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03.09.2013

I’m sitting outside on a sunny, cool Pennsylvania Saturday morning, the Rudy soundtrack and welcome-home birds filling the crisp air, reading Proverbs 9 when a breeze blew my page back to Proverbs 3.  The subtitle of that chapter is “Wisdom Bestows Well-Being”.  What a great chapter, with the famous verses 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  I love that promise.  I try to make those kind of passages my prayers.  “Lord, may I trust You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding, may I submit to You in all my ways, believing that You will make my paths straight! I can bank on that.”

Verse 7 also has a promise. “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”  When we harbor sin in our lives, refusing to address it, ignoring the Spirit that lovingly, yet insistently, calls out to our spirit for holiness, it can physically affect us!  It’s not a punishment (that was taken care of at the cross!) but it’s a byproduct, a side effect, a consequence!  Few people deny the effect the mind can hold over the body (We see something gross and it can turn our stomachs!) It is the same when we know we are not living as we are called to and we try to carry that weight ourselves.  Bank on it.

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02.25.2013
King Josiah remorseful
I woke up in my Comfort Inn bed this morning on my own, feeling quite rested, a nice change after 5 days of a head cold and restless nights.  My voice has been shot for the last two days, which happened to be over my trip to Nashville to have my photo shoot for the next album (July 17).  I have some time before my meeting with Centricity this morning so I threw open the curtains, turned the AC to Heat and crawled back in bed with my Bible.  I opened up to 2 Kings 21 and very studiously thought, “ok, sure.”
I read of King Manasseh, who did what the Lord said was wrong.  Everything God told His children to do, Manasseh did horrible things on the opposite end of the spectrum for 55 years.  Then he died, and his son Amon became king at age 22 and did the same things his father did.  He did what the Lord said was wrong, then he was killed by his own officers.  His son Josiah became king at age 8.
Josiah did what the Lord said was right.
At age 18 he discovered the Book of the Law in the Temple, and when it was read to him, he tore his clothes to show how upset he was.  He sought out the advice of God’s prophetess Huldah who delivered the message from God,  “I will bring trouble to this place and to the people living here… they have made me angry by all they have done, my anger burns against this place like fire and it will not be put out.”  
Then God lets Josiah know that He saw his remorse.
“When you heard my words…you became sorry for what you had done and humbled yourself before Me…You tore your clothes to show how upset you were and you cried in My presence.  This is why I have heard you.” 
Then God extends a strange grace.
“So I will let you die and you will be buried in peace.  You won’t see all the trouble I will bring to this place.”

 

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01.22.2013
Just had a pretty ordinary event teach me a pretty cool lesson. 
 
DirecTV just came by to check something on our TV service that involved our internet.  I warned the 2 men who braved the 6 degree weather with wind chills of -20ºF that our internet was temperamental: sometime it’s blazing fast, then it decides to take a nap and not work at all.  I’ll reset the router and unplug it for 30 seconds (like all my tech savvy friends tell me to do) and eventually it works again.  It’s a nuisance and frankly I haven’t called [our service provider] to have them come troubleshoot, because you know as soon as they come it will work fine.  
 
It was obvious to my DirecTV friends why.  The wrong cables were installed.  Where there should be RD6 cables, standard evidently, [service provider] installed RD59s which is why our internet keeps dropping out.  So I need to call [awesome service provider] and have them wire my house properly, then we can get the TV working as it should.  
 
So now after all the fumbling and jumbling with the connections, our internet won’t turn back on, our Home Security System somehow is telling us there’s trouble and is beeping randomly and this can evidently affect our phone line too!  I’m posting this blog by grabbing wifi from one of my neighbors.  I don’t know which one.  The one without the password.  Thanks, neighbor. 
 
Lightbulb moment: When my primary lifeline of spiritual food is cut off, or spotty at best, my interactions with all other areas of life are going to be dramatically affected.  
 
When I’m not hearing clearly from God and His Word, my work, my wife, my kids, my friends & my family suffer and I’m unable to handle the curveballs that life hurls at me.  I need to find out what it is in my life that I can identify as “the wrong cable”, yank that sucker out, replace it with something that’s going to allow me to receive clear messages from my Provider!  I know that will affect all other areas of my life: communication with those within my home, friends outside my home and my security in Him.
 
“Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”

-Jesus (John 15:4-8)

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01.17.2013
I started reading a book by Richard J Foster called Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home and I’m finding it one of the more easy books to read.  The first chapter is called Simple Prayer and I’ve found it incredibly freeing as I desire to be known among the forces of darkness as a man who prays.  That concept first struck me when I was in high school and reading Frank Peritti’s This Present Darkness.  The young Pastor of a small country church was known simply by menacing demons as “the man who prays.”
Foster addresses the notion “that we have to have everything ‘just right’ in order to pray. That before we can really pray, our lives need to some fine tuning, or we need to know more about how to pray, or we need to study the philosophical questions surrounding prayer, or we need to have a better grasp of the great traditions of prayer.  And on it goes.”
We’ve all heard the eloquent (and truly sincere and beautiful) prayers of others and think that when it’s our turn to pray out loud we’ll probably be perceived as grade-schoolers for our simplicity.  But is that not what Jesus said is required to enter the Kingdom?  To change and become like little children?  Foster describes the simple prayer:
In simple prayer we bring ourselves before God just as we are, warts and all.  Like children before a loving father, we open our hearts and make our requests.  We do not try to sort things out, the good from the bad.  We simply and unpretentiously share our concerns and make our petitions.  We tell God, for example, how frustrated we are with the co-worker at the office or the neighbor down the street.  We ask for food, favorable weather, and good health. 
Foster goes on to state that Simple Prayer is the most common form of prayer in the Bible!
Don’t be afraid to pray simply and know that in doing so, you are in good company!

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01.15.2013
Life got so busy.  Even in the moments where I don’t have to be doing something, like now, I feel the tension and the pull to do what I should.  Like blog, or read, or have a devoted time of prayer.  I want to do all those things, but with one eye on the clock (almost 10pm) knowing that I probably could use the sleep, there is little peace in feeling like those good healthy things are a part of a checklist.  “Hurry up and read and pray then blog about that and go to sleep” That’s just stressful and not the point. 
 
It makes me think of one of Jason Gray’s Christmas songs called Rest (The Song of the Innkeeper).  One of my favorites, if that’s possible, on that album.  The Innkeeper tells of his encounter with a poor couple in need of lodging, he doesn’t have time to help them but at least they won’t be wandering about if they stay in his stable, he needs to get back to work and wishes for rest.  He goes on to tell of the songs he heard as a boy about a coming King, but keeping books and changing beds became a louder melody, a deafening melody and again he cries out for rest.  My favorite line and the one that makes me fight back the tears because I realize this could be me is this:
 

 

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01.11.2013

Today is the end of my one-week Social Media fast.  I abstained from TwitterFacebookInstragram and this blog because every once in a while it’s good for me to step away from some things that I do, to remind myself why I do them.  My last tweet was “I need Jesus more than Social Media. (and more than anything) But [I’m] taking a break from Social Media this week…” So this decision was not so much my replacing the time that I would have spent on Social Media with time at the feet of Jesus, because I don’t have a set hour, for example, that I tweet.  Those times are too sporadic.  I needed to reevaluate my approach.  But oh the time that was freed up! 🙂

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01.03.2013
It’s a sunny day in Pittsburgh which means that even though it’s 27ºF (it was 6ºF this morning!) with a snow covered landscape, I can sit in our unheated sunroom where it’s actually warmer than in the rest of the well-heated house.  On a cloudy day, it would be 27ºF in this room.  It’s rocking about 80º right now. Love it. #myofficeisasauna

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