Tag Archives: God

Winter Solstice

Each day there is less light,

Spreading darkness threatens

To bring unending night.

Will the world be mantled in black?

Will light be pushed back

Until it ends?

Will there come a day,

When there is no day?

The sun is a pawn,

Even if its gravity holds us

And its light uphold us,

It is nothing but a ball of gas,

A created thing

Subject to the laws of the Creator-King.

Today is Solstice,

Let the celebration begin, 

the Light of the World has come!

Son of God, the only One.

Paradoxes abound: 

immortality became mortal;

Infinity limited itself;

Almighty God became human.

Creator of 200 billion trillion stars

Born as a baby on a small planet

Orbiting a seemingly insignificant sun.

The shortest day is here!

Darkness must end.

The light has won.

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The Cure for Moral Insanity

What can cure the moral insanity spreading through our world?

Planned Parenthood (what a misnomer) is the largest abortion provider in the nation. They promote themselves as advocates for women’s health. What they actually are is a consumer corporation profiting from women who are facing the challenge of an unwanted pregnancy. They receive half a billion dollars from our government. But that’s not enough money for this greedy corporation. They call the human being in the womb “products of conception,” and ironically, they sell body parts from aborted fetuses as products for experimentation. The Nazis also experimented on human beings for “medical purposes” and used body parts from the unwanted human beings they murdered. Why do so many continue to support this evil corporation? Supporters are people driven by emotional pleas and political correctness, voting a party line rather than admitting the truth, having compassion or being concerned about the dignity of human life. This is sick. Why aren’t the decision makers being prosecuted? The same US government that protects the egg of a bald eagle ensures permission for unborn humans to be ripped from the womb one body part at a time. This is moral insanity.

The U.S. created a power vacuum in the Middle East because of the 2003 Iraq invasion and the weary withdrawal of US troops after a decade of attempting to assist in creating a fair democracy. This vacuum is now being filled by the most evil men the world has seen since the days of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. Islamic extremists have yet to murder as many people as those dictators, but they possess the will to do so. ISIS is attempting to establish a Caliphate or religious government that wills to take over the world. They revel in spectacular executions, slavery of those who don’t believe their doctrine, rape as a form of worship and the destruction of ancient history. All of this evil is calculated to serve one goal: terrorize the world in an effort to subdue it. This is moral insanity.

ISIS butchers thousands of people, and the U.S. response has been timid and tepid. Christians are martyred like they were in the Roman Colosseum, but in place of thousands of spectators in the stands there are multiple millions of viewers on the internet. Why are their videos hosted? Why are they permitted to promote their evil? Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter could do more to shut these people out, but instead they tacitly support the evil they allow to be promoted via their networks. The news media covers ISIS in graphic detail because it draws more viewers. In so doing, CNN, MSNBC, FOX become the de facto PR team for ISIS. Terror is their tool, publicizing their activities, ideas and videos gives them the worldwide stage they desire to spread fear and horror. This is moral insanity.

The United States leads the world. The culture here is a powerful influence everywhere. Sexual immorality has become the norm in our culture. The family existed prior, not only to our government and our nation, but prior to civilization itself. It is the fundamental building block of civilization. Now that ancient institution is under sustained attack by a perverse and powerful lobby. What was once considered shameful has been institutionalized by the highest court in the land. Marriage has been universally understood to be the bond between one man and one woman. That five unelected judges changed the definition of a 5000 year old institution should be deeply disturbing to everyone. Every child needs a mother and a father. To establish a norm that deprives children of this is moral insanity. However, the problem of single parent homes did not originate within the LGBT community. In fact, fatherless homes may well be the most significant cause of the sexual confusion in which we find ourselves in today.

The ideal is that the marriage bond lasts for life. Divorce became more and more accepted in the mid 20th century. Now it is as common as marriage. The once expected standard of waiting to have sex until marriage has been replaced with rampant sexual promiscuity. Cohabitation is the norm. The internet has made pornography instantly accessible to almost anyone. It is not surprising that this fertile ground for sexual immorality has produced increased acceptance for inordinate and perverse forms of sex. Consider the popularity of the book series titled 50 Shades of Gray, wherein the rich misogynistic male protagonist gets off on treating his female partners like sex slaves, and the female protagonist enjoys such treatment. This is moral insanity.

Then there is the explosion of gun violence in the US. Why? Policy makers and politicians wring their hands, or point their fingers at one another, but fail to make any changes. The left sees this as a problem with the proliferation of guns, so they propose gun control laws. The right sees this as a problem solvable by the exercise of the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Their solution is to arm law abiding citizens. Guns merely make violence more convenient and more glamorous. I wonder how many of the same individuals who support gun control would oppose controlling the sale of violent video games to kids? Why do NRA and 2nd Amendment advocates oppose attempts to keep guns out of the hands of the untrained? Not everyone should have the right to carry a gun. The unfortunate problem is, those who choose to break the law are not going to train or get their guns registered. What we have is a social problem that is signified, and perhaps exacerbated, by guns, but not caused or resolved by guns or their removal from the hands of law abiding citizens.

The real issue was revealed by Jesus Christ when one of his disciples wanted to protect him from harm. On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemene praying when Judas Iscariot arrived with a crowd of men with swords and clubs. The traitor identified his former master with a kiss and the guards grabbed Jesus. Peter drew a sword and struck the high priest’s servant, severing his ear. Jesus healed the servant’s ear and admonished Peter saying, “Put your sword back in its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52, ESV). 

Guns are neither the problem nor the answer. The issue is in the heart of human beings, for evil comes out of the heart. In this case it is the evil of treating other persons as objects, obstacles that threaten us or stand in our way. Video games provide an apt example: when you encounter a person who threatens you or stands in the way of your progress, you typically just shoot them dead. But persons are created in God’s image. Why aren’t we bothered when human beings are treated with less respect than our pets?

This reveals an even deeper heart problem: the failure fear God, to believe in a just and loving God, who says, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay… For we must all stand before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (Romans 12:19b, 2 Corinthians 5:10).

In an unprincipled, increasingly lawless, population every person looks to himself to determine right and wrong.  The serpent promised self-determination to Eve in the Garden when he tempted her to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Eve and Adam gave in to the temptation and were cast out of God’s presence. Self-determination (apart from God) has continued as the norm of human nature throughout our history. It was exemplified during the period of Judges in Israel when the people did great evil. The explanation for that evil is found in the final verse of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

When someone rejects God as their king, they do so in order to rule over their own conscience and life (see Psalm 10:4, 14:1). They become blind to sin and evil, following the dictates of their own godless heart. “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his own sin” (Psalm 36:1-2).

The law is for the lawless. There is a God who has created the universe the people who live in it. The universe operates according to the constant and unchangeable laws of physics, and human beings are created to live within the parameters of the the moral law, which the Creator also established. This is obvious to anyone who would bother to pay attention and pursue the evidence instead of their own agenda. “For what may be known about God is evident within them for God has made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived through what has been made, so they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20). 

There are elementary moral principles present in everyone’s conscience. However, we live in a fallen world in active rebellion against those principles. This confuses people and distorts the subjective perception of truth in their consciences. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Therefore, God made the moral law objectively plain to his people Israel on Mount Sinai. Then he sent his Son to live out the truth and offer a way for everyone to receive and live eternal life. “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ… I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 1:17, 14:6).

The cure for moral insanity today is a King and a Law. “Where there is no vision the people are unrestrained. But happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18). For people who genuinely believe in and follow the God of the Bible, there is moral sanity. However, for those who do not live their lives surrendered to God, the Law is in place to teach them right from wrong and threaten punishment for violation.
“…understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, for the effeminate and homosexuals, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 9-10).

We must encourage and reintroduce the truth of the Bible to people, in order that many may return to faith, which at its basic level is reverence for God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Next, there must be a fair and gracious application of God’s Law, which is objectively defined in the 10 Commandments. There must be legitimate and just authority in place to establish and enforce laws on this basis. These commandments teach and mandate respect for God and respect for other people.
1- You shall worship no other God, except me.
2-  You shall not make any idols.
3-  You shall not misuse my Name.
4-  Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5-  Honor your father and mother.
6-  Do not murder.
7-  Do not commit adultery.
8-  Do not steal.
9-  Do not lie.
10- Do not covet.

The first four Commandments focus on God and should be left to God’s people to teach and enforce among themselves. Civil law and authorities should protect and ensure that expressions of faith in God are unhindered and unmolested, and that every person is free to worship God, or to refrain from worshipping, according to his or her conscience. Most importantly, there must be no law passed to prohibit the preaching and teaching of the Bible. That is where truth, freedom and salvation is found.

The last six commandments should form the basis for civil law. Society’s laws will need to expand upon, but should still find their basis in, these six basic commands.

Those of us who claim to believe in and follow Jesus Christ must lead the way. The following admonition reveals what will restore sanity to us.
“For the Lord has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, and love and a sound mind.”
(2 Timothy 1:7)
The word translated timidity is sometimes rendered as fear, but the lexicon helps us understand it further by defining it as: “a state of fear because of a lack of courage or moral strength” (Louw-Nida Greek lexicon). We who would claim Christ as our Lord must have the courage to live out our moral convictions. There must be no compromise with the godless values promoted and enshrined in our nation. “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). 

We must not be timid about taking a stand against the moral insanity spreading through our nation and the world, even as it becomes socially acceptable, even if we are castigated and persecuted for the stand we take. We must “speak the truth in love,” and “be ready always to give an answer for the hope that is within us, yet with gentleness and reverence” (Ephesians 4:15, 1 Peter 3:15). This is important if we ever expect to bring our nation back from the brink of moral breakdown, but it is even more important for each of us to have courage for the sake of our own moral sanity.

We do not do this alone. The Holy Spirit will fill us with courage, and will remind us of God’s words when the time comes to speak (see John 14:26 & Luke 12:11-12). So, rest; do not be anxious or afraid. Do the right thing always, and be ready to defend your moral choice by appealing to the Lord Jesus as your teacher. Do not be ashamed of the name of Jesus or of his Gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of salvation to all who believe, for the Jew first and also the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

Let us pray for nothing short of a Great Awakening in this formerly great nation.

God Created Them Female and Male

“So God created humankind in his image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

this one shall be called Woman,

for out of Man this one was taken.”

(Genesis. 1:27 & 2:21-23, NRSV)

The book of Genesis begins with two accounts of creation: chapter one is an overview of the entire creative process, while chapter two focuses attention upon the position and relationship of man and woman to God in the created order. Attempts have been made by scholars of higher criticism to demonstrate that these two accounts are of different sources, and that each teaches an independent “myth” about the origin of humankind. A case of how important this is to our study is found in Paul K. Jewett’s book Man as Male and Female. In the book, Dr. Jewett finds the Genesis two account to be faulty on two counts: 1) man is created first, and 2) woman is made, in part, from the man (ie. from Adam’s rib). Jewett sees this as a myth rooted in the male dominated patriarchal culture of the Hebrews. Instead, he prefers the account in chapter one: specifically, 1:27 which provides a basis in creation for ontological equality between man and woman.

I do not find these to be mutually exclusive. It is improper to pit chapter one and two against each other as if the first is inspired and the second isn’t: both are Scripture, and all of Scripture is God breathed (II Timothy 3:16). I take the position that the two accounts are in harmony and explain each other. Primary to any idea that we have about woman concerns her worth. What is the basis of that worth: man, or God? Is she merely an afterthought in the mind of God, or some sort of plaything or helper for man? Or is she, as man is, created In the Imago Dei (the image of God)?

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our Image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule..,. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26a, 27, NASB).

In this passage of scripture we can plainly see that humankind, in both its male and its female aspects, is stamped with the indelible Imago Dei. With classic Hebrew parallelism the human author makes clear the divine intent. The first line “in the image of God He created Him” is clarified by the synthetic parallelism of the next line “male and female He created them”. Both man and woman are commanded in verse 28 to “be fruitful,” “multiply and fill the earth,” and very importantly God commands both to “subdue” and “rule.” God entrusted both men and women with the responsibility to increase in goodness, in number, and to rule and subdue the earth. Woman is not an afterthought in the mind of God, nor is she secondary in importance. Woman is charged with the same responsibility over creation as man.

An important question to ask is, how is this dual leadership over the earth supposed to be achieved practically? Is there a hierarchy where the man is to be above the woman, or is the relationship supposed to be side-by-side, or equalitarian? In reading the extra-biblical sources for this essay the author has discovered that most of the writers who favor an equalitarian relationship place major emphasis on Genesis 1:27, while those who favor a hierarchical relationship emphasize Genesis two and its Pauline application and interpretation in the New Testament. However, as we have indicated earlier, this dualism is not appropriate. Whereas Genesis one gives a general overview of God’s creative process and plan ending with the crown of His creation, humankind, chapter two focuses upon the last act of creation.

Man and Woman are given special attention by their Creator, “Then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living *being…. Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone; I will make Him a helper **suitable for him…. But for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.’” (Genesis 2:7, 20b-22, NASB, *soul and **corresponding to).

In this more detailed account the focus is upon God’s great care in preparing the crown of His creation. In chapter one God speaks everything into existence, but He is said to “create” man. In chapter two that careful and brooding sculpture of man and woman is detailed: Man is formed from the dust, and woman is “built” from “a part” of man. In 2:7 man is made a “living soul” when God breathes into him “the breath of life.” This could be understood (as I believe it should) to mean “the spirit of life” since the Hebrew word for breath, wind, and spirit is the same. This helps us to understand in what way human beings are made in God’s image: we are inherently spiritual beings since He brought man and woman to life directly with His Spirit. This moves beyond a quantitative existence, although that is involved (ie. Genesis 6:3 “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever…”). It speaks of a quality of existence apart from and above the animals. Although the attention is placed upon the creation of Adam when the Scripture addresses this unique inspiriting from God, both male and female persons have a spirit since, as Genesis 1:27 makes clear, both are made in God’s image. The Genesis two account does not explicitly state that god breathed into woman but the fact that 1:27 indicates both are made in the image of God, and that 2:18 gives God’s intent to make a helper suitable for, or corresponding to, him, and that we are shown in 2:19-20 that nothing in the whole of creation is found to correspond to him gives us overwhelming evidence within the chapter that this is the case. It Is implicit to the entire passage that she shares all that he shares when being created.

However, man and woman are far from identical. There is an important difference in the way each is created, and there seems to be present a further differentiation between them in their focus for carrying out the divine mandate from 1:28 to rule the earth. To begin with, in creating humankind God chose to make man first. Additionally, Adam was the only human for long enough that he began to experience loneliness (1:18). From this we observe an important principle of human nature. A person is created to be in relationship. Humans are designed for relationships with other humans. A man is designed to relate to God and to be in an intimate relationship with a woman. A woman is designed to be intimate with a man and to be in relationship with God.

God moved to the next step in His plan for humankind, creating its other half: woman. God could easily have made another man from the dust of the earth. Perhaps God could have made Adam a male friend to “correspond to” him. That is not what God chose to do. Rather, in His plan the Lord God chose to make another person like the man, and yet quite different. This difference is more deeply rooted than obvious physical characteristics. There is also a deeply rooted spiritual difference between man and woman in God’s design. In His creative purpose God made woman, not separate from but out of man. This is highly significant: God formed the man first and allowed him to realize he cannot be fulfilled alone. Then, from the man’s side God made a person who would be capable of relating with him in the most intimate of ways. She comes from the man and is capable of becoming one flesh with him again through sexual intercourse. We hear the man rejoice, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). The God inspired author of Genesis makes further application to us: as a result of the spiritual and emotional union between man and wife “a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (physical union) (Genesis 2:24).

The woman comes to fulfill God’s stated purpose to give man a “helper” (1:18). This is not a word which refers to an inferior. In fact, the context makes this clear. All of the animals were brought to Adam and he named them, but none was found which fit or “corresponded to” him. Grammatically the Hebrew word ezer (helper) means someone who helps from a position of strength* In the Old Testament the word is used 17 times to refer to God as our helper, and three times to refer to a military ally (Clouse and Clouse, p. 183). So, the helper is strong not weak. If that were not so, how would they offer any real assistance?

There is the sense in which the one who is helped begins an action or is primary in that action. Even when God is our helper, it is we who are responsible for carrying through. But that does not make God inferior to us in any way, does it? God’s function in a helping act is different than the person He is assisting. It is supportive. The one being helped is focused immediately upon the task at hand, while the helper is focused upon the one whom they have determined to help. I believe this is a most fundamental difference between the masculine and the feminine. The difference in the focus of man and woman is a result of God’s design and purpose. While both are responsible equally to fulfill the divine mandate to rule the earth, and both are equal in every way from God’s evaluation of worth, each has a special, God given calling and gift so they may work together to accomplish God’s will .

The man’s focus is in accomplishing God’s command directly: he is task oriented. The woman’s focus is to nurture and sustain the relationships that strengthen and support them. In this way man and wife accomplish God’s will together. Thus, the man follows God’s plan with woman’s nurturing strength to support him, and woman follows God’s plan through supporting man in his responsibility to implement and administer that plan itself. One focus is not more important than the other, but both are seen to further the most worthy goal of maintaining a close relationship with God. This does not preclude a woman or man from filling the function of their mate, rather it emphasizes that God created and gifted each to achieve His will by focusing on equally important tasks or issues.

Unfortunately the relationship between God and humankind was broken and His intended focus for each was distorted. In Genesis chapter three we are greeted with the tragedy of the human race* Both the man and the woman were tempted in their area of weakness and succumbed. Further, the consequences pronounced upon their sin are in line with their differing functions in the created order. The traditional curses of Genesis chapter 3:14-19 are not so much curses, as natural results of the fall that must be endured by humankind (Clouse and Clouse, p. 40).

The tragedy unfolds as the Serpent tempts Eve who succumbs and gives the fruit to Adam to partake. After he sins, both their eyes are opened, and they seek to hide from God. The first pair failed in their collective responsibility (to be obedient to God), and perverted their special gifts. Eve was supposed to help nurture their relationship so that they would be whole and strong to do God’s will. Instead she disobeyed God’s will and helped Adam to sin. She became an idol, and the man willingly bowed to worship. Adam should have focused on doing God’s will, ensuring that they kept His command and pursued His purpose. Instead, he failed to disagree with the serpent or correct his wife’s sinful decision — which he clearly knew to be wrong (Genesis 2:17), and was likely responsible for sharing with his wife (Genesis 3:2-3).

When God pronounced judgment and the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sins follow a familiar pattern. The result of Eve’s sin is the fall of woman in the area of relationships. The result of Adam’s sin is the fall of man in the area of doing the work.

Eve is told that two major consequences will abide as a result of her sin: 1) the pain of childbirth will be increased, and 2) although her desire will be for her husband he will rule over her. I do not believe the multiplication of pain in bearing children refers to physical birth alone, but to the whole responsibility of the mother in raising children from bearing them in her body onward. From this we are not to infer that the husband’s responsibility to raise their children is lessened. Rather, the mother will be naturally primary, and her responsibility will be painful at times. The second part of the curse (or result of the Fall) is that her relationship to her husband will become one of subordination. Whereas the intent of God was for the man and woman to rule together, with the woman providing the emotional and relational strength and the man providing the specific direction to achieve God’s purpose, now the man will extend his natural dominance over his wife.

Adam’s consequence for following his wife into sin is complication in achieving the divine mandate to subdue the earth. Now the ground will be cursed and his work will be frustrating and unfulfilling at times. Work itself is not the curse, since in 2:15 God gave Adam responsibility to tend the garden. Instead, the curse makes man’s work in following God’s will and achieving any intended purpose more difficult. This is true because man has chosen independence from God by virtue of putting self will above God’s will. This was Satan’s sin, so man is now deformed into the likeness of God’s supreme enemy. Now there is an ongoing civil war between what the man knows to be right and what he desires to achieve for himself.

This same civil war is present in the woman as well: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16b), The woman’s natural empathy for the man will now be perverted as a result of their fall, and a selfish desire for him will seek to replace it. She wants to possess him, and to control him. “That’s my man.” This is further frustrated by his natural strength and dominance over her. Prior to the fall the woman’s gift was to unselfishly give strength to the man by providing emotional and relational support to him out of love for God, and a love for her husband with a view to enabling God’s overall purpose on the earth to be accomplished. Now woman will battle with a sinful tendency to seek fulfillment of her desires first, and suffer frustration when the man wields his strength and authority in the relationship to achieve his desires and goals instead. Competition replaces consideration; selfishness replaces love. The woman is designed to empower and enable the accomplishment of God’s will, but now she is driven to seek self will, or her understanding of her family’s good above God’s will, which is the only true good. This is not God’s perfect plan. It is the sinful arrogance of people, beginning with Adam, and Eve, which has attempted to thwart the plan. However, God was not taken by surprise; in fact, from the beginning He made a way for man to return to the intent of creation. Thanks be to God, it would be through Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15, Romans 7:25).

In summary, the creation account teaches us that both man and woman make up humankind. God created both man and woman in His own image with inestimable and equal worth. God intended for both man and woman to participate in achieving His will for them and the earth: in that they would each be involved with being fruitful, multiplying, filling, ruling and subduing the earth. Together they were to fulfill that purpose and each was given a special gift and focus through God’s design of their gender specific natures: the woman from her gift in nurturing and maintaining their relationships, and the man in determining goals for achieving and maintaining God’s will and plan. There is no sense of male domination until the Fall, at which time domination becomes a sad consequence — a reality easily observed throughout human history. Finally, the consequences of their sin also followed the difference in their natures.

Troublemaker Peacemaker

I’m a troublemaker,

and a peacemaker.

I’m a lover and a fighter,

not a liar and a faker.

I’m a big mistake maker,

so I gotta live by grace,

to run this faith race.

Trouble is, I’m out of place 

on this planet so full

of evil and hate.

I wanna make a change,

rearrange

the silly groupthink

infecting the masses,

who don’t really think,

so much as feel 

their way round in the dark

of Plato’s cave.

Illogical logic is the reason,

minds change with the season.

Or like Texas weather,

one minute passion makes hot,

the next, depression is freezing

And here I am so trapped

in pathetic self-pity,

energy and intellect sapped,

and I am kept

from making a difference.

Dear God, set me free

from the tyranny of me.

Now I lay me down

on the altar of sacrifice.

Take my life

make my life

a living sacrifice.

Sick and Sad 13

Sick and sad,

already broken or

I’d be breaking bad.

But still, 

what if I

took a sabbatical

and tested myself?

Solomon is the example.

He knew that life under the sun

is all vanity, but indulged

only for a moment in pleasure and fun.

All the while he watched 

with his wisdom intact

to discover if

nothing is worth it, in fact.

I know the answer,

as did the wisest man.

But I need to feel

something.

I’ve got to find a way to become

someone.

This tame existence is killing me.

My dreams are dammed up,

my desires are pent up,

and lust must be damned out.

But I’ve got to break free

from this boring little life

before I waste away.

Everyone loves

the Prodigal.

His return was celebrated

his story told and retold,

while the responsible son

tended sheep out in the cold.

I wait and wait and wait and wait,

my heart is sick

from hope deferred

and unfulfilled longing.

When, O when

will I reach the heights

I thought God called me to

back then, at a time when

everything seemed possible.

When can I be fulfilled again?

Over half my life is gone

and still I wait.

I suppose I’ll be like 

Abraham

rather than Solomon.

Restore to me the joy

of my salvation.

Vindication 5 Who Is Deaf Like My Servant?

This is the fifth chapter in a series about 21 years of overcoming conflict and opposition as I’ve tried to learn how to minister and speak the truth in Garland, Texas. You can read the first four parts at www.deorl.wordpress.com or in my notes on www.Facebook.com/deorl.

In the early years of our church’s existence we were seeking an identity and a home. I thought we knew who God had called us to be and to whom he had called us to speak and serve. We were refugees who had been called to the rebellious who didn’t like church. We started out meeting in a rented house in Richardson, Texas, as well as hotel ballrooms. Regarding the house, there was some conflict with neighbors and the City of Richardson over our Bible studies and band practices. We were told by the city that we couldn’t have worship services in the house. Well, we were only doing Bible studies there, but there were complaints about that. We had two neighbors that liked us and two that didn’t. Complaints get the attention of city officials and they use zoning laws to limit free speech and free exercise.

We found an old movie theater in Garland, Texas and moved everything there. It was large, which would work well for our dramatic productions, but it had been unoccupied for at least 10 years. Many things had to be done just to bring it up to code. We took out a loan to do the necessary renovations. I really thought we’d be able to grow enough to pay the loan back quickly. However, as it turned out, the age of the building and an uncooperative owner kept us from having an inviting facility where people would worship.

We spent a lot of money getting the air conditioning to work in the building, but when the first winter hit we discovered the building did not have working heat either. This was something an unscrupulous leasing agent had kept from us. When we requested help from the owner, he offered to loan us money to fix the heating in his building. The payments for this five thousand dollar loan would conveniently be added to our rent. Even if this were fair, it wasn’t feasible for us. We were already struggling to pay the rent.

So, our little community froze through two winters in the old theater. During one of those winters I and our worship leader were living in the building as a cost saving measure. It was shortly after the movie Fight Club, and we saw this as our version of the dilapidated old house in which Edward Norton’s character lives. Did I mention it was cold? If you’re from a Northern state, then you probably think Texas cannot get that cold, but living in a building without heat in 30 degree weather is still harsh.

Worship services during these winters were interesting. We did a noon Bible study with brunch, and that happened either in the lobby or outside in front of the building. Our main worship time was at 6:00 P. M. Sundays. We tried various portable heaters, but the ceilings were 34 feet, so it really never got that warm. The few intrepid youths who came to worship huddled around those heaters and tried to pay attention to the service. This was not the best environment for worship attendance growth.

To compound the heating challenge, we also got flooded several times. Once during a drama production, it rained and a drain behind the building failed. Several of our scenes were flooded and we had to cancel the show that night. Neither the owner or the leasing company was willing to take responsibility for this. They did dig out the drain, but wouldn’t compensate us for lost revenue. At this point a little relief from the rent is all we were seeking. It would have even been financially wise on their part because it would have helped us remain in the building.

We had a three year lease, but there was a six month opt-out clause, which was put there by the owner, who was seeking to sell the building. After two years, and two cold winters, we had had enough. We gave our six-month notice in July, which meant we would be out of the building by December 31st.

On December 1st of that year I spoke about spiritual warfare during our Sunday evening worship time. I remember that it was a long message, and sitting on the floor to my right was a young man who would soon be shipped off to the war with Iraq. Warfare is primarily spiritual, even when it appears to be against material foes.

The next morning dawned a beautiful day; the sun was out, temperature was mild. Life, it seemed, was great. By mid-morning my perception of the day changed dramatically. The hearing in my right ear suddenly began to diminish. If I could make a visual analogy, it was as though I was inside a cave with bright sun coming in through the entrance. Then a door began closing like the iris on a camera, and it grew dark. As it got darker, I became more deaf. By 1:00 P. M. on December 2nd, 2002 I could no longer hear in my right ear.

To be deaf is a challenge. However, it was a shock to me because I’d always had good hearing. I do have tinnitus, loud ringing in my ears. This was the result of listening to a youth garage band years earlier. It was cold that day, so the teenagers in the band closed the garage door and turned up the amplifiers. I left with my ears ringing and they’ve never stopped. Up to this point, however, this affliction had not been overwhelming because outside noise usually drowned out the ringing.

Now my right ear was completely deaf to outside sounds. Complete deafness on that side would have been hard to take, but ironically I could still hear ringing in the ear, constant shrill ringing. Imagine if you were in a room where a loud smoke alarm is going off next to one of your ears, but you cannot stop it, or leave the room.

As I grew deaf, I also grew dizzy. I experienced a severe case of vertigo. I had to lay down to keep from vomiting. For a week, whenever I moved my head the room spun in the same direction. This was hell. In fact, as I lay there, perfectly still, I had time to think about hell, and what many Christians say it will be: eternal conscious torment. I could not imagine something so horrible. It changed my perspective. Something I may write about another time.

Thankfully, I believe in a good and loving God who hears prayer. I complained. I cried out. I begged God to help and heal me. I went to the doctor and received minor relief in the form of anti-vomiting medication, but the vertigo continued. I read the Bible and believed God directed I apply a promise from Revelation 2:10. It was originally a promise for the church in the ancient city of Smyrna. It reads: “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you in prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.” I was surely imprisoned by this strange affliction. I came to believe that the torment would last no longer than ten days. By the tenth day the vertigo was barely noticeable, so perhaps this was an accurate understanding of what the Holy Spirit promised me through the Bible. However, I wasn’t completely healed.

To this day I am almost completely deaf in my right ear. The ringing is loud and incessant: every waking hour, every single day since December 2, 2002. Thankfully, God grants me sleep and I do not hear the ringing then. I often have to strain to hear what people are saying during a conversation because the ringing is as loud as most people speak. When I try to play music or direct sound into that ear through headphones it irritates something and the ringing will become briefly louder.

On several occasions tinnitus in my left ear has flared up and become so loud that I have been terrified the same thing might happen. That would be for me the realization of hell on earth: not just deafness, but constant torment because of unimpeded ringing in both ears. I am trusting God not to allow something so horrific to happen. When I fear the other ear may close up, I cry out and trust my good and loving Father

The only thing that keeps me sane in the midst of constant affliction is the hope that God is good, he loves me and does not intend to harm me. He will not permit evil to overcome me. I remember his promises. I cling to them. I hold God accountable to keep his word.

” So do not fear, for I am with you; 

do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 

I will strengthen you and help you; 

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

“All who rage against you

will surely be ashamed and disgraced;

those who oppose you

will be as nothing and perish.

Though you search for your enemies,

you will not find them.

Those who wage war against you

will be as nothing at all.

For I am the Lord your God 

who takes hold of your right hand 

and says to you, Do not fear; 

I will help you.”

(Isaiah 41:10-13, NIV)