Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Love - Verb or Noun?

I've sat through endless sermons on how the English word love is so encompassing that it has lost all meaning. This is not one of them, but I will borrow some of their ideas.

Love is most often used as a noun. But we Christians are called to use it as a verb. I love you. In that sentence, which we often use in our Christian walk, love is a verb. The subject is I and the object is you. This is what I wish to focus on. We have lost touch with the active nature of love.

When we, as Christians, say to another person, "I love you", we are expressing an action - a delivering of something like charity - between the giver and the recipient. Love is the act of delivering the charity or tenderness or passion.

Since it is an action, it is something we can choose whether or not we are going to do it. For example, if I don't feel like walking to the bathroom when nature calls, there will be consequences. I may either wind up running or making a puddle. It is such an important part of life that we who are potty-trained no longer think about it. We just do it.

Likewise, we can choose whether or not we are going to love someone. Loving is a choice, not a feeling. If I don't feel like loving someone, it my choice not to act upon my call, as a Christian, to deliver charity to that person. Can I love a sinner? Does it depend on the nature of the sin? Can I love a murderer but not love a drunk? Can I love a church-going adulterer but not love the abortion-rights activist? It is my choice. If I am obeying Christ, however, I need to always choose yes. It's not easy.

Choosing to love someone, regardless of how you feel about that person, is our commandment. "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." That means, we must act on love as a verb, not a noun. Whether the love is there or not, we can create it. We call upon God to put the love in our hearts for those we feel do not deserve our love. The guy who raped your sister. The preacher who rejected Christ and became an atheist comedian ridiculing Christians until his death. The spouse who had an affair.

Ooh - that last one may hit a nerve. That goes way beyond our scope, doesn't it? That says "I have to love [verb] my spouse, too?" Yes, it's true. Love in marriage is not a feeling - a noun, it's an action - a verb. Steven Covey, on the tapes for "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" talked about this. (I'm sorry, Mr. Covey, I no longer have the tapes from which to make a proper reference.) He talked about how a man mentioned to him that he no longer feels love for his wife and was, therefore, getting a divorce. Covey replied, "then love her." In marriage, as well as in our Christian walk, we are called to love (verb) our spouses. (is the plural of spouse spice?)

There is no such thing as a loveless marriage. If there is no love, it is your choice. It is also going to be your choice to love again. How can you love a spouse for whom you no longer feel love? The same way you love anyone else for whom you do not feel love. You pray about it. You ask God to put the feeling in your heart. You ask God to knock down the walls of bitterness and hatred that Satan has built around you. You generate the love with God's help.

My friends, I ask you, as Christ commanded, to love one another. Whether or not you feel love is moot. Love your neighbor. Love your spouse.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Hate to Sweat

"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food..." declared God when he evicted Adam and Eve from the Garden. But our modern society - especially your beloved author - hates to sweat. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that we do not sweat. We get college degrees so we can work cushy inside jobs. We eat lite foods so we can keep a trim figure without going to the gym. We install air conditioning in our cars, homes and workplaces. All of this is to ensure no sweating.

Well, I hate to sweat. I mean, I hate it. I like liver and onions better than sweating - and I don't eat liver and onions; I'd rather go hungry, thank you! Living in Coastal Texas as I do, sweating isn't optional, either. When I was growing up in Southern Nevada, I don't remember sweating. My shirts all turned crystal white, but I don't remember sweating. The humidity in the desert was so low, the sweat evaporated (and, therefore, kept me cool) before I realized it was on my body. We later moved to Corpus Christi - and I hated it there because of the high humidity. But the coastal breeze did help, even on those stifling days with 100% humidity and 100°F.

But Yewsten is the worst. At least Corpus had a breeze. Nah - Yewsten doesn't even have a breeze. That's why the smog is so bad here. No breeze! I think I'll ask the National Weather Service about it. So, when you sweat in Yewsten, you drip. It doesn't evaporate or cool you, it stays until you become your very own storm cloud. The water is too heavy to stay on your body. Your clothes are soaked. Your pillow is a sponge. And it can all happen between the front door and the mailbox.

Perhaps it's the curse of the fall that's removed the breeze from Yewsten. I don't mean autumn, I mean Adam and Eve's choice to follow Satan rather than God. He told us we were going to sweat for our food. If we don't sweat, we don't get food. Well, I don't like to sweat, but I eat rather heartily. Heck - that's my favorite of all earthly pleasures. But I gotta pay for my food. My wife earns a paycheck and buys our food from the store. But I gotta pay the Piper.

Therefore I sweat. I sweat when working on the computer right next to our A/C window unit. I sweat when watching TV. I sweat when cooking dinner. I sweat. I sweat. I sweat. And it's all because God commanded it.

I hate sweating so much, that I don't like to work outside. I hate to mow the lawn before October. I volunteered to help friends with projects, but I'm miserable doing them because of the sweat. It's a major effort just to show up and do the work requested.

Don't you wish my webserver was working so you could see this cool image?Is this God trying to get my attention? Is He holding my cheeks with one hand, telling me "Look at me, Clay!" Is He shaking His head in dismay as I try to do things my own way? Before He blesses me, I have to truly learn His ways. My head wants to, but my heart is so resistant. My heart has one foot in heaven and one foot in hell. And, I know that with a heart like that I won't hear Christ say "Well done, good and faithful servant." He'll more likely say, "You gave it a decent shot, and I'll let you in. But instead of a mansion, you got a bungalow on the side of the highway." (laughter, laughter, laughter)

Life on Earth consists of learning God's ways. God commanded us to sweat, whether we like it or not. God commanded us to lean on Him, whether we like it or not. God commanded us to love each other, whether we like it or not. Once we learn how to live the way God commanded... OK, learn isn't really the right word. I've learned it. I just have to copy that data from my head to my reluctant heart. My head wants to forgive that *^#*@&! who cut me off on the freeway. My heart says, "No way!" My head wants to rely on God 100%. My heart says, "I'll give you 50%. Maybe 75%." My head wants to be a good citizen. My heart says, "Let's have some fun like we used to have! Topless joints! Booze! Broads! Heavy Metal!"

Almighty Heavenly Father, I know that you've been working for over four years, in infinite patience, to teach my heart to love you as you desire. After the life I've lived, I have no right to ask for more. Still, though, I must. I am not yet the person you want me to be. I'm still a weak vessel. I have earthly desires. Continue to work in my life until these earthly desires are quenched. Not satisfied, but removed. Continue to remove the influence of the enemy. Hold my hand as I face temptation. Turn my heart from all that is evil - and so inviting!
I pray this in Jesus' Holy Name,

Before you think I'm dissin' someone...

Regular readers of Healing Power and the old Clay's Ramblings blogs will notice that the top link on the right keeps changing. Well, before you think I'm not happy with the blog at the top spot, it's not my fault. My friend AT keeps changing his blog. Now, I've only done it once, and that was only at my wife's urging. AT, he changes his title (and URL) whenever he gets a wild hair. 'Course, with all the updating across the web that needs to be done (such as here, The Rat and the Rambler [will he ever join me on that one?], The Rambling Homeschool Dad and since I'm helping update ChittyBang's Outside Looking In blog...) across the web, it's a wonder I link to his site at all.

Seriously, though, AT has a good thing going. He's narrowing his vision down to where God wants him to be. Rather than focusing on three million projects at once, AT is finding his place in God's world. That means I'm happy for him. But I've got a lot of updating to do...

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I've spent all weekend massaging my webserver to keep it up. I think the CPU (Intel 500MHz) has given up the ghost. It won't even go through POST now. (For the ungeeks out there, POST = Power On Self-Test. You know, it's what you see on the screen before "Microsoft Windows" appears.) I've replaced the memory, but I don't have another 500MHz chip to replace it with.

In the past, I've begged for server space - not unlike a homeless man begging for cash. But, today, I'm going to remember Matthew 6.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 6:25-34, NIV

I believe it is God's will for me to record PodCasts. Since they are no longer available (the server on which they are stored is toast), and He wants me to record them, He must want me to store them somewhere. He will provide either a working server in my house or a server on which I can store them. I'm not going to rush it. I can do this on His time. After all, there is no other time, is there?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Has it really been a week?

I last posted here a week ago. I didn't think it'd been that long.

Well, for those of you rabid fans who are chompin' at the bit for the next installment, you'll have to wait. I was writing a new entry when the batteries on my palm pilot died and I lost it. :( So, out of frustration, I'm gonna wait until Monday to post anything with meat again. In the meantime, chew on this.

The preambles to all 50 of the state constitutions begin with references to our Creator. Why, then, are the states now maligning the Creator they deemed so respectable when they became states? This was circulated as an e-mail and claimed to be a falsehood. Turth or Fiction checked it out and claims it's true. If you want to research it yourself, all 50 of the state constitutions are available to read on the 'net. Google them and read.

So, until Monday, God willing, I'll be back to write some more. Heck, you never know what's gonna happen over the weekend! Maybe I'll post tomorrow (or later tonight...)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Victim of "High-Risk" Evangelism

When I was 19, my best friend and I discovered beer. And, being 19, we didn't discover it for its taste. No-sirree, Bob! We discovered it for its propensity to remove us from reality. Since my high-school sweetheart was a bible-thumping "high-risk" evangelist, I knew the arguments against getting drunk. I also had a good comeback that worked against her. "It's not getting drunk that's sinful, it's what you do when you're drunk that's a sin." It worked for a while, until she got tired of playing second-fiddle to my drinking.

But that's another story for another day. The real story here is what happened when we got to my best friend's house after a hard night of drinking. His mother would be waiting up for us - even at 3am - with a bible in her hands. She raised the bible over her head and told us, "You boys are going to HELLLLLLLLLLLL for the way you're behaving!"

Of course, I was quite a smart-aleck, and I responded with something like, "Wo. That's heavy. Gimme a beer," at which point my friend would fall down laughing. He was good at that. I remember one night at Pizza Hut after we consumed several pitchers of whatever was on tap, that he commented about the thick fog outside. We were huge fans of the movie Airplane, so I grabbed his belly and said, "And Leon's getting larger!" He fell down laughing.

'Course, he's also the one that babysat me on so many hangovers. He'd hold my head up so it wouldn't fall in the toilet. He'd carry me into my house when I was passed out and let my folks know I was OK. He always looked out for me, 'cuz I was a bigger drunk than he ever was. But those days ended when I joined the Navy and he stayed in school. We kinda drifted apart. Yeah, we're still in touch, but most of our phone calls end with, "We gotta get together some day!"

I quit getting drunk in 1995. I still enjoy a very rare brew - particularly Young's Oatmeal and Double Chocolate Stouts. But if I sit down intending to get drunk, I can't even get the beer past my nose. The smell is horrible, and the taste is so bad it won't go down. So I don't get drunk.

Anyway, I'm digressing. When I told him I had become a true Christian, he was very disappointed. It was in March of 2002, six months after 9/11. He said he wanted nothing to do with religion, because religion was what caused those whackos to do what they did. Religion was what caused more wars in our history than anything else, and he wants nothing to do with it. He also pointed out how his niece, born to his unwed sister nearly 20 years before, was always beating her bible and telling him how he was going to hell because of his refusal to accept the gospel. She then turned up pregnant at 16. If Christians are such hypocrites, why would he want anything to do with them?

He's got a point. And I've been unable to break through that. All I can do is live the life. He knows that many people consider drinking to be a sin. If I'm not going to be a hypocrite, I need to show that I can practice what I preach. Therefore, I do not drink around him. "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall." - Romans 14:19-21, NIV

He is a victim of "high-risk" evangelism. He's had so many bibles thumped over his head, he doesn't want anything to do with it. I've seen it happen to so many people that I want to steer clear of this in my own walk. Many bible-thumpers demand a higher level of living than any human being, even the bible-thumper themselves, is capable of living. These hypocrites are exactly to whom Jesus was speaking when He said,
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
- Matthew 7:3-5, NIV

Now, read that closely. Another word for plank is log. This cartoon, from from www.joe-ks.com, is what Jesus was talking about. Think about it. Isn't this a funny idea? I mean, to think that you have a log in your eye, and you are trying to remove a tiny speck from someone else's eye... Yeah, when I think about that I laugh out loud.

But this is exactly what Jesus was talking about. Hypocrites have a bigger problem than the other person, but they are so involved in fixing the other person's life, they can't even see their own problems. Now, I'm not saying all "high-risk" evangelists are hypocrites, but I am saying that some are. And, the funny thing is, Jesus doesn't want us to point out everyone else's shortfallings. He wants us to love each other. He wants us to reach out with open arms, not closed fists. The Bible is to be our instruction book, not our weapon.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Closer Look at Threat Levels

Podcast available here

In a previous entry, I wrote about five threat levels of evangelism. Intrigued by my buddy AT's success on You Tube, I posted my own VidCast which was basically me reading that entry. You can view that here as well. Don't worry, AT,I'm not going to go much further into video at this time.
Anyway, one of the written comments was "Evangelism? lol. I've seen those kind of people too. lol. nice shot at them". Oh, wow. I really wasn't trying to "take a shot at anyone" with my comments on threatening evangelism. This is not, however, a defense of anything I've written or said. It is an analysis of why that comment may have been made.
Many people perceive Christians as a threat, even if we don't come right out and say we are trying to increase the flock. So many people have had negative experiences with Christians, that it's no wonder they see us as a threat. Let's look at that, shall we?
Perhaps we should define comfort levels in conjunction with threat levels. After all, if someone is not impeding on my comfort level, they are not threatening me, are they? So, what is your comfort level? Can you handle the truth?
The vast majority of humankind has some sort of belief in higher power. Either they are devout atheists, devout believers in one or more deities, or somewhere in between. Most of us believe something because our parents taught us about it. Some found it through the action of others, whether directly or indirecty. Truth is, most everyone, whether atheist, agnostic, buddhist, hindu, jew, muslim, christian or other, is fairly firm in whatever they believe. The thought of conversion, therefore, is a threat. I, for example, am commited to my LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. That commitment causes me to view with suspicion anyone who wants me to believe otherwise. Why, then, would I expect them to react differently toward me?
Here in Houston, I live in a very diverse neighborhood. On my block are muslims, buddhists, hindus, christians and atheists. The next block over, there are places of worship for the christians, muslims and buddhists. I'll be honest: I have yet to reach out to anyone about Christ. Why? They have their own beliefs. Though I believe they are hellbound for their rejection of the gospel, they believe I am hellbound (or whatever) for my acceptance of it. It's a catch-22.
So, it violates my comfort level to violate theirs. What, then, am I called to do?
I am called to imitate Christ and the apostles.
Christ spoke in the temple on regular occasions, but that was to His own people, the descendants of Jacob. When He did speak to gentiles, it was the gentiles who brought up the subject.
InJohn chapter 4, Jesus talks with a Samaritan woman at a well. He does not walk up to her and say, "I'm the Messiah. Worship me." Rather, He slowly leads the discussion that way. He never condemns her, even though He acknowledges her sinful lifestyle. His approach to this non-believer is one we need to note.
Another example is Saul and the proconsul Sergius Paulus in Acts 13. Sergius Paulus was a pagan, but intrigued by what he had heard about God and sent for Saul and Barnabas. Though a miracle was performed in his court, the proconsul "believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord."
Is it, then, appropriate to go boldly into people's personal space and tell them about something that may make them uncomfortable? What is it about Christ that may make one uncomfortable? Is it the alternative? Is it the fact that their rejection of the gospel is a one-way ticket to the second death? Is there a scriptural example of 'cold-call' evangelism?
Acts 17 relates Paul's street-preaching in Athens. He knows they believe in a multitude of gods; they even have an altar "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD." The enterprising missionary then introduces them to this "unknown god," who's name is Jesus Christ.
So, through comparison and reasoning, we may be able to introduce another to Christ. But bringing up the subject with the words "if you don't know Jesus, you are going to HELLLLLLLLL!" will avail you - and Christ - nothing but an empty net.
So evangelism has a bad rap because of a few over-zealous but well-meaning folk. If this is your style, I invite your comments: tell me of a time when you won someone over. I know that friends who received that treatment 25 years ago are still unreceptive to the gospel.
Reach out in love with reason. Reach out with an open hand, not clenching a bible to thump it over their heads.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Falling Away...

Podcast available here

Falling from a CliffEver have the feeling you're falling away? The feeling that everything's hunky-dory, and suddenly you're no longer in touch with that which you hold most dear? I feel that way sometimes. I felt that way today. I felt as if suddenly I were thousands of miles from God's hand. I don't know when it happened; I don't recall drifting. But suddenly I was there, lonely and isolated from Him.

My wife and I discussed it some tonight. I had been caught up in an exciting new direction with our homeschooling and read voraciously anything I could find about the strategy. I had made plans to spend Labor Day with an old friend I hadn't seen in years. I had made plans to do a lot of things, and those exciting plans had kept me from the basics - reading God's Holy Word.

So, disconnected and alone, I began to feel that there were serious problems. When we discussed it earlier, she suggested I sing. Yeah, the last thing I wanted to do was sing. I didn't feel very close to God, and the songs just weren't in my heart. But she suggested I sing, so I did. I climbed in the shower (my favorite place to sing at home - plus it's far enough away from the girl's bedroom that I won't wake them! :) and began to sing my favorite song: "Our God, He is Alive". It's got a rich, strong bass line - and if you've heard my PodCasts, then you probably know where I sing...

It was weak at first, really only in my head. But as the cool water (this is summertime in Houston. I don't take hot showers!) fell on me, I began to sing His praises more robustly. I sang the song over and over again, until it poured out of my spirit - not just my mouth. I again felt that He is truly alive!

I had to come out and write about this experience. For, as it is written:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Ephesians 5:15-20

I can't sing to you with these electronic words. But I can share with you the experience my singing brought me tonight.

He is TRULY Alive!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hey - my first VidCast

OK, I'll be honest. It's not that great. But it's my first. It's me, reading the Threat Level entry below. Yeah, I know, I've got a face for radio. Check it out! Let me know what you think! Or, go to the movie itself and post a video response if you dare!