The Rigidity of Evil

I have a heart--but it is broken and crushed.
I have a heart–but it is broken and crushed.

Today I realized that I was sick and very tired of myself. It’s really not disgust, or even loathing. It’s more like a weariness, an exhaustion. I’ve never felt this way. In a strange way it intrigues me. Could this definite disenchantment mean something spiritual? Does it have value, or am I just feeling self-absorbed or conceited?

There is a real rigidity to evil. As I have seen it– sin hardens all who touch it, plain and simple. My growing immobility disturbs me, as I know I’m developing a “hardness of heart.” Atherosclerosis is a condition of a sick heart where arteries become blocked. It’s also known as “hardening of the heart, or arteries.” It is a patient killer, slowly and surely making hard deposits that block the flow of blood.

The Bible speaks about having a hard heart. It also uses the metaphor of fallow ground that must be plowed up. Jesus used the same image in His “Parable of the Sower” in Matthew 13.

“A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain.”

There are only four real options.

  • The first is seed that never arrives.
  • The second lands on hard stones.
  • The third possibility is landing on thorns and thistles.
  • Only the fourth flourishes.

    Heart of Stone Heart of Flesh
    The Battle of the Heart

The question I have is this, can the hard soil become soft, and can the good soil become overgrown with thistles? Is this a static, set experience? Or could it be far more fluid? I seem to move from one soil condition to another.

I have found that my own  heart drifts. Manic Depression is a mental illness where emotions fluctuate constantly. They gallivant around, floating here and than there. I maybe depressed and suicidal in the morning, and then I can be euphoric in the evening. It’s having the identity of a “wandering star.”

I want my heart to soften. I want to sit with Jesus and hear His words. I need Him to share what He is thinking about. Any sin I entertain has a hardening effect in my spiritual heart. This really scares me. *

*

ybic, Bryan

*

Tozer Gems

A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963

“You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.”

“He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.”

“It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God.”

“A pharisee is hard on others and easy on himself, but a spiritual man is easy on others and hard on himself.”

“An idol of the mind is as offensive to God as an idol of the hand.”

All quotes are from A.W. Tozer

 

 

Putting It Simply

10565197_10152631028653385_42394872681436879_n

“But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42, ESV

I tend to over-think things a lot. Everything gets so darn complicated. Often there is ‘a paralysis of analysis’ that gels into something stagnant and murky. I am definitely not the decisive person I admire from a distance. My illness is such that I can easily become “immobilized” in making simple decisions.

But I am aware of my desperate need of Christ Himself. My many issues demand a ‘heavy duty’ Savior, one who is capable of handling them. I guess I have tried many ‘gods’ and I haven’t found any of them who can take the load like Jesus can.

All that He has done in the Gospels, and all that He does presently declares to me his trustworthiness and power. My admiration for Christ as my Savior and Deliverer is written on the pages of the Bible. His present day ministry to me (and many others) is consistent with what I read about him in the Word.

And it is amazingly simple, when you think it through. He lived, died, and rose again for those ‘rebels’ who deserve death. The simplicity is profound. I do not have to be a Nobel Prize winner to understand. Without cheapening ‘redemption’ He has reduced things to a straightforward idea. He dies in my place, and now gives me his life to live.

I want to listen to Him. I want to come so close that I can hear the very inflection of his voice when he does speak to me. You see, we are built as communicators, and that is the part that ‘small gods’ can’t provide. They’re merely ‘dead idols.’

I so want to please him, even if he corrects me.

I want to learn at his feet, just as Mary did at her home in Bethany. Often I feel like I will probably be ‘the least of all the disciples’, but I’m okay with that. After all, it’s all about Him.

aabryscript

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Revelation 3:20

flourish-bird

My Pretend Jesus [Reality]

Aslan-lion-girl-sleeping

Question. Is the real you, touching the “real Jesus?”

For some time now, I am asking myself this simple question. I’ve had some convicting  moments as I swirled this question around in my heart. There is no condemnation in this; believe me– it’s just a question (But I think it has pretenses of being more.)

First, I truly believe that God does not hide Himself the way we might think He does. As new covenant people; those purchased through Jesus’ death and resurrection, there is no room for doubt about this. We now truly have access into the very throne room. We are free to come and go, according to our desire.

Second, I’m starting to realize that I want to approach Him, but I draw back in fear, guilt and doubt. I hide in the bushes when I hear Him approaching (sound familiar?) And although I have assurance that Jesus wants me, I’m not fully convinced that He likes being with me– deep down.

And I’m not sure I always like Him. So, all too often, I creep up (in my creepy kind of way) and try to get enough of His Holy Spirit, without getting pulled into anything too authentic. I’m of the (false) opinion that He will demand something for me I won’t like.

In the C.S. Lewis book, “The Silver Chair” we are introduced to Jill. She is thirsty, she looks for water and finds it in a nearby stream. But, there is a difficult problem. You see the lion Aslan is very close, and to drink would make her vulnerable. The Lion speaks. He invites her to come and drink all the water she wants. She stalls. He waits. The thirst quickly intensifies until she can think of nothing else.

I have a ‘Jill-heart.’  God is present, and quite eager for me to come satisfy my thirst. But it terrifies me to become open and vulnerable. It is hard. It seems I still have to work through this issue.

Sometimes, I find I construct a modified Jesus to allow me to cope with this problem. He is not the real Jesus, and somehow I know this. But encountering the real is a bit too much. So I have a Jesus that is really kind, and never corrects me. He lets me get away with a lot of things. And I don’t have to have contact with the homeless or tithe. I admit I’m fairly comfortable with Him. (He is like me, but more “god-like.”)

OK, new thought. Many centuries ago, a monk by the name of Lawrence wrote the classic book,  The Practice of the Presence of God. In it he directs the seeker to be in habitual awareness of God. And I’m thinking about this. I know it’s really not a fluid or unending experience, but throughout my day I take a moment and invite Jesus to come closer. And, it’s best if you don’t turn “the means into the end.” After  all, its the presence of God we seek– and not the mechanics of seeking.  Big difference.

I have gotten very dissatisfied with my fake Jesus. He’s not a bad guy, but he is only a “knock-off,” an imitation– an imaginary Jesus.

I’m coming to this place where I want the real Jesus– in contact with the real me, as often as I can. For years I have dodged Him, ducking in alleys and in dark places. I have propped up a Jesus that I found easier. Those days are done, I hope.

Question. Is the real you touching the “real” Jesus?

ybic, Bryan

 

cropped-christiangraffiti1-2

Flaws in Our Spiritual ‘DNA’

DNA by medoo-khfaga
DNA by medoo-khfaga

“What do you mean, ‘What’s the matter?’” Micah replied. “You’ve taken away all the gods I have made, and my priest, and I have nothing left!”

Judges 18:24

“Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” ― John Calvin

flourish14

Here in Judges 18, we see the folly of a false religion. It is a crude and simple idolatry, and the foolishness of it is lost on these men. Micah had installed his very own personal priest, and had carved some idols to enhance his spiritual status. We see in Micah, the silly and shortsightedness of the idolater. He engages in some ‘unauthorized’ theology, that allows him this liberty.

But the ill-advised idolatry seems not only silly, but bizarrely primitive. It’s kind of a ‘do it yourself’ custom religion.  Micah had a spiritual need, and met it with hiring his own priest. However, the roving tribe of Dan, with an armed force of 600 men, have decided to take the entire ensemble to be their own. It now seems foolishness has led Dan astray.

The bickering between Micah and these warriors would be imprudent if pushed. Micah has just lost his religion by brute force. The ‘priest’ and all the accouterments are now forcibly taken from him. I suppose this is the painful folly of his ‘homemade’ religion. He watches as the riders take it all away.

What an empty spiritual condition! But religious people often seek out idols to help them deal with life. An idol can be anything that takes God’s place in a person’s life. But the results are sad. A counterfeit faith of any kind is profoundly sad. The modern version has become much more sophisticated, but the end result is the same. It would seem  that idolatry is etched in our DNA.

“Those who worship false gods [idols] turn their backs on all God’s mercies” (Jonah 2:8).

The only way to protect yourself in a time of spiritual anarchy is to come to the true and living God. Insist on your needs be met by Him. We really must shun anything that could take His place. Our idolatry is different today, but God has never changed.

aabryscript

Keeping God on Track

God’s Quality Management Questionnaire

Help Us Regulate the Almighty– Keeping Him Accountable is Our Purpose

God would like to thank you for your belief and patronage. In order to better serve your needs, He asks that you take a few moments to answer the following questions. Please keep in mind that your responses will be kept completely confidential, and that you need not disclose your name or address unless you prefer a direct response to comments or suggestions.

1. How did you find out about God?

___ Newspaper
___ Bible
___ Torah
___ Book of Mormon
___ Koran
___ Other Book
___ Television
___ Divine Inspiration
___ Word of mouth
___ Dead Sea scrolls
___ My mama done tol’ me
___ Near Death Experience
___ Near-life experience
___ National Public Radio
___ Tabloid
___ Burning Shrubbery
___ Who?
___ Other (specify): _____________

2. Which model God did you acquire?

___ Yahweh
___ Jehovah
___ Allah
___ Just plain God
___ Krishna
___ Father, Son & Holy Ghost (Trinity Pak)
___ Zeus and entourage (Olympus Pak)
___ Odin and entourage (Valhalla Pak)
___ Gaia/Mother Earth/Mother Nature
___ None of the above; I was taken in by a false god

3. Did your God come to you undamaged, with all parts in good working order and with no obvious breakage or missing attributes? __ Yes __ No

If not, please describe here the problems you initially encountered. Please indicate all that apply:
___ Not eternal
___ Not omniscient
___ Not omnipotent
___ Finite in space/Does not occupy or inhabit the entire universe
___ Permits sex outside of marriage
___ Prohibits sex outside of marriage
___ Makes mistakes (Michael Vick, Tiger Woods)
___ When beseeched, doesn’t stay beseeched
___ Requires burnt offerings
___ Requires virgin sacrifices
___ Plays dice with the universe

4. What factors were relevant in your decision to acquire a God? Please check all that apply.

___ Indoctrinated by parents
___ Needed a reason to live
___ Indoctrinated by society
___ Needed target for rage
___ Imaginary friend grew up
___ Hate to think for myself
___ Wanted to meet girls/boys
___ Fear of death
___ To piss off parents
___ Needed a day away from work
___ Enjoy organ music
___ Needed focus on whom to despise
___ Needed to feel morally superior
___ Graduated from the tooth fairy
___ My shrubbery caught fire and told me to do it

5. Are you currently using any other source of inspiration in addition to God? Please check all that apply.

__ Self-help books
__ Tarot, Astrology
__ Star Trek re-runs
__ Fortune cookies
__ Ann Landers
__ Psychic Friends Network
__ Dianetics
__ Playboy and/or Playgirl
__ Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll
__ Biorhythms
__ EST
__ Television
__ Mantras
__ Ted Haggard
__ Crystals (not including Crystal Gayle)
__ Human Sacrifice
__ Wandering around in desert
__ Burning shrubbery
__ Other:_____________________

6. Have you ever worshiped a false God before? If so, which false God were you fooled by? Please check all that apply.

___ Odin
___ Lottery
___ Baal
___ Beelzebub
___ The Almighty Dollar
___ The Conservative Right
___ Mick Jagger
___ Bill Gates
___ The Great Pumpkin
___ Pro Football
___mushrooms                                                                                                                                ___sex, drugs and rock/roll

___ Other: ________________

7. God employs a limited degree of Divine Intervention to preserve the balanced level of felt presence and blind faith. Which would you prefer. (circle one)?

a. More Divine Intervention
b. Less Divine Intervention
c. Current level of Divine Intervention is just right

8. God also attempts to maintain a balanced level of disasters and miracles.

Please rate on a scale of 1 to 5 God’s handling of the following: (1 = unsatisfactory, 5 = excellent):

Disaster:
1 2 3 4 5 flood
1 2 3 4 5 famine
1 2 3 4 5 earthquake
1 2 3 4 5 war
1 2 3 4 5 pestilence
1 2 3 4 5 plague
1 2 3 4 5 my last relationship

Miracles:

1 2 3 4 5 present relationship
1 2 3 4 5 rescues
1 2 3 4 5 spontaneous remissions
1 2 3 4 5 crying statues
1 2 3 4 5 water changing to wine
1 2 3 4 5 walking on water                                                                                                                     1 2 3 4 5 stars hovering over towns
1 2 3 4 5 VCRs that set their own clocks
1 2 3 4 5 clear and competent statements by the President

9. Please rate the following on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 =unsatisfactory, 5 = excellent):

1 2 3 4 5 God’s Courtesy
1 2 3 4 5 answers to your prayers
1 2 3 4 5 Are your spiritual needs being met?
1 2 3 4 5 How are your shrubs doing?

10. Do you have any additional comments or suggestions for improving the quality of God’s services? (Attach additional sheet(s) if necessary.)

-Writer unknown

Disclaimer– This is supposed to be funny/satire. If this post offends you in any way, forgive me. God (the real one) is at work in my heart. If you enjoyed this post, praise the Lord, I am happy!

cropped-851.jpg

BB Book Review: “Imaginary Jesus”

“Imaginary Jesus,” by Matt Mikalatos

This was a book saturated with holy surprises.  For sure, the title seemed eccentric and I couldn’t be certain that it be worth reading.  After I read several pages I was able to use my own “spiritual” GPS and locate, and understand the “lay-of-the-land.”  There was a sense of reading something very fresh, and striding to keep up with Mikalotos.  I discovered that I couldn’t wait for the next page, which is a great indicator.

Imaginative and engaging.  If this book transformed into a person, I would immediately invite him to my living room for coffee and a conversation.  I would not hesitate.  Plot and content wise–this is a narrative of a man’s journey to what is real.  Especially in the spiritual realm of the truth, where it is best to possess what you confess.

The book unfolds with adventure after adventure.  It has a plot that seems like sci-fi.  It is both exotic and friendly, all at the same time.  If I could think out loud my impressions of “Imaginary Jesus” in a single word it would be “winsome.”  Mikalatos presses into our imaginations a journey that is both amusing as it is cutting.  It is a fun read, that is explosive and sure, it puts together for us an understanding of our own hearts in this generation.

Outside Review: “Take the theological forcefulness of Bonhoeffer, combine it with the imaginative whimsy of C. S. Lewis and the wit of Charles Spurgeon, and you get Matt Mikalatos. Imaginary Jesus marks the debut of one of today’s most prominent young Christian writers. “(Gary Thomas, Author of Sacred Marriage and Pure Pleasure )

————————-

I purchased my book direct from Amazon.com for $10.19 USD.

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: BarnaBooks (March 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9781414335636
  • ISBN-13:978-1414335636
  • ASIN:1414335636
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars.  (134 customer reviews)
  •  Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #75,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)