Thursday, July 28, 2011

82 & now the economy "officially" stinks....

Until this last week the news had been bad; All across the nation news stories and tv specials have been telling the tales of woe, but until this last week it didn't hit home....until the death of the waffle, the Golden Waffle that is. The best ham and cheese omelette, the finest pile (literally) of hash browns and consistency...for over 11 years a consistently good breakfast meal on the occassion that I could get by and partake. Now the ecomony and the force of change has ended that era (or decade) Oh best to you, Kathy, Lisa and well wherever you end up. Noting the personal connection of being priviledged enough to officiate the wedding of Lisa & Brian will remain a highlight of the Golden Waffle era...but we must move on!

Speaking of moving on....

Again it was noted last night, following the Bible Study time, that the connection is just not being made. Lori thinks that in part it may be that when I teach it is in a manner or format that is too "high" (as in higher level) than the folks can absorb or understand. I don't think that it has anything to do with my skill or teaching style, but rather I see a resistance or reluctance of the folks to be taught. Sure at some level they like to hear or read the stories and they don't mind answering a few questions, but beyond that there is great resistance to digging much deeper and searching for wisdom and knowledge of the truth. And herein lies the rub! Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit spoke this about believers and their pursuit of Christ...."that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge". In Christ are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; not just some or a few, but ALL. To seek Christ is to seek wisdom and knowledge. To seek wisdom and knowledge without Christ is a fool's occupation. The resistance noted last night may have centered around how they comprehended what they read, in the translation they read it in but at the heart of the matter was the willingness to be taught.  And the willingness to be taught comes from understanding that the pursuit of Christ is key, for from that pursuit (& finding) comes the knowledge and wisdom of God...Hmm...seems simple to me, but then again I am usually to blame for all dilemmas, both real and imagined! :-)

Speaking of imagined....

Not sure how to place this thought....Okay, it's a pretty simple idea, but it gets complicated rather fast, but here it is. In the middle of a rather straightforward study that brought us thru to the kings of Israel and Judah, people started showing up and getting saved. It became apparent that many of these had NO idea, (none, zip, nada) of Who Christ is, What He did for them and how to even find something in the Bible. I made a transition to "Discipleship 101: Discovering Jesus"....walking with Him as He calls the disciples, joining with them as they learn from Him and experiencing the challenges of giving all to follow the Savior and keep up with all He is revealing to them.....and here is where the "am I imagining this" comes that moment in time (period of weeks), the greatest resistence ever experienced began. Folks just went wacko...Oh yes, we've always had the "I got to get up and clean up now" problem and the "I'd rather talk to my neighbor" problem, but this was over the top. About time that the former pastor recognizes that something powerful is going on and verbalizes it....all....uh, hmm.....okay, "hell" breaks loose. I say this because it really, really seems like this resistance is from the influence of the enemy. And so we sit today, almost all who came in those days have left, some who were babes at the time have fallen away, the church is divided and the future looks awful it real or is it imagined?? To many of the folks, particularly those who have left, it was just ME getting into their business, where I had no right to be and the others see it as just a missunderstanding between us folks. Can't buy that!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

83 & then some....

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, 
  I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
   and I know I will not be put to shame. 

 He who vindicates me is near.
   Who then will bring charges against me?
   Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
   Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me.
   Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
   the moths will eat them up.

Who among you fears the LORD
   and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
   who has no light,
trust in the name of the LORD
   and rely on their God.

Now to be perfectly clear....I WISH that this could be 100% applicable to the situation I find myself surfing through....trying very hard to stay one board length away from the mouths of the sharks! However in the echo of what Jesus would do, as prophetically spoken here and DID do, I also find for the believer a reality of having Christ in us. When He is in us, the challenges of the accusers falls to Him; their charges are against Him just as He told Moses about the Israelites not rejecting Moses, but rather God. So in this I find some solace and consolation that my God is able and has proven Himself beyond capable of handling any accuser to their own disgrace not mine. My hope lies in being found in Him with no righteousness of my own, as it alone is the place that He will carry me.

Speaking of carrying...

The cross He carried is heavy, the cross He offers us is light in comparison to the cost of His, but still a REAL weight if attempted in the flesh. Only in the power of His might, the fellowship of His sufferings do I find the ability to shoulder it or even attempt to carry it, which, of course, requires movement. May I always be moving in Your love and remain immersed in Your Mercy and full of Your Grace, Lord Jesus!!

Speaking of Jesus....

I am clueless how He held His face like flint against the onslaught of the people and Satan's hoards. I find it impossible to even get beyond the consistency of soft dirt in the circumstances I now am engaged in. How He could or would take anything from anyone, when He alone had the power to stop it all, end it all and extract justice for every wrong is beyond my pay grade!! But I know enough from looking to see that I must be thankful for the fact that He did remain, He did take it and He did finish it once and for all. In that alone is the hope founded that I breathe. Thank You, Jesus!!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

88, 87, 86, 85...& now 84 days to go

Remember this, keep it in mind,
   take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
   I am God, and there is no other;
   I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
   from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
   and I will do all that I please.’
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
   from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
   what I have planned, that I will do.
 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
   you who are now far from my righteousness.
I am bringing my righteousness near,
   it is not far away;

Often lately it is necessary to remind myself that I have little power in changing others hearts and minds. God Himself often reminded the people of Israel (and us) that He is in charge, He is the Boss and He will do exactly what He plans to in present company and circumstances, I step aside to allow Him to do exactly that! If it is my stubbornness and rebellion that He seeks to change, then it is clear I shouldn't have been where I have spent these last 13 years as it onward we march.... Conversely, if what He is doing has to do with the stubbornness and rebellion of others, then my continuance may be an obstacle to that being accomplished. Once removed from the position of threat in their eyes, no enemy will remain to blame and it will be just them and God.

Hardest part passed without great travail....I was deeply concerned how the Papa would consider the decision to step down and away from this place. He showed great understanding of what my view was and considered that it may well be time to allow those to do what they will unimpeded by restraint. This thought sprang into my mind the other day when considering Judas...clearly a thief, but also a betrayer and coward. Jesus knew that if Judas had not come to the place of repentance and acceptance by the night they sat at the last supper, then it was time for Judas to go ahead unimpeded by the restraint of Christ. Mark Jesus' words to him...."what you go do, do now." Not, "I know where you're going and what you are going to do", nor "Let's sit down and discuss your eternal future based on your current temptation" but go do it. You've chosen it, you are giving yourself permission to deny the Holy Spirit's conviction and now you are free to go do what you have chosen to do. I think that Paul's term, "turning them over to Satan" is in the same vein. It is allowing them, unimpeded to procede in the choice of their heart and mind, because further talk and discussion will go nowhere!

So, what you go do, do now! Build your Bible study room, lure in the weak and immature with food and doing, feed the hungry (but not needy) in your own power and strength...practice your form of godliness, continue denying God's power and authority in establishing the church, the elders and the deacons and see what your end will be....there is no happiness here, just pain. Like watching a rebellious child suffering from the choices of their hard-headedness, so we will watch....but now we will see from a distance, no longer a source of competition from your perspective and most certainly no longer available as a resource for your self gratification.

Speaking of self gratification....

Or should I say, the lack thereof?? The famine ahead of us still proves to be a is available, but what will be the results of what we undertake? Do we pursue this as outlined by World Vision or amend to fit the capabilities of the youth? Either way, much to do and not much time to do it....

Speaking of doing it...

Business meeting for the church looming ahead in the near future....the financial part will not be too difficult, but a huge challenge remains of giving the now firm decision of leaving and setting the proper perimeters for it. Not answering the potential "why" question with anymore than the statement that the time is now and the time is right. It will be a severe test of my own desire (and the need to NOT do this) to tell the entire situation to all, from start to finish....but it cannot be. To do so would compromise the situation and provide additional fodder for the enemy to continue the division. Silence will provide the perfect environment for the others to realize they no longer have any focus to their bitterness and anger....we will not exist to them. And so it shall be! August 7, 2011, a date that shall live in....well, whatever happens is how it shall live!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

89 and feeling fine....

8 hours till an eastward departure up yon hill to the beautiful Park & the homefront of the battle....getting itchy feet already, but must stay the course till 4:00pm! Hopefully, this weekend will present some opportunities to make progress on some of the back work hanging over my head or at least dent the current work piled up before me. Read somewhere yesterday that your brain consumes about 20% of the energy you intake (ie. calories)...gotta wonder how much it consumes when you are in the middle of a battle that seems to occupy your every waking moment or at least fighting to keep the battle out of your mind? Feels like about 50% energy consumption in the good part of the days and maybe 80% in the darker times. What would it be like to truly not care? To never put an ounce of thought into the challenges of relationships and people dilemmas? Hmm.....not sure I'd like to go there...

Speaking of going there....

I was teaching the youth last night about the famine and drought currently occupying the Horn of Africa, specifically Somalia in preparation for their participation in a fundraising project for World Vision. It occurs to me that as they watched the pictures (taken from the local news of folks dying and children starving) that it wasn't really getting past their X-Box mentalities and their IPod thinking processes....just another channel to change. Wishing I had a large jumbo jet at my disposal to put these kids on and take them there....pretty sure that about 5-10 minutes spent walking through a refuge camp would clear up the affluency virus that most are infected with!

Speaking of infections.....

My hip is still sore from the gracious gift of the Dr. lady at Immediate Care. Anticef a la carte! or a la butt cheek! Either way, perhaps the toe will cooperate and things will get back to a normal state of mere degradation and not acute pain and agony. Hoping so anyway!

Speaking of hope.....

I'm sure hoping that God has a plan that I can't see and that at some point He is gracious enough to let me take a look. Running on empty and running dry is the norm on a lot of these days.  Too often its pretty gloomy in the forecast, but occasionally there is a break in the storm set and in those short glimpses of sunshine, the Son does truly shine thru. Of course, He is always is rather my immediate location and the impending circumstances around me that create a barrier to my basking in His Sonshine. The greatest of hope is for a restoration and reconciliation of all, but short of that the hope remains that God will make clear the direction for this weary pilgrim. I'd rather have His will than my comfort, but comfort is so foreign a concept these days when we are just looking for a breath of air to survive!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

90 and counting......

So what is it that causes a person that you help to veer suddenly away as if you have leprosy? Strange phenomenon, now three times repeated....and all are connected to each other. Wonder if I've tapped into a sub-species of humans who are deathly allergic to being associated with anyone giving them something or helping them out. Come to think of it....isn't that exactly what most recipients of welfare programs do? They take and want more, but speak in harsh and critical terms of the very government that provides for their daily existence...hmm! Or could be, of course considering who I am, that somehow the gift was contaminated by passing through my possession and the recipient is just protecting themselves from some nasty virus of friendship or brotherhood!

Speaking of brotherhood....

Especially as it relates to the relationship mandated by the change of nature when IN Christ; It seems so complicated and impossible for some folks to understand the nature of submission to authority and accountability that is required for Iron to sharpen Iron. Both must be present and focused on the task at hand. Both must be committed beyond themselves to the goal presented by the Master and both must see the authority of Christ and His Word as absolute. Not many do....hence the current circumstances and for whatever reason that God has determined, utter confusion and division!

Speaking of division.....

Having a hard time understanding why folks can't wrap their minds around the clear presentation that the Body of Christ requires discipline and accountability to the Body AND the Head, Christ. It is never presented in Scripture, nor entertained that we all should just seek out those who love us or whom we love and do our own thing with those. This is the root of error...affirmation of a wrong understanding is death to the holder. It further cements their position and their resistance to repentance is greatly increased by the well meaning efforts of other Body members who fail to see the absolute need for unity IN discipline as well as in love. The love of Christ NEVER accepts or excepts sin in the Body....or the pretense of those who try to imitate the Body relationship for their social desires. Religiousness as a facade is torn down, blown up and smashed to bits by Christ...and by the Holy Spirit thru Paul, James and other writers of the New Testament (as well as the writers of the Old). This "free form" christianity is doomed like Simon's attempt to buy the power of the Holy Spirit....I believe Peter said something like: "you'd have no part in this ministry because your heart is not right before God....for I see you are full of bitterness and captive to sin". In like manner....the dividers should consider their end! 

Speaking of ends.....

Don't let the news flash from today pass without consideration! Russia is now setting up to "mediate" the Libyan crisis. Giving Moscow lead in Libya is like giving Moscow Libya!! Of course in the nature of "ends" that may be exactly where we are headed in this case. Libya is one of the nations that must join in a collective effort to attack Israel according to Ezekiel 38-39. Russia appears to also have a part in that process to consolidate and motivate this action taken against Israel. Iran is already in the Russian fold, but Libya would be a substantial addition to the efforts. Time is getting short, time to wake up and smell the piroshkies......

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 91....or just another day?

 "For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the LORD; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water....well said, Isaiah and they live in my town!! Oy and how I wish at times that it was simple to disappear and leave all just to be what it will be. Years of work seem to be wasted, yet in a single, unsolicited conversation someone else will throw a spark of light into what previously appeared to be near utter darkness. Someone who is getting it? Who is being inspired by the Word of God, not empowered by their own lust to do their own thing? Is it possible? This is what brings the greatest challenge...was the statement made of affirmation or deception? A stumbling block or an encouragement? I guess that depends on the source and not the speaker, so time will tell.

Speaking of Time...

Amazing gal, my wife is...29 years with her and she still impresses me often! She took the bull by the horns and wrestled it all the way to Oroville, back to Paradise and to Oroville again to lay it on Caesar's table and it appears we are on our way to building again. Three weeks will tell whether this is just another futile exercise or a productive venture with God's blessing. Although the building department could have been gentler in the fees, doing the project with the rendering of Caesar's complete seems to be the right way to go. Of course, based on past experience and futile efforts on my part, not always so sure. Gonna have to get eating on the wheaties for sure!

To Famine or not to Famine, THAT is the question....

Okay, why aren't things just cut and dry? A simple idea, seeming good at the time has now escalated into the latest, greatest vehicle of offense. When someone asked me about looking at the materials for this project, did they mean look at it, give it back and get out of the way? Or was it please do it and let us help at the fun parts? Or perhaps even, we don't want to do this, but we signed up for it and we'd like to dump it into your lap now? Either way, in my "usual misunderstanding-please help me to understand" method, I now find myself in the wrong spot again. I need to gently return this idea to its originator, but without the offense of- "here take your stuff, I don't like it" being perceived as the issue. The advice of others pulling this one in other directions hovers about in the brain as a potential issue, but then to decide and act on possibilities and "I thoughts" is dangerous as no action? But that would require continuing in the action begun and unfortunately the kids thought it was a great idea....especially the build a hut and spend the night part. Oy vey, now what???

Random thoughts...

Watched part of a video clip in which some Pakastani Talabani dudes execute 15 other Pakastani dudes, just because. And it occurs to me that the fall of man and the sin nature is so embedded in this world, whether in Pakastan or America, that there really is no hope whatsoever....apart from Christ. With that said, the greater danger is when men THINK they have Christ, but they continue to live out the desires of the flesh and its lust just like those Talibani dudes. I'm sure they think they are just preserving the "right" way of living, doing the honorable thing and standing up for the "truth". Same with the pretend believers, for whom Christ is a nice lifestyle and a warm social concept, rather than the reality of Christ living in and directing our lives. His determination to stay the course is so far beyond the reach of the average Joe church attender. Now unfortunately the Talibani dudes have bought the lie of their father, Satan and murder is second nature to them...but is it any different from the murder of character and person that occurs daily in the "civilized" Christian circles? Who is your daddy after all????

Monday, July 18, 2011

July: like I like it!

Almost hard to fathom...morning mist rising from the ponds, cool soft breeze blowing gently through the trees; Can this really be July? Well, I shall enjoy each moment as best I can while it avails me the opportunity! Performed a wedding Saturday, shook hands and looked in the eyes of bitterness locked in the facade of a former friend and "so called brother" (in Paul's use of the phrase) and picked up an abundance of cigarette butts after the wedding outside the church. Retreated to the Park for the rest of the day and enjoyed a well needed nap, before closing up for the evening. Sunday presented another opportunity to deliver the Word of God, but unfortunately it seems to pass right through the ears and over the heads of most.
Found a recipe for some one's idea of a remedy...2 parts discarding the Word of God, 2 parts rebellion, dash of false teaching, stir with the affirmation of the clueless or purposely ignorant and serve to the weak and unsuspecting; pour into a container of non accountability and embellish with a good dose of something modern and soothing to the ultra-contemporary crowd and you've got a new dish of have it your own way if you don't like it God's selling dish, sadly!
Too much to do in the days ahead and much too little energy to complete all, but such is the way of this life. Laugh or cry, we're in for the long haul or the next 92 days, such as it may be. Much to be disposed of and organized....who in the world collected all this junk anyway?

A Time to Build....

According to Solomon there is a time for everything under the sun including a time to build. The dividers in our town are proceeding with a building project to have a place for their Bible Studies...or church services, such as they might be. Their current studies include: How to abandon the parts of God's Word you don't like; How to live a facade of Grace while enslaving under the Law; Living 7th day law while pretending otherwise; DIY Amputation of the Body of Christ; Good Food, Good Feelings for all and also, How to Live Unaccountable to God or anyone else.....Sadly, it is my fault that this has occurred as I must have been delirious to think that anyone would actually care about and submit to the authority of God's Word and His structure for the Church, His body. And I accept that responsibility.....

A Time to Search and A Time to Give Up....

Yep, Solomon wrote that down too! Searching has been a constant for the last 5 1/2 years every time the issues of bitterness, jealousy and envy arose among the dividers. Again, sadly the fault is mine and mine alone...Had this been nipped in the bud, many "babes" in Christ would still have a fighting chance. I can only hope that the Chief Shepherd is merciful, as this shepherd finds himself at the end. Stepping down and letting another shepherd step in has now become essential to preserve the growth in the few that are growing. The observers and churchy folks will continue to do what they do anyway, wherever they are or whoever is leading. Regardless of the choice of the others, responsibility for allowing their actions in a place of authority is mine alone, when there were (in hindsight) clear problems according to Scripture's qualifications for leaders, teachers, elders and deacons. So under this sun, the next 92 days or so will be by necessity a time of transition, consolidation and damage control. With God's grace and mercy, which I am in desperate need of , we shall make it to the end.