Category Archives: Cacophony

I take notes when I read some books. This category contains the books so far read.

The Coming Of Christ

weekly theme #3 The Coming Of Christ*  

week containing the third Sunday in Advent

I have met people so focused on Jesus’ second coming that they fail to sense him right now.  Jesus’ first coming brought flesh and blood to prophesies in the Old Testament, and the invisible God became tangible.  Yes, I am supposed to look forward to his return to earth, but I must also live as he so clearly taught and exemplified.  Giving my attention to what is around me, as well as to the sky, actually hastens the answer to his prayer of “your Kingdom come, your will be done – on earth as it is in heaven”.

As soon as I sat down this morning for my Time With Father, I told him, “God, I’m having real trouble with this idea of watching for your second coming.”  I had this image of sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch staring at the sky – watching for his return, but when I read Ezekiel 34:1-10 and Luke 12:42-48 things started falling into place.  I “watch” for his return by doing his work.  I remembered Jesus’ parable about the owner of land turning it over to his servants’ care.  The owner did not want them standing around every day waiting for his return; he wanted them to care for what he had entrusted to them.  However, in truth, my work is most often a distraction from my watching.  It is when my “watching” wanes the most.

For years, I have longed to have better communication with God.  In church language, I wanted to “be constantly in prayer”.  (I wrote about this situation just last week – #2 Preparing The Way.)  Words from Brother Lawrence (he served in a Paris monastery in the 17th century) added some guidance to solving this dilemma.  As I understand it, he intentionally set up reminders for prayer so that his day was repeatedly “interrupted” by prayer.  Over time, each “interruption” became an anticipated oasis through the day.  Gradually he found himself conversing with God between these “assigned” times, making prayer a majority of his day.  And when he entered a task that might take his full concentration, he asked for his work to be an acceptable prayer.  This makes “constantly in prayer” and “always watching” seem reachable to me.

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Visioneering

I think the words “vision & visionary” are getting over used – almost worn out.  But Andy Stanley offered some freshness with his book Visioneering.

Stanley highlighted the fact that every idea is not a vision.  A vision is more than an idea of what could be.  There is a moral imperative that it should be done.  It must be done!  However, visions don’t always happen right away, and they often (usually?) don’t come easily.  Obstacles can come from friends, enemies, and even myself.

Stanley uses Nehemiah as the example of some key aspects in receiving, articulating, expanding, and completing the vision – God’s vision.  I found his examples and conclusions usually well aligned, and I especially enjoyed his insights on how to inspire people with a vision.  I’m not sure I believe as strongly as he that there is a “God-ordained vision for each of the roles of your life”.  In any case, I think it’s a good book to read if you believe God has entrusted you with one of his visions.

My notes on this book can be downloaded in MS Word format from the blue “FILES box” in the left side-bar of this blog.  Look for “Visioneering” as you scroll through the box.

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Preparing The Way

weekly theme #2 Preparing The Way*      

week containing the second Sunday of Advent

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  (Shakespeare –  As You Like It)  The life of John the Baptist would certainly bear evidence to that concept.  John’s destiny was foretold before his birth, and his place on the stage confirmed.  I think John’s introduction, preparation, and purpose were all unique, but the concept can also apply to me.  I am called to my part in God’s story, a part designed for me, or me for it. My cooperation with the Director’s instructions can have broad and deep impact on many others in the story.

Twice Satan called for proof from Jesus that he was the Son of God. (Matthew 4)  He challenged Jesus and showed doubt about Jesus’ position as Lord of creation.  Then, in the third confrontation, Satan portrayed himself as the owner/ruler of all earth.  He offered Jesus power on earth in exchange for Jesus worship to him, but Jesus did not lose his focus.  He kept his eye on the way prepared by his Father, and he ignored the way prepared by the enemy.

Decades ago I heard a message about Isaiah 40:3 whose theme still remains with me.  Between God and each human lies a path to salvation.  The path is littered with memories, attitudes, excuses, and beliefs that hinder them from making progress toward redemption.  My role is to add no new obstacles and remove as many obstacles already present as possible.  I save no one, God does that, but I can help prepare the path.

Part of my preparation for preparing the way is to become instinctively prayerful.  At this time in my life, I need visual cues (prayer lists) and audible reminders (an alarm on my phone) to prompt my prayers, but I desire to make praying an innate part of my living – like blinking or breathing.  This opens me to the Holy Spirit working through me to speak wisely, live holy, and to sense what I am unable to sense on my own.  I can be used to make the path exactly what a person needs in order to take their next step to Jesus.

I do not have the ability to woo a soul.  I can manipulate superficially for a desired response, but heart change comes from the Lord.  He must prepare and call the soul of the person.  Consider the preparation for Jesus’ first coming:

  1. sacred scripture foretold his coming
  2. he was the creator of the creation he entered
  3. John the Baptist served as his advance man
  4. Angels appeared at his birth

Despite all that, he was not widely accepted as the Messiah.  I should not beat myself up if not all those I try to “prepare” do not accept him.  I may sow and water, but the Lord gives the increase.

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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The Lord is Coming

weekly theme #1 The Lord Is Coming*    

the first Sunday of Advent

Sometimes I wish I had been with Jesus while he was on earth, but I know I’m in a better spot now.  I am privileged to have written accounts of his arrival, life, and departure.  Most importantly, I have the Holy Spirit with me constantly to comfort, convict, and guide.  Then I would have just been with Jesus, but now the Lord is in me.

Paul says that Jesus the Christ has made peace between God and all creation through his willingness to sacrifice himself.  (Colossians 3)  His coming was a response of God’s love for his creation.  Even now God comes to me because of his love – not my works, virtue, or sacrifice.  He comes to me, not because of my beauty or value but because of his.

Jesus entry as a babe had a purpose of grand and eternal significance.  He came to complete his work, to be the Lord and the Truth.  My work is not nearly so grand.  In fact, I may be here only to exemplify love and faithfulness to others.  Perhaps I can be the Jesus they see in an ordinary situation that, unknown to me, has eternal results.

In the times of the Old Testament, priests offered blood sacrifices for sins, and only at certain times could a certain Priest enter the Holy of Holies – the presence of God.  Jesus changed everything.  His sacrifice erases sins forever, so no further blood sacrifices are needed.  Additionally, Jesus, as High Priest, has opened the Holy of Holies to me so I may enter God’s presence.  Jesus continues to change everything.  He is the change.  All the things I think change the world are actually tools he may use for change: education, prayer, generosity, humility, military power, science, creativity, religious organizations, and more.  The Lord changes everything.

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Christ The King

weekly theme #56 Christ The King*          

the last Sunday after Pentecost

My prayers are not like the songs I find in the book of Psalms.  Often a psalm begins with a recount of history, a history giving evidence of God’s power and faithfulness.  Following the history, they lament their current condition and beg God to intercede.  I don’t think God needs reminded of his faithfulness.  I, like those authors of the Psalms, am the one who needs reminded.  He knows my needs and cares deeply, but sharing my needs is not the primary reason for prayer.  The primary purpose of prayer is for me to open a portal for the Lord of the universe into my life, triggering peace, love, more praise.

What a strange King I serve.  He arrived as a weak child, not as a King.  He did not come to conquer but to convert and coach and commission.  He felt more at home with the common, marginalized people than with emperors – sleeping on the ground rather than royal sheets.  He suffered temptation, abuse, and death at the hands of those he could have overpowered.  This is the King I serve.

The book of Luke is a book of action.  In chapter eight alone, Jesus exercised power over natural storms, dictated the actions of powerful demons, healed disease, and raised the dead.  When the Lord of the creation speaks, things happen.  He offers power to me, but I both fear it and crave it.  I think the two in combination causes me to doubt my trustworthiness for such power.  Why would Jesus trust me with power I may be too scared to use or use for my own glory?  “LORD, make me a trustworthy vessel!”

I want fresh stories.  Don’t get me wrong, the bible stories of miracles, victories, and redemption inspire me.  I just want something fresh, something less than two-thousand years old.  The God of yesteryear is the same God today.  I know he is working, but is he working in the nation-changing ways of the Bible stories?  “LORD, open my senses to detect your power among the nations.  Let me give witness to works of your hand that are even greater than what I read in the Bible.  Cause people to say, ‘This only happened because of the Lord.’  May even the unbelieving confess your greatness.”

Historically, a person’s king was determined by where they lived, and their allegiance was not their choice, and that’s mostly true today.  However, allegiance is different in the spiritual realm.  Spiritually, I choose my ruler, and I have no reason to complain about how he runs his Kingdom.  I have no excuse to disobey just because some of his rules are difficult, I don’t understand his overall plan, I don’t like something that happened in his Kingdom, or some people in his Kingdom are annoying.  I have no excuse to disobey, but I still disobey.  Yet my King is so great that he loves me enough to forgive me when I turn to him.  He actually longs for me to come back.  He pursues me!  What a great King!

*A Guide To Prayer For Ministers And Other Servants by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

 

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