Healing Power

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

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What would make someone do that?

The nation watched in horror as the body count from Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech climbed, making it the deadliest in the nation's history. 33 people dead from a single gunman's violent rage. The nation, including your humble author, mourns the losses and prays for the families of those injured and killed.

And one question continues to reverberate. "What would make someone do that?" From the little I've read on the subject, and being intimately familiar with rage as I am, I can break down a possible scenario of what happened in his head.

First, understand that a person with a rage disorder cannot see it coming. There is absolutely no warning that the sufferer is about to flip out. So, throughout his college career, perhaps he's seen the "rich kids" with the girls and hot cars. Perhaps he has learned a little bit about Jesus Christ. Perhaps he has been picked on all his life. Perhaps he believes that the world is truly out to get him. He gets psychiatric help, only to be released. Now he knows that the world thinks he is crazy.

Mix into this scenario, the fact that he's spurned for taking pictures of women in class. Toss in a little bit of rejection and voilá - you've got a recipe for a depressed, suicidal maniac with a bent for revenge. I do not use the term maniac loosely. I know what it is like to be manic and raging. I suggest Cho was in this position on Monday morning.

Having prepared himself with weapons a month before, he set out to perform a task many of us consider unthinkable. He set out to eliminate those he believe have been persecuting him.

Knowing that he has nothing to lose, he plans on taking himself out at the end.

His rage was not against anyone in particular. The entire campus represented the perceived evil in his mind. He was no longer capable of rational thought. He believed his martyrdom to be equivalent to that of Jesus Christ.

The shooter on Monday morning was a victim of his own physiology. Something was not wired right in his brain. Could anything have been done to prevent this? Not likely. Maybe if the psychiatric community had seen something that he was perfectly capable of hiding quite well. Maybe not.

Tonight, I pray for those involved in the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I pray for those injured. I pray for the families of those who died.

But I also pray for those who, like so many before Cho, are suffering silently from an undiagnosed emotional disorder. I pray for those who do not know that their emotions lie to them. I pray for those who experience a paranoid reaction to anyone in their presence. I pray for the people who don't stand a chance because something in their head doesn't work right.

I cannot support what happened at Virginia Tech anymore than I can support the things I have done when I experienced blinding rage. I can only thank God that i experienced His Healing Power before my rage became something bigger.

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Pluggin' a blog

Perry Noble is the pastor at Newspring Church in Anderson, SC. Yeah, I never heard of the town, either. But he is a good ol' Southern boy who found God and dedicated his life to Him. I mean, Perry threw everything he had into being a man of God. Perry is an amazing speaker. At the suggestion of my friend Adam, I started listening to Perry's podcasts. Mind you, these are sermons that average 45 minutes. Most are longer. (I guess they average longer than 45 minutes then, right?)

Listening to Perry Noble's sermons, and after a brief e-mail exchange with his staff, I have decided to go ahead and make myself available for speaking engagements via Clay Harryman Ministries. No, I'm not ordained. Neither was Perry. I'm not a graduate of a divinity school. Neither was Perry. But Perry's on fire for God, and I am too. Perry's ministry has grown into a church of over 3,000 members. I'm not even dreaming of a congregation of that size, but I am dreaming that I may one day pastor a church.

I just wanted to take a minute to plug Perry Noble, and his blog. His podcasts are amazing. I highly recommend those of you who have the capability of receiving podcasts sign up for his. This is a man on fire for God. This is a man who truly knows what it means to be a child of God.


To Fix the World, I Must Start with Me

"All repentance and renewal must begin with me... Looking upon the evil-doing of others does not help me, and it helps me just as little to marvel at the righteousness of others." - MEDITATING ON THE WORD by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When I read those words, I thought about recent posts. Can it be that I want, so much, to fix the world, I lose sight of my own shortcomings?

I am not, by any stretch, perfect. I've made mistakes in the past, and I will continue to make mistakes until the day I die. I'm human. But do I demonstrate that humanity when I talk about Christ? Do I show others that I am human or do I show others that I am better than they?

I am working to be like Christ. Humble with lofty goals. He could attain those goals through His humility, because He is God. I can attain those goals through my humility and His work in my life. But the key word is humility.

It is my prayer that I can reach others in His name, in a manner that they do not find offensive, and demonstrate His love to those who don't know Him. I pray that I can find a way to become their friend, just as Christ did, and bring them to Him. I pray that I can do His work, without becoming offended at the lifestyle of those I've been sent to minister.

Yeah, this is a short post. Had some thoughts to get off my mind...

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Another guy's story

Putting it all in Perspective - Part II

Click Here for Part I

Prisoners tell some wonderful stories. And the stories of their lives can make one feel like they've just got it so good. Tonight was no exception.

One guy told how he grew up trying to find his parents. He was on his own from a very young age, and the only family he found was a gang. His story was heart-wrenching; so much that most of us (10 male inmates, a lady volunteer and me) were crying. When he was done, I looked at the room and said, "Last night, I was complaining because I had to make my resumé look better. Suddenly, that doesn't seem like a very daunting task."

What is it that makes us believe we are due something in this world? "I am a Christian, so God's gonna make sure I have a great job with a 62-inch TV and a Lincoln Navigator." What makes it worse is when I see how the rest of the world lives, then I complain 'cuz I only had three pieces of chicken at dinner time. It gets even worse when I hear an inmate tell me he's better off in prison, 'cuz if he gets out someone will most likely kill him.

How did it come to that? How is it that I can complain about having to tell the world how great I am when I know people who don't have enough food to eat or are scared to even walk around in broad daylight? Someone help me with this.

I should be on my knees thanking God Almighty that I have bread to eat - let alone meat - for three meals every day. I should be thanking God Almighty that I can sleep at night without having to worry about someone killing me because of a tattoo I got 20 years ago. I should be thanking God Almighty that I have the skills and knowledge that are useful to somebody so they will give me a job. Instead, I gripe and complain about the task of detailing those skills.


Almighty Heavenly Father, You have created this world to sustain us. You have directed our path to bring us to today.
And still, we forget our place. Without You, we would have absolutely nothing. Without You, there would be no food. Without You, there would be no us.
Please forgive us in our sin of omission. Please forgive us when we forget how good we have it. Help us to remember that we are here for one purpose - and that is to praise and glorify You.
Thank you, Father, for all the gifts - physical and spiritual - that You have given us.
In Christ's name we pray,

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Putting it all in perspective

Ever heard about how your pain can not compare with someone else's? Ever heard that no matter how bad you've got it, someone else has it worse? Ever stop to consider that's true?

Last night, after struggling over my resumé in an attempt to market myself to someone who may want to hire me. I've been working on computers for over 25 years. I've seen computers grow from gigantic boxes that can do little more than add and subtract to tiny hand-held devices that can perform advanced calculus. (I said "grow". The size has shrunk and the power has grown!)

With all my experience, I should be a shoo-in to be hired on at least as a field-support technician, right? Well, I didn't major in marketing in college. I majored in computers. I love to write. But following the restrictive resumé formats I've seen, I have trouble condensing my experience into two pages. How do you put 25 years into two pages?

So, I lamented to my wife about how unfair all this is. I used a few choice words to voice my feelings about having to jump through all these hoops so I can tell somebody who has no idea what a CPU looks like that I understand how they work. I went to bed angry and depressed because the situation was so WRONG.

Tune in tomorrow to find out how it was all put into perspective for me.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Discriminating against us

Hypocrisy Revealed - final installment

Over the last few days, I've discussed the animosity the world feels toward Christians. While I believe much of this is brought on by ourselves, I completely forgot about the words of Christ: "All men will hate you because of me." (Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17) It was foreseen that, even if we are not hypocrites, the world will hate us.

Why, then, do we need to give them more ammunition to use against us? We fight amongst ourselves, splitting into opposing factions like Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant. We then split those factions into factions like Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran. And some of those factions are so prideful they dare to make a claim that they are the only ones 'doing it right'. Believe me. Satan doesn't need to work too hard among the non-believers. He only needs to work in the believers to splinter us - to show the world that Christians don't only hate the world, they hate each other.

Can we eliminate the discrimination among us? Is it possible for us to be completely accepted by the world? No. Christ said it was not possible. Can we, though, eliminate the non-Christlike qualities in the Church to remove a reason for the world to hate us? Yes, we can. In fact, I believe it is more necessary to address the disease rather than the symptoms.

Take the plank out of the church's eye. The problem isn't out there, it's in here. Show the world that it's possible for us to get along. Then show the world that we truly love them - even if they don't love us. It is only at that point we will no longer be shooting ourselves in the foot. It is only at that point the world will hate us for their own reasons, not ours.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Hate - in the Name of Love

Part 3 of "Hypocricy Revealed"

In June, 2006, I wrote a blog entry titled, "Hate in the Name of Love". This post is a re-hash of that post. Am I plagiarizing myself? Is that even possible?

Christians have long believed that their way is the only way. Well, it's true. Christ, Himself, said it was true.

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
- John 14:6-7, NIV
We are an exclusive, invitation-only group of believers. And this really makes us look bad among non-believers.

Problem is, we don't invite others properly. I heard the story about a prisoner who became a Christian. He was so enthusiastic about his new-found faith that he went out telling others they needed to become Christians as well. He used such persuasive methods as crescent wrenches and wire brushes - until he was told by other believers (after his release from solitary confinement) that this was not the acceptable procedure for conversion.

While we may not use beatings, those outside the flock see it the same way. In high school, I knew a lot of bible-thumpers. These were the people who waved their bible over their heads while threatening me with eternity in hell if I didn't turn from my evil ways. While speaking they would thump their bible into their free hand. No, they didn't hit me with it, but it sure felt like they were. And I didn't cotton to being beaten with a sword, so rather than bring me aboard, they turned me away at the door.

Neither do others like being beaten with the bible. When we refuse to see the plank in our eye, we forget that we were "loved" into Christ. We begin to think of ourselves as "saints" and the rest of the world as "sinners". What did Paul say to the church at Rome? "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Excuse me. I think I'm part of the aforementioned "all".

So, some Christians are forgetting their place in the world and reaching out to the lost with pride - not humility - in their hearts. The end result is, the world thinks all Christians think they're better than the lost. And the world, in their pride, retaliate by lumping Christians into a pile with the Taliban and Klan.

Final installment tomorrow!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Just let me...

A family friend passed away last night. My phone rang at 2:53 am with a tearful granddaughter asking me to please come to the hospital. I told her I was on my way.

But this resolute answer, and the decision to immediately go, was steeped in years of, "OK, I'll be there. Let me just..." This answer plagued me when my friend went into the hospital for the last time two months ago.

"Let me just..." (fill in the blank). Maybe i'm being asked to do something I know is right and proper (visit a friend in the hospital) but I just don't want to do ti. I'll be frank with you - I hate hospitals. It's the one thing that I fear should I ever become a paid pastor. "I have to go in there?" Prison doesn't bother me. (I'm writing this in a prison chaplain's office between visits.) But hospitals give me the creeps. When asked to go to a hospital and visit, I'll say, "OK, I'll go. Let me just..."

What was the only time Christ delayed? When He was summoned to visit (and, perhaps, heal) his dying friend Lazarus, He delayed. But He had a motive and didn't provide an excuse, "Let me just turn this water into wine." or "Let me just chastise these Pharisees." No, he said, "I am delaying so you may see the full Glory of God. (Clay's Paraphrase) I can't use that line, no matter how good it sounds.

So, am I justified in delaying? What if it's just dropping by to say "hi" to a friend with few visitors? "You know I love you, don't you?" (hey - that sounds just like Peter...) My aforementioned friend had asked me to come over and help him write his life story. I delayed. I said, "I will. But today's not a good day. Let me just..." Now the opportunity is gone forever. In fact, the opportunity has been gone for weeks due to a tracheotomy. My delay cost my friend his dream. And it's all because I didn't make the time to do something that I actually thought would be quite interesting.

I can't say that I will no longer ignore another's requests. But the twinge of pain I feel may be the push I need to say, "Not now, but perhaps tomorrow? Around noon? Let's go get coffee and talk."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday Thoughts

No, these are not good thoughts about Friday - though some may be in order. These are thoughts about today, Good Friday.

Why is it Good? I've pondered over this for many years since I first began to understand the implications of the crucifixion. I remember distinctly asking my mother, "Why do they call it Good Friday? It wasn't good for Jesus; it wasn't good for the disciples. Was it good for the people who crucified Him?"

I could get all penal-substitutionary on you and tell you how it was good for you that He died on the cross for your sins. But that's not really what it's all about. There's so much more to the Gospel than just avoiding Hell.

So, what's Good about today? Watch this video and come back.

See, it's only Friday. Sunday's comin'.

And Sunday's comin' for all of us. Sunday's the day it will all be His. Sunday's going to be here before you know it. All the passion of the cross, all the tears on the Via de la Rosa, all the fear of the disciples hiding in a locked room - it's all going to mean something on Sunday.

What's so good about Friday? The same thing that is good about a cliffhanger movie where the bad guy wins. You know the good guy is comin' back for his final shot. And it's not three years down the road, it's only three days.

What's so good about Friday? Well, I looked it up. It's not. In the Old English, it was called "Gode Friday" which was Old English for "God's Friday". Typical English - they corrupted a word they no longer used into a word they understood. They took the word "Gode" and turned it into a word that sounded like it. Now we have "Good Friday". (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Friday

Thanks for listening. :)

Penal Substitutionary Atonement - the idea that Christ died for your sins in order to appease either an angry God or a very demanding Satan. For more details, click here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Editor's note...

A regular reader has told me that my lengthy posts are hard to read. And, I must say that I agree with him. But, my verbosity is hard to tame. So, he suggested that I break my posts up into parts. This will actually accomplish two goals:

  • My posts will be shorter (and easier to read)
  • I will be able to post more days
Is that a legitimate reason for more posts?

Let me know what you think of this format. Would you rather read a book-length post in one day, or read several posts over several days?

Purges - Then and Now

Part 2 of "Hypocrisy Revealed"

After a good breakfast consisting of a pot of coffee and a bowl of HoneyComb cereal in strawberry yogurt, I'm ready to go! (if that ain't enough to get someone goin', I don't know what is!)

Yesterday, I listed a few of the acts of hate committed by various religious groups, including Christians, Muslims and Jews. I detailed the purge of Canaan under Joshua from the Old Testament book by the same name. This purge was commanded by God, according to scripture. But why was it commanded?

Purging the evil from Canaan was necessary, according to the Word, because the Canaanites would corrupt God's People from His way. (Since the Israelites did not completely follow through with God's edict and made treaties with some of the Canaanites, we know this to be true.) But wasn't there another way?

I have struggled with this for many years. I believe civilization, as a whole, is like a person growing up. In the beginning, civilization was immature. Young children are treated in a certain way. I know from experience that you cannot explain something to a three-year-old logically. They simply cannot comprehend it.

As civilization matured, the way God handled disobedience matured along with it. From corporal punishment, He moved on to something more meaningful to an older society - restriction (exile). When His people disobeyed, they were "grounded" for 70 years in Assyria and Babylon.

Now that civilization is fully matured, He uses logic (Logos, or His Word) to get our attention. In His inerrable conclusion, civilization, or society is now an adult and can be handled as an adult. "If you're going to live under my roof, you will obey my rules."

As of the time of Christ, purges were no longer the work of God, but the work of Satan. In fact, after Acts 10 (the conversion of the gentile Cornelius), the title of "God's Chosen People" was no longer restricted to the people of Israel. Therefore, hating gentiles simply because they were gentiles was no longer acceptable before God. In God's eyes, Christ and His followers were the new "God's Chosen People", and those who were left behind were not.

I believe that, in God's eyes, purges were acceptable at one point, but He believes them to no longer be acceptable. In the same way that a young child responds to a properly-delivered spanking as punishment - not retribution, a young civilization responds to purges. In the same way a teenager responds to restriction, an adolescent civilization responds to exile. In the same way a young adult responds to logical arguments, so does an adult civilization.

I hope this explains why purges are no longer necessary (and haven't been for at least 2,500 years), or desired in God's eyes. For more about this subject, tune in Monday.

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Yes, another "Hypocrisy Revealed!" post...

Jesus & Mohamed (sp?) discuss, over drinks, which faith is more discriminated against
Jesus & Mo cartoon, author unknown

Oh, this is classic. I laughed at this 'cuz it's true. Christians and Muslims are discriminated against. But (and I'll likely get a lot of hate-mail on this one) we brought it on ourselves. Now, I'm not saying that each of us has done things to entice non-believers to hate us, but the vocal part of the group - the part the rest of the world sees - has.

Here are a few examples:

  • Fred Phelps - "God Hates Fags!"
  • The Ku Klux Klan - according to their website, they are "Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America! A Message of Love NOT Hate!"
  • The Taliban - ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist, brutally oppressing women and Shia muslims
  • Various Catholic and Protestant purges
  • Al Qaeda
  • The Crusades - purging Islamic occupation of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Holy Land.

Throughout history, religious figures have used hate to remove opposition to their message. This was true in ancient times, and is true today. In the Torah (Christian Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), God commanded Israel to "purge the evil" from Canaan. These books, and the book of Joshua, detail this purge. Jericho, Ai, the five Amorite kings (the sun stood still and hail fell on the enemies!), Makkedeh, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Horeb... The Israelites removed the Canaanites from the land under order from God.

This was ordered by God, and is a concept with which modern-day believers have a problem. How could a "loving God" order the destruction of an entire nation? How could a "loving God" order genocide? Does that mean we are to continue that practice today?

Read part two tomorrow!

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Monday, April 02, 2007

V for Vendetta

This weekend, I watched my new favorite movie. Well, it hasn't replaced Star Wars Episode III, but it has joined it at the top (along with Pink Floyd's The Wall and others - I'm not a discriminating person! :). Like most of my favorite movies, they are not really suitable for viewing by youngsters (Star Wars being the exception). They are all full of deeper philosophy and meaning than what appears on the surface. V for Vendetta is no exception.

The thing that struck me about it, however, is different from all the reviews I've read this weekend. I was struck by their portrayal of Christians. Is that really what the rest of the world thinks about us? Is that really what we want them to think about us?

In the movie, England is run by a radical Christian theocracy, in all reality no different from the Ayatollah or Taliban. The "Voice of London" says at the beginning how he hates the "muslims, hawma-sexuals, terrorists... I'm a God-fearing Englishman and I'm [g-d] proud of it!"

To many, he is the image of Christianity. He is what they've seen of us. And they want nothing to do with us because of it.

At first, I was a little offended at what I saw. I mean, they're really making Christians look bad. But what they portrayed was simply what many non-Christians see when they look at us.

Let's take a look at the Gay Rights issue in the United States. That's not a very hot topic. LAUGHTER

At the root of it is the desire of two people who care deeply about each other desiring to be joined in a civil union. These people believe that their rights are not being honored simply because they are of the same gender. There are many in the Christian community who agree with them. What is so wrong with this - so that one can provide the other with all the rights and priveleges of a spouse?

Along come some Christian leaders who point out that this is a slippery slope (a term many Christians like to use in situations like this). If these "civil unions" are granted to the homosexuals, there will be nothing to stop bigamy, bestiality or NAMBLA-type unions. Much of the taboos that prevent sex offenses will be lifted. In fact, consent will no longer be an issue and sex-crimes will be erased from the books.

Who is correct? (I was going to use the word right, but that can be taken two ways...) Who, in God's eyes, is being faithful on this issue?

The truth is, neither is correct.

The Gay Rights community is acting against the will of God by engaging in behavior specifically condemned by scripture. The Christian community is retro-acting because of a failure over the last forty years to remain a vocal force in America (and elsewhere). In response, they are trying to legislate morality.

Legislating morality cannot work. Forcing people to behave in a manner that is pleasing to God has been proven time and again to fail. Christ, Himself, condemned this practice in Matthew 15.

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"

Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
" 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"
- Matthew 15:1-9, NIV
God's Law was to ensure morality. The tradition of the Pharisees was to try and force the people into God's good graces.

Legislation to force non-believers to act as if they were believers will only drive them further from the truth. Enforcing such legislation can possibly lead to a world portrayed in the movie V for Vendetta where anyone deemed to be outside the will of God by the fascist theocratic ruler is condemned to death.

What, then, is the answer?

Turn people to Christ the way He turned them. He openly condemned those who believed they could see (the Pharisees - Matthew 23). But to those who admitted they were blind, even in their sin, He showed perfect love (the woman caught in adultery - John 8:1-11).

When a Christian demonstrates even the tiniest disdain for a person they believe is a "sinner", they have lost their right to reach out to that person. The "sinner" can detect this disdain and will openly rebel against the preaching.

For at least the last forty years, American Christians have fallen down in their job of spreading God's word with love. Facing a society filled with deplorable pleasures, American Christians have responded with rebukes and threats of hell that scripture reserves for professing believers. The face of Christ in America is no longer:

No, the face of Christ in America is rapidly becoming:
Chancellor Adam Sutler from 'V for Vendetta'
Here he is surrounded by his disciples: note Peter (actually "The Voice of London", Lewis Prothero) smiling at his lord...
Sutler in center of image

In the opening lines of the movie, the "Voice of London" talks about the demise of America (so embroiled in a civil war that basic services like food and medical are no longer available) is because of "Godlessness. Judgment." He's not far from the truth. It's as Anne Graham Lotz said on The Today Show shortly after 9/11. She was asked, "If God is good, how could God let this happen?" Her answer:

I would say also for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection. We need to turn to God first of all and say, God, we're sorry we have treated you this way and we invite you now to come into our national life. We put our trust in you. We have our trust in God on our coins, we need to practice it.
- Thanks to snopes.com for the quote!

We are in a dilemma, and it is of our own making. By cramming our ideology down the throats of everyone we see, we serve not Christ but ourselves. We are trying to prove to ourselves that we have not let this country literally go to hell. We cannot prevail on our own. We need to work on the crumbling situation in this country one person at a time. We will not succeed by hitting the entire country in one fell swoop.

To those who believe otherwise, I'm sorry. I can no longer support your efforts to legislate morality in this country. I do not believe it will work. I've been saying it for years on other issues, and now I will say it on this as well.


Almighty Heavenly Father, quick with judgment and mercy, guide our paths today. Show us the way to bring Your love and compassion into this country. Help us to love others into Your fold. Remove our contempt for those who are different. It is only through Your perfect example of love that we can succeed in bringing this country back to You.

Father, we acknowledge that we have slacked off in our commitment to keep this country close to you. We confess our sin of omission, for not doing a good thing is just as wrong as doing a bad thing.

Help us, Father. Help us to reach out to the hurting. Help us to make You real to those who do not know You. Help us to teach them how to heal. You told us that if we believe we can see, we will be made blind. And if we are blind, You will help us to see. Remove our blindness. Help us to see the true path You have made for us. It's time to inspire revival in America, and around the World.

Thank you, Father, for blessing us, even in our failures. Thank you, Father, for giving us Your presence. Thank you, Father, for being here when we don't even realize you're here.

It is in Christ's name we pray,

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Why Is It So Hard To Let Go?

A wise man once said, "Let go and let God." I found it attributed to a lot of different people, I don't know who said it first. It's one of those nice clichés that we like to pass along with a smile to someone who's having a rough time. Robert, a guy I worked with during a very short contract to the Houston Fire Department, shortened it to "let it goooooooooooooooo," referring to my anger management issues. I have to admit that I have trouble with both.

A week ago today, my wife went out of town to visit her ailing mother. She left me a list of honey-dos. The most important item on the list was completed within the first two days of her absence. APPLAUSE Yesterday, I completed another task: I mowed and edged the front yard and trimmed the hedges. The backyard is still a lake from Saturday's storms. Still, there are some items on the list that haven't been getting done.

Why? 'Cuz I really enjoy slacking off. I made this confession to an older friend at church yesterday. This friend is the man to whom I look when I want an example of a Christian. His name is Noah, and I've never seen him say a cross word about anybody - either to their face or behind their backs. He chastised me in a way that only he can. He said, "My friend, you have a lovely family. You have a wonderful wife. You have talents and abilities and youth on your side (he told me I have youth on my side). Why do you want to slack off? Why don't you get out and do something with your life?"

So, I came home and took care of the yard. I felt a heckuva lot better. I'm not abandoning my wife's desires. She won't be angry when she comes home this time.

Hmmm. I appear to be rambling again. I'll get straight to the point now. This morning, when I woke up, I prayed asking God to, again, do with me what He wants to do. Then I asked why He lets me do the stuff I want to do that is in a direct violation of His will. The answer was that He lets me do anything I want. If I choose to please Him, that's great. If not, I face the consequences - some of which are of His design, others are just the natural flow of life (like my wife coming home and finding the house a mess and her to-do list forgotten).

The thought, "Let go and let God" popped into my head. If I were to completely let go of my desires - those things that hold me back in this world, like being the master in CivIII only because I know a cheat - I would be doing His work. If I were to abandon me and devote myself to others, I would be doing His work. If. Why can't I do that?

It's not satisfaction. I get a lot of satisfaction from going into the prisons or giving a homeless guy a meal. And the satisfaction is immediate.

It's not desire. I truly desire to follow God's will and do His work during every waking moment.

It's not lack of motivation. I have plenty of motivation to at least follow up on my honey-do list without slacking off. I like to see my wife smile.

So, why is it so hard to let go?

I guess at the root of it, I suffer from pride. I need to be the one in charge. I need to be the one that says all the stuff on that list needs to be done. Since my wife said it, it's not my decision. Quickly, I scanned through a search on the word "pride" on Bible Gateway. I found over 50 negative references to the word "pride" and only 9 positive references - two of those were actually using the word as a pride (group) of lions. It appears that God doesn't like pride. In Ezekiel 28, God says He will bring down the king of Tyre because of his pride. In Proverbs, there are six negative references to pride, the most famous being, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18, NIV)

Pride prevents me from doing what my wife asks me to do in my own house. Since I'm not doing what she wants me to do, I've got a lot more time to play CivIII. OK, since I've got all this free time, why don't I go out and minister to the homeless and volunteer for more prison programs? Well, it's another of the seven deadly sins: I'm lazy. Those require I take a shower, get dressed, and go outside my house. I'd much rather sit around in my underwear and take over the world in CivIII. Man - I'm really starting to see a trend here...

Do I know the solution? If I did, I would be a millionaire. Many folks have written entire books that can be summed up with "Get off your lazy ass and do something!" And, I suppose that is the solution. But it's so hard to do. I answered the question in the title of today's post. I know the reason it's so hard to let go.

Do I know how to fix it? No.

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