Concentric Circles

Last week I was without patterns and data (specifically Friday).  I was trying to find some pattern or data set that still alludes me.  It is a frustration that I do not remember having.  Normally the frustration is not knowing how the patterns and data are to be put together.

So I sit down at my trusty white board and begin.  First the word “Direction” which leads to “Mystery” which leads to “Compass” which leads to “Concentric Circles”.  It continued on but the words “Concentric Circles” just hung there randomly.  I thought about it Friday and into the weekend.  No answer.  All still blank.  No data means no projections.

This morning I download my podcast app.  I had to reset my phone the previous weekend and this was one app I did not put back.  Then I subscribed to The Village (Matt Chandler) church.  The sermon began in Deuteronomy 6.  And he began by talking about concentric circles.  I listened in awe.

Since the brain is capable of making huge jumps with predictive analysis, I wonder if this was one of them.  If it was, how?  My mind was quite blank, void of data and patters – at least that was how I felt.  I still feel that way this morning.  Data and patterns are a part of my life.  What will today bring?

Life Together

Finally finished a couple of books this morning – “Praying with Paul” and “The Magic of Reality”.  I enjoyed the first but not the second.

“The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins was poor compared to his “The God Delusion”.  I was just so disappointed in the book because I loved his other book.  I want to try another one of his books but none of them grabbed my interest as I reviewed them so I moved on.  I am sure I will return to Dawkins later.

First, I looked at some lists of books I have.  Then I looked at books I own but have not read.  This brought me to “Communion of Saints” by Bonhoeffer.  I started it but did not get far.  I decided to look for another book of his since I so enjoyed “The Cost of Discipleship” and came upon “Life Together”.  Downloaded the sample and knew it was the book by the third paragraph so I bought it.

It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. –Life Together by Bonhoeffer

I already have several highlights from the book.  This one was along the lines of part of what I wrote Wednesday.  It does not seem to be a long book.  I might finish it today if I focus.

A New Me

Last night I was going to bed a bit early and started thinking.  I had to jump up and get my journal to record my words.  I’m not sure why I didn’t bring my journal to bed with me.  I picked it up but then put it back down in my living room.  Hmmm, weird.

Anyway, I realized how different I was from who I used to be.  I know God saved me and my life had a drastic change.  But this was more recent a recognition.  Two days ago to yesterday.  And I see it again today.

I heard a sermon recently and the pastor talked about how God was deconstructing him so that God could construct a more holy version of him.  He talked about how painful deconstruction is.  That statement is quite true.  Deconstruction is painful.  I imagine most (all?) Christians know this pain.

Yes, I know that the “new” you is a better you.  One that seeks God’s glory more.  One that seeks to be more holy.  One that trusts God more fully.  Sometimes I remember the old me.  Sometimes I try to go back to the old me.  But all the time God is moving me forward.

Tomorrow will be the last day of week three.  Three solid weeks of good.  Do not misunderstand that to mean there was no pain, sadness, repentance, or other negative things that occurred but as a whole God maintained a joy in me that I felt.  The sadness has not overtaken me during this time.

Do not take that to mean that sadness will not return.  That is dependent on God’s will.

What will the me of tomorrow look like?  I guess I will just have to wait and see.

The Evil Within

I just recently read one of my unpublished posts about how evil I am.  It was good.  Dark like my heart has been as of late.

I was on my couch yesterday wondering why I still read my Bible, articles and books about God, listen to podcasts, and watch preaching videos all when I feel far from God.  It was a simple answer, I suppose.  Grace.

It seems I do not know much else (anything else?).  The futility of worldly pursuits is known.  The futility of life itself is known.

Yesterday I downloaded the commentaries of John Calvin again.  I had read part of his commentary on Hosea long ago and enjoyed it.  So I decided to start his commentary on John.  I am not very far into it but this morning some words rang true.  “But by that guidance of their reason they do not come to God, and do not even approach to him; so that all their understanding is nothing else than mere vanity.”  It made me think about the reason why I cannot escape.  He is my everything.

The crazy part is the complete rebellion I still find myself in knowing that He is my everything.  It is nearly antithetical.  I got to use that word yesterday with the kids which was fun.  Now I get to use it today.  Anyway, I realize it is the whole Romans 7 battle.

Last night as I was lying in bed a thought occurred to me.  “My mind is rewriting itself.”  I grabbed my journal to write that down and promptly lost the idea.  Moments later, God gave it back to me and I wrote it down.  Told myself to think upon that idea.  I did think upon it in my sleep last night.  Very interesting pattern.  And they are still difficult to hold on to.

If my mind is rewriting itself, what is the purpose of the rewriting?  Is there a reason other than for God to receive glory?  The fact that my mind is rewriting itself seems true.  I’m not talking about on the scale that our minds normally rewrite themselves but I on different scale.  Having this thought I have begun to review the previous amount of time in light of this.  It makes it all the more interesting if true.  Have I lost myself during the process?  I do not think so.

This makes me curious where He is taking me.  Yes, quite curious.  Much to think upon.

5 Years Ago

Five years ago, July 3, 2011, is a day I cannot forget.  It was the first time I had been to church service in quite some time.  I had been to Bible study, Sunday School, and other things but not a service where the Word of God is to be preached (Baptists sometimes call it “big church”).

I went with a hard heart.  And what I saw made me weep.  It was song after song of America worship.  Even the preaching of the Word was less about God and more about the worship of America.  This was my perspective of church on this holiday (and others like it).  It is still my perspective.  Which church has the biggest flags?  No wait, which one has the most small flags all over the grass?  No wait, which one has the most patriotic theme inside?  I could go on.  And there is no doubt that many (most?) of these people worshiped America more than they worshiped the God who created the universe.

I left church service that day and cried.  I cried for the church.  I cried for our country.  I cried for myself.  When did America become an idol for the church?  When did the time of worship for God turn into a worship of America?  Christian – this is not your country!  We are foreigners, exiles, sojourners in this world.  We are worshipers of the one true God.

The following day, July 4, 2011, the weeping continued.  I went to my office and opened my Bible and began reading Philippians.

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.   –Philippians 2:1-2

When I got to those verses, the love of God overwhelmed me.  God saved me in that moment and my life changed.

I got a text this morning.

Praying that the pride in our nation that is preached today across our country will not hinder us from loving and going to the nations…this Sunday is a rough one for me.

My response was to be encouraged because God saved me five years ago on a holiday weekend just like this one.  It brought me to tears.  Weeping once more because of the grace He has poured into my life.  Despite all the bad things I continue to do, His grace has saved me.

I have been fighting apathy, bitterness, anger, and lack of caring for people for an amount of time I would rather not disclose.  I plead with God to free me of these things, put me back like I was, in love with Him and His grace, in love with the image bearer of God.  And yet here I am a broken vessel.  He reminded me of something this morning.  Something I now recognize that He has been showing me for a few days (weeks?) – God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing (1 Corinthians 1:28), but I am a worm, not a man (Psalm 22:6), but who indeed are you—a mere human being—to talk back to God? (Romans 9:20).

Praise be to God that He delights in saving the sinful immoral outcast.  –David Platt

God came into this world to save sinners.  Like me.  Like you.  Praise be to God.

The Words – Empty and Flat

All the words are empty and flat.  I do not know why I am even writing these words.  Futile says the teacher.

Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.  –Psalm 19:13 (NIV)

Really the only thing that has kept me as of late – grace.  I have this “problem” of not caring about anyone.  I am trying to find God again but it is cloudy and grey.  I pray a lot.  I read a lot.  I read Jonah (among other things) on Saturday.  He was a bitter man.  I related to him.  Sunday I read Ruth.  Naomi was a bitter woman.  I related to that.

Jonah ends with no resolution – meaning Jonah is still bitter.  Ruth ends with Naomi no longer bitter.  Which one should I be?  Does it really matter?  Do you duty and all that.  It is futile so we just do our duty.  Perform our function.

The Lord’s message to me?  Love God most.  Seek His face.  Know God more.  God.  God.  God.  Thank you!  Brilliant!  Yet, nothing.  Darkness.  The end of May, my path was moved towards darkness so that another’s path could be moved towards joy.  I would love to share those words (I wrote them on paper) but they are too dark for people.

Articles I have read include phrases like “I don’t feel anything” and “I didn’t even feel hunger for God anymore”.  There was one more but I seem to have misplaced the article.  Forgotten the words.  Maybe even for the best.

One of the verses today was Psalm 27:8 – “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’  Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

He promises that He will not forsake me.  Just keep looking.  Will I have to look forever?  I haven’t stopped now.  Wretched man that I am.  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Keep your servant.  Keep your slave from willful sins.  May they not rule over me.

Oh the words I could use.  Evil words.  Words meant to destroy.  And it is early yet.  Oh so early.

I am not a fool.  I know grace has kept me.  Grace.  Grace.  Grace.  Nothing but undeserved grace.  His unrelenting grace.  Seek His face.

Words are amazing.  Used in ways we could never foresee.  I suppose I should read more of them.  I do not know what He would have me read.  Maybe nothing at all.

David Brainerd

As I awoke this morning, my words to God were short as they have been for some time.

Thank You for today.  I am not sure what good I am doing for You or anyone.  The turmoil in my mind hinders most work that I should be doing.  The lack of caring is still the most concerning part, the most dangerous.  I desperately need You to pull me out.  I cannot escape on my own.  Sadly, as I stare at these words, I am not sure I care enough to want out.  I cried a lot yesterday.  I do not pray for others at all.  I do not even want to pretend to pray.  Futile! Futile!

I read Deuteronomy 30 and Psalm 149.  My prayer from Deuteronomy 30 was verse 6 – Lord, cleanse my heart.  I repeated it quite a bit throughout the morning.

As I was walking around 6:50 am, repeating those words, I got a text about David Brainerd.  The name did not sound familiar but the follow up text had me recalling this missionary life.  I remember an article talking about a chain of missionaries that began with him.  I looked him up and found his diary.  I had never read his diary until today.  I skimmed down to April 1, 1742.  April 6th part of the entry was “Then I cried to God to cleanse me from my exceeding filthiness”.

God did the whole word thing for me.  Cleanse my heart, O Lord.

It has been interesting reading entries from his diary.  On June 18 of that same year the words “my present deadness” appear.  My present deadness.  I wonder how many people feel that deadness.  I do not recall having the problem of deadness for as long as it feels now.  It has been around three weeks.  Depression is one thing.  Deadness is something else.  Something much worse.

It seems I begin to shake it but then fall right back into it.  Deadness.

And the words are still not right in my head.  Thought patterns fall apart.  They literally fall apart in my mind.  I like my words and patterns to stay together.

This is the third post I have written over the past few days.  It may be the first one I publish.  *sigh*

Suffering Terribly

Yesterday was Psalm 118:18.  Today was Psalm 119:107.

I am suffering terribly. O LORD, revive me with your word!

Oh that I could share such things without fear of someone thinking I was despondent to the point of death.  The mere mention of such things changes people.  So you keep it to yourself which is probably equally bad.  The LORD severely punished me but he did not hand me over to death.  And I cannot say I wish he would have.  I do not belong here.  I never have yet God has plans for me.  Plans I do not know.  Plans I cannot see.

I know the pain is important.  Yesterday the words He spoke to me were like no others.  He had not spoken to me like this in many months.

Who knows what has been accomplished for His glory.  Who knows what will be accomplished for His glory?  Revive me with your word…

Pretend Faces

This afternoon my Bible was open to Romans 15:1.  I had read most of Romans over the weekend but stopped at that verse.  I could not get past it.  The ESV starts off like this: “We who are strong have an obligation…”

As I looked at it, the word obligation was the word that was hitting me.  So I try to take it in.  Nearly 5pm and someone texts me.  They share the weight they are carrying for someone else.  I volunteer to take it from them because they have enough to carry.  They said they would “share” so I took as much as they would give – hopefully all.

I shared Colossians 1:28-29 as the prayer verses.  I am unsure if they understood since they did not respond.  I know it was the right one.  One of the things that struck me during the texts was the phrase “pretend faces”.  They put those on to go to church.  It is interesting that this is allowed.

They told me that fear, rejection, disqualification, judgment, and ineffectiveness were the reasons to not be honest.  The sad thing is they are already rejected, disqualified, and ineffective.  The pretend faces makes it so that all those things are true.  We who are strong have an obligation.

This post is a bit short but there are many things going on in my mind.  I need to pray and attempt to sort them out.

Every Word

Every word has manipulation in it.

Sometimes it is subtle.  Sometimes it is not.  Sometimes it is intentional.  Sometimes it is not.

I hear these words.  I watch for the manipulation.  It is not something I always want to see and still I see it.  One interesting thing is the way a person will attempt to use the same form (type maybe?) of manipulation.  They typically see what works and then utilize it again (and again).

There are many people in my life who believe they use these skills against me.  I’m not sure if they always realize they are doing it.  One of them will use the phrase “black and blue” against me.  I recognized it for what it was the first time they used it.  This one also believes that thanking me and praising me will help their goals.  They believe this because they want words of affirmation so they attempt to use that method on others.  A cry for love.

Who does not cry out for love?  Desperate in our own ways to be loved by someone, anyone.  I know I hate myself.  Self-loathing is a torture of my soul going way back.  And when you hate yourself, no amount of love can penetrate.  It all appears fake anyway and you have proven it to be just that.  Logic and reason, you know.

All except God’s love.  Faithful.  Steadfast.  Even when I hate myself.  Even when I sin against Him.  In the darkest time.  In the less dark times, His love never fails.  This is the love I try to grasp on to.  He holds on to me through it all.

Today was a good day.  I continue to learn how to pray.  It is a good experience.  A good prayer from Psalm 94 – When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.  There are many good prayers from this psalm but that was the one I liked best today.  I rested my mind which was very good for me.

Now I prepare for tomorrow.  I think I’ll rest a bit more before then.