7.24.2004

Freeing Truth

Recently I have begun reading Dallas Willard's The Spirit of the Disciplines.  There are many things that Dallas has to say that speak very specifically about the human heart and a common spiritual condition within the community of professing christians. I found these statements to be perceptive and enlightening.

In reference to a false approach to following Christ Willard states the telling counterpart to human life which he calls, "the misguided and whimsical condition of humankind."

He says, "the general human failing is to want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality."  (italics mine)

Speaking specifically to Christians,
     "In our efforts to avoid the necessary pains of discipline we miss the easy yoke and light burden. We then fall into the rending frustration of trying to do and be the Christian we know we ought to be without the necessary insight and strength that only discipline can provide. We become unbalanced and are unable to handle our lives."  (italics mine)

These statements come from the books first chapter entitled, The Secret Of The Easy Yoke. This secret is not to be understood as gained from some form of mystically embraced knowledge   that lies between the lines of scripture but rather is missed and not apprehended by us, "Because of the contemporary bias with which we read the Gospels," a bias that Willards says, "we'll be discussing later" in the book. This bias causes us to, "have difficulty seeing the main emphases in his (Jesus') life." In reference to the Matthew 11:29-30 passsage where Christ speaks of the, "easy yoke and light burden" and other words of Jesus, Willard says, "To many, Jesus' words are frankly bewildering. We hear them often quoted, because the idea they express is obviously one that attracts and delights, but there seems to be something about the way we approach them, something about what we think it means to walk with Christ and obey him, that prevents most of us from entering into the reality which they express. The ease, lightness, and power of his Way we rarely enjoy, much less see, as the pervasive and enduring quality of our street-level human existance."

It gets really exciting in reading this when Willard states, "the secret involves living as he lived in the entirety of his life--adopting his overall life-style. Following "in his steps" cannot be equated with behaving as he did when he was "on the spot" To live as Christ lived is to live as he did all his life."

I am excited about this read. This book addresses the practical yet crucial and vital issue of sanctification both by God's Spirit and the important yet often neglected aspect of our intentionally active cooperational lives. I have'nt gone that far in the book yet but I believe that I can safely assume that Willard is aiming at addressing the kind of spirit we are to have in order to actively and intentionally seek to have our lives bear the image of God.

My friend Riley told me, "the first chapter of the book alone is worth the price of the book."






7.20.2004

Who am I?
 
I am an image bearer. Like every other soul born in all of time and history all humans were born to reflect the image of something. That something is a person. That person is God. The creature was created to reflect Creator. In being made for this my reason for living is to bring glory to God my creator and originator of all things. I need to focus on this fact. Within this truth is my identity. I cannot do anything as I should or as I was meant to do without this fact embraced as a reality. For it is reality. I can choose to believe a lie and serve myself and think that all of life, (that is my little vapor of a life) is the center of all things, and that I live to suit my pleasures and desires. I also can live knowing that God is real and that he is there and that “in him we live and move and have our being.” This “knowing that God is real” is a very informed life, that is a life that has learned many facts about the reality of God and what He has revealed. Yet to learn many facts about God and to know that He is there and that He does this or that is of no profit to my life now unless I embrace from the center of my person the reality of God. Knowledge is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The end of knowledge is always God. All knowledge points to God because it comes from God. The book of Proverbs says that, “from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Yes I must be informed (gain knowledge). But then I must live in and by this (knowledge) information. There is no wisdom with knowledge that is merely theoretical. But knowledge applied is wise and makes for wisdom.
To know myself is not to know in theory, but to live actively with the consciousness of who I really am in reality. I am an image bearer. That is what I am. What I am to bear is the image of God. Who I am, in the center of my being my heart, by the grace of God through Christ who has given me life and power to stand before Him and to reflect Him must seek to keep standing before Him. I must stand before Him so that I may more and more grow to reflect Him.  I must continually seek to stand before Him so that I do not stand before another or stand alone as myself. If I stand before another or by myself than I am no longer reflecting God, where my true identity lies.
I want to walk in the light as He is in the light. I want to progressively become more and more like Christ. This wanting will always be with me. To want to become like Christ is the desire of a wife to be one with her husband in intimate communion, so that they are no longer twain but one. This want is the Holy Spirits work and presence and seal upon my heart that I am betrothed to a husband and permanently fixed in covenant with Him. I want my husband. I do want Christ.
I learn and hear much about Christ. Who he is. What he has done and what he is doing. But I lack the deliberate and intentional seeking to be with Him and one with Him. I know this because in the midst of my desire and passion for Him there is a dwindled and dwindling passion and desire for Him.
My words are the manifest symptoms of my heart, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Where I am is good because where I am is in His hands. But where I am is never fixed. Where I am is continually moving with Him. I am continually and progressively living and moving and having my being in Him. Although I feel and look very incomplete, my completeness is Him.
Random thoughts as it were, I am an image bearer. I am betrothed to one husband eternal. I want the intimate communion with my husband, who is my God, Creator and originator of all things. God’s bride and wife is in my midst as well. They too are looking and feeling incomplete but their completeness is not themselves or ourselves but Him. We cry for our husband. To be like Him; to be one with Him.

Paradoxically sounding; though we aren’t with Him, we are.


7.15.2004

A want to open.
A very strong cyclonic storm of pressurized thoughts.
Arrayed emotions tied to circumstances; trivial and vital feeling.
O a want for releasement!

Solace is my confession.

It would be really good to have a runners high right now.

7.14.2004

Hazreti Isa (Turkish for Jesus Christ)

Danae is really cute. She is my little bedresting egg. She has an eggy tank. I am grateful that I can be home at this time to help her in the transition to the strict prescription for her and the beans sake. Since Danae has started her bedrest I have begun to play, "Mr. Mom". I enjoy it. Usually the site of dirty dishes, doing laundry and whatever else is not appealing work, but I have quickly acclimated to it. It feels good to clean. It's nice to see the transformation the happens when your cleaning. I know our sanctification is allot like that too. It's a scary thought to be a clean cup but filthy on the inside! I have been sensing my short temper and proneality to complain and murmur now. It happens and manifest's often. I know that I am lacking patience know that this is also due to lack of seeking the mind of Christ in solitude and prayerful meditation with God in and by His word. When I manifest my impatience and complaining outload that can become an influence to my wife and those around me. To exhibit a controlled spirit is much more attractive and gravitating to Christ. It feels good when one has controls of their emotions to an extant or rather to their tendencies to complain and murmur. Not that this is an end in itself but it certainly is beautiful. Rather it drives us closer to the formation of Christ within us. Christians don't want to be a clean dish or cup and be filthy on the inside. Appearance is not the goal. Transformation of the life within is. The apprehension of the Kingdom within our lives.
This Kingdom is given to them that seek it through Hazreti Isa.

7.09.2004

The Season of Miguel's unplanned place of obedience.

On Wednesday evening I began to search for another job via the internet. It was decided by Joshua, John and Miguel (myself) that RDC no longer can go on with three men operating it. RDC Lawncare was and is only generating enough profit to support two families. RDC was three Christian husbands working together to furnish our families needs and our livelihood.
Lastweek it was suggested that I would start focusing on selling our services to neighborhoods on a fulltime basis while Joshua and John would be working the accounts we already have. We all agreed it would be a good idea. The plan was simple and it seemed to be one with good expectations. I new I could distribute RDC Lawncare flyers and go door to door all day long. We were looking to see through the growth of our company our families needs taken care of and the needs of RDC through the downtime of late fall through spring taken care of. The attempt to begin was the beginning of this week. Mon. and Tues. I had to work on a side job to supplement my income by doing a mulching job, which in actuality is RDC's work, but I need the money earnestly that I was able to take the job for myself and the immediate profit of my family. So on Wednesday I began distributing flyers for our services door to door on the Northeast side in Castleton. We have an existing account up there servicing Grace Presbyterian Church so it seemed good to tackle that neighborhood up there. Like I said I had a good time. There is always an excitement of going door to door and engaging people in real life and offering our services. There was one occasion when I was able to speak with an elderly man about the our services. I gave him a bid/estimate for his yard and he looked at me with this look of contempt like how could I be suggesting an outrageous price like that to a man who can barely walk around his own yard to appreciate it! I said "well if that's too much"....He quickly retorted, "Too Much..Too much!?!?" Inside I thought "O man, this is not good, this guy thinks I am his enemy or something." He told me to get off of his property and quickly disappeared from the doorway. I could no longer see him. So I just turned really discouraged and upset because he misunderstood me and didn't give me a chance to explain to him the reasons for the cost. As I was beginning to walk down the driveway I heard what sounded like the cocking of a rifle or shotgun or something like that. I turned around to look back at the door and saw the old man in his boxers with his black socks up over his calves and a white muscle shirt on holding a shotgun pointing at me! I said outlet, "Whoa man...." And then "boom!!!" This buck shot riddling spray of bullets came at me with such speed and force in the blink of an eye, I thought in this moment simultaneous with the gunshot, "I'm going to be killed."...The bullets went everywhere but me!! These large pine trees were directly behind me and all I heard was tree bark and limbs getting blasted and broken. Dead squirrels falling all over the driveway. I dropped my mailbag with my flyers, notepad, Albuterol inhaler, pocket Bible; the(ESV), and pens and other malarky unto the drive way and somersaulted torwards this murderous black socked boxer wearing old man and said right before he could cock the gun and get another round off at me, "I'll give you full lawncare service for $30 dollars a cut and..." He quickly responded to me before I could finish, (like lasttime!) with a twinkle in his eye, "You got yourself brand new business buddy." After that we enjoyed some freshly grounded Starbucks coffee, (houseblend) with a freshly made Cinnabon.
It was the best day of marketing for RDC Lawncare I ever had.
Alright enough with my adventures. . Like I said before the tangent and it was TRUE..(on ti saw ton eurt!), there is always an excitement of going door to door and engaging people in real life and offering our services. This past Wednesday was supposed to be the beginning of building business fulltime. Later that afternoon on Wednesday while I was distributing, Joshua called me and asked if us three could have a meeting soon. So we did. John and Joshua had finished up early that day and they came and picked me up in Castleton and we went to Qdoeba on RDC Lawncare, (the fat guy in Miami usually picks up the bill). While eating my burrito Joshua tells me the reason why we are having this meeting is because they concluded that one guy has to leave RDC Lawncare in order for it to stay afloat, and in order for at least two of our families can make it. I new this to be true.
Just earlier in the day I thought to myself that I probably should go and get another job and just work to build business for RDC once in a while part-time. The thought came to me. Than it went away. But when Joshua mentioned it at Qdoeba I new that it was certainly true.
We decided to cast lots. Right there and than. We talked about it for a moment. Encouraged ourselves unto the Sovereignty of God and prayed before doing the deed. Joshua had cut some pieces of paper at different lengths and stuck them under a clipboard enough for them protrude evenly out so they all looked the same. John and I were to pick. Joshua would be last. John and I would be the deciding pickers. When John pulled one and than I we would automatically know who was the one to leave RDC Lawncare. So John pulled. His piece of paper looked long. I knew he was still in. I saw two pieces left. John and pulled the middle one. I knew now we would find out. I pulled the one to the right. It was very long. We were fixed on Joshua's eyes and and Joshua had a face of determined fortitude coupled with an awkward hidden smile of surprise and sorrow. It hit me very deep in the heart. It was one of the saddest experiences. Joshua embraced it. We were all in discomfort and shock, because now we knew who was going to be leaving RDC Lawncare and look for another job. All three of us worked together. It was great fellowship/camaraderie/co-workmanship. We worked good together. We enjoyed beers together. Although Joshua always drank non-alcoholic ones. It was good. We have been through allot already these past four months of work. Sun up to sun down. We smoked flavored Philly Blunt cigars together. We had lots of good laughs. And we felt proud to be able to serve together for the same endeavor; to provide an honest service to others under the sun while seeking to make a good livelihood for our families.
It was really sad. One of us had to go. We knew that. We consoled one another with the fact that we would never leave each other high and dry. We were constrained by the love of our Lord who is Christ to meet one another's needs and to always be there to support in good and bad times. And surely this has been the fruit of our lives together since we all met. The fruit of the Vine has manifested in manifold ways in and through our friendship together. We were real humans working together. Sometimes clashing with our ideas and ways of doing things but always ending in sweet love and closer transparent brotherly affections and bond. I love John and Joshua. It's now the second day that I am no longer with RDC Lawncare and in my heart deeply seated I really miss them. The sound of the John Deere and Exmark motors, the Schindawa Trimmer zipping in circular motion like a giant mechanical cicada singing and ripping through the natural elements. Most I miss is sitting next to John and Joshua in the truck in between accounts laughing about the characters of life and the idiosyncrasies of reality. John would manifest his character in unusual ways. He makes me laugh real good. His mock-jerk-smartass character that he portrays sometimes is the best. Joshua is good at playing many roles. He is good at improv. He cracks me up. He is also one of the most agile creatures on this earth. One time John and I were watching him do these headstand somersaults in the air while roli poling on the ground like a ninja. He is awesome. Not to mention the time he did that in my mother-in-laws backyard finishing his ninja acrobatics with tossing a knife into the side of her garage like he was on a blood-hunt.
I know that as your reading this you are wonder what in the world is going on. I began by saying that I am the one looking for a job and yet Joshua was the one who drew the "shortest straw" making him the one to leave RDC.
I knew that I was the one to leave. I was frustrated with not having the security of not being able to make enough to pay our bills and now being late on paying everything. I needed and need money now. I couldn't wait another two months to get things better with my family financially. We get paid on the last two weeks of the month now. And we are not generating good profit in light of the necessary expenses the RDC has to maintain and operate the business. I knew that Joshua loved the job the most. He is an intelligent guy who has been going to college for thirty or forty years, (mind you Joshua is only 27 yrs. old) has a wife and new born child, and wants to stay in this line of work. He is most earnest in the field. John is also but would rather be a policeman and is hoping to become one very soon. I on the otherhand like the work but the money is a determining factor in my decion making. I cannot stay in this business if it cannot provide for my family. I would love to run and be a partner of RDC Lawncare if it was conducive to the most important things in my family but now it is not. John and Joshua would do better without me and can do better with the company and their families since they have less monthly expenses in finances then I do. That is why I after the lot was cast I decided and volunteered to leave the company. I knew it was supposed to be me.
My leaving does not mean that I will never be a part of RDC Lawncare. Joshua most certainly will stay and run this business even if John becomes a Law enforcement officer for our city. If that happens I can jump on the bandwagon next season with Joshua and it will be him and I. But that is not certain. I do not know what will happen. I may find a good job that provides well for my growing family and stay there. John may end up staying in RDC support and raise his wife and child with another one coming in the winter. Either way God provides for us all. We will toil with the strength that God gives and we will always remain and be fellow brothers in Christ Jesus and faithful comrades. It is always just the beginning.