An Unfinished Chiasm

Keep your Philosophy, Latin and Greek
—I have a Person’s face to seek
——To know the micro expression thoughts
———And the innermost melodies of His heart

———They play in every word well sung
——Read by those seeking truth and love
—His gaze, His lips, His gentle breathing
_________________________________

Who dares to finish it?

The Four Captains

Four ship captains set sail to go to sea. One captain let the wind and waves carry him and did not steer, and he ended up crashed on the rocks. Another Captain being nervous about the strong winds, rolled up his sails and made his men row the whole time, but the men grew tired, and the ship quickly turned back for home. Another captain had no compass, but he steered his ship towards any visible or imagined points on the horizon, but he ended up getting lost at sea. Still another captain steered his ship into the winds with sails unfurled, and used his compass to guide him, and he sailed to his destination over the horizon pushing through every wind. He reached his destination and all of his men and his goods made it with him.

“Disciple-shelf” Part 2: The Books and Why

These collections will have comments on either where I came across the book, or what it meant to me, and where it can be found today. The Rating scale is from 0-4, which indicates difficulty or level of interest.

One more word before I begin: The Bible is of course the most important book in discipleship, and the ultimate rule in faith and practice. Until you learn the original languages, and can make a decision how to handle the English translations stick with the bible through which you have seen Jesus Christ most clearly.

Collection 1: Deep Personal Intimacy with God

3-4 Refiner’s Fire Vols. 1 and 2 by David Wilkerson

  • This was on My Dad’s list: a collection sermons which reveal Jesus in a heart-fiery way. Worth reading three or four times just to get all that is there. This was on my Dad’s list. Available on rarechristianbooks.com.

2 Power through Prayer by E.M. Bounds

  • A Classic: the best book on prayer I know of. Available on Amazon.

3 Reese Howells: Intercessor by Norman Grubb

  • My Dad gave me this book when I was ready for it. It’s the story of a person who grew to know the Lord and the Lord led him through various trainings so that he could accomplish the supernaturally impossible. Amazon.

2 The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • This is a no non-sense call to radical following Christ. No bookshelf on Discipleship is complete without it. Amazon.

1 Knowing God by J. I. Packer

  • A heart-felt and moving classic detailing some intimately relational ways of God. It’s like Existence and Attributes of God Lite. Amazon.

2 Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere

  • A book which really helps navigate the controversy surrounding hearing the voice of God today still. It is very helpful for how to handle it when God does speak with you. Christianbooks.com

2 The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs

  • Another Puritan classic about the place of Contentment in the Christian Life. This was also on my Dad’s list. Amazon.

0 Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel

  • Pastor John Outlaw gave me this pamphlet as a good indicator of if a person will be faithful enough to be discipled. If they brought it back and had some thoughts he would agree to disciple them. Amazon.

4 Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock

  • This two volume book of treatises is simultaneously the most intellectually dense book to read and the most devotional. It combines heart and mind, truth and love in a very respectful and inspiring exercise of the soul beholding God, and the human condition. No matter how smart or emotional you are, you will be stretched beyond yourself and called to try to embrace the immensity of the infinite ocean of God’s goodness. This was on my Dad’s list. Christianbooks.com

1 Revival God’s Way or Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill

  • An impassioned appeal for the Revival of God’s people in Prayer according to God’s purpose. Amazon.

2 The Training of the Twelve by A. B. Bruce

  • How would you like to be trained right alongside the twelve disciples. This book simulates this very thing. This was also on my dad’s list. Amazon.

Collection 2: Biblical Theology Worldview

1 Prodigal God by Tim Keller

  • The best explanation of the Prodigal Son which has something for everyone. It gets to the bottom of the gospel for people who have grown up in the church, and who have grown up outside of it. Amazon.

2 Orthodoxy by G. K Chesterton

  • This book is an offered cure to people who are stuck in a black and white world of rationality. This is an appeal to the fantastical and the colorful as an important part of knowing the truth and beauty of God. Amazon.

3 From Eden to New Jerusalem by T. Desmond Alexander

  • A Biblical Theology of the progression of the themes of God’s work in and through the Old and New Testament. This is one of many and this one is an easy one to digest and introduce Biblical Theology. Amazon.

3 In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis by Henri Blocher

  • A book that has given me helpful ways to examine the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis. It is very helpful to humbly examine the different theories for how long the world took to be created according to Genesis. Amazon.

3 The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser

  • This book opened my eyes to things which English translations and church history had obscured from the author’s thoughts in the Bible about the Supernatural world. Very fascinating to at least be aware of this perspective and see if it is convincing to you. Amazon.

2 On being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O Forte

  • There are few tenets of the Christian faith more central than Christ’s work on the Cross. This principle is at the heart of the Gospel, and must be applied throughout the Gospel and the Christian life. Amazon.

2 Prophetic Ministry by T. Austin Sparks

  • The best work on the whole work of prophecy from internal relationship with God, outward proclamation, and the heart of all prophecy that I have ever read! rarechristianbooks.com.

1 Wild at Heart by John Elderedge

  • A book about recovering and embracing Biblical Masculinity. The companion book for women is Captivating, which is also very good. Amazon.

1 Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan

  • Arguably one of the most important books in the Christian faith, as it demonstrates in a storied form how a Christian can interact in all phases of his life. I recommend unabridged. Amazon.

Collection 3: Outworking of Faith

1 Pushing yourself to Power by John Peterson

  • A great book on Physically strengthening with functional strength, so that the man of God may be exercised for godliness. Amazon.

1 Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

  • There are so many disciplines which each of us have not heard of, but this book provides chances to grow in ways you didn’t even know you could. Amazon.

1 Discover your God-given Gifts by Don and Katie Forture

  • Useful for discovering how you are built to function in the body of Christ based on personality. It’s based on Romans 12:3-7, and theorizes that the whole body is to be broken up into these various body parts and functions. Great for figuring out how the church as a whole should work. Amazon.

2 Spiritual Warfare by Dr Karl L Payne

  • A very accessible, and all bases covered explanation for how to deal with demonic influences appropriated with the arenas world, and the flesh. Amazon.

4 The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall

  • A three-volume, Puritan, thorough, and devotional Classic about how to apply the Armor of God and the strength of God in Spiritual Warfare in the Christian life. This was on the original list my Dad referred to. Amazon.

1 Out of the Saltshaker and into the World by Rebecca Pippert

  • A great accessible work on the dynamic of Evangelism. Amazon.

2 Introduction to Biblical Preaching by Donald Sunukjian

  • A good start to preaching Biblically and well. Amazon.

2 7 Lessons for New Pastors by Matthew Kim

  • A good beginning book for Pastors. Amazon.

2 When Helping Hurts by Stephen Corbett & Brian Fikkert

  • No one should attempt foreign missions or ministry to the poor without reading this book. Amazon.

2 Culture Making by Andy Crouch

  • A great way to consider different approaches to culture as a Christian and strengths and weaknesses of both. Amazon.

2 Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • A good treatise on how fellowship works in the body of Christ. Amazon.

Collection 4: The Church’s Journey

1 Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

  • A picture of the reality of recent persecution. This is the story of the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs. Amazon.

2 Theology in Context of World Christianity by Timothy Tennent

  • All over the world different cultures are experiencing Christianity differently. Amazon.

1 Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L Shelley

  • A great story of how the church has grown through the past 2000 years, very digestible and easy to appreciate. Amazon.

2 Handbook of Denominations by Mead, Hill, and Atwood

  • A good resource for getting a feel for what different Christians believe and their history. Amazon.

3 The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins

  • I bet you didn’t know that Christianity has splintered into East and South. A Fascinating picture of the global church outside of Western Christianity. Amazon.

3 Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe

  • The stories of people who carried their testimony even unto death through Church History. Amazon.

Collection 5: Bible Translation in Original Languages

1 Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS) (The Hebrew Old Testament) by Bible Society, Kelley, and Scott

  • This is the Old Testament in Hebrew with Masoretic punctuation, Vowel pointing, and Textual Criticism. Amazon.

2 Basics of Biblical Hebrew 2nd Ed. by Pratico and Van Pelt

  • The Book to teach you the basics of Ancient Hebrew. Amazon.

3 Basics of Biblical Hebrew Workbook 2nd Ed by Pratico and Van Pelt

  • The Workbook that teaches you the basics of Hebrew. It is futile to try to learn Hebrew without it. Amazon.

2 Pocket Dictionary of the Study of Biblical Hebrew by Murphy

  • There are a lot of words that you’ll run across in your study of Biblical Hebrew. This is a dictionary to help you out of the confusion hole. Amazon.

3 Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew to English Lexicon by Brown, Driver, and Briggs

  • The most thorough Hebrew Lexicon I know of. Amazon.

2 Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament by William Holladay

  • Not as thorough as BDB, but sufficient for general dives into the text to discover the meaning of Hebrew words. Amazon.

1 Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 28th Ed. by Institute for NT Textual Research

  • The New Testament in Koine’ Greek with Textual Apparatus. Amazon.

2 Basics of Biblical Greek 3rd Ed. by William D. Mounce

  • The Book to teach you the basics of Koine Greek in the New Testament. Amazon.

3 Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook 3rd Ed. by William D Mounce

  • The Workbook that teaches you the basics of Greek. This is a must-have companion with the Book. Amazon.

4 Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics by Daniel Wallace

  • This will spell out just about every nuance in the New Testament in detail. If you find something and it’s not in here, it probably isn’t real. Amazon.

3 Syntax of New Testament Greek by Brooks & Winberg

  • This will help you pick up on the significance of nuances in the language. Amazon.

3 BDAG Greek-English Lexicon by Bauer, Danker, Ardt and Gingrich

  • This is the Lexicon for the New Testament. This is where you will learn what the Greek text words mean. Amazon.

Collection 6: Sound Biblical Interpretation

2 Introduction to Biblical Interpretation by Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard

  • Great introduction to Hermeneutics. Amazon.

2 New Testament Exegesis by Gordon Fee

  • The Process of New Testament exegesis from Beginning to End. Amazon.

2 Biblical Words and their Meanings by Moise’s Silva

  • Key to a formative understanding of how Word’s meaning are shaped by context. Amazon.

3 On the Reliability of the Old Testament by K.A. Kitchen

  • The most fun any academic has had proving that the Old Testament is reliable. Amazon.

I say again. The most important book in your library is always your copy of God’s Word. Be ready to change Bibles and how you read the Bible as you grow as a Christian.

And I close with the reminder: Christianity can be aided and supplemented by books but ultimately it is exercised internally and externally and eternally. May these books bear you to a clearer manifestation of Christ in you, the hope of Glory.

Your servant,

Aner327

“Disciple-shelf” Part 1– Analogies and Instructions

Written on January 19, 2022

Following Jesus Christ is only accomplished in practice and exercise internally and externally but it can be supplemented and aided by books. My own collections began with my Dad who had lost a list of books given to him by a friend, but he recalled as many as he could and shared them with me. This is a snapshot of where my shelf is now. I am hopeful that I may grow and refine this shelf over a lifetime.

My Disciple-shelf

First let me explain the analogies. I was given a short black wooden bookshelf with three shelves, and I divided each shelves into two halves.

  1. The top shelf is for books about: Deep Personal Intimacy with God and Biblical Theology Worldview Heart Perspective.
  2. The middle shelf houses books about the Outworking of Faith in Exercise, Culture, Service, and Fellowship, and about The Church’s journey through time, space, and variation.
  3. The bottom shelf is for the collections of Translation in the Biblical Languages and Sound Biblical Interpretation.

Rainbow of Discipleship

Christianity is Spiritual, Intellectual, Personal, Social, Financial, Career-related, Familial, and Physical. And for my walk, it has been rooted in Faithful Devoted Translation of His Word. This breaks the white light of the Revelation of Jesus into a spectrum of Color.

Collection 1: Deep Personal Intimacy with God

Collection 2: Biblical Theology Worldview

Collection 3: Outworking of Faith

Collection 4: The Church’s Journey

Collection 5: Translation in Biblical Languages

Collection 6: Sound Biblical Interpretation

These six collections provide an ability to inform much of the whole spectrum of God’s revelation in Christ. This way, a disciple of Jesus will not be color-blind.

The Missile-ple-ship

MISSILE-PLE-SHIP

The Three Shelves have three central features and with one stabilizing feature for each level like a Missile.

The Top Shelf: The central feature is Deep Personal Intimacy with God. This is the Payload: the truly explosive and powerful part of any believer’s life: the revelation of Jesus Christ. The companion stabilizing feature is the Biblical Theology Worldview Heart Perspective. These are like the guidance computer and the nose cone: which keep the missile piercing the air upwards toward heaven, and keeps the whole life on target.

The Middle Shelf: The central feature is the outworking of faith in all areas of life: physical, financial, familial, career-wise, service, and fellowship. This represents the fuel, the relationships that keep moving with the whole body as we work and stay on mission together. The stabilizing feature of this level is the Church’s Journey to familiarize a believer with how the church has walked in history and how the church today has its various streams in various countries and cultures.

The Lower Shelf: The central feature is the Translation of the Scriptures in the Biblical Languages. This oddly enough has been a tremendous propulsion system in my own life. The Word of God itself is a wonderful fire of God’s holiness to sustain the flight of the Christian forever. The stabilizing feature of this level is Sound Biblical Interpretation, which keeps the propulsion straight and upright. The Work of Translating the scriptures as an interpreter is very much like a Nozzle where people can feel the heat of the fire of the Word of God.

Are all of them necessary?

All of these components are necessary to make the missile work, launch, fly, find it’s mark, and deliver a payload of explosive power! To have all but the 6th collection (Sound Biblical interpretation) the disciple is at risk of launching a warhead into the air with no stability to keep it from coming back down on his own head in destruction. To have all but the 5th collection is to have no propulsion and no truly spiritual power from the ministry of the Word, or at best it must be outsourced to others which often has much sparks and fire but no internally true launching power. To have all but the 4th Collection is to potentially get side-swiped part of the way through the journey by people hijacking or pushing your mission off target to fit into the flightpath of other missiles on other missions. To neglect the 3rd Collection is to be practically ill equipped for your ministry in impacting the world physically, financially, intellectually etc. To neglect the 2nd Collection is to have a lot of knowledge about God even intimately, but to get lost in appropriating scripture, ministry, and revelation in ways that are overly subjective, without an objective standard of Biblical Theology. To neglect the 1st Collection, is to have a small to non-existent payload, and have nothing impactful of Christ Jesus to reveal in your life; in essence to be a dud.

What order should I read them in?

If I had to recommend a place to start, I would definitely start with the first ministry of knowing Him (Collection 1) but I would be quick to stabilize it with some work from Collection 2. I would get started on Collection 5 (Translation) after having some work in correct interpretation (Collection 6) as soon as possible. As I grew in secret, I would want to find out more about how to take this and practically use it, (Collection 4), and finally see what the church has thought historically and today. (Collection 5) Still, in growing with the Lord, there will be much back and forth between all of these collections, and may He lead you into what area He wishes for you to explore next.

A Seventh Collection

There is a seventh area of the discipleship books which I recommend highly, is the collection that you write yourself: note taking, journaling, bible-marking, correspondence. Jesus never may have written anything down, but praise the Lord for the people who did. My father told me, if you look for a common denominator of all those who were greatly used by God, they kept a journal/wrote things down. There are probably exceptions to this rule, but in my own life, this has become a tremendous exercise for chronicling my own journey with the Lord, and recording His faithfulness as another track record for how real He is. My journals are my testimony. Furthermore, it has helped me sort through the jumbling of my own thoughts and God’s thoughts, and evil thoughts, and let me work them out like a work-bench for the things that are in my heart. Through it God has shaped me and entrusted me with the treasure of ripening fruit. Now I have a place to keep them until they are ripe.

Continue on to Part 2 for the current list of books in each collection.

The Scar Chapter 4

The Lava man and the gardener did their best to repair the wound to Zoe’s hand, but all they could do is put some salve on it to ease the pain and a great bandage around it. Her hand now looked like a molten cracked landscape on top, with some crusted scab and ooze in the cracks. Zoe was able to bear the pain of it better, now that things with her father were better. They went back and finished their dinner that the events with the stranger had interrupted.

Later that night, as she was getting ready for bed she heard a knock on the door. It was her Mom coming to say good night.

“Hey honey. How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.” She said.

“Your hand?” She said motioning to the bandaged hand.

“It still hurts.”

“Try not to move it too much.”

“Yes Mom.” And with that, Mom leaned over and kissed her on the forehead and said, “Good night.”

“Good night.” Zoe said as she snuggled under the covers.

Her sleep was not to be. She blinked after a while in bed. The house was still and the lights were out. She rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She lifted her white-bandaged hand and wrist, and then placed it back down on top of her blanket and sheets.

She remembered what her father had said: to go to God as your Heavenly Father. She couldn’t sleep, so she just prayed.

“God, would you please heal my hand?”

No response.

“God, my Dad said that you would come if I called you.” But then as she said it, she remembered his words, “If you seek him with all your heart.”

She tried again. “God, will you please heal my hand?”

No response again. Maybe she wasn’t doing it right. Maybe she was still mad at her Dad, and God didn’t like that, or that made her heart unable to hear him.

A third time she persisted, “Father, I am sorry for what I did to disobey my dad. If you are willing, could you please heal my hand?”

This time, she didn’t hear anything, but she felt something. It was like the silence around her was full of something. It wasn’t bad, but it was . . . hard to describe except . . . peaceful.

Is this what her Dad meant?

She checked her hand unwrapping it from the bandage. It was still tightly curled in a fist of burned skin and oozed scabbing.

Then she heard in her head, three words that felt like they were “light” itself. They were:

Open your hand

Her inside recognized the voice. It was something she had heard in her father’s voice, but it was other than her father’s voice. She at first was delighted to comply. She stretched the un-wounded hand open and raised it up for God in Heaven to see. But the “light voice” returned:

Not that one

She then realized, he meant to open the burned hand. By now, the burned skin had hardened, and It stung and oozed and burned.

“But it will hurt” she said.

There was no answer. But a memory stirred in her mind. A picture of an old woman who said to a boy she had been healing. “It has to hurt if it is to heal.” That was the answer. She had healed enough wounds of others to know that it was true. But her mother had said, “Don’t move it.” She had asked God her Father to heal her. And he had responded with a command: open your hand. The same words her Dad had spoken to her when she asked him earlier. She knew it was the answer.

But now, the choice was hers. Did she want to obey God or did she want to leave her hand the way it was? Did she trust Him enough to go through the pain He asked her to? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have one burned hand, she thought. She could still heal people. But her hand wouldn’t be able to feel as much as she needed to tenderly care for others. It would be a scar that she would always carry, but would not be one of the scars she loved.

She spoke to the voice, peacefully assured of Whom she was talking to, and said, “If I do it, will you heal me?”

The response was confusing. It was garbled with her own thoughts. It was as if, her own mind was speaking louder than His voice. It was not a helpful question.

She tried again. “If I obey you, will you do what I want?”

She tried to quiet everything else to hear what He would say, and a sad question came back,

Must I?

Her face grew puzzled, and she now wondered if she was truly speaking with her Heavenly Father? He’s All-powerful. He doesn’t have to anything . . . And then it hit her. She was trying to impose a condition on her obedience to God. As if she was saying to God, “I will trust you, if you promise you’ll heal me.” As if He had to agree to her terms before she would do anything. She knew she was wrong to say it. That’s why it was so confusing. She had to be willing to trust Him even if he did not promise to heal her. But she did have her Dad’s assurance that He would heal her heart.

“So that’s what this is about.” She breathed mostly to herself. “You want to heal more than just my hand.”

Yes

Then she felt it. She had come before the presence of the Almighty, and He did not crush her. He offered her a step of obedience to take. That was what she needed. And just like she trusted her father. . . maybe . . .

She let out a deep breath and said, “Okay, God. I will.” As she took the bandage completely off, she held her burned hand in her good hand. She first tried to see if there was any painless way to pry apart the fingers, but all she could do was pick at scabs and cause bleeding.

She sighed. Her gift was so helpful in situations like this. If only she could heal herself. But her gift didn’t work like that. She couldn’t heal herself. She needed someone else to take her wound.

She took a deep breath then put her muscles in her hand and forearm to work. The tearing, the stinging, the burning feelings all made her whine and cry again. She remembered the initial pain when it happened as her fingers out-stretched and moved around. It was like her whole hand was an exposed nerve. She felt the air brushing against it chilly like a knife.

And then again the voice came.

Give Me your hand.

Tearfully crying afresh, she extended her hand out into the air above her bed in the dark saying, “Where are you?”

Right here.

And then though she could not see anything, she felt a warmth surround her outstretched hand and grow hotter. It was like her father’s fire, only it didn’t consume her skin. Instead, it comforted it. It hurt good, like the salve they had put on her hand earlier. She held her hand out for as long as the warm process in the dark was going, and when it was over, she pulled her hand back to her and felt it with her good hand. And to her amazement and shaky gasps of laughter, the difference between her good hand and the hand that was burned was no more. She kept feeling around the skin of that the burned hand, but she felt no pain.

Suddenly, in the midst of her delight and amazement, she realized that she for the first time in her life, she was now on the receiving end of her own gift. And she knew the cost of what it must mean to the one who heals. She wondered, and asked aloud, “Father, does this mean that you have to deal with my pain in yourself?”

His response came almost as if with a smile: I already did.

She remembered that Jesus had died on the cross, and carried all sin and causes of sin, all infirmities on himself in the Cross. He bore her pain out of love for her. And now she loved Him all the more.

Then, as she felt around her hand that had been burned, she felt a patch of skin that was still rough to the touch. She turned on her lamp by her bed, and looked at her hand. It was like new, except for this small patch of a scar on the back of her hand about an inch wide. And she said,

“Lord, why did you leave a scar?”

I have scars too.

At this, she responded with something between crying and laughing, because she understood what He meant.

The next morning, she told her parents how God had met her. The father and the mother were amazed at the scar and they rejoiced. And that is how Zoe got her favorite scar of all.

The Scar Chapter 3

After a while of lying on her bed, she now stared over the edge of her pillow until her Mom came in the room. She immediately felt like her Mom could not help her, so she stiffened.

Her Mom sat on the edge of her bed next to her daughter, and like nursing a wilted sapling she stroked her daughter’s back.

“I’m so sorry, honey. I know it hurt terribly what your father did to you.”

She said nothing.

“We both been trying so hard to protect you, and he went too far.”

“Yeah, well he’ll never want to protect me again.” She said bitterly.

“Why?” asked the mother.

“Because I broke his mold around my hand. I know he felt it. He’ll never forgive me for causing him that kind of pain.”

“Oh, I think you don’t understand your father at all.”

“And you do?” shot back the daughter and hugged her pillow and turned her back toward her mother.

The mother lay down on the bed beside her and reached her arms around her jagged daughter.

“Your father does love his creations. But there’s no creation He loves more than his child. He feels like he has hurt you so badly that you can never forgive him.”

The daughter was surprised at this. “Do you think he would forgive me?”

“I know He already has.” She said. “And if there’s anything I have learned about your father being married to him, he is usually willing to admit when he’s wrong. It just might take him some time to see it. Now, if you want things with your Dad to be fixed, I am going to tell you what you need to do.”

Meanwhile, the dad had called the ambulance to come pick up the man at his house, and the man had just left on his way to getting some help in the hospital. Inside though, his heart was like an iron ship that had been sunk. He knew his daughter was hurt more than her hand. Her heart was in her hand. . . and he had burned it. How could she ever trust him again? He worried that maybe he would hurt her worse with an apology, as if it would take away the meaning of what she had suffered. But he also knew that he was wrong, so he got up and walked toward Zoe’s door, when suddenly, he stopped.

The doorknob slowly turned, and Zoe stepped into the living room toward her father. Her hand was badly burned still. Slowly and with a slight shudder she walked up to her father and slowly lifted her eyes to look into his face. The father was mystified. Her daughter was not angry. The look in her eyes was more unbearably breaking. Her eyes were full of trust.

She reached out both her hands toward him and said, “Papa, I know you love me. If you want to rockify my hands again so that I never heal another wound, I offer them to you. I promise I won’t break the rock again.

At this, her father sank to his knees. He held out his hand to take her unburned hand. She gingerly held it out, hoping that he would not encase it in rock, but still trusting him. When he took her hand he gestured to her to kneel with him on the floor. She did.

With difficulty he got the ability to speak again. “With your confidence in my love and your trust of my goodness, you have overcome me, my amazing Zoe.”

He took her into his arms and embraced her, and she cried as they squeezed one another. He released his grip to look her in her eyes, and he said, “I do love you, and I confess I was so wrong to hurt you and to hinder you as I did. Your heavenly Father gave you this gift, and I was a wretched fool to use my gift to keep you limited to the life that made sense to me.”

Then he clasped the burned hand that was still balled up into a fist in his two hands and said, “By the grace of God who gives gifts to mankind, I will not hinder His work in you. I will never rockify your hands again. Will you please forgive me for hurting you so badly?”

Zoe nodded, a bit unsure of what this could mean for her if her father was going to loosen restrictions upon her and her gift. Did this mean he would not protect her anymore? Did he not love her anymore?

The father smiled as if he could sense her nervousness, and said “I will go to God for how best to protect you from now on, instead of trying to do it on my own. I ask that you please trust me keep doing this for a little while longer.”

She nodded, “I will try, Papa.”

“It’s going to be hard. I don’t intend to, but one day I will fail you again. I have much selfishness in me. But when I fail to love you rightly as a father should, I have a way that should make easier on you.”

She nodded, “Yes, sir?”

“When I fail you, I need you to go to your Heavenly Father, who loves you more than I ever could, and seek His healing from the wounds that come from me.”

She shuddered, “How do I go to Him?”

“Open your hand.”

“What?” She said confused.

“Invite God into the wound and wait on Him, counting on His love, and let Him speak life into you.”

“What if He doesn’t?” said Zoe her hand still clenched.

“He will. You will find Him when you seek for Him with all your heart, especially the broken pieces. And His love is the only fire that can bring all the broken pieces together and give it back to you whole again.”

The Scar Chapter 2

A week later, they were all eating dinner together, when a desperate knock came at the door. Zoe’s father went to the door, and spoke to someone out of sight of Zoe sitting at the table. She looked over her spoon as she sipped the vichyssoise her Mom had made. Her dad came back carrying a man in uniform with one arm around his shoulder. The uniformed man looked wan and frail. The mother got up and hurried to clear the table. Zoe backed away as the adults pushed everything off the table to make ready. Her father gave her a knowing glance which they exchanged with previous understanding: Do nothing.

“I barely got away.” said the man in uniform, who up close looked to be clad in the garb of a park ranger, though he reminded Zoe of a soldier from the Revolutionary war. The warm light of the chandelier above gave it that feel. Zoe’s eyes were transfixed on the man. He was middle aged and stared blankly at the light of the chandelier. She could see he was in a state of shock. The father and the mother talked with the man, and found out that this he had been attacked by a bear, and his bowels severely injured by the claws.

“Zoe,” shot out her father, “get some water.” She started for the door to go to the stream, but he said, “No use the water we’ve already boiled!” He said motioning to the refrigerator. She looked inside the opened refrigerator and located their carafe filled only half-way. The mother poured water on her own hands and did what they could to clean up the man. His breathing was shallow.

Zoe ached to help. Her mother was not picking it up, but her dad was. He kept looking from the man he was caring for to Zoe whose eyes remained glued to the poor man.

She got lost in a memory triggered by the sight of her father leaning over the man, but powerless to help. One time, little Zoe played with a little rocking horse her Dad had fashioned from with him of Micas polished. She tipped it over, and the side collision landed on the stone fireplace, and the head split off. It was the first moment when her world shattered, as children’s world’s often do. She didn’t know it, but her father’s outcry was not because it couldn’t be fixed, but because he felt what happened to it in his innermost being as if it were happening to him, because it had come out of him. She saw her dad seize with anguish for a moment that twisted his face, and then he looked at the girl’s face. Huge tears were just starting to gush forth, when he reached out and clasped her close to him in a comforting embrace. She did not mean to do it. He patted her on the back gently and rubbed her little head, and told her not to worry. He took the rocking horse with its shattered head into another room. She waited for him, turning over this new feeling of anguish that was not her own, but it was her dad’s. A short while later he came out of the room, and held wide the rocking horse remade. She ran up and gasped. Her daddy fixed it. He could fix anything.

But not this. She said to herself. I can fix this. Then she saw the man’s head tilt back unconscious. She could feel something was wrong inside him. Hope was waning, though she stood right there.

She begged her dad to do something. He did not look at her. Instead he said, “Be still.”

“He’s dying.”

“Silence!” he cried, still staring at the man.

The urgency of the situation swelled inside her. She had to do it. And so, she stretched out her hand past the adults toward the man.

What happened next was shattering. Suddenly, Zoe’s arm was caught in a flash of flame, and the unconscious man faintly heard the outcry of Zoe in pain. The father’s hand had turned molten pale yellow like lava hot in the mantel, and had grabbed the wrist of his daughter whose hand burned under his touch. She sank to her knees as the burning continued. Her screams startled everyone, except the man on the table who was barely conscious. The mother screamed and yelled, “STOP! Stop it please!!”

The firelight died down, and a thud was heard as a sizzling, darkening orange bracelet and glove of rock thudded to the ground with Zoe’s tender living wrist cuffed inside it. The mother’s face was fixed in fright and amazement. The mother’s face burned with tears and anger at her husband.

Zoe was still on the floor sobbing and holding her arm now with a warm but solid black mitten. Her skin was still tender from the burn. Thus her father found her and stood above her. She looked up with eyes pleading and crushed as she looked through the strands of her hair. “Papa?”

Her dad’s heart softened til it broke, and he sank to his knees beside her. He reached out his hands to her, but she pulled her arm away and started away. He reached further to embrace her, but she pushed him away.

“How could you?”

“I had to protect you.” He said softly.

“What about him?” she cried pointing to the man on the table, “I was given this gift for a reason, and you . . . you punish me for using it?”

“You have to trust me. Sometimes we parents do things that don’t make sense. Please, you have given me your heart.”

“Well, maybe I was wrong.” She fumed, and then she passed briskly to the wall and took her black stone-gloved wrist, and lifted her arm with a back hand thrust and smashed it against the stone wall. It had the desired effect. Her father’s face was torn by that familiar anguish. Tears started down his cheek as he felt the house’s pain and the bracelet’s destruction within him, but more so, his daughter’s repulsion of the very one who brought her into this world.

She saw his reaction and blackly accused, “You care more about your own creations than you do about me.”

“You are the BEST thing that ever came from me!” Roared her father in a sudden burst.

“Well, I’m not you!” She said.

She screamed and stormed out and slammed the door, threw herself onto her bed, punched her pillow for a while, then sobbed. She felt both the shattering truth that she had broken her father’s heart, just as much as he had broken hers.

The Scar Chapter 1

“Why do you feel like you always have to reinvent the wheel?” She asked him.

“Because,” he said, “I want to experience the wheel. If I don’t make the wheel, I don’t know it.”

This was said one time by a man who had special volcanic powers. He could generate fire and even pour of himself and it became as lava. As it cooled he fashioned it into shapes and stones, and as his skill grew, he could make anything. When he made something, he knew it through and through because it came from him, and was of his inner fire. He made a table, and knew that table because it came from out of him. When he was full grown, he made a whole house of various types of volcanic stone: obsidian, granite, and the pumice all shaped according to the desire and design of the craftsman.

One year there was a terrible flood, and his house was right in the middle of it, but it held fast because its foundation was fused by his lava to the bedrock. When the water receded, he saw that the water had washed away parts of the stone. He knew that weathering over time was going to destroy anything he made. So, he re-melted and replenished the stone where the water began its decay, and if any mold or mildew showed up on any of the rock, he would melt it away and patch the stone.

As the years went by, he met a woman who had hair the color of lava flowing down her head. He fell in love with her and invited her to his home. She looked around and found the stone work impressive, but a bit grim. She was not like him. She had the ability to nurture plants. Under her watchful care, she could cultivate living things to their full potential. Soon, they agreed that they wanted to live together for the rest of their lives, and so they got married.

They moved into the stone house, and soon the plant-loving woman had made space in the home for living things to grow. She moved things around in the house, and she did not understand that the lava-crafting man felt intently everything that she moved around, because he knew each thing, and why it was where it was, and how it was inside. She came to understand this over time, asking similar questions to the first question of this story. But, over time, both of them took ownership of what he made, as she was able to use his stone-work for her plants. Any time she needed a pot, he would make one for her, or planters, or wall-hangings—he fashioned them all for her. They were very happy together. The plants were protected, soil-enriched, and warmed, and the house looked much more like a home, and the air inside was fresh and less fumy.

However, the woman was unhappy after a while. Such a place was great for a house made of stone, but she wanted to move near the water so that she could nurture her plants more easily. At this, the man halted, because water was the very thing that would wear away at what he made, and compromise it. They sought a compromise, and when they had found one, they moved to that spot. The mountain they moved to in a very green country they built near a mountain stream. This suited the man fine because he had plenty of rock, and the water was being channeled down the stream which in the winter swelled to a river.

Then they had their first child. This child was gifted like his father and his mother but different. She had the ability to impart life to someone. One time when she was three years old, she found a butterfly that had been stepped on and lay still, but she picked it up, blew on it, and it came to life in her hands and it flew away. Her parents discovered soon that this priceless gift came with a price. She would grow ill, hurt, or deathly sick in proportion to the amount of life that she would give out. One time, she healed another child at school who skinned their knee, and she limped on her own leg for a week and then she got better. Word got out in the school that this girl was special, and the parents feared for her, so they left the mountain stone-home by the stream and got into a covered wagon and drifted from place to place. They home-schooled the girl, whose name was Zoe.  From her father, she learned that structures are first fluid, then they must be solid, but if need ever arises for them to mended or amended they can be melted and renewed. From her mother, she learned that life could only be given by something that life itself had grown.

Zoe understood that her parents were trying to protect her, but she longed to share her gift with the world. She did not know yet how precious a gift it was, or how terrible the world could be to such a one with such a gift. She became familiar with the stories of the Bible. In them, Jesus from Nazareth healed people, and the people ended up crucifying him. She wondered if maybe that might happen to her. She found in the Bible, the same fire that her dad said helped him to create things, and the same life that grew the things her mother cultivated.

As time went on and as she used her gift, she collected two sets of scars. One set was resulting form the wounds that she incurred, the second set was from wounds of others she had healed. This second set was her favorite.

One day, fifteen-year-old Zoe sat beside her father on the edge of a cliff staring out over the woodlands in the evening.

“It’s like I can get inside what people are feeling and experience it myself.” She voiced to her father.

“Yes,” he said, “When you let it happen to you, it becomes a part of you. I would encourage you to do something: learn from your mother. What she knows is probably more important than what I know.”

“But Mom,” she said haltingly, “It’s like she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get inside things the way we do.”

“No, she doesn’t. But she values that which is outside herself. That is the lesson she can teach you better than I can. Perhaps one day, you’ll meet someone who will teach you this lesson even more.”

“Have you ever gotten to know her from the inside? You know what I mean.”

The Dad smiled and said, “Your mother is self-less in a way that I am not, and yet she gives of herself all the time. . . like you.” He said patting her on her shoulder. “You’ve been given two very different parents, but you will never fully become like either of us. I know you, because you came from me, and yet, I know that somehow, God is going to make you, something more than either of us, something different. And He’s the only one who can.”

Then he gave her a side-hug pulling her in close and kissing her head.

A “Pilgrim’s Progress” Dream: Christian Retirement

I slept, and in the morning time before waking, I recall I had this part of my dream.

I was on the way with a bunch of Pilgrims to the Celestial City. I was walking down the road after Vanity Fair right before Doubting Castle. The later afternoon sun was to my left and there was a cornfield all around me. The path emptied out into this lane 20-feet wide each direction which was made of mowed-down corn stalks and mud. It reminded me of walking the Disney Marathon. The cornfield path was mowed down along the narrow path to the Celestial city, but the wide path gently swerved off to the right as it came to a tall hedge. There was a gap in the hedge with an old rancher’s gateposts (One post on either side, and a wooden beam across the top) The hedge was too thick to see through but through the gate, I could recognize from my reading of Pilgrim’s Progress, the rocky, difficult path that Christian and Faithful had to travel, and the lush green grass beyond it, and further the clump of trees in which Christian and Faithful got lost by following Vain Confidence. I looked through the gate narrow so that two people could walk side-by-side, but kept on going down the wide corn-mowed path. I did not know that it was leading me out of the way. I thought that the gate was like the stile over which Christian and Faithful got out of the way, so I went along with everyone.

We walked a little further to a beautiful oak tree covered hilly landscape. Through the oak trees was a huge brick home with white trim and a black shingle roof that stretched longwise in both directions. It was a Christian Retirement home. People stayed there to wait their turn to be called to finish. New arrivals, according to the one in charge of the mansion, would be good for another year. I went inside, and witnessed a conversation between two caucasian ladies and an African-American lady. The two Caucasian ladies politely suggested the African-American lady that she had to find another place to live. I was shocked. This was a demonstration of selfish, petty, racism. I knew I had to go back to find the narrow gate.

After this, I awoke and told my wife my dream. She saw in the dream a warning: that Christian Retirement is not a thing. Instead, we have to keep going on the path to the Celestial City, which will mean difficulty and hardship, and we will be tempted by doubt and despair and vain confidence, but we must be faithful.

The Enemy’s Scheme

In the spirit, I presume, of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, let me share what I think is a glimpse into one of the schemes of the Evil One of which we should not be ignorant:

“Let the nation burn with the fires of sex. As it leaves the fireplace of marriage, that which He meant for light and comfort will destroy their homes, and their shelter will be lost. Then people will consume each other for fuel to keep warm.” laughed the Evil One, “And all the while their hearts grow more unfeeling; and they quickly forget His likeness found in sexual union, and those ‘images of Him’ born from these unions will be brought up in a place where, in His very blessedness that bore them, He is completely unrecognizable.”