Am I Carnal? You bet I am.

When I begin to work on my blog each morning, i do a couple of things. Sometimes I will look for the  definition of a key word. Today I did that for Carnality. It wasn’t much help. It means “worldly, earthly or relating to the physical.” Then I will do an image search using the same word. I got an eyeful when I did that with carnality. After reading and rereading OC, carnality reminds me of chewing gum, stuck on the sole of your shoe. Just when I think my walk is going pretty well, I get a reminder that I’m still pretty worldly. “Where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal . . . ?” —1 Corinthians 3:3 Maybe I’ll get involved in some “envy, strife and division” or maybe some temptation, thought long ago banished will return.
“The natural man, or unbeliever, knows nothing about carnality. The desires of the flesh warring against the Spirit, and the Spirit warring against the flesh, which began at rebirth, are what produce carnality and the awareness of it.” I think what OC is saying is that before salvation, these pieces of gum on our shoes don’t bother us. They seem to be just a part of life. 
As an attorney I often find myself in situations where there is misrepresentation and dishonesty. When calling attention to this, the response is often “What’s the big deal” or “Everyone is doing it.”  The point is when faced with these pieces of gum or “thorns” as Paul called them, we should probably rejoice. Ithey are signs of our new nature at war with our old. Thank God we have a new nature. But what do we do? How do we respond? “But Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” ( Galatians 5:16 ). In other words, carnality will disappear.”
It seems that when we begin to walk other than “in the Spirit” these carnal items arise. They are warning signs that we are slipping off the track. The Spirit detects something not right. At this point, Satan often makes a  move. He tells us we’re sinners. He tells us we haven’t changed. He drags up our past. He tells us we’re too weak to change. He tells us God could never love someone like us. It’s all a lie. It’s because He loves us that we can sense something is wrong. It’s because we’re changed that we even notice there’s a problem. And, best of all, God will fix it:
“If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He doesn’t ask you to make it right; He only asks you to accept the light of truth, and then He will make it right. A child of the light will confess sin instantly and stand completely open before God. But a child of the darkness will say, “Oh, I can explain that.” When the light shines and the Spirit brings conviction of sin, be a child of the light. Confess your wrongdoing, and God will deal with it. If, however, you try to vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.”
At some point, it seems we get past all this. Our walk is always in the Spirit. No thorns arise and no gum sticks to our shoes. “What is the proof that carnality has gone? Never deceive yourself; when carnality is gone you will know it-it is the most real thing you can imagine. And God will see to it that you have a number of opportunities to prove to yourself the miracle of His grace. The proof is in a very practical test. You will find yourself saying, “If this had happened before, I would have had the spirit of resentment!” And you will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.”
That point seems far away. The thorns are too frequent; the gum too sticky. I take consolation at each little victory. It is enough for now that this particular temptation didn’t get me this time. It is a blessing that this situation did not produce envy or strife. I know it might next time, but this time it didn’t and this time,
I am blessed.

The Valley So Low

Down in the valley

I don’t do well in valleys and I think I’m in one. Saturday I attended a two and a half hour meeting that should have taken twenty minutes. It’s for a ministry I love, but it’s not the part where we see God work, but where  we do mundane planning. It’s not where God is in view but where we produce work that God will really have to miraculously transform. This week I face mostly paperwork. I like being a trial lawyer because I like being in trial, not doing paperwork. My big project at home, new steps for our patio, has moved from the won’t-it-be-great stage to the will-it-ever-be-done stage. Finally, I love winter, but really will this one ever end. I was as cold yesterday as I was all winter. Mainly I was looking forward to the hills of spring and have had enough of the valleys of winter.
To top it all OC is particularly cryptic today. But I think he’s talking about what I’m going through, as usual.
“Did not our heart burn within us?”
Luke 24:32

“We need to learn this secret of the burning heart. Suddenly Jesus appears to us, the fires are kindled, we have wonderful visions, then we have to learn to keep the secret of the burning heart that will go through anything. It is the dull, bald, dreary, commonplace day, with commonplace duties and people, that kills the burning heart unless we have learned the secret of abiding in Jesus” 
Well there you go, it seems I haven’t learned the secret of abiding in Jesus. My burning heart is being quenched by everydayness and paperwork. 
For advice, OC provides this “When God gives a vision, transact business on that line, no matter what it costs.” Well thanks a lot. I know what I’m suppose to do, how do I do that?
I think the answer is that circumstances form the contours of hills and valleys. God has no hills or valleys. He is the same always. I think the secret maybe that when we think we’re in a valley, we need to look closer. Focus on the constant God. Look for the positive. 

If I do that for the moment, I see the great Sunday we had at Amana yesterday. The wonderful lunch I had with my beautiful daughter. The fun movie I saw with my bride last night. The terrific  book I’m listening to, Crazy Love by Francis Chan (More on that later.)

Maybe the secret of making it through the valley, is realizing that it ain’t a valley at all.

As for the weather, I think I’ll put on the last (I hope) pot of gumbo for the season. It’s recipe I should have shared  but I stole it from the internet.

Valley? What Valley?

I’m blessed.



Have I been crucified with Christ? Galatians 2:20 To say I have been is an affirmation of a fact, a “done deal.” It’s more than a good intention, a promise to try. OC tells us that its result is “then all that Christ wrought for me on the Cross is wrought in me. The free committal of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the chance to impart to me the holiness of Jesus Christ. “. . . nevertheless I live. . . .” The individuality remains, but the mainspring, the ruling disposition, is radically altered. The same human body remains, but the old satanic right to myself is destroyed.”
How can I know that this crucifixion is a fact in me? It certainly has to be more than a feeling. There must be some evidence. 

“And the life which I now live in the flesh . . . ,” not the life which I long to live and pray to live, but the life I now live in my mortal flesh, the life which men can see, “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” This faith is not Paul’s faith in Jesus Christ, but the faith that the Son of God has imparted to him – “the faith of the Son
of God.” It is no longer faith in faith, but faith which has overleapt all conscious bounds, the identical faith of the Son of God.”
In no way is that faith in me. Have I been crucified with Christ? It seems not. There is not the evidence of it.
Does the faith of the Son of God live in you? If so, you are truly blessed.

Friendship with God


I am blessed that my wife is also my best friend. Communication may be the fire of any relationship but a relationship is great when words are often not necessary. Merely being in the presence of the friend is enough and communication takes place without words. 
If we are to be true friends of God our relationship with Him should develop to the “mere presence” level. When we start with God we delight in our time with Him but that time is infrequent and it takes effort. We have to go to our “special” place. We need solitude and silence. At the very early stages we do most of the talking. But as with any friendship, as it develops we begin to listen and listening becomes a greater delight than talking.
My strongest memory of my first date with Rosemary was that we talked. I came away from that experience feeling that I had never spoken that much or that openly with anyone. It was just the beginning of our great relationship. That’s what we seek with God. 
With a friend you never need to ask what they want. You just know it. But even after years of such friendship there are occasional misreadings. They are corrected by a gentle check. 
When our friendship with God reaches that level “you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you are God’s will. And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit. You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint.”
It is no great relationship that consists only of one continually asking favors from the other. So it is with our relationship with God. It begins with our great need and His great power to meet our need. But we move beyond that. As with any great relationship we move from needing what the friend can provide, to needing the frined. In the providing of need by a friend and to a friend, we get to really know the friend.  “The reason for asking is so you may get to know God better. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart” ( Psalm 37:4 ). We should keep praying to get a perfect understanding of God Himself.

I am a friend of God. He calls me “Friend” and I am Blessed.


Believe God

I like this painting of Abraham. It’s not Abraham after he is the Father of Nations. It’s Abraham when Abraham Believed God. He  believed Him  before there was evidence of the fulfillment of His promises.

What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:3

God made promises to Abraham, promises that he would be  blessed to be a blessing.  Those promises were kept by God in His time and in His place. Abram had to first become a new creature, at least one with a new name. He had to leave country and family and go to a land he did not know. He had to have faith he would father a nation even as his body and that of his wife withered and aged. He had to believe even when asked to give up his son. 
Abraham  believed God but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick.

Abraham had to become God’s man. To be God’s man means to be separate, one of the definitions of holiness. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26. Now that’s separation.

“Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason—a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the A life.”
A life of faith is a life of change, not instant and permanant change but ebbing and flowing change. “We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day—in and day—out consistency; a life of walking without fainting.”
Like Abraham we believe God. We trust when there is no visible evidence. We follow when we can’t see the destination.  We learn and are changed by the One whose presence is constant but not always felt and whose power is limitless but not always seen.

Abraham believed

and was blessed.


Shall I Rouse Myself Up To This?

OC can be pretty deep. His spiritual musings often have me reading and re-reading several times. His words are challenging as today when he explores issues of perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Sometimes I need more practical lessons. I got such a lesson the last two days at MacDonald’s in Rayne. 
The men of Amana took on the task of disassembly and reassembly of a “play land” which Mac Donalds has donated to the church. It is no small task. I would like to say my contribution has been substantial, but there is too much evidence to the contrary. My greatest contribution has been staying out of the way, handing tools to the real workers when I understood what tool they were asking for and driving around a trailer that someone else donated.
But I have been greatly blessed watching men who certainly had more pressing things to do, spend hours in cheerful, difficult, and productive labor. At Amana we are blessed with leadership and membership that is not afraid to get its hands’ dirty or to take on the toughest jobs. 
Today OC asks: “Am I perfecting this type of holiness in the fear of God? Is God getting His way with me, and are other people beginning to see God in my life more and more?”  For a group of great guys at Amana, I have observed that the answer is “yes.” In a very real and practical way.

“Be serious with God and leave the rest gaily alone. Put God first literally.” Guys, thanks for doing that this week. I know you will be as blessed in your labor  as I’ve been in just watching.


Be a God Pleaser

So we make it our goal to please him. 2 Corinthians 5:9
I love to watch my great-granddaughter Kaydence. She knows what she wants. She’s happy, ecstatic really, when she gets it and she’s upset when she doesn’t. Life at 18 months is pretty simple. But you can begin to see traces of complexity. She is beginning to want to please others. She loves to dance around, but she’s starting to like the attention it gets her. She’s starting down the road that leads to acting to please others. That’s a good thing. A step in the process of maturing. We are meant to move from being self pleasers to being unselfish people with a desire to give pleasure to others. 
But there is a further step in maturing, getting to the point when our principal motivation is to please God. The child of God lives to put a smile on the face of God. It’s a high place of maturity and a difficult place to stay. We keep slipping back into a life of self pleasing or people pleasing. 
No one likes a self pleaser. After all they’re selfish. Thinking mainly of their own desires, they go through life demanding their rights. Humanists seem to think that’s really the ideal. Be your own person. You are the most important person in your life. I guess it’s a satisfying but lonely way to go through life.
Most of us like to think we put others first. That we are not selfish, but selfless. Many of the people we consider “good” fall into this category. These folks are easy to love. They are quick to do for others, to volunteer, to bring joy where they go. But watch out for these guys. Eventually they tire of giving, giving, giving. They begin to feel put upon. No one appreciates all they do. The joy of serving can become a treadmill of being tread upon.

The real joyful people are the God pleasers. They are usually great to be around. They are living the life they were created to live. They live for God. That’s usually a good thing for the people who live around them, because people who love God love other people and will do practically anything for them. What’s even better is they don’t seem to care if you appreciate what they do. They’re not doing it for you. They’re doing it for Him. 

Be careful around these God pleasers. They love you. But they love you like God loves you. They love you enough to want the best for you even if it means telling you things you don’t like to hear. They sometimes don’t do the things for you that you would like them to, because they know it’s better for you if you do them yourself.  Sometimes they aren’t as much fun as people pleasers, but in the long run they are better lovers.

I pray that Kaydence will learn to love God and to be a God pleaser and that I will be a God pleaser more of the time than I’m a self pleaser or a people pleaser. After all that’s the only way to really

Be blessed.


Standing Before The Judgement Seat – Daily

When I was a student, I was a crammer. I would wait until right before a test to try to learn all the information put before me since the last test. This was a particularly difficult exercise in classes in which only a final exam is given. I would have to  try to learn all the material in the course in a couple of days. Not a good idea.
Craming in life is an even worse idea.  We know that there is a great test at the end.  Paul says that we must all, preacher and people alike, “appear before
the judgment seat of Christ.” Like a class with a test only at the end, our tendency is to “put off” our thoughts of this final test. If we do that we don’t learn the lessons of life God tries to teach us on a daily basis. 
If we place ourselves before our God daily, consider what He already knows: our struggles, our failings and our triumphs. And we spend some time listening to Him, He can make corrections before we become horribly off course. 
“Keep yourself steadily faced by the judgment seat of Christ; walk now in the light of the holiest you know.” There is an old spiritual discipline known as the Examination of Conscience. The idea is that at the end of each day, one examines the day, the good and the bad, confesses the bad and pledges to build upon the good on the following day. This is a great idea for us. Keeping a close tab, a daily look, at how we are doing will help us walk more in the light. Having grown up in darkness, God can’t hit us with the fullness of His light all at once. Like coming out of a dark theater, we would be blinded by the light. He increases the intensity of His light as the eyes of our lives become adjusted.
Lord, I confess that I have been less than you called me to this day. Thank you for showing me just a bit more of what you expect of me and empower me to be that person tomorrow. Teach me daily to live and love as you would have me.
Be blessed.