What are your "secret chords"?

Sitting here in the Bahamas looking out over the sea, listening to U2's "Bad", (Live), thru new headphones, my emotions are rising with the volume.  

 "If I could...I would...let it go...Surrender...dislocate..." 

"If I could...I would...let it go...Surrender...dislocate..." 

I remember the euphoria in Chicago at Soldier Field a few years ago feeling like Hilda Canes Garduno wrote, “My reaction to `Bad' was visceral.  Goose bumps. I wanted – no, needed – to know who this band was.” 

How blessed I feel to be here, gazing out at the competing blues of many waters--hearing it again.  And again.

Sheryl Crow (on my Bootlegfiend Napster account) introduced me thru crap computer speakers late at the office one night to Cohen's famous lines,

"I've heard there was a secret chord

That David Played and it pleased the Lord

But you don't really care for music, do you...?"

It was 1981.  I was 12, the age our oldest is about to not be anymore, shortly after my Mommas first bout with breast cancer.  

Raiders of the Lost Ark came out in 1981.   And that theme music will help any boy fighting anything from any era up to this day--like Rocky's theme or Star Wars'--if he lets it all the way in.

His is the voice of many waters.  Timeless.

Sometimes Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs sound like Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'--

Freddie and the boys are tapping into our primal pains and lonelinesses and plaguing fears, teaching us to sing them out like exorcisms as our tears stream like Apple Music.  

Crank it up, let

it in and

let it out.  

They say the shepherd boy David hung a harp in the trees and the breeze played it at night with His invisible touch.  And David himself played the Kinnor so masterfully it made the demons flee from his afflicted King.

A girl I took to prom a thousand years ago's brother died the week before last and I remember/heard Genesis' Invisible Touch album--my life toast jam at that time--and caught a glimpse of just the kindness of her smile that quietly set a standard for the caliber of kindness and smile I held out for and will get to see here in the Bahamas in just a few minutes when she gets done with her workout.  

And so I cried for her--for her loss--which led me back to Sting's 'Why Should I Cry for You' and a whole slew of my own un-revisited lost moments from the era that song contains.

That's music--a huge part of why I treasure LaLa Land and Sing Street and Begin Again--they're odes to the power of music.

Genesis is the First Book of the Bible.  Invisible Touch is always how He moves me.  And that is Him and it was how He spoke to me, then.

I just didn't know it in the marvel and solitary confinement of my lostboy youth.  

A lot of times someone says they never hear His voice--because they didn't realize He was the one who led you to Coldplays Fix You this AM that grabbed you by the larynx and didn't let go for 4:54 

Your life has a soundtrack. 

What are your secret chords?

Take your time. listen for your music and to it--for your music has been waiting for you.  

 

Should you really be ashamed of yourself?

It is something that you used to hear a lot as sort of a throwaway line:  "you should be ashamed of yourself."

Really?

IMG_4582.JPG

Christine stumbled across this tee shirt I hope she acquires for me soon that says, "Surely they weren't ALL Kung Fu Fighting..."

I've studied shame and cage-fought it on and off throughout my time on planet earth.  I win way more than shame does these days, to be sure--but I've also found its concrete, Biblical antidote.

This morning I was doing this word study and I ended up re-discovering two words in my ZODHIATES Key Word Study Bible.

1) one Hebrew word for shame is pronounced buwsh in Zodhiates key word breakdown of the Strongs concordance #954 and it means to be/feel ashamed, to make ashamed, to be disappointed.  The word appears in the context of humiliation and shattered human emotions.  

I was arrested by this phrase:  "The opposite meaning is trusting God."

What Zodhiates says about trust--a la "trust in the Lord with all your heart" is equally delightful.  

It is Hebrew #982 and it means to attach yourself, to trust, to confide in, to feel safe, be confident, secure, to be careless.  RSV sometimes renders it "rely on".--the basic idea being firmness or solidity.

He goes on to say this type of hope is  confident expectation, not a constant anxiety.

So trust in God, literally, is the opposite of shame.

So, no, you shouldn't.  

You should trust God.

 

Quick Note on the Anxiety Surrounding My Stuff and How to Take the Loss

 Me, now, with new friends from all from the Grimes Library--that's right Library of Congress, 2nd isn't that far down the line.

Me, now, with new friends from all from the Grimes Library--that's right Library of Congress, 2nd isn't that far down the line.

Our assignment over the weekend and into Icy Monday was:  office purge.  

Half-Price Bookstore needs books, too, Megs.  

Sure, I agree:  not mine, though, right?

I was putting distance to a minor anxiety attack when my wife looked at me and said, "Honey, you look like maybe you're a little paralyzed."

The emotion was closer to discovering you're driving on black ice at 23MPH.  I barely understood her because she was speaking to me while I was trying to negotiate the black ice.

My friends, I mean, books, were shuttled by me from the shelves to the desk to the floor and then I stopped and looked at them.  And then I realized I still had no idea what to do with them.   How to even begin to choose who should go when all should stay.  

I promptly mumbled something spiritual and headed up to the shower to steam it up a little in the wake of one of her great Clarifier questions:  

"Does it bring you joy or just help you feel less anxious?"

Ouch, stop it.  Black ice.

How is your relationship with your stuff?  Slippery?

Christine has been reading and sharing nuggets from this great little conviction manifesto called Present Over Perfect (why yes, Shauna Niequist, if my books were still going to be present, that would be perfect).

It's kind of hoarding.

So, Holy Spirit, what is up? 

      Just the feeling

      of avoiding this for              

      years.

Hear me:  I'm not kidding around about learning how to Walk the Talk and Hear His Voice.  

But this right here is where Brene Brown's vulnerability rubber often forgets to meet "the spiritual" road--I often forget to practice what I preached:  in my LAST POST.  

I forget to talk to Him.  I forget to start my day basking in His Word and love.  I forget to ask and lean.  And I subsequently get wrapped around poles from all the black ice veering and I neglect to steer back into His heart and ways.

He was not surprised.  Knowing is sort of His jam.

Sometimes I agree with the wrong team.

So,

I just decide and actually let them go?

Y

  u

     P. 

And so I do, because once you hear, it is mostly sort of easy:  Two FULL boxes.   21, son.

But make no mistake, Prophetic Acts are spiritually violent.  My pal Becky said on my way over this AM to sell them, "Now don't you buy anything while you're there."  

Oh, my type is known.

I even took some other stuff I have an unhealthy relationship with to my pal down at Solar Pawn after some ridicu-licious chicken Ramen at Krunkwich and, dear Reader:  I'm proud to say, I took the loss.

Is there anything in your life that really needs to go but you believe for some reason you'd be better off somehow if it stayed?

Hit the ejector seat.  Miss it when it is gone:  you will never have the chance if you never let it go. Cue Frozen song.

It isn't impossible.  

It is hard.  But the game of inches battle toward genuine freedom is worth it.

Fade to Black...

How High is Your Idle?

Have you ever sat in a car when the idle was stuck too high?

It can be a little unnerving, right?

As I began to just soak in silence for a few more minutes a day than usual, it really began to occur to me that to Be Still and Know that He is God is first an invitation to Be Still.

And I hadn't been recognizing a few places where I wasn't even on the fareway to still.

How High is Your idle set?

I was reminded that our brain is between our "temples", for example, these high places of pondering.

I saw that sugar removal was a final frontier, a land no Megs had gone before and stayed, in the battle for stillness.  Less Coffee?  Are You Maaaad?

They're proving, as Simon Sinek pointed out in his millenial talk, that the same chemicals that release in our brains with booze and gambling, for example, are released when we check social media.

It "swipes" perhaps more than we think.

I can lean in for a really long time, but thanks to St Arbux and too many sweets, there is still a dull thrum of too much activity on a chemical level.

So, I'm taking steps.

And I'm recalibrating.  I learned how important breathing deeply is last year, too.  It is a journey.

I sat with one last week struggling with anxiety and I asked them:  so, when is life sweetest and the anxiety least-est?

"Let's see, I guess when I start the day off in the Word and pretty much spend the day chatting with the Lord..."

Hmm, say I, as the answer sinks into both of us.

Less than 24 hours later I was sitting with another wrestling with chronic physical pain and I asked the same question.  "Hmm, I guess when I start the day off in the Word and really just spend time with Him."

Say, I think I'd do more of that.

So a couple weeks in, ask Him if there is a recalibration you need:  More time alone, more time in silence, less sugar, more exercise, more time at the movies, for heaven's sake--but the challenge is not to go after what you think the thing He is targeting might be, but instead ask Him to show You what He is wanting to work on.  

Sometimes, there isn't grace for what you may think the problem is--but there is always grace for what He is suggesting.

Right now, with me, He is working on slowing my roll, slowing my idle to the place where I can come to peace in moments and hear clearly without all the need for speed and skittles I'm so accustomed to.

When too much is coming for our attention, we can lose our keys.  

It got so bad a few times last year, I lost my whole car. 

I pray today finds you blessed and rested and increasingly aware of where your idle lies. 
 

 

CALL TO SILENCE

 It's time to slow down and zip it on purpose--at least for this guy  

It's time to slow down and zip it on purpose--at least for this guy  

The article linked below from June of this year indicates, "The average American spends nearly half a day staring at a screen.  A new Nielsen Company audience report reveals that adults in the United States devoted about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consuming media during the first quarter of this year. The report...included how much time we spend daily using our tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs."

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/30/health/americans-screen-time-nielsen/

So, tomorrow, as best I can for at least the rest of the year:  I'm going to tithe the one o'clock hour to unplugged silence.  Monday thru Friday:  No calls no texts no Internet no feed checks.   Just Him and me and whoever else feels the nudge.

My hope would be to gather some steam to spiritually reverse the above-recognized trend.

You are welcome to join me.   

Not everyone's schedule will work for the one o'clock hour, obviously.

But I'm going to go--as best I can--to Lutheran Church of Hope, my church, our West Des Moines campus and sit--with whoever is there--and really try to just engage in listening to my Abba.

I have quiet time most everyday, in the early AM.   This isn't that.

There is something about investing our productivity time and listening corporately to His heart that makes me smile.  

Plus, I feel like it was His idea.

So, wherever you are--whether it is a minute at one or an hour at midnight or longer if you have it and feel so inclined--let's lean in and listen to the heart of Our Father--more than we check Facebook or play Minecraft or Tweet or Pick-a-News source or Netflix or even work and make calls.

I'm going to start in WDM tomorrow:  12/01 at one o'clock.

I don't want to be religious about it; I do want to invest my heart in it--slowing down, on purpose.

I keep thinking about George Washington Carver and how he would just wander outside and say, "Lord, the world is too big for me--tell me about the peanut."

And what the Lord showed him, literally, helped to save a soon-failing economy no one at that time saw coming.

Hope this finds you blessed and rested!

Megs

A tension? Attention!!!

 I can't remember where I parked but it doesn't matter because I can't remember where I left my keys.  Oh, they're in my hand.

I can't remember where I parked but it doesn't matter because I can't remember where I left my keys.  Oh, they're in my hand.

Christine asked me to look for her sunglasses and I reported that they were not in her purse.

Now, in fairness, her purse I've nicknamed the Panamanian Mangrove and ordinarily refuse to go in there for fear of being trapped-to-drown when tide rolls in.  

But this time, there were only like five items total in it.

Including her sunglasses.

This is not my first rodeo.

But like so many times:  I sincerely didn't see them.

Because--as I've learned in some of my readings lately--I wasn't looking for her sunglass Case:  I was looking for her sunglasses.

Plus, I have a lot on my mind, I'm discovering.

Today?  Today was not heavy lifting: get the fab five to girls on the run 5K, find Uncle Nate, don't lose Jack, ooper, walk back to get goTessgo posters from van, walk back, wait; take cam back to van, we forgot SIM card at home, walk back, see them off, find a portapotty because WDM had closed down the restrooms for the season and a thousand people descended after I made and consumed coffee, bought donuts and heavy Duty Vitamin C as it is cold and flu season and the oldest was fighting off something night before last, talk to Jorgie and retired Marine, try to block oldest hearing old retired marine Wow-he-just-said-that, double time it back to the finish line in double double time because our middle was crushing her time and texted my friend about a deal we are chasing, then the other one and then we take the phone pics, pile in, get home, make and eat lunch, get our ladies out the door for a play back downtown for them and remember to get the gift for the youngest bday party tonight but don't forget your oops need to turn around forgot the things you pay with and the chip is fine but slow and no no, let's order CASEYS pizza because the littlest also has a basketball game tonight and we are out of homemade dough makings.

And I managed to pull off a nap and a couple hours of foursquare with the boysies before letting this stream of Saturday out along with some dishes and sweeping and a couple other texts and phone calls and emails and iPhone pics. 

But the nap was for sure cut short because we have a doorbell and our favorite wee visitor loves to use it when our youngest isn't using it, himself.   Usually when you guessed it:  

Im napping.   

There is a classic study on the subject of this attention tension described in Daniel Levitin's THE ORGANIZED MIND.

There is a video that comes from the psychological study on attention by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.   Because of the processing limits of your attentional system, they essentially prove over and over that we don't see what we are not looking for--at one point in the video where folks have been encouraged to count how may times the players wearing the white tee shirts pass the basketball while ignoring the players in the black tee shirts--a man in a gorilla suit walks into the middle of the action bangs his chest and walks off.  

And most in the study don't see him.  I didn't the first time I saw it.

Because their attentional system is overloaded.

Like mine and like us, here in America, almost every minute of every hour of every day when we are not aware or on the lookout.  And it is stressful and subconsciously, we feel like we are missing something--because we are.

A lot of instances of losing and misplacing and not remembering or finding things, Levitin suggests, is nothing more than our attentional systems being over-taxed.

Which brings me to Brenna Manning, who reminded me in ABBAS CHILD the other night that "the agnosticism of inattention"--the lack of personal discipline over media bombardment, shallow reading, sterile conversation, perfunctory prayer and subjugation of the senses--the awareness of the Risen Christ grows dim."

Whoa, wait:  "--the awareness of the Risen Christ grows dim.."

We struggle with our a where-ness?   I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten where I parked while I was on the phone heading in for a stroll at Jordan Creek.  Thank goodness I can still hear when I set off the alarm to find it!  Gang, we are becoming painfully distracted.  

It s attention's tension.

Brennan continues, "Just as the failure to be attentive undermines love, confidence, and communion in a human relationship,  so inattention to my true self hidden with christ in God obscures awareness of the Divine relationship."

There is a tension, though, isn't there?  We have a lot on our minds--as I alluded to in a previous post, something like 35,000 decisions a day.  

My attention is often divided between this and that and that and that's this and this' that before we talk about attention deficit disorder, which is sometimes I'm simply not paying enough attention to my own because I have't enough attention left.

In the realm of the Center for Relational Care, attention is all about entering another's world. And we are so often, anymore, if we are not careful to just purposefully slow down:  just barely in the present of our own world.

The danger of not slowing down our minds on purpose is reaching epidemic proportion.  Even just a few minutes an hour to breathe in where we are:  and Whose.

Breatjing deeply, being filled with His inspiration and praying something like "Lord, I'm slowing down right now just to be with You," ever-helps--if I can focus long enough and remember in this land of forgetfulness to just do it.

Who are your Seed-lings?

 Signs are all around people:   Seek first His kingdom.  Christendom without Christen just sounds dumb. 

Signs are all around people:   Seek first His kingdom.  Christendom without Christen just sounds dumb. 

This is an anonymous story Tim Meline introduced me to years ago in a Real Estate Ethics class (mandatory every three years--"forced fellowship").  

"An emperor was growing old and knew it was time to choose His successor.  He called the young people in the kingdom together and said, "It is time for me to step down and to choose the next emperor."

"I am giving each one of you a seed today.  I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed.  I will then judge what you bring, and choose who will be the next emperor!"

Ling received a seed like the others.  He went home and excitedly told his mother the story.  She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and carefully watered it.  Every day he watered it and watched to see if it had grown.  After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.  Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing grew.  Three , four, five weeks went by, but nothing sprouted.

By now, others were talking about their plants.  Ling didn't have a plant, and he felt like a failure.  Six months went by; still nothing grew in Ling's pot.  He believed he had killed his seed.  Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing.  He just kept hoping for his seed to grow.

After a year all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for his inspection.  Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot, but his Mother said he must be honest about what happened.  Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his Mother was right.

When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths.  They were all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the others laughed at him.

A few felt sorry for him and said, "Hey, nice try."  When the emperor arrived, he greeted the young people and then surveyed the room.  Ling tried to hide in the back.

"My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown," said the emperor.  "Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"

All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot.  He ordered his guards to bring him to the front.  Ling was terrified.  "The emperor knows I'm a failure!  Maybe he will have me killed!"

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied.  The emperor looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!"  Ling couldn't believe it.  Ling couldn't even grow his seed.  How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed.   I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today.  I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow.  All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees, plants and flowers.  When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you.  Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it.  Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!"

---

A few years ago, I typed this up or copied and pasted it and sent it to a leader as a gift:  a prophecy.  We'd never met, but I had this picture as I revisited this story:  I saw him, a leader in the seed industry and I felt like he had many "Lings" in his life--and the Holy Spirit put SeedLings together and I saw a few were called to be emperors of sorts in the days ahead but would need his influence and that he actually was a Ling himself.  I shared it with another former COO I was acquainted with as a springboard for something else I felt like the Lord was inviting him to in another word some months later.   And as I said, Tim Meline shared it with me.  

The enemy loves to try to convince us to feel bad about recycling words or stories in the prophetic:  but it is a trick.   Think about the Beatitudes or the Proverbs or the life of Job or really any section of scripture any number of people have found to be impactful or profound.  Or a song.  Or a daily devo.  Or a movie. Or a poem.  Same concept:  if He lays it into your heart for someone, share it.  It's perfectly acceptable to share words you've been led to share before.  Think of them as seeds--same kind.   Pick a song or a story or a Psalm you like and ask Him who you can share it with, if it applies and send it to them preferably snail mail or fed ex:  that's as simple as prophecy gets--you purposefully encourage someone.   To encourage means to give courage.   Righteous are as bold as a lion!

I sent a text with a song in it last week to one of my faves and said I don't know who you're seeing in the nine o'clock hour this AM, but they need to hear it too.

I got this back:  "Who do u know I'm seeing at 9?"
To which, I responded:  "Just a sense when I sent it--nobody I know just someone who needs to hear this song" 

I didn't know for sure they were seeing anyone but I've practiced sending it anyway. 

They replied, "Love it!  If u only knew who I'm seeing at 9."  They sent this to me a couple days later, "We haven't had a chance to connect yet but Jen's song for my 9AM client was right on target.  I'd forgotten but several months earlier I'd sent her the same song!"  I needed this song, too!  Thanks Jenn and Bethel.

---

Parables are illustrative stories and the word itself means "to throw down beside".  

Think of Ling's story as we thrown it down next to Jesus' parable of the soils and ask:  which soil am I, right now, Lord?   

Matthew 13 (thanks to our digi-pals over at Biblegateway.com for the copy and paste)

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea.2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.

3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.7 Others fell [b]among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, [c]let him hear.”

An Explanation

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 [d]Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. 12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 [e]In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

[f]You will keep on hearing, [g]but will not understand;
[h]You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Sower Explained

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

-----

When King David writes in Psalm 51, "..a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise", the word contrite means smashed to powder like talcum powder.  

I wonder if our trials (or even some of our seedier moments ;) ) aren't really just heart-soil work in the context of God preparing us to receive a good word from Him--after our hearts are prepared.

I Peter 5:10 "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you."

Who are your seed lings?   Let them know you believe in them and specifically why. 

 

 

 

 

 

Leader or Louder?

 Struggles Freal  

Struggles Freal  

Premature responsibility breeds superficiality the Internet tells us Einstein said.

My dear friend Jorgie was the first one I ever heard use the phrase loudership v leadership and it was laugh out loud funny--like a lot of what Jorgie says.

Often truth + pain  =  funny. 

I was a louder on and off for many years.  

It happens when you have just enough charisma or leader in you to be handed the microphone prematurely but too little discernment and humility to know when to refuse it. 

Genuine authority is something that is easy to submit to. 

Take the admonition many find so offensive: Wives submit to your husbands. 

Louders use it as a bludgeon to get their way. 

Leaders put it back into its context which is Husbands love your wives.  

Love is easy to submit to. 

My pal Gaz one year made my wife a pack of God cards for her birthday because at the time I was notorious for dropping the God card on her (meaning:  sorry, honey, God told me X so your Why is unfortunately out--best submit to your husband now--uh, gross).  

Louders love to drop the God card--because it seemingly gives them control of situations.  

Leaders let God be God and not only ask "what are you getting"?, they try to listen to and maybe even employ what it is that you're getting.

The problem is, though it is typically more of an immaturity than rebellion problem, Scripture says manipulation is as the sin of witchcraft.

Leaders can become Louders especially when surrounded by Louders.

But Louders can become Leaders--especially when surrounded by Leaners. 

Where do you find yourself? 

 

 

 

Are you susceptible to religious spirits?--(a post conspiring with the inestimable Billy Joel)

 Religiosity wears a lot of hats.

Religiosity wears a lot of hats.

So, religious spirits despise humility, by the way:   because pride is what they eat and it is therefore how they survive.  

Religiosity comes from a root system meaning `to bind with rope'.  

So do you find yourself feeling bound/ "religious"?

Do you believe that what you believe is what there is to believe, period?  Lot of spiritual nuance out there, pals.

Is judgment a faster draw for you than love? 

Is it your authority that people generally need to submit to?

Do you despise immaturity? 

Are you critical of most all leadership?

Is gossip a favorite pastime?

Do you kind of feel like "we" are right and "they" are wrong?

These are fun questions, aren't they?

Religious spirits live in the realms of politics, the church and the marketplace, by the way.  Saduccees and Pharisees--one political, the latter religious.  Mammon is a marketplace religious spirit that snakes into our woodpile-beliefs about money.  They just add that little extra bit of hate/fear-fuel.

Paul said of his "we" that they were not unaware of his (the enemy's) devices; but I think actually a lot of times here in deep distractaville, we are. 

Ever been with someone really intoxicated?  Pharmakia is the drug and alcohol spirit (think wine and spirits was an accident?)--whose name originally meant the summoning of evil spirits through the use of chemicals.

Man, people get flipped out when you start talking about angels and demons and spiritual forces of wickedness and light--but they're all over Scripture and God is a Spiritual Being.  Like Jesus cast out demons.

And if there is a real enemy and I'm not just filling space here--is it possible, as USUAL SUSPECTS suggests, that one of the greatest tricks the devil ever played is convincing man that he doesn't exist..?

Because candidly, believers are His favorite targets--if he can get us bummed out at each other--people who don't know God think He is a big-jerk like some of us and some of our loveless antics.

Religious spirits are the forces of darkness that enflame our too-susceptible beliefs.  

We aren't rooted and grounded in His heart or love (as we learned at our retreat this weekend--the Book is our Life Textbook and God is Love) and so we are pretty easy targets.

I realize there is a lot I'm not even going to address is this post that may bum one out--fair enough?

But religious spirits love super secret special sauce that rhymes with "I'm right and you're stupid and wrong and Jesus loves me and you're probably going to hell."  Which really when you stop and listen past all the religious-or-spiritual-sounding, actually sounds a lot like accusation.  

Satan is called the father of lies and the accuser.  Perhaps it is no mistake that Revelation 9:11 reads They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

1 John 4:1 reads, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

I discovered the word `antichrist' doesn't only mean `against' or `opposed to':  it can also mean `instead of'. 

Man, we are well-intentioned; aren't we?  But apart from His heart, we are so likely to be part of the problem because we represent Him and so if we do a schlock job of it, it makes the father of lies job easier which he is all about.

Many yrs ago I sat in the room with a minor league cult leader who was absolutely convinced that his was the way, the truth and nothing and no one but:  oodles of disqualification-y language.  You've got to say God's name a certain way and don't celebrate that and no trees for Christmas and whatever on and on.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free.  

His belief disqualified maybe ninety-eight and a half percent of believers and made me feel literally unclean (insert high-pitched Ruxin voice on repeat from The League, "Unclean, unclean!!!") to be around.

But that it isn't all "it" (Scripture says we battle not against flesh and blood but rather against spiritual forces of darkness--it wasn't him, it was the darkness/what he was agreeing with) made me feel.   It also made me feel--or as I like to say, it tempted me to feel--like I sort of wanted to Jack Bauer him in the throat a little more than just a little. 

And as I was processing what all that was about with the Holy Spirit later, He was kind to reveal to me that my own lovelessness towards that man was actually opening the door to my own religiosity called:  the need to be right/fighting back.  And He said, essentially, "You'll never win that spiritual fight by being goaded into the fight--you simply don't answer a fool according to his folly." 

#BUTLORD I had so much I wanted to say!

Mocking is a sign you may be wrestling in this arena.

Sarcasm comes from `to tear at the flesh'.

Lovelessness is one of the primary entryways.  Lack of humility is another. 

Shawn Bolz describes one of our strategies as seeing people at the end of the race with the blue ribbon in their hand.  Seeing after the spirit or seeing as God sees will always be bright with Lovingkindness regardless of the moments' seemings.    

York, right now, is practicing the nine word game-changer I touched on some posts ago three words at a time:  

quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.  Actually a great antidote to religiosity.

It turns out religious spirits love to goad other religious spirits into cage fights:  so all of a sudden instead of me disagreeing with someone from a place of honor and quietly listening to/praying for them:  I become angry, dismissive and condescending.  Dot:  Not awesome.  I not only don't invite the brightness of God into the situation, I help drive Him away by adding to the darkness--even though at the moment it seems so "true".  It may be:  it is just isn't the truth or it would move to set free.   

Remember:  where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

Not knowing what spirit we are of wanting to call down fire on entire villages for not digging our spiritual angle is part of the spiritual immaturity and zeal package.  It is part of growing up and it is why He says WE have the mind of Christ.  Ask for help in discerning.

So:  when is my genuine smile easier than my snarky glance?

Is love easier than judgment? 

Do I see people as they could be or do I define them by their has been/are behavior? 

Am I patient? 

As a finale to ponder--the immortal Billy Joel from a record once banned on a lot of stations.  

I'm not a rousing endorser of all his Thoughts, here--but the line about her momma and prayer is the challenge I want to leave you with as it is what we ought to all be keeping an eye out for in our walks.

"Well, they showed you a statue, told you to pray
They built you a temple and locked you away
Aw, but they never told you the price that you pay
For things that you might have done
Only the good die young
That's what I said...

So come on Virginia show me a sign
Send up a signal and I'll throw you the line
The stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind
Never let's in the sun
Only the good die young...


You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
You got a brand new soul
Mmm, and a cross of gold
But Virginia they didn't give you quite enough information
You didn't count on me
When you were counting on your rosary
(Oh woah woah)

They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun
You know that only the good die young
I tell ya
Only the good die young
Only the good die young

Well your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation
Aw she never cared for me
But did she ever say a prayer for me?

oh woah woah..."