“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

Friday, July 26, 2013

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” 36Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. 37And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. 38But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.   (Mark 4)

I've often wondered how Jesus could sleep in the storm. I can see being able to sleep with the boat being battered by the wind and waves. But Jesus had to have been getting wet too. If you've ever been asleep in a tent turning the rain you know how a couple of drops of water can bring you awake from a sound sleep. But Jesus didn't seem to be bothered.

The revelation I got this morning is that this story illustrates how Jesus released what was in him into the world. The calm Jesus had wasn't affected by circumstances. In fact, the calm he carried was enough to change the circumstances.
The disciples, on the other hand, let the circumstances change their inner world. The word Jesus gave, "We're going to the other side," should have been enough for them to do the same thing Jesus did. Jesus chides them for their lack of faith. This suggests that he expected them to be able to trust his word and release the same calm into the storm that he did. 
And so it is with me. I have his word and his promises, and his Spirit. I think the storms I face are supposed to train me to take my inner world into the circumstances and change them.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

More Practice, Better Writing

I'm thirty thousand words into writing on two different book projects.  This morning I skimmed through the first chapter of my first book and discovered how much my writing has improved since I began.  Of course, I knew I'll be going over it and editing once I've done the first draft.  But it was funny to see what I'd written just a month ago and compare it to what I wrote yesterday.  The flow of my sentences and the words I chose have improved greatly. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what I think a year from now.  If I keep my pace of a thousand words a day I should be much improved by then.  I hope I don't look back and think, "What kind of hack wrote this mess?" 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Know Your Works

To each of the seven churches in Revelation Jesus says, "I know your works."  To those he corrects he says they must repent and do the works they did at the first.  The sign of their repentance is see in their works.

Verses like these used to make me feel like I have to try harder.  Since I'm judged by my works it must be up to me to make sure I'm doing the works I'm supposed to be doing.  And if I'm doing the wrong works I need to "just stop it!" and get my butt in gear to do the right things I should be doing.  So living for Jesus was a lot of Shoulds I put on my shoulders and carried around.

But the Spirit has been working to get my mind right--"and I mean right" (insert southern accent).  My friend, Sheri, tells people, "Don't should on yourself."  My good intentions and attempts at good works never turn out so well.  It's only by resting in the Spirit that I can produce any kind of good fruit.

Jesus said, "Be connected to me like a grape branch is connected to the vine."  The purpose of our connection is to make fruit.  Now the branch doesn't fret and strain to make fruit.  As long as it's connected to the vine the fruit just comes.  In fact, thinking that a vine can make fruit happen by itself is silly.

So when I read stuff about "working the works of righteousness" I remind myself that I'm not the one who produces righteousness in my life.  My righteousness comes from Jesus and flows to me as I keep in step with the Holy Spirit.   My struggle isn't to do good works but rather to press in to Him and keep my connection strong.  I pull my life from Jesus and the fruit will come naturally.  I don't have to strain and struggle to pop out a grape. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Being In the Spirit

Reading Relation one this morning.  Got to wondering what John means about "being in the Spirit".  I know Paul talked about being with one of the churches in spirit when they worship.  Paul's comments sound like more than just "concern from afar".  It's like he's able to see what's going on in the church.

St. Theresa of Avila writes about similar experiences with the Lord---being draw out of her body and seeing other places. So this got me thinking and wondering what being "in the Spirit" was all about. 

What strikes me about John's comment in Revelation is that he says it as if it's the most normal thing in the world. It's almost like he expects everyone to automatically know what he's talking about.  Kind of like we say, "I was on the phone when the doorbell rang."

I think it's time to start learning what the Holy Spirit is all about.  I'm called to walk by the Spirit.  And I think I'm just beginning to understand a little bit of how to do this.  Being "in the Spirit" sounds like a different experience all together. 

So much to learn. 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cross the Rubicon. Burn the Ships.

I like to have Plan B in my pocket.  I've got options if things don't work out.  It serves me well in lots of areas.  But sometimes I have to burn the ships.  Once I make the decision there's no going back and no other options.  Like Caesar crossing the Rubicon, either I conquer and survive or I fail. 

Today I'm burning ships.  I've been pecking away at being a Realtor and finally said to my self, "This is not my passion."   I'm pretty good at it, but I don't love it enough to go after it like there's no tomorrow.

Today I decided not to keep paying for my electronic key that gets me in to houses for sale.  And I'm not going to renew my license next month.  I'm going to do something I'm passionate about.

I've toyed with the idea of writing a book in the past.  One time I even came close to starting.  Fear and resistance beat me back.  I wasn't sure I could do it.  I didn't have the confidence to just sit down and do the work and trust the muse to visit.

But I've changed.  I know what I have to do.  I'm climbing in the ring with resistance and wrestling it to the ground each day.  I will make this work.  I'll keep at it until it does.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Loins of My Mind?

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ  --1 Peter 1:13

"Loins of my mind" seems like an odd phrase.  What gave Peter the idea to put those two areas of the body together in one metaphor?  The Bible often uses "loins" like we use "private parts"--it's a polite way to talk about genitals.  Jews thought of "loins" as the place semen resided.  

So what are the "loins of my mind"?  Nothing quite like digging into a metaphor early Saturday morning.

What makes the most sense is that the loins of my mind is my creative thinking--my imagination. Sometimes my imagination can run like a mustang through the sagebrush--wild and free.  It's difficult to reign in.

Worry is when my imagination runs through bad areas partnered with "what if".  Mark Twain said, "I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened."

Rest, hope and grace are what help me gird up the loins of my mind.  The Spirit has been speaking to me this year about grace.  The revelation of Jesus Christ is letting my imagination run down paths of rest and grace.  No more striving to be good enough.  No more imagining I must earn favour. 

My imagination brings rest to me when it runs in the paths of grace and hope.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Getting a New Mind

And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen  --Mark 16:20

Does God really want a bunch of mindless robots?  I think we often talk and act like he does.  We sing the song "I Surrender All" and believe that 
The problem with us singing the old hymn "I Surrender All" is that we think it's a lifestyle choice.  

I went back and checked the lyrics.  This song talks about salvation.  Surrender is how we enter the kingdom.  But citizens of the kingdom are the king's kids not employees.  Yes, the king's kids are expected to obey the king.  But they also get to talk to him and have him listen.  The kids have a role in policy decisions.  Employees are expected to just do what they're told.

And since we're adopted children we're expected to learn the heart of the king so we know how to act like royalty rather than employees. 

And the way God does this for us is like Trinity learning how to fly a helicopter in the movie "Matrix"--he downloads it into our brain.  Not only that, he himself takes up residence in our body.  The Holy Spirit renews our mind so we have the mind of Christ.  This give us the ability to think God's thoughts.

Now we can't go off the reservation and just do whatever we want.  It is expected that the kids of royalty obey the king.  But as the king's kids we should know how to made our own decisions that he will stamp CONFIRMED.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

When Did We Become Foodies?

We went out to La Bodega to celebrate Brenda's birthday.  La Bodega is a tapas bar in Kansas City.  Brenda read several reviews that gave them five stars.  We were expecting great food.  We got good food.

After several different plates came we started talking about what was lacking.  Our breakdown of the mushrooms in white wine and garlic is a good example of how we judged the food.  There was a stone-ground mustard in the sauce as well as white wine and not much garlic.  We tasted an earthy flavor overall from the mushrooms.  The mushrooms had been cooked in the sauce and had given their flavor to the sauce more than the sauce giving flavor to the mushrooms. 

The problem, we decided was that the dish had a one-note flavor, and that flavor was the earthiness of the mushrooms.  So I asked Brenda what could have been done to make the flavor profile more complex.  "Saute the mushrooms first, in a little butter and garlic," she said.  "That will bring out more flavors from the mushrooms and then use the same sauce but give it a bit more garlic."

There was only one plate with a balanced depth of flavor.  It was goat cheese and a fig coulis (a sauce) spread on toasted bread.

As we were leaving I asked Brenda how we became food critics.  She said it's because we watch Food Network, and in particular we watch the chef competitions.  Brenda pays attention to what the judges say about the food they are presented.  These critiques have helped her learn how to develop depth of flavor in the food she cooks.  Now we're on the hunt for better restaurants.

Can We Build It?

I know how to build a house.  I know the order in which things have to be done and I know a lot of common problems to look for and avoid.  But this week I thought back to the first house we built.  We knew a lot about construction, but we were far from experts.  We didn't even know how much we didn't know. 

I don't know how Brenda & I got to where we look at something we've never done before & say, "Sure we can do that!"  We built our house.  We built our business.  We've done projects for clients that were brand new processes for us.  God has blessed us with insight and revelation to figure out what we need to know as we go.

So here I am looking at something I've never done before and saying, "Sure, I can do that."

I've got a book inside of me that I'm bringing out and putting on paper.  Well, technically it only exists in my head and as ones and zeros on my computer.  I'm going to have to discover the things I don't know and then learn them.  My past attempts at constructing a book never got past kicking around a few clods of dirt, let alone digging a foundation.  But something is different in me.  I've got the footings placed and the framing is going up.  It's going to be lots of work.  But I think I'm ready.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Working Miracles in Jesus' Name

Someone was casting out demons in the name of Jesus when the dicsiples saw him.  They probably said something like, "You can't use Jesus' name to cast out demons--you're not one of us.  We're disciples.  We're the only ones allowed to use Jesus' name." 

They tell Jesus what happened, probably thinking he'll give them kudos for protecting the "Jesus Inc." brand name.  But Jesus says the following:

Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me.

Jesus says, "Yeah, they can use my name and the power behind it to do miracles.  Even if they aren't my followers (yet)."

I've tended to be more like the disciples and think that the more spiritual I am the more access I should have to the power of the Holy Spirit.  But Jesus says I shouldn't be surprised if I see miracles from people who aren't Christ followers.  I suppose that also extends to Christ followers who are immature or who have doctrine I think is off-base.

In another place Jesus tells about people who prophesy and work miracles in his name without knowing him.  Jesus says they won't make it into heaven even though they moved in spiritual power.  Being known by Jesus and following him is what saves us. 

So if the non Christ followers or immature can work miracles and prophesy I would think that mature followers should have even more of the gifts of the Spirit at work in us.  Sadly, I haven't seen that in my life. 

So I'm on a journey to unlearn my spiritual prejudices and accept the fact that if Jesus knows me I can do the impossible.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rollin' Down the Highway

God promises a highway through the wilderness in Isaiah 35.  The desert will bloom, the lame will jump for joy.  And the highway leads to Zion, the city of God.

The unclean won't be able to walk on this road.  It will be for "others".  When you say "others" it's not really clear who these people are.  Except we are told they are not "unclean".  And the promise is that even a fool can find his way if he's on this highway.  No Garmin GPS needed.

The ones who walk this road are the redeemed--those bought back from being in hock to their enemies.

This highway was first for the nation of Israel.  It tells of their return from being captives in Babylon.  But "others" gives this promise a bigger meaning.  Those who follow Jesus are also the redeemed.  So we Christ followers should claim this promise as well.

To often I've let my times in the wilderness be all about feeling dry and alone.  I was not even as smart as the fool who stumbled onto this highway.

The promise for us is that the wilderness becomes a place of springs and a place of healing for us.

I'm asking the Spirit to let me see the highway and not get discouraged if all around me is wasteland.  The word of God promises springs of water in the desert.  I'm one of his redeemed so I'm trusting that he will put me on that highway. 

And the fact that those redeemed are "others" and not exclusivel

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Photo by liber(thepoet);, Flickr

Isa 30:15 For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: "In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." But you would not

Hbr 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

Resting on Jesus is a message we heard from Joseph Prince earlier this year.  The Spirit has been speaking to me for years about not relying on my  own works.  But I've only started to hear the past few months.  The drive to do is strong.  That is the desire to do things in an effort to gain favor from God.

God still expects me to do, he doesn't want lazy sons.  But I'm learning to do the things I do because of my rest in him, not because my doing earns me any points in my "God account".

What struck me was the verse in Isaiah is saying the same thing.  The message of resting in God's grace is fully expressed in the New Covenant Jesus gave by his death and resurrection.  But God has been about us resting in him even from the beginning. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wisdom From the Foundation of the World

I’m reading Pov. 3 about the value of wisdom.  This verse stuck out to me.
19The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;

I was reminded of the verse in Rev. 13:8 that the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.  So the wisdom of God in creating all things includes salvation through Jesus.  

As I read this I get the sense that there is a truth here deeper than I can understand in words. You see, I've always thought of wisdom and salvation as separate. I know my salvation is settled when I was 4 years old. You know the standard question: "If you died tonight do you know where you'll go?"   I never worried about that.

So when I read in Proverbs all the cool things you get when you ask for wisdom, I always thought of it as seeking how to live better. It seemed to me like a way to keep me on the straight and narrow and avoid the immoral woman that Proverbs talks about. That woman drags you to hell, and I didn't want that. So wisdom, to me, was an intellectual reason to keep the law and follow the rules.

But God knows I can't follow the rules. It doesn't matter if I'm saved or not. I'll break the law even when wisdom tells me that it's a stupid thing to do.

So I need mercy and grace. And the sacrifice of Jesus "from the foundation of the world" means that my need of grace is built into the system of the universe. Wisdom isn't something I add on to my salvation to make me live right. Wisdom is grabbing hold of Jesus' sacrifice for the power it gives me to be a son of God. And sons of God are heirs to his Kingdom. Sons of God have authority and power.

Wisdom is living by the Spirit of Jesus.