Rock of Ages

The featured photo is the Baptist church in Aullville, my mom’s hometown. I played with the levels in Photoshop.


I was looking up old hymns last night. Mainly because I’m in Grapes of Wrath right now and I wanted to re-familiarize myself with old hymns. Ma Joad has got religion, but she ain’t lousy with it. She is happy in the Lord. 🙂 I hate to use the word religion or religious because it has such a negative connotation. And. She is more than that. She is spiritual. Like me.

One of my favorites, and I think a favorite of my mom, is In the Garden. <<—this version by Johnny Cash (one of my favorite country artists)

But I also looked up Rock of Ages. Not a big one when I was kid. But the words are touching.

Rock of ages (Jesus)
Cleft for me (Broken)
Let me hide
Myself in Thee (Let me cover my sin with your blood, or let your sacrifice cover my shortcomings, or let people see you, perfect, instead of me, flawed)

Good stuff.

Then I found this! AH! Bruce and Rage Against the Machine’s singer Tom Morello?? How have I not heard this?

The Ghost of Tom Joad

Good stuff.

bw truck
A picture I took from my mom’s hometown before we left for Florida. Same town she lived in during the 30s. Very Grapes of Wrath-ish. 🙂

 

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Jesus was table-flipping mad.

if we are to prepare a space for the living God (holy spirit), then we shall have to turn the tables as Jesus did in the temple. when he saw the mess and corruption, he didn’t go find a bucket of suds or the latest swiffer mop, he went radical, he went nuclear. we are the temple. our bodies and minds are compared to the temple. more accurately, we are the tabernacle (worship tent). the portable home for God to dwell. Jesus didn’t neatly put everything away: sort, keep, donate, trash. he violently flipped the tables aside and cleared the space for God to come in. he showed them the error of their thinking immediately and required a change. stop tidying up and start flipping out!

The Rock

Psalm 91:1
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow
of the Almighty.


If I am the immobile mountain, move me.
If your love is the mountain, then I shall be the one to climb.
If your summit is unknowable, then let me dangle from your shadows and shelter.
Let me live at the foot of your love.

Wild

from 2013:

when Brain and Heart are not in agreement, the stress is immense.

worry and fear take over. completely.

God and his word tell us not to worry. let tomorrow worry for itself.

how do you make the heart run like the mind? or mind like heart?

or make either run after/for God?

my answer would be, for myself, to myself, pray.

pray for the desire of God’s will. always. until his will is my desire automatically.

Buddhism-4 noble truths-suffering is universal, desire is suffering, stop wanting things, suffering will end

stop putting things in the place where God should go.

train your brain, Martha. and your heart.

the heart is wild, but so can our desire be for God.

Jesus is a Beaver

Hear me out. Er, read me out, I guess.

Jesus is a beaver.

If u wanna know what I’m talking about, you should watch “Leave It To Beavers” on Netflix. Great documentary. If you like animals.

Beavers come into really dry areas and restore the landscape. They bring water. Well, they don’t bring it, they save it.

Little by little, over time, they build their dams. Higher and higher, they build to keep the water in and make the beaver pond deeper and deeper. They churn up the bottom and drag the dirt, silt and sludge from the bottom and seal up the dam to make it tighter and tighter. Waterproof. So no water gets out. This also makes the pond deeper by scooping up the bottom. The deeper the pond, the less evaporation, so the water stays. More water brings more life. More vegetation, more fish, more food, more neighbors…MORE! The bigger the pond, the more neighbors, human and animal alike, can enjoy the benefits and fruits of the pond.

This is what Jesus does.

Doesn’t he?

He brings us more.

Piece by piece, we can build a strong place with Jesus. We can keep his life-giving water in (he says he is the eternal spring) and keep from running dry. He can scoop up the bottom of our lives and use it for good. All the muck and dirt that we accumulate over time, he can churn that up and use it.

And the deeper we go in Jesus? The greener our valley for others. Other people may benefit from the deep pond we have built with Jesus. We can share the fruits of our labor with our neighbors. We can share what we have built in Christ. We can save the landscape.

Beavers don’t even know they are helping. This is just what they are born to do. Build, build, build.

We can be beavers. We can engineer our lives so that we help others. We can be born to do that or become beavers over time. Little by little.

I wanna be a beaver.

manna

i prayed that God put in my mind those things that he wants me to write about and every morning, like manna, the words are waiting to find me or be found.

it is my job to gather. sometimes, i don’t have enough hours in the day or a basket big enough for his providence. my hands, fingers, pens, keys, screens, pages runneth over.

thoughts float down like sweet sticky buns from heaven. proficiency and abundance are divine.

Fragility of Choice

Beautiful weakness.

Question: If God created us, why didn’t he make us stronger, better, less susceptible to weakness and evil?

Answer (in the form of a question lol): If we can’t be tempted, how can we choose? If everything is easy, is that really a choice?

I think it’s beautiful to be weak. To struggle. To choose good, even though it’s hard. To fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Even to fall. Because there is grace.

Question: If God created us, why did He have to save us?

Answer (maybe): God gave us a choice so that we may love Him freely and honor Him of our own choosing. Come to Him with freedom. Love Him because we want to. He knew that to give us choice, He would have to make us fragile. Capable of falling. But He gave us Christ because:
1. He loved us
2. He knew we would need help

So. We can stand on Christ alone if we fall. That’s gorgeous.

We are fragile. We are weak. We are beautiful.
We are wonderfully and fearfully made.
We are free. We are loved. We are saved.

Thoughts? Opinions? Insight?

Am Found

Thrown down
Lost my crown

Body broken
Shame unspoken

Face in the dirt
Badly hurt

I’m wrong
I failed
Mercy, please
Grace unveiled

Foot of the cross
Feet of the Christ

Unworthy to touch
Owe too much

Can’t even stand
Quivering hand

Reach out for charity
Bittersweet disparity

Hard to swallow
Hard to follow

Honey for the healing
Grace feels like stealing

I stumbled
Am humbled

Belly on the ground
Forgiveness is found

And I stand on the power of Christ alone.

good stuff

I wrote this for church several years ago. I still agree with the sentiment. And I’m better now.

In terms of serving other people, I do what I can, for whom I can. I try to respond to the call of need of those immediately around me. Not just those who attend my church. I try to pay attention. And I do it because I want to. Because it brings me joy.

And if it doesn’t? Working on it.

We can start there. That’s a good start to good stuff. If everyone did that? We’d have a better world.


Altruism /æltru●ĭzǝm/ n. a concern for the welfare of others without any benefit to one’s self.

AKA-doing good stuff for other people and you don’t get nothin’ for it.

Many cultures and religions prioritize this concept of altruism. It is certainly a key tenet of Christ’s teachings (the words that came out of Christ’s mouth), even if some Christians don’t follow.

Interestingly though, many people are skeptical of completely selfless service. True altruism can in no way satisfy the giver. It must be an act of sacrifice in which the giver receives nothing. Educated opinions differ as to whether pure altruism even exists.

I believe that we are created with an innate sense of concern for others. I do. We are built for doing good. We are, after all, made in the image of God. But as with all divine design, we can pervert, mangle, void and totally destroy God’s gift with our own skewed perspective. We’re not perfect.

PLUS! We are imprinted with tons of distorted viewpoints by the age of reason. We are taught to be cautious, self-protecting, guarded, skeptical, closed. Instead of running naked (emotionally!), open, arms stretched out to total strangers embracing each other in love. Get outta here, Hippie!

Your life should bring you J-O-Y!


I was taught, from a very young age, that one could live life in an extremely simple, specific way and espouse this value above all others, JOY.
It’s easy, your priorities will fall into these categories:
1. Jesus
2. Others
3. You

I learned this lesson early and for the most part, I have lived my life this way. Sometimes, the letters got jumbled along the way. And sometimes the letters were missing, altogether.

Even so, I have usually put others’ feelings and welfare above my own, but the reasons were borne of fear and selfishness. There was no J-O-Y in it. My thoughts were these:
If I don’t put God first, He will be angry with me and punish me.
If I don’t put my family and friends first, they won’t love me.
If I don’t put myself last, I am selfish and lazy.

I didn’t do good for goodness sake, I was wrapped in negative motivations. I was simply trying to avoid the bad. Over the past decade, however, I have tried to put others first out of an idealistic will, to take the selfishness out of serving, to do good for God. I wanted that desire to fill me up and bring me joy. That desire has landed me in an unexpected place. I am still struggling with the same negative motivations.

Whenever I am asked to do something, I complain, out loud or in my heart. I am still wrapped in fear. My thoughts have developed to these:
If I don’t put God first, I’m not truly a Christian.
If I don’t put my family and friends first, I do not love or I’m not truly a friend.
If I don’t put myself last, I have failed.

In the past few months, I have come crashing down. I have staked my value in service and it has failed. I have tried to do more, serve more, give more than ever before and it has not brought me any closer to God. My marriage is suffering, my child is neglected, my heart is grumbling and dark. When you get to the root of it, I am an incredibly broken, screwed-up failure. My strategies for life are just as twisted as someone who only looks out for number 1. I am fooled and tricked by my own misunderstanding. I wish I truly cared for people the way Christ did. I wish that I could wrap my arms around the whole hurting world. I wish that my actions reflected a pure love for God.

I’ve been trying to define altruism for myself or letting others define it for me when I should look to God’s definition for my life and look at myself through His eyes.


For several years, my husband and I served at our local church, we were on the drama team, served in children’s church, wrote stories, scripts, essays and lesson plans. We unloaded fireworks, made movies, cooked, cleaned, listened, directed and an endless list of tasks. And others did even more than we did.

But. Our salvation. We were just as much in need of salvation on the last day of our time there as our first.

Salvation. It’s not a game. You try to put points up on that board, but somehow it never measures up to Jesus’ sacrifice, does it? I need to stop keeping score. Jesus zeros the board every single day. And that’s always in our favor. How many times do I screw up in a day? Let’s just say, I keep the statisticians busy.

Salvation is not about earning points on our way to heaven. It’s about letting heaven come down to take over the game, our will and desire: our heart, mind, body and soul. When we do that, the definition for altruism will simply read:
/æltru●ĭzǝm/ n. see God.

By His Wounds

Jesus is the Physician that came to heal the sick,
Not the well.

Jesus is the Lover that came to embrace the hateful/hated,
Not the pretenders.

Jesus is the Savior that came to rescue the sinners,
Not the saints.

Jesus is the Redeemer that came to raise the dead.
To sound the alarm and resurrect the lost.

He left the 99
To find the 1.

Get found.


Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Amen.