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To know God.  That is the full measure and purpose of the Christian life.  We know God in many ways, both by searching out and listening to what He has revealed to us about Himself, and by experiencing Him through relationship, by abiding in Him through obedience, by interacting with Him through prayer.

In the last article, we spoke of God’s eternal nature.  In this article I want to talk about His unchanging or immutable nature. The fact that God is unchanging provides the christian with a number of important guarantees, not the least of which is confidence that God’s promises will be kept, for a God who cannot change is a God who will not go back on His word.

To know God.  That is the full measure and purpose of the Christian life.  We know God in many ways, both by searching out and listening to what He has revealed to us about Himself, and by experiencing Him through relationship, by abiding in Him through obedience, by interacting with Him through prayer.

We began this series by asking what God is.  We talked about His triune nature and what each of the three members of the Godhead are.  In this article, we will begin to discuss more of His nature, specifically, how He is eternal and why that matters.

To know God.  That is the full measure and purpose of the Christian life.  We know God in many ways, both by searching out and listening to what He has revealed to us about Himself, and by experiencing Him through relationship, by abiding in Him through obedience, by interacting with Him through prayer.

The purpose of the following series of articles is to take a broad view of what God has revealed to us about Himself, to get a more complete picture of His attributes and qualities.  I will attempt to tie together what these mean to us and how the attributes of God help us understand not just who He is, but why who He is matters.  Many of the hard questions and struggles we face as Christians are framed by our understanding of who God is, and a good understanding of Him helps us to put our circumstances into perspective.

The following series of posts are not intended to be exhaustive. This subject is too large for me to cover extensively, and better men and women have written books that delve more deeply, but I do want to try and capture the some important elements and offer some of the insights I have gleaned as I have come to know Him.

The posts will follow a question and answer format, asking then answering to the best of my ability a series of questions about who He is.

It has been a long year, this 2016. This election cycle and its results and plenty of painful challenges at work have left me a little ragged and feeling tired and worn out. It hasn’t been all bad. I’ve learned a lot, both from the election and the many conversations that it has provoked, and from the challenges at work that have provided areas of growth I might not have heeded otherwise. And I have been surrounded by a rich group of really good friends and family that have encouraged and counselled me, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

A big theme this year has been trust. Do I trust God? Am I willing to let Him do with my life as He pleases? Am I comfortable letting go of control, willing to be happy in spite of circumstances that don’t line up with my expectations? The verse from Job, where he cries out and says, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” has been a recurring thought.

Psalm 1 has much to offer in the way of perspective on living, and how to be successful.  For the Christian, it distills the basic ethos of our philosophy, to know Him and by knowing to love Him.  The psalm does not promise a specific level of blessing, but rather a way of living that improves life.  Below are my thoughts, broken down by verse.

What does it mean to be “blessed”?

The Hebrew word (H835) is “esher” and is derived from (H833) “ashar” which means to “be straight”.  When used figuratively, “ashar” means to go forward (because the way is straight), and thus “esher” means to prosper, to increase, and to reap the joy of prosperity and increase.  This declaration should be taken generally, not specifically.  How much prosperity or increase is not stated, only that by being blessed, we are better off than we were before.

A testimony of how God transformed how I deal with fear

I’ve been a Christian since 1984, growing up in a loving home with two amazing parents. For as long as I could remember God was as real to me as the sun and the moon. That changed six years ago, when I went through a crisis of faith followed by a series of severe anxiety attacks. Those anxiety attacks taught me some valuable lessons and I wanted to take some time to talk about what happened, to explain some of what I learned about fear, about identity and purpose and how God intends for us to live in relationship with Him

Fear is a symptom. Like pain, its purpose is to warn and prepare your body and mind to deal with dangers in your environment. When your mind detects that something you value has been threatened, it alerts the amygdala which starts producing hormones to give you energy and focus so you can deal with the present danger quickly and without distraction.

Fear then has a valuable purpose, but like pain, it can grow out of control if underlying issues are present, becoming persistent and debilitating, preventing you from enjoying the full measure of joy that God intended.

Also, I do understand that sometimes there are medical conditions that can cause psychological problems involving fear and anxiety, and this discussion isn’t intended to address those situations.  It is possible what I’ve learned may be helpful, but I do not intend for this to be a substitute for medical care if that is needed.

This brings us to the question, what causes fear and how do I deal with it?

It isn’t enough to ask God to do a thing, like restore your soul or reframe your heart or desire, or to help you do a thing He has asked you to do. Part of making this stuff work is proceeding to act as though He has done it once you have asked. We operate as Christians using faith to confirm the receipt of what we ask for. Ask, then act as though your prayer is answered. for if He has asked it of you, He will follow through.

Her: Everything is still this morning. The cloudy, after-rain sky holds in the moisture & silence like a giant greenhouse :)
Me: mmm… that almost sounds like a haiku. :)
Me: the cloudy, after rain sky // holds moisture and silence // in the still morning
Her: Lol :) didn’t really think abt that :) I love the spicy smell of wooded areas after rain, esp. as the sun comes out & turns the heat on :)
Me: yeah. :) its been raining a lot here the last few days. the combination of the smell of rain and the smell of the grill last night brought up a bunch of vague memories of camping when i was young.
Her: :) nice :) or this: cloudy, after-rain sky // stillness, moisture, silence // city-wide greenhouse
Her: Funny how a smell takes you back faster sometimes than sight or sound :) prob bcs we do more seeing & listening than smelling :)
Me: or … like a greenhouse // the cloudy, after-rain sky // holds stillness, moisture, silence
Her: :) that’s good, too :)
Her: Hm. I almost prefer my haiku simile-less. Maybe for the same reason I enjoy semi-colons: implied connections :)
Me: interesting…
Her: So, i’d prob move your first line to the end & make it just one word.
Me: like: the cloudy, after-rain sky // holds stillness, moisture, silence // a giant greenhouse
Her: Yeah, more like that :) RE: like: the cloudy, after-rain sky // holds stillness, moisture, silence // a giant greenhouse

The Mysterious Benedict Society,
The Mysterious Benedict Society: and the Perilous Journey,
The Mysterious Benedict Society: and the Prisoners Dilemma
– by Trenton Lee Stewart

An excellent series, appropriate for adults as well as children.

The Legacy: The Legend of Drizzt, Book VII
Starless Night: The Legend of Drizzt, Book VIII
Neverwinter: Neverwinter Saga, Book II
Gauntlgrym: Neverwinter, Book I (Neverwinter Saga)
Road of the Patriarch: The Sellswords, Book III (Forgotten Realms: The Sellswords, Book 3)
– by R. A. Salvatore

I’m a huge fan of Salvatore.  Always excellent.  I’ve now read nearly all the books in the Drizzt collection.

 

 

So here’s what I’ve read so far:

 

By Terry Pratchet: Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad

What can you say about Pratchet?  He’s amazing, hysterical, wise, funny and insightful. I haven’t read anything by him that I didn’t like, a lot.  I recommend him highly.

 

By Terry Brooks: The Measure of the Magic, Bearers of the Black Staff

I was a little disappointed with Brooks’ latest.  Not as good as his usual, and certainly not as good as his earlier work.

By Jim Butcher: Storm Front

This is the first novel in a long series.  It was good.  Tight plot and writing.  But I wasn’t in the right mood for noir, and the novel left me feeling dark, which says more about me and my mood than it does about the novel.

  

By Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay

I don’t even know what to say really.  These books were so good I rank them in my top 10 greatest of all time.  Best series I’ve read in a decade.  The honesty and insight into her characters, particularly how she describes the pain and anguish of anxiety/fear/depression/greif had me unable to put the books down and towards the end, having a difficult time keeping my composure.

  

By Frank Beddor: The Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, ArchEnemy

This series was excellent.  A different take on the wonderland mythos, it had me captivated.  Highly reccomended.

 

I have photo galleries that back to Jan 2001, as walljm.com was a personal site before it was a weblog, but the first post as a blog was Feb 15th, 2002.  I started writing just after graduating college.  Heady days back then, when the blogging community was so small it numbered in the hundreds, and you could track the new posts written on a daily basis on a single page.

I’ve grown a lot on this blog, as a writer, a photographer and an individual, slowly loosing juvenile tendencies, slowly getting better as an artist, slowly growing more discerning.  This website has my very first poem, and some of the first photographs I took with my first SLR (a Pentax ZXM film camera).  I’ve been less prolific than some, wondering at times why I had a blog and what I was going to use it for.  I’ve been on hiatus three times, I think, the last time for 3 years in which I moved from Saint Louis to DC.  But I’m glad I’ve kept with it.

Along the way I became friends with Jenn, Daniel, Paulo, Sarah, Ash, Amber, Irene, Wyclif, and many more…

At some point, maybe I’ll do a retrospective of the best posts of walljm.com. But I’ve got work to do now, so thanks to everyone who ever stopped by, and happy birthday to me. :)

Ok, so I’ve implemented redirects for most of the old urls, which should continue to work. I’ve added a number of customizations and tweaks. If anyone runs into anything odd or frustrating, please feel free to contact me via a comment on this post or email via jason at walljm.com. let try this again

for reasons unknown, the server that runs walljm.com and the rest of my web properties ran out of memory and was unresponsive for the last couple days.  its back up now.

I’ve been offline here at walljm.com for nearly three years.  In that time I’ve moved away from Saint Louis, settled in near Washington, DC, changed jobs (but not companies), and gone back to school (lets give it up for cdia!).

So a few things have changed around here.  For the first time, walljm.com is no longer being run by the custom cms I built in college, and is instead running on the nifty wordpress platform.  Truth is, I just got tired of doing my own support.   Things are still a little rough, and hopefully as time goes by, I will tweak things and it will start to feel more like home.

In the mean time there will be fresh content.  I have about 180+ pieces of poetry to put up, and I want to post the occasional photo story and/or single image as well as the odd long/short form piece when the mood strikes.  Look for a new poem every week, probably on mondays, unless I decide I like a different day of the week better.

It occurs to me that the word Evolution is often used in contexts that it does not strictly describe. This is because the word Evolution carries with it so many broad connotations.

For instance, in a recent excerpt by Jason Kottke on Altruism in Economics the author of an article in Ode Magazine writes this

The theory is based on the premise that humans evolved in small groups with strong social contracts and plenty of contact with strangers. Cooperation within the tribe was advantageous so long as free riders were punished. It was also the best gambit on encountering strangers. Cooperation, particularly in times of famine, was the only means of survival, so altruism became a favored evolutionary trait.

(emphasis mine)

What strikes me about the use of the word evolutionary in the last statement is how its not exactly untrue, even in a creationist viewpoint. This happens all the time when scientist appeal to evolutionary theory to explain observed behaviors in people. It is entirely possible that a created humanity learned the use of altruism as a necessity in certain situations. That humanity is adaptable isn’t in question. The use of the word evolution here can be seen as descriptive of the situation, but because of the broad connotations, it implies cause that hasn’t been demonstrated.

I have become increasingly more and more frustrated with the act of trying to stretch or make something mean more than it really does, and i recognize that i am probably as guilty as anyone of such offenses. But it would be nice if we were more careful about making assumptions, or trying to make an observation mean more than it does…

oops… that just became a screed. err… sorry.

 

Lately I’ve had a lot to say. Quite paradoxically, this means I’ve spoken less. Words, like many things in life, need context to have meaning. That context doesn’t end with its typographic neighbors, but extends to the time of day, the place, the number and particulars of the persons to whom they are given. Words are a gift. For some, a precious and finite resource, saved up to be given at times most appropriate.

I was thinking about introversion today, among other things, and as is my want, my thoughts turned inward. It seems, for good or ill, my self is the dominant subject of my mind. My thoughts on introversion, sparked by an article on said subject, raised a thought I’d thought before, mainly that, though I identify very much with the introvert, I’m not fully one. On a scale, I seem to be to the side of center. Such thinking devolved. It usually does.

I find myself fascinated with neuroscience and psychology. This fascination is new, or at least, relatively new. It occurs to me that it grows out of a long standing and persistent need to be in action who I see myself in thought, the constant tension between idealism and practice, and the … frustrations of not having control over my own self.

Neuroscience, it seems, reveals a persistent bias, long suspected. We are paradoxical. Perceptions, the product of our senses, are filtered, adjusted, stitched together and modified for our own consumption. We take shortcuts. And often, we lie to our own selves. We feel certain about things that are false. Often. Yes, it does happen. And I can’t help but wonder how, with all the false information, and all the flawed perception, it is possible to know anything with any certainty at all. Pascal summed it up best I think, for he said, “It is not certain that all is uncertain”.

I used to hate to end a poem on a low note. They always felt incomplete, unfinished. Somehow there had to be a way to resolve the tension. For all the lack of understanding there is in this world, there seems to be a very real need for harmony, a way to take the disparate parts of our soul and impart meaning.

I still hate to end a piece on a low note. Somehow it feels like giving up. There is vital part of myself that refuses to give up hope for the resolve, that fantastic and satisfying moment in a symphony which has been building, back and forth, never quite reaching the tonic, and finally coming to a close, takes all the disparate themes, the discordant notes, the unsatisfying moments along the way and ties them up, settling once and for all the whole of the matter.

Well… that’s all for now I think.

Mexico City Policy – Voluntary Population Planning

What it does: "The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151b(f)(1)), prohibits nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive Federal funds from using those funds "to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning, or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." The August 1984 announcement by President Reagan of what has become known as the "Mexico City Policy" directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to expand this limitation and withhold USAID funds from NGOs that use non-USAID funds to engage in a wide range of activities, including providing advice, counseling, or information regarding abortion, or lobbying a foreign government to legalize or make abortion available."

What Obama Said:"These excessively broad conditions on grants and assistance awards are unwarranted. Moreover, they have undermined efforts to promote safe and effective voluntary family planning programs in foreign nations. Accordingly, I hereby revoke…"

So now my tax dollars are being used to pay for and promote the practice of abortion in foreign countries. *awesome*. 

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