The Meaning Of Life April 24, 2019
The Greatest Bliss In Life: January 20, 2019
The greatest bliss in life: when the plans of man and the purpose of the LORD intersect. (Prov. 19:21)
Not a single soul on planet earth can tell you what this exactly looks like. You’re the only one who knows yourself well enough to know, and you’re the only one who can perceive and feel what God’s revealing to you personally. Maybe it’s impossible to ever know His specific purpose for your life for sure, but you just have to take a risk and dive head first, 100% into what you believe God’s individual mission is for you. No one on Earth knows your purpose more than you and God, thus no one on Earth can tell you your purpose except you and God. Not one other single person in all of history has ever had exactly the same purpose as you in the same way as you, because there has never, ever been a person in all of history who is exactly the same as you.
The Secret Of David January 5, 2017
[Based on the re-revelation I had on 12-11-15]
1 Chronicles 29:28
Then [David] died in a ripe old age, full of days, riches and honor; and his son Solomon reigned in his place.
Quite an unexpected ending for a young shepherd boy from a poor family. Why was David handpicked from every other person in the whole country and lavished such blessings upon? What was that shepherd boy doing that should catch the eyes of the Lord?
2 Chronicles 16:9 says “the eyes of the LORD run throughout all the Earth looking for one whose heart is perfect toward Him,” and David was said to be “perfect in heart” (1 Kings 11:4). But what is it to be perfect in heart?*
I think God Himself answers this when Jesus was asked which commandment was the highest priority:
“Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength:” this is the first commandment.’” Mark 12:29-30
In the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Psalms you can clearly see that David truly, authentically, passionately, unabashedly loved God with all his heart, fulfilling the greatest commandment and counting him as “perfect in heart” in God’s eyes. Perhaps David kept that first commandment better than anyone else in Israel, which is why when the LORD said he was looking for a man perfect in heart (and the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth), he picked David over everyone else in Israel.
Further than that, when you look at his words and actions toward God throughout his life he had a more passionate love for God than can be seen in anyone else in the whole Bible. If the Bible highlights the greatest people in history, and David displayed more love for God than anyone else in the Bible, perhaps David loved God more than anyone else in history. This must be why God blessed him so much, possibly blessing him more than anyone else in history. I mean, a poor boy with zero credentials for royalty is anointed king overnight and singled out to be the ancestor of the Messiah; what could be more of a blessing than that? God honored David further by picking his hometown of Bethlehem to be the one that God as the Messiah would be born in, and God even inspired the prophets to write about the coming Messiah under the name “David,” and Jesus (God Himself) was called “son of David.”
Is that really all God wants of us and all it takes for God to lavish His blessings on us? Simply loving God? David and Jesus seem to agree. That is the #1 thing God is longing for and searching for, in fact, the specific thing He created us for. And most would say that they do love God, but then why aren’t they receiving blessings like David did? The crux here is loving the LORD with ALL your heart.
Who do you know that is actually loving the LORD with all their heart? All their heart. As in, the love of God is the top priority in every choice they make, the source and goal of every decision, from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep. Living like that would look like how David lived: expressing your intimate, unabashed, uncontainable love for God visibly – in his case with singing and writing and dancing. He didn’t care what anyone else thought; people’s opinions were less a concern to him than God’s opinion. And his love for God was unshakeable, even in the most overwhelming of times, such as in the midst of war.
David orchestrated every aspect of his life around keeping that greatest commandment, and possibly kept it better than anyone else in Israel, so that when the eyes of the LORD ran to and fro throughout all the Earth looking for a perfect heart, he found one–David. Then God re-orchestrated all David’s unlikely surroundings to raise him up as His instrument.
Acts 13:22: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who shall do all my will.”
After he was anointed by Samuel, God providentially orchestrated things to get David into the palace as a court minstrel, then to get him to come to the battle and fight Goliath which won him the favor of the whole country and got him into the army.
After killing Goliath, 1 Samuel 18:14 says, “David was prospering in all his ways for the Lord was with him. When Saul saw that he was prospering greatly, he dreaded him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, and he went out and came in before them…David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul. So his name was highly esteemed.”
David perhaps loved God more than anyone else and thus “behaved himself more wisely than anyone else,” and so God blessed David more than anyone else, giving him an entire kingdom and riches and protection, and most importantly a covenant that the Messiah would come through him. I don’t think God will use anyone exactly the same way he used David, but God raised him up as an example for all the world to see how much He’ll bless the person who simply loves Him with all his heart and mind and strength. God blessed David in specific ways that would bring Himself maximum glory–in obvious, tangible ways (like riches and royalty) so that the Secret of David could be clearly understood by Israel and the surrounding pagan nations, as well as all following generations.**
Isaiah 55:2– “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David. Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.”
I’m not talking about loving God in some mysterious, intangible, impalpable, philosophical, theological sense. We need to love the LORD with a love that’s just as visceral as any other kind of love in existence. This is what God wants from us. Not just the kind of love we have for a friend or a father or a mentor, but if we truly love something with all our heart–actually love something with all our heart–then that means it’s the strongest love possible, as strong as the love of a blinding romance which every single aspect of one’s life channels into.
GK Chesterton points out that the extreme display of St. Francis’s love for God had all the same signs of romantic, puppy love: losing appetite and sleep, looking for every opportunity to tell someone of their Lover, relating every experience of life back to their Lover, doing embarrassing things for their Lover’s sake, sacrificing everything for their Lover, even life itself. Perhaps St. Francis was one of the few humans that realized the Secret of David — ie, what the Greatest Commandment really entailed — and maybe that’s why he was one of the most blessed of Christian saints in history, even being the initial recipient of stigmata.
So if this is what loving God with all your heart looks like, then who of us is even close to being perfect in heart? What pastors or priests out there have that kind of visible love and trust? I don’t see them. Do they show the signs of puppy love? Sure they love God, but not as much as they love their families or using their talents. What would happen if we actually loved God more than being an artist or a writer or a pastor or a missionary or a social worker? Would the very fabric of our natural realm be ripped open allowing the supernatural to reign freely through us? Is it even possible for us to have that kind of love? Yes, at least one man has already done it, and he was also an artist, writer, pastor, missionary, leader, warrior, etc.
If the greatest commandment really is to love the LORD with all your heart, mind, and strength, and your blessings from God are on the line, then why aren’t we throwing everything else out the window?*** We should throw out anything that could possibly hinder us from loving God. Throw out even the things that could lead to the things that hinder us from loving God. Why aren’t we re-orienting every single, minute detail of our lives to all be for the sake of keeping that commandment?****
We need to stop what we’re doing right now, sit down, clear our minds, humbly open our hearts, and ask God to show us how we can best love Him. What does He want us to do for him to show Him how much we love Him? If we don’t feel love for Him, what things can we do to stimulate and cultivate the feeling of love for God? Yes, we must humble ourselves and ask God to guide our minds to analyze every single detail of our lives with painful scrutiny, being willing to change anything that God brings to our heart and mind that seems opposed to the love of God.
Throw out all your desires and ways of life– career, security, romance, sex, pleasure– until only He is left, and then ask what is genuinely for His best. Only do according to that which loves the LORD to the maximum. If being in a romantic relationship waters down your love for God you should end or change that relationship and stop settling for a watered-down affection toward God. We need to do everything within our power to love God.
There’s no way to escape this being a scary exercise, for as soon as you’re willing to “throw out all your desires and ways of life” you’re instantly risking them not coming back into your life, which means potentially hurting people. But take heart! You’re throwing them out in order to love God to the maximum, and loving God to the maximum is simultaneously loving His world to the maximum. But it’s almost certain that in order to truly love other people and do what’s honestly best for them (and you) you will need to alter some relationships, because almost everybody has unhealthy relationships. It’s just the truth, and the hard, honest, but rewarding, reality of loving God with all your heart.
And as we proactively take the necessary steps every moment of every day to cultivate that feeling and mindset and action of love (heart, mind, and strength), God will take care of every single thing we need. Our responsibility is to love Him with all our heart and mind and strength; God will take care of the rest. [Matthew 6:33- Seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else will fall into place.]
1 Chronicles 29:28: “And [David] died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor.”
I’m not saying God is going to reward our love in the exact same way he did for David, or that anyone will be blessed exactly the same way. God blessed David in specific ways for a specific purpose that brought Him maximum glory–in obvious, tangible ways that would be understood by Israel and the surrounding pagan nations, as well as all following generations (Isaiah 55). But I am saying that God will bless us as much as he blessed David if we love God as much as David did; He’ll bless us in the way that brings Him the most glory (as can possibly be seen in the life of St. Francis).
So what’s stopping you from living a life like David and being used by God to the maximum? What’s holding you back from experiencing God’s providence as He supernaturally opens doors, brings people into your path, and orchestrates the world around you to produce the maximum fruit from your life? Why are you withholding from yourself the best life possible?
Oh, what would happen if even one of us truly sacrificed every self-seeking pursuit to love God as much as is humanly possible? To put His interest at the forefront of every decision, becoming a true instrument in His hand? I have never seen it. People always compromise the love of God for romance or career or self pleasure of some sort. When in reality all they’re doing is sacrificing the greater pleasure of feeling the euphoria of God’s love and providence for a lesser euphoria of romance or entertainment or comfort. But romance or entertainment or comfort won’t fill you with a love that transcends this world, nor can they miraculously orchestrate the world to bless you and use you to your maximum.
What could possibly be better than being at the center of God’s will, feeling Him in the room with you, feeling His overwhelming love, knowing He’ll provide all your needs forever, witnessing Him orchestrating circumstances around you, and experiencing Him using you to do providential, supernatural things? What is there in the whole world that’s better than the feeling of being spiritually detached, that is, detached from the world and all its dangers and resting on a separate plain of existence with God in 100% peace, joy, and love? No temporal danger can touch that eternal bliss.
Again, I ask, what’s keeping you from having the best life possible? It’s because you aren’t loving the LORD your God with all your heart and your mind and your strength.
God probably won’t give you a kingdom and supernatural powers for battle like he chose to do with David, but He could! And you can experience just as much of the love and presence and providence of God. And if you are being used by God just as much as David, then it doesn’t matter what that actually looks like, it’ll feel the exact same inside.
Pt. 2 on Trusting God, as stemming from the love of a perfect heart.
1 John 4:18: “Perfect love casts out fear.”
If you really believe someone loves you, then you automatically really trust them, because you know that person wants your best. And if that person who wants your best is omnipotent, then nothing can stop Him from lavishing His love on you and taking care of every single need you have.
David is the perfect model of this understanding, and looking at his life just shows how far we have to go toward having a perfect heart. If anyone thinks he’s close to having the love and faith of David, he should measure himself against the story of David and Goliath. Can you really say you would single-handedly go up against a professional warrior with an army behind him, and boast about how God’s going to enable you to cut off his head and conquer their whole army–when you’re only holding a slingshot? That’s insane. Suicidal. No one in Israel’s army would even face Goliath, much less with a slingshot, much less boast about killing him with ease, much less conquering the whole army! He literally had the most trust in God of anyone in the whole country. And that trust was the result of a love for God just as outrageous. He was incensed at the enemy’s taunts against his God, whom he knew and loved so much, and he knew he had to fight for the honor of his Love. Insane, suicidal love and trust. That’s what it takes to be perfect in heart.
Is it even possible to get into a car wreck and not have a single worry, but only have trust and joy that that event is part of God’s plan for your good? Yes. I’ve personally done that. But is it possible to not have one single worry in the face of something as extreme as death? Paul said, when confronted with the threat of imprisonment:
“I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13)
And David didn’t seem to even have a slight doubt; if he had, he wouldn’t have been so matter-of-fact in his threats against the Philistines. David wasn’t saying something like, “Even if God doesn’t deliver us from the fiery furnace we still won’t bow down to the idol,” he was saying “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45)
That seems like insane, unrealistic, illogical, suicidal trust in God. And trust that extreme shows just how extreme David’s love was. It shows what it actually looks like to love God with all your heart, and shows how we aren’t even close to really loving God. It also shows the intensity of love that God expects of us and is worthy of. After all, Jesus said it was the first and greatest commandment, which may seem like an unrealistic thing to command, but then again Jesus Himself commanded, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
But this is the way the Christian life is supposed to be! No wonder the world is on a seemingly irredeemable course, exponentially imploding every second, when God’s agents in this world (commissioned with the restoration of all things, supposedly infilled with supernatural power) are still struggling with the same mundane trials as the world. Especially when we know full well the exponential restoration that could be happening, and is expected of us, as was clearly shown in the book of Acts.
We often look up to David and Paul and St. Francis and Mother Teresa more like legends than role-models. But the truth is that all of us are supposed to be living with the same amount of love they exemplified in their lives. All of us can (and are supposed to) live exciting, adventurous, miraculous, supernaturally-empowered, supernaturally-led lives that will be used by God as His means to save the whole world.
The Secret of David: If you prioritize to really keep the greatest commandment, to love God with all your heart, as David did, God will bless you like David.
So why is this a secret? I mean, God certainly wasn’t hiding the command “Love the Lord your God with all your heart”; it was the most central, most revered, most repeated commandment of the whole Law. And just for good measure, God told the people to keep those words on their minds and tongues day and night, even keep the words physically written on their doorposts and bodies. And if there was any doubt during the New Age, Jesus reinforced the priority of this first and greatest commandment. So how is it a secret? Because somehow I went 27 years through the American Evangelical church, loyal and devoted to the Christian cause, yet somehow, somewhere I was persuaded that the first and greatest commandment was to Love my neighbor as myself, or Do unto others as I would have them do unto me, or Go and make disciples of all nations. But not Love the Lord with all your heart. Maybe love the Lord in concept or service, or using your talents to make converts. Maybe love the Lord your God with all your mind and strength… but isn’t the heart the first thing mentioned? What lover would prefer being loved with someone’s mind or strength only? If you feel it in your heart it naturally trickles into every other area.
Right now, if you can feel this article in anyway resonating in your heart and sparking a little motivation, please don’t just finish it and move onto your next thing. The fate of the world is on the line! As soon as you go to sleep your brain will reset and you’ll lose all this conviction as soon as you wake up tomorrow, so you must set this new system into motion TODAY! The love of God is worth fighting for if there ever was something to fight for. Treat it like a job, like a marriage, like your life depends on it. The best life you could possibly live is on the line, and if you’re not living the best life you could possibly live the world is going to take a hit. You’ll be just one more person not living up to their potential or doing what they are supposed to. Stand out from your family, your town, your country like David did. Be intentional, strategic, professional, militaristic. After all, this IS the most important thing in life!
TIPS TO GET STARTED:
1. Please stop right now and make a long, exhaustive list of everything you can possibly think of to do that will cultivate and grow your love for God.
2. Make a new list of the 10 most pertinent things from that long list, and post the Top 10 list some place that you have to see every day. [Keep the exhaustive list to consult if you need some different, fresh things to do to keep you inspired.]
3. Put a note next to the things you should do every day, then note the things you should do once a week, then the things once a month, and maybe some things once a year!
4. Set reminders and alarms in your calendar to keep you consistently thinking and doing these things so that the cultivation of love can become a habit that grows and gets easier.
Examples to add to your list:
-God-glorifying music, movies, websites, books, biographies, YouTube videos, etc.
-People you think would cultivate this love for God and ways to be around them on a regular basis.
-People who are going to pull you further from the love of God that you should avoid until your love for God is strong and secure enough.
-Things that will diminish your love for God or distract you that you should avoid at all costs.
-What things can jump start the first sparks of desire and conviction for the love of God? Set a reminder to read this article again in a month perhaps.
-What things can you do to keep your heart habitually detached from the average church’s status quo peer pressure? Or internally detached from secular culture’s antagonism and hedonism?
*ALSO, you must keep a record of all the experiences you start having with God that is easy to find in the future, because there will come a day when you just wake up brain dead or depressed and can’t remember anything, and need something you can passively read to remind you of God’s providence and jumpstart you. Perhaps even take a photo of yourself, or record audio or video of yourself talking about your thoughts and experiences so all it takes later is pressing “play” to be woken up inside. There’s really nothing that can shake off cynicism and apathy like seeing your own, radiant face as you talk about your bliss and Providential encounters.
The goal here is to establish an entire life system that revolves around keeping the Greatest Commandment as best as possible. But it’s so hard to stay motivated to love God with all your heart if you’re relying completely on your own discipline and personal relationship with God. Some days you’ll wake up and just feel apathetic and exhausted and depressed. That’s why you need other people in your life to motivate you. Surround yourself with people that have a no-compromise attitude for the love of God. Maybe you can’t think of someone around you who totally emulates the perfect heart of David, and maybe you’ll never meet someone like that, but hopefully you know at least one person who exemplifies Davidic love in some capacity. Start with one or two people and begin creating a network of David-like people that can inspire you on a consistent basis.
God, if there is error in my thinking please reveal it to me. This seems to be logically and biblically correct and perhaps the solution to the world’s demise, as Jesus set into motion.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~Psalm 139
*I’m using the KJV phrase “perfect in heart” because it’s easier to use and sounds cooler, but modern versions more correctly translate it as “whole-heartedly” or “wholly-devoted” or “fully committed” or “blameless” or “faithful”.
**Even David’s great sins only magnified God all the more, putting His unfathomable grace on display for the world to clearly see. God has shown us that even the purest in heart can commit the wickedest of sins (like murder and adultery) given the right circumstances, and we are all in need of and at the mercy of His grace for salvation–which is able to cover even the worst of sins and is available to all just as it was for David.
***But if you are loving God with all your heart just for the purpose of getting the blessing, you’re not really loving God with all your heart!
****This is not to suggest anything about throwing out other commands of the Bible (obviously loving God as much as possible would entail obeying His commands). Also this essay in no way is suggesting that salvation comes from good deeds, for even David asks for salvation based on God’s grace in spite of his sins (Psalm 51). This is strictly about believers growing their relationship with God to the maximum while on Earth.The main issue I think people will have with this whole concept is that it’s bringing back a works-based mentality, that works is the catalyst for blessing. Which isn’t always the case for sure, but the Bible seems to indicate that this is true in the majority of cases. Surely, in this age of the New Covenant, God has not forsaken everything He said in the Law and Psalms and Proverbs and His recorded history about blessing people the more that they love Him.
The musical soundtrack to this essay, as well as the recorded audio reading of it can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/thesecretofdavid
Your Super Power October 29, 2016
What do you call Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man?
What makes someone a Superhero?
Because they all have a super power. Superman can fly, Spider-Man can do whatever a spider can: climb up walls, above-average agility, and spider sense. These are their superpowers. What is Batman’s superpower? Intelligence? Innovation? As my batmanologist friend pointed out, his super power is his extra-human, uncanny amount of willpower.
Oh, how excited we get over tales of superheroes suddenly discovering they have some special ability. Because there’s something in us that would LOVE to have that level of significance, to stand out in society, to do something as exciting and adventurous as using an extra-human ability like flying. We love to see those superheroes go all out in using their special talent to the best of their ability, and for the greater good, even if it means sacrificing their careers, money, relationships, reputation, and sometimes their very lives. It’s what makes them heroes. And also what keeps them from being labeled supervillains, ie, those who use their super powers/special talents in a selfish way. But there’s also a barrier between us and them, us and superheroes. We secretly wish we could fly, or that we were the kid who is surprised to find out he is the Chosen One, but we know that will never happen, that it’s impossible. So we just leave that excitement as imagination and eventually move on to everyday life, with that yearning unfulfilled.
But Batman removes that barrier from us. Batman doesn’t have some super power that the average person can never have. Batman shows us that any one of us can be a superhero. What an EXCITING and equally terrifying revelation that is!!! How many of us have an inner-longing to be a superhero, but also, secretly, cling to that barrier, resting in the impossibility of us having that kind of responsibility?
But for those of us who want it, want to be a superhero, I have good news for you. It’s there, just waiting for you to take it. How many other people in the world have an uncanny amount of will power, the same amount that made Batman one of the most famous superheroes ever? Or what about the people who have an above average intelligence or wisdom or innovation or creativity? Couldn’t they become superheroes just as well as Bruce Wayne?
Look at the superheroes who don’t wear masks and capes: Mother Teresa, Tony Robbins, Billy Graham, Paul McCartney. People who became internationally-recognized for a unique gift or an uncanny amount of it. They each have their super power that made them a superhero. Mother Teresa (sacrificial servitude), Tony Robbins (positive communication of psychological improvement), Billy Graham (powerful oration and conviction), Paul McCartney (ability to come up with catchy melodies). All of these people were given super powers, super powers that had to be awakened and cultivated to their peaks. But just having a super power isn’t what made them superheroes. Peter Parker could have climbed up buildings all day and never have become Spider-Man, never transitioned to being a superhero. It’s when a person chooses to take their super power, this special thing that other people don’t have, to do what other people can’t do, and contribute that unique thing to mankind for the greater good of the world.
Oh, how our imagination longs for reality in the tale of the boy discovering his super power. How exciting! But how infinitely more exciting is it to realize that all of us are that boy! All of us have that superpower that no one else has, if we could only realize it, as the superheroes before us have. And how exciting once we ourselves start doing the very things superheroes do in the comics: using that sure-fire super power as often as we can for the greater good. What an exciting, adventure of a lifetime this will be!
I believe every single person on Earth has a super power. Some have already realized it. Some are using it to its maximum potential already, while others are still trying to figure it out and cultivate it, like Jean Grey of X-men. Every single person has at least one thing they are potentially better at than anyone else they know, one specific thing they can contribute to humanity better than anyone they know. Because every single person is a unique combination of nature and nurture. It’s just science. No two people will have the same strengths and weaknesses in the same way, or the same combination of different strengths. When this unique combination of strengths is combined, it becomes a greater, more specific, focused strength than the original strengths divided.
Like my batmanologist friend; he is better at martial arts than anyone else I know (my sphere of influence being around 300 people), but he surely isn’t the best at martial arts of anyone HE knows. So in my sphere he has a super power, but in his sphere he might not see it as such. Though at our church, our mutual sphere, among those people he might stand out as having a super power in this area. So he has the potential of becoming like a superhero in that setting. But ALSO he’s more nurturing and empathetic than any other man I know, though he might not be the most empathetic man HE knows. But combine both of these unique traits/talents (martial arts and empathy) and it’s very rare that in either of our spheres there is one person with both those super powers. How do these 2 powerful traits (seemingly at odds) which are unique to him combine in a way that is even more unique and focused into a greater strength than the powers divided? However powerful he already is with his two super powers, when he figures out how to combine them into one greater, more unique, more laser-focused super power he’ll be even MORE unique and powerful. Like on a global level. All his nature and nurture focuses into one point: his Super Power, the Pinnacle, the Summum Bonum.
Uniqueness is what makes a super power super. Superman wouldn’t be a superhero on Krypton, but he is one on Earth, because no one else can fly. Batman is a superhero because he applies the abilities common to man in a way that is uncommon to man. If you can see a way that your Super Power can contribute to society, then there is a need for you to use it to do so.
This makes life more exciting doesn’t it? When you realize you are special. And that uniqueness is a great strength. Something so great it can be, and rightfully SHOULD be, seen as a super power. And if you did see it as a super power then maybe you would see yourself as a superhero, just as much as Batman. And if you started treating yourself as a superhero with a super power, then maybe you would feel the gravity of your responsibility to help the world in a way no one else can, and aspire to the same standards as Batman or Tony Robbins.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” – Uncle Ben, Spider-Man’s hero
If I had a super power like flying, you better believe I would use that super power every chance I got. And I would be 100% confident that every time I step off a building I could use it. How fun to use your gift, but even better, how fulfilling it is to use it for a greater purpose beyond yourself. With great power comes great responsibility, but having that responsibility is more fun and rewarding than not having it.
Just like Superman, who knows full well that every time he jumps off a building he can fly, every time I have applied my superpowers they have super results. How exciting and comforting it is to know in full, 100% confidence that I have a talent which is sure to have super results every single time I use it. Even if your talent isn’t one that you can see instant results from with your eyes, you know for a fact that the people around you notice it and are impacted by your talent and the results are growing in them.
What extraordinary ability do I have that the majority of people I know don’t exhibit?
What things do I do which almost always have a powerful, sure-fire effect and positive result?
What thing in my life do I constantly get positive feedback on from people?
What ability might be locked away in me somewhere just waiting to be opened and cultivated into an extraordinary ability, a super power?
What different strengths do I have which might be combined into a single, greater power?
And what is your superhero name? Spider-Man? Pheonix? Neo? Air Jordan? milesprowers?
Superman: flight, speed, strength
Spider-Man: spider sense, agility, wall-climbing
Batman: willpower, intelligence, innovation, mechanically-inclined
[your super hero name here]: [your super power here]
Zen Christianity October 3, 2016
Zen Christianity vs. Common Sense Christianity
6-9-16- Tonight I realized my phone was about to die so I got up to get the charger, and when I arose from my seat I was suddenly surprised by my perspective of the room. For some reason, I felt taller than usual, and looked around the room realizing how tall I was, and what it’s like to see things as an adult. I looked down at my feet to make sure nothing was out of place. Then, somehow while I was standing there, I felt compelled to close my eyes and have a heartfelt prayer, standing under my blowing ceiling fan with the light coming down on me. It was a moving prayer time and I felt love for God which compelled me to sit down in quiet, humble submission before the King. As I sat there, I genuinely felt a strong feeling of worship and love for Jesus, and then I felt Him there in the room before me, more so than I have all year. With His presence so clear before me, I talked to Him as if He were really there in the room with me — talking to God in bodily (though resurrected) form, aka the Word, who was with the Father in the beginning, and was the creative agent of planet Earth.
Recently, I’ve been going through a spiritual paradigm shift, forsaking the Zen Mystic Christianity tendencies I’ve had for the last several years (that is, clearing my mind and listening for the Spirit, which trumps all logic and whatever I previously believed) for a more practical, commonsense, logical, self-focused approach to Christianity — the kind of Christianity that uses our bodies and intellect and logic that God gave us, combined with the truth that mankind has learned in its history, to analyze ourselves and determine what is the best logical way that we can advance the cause of Christ (within the boundaries of the truth of the Bible).
However, because my Zen Christian approach was so engrained into my psyche (and reinforced by many of my Christian peers who are convinced it is the highest, purest approach), I couldn’t feel totally at peace that I was doing the right thing by focusing more on what I think makes sense instead of opening my mind for whatever leading I feel. So naturally, part of me was feeling guilty that I was putting God on the back burner, and instead trusting in man. So when this surprise feeling of intimacy with Jesus Himself came up randomly out of nowhere, I rolled with it, desiring to see where it would lead and if I could confirm it was the best approach, once and for all.
It lead to this: I thanked Jesus (in front of me) for dying for me and loving me. I told Him I loved Him and would do anything for Him, trusting that He loves me and would give me whatever I need to be obedient to Him. I said, “I love you, Jesus,” and I felt a strong impression that He was saying back to me, “Do you love Me?”
I said genuinely from the heart, “Jesus, You KNOW I love You,” and He said, “Then feed my sheep.”
Then while thinking about how I might do that, something instantly flashed in my mind. It was the concert that I had marked in my calendar tonight to go see — a local band whose music is really good, but has a dark, weird, possibly satanic influence. I was invited and had planned to go, but canceled my plans when a previously-scheduled Skype meeting with two close friends fell into place tonight. I had dismissed the concert plans, knowing my night would be filled. But now, so strong was this impression that this was Jesus’ sign of how to feed his sheep (based on me, my giftings, and my sphere of influence as a musician) that it ended the conversation and experience, and I was left with a clear resolve that this was what I was supposed to do.
I thought, “Wow, I haven’t felt such a strong, clear impression from the Spirit like this in a long time,” and I thought maybe it was too late to still catch the concert — but that was just me trying to get out of doing it. The band I knew was the last one playing, and I discovered it was only 9:30. Since that was even more time than I thought I had, that settled it for me. I felt guilty for how my spiritual approach had shifted recently — putting God on the back burner, distancing myself from Him as I tried using my own intellect to determine how best to serve Him. But now I was back to where I was supposed to be, back to being open and led by the Spirit, and it felt amazing to be back and so connected with God again. With a strong resolve and as clear an indication from the Spirit as ever, I determined to follow through with it. I said, “You know what? I’m just going to try this out and test if this is really Jesus leading. This will settle the score once and for all between Zen Christianity and Common Sense Christianity. If there was ever a leading from the Spirit, it would be this — with this strong presence, and my feeling of the Spirit’s leading. This will show me once and for all how I can distinguish between mere emotional impulses and the Spirit, if God uses me tonight.” I truly believed that it was the Spirit and that I was about to experience something supernatural.
I was feeling tired and didn’t want to go out, as late as it was. But I knew God would show up, so I drank a 5-hour ENERGY to wake me up for whatever was in store for the long night to come. Then, filled with faith, I stepped out onto the waves — following Jesus’ calling, feeling great about this like I was finally giving up my doubts and hesitancies to live the Spirit-led life of a Christian.
With excitement and expectation, I went to where the address on Facebook said to go. I found a parking spot and then walked around trying to find the location, expecting supernatural signs and encounters to guide me there. It turned out to be an apartment building, and I thought skeptically, “There’s going to be a heavy grunge show in an apartment?” But, in faith, I walked into the building. No one in sight, so I searched around. I went up the second floor and walked past the apartment doors, quietly, so as to listen for the distant sounds of grunge. Nothing. I went up the third, then fourth, then fifth floors. Nothing. I came back down, quietly listening, and after 30 minutes of searching, with nowhere else to look, I got back in my car and drove home. On my way home I thought, “Okay, so maybe Jesus’ plan for me wasn’t at the show but maybe the whole point of that was to get me out of the house for a certain reason.” So I pulled over to a gas station, looked around to see anything in particular. Nothing abnormal. No leadings. So I drove home cautiously, and pulled up to the house looking around. There was no one on the street to talk to. Nothing. So I went inside, took a shower, and went to bed, confused and dismayed.
- Somehow my complicated mind had produced a hallucination, and conjured up a tangible feeling inside of Jesus’ presence and voice.
- I really did have an encounter initiated by God, but it was His way of showing me that I should stop looking for some spontaneous, mystical experience to determine my decision-making, and instead use my God-given intellect in response to God’s definite, clear voice in the Bible.
Even now while writing this I find it hard to believe that my experience was a mere hallucination, as real as it seemed. It seemed very clear and tangible, as tangible as I would expect it to feel to St. Paul. And, it was just as tangible as times in the past when I felt something similar when it seemed that God DID do something supernatural following an experience that confirmed it actually was from God. But for now, in conclusion to my inner-wrestling of the best approach to Christianity (Zen Christianity vs. Common Sense Christianity), and true to what I said was at stake when I gave Zen Christianity one final, earnest shot tonight, I have finally come to a firm resolution:
I haven’t yet figured out a way to determine what is the Spirit’s voice and what is simply an emotional impulse concocted mysteriously by my unfathomably complicated brain. I know that the Bible talks about the Spirit speaking to the early Christians, forbidding them to go certain places in their journey, etc., but I haven’t figured out what that actually feels like, so all I have to go by is my intellect (what makes the most sense for how best to serve God), so I’m going to go by that and use it to the best of my ability until God, in His supernatural providence, changes my mind. And this had already been my conclusion before this spontaneous change of plans. I realized I just wasted an hour that, up until the point of this spiritual detour, I had planned to be spending on seriously and strategically thinking of steps I can take to overcome my greatest weakness of being a people-pleaser and the fear of rejection.
Let me make myself perfectly clear, I think that every finite human should pray and meditate every single day, asking the infinite, omniscient God to show him His will or any error in his short-sighted thinking. I’m just saying whatever pops into your head should be tested by your own intellect, and a funny feeling shouldn’t trump everything else you’re doing and everything you think to be true. In my case, a funny feeling distracted me from sitting down and getting serious about overcoming my great sin of people-pleasing, and instead of going to bed at a healthy hour and getting rest for my body, I drank a 5-hour ENERGY in misguided faith.
God is greatly using me in my life right now, supernaturally using me to help people come closer to Him, blessing my attempts to serve Him and do His will. However, none of it is the result of me clearing out my mind and waiting for some image or impulse to pop into my mind, or what people associate with “listening to the Spirit.” I’m just doing what makes sense to me based on what the Bible says I should do. And, for maybe the first time ever, I’m trying to bring my personal potential to its pinnacle, so as to serve God to the best of my personal ability. I have been focusing on physical means: strengthening my body; training my brain to be motivated; keeping optimistic, focused, and disciplined; and devising a strategy to best implement my talents in order to serve God maximally. This is the common sense approach to Christianity, as advocated by people like Tony Robbins (www.tonyrobbins.com or Day 1 of his Program), and I’m already seeing results, so I’ll see where this takes me.
Thank you, God, for using this experience to put to rest my inner-wrestling and conflicted convictions of what the best approach to the Christian life for me is. And, help me now to go to sleep after taking that unnecessary 5-hour ENERGY, because it’s 3AM and I don’t want to get sick…
The Curse of Canaan January 24, 2016
About 4000 years ago there was a country called Canaan that was full of evil people who practiced perverted sexuality and even killed their children as a sacrifice to the gods. Finally their evil got so bad that the god Yahweh decided to destroy their entire civilization off the face of the earth. So he looked around for an army to destroy them and he found a large people group in Egypt who had been slaves to the Egyptians for hundreds of years. He thought he would do two great goods: administer justice on the evil people and at the same time free these poor, innocent slaves from their oppression. So Yahweh appeared to the slaves and cursed their Egyptian captors with plagues until their leaders let the slaves leave. He then led the slaves to Canaan and told them he would give them their land if they would utterly destroy everything living in the land: men, women, children, and animals. And so the slaves conquered the land with the help of Yahweh and dwelled freely. However, they didn’t destroy all people from the land as Yahweh commanded, but kept some alive. Thus for centuries in the midst of their freedom there was constant warring with the remnant of the original people still left in Canaan. Over time, the evil customs of the remaining Canaanite people gradually influenced the slaves until one day the slaves became just as evil as the evil people they had been told to destroy, and so Yahweh found another army to come into the land of Canaan and conquer the slaves just as he had first told the slaves to conquer the evil people of Canaan, and the slaves were taken from their free land and brought into another country to become slaves again.
That is the story of the Old Testament.
Hope June 21, 2015
Hope. I need hope, every single moment. For to be hopeless is the worst torture possible. Indeed hopelessness is Hell, and what makes Hell the worst torture. But if I have hope, then I know that all pain is temporary, and torture is bearable.
I have hope. Wow. What statement could be more vulnerable than that? I feel naked just saying it. There is something inscrutably powerful there. As if I just let go of all the circumstances, all logic, what seems realistic, and fell into the hands of God, at His mercy, hoping He’ll catch me, trusting those hands are loving.
It’s not “I hope He’ll catch me”; it’s “I have hope that He’ll catch me.”
[21314, written with left hand at Abbey of Gethsemani]