No Wash, No Belong

“I’m not going to have you washing my feet!” said Peter. “Never!” “If I don’t wash you,” replied Jesus, “you don’t belong to me.” ~JOHN 13:8

Whenever you’re not allowing Jesus to wash you, you’re not really His disciple.

In that moment, when you’re going at it on your own, going your own way, or following the logic and thinking of the world, instead of as first priority allowing Jesus to lead you and shape you and guide you, you are not His disciple. For a disciple is a follower, a student. Who are you a student of?

There is that washing of regeneration which converts your heart and mind and opens your eyes to who Jesus is, and then there are the ongoing washings of renewal which we need continually throughout our journey; for we can easily become sullied from the dirt of the world and eventually find ourselves in a quite unhealthy state, following another master and belonging to someone or something other than Jesus.

When you allow someone to wash your feet, it is like the ultimate submission to their servitude. It is no small task to submit to the Creator of the universe to be your servant. In fact, for some it proves too difficult. Sometimes, like Peter, we are way too “humble” to let the Lord serve us. But just think about the cross for a moment and realize how ineffably giving our Lord really is! How often Jesus wants to tend to us, to our wounds, and we deny Him the blessing.

How does this look? One way it plays out for me personally is these very writings. When I submissively ask Jesus what He would like to say, and humbly listen for His Spirit to speak, many times He serves me by giving me wonderfully divinity-drenched words which I could not come up with on my own. Thanks be to God.

Daily Foot Washing

“Someone who has washed,” said Jesus to him, “doesn’t need to wash again, except for their feet. They are clean all over…” John 13:10

Peter refuses, at first, Jesus’s offer to wash his feeties. But after Yeshua tells him that if He doesn’t wash him he doesn’t belong to him (an interesting thought for reflection itself–for another day), Peter responds basically with, “Well alrighty then! Not just my feet-get my hands and head and everything!”

Jesus’s response to this exclamation is really interesting to me. You can read it in the verse above.

In meditation upon these divine words, this is what I heard: You’re already clean because of your trust in Me; you don’t need to completely start over every day. You just need to let me wash the dust of the world off your feet that accumulates each day from walking in it. Otherwise you become susceptible to disease and sickness.

Without some form of daily renewal of your mind, the world’s thinking and priorities will indeed attach themselves to you.

This renewal can of course look a thousand different ways. For me it looks like sitting in silent nothingness, allowing Jesus to speak whatever He has to say to me that particular day, and set the record straight again on what is true about GOD, myself, and the world, and show me what are the lies I’ve heard that need to be discarded. Without this silencing of the many shouting voices vying for my attention, I simply cannot hear the beautiful voice of Jesus’s Spirit whispering to me.

Turks & Caicos Sunrise Sermon

Looking out over the North Atlantic Ocean at Extreme Point in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.


Hello there! It’s been a while….like 9 months. I pray this reflection finds you at peace in your heart.

We just returned Sunday from a most fabulous week in the jaw-droppingly beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands. What I observed there from Papa Yahweh was so meaningful to me, that I could not not share some of it. Our first morning on the island I woke up before dawn in order to see the sun rise over the ocean. It was so mesmerizing and exhilarating, that I got up early for the next six days, no matter how late we were up socializing the nite before, to witness this cosmic event of divine artistry from our infinitely talented Creator.

There really is something to intentionally absorbing the glory of God’s creative wonder–especially a wonder as magnificent as a T & C sunrise. An epiphany hit me some years ago that “in the beginning” God made everything to reflect Him, His nature, the spiritual journey, and the nature of life. (As opposed to it being we clever beings coming up with ingenious comparisons all on our own.) Some of these are fairly obvious, and some are even spelled out in Scripture for us, i.e. Vine and branch, the Spirit being like wind, trees planted by rivers, etc. And some reflections require a bit of work, observation, pondering, seeking…. I have found that the more time and narrowed focus spent in this holy excavation, the more memorable and long lasting is the truth which is revealed and implanted.

One of the first aspects I noticed  from this sunrise sermon was how difficult it was to actually grasp a sense of the change occurring before my very eyes. So I began staring at just one part of one cloud to try to capture even the tiniest difference being made above me, but after about ninety seconds I could not tell what had changed, even though the sky had grown a bit brighter and more beautiful. My eyes would then be drawn away from my focus spot and over to a new streak of pink and salmon that had pierced a dark cloud like a flame thrower shooting through the middle of the nite. “Oooohhh,” I exclaimed aloud, even though I was sitting by myself. And the Wind (Pneuma) whispered to me, “This is how it is with your journey toward Christ. As you inch ever closer, and it is quite important that you progress in this daily, you will typically not see the transformation in real time, but one day you may suddenly notice a wonderful shift in you or even those around you where you were not even looking.” As the wisdom goes, it is better to practice something everyday for fifteen minutes than for an hour and a half once every two weeks. The sun simply keeps peeking over the horizon, rising without stopping, and before you know it, it’s daytime. “Just keep swimming.” How important it is to draw closer to God every single day, putting forth concerted effort to grow in Christ likeness by placing ourselves in the direct rays of the Spirit’s divine energy.

Another aspect I saw in these mornings was that obviously everything got brighter–all around me became illuminated. The closer we draw near Jesus, the clearer the path becomes; we’re not groping around in the dark wondering what the right thing to do is. Also, our reflected light will fall upon more and more people around us, as we “rise”. But what I had not really thought of before was what became more difficult, and eventually impossible, to see. The stars–those things farthest away from me. Pneuma whispered into me again: That which is farthest from your center, your divinely appointed purpose, will fade away as you journey down the path of righteousness. And those closest to you, which you have overlooked due to your self-focus, will be illuminated, and their needs easier than ever to see. If you keep maturing, becoming a little holier than you were yesterday, eventually selfish desires will dissipate into near nothingness. The beauty of Jesus, absorbed more and more, overtakes and swallows up the allure of pleasing yourself, just as the sunrise overtakes the nite sky. Like abstaining from the processed sugar of say, Mountain Dew, you will gradually lose a hankering for it, and it may even become quite nasty to you. (But you must always be on guard against temptation!)

A really cool sidenote is that on about the fifth day after listening to Yahweh through His sunrises, I was reading one of the Tozer books I brought with me, and saw in it the verse above, Proverbs 4:18. It was so ridiculously fitting, that it was like Jesus Himself was giving me the most affirming hug of my life. “I’m here with you, enjoying this too! I’m so glad you’re seeing this.”

The vivid awesomeness that is the sunrise over the ocean is simultaneously energizing and calming. It starts your day most appropriately, and can even sustain you throughout the day, though you may need to take a moment or two in the afternoon to reflect in your heart upon the tranquility of that morning experience. How easy it would be to sleep in one day and miss this incredible gift, then another, until we start to forget the beauty that was once so deeply inspiring to us. Whether through laziness, or the anesthesia of the world’s stupid ways, we can find ourselves having missed the greatest part of the day, and then recognize we are merely laboring under that Sun which desired to be with us in peace and quiet a few hours ago. Oh how vital it truly is to return to our First Love, to the beauty of the most perfect love shown on the cross, every day.

Lessons From The Aquarium

He went off once more across the Jordan, to the place where John had been baptizing from the beginning, and he stayed there.

John 10:40

A little while back our aquarium started getting dirtier and greener day after day, and I wasn’t sure why. So I scooped out some water, took it to the local experts at The Reef, and had it tested. The nice knowledgable lady there told me that the H2O was quite high in nitrates, which means we were either overfeeding the fish, and thus, too much food was falling to the bottom and getting gross, or there was just a lot of fish poo in there from not changing the water enough. The prescription I was given was to do a 50% water change every week for about four weeks, and I should see things go back to normal and become clear again. And that is exactly what I did, changing half the water (instead of the normal 10-20%) every Saturday. After the first week–nothing. Still green and dirty. But, this was not terribly surprising, as I was told it would take a month or so. Week two: still no visible change. Hmmm, I thought for sure I’d see some change, a little more clarity. OK, I’ll keep with the program, trusting the expert, and the process prescribed. And it was after the third water change…that I saw only the slightest improvement. Well, maybe. It might have just been my optimistic imagination, since later in the day it really didn’t look much different than before. It looked much like the one in the picture above.

BUT! Three days later, after that third water change, I walk downstairs to take a look and see this:

I kid you not. It went looking from like the one in that picture at the top, to this actual photo of our aquarium totally clear. There was no incremental change, but a sudden clarity overnight in the third week. It was the coolest thing, and had me rejoicing like a little aquatic dork.

Many lessons and metaphors came to mind.

First off, I felt reminded to simply keep doing what you know you’re supposed to be doing. Even if you don’t experience immediate discernible growth, or notice a major leap forward every single day, keep persevering in what you know is healthy and right. Go back to the basics often, and keep it simple. I know that I need to stay in constant prayer, to immerse myself in Holy Scripture, serve others in need, obey the voice of the Spirit, and participate in mutual sharpening with other believers. I simply need to keep doing these wonderful things if I am to grow as a human being and closer to Christ. Ultimately, stay with what got you to a good place–the Lord–not methods or strategies, but Spirit.

Second, the process and results don’t always go the way you think they will go. I expected the tank to gradually clear up every week for about four weeks when it would then look the way it was before it became Dirty Greenville. That’s not the way things went down. There was no visible change for three weeks, then poof! Stay with doing what you know is good, even if things don’t go the way you think they should, or the way you prefer.

Third, it is wise to look to those who have gone before and know what they’re talking about. As a starting point, it is good to trust the trustworthy guides rather than guessing or Googling.

Fourth, when the aquarium was clear, not only could I again see all the fish inside, I could see all the way through to the other side. I could see the wall behind the aquarium. As we persevere in our pursuit of intimacy with God, we will more and more have the vision of eternity, seeing through this short life into our eternal one. We will live with the perspective of our eternal home rather than be tied down to the cares of this life. As has been said, you’re dead a lot longer than you’re alive.

I came across John 10:40 some weeks later, and was really struck by it, and how it related to this experience for me. Even Jesus went back to a starting point of sorts, to where someone who went before him began. Perhaps this is a lesson for us to return to where our life in Christ began. To never forget what–who–saved us. I love those four words “and he stayed there.” Sometimes we just need to stay put, be still, recognize who God is, and listen. Simply listen to the Spirit of Jesus. To catch the wind in a sailboat, you put up the sails and wait. You don’t jump out of the boat and start swimming.

Is there something you’ve strayed from or been neglecting that you need to return to?

Is there a place you need to stay so that you can receive what you need from God before moving on?

When Praying, Always Remember…

Don’t worry about anything. Rather, in every area of life let God know what you want as you pray and make requests, and give thanks as well. And God’s peace, which is greater than we can ever understand, will keep guard over your hearts and minds in King Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7

William Barclay, born in 1907 in Scotland, is a favorite Bible commentator of mine. I find it very helpful how he relates the teachings of Scripture to real life, and how pithily he does so. Looking at his interpretation of Philippians 4:6-7 the other day, I found some reminders that are definitely worth sharing.

When we pray, we must always remember three things. We must remember the love of God, which only ever desires what is best for us. We must remember the wisdom of God, which alone knows what is best for us. We must remember the power of God, which alone can bring about that which is best for us. Everyone who prays with a perfect trust in the love, wisdom and power of God will find God’s peace.

I have found these three simple reminders so helpful to keep consciously in mind as I pray over “every area of life.” Remembering, and believing, that God wants, knows, and can bring about what is best for me is supernaturally comforting–going beyond human understanding. How wonderful it is to know we have a God like this….giving us ultimate perspective at every divine moment.

Barclay ends the section with:

The way to peace is in prayer to entrust ourselves and all whom we hold dear to the loving hands of God.

I pray this is an encouragement and an enhancement to your prayer life.

Does God Pick & Choose Who’s In?

No one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws them...” ~JESUS in John 6:44

This has long been one of those slightly unsettling verses for me. It sounds as if God chooses to draw some people to Himself, but not everybody–only some. Now God is God, and so God can do whatever God chooses, therefore, I am not going to pretend to sway God over to my puny thinking. Yet, thanks to my solid Bible-study Baptist upbringing, I was always taught to “compare Scripture with Scripture.” And that’s where some of the rub comes in I suppose. A God who wills some to come to Him, but not others, doesn’t seem to jive with the tenor of the New Testament where we see that God does not want any to perish, but for all to come to Him, to the eternal kind of Life (2 Peter 3:9).

Meditating upon this verse, I received another view of it which I trust and hope was from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps an aspect which John the Evangelist was intending to communicate, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is that if it is something other than the Father which draws us, therefore something less than God, then we will not come to Jesus.

We will gravitate toward whatever it is that we’re actually drawn to.

For example, if you’re drawn merely by an eloquent speaker, then you are drawn to that speaker, who is not God. Or you might be drawn by a social justice cause. That is a good thing, but it is not THE THING. You will pour energy into that cause, maybe even for Jesus, but still not genuinely come to Jesus. You can be drawn by a great community of people, or the beautiful worship music and style of a particular church, but if you’re not drawn to the Father, then you will not come to Jesus and experience true salvation for your soul, or participate in Yahweh’s Spirit-powered Kingdom Life.

Now, we must state the obvious–God the Father can use whatever means He chooses to draw us to Himself–preachers, causes, music, churches, billboards, etc. And this happens every day. We have a good friend who was authentically drawn to God via one of those old school Bible tracts. Don’t think for a second that God can’t use those! What we’re saying, as a caution, is to make sure you check yourself to see what you’re actually captivated by. At the end, it must be God Himself, for God’s sake alone (see Mt.7:21-23 for one of the scariest passages in the Bible). So many times we’re taken up with an experience or a person or an event or an author, and we may think we’re drawn to God, but in actuality, we’re only drawn to that creature or created thing–which is a far cry from the Creator, from being filled with the only One who has all authority.

Therefore, I have to wonder if John had this thought at least partially in mind when writing this passage–to be a sort of litmus test; for if we’re truly drawn to God, we will see the light which is Jesus, the exact imprint and reflection of the Father, and submit to Him. In the context of our verse above, this was around a time when many were leaving Jesus. And not just peripheral followers, but disciples were leaving Jesus. Some were just there for the miracles, some for free bread, and thankfully a few were drawn by God Himself and stayed.

10 Year Anniversary

Ten years ago today was an extremely unique and life-redirecting day for me. There have been very few days since that nite in which I have not thought about this experience. Sometimes, on the anniversary, I like to share it in this medium to hopefully encourage, uplift, or assure others through what I was privileged to see, hear, and feel. And being a full decade now, how could I not?! Never do I share this lightly. Also, I just love that this took place on what is traditionally Inauguration Day, for it inaugurated in my life something more grand than any human leader could ever dream of accomplishing. I sincerely hope, in some respect, this is comforting and inspiring for you.

Coming off the very difficult year of 2010 in which my dear dad passed away, one of my Outreach kids was sentenced to 35 year six in prison, my close high school friend Jeff passed away from leukemia at barely 40 years old, and Ana and I were, let’s just say, not at the high point of our marriage, I entered 2011 depressed, and at my lowest point. And then this happened.

It was January 20th, 11:45 pm. I was waiting for my very close friend Miguel to arrive at my house from Michigan for a weekend visit. I decided to lie down and rest before he got there because we inevitably stay up late catching up and laughing at all things profoundly ridiculous. I didn’t want to sleep, just rest my eyes and mind for a few minutes. And in this moment I wanted God. I wanted Him more than I’ve ever wanted Him before in my life. I felt my need for Him more than ever in my extremely low state. I knew in my soul that He was the only possible real answer to my depression from the past year. I knew nothing else would work, that there is no plan B. There is God. And so I called out to Him, this nite, in a sincerer way than ever before. Not having much capacity, I kept it simple and started praying the ancient Jesus Prayer over and over to put all my focus and yearning on Him, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I cried out to Him in earnest for comfort, for help, pleading for Him alone.

And He answered.

Suddenly, I found myself in Grand Teton National Park, sitting on a rock at a lake which was at the base of a mountain. And sitting across from me on another rock, was Jesus Himself. He looked up at the mountains around us and said, “I remember when I made this, thinking we’d be having this conversation one day.” I was reverentially awestruck, unable to speak. Mouth open, it took every ounce of my available energy to slightly nod. Then He began to speak the simplest and most affirming words to me. “Rob, I love you so much.” He spoke my name. “I’ve known you for so long.” At this, the Scripture stating that “Before you were in the womb I knew you” came to mind, as if it were downloaded into me as He spoke. “I only want what’s best for you.” There was so much affirmation going on with so few words, it was unreal. Actually, it was very real. The most real. Like experiencing real for the very first time. Then He admonished me, with penetrating love: “You never would have put Me first had you kept going down that path.” Wanting to put to rest any doubt about His complete care I still may have, He simply said, “You know I’m in control.” He then smiled at me and held up His hand. A rock flew from the ground into His hand. He was playing with me. In an instant, I felt being totally known. I felt Him knowing my sense of humor, even, I kid you not, my love of Star Wars, and He embraced it. He embraced all of it. He embraced all of me. Everything that is me, He embraced and loved in a moment. I’ve never experienced being so known and so accepted. It was the most healing experience I’d never imagined. To be fully known and be fully accepted is the height and depth of love I believe. And that is what I felt from the Person responsible for my very existence.

Continuing His play, He threw the rock into the lake and it skipped many times side to side, defying laws of physics. He was having fun with me. Finally I was able to unlock my voice enough to actually speak, and all I could get out was, “How do you do that?!?” Seems like a ridiculous question looking back, but then came His answer which was the most penetrating takeaway of my life. He stopped, looked me in the eyes, held up His right index finger, and said, “Because, I and the Father are one,” then slowly, He pointed His finger at me, “as should you be.” It was the greatest sermon I’d ever heard. Again, a slow nod took all the strength I could muster while in the presence of the Master of the universe. i skipped some rocks. It was awesome. Suddenly, He and I were walking together to “go back” and I did ask, “What about dad and Jeff?” out of utter curiosity, wondering where they were and what they were doing, I guess. “Another time,” He said gently, yet firmly, letting me know that it would be too much for me right now. I got what I needed at this point and any more would overload my circuits. Next thing I know, I was back in bed next to sleeping Ana. I sat up, completely sobered by the experience, then Miguel arrived. I let him in and told him what just happened. “Whoooa, duuuuude!” he said in his classic Cuban tone. We both felt and shared the gravity of what had just occurred.

I didn’t realize it until some time later, but this experience sent me on a trajectory to pursuing God like never before, which involved a reading and meditation frenzy. About three weeks after, I finally picked up The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard, and that book started a new phase of intense study for me. I so wanted to know God. To pursue Him. To serve Him. A couple weeks later I met Dave, who would become my spiritual partner, and the next year the ministries of The Ripple Effect and IRON MEN of Oaks were birthed. And along the way, Ana and I have grown closer together through Him.

Everything good of the last ten years has been born out of that nite of calling out to Jesus from the depths of my heart and experiencing His profound, soul-shifting, Life-giving answer to my call.

Jesus heals. This I know.

Thank you, YHWH. Thank you, Ruach. Thank you, Yeshua. Thank you so much.


Looking at a calendar a couple months ago I noticed that it was the year 2020, and that if my calculations are correct (and they pretty much always are), it is the 15th anniversary of our first Christmas letter we sent out. So we thought between that and all the insanity of this year, how fitting it would be to bring back our penned year review and update manuscript.

A crap ton of craziness has transpired this year, and it can be quite challenging to wade through the information overload and navigate these choppy waters. What can be especially maddening is running into those who want to talk about it nonstop, analyze it, study it, yell about it until my eyes are glazed over, my shirt’s drenched in drool, and I forget my own name for about six minutes. Sometimes worse than the 2020 tensions themselves is the constant notch-above-pointless reminding, rehashing, and debating that goes absolutely nowhere positive. So we Pallikans thought we would do you a solid and give a few helpful hints for maneuvering through this obstacle course of confusion we call 2020.

For sake of time and space, we’re gonna have to skip over what are probably the two biggest and hottest topics, and save them for another day. Those would be, obviously, Kanye’s conversion to Christ, and two astronauts being launched into space from American soil for the first time since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011 in the first ever commercially built and operated spacecraft. Sorry, we know you want to read our wisdom-filled musings on these historic happenings, but there’s just too much to say about them, and not enough ink in the printer.

On to less popular yet vitally important matters. So how to charge through some tricky situations, especially for us introverts (in my case recovering extrovert), when you’re about to get pulled in to a time-wasting, soul-sucking debate over some current issue.

Let’s say you’re out and about, maybe at the store, the laundromat, lunch, or even a dinner party, and someone asks you the terrifyingly divisive question,”How do you feel about the election?” Uhhgg. Don’t panic, all you have to do is go with the old classic of pretending you misheard the question, and answer immediately, “Oh I think erections feel really good, I’m a big fan, but that’s an extremely personal question don’t you think? I’m not very comfortable talking about this.” Even if they correct you and come back with, “No, I said ELECTION”, you just keep plowing forward with, “Yeah I’m really uncomfortable.” There should be enough ambiguity and, hopefully, discomfort on their part by now that they’ll probably let you off. Or you can storm off pretending to be upset.

What if someone tries to dive into the mask controversy? They work, they don’t work, they’re a violation of freedom, they show you care, blah blah blah. What I do in this precarious situation is respond with something along the lines of, “Well I’m glad these masks finally got mandated because my doctor has been after me for years to wear one, worried I’m gonna spread something awful ever since a little incident I had in a wildlife preserve five years ago. With everybody wearing one, I don’t feel so alone, you know?” This is usually enough to not only quiet people down, but help them forget what they even asked in the first place. If for some reason the person is annoyingly persistent, and the debate comes back around, just keep going on about how lonely you’ve been feeling for the past several years–people can’t handle that! Most want to blather on about things they can’t or won’t ever do anything about. Now they will be looking for a reason to get away from you.

Hope this is helpful!

In other news, Zayra is in her 10th and final year at The Oaks Academy. She’s been accepted to Cathedral HS class of 2025. I’m happy because it has the word CAT in it. Gaby is racing through her curriculum at her own pace in her first year at Purdue Polytechnic HS just three blocks down the street from our house. At this rate she might graduate before she turns sixteen. Next month will mark ten years for Ana working at Allison Transmission. She’s very much enjoyed working from home most of this year, being able to spend a lot more time with the girlies. And me, well, I set a personal record by going to the gym 53 days in a row, from Ukrainian Independence Day (August 24) through October 15. I was sore. On November 12 I wept joyously when our cat of six years, Dr. Bucko von Spankenfloppy, was returned to us after he’d been missing for seven months and nine days. We gave him a new birth/baptismal name of Denarius because he was our little coin who was lost but has been found (Luke 15:8-10).

I’m excitedly preparing for my 2021 “Year of Silence” which, I could say more about, but that would kind of defeat the purpose.

If you’ve received this letter, there is a very high probability that we love you and pray blessings all over you.

Always endeavoring to stay knowingly ignorant and wisely uneducated,
Rob…on behalf of Ana, Gabriela, & Zayra

Where’s That Draft Coming From?

"Wind" by Gabriela Pallikan
“Wind” by Gabriela Pallikan

Do not give the devil a way to defeat you, a foothold, an opportunity, a loophole. ~Ephesians 4:27 [various translations combined]

One early crisp morning I was walking downstairs to perform my daily coffee making ritual, and as I made my way to the kitchen in the pre-dawn darkness, I was halted by what felt like a frozen, icy vortex hitting me in the face. “Why is it so cold down here??” I thought as I raced to the thermostat to see if the heat was off or, heaven forbid, the furnace was on the fritz. The heat was indeed on, and all seemed to be running well. My next immediate thought was that someone must have left the front door wide open last nite, judging by the steady breeze still hitting my chilled body. Front door shut tightly and locked. That’s not it. This is weird. There is definitely a steady stream of cold air blowing in the living room and no obvious reason for it. Finally, I decided to just stand still and feel and look around the room slowly. Calmly, I felt the air, scanned—And there it was! An open window! As I quickly closed it, I remembered that the previous day saw an unusually warm afternoon, so I had opened a window about 10 inches so that our doggy Atticus could enjoy the smells of the outdoors for a few minutes. And I obviously forgot to close it.

Pretty much immediately the Holy Ghost impressed upon me the spiritual metaphor: Do not leave any openings for evil influences to corrupt you; these are not always obvious and easy to detect. Now, sometimes we do leave the front door open. I think of wide open doors as the easy-to-see ajar portals allowing in a hurricane of dark forces. For instance, if you’re sleeping with your next door neighbor’s spouse, it doesn’t require a rocket surgeon to figure out that there’s probably gonna be some trouble up ahead for you. Or if you punch people right in the mouth whenever they don’t agree with you, or sell meth to children on playgrounds, you’re probably at least halfway aware that you’re doing something wrong and that there’s gonna be some hell to pay. But again, these are those big gaping wide open doors that are easy to notice and understand how the toxic draft is getting in.

What about open windows–those more subtle openings which can equally allow in so much poison and give the devil a foothold? I think open windows can represent habits of thought that are far from healthy, as well as far from detection. One of these habits of thought can be the toxicity of comparison, tempting you to see how your life measures up against the lifestyles of others, giving much energy to how you appear, or perhaps prodding you to look down your nose at those who are “clearly beneath you” socially, intellectually, physically, or even spiritually. Another open window may be harbored resentment or held-onto anger. This dangerous venom can course through your veins, distorting how you see everybody and everything, if allowed to steep long enough. Like the old saying about unforgiveness goes: It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. And then there’s gossip, that not often preached about but clearly ruinous evil in the Scriptures. If you want to give ample opportunity for spiritual cancer to spread–this is it!

I’m sure you can come up with plenty of other “open windows” through some healthy examination. Hopefully this is a helpful springboard toward taking a critical look at how you might unknowingly be giving evil influences a handle to grab onto and steer you in the wrong direction.

Also, kinda cool, the Holy Spirit, as has happened so many times before, affirmed this experience the very next day–through this sentence I read by Henry Scougal in his book The Life of God in the Soul of Man:

There are still some worldly desires lurking in my heart, and those vanities that I have shut out of the doors are always getting in by the windows.

Advent 2020

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Advent simply means “arrival.” It is the season to celebrate and reflect on God’s breaking into His creation in the form of a human life approximately 2,020 years ago.

This is the first season of the Christian Church year, beginning on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.

It’s beautiful.

During Advent, we reflect upon, meditate upon, even work at what it means to be watchful. To be hopeful and watchful. To be ready for Christ’s coming, His advent, the most important and significant event in our human history.

It is also quite important for us to keep in mind being ready for Christ’s little advents everyday throughout each day. Christ’s coming like a thief in the night, or even His standing at the door knocking are His unexpected anytime moments of calling on us for service, worship, listening, or changing. The more attuned we become to the Shepherd’s voice, the more often we will open the door to God’s messengers, no matter what they may look like or sound like.

I have come to believe that God is pretty much always speaking through everything and everyone around me. But am I always listening for the Spirit’s voice? Or am I shallowly tuned in to only the surface of what is before me?

We Christians do believe Christ will return as King, but the meaning has been cheapened over the years to the provocation of a response by some with the bumper sticker, “Jesus is coming, hide the bong.” That’s what it sadly turns into. But (hopefully) it’s much deeper than that. It is to always be at the ready for Christ’s calling upon you. He may very well tell you to put the bong away, I don’t know. But I do know, and have experienced, many times the beautiful call to His work of listening to someone, to sending a message of encouragement, to stop reading and just be with Him, to stop staring, or whatever.

There is such a beauty I now appreciate greatly of the Christian calendar. We are not of this world, we are of God’s kingdom. Therefore, isn’t it good and right to base our seasons upon the true Center of the universe Jesus Christ, and not on ourselves?