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October 5, 2009 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

Almost Unheard Of

So, a third post in four days. That is almost unheard of, especially from me.  Undoubtedly, there has been a great deal of speculation about the cryptic nature of my facebook status of a few days ago.   I think I should clear the air.  Initially, the only thing that I was going to do that I hadn’t in a long time was cut my hair.  It’s been a really long time since I last cut it and it was getting long and unruly.  Snarls and tangles, knots and hair ripping out have been the largest single category of events that pepper my days.  I was sick of it, sick of the length of time it takes to wet it in the shower, sick of getting it pulled every time I pull it back and out of my eyes.  Now all of you are probably thinking, “Joshua, why didn’t you just say you were cutting your hair and not lead us on this crazy guessing game?”  I believe this syntax is your exact wording because you’ve finally begun to use my real name instead of a nickname I tried to eradicate from your vocabulary about eight years ago and failed miserably.  Anyway, the reason for the guessing game is that I didn’t want you to get the visual of me with my hair shaved to the length I normally cut it to.  I have shaved my hair to 1/4 inch since I was first a teenager, but not this time.  I mixed it up and I didn’t want people to noticed it as different than how I usually cut it but rather different than how it was just days ago. 

In the course of gearing up for this hour and a half extravaganza that was cutting my hair by myself with dull clippers, it was also brought to my attention that I hadn’t blogged in a long time either.  I’ve noticed and been frustrated with the fact that I hadn’t written in my story since early July, nor run since early June.  I haven’t initiated a text conversation in a long time either, so the list keeps piling up.  That night I blogged I also wrote a short dialogue (Something I hope to continue this non-gameday weekend) into my book and cut my hair, obviously.  Running was a Sunday night affair, but the week was hard because my right knee hurt like crazy.  Just today, I caught up on reading Grapes’ blog, which BTW, if I catch anyone using Grapes’ endearing “Joshie”, I will publish a disturbing short story about you and her. Don’t try me on this.  I have only to tap into my alter-memory and my vivid imagination to make good on this warning, but you may not like the resulting anecdote.  Back to my hair for a moment, there is some grooming work I need to get done before Sunday and I won’t tell you what or how because it may not turn out very good, but be surprised….or not. 🙂

JA Menter 3

“At UNL Housing, even our white blood cells are red.”  My supervisor, Gerry

October 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm 2 comments

God is Awesome!!!

This seems strange writing another post one day removed from finally returning after a month without posting, but I can’t hide this under a basket.  I have to share this.  If you haven’t read my previous post “Theory of a Dead Man,”  I recommend reading it.  Anyway, for many weeks, I’ve prayed that God would use me at work, as those on the worship team can atest.  Recently, I’ve been convicted about the lack of response in that area of my life and so the prayer has become more fervent that I would make the most of each opportunity as they present themselves.  Tuesday, an opportunity dropped in my lap and I responded.  A co-worker was struggling with a painful breakup and asked me for advice.  I was able to talk to him about forgiveness and its power and get him thinking about things in that light.  It was amazing how I knew exactly what I needed to say and I said it, a very rare occurrence for me as those who know me can confirm.  Then, today, I realized that I had only one dollar in my wallet to pay for my lunch and not enough in my check card account to withdraw a quick $20.  I did have enough to pay for a Valentino’s meal, though, and so I went to Val’s, thinking that I would have to make some bank transfers after work to cover the evening after youth and the next few days’ lunches.  When I got to Val’s, I hadn’t even gotten my first plate when a co-worker came in with her husband and were seated next to me.  Of course, I was invited to sit with them and the husband paid for my meal.  Thank You Lord for Your provision!!!  I still needed to do my bank transfers though, right?   Wrong.  Later today, as I was about to leave to go to my parents and the bank, my cousin stops by at my house with money to pay me back for a purchase I made to fix her bike.  It was an expense I’d entirely forgotten about, but it brought my total to an amount that would cover all my expenses for the rest of the week.  No more need to go to the bank this week.  Thank God again for His provision in the little details of my life.  It’s these little things that has me estatic in exclamation of His supreme goodness and the three cups of coffee I drank at Village Inn this evening garner a weak reaction in comparison. if I don’t sleep a wink tonight, it will not surprise me, but I thought I would just take some time to share this with you all.

JA Menter 3

~”From the rising of the sun to its going down, the name of the Lord is to be praised,” Psalm 113:3

September 30, 2009 at 11:24 pm Leave a comment

Theory of a Dead Man

Apparently, a bunch of people assumed the thing I hadn’t done in a while that I was refering to in my facebook status was blogging.  I infer this because my recorded views today (really since I updated my status) has reached a critical number.  This site has received as many views in the past three hours as it has in the previous week. But enough of this silly talk about doing what people want.

There are about eight different ways I can take this dialogue, not the least of which is what I’ve been doing in the month long hiatus from blogging.  I hope people don’t expect me to be that shallow with such a resource.  In the past month, as has happened before, I’ve thought about blogging, only to realize just in time that the only things I’d blog about right now would damage my integrity in a way that can’t be mended.  I should have been known not only by what I do and say here but also by what I don’t say or do.  I believe that what a person doesn’t do/say speaks to the character of a person just as much as what that person actually does/says.  In the light of what they don’t do/say, one might see more powerfully the merits of what they do do/say.

Enough of the abstract that I’m certain only a few of my readership will be able to follow without asking questions.  I think I have to amend my estimate of the possible directions to a larger figure. Let’s skip the shallow what and go on to the infinitely more insightful why.  I haven’t had time really to sift my thoughts this past month and produce something other than what I deem improper and unacceptable.  Work, in a large way, has stolen much of my life and energy, though the fact that I’ve buried myself in it means I allowed it to.  I’ve been dealing with a very tough issue and I believe most people have noticed my retreat from the social scene, whether that notice was cognizant or in the subconscience.  That stems largely from this issue, but the very thing I tried to escape from a year and a half ago has recaptured me and I let it.

Now is the time for honesty, more than any other time.  I was/am having a crisis of identity.  Identity in professional career, identity among peers and friends, identity in God.  I’m the biggest hypocrite I’ve seen in forever, and I mean that like an actor, not a christian who can’t practice what he preaches.  I’ve saved these slots for my thoughts on life, Christianity, God, and reflections about my own life.  To some, they are deemed applicable to them and I glorify God that they’ve been touched by these posts.  To others, the content flies over their heads, either because they weren’t meant to understand it or they have no wish to tag along with me in the digging process.  Still others might be so used to hearing complex and thought-provoking things from me that they’ve tuned out the simple things I try to articulate.  To them, the simple things are more complex than the complex abstractions. Even others make a serious miscalculation when they ask for specifics when I’ve chosen to be cryptic or vague and then get frustrated when I don’t oblige them with those specifics.

Written Aug 23 (Sun)

“I’m spiritually anorexic right now, starving myself with an attitude of busi-ness and tiredness.  It is in this time when the defenses deteriorate and the struggle for godliness in actions and thoughts is lost….God, forgive me for taking You for granted and neglecting our relationship.  Cause me to love You deeply again.  That must be my desire.  I need You in an unexplainable way. Forgive me for the times I’ve rebelled, even this past week.”

Written Aug 24 (Mon)

“I am a dying breed, a breed going extinct because no one appreciates it or thinks they need it.  Therefore, they see no need to save it.  A relic of a simpler time, a time they don’t understand because they don’t want to; it takes too much effort.  I wither away as they look on, mistaking the symptoms for something their own minds can conjure up to rationalize their deep neglect.  I cannot be but what I am but what I am is not wanted nor understood.  An ideal that has suddenly become vile is the ideal I strive for.  A question still haunts me and I must ask it—WHY?”

Written Sept 12 1am

“My thoughts sound like the dialogue of a psychiatry session.  My memory isn’t regular but images triggered by words.  Enough of it hasn’t actually happened to make me suspicious.  I was never at a reception in Glen Eyrie, Colorado but I remembered it.  The recent memories are flashbacks, like the feeling of deja vu.  In one conversation, I was brought back to the numerous times of avoidance, delay, and misunderstanding.  it had an intended point as well as an implicated one.  Some things have happened too often for them to be merely coincidental.  Some of these are getting scary, such as the thought that I shouldn’t shower because it will cause flashbacks of the time I almost drowned.  I’ve never almost drowned, so why?  Sometimes, I argue a sequence of sentences, their word usage, verbal phrasology, half the time the arguer has another person’s voice, someone I know well.  Yet I never verbalize these exchanges and the refined words die in my mind as they are pushed out by some other thought process. Anyone besides me who reads this has to be thinking I’m a psychotic nut job.  I just want it to be gone so I can sleep… and the headaches leaving would be great too.”

Written later that same day

“The things of God have become an external motivation for me with an external reward.  Eternity is not in my heart but rather an external hope.  This influences my spiritual anorexia and thought process.  A kingdom that is eternal must be made up only of things that are eternal, otherwise something in the kingdom will die.  The eternal kingdom must reside in the heart or one can’t be a part of it.  Lord, cause eternity and Your kingdom to reside in my heart and make a living.  Not like a hotel where it comes and goes, not like a workplace where it leaves for the night, but like a house built as an estate to endure as an inheritance for the generations.”

The key is in God’s response to me:

“You don’t pray, you don’t seek Me, you don’t chew on my word and meditate on it.  You don’t listen for My voice.  You shy away from My embrace which is to refresh you.  And you wonder why you are so weak in faith, so prone to fall, so profoundly and deeply tired, so stuck in a rut or a routine of meaningless failure because you fail to eat of My bread and drink of My cup.  So press in to the feast table I prepare for you.”

The long and the short of it is I haven’t been consistently in the Word like it might appear that I am.  I have only read my Bible on three consecutive days three times in the past month and that only because I was reminded to read today.  With each next day that I miss, the mental and spiritual decay is exponential and I fall far short of the standard of maturity I’ve written about and the battle I face is lost daily just as much as it’s won daily in the Word.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t think of me as some spiritual person or as one who writes thought provoking material and miss the fact that I’m still as imperfect as the next guy or the fact that I can also talk in plain terms without the need of provocation of thought.  Maybe blogging was the thing I haven’t done in a while, or maybe it was the fact that I wrote a little dialogue into my story tonight, or maybe I already did something I hadn’t done in a while when I ran 9 miles, or maybe the cryptic facebook status itself was the thing I hadn’t done in a while. Whatever it was, I’m still not going to say…yet.

JA Menter 3

~”If I allow rage to change who I am, the murderer has killed two people.”  Alan Eppes (Numb3rs: Season 6 episode 1)

September 29, 2009 at 11:19 pm 4 comments

Memories Made More

The earliest memory I have is from when I was about 4 years old.  I was taking my sisters’ old LIFEPACs out of an old square coffee table we used to have in our living room.  This was before I learned to read, which was quite early in life, since I was just about to turn seventeen when I entered my senior year of high school.  Anyway, I only vaguely remember learning to read, like a dream of a bream’s memory, shrouded in the long years.  Nevertheless, I still remember how to read, an ability as easy to me now as walking.  It wasn’t always that way.  For a time, I struggled to read and didn’t make a real practice of it until I was in the 3rd grade.  Unlike public schools today, I was supposed to be a fluent reader when I finished kindergarten in my Mom’s homeschool.  Basically, it wasn’t until I learned to multiply and divide in the 3rd grade that I began to read a book of any length.

Luke 9:23 says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  This passage speaks of a daily denial of one’s own rights and a surrender to Christ.  Something done daily, like taking up one’s cross should become as natural as reading.  One can hardly spend a day without reading something during that day.  But is surrender that natural to us?  Perhaps we are out of practice; perhaps we have spentso many months or years refusing to surrender that we have forgotten how.  Or maybe we never knew how in the first place.  Learning, then, or relearning becomes the lesson God has to teach us as He slowly unclasps our hands around the issues we hold on to so tightly. 

 There are two concepts that deal with all issues:  Struggle and Surrender.  There are times when life becomes a struggle, a battle, a fight, both within and without.  The best example is a struggle against temptation.  James says to resist the devil.  There are also times when the only path to victory is to surrender control, the only way the things can be resolved.  Yet sometimes, these two concepts are intertwined;  sometimes there is a struggle to surrender….And all this from a fond memory I had while taking a afternoon stroll around the circuit.

JA Menter 3

August 30, 2009 at 10:46 pm 4 comments

What God Guards

It has been over two weeks since I blogged.  It can only be due to the fact that I was in Kansas for a week sponsoring a Z-360 trip.  I will let everyone else who went blog about what happened, though if you want my perspective, I’m willing to talk to you about what God did.  I have a different agenda right now than that and will probably never blog about it, so your only option will be to talk to me and ask questions. 

I alluded to something in my last blog about God preserving lineages.  That is where I want to take this dialogue.  From the very beginnig of scripture, in fact from Genesis 4 onward,  God has made a point of protecting certain lineages.  Gen 4 is about Cain and Abel, but the line that God preserves is not Cain’s.  Seth’s desendant, Noah, is the man to which all peoples on earth trace their lineage.  Eve said this of Seth when he was born: “God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel who Cain killed.”  The next verse (Gen 4:26) tells us that it took a generation for there to be someone like Abel on the earth.  “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.”

Next came Noah, as I already mentioned.  Then we see the son of Promise in Isaac.  His wife Rebekah was barren.  Rachel was barren.  In Gen 38, Judah’s son’s were killed for there wickedness and God continued the line through the faithfulness of Tamar, who is the matriarch of the line from which Christ came into the world.  Judah’s adoptive brother slash nephew Ephraim was almost erased from the genealogies of Israel by a disasterous raid, yet in his old age he fathered a son and it is through that line that my favorite character Joshua came to lead the people of God to the Promised Land.  You can read about it in 1 Chr 7:20-27.

In Numbers 36, it talks about seven daughters of Zelophehad of the tribe of Manasseh.  They were the only heirs of their father and so the land of inheritance would have been entailed away from a clan of Manasseh.  God provided husbands for them among their own tribe so that their inheritance would not be given over to another tribe.  In this, God protected not only their line but also their inheritance.  In Judges 21, the tribe of Benjamin was almost wiped out in a civil war and the other tribes of Israel had sworn they would never give their daughters to the sons of Benjamin, because of their sin.  God gave them a plan to capture wives for them and continue the line of Benjamin, from whom came the most quoted apostle in the New Testament, Paul. 

God preserves a line for His legacy.  God promised David that one of his descendants would always rule over Israel.  In 2 Chronicles 22-23,  David’s royal lineage was almost wiped out, except for a little infant that the priest hid for 7 years, Joash.   Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus runs through Joash.

The last case I found was in Job.  Job 42 says that God restored to Job two-fold what he had before.  He had seven sons and three daughter who were the most beautiful in all the land and Job gave them an inheritance among their brothers.  (Job 42:10-17)  Job saw his grandchildren to the fourth generation.  Not bad for someone who wanted to die only chapters earlier.

In this snapshot of a study, I discovered that God preserves and guards lineages, inheritances, legacies, and lives.  Each of these things I have and God guards them for me.  That is a comforting thought because like Jesus said in Matt 12: 29 and Mark 3:27;  “Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?   And then he can plunder his house.”  How can one be strong enough that he can bind an All-powerful God?

JA Menter 3

Next on the list is more on the Battle Before Breakfast concept and tying it in to the HOTP Except.

August 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

Less Spending, More Doing?

I’m going to do something I have never done here before and post a topic before having thought about it more than an hour.  In fact, I have only begun thinking about it 20 minutes ago.  So here goes.

I believe that memory and remembrance is important.  I don’t think we would have the capacity to remember if it wasn’t important in some fashion.  I spent about a year and a half, as I was wrestling with the whole God’s Sovereignty versus Free Will debate, discovering that God is not bound by the time He created.  Not unless He chooses to be.  Now, as someone outside our dimensions of time, how would God see Time?  I believe He would see it, not linearly as we do and not micro-focused like we do, but rather as the whole together.  He must see Time as one might see the numbers on a ruler and not as a tiny insect would see it when it’s skittering across it.  Wouldn’t memory, then, be a glimpse or a scapshot of what God would see. 

I say all that to remind you of a little phrase I keep saying:  “Redundancy rings bells in my head.”   That redundancy wouldn’t work that way if I didn’t remember the first, second, third and so on-th times I’d heard something.   That little phrase I use is just my way of saying that God often brings up the littlest details of something to either tell me something about his character or tell me something about mine.  Some of you may remember some of the redundancy, but that stuff is not what I’m trying to talk about.

What I am trying to talk about is the latest redundant over and over again and again episode.  Actually, it’s a marketing slogan.  A marketing slogan for Home Depot.  “Less spending, more doing;  that’s the power of the Home Depot.”  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that slogan on TV at work , but its redundancy has rung a bell in my mind.  Sure, less spending is good….if you’re trying to purchase something, and more doing is good….if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.  Would if that slogan were used to describe your relationship with God.  Less spending time with Him and more doing things, anything other than getting to know your Creator.  They aren’t even bad things, sin, at all, just not spending. 

I’ve bought into the “Home Depot” mentality. The more doing.  I am awake three quarters of the time in a single day and I spend 8 at work, and 10 watching movies or playing games on my laptop or writing my book or biking to my parent’s house so I can borrow/steal a car to do something at church.  They’re all good things in themselves, but become meaningless if I don’t remember my Creator and listen to Him, read His word and search his scriptures.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been mindful of Him while I work, singing and praying as I feel led, but that’s not the same as searching the Word.  In that, I’ve been less than diligent. 

We talk about a tithe, giving a tenth of our money to God, really His money that He gave us to be stewards of.  Have you ever tried to tithe your time?  I tried once and failed.  I’m going to have a dork moment here and tell you that a tenth of a day is 2 hours and 24 minutes.  I believe I’m allowed to have 5 dork moments every day, so I should have two left.  Anyway, 2 hours and 24 minutes might seem like a long time but think of what God could show you in that amount of time.  As I’ve never done it before, I don’t know what it looks like, but I would guess that it’s something like what the apostles were doing on the day of Pentacost.  I think I’m going to try it though.

JA Menter 3

Haven’t most of the paradoxical theological questions arisen from forgetting the nature of God?

July 22, 2009 at 10:15 pm 2 comments

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