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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ignite

This past week, I attended a four day inner healing conference called Ignite 2014. The conference is put on by Christian Healing Ministries, an organization run by Judith and Francis MacNutt, dedicated to bringing healing to people in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit in all realms of life: physical, emotional, and spiritual. 

It was the most powerful set of experiences I've had in a long time; I cried every day for four days as the Lord made Himself present and accessible to me and to the hundreds of others who were there. I felt Him move on my heart; even my body was affected, as I was overwhelmed by the tangible presence of God's Spirit and with weeping. I could hardly explain what was happening at the time, but the best way to describe it was as a physical burden lifted off  my shoulders, the heavy burden of past sins and their accompanying shame. When the experience passed I felt physically lighter and full of joy, like a new man. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

An Ungodly Promise

"However, to the one who does not work but trusts God, who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited to them as righteousness." - Romans 4:5

Do you know just how hopeful this scripture is? Meditate on this and your perspective on guilt, shame, and repentance will change forever. 

I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, and I remember all the rules taught to me, particularly the ten commandments. All well and good, but there was hardly any grace, and I knew nothing about relating personally to Jesus Christ. In fact, I was even told once that if I didn't position my hands correctly when I prayed, God wouldn't hear me. I learned that grace came through the sacraments administered by the priesthood, and how I had to be "a good boy" to be acceptable before God. 

My religious education didn't end there. After my family left Catholicism, we joined a very legalistic church that made law observance the marker for those who belonged to God. Consequently, my walk with God has been a struggle to believe He could love me when I simply can't measure up; the more I sinned, the farther away I walked from God. Instead of my failures and frustrations drawing me towards grace, they caused me to hide in shame. How could God love me? How could He forgive me when I've sinned over and over again? There have been days I barely knew why I was being kept alive, because if I were God and He were me, I would've killed Him long ago. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beauty for Ashes: A Prayer

Sometimes I like to take scriptures that have or are speaking to me and write them as prayers. It's a good practice to get into. The words of God through the prophets and apostles are powerful, and my words often seem few, especially when I don't know what to say to God or how to express what I'm feeling. Written prayers help stimulate my mind, produce a spirit of worship, and provide a spring board off of which I can begin to pray myself. This is the truest and best function of liturgy in the Church; not repeated prayers that have become mindless fulfillment of religious duty, but written prayers that inspire and help shape our own. 

Isaiah 61 spoke to me recently, as written in the post Beauty for Ashes. I want to soak in the truth of what that passage says about God and His promises for me, so I crafted a prayer that reflects that and applies His words to my life. It's an empowering prayer that I'll be meditating on for a while, at least until I feel it starting to "get under my skin" and into my heart.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Beauty for Ashes


I had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit, overwhelmed simultaneously by the burdens I felt in my soul, my need for Jesus, and His presence. 

When we're plagued by our past, by sins and addictions, by fear, and by lies and mental games we play on ourselves, God has the power to free us from their grip. Sometimes He brings us to rock bottom before we look up, stretch out our hands, and cry for help; then sometimes, when we get that help, just a slight touch from His Spirit feels like it will undo us. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Stop Waiting to Be Happy

I could not have written it better myself. The following prayer (and the blog post in which it's found) comes from the blog Barren to Beautiful,written by a beautiful Christian woman named Rebekah, who found freedom and faith in God despite seasons of uncertainty, dissatisfaction, and pain. 

Her words hit home, especially for someone like me who has always been a depressive, seeing the negative side of life and struggling to expect anything good, even from God. Disbelieving that I could ever be satisfied in God, while at the same time believing that God's the only one who could satisfy, put me between a rock and a hard place: seeing the source of freedom but not believing I could reach it. It added to my existential dread, my dissatisfaction with everything in life, and it continues to be a battle I struggle with today. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fear, Love, and How They Co-exist

Those who fear the darkness, have no idea what the Light can do.
I have a lot of fear. It pretty much dominates my life, and since fear is the flip-side of distrust, it doesn't make me feel great about my walk with God. 

The past month I haven't blogged much, because I've been afraid that if I split up my time writing this blog and working on multiple projects, I'll get burned out. I've also been afraid that the things I did work on weren't going to be successful. Then, when my work won an award, I was afraid that it wasn't going to do any good, and now that it's beginning to get me some important connections, I'm afraid I'm being set up for disappointment.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Heart of My Own

Basia Bulat is a Canadian folk singer, whose words often stray close to the edge of gospel music. A few of her songs are outright old-time gospel pieces. Her voice is unique and gutteral; her lyrics are thoughtful.  This particular song, Heart of My Own, is one of her most popular. The lyrics are certainly open to interpretation, and I'm not sure whether it's gospel or romantic, but I've heard the song a few times, each time picking up something different from the words reflecting the struggles in her life. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It's Easter, Not Ishtar

"FYI, I'm the God of EVERYTHING! Sorry, Ishtar!"
I've been presenting a lot of theologizing and philosophizing lately, and as much as Easter probably deserves a theological post on the resurrection, I'm going to stick with a fun historical fact instead, something I just recently learned. Much like the misconception that Christmas was celebrated on December 25th because it was originally the pagan festival of Saturnalia (when, in fact, Christmas is exactly nine months after March 25th, the ancient traditional date of Christ's conception), there's a trend of non-Christians coming down hard on Easter because of its supposed pagan roots, mostly due to its name, associated with Ishtar, goddess of fertility. There are some Christians who even call it Resurrection Day.

What many don't know is that all non-English speaking cultures have a Jewish and/or biblicaly themed name for the day. That's an important clue. Spanish, for example, calls the day (and week) Pascua. Other romance languages have words that are similar, based on the Latin word Pascha, which means Passover. This makes sense, especially since for the first 100 years or so of the Christian Church believers celebrated the Passover along with the Jews, replacing the slaughtered lamb with the bread and wine of Communion. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday: God Is Dead

There's a new movie out called God Is Not Dead, a great attempt at showing the relevance of God in our world today. It's a direct response to the atheist's saying "God is dead," meaning, of course, not that God actually was alive ever but that, metaphorically, science and modern man have rendered the need for Him moot. God was alive to us once because we needed Him (or the idea of Him) once, but now we've moved on, and as a society have collectively decided that He's no longer relevant or even real.

The logic behind the "God is dead" saying isn't very good, especially since the need for God has never been greater in the 20th century, the most violent and war-strewn century ever experienced by man. The 21st century doesn't look more promising than that, and if anything, spirituality (if not Christianity) continues to grow in America, as people seek the transcendent in the face of the meaningless message of post-modernism and materialism. Elsewhere, Christianity continues to spread at enormous rates, still the fastest growing faith, and the god of the Muslims isn't that far behind. Their god certainly isn't "dead", either. We can all do away with the silly notion that God, in any form or religion, has lost any of His relevancy to the human condition; humans are still religious creatures.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Cry of Dereliction

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

The following is from John Stott's, The Cross of Christ (Intervarsity, 2004), from the chapter, Looking Below the Surface (page 78):

We must now pass by the details of the betrayal and arrest of Jesus, his trials before Annas and Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate, Peter's denials, the cruel mockery by priests and soldiers, the spitting and the scourging, and the hysteria of the mob who demanded his death. We move on to the end of the story. Condemned to death by crucifixion, 'he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth' (Is. 53:7). Carrying his own cross, until Simon of Cyrene was compelled to carry it for him, he will have walked along the Via Dolorosa, out of the city, to Golgotha, 'the place of the skull'. Here they crucified him', the evangelists write, declining to dwell on the details. Even the excruciating pain of crucifixion could not silence his repeated entreaties: 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' The soldiers gambled for his clothes. Some women stood afar off. The crowd remained a while to watch. Jesus commended his mother to John's care and John to hers. He spoke words of kingly assurance to the penitent criminal crucified at his side. Meanwhile, the rulers sneered at him, shouting: 'He saved others, but he can't save himself!' Their words, spoken as an insult, were the literal truth. He could not save himself and others simultaneously. He chose to sacrifice himself in order to save the world.