Saturday, November 19, 2011


    When you first begin, desperate and in earnest, to cross the desert of Holiness, there are a number of surprises in store.

    The first thing you might notice is how absolutely barren the place is.  I mean, if the Christian media are to be believed, you would expect to find caravans of folks just like you to travel with, and well-worn paths to follow. In practice, fellow travelers are rare, milestones few, and the withering heat incessant. The gritty wind and the sand it blows about are your constant companions.  Staying the course needs faith, and understanding of what faith looks like in practice.

    Sundays message, Mind Prepared in Faith , delivers on preparing yourself for that trek.

    So What?/ Sow What?

    You'll recall that F.A.I.T.H. was  made into the following acronym...our B.L.U.F. for each falls immediately beneath each one.

    F - focus on the Word (Jesus Christ & Scripture)
         B.L.U.F. - we need to be zealous, venerating Christ and Scripture 

    A - arrows are still coming
         B.L.U.F. - Never lower the shield of faith

    I - immediate resolution is not the norm
        B.L.U.F. - Focus on His face & His heart, not on His benefits

   T - total surrender is needed
        B.L.U.F. - spiritual disciplines are what it takes; SPS (Spiritual Positioning System), not GPS (Global <worldly> Positioning System).

   H - Holiness is the goal
          B.L.U.F. -  A.B.S., Always Be Sowing  

    In the final analysis, the desert of holiness is as it should be.  The wind is the Holy Spirit, guiding us gently or forcefully as He sees best.  The desert itself consists of the dust from which we are made, a donation from the flesh shed by those making the journey, joyfully, before you.  The searing heat, that refining fire, will not stop until you are in the likeness of Christ ( Philippians 1:6 ).  However long, lonely, or arduous the trip, I pray we all elect to take it.

<>< db

Quick Administrative Note

           This past Wednesday was officially the end of the Fall Term for Cornerstone Small Groups, with the first meeting of the Winter Term on January 4th, 2012.  Officially..

             ...but Sow What is a little different, being sermon-driven.    It is in our hearts, if you good folks would like to continue meeting, to work something out (either in Church or elsewhere) in the same time slot.  You just have to let us know.  Thanks.

P.S. - From 03 - 23 December 2011 Dan will be in Tampa in an inpatient chronic pain program; we covet your prayers.  This will not hinder Sow What? from meeting.


><> Nancy & Dan

Saturday, October 29, 2011

With Whose Passion?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.    John 3:16

God doesn't miss a note in orchestrating His universe, does He?

    I wondered how it might work out this past Sunday.  I mean, with a guest speaker from the Church in another nation, I sort of wondered if the lessons would continue apace with what the Holy Spirit has been teaching us for the past 16 weeks:

   What we got was Dr. Melese Wogu of Ethiopia, speaking on Biblical Compassion; the perfect message for a church being incrementally called to abandoned service in the Kingdom.  It is what's next for us.  Please click the link, and make a study of this message if you couldn't attend on Sunday.


    So What? 

    The key scriptures, most revolving about the demonstrated compassion of Christ, are as follows:

Matt 9:35-38

Matt 18:21-35

Mark 1:40-42

Luke 10:25-37 

    The essence of what the our class realized from studying these passages is that Godly Compassion has little in common with the found-less pity of the human heart.  Trying to capture every awesome thing God revealed through His word and His people last week is like trying to preserve a kiss.  You had to be there to understand the depth of this study.

    Sow What?

    Our walk-away value from this sermon is found below in our weekly B.L.U.F. - Bottom Line Up Front

    1) Compassion is "action" with God's passion; not pity

    2) That "action" must be right action; your assignment within God's plan

    3)  To walk out your assignment within God's plan requires mortifying your objections - a crisis of faith

    4) The best things in life are always preceded by this kind of anxiety; so it is with the life of faith

    5)  Abandon your comfort zone, and never return to it

     Make no mistake; this is the kind of pursuit that finds its object.  Dr. Wogu's challenge finds us on the threshold of an apostolic calling.  Will Cornerstone be a church that answers that call? Talk is cheap.

><> db

Friday, October 21, 2011

Men of Iron

   The Overt Message: True Righteousness, True Healing.

   The Covert Message: I Dare You to be a Kingdom Christian.

    St. Jerome said "the earliest members of the Christian Church lived in the way  in which monks of today try earnestly to live."  Though that may be overstating the case, the early Church was nothing if not puritan.  Its moral standards were lofty, its disciplines rigorous, and its demands total.  God preserved, and continues to preserve,a remnant of those who follow the spiritual disciplines we studied this past summer.  Those who have smuggled themselves off into monasteries and cloisters, I'll submit, are not adhering to our common charge to be in the world but not of the world.   There were some exceptions to this; mendicant (means poor on purpose) friars who lived the practices that led to intimacy with God amidst the mess that was the Middle Ages.

    One leader of these abandoned men was named Columbanus.  Living in Ireland, and so separated from some of the chaos of the Dark Ages, these men pursued God in a manner not paralleled outside of scripture.  Above all they refused to accept counterfeits for the Truth.  They would meditate and pray, give all to Kingdom service, and adhere to a stern standard of physical mortification.  When Columbanus and his fold first landed in France, they were dubbed "Men of Iron" by the followers of Franciscan monasticism.

    They were, simply, impeccable followers of Jesus Christ.  Like the Apostles, they chose to stand and deliver.

    So What?

    So when we are being called to lead similar lives (as the  past 16 sermons have unmistakably done) in a similarly dark age, we could do worse than to look to the Word of God and those who have successfully lived that committed life.

    Key  Questions & Scriptures:

   1. Do you want to have True Peace, or do you want to be comfortable?

       John 14:27, John 16:33, Isaiah 28:12

   2. Do you want True Healing, or just to be numb? 

       Isaiah 58:8, Malachi 4:2, 1 Peter 2:24

   3. Do you growth that leads to reconciliation, or do you want to get your way and stay as you are?

       Luke 9:23, Matthew 5:20-48

   4.  Do we want to be filled, or just a comfortable compromise?

    No one can get strong in Christ for you; we have individual responsibility before God.  You and I must decide the answers above for ourselves, and let our lives be our testimony.  Success in the Lord requires no explanations; failure permits no alibis.

   Our study bore the following fruit.


1. Holding True Peace requires remaining in Christ, and obediently responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit when we stray.

2. Fasting from our agendas to live God's yields True Healing; FEAR GOD

3. True surrender begins in crucifixion, and is maintained in spiritual  disciplines born of love for God 

4. We have one choice; His righteousness or our own.


    We are actually being called to this level of commitment.  Lord, help our unbelief.

><> db

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Going Light on the Salt

    Nearly every traditionally savory food, from soup to salsa, has a "low sodium" label these days.  "Low Salt" has become something desirable - useful in preventing hypertension -  which can lead to a "heart attack", ironically enough. Spiritually, things are not much different in Christendom. We minister to the thirsty with the water of the Word, just a salt-free/low-salt version.  Also in common, we are more vulnerable to having "heart failure" from the addition of salt to our diet, be it physical or spiritual, because we simply don't exercise consistently ( Hebrews 5:14 ). We are a long way from the days of taking salt pills during hard labor in hot weather.

   I remember landing in Paleroma Airbase in Honduras in '87, the bay door to the C-130 opening, and the 126 degree heat pouring over us, hitting us like a  physical force.  We were each issued not only an extra two-quart canteen, but salt pills as well.  Plain water wasn't enough to keep us on our feet in that climate, with electrolytes fleeing our pores in steady streams of sweat.  Combat Operations in Hot Climates requires water and SALT. I submit that spiritually speaking, it is sweltering in America, and the church here is overwhelmed and fainting.

    Like the background to this page, I will try to combine salt and light with the water of the Word to portray a beautiful vision only God could provide.  To much light? You'll have  an obnoxious blinding glare.  To much salt? A desiccated Dead Sea.  In balance with the water of the Word of Truth? A beautiful relationship teeming with life...

    The sermon, Right Relationships: Listening To Jesus Tell Us What Righteousness Does, based on Matt 5:1-25, is straight forward.  The key points and scriptures, below,  flow simply and powerfully.  The tough part is walking in the constancy it describes - the constancy of the believer who's relationship with Christ is undeniably the preeminent feature of their existence.  The "How To" of this sermon is what we at Sow What?  went after this week.

Key Points/Scriptures:

1.  Righteousness noticeably lives in mercy, purity, and peacemaking. (Matt 5: 7-9)

2. Righteousness loves people enough to share the truth. (Matt 5:13-16)

Living the righteousness of God means we will have both a negative (salt) and a positive (light) effect/affect on every relationship we have

Salt - rejecting lies and corruption; preservative of truth; condemning sin and not people

Light - edifying and nurturing in the Truth

Read - Romans 8:3-4, Luke 3:13, Acts 3:19, John 8:10-11

Key meaning - Biblical love protects and creates eternal life in people through righteous serving.

Read - 1 John 4:8-9, John 3:16-17, Mark 10:45

3. Righteousness Shares Grace and Truth (Psalms 34:18, John 1:17, Matt 5: 17-18)

Key meaning: Grace is what God GIVES you to live in His truth and be blessed.

 Christ is our righteousness - Romans 3:21-24, 2 Cor 5:17-21

4. Righteousness Urgently seeks reconciliation when anger violates righteousness. (Matt 5: 21-26)


Bottom Line Up Front

1. Conviction comes from God; not of us but through us

2. Repentance/Forgiveness is the only sin-stopper

3. It can never be God's Agenda "plus" or "minus" anything. His ways and wisdom are all there are; all that is righteous is of Him.

4. We should not dilute God's love with false mercy - that is the comfort of the enemy.

5. We need to obtain/maintain the brokenness/humility that comes from proximity to Jesus Christ

><> db

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Giving Up


Despite a very fruitful night examining Sunday’s message What Do I Need Most From God Today?  There is a check in my spirit as I type this.  I would ask you to walk along for a bit, and bear with me. 

Sometimes there is just no hope for the eyes.  We trek through a dark, desolate landscape, and spend our time in a futile sort of mental fencing.  We stab at our woes with visions of increased wealth, health, inner peace, knowledge, skill, or self-discipline.  At best we gather ourselves, and maybe even arrive at some considerable milestone, only to again run afoul of our own fallen natures.  And so it goes. 

The heart of the problem, our shared tragic flaw, is insoluble.  For anyone reading who has genuinely and permanently solved life, I submit that this blog post is not for you.  I would very much enjoy coffee and conversation with you sometime.  For the rest of us, the promises found in this sermon amount to a Life-hack.  It contains the answers to all questions and the key to each and every situation in the game of life. 

Understand and apply the Christ-spoken, red-letter guidance found between Matt 5:1 – 6:33, and you will not only beat the game, you will dominate it.  The hack, however, is the most counter-intuitive, courageous, and difficult course of action imaginable.  Even a quick read of The Beatitudes will leave you dubious about following its wisdom.  The overview goes something like:

     1.    Give Up

Ask Jesus to save you from your sin and from yourself <John 3:16-18>.  Understand that anything you say, think, or do that doesn’t begin, remain, and end in the heart and mind of God will be (must be) utterly destroyed. <Hebrews 12:26-28>

B.L.U.F. – God’s people NEED God’s power to do God’s work.

     2.  Lose your life.

When His will is your heart’s desire, at every turn, whatever flinching your soul and body does, you are on the path.  Sufficient hunger and thirst for Him draws you further up and further in, clearing all obstacles en route.  <John 12:25>

B.L.U.F. – I must become less, He must become more. <John 3:30>

     3.  Give, Up
      Cheerfully give all you are for the Kingdom, up to your Father, pouring out all within you.  Turn to more important matters than transporting gold to your grave. Bravely face each moment as if it were your first, yet treat every life you touch as if it will end at midnight.  Be unafraid; nothing here can harm you except yourself. 

B.L.U.F. – we MUST be salt and light throughout the journey; walk (as a church & an individual) in mercy, purity, and peace.

4.  Don’t Mess with Your Mission

 God’s will for your life only comes in two flavors: His perfect will and His circumstantial will.  That is, His original, pristine mission for you before you ever once went off course and His will for you from where you are today.  They are lived in precisely the same way; with purity and abandon.  We don’t try to create our own solutions <Isaiah 50:10-11>, nor do we accept the comfort of the enemy <1 Cor 5:6>, or take the counsel of our fears <2 Timothy 1:7>.

B.L.U.F. – Work the promises and the promises will work for you

The Life-hack, straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ himself.  It’s that simple and that difficult.

Our Hope is so great.

><> d & n

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Seasonal Savvy

     Some sermons take a good 15 minute word and cram it into 45 minutes (ahem).  Still others take a tremendous 3- hour Bible study and deliver it within the confines of a single Sunday service.  Conversely, this Sunday's message, from Pastor Jones, is reminiscent of the cry of John the Baptist to "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"  The message "repent" is straightforward, but plumbs the depths of who we are.  It takes patience to deliver such a potent message in the detail it requires. John the Baptist spent his entire life delivering it.

    This one of those sermons.  It has taken us as a Church body 5 months of spiritual preparation just to be ready to hear this message.  We would do well to really get this one, in the season we were given it.

><> db


Key Scriptures:     

1 Chronicles 12:32 -    of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command;

Daniel 2:19-23 -  9 Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven.20 Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. 23 "I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king's demand."

John 5:30 -  I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

    Each of us is impacted by our seasonal awareness, and our ability/discipline to act upon that knowledge.  For example, whereas the background on this page may or may not remind you that Fall is nearly upon us, you may not have the time, resources, or discipline to begin preparing for it's arrival.  Does everyone have an adequate wardrobe to meet this colder season?  Has the lawn been aerated, the gutters cleaned, vehicles prepared (tires, oil changed?), and have we begun to prepare ourselves financially for the 1-2-3 punch of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years?

   So What?
  The point:  We learned first to walk with Him, and then to authentically hear, listen, and obey His voice.  Last week we heard that to become the individual or church He calls us to be, we have to be absolutely broken, in loving obedience and submissive relationship (John 14:21) to Christ.  This week, we are being told, in essence, how absolutely essential it is that we listen up, right now, because He is ready to share His plan for this Church.  Being ready is the point, purpose, and plain old "how to" of the scriptures utilized by the Holy Spirit this week.  We are being told we will need to be Seasonally Savvy  if we are going to know both what to expect and what to do.

   Sow What?
    The way we walk this out, our degree of abandon to His Will in this season, is going to be telling.  The "Sow What?"  crew wrestled with these scriptures, and with what applying them would look like in our lives.  The responses were those of a group ready to lovingly and sacrificially follow Him anywhere.

     Our  discussion/exploration led to the following B.L.U.F. statements:

1. We are not to be ignorant of the world and enemy activities; we are to live in perspective of how impotent they are against God and His truth.
2. We must seek to be invested and 'on mission' at all times; working whether well or wounded, our comfort zones a distant memory.

3. Walk out His missions, not our gifting.

4.  Unless our agenda is gone, and we are broken and listening - WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

5.  We need to daily answer for ourselves, our families, and our Church the question: "What on earth are we doing, for Heaven's sake?"

6.  Only God knows what we need to know. We need to remain submitted always; all hours, all matters, all decisions.  Starts to look suspiciously like praying without ceasing and daily time in God's Word.

7.  It is more important to have a compass than a clock.  Nothing is properly called progress that does not serve God's Will, no matter how outwardly fruitful or productive.
    During class a "Sow What?" member confessed that she needs to really go back and place first person pronouns in every B.L.U.F. statement - to apply these truths with a "Me", "my", or an"I".  Getting to be a City on a Hill means we all need to labor under that self-same conviction.  Lord, help us.

><> D & N 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cornerstone: Called to Climb

   Greetings everybody.  We pray this post finds you blessed.  While seeking to saturate our minds with Sunday's message, The Beatitudes , we took some time to reflect upon our journey as a church-family.

   If we take a step back, it's easy to see a definite leading of the Holy Spirit here at Cornerstone.

1st – we spent the summer learning to walk with Jesus, becoming familiar with His presence and increasingly committing to a spiritual place & spiritual disciplines that require both faith and trust (trust = faith with wheels)

2nd – we are becoming familiar with harkening to His voice; hearing and obeying as a ballistic, single-step response to hearing His familiar voice.  Obedience, trained by the spiritual disciplines, can become like reading the words on a page.  Can you look at the words on this page without reading them?  Not very easily.  Disobedience to God can become just as difficult through ascetic practice rooted in love of our Lord.

3rd – now that we are walking with Him, and harkening to Him, comes the hardest milestone since we started this trek; particularly hard to get as a Church body.  Living in constancy from the brokenness that results from Embracing the Gospel – from embracing the Cross and never letting go. 

Sow What?

  Next we explored the key scriptures from The Beatitudes , seeing for ourselves (Acts 17:11) what it is to be authentically broken, and  to fully Embrace the Gospel.

   Embracing the gospel means that we get it and we live it.  We are new creations in Christ ( 2 Cor 5:17 ), and the Bible is the instruction and troubleshooting guide for this new being we've become.  You don't see Mr. Cat come home to Mrs. Cat at the end of a long day and say "Honey, I just don't think I'm cut out for this mouse chasing stuff."  We don't see him a few months later trying to hunt Impala on the plains of the Serengeti like his Lion bretheren.  Mr. Cat, enviably, knows his true nature and embraces it.  Christian lives don't merely go poorly apart from embracing the Bible, the Gospel, and the (painful but necessary) work of the Cross; they won't work at all.  Once redeemed, we are easily as different from our former selves as our former selves were from earthworms. New principles -- Kingdom Principles -- now exclusively apply.

   Anyone who has been a believer for a while will have seen a list like the one found here.  I will submit to you that truly submitting to and embracing the gospel, and understanding deeply who we are in Christ (that radically new and different being), is the Rx for 99% of what ails you, be it spiritual, mental, physical, relational, or circumstantial.  In a previous blog, Red Monkeys, Green Monkeys , we discuss replacing our thoughts and the programming of man with the Truth.  Following the instructions on the page I've linked to above are a valid means of doing that.

Key Scriptures from the Sermon
Matthew 5:1-10
Matthew 5:14
Matthew 4:23
Matthew 9:35
Ps. 37
1 Peter 4:10
Matthew 6:8

  Authentic following of Christ: is first in relationship, then in truth (harkening), then in experience – come what may!

   These scriptures and the sermon teach the Workings of the Broken Church - -

Towards God:
Adore Him in Worship 

Abandon myself to His Word

Glorify God in everything I do

Towards Man:
Rescue the lost 

Purity/Pure heart towards all/redeeming the saved 

Resend the Disciples 

... it is at once that simple and that difficult to answer the call to be a City on a Hill.

Our B.L.U.F. (Bottom Line Up Front):

(1) We need God.  No, I mean we really NEED God to become that City on a Hill

(2) Reach and remain at that utterly uncomfortable, utmost end of that...

(3) ..there is room enough on the throne of our hearts for God alone.

(4) If we don't teach, preach, and heal (by His power), nothing, tragically, happens.

(5) Love 'em all, sharing the Grace and Love of God, come what may.

><> D&N

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Closet and the Cave

   Hello everybody.  What an awesome dinner shared with family.  We would like to thank our "Sow What?" friends for allowing us to bow out this past Wednesday and enjoy the Royal Ranger and Impact Girls Awards Ceremony.   I also got to catch the end of Pastor Travis' first message, and the two-thirds-of-the-crowd response to his altar call for forgiveness, renewal, and activation for God.  'Nuff said!


“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set upon pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Weeping,
They make it a spring…”
                                                                                                           Psalm 84:5- 6

   I'll confess that the message of  Elijah in the Cave  was so right on and hit me so close to home, that the Spirit has tugged at me since I heard it.  Your input for the sermon and the "Bottom Line Up Front" will be sorely missed this week.  It took me a long time tonight (including a prayer walk around my neighborhood) to settle down to post this at all.  Speak, Lord, for your servant types...

   ..those of us who not only heard but harkened to the sermon, know that we have our caves.  The call to leave those pockets of fear and darkness was uncluttered and inescapable.  I guess the Berean task of our group this week is to dope out the nuts and bolts of what to do when we find ourselves there.

   I'm in a cave..

   Sow What?
  The caves in our lives bear time-honored tags..

“Death of a Loved One”
“Terminal Illness”
“Permanently Disabled”
“Financial Ruin”
… but finding our wounds on a list is of little help.  In spiritual warfare and in life, we have to engage the enemies before us, often despite being gravely wounded.  You will have to fight your way out of the cave you find yourself in.  Your struggle may be easier or harder than you envision. 

    A soldier will know that his mission is to “attack” or “defend” or “withdraw”, but this will tell him only the general intention of his commander for the situation.  Confusion sets in the moment we encounter the enemy and a war plan only lasts, as conceived, until the first battle.  We must be flexible, and adjust to a real enemy and dynamic circumstances that could not have been perfectly anticipated by any plan except God's. 

     There are three common mistakes Christians make in the cave:

1.      Ignoring that real enemies are trying to keep you in that cave. Their goal is to get you to surrender, and to turn traitor.  Failing in that, ending your life or rendering it useless to God is nearly as desirable.

2.      Forgetting that your perspective while in the cave is skewed.  An enemy can magnify in our estimation when he attacks suddenly and from the darkness, cuts us off from friendly forces, seems to block our only escape,  and keeps us so punch drunk that we don't properly asses the situation.

In FM 90-6 (the field manual for Army Mountain Operations) describes this type of fight as “compartmentalized warfare”.  This type of combat  ” is won or lost in the mind of the commander,” it continues, “persevering while temporarily outnumbered and out gunned until our superiority in the battle space can be brought to bear.”  The warrior that wins... understands that the enemy wants to keep him misinformed, uninformed, and cut off, and he deals with that reality. 

    Last, and worst, is the fact that you, dear believer, face an enemy that has trained in cave warfare since the fall of man. This is the enemy’s preferred killing ground. It really is worse than you think. Satan, like any predator, seeks to devour those sheep weakened and separated from the flock. However, the final common error, if avoided, will bear us out even when we foolishly make the first two.

3. The third error is forgetting that

  • your commander controls the entire battlefield/cave, and you have been given both power and authority over the enemy 

  • your forces are superior in quality, weaponry, and quantity and that the enemy is already defeated 

    Often the basics of life become too much for the man or woman suffering in the cave. If we can’t even manage the fundamentals of daily survival, we tell ourselves, then how can we manage victory? Our hearts exhausted, our minds unreliable, and with a list of desperately needed miracles, we can make the third error despite ourselves.

But wait, there’s more bad news...
    .. in the long dark night of the soul, you must take great care not to accept the comfort of the enemy.  It is unwise to avail yourself of every ally and resource available.
     It is always better to wait, even painfully, for help from a godly friend or counselor, and for God’s provision.  A true friend will not point out an ungodly means of escape.  A real ally will exhort you in seeking God’s face, God’s wisdom, and God’s heart for your situation.  The Bible tells us that “...faithful are the wounds of a friend.”
    Any resource, to include this blog post, must measure up against and point to God’s Word.  Many books, good and evil, make their way into print.  The mass media, too, is rarely a friend to our Savior; be wary. 

There’s still more bad news...      
       The situation you’re in may be, at least in part,  a consequence of your own sin.   If so, part of what defines victory will be dealing with that conviction as God’s son or daughter.   You’ll need to hold close to the truth that our enemies are Satan, his demons and evil spirits, and sin.  God is not the enemy, you are not the enemy, and neither is anyone who may have wounded you or your loved ones.  As impossible as this can seem, it is the truth. 

The final unpleasant reality...     
     God’s Will for your circumstance – His perfect escape plan for your cave – may be absolutely repugnant to you.  You may have to fight with all of your heart for an outcome God calls for, but that you have no desire for, nor any ability to attain by yourself.   It may well fly in the face of what society, family, and friends tell you is sensible.  You may be unpleasantly labeled for your God-pleasing response, and lose face so that you may prove the perfect will of God.  You may look weak, foolish, or just plain nuts.
     It is a rare circumstance indeed when limited man can see our infinite God coming!  Our Father’s response is not like the answer to a simplistic riddle from a small child.   In his book Secrets of the Vine , Don Wilkinson states “...the valley always lasts longer and cuts closer than we think it has a right to.”  We forget that even now, in our hour of greatest need, we belong completely to Him.  The Lord is the Potter, and we are just the clay.  The sustaining truth? Jeremiah 29:11

       Consider the situation in its entirety; the worst-case scenario:

     You are in a spiritual darkness.  A well armed enemy, expert in cave warfare, wants you spiritually, emotionally, and physically dead.  Their hatred for you defies description. There will be no truce, and the enemy will not give up.  The terrain and climate will make everything you do more difficult.  You will make mistakes, and there will be days when just surviving earns you a checkmark in the win column.  The wounds you now bear will not likely be the last of this battle.  No matter how desperate you are, accepting comfort from the enemy will only make matters worse.  Your own sin may well have been what has brought you to this cavern, resulting in injuries to you and to those around you.  God’s guidance for your escape may make no sense to you; it may seem like He is misinformed, uncaring, or cruel.  You will be spared no human indignity, should it stand between you and a transparent relationship with your God.   Your resources may be spent, and your endurance gone.  If you are able to sleep, it may be tortured and worse than sleeplessness.  Several trials, at once or consecutively, may be upon you.  There is no hope in sight…

.. until you turn your eyes upon Jesus.

B.L.U.F. (Bottom Line Up Front): 

  • Yours is an Impossible Mission, without God. Take a moment, and rest until your heart is still.  The long, dark night of the soul may be upon you, but herein is opportunity. You have been thrust into a fiery furnace, but if you invite the Lord to guide you in the flames, the only thing burned away when it’s over will be what binds you.    

  •   You cannot escape the cave you are in by avoidance.  This is war, and facing reality is crucial to your victory.  Acknowledging wounds, obstacles, and enemy capabilities makes sense.     Be humble enough to ask for His solution, knowing that it will both be better than yours could ever be, and that it will be of real use to the Kingdom.  Don’t fret if you can’t find the right words to express exactly what lies in your heart of hearts, because the Holy Spirit of the Living God translates for you (Romans 8:26), and Jesus Christ Himself advocates on your behalf (Romans 8:34) before Elyon (God in all His Glory).   Receive His grace for your concerns – claim them – and finish your prayer time as the Holy Spirit leads you.  Now trust Him with what you have given Him.  His faithfulness and loving-care of your worries spoken and unspoken in that prayer will not go untended.

  • Commit completely to God’s path and purpose.  God's plan is our only true path, and His friendly forces our only allies. 

  • If you turn your cave into a prayer closet, and really hear from God, any trial can be refining and draw us nearer to our Lord. 
><> D & N

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Listening to His Voice...Not the World

..and your flesh and your heart, contrary to the P/C media, are not on the short list of things we should be listening to, either.  The flesh must be given no wiggle room,  according to Paul ( Romans 13:14 ), & the heart isn't trustworthy ( Jeremiah 17:9 ).


   How are we to proceed?  According to the scriptures we studied during Sunday's message Listen to His Voice..Not the World , the Christian has but two sources of authority - God and His Word.  We learned in our previous study Walking with Jesus - Knowing God's Word that our relationship with the Bible is mission critical. We now understand that we are ineffectual in the war against sin without our only offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit. But why do we need to hear from God Himself if we have the scriptures?

   First, reading the Bible doesn't automatically equate to Listening to His Voice.   The message Sunday illustrated that ( Mt 5:1-2 , Prv 4:20-23) we need to be paying close attention, immersed in this top-three (love, hear, & obey God) most important thing we can do with our lives.  We know from God's literal call on Samuel that we can listen to Him, hear Him, and yet not harken to Him.  The word "Harken" describes a hear-listen-obey reaction that is submitted, diligent, and volitional.  It's the obedience-with-abandon part that makes the difference.  We believers are found of saying we hunger for more of Jesus Christ, yet we ignore the one section of scripture that teaches us how to get Him to show up (manifest) in our lives ( John 14:21 )!

   Why, in the final analysis, is the lesson in  Listen to His Voice..Not the World so vital? Because of what happens, and fails to happen, if we don't.

   We in Sow What? realized that if we are not listening to His voice, in all of it's facets, then we are not only forsaking the manifestation of Christ in our lives, we are not truly in relationship with Him at all.  Think about it.

  • If we pray but don't listen, we might as well be talking to ourselves or a neighbor as our omniscient Creator.
  • If we read the scriptures but don't listen, we might as well be reading the uninspired works of  < insert latest guru's name here>.  When we don't harken, we are not washing our minds with the Word and building our faith.
  • If we go to Church but don't listen, we miss the precision guidance that the Holy Spirit has for us as a local body.  

Sow What?

     How then, do we walk this out? What's the Bottom Line, Up Front? 


     1. Study and understand the obedience factor from John 14:21. The last instructions Christ gave us before leaving the planet were to love Him fully, and to love others as ourselves; loving God and loving others are inseparably one. If we hear-listen- and obey Him in the missions/instructions that he gives us, that is part of our medicine/healing and of our deeper connectedness to Him.   The medicine/healing then enables further obedient fulfillment of missions, again leading to better relationship and rest within Him.  God cannot reward disobedience.

     2. Remain mindful that God is alive and working with you, now.  He has guidance for you, and desires fellowship with you this very moment. You cannot do what you do not harken to.  By scriptural precedent, God has spoken to us via the Bible, His prophets, audibly, through His creation (specifically through angels, animals, the manifest universe, miracles, and other believers), in Person, and by the myriad unctions of the Holy Spirit.  None of this is relationship building absent consistent time listening to Him.  Intimacy in a relationship with God means we vote with our feet, all the time, to move further up the mountain of God when He calls.

   3. Harken, Respond, Repeat.  Spiritually, its all a dialogue; prayer, preaching, worship, ministry - even reading  the word.

   4. Understand the need for deliberate solitude and purity.   Get alone with God.  If the President desired to speak to you, you would, whatever your opinion of him, be attentive and polite.  You would not clutter that conversation with nonsense while, say, you texted somebody else.  We need to be as deliberate with God, only more so.  First, because He is the Almighty God.  Secondly, because the static from our flesh, hearts, and the world is incessant.  We must deliberately strive for Biblical purity, lest we adulterate our communications with God.

   5. Pray for Constancy in love, fellowship, faith, speech, and deed.  

><> db

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Learning to Hear Him

    Despite the best efforts of Dominion Power , the church building is still without electricity at the time of this writing.   I am convinced we will be back in gear on Sunday 4 September, and will meet 7 September at 7 p.m., room 204.  You might take this as an opportunity to visit the Sermon Web Page and drink in a few of the messages you may have missed in months/years past.

   Next week, Lord willing, we will continue "Sow What", as we go through a message series about learning to consistently hear from God.

   Our prayers are always with you, as you continue your trek up the Lord's mountain.

><> Dan & Nancy

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why Charity?

  Unavoidably, this week's blog entry is shortened, and the Sow What? class for 24 August is cancelled.  Please don't miss the message Caring for the Poor and Oppressed .  Thx. 
<>< db 


  The giving of the scriptures are actually doing good that qualifies in spirit and in purpose.  That is, acts of service and charity.  Works must be done out of a love of giving, if we are to understand Mathew 6 correctly, from the soil out of which all benevolence springs.  Love for God and love for our fellow man are inseparably one.  So giving, rooted in love, fosters a unity in Christ, the center of all real works.  Those who serve and those served draw spiritual sustenance at the same time.   This is our most powerful evangelism, as in doing the works Christ has directed us to do, in the way we have been directed to do them – filled with His love and cheer (joy) in working alongside Him; WE DRAW GOD NEAR to the object of His charity.  Our faith then becomes something others can experience; they can taste and see that the Lord is good when our faith conquers our hearts and springs forth in true works of cheerful service and charity.  We are blessed powerfully in obedience and in proximity to Love Himself.  The lesson from Love Himself in giving may be witnessed in the act of the divine incarnation.  Divine love revealed itself in accepting an earthly form.  At that moment of disclosure, our Lord worked out His deepest reverence and understanding of you and me. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Simple is Smart

    In my grandfather's day the word "simple" could mean three things. Specifically, it meant either uncomplicated, direct (as in the term 'simple interest'), or unintelligent (hence "simpleton").  As Christians, we do well to hold to all three kinds of Simplicity.

Please take the time to listen to the sermon by clicking the link above if you haven't heard it.  Thanks. The sermon is what the Lord had for all of us to hear this week.

    In the first sense - the uncomplicated one - principles and teachings that aren't easy to apply typically don't work under pressure.  This is for several reasons, not the least of which is something I'll call "the Black Belt Syndrome".   A Black Belt has an arsenal of techniques at his/her disposal, from the mundane to the pyrotechnic.  When it comes to choosing what to do in a real flight or fight situation, however, your just not going to see the black belt doing the triple-flipping inverted crane kick.  He will instead do an exceptional job of ruining your whole day from a core of 30-50 basic skills. Why is that?

* That crazy kick is among the least practiced techniques in his arsenal - he's been practicing the basics since the very beginning of his training. 

* These are the battle-tested weapons; how many street fights actually call for the more esoteric moves? They aren't as universally applicable as block, parry, punch, kick, repeat as necessary.

* When your heart has gone from it's normal 70-90 beats per minute to 140-plus beats per minute, our fine-motor skills degrade significantly.  The less refined, more hardwired defense is still available to us.

  Christianity is the same, I think.  The study of the deeper matters of theology has it's necessary place; rightly approached we may reverently commune with the heart and mind of our Lord. But if the Full Armor of God wasn't all we needed in a fight, He would of called it something else.  The basics here -- faith, prayer, worship, studying and wielding His word -- practiced until it is our very marrow - - will win the day in all battles, spiritual or otherwise. Simple is applicable. Simple will save us when our hearts race out of control.

   The next sense of Simplicity is the direct.  To the world, the straightforward life is almost beyond imagination.  The bookshelves that serves as the backdrop for the blog this week are a reminder that the map is not the territory.  The Lord and His Word are the territory.  Everything else is a true or a false map, by the degree it is in agreement with God.  Seminars, books, retreats - what have you - can all be great, so long as they don't water down our depth and time in direct relationship.
    Our witness is formidable when we say what we mean, mean what we say, and live by the same precepts we are sharing.  A simple man or woman in this sense is both integrated (all areas of life submitted and heading higher up the mountain of God) and reliable.  The elements of the world and the flesh that destabilize us are lovingly (though not always gently) stripped from us, by an incessant, Holy, and all-wise Lord (Phil 1:6).   In the main, authentic believers may rely upon each other as few others can.

   Finally, this shade of simplicity speaks to a one-to-one relationship with our Father.  No rituals, no machinations in an effort to get God to perform.  It's finished; we just get the joy of walking out the prelude to the victory celebration by His side.  No philosophy or deified super-human need offer to lend a hand.  Christ Jesus is our Way, our Truth, our Life. Simple is Direct, and uncluttered.

   The third and final sense, where someone simple equals someone stupid, not only flies in the face of everything above, but forgets itself relative to our Omniscient God.  A great place to regain that perspective is Job 38 - 39.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the Proverbs tell us, and none of us created folks has ever impressed God with our knowledge and know-how.  The simple = stupid equation also forgets scripture; in 1 Corinthian 1:27 we are reminded that Christians, however simple, are that which confounds even the wise.

 Simple is smart.  Very smart.


    For the second week in a row, this week due to an awesome church dinner and birthday celebration for Pastor Shawn, "Sow What?"  did not meet.  We will work on the BLUF for the past two weeks when we next meet.

><> Dan & Nancy 



Friday, August 5, 2011

Am I Submitted?

    The short answer, for me at least, is "no; not particularly".

    I would desperately like to tell you that I am a surrendered man.  I was once, thoroughly surrendered and for a lengthy season at that.  But not as I write this to you.  Lord, help me.

   You see, I want it all.  Don't get me wrong; I don't have overwhelming appetites for the forbidden fruit of the world.  I simply want every good and desirable thing we Christians are afforded in scripture.  It's not that it's wrong to want them, its that currently I place having them above Submission (click for this week's sermon by the same name) to the mission before me. I am too often like Jonah..

1 The word of the LORD (the tetragrammaton; "YHWH" - God the Father) came to Jonah(means "Dove" - symbol of God the Holy Spirit) the son of Amittai (means "Truth" - Jesus Christ) < so a few words in I am already leaning a bit forward in my chair- the entire Trinity is here, thinly veiled > saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish (means "delightful") from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa (means "beautiful"), found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

    So, all three persons of the Almighty God of the Universe entrusted him with a mission. It was unpleasant, so instead he went out of his way, even paying to try go someplace delightful and beautiful in earthly terms.

   Yep; sounds like me. Today.

    How about you?  A few weeks ago a brother here at Cornerstone and I were texting, and he was remarking, ironically enough, upon my steady faith.  I replied " Galatians 2:20 - dead men don't flinch" .  It was an encouragement to him, but the problem is I am only selectively dead.  Usually in the areas where I have been broken, HARD.  There must be an easier way to get to dead - to embracing whatever mission from God with abandon - than first being reduced to whale chum.

    This is what Walking with Jesus is all about.  It's an ongoing love relationship that sticks together, thick or thin. Or, sometimes, through Hell and high water.

BLUF:   This will be posted next week, as class was cancelled and we didn't have the opportunity to study this sermon together.  ><> db


Friday, July 29, 2011

Face & Hands

    Please, take a moment and read 2 Timothy 3; yes, the entire chapter.

    I believe this passage is a prophecy for the very season in which we live.  The rainiest days of the world will too soon be upon us.  As Pastor Franco states in the Possessing the Promised Land with Thanksgiving and Praise  if we want to invite God to stand between us and our enemies, we had best understand Praise and Thanksgiving.

    This was the most convicting of the whole series, to date, for me.  If you haven't yet heard it, please click the link above and listen to it now.  It boils down to mighty, actionable guidance from the Holy Spirit.  It reduces to humbly seeking His Face, while never failing to appreciate the Hands that are always at work for our good (Romans 8:28).

    We at "Sow What?" quickly realized that fellowship with God in all its forms was critical to getting this right.  That is, when we spend time in relationship with Him (possible only by His love, grace, mercy, and power), we will seldom forget the wretch-to-Savior ratio of things.  We will be less likely to doubt Him, to raise our heads against His oracles, and stray from following after Him.  Our circumstances shrink to right proportion as surely as we do, and the miasma of life loses its power to derail our hearts' natural song of praise and thanksgiving.  We seek His face, and in so doing recognize the signs of His going before us and walking beside us - the work of His hands - and can rightly give thanks.  We stop believing the hype of the world and our flesh.

    That relationship-borne humility has other benefits: it gives us pause before criticizing others.  Who are we, but for Christ, anyhow?  We are freed by His love and by His word, and can pray for/convict others rather than condemn others for being in the traps from which we have just been sprung.  We seek to bless, not tear down, as we are flabbergasted still at the Lord's deep heart for us.

BLUF # 5:

* Form the habit of praise and thanksgiving with God, spouse, and family first

* Veterans of trials have something to offer others who are embattled, still in the fog of war

* Who am I anyway, apart from Christ, that I should criticize others or grumble about my life? ( Matt 7:1 , John 7:24 )

* Allow God to sanctify you through your circumstances

* Remember that Praise & Thanksgiving invites God to stand between you and your problems (and as Pastor said "have a little talk with your enemies")

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Knowing What We Know

    Talk is cheap in the modern age.

     As believers in America we typically 'know' the ropes -- the  Christianity 101 of what it means to be saved, a  witness of the Gospel, and the major stories and characters of the scriptures.  We have a measure of devotion, and hearts reasonably prepared to minister as we are called.  We have (praise God) the freedom in the U.S. to go as far up the Mountain of God as we dare to journey.

    But we don't know what we know.  Not intimately; not as thoroughly as many who have received the torch Christ first passed to His disciples.

    So What?  Well, it means that somewhere along the line, a hand-off was fumbled.  The chain, from Christ to disciples, disciples to early Church fathers, and from them to the not-so-early Church fathers, was an invaluable asset to Christendom.  It is one thing to study the pristine life of Christ in the scriptures; it is another to apply it as a fallible (albeit Spirit-filled) believer of the current age.  Absent a chain of overcomers, we have little in the way of a working knowledge of what "right looks like" outside of the pastoral staff.  Early America was replete with Godly men and women, and they 'knew what they knew' because there was an ocean of models to look to.  I will submit that in the main (we are blessed with a depth of righteousness at Cornerstone), that ocean looks a lot more like a kiddie pool in 2011.

   Sow What?  It means we have to know better, first hand, from the Word of God, what He is really trying to tell us.  We can't be satisfied by a shallow knowledge that can be easily misled and uprooted.  For example:
Q: According to the Bible, is it better to give or to receive?
A:  It is better to give than to receive.

Q: Why?
A: Uh, because it's in the Bible - and that settles it.

Q: Okay, but how does that work - what's going on spiritually?
A: God loves a cheerful giver.

Q:  But what's the value of giving vs. receiving?  Isn't salvation a gift received from God? ..

  ...and so it goes.  Absent a renewing of our minds by washing in the Word, we are lacking in the knowledge to give "every man an answer..", and will be frankly unclear of critical principles ourselves.  Even in this simple exchange, we can offer the seeking heart much more..

        Love for God and love for our fellow man are inseparably one.  So giving, rooted in love, fosters a unity in Christ, the center of all real work (Matthew 6).  Those who serve and those served draw spiritual sustenance at the same time.   This is our most powerful evangelism, as in doing the works Christ has directed us to do, in the way we have been directed to do them – filled with His love and cheer (joy) in working alongside Him; WE DRAW GOD NEAR to the object of HIS AGAPE (Charity).  Our faith then becomes something others can experience; they can taste and see that the Lord is good when our faith conquers our hearts and springs forth in true works of cheerful service and charity.  We are blessed powerfully in obedience and in proximity to Love Himself.  The lesson from Jesus Christ in giving may be witnessed in the act of the divine incarnation.  Divine love revealed itself in accepting an earthly form.  At that moment of disclosure, our Lord worked out His deepest reverence and understanding of you and me. 

    This, while an imperfect answer to be sure, is an understanding we can wield in the spiritual  warfare that is daily life. 
    Christianity - a love relationship with the Creator -  is different from the inside than it appears to the world.  We need to be equipped to explain to others the Kingdom we are inviting them to enter forever.  

   Our Berean efforts this week to better understand the message  Knowing God's Word  yielded the following bottom line understandings:

    BLUF # 4 – Knowing God’s Word
·         A true relationship with Christ comes from knowing the heart of Christ, and by extension, His word.
·         Immersion in scripture has the promise of being beneficial to our character and path in life.
·         God has placed His Word above His name.

·         Immersion in scripture with obedience to it yields tangible success/abundance as well.
·         We may not always have a Bible on hand, legally or otherwise.  It must be written on our hearts (memorized, too) to “equip” the Holy Spirit with something to bring to remembrance when needed.  The “Sword of the Spirit” is the only offensive weapon in the full armor of God.