Friday, December 25, 2015

The Ultimate Supervillain

I hear prayers to bind Satan often enough it's a wonder he's ever loose to accomplish anything. If it actually worked the way we imagine, picture one guy who can only be in one place at a time and the whole christian world constantly adding ropes and chains to the ones already restraining him. If you're imagination is working somewhat rationally, a conservative result would have our all-time supervillain perfectly and hyper-redundantly squelched on every front, like a sailor trying to escape a submarine surrounded by sharks. If you're actually thinking about how to do that, I'm impressed and we might be related.

The problem is he's obviously loose enough to "prowl around looking for someone to devour." And he has a lot of help, and experience. At present, him and his cohorts that we wrestle against are about six thousand years old so they're extremely well practiced at their evil trade. On top of it all, it's God himself who sends them on their mission sometimes. Thankfully he does put restraints on them that actually work. Since he owns them (and created them), they have to play by his rules, and he's pretty strict; they can't do more than he says and they can't do more than we can bear. On a side note, you might be surprised what you can bear when you quit insisting you can't. On another side note, death doesn't mean you couldn't bear it. Sometimes it means you did.

Clearly understanding the freedom and sway he has at present along with God's dedication to play by his own rules, Satan even went after Jesus himself when he had the chance. And, even when he failed, he just left him for a more opportune time. Talk about blind optimism! And he didn't even get cast into the lake of fire for it! As far as identifying his actual location after Christ, he kind of flies under the radar. I imagine him being as close to the most influential place in the world as he can get, probably not my house. But I'm sure he's got help nearby. Thankfully, so do we. But they're a whole other topic.

So, step one in the battle against the dark side, be sane. Our enemy is not an omnipresent, all powerful foe just like he's not a bug we can trap in a jar and wait for him to suffocate. The warfare is as complex and serious as anything but it revolves around controlling ourselves, which may actually be harder than controlling Satan. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Remembering Johnnie

I've stared thoughtfully at this post after reading it again myself trying to decide whether to re-post it. In the end, here it is. It left me smiling and laughing over and over and refreshed my looking forward, and living forward, to the kingdom and the God that Johnnie loved and loves. Extensively confined by intensive medical care during the last year of his earthly life, he used Facebook posts to expose us to a more honest faith than we usually have the privilege of witnessing in person. What was an unusual heartache at first, his passing so close to Christmas, now makes it unusually meaningful. I'm hopeful that it does the same for you. There's little else to say that isn't better said by Johnnie himself in the quotes that follow. This collection of his posts (oldest first) is not exhaustive. It’s just my effort to filter out the minutia of his living in hospitals and capture an honest picture of who he was. Thank you, brother. See you soon.
Johnnie Cornelius
March 4th, 1987 - December 27th, 2014
Facebook quotes from December 28th, 2013 - December 12th, 2014

December 28, 2013 · Ease your mind and spirit with this coming new year and try relying on a NEW grace that a God has given. Trying to understand this grace will not get you more of it. It is a grace that is given freely to a creation that is made to desire it. Seek and you will find. And when I say new grace, I don't mean different. I am speaking of a grace that has been refined and strengthened from the trials of your past. God has a plan in your life to bring you closer to him through his love. Let's be realistic... If your life sucks, its probably hard to see through the dark curtains but I promise, there is a sun outside the window that you just have to move the curtains to see! So please for your sake I earnestly urge you to seek this grace and find a new life in Christ. Let his peace take over and find rest in your restless heart. I love you all and hope for the best new year... Thanks for letting me rant a little.

December 30, 2013 · What good is love if you don't love to give it?

January 9, 2014 When great things come to an end, you can can take it a couple ways. Either call it quits and then you are left alone, or you can take advantage of the loss and see the opportunity to start over. A chance to rebuild yourself and replant your roots.

January 14, 2014 · Flagstaff, AZ · Tell the person that means the most to you just how much they really mean to you. Show them the love that you have been holding back. You just might change there life forever. Maybe even save it. With love being such a deep root in all of our hearts it needs a little bit of extra water to keep it alive.

January 19, 2014 · Let someone love you just the way you are as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as unaccomplished as you think you are. To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken, out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.
"Ash Sweeney"
I like this guy

January 21, 2014 · It's not necessarily what is said, but who says it. The same appreciation from a different person can come across as a different perspective. A life changer! Or perhaps a day saver...

January 24, 2014 · Life or death...
Life and death...
What is the different?
It seems the only thing that separates life from death is the absence of the body. Mourning over a lost loved one is like mourning because you have lost your favorite bit of jewelry. Now I'm not comparing life to an object at all, I am saying that when you mourn over a lost loved one, consider why you were mourning. We know that there is a time when we all will die, no question at all about that, so, is it not to be expected? So what is the best way to deal with this loss? If we consider it to be a relief on the other person's behalf, as in relief from the burden of pain if there is any, then we may just actually find joy in the relief that the dying is experiencing! With as little as we know about the afterlife or after we die it is very hard for us to understand what happens to our spirit. We know based off of text what happens because "that's what the Bible says." But until we actually experienced death ourselves we will never know. How about we try to consider every day a new birth. A chance to die and begin a new life? This is how I find death and life are connected. Therefore, I am not afraid of death because it is a part of life! One must die daily in order to grow stronger roots. I hope that this makes sense, hopefully my rambling has brought peace to those of you who need it…

January 29, 2014 · Johnnie Cornelius feeling afraid. Praise God! Life is hell today... Makes for a stronger tomorrow. I like these faces by the way... I'm not

February 7, 2014 · Is not having a drive or passion in life a bad thing? Or could it be that you're OK with your situation or content with where God has you in life?

February 24, 2014 · My ultimate dream is to have a huge crowd of listeners clap to a few measures of a simple beat on my drum set. Where the leader starts off with a tempo, points to me and everybody freaks out and screams as I lay an awesome rhythm for everyone to leave with stuck in there head. Unity through the rhythm that keeps the pace of our lives moving....
Some day…

February 26, 2014 · So... God digs this huge hole and says, "come here! Look at how big I made this hole!" So you look down and are so amazed at how huge it is and how endless the out goes. Upon admiring it you then to ask, "so what's the hole for?"
"Its for you!"
Then He pushes you back and you fall back into this gaping hole. After smashing into the bottom and looking around you see a ladder to climb out and you look up and scream at God
"What the Hell!!"
"Just climb out" He says.
"I can't! My legs are broken!"
Sometimes life just sucks and you need to put a little extra effort into climbing out of your pit.
And its OK to be pissed at God.

February 28, 2014 · Whenever you are in pain or a hard trial, why do people assume that you deserve it. Like you've earned your situation. Like there is a bitterness that you need to let go of. What if you are just in the process of being rebuilt because the old you has already served its purpose. Or how about, God just wants to make you stronger. He knows what he's doing. Promise

February 28, 2014 · He is a God of progress. He builds to make stronger as if breaking the dam that hold the waters from flowing. Your hardened heart cannot restrict his flow. Just let go!

March 18, 2014 · You know, after reading Hebrews 11, I think to myself I hope I die by somebody beating the heck out of me because then I'll get to just ask them, are you having fun!?

April 8, 2014 · What if we just resist the urge to fight and prove our point by listening to the opposer.

April 8, 2014 · I am perfect. And the funny thing is, you are too!

April 18, 2014 · Nothing is performed without God being the headliner.

April 22, 2014 · Fear not the discipline of God. Or rather, look forward to it! And be glad that he cares enough about you to give discipline! This fear of discipline only leads to the failure of Faith. Your Faith is what keeps you in motion and motion keeps you alive.

May 1, 2014 · What's on my mind...? You don't want to know.
Johnnie Cornelius Sometime, when those pearly gates open, we should try bringing whatever is inside, out. I know plenty of friends who have walked through those gates and rather than waiting for me to walk through them, I wanna let out what's inside like I'm breaking the dam that is holding back the river. We don't have to die to open those gates. We just have to get the key first.

May 8, 2014 · Having an unhealthy body, makes you think a lot about what makes life worth living, therefore developing a very healthy spirit. So I guess I can say thank you for the life I've been given. Without it I wouldn't know what life is all about.

May 13, 2014 · One day you wake up, and all you can think about is how much your life sucks. You lay in bed almost till noon and you find yourself genuinely bummed. You just want to be careless. Then at your local coffee shop someone surprises you with a pat on the back and shows real concern. Asking how you're doing, and says, well I'm praying for you. Sort of settles you down and makes you think about how much you really mean to people. Thank you very much for helping me find that reset button : )

May 20, 2014 · Am I teaching anybody anything!? Or am i just a sad story for you guys to show your pity. I'd rather be just a pathetic story or a kid with a stroke of bad luck, if there is no lesson I can show you. Maybe take others trials as a lesson or something you can learn from rather than just a expression of how sorry you are. Maybe try helping a little more deeper or try asking how to help. Anyway, enough bitching from me. It's just a bad day... So far

May 26, 2014 · I love the freedom of walking in your own home... Naked. So relaxing

June 13, 2014 · If you were given the gift of life, wouldn't you want to know about the one that gave it to you?

June 15, 2014 · To all my brothers, I say happy fathers day. As a youngest brother I always thought I had more than one father. Love you guys

June 15, 2014 · Why wait till you die to rest in peace. It seams that we should be learning to live in peace.
June 17, 2014 · When they made the laws for the United States they forgot to put in one very important law, DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY.

June 17, 2014 · Have you ever sat here in thought God, how close are we to figuring out who we are, or who you are.
Because if you think about it, we could be completely lost with our own idea and just be writing out of our imagination.
You really have to know what you're talking about in order to try to convince others that you are sound

June 17, 2014 · Let your life fall apart. Like any river, the freshest water comes from the newest rivers.

June 21, 2014 · Life's a riddle, not a game of dice. "Young The Giant".

July 21, 2014 · The best advice I've heard on marriage is that there is little success in a 50%, 50% marriage. Try making it a100%, 100% marriage. Give your entire self to your spouse.

July 24, 2014 · So, it is obvious that God has a plan in your life. The only question is, do you have the patience to wait and see what it is. Do you think that it has a plan for your life or a plan through your life. Two very different things.

July 28, 2014 · Some people learn to live after they're born, others learn to live while they are alive. Others learn to live life after they die. One thing I've found is that life is always present. Whether or not you want it is up to you. Make the best of your life because life is mobile, transferable, and of course eternal. The sooner you find it, the more it makes sense.

August 5, 2014 · I am not a Christian... I am not a sinner... I am not a religion seeking person. I steer clear of those who push a right and wrong concept. I am a human that dwells in the security of Christ in me being my guardian and leader.... Who are you?

August 14, 2014 · I may not be "everlasting", i may be "just a product of space and time", but that product still requires an equation. So this product has a purpose of fulfilling the equation. And such is life…

August 28, 2014 · The Lord tests me, but he never seizes to here my call for help. His answers are not always the answer to my problems but an encouragement to hold my motivation. It takes resistance to build strength.

August 31, 2014 · Bible · Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

September 24, 2014 · My favorite smell ... Freshly ground coffee beans and the rain before it touches the ground…

October 11, 2014 · Bible · whoever may confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God in him doth remain, and he in God; 1 John 4:15

October 13, 2014 · Would you rather go through life with nothing to lose? Or everything to lose? Which would make your life more valuable to you, or to others. Perhaps there really is a fine ballance of what you own. Whether spiritual or phisical, it is always a life determining stone. As if your life is a wall that has been built and there is that one brick that isn't perfectly placed like all the others. Would you rebuild the entire wall just to lay that one brick even?

October 13, 2014 · I just had another revelation about life! If you want to hear it, comment
Johnnie Cornelius Living life is not a task or chore, but simply a blessing of love and the ability to figure out who your creator is. Like .. who doesn't want to know there father is?
That wasn't my original thought by the way. But that's pretty good huh?

October 17, 2014 · True love is not about who you die for, but rather, who you live for.

October 20, 2014 · Bible · Consumed hath been my flesh and my heart, The rock of my heart and my portion [is] God to the age. Psalms 73:26

October 21, 2014 · Did you know...
It is so much easier to show love than hate? Yet we invest so much into hate as if its easier. Why do we feel the need to prove that there is only one right answer. What is love. What is it possible to compromise?

October 21, 2014 · Did Christ ever have a dying breathe?

October 26, 2014 · GOD! YOU SUCK!

October 26, 2014 · whew..That was the modern way of saying God!? Why have you forsaken me! Ok... What now.. we're still buddies though

October 26, 2014 · Bible · I have loved, because Jehovah heareth My voice, my supplication, Psalms 116:1

October 27, 2014 · Bible · these things I have spoken to you, that in me ye may have peace, in the world ye shall have tribulation, but take courage--I have overcome the world.' John 16:33

October 28, 2014 · Life is best when lived for someone else. Make it worth the effort. And don't think that you have too change the world. Just a single heart can do that. The faith of a mustard seed.

November 17, 2014 · Bible · The end of the whole matter let us hear: --`Fear God, and keep His commands, for this [is] the whole of man. For every work doth God bring into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether good or bad.' Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
December 12, 2014 · So I wake up to find the sky caught fire as t the sun was rising just outside my window. Another day to look forward too!
Johnnie Cornelius's photo.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Spiritual Eating Disorders

In line with the whole idea that you are what you eat, it's clear that you are how you eat as well, especially as a lifestyle. A feast that leaves you incapacitated is one thing. The same portions on a daily basis is something else. A diet to loose that weight is one thing. An obsession that never lets you indulge is something else. We become impaired by what's meant to strengthen us.

I see the same in our spiritual diets: obesity, anorexia, etc.
The spiritually obese person consumes studies, books and teachings like they're going out of style, but they don't use as much as they consume. Before very long, they get slow and awkward in their reasoning. And not long after that, they usually resign themselves to it.
The spiritual anorexic suffers a similar end result from the opposite behavior. Whatever causes their aversion to spiritual nourishment (scripture, prayer, etc.), you won't catch them with real food very often. And they look and act like you would expect from someone who's starving all the time.
There could easily be many more parallels and they could go much further.

It takes some work, but I find this train of thought useful to manage my own faith. I think the physical is meant to be a spiritual teaching aid, and would even say that the spiritual angle is the more important one. If you're spiritually unsatisfied, what are you eating? If you're spiritually weak, how are you exercising? And of course they work together. A good attitude is a lot of exercise and doesn't last long without good fuel. But when you combine them, the more you do, the more you can.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dying of Boredom

There's a character in the Bible I can frequently relate to very well. He was a young man who died and rose again and it did wonders for the credibility of the gospel. He also had a very common name... Eutychus. He fell asleep in a third story window and fell to his death while listening "as Paul talked on and on." I love that Luke, a close friend of Paul's, actually described it that way! Paul raised Eutychus from the dead and the night went predictably well after that.

Now, I'm as excited as anybody about being raised from the dead, but I was convinced about that by the end of the four gospels. What I'm more impressed with here is that scripture actually records someone who couldn't stay awake listening to them! Talk about sacrilegious, right? I can imagine his more righteous peers snickering as he started to drool and get the nods.

So have you ever sat through a really boring church service that you knew you should be interested in but really weren't... at all. I call it the Sunday monologue more often than I call it a sermon. Don't get me wrong. I'm still righteous enough to sit through some really boring, long winded speeches on occasion, but I don't have the stamina I used to. Let's face it, even the gospel can be terminally boring under the right circumstances.

But religion shouldn't take it personal. Dealing with business meetings or that friendly yapper who can't take a hint is equally gruelling. Let's say that, on a regular basis, my lights are on but nobody's home. It's a good thing that open third story windows meet better safety standards these days. Let's also say that living the gospel is generally much more exciting than hearing it. I'm not saying anybody should preach it less. I'm just saying have some mercy on the guy who's in the fight of his life to stay awake in the pew. And take a lesson from Paul; if you kill 'em with your preaching, maybe they just need some one on one to bring them back to life, even if you have to meet them on the street.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Give Like Uncle Scrooge

It's the season when generosity is in focus. For those who profit from it, the focus is buy more - save more, don't forget so-and-so, do something big this year. For those who pay for it, the focus is overtime, credit limits and shopping stress. It's easy to get caught up in measuring our generosity by how much we sacrificed to give it. While that's not insignificant, it misses a more important point; generosity comes more from our heart than our wallet. The apostle Paul explained heart based giving this way, "Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given." It's the attitude, not the gift itself, that determines whether or not it is generous.

That's not an excuse to be Scrooge, but he might actually be a good roll model. When he didn't want to give, he didn't. When he did want to give, nothing could stop him. Believe it or not, scripture actually encourages that. We're told to, "give what you've decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or out of compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver." If you want to know how God feels about fake generosity, read chapter five of Acts. Lets just say he takes it deadly serious.

So now that it's perilous to give anything at all, let's look at one more side to generosity. No one knows our heart better than our Creator. And, on request, he generously helps us with it, without finding fault (or killing us). His goal is to perpetuate his own generosity through us, and that's the heart he's after. That's what he rewards. So before you buy that gift, cook that meal or give that time, check your heart and listen, even if it holds you back a little. Only true generosity is worth the sacrifice. May you generously enjoy the holidays and the ordinary days alike. "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed."

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Season of Flavors

I remember the last huge meal challenge that I took. It was a burrito about the size of a football. I came within one bite of finishing it and I've never been so glad to leave it on the plate. It was delicious when I started, a glutenous pile of beans, rice, salsas, guacamole, cheeses, peppers, pork beef and chicken all seasoned to perfection. The first two thirds of it went down easy and then I hit my natural limit, the point where chewing and swallowing become work and your guts become uncomfortably pressurized by every bite you force down. Textures and tastes that were pleasing at first become vomit triggers that you have to repress. It was the last glob of juice soaked tortilla that got me in the end. It looked like what I imagined throwing up if I tried to eat it, so there it stayed. Maybe if I'd eaten the tortilla first... whatever.

The end result was that instead of enjoying the delicious burrito, I spent the next day and half proving what I don't have in common with snakes or my cat that can eat a large gopher in one sitting and look happy with a distended belly for days afterward. True gluttony is painful. I didn't even enjoy the burps, and that's a real tragedy!

I did better yesterday, though. I'm writing this as the morning after Thanksgiving closes in on eleven o'clock and I still have no urge to eat yet today. But the burps are delicious and the smell of another good dinner is already taunting me. Praise God for taste buds and the elastic nature of our stomachs.

Feasts are an essential part of life. It's God himself who built them into our routine for honorable occasions to remind us of the flavors he makes us able to appreciate and the abundance he meets our needs with. He knows better than anybody that the way to my heart is through my stomach and he proves it daily through my wife. I remember when she asked me what she should make for a friend's birthday party and the only guideline was something chocolaty. "REALLY!? Like, just imagine something and you'll make it?!" And so the marbled mint mocha ganache cheese cake was born, and devoured. Hope you enjoy the holiday flavors as much as I will. Just pay attention to your full switch. God made that so the rest of your body can enjoy the food as much as your tongue will.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Search for Christian Coffee

Let's get right to the point this time. When scripture gives us "do nots", it's usually because we have a strong tendency to do exactly those things and we're a bit slow to recognize them as harmful. Well, me anyway, and "a bit" is a bit of an understatement. So for only my sake, let's look at this one:  "Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." 

The holidays provide plenty of opportunity to judge each other by exactly these standards. Most gatherings will include some unspoken disapproval of the food, the gifts, the decor or the people. If those topics don't supply enough rocks to throw, there's always Starbucks. This week, I found myself thinking about their de-Christmassed cups with an unsettled feeling in my gut. Actually that feeling was a latte double shot on an empty stomach, a must if you were up too late the night before and want to do it again for the sake of a really good dinner on the company's bill. And so the holiday spirit is upon us.

The reality  of that spirit is what's pointed out in the second part of our scripture. Just like Christ was the real gift of the holidays that preceded him, the people we love are the real gift of our current holidays. It even says it's his grace expressed through our gifts of service. So give your friends and family a break, and even your enemy if you get the chance. Life is a lot more gratifying when you're focused on enjoying the people around you more than the trappings of the holiday that twisted your arm into seeing them again. And, just like Christ, if we only pay special attention to them during the holidays, we're missing a lot.

Give Starbucks and their ilk a break, too. Christ specified he didn't come to judge the world. If you need a corporation or government or anyone else to validate your faith, I would encourage you to reevaluate it over a generically festive cup of mint mocha anything. I'll join you.