Thirty Thousand Hits!

I can hardly believe it, we’ve had 30,ooo distinct hits in about 15 months.  I’m ecstatic that we have been there for so many seekers.  Thanks for supporting this work, the Lord is using you. But I encourage you to pray, that this would be a work of the Holy Spirit, otherwise, in my mind we should shut it all down, and move on.  I want to please Him who gave everything up for me.  I believe that is what you want as well!

2010 Links, Favorites

Below you will find internet links.  I have gathered these up, finding them useful, entertaining and a blessing.  Some of these are mental illness links, others quote links.  Some are quite general, and others much more specific.  There are also a few Bible study aids, and these are quite valuable as ‘good ones’ are hard to find.

I am sorry that they are just laid out like this, but to categorize them would be difficult.  My apologies.  I realize that this pretty raw, but I hope you’ll be able to ‘mine’ something out of them.  I skimmed through and left a comment on some the url’s.  Handling some of these may require some patience.

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http://www.biblegateway.com/, perhaps the best Bible/versions

http://www.thegracetabernacle.org/quotes/gracequotes.html

http://bipolar.alltop.com/

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_publications

http://newstracts.org/christiansites.html, great collection

http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/imonk-101-when-i-am-weak-why-we-must-embrace-our-brokenness-and-never-be-good-christians, the Monk is always good, this is one of my personal favs

http://www.gotquestions.org/, hundreds of questions, good site

http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_AudioMin.aspx?id=13144, interesting, and Moody as a rule is solid

http://www.preceptaustin.org/, good site, but take your time with it.

http://net.bible.org/home.php

http://www.roundtripmissions.com/, planning STM trip?

http://www.soulshepherding.org/, very good with strong discipleship msg.

http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/

http://hub.webring.org/hub/quotations

http://www.pietyhilldesign.com/gcq/index.html, quotes

http://coolquotescollection.com/

http://www.blogigo.com/discernment/Discipleship-quotes/32/

http://www.goodquotes.com/

http://wholelifeliving.ning.com/, seems good, haven’t spent time with it

http://crossquotes.org/, my own quote site, small but intense

http://www.tentmaker.org/Quotes/quotesindex.htm

http://www.thetravelingteam.org/node/196

http://www.christianquotes.org/

http://mentalhealthministries.net/links_resources/other_resources.html

http://www.canadianchristianity.com/christianliving/070809ill.html, great site

http://www.aesham.com/murphy.html, whatever, Murphy’s Laws rehashed

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/6ezJa9/www.energyfiend.com/death-by-caffeine/, funny

http://aceonlineschools.com/25-awesome-virtual-learning-experiences-online/, this is very interesting

http://popurls.com/, new edition everyday, smart

http://www.biblesearchengine.com/, looks really useful

http://www.fracturedsaints.com/, blog similar to BB, but different

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/9LspdV/www.rense.com/general72/size.htm, sort stumbleupon out and you won’t regret it.

http://www.ukapologetics.net/08/BCL.htm, pretty solid

http://walk-this-way.com/

http://www.christianstories.com/categories/funnychristian.html, funny

http://www.godtube.com/, Christian youtube

http://lifestream.org/blog/

http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2006/02/Whats-A-Red-Letter-Christian.aspx, one of my favs

http://alaskabible.org/, My Bible school, a great place to learn

http://www.biologos.org/, science and faith dialogue, stretching

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/, online Christian magazine, cutting edge articles

Umbilical Cord Christianity

 

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who gave me strength, because he trusted me and gave me this work of serving him. In the past I spoke against Christ and persecuted him and did all kinds of things to hurt him. But God showed me mercy, because I did not know what I was doing. I did not believe.”

1 Timothy 1:12-13, NCV

 

Coming out and thanking God is a critical way we can grow.  Paul thanks God out loud.  He has in mind, through a modern metaphor, God as a power plant, providing him with everything he needs.  He is now being energized by God, and this infusion enables us to do some amazing things that others consider quite exceptional.  (Handling this piece of understanding is critical to fitting into the Kingdom.)

Umbilical cord Christianity is the way Paul seems to view his walk and ministry.  He seems himself connected with the Holy Spirit which transforms him and his work.  Without this deeply vital connection, Paul becomes open to all kinds of evil and atrocity.  It’s fascinating, but we actively expand darkness if we are not attached.  We will end up doing all kinds of evil.  There are many who can’t see this truth.

In these verses we find another issue–that of forgiveness of self.  Paul had an ugly past.  He had once been an effective tool in the evil one’s hands.  On a logical level, this should taint him completely and irrevocably.  Paul was marked to be a wicked presence in the early Church.  Everyone knew him and braced themselves against his personal darkness.  They all thought that Paul was completely evil.

But in a dramatic moment, Paul is converted to Christ on the Damascus Road.  This is a radical shifting in the early Church.  Paul points to the mercy that God has, and makes it very clear that God has exclusively arranged and administered this miracle.  He points to the Spirit’s work that has intrinsically changed everything.  Paul is now completely altered by the Holy Spirit.

Another vital point; it was Jesus Himself who was hurt, when His children were hurt.  All of Paul’s viciousness and meanness was really directed against God.  We seldom think this way.  We may admit sin, but we will rarely view it as against God directly.  There is an old Yiddish proverb, “If God had a house, people would come and break His windows”.  In my own desperate and personal war against the Almighty, I often strain and strive to strike at His children.

There is an immense mercy and grace for sinners like Saul.  And nothing is irrevocable.  Grace insists on that.  All we can do, is change our mind and our heart (repent).  Then, we must tether ourselves, reviving that umbilical cord, and connect to Him our very lives (sanctification).  The very presence of Jesus will change everything.

 

I have a definite sense that there are things in this teaching which are touching hearts.  I have very few ways to help you.  But I can pray, and hold you up to our Father.  Let me know, ok. 

 

 

 

Scorners Have a Certain Power

 

I finally broke through and realized that I am a consummate scorner.  I have cultivated this for many years, and especially the last five.  I will tell now, I am to scorning as Tiger Woods is to golf.  I have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, a durmoid brain tumor, lung issues with a chemical accident, manic-depression requiring extensive hospitalization, and a low thyroid requiring meds.  And, on top of this, the death of a newborn daughter.

My faith has been extremely challenged through all of this.  I have pastored a church and taught classes at a local Bible college, all with a lot of enthusiasm and purpose.  My students and my congregation were being blessed.  But all of this pretty much disintegrated around me and I found myself with a whole lot of nothing. 

Scorn has never been anything I gravitated to.  But it has ‘seeped’ into my thinking, through a slow and steady presence.  It works like mercury poisoning.  It has touched me as a gradual toxin, slowly sickening me with its constant contact.  I haven’t been connected with the light as I should have.  But over an extensive amount of time, a venomous and noxious filth has been introduced into my heart and my thinking.  It must be like watching someone die from ‘radiation sickness’.

To scorn means to become ” ‘competous’, disdainful, scornful, to mock.”  I never, ever dreamed I would be brought to this point.  But life has continuously rolled over me, and I find I just can’t make it work anymore.  I definitely do understand the promises of God.  But I definitely do not understand God’s grace on me.  But you might as well try to explain the color ‘blue’ to a blind man.

I am Bryan, the scorner.  I am also ‘a spiritual beggar’, with a significant mental illness.  I should be on the streets pushing a shopping cart and drinking cheap vodka.  When I start to scorn, I get mean and cynical.  I’m contemptuous and I sneer at whatever crosses my path that day.  I hear voices and ‘tune in’ radio stations.  All I lack is a ‘tin-foil’ hat, which I have seriously considered.

My depression molds my thinking, and my despair rules the rest.  The promises of God are not for me, and they seem to always be out of my reach.  In many ways, I am an ‘unbelieving’ believer (there are many people like us).  My own frosty coldness and hardness never seems to amaze me.  I don’t want to be this way.  God, help me please.

A defining word, for people like me is this: “self-forgiveness“.  I consider myself above average when it comes to forgiving others.  I look forward to forgiving others.  But, I just cannot forgive myself.  I simply can’t let myself  ‘get off the hook’.  At times I do sense a comfort and a peace over these sins, but very soon they begin to rub me raw.  Like blisters, or ‘a stone in my shoe’, I begin to limp again. They are incredibly persistant.

This is not self-pity.  I am not looking for any manner of attention or warm hugs.  I do though want to open up my darkness so the light gets in.  I must learn to forgive myself, if I will ever walk clean.  This is imperative.  The adulteress who fell at Jesus’ feet and wept managed to forgive herself of a great deal of sin.  Those of us with mental illness/addictions have to come to this same point.  Is Jesus’ love enough to cover me?

Are You Ready For This?

Nothing compares to the joy of a child.  I think its a form of lunacy myself.  (But I’m an old man, so what do I know.)  Children love life–they are attracted to a vibrant life like bees to nectar.  They breathe it, feel it, wait for it.  They see it as an exclusive focus, they see nothing else.  It is what they want.

I, on the other hand, weigh out my options, I compare their value and I give it some time, think about it even more, then make my decision.  Children on the other hand are spontaneous and look closely at their first impressions.  They trust the innate ‘gut reaction’ and will choose accordingly.

Jesus made the outrageous statement, that we are to become as children, to enter the Kingdom, where God rules.  The obvious issue, is how do I get there?  (Nicodemus in John  3 was the typical prototype.)  Perhaps a deeper question is this,  what if Jesus decided He wanted to come to my house?  He knocks on the door.  Mom comes to the door, kicks the dog who is barking, shouts something unintelligible and reaches for the door.  She is hoping He didn’t hear her, and hopes the dog isn’t too traumatized by her feeble assault.

Jesus is incredibly gracious.  As a matter of fact, He moves and conducts Himself as if He were a member of royalty.  He steps into the foyer, as if He were stepping into a coronation hall.  But there is absolutely no arrogance, there is nothing but kindness and gentleness in His demeanor.  When He looks at the room, He is looking for people.  People are His focus, pure and simple.

My religious tendencies are idiotic and misshapen.  In my ‘spiritual’ world, Jesus has none of these qualities, and certainly not this approachable.  I simply cannot fathom such magnificence.  I have reduced Jesus down to a ‘puppet-savior’, and He is much easier to contain and understand.  He now poses no threat to me, or my way of life.  I may get assertive and even try to put a collar-and-leash on Him so He understands who is calling the shots.

You know what?  Jesus understands people like me.  He calls me ‘His brother’.  Me!  Full of ugliness and turmoil–His ‘brother’.  But His heart even now, is reaching for the children.  They have a quality that I only dream about.  These children will have a grace and purity poured on them, till their clothing is soaked with His presence.  They will run through a lawn sprinkler for hours!

The Kingdom is coming  (actually, it is rushing) to children who will embrace Him with a love and zeal that simply doesn’t compute in our calculations.  As adults, the more proficient of us, has read (and maybe written) whole books on systematic theology.  We develop nuances, and are able to parse verbs from our Greek New Testaments.  We are good!

But Jesus clearly rearranges the furniture.  And we are definitely confused.  But maybe, that is right where He wants us.  His Kingdom is wide open to everyone who has the heart of a child.  I suspect that Jesus has a plan that has a ‘shake me to wake me’ kind of an approach.  I want to open up to all that He is doing.  I need Him so much.

Administrative Mumbo Jumbo

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One.  The comments option is being used more and more.  A total of 501 comments have been posted on BB as of today.  This is a wonderful thing as I think of all the effort that this takes.  Each comment is read and thought through.  Sometimes I’ll respond, if it seems the situation needs it.

Two.  Please pray for my mental health.  I have been struggling lately with a lot of confusion.  Its like I’m like everyone else but that my zipper is down. 

Three.  Very important.  I’m praying about bringing on a certain person to help guide these shenanigans.  She has the skills, the mental illness issues all which give her a lot of credibility.  I’m interested in bringing her in for a few months, and posting once a week.  Please pray, ok.

Contending for Our Faith

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our(F) common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you(G) to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Jude 1:3, ESV

 

The Book of Jude is jammed with warnings and words of direction.  As we read though it, we are directed to understand that people who live sinfully are in mortal danger.  We check ourselves, and monitor our hearts to discern them.  Jude seems to reflect to us that the darkness out there is pervasive and a mite dangerous.

As we read this book, we should be lifted up in our confidence and boldness. We should find ourselves in a reasonable assurance.  However, Jude speaks out about a flood of darkness that is rolling right up to the very foundations of the Church.  Much of this small letter seems pessimistic.  But Jude in certain spots definitely gives us hope and encouragement.

There is a lot of personal reasons that I like this book .  Jude is one of the few books we can read in one sitting.  It also contains verses that are incredibly edifying.  We reach out for these promises and we find a good, strong rope to help us advance.

Jude tells his readers to be aware, and also to contend.  He really doesn’t want us to be argumentative.  But he does want us to ‘lock down’ and hold our positions.  Our faith has been handled and held by the generations before us.  Grandmas, and Aunties, and their parents, and parents of parents.  They all held our faith and stood boldly for the faith in Christ. 

It is now in our feeble hands, and its our turn.  We are called to ‘contend’ for our faith.  We stand in one spot against the darkness,  and we establish ourselves and refuse to compromise.  We stand against so much evil, but our faith should not erode.

The saints  from generations past had a have an aggressive brand of faith.  And the life we have experienced so far has been the life they also lived.  Day by day, their lives opened up for them, and they decided to live for God.  But their days could be very tedious, and they knew of them just as we know.  Believe it or not, tedium can be a difficult mindset to live in.

It is vitally important that we become ‘contenders’ of our faith.  That we stand in place while the flood water surge around us.  When the flood slams against us, will we stand at that moment?  Will we stay in our spot, when things get crazy and unrecognizable?  I have experienced first-hand a real flood,  and it comes with a powerful force, knocking down trees and buildings with no effort at all.

The Believer of today, has a tremendous amount of thinking to do.  Will we go against evil and ‘contend’ that our faith is real and that it is significant?  Will we stay rooted in the flood, and lift up the torch of faith?  He stands to see what you will do.  He despatches power and grace for our comfort and strength.