A zealot among normals/nominals, or simply different among the unique?

I need to sit down with Glenn Galey or someone else at church who has grown up Christian slowly but surely deepening their faith and their personal connection to God through His Word, rarely straying far when they do stray at all. I need to walk a mile or two in their shoes so I can understand where they come from, because I’m afraid that my experiences are completely bizarre to them, as much so that theirs are to me. I want to understand how you can never experience the scales-falling-from-your-eyes, earth-shattering, blinding revelation of God in your life and yet be as close if not closer to Him than those of us who have. I think I may have to admit to some sinful prejudice here, like most men, but that’s what I want to remedy! When I stepped back into the light and truly surrendered to God, it was… well, it would be really easy to cheapen with words in a vain attempt to describe it, but I can only liken it to an experience I’ve never had: dying. No, I’m not kidding. Coming from where I was, with the shell of a man I had constructed around myself based almost entirely on clever deception, smoke and mirrors to make myself seem more than I was, the insecurity, the rage, the utter destructiveness (both self- and in general), it was nothing short of being completely released from the need for all that crap, something utterly out-of-body in nature. It didn’t end there, of course. I had to learn that each day I would be under attack by that old nature, sometimes stealthily, sometimes openly, and that I would need to lean daily (sometimes minute to minute) on the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit to get through the day without serious relapse. Sometimes we have success, sometimes I succumb. The fight continues, but only for the daily moment to moment vulgarities of this present fleshy prison. The war being fought for my soul was decided in that moment where I surrendered, and the freedom simply can’t be described. It has to be experienced to be understood. (Yeah, I know, I said I would try not to cheapen it with words, and I...

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Helm, Make Your Depth 1200 Feet, Damage Control Teams on Standby, Flood Tubes One Through Four

So, it’s been a couple of weeks now, two Wednesday night Bible studies and two Sundays. During that time, my family’s life has seen some astounding changes. Karri, my wife, is diving deep into Driscoll’s “Religion Saves (and nine other misconceptions)” book and sermon series with reckless abandon. In the midst of impending loss (her sister is in the later stages of terminal brain cancer), her discipleship is deepening. It’s such a reversal of course that she’s becoming even more MY hero. The kids are doing great. Lily bursts out with, “Jesus loves me!” at the dinner table after reminding me that we need to pray. Laurel will chant the prayer over and over as she eats (or refuses to, either way). I’ve started praying with Lily at night much more seriously, after we pray her singsong-y children’s prayer. I want her to hear me pray deeply and spirit-led, because I don’t want her to have the impression that such things are always superficial. Even if she doesn’t understand now, someday she may look back and hear those words and understand them. As for myself… I think I may have reached a depth that I will have to stay at for a while as I acclimate and wrap my mind and heart around some things. I joke about rivets popping and joints spraying steam in the submarine that is my faith, but a few of the more recent revelations have been like depth charges in truth. Frankly, I’m struggling with how to apply these truths to my life without going batty and discarding the last bits of who I am, or was, and becoming some sort of hyper-spiritual Christian with no friends. How DO you give up everything without losing you? I’ve laughed and caroled my way to the edge of this precipice, talking up a great game about what I’d do, or mistakenly thinking I’d already done it, but now that I’m looking over the edge it’s very difficult to actually take the final leap and toss away the last bit (or what seems like the last bit) of the sinful me. I’m talking here about giving up my idols. The things I cling to that tell me who I am. I spend...

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Take Me In – Kutless

Take me past the outer courts Into the Holy Place Past the brazen altar Lord I want to see your face Pass me by the crowds of people And the Priests who sing your praise I hunger and thirst for your righteousness But it’s only found in one place [Chorus:] Take me into the holy of holies Take me in by the blood of the lamb Take me into the holy of holies Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am I don’t know about you guys, but we have the instrumentation and the ability to do this one, and I really feel strongly about it. I first heard this song back in the 80’s when I was a kid, as performed by Petra on Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out. This is a much harder version, but I feel like it captures the prayerful, emotional point of the song a little more ably than Petra was able to. The lyrics will require that we stop and explain them before we play. First of all, I volunteer to preach if we play this song. Secondly, it’s important that we examine any song we play and understand what we’re saying, at every level of understanding our audience may be listening. So, bear with me here. If you don’t have time to read this now, just bookmark it or print it and come back to it when you do. Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle 1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. 6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry....

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Jaded, World-Weary Cynicism and “Authentic” Christianity

When I was a little younger and a little less mature (read: before marriage and kids), I spent a lot of time reading high-toned, fancy classical literature, smoking my Camel cigarettes and drinking like a fish and discussing “worldly” secular philosophy with like-minded friends like someone who actually knew what they were talking about. I didn’t, of course, but that wasn’t the point. I affected a worldly, jaded cynicism which my experiences had not truly earned, thinking it made me seem more wise. How foolish youth can be. Since then, I’ve thrown off that goofy mask, married a wonderful woman who has given me two beautiful little girls, and rediscovered the faith of my childhood with a feverish zeal I once ascribed only to the marginally sane. I’ve in effect become one of the silly believers I used to denigrate while drinking rum & coke with my buddies. How this happened is a story in and of itself that may end up written some other time. However, I feel it necessary to qualify what I’m about to say by making sure it’s understood that I’ve been there, done that, and got plenty of pithy tee shirts to show for it. My pastor said something to me about a month ago that rocked me back, and it’s been the last month churning in the back of my mind what this phrase really means. We were discussing the SBC conference and all the administrative and policy goofballery that goes on and how ultimately disconnected from the needs of the new generation the convention actually is, and he sent me an email with this little gem inside, “[Young Christians] want an authentic Christianity that relates to the needs of our world.” So what is authentic Christianity? Well, there’s two definitions (courtesy of dictionary.com) that I think we ought to look at. Bear with me while I build this. The first is, “not false or copied; genuine; real.” Is a photocopy ever really as good as the original? No, they’ve always got little inconsistencies, little blemishes here or there which give away their clone status. So it is with “false” Christianity. No matter how much you try to hide it beneath clever preaching, the stench of eisegesis, which...

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“Yes, we’re all individuals!” – A Strict, Simple Biblical Case Against Abortion

Before we begin, some reference scripture: 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16 And: 4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5 Two examples from a sea thereof, that God knows, loves and has anointed our lives for His work long before we are formed in the womb. In the Psalm, David is suffering from what amounts to an insecure moment, and over the course of the poem illuminates four very important insecurities and God’s answer for them. This excerpt is from the section of the Psalm where David tackles the issue of his individuality and worth. Lets tackle it bit by bit before we delve into the meaning of God’s words to Jeremiah. David says, “you created my innermost being,” referring of course to our eternal souls, then goes on to say that God, “knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I believe the juxtaposition of these two statements is no accident, as it gives hint to the reason David used the word he does in the following verse: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Now, why fearfully? It is in our nature as humans to fear that which we don’t understand, and the core miracle of human birth is the attachment of the soul to this mass of flesh and bone. It is something science cannot explain and philosophers have never adequately understood, and thus it is to be feared (read: respected) as an act of God. The adjective “wonderfully” is explained in the next verse, when David notes, “your works are wonderful, I...

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Would I Know You?

Would I know You now if You walked into the room, If You stilled the crowd, if Your light dispelled the gloom? And if I saw Your wounds, touched Your thorn-pierced brow, I wonder if I’d know You now? Would I know You now if you walked into this place? Would I cause You shame, would my games be Your disgrace? Or would I worship You, fall upon my face? I wonder if I’d know You now? Or have the images I painted so distorted who You are, That even if the world was looking, they could not see You, the real You? Have I changed the true reflection, to fulfill my own design, Making You want I want, not showing You forth divine, divine? Would I miss You now, if You left and closed the door? Would my flesh cry out, “I don’t need you anymore!” Or would I follow You, could I be restored? I wonder, I wonder will I ever learn? I wonder if I’d know You now? – Wayne Watson, “Would I Know You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IUFiSagOjE Prior to answering the call to ministry, this song meant one thing to me. It was, to me, an indictment on our sinful, self-absorbed natures; that we might, like the Jews of the time when Jesus walked the earth, simply not recognize Him if He suddenly reappeared. Having devoted myself to the learning and careful, frank soul-searching that is required of anyone surrendering to the call to ministry, I find myself recognizing yet another meaning here. As I write these Bible studies and expository articles, I am required by my integrity to ask myself, “Why am I doing this? Is it for my glory, or for God’s?” If the answer is ever anything other than a total surrender to the will of God, I have to stop. I have to close BlogDesk, back away and do something else; play with the kids, talk to my wife, even fire up a video game. I cannot allow myself to fall prey to pride, or I am suddenly in very real danger of losing the authenticity of my faith in a fog of self-centered attention-hounding. When that authenticity fades, what of Christ is left? Sure, I’d have preached...

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