency, for running, for Olympic pole vaulting ... and movement in all this supernatural Godly athleticism is my passion. Practicing, pursuing, training... but doing all of this because it’s pure enjoyment.

The bus doesn't need to arrive any time soon, either. There's lots of time to become. There's time after all time is exhausted to keep enjoying the pursuit of passion for this everlasting son.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Circumstances, Broken Teeth, and Hope for Something More.

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

I'm just musing. Maybe I want to tell a story. Maybe I don't really want to go into the details of it. Maybe I just want to walk around it today.

I woke up today feeling the weight of the world. My circumstances, our circumstances, the human condition. Shame and mistrust and helplessness and lack. Death and desire for death, a spark of life and the hope for real life. All of this; where there is so much wrong, and me with a worry, outside of it as spectator, as commentator, as frowning architect, and I am wondering what to do with it all in the here and now. Today I am wondering, how to bring the something better to the here and now.

I have a stainless steel molar hiding in the back of my mouth. I’ve had opportunities to have it swapped out for a porcelain one, but I keep it as a trophy. 

Why do I have it? When I was in Thailand, I dove into 4 inches of water. This is a story in itself, but I’ll answer the anticipated question of “Why the heck would you do that?” by saying simply that I was running full speed and diving into a shallow spot on a beach all day long that day, and at day's end, the tide went out before I dove in a last time. 

I didn’t break my neck outright, or wasn’t knocked unconscious to drown in a faceful of dirty water. I have a supernormally hard head. The short version of this story before my story has me spitting out sand (rather, granules of teeth that had been smashed into sand) followed by a few restless days with dental nerves exposed to the elements, followed by the Appointment. Which is where the trophy story begins.

I remember a movie starring Dustin Hoffman called the Marathon Man. The title references Hoffman's character, an insulated university student and runner. His brother was mixed up with the mob or something and died trying to reach Hoffman, but without telling Hoffman his impossible secret about where Nazi gold was hidden or something, and suffer through the sequence where a Naziconcentrationcamptorturer gets Hoffman's character into his dental chair to determine if the brother told him where he'd hidden the gold. The questioning involves the dentist drilling holes gunbarrel straight into Hoffman's teeth, asking, "Is it safe?" Over and over.

Maybe I don't want to go into the details of my story.

I sometimes quote-in-paraphrase Graham Cooke, who famously says “If we are in Christ, then all of our circumstances are in Christ too” and everyone takes great comfort in that. Because Jesus cares about our crappĂ©. 
Because if I'm in Christ and so are my circumstances, then Christ is stuck with my circumstances, and He can handle them. I'd like to divorce myself from them, leave them at the foot of the cross. Yeah. This is the comforting part of the notion. Leave it all with Jesus. Jesus saves, and Jesus cares, and handing it over should be easy.
Since I'm not my circumstances, I really want to be divorced from them.
We three - circumstances and Christ and me are all stuck in this bubble together. If I push the stuff over *there* onto Jesus, and at the same time seek a closeness with Him, well, we're all three still atop each other, aren't we?

My four inches of water was off the beaten path, so after three days of pressing my tongue against my teeths' rootshards to keep the air off of the nerves, I was in Bangkok for the Appointment to see a dentist at the hospital. I should have considered what manner of dentist works out of a hospital, rather than in private practice. I should have gone anywhere else. I should have eaten a bottle of aspirin before the Appointment, but I didn't do any of those things. 

From the street, Thai buildings with air conditioning are evident by condensation on the windows; so cold inside that water is running down the glass on the outside, like an iced soda on a hot day. The hospital was this wet-windowed cold. 
I wore shorts to the Appointment, and shivered as I sat back into a plastic-covered dentist chair. When I leave the chair a few hours later, I will leave a two-inch deep puddle of my sweat there and on the floor.

I am in Christ, and I will always be in Christ – safe in this bubble of grace, in this newcovenant that He made with the Father – a covenant that will continue after death into eternity. My fallen, temporal circumstances may be in this covenant now, but then, they won’t. I will outlive them. Fastforward, I won't have to consider them mine. They and all of their shittyass shortcomings will end at death. I will have no more mortgage, no more health issues, or money issues or marriage issues or children issues or work issues or ministry issues or time issues or fatigue issues or any circumstancial shortcomings in the circumstances this world offers. They will both end, this world and my circumstances in it.

But until then, I'm feeling the weight of all of it. I have a shadow of doubt that my circumstances are going to hold me down until I'm finally free of them. I will never be more in this world and life than this gravity, and I’ll suffer under, slogging along during what time I have left here to eventually die only as unrealized potential.

Here lies one who wanted more and finally got it, but not in the here and now and not before anyone else who didn't ever even desire more in here and now. More's the pity.

My dentist and I, only the two of us in this large linoleum room, used for surgeries, maybe. The dentist, grim and silent, mostly. Me, resolute and trained from youth to undergo any circumstance without complaint. The room doesn't have an anesthesiolgist. The cabinet doesn't have any painkillers. The side table has a stainless steel thimble, and a hooked silver pick, and a surgical dremel grinder.

I relive only the outline of the Appointment. Here we speed through sequences of the dentist pressing the steel onto my broken nerves, saying "No, no," inserting the hook under the steel to muscle it off and wildly igniting the fan of circuitry controlling pain reception throughout the left side of my body, the dentist alternately grinding on the steel and grinding on what is left of my teeth with high-pitched screams from the grinder and chalky smoke fogging from my mouth. And another sequence of another pressing down of the steel onto my nerves. Each time the thimble presses on and pulls off of the nerves with more tenacity, grabbing more tightly and stabbing more deeply with amplified jolts of naked agony. 

Each time the dentist turns away to grind on the steel, I am asking myself, am I insane, is this really happening, am I at my mental limit, and answering myself with, "If you're asking questions, then you haven't reached your limit, and you really can go farther, can't you?" And then another round of farther in this marathon session. 

At last the dentist pulls on the hook as hard as he can and the steel holds to the nerve, and I am released to exit the room, leaving my sweat and keeping my steel trophy.

I've used that Appointment as a benchmark many times, when I was hurting. Whatever it was I was going through, it was nothing much compared to that - and I survived that. Like a trauma victim, I guess I could go back to that memory and imagine Jesus in the room. He would be there, feeling my pain with me. I've no need to do this mental exercise. I wasn't blaming Him or feeling that He had abandoned me. I made it through, I can handle anything now.

Today I'm merely wondering. The happy ending to any story like this might only be that the story has an ending. Such is our hope with our wider life circumstances, that they end someday? That we leave them behind, eventually, like leaving a torture chamber? How different is Christ and me and circumstances caught here in this life, from Christ and me and the dentist? When does the teeth pulling end? I wonder if I should hope for more than simply an end to it. If I can wonder, if I am standing outside of the pain as a questioning Other, then I know I can both endure it further, and know that there is something better. 

Today I am wondering, how to bring the something better to the here and now, before the too late. Being fully alive now. Being more than sweaty and suffering and broken now.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

8 Week Leangains RPT Cut.

Okay, I just finished two months of a cut. I used the Leangains RPT training protocol with 3 days on/4 days off with very slight modification (assistance stuff only), did Intermittent Fasting 16/8 throughout, cycled training day/rest day calories, tracked macros - most importantly, seeking to eat 1g of Protein per lb of bodyweight daily (and, subliminally, to eat carbs only with/after proteins as a general rule), and, in conclusion, hit all my marks as well as my goals.

I was hovering just under 230, at around 15% BF (measured on the Tanita scale, not by calipers). My intent was to lose fat, especially around the midsection, and hopefully not to lose much, if any, muscle or strength. Not to lose weight. Fat. My goals were modest, to lose 1.5 lbs a week, to lose pretty slowly and lowly to make certain that it actually was fat I was losing. 
If I had 12 lbs of fat on me to lose (8 week cut; 15% BF down to a possible 10% = 2.3x5 = 11.5 lbs to lose; at 1.5 lbs/week: 230 > down to a goal weight of 218.5. I did lose just that much weight to 218. 

Caloric math:
I calculated my maintenance level cals at 2747/day
These days x7 = per week = 19,229
My desired fat loss/week at 1.5lbs x 3500 (cals) = 5250 to remove
so, 19,229 - 5250 = 13,979 cal/week = 14,000 cals a week or 2000 cal/day target, nice and neat.

I cycled those calories:
Training: 2750 Cals
Rest: 1440 Cals
Target numbers are funky because there are 4 rest days in the week. 

Averages for all days showed that I ate too little on training days and ate too much on rest days. This probably impeded my fat loss on rest days a bit (guessing):
Training: 2289 Cals
Rest: 1812 Cals

My lean mass @ 15%BF = 195.5 lbs LBM = daily protein intake of 200g nice and neat
I would try to beat 200g/Protein a day throughout, on both training and resting days. I averaged 222g on training days and 197 on resting days. I did start each day drinking BCAA's and vitamin C (followed by a pot of coffee to get through to lunch) and those BCAA grams of protein were not counted into averages or totals.
I could have eaten more carbs on training days and fewer carbs on resting days. Hitting my macros is what I'd done in the past and this was second nature to me. 
Hitting the caloric number wasn't second nature, and some days, especially rest days, I'd run low on cals before I was ready to end eating for the day. heh.
I didn't worry about fats; only after I'd eaten something with a lot of fat in it and saw that it really cut into my total cals for the day, leaving me with little room to get all my protein in.

= (LBM x 0.75 x 4) / 9 = fat grams/training day = 65g
200g protein = 800 cals protein, 65x9 = 585 cals fat, so the remainder = 615 cals carb/153g carb on a training day.

Targets per day: Training: 200P/65F/150C
Rest: 200P/70F/0C
No carbs on rest days was an unachievable objective, just a reminder to stay away on those days. The big priority was to get to the protein levels early and then let the chips fall where they might with the remaining cals for the day.

Averages for all days showed that I ate too little carb training days and ate too much on rest days (staying under 50g was reasonable). This probably impeded my fat loss on rest days a bit (guessing):
Training: 222P/103F/115C
Rest: 197P/83F/69C

Took measurements at both ends of the trial, and didn't measure at all, or weigh very religiously during. I started on Monday after Easter Sunday, when the in-laws were in town and we greazed all weekend, so I actually started off on Monday at 235.
8 weeks later, I was right at 218.5. While my BF% dropped into the 12's during the trial, it was showing at 14% at the end - much of this probably due to dehydration.


I lost everywhere, except gaining .5 in the upper arm. Losing size everywhere was more of an indication that I lost subcutaneous fat everywhere than an indication that I lost muscle everywhere - as I did not lose strength in any of my lifts. Losing an inch and a half off of the thigh, hip, and chest was partly due to the low rep scheme/low set scheme of the lifting. I'm sure I gained muscle density, and doubt that I lost muscle mass. But all lifts did go up from week 1 to week 8 (I did start to flag a bit in the later weeks after hitting a high point in the DL on week 6). I did Incline bench instead of flat bench work, as chest size isn't important to me.

Losing inches off the waist was the primary goal, and losing the 4 inches there that I did, was the primary win. I had to add a buckle hole to all my belts after a month, and again after week 6.

I didn't do befores or afters with the camera. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but numbers don't lie.

The three training days looked like this:
Deadlift 2x3-5
OH Press 3x6-8

Squat 3x6-8
RDL 2x6-8
Weighted Chin 3x6-8

GTO 2x6
DB to BB Incline 3x6-8 - Pendlay Row 3x6-8 - I supersetted these.

Most Saturdays and Sundays, which were formally rest days, I walked in the AM, downtown to the prayer house and back. 40-45 mins of NEPA walking. I had semi-anticipated getting out of town on either Saturday or Sunday to hike in the hills with the good weather and do long slow distance/loaded carry with the ruck, but this only happened a couple of times. Just sayin'. I think if I had added one day like this per week, my results in fat loss would have been both more dramatic, but I would have experienced more painful days feeling flat and hungry.
As it was, with the Intermittent Fasting, I felt full AF most afternoons. I only felt hungry a couple of times, mid-mornings. At the same time, I also felt a strange electrical energy as I knew my body was fueling itself with fat, and I didn't ever experience dopey fatigue or any pre-workout dread.

Poundages went up like this for me. 
DL : 5x273 to 5x343 in week six, ending at 3x343 in week 8 (fail at 373 that week). DL sucks for me.
OH Press : 8x125 to 5x145

Squat : 6x215 to 5x235 … Squatting didn't move much for me. I didn't lose here either, though. Before you say anything, know that these are full ATG paused high-bar squats. My focus wasn't to be putting weight on the bar during this time, but to do the cleanest reps and not fail any.
RDL : 6x223 to reps at 228 (these were accessory to squatting and not part of the protocol, I didn't push them as these were sometimes supersetted with the squatting).
Weighted Chin : 3 with 20/10/BW to 5 with 25/20/15

GTO : 6'sx128 to 6'sx143
Pendlay Row : 5x178 to 6x183
DB Incline : I did these for the first 5 weeks at 12 reps with too-light DBs (I was afraid to break my bench flat bar benching, which has always been a strength for me. So I did these for reps and transitioned to the BB for the last few weeks at 7x165 to 6x170). I don't normally bench or Inc bench anymore, just did these because they were part of the LG protocol.

Final Thoughts:
Getting in the protein simply can't be done without supps. I mostly drank whey isolate (the cheapest stuff but still isolate, yay for Costco) and drank it with meals, a couple 50g-ish doses a day. This is to say that protein powder, most days, made up half of my protein intake. 

Fat loss is aided in a big way by water intake. I tried to drink all the water, but I didn't track my intake. Wish I did. Wish I had data on, say, hitting 200 fluid oz a day or not.

My schedule didn't allow for me to program workouts until late in the day. I would have preferred a noon workout followed by a first meal with most of my day's carbs at lunch. Instead I was eating at noon, and training at 4 or 5, followed by a final dinner - not optimal, or the way I prefer to train on an empty stomach.

I still have some fat to lose. I'll do a 4-week feed with some higher training volume (three 10 day cycles; 6 on/4 off) just to mix things up. I was feeling that my fat loss was plateauing a bit and my strength was falling off a bit, so I'll take a month to rejoov without losing all my progress, then re-cycle for 6 to 8 weeks on a 1 lb/week cut with some slight modifications.

One interesting anecdote: this endeavor, while HT/composition and clearly measured physically, was also a spiritual and soulical thing. There was a moment early on, the first Saturday - week 1 of the cycle, when I was on a rest day, wondering what it meant to stay true to what I’d told myself I was going to do in terms of calories. In the past, I'd tracked my macros with no regard to total cals/day. 
This day, I had already eaten my 1600 cals for the day at lunch. We attended an afternoon/evening opening for an entertainment center in town. Free food and drink at the event, all of it really good and healthy and free. But all I consumed all through the event was water and ice teas. 
This is about self-respect and self-control. The kind of event I would have pigged out at, but I didn’t have anything at all. After this, the whole protocol wasn't challenging. I had my marks and I hit them - without any "I'll just binge more today and make up for it with less tomorrow" foolishness going on. Not a diet, a day-by-day agreement with my best self that I was going to do what I knew I needed to do.
I didn’t know if this leangains cut was a spiritual thing or a physical thing ... maybe I was wondering if it was a vanity thing ... until this first test. It’s spiritual to exercise self-control in partnership with the Spirit who brings self-control as fruit.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Reflecting on Answers and Experiences.

He also gave them this parable: “No one lights a lamp only to place it under a basket or under the bed. It is meant to be placed on a lampstand. For there is nothing that is hidden that won’t be disclosed, and there is no secret that won’t be brought out into the light! If you understand what I’m saying, you need to respond!” 
Then he said to them, “Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear, for as you do, more understanding will be given to you. And according to the depth of your longing to understand, much more will be added to you. For those who listen with open hearts will receive more revelation. But those who don’t listen with open hearts will lose what little they think they have!”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:21-25‬‬

I've been saying this thing, that I have gotten good milage and acceleration out of taking time to re-consider the day prior before moving on into the new one, and encouraging everyone around me to take similar time to review, but even for me, I don't think I'm being diligent enough in it. We've got to reflect, and record, and review for deeper understanding. The unexamined life may actually be worth living, but it's lacking in illumination. It's lacking in direction too, because if you're not seeing what was, you're probably not considering what is, or what might be, either.

I have a pet peeve. This would happen a lot in high school, where I got an early start on decoding film as I was the movie review columnist for the school newspaper, but this still does happen with some adults and still does make me roll my eyes and grind my teeth: Watch a movie, and, leaving the theater, mind whirling with all the points the director left out and questions unanswered and why-did-they-do-thats and geez-that-was-dumbs and holy-crap-what-would-I-have-done-in-that-situations, and you ask the people you're with, "What did you think?" 
And the others say, "Yeah, that was good." 
End of convo, let's go get ice cream.

Some people just want to enjoy a movie and not deconstruct it, I get it. But maybe this is getting worse all across the spectrum of society. We experience, but don't ask any questions afterward. We experience, and - hopefully not - move on to the next experience. We eat and eat and eat and never digest. 
Some of it's the news cycle that disallows us from contemplating why anything happens, only what happens - and before we can ask Why?, the next urgency is before us. We're binge watching season after season and never asking if it was worth our time, or what the motivation was of the maker, or what effect the viewing might have had on our soul. Movies are for enjoyment, not comprehension.

Hedonism is the philosophical trap of thinking that life is for enjoyment (not comprehension, and certainly not self-sacrifice or suffering or any higher motive than pleasure). I'm afraid that current American christianity is missing half the story and half the life because we're all soaking up the blessings and the worship and the miracles and the tasties, but we're not asking the Why of all of these experiences. Never asking if pursuits are worth our time, or what the motivation is of the Maker, or what effect our viewings might have on our soul.

There was a time not so long ago that a christian was expected to have a Bible and a journal. These people of the book also wrote down their prayer requests to track the answers. They wrote down their current questions and quandaries for review after the fact. Where have the philosophers gone? Christians used to be the deeper thinkers and quieter pools.

My pool's disquieted. I've got too many unanswered questions and too many bothersome discrepancies between my experience and what I carry as truths. I'm missing understanding on some pressing sensations and sounds and recurring thoughts and relationships and giftednesses and avenues of ministry and deficiencies in common knowledges, and I'm aware that I'm missing. I'm aware that I'm aware, but that's all. 

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. Some of what God's got, He's got hidden, only available for those who pursue it. 
So, I've was thinking that I have been diligent in my reflection on what's been, but I'm now convinced that I want more added to my understanding, so I must pry deeper. If, only according to the depth of my longing to understand, much more will be added to me, I must long at a deeper level, and seek and re-seek at a deeper level. 

I must pursue these awarenesses. I must codify what I discover and translate it for dissemination. Or not. If many others do not want to question, then they may not want answers. But I do. I must scratch this itch of awareness and see if answers stop the irritation.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Hope of Glory.

Today I'm having a di-alog-along with Graham Cooke.

Two and a half years ago, I was destitute in spirit. I didn't want to die, but I didn't want to live, either. I was at a low place, thinking every day about killing myself, and while I didn't want to end like that and was trying my best to bootstrap up out of this cloud of suicidal sadness, I was also certain that there was a limit to my resolution, and that there was going to come a day, eventually, where I wouldn't be able to reason up a reason to not end it all. And that would be my last day. 
In the midst of this darkness, this snippet of scripture was echoing over and over in my head: Christ in you, the hope of glory. Christ in you, the hope of glory. Mysterious and high-minded.
What did it mean? That Christ was in Jesus? Like, He was the specially anointed One? No, the "you" in this verse is lower case. I'm the "you."
I'd never gotten a handle on that verse in all my years of reading or studying the Bible. My hope of glory was dying - to actually die. Then I'd be over on the other side, in heaven, without all these problems. Heaven was glory, right. 
But that didn't seem like what the verse conveys. Christ in me - present tense. The hope of glory must be present tense too. What could it mean? This Christ in me, bringing some sort of glory? And what glory? 

- from Graham Cooke, Overcoming Life - Undermining the Enemy:
The … thing is Christ is in us. We are a habitation of God by the Spirit. We're in the New Testament, we're not in the Old one. We don't have a visitational relationship with God, so we're not waiting around for something that will never happen - like revival- which is the biggest religious myth that I know of. Why are we pinning our hopes upon an event, when we have the indwelling presence of God that causes us to rise up?
I think everytime we focus on revival, our focus is taken off the indwelling Christ and the power of Who He is in each one of us.

You know, when you read all the stuff on revival and revivalists, you realize that many of those great men and women didn't know they were revivalists at the time. They were just living in the fulness of Jesus. And so they were like, Gulliver in Lilliput. They were like Gandalf surrounded by hobbits - people who put more faith in the revivalist than in the One Who actually revived them. 
That seems a little weerd. But that's religious christianity for you. It's always looking for a superstar because Jesus, apparently, isn't ever enough. 

Well, we're turning the tables on that. Because revival is not mentioned in the Bible, not once. But fulness in Jesus, it never stops talking about. The abundance of God, the favor of God, the fulness of God, the life of Christ, Christ in us, the expectation of glory. The language is so rich about our relationship with God and His relationship with us. That's where the real issues of the Kingdom are. 

The reality of Christ within. So, we are provoked by that. We want to see a community of believers raised up in this country and around the world that are absolutely provoked the magesty, the sovereignty, the supremacy, the beauty, the magnificence of Who God is. And who are willing to get caught up in that to extraordiary lengths. So that wherever we go, we light fires. We kindle something. Majesty pours out of us. 

Like Caleb, we can take territory. Becasue, in the fulness of Christ, you know, He's designated a piece of territory for all of us. There's territory out there that's got your name on it. It might be your place of work, it might be where you live. It might be your subdivision, it might be your city, it might be your region, whatever. There's territory out there that's got your name on it. 
And the Lord is calling you up, making you fit that territory that He wants you to have.

And so we're learning in the business of life just who we get to be in Him. Christ in you, the hope of glory. Christ in us, us in Christ. There's a mystery and a majesty attached to our story and our journey. And we are a people who are going to explore that for all we are worth. We're explorers.

I'm no longer sad or depressed. God lifted that off of me. I've spent the last couple of years rising up in of this concept of Christ in me, the hope of glory. Rising up in my ability to wrap my mind around it. Rising up internally, to freely receive love and to freely give love. To accept. To worship. Rising up as I move through my world, to speak and seal and to heal. Moving vertically through levels of glory to levels of glory. Giving God glory, being more glorious as I house the Holy Spirit. 
This is what I was promised, what we were all promised. God would come and live inside of you because of Jesus, and everything would be different. But somewhere along the line, the messaging got to be about lingering sin, and the human condition, and how life will always be a give-and-take fight where we will win some and we will lose more, and God will occasionally show up and do something out of the ordinary, but mostly, life will be a series of disappointments where we will dutifully serve the program of the church and bow our heads and close our eyes and pray to God to hope to die, and if we don't die first, one day, Christ will come back to rescue us because evil will continue to grow until darkness covers the face of the earth. Because only in heaven will our problems cease.

I'll stop. It's a downer even to review the religious hopelessness.

Heaven is now. Heaven is here, inside, because what was promised is true. Christ is in me, the hope of present glory and future glory, is alive and dancing to the rhythm of the Father's heart. Life. Love. Supernatural power to overcome evil with good. Good works, which God prepared beforehand for me to walk in them.

You see, I am a member of the Body of Christ. The one who is the Bride of Christ.
The bride who is worthy to wed the King of Kings, Jesus. She's not a loser. She's not powerless. She's not sinful or sad or sloppy or selfish. I'm not sinful or sad or sloppy or selfish.

- Graham Cooke, from The Recession Buster: 
Pray like someone who's beloved. Don't pray like a widow: "Lord please help me!" Pray like someone who knows she can get something out of her Beloved. Women are good at that, have you noticed that? Guys we need to learn from the girls.

By the way, there's a reason why they're called grrrls. Because they're tough, they're fierce. They don't stand any messing. They're like a warrior bride; she looks gorgeous, but when she lifts up her dress she's wearing combat boots! And this girl is so feisty, she'd just as soon kick you in an unmentionable place than kiss you on the mouth. This girl - she ain't taking any schtick from anybody! She's fierce. 
Now, Jesus is coming back for a ravishing beauty who's strong and powerful and knows who she is. 
You can imagine Jesus in heaven over the last 10, 15 years saying, "Dad, let's just delay the second coming, I'm not marrying *that!* I'm not marrying that!"

You know that we are made beautiful by the promises God gives us. Instead of the ashes of defeat and depression he gives us beauty. What if every situation in the world right now is sent to beautify the bride of Christ? As she rises up in her honor, in her power, in her beauty. And she manifests - so the whole earth points to the bride and says, "That's the girlfriend of God!" … We are the girlfriend of God. We live under His favor, we live under His bias, His provision, His strength, His majesty.

I imagine that, if she was cognizant that every situation was about making her more beautiful and more strong and more ready for eternal relationship with Jesus, then she wouldn't be boycotting and picketing and complaining against those situations, but she'd instead be diving into those bad situations to reclaim territory, to make things right. 

Stand up as a saint. Stop calling yourself a sinner, and stop allowing religious mouths to call you one. Stop thinking that the Holy Spirit needs to come down and touch your situation, start reaching out with your hands and touch with the Holy Spirit Who lives in you, and Who promises to never leave you. You have prayed to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world, haven't you? Well, look at the ends of your arms; prayer answered. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Christ is in you, He in you is your hope of glory after glory, and you are now His hope of glory after glory after glory on earth.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Seers - Bob Jones

A seer is everything. Prophets are the eyes, but seers are the entire head: eyes, smell, taste and feelings. That is what Isaiah 29:10 says:
He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers.

A seer is everything. I like to use a hot loaf of bread to explain this gifting. With your eyes open, you can see it. But if your eyes are closed, I can tell you it is there, and you will be able to "see" it with your ears. I can put it under your nose, and you can smell it. I can put it in your mouth, and you can taste it. You can feel it in your hands. As a seer, you can move in all five realms, and because of that, you are more discerning. The enemy is never able to fully shut you down. The prophet can be momentarily blinded, but if the enemy blinds you, you will still be able to hear, smell, taste and feel. If the enemy comes against your feelings, you'll still be able to see, hear, smell and taste. A seer prophecies by all five senses, and so the seers move in stronger discernment.

What does this look like? There may be times when you hear a prophecy, and a bad taste will come into your mouth. Your taste is discerning. "This isn't God". But other times when you hear a prophecy, you'll start tasting gold. Whenever I taste gold, I know, "Man that's it. I want to get all if this." God communicates with you through your senses. It takes longer to become a mature seer that to become a mature prophet, because all five senses are involved. You have to learn how to discern your feelings, because there will be times when feelings come to you in ministry and they're not your feelings. And if you take them personally, you won't be active.

The one thing the Church has been taught against is feelings. But that's where you, as a seer, are the most accurate. You can take on how other people are feeling and know exactly how to minister to them. You can move right into their "living room" (their minds) and see what the problem is. You can feel what the person is feeling: depression, self-rejection, joy, anger, happiness. You can feel where they're coming from and know exactly what to go for as you pray for them. So the seer is really strong in deliverance ministry.

The prophet can speak the future, but the seer can see what the people need to let go of in the past, tell them what the Lord is saying to them today, and declare what the Lord is offering them tomorrow. You can go right into their minds and see where the pain is coming from and what is still affecting and controlling their lives. Seers can help people forgive - usually themselves, help clean their minds out, and invite the Lord there.
Seers can knock on a person's front door, come in, and visit with that person without saying a word. A prophet can only prophecy as the faith arises. A lot of times, a prophet is just a person who really comes forth in faith, and that faith activates him so he can speak clearly. That is what Nathan the prophet was. He prophecies by the faith that rose in him. But a seer can have all five senses.

A seer can feel the strongholds of a town. If you enter a town and feel lust, lust owns that town. I you feel depression, it's a depressed place. As you come in there, you'll take on the feelings of that town, country, or person, whether they are good or bad. You'll know where there is self-rejection, because of what you feel. If you're ministering to somebody who has self-rejection, you'll feel it coming at yourself, and you must never take any of these things personally.
One of the strongest things to minister to is spirits of self-rejection. Suicidal spirits come through these spirits. A seer will feel these things. if you think they are coming from yourself, you will be totally unprofitable. So you need to have all these senses sanctified and be able to tell, This is not me. I am not in self-rejection. I love myself. I can taste and see that He is good.

You can also smell what's happening. You can discern what's wrong with a church or a city or even a nation, because you can smell it. You can smell sin, corruption, and holiness. That's what 2 cor. 2:14 says: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." So you can smell the sweet incense of the Lord. You can smell His presence when He comes out of people, for the kingdom is inside of us. You can actually smell when a person really yields to God.
You can discern what's going in with people through their incense. You can do it with your taste: "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8). You can do it through your feelings, through your sight, through the things you hear.

Seers are kicked out of a lot of churches, because you are the least understood of all the gifts. You are one who feels like you don't fit any place except with other seers. Because of your revelation and dreams and the way God communicates with you, people think you're loony. But when churches reject you, they're bidding good-bye to their own mercy. As a seer, you are there for mercy. You are there to help bring healing to the people and show them what God is doing.
It's time for the seer to come forth. The Church needs you. It is time for the seer to mature and be used.

- Bob Jones

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.