Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Joy and Sorrow

I was mowing the grass here at school yesterday and when I looked up for a moment I noticed that the window on the minivan in front of me had been shattered out. "Well, isn't that strange" I thought, "hey wait a minute..did I do that?" Sure enough I had "done it" and of course I knew whose van it was, it belongs to one of the nicest ladies you could ever hope to meet who works here at the school.


I took care of things, and she was so nice about it, as I was cleaning the glass up I was acutely aware of my own deep feelings of sorrow. I heard a small voice in my head say,

"Why is it that you have such sorrow over this small matter, but you can sin over and over but never feel this level of true regret?"

I understood, and the conviction of it gave me an entirely new perspective. It's brought some things into focus that I need to repent of. It really hurt me to think that I had even accidentally caused this lady any trouble. Somehow, it really didn't seem to matter to me that I hadn't done it on purpose (which is an excuse I like to use), in the end, I was responsible for it... then I thought of my relationship with Jesus and how much he loved could I be so indifferent at times toward Him? Was it possible that I had a more "real" relationship with this woman whom I hardly know than I do with Jesus?

I understood, in a deep and sorrowful way, That I definitely am a man in need of a savior!

Last Sunday, a friend of mine in Sunday school said that we should confess our public sins in public, and our private one's privately.

Just the other night I was walking down my driveway after dinner looking for something to take a picture of, the sunset was nice, it had been raining and the clouds were all nimbus-stratus and there were pinkish orange shafts of light coming through them...I did take a few pics of that but here's the shot that has brought me the most joy!

Looking at this, I just keep thinking of that verse about the fool, who in his heart says...

"there is no God" Look! I can see Him there...In the beauty and perfection of His creation!

Looking at my daughters picture I can begin to understand how much He loves me...

And why He was willing to die for me so that I might be saved from myself.

I can also relate to the sadness He must feel, from the rejection by us of the attempt's He's made to reveal Himself to us and to empower us to defeat all of the things that we incessantly pray to Him to fix.

Jesus defeated death and sin on the cross, and by His stripes, we are healed! We have the power, we as Christians are "authorized" to drive out demons,and to heal the sick!

Imagine for a moment God listening to our prayers. And in His infinite wisdom, He knows that in order for each of us to find complete fulfillment and live in our purpose that we must first learn to walk in faith. I think He wants to see His children come before Him to receive all of the blessings gifts, healings and deliverance He has for us!


because only someone who really believes would do that...

Only someone who truly believes that He is Abba Father, would come to Him like a child...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Handle Snakes!

In the mountains of the southern Appalachians and eastern Tennessee some fundamentalist pentecostal congregations express their faith by occasionally handling deadly serpents during their services.
These verses below pertaining to serpents are taken by them as literal promises of protection, not from being bitten but from dying from it!
To them, the act of handling serpents is a great triumph of faith over fear. While under what they describe as the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the intent is to be obedient, to edify the church's members and to glorify God.

Luke 10:19
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

Mark 16:18
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

One man lays down ten percent,another man trembles and shakes,I make my statement...

I say it with snakes!

"I handle snakes" by Ned (the band) from CD, "Little Vegas"

The Man on the left in the above picture is said to of been bitten some 80 times!

Once, directly on the forehead by a huge rattlesnake!

What I personally find so fascinating about all of this is that I see it as translating into my own life in some (until now) mysterious ways...

do you, handle snakes?

What, if anything... in your life or past do other Christian people seem to have an aversion to?

In my life, I see it as being my past history of drugs, and new age thinking. These are snakes I've handled that have bitten me quite savagely!

My familiarity with these things is a bit like the snake venom. Because of my past exposure to them, their "poison" now has little or no effect on me. No, I don't use drugs anymore...but I do understand why other people do. And because of that, I can handle that snake, or be around it, without the fear of it killing me. I can walk into the midst of it and not be distracted from doing the will of The Father, to testify about Jesus!

Ophis (through the idea of sharpness of vision) ; A snake, fig. (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan;-- serpent. It then refers to the root word, Optomai which means to look at with wide open eyes, as at something extremely remarkable or fascinating.

Reminds me of being snake fascinated...

I wondered what was meant by the phrase, They shall take up serpents;

After some study in my concordance of the phrase "take up" I found that it means to apprehend, or perceive, to discern the "serpents" or the tricks of the enemy.

I "handle" snakes...

From the age of twelve I was indoctrinated into the world of drugs and into it's close relative of "new age" thinking. They sort of feed off of each other, it's all about the "enlightenment" attaining a higher state of consciousness, and it's very much so a " type of sly cunning"
I've written about this before in a blog called "Based on What?" Whats so cunning about it is that they talk about peace and serenity constantly, why? so that like a frog in a pot of water you won't notice the rising temperature until it's way too late! In practically every way it's a perfect counterfeit of the actual truth. It's a Utopian fantasy (lie) predicated upon the pretense that at his core, man is essentially good.

I understand that what I'm saying is controversial in some ways. I was compelled to write this because I'm saddened by the church's and my own spirit of fear about so many things in this world. As Christians, we have the power to handle snakes (to come against sin) and not be harmed. We also have the power (in Christ) to lay hands upon the sick and see them recover. We are the children of the most high God, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the hills they graze upon! I've seen it in a lot of places, the phrase...

"What would you attempt for Christ if you knew you could not fail?"

1 John 4:17 (King James Version)

17Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Ephesians 3:12 (King James Version)

12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

I'm pretty sure that my calling in life isn't to handle actual snakes...

Instead, I see the snakes I handle as being the sin's that other people are poisoned by that Christ has empowered me to defeat in myself. I have no fear of getting right into the midst of them!

My intent is to be obedient, to edify the church, and to glorify God!

To have no fear of the enemy, and to actually be "more than a conqueror"

through Christ who strengthens me!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Down to the river...

Hi! Altonwoods here, (not my real name)...And I'll be your guide today as we go "down to the river" to do whatever it is that people do at the river! Yesterday was the last day of school around here and my daughter has been bugging me to take her. I've also been wanting to try out the new camera I bought my wife for mothers day, (awwwww, so sweet of me!) another reason is I wanted to try and get another shot of this plant that I found last year about this time down here!
this is the best pic... by you.

This is it...It's like a giant pink honeysuckle that smells amazing!
(see why I wanted another shot?)

So , we went in search of it but we were too late! It had already bloomed. After that we decided to go down and see the big spring that's kind of back in the woods. These are pictures from last year but it still looks the same. We parked the car and started walking down the trail, the dirt down there is just amazing, black and moist, the product of hundreds of years of composting, plants and flowers blooming, sun is shining, life is so good!

That's when something happened, my wife Grace (not her real name) slip's and falls trying to cross a small creek in a very muddy area. I heard her saying that she was going back to the car and a moment later she falls AGAIN! Boni (her real name) and I are over by the spring and I hear her screaming! When we got to her she was laying on the ground, crying, telling me that she thinks that she's torn her rotator cuff and that she feels like she may pass out from the pain! (she fell backwards and "caught" herself, that's the way I tore mine)

So, several things go through my mind just then...

1) All week long we've been talking about Jesus,healing, doctors, prayer, medicines, Christians, etc...

2) Then there was that woman in Minnesota who took off with her son who has Hodgkins lymphoma. That sparked even more discussion!

3) Was I going to have to take her to a hospital?

What happened next went exactly like this.

It's Boni and me, crouched down next to Grace, listening to her wail, and then my daughter Boni say's...

"Somebodies gotta do something!"

I knew what I had to do, so I reached down and laid my hand on her arm, and asked for her to be opened to the healing that was promised to us by Christ, and that her pain would go away, then I stood up and watched as she, after just a moment, got up and walked off a distance, I heard her say "Thank You, the pain is gone!" Which I really must admit was a surprise to me in a way. I believe in healing, I just was a little shocked that it could happen like this, all I know is what I saw, you can ask her about it if you like, here's a link to her blog

So we just went on with our day, thanking Jesus!

river shots012 by you.

Here we are at my favorite swimming hole, we ate sandwiches and chips and we drank root beer! This is the Eleven Point River, most of the water comes from Greer Spring a few miles upstream. It's a trout stream, the water temp is about 58 degree's and it takes your breath away when you go in! Here's a few more pic's...

river shots011 by you.

Beautiful Boni! with a ham sandwich in hand

river shots010 by you.

Our heroine, "Grace"

And of course, yours truly! signing off from, "Down at the river"river shots009 by you.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Kingdom Of Heaven

How ironic, coincidental, or even serendipitous....that I should come to this point in my life, and my writing, at the same time! "What point is that?" Well, since you asked...My home is going up for auction on the 8th of May and so consequently I will be "Seeking A New Kingdom" in which to live. Then there's my writing, maybe you've noticed, the titles of my last three blogs...

It's in there, somewhere in the middle, Of legalism and Liberalism, What is it?

The Kingdom Of Heaven!

I'm a little anxious today, but I have a slightly different attitude about whats happening than what some people might. It has to do with control...and how you understand it or how you define it, and even how you practice it! Most peoples definition of control goes something like this

Control: the ability to affect the outcome of a situation.

I wholeheartedly believe in this definition, and I attempt to practice it to the overall betterment of myself and everyone else whenever I can! Then there's this definition, but there's a twist to it!

Real: a: That which is unthreatenable. b:not false or counterfeit
Control: a:
to exercise restraining or directing influence over. b: to have power over...

If you ask most people their definition of control you'd probably get an answer similar to the first one...but in their minds, they comprehend it more like the second one, and so, when unexpected stuff happens, or abrupt change like whats happening in my life right now occurs it messes them up because they believe that they have the second type of control instead of the first.

Not clear? an example...You have control of your vehicle driving down the appears to be absolute. What happens to your control if a tire should blow out? It takes a hike that's what! Then, after your car goes off in the ditch and you hopefully get out of it you're "incredulous" that this event has shock even, it's a symptom of a shattered belief system. It's a little bit like the serenity prayer.

Lord, grant me...
the courage to change the things I can,
the ability to accept what I cant change,
and the wisdom to know the difference

But there's a difference when you start to think in terms of "The Kingdom Of Heaven" or to be spiritually minded in that we still need courage the ability to accept and wisdom, but it's much more than just some words we say! Stepping out in faith takes courage which is expressed by
our actions which show what we really believe on the inside!

The ability to accept sounds like we merely tolerate our circumstances, but we can find "real" peace and joy in knowing that it's our Heavenly Father who's "really" in control, and that, He's promised to work out all things to those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes' benefit. Finally comes wisdom, which really isn't as difficult as it sounds...

As children of the most high we should know how to act,
and when we should act, and when it's WAY over our heads!
We have the greatest counselor possible in the Holy Spirit to keep us on the right path which leads us to Jesus!

I may be relocating my physical body and my possessions...

but the Kingdom goes with me... I have the keys!

Matthew 16:19 (King James Version)

19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

46Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

To become dis-invested in this world, to not only choose to be heirs of a much greater inheritance but to begin to realize in this life the manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit which are...

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness

Acts 26:18
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Romans 8:6
6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The first blog I ever wrote was called "The Pearl", and in the 115 or so since I've been compelled to do just one thing, which is to, despite my unworthiness, act on behalf of my Lord and Savior to fulfill that great commission He left us with through the revelation of His spirit to as many as will hear.

John 12:32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Psalm 34:8 (New International Version)
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

The Kingdom Of Heaven is what having a personal relationship with Christ is all about, I see it as being a member of the greatest, beyond our ability to understand, and so much better than we can imagine, family! There will be times here on earth that will push us to our limit, and the circumstances of this life can be difficult to understand. But with all my heart and soul I believe that the present hardships we must walk through are not to be compared to what our Lord and Savior has in store for those who love Him