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?

“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.

His Face

Someone on Facebook asked the question: “What made Jesus compelling to you?” My answer was, “His Face.” He said that he was “interested to hear more!” I asked him if I could give him a long answer as to why. This is my long answer as to why I find His face compelling.

How do I know Jesus’ face? I’ve been collecting a kind of mosaic.

  1. In the Scriptures in the original languages. My Dad wrote this for me in my first Greek New Testament. It’s from A.T.R. “A Grammar of the Greek New Testament” pg xix. “There is nothing like the Greek New Testament to rejuvenate the world which came out of the Dark ages with the Greek Testament in its hand. Erasmus wrote in the Preface to his Greek Testament about his own thrall of delight: ‘These holy pages will summon up the living image of His mind. They will give you Christ Himself, talking, healing, dying, rising, the whole Christ in a word; they will give Him to you in an intimacy so close that He could be less visible to you if He stood before your eyes.’” I personally have found this to be true not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old. The Face of Yahweh, is revealed at last in the divine human face of Jesus. “He who has seen [Jesus] has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
  2. Visions. He has let me see something of Him, which of course is appropriated to my being enabled to receive, and the purpose He has for me according to which any revelation is designed to conform me to Him. This is submitted to Scripture. Also, all of this is in relationship with God, as I seek to engage with God with a “pure in heart” (they will see God) and “clear conscience.” (1 Tim 1:5)
  3. Scripturally exemplified relationships. When I see Jacob’s story of wrestling with the “man” I see how he engaged with Him, and afterward went to see Esau. When he saw Esau, Jacob says, “. . . I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably.” Gen 33:10 This is translatable as “I have seen your face like seeing the face of God, and you have favored me.” How did he know what seeing the face of God was? He recognized the favor in Esau’s face according to God’s face. So, I recognize Jesus’ face in love and relationships. As the musical Les Miserables ends, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
  4. Interest. I am a very interested person, because I know that through Jesus everything was made, which means everything that exists has come through Jesus, and I like tracing it back to him. As G.K. Chesterton says, “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.” I have an open face to see the world, to know what it all means as coming from Him. This open face is what I love about children (I’m a school teacher) because their hearts are so full of wonder. And when I welcome them in His name I welcome Him, and I recognize Him. (Mark 9:37)
  5. Art. When I see a painting that answers what He has revealed to me through His word, through the Holy Spirit, through relationship, and the world around me, I do not worship that “image” or “idea,” I take it to God as I seek to know Him face-to-face personally not eidetically or un-livingly. Examples: The famous picture by Akiane Kramarik, the Nathaniel Hawthorn Story: “The Great Stone Face,” Michael Card’s Song “His Gaze” are all parts of the mosaic, which bear some likeness to the One I know personally!
  6. Glory. Not the glory of man, but as I worship Him, I know His glory, and that glory is the revelation of Christ. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” And the more time we spend “seeking His face” in worship, the more the light of His face will shine through us.

So, I know His face by pure heart, clear conscience, and sincere faith in His Word, by His Spirit, with love, throughout creation, from his revelations, and as worship. And it is beyond compelling. It is beyond compare. It is . . . altogether lovely.

The Captain’s Voyage

In this story, the earth was flat, and the edge was terrible! The land was on the edge of the plate, with waters in the middle and below it cascading waterfalls over the edge into the abyss below. In from the rim, there was a great and vast sea that spread over the whole area within the Rim World, and in the center of the Sea was rumored a dark hole, ever enshrouded in cloud and rain. The waters flowed in the sea out from the center, onto the beaches of the Rim World, and underneath eroding the underside. The inhabitants of the Rim World knew or chose not to know that they and the land were doomed to destruction, should no way of escape be found. Many lived inland as far from either shore they could to feel the security of land everywhere their eyes looked, still others sought to turn away from the waters of judgment flowing from the Center, and stared off the terrible edge into the black seeking false promises of salvation in the Abyss itself. But from this abyss, no salvation could be found.

Still others looked from the shore of the Rim World to the inner Sea, and in this world, sooner or later, most people came to take up the profession of Sailing. Ships sailed around and around the Rim and the Center. Every once in a while, the Column of cloud and swirl of rain in the distance at the center lit up with a golden flash like a lantern. One time this happened, a Captain in port of the Rim met a man who told of one who had fallen into the Center Abyss and had returned. He said, for those who have the courage, the center is the doorway to a New Heavenly World. There was also a story that the waters near the centered flowed down from the Heavens, and that the Center let anyone whose ship belonged to the Master of the Seas to sail among the Heavens with Him. And so the flashes of gold would light up the dismal hopeless lands as reportedly, a ship would rise from the Center up to the Heaven World.

This Captain believed, and started preparing his vessel, setting off from port. Many had attempted this journey, but few completed it. The Water flowed contrary to the Vessel out from the Center, but the Wind blew ever toward the Center. But people would go so far and roll up their sails, or suffer themselves to be driven back to the Rim. But the Heaven World was for those whose sails were open on their journey to the Center.

The Captain settled in his heart he and his crew were going to the Center. He knew the Rim world was doomed to fall into the nothingness over the edge, so being pulled out to sea, he opened his sails and waited. The Holy Wind filled his sails and carried him along. At first, he rode around staying near the shore empowered by this new wind, but he soon learned that the wind bore a voice that spoke to him in the rattling and flapping of the sails calling him to remember his quest, and the One who went before. So with his crew, he and a fleet of sailing ships made for the ominous cloud round the hole that was hastening the rim’s demise with its downpour.

In a fearsome fog and storm, the Captain had to learn to follow the Voice on the Wind alone and soon came through the fog, along with a handful of boats. The rest stayed in the fog or turned back.

As they sailed, they came upon a Cruise ship which had dropped anchor part way between the center and the land at a little floating dock in the water. People were celebrating the Wind’s cool breeze and their avoidance of the Rim world’s destruction, and they powered their docks with windmills. Being content with company and this world, often they would sail back and forth between the Rim and the floating town, to repeat the simulation of their journey to the center. But often such docks lasted only a short while in these turbulent seas, and people left floating would either go back to the Rim world, or struggle to build another wharf. Still others would return to their original quest. This last group was very few.

The Captain moored in this floating harbor called “Near Gathering” and when he saw that it would one day fall, sinking daily despite the efforts of the cruise ship captain, he listened for the wind, which spoke of a specific path to the Center he must take. He announced to his fellow captains, whose boats were all moored there like cars in a parking lot, and said to them, “The Wind has spoken to me, if I am to reach the Center, this is my path to take. What say you? Will anyone go with me?” Many counseled him to stay and help keep their floating wharf afloat, but some who knew the true aim of any Sailor’s quest committed them to the Voice on the Wind they all heard, and the Captain moved beyond, now with a couple of ships following him.

The Next journey’s stage was choppy but wind-swept. Wreckages of ships sailing for the Center nearly lost, with flotsam and jetsam and men and women overboard. The Captain and his crew had been charged with the task of rescue and recovery; but many they rescued wished only to return to land, some wanted to return to the floating wharf, and the Captain sailed to and from the Wharf to drop people off. Eventually, he saw that there was too much work for him alone to accomplish for those shipwrecked between the Center and the Rim world. He knew two causes of the ship-wrecks: a sea serpent beneath the surface and jagged rocks upon which other former captains now stood to raid and commandeer other ships in waters choppy and churning not only with the downpour of water not far away, but the swirling sea monster they had been un-shipped to serve. Each was the King of his own island, and they fought each other, except when it came to preventing other captains from reaching the Center. Then they worked together.

The Captain kept his sails open as he steered past these jagged rocks, ever listening to the Voice on the Wind and being vigilant for the attacks, persuasions, or feigned friendship of the other Entrapping Captains seeking to plunder the treasure his vessel had gathered with the flotsam and jetsam and to rule yet another minion of their own dark corners of the world. The flow of water was against, the comfort of land behind drew them back, the encouragement of the floating wharf seemed more palatable, and the work of rescuing shipwrecked was so necessary. Perhaps this Captain should turn back, he wondered.

But no. He had set out for the New Country. The Heaven World. These who blocked the way were preventing many from entering and were themselves not entering. Woe to them! They had taken their stand in opposition to the Master of the Sea’s intention to let all who wish, come and enter in. He denounced them on their threatening Spires and bade them repent and stop oppressing the poor, and instead leave their tiny Rim-worlds and get onto his ship as he made for the Heaven world. None heeded his call, and now, a fear of the Master of the Seas constrained them, from their attack. Sailing wind-swept and voice-led, he passed the row of jagged rocks that were all that remained from here to the whirlpool at the center or so he thought.

The Sea Serpent ruled these lands directly, and began battering the Ship. The Captain quailed at first wondering if it was too late to turn back for the Rim world, but then he remembered the Joy of the Heaven world and he turned his wheel to tack full force on the Wind. He was so near the edge of the whirlpool now. At the very last, as the keel of his ship broke the wall of the Swirl, the sea serpent charged its head straight through the heart of the ship, and reared its ugly dragonhead at him. Many of his men went overboard as the ship lifted up out of the water, but the Captain held his wheel fast. “You have failed,” he cried, “For I am still kept by the Wind, and He will carry me to His everlasting Kingdom.” And so the Dragon could not withstand the wind and the rain here so near to the Center, and falling backwards he descended down the black pit being cast cast down until he was seen no more. The Ship settled back in the water now began to founder and was caught in the swell of the Sea’s whirlpool, spinning downward, downward toward the dark into which the serpent had fallen. All grew dark around the Captain and his men.

Then, suddenly, the torrent of black and water around him turned to golden light caught in the now illuminated water swirling like blown glass windows gleaming with the light of the sun. The Ship once descending was now ascending and or a moment the swirl of water pulsing out from the center ceased as the whirlpool’s polarity reversed. The clouds broke, the rain stopped, and all around the world from the jagged rocks to the shipwrecked peoples, to the floating wharf, to the fog enshrouded to the newly sailing, to the Rim world inhabitants, to those on the edge of oblivion, all of them saw that familiar glow at the Center of the flat earth. They saw someone had made it. The water’s outflow was stilled, and it was easier to sail toward this beacon of light again; so like many moths to a flame, the sea was filled with white sails all endeavoring to make the same journey to the New Heaven World.

For the Captain and the few of his crew who clung to the Ship, their rising up was a joy and a celebration. They praised the Maker of this way, and eagerly awaited their new home to which they neared moment by moment. Beyond the clouds and rain and out of sight of the jagged rocks, and treacherous waters, they came to a fair mild water way above the one they had just left. The Ship with its breached hull was changed to now be made of wood that would never sink. It bore the scars of its battles, and its treasures that were fit for this new world, and the Captain felt the Wind not only in the Sails, but all around him.

He lifted his eyes and saw a Heavenly Kingdom: a great golden city on land, and the waters were not flat, but rather they continued perpetually in a sphere and the Kingdom was alight all around as if the Blue sky above and the land all about glowed as with a light within and without. A Small sea round the portal flowed down in a waterfall, but the further away the ship sailed, it narrowed to a river which the Captain steered no longer to navigate. Rather, the wind carried him up the River of life; on either side of the River grew trees of different fruit and the city of Gold rose up on either side; the River ended at a great throne, and the One who sat upon it was the one whose Wind had carried His voice. He said, “Welcome home, Captain.”

And there was great celebration as the one who sat enthroned was praised for the Rescue of another, and the Captain was given the Rank of Commodore, and given charge of ten cities in this new world. And he ruled at the side of His Master for the rest of forever.

A Pathfinder out of Self-exaltation

In the half-a-year since my last post, I have continued to walk with Him, and have been spared much self-exaltation by the input of people in my life who keep me grounded in Gospel reality. Getting Covid, being in a time of some “transition” in my life, and also experiencing relational abundance that I have long desired has recently brought me to an all-too-familiar temptation of self-aggrandizement and self-righteousness. I am sure others struggle with this too, but for me it looks like having pretend conversations with people that make me feel good about myself. This bad habit has led me into temptations of more practical natures such as indulging in lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life that leads to treating others carelessly and unlovingly. This most recent time, I recognized I was turning inwards on myself, trying to assuage feelings of sadness and by journaling, I marked the pathway out.

I believe God has given us tools to manage and combat the sin in our internal world that arises from within all us. If you would like to follow me, I will show you the path from self-pleasing thoughts, to God-pleasing thoughts. The person who spends his time pouring over his own private treasures of achievements and accolades, and bases his view of himself upon them is a very poor man who has little experience of the Love of God in his life. And it is the Love of God that our hearts are truly seeking.

Here is the way back to God if you have fallen or some later day fall into this trap.

  1. Repent, looking to the Lord. The most terrible thing about pride is it gets our eyes off of God and places them onto ourselves or that thing in which we take pride. The first step to any right orientation of the heart is the re-placing of the sight upon the face of Jesus in the Scripture. Seeking His face, His grace, His love, His truth. Without this, one is trying to find his way out of a room blind.
  2. Confess the fantasies and my pride in them. Let’s say I had a fantasy of someone who I thought didn’t like me very much. This person in the fantasy is in danger, and I save their life. If I was to rehearse this fantasy often so that my heart got used to a feeling of superiority over their appreciation, when I engage with that person in real life, it has happened that I find myself dissatisfied with the reality of the exchange at the heart level. It is a fantasy that my heart has wanted to believe to be true, because my heart wants to accumulate more worth to itself. It becomes a lie when I choose to desire that reality over the reality God has given me to live in the Gospel. In other words, when I indulge my heart in good feelings over a fantasy of people’s praise, I base my heart on my own imagination and I become puffed up and I “lose connection with the head.” (Colossians 2:19) This sets me up for the same failure of any member of the body that is powerlessly disconnected from the brain. I say all of this because it may not be immediately obvious what is wrong with fantisy. To imagine it is not necessarily wrong if it’s not in violation of God’s moral will, but the way the heart takes the fantasy and uses it to ascribe worth to itself: this is the wrong. The only true standard of worth that the heart should take pleasure and delight in, is conformity to the image of Christ Jesus. And so, I lay out the fantasy before God, and acknowledge my pride in that self-created smokescreen. This is because “In all your ways acknowledge God, He’ll make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:6) God can only straighten us out, if we are willing to be straight with Him.
  3. Take each fantasy and feeling and self-thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is where we can use our imagination against our pride. Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily, and follow me.” So, ever Christian has a tool to put to death their old life, and to remind them of their present life, and the promise of their future life. The Cross is this very tool. It is that which a Christian carries with them, until the time God has appointed them to set it up and give their life as a representation of Christ. It is the very thing that separates Christians from non-Christians, and it is a stage of Christian development that not every Christian attains, but this is how the Cross can be the answer to any sin struggle. In this case, what I like to do is use my imagination to picture my Cross. It’s usually laying down on the rocks in a dark-cloudy place. I see my fantasy stretched out on the cross, and take a hammer in my hand and nail the fantasy to the cross for it to die. I usually incorporate a tangible bodily action like swinging my hand with a make believe hammer in it, because fantasy touches reality through our emotion’s impact on our bodies. The reverse is also true. Reality touches fantasy through our bodily actions impact on our emotions. And so, when I take a fantasy, let’s say pictured as my idea about the way a person should feel appreciative toward me, and I nail it, it’s not like I am wishing evil upon that person. It is my acknowledging that this thought of them is unworthy of them, and must be dealt with. Not only this, but it is unworthy of Christ. And the Cross is the Gate by which anything inside us or outside of us can be given to God as a sacrifice. If God wishes our heart, or our imagination about something to be spared, then He can resurrect it for His glory by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Once this step is taken, I find that there is an emotional response like loss or a sadness over the fantasy given up, but this is where the heart must take the next step.
  4. Thank God for the good things that remain. Whenever I have done this, I have found that God gives me great clarity about the things that are of Him vs the things that are of me. The things that remain still alive after all is nailed to the Cross are things are of God, and therefore worthy of giving Him thanks. The things that are of me are temporary, but the things that are of God are eternal. And when I thank God, I anchor my heart’s sight upon the Lord, by recognizing God’s goodness in the things that are from Him, through Him, and to Him. (Romans 11:36). To Him be the glory forever.
  5. Worship, delight, and rejoice in Him. O the joy of leaving behind the worthless and vain things of our own heart-idolatry! Our hearts grow so unhappy simply because we are so determined to want anything and everything short of God Himself. But when our eyes are on God, we feel based on His truth, His gospel, His love, then we have an overflowing cup of eternal joy that will spread to every area of our life. This eternality of Joy is the secret on the other side of the Cross a Christian carries. The source of every dissatisfaction in a believer’s life, is anything un-crucified, or un-surrendered to his or her new Master. But in obedience and submission to Him, a human being finds his purpose fulfilled, and all his life is as it should be until he hear those precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

May you and I find our deepest delight in the One whom our hearts were designed to worship.

The King and His Champion

Once upon a time in a Kingdom ruled by a very wise King, there was a certain knight who was famous for feats of gallantry in battle. This knight was the best sword fighter, best with a spear, best with a bow and arrow, best at jousting– All the Kingdom knew and saluted this champion and praised and cheered each victory.

But under the armor, the knight was very unhappy. Every day this knight would ride into battle with this fear: “I am not worthy to be loved just for me.” This champion also had one weakness carefully concealed: being incredibly slow at running. Because of this, could you guess how many foot races this knight entered? That’s right. Zero!

Until one day, the King made a proclamation that he was holding a footrace in which every knight in his service must compete. But as a peculiar twist, one knight was to wear the King’s own colors. Can you guess which one? Yup. our very own best-at-almost-everything champion. How do you think that knight felt?

The day of the race arrived, and the King’s champion was sick with worry. Soon the whole kingdom would see just how unworthy this knight was to wear the King’s colors. The race began. Very soon every other knight had passed the “champion” who at this moment was feeling like anything but a “champion.” The race concluded and every knight crossed the finish line, but last of all, a whole minute later, in front of the whole laughing crowd of the kingdom, and in front of the King, hustled the Knight who carried the kings colors.

How embarrassing! Can you imagine how that knight felt then? That knight was so mortified with shame, that off came the kings colors, and left off was the armor of a knight, and our hero went home and stayed inside too ashamed to be seen in the kingdom again.

Then one day, a knock came at the door of the knight’s house. It was the King himself! The knight blushed for shame. What could the king want with such a disgraceful, unworthy champion.

“I want you to come back into my service as my own personal assistant.” said the King.

“My Lord, why? Why would you want such a slow foot-soldier in your service? And why would you have ME run in the race wearing your colors?”

The king answered, “I have watched you fight so hard to prove to everyone and yourself that you are worthy of admiration and love, but I organized the race to teach you that love is something you cannot win. Love is a gift. I do not love you because you’re the best. I choose you and love you because I see your heart and I treasure it. You will be my errand runner if you will accept my love.”

The knight was speechless and from somewhere deep inside tears streamed down. The King came near and embraced the knight. From that day on, the champion happily became personal assistant for the King and did not care about being the best fighter or the fastest, because of this truth: he was loved just for him.

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This story is was written for a friend who I recognized was struggling with tendencies to cover feelings of unworthiness with achievement. The ending can also read: she was loved just for her.

The Cave and the River

Toes stubbing on uneven wet shale
The weight of rock dampening overhead
The horizon was a distant ribbon of blue and white sky
Here in the cold I trudge comfortless

Each step feels like moving backwards
The flow of time is a stopped train restarting
Futility I breathe in, Hopelessness I breathe out
How do invisible thorns grow where there is no sun?

Above, all is dirty, burdensome black
I remember when the heaven’s used to sing my name
When the life growing with me danced in rhythm
And the others did not fear my face

But here, a gloom has shaded my eyes.
The fire within once lit my way inside
Then I quenched the flame from the giver,
And gave myself over to the tangles of the dark.

O to soothe my tear-smudged face
With the crystals offering pale ghost light
Just some digging in the dirt
And my strength can feel real again for a moment.

No! Like Puddleglum in the Underworld,
I remember to myself reminded
That the sky is not made of ore
Nor is there any thing of life to be found in here.

My Beloved is near. He never leaves me.
He bids me lift my eyes to the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

With time, my strength regathers,
And I keep on toward that blue ribbon
Fattening on the assurance of hope undeserved
Until I step over the lip of this dreadful dungeon.

The stiff blades of grass spring beneath my feet
Light and lightness as the open air descends
The dome touches my heart with longing
As the warm sun stings my eyes with tears of joy

I spring off the edge into the river
Sweeping me away as if it never stopped
Fresh grace I breathe in, fresh thanks I breathe out.
How can the cut of cold make me more alive as I shiver?

What fire cannot be quenched by any water?
What Symphony of light knows no drowning out?
I ride the current, yea, I lead it in dance
Unashamed of the strong Truth Creation gently whispers

My eyes are glowing like embers
My heart is melted in his heat
Like a wicked candle consumed with holy flame
I can feel once again that I, though unworthy, am His.

I am new! The day is new!
I am warm from within and without all is glad.
The music sings it’s melody in me again
A glorious noon of Springtide made young.

All stains of the dark are washed away
The Sun has disgraced the moon’s facade
I kneel gratefully in the dirt
Raising my arms to receive their nourishment

Yes! I am returned to Your country, O Lord
The dark memory of the past instructs
This is the place for which my heart was designed
Where life’s eternity cannot fence in the roaming of my soul.

My Beloved is near. He never leaves me.
He bids me lift my eyes to the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

With time my strength regathers,
And I face the rolling countryside windswept and free
Faith settles simple within me,
As I lift my foot to run the length of it.

Application Pathfinder: Nail it to the Cross

“Each soul that would enter into real life. . . must go out through the Gate of the Cross.”
 ~Parables of the Cross by Lilias Trotter

  • First ask the Lord to reveal what is in your heart.
    1. Honestly answer: Who or what in my life that if I lost it, my life would be meaningless?
      • Wait for the Lord to reveal something to you anything or anyone big or small.
      • If you decide you want God to be most important in your life, follow these steps.
    2. How to “Nail it to the cross”
      1. Nail it. (Choose one which feels that can be done most genuinely from the heart.)
        • Verbal processor—Tell God out loud what it is, and verbally give it to Him.
        • Writing processor—Write out to God what it is, committing it to Him.
        • Art processor—draw or paint it on paper, write poetry, craft something.
        • Eidetic processor—Imagine your hand nailing it to the Cross.
        • Kinesthetic processor—Get a hammer and nail and take something representing it and nail it to a block of wood, or just swing your hand.
        • Actors: Take an indefinite break from it.
        • Other: Decide to nail it with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and do something to represent that.
      2. Thank God for it, and worship Him (Choose one which makes sense for you)
        • Verbal—Sing a song like, “I Surrender All” or “Take My Life and Let it Be.”
        • Writing—Write a psalm or praise poem for God, or a Love letter to God.
        • Art—Create a work of Art that Arises from Scripture.
        • Eidetic—Elevate God in the loftiest place He can be.
        • Kinesthetic—Dance for/with God.
        • Actors: Do something that is exclusively for God.
        • Other: Do something else to glorify and enjoy God as He leads you.
      3. Bring it before God again and wait for God to lead you in what to do with it. (Yes, He does still speak today, if you believe it and are humble and want Him to.)
        • Voice—God speaks inaudibly inside the heart, or externally outside the body
        • A Word—God can give a “word” in your mind. Give every word back to him to see if it’s from Him.
        • Impressions—A general sense, or an artistic form can come to mind that makes sense in the heart
        • Dreams/Visions—Separate the actual dream/vision from its interpretation, ask God to show you what He wants you to know.
        • Situations/Signs—God works in the world around us, see what He’s doing.
        • Guided Actions—He can give you peace, motivation, or a slight nudge in the direction of a decision.
        • Other: He chooses how He wants to speak.
      4. Check: You will know it is nailed to the cross when your heart feels brighter for God than that thing.
    3. Nurture that bright heart for God by doing this with your whole life regularly.
  • Scriptures on this theme for personal Bible Study
  • Matthew 10:32-39
  • Mark 8:34-38
  • John 12:23-25
  • 1 Corinthians 1:17-31
  • Galatians 6:12-16
  • Ephesians 2:14-16
  • Philippians 2:5-11
  • Colossians 2:9-19