Psalm of thirst

Teach me how to live
On your highway
I want to walk in your way

Open up my eyes
To your wonders
To the beauty of your law

Wash me in your love
Wash me
In the river

Wash in me in your Word
Your Word is truth
Wash me in your precious blood

Hold me in your arms
Hold me
I am a wretched man

Meet me in my thirst
In my desire
In my submission

psalm of thirst.JPG

Psalm of seeking

A voice
In the wilderness
Calling my name

A Father calling
In the darkness
Return to me

In silence
You will find
Who you are

Alone
You will find
He is there

Leave your money
It cannot take you
To where he is / into his house

Abandon your reputation
And tremble
At his word

Come and seek him

Another answered prayer at Walnut Creek

Today I went to Walnut Creek and visited a place where I was hoping to find Indian blankets or paintbrush. I thought it might be too late for the paintbrush, but the blankets are in full bloom now.

When I came to the place, I didn’t see any. There were some bluebonnets still, and many more bluebonnets that were no longer blooming.

Then I went a little further to two separate places where I tried to take a little nap but both times was woken up by a fire ant crawling on me (no bites thankfully).

When I was returning, I considered going back a different way, and then I thought I would check again, and also request that God would show me a paintbrush even if he had to grow it instantly. God does whatever he wants!

I began to run with expectation. I looked around and didn’t see anything, then went a little further and looked again, but still nothing. Then I saw a single paintbrush!

God is faithful! Sometimes he gives us things just because we ask. I’m thankful for that paintbrush, and I want to document that here.

Contempt for the commonplace

I have noticed in myself a tendency to overlook the value of common things. Perhaps I am beginning to pay attention to something like a tree, and just as my wonder is growing––what is this thing? it eats light? it begins as a little nut and changes into a pliable stem and then into a rigid trunk? it is just as large below the earth as above? ––and then I remember that trees are all over the place. There is nothing special about a tree. It's just a tree, you should move on to more exotic things. 

Perhaps what I am doing in those moments is letting the laws of economics squash a seed of wonder in my mind that was just beginning to blossom. But it is doubtful that economics has something better to tell me than trees. Economics can tell me only at what prices we are willing to buy and sell. But we should be willing to consider the possibility that we are wrong about what we think does and does not have value. 

What is the real reason we value something rare? Is it because it makes us feel superior to others who do not have it? Is the value of a person really comparative like that? Is it reasonable for us to consider ourselves "better off" because we can look down at someone who doesn't have something we have. It doesn't seem to make much sense when I think it through. 

G.K. Chesterton is someone who understood this, I think. In his biography of Saint Francis of Assisi, he speaks of how Francis had an ability to focus his attention and respect on a single person. This was usually a poor person, for anyone can focus on a rich person and have a mind full of pleasures and privileges that you may be able to access through that person. But Francis was not thinking about that, he was thinking about the person themselves. 

Jesus too has a beautiful ability to see the preciousness of a single person. I want to cultivate this in myself. I think perhaps the reason I display contempt for common things is that I am not hopeful enough to believe that it could actually be true that this world is so abundant that preciousness is scattered everywhere. 

Why is it that I would rather believe in a world where most things are of little value except a small piece of gold hidden deep under a mountain, and I have to fight or outwit someone if I am to get it? Does the world we live in not sing of abundance? the world of Winter and Spring, of death and re-birth, of thousands of lives all connected and flowing in and out of each other?

Red sauce recipe

  1. Use san marzano tomatoes.
  2. Boil water and put a bit of salt in it. Put in noodles when the water is boiling and don't break the noodles.
  3. Crush a few cloves of garlic and put them in a pan with some oil.
  4. Take out the garlic and put in diced white onion and oregano, basil, and bay leaf until the onions are translucent.
  5. Put in tomatoes and stir. If the bottom sticks, stop stirring and it's either done or move pans.
  6. Noodles should not be crispy, should not stick in teeth either. 8-10 minutes. Should be able to bite through them easily.
  7. Strain the noodles and put back into a bowl and coat with a little sauce so they don't stick.
  8. Enjoy

 

Knowing Christ through car trouble

Something happened today that I want to document. I was at HEB after a quick grocery trip and when I got in my car, it wouldn't start. Or rather, it would start, and then it would die quickly. I tried a few times. Most of the warning lights came on: oil pressure, check engine, the red battery.

This situation frustrated me, and for 30 seconds I thought about whether to invite God into it. I should, but I don't want to. It was especially frustrating because I had my starter and battery replaced the week before. I don't remember if I invited God into it, but if I did, it was half-hearted. 

There was an auto supply store in the same shopping center, so I walked over there and one of the men there used the check engine device and got the error code C1241. He tried to start the car as well. 

My friend Logan has picked me up before when my car has had trouble, so I reached out to him. While I was waiting to hear back from him I called Emily, and one of the things we talked about was knowing Christ.

I told Emily about a book I'm listening to ("Knowing Christ Today") that has been challenging in a good but difficult way. The author (Dallas Willard) talks about a few ways of relating to Christ: profession, commitment, belief, and knowledge.  I told her that I have professed belief in Christ, I'm committed to Christ, I believe in Christ in the best way I know how, but I am realizing that I lack knowledge of Christ. 

One of the main points of the book is that religious knowledge is considered by many today to be impossible. You can profess something religious, you can be committed in it to greater or lesser degrees, and you can truly believe it with all your heart, but you cannot know it to be true. Willard points out how this is a comparatively recent change, and he explains why he thinks that change has happened.

He also insists that religious knowledge is possible for anyone who is open to receive it and willing to take the necessary steps to learn about it. I agree. I had even had a brief thought earlier that perhaps Christ was trying to get my attention through this flurry of car trouble. 

When Emily and I ended our conversation, I knew where I was spiritually. I had little knowledge of Christ, but I believed it was possible, and I was hopeful to experience it, because of the testimony of the Bible of how God does not tell people to seek him in vain, and he is so good and generous and faithful. Surely such a God does not play tricks on those who truly want to know Him. 

Logan called me and said he could come pick me up. While he was on his way, I returned to my car. As soon as I sat down, I sensed a question from Christ: "Do you think I can make your car run?" My honest answer was "Maybe," but still the question was there.

A story came to mind, a story of some of Christ's disciples when they were fishing. They had fished for a long time and caught nothing. Christ tells them to throw the nets on the other side of the boat. They do it, and they catch so many fish that the nets start breaking and the boat starts to sink. 

This conversation had a similar specific nature to it. There is a car that is not starting. You tried, the man from the auto store tried. And here I am with this question that seems to me to be coming from Christ: "Do you think I can make your car run?". I decided yes, I did think he could, but I would not describe my confidence as complete. Even after I answered yes, I waited for a woman to park her Porsche in front of me and walk into the grocery store. 

When I turned the key, the car started normally. None of the warning lights were on. I sat there in flabbergasted silence. I tried to think of a mechanical reason, but I don't understand cars. What is Logan going to think? Is it safe to drive? Am I crazy if I believe that Christ just fixed my car because I told him I thought he could? Or am I crazy if I ignore Christ answering my prayer for knowledge of him so quickly? 

January 2018 verses

  1. God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. (Ps. 49:15)
  2. Sin desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (Gen. 4:7)
  3. In Christ...each member belongs to all the others. (Rom. 12:5)
  4. As the floodwaters receded...the tops of the mountains became visible. (Gen. 8:5)
  5. Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Tim. 6:6)
  6. You are the God who sees me. (Gen 16:13)
  7. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (Jn. 17:3)
  8. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. (Ps. 96:9)
  9. Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion. (Ps. 62:9)
  10. Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Rom. 13:14)
  11. Tell the righteous it will be well for them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds. (Isaiah 3:10)
  12. I am the Lord, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18)
  13. The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it. (Psalm 24:1)
  14. Fear the Lord and shun evil. (Proverbs 3:7)
  15. The Lord's joy is in those who reverence him, those who expect him to be loving and kind. (Psalm 147:11)
  16. Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
  17. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground...(Genesis 2:9)
  18. I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: to live with him in his house my whole life long. 
  19. Discipline yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11)
  20. Save me because you love me (Psalm 31)
  21. Consider the outcome of the way of life of your leaders...(Hebrews 13:7)
  22. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat, for God gives rest to his loved ones. (Psalm 127:2)
  23. Each tree is known by its own fruit. (Luke 6:43)
  24. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)
  25. If riches increase, set not your heart on them. (Psalm 62:10)
  26. Power belongs to God, and to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. You will render to a person according to their work. 
  27. God has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all people by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
  28. The Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of people's hearts (1 Cor 4:5)
  29. Those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful creator and continue to do good. (1 Pet. 4:19)
  30. This is the one I esteem: she who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. (Isa. 66:2)
  31. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)

Life as overcoming, not absence from pain

When we look back on our lives, it seems the times we are most alive is when we are overcoming something, straining and achieving victory. Pain doesn't diminish this, and perhaps even enhances the sense of life.

It is strange then, then, that when we look forward we spend so much energy avoiding pain or trouble, trying to manage everything so that nothing bad happens.

Things to write about soon

  1. Reflections on challenging and encouraging (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
  2. Guilt, shame, forgiveness, love (from mortification)
  3. What Diana Kimball taught me about connecting online
  4. What kinds of things did Paul pray for?
  5. Make room for drafts
  6. Duplex revisited story (driveway prayer)
  7. Spring break at the Grand Canyon story
  8. The adventures at Gables story
  9. Fog in Shenandoah Valley story
  10. Reflections on non-profit support raising
  11. Africa stories and reflections
  12. Tulsa wedding trip
  13. Ian capitol walk
  14. How to build up others in Christ
  15. Reflections on iron sharpening iron
  16. Reflections on John 3
  17. Reflections on 1 John
  18. List of proverbs about words
  19. Things I'm thankful for (many posts)
  20. Verses in Proverbs on words
  21. 2 types of content: collections (data)  and insights (patterns)
  22. Analyze how piano texture / overall sound is created in music I enjoy
  23. Things to practice that I am not good at yet
  24. Directives of scripture (by book?) ex. directives of Ephesians.
  25. Hierarchical map of goals with concrete actions that support
  26. list of things I do daily
  27. narrative of what is a normal day like (as a way to describe your life)
  28. Keller wisdom definitions - wisdom, fear of God, discipline, etc.
  29. purpose driven life what I'm learning
  30. Reflections on middle class bias. can't see the gospel like the lower class
  31. Keller wisdom shalom
  32. Keller wisdom "the righteous"
  33. List of things I want to spend time doing

Prayer for a clear vision of the goodness of life with God

Father, give our church a clear and beautiful vision of what life with you is like. May it captivate us and draw us towards you. May it be ever in our minds, like a shining light, drawing us into obedience and holiness.

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God. (Psalm 84:1-2)

Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12)

Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance! (Psalm 16:5-6)

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when grain and new wine abound. (Psalm 4:7)

You have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. (Psalm 21:6)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalm 23:1-3)

I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells. (Psalm 26:8)

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you. In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling place you keep them safe from accusing tongues. (Psalm 31:19-20)

3 prayers for our church

1. That our church would be biblical Christians instead of worldly ones, faithful rather than convenient.

Since X went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. (1 Peter 4:1-2)

Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. (Luke 12:35-36)

They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. (Hebrews 11:13-14)

Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. (Hebrews 11:25)

Moses persevered because he saw him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27)

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)


2. Sexual purity and chastity for our people

What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romances 6:21-22)

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs to it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A person reaps what they sow. The one who sows to please the sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction. The one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23)


For God to save hundreds of people over the next year, giving us much work to do in equipping and teaching new believers.

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself. (John 12:32)

This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. (John 10:9)

The wind blows wherever it pleases...so it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

 

Psalm 39 (NLT)

I said to myself, "I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me."

But as I stood there in silence––not even speaking of good things––the turmoil within me grew worse. The more I thought about it, the hotter I got, igniting a fire of words:

"Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered––how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. Me entire life is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath."

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Rescue me from my rebellion. Do not let fools mock me. I am silent before you; I won't say a word, for my punishment is from you. But please stop striking me! I am exhausted by the blows from your hand. When you discipline us for our sins, you consume like a moth what is precious to us. Each of us is but a breath.

Hear my prayer, O Lord! Listen to my cry for help! Don't ignore my tears. For I am your guest––a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me. Leave me alone so I can smile again before I am gone and exist no more. 

Selected Proverbs 11-end

CHAPTER 11

An evil life is a hard life

When you're kind to others, you help yourself (see Wendell Berry as well)

The world of the generous gets larger and larger

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed

 

CHAPTER 12

A good person basks in the delight of God

The speech of the upright saves

Well-done work has its own reward

Wise people take advice

The prudent quietly shrug off insults

There is healing in the words of the wise

Peace-planning brings joy to the planner

A cheerful work picks us up

 

CHAPTER 13

The good acquire a taste for healthy conversation

A plain and simple life is a full life

Steady diligence pays off

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life

Sound thinking makes for gracious living

Embrace correction and live an honored life

Become wise by walking with the wise

A refusal to correct is a refusal to love

An appetite for good brings much satisfaction

 

CHAPTER 14

Lady wisdom builds a lovely home

The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends will be an outsider at celebrations

The wise watch their steps and avoid evil

Hard work always pays off

The fear-of-God is a spring of living water

The mark of a good leader is loyal followers

Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding

When you are kind to the poor, you honor God

The integrity of good people creates a safe place for living

 

CHAPTER 15

A gentle response defuses anger

Kind words heal

Welcoming correction is a mark of good sense

A simple life in the fear-of-God is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches

Congenial conversation--what a pleasure! The right word at the right time--beautiful! 

An obedience, God-willed life is spacious

 

CHAPTER 16

God has the last word

Guilt is banished through love and truth. Fear-of-God deflects evil.

Get wisdom-- it's worth more than money. Choose insight over income every time.

Gracious speech is like clover honey--good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.

 

CHAPTER 17

The person who courts sin marries trouble

The one who knows much says little. An understanding person remains calm.

 

CHAPTER 18

The words of a fool start fights

God's name is a place of protection-- good people can run there and be safe.

Humility is a precursor to honor

A gift gets attention

Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach. Good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.

Words kill, words give life

 

CHAPTER 19

Lots of people flock around a generous person

A congenial spouse comes straight from God

Take good counsel and accept correction-- that's the way to live wisely and well.

Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene-- no nasty surprises.

 

CHAPTER 20

It's a mark of good character to avert quarrels

 

CHAPTER 21

Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance

Hurry puts you further behind

If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor, your cries will go unheard, unanswered.

Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself-- glorious life!

 

CHAPTER 22

The payoff for meekness and fear-of-God is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.

Skilled workers are always in demand and admired.

 

CHAPTER 23

Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich.  Restrain yourself!

Soak yourself in fear-of-God

Buy wisdom, buy education, buy insight

 

CHAPTER 24

Don't envy bad people

Rescue the perishing

First plant your fields, then build your barn

 

CHAPTER 25

God delights in concealing things

Patient persistence pierces through indifference 

Gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses

 

CHAPTER 27

Don't call attention to yourself. Let others do that for you.

Just as lotions and fragrances give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.

One friends sharpens another.

Your face mirrors your heart.

The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame. 

 

CHAPTER 28

Practice God's law

God has no use for the prayers of the people who won't listen to him

You find mercy by admitting sins and leaving them

A tenderhearted person lives a blessed life

Committed and persistent work pays off

In the end, serious reprimand is appreciated more than bootlicking flattery

Trust in God brings a sense of well-being

Be generous to the poor-- you'll never go hungry

 

CHAPTER 29

A leader of good judgement gives stability

 

CHAPTER 30

Every promise of God proves true

God protects everyone who runs to him for help

 

CHAPTER 31

Speak up for people who have no voice

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.

She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor

She always faces tomorrow with a smile

When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly

Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all! 

Charm can mislead, and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the fear-of-God.

James 1

Read

God and X are both masters. James considers himself a servant. (1)

Tests help us become mature. (4)

God is ready, able, and eager to help (5)

You need to really depend on God in order to get his help. Don't keep your options open. (8)

Don't count on prosperity (see also sermon on the mount). What should I do with it? (11)

Act on what you hear! (23)

Pursue God in a disciplined, energetic way, not a passive, distracted way. (25)

Two things of true religion:

  1. reach out to homeless and loveless
  2. Guard yourselves a/t corruption of the world

 

Examine

James is teaching. He expects to be listened to. He is writing to scattered xians. First century AD. He was alive when Jesus was alive. He knew Jesus.

Probably the people reading the letter were being persecuted. Some were young in the faith. Both rich and poor. People who were being tempted by evil. People who are in and around the church.

James wants them to listen and do what he says.

  • Trust God through trouble. Stay in it. Seek God in it. Don't try to escape or mitigate. Let it do its purpose. 
  • Understand and believe that God is so good and he wants to help. Ask for help. Depend on his help. Don't keep other options open.
  • Don't rely on $ for security. Truly believe it is temporary.
  • Understand the evil is within us and also from Satan and the world, but never God. God is good and able to help.
  • Listen first. Listen more than you talk. 
  • Invest time and energy in reading the Bible, trusting God to use it to change you for the better.
  • Examine you own heart closely! Do you apply what you learn? If not, do it! Be a person of action, putting into practice every day what God is teaching you. Don't wait.
  • Don't just talk about religious things. That is worthless. Do these two things: 1) Reach out to homeless and loveless,  2) Guard a/t corruption from the godless world.

 

Apply

  • Don't try to avoid trouble. Focus on trusting God through everything, good and bad.
  • How can I train my heart to believe that God is good and eager to help? Spiritual disciplines
  • Trust God more fully. Close other options.
  • Train my heart to believe that $ is temporary. Enthrall my heart and mind with the beauty of X and his kingdom. Invest my wealth there.
  • Ask God for help more. Involve him more in my every day life. Realize there is evil within me and all around me and I need help.
  • Ask questions to disciples and mentors and listen.
  • Invest more time in the word and in prayer. No excuses. Just do it. 
  • Spend some time in solitude examining my heart. Do I apply what I learn? Am I even learning anything? Ask God to show me what have I not applied? What lesson do you want me to learn more fully?
  • Practice intense discipline in order to form habits of being able to apply what I learn. Practice the process of learning something and immediately doing it. Get good at that. Don't stop after learning.
  • Reach out to the homeless and the loveless.
  • Guard a/t the corruption of the world. How? Come up with a plan.