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Cut Her Loose

This morning I went fishing
Like me and my daddy used to do
The light was soft and
Coming up on the lake.
I could feel the air rush
Cool and sweet ‘fore the day began.
I could see his breath in the breeze
His hands firm on the till
His ghost anxious to be relaxin’
On the open mirrored lake
See, we never caught nothin’
In the lazy waters depths
He sat there, pole ‘tween his legs
Weaving stories out of thought
I laughed at his raucous fights
My favorite the one where he
And Jake were friends at the end
Of a night long boxing match.
Daddy said it had been over a girl
But when they were done fussin,
The girl was forgot, a friendship won.
Another favorite was where the girl
Came back one rainy night
To a bonfire drenched, soaked, dark
On a shore and love did abound.
As I grew older, laughter subsided
And the jokes lost their flavor
The truth came out and all was seen
For reality that the stories had been
Jake had died that winters end,
A lonely soldier in a foggy war.
That girl had just one kid and gave
Her life to Jesus on her death bed.
My daddy sighed, and laughed again
But here is where I grew so old
To see the laughter really hid tears.
I was grown the last we fished
With a son of my own.
Daddy held his pole in his hands,
His stories silent and old
“Tell me when Jake and you-”
“Son, not now. Let me tell you
Another story you never heard”
His eyes, once bright and keen
Now dimmed in the morning light.
Strong hands calloused and worn
Gripped the pole, knuckles white.
Then his hand shook and he was still
There was nothing but the air
His hands shook once more, wait!
There, a bite on his wormed hook!
Daddy wrangled that fish till he cried
“Son, this one is strong and proud.
Here’s how you deal with life
When you are all worn and tired out”
He pulled his knife and cut the rope
The fish, now free, swam away
“You cannot fear to cut loose
What you did not hold so tight.
When your mamma passed I cried
And remembered that bonfire night.
Son, you gotta cut her loose.”
Daddy died the other night
I cried and sobbed and prayed
My son stood by hand on my back
And said “Daddy, don’t be afraid.”
So now I sit here on my own
The setting moon for my light
Pole tween my knees and resting on
The memories of my Daddy’s life.

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We look to the Sephirot tree,

Elements and holy founts

Yggdrasil seduces our minds

The mighty serpent intertwined

The tree of eternal life

Its fruit ever slightly out of reach

The healing properties of the shaman’s staff

The wood that splinters and cracks

The five points promise sanity

The emanations do hold sway

Three fold rules and “do no harm”

Constructs that double back

Snakes that bite and trees that kill

Cursed is the hanging man

Writs and wards and hallow ground

Bones and guts divine demands

Scry His fate, the Son of Man

See humble words transform

There is little power to your spells,

Your lore, your trees, your charms

The tree of life is forever gone

From this world we are in

The coiled serpent lusts for flesh

That was never really his

Step down off that unhallowed hill

Swallow thy pride and thy wit

“Fillet of a fenny snake

In the cauldron boil and bake.”

The false prince, throne usurper

No longer dances ‘round the pole

His King has set His footstool down

The Universe at His beck and call

Run to King Jesus, you who yearn

For rest beyond the dark

He who died that you may live

And rose to complete His work.

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I read a book recently called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.  Something that he wrote stuck with me.  In order to do art, we must make war (his was more eloquently put).  We cannot merely sit at a computer and start typing out gold.  We cannot stand at a canvas and flesh out masterpieces willy-nilly. 

We need to make war.  We fight for every syntax, every color meld, every musical combination.  There is a huge resistance.

I will not steal Pressfield’s thunder but this resonated with me and struck my inner core.  So imagine my surprise when I heard the same maxim being applied to the Christian walk.

Hear me.  Not only salvation is under siege but also the walk, the journey, the quest for our Imago Christi, our Christ Image.

We read a book by Jerry Bridges in a study called “The Pursuit of Holiness” and this is where it was laid out most vividly for me.  I grew up hearing the Devil prowled and devoured.  I knew that there was an enemy.  I knew that he strives to accuse the brethren. 

But I did not live it.

I did not act it.

I acted as if I was on the side lines.  I was at home on the couch stuffing my face with cheese doodles and watching “Friends” or “Lost.”  I did not hold a sword in my hand, I held a remote.

I hear this is an epidemic in America.  I’m not sold on that but then I have only been to another country once for two weeks and stayed secluded in a compound.  What do I know?

While reading Bridges talk about justification and sanctification and what we need to be doing, I began to realize I needed to put to practice what Bridges and Pressfield were teaching. 

We cannot be unintentional with an intentional enemy.

This is important and the crux of our walk.  Our enemy is out for blood.  Our flesh tastes good and he will not give us so easily.  But we are not locked in an endless battle or fighting for a conquered kingdom.

We fight for King Jesus.  We strive to build into His kingdom.  We are fighting tooth and nail to grow in the likeness of His image.  We create, we preach, we share, we encourage, we push forward so that we might, as one Body, as one Bride, as one Church, go out into the world and preach the Gospel.  Make disciples.  Seek first the kingdom.

Life is hard.  There is blood, skin, bones involved.  Feelings are hurt, hearts are torn.  Friends leave and betray, leaders break your legs, followers push you from a cliff.  But keep pushing forward.  Fight the good fight.  Contend for the faith.  Do all of those actions the writers of scripture command.

Push forward.

Peace,

Bill

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It happened.  I fell into the trap.  I have not updated in a while.  At first, it was because I was waiting for inspiration for a post.  Then it was because I had not updated in a bit so I could go for a little longer.  Then, I was busy.

Then nothing.  Every now and then I would feel a twinge of guilt.  A “Hey, maybe I should… watch TV.”

Here I am, a little less than two years later.  I have envisioned a blogging project with a much cooler name than my initials.  But, ever the loudest critic of my work, I stop and ask, “If I cannot maintain a practice blog, how can I keep a larger than life, ultra-cool, widely read blog?”

Thus, you are stuck with me for a little while longer until I can prove to myself that I am worthy of running a blog.

Well then, let us begin…again!

Change

I have been through some switch ups recently.

I am working for a Bachelors Degree through Liberty University Online.  I am almost finished!  Then onto my Masters!

I upgraded my position at my job!  God has blessed me with a promotion over the past year, which answered a lot of prayers.

There has also been another development which I have been praising God for in the past year.

Did you know those kids in high school who knew exactly what college they wanted to go to, for which degree, for which job, and who they were going to marry along the way?  For instance, I knew a girl.  All she wanted was to be married and be a florist.  Well, let me tell you, she is now married to a really cool guy and she is…can you guess?  Yes.  She is a florist.

I lacked that conviction, that surety in life during high school.  I assumed that I knew basically where I was heading and what I liked doing and that the rest would fill itself into my life along the way.  Fast forward nine years.  Nine whole years form graduation and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I was George Bailey, wanting to travel the world and getting nowhere fast.  I needed a job.  I needed to pay bills.  I needed a car.  And, before long, I was stuck.

Life happened (I love that euphemism) and God put some really godly men in my life.  I still did not have concrete answers.  But one of the guys, Mike, kept drilling in my head: Seek Ye First.  It’s almost a mantra now.  One foot in front of the other.  Follow God in the little things.  Show myself to be a good steward of Gondor…I Mean my talents.  The rest shall follow.

August of 2012 rolled around a couple months after my last blog post on, ironically, looking to God for guidance.  I had tried a lot in the course of the previous years.  Food services.  Computers.  Business.  Accounting (that lasted about two classes).  Teaching English as a second language (thanks to a group from my college year at Lancaster Bible College).

Nothing.  I had a long list of what I knew I did not like.  In the course of this time, I was serving in the church.  I always gravitated towards teaching.  I loved it.  I loved digging into the word.  I loved figuring out what God was saying through His people.  The elders at my church helped me with working out lessons.  They kept telling me to get at the application and to facilitate more than lecture.  I am still working on that.

I also knew I wanted to be in the mission field.  Ever since I read of Hudson Taylor as a kid, I wanted to smuggle Bibles into China.  Well, China has Bibles and there is a lot of good work over there right now (I even hear there is a rise in Calvinism!!!!).  In this vein I spent a summer with a buddy and a pastor at the boardwalk handing out tracts, witnessing, spreading the gospel, and street preaching.  From this I have determined that while I am to go out into all the world and preach the gospel, I do not have the gift of evangelism.  It does not come naturally.

Well, I was lost.  I was stuck at my job, praying for change or something to point me in the right direction.  God had started something and He had definitely forgotten about me, right?

Me and a group of guys from the church had read Radical by David Platt earlier that year and Mike told us how his son and a friend were going to Kenya for two years right out of college to preach the gospel.  Some men had stepped up from the church the two guys attended in the Carolinas and offered to pay for their tuition.

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

Radical.

So I stepped out and, after prayer and talking with the elders at my church, I applied for Liberty University’s Online program.  I was working full time and could not afford to leave for college.  So, in the fall of 2012, I started taking classes.  God opened up doors so that I could finally move out and get a place with some roommates.  Full time job, full time classes, my own place.  God really blessed me and there was nothing that I could take credit for other than being faithful and trusting God.

Then it happened.  I’m not exactly sure what the date was or where I was exactly.  But I finally figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up!

There is a ministry that takes those with Masters or Doctorate Degrees and sends them to pastors who have little to no access to bible colleges.

My heart leapt for joy.  Even now as I write these words I rejoice that God would reveal this to me.  I had no idea this even existed.

Now I am close to the end of my degree.  I have 7 more classes.

In the past couple years I have not been even close to a role model.  I have raged and whined and worried at where God was leading me.  I still do.  I do not count it all joy.  I do not place my hope and anxiety in Him who feeds the sparrows and clothes the flowers.  But I am still young and God has a lot of work to do anyway so hopefully that will be taken care of down the road.

My prayers were not answered right away; my pleas were not met immediately.  Is there a time this has happened to you and later down the road you were thankful your prayers were not answered?

Peace,

Bill

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Today is the third day I have been on my medicine.  I am typing this on a computer so it might be longer than my last post (via iPhone).  So far so good.  No indication of the side effects mentioned (including some crazy rash deal that didn’t sound too attractive).  All my life I have always been the guy who hears a symptom and immediately thinks that I have that.  The day a diabetic did a presentation in health class I was convinced I was diabetic for about a month, maybe more.  But nothing yet.

I have been feeling…different though.  Lighter, fuller, pleasant.  I am less lethargic, feeling more productive, sleeping sounder.  Before, I felt as if I was walking through a wilderness and a darkness was overtaking me and smothering me.  I felt as if I had reached the end of my existence, that my universe was empty past a couple feet in front of me.  But now that’s changed.  I’m wondering how much is a placebo effect.  I mean, only three days have gone by and its only been 25 mg at night.  But I was talking with my mom last night and she stopped and said it was nice to see me smile again.

So why do I tell you this?  Why bear my mind to you?  I have had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for about 21 of my 25 years.  But most of my life, and probably for the rest of it, I struggled with letting Jesus be my Lord in everything.  I would always hold back an aspect of my life.  Growing up I wasn’t athletic, I wasn’t coordinated, and I wasn’t charismatic.  I wasn’t brilliant but I always felt I was smarter than average.  And after years of being told so, I believed it.  While others had their sports skills or friend skills, I had my mind.  It was the most precious aspect of my being I possessed.   I always thought that if I lost my limbs, if I were kept in solitude, or if I were incapacitated, I would be ok because I would have my mind, my thoughts.

Then I encountered God in His Holiness.  In the space of three years, my whole world started to fall apart and the life I had built up started to fall apart.  I fell into depression that I thought would go away but it just got worse.  The thing I loved most was broken.  My mind.

There is the story of Jacob in Genesis where he has deceived everyone in his life and has no one to turn to.  He is going back to his home land and he hears his brother, whom he tricked out of his birthright, is coming to him with an army.  Jacob sends presents and gifts and waits.  While he’s waiting, he is all alone and he meets a man.  And then they wrestle.  The man sees he is not winning and he touches Jacob’s hip, laming him.  Theologians say that this was a Theophany, an incarnation of God, or a Christophany, an early incarnation of Christ.  Jacob falls to the ground but he holds on to the man for dear life and asks for a blessing.  And the man blesses him.  I always wondered what this was about.  Then I was reading “Knowing God” by J I Packer and he described the wrestling match as God taking everything from Jacob so that Jacob only had God to rely on, not his deceptiveness or his intelligence.

Then it hit me.  I was always so worried about losing my mind, I had made it first in my life that it had become an Idol.  It had taken the throne of my heart that God was supposed to be sitting on.  And maybe the only way I would be fully God’s was if my mind were taken out of the picture, broken down, made less than I wanted, so I could not rely on it any more but had to turn to God fully and whole-heartedly.

That being said, I have not arrived.  I am the same sinner I was three years ago.  But I feel God is changing my heart for Him.  I feel as if He is transforming my heart by renewing my mind.  I have been dropping all the pretenses.  I am nothing without God.  If he were to let me go, I would surly fall into Sheol.  I know I have a long ways to go.  I have a whole life to become like Christ.  I will probably sin in two seconds, two minuets, two days and feel like I have undone everything that has taken place.  But I am under God’s grace and nothing I can do can change that position.  Amen.

Peace

Bill

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