Saturday, January 31, 2009

Committing to Conform

More and more I find myself wondering about the church at large. We conform ourselves to the world and not to the Bible. Why does this happen?

When one sees folks who consider themselves Christians gossiping, indulging in sexual sin, speaking negatively, living unholy lives, being judgmental of other Christians, trusting in their own righteousness... it just worries a person.

Many Christians are very easygoing toward their sins. That's understandable; we're told that God is loving and accepts us. We are told to seek righteousness...yet to beware of trusting in that righteousness because our righteousness is as filthy rags. We are told to not judge and yet to judge enough so we don't get contaminated by the world or cast our pearls before swine. We are told to live in the world but not let the world live in us. But what has happened?

We don't read our Bibles enough. Or we read just what the minister tells us to read that weak. If we read our Bibles we don't force ourselves to conform to the Bible but we try to make the Bible conform to us.

I don't think we realize that the One whom we talk to is holy, holy, holy. Hey, when God gave Isaiah the vision of the cherubim around the throne, the angels weren't saying "Kind, kind, kind!" They weren't saying "love, love, love." They were saying "Holy, holy, holy!" This is what God wanted his people to know...that He is holy. The one we serve accepts us in Christ but He is holy, holy, holy.

So then, let us read the Bible and when it comes to salvation we must strive for the fullness of Christ's salvation in our lives. Full physical healing, full emotional healing, full attitudinal healing. Let us not only accept what the world tells us to accept. Let us reach for the high calling. Let us not live the way the world does and bring the Bible down to what we "want" to do but to what God has told us in His word that He wants to do. No lying, no sexual immorality, no judgmentality, no gossip (especially under the guise of so-called intercession), no accepting of human prognoses of illnesses, no backsliding. It may be we may attain.

Unused Childhood

Well, today, I'm feeling somewhat healthy. So am gonna use the time wisely. I've decided to gather up all younger son's unused stuff. That means all the cartoon VHS tapes he was supposed to use to learn, all the chapter books he was supposed to have read, all the plastic legos and games he was supposed to have learned to play with.

The way I see it is this: Let's say we get a miracle and younger son is miraculously healed, then I want him totally healed to the point where he can actually read the New York Times. Hey, if God is able to do a miracle to help heal a child diagnosed with non-verbal autism and allergies, he might as well go the whole yard and heal the kid. He's 18 now, will be 19 on the 17th. Why keep these toys and stuff around? Might as well empty the house of those old dreams and old wishes and prepare for new ones.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Psalm 13

Those of us who truly are leaning and relying daily on our Lord can well understand David's cry of "How Long?" We wait for a day when our change comes, as Job says. We wait, we wait. We know God loves us, we know His word is true and powerful, we know He has heard our prayer...and yet, the long long daily wait. A wait of patience, a wait of thanksgiving. A waiting filled with trust and yet such yearning and worries.


Psalm 13

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

I knew I liked Jet Li for a reason

I knew I liked him for a reason. Okay, okay, I know some folks are gonna say this is just the one-world system disguising itself as brotherly love but honestly, non-Christians seek brotherhood too. So, yeah, I'll give it a shout-out. It isn't perfect, definitely...but it has a noble aim.

Daddy by Sylvia Plath

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Psalm 12

Every once in a while one has one of those days where one seems to see only the ugly in people or only ugly sinful people. Those are often the days when good people seem to be odd or touchy or selfish. It doesn't happen all the time but it happens often enough to make us realize how imperfect humans are. As a Black Christian I have had white Christian folks dislike me because I questioned President Bush putting us into war. I have had black Christian folks turn all nasty on me because I didn't get all wild about President Obama. I've had atheist sneer at me as if they knew everything I was going to say because they had "analyzed" religious people. What does one do with folks like this? Unfortunately, human hearts are always capable of hurting other human hearts. But God is always faithful. God is always perfect in the way He loves us.

Psalm 12 is yet another psalm which shows a character in deep despair about the typical human cruelty that comes as we walk through life. People tend to flatter, boast, speak deceitfully. Such faults generally bother the good and honest person. It definitely bothered a lot of the prophets. Jonah, for instance, is typical of the prophets. He loved God's creatures and God's creations. But he had had it up to here with humans...and with God's tendency to be forgiving of such people.

We folks in Christendom tend to think God will forgive anything WE DO..and so we generally don't get too hard on ourselves. But if we read Psalm 12, can we truly say that we are free from any of the sin David speaks about? Are our lips pure? O Lord Jesus, help me to speak flawless words?

Psalm 12

For the director of music. According to sheminith . A psalm of David. [a]

1 Help, LORD, for the godly are no more;
the faithful have vanished from among men.
2 Everyone lies to his neighbor;
their flattering lips speak with deception.

3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue

4 that says, "We will triumph with our tongues;
we own our lips [b] —who is our master?"

5 "Because of the oppression of the weak
and the groaning of the needy,
I will now arise," says the LORD.
"I will protect them from those who malign them."

6 And the words of the LORD are flawless,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay,
purified seven times.

7 O LORD, you will keep us safe
and protect us from such people forever.

8 The wicked freely strut about
when what is vile is honored among men.


Psalm 12:1 Title: Probably a musical term
Psalm 12:4 Or / our lips are our plowshares

Hallelujah He Reigns!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

W H Auden Musee des Beaux Arts

Auden's poem about how tragedy in one life occurs while usual life is occurring in the life of others.

God's word is a living dagger

I dreamed a bad spirit had been awakened somehow from some old clothes I received as a gift from a friend. IT had previously haunted those who wore it and since I inherited the clothes I ended up with the spirit. I tried to escape it and was thinking of the word of God but when I managed to say it, the power of God really showed. But I was so tired from fighting. When I woke up I heard the Bible phrase, "Not as though beating against the air."

1 Corinthians 9:26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 1 Corinthians 9:25-27

This reminded me of two verses that have really been helping me.
One is "Are not my words like a hammer that beat the stone to pieces?" And the other is "The word of God is sharp, living, a two-edged sword." I heard a sermon where someone said when Paul describes the sword of the spirit which is the word of God he uses the word which means a dagger, a kind of small knife which one jabs one's opponents with. So lately, I've been thinking that everytime I use the word of god or any of God's promises, I imagine myself stabbing stabbing stabbing at the autism and the fibromyalgia. I imagine the word of God like a hammer, knocking out the congestion in my son's head and chipping away at the foundations of sickness and the place Satan had found to attack us.

I think this dream came to encourage me. I don't really know what the clothes means...although I did get some inherited clothes from someone. But it reminds me that Faith isn't faith if it isn't spoken. The word of God must be spoken in order to be an effective weapon. And when I speak I mustn't think, "Ah, it's not working!" I must think, "I am not beating against the air."

Sometimes we think nothing is happening because we're carnal and we walk by sight, but God has told us to walk by faith in his character, in his word, in the fact that something is happeninn in the spiritual realm.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Okay, I've got to be aware when God is leading me to think about something. Sometimes I sense that I'm being told something and kinda dismiss the thought, sometimes I sense that I'm being told something and actually (YAY!!!) do what I'm supposed to do, and sometimes I don't sense that God is speaking to me at all.

Sometimes I'm good. Let's say, I suddenly start thinking of someone out of the blue. I say to myself, "Uhm...maybe you should be praying for this person, or maybe this person will call you, or maybe you should call this person." Or sometimes I suddenly get this idea of doing something....And I actually do the thing. For instance, two weeks ago I dreamed of an old friend. I said to my husband, "uhm....<-- all the above!" Upshot? Old friend contacted me yesterday...after not seeing each other 8 years!

But sometimes I am totally clueless although the clue is given to me. I have this measuring cup, quart sized. I've had it for about four years. I use it to drink tons of water. I mean tons!!! It's very important in my life because it's pyrex and that means I can drink cold or hot water...and water is very important to my well-being and health. So if anything happens to this cup well, I'm in deep-sh*t because I just can't bring myself to actually drink 8 little cups of water at 8 times rather than ..well, you get the picture. So I'm on my bed about a week ago when out of the blue I start thinking about buying another one of these...maybe even buying a pint measuring cup. It seemed like such an odd thought and such a lavish luxury to actually buy "another" of these cups. But there I lay pondering and pondering where I could buy it.

Now, did it occur to me to say to myself, "uhm, Carole, you're thinking about buying a new measuring cup again after all these years! Could it be Holy Spirit is telling you something?" Oh, no!!! yours truly just thought it was all very odd of her to be suddenly thinking of buying two measuring cups of different sizes when she already had one. So what happens, younger son picked up my measuring cup a coupla days ago and threw it to the ground where it smashed. Yeah, I had been warned. Holy Spirit had seen the thing coming. And now that I am two days without this cup I realize it wasn't a small thing at all. Water is such a part of battling this illness that it wasn't that Holy Spirit was merely being sillily prophetic and playing little games. He knew I needed the cup. I have been totally unable to drink water the past two days. And I haven't drunk enough. It has to be warm water, or hot tea in the middle of the winter. So, gotta get this measuring cup.

Anyway, I'm trying to be as obedient to these nudges as I am to be obedient to other weird odd spiritual nudges. I remember my friend Joan. A sweet woman, a good Christian woman, living with a man for about seven years who had left his wife to live with her. (Man had never loved his wife btw, but ..whatever.) So I kept getting this nudge, "Call Joan and tell her to read her Bible." I thought, "Well, this is weird." I finally gave in and called her, wondering how the heck I would start a conversation with a woman about reading her Bible. When she picked up the phone she said, "I'm so glad you called. I've been in a lot of pain lately. But the doctors operated and didn't find anything. Know what? It's good you called. Remember that book 'Lost Books of the Bible' you let me read once?" (okay, this was back in the day when I was into all that extra-biblical stuff and was easily deceived.) So I said, "I was wrong about those books. Right now you have to read the Bible and only the Bible." Now, I didn't know if God wanted her to read the Bible because the living words of the living God would heal her, or if he wanted her to read her the Bible to spare her from hell so she could repent. Upshot? She died very soon after this phone call. Of cancer. Yeah, doctors weren't honest with her.

Satan had been trying to get her to focus on spiritual things that weren't of the Bible but God had wanted her to read the Bible. In my life I've found that whenever someone is dying God gets very insistent on it being the Bible and only the Bible. More and more I see that the Bible is very very very oddly important to him and very special in that way. I could tell you tons of examples but it's weird how he honors the Bible like that.

I leave you with my poem that I wrote for my friend Jestine. As they say, "true story." Follow those nudges, my friends! On the day Jestine died, all her friends and family simultaneously, out of the blue, with no one calling to them traveled to see her at her hospital room. All except me.

For Jestine
by Carole Stewart McDonnell

I did not visit you on the day you died
although my mind was on you
all that day


when I mentioned visiting you
my driver said
the hospital parking fee was high
and I said
I might call him anyway at 3:00
but then at 3:00
another friend called
and invited me over
and although you'd been on my mind all day
I immediately forgot you


the afternoon sun was so bright
oh so very bright
and the afternoon air was so sultry
and a certain sweet someone I loved
would be there
and for five months
I=d been forgetting you anyway
so it was easy enough
to forget this time
although the thought of you
on that particular day was so pressing

and never once
all that day
and all that night
as I worked that party
did it occur to me

that this hospitalization was your last
And that you were dying
And that God was telling me
to visit you to say goodbye.

God's sheep DO hear His voice. We just kinda don't think he's talking to us, or that what He is saying is that important.

Weekend Movie Viewing

Well, some of my weekends seem to be dedicated to romance -- like those days when all those holiday christmas romances flooded the tube with ne'er a Jesus movie in site. Or when Scifi Channel has some good flicks. But they seem to be stuck in reptile mood because I'm pretty sure it was not more than five weeks ago that they had another reptile week. And here were were again!

So I kinda ended up watching some crime flicks. Through whatever fate I ended up watching crime flicks. Saw Heat again with DeNiro, Kilmer, and Pacino. Had totally forgotten the plot. Found myself, yet again -- as i do in all crime flicks-- on the side of the bad guys and hoping they would all get away. Was delightfully surprised when Kilmer's character did. Nowadays if the bad theives don't kill anyone, then they tend to get away. Stealing isn't so bad. IT was okay and it had "gravitas." I heard a casting director talking about gravitas once and about how for certain shows actors needed said gravitas. I kinda got an idea of what this gravitas thing was when I saw Tokyo Drift a second time..last week sometime. The story felt like it needed to be heavier; the pain of the main characters needed to be heavier. They talked about their pain, the film was kinda darkly lit at sometimes. There was all this angsty stuff..and yet it just was not Rebel without a cause. No gravitas.

Then there was Family. Found this on Lifetime or Lifetime Movie Channel. A cop with serious psycho problems and his son pick up a woman hitch-hiker-criminal. She wants to protect the boy from his father. You could see from the beginning that this was once a small movie. It had that feel to it. None of the formulas. I liked it. Definitely try to see it. Nicely written, nicely directed, nicely acted. But there was that shoot-out moment when cop had his near meltdown and spoke his heart. Why, oh why, do they go on like that? As if we don't already know their "i need a perfect family and why don't you trust me and why did my wife leave me when i was good and why did she take my child?" issues. But a good flick.

Then saw Miami Heat. Liked this one too. First time I saw it. Not particularly about Miami. There was the ubiquitous cold hearted inscrutable Asian girl whom everyone loves and who is finally saved by the love of a good white man so I kinda had to deal with that. A couple of moments, however, did make me want to scream. For instance, when the big shoot down goes down, she gets upset when she realizes bad guy is possibly a cop. So what does she do in the MIDDLE of the shoot-out? (This is a woman, mind you, who has been calm and collected all along. But I guess they wanted to say taht when she gets mad she loses it because he was the only one she had allowed yadda yadda) anyway, she gets up in the middle of the shootout -- the MIDDLE!!!!-- and starts bitch-alapping him for betraying her. Okay, AK47's are shooting at them! Cop Snipers and bad guy snipers and guys with semi-automatics are all around shooting at each other and at Colin Farrell's character...and yeah, she's having a hissy fit! She also has another one in the car when they're escaping and starts hitting him while he's driving at a mega-pace. Then after that, when they're at peace and waiting for the florida cops to take her away to her home in havana (yeah, i know...they did a whole lot to give the role to a chinese actress.) she gets all sad and wistful, having presumably got all that hidden temptress rage all expelled. Yes, she got away too because she didn't kill anyone. She was just a female too... We know how that goes.

Then I saw Crank. Kinda like DOA on crack...and reminded me of Torque. Wonder if the same screenwriter/director did both flicks. Jonathan Statham --who truly is not my type but has a kind of violent sexuality cause he's so dang competent. (Is competence a new kind of sexuality?) -- plays a guy who wakes to find he's been injecfed with an evil Beijing cocktail that will kill him in an hour. Well, you know the plot already: how to get revenge etc? Just like Torque it is a total ride. And very witty and silly at parts as he has to crank himself up to live longer...and ah the stuff he does to crank himself up. There's something odd with me ...someone dies and I immediately wonder if they go to God or to hell. So if I found out I had an hour to live, I'd be kneeling and praying to God to forgive me for my sins, especially if I was a hitman. But again this guy is kinda safe. I always look at what they do at the end of a bad guy's life to make his salvation sure. In A prayer for the dying, Mickey Rourke's character lippened (clung for dear life) to the cross of Jesus. In Angel with dirty faces, Cagney's character turned rat and died to self to save the souls of future might-have-been juvies. A bad guy needs repentance. So this guy was on the road to repentance -- as usual, love had saved his soul-- and hadn't killed the guy he was supposed to kill. In the end he dies though. After a big shoot-out and from falling from the sky. And we're shown his body, like a car that can no longer be cranked. So am not sure if his soul was saved. Please, Lord, let there be no crank2.

Ooh, reminds me...saw the end of another flick... Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan in a shoot-out...cowboys in the desert. Forgot the name. Just saw the end. Must've been my weekend to catch shoot-outs.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When I have fears that I might seem to be

The false foundations of the American Dream

Okay, if there is one thing that is totally apparent to me, it's this: The American Way of Life -- the vacations, the "stuff" we have in our house, the two or more cars per family, the eating out once a week, little mandatory luxuries and great expenses-- are built on credit...which is a lie. We have all been trained to live beyond our means by doing so on credit.

What would American life be like if we didn't have credit on so many things? What would our life be like if we only bought what we could pay for...and all we had was really ours and not really on lease to us through a credit card company?

Can you imagine kids working their way through college without taking out college loans? Can you imagine most folks saving up for their houses or folks living in houses inherited through their families? Can you imagine most folks living in apartments? Can you imagine having most families having only one car? Can you imagine young folks age 20-30 still living with their family and folks not thinking a guy is "immature cause he still lives at home with his folks"?

We have been so trained to believe in financial independence. But has it really been independence? Not really? It's been dependence on credit. I don't think we will be able to return to the days when family was wealth and where family was where one got one's wealth and where living close as a family was a way of gaining and keeping wealth. Our trust has been put in credit card systems who trained us to believe in the American Dream.

Will it be hard to return? Yes! Because the media owns our minds for the most part. We believe what they tell us to believe. And the American Dream has become such a "tradition" that few folks will be able to free their minds from it...and from the brainwashing of the "need" for credit.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Career Planning

Well, Juno Books became an imprint of Pocket Books. Juno published Wind Follower. Now, this may be good news but it might not be. Juno's been going toward urban fantasy. I like folkloric fantasy. Exploring tribal culture and what makes tribes. Current novel is Constant Tower which needs an agent cause it's neither urban fantasy nor does it have a female protag which is what Juno wants. But it's such a great book! What to do!

I have another novel, Daughters of Men, which many folks loved and which was a near miss with an agent at Maass and with Dorchester and the editor at Juno said it needed a lotta work. Now, it would fit into the urban fantasy genre perfectly. So I could try working on it. Aaargh, to revisit a book I haven't worked on in about four years! But I suppose those characters are part of me because I love them very much.

But I'm also working on my serial killer-succubus novel. Can I juggle all three? Will see. Might have to send a note to the Juno editor telling her my issues and wondering.

Now, the weird thing about the Pocket alliance is that many of us Juno authors don't fit into the new Juno. What will Pocket do with us if we don't write urban fantasy? I'd like to think that being black and a Christian, Pocket might have a place for me because they have a Christian line and they might have a black line or a fantasy line. Not sure what's going on. Who knows? I'll only give that to God. This is one of those moments when the talk must become the walk and the rubber hits the road. I say that I trust God, right? I say that the word of God is powerful to change every situation, right? So will I walk around the house thanking God for this opportunity and for what he is going to do with me now that I'm ostensibly at Pocket Juno? Or will I look at the pathological truth and go about repeating that, especially since Juno might be putting some books out of print or remaindering them? Lord knows, how much money Wind Follower made for them!

Promotion comes neither from the east nor from the west. Let me trust in God.

Gerard Manley Hopkins my favorite poet

Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of my favorite poets. And these are my favorite of his poems. The first poem is God's grandeur.

The second is "I wake and feel the fell of dark not day."

The third is "Spring and Fall to a Young Child."

Psalm 10

One of the hardest thing for those who believe in a loving God is to understand why he seems to delay helping good people?

Is it because he is powerless and not entirely all-powerful? Well, two possible answers to this: God is all-powerful, he has set the world up in such a way that we are collaborers with Christ. Most things that are done on earth are done through God working in his people and through faith. The second thing is that good though we may think we are, we have our own issues that might prevent the answer from coming and spiritual laws we the good people have broken (unforgiveness, wrongful eating, sowing the wrong seeds into our lives). In addition, there are demonic workings in the world fighting against good people.

The righteous understand this, but the evil wicked use God's delay as an excuse to continue doing evil.

1Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
2The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.
3For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.
4The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.
5His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
6He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.
7His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity.
8He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.
9He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net.
10He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.
11He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.
12Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.
13Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.
14Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.
15Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none.
16The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.
17LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
18To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.

Friday, January 23, 2009

First Nations Reconciliation

Why did the disciples follow Jesus?

Was reading Oswald Chambers' "The Love of God" this morning with my beloved. Oswald mentions something to this effect: The first disciples weren't drawn to Jesus because they felt like they were sinners. They didn't rush to him looking for deliverance. They didn't think they were perfect but neither did they think they were in crappy shape.

Very true. Only Peter seemed aware of his sinfulness when he said, "Depart from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man." But for the most part, it was only later in Jesus ministry when the disciples got a vague idea of how sinful they were.

Well, reading this made me think about another of the reasons why so many Christian books are lacking. They seek to pull people to God by making people aware of their sins. Consider that we are to be like Jesus. What does that mean? Should people look at us and suddenly be convicted about how sinful they are? No, Jesus said, "Let men see your good works and glorify your father."

What is it about Jesus that drew the first disciples? Oswald says Jesus had a purity, a sincerity, a holiness, etc.

True. Jesus draws his own way. We don't know what it is he's doing as he draws them. We don't know what about him is drawing folks to him. But it may not at all be some conviction of sin. When I wrote Wind Follower, I didn't set out to make Loic realize his sinfulness. For one thing, sin is not imputed where there is no law. So although the whole world lay in sin, my characters didn't have the book of God's law so sin was not imputed to them. God would judge them by some other way. But what would draw them to the Creator? The Creator's love. The Creator's holiness. And --in the case of my novel-- the Creator's generosity. That was the lens through which my character (living in a world where hospitality was important) saw the Creator.

So, while it is good for people to recognize that they miss the mark with God, we Christians shouldn't go about trying to make them know their sin. We care called to make them know God. And pushing sins down their throats might have the opposite effect of making them avoid Christ (as we represent him).

Christina Rossetti's Uphill

One of the best Christian poems ever!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Psalm 9

Reading this psalm again today I'm really impressed by the last verses: that we may see that we are but men.

I suspect this verse connects to psalm 2 in that once again the nations are lined up against God and Israel, preparing to battle. But the reason the last verse connects to me is that humans are pretty arrogant. On architecture shows, architects talk about architecture as if it's a spiritual thing. It's not. It's an emotional soulish thing. Food experts talk about the "dining experience" as if being truly sophisticated about food means that one is in some ways immune to mere human stuff like going to the toilet. The world is full of human pretentiousness and folks thinking they are way deeper, way spiritual, way more intelligent and refined than everyone else. I know I'm particularly sensitive about this kinda thing. Probably cause I'm black and a woman and have had money problems. It's alienating. But honestly, even if I were a rich white male I'd find myself avoiding this crap.

I want to say to these sophisticated folks: "True, being humans we have much to be proud of as a species. God has made us great. But in the long run, we are only men. We go to the bathroom. We will die. And if we have not accepted Christ and forgiven our enemies, we will go to hell." Enough said.

1I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.

2I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

3When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.

4For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.

5Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.

6O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.

7But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.

8And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.

9The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.

10And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

11Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.

12When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.

13Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:

14That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.

15The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.

16The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.

17The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

19Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.

20Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.

Hopeless Romantic

The Lord has really been dealing with me about my hopeless romanticism. "Hopeless" being the operative word. (Then hubby and I talked about it...And to top it off, this morning I got up and turned on the TV and I'm clicking through the TV...and there is someone scheduled to be on intervention, the addiction show, and what words does he use? Hopeless Romantic. Our Lord, the God of perfect timing!)

Growing up a wussy little black kid I read a lot of sad poetry that promoted the futility of life. Okay, some of this poetry might have been affected. . . but many of these poets truly had crappy lives. And some of the Christian poets, such as Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins seemed never to have won in their battle against despair, melancholy, bi-polarism, illness, idolatrous worship of the creature more than the Creator, etc. In short, they died unhealed, leaving me with a kind of idea of Jesus as the "pale Galilean" who was romantic simply because he lost.

This kind of thing is dangerous because it not only teaches one not to hope, it primes the soul to believe that in the long run the prayer will not be answered, all is impossible, and God will not win. The Lord has been telling me to work on this spiritual stronghold. The stronghold of romantic despair that I indoctrinated myself with when I was a kid.

Another indoctrination I have to work against is the "romantic" part of the "hopeless romantic" phrase. That's one of the reasons I dislike Christian fiction. There is that kind of sentimental attachment to romance. Oftentimes one reads a story and one feels as if the story is really a woman's masturbatory dream of what a perfect hero in her life would've been. It's a kind of noble Christian fantasy of the land, the perfect man, the sense of destiny.

I feel God is very understanding of all this but he doesn't want us to indulge in vain imaginations. One must remember the truest book, the truest mirror, the truest romance, the truest imagination is of spiritual things.

I'll be posting some of my favorite poets in the upcoming days. You'll see what I have to battle against.

I dreamed I arrived in Japan and was walking around and got lost in a forest. I decided it was best to turn back on the route i came which I did. I then saw a large crucifix on the path when I finally arrived. Later, in another dream I dreamed I had a Chinese old lady neighbor. She said, "Show me where the borders of my property is." I said, "Sometimes there's a border you can see. Like this cement border. Sometimes it's a little subtler to figure out."I think this has to do with an obsession that I've been encouraging lately. For some strange reason I've been noticing a few Asian men and I think God is saying to watch it. I think, anyway. Might be something
else. But God might be the fascination so you don't trip up.

So I'm trying to remember the ancient landmarks, as Jeremiah said.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Praying for our new President

Certain things make me smile, other stuff make me sad. Some things manage to do both. I watch a lotta Christian television. When George Bush was president, he couldn't so much as sneeze without them stopping all regularly-scheduled programming to air "God's man." Amazingly, on inauguration day, none of the white-owned Christian station -- and these guys always talk about how God wants us to pray for those in authority-- even honored Barack. Interesting, uh? Ah, my Christian people! When will race stop separating us? Yeah, yeah, I know...race isn't in the equation. Well if it isn't, why not simply state, "God isn't finished with Barack Obama yet. Don't we Christians believe in the power of prayer?" If there is one thing the books of Daniel, Esther, and Nehemiah shows us it's this: God changes the hearts of leaders.

This is from the latest Smoke Signals, the newsletter of Wiconi International, the Native American Christian group

Smoke`Signals - Praying for our new President
Richard Twiss
Jan 20, 2009

Hau kola,

By the time you read this we will have a new president of the United States. It is the global news story of our generation. I attended an “Obama party” with a group of Jesus loving, bible embracing and spirit-filled followers of Jesus the other night to enjoy some good fellowship and good food. My friends, many of them African-American, enjoyed a celebratory feeling throughout the evening.

If God is truly God, the outcome of this election came as no surprise to Jesus. Regardless of ones political ideology in relationship to biblical revelation, the swearing in of Barak Obama remains unquestionably “God’s choice” if we believe that God can work even in a democratic political system.

I have received reproof from readers for inviting us to consider the notion that God is bigger than our understanding of him. Often, these folks believe God was behind George Bush’s election – after correcting the populace’s misinformed election of Bill Clinton – twice, but believe that Barak Obama’s election is the result of a group of liberal democrats who demonstrated their power to “overturn” God’s choice.

For those who call themselves Christians, I’d much rather hear them say, “I think you’re an idiot for your political beliefs,” rather than invoking God’s name in support of their particular political opinion. That kind of language assumes they are right (from God’s point of view) and those who disagree are at the least misinformed, at best mistaken and at worst spiritually deceived. My concern is not to say one political party is more flawed than the other. They are both equally flawed for different reasons!

Regardless of who you voted for, our president, Barak Obama, is the man God has put his hand on to serve us as President of the United States. His presidency represents an opportunity for ALL Americans and people globally to seek a future filled with hope for a better tomorrow. It is truly a remarkable moment in the history of America, a country known as much for its “American Revolution” as for the genocide of our Native American people and the enslavement of African people.

An African-American serving as president of the most powerful country in the world, in light of our history, is an inspiration to people all over the world that “with God, ALL things are possible!!!”

In the parable of the two lost sons or “the prodigal son” the older son refuses to come in and celebrate the return of his brother because he disagrees with his fathers handling of the situation. If he was his dad, he would have judged and rejected his son for squandering his inheritance.

Let’s pray, walk in faith and trust in Jesus with all we got as we seek to walk in the light even as He is in the light!

Walking in the light ….

Richard Twiss
Wiconi International

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Psalm 8

How kind our great God is! And how generous! He has given his children dominion over so much. When I look at my little pit bull Hemotep and my little kitty Sheba, I'm amazed at how they look up to me. Intuitively, they give me authority over them. The Lord has given human even the power to tame and train wild animals.

Even human children have authority in the world! Although I wouldn't send a young kid out there to command a stranger's pit bull.

But what God has given us! In the beginning God tells us (through Moses) that he gave us authority over the earth. And somewhere it says, "The earth has God given to the children of men" !!! Then we lose the dominion to Satan. Sickness, Death, Sin rules over us. And even when God gives humans laws, sin uses the law to make us sin even more. In Psalm 8, we're told again of the dominion God has given to us. But then when Satan is tempting Jesus he says, "All the powers of this world I will give you ..and the authority of them... because they are mine." Jesus doesn't challenge him. Then Jesus says to his disciples, I have given you authority over devils and sickness." Then Jesus dies and finishes the job on the cross, taking captivity captive and giving gifts to men! Now man has power over sin, can raise folks from the dead, can cast out demons on the earth. (The heavens, even the heavens of heavens is God's but the earth has he given to the kingdom of men! So we can't go battling demons in the heavenlies. God and angels do that! But even now we are seated in high places in Christ! And what else! We are told by St Paul that in eternity, we shall be like Jesus because we shall see him as he is! Then in Revelations, the seal to the earth is finally taken by the bloodied lamb who was slain from the foundation of the earth! At last, the dominion is Christ and Hallelujah! The kingdoms of this earth is become the kingdom of our God! At last, God has taken full claim of the kingdom. Satan makes a final stand to take all the earth but he's fated to lose. All the Bible, from beginning to end, is about man's loss of his authority and power over the earth through sin and the long journey for a saviour who will redeem it for man again!

Perhaps we humans are so selfish and greedy because we know how giving our sweet, loving, generous, and good God is! How wonderful that God has given us this authority! Yet, we only have it through faith! Childlike faith can destroy the enemies in the gates!!!!! The kingdom of God is within us and through Christ we are made more than conquerors!

1O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

2Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

6Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

7All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

8The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

9O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Monday, January 19, 2009

When God Sends A Troubling Dream

When God sends a troubling dream, it prompts it prompts us to realize we don't know everything with human knowledge. It makes us go to God and ask for mercy for him to show us what we don't know.

Many dreams are from our own psyche. They deal with what our bodies and our minds are telling us. These are troubling in their own way because often they tell us what we don't know or ask us to explore what we don't want to explore.

But some dreams come from God. Remember, this is the dreaming generation -- and probably this is why so many in this generation are troubled by insomnia and sleeplessness because the devil doesn't want us to dream dreams and see visions. But when we get a dream from God we feel it. A dream from God tells what is in God's mind. What's in God's mind we don't know. But the God of all the earth doesn't do anything unless he shares it with his people the prophets.

Sometimes these dreams are clear and easy to interpret. Sometimes they aren't that clear. Daniel saw the dream King Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed. But it was difficult to interpret without God's help. He had to get his other friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These four kids, about fifteen or sixteen, had a prayer meeting and God explained the troubling dream to them.

Remember the vision of the handwriting on the wall. The words were: Numbered, Weighed, Divided. A math puzzle. Now, what if we had dreamed and seen = - and a scale. What would we think of these symbols. We'd be troubled of course. We cannot understand what is going on without God helping us.

Daniel and his friends cried to God for MERCY to help them understand the dream. He told them its meaning. And with that, they saved their lives. The king's astrologers had admitted that no God would tell such a thing, that if the gods existed mere humans couldn't ask them for help in such a strange thing. But Daniel proved God's existence and closeness to man by showing the king that God has a purpose for the king's life. There is human wisdom and there is God's wisdom and there are certain things we simply don't know unless we ask God to tell us . . . in his mercy.

In the future, God will show us many dreams, let us learn to seek him and his praying to him for mercy for the dream. In the present, we really need to be aware that God knows many things about our present that we aren't aware of. The world teaches us that we need the wisdom of its wise men. We -- even Christians-- say, "What will happen to me if I don't listen to the advice of the experts?" But what do we do when the experts can't help us? or disagree? or when those who follow the advice of experts fail or die or lose money? Then we turn to God. But shouldn't we train ourselves from our youth, as Daniel did, to trust God as the Expert? Listening to the experts is a modern day idolatry and I'll admit I have to fight their advice.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1 "God will destroy the wisdom of the wise."

I've had three friends die from immune system illnesses -- because they listened to doctors. The experts - nutritional, neurological, biological, alternative medicine-- have not helped either my son or me. But luckily, they have not killed us. We can trust God. He has told us that we walk in the light if we trust in Him.

Dear Lord Jesus, save me from what I don't know. Deliver me from what I cannot see. Deliver me from the earthly and physical things my mind and heart and body have gotten used to. Open my eyes Lord that I might see. Be merciful to me Lord because I cannot know anything in this world unless you open my eyes. Amen.

Genesis 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. Genesis 41:7-9

Daniel 2:1 And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him.

Daniel 2:3 And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream.

Daniel 4:5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts upon my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. Daniel 4:4-6

Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation thereof, trouble thee. Belteshazzar answered and said, My lord, the dream be to them that hate thee, and the interpretation thereof to thine enemies.
Daniel 4:18-20

Zechariah 10:2 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd. Zechariah 10:1-3

Compassion International video by Joe Castillo

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Okay, I totally worry about myself. I have a total inability to go along with the herd. Why, oh why?

Two cases in point: When all the Christians were emailing each other about the evil Barack Obama, did I care? Nope. When they were all for the war -- I mean ALL the Christians I know were for this war-- I kept saying "No, God has shown me this war will only lead to people hating Christians, the Muslims being used as sufferers, and besides Christians are not supposed to be so connected to the world. Our real home is in heaven. The only reason God told us to pray for authorities was not because we have a city on a hill but because they were persecuting us."

When all the Black folks are emailing each other and weeping with joy that Barack Obama is president, what is yours truly doing? Standing back and watching. I just can't get into the entire hoopla. I pray for him, of course. One day I hope to like him, but I honestly doubt I will. God let me give this guy a chance.

So why can't I be swept along by the herd-mind? I think this has a lot to do with having been sick for so long. It takes one's mind away from earthly things. One realizes there is only one savior: not Bush, not America, not Obama. One realizes the lies in the world, that the American dream is merely greed. So that's the good part. The bad part, of course -- and why oh why am I going to admit this on my blog when I know I'm only going to get a judgmental person agreeing with me as if to enlighten me? They gloss over the fact that I've been sick and go on to blaming me for not being as they would be if they were in my position--

oh where was I? Yes, the bad part of this is that A) it's a lonely feeling. I'd like to be like the herd and B) while much of this alienation is good because a christian should be separated from certain's probably not all good. I'm sure I've been cold to things that have made folks jump for joy. (When it's a lotta folks all sharing the joy, it's perhaps not so bad. But if/when I've been cold to the joys of a particular person...well, it just shows how cruel sickness and hurt can be. It just kills your sense of joy in everything. It's hard to endure 20 years of sickness and seeing one's kid sick every day and be peppy.)

7Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:

8Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

9Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Last night hubby and I were awake. As usual. I fall asleep around 10 ish and wake up around 12 ish then am up all night. Either I pray or listen to sermons or wake hubby and ask for sex so I can sleep. So last night I woke hubby. We talked about thanksgiving. We really found so much to be thankful for. For instance, I am genuinely happy that I sleep for two hours. IT could be worse. It has been worse. 14 days straight with no sleep. (And yes, I am very kind when someone tells me she slept only 7 hours in a single night. I don't get into comparative mode. I'm not really like that. I don't say "I suffer much more than that." I'm actually quite nice. We thanked God that we endured so much and are still madly in love (okay, I'm also in love with some pixellated guys but I'm working on it.) But honestly, when we hear of folks who have divorced because of money issues, or sick child issues, or evil mother-in-law issues, we are amazed cause we went through all that and survived. God's grace was not missing in those folks' lives but somehow, they didn't survive. We thank God that we endured some hard financial times and learned to eat beans and rice. Hey, if the US economy goes under, we won't be complaining because we got used to that. And learned to eat healthily. We praised God that we have grown closer to him. Hey, I was always religious but heck. . . would I have gone to heaven if I died? I think many good religious people are probably surprised on their deathbed to know they didn't love God or his word enough, or that they trusted in their own righteousness to get to heaven. Hubby and I have gone through a lot...and we really have been stripped bare. So, heck, who knows if I would be this close to God if life hadn't been particularly shitty?

So yeah, I'm alienated from the just hoping I'm not tainted by it (by being bitter) and am not so full of physical pain that I can't rejoice with those who rejoice. As always, God is still working on me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Psalm 7

Okay, I knew this would happen one day...but did it have to happen this soon? I'm really hard put to see differences between some psalms and others. Yeah, I'm honest. Why hide that? There's a lot of the same stuff that happens in psalm after psalm. Enemy after enemy.

So what do we do with this? Well, honestly...some folks will have one favorite psalm over another. Yet those two psalms will be pretty similar. The thing to do is to look at the psalm and see what the holy spirit brought out in your soul at this particular reading.

So I won't examine the use of lion in this psalm. (Lion btw is a symbol that is used both for the Messiah and for the devil. Same thing with Morning Star. So don't start thinking that certain symbols are exclusively one thing. After a while one knows these symbols. Psalm 91 really does a great job of discussing the different types of enemies -- spiritual and otherwise-- that come at folks. The lion here -- and in much of the Scripture-- seems to represent a kind of enemy that hunts the spiritual person and preys upon the good person, tearing them to pieces.

This reading the verse that jumps out at me is verse 14. The birthing of sin. Sin is often seen first as a planted seed, then a conception, then a travailing or being in labor, then a giving birth. Compare this verse with

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:14-16

The thing is a seed is very tiny. One almost never connects it with its fruit. How many seemingly small things have we ignored which will grow into wonderful fruit and life or into death? No wonder the Bible tells us to take the little foxes that spoil our vines because our vines have tender grapes. No wonder it tells us to despise not (don't belittle) the day of small things.

Often the fruit we are eating now in our lives -- good or bad-- are stuff whose seeds we weren't aware we were planting...back in the day. Let us ask God to enlighten us as to what seed we're planting

1O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:

2Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

3O LORD my God, If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;

4If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, if I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)

5Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.

6Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.

7So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.

8The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.

9Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.

10My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.

11God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

12If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.

13He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.

14Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.

15He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.

16His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.

17I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

Friday, January 16, 2009

the daughters of men

The last days will be as the days of Noah. So then, will nephilim be here again? Who will be the "image" of the beast? Some folks say it's a hologram, some folks say cloning. Some How will the world be so convinced that this strange beings are God?

I've had some very odd dreams about the daughters of men (Biblically: the daughters of Adam)

Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:3-5

Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. Luke 17:25-27

Daniel 2:43 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. Daniel 2:42-44

Revelation 13:14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. Revelation 13:13-15

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Psalm 6

When I think of Psalm 6, I think of someone overwhelmed with his sin and cowering in front of a pure God. This is one of the first psalms in which the psalmist shows us a God who is to be feared because He is so holy.

Those of us who have been corrected by out parents know the difference between being corrected when they are really really mad and when we are corrected when they are somewhat calmer. Of course God sees all our future possible actions. He may be displeased with our actions but he's not particularly surprised. As say, our parents would be.

So, after telling God not to chasten him while he's angry, the psalmist reminds God that being human, he is weak. He talks about his body and he might mean his body but there's also the possibility that he is talking about being spiritually weak. Because he is human.

But there is a physical weakness...and he needs to be healed of it. He needs deliverance and God is taking a very long time. He appeals again to God's mercy.

Mercy is an interesting thing. When we ask for mercy we are in fact admitting our wrongs. In some cultures a judge has the option of showing mercy. It's a little different from the American system which basically has two pleas: guilty, not guilty. So the psalmist is basically saying, I am guilty but show me mercy anyway and let the punishment of the crime go.

What does he want God to deliver him from? Well, from his sickness, from death, from his enemies, from the effect of his sin, and from injustice.

Interestingly, he totally pleads to God's compassion. He gives God a list of all the emotional and bodily ailments he's gone through. No theological affirmations, no praising of God's goodness, no application of God's words. In fact, he goes so far as to make a difference between his sins and the sins of those others who are in iniquity. And he declares that God has heard his supplication. Why?

Because before his present sin -- and he doesn't precisely state what that is-- he was friends with God. God's anger against him is temporary, like a lover who is momentarily angry. He knows that after this very painful rejection from God God will receive him again. God does not hold his anger forever against his friends.

The verse that jumps out at me at this particular encounter with this psalm is "How long?" How long, Lord, will you seem distant from me? How long, Lord, will it take you to answer my prayers? Endurance is what tries, perfects, or kills our faith in God. The Psalmist never once says that God does not exists. Only fools say that. (Psalms 14) He is confused, shaken, distraught at times. But HE knows God is and that God is a rewarder to those who diligently seek him.

Another verse that jumps out at me is "let my enemies be ashamed suddenly." Sudden good coming to God's righteous believer is a joyous and amazing thing. May that happen to us also. May all our spiritual and physical sorrows suddenly leave us and may those enemies who fight against us -- diseases, grief, hurt, poverty-- be reminded again that God rules and blesses his people!

Psalm 6

1O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure.

2Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

3My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?

4Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.

5For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

6I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.

7Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.

8Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.

9The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

10Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another pixellated guy I've fallen for

i swear! I love heroes! I love princes! I love prince-heroes! (Although Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy Advent Children was not really a prince in the classic sense of the term.)

I love Noct!

Answering Atheism: Author Interview

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If God Disappears by David Sanford

If God Disappears : 9 Faith Wreckers and What to Do about Them by David Sanford

Here's his blog

Here's the Blurb:

There is a difference between God disappearing and God leaving us. God has said, "I will never leave you."
God often seems absent when we need him most. How can we walk through troubling, even devastating times without shipwrecking our trust in God?

Here's a vid over at tyndale

and another

and another

Here it is on Christian Book

And Amazon

Monday, January 12, 2009

Psalm 5

I first got acquainted with Psalm 5 when I heard Keith Green's arrangement. This is the nearest we have right now.

It's a great psalm.. and I really haven't studied the rest of it. But, hey, since I'm doing this blogging of the psalms I'll have to go through all of it.

In this Psalm, David asks God to hear him. Just as the Israelites gathered manna in the morning, David speaks to God early in the morning. He declares that God should listen to him because his own lips are pure and he himself is free from sinfulness and iniquity.

He tells God what he knows about God. God loves the righteous, God knows the way a man should walk, God is merciful, and God will destroy the wicked and the rebellious who either don't know the way or who don't care to ask God what the true path is.

He reminds God that God gives great favour to the righteous people and that God protects good people. This calls to my mind, Abraham's question to God, "Shall not the God of all the earth do right?" David tells God that God is righteous. God would not harm the righteous. Okay, in this psalm David claims righteousness. This sounds odd to us Christians who feel that no one was righteous. But remember this was a person speaking under the law. He was living under the law and he had a relationship with God. So he was righteous. Now, we Christians might feel we should talk about God's righteousness when we seek help from Him. The way I see it, "if you're desperate, just tell your heart!" That's what God wants. Honesty. And if you're unrighteous --despite the cleansing blood of Jesus that makes us righteous, some Christians do sin-- God will tell you about it. But no matter what, speak to Him.

Psalm 5 (New International Version)

For the director of music. For flutes. A psalm of David.

1Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation.

2Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.

3My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

4For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.

5The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

6Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.

7But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

8Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.

9For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.

10Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

11But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

12For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Fear Faith Love

Trying to let God move into the places in my spirit where fear has taken a place. Fear and Faith work against each other. We find ourselves having faith for something at the same time we are having fear about it. That just leads to doublemindedness and our prayers not moving ahead.

We are told that perfect love casts out fear. And perfect love is not that we love God but that he first loved us.

So am trying to focus on God's love for me. I remember so much of the sweet little godwinks he's sent my way and I know he loves me. Over the weekend I was telling a friend about something sweet God did to me a year or so ago. When I was younger I wrote an essay called oreoblues which was a sex history. It got published in lifenotes: personal writings by black women published by w w norton. That was about 18 years ago. The collection of essays was in my bookcase untouched. Then after 18 years I hear the holy spirit say "get up and rip out your essay from the book. So older son doesn't see it." I find the book. Rip out the section with my essay. Then return it to the bookcase. And hid it deep in the bookshelf. The VERY NEXT DAY I see the book on my table. Older son says, "my english class professor wanted us to find a book on essays by black folks. Then I remembered you had this book." (Okay, wow, he hadn't looked at the book all that time????) So the kid goes in and looks around and finds my favorite essay. (By Jamaica Kincaid, not by me. Thank God.) Now isn't God lovely? He spared me son's judgmentalism. That kid is so tough on me sometimes and so cruel ...well, I would have been reduced to tears. But our lovely God spared me! How kind He is! Hallelujah, what a savior! Oh, Lord Jesus! Take my life in your hands! I will live for you!!!!!

I can't tell you how many times he's gone before me to protect me from harm and in this case embarrassment. How ever present, how sweet our Lord is! I must trust his love and move fear from me.

Back in the day when I was younger I used to accidentally find myself astral-projecting. I saw a lot of stuff. Met a demon. Went under the earth. I became afraid of the supernatural. Even before that I was wary of the supernatural because my sister and I had to deal with ghosts and evil spirits because my mother would go to witch doctors, mediums, and obeah men. So I find that there is a fear of the supernatural in my life. I think this often gets in the way of God's gifts working in me.

But I have other fears too. Fears of old age -- after seeing my mother with all those tubes on her death bed in the hospital. Fears of paperwork and government officials. Fears of nosy governmental officials.

We Christians often don't want to admit we're afraid. Sometimes we behave as if we're never afraid. But God cannot heal any area in our life unless we ask him to enter into it. Yeah, i know...sounds heretical. But I believe it. God CANNOT touch any area of our lives unless we invite him to. If we don't know it, we can ask God to touch that area. But often we know it. Think of all the racist Christians we know who don't allow God to touch their racist souls.

I don't want Satan building a garden of fear in my spirit -- using the television health pundits, negative neighbors, drastic prognosticators. I invite Jesus into my soul to build a garden of love. Then the fruits of the spirit, the gifts of the spirit will grow inside me. Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so. And God has also shown me countless times. I love my savior so much. My Lord Jesus, Sweet, sweet, Lord! They words I have hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee!

Weekend Movie Viewing

A couple of weeks ago, hubby came to me and said there is this car thingey called "drifting" kinda like drag-racing but different. Okay, who knew? Hubby's graphic art studio was working on something or other that had to do with said "drifting" and the Movie Tokyo Drift. Well, who knew? I'm not up on trendy hipster car racing stuff. Am I getting old?

But then what do I see on TV? The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Okay, I am not one to watch sequels and I've never seen the F&theF. But the setting of the film was Tokyo and seeing I have heavy crush issues on Asian guys (God isn't finished with me yet) I figured I'd watch it. (And by the way I was not disappointed. The Chinese (good) bad guy was way hot!) I honestly think this movie was a good enough B flick and probably would've done better with me if it didn't have that F&F sequel thing attached to it.

Bad boy southern boy keeps drag-racing and is sent to live with the dad he hasn't seen since he was 3 who is in the army in Japan. As is to be expected, he's so hot and prone to trouble that soon he's involved with a gang of Japanese thugs and the (bad) bad guy is out to get him. Isn't that strange how that always happens? In these drag races, a girl is always cause of trouble. And of course... It was fairly predictable. The girl was multiculti which was pretty nice. You couldn't quite figure what race she was except you knew she probably had black in her. Somewhere. Very healing to see guys wanting a black woman. Perhaps movies are getting more enlightened.

(Interruption from the real world: hubby just found a big bottle of olive oil in a corner near my desk. Don't know how it got there but in this house stuff gets thrown all over the place by younger son. He's now looking around for other stuff...ooh, he just found a bottle of taco sauce, a couple of Bibles, and is still looking. Don't ask...we spend our mornings picking up books younger son tosses all over house and cleaning up the plaster from the walls he's kicked.)

Spent much of the day writing so couldn't really look at a lot of movies. The underside of being fairly I wasn't in bed. Plus scifi channel was fairly gruesome...splatter horror. Hey, I know you like that (smile) but not moi. Couldn't deal. Borderlands looked kinda good but I missed most of it and only looked at it when the bleeding dying young kid was being stripped of his skin (I think) by the baddie and repeating Psalm 23. Weirdly, I must be in sync with the Bible because I can turn on the TV to any channel at any time and it's uncanny that the moment I choose to look at the TV or a specific channel is the time someone is saying something about God. It's odd but it makes me feel in sync -- a kind of God wink where God shows me he's with me even if my mind is on TV.

Then I watched one of my favorite movies again "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle." I love that movie. I like slacker movies, I like ethnic movies. So yeah... And I like how minority films tend to include other minorities. For instance, Ping Pong Playa --a Chinese slacker film-- had black folks in it.

Actually come to think of it, it was a pretty multicultural weekend. And I definitely like it that films contain tons of different minorities.

History Channel is having its Armageddon Week so they had some neat stuff on. And I watched of course, cause I get all doomsdayish sometimes. They had a documentary called Seven signs of the Apocalypse in which they talked about correlations between the Book of Revelations and what's happening in the world or what could happen. So they had all sorts of experts talking about climate change, famine, global pandemics, earthquakes, meteors, etc. They're great at postulating. Kinda fear-inducing but interesting. Weirdly, they didn't talk about the meaning of Armageddon which means "War in Megiddo" and how the Bible says one of the signs of the last days is when Jerusalem will be surrounded by her enemies with warfare all around.

So that's that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

Studying Scripture versus Encountering Scripture

When I used to teach I remember a fellow teacher saying to the students, "This is how you understand a poem: you read one line and look at all the words to see if you understand it. Then when you understand that line, you read the next line." As a poet and writer, I thought that was not exactly the right way to teach students how to read poetry. Not at first, anyway.

In the Book of Acts, Luke writes, "When the chief scribes and the Pharisees saw that the apostles were unlearned men, they perceived that they had been with Jesus!"

Let's ponder that. There is a great deal of difference between studying Scripture and meeting the holy spirit with Scripture.

In Jesus time, the Chief Scribes, the Pharisees, the Saducees, the lawyers, all had studied Scripture...and yet they missed God.

Nicodemus was part of the Sanhedrin, a learned man, and yet he "was a teacher of the law" and he didn't understand what the heck Jesus was talking about. There are folks who can tell you all about the poetry, the history, of the Psalms. Yet they seem to not know how to hear God talking to them every day.

Most of you know me. I love knowledge. I've written quite a bit on how not to read the Bible and how to use common sense. I'm a poet, I love poetry. The Publishers Weekly review stated that my novel had the "poetic ambience of an old world folktale." I've studied ancient history, and many reviewers have stated that Wind Follower, my novel, is a wonderfully anthropological novel.

Compliments like those are great, don't get me wrong. But I would rather be able to get up each morning and hear God say, "Get up and telephone such and such a person and tell them such and such a psalm because he needs it" rather than hear someone tell me how well I know the Bible. As St Paul says in the Love chapter in Corinthians, "If I have all wisdom, it profits me nothing."

Honestly now -- how different are we American Christians from other religious groups in America? Even those of us who "know" the Bible don't live it. How is our behavior different? How powerful are our prayers? How closely do we hear God? How loving and sacrificial and giving are we? What is the difference between a kind-hearted devout Jew and a kind-hearted devout Christian and a kind-hearted devout Muslim? Honestly, nothing! And really, as Christians, that shouldn't be, should it? Because we Christians are called to raise the dead (literally), heal the incurably sick (such as those with AIDS), and cast out devils (such as devils of addiction, deviancy, etc.) But we are as enslaved to the weak and beggarly elements as non-Christians. And if we judge by behavior alone, we are as worldly, selfish, sinful, as the worldly folks out there.

We can hear God speaking to us in the Scriptures without totally understanding all wisdom. That doesn't mean we should avoid learning the historic and poetic reasons for a psalm or a book. One of my favorite Christian expositors is Bullinger, especially his Figures of Speech Used in the Bible. But I don't know what it is with me: someone once accused me of hiding my light. I think I just don't like sounding super-smart or super-cultured. God has called me to be an everyman and to speak to every man. Especially to those not in the Church. So I do my best to be human and transparent and to show what God's word has done for me. Not to prove how smart I am or how well-read. Because it's normal folks who read the Bible.

Everywhere i turn i see folks converting to judaism or becoming wiccans or buddhists or muslims. Many of these are Christian folks who were very very very christian and in the church...and yet, to them Christianity was "proved" by docrtine or, tradition because their folks were christians or scripture reading....but not by power. So in the long run, they could leave Christianity because it was to the human eye just another religion that said it had the truth. St Paul said he minister not in mere words or doctrine or with great word of wisdom but with power. The gospel is not mere doctrine but the power of God. But for most christians in the western world it is nothing but words and missionaries teach nothing but theology and even those who say they believe in the holy spirit are pretty near powerless. Certainly, we're not as powerful as Christ wanted us to be. So in the long run what we see is no distinction between Christ's people and other people. In the world, the people who live under the blood and have eaten of the passover should not be oppressed by the plagues, should not be unholy, should not be distant from God. The Spirit of God should emanate from us.

It just bothers me so much. What to do? The particular converted Jews i've talked to a) changed their faith because the y began studying the religion of judaism and got caught up in it...and slowly moved from christianity to judaizers to rejecting christ to orthodox judaism. or b) they said other religions had done evil but Judaism had never done any evil to the world. Just gave me a bad feeling. Because they did not see any degree of holiness (not that seeing holiness is that dependable but Jesus did say people would see our holiness and our good works.) It just annoys me when I see folks who were once christians doing this sort of thing.

Lily Allen with her stupid song, "I kissed a girl." She came from a Christian family. Now she's dissing Christianity. Jessica Simpson is supposedly a Christian but does she really seem to understand it in the very depths of her heart? Reba, supposedly a Christian, believes she has been reincarnated. This kind of thing shows that folks who grow up in churches are not being truly convinced deep in their spirit. Even though, they praised Jesus and were "professing" Christians they have a kind of sentimental unthought-out Christianity that shows they don't understand Christian philosopy, for all their learning...and they have never really seen the power of Christ in their life, to see the reality of Christ. They have never heard Christ in their hearts in a real way. They have never really seen or felt Christ in their spirit.

I had a friend who was a deep christian then she became a black jew -- that weird cult that thinks African-Americans are the real Jews and who are very anti-semitic. What amazed me was how deeply into christ she was. If you had asked me who would stop being a Christian, she would be one of the last people I would mention. More and more i think that church-going bible-believing christians need to really understand their faith...or else they will leave the faith. I am fully persuaded that in the coming years most "christiany" folks in Christian colleges and Christian churches will leave the faith. Paul prophesied of the great apostasy in the last days. Because I've seen so much of this kind of thing. And no amount of those silly revivals churches have which really do nothing...are gonna help because as a people we really need to grow more in the spirit and to show the depth and beauty and deep thought of christianity. And our "teachers" are teaching that godliness is great gain and the prosperity gospel without somehow really touching the gospel.

Anyway, I feel God telling me to write's something pressing on His heart. Just as the abortion issue presses on his heart. Just as the drug issue and the plight of the widows and orphans press on his heart. As the days go on, I feel we will see this falling away...and we will see that all our learning (for the educated) and all our jumping up and down in church (when we are supposedly touched by the spirit but really allowing a religious spirit to use our pride) will be useless.

We are playing church...we are talking the talk...but we aren't walking the walk as Jesus intended his church to walk. And there's a reason for it. We compromise and we don't spend time in the word. (Yeah, I'm guilty of this too. When was the last time I raised someone from the dead? But I am determined to have raised several before I meet my maker. And I mean a literal raising of the dead. Isn't that what God promised his people?) Well, it's not God's fault that we don't see miracles. It's ours. True, God uses dirty vessels because those are the only vessels he has but at the same time he had purified us with Christ's blood. But he isn't going to entrust us with miracles if we aren't serious about allowing his word to change us.

In Wind Follower, I did my best to try to show how truly folkloric Christianity was and how many religions, and ancient folklore pointed to a blood sacrifice. Am gonna try to see if I can somehow make my new WIP The Constant Tower a story which shows the inevitability of works as a means of getting to heaven. I don't know what God wants me to do with it but all I can do is write and trust him to put the great christian message--which is the great christian offense to those who like "works" or the externals of holiness. It's all I can do. Had to get that off my chest. -C

Numbness and Rest

Okay, this morning I was listening to Evanescence "Bring Me To Life." I love that song. I love it in the way I love all really painful songs and it got me to thinking. One of the reasons I'm attracted to the dark side of things -- angry heavy metal, sad blues songs, heart-wrenching (good) country music-- is because Christian artists don't really deal with darkness well. God knows I have tried to sit in front of Gospel Music Channel and listen to their kind of dark music. Utter, utter, failure. Why? Inability to go to the core of things? Inability to touch the smelly Lazarus of painful emotion to help it resurrect? (<-- Wow, nice phrase that!)

Paul said the blood of Christ removes bloodguiltiness. Not just guilt but guiltiness is what stands between us and God. How can we receive -- even after we are forgiven if we still feel guilt? Isaiah wrote that the Servant of God would be wounded for our transgressions, the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. We are healed and redeemed from sin, emotional wounds caused by the sin of the world, and physical disease. Ministers have majored in the redemption from sin. But they have not used the gospel or the Bible stories to touch the other parts of the destroyed human soul. They have not really talked about emotional healing or physical healing with the fervor that they should have.

I'm thinking of the Prodigal because Joe Castillo sent me a DVD.

I hadn't thought of that parable in a while. But it is a perfect parable about numbness and rest, isn't it? Sure the kid sinned but he returned home because the world had made him numb and he needed rest. Jesus invites us to rest. To enter into his rest. Not the peace or rest humans can give, but the peace and rest that can cast all its care on God because we know God is loving.

A lot of Christian artist either give us a sentimental idea of that kind of rest or they don't show the journey to that rest or the terrible pain of that restlessness. Okay, maybe it's me. Maybe I'm so hard and numb a story really has to be incredibly painful and true to connect to me. But i just seems to me that sentimentality doesn't heal many people.
Personal opinion.

Psalm 4

In Psalm 1, we're told the importance of God's word. IT declares we are blessed if we meditate on God's words and if we avoid the scorners. This idea of scorners of God's word pops up in many of the psalms and from Psalm 1 through Psalm 3 we begin to get the idea that it's not religious affiliation or our earthly wisdom or or wonderful ethics or great adherence to moral laws --those these all might be good in their own way-- that produce blessings in one's life. The Psalms promise blessings to those who do not scorn God's word, to those who meditate on it.

In Psalm 4, we see the plight of a man who is determined to believe in God in spite of his distresses and the scornful attitude of those around him.

1 Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame [or my Glorious One into shame]
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods [or lies] ?

3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to him.

4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.

5 Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.

So let's examine it stanza by stanza. The Psalm (or song begins with a plea to God:

1 Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

Then the speaker speaks to humans...although the humans aren't immediately present. He accuses them of turning his glory into shame. Now this phrase pops up in other places in the Bible. People who glory in their shame or who turn their glory into shame seem to abound everywhere. The folks who turned the Glorious One into shame are the ones who made a golden calf to represent the God who brought them out of Israel. The ones who turn their glory into shame are people who scorn the idea of a good and merciful God and try to make folks who believe in God feel ashamed for their beliefs. ("You believe in that patriarchal God? What an idiot you are!!! You believe God will save you? How unenlightened you are!" You can see that this kind of scornful attitude is not new in the world.) The people who glory in their shame are folks who take delight and honor what is considered a sin in the Bible. A lot of folks like that back in the day. A lot of folks like that now. They love lies, they love delusions. They love the creature more than the Creator. And they are dang proud of that.

2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame [or my Glorious One into shame]
How long will you love delusions and seek false gods [or lies] ?

Then we see the word which either means "Pause and consider that" or "musical pause."

The believer then makes a challenge on God's behalf. He can do this because He trusts God. He states clearly that God is aware of him and God has set him apart. Now this could mean God has made the believer a special object of his love and holiness and will protect that person and treat them with favor.

3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
the LORD will hear when I call to him.

Then the psalmist tells his listeners that he understands that sin sometimes comes from anger sometimes. Perhaps anger at God, anger at bad people, anger at the distresses. What one must do is search one's own heart and be silent before God. When one searches one's heart one begins to see why God is faithful, why sinful men do not really prosper although they seem to. He tells his hearers to trust in God and to offer right sacrifices. In later psalms we will understand that the right sacrifice includes a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, repentance from one's own understanding of what life should be like, trust in God in spite of the assailing troubles.

4 In your anger do not sin;
when you are on your beds,
search your hearts and be silent.

5 Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.

The psalmist acknowledges that there are many people who have lost faith in the goodness of the world? They are looking for a leader to show them the way to happiness or they are looking for someone who will give them hope. The psalmist then returns to speaking to God because he knows that if God shows up in a believer's life in a way the believer understands it...enlightening the believer...that good will indeed be seen.

6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?"
Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

The psalmist declares that the one who believes in God has greater deeper joy than those who seek earthly good or rejoice in earthly harvests.

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound.

He ends the psalm by once again asserting that although trials blaze all around him, he will remain in peace and safety because he trusts in God.

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.

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