The Deep Blue 2014

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Deep Blue 2014 cover

So, here I am at the dawn of a new year. I look ahead, across this vast ocean of the unknown; the life yet lived. I could be scared. Who knows what lies in wait for me? What dangers seek to pull me under? What storms may batter me? What loss I could suffer? But I’m not scared; I’ve crossed oceans before. And sure I’ve been pull under, been battered by the storms of life and have suffered loss. But you know what, I am the better for it. The things I believed were trying to overwhelm me, the Lord was using to make me stronger. It may sound a little cliché, I know, but that’s only because its a timeless truth, I guess.

The Lord has led me into waters I believed I had no place being in. Places where I no longer enjoyed the security and peace of mind of having my feet touch the ground. Places where all that surrounded me was deep, dark blue; failures behind, uncertainty ahead and no one beside. It seems a plan of His lately to strip me of all but a reassurance of His presence. The Lord has taught me through the storms of life and through the seasons of completely sapped strength that when God is all I have, He is all I ever needed. The waves may rage or the sea may, in stillness, perfectly reflect beauty  of the sky. Strength and courage may thrust me to bouts of excellence and accomplishment or weariness and doubt may seem to steal the breath from my lungs. I’ve found, however, that whatever the circumstance of life, whether external or internal, there is one constant that remains. God loves me and with a love I can scarcely comprehend.

My mother often shares this maxim in the midst of the throws of life, “When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.” Anxiety and fear are usually clear indicators that I’ve turned my eyes from trusting the Lord’s love for me and have rather filled them with the impossibility of the ocean of cares that is this life. While its instinctive for myself or anyone else to follow the path of least uncertainty (because we fear what we cannot see and do not understand) the Lord calls me to do the counter-natural. With a twinkle in His eye, a beautiful plan in mind and a heart overflowing with goodwill He calls me to wade out into the ‘treacherous’ deep, to follow his voice into seas uncharted.

So no, I’m not scared. Strangely, I welcome the unknown challenges of “The Deep Blue 2014.” I have a feeling that I’ll go where few dare, where few have been bold enough to venture.

Selah.

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Taking the Plunge

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I have, of recent, the unwavering conviction to be baptized again. The conviction came about while doing some self-examination and personal bible study, provoked by a deep-seated desire to draw closer to the Lord. Though I possessed this desire for intimacy with God, my efforts toward this end seemed fruitless. I went in prayer and study and came out with this, my conviction to be baptized.

My conviction was triggered by a revelation in scripture about the disciple’s response to his being saved. I believe that baptism is the Believer’s first act of obedience to his ‘new’ Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. All through the New Testament baptism follows after repentance. We read in Acts 2:38 “And Peter said unto them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you…’” You see, although I was baptized when I was fifteen years old, it was a not a repentant soul who was being baptized neither was it “…the answer of a good conscience toward God…” – 1 Peter 3:21. I got baptized because I wanted to escape hell and make it into heaven. I thought if I repeated the words my pastor said and got dipped in water then I would inherit eternal bliss. It sounded like good deal to me. But there was no repentance from sin, no regard for Jesus and respect of the Gospel. And this work did not same me. I was not a disciple of Jesus Christ. I did not have a relationship with Him. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9.

I subsequently came to saving faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. As for when exactly, I cannot say. But as I am now, I love Jesus Christ: I have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. I believe that I am His and He is mine. And this is where my conviction comes into play. The question that follows is, ‘have I been baptized since I’ve believed?’ Well, the indisputable answer is ‘no.’ The question which produces debatable responses, though, is ‘do I need to be baptized [again]?’

I consulted with my pastor and shared my conviction to be baptized. He gave consideration and advised carefully. His position is that when I was baptized God put his seal/mark on me. And this begun God’s outpouring of grace toward me which ultimately saw me coming to faith. He spoke how God had taken me along this journey of salvation which began at my baptism (however uninspired the circumstance). I was accepted into God’s community, he explained, into the nurture of God. I believe it was his sincere council. I was just having a challenge accepting it due to a want for scriptural support and, more so, for the abundance of scripture which supported a contrary council. And there was still the matter of my personal conviction (which I believe was from the Lord).

Ex opere operato is a latin term used by the Roman Catholics which means “by the work worked.” In baptism (especially infant baptism) it describes a conference of God’s grace through the performance of the sacrament. I’ve read that it is also a school of thought held by many liturgical churches. Could the grace supposedly conferred upon the baptized by God then save or lead one, even in some part, to salvation? I believe no at all without his faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). In exercise of the ex opera operato it is held that faith must be involved; faith held by the minister performing the sacrament and the congregation/witnesses. But being baptized as with repentance is a directive. It demands the individual’s willful compliance. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” – Mark 16:16. Scripture never mentions baptism without repentance. Moreover scripture always places repentance as preceding baptism; it is not happen-stance. Baptism is the Believer’s obedient response to the ordinance instituted by his Lord and Savior. As faith without works is dead (ref. James 2:17) and we are saved by grace through faith (ref. Ephesians 2:8) so must one’s repentance follow with baptism.

The question then must be asked, ‘has my repentance been followed by baptism?’ It has not. My faith walk is not (in this regard) in keeping with the ordinance of the Lord. But “…it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness…” (ref. Matthew 3:14). My conviction came about from my desire to draw closer to the Lord. I asked Him for help and He answered by impressing my heart with the conviction to be baptized. In following this conviction I will be in good company too. For example, the ‘prince of preachers,’ Charles Spurgeon was baptized a second time after which he is recorded as saying “…baptism loosed my tongue and from that day has never been quiet.” I have tested this conviction against the Word of God and it remains. I am resolved. I will be baptized.

Between Myselves

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Before this sounds like the memoirs of a psychiatric patient, let me just say that my selves and I are not crazy. Recently, I have been making forays into the field of Christian Anthropology. My rummage has blessed me with a better understanding of just who I am and who we all are. My whole perspective on the human person, identity, vice and virtue, beauty and character, has been radically re-thought. Man is tripartite, which is to say, he possesses a body, has a mind and is a spirit. I’ll share a little of what I’ve learnt.

Body

We tend to identify and define someone by their physical attributes. But the person is not their body. A person merely inhabits or possesses their body. It is the home, shelter, shell, vessel  in which the person dwells. Referred to as flesh, our bodies are driven by sensual impulses; thirst, hunger, sex, comfort and pleasure etc. Originally made from the substance of the earth we are likened to jars of clay in scripture…”Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?” ~ Job 10:9. What makes a body significant is not its form but its function. It houses a thing most precious; the human soul.

Soul – Heart and Mind

The soul, the inner man, the man in the middle, call him what you may. The heart and mind are the consciousness of man; the seat of reason and will, desire and affection. This is where the beauty of a person shines through (or doesn’t). Each soul is as unique as a finger print and wonderfully complex. Ultimately, notwithstanding the influences that abound from within and without, all decisions are made within the soul. This hidden part of man is revealed in action and word. The soul is the conscious part of the life-force called the spirit.

Spirit

Now, to be clear there is spirit and there is the Spirit. Both are from the Lord, God Almighty. The spirit is that mysterious part of us that gives life to the person. It fuses body and soul which allows man to become a living being. This part of man eludes the scientific scope. Now, the Spirit is the very spirit of God; “poured into” those who have, in unwavering belief, accepted Jesus Christ as their master and savior. On a side note, we should be mindful that every spirit has a mind of its own but not necessarily a body of its own. Bodies are temporary (tents) while the spirit it eternal.

Between Two Minds..kind of

The impulses of the flesh and the appeals of the Spirit/spirit are all directed toward our soul. Both fight to have its desires satisfied. Our soul (seat of will and desire) is head of government and decides which influence to allow. The flesh yearns to satisfy itself even (and usually) at the cost of disobeying the Creator, God. The spirit is from God and is willing to completely obey its author. But since the beginning of man, our nature has been to yield to the rebellious, self-pleasing and sinful demands of the flesh. That`s before the Spirit of God steps in. For the convinced, convicted, converted and committed, the Holy Spirit of God empowers the soul of man to overcome the influence of the flesh; enabling us to possess our bodies in holiness and righteousness. The Holy Spirit also brings our soul to a heightened knowledge and experience of our Creator and Savior. Indeed we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image and likeness of God Himself. Selah.

Four Chemicals for Christian Chemistry: How do you know who you should marry?

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Very insightful article that pretty much captures it all. Easy read.

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by Sean Perron by Sean Perron

How should a Christian think about another Christian when it comes to a potential romance? Perhaps you are considering pursuing someone or allowing someone to pursue you. Although these categories are probably not exhaustive, they may be helpful as you think about a potential mate.

Four Chemicals for Christian Chemistry:

1. Character

It need not go without saying. When it comes to marriage, godly character is not just a deal breaker; it is what the game is all about. This is first on the list because without it nothing else matters. This is the sun all planets orbit around. The rings of Saturn don’t matter without Saturn. Without a deep love for Jesus, marriage will be miserable. The potential wife should be maturing into a Proverbs 31 woman and the potential husband should be a Psalm 112 man. It also should be noted that there is a…

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Word Power pt. 1

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Let’s bust this can of worms wide open. There is power is the spoken word! Power, really simply, means influence, control, authority, the ability to produce an effect. A word is an expressed thought. Consider both words and what we have is an expressed thought that has the ability to produce a particular effect. If you are anything like me (brilliant, charming, dashing uhm…humble) then you may not fully appreciate just how significant and spiritual the matter is.

So just how powerful are words? The Earth, nay, very reality was spoken into being by the Lord, God Almighty. With the words “Let there be…” everything that is, was created by the spoken word. Big-bangers stay with me; it gets better. In proverbs 18:21 the wise man says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue…” And Jesus Christ claims that faith-filled words have the power to move mountains, literally. That’s all interesting and heavy stuff but how does it all work?

There are words then there’s the Word. The Word refers to the divine authority, wisdom and love of the One who created all things created which is manifested in the physical realm. The Word is the infallible truth, its the measure by which all other words are judged. The more our words agree with the Word of God, the more effective they become. The greater the belief or the faith that is pumped into our words the more potent they become in altering our reality. This is why Jesus taught “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” -John 15:7.

This would be but a fragment of the book that could be written on the topic and, if writer’s block would cut me a break, I may just write that book one day. Until then we’ll explore Word Power from a more terrestrial and social perspective in the next post.

For no word from God will ever fail.~ Luke 1:37

The Proverbs 31 Man

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I prayed for insight and “slapsh-bam-ping! (the sound of inspiration)” I got it! Proverbs 31, often titled “The Virtuous Woman,” is commonly viewed as a checklist for biblical womanhood. And for that purpose it is very useful. But here’s what I’ve seldom appreciated from the chapter: the wisdom shared here was intended for a man, King Lemuel, from his mother. So I considered for a moment, “I’m a king. I could use some godly insight and advice from an over-protective queen mother.” I began to look deeply into the passage.

Lemuel’s mother was raising a king and so she impressed upon him the values, principles and standards be-fitting God-honoring royalty. When closely examined and understood contextually, Proverbs 31 shares great wisdom in biblical manhood. So who is the Proverbs 31 Man? What does he do? And Where is he?

Firstly, who he is. The Proverbs 31 man is a man of God then a King. This means his moral constitution is firmly founded in the word of God and in faith. He is sober-minded, being acutely aware of his responsibilities as public servant, chief priest, role model and leader.

What he does. The Proverbs 31 man diligently, prudently and faithfully fulfills his role in the home and community. In verses 8 and 9 of the Proverb the young King is encouraged to give himself in support of the cause of the voiceless and marginalized of society. And judging by the expected spending habits of his future wife (for the welfare of her family), he provides. He brings home the bacon or the kosher as the case may be. He also appreciates the value of a woman. This smart chap leads his children in singing the praises of the woman of the house (v.28).

Finally, where he is. Verse 10 asks “A wife of noble character who can find?” The same could be asked of her male counterpart. It is noteworthy, however, that kings and queens have never been in abundant supply; not many possess the royal credentials. As for me, I’m taking all of Mama Lem’s advice and giving myself to growing to fit its mold. I’m owning it. The Proverbs 31 man is right here. The Proverbs 31 man is me!

Pleasure & Shame

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There is a part of me that earnestly desires to do good and please the Lord but there is another part of me; a darker part. That part of me is unthinking. It is blindly driven by insatiable desire. Pleasure is its sole aim and at any and all costs. It is constantly scratching at the surface of my being; fighting to be freed. The flesh is consumed with lust and utterly incapable of restraining itself.

I fell. But I didn’t trip. No, Its more like I stepped off the cliff. I sinned because I chose to sin.I knew better. And now what’s done is done. Was it pleasing? Sin usually is; that’s why we’re tempted by it. Do I regret it? Immensely. I dishonored my God, disrespected my fellow human being, rubbished my Christian testimony and failed as role model. I gave way to the flesh and it ruined me. The flip side of that lite pleasure was dark shame.

Flash backs randomly remind me of the fateful night provoking heavy sighs, SMHs and face-palms. On the upside (as far as upsides go) I’ve learnt so much about temptation, lust, grace, forgiveness and faith. But there’s got to be better way to grow in wisdom than this. And there has to be a better way to get blog content.

Jesus said: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” One must be self-aware and prayerful to see that he doesn’t fall prey to the monster within. I learned the hard way.