Josh Brage

September 29, 2005, 4:34 am
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There are two types of drama in people’s lives: the type that they themselves cause and bring into their lives and the type that they do not. I have always harbored complete bitter resentment towards both types. I don’t like drama. I don’t think it is necessary and I don’t think that it is productive.

Over the past two weeks I have revisited this bitter resentment. What I have discovered is that not only did this hatred become more clearly defined, but once again freshly renewed in my life. I hate drama.

I especially hate the first type the type that you cause and bring into your own life. I look at this dramatic situation and what I see is something that didn’t need to be drama and now it is drama.

One positive spin that I have discovered while going through my self-induced drama is that I have more respect, understanding and compassion for people in drama. I used to think that drama represented something like immaturity. What I have found is that this is true, but it is not cause to look down on someone – we are all immature when we get right down to it. Anyway, the point to all of this is that I hate drama more now than I used to, but I can see that people have to go through it and most of all people need to be loved through it.


Daily Reading 9/24/05
September 25, 2005, 8:09 am
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“The thing that the Holy Spirit is detecting in you is the disposition that will never work in His service. No one by God can detect that disposition in you. Have you anything to hide from God? If you have, then let God search you with His light. If there is sin, confess it, not admit it. Are you willing to obey your Lord and Master whatever the humiliation to your right to yourself may be?
Never discard a conviction. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to have brought to your mind, it is that thing He is detecting. You were looking for a great thing to give up. God is telling you of some tiny thing; but at the back of it there lies the central citadel of obstinacy: ‘I will not give up my right to myself’ – the thing God intends you to give up if ever you are going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.” (Excerpt from today’s My Utmost for His Highest; Oswald Chambers)

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Jesus; Matt. 11:28-30

“For a righteous man may fall seven times; and rise again . . .” – Proverbs 24:16

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This
September 21, 2005, 3:30 am
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But I didn’t listen to her. Or to God. If you put yourself in a situation where you know that you are avoiding God or worse ignoring Him, you will get burned. God in His grace cannot allow you to continue on this path. God is extremely merciful, but we need to recognize that mercy as it comes. It doesn’t always come in the ways that we think it should. We seem to think that mercy is letting us off the hook. But that alone would not be full mercy. Full mercy includes internal change that results in permanent character development. This means that sometimes mercy means that we end up in the hot seat. Sometimes with God, usually with people if we have ignored God too long.

God do something with this life. Not because I deserve it, but because that is who You are. Give me mercy, oh Jesus. Do something productive with my life. I lay everything down before You, make it work. Do not delay with me God. Don’t make me wait forever. God I am impatient. I want to be all that You want me to be – now. God help me understand and realize that it is a process, but please don’t let it take forever! AMEN!

Today’s Daily Reading
September 20, 2005, 11:57 am
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This was my morning devotional reading, some interesting things.

“The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural to him by the grace of God and the experience of this works out in the practical details of life, not in times of communion with God. When we come in contact with things that create a buzz, we find to our amazement that we have power to keep wonderfully poised in the center of it all.” – (Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest, Sept. 20)

“Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin.’?” Proverbs 20:9

“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart (inner rooms of his belly.)” Proverbs 20:27

In Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Sower He shows us the three warring elements that are trying to steal the Word from our hearts. They increase in power and threat. First, the seed that falls on the wayside, Satan snatches up. Next the seed that falls on stony ground is burned out by the world. Finally, the seed that falls on thorny ground is choked out by our own flesh, ourselves. – My understanding. (Mark 4:13>)

“But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.” – Mark 5:33 – sounds like she was working out her salvation. Might be a good way for us to go about it as well.

Excerpt from Dynamics of Spiritual Life
September 17, 2005, 1:32 am
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Excerpt from Dynamics of Spiritual Life
Chapter The Renewal of the Local Congregation

…. And yet the continuing health of the young people, as well as the revitalization of the Middle-American church, is dependent on the establishment of a liaison between older and younger Christians. The young converts are new blood intended to quicken the body of older Christians, and the latter, despite their partial enculturation, have much to offer in stability and tradition which can prevent the youth culture from going cultic and insular. If new waves of converts do not receive sound instruction in the theology of the Christian life, in ten years they will be just as dormant and derailed as their elders. It is therefore vital that the revival spread across the cultural firebreak into the heartland on the American church, the local congregation.

In order to see how this goal can be reached, we should first review the condition of enculturation prevailing in many congregations. Assuming pastors themselves have become aware of the degree of their own unconscious enculturation, what do they face in their own parishes?

In most cases what they confront is a style of living very unlike the spiritually vibrant mission statement described at the end of Acts 2. The “ultimate concern” of most church members is not the worship and service of Christ, but rather survival and success in their secular vocation. The church is a spoke on the wheel of life connected to the secular hub. It is a departmental subconcern, not the organizing center of all other concerns. Churchmemebers who have been conditioned all their lives to devote themselves to building their own kingdom and whose flesh naturally gravitates in that direction anyway find it hard to invest much energy in the kingdom of God. They go to church once or twice a week and punch the clock, so to speak, fulfilling their “church obligation” by sitting passively and listening critically or approvingly to the pastor’s teaching.

Sometimes with great effort they can be maneuvered into some active role in the church’s program, like a trained seal in a circus act, but their hearts are not fully in it. They may repeat the catchwords of the theology of grace, but many have little deep awareness that they and other Christians are “accepted in the Beloved.” Since their understanding of justification is marginal or unreal – anchored not to Christ, but to some conversional experience in the past or to an imagined present state of goodness in their lives – they know little of the dynamic of justification. Their understanding of sin focuses upon behavioral externals which they can eliminate from their lives by a little will power and ignores the great submerged continents of pride, covetousness and hostility beneath the surface. Thus their pharasaism defends them both against full involvement in the church’s mission and against full subjection of their inner lives to the authority of Christ.

Their religious lives, however, do not satisfy their consciences at the deepest level, and so there is a powerful underlying insecurity in their lives. Consciously they defend themselves as dedicated Christians who are ass good as anybody else, but underneath their conscious level there is deep despair and self-rejection. Above the surface this often manifests itself in a compulsive floating hostility which focuses upon others in critical judgment. Thus a congregation of Christians who are insecure in their relationship to Christ can be a thorn bush of criticism, rejection, estrangement, and party spirit. Unsure in the depth of their hearts what God thinks of them, churchmembers will fanatically affirm their own gifts and take fierce offense when anyone slights them, or else they will fuss endlessly with a self-centered inventory of their own inferiority in an inverted pride.

They will also become entrenched in their own enculturation and set up mortars with which to shell those in other cultural molds. Alienation from other races, political persuasions and the kids with their long hair will be badges of honor for them. They will take good principles and sound doctrine and affirm them in a way which attacks and hurts other unnecessarily. Confronted with a change in the church’s program, their response will be a frantic clinging to past precedents: “But we always did it this way.” Their church life is a desperate effort to maintain allegiance to a Leviticus written forty years ago. Their ability to follow Christ in to constructive change is severely limited by their bondage to cultural supports for their insecurity. I suspect that this portrait applies equally to Evangelical and non-Evangelical churchmembers. In the case of the former, it is no wonder that their word for the Evangelical faith is “conservatism.”

Pastors will often find that those who have risen into leadership (or thrust themselves into it) within the congregation are persons in this state of insecurity and bondage. Lay leadership is frequently so bound by cultural defense mechanisms and prerational conditioning that it is unable to “contend earnestly for the faith” in the liberty of the Holy Spirit. Hence even those who aim at good goals and try to follow the Spirit in their behavior end up handling situations in the flesh because of their domination by unconscious compulsions. A typical example of this in current church life is the lay leader in a church judiciary who, confronted by ministers promoting the ordination of homosexuals, publicly explodes like a tin drill bit hitting steel, throwing fragments in all directions.

Confronted with this kind of violent reaction when they seek to mold their congregations into instruments of evangelism and social healing, pastors gradually settle down and lose interest in being change agents in the church. An unconscious conspiracy arises between their flesh and that of their congregations. It becomes tacitly understood that the laity will give pastors places of special honor in the exercise of their gifts, if the pastors will agree to leave their congregation’s pre-Christian lifestyles undisturbed and do not call for the mobilization of lay gifts for the work of the kingdom. Pastors are permitted to become ministerial superstars. Their pride is fed and their insecurity is pacified even if they are run ragged, and their congregations are permitted to remain herds of sheep in which each has cheerfully turned to his own way.

The dissatisfaction of the rising leadership among youth with the traditional from of the institutional church may well be simply a refusal to enter situations which will inevitably stamp them into this kind of mold. Many of them would much rather enter communes of younger Christians who are uniformly oriented toward mission instead of pursuing it haphazardly as a sideline while devoting most of their energies to the rat race  for success. Since the finest leaders among our children are determined not to play in this kind of game, the churches are going to have to change if they want to retain this leadership.

New Orleans
September 2, 2005, 2:26 pm
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I do not understand this whole crisis. This is America darn it. We should be able to get it, get people out and fix the situation. We figured that Kuwait thing out years ago just fine. This shouldn’t be all that more difficult (we aren’t fighting anybody.) Maybe I am being insensitive, but would someone help me understand how the richest, most-equipped, smartest, and overall best country in the world can’t feed and house around 1/3% of their own of their own? We aren’t even talking about a whole percent of our country and we can’t figure it out. Come on America!

Good Ideas
September 2, 2005, 2:19 pm
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Do you know what good ideas do for people? Nothing. Not jack crap. I am learning this. It is not the people who have good ideas that do anything productive with their lives. The people who are productive and/or successful (sometimes these are the same, sometimes not; ie the Olsen twins) are the ones who find a good idea, either thier own or someone elses and then market the crap out of it. This market may vary, it may just need to be one company or it may be to the mass public. Google isn’t Google without a great business plan and some students who were willing to work that plan. My point is: it is not about good ideas or high ambition it is about DOING something about it. So the moral of the day is: DO SOMETHING.