Gall of Bitterness

The gall of bitterness.  It runs deep.  It consumes.  Freedom can occur but slavery soon returns.  I wish I could pronounce its demise but alas that cannot be.

Last night I told someone how deeply they were loved.  They said I was too but I just could not see it.  I told them even if I was I reject it.  I do not know how I could be loved by anyone but God.  Who is man that I should trust in him?  I know man and I cannot put trust in him.  Bitterness mixed with knowledge and truth are dangerous.

I scoff at the idea that a person could love me.  Do not think a state of mind could alter this.  I tolerate the idea when in the best of moods but accept it gladly in the depths of despair.  Let us just ignore facts.  Let us ignore reality.  My heart “knows” the emptiness.  My soul knows the void.

I have been reminded of late of Shakespeare.

by sleep to say we end the heartache and thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to

It continues on of course.  Lovely words.

I read words for so many people.  I see you here.  I see them there.  But where are the words for me?  He brought THEM out of darkness but He seems to have left me in it.  Yes, there is a reason He left me there.  To be His light in that darkness.  What a battle.  Ahh, tell me again why He gives some strength that others do not have?  To each was given grace.  Grace, I tell you, grace.

The one thing, the only thing, grace.  All else flows from that.  It is much more than the common grace but a saving grace.

A Big Idol

One of the big idols in my life was (is?) family.  Prior to my divorce I had made family my god.  After my divorce, God opened my eyes to this.  He continues to open my eyes to this idol (and others) in my life.

The past few days I have been going back to basics.  I suppose it started with a podcast on Sunday about the Lord’s prayer.  Or was that Monday.  Yes, it was Monday.  I have seen the spark in my heart and pleaded with God to fan it into a flame once again.

This morning as I was reading Psalm 7 and not too impressed with my options for praying, I read the first verse of Psalm 8.

LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.

This reminded me again for at least the second time today that God should receive all the glory.  I told you the basics.  Hallowed be Your name, Lord!

Then people came to mind and I see their problem with the family idol.  It is so obvious that I’m not sure how I missed it for all this time.  [Yes, I realize that part of the reason I have been blind is my lack of caring for people over the past few months.  I have plenty of my own problems.]  But now that I have seen it, how do I, in love, tell people to examine their lives for this idol?  When I say people, I mean many people flashed before my eyes.   Even now they continue to enter my mind.

One of the meth girls I know had a baby earlier this year.  CPS has been called on her many times by many people – even random people seeing her abuse the baby.  She does not have a home.  She lives with random people, jumping from place to place.  CPS can’t catch her – she jumps to the next place as soon as CPS learns where she is.  I do not know where she is.  All I get are the stories.  It is sad.  Last night’s story…more of the same.

So we pray.  Pray for babies.  Pray for parents.  Pray for families.  Pray for God’s glory above all else.  Pray for His glory to be made known in all things, in all situations.  Hallowed by Your name, Lord!

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.

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.

Are Inseparable

Point 2053 was more than I wanted to post here.  You can see the whole thing here if you like.  Otherwise realize this is only the final two sentences.

2053 – In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus’ call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity. The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.  –Catholic Catechism

I know people who would reject that for the sole fact that it is in the Catholic Catechism.  Sadly to some it would not even matter that it is true.  I sometimes wonder if you can be a Christian and live in America.  There are days I do not believe it is possible.  The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.  So how am I able to understand this.


What is the rich man to do?

God continually aligns things so that His Word is forefront in my life.  The same story becomes pivotal in multiple ways over many days or even weeks.  So amazing.

Aware What The Rules Are

Sometimes we are not aware of what the rules are but other times we just refuse to live by them.  The words are spoken in an unintended rhythm.  Hold that syllable just a bit longer.  The words are intended to evoke emotion in the way they are spoken.  You hold back.  Pause gently.  Burst forth.  All desperately orchestrated because you do not know any other way.

We select the words on paper the same way.  Desperate for understanding knowing that it can never be fully understood.

What if we just broke all the rules?  Lived in a way contrary?

Today I will remember that it is about people.

Saint Drogo

I read an article recently that talked about the new Saints the Pope canonized.  It was mildly interesting and then the author listed many saints and their patronage.  I did not know there was a patron saint of theatrical performers, earthquakes, headaches, the internet, toothaches, and taxi drivers.  But the best one of all would have to be Saint Drogo, the patron saint of those whom others find repulsive or unattractive people and as an aside the patron saint of coffee too.

I have never really understood the Catholic Saints so I have placed it on my list of questions to study upon.  I have to finish my current study on authority before I move on to future questions.  I like the idea of questioning everything.  Next, let us question gravity!

Anyway, as I read on the early church, I found another interesting point.

At any rate the apostles did not attempt, themselves, to settle the right or wrong of the matter, but called the multitude of disciples together and left the matter with them to choose men to remedy the wrong, if any. We have here the direct appeal to the church as a whole to settle a matter in dispute and it is very significant of the way things were carried on.   –Henry T. Sell

He is discussing the selection of the first seven deacons.  Another good example of the authority the church has.  Of course I’m sure you can read it many different ways and warp it to mean something it does not.

I find myself staring off into space hoping the thought patterns begin to combine.

My Servants The Prophets

Jeremiah 26:4-5 – Tell them that the LORD says, “You must obey me! You must live according to the way I have instructed you in my laws. You must pay attention to the exhortations of my servants the prophets. I have sent them to you over and over again. But you have not paid any attention to them.”

Is the Bible authoritative? If so where does the Bible get its authority from? If the Bible receives its authority from God, does God give His authority to anyone or anything else? Do Protestants and Catholics differ in their answer to these questions? Do they differ in the way they live out the answer to these questions? I have been thinking through a question on sola scriptura for a week or so. It has been a great thought exercise. The Bible is replete with examples of God telling us to obey His Word, listen to His voice, and other statements of similar accord. What about God’s statement to pay attention to the exhortations of His servants the prophets? Does God give this same authority to the church in His Word or is it given to the individual? If the individual is given the authority to interpret the Bible then do we not have madness – everyone interpreting what is right in his own eye?

Who did the Apostle Paul submit to in Acts 15 when questions arose? The nuances the Protestants must overcome seem significant to me.

All The Authority Are Belong To Us

So I finished the book Surprised by Truth.  Now I have no idea what to believe.  Is that what they call a crisis of faith?

As I finished up the book the biggest questions that kept rolling around my head were about sola scriptura and authority.  This book prompted me to pick up the Catholic Catechism again.  I turned it on and where would I happen to find myself but in a section about authority.

1897    “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all.” By “authority” one means the quality by virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men and expect obedience from them.

There is a mix of things in my head so please forgive me for any disorder.

If you interpret the Bible as is so that you eat the body of Christ and drink the blood of Christ, then why does the word “brothers” change to mean “cousins”?

If authority was given to the church (the Catholic church specifically), then how can Protestants claim any authority?

If the Pope is infallible, then why can he state evolution is true which in turn makes the six day creation of the Bible false?

If the church is supposed to be unified, then how can Protestant protest from outside the Catholic church?

We could go back and forth between the evils of the two branches of the Christian faith but what gets us closer to the truth?