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Friday, August 29, 2008

Self control....the first spiritual discipline

DSC_0953_edited-1, originally uploaded by Christopher Rauch.

      the indispensable prerequisite to all personal growth. Ya just can't have too much of it, and if it is lacking, it will sooner or later be felt. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" but Christ must have something to strengthen. Andy Stanley tells us that yesterday we "wrote a chapter" in our story, the saga that chronicles the unavoidable change in our character. The question is which way did we go? Did we progress, or regress? Is our path in a consistent direction? All to often, I go forward and backward In great loops, content to trudge upward ever so slowly, satisfied that I am better than I used to be. 
I watch no broadcast television. None. Sometimes, I get a little pharisee (Luke 18:9) pride about it, but lately, it occurs to me that I spend an enormous amount of time tweaking my blog, reading your blog, and posting thoughts and feelings. These are not bad things but moderation (ah, self-control!) has always been my weak point. I want to spend time in "Centering Prayer", and other spiritual disciplines. I feel starved, sometimes for a closer, more conversational relationship with the Ancient, Eternal, Holy, Perfect, God. My God. The One who loves me (can it be?) like no other.  
My Pastor spoke of prioritizing, and I keep a constant low-grade whine in my head about hearing the voice of God, and lately, It seems as if He has nudged me, and called me to a life of more self-discipline so that I can begin to practice spiritual disciplines with a little more sucess, not to win Divine approval, but so that my prayers can be answered, and one of my fondest wishes granted. My Father, perhaps, wants to give me my best (I have more than one... lol) hearts desire.
In the space of a few days, I have stumbled across many mentions of denying the flesh to feed the spirit

Now I think, like ms. Rachel, I need to drop back and punt, though not as extremely as she has, and probably keep my Internet tomfoolery down to weekends or something. The Blogging, and Flickr, have captured me. I need to get control of my self.
I think God told me to.
(And that money I save on cable... I spend it on Marlboros)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


hmmmm, originally uploaded by use2blost.

I photoshopped this one, just barely. Adjusted the saturation on the bird herself, only (I guess she's female. Aren't the males the colorful ones?... strange.). I didn't touch the sharpness, I've never been happy with the results when I do that. Even though she's a little blurry, I've posted her because she is in a TREE, not sucking juice out of a FEEDER. Kinda like the difference between hunting with a bow versus hunting with a gun... We know who is the more accomplished huntsman :D . I have seen pictures of hummers tamed to the point of being hand fed, which I'll not post, because they make me jealous. But the hummers in MY backyard don't play that... to get close enough for this shot, and to raise up the ol' finepix S8100fd without spooking her made me feel quite the wildlife photographer... ala Ilia Shalamaev (I wish!)

She Looks a Lot Better On An Uncluttered Black Background!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I emailed the dead yesterday.

Running Out of Daylight., originally uploaded by use2blost.

Is that morbid? If you send an undeliverable message, at least on Yahoo!, you will get a reply from the "Mailer Daemon". I half-expected that to happen, but evidently the account is still taking incoming mail. I missed my Dad so much, and needed so badly to talk to him about the emotional and logistical cataracts and white water that my life has become. It was pretty raw,  I wanted to engage and at some point, in my mind's eye the intended recipient grew blurry, and it was unclear if I was writing an FYI/lamentation to my deceased father, or a prayer of supplication to my Father In Heaven.  it did me a lot of good, get get some things out onto paper, if only the virtual kind. I cannot over-endorse the benefits of writing down thoughts for the severely attention deficit. Hopefully, Dad's widow, Rosemary doesn't check the account, or she may feel the need to send the Men in White Coats, but I figure the probability of that is low. CyberSpace has never had any attraction for her.
Tropical Depression Fay has cramped my style, though I'm not really complaining... much. I need money, and since taking on school full-time (math test tomorrow morning! :D) returning phone calls, giving bids, sleeping, etc. has been hard, and for the last two weeks, the only option I have had work-wise has been an exterior paint job. The class Saturday, from 8:30 to 2:00 leaves me two days a week to work, and they were both rained out. Now, I know I don't live in Florida, like my friend Melissa Drewry, And the bad timing couldn't have come at a better time, I was evidently (considering my E-seance) overdue for a little mental R&R. I even went to church (didja hear that, Chris Taylor?)!
Ol' Joe Has been working through a series on spiritual disciplines, and truly nailed me. This weeks message was on varieties of prayer, and the disciplines of self-denial: fasting, solitude, and such. The "podcast"  is worth checking out. Over the last few years, God has occasionally knocked indiscreetly on my forehead about this very issue. For some time he has patiently and repeatedly brought to my attention that consistent chunks of unstructured time, in silence, solitude and study are the next step for me. I tend to do enough along these lines that I can hold my own in an argument with my conscience but not enough for significantly deeper intimacy with God. Naturally enough, God hasn't been fooled, and I can no longer fool myself.
My! this post has gotten long, and the torrential downpour sounds awfully soothing.
Good night.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Jenny, originally uploaded by use2blost.

Jenny is my good friend Ryan's wife (Gotta get a pic of Ryan, I don't have any) .I have really plugged my blog, in hopes that Jenny will drop by. She is so creative, I am hoping this humble little thing will inspire her to join the blogging community. She's got a helluva story. Anyway, I blogged her picture hoping it would be a pleasant surprise if she shows up :D

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Magic Donkey finds this interesting....

photo archive9-23-06 1926cropped

said donkey is a computer algorithm that ranks every photo uploaded to Flickr . Naturally, the specifics are a closely guarded secret. Flickrphiles speculate as to what makes the Magic Donkey neigh. amount of traffic to a photo is surely a factor, but other than that, none of the general public seems to know, which keeps it honest. The algorithm determines interestingness, and seems to work really well. 500 pictures a day are put up on explore and they are for the most part, interesting, really. Check it out. The explore page will give you a fresh picture every time you reload, as well as a few other browsing options.
Sadly, I have never had an explored photo. The lady above is rated by the Magic Donkey as my most interesting...#1. I don't even know her name. This is my #4 photo

japanese beetle Go figure. 
Anyhow, my own theory, is that a high volume of traffic traffic from unlogged visitors/non-members, goes a long way to upgrading interestingness (hint, hint)


I may have bitten off more than I can chew ( I hope not.) My fourth class is "how to study for idiots 101" it's only 2 credit hours, crammed into 4 Saturdays from 8:30 to 1:30. It is a prerequisite for any student whose placement test lands him in a remedial subject. Now, since I already had to give up one of my precious slots to math 99 I was reluctant to take Idiots 101 and only have one class left to work toward my degree (I am FORTY-ONE. Times-a-wastin'). So, over twenty years after being asked to leave high school - early, by the way, I have taken a fourth class. I am overwhelmed. The pitiful excuse I have for a daily routine needs to be tightened up drastically, and fine tuned. I must somehow make it through the next eight weeks, I have too much invested, and need a sucess or two under my belt. 
I notice, at times like these, I begin to evaluate my past, and feel a twinge of disquiet. I fear my God, though I try to walk through life secure in the knowledge that my God is fond of me, that awareness spends more time in my head than in my heart. 
Simply put, I get nervous when I find myself in a mess of my own making, thinking that my performance of late, has not scored enough brownie points upstairs to rate a little extra help. Is this superstitious nonsense? Conviction? I am blessed to know many men older and/or wiser than myself. They answer both ways, and I am left to wrestle, on my own. We use the phrase "Personal Relationship". What other relationship can you have with the invisible? I come across the terms "emergent church" (huh?) and "seeker" .  My understanding of these is based strictly on context, and vague, since the higher minds seem to disagree as to the definitions. If the promise of Proverbs 8:17 is to be taken seriously, shouldn't we all be seekers?
Good night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blogging from class

My biology professor is a hoot... this is our 4th class and we have yet to be given a syllabus. He has lectured on sailing, given a brief review of the movie "wind", and today, we watched an interview with Dr. Christian Du Duve, a Nobel Lauriate who won (with 2 others) the prize in medicine in1974. as I write this now, he is discoursing on harpsichord music and Handel's Messiah
he said we won't be tested on any of this...


2008 08 18_3042, originally uploaded by use2blost.

There is a huge (flock?) of geese that hang out at the campus pond. I got out of math about an hour early, yesterday, and strolled around waiting to go to my CIS class, and took a few pictures.

Riddle: Often, when you look up and see a "V" of migrating birds in the sky, one arm of the "V" is slightly longer than the other. Why is this?


Ya Really Gotta View It On A Black Background, Here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I no longer believe that Satan's every action is taken with Divine permission. Satan may quite possibly be a free agent, acting on his own agenda beneath Divine soveriegnity, like most of us humans. The Idea that Satan does only what is permitted comes from passages in Job1;12, and Job2:6 where the God sets boundaries for the Satanic Torment of Job, and in Luke 22;31 where Jesus Informs Peter that Satan has asked for the right to "sift" him. Now, the Job thing looks to us, like a very civil discussion/debate. A wager. ("Job holds you in reverence and respect, but only because you take care of him. I'll bet if you let me kick his ass for a while, he will become bitter enough toward you to lose his temper") now the content here is so interesting, perhaps the greatest challenge is not to get off the subject, but anytime two parties with differing opinions agree to an experiment to see who is right, it is common to lay out some boundaries.

Mother says to Dad, "I'll bet junior will eat up the Haagen Daz Macadamia Brittle you have been hoarding within 2 days if you move it from the garage freezer and put in in the kitchen, next to the Mayfield vanilla.

Dad replies " You're on! but you must not remove the Mayfield nor withhold meals from junior."

What we see here is agreement on boundaries, not Mother being incapable of moving ice cream. To be sure, the average dad has the physical power to prevent mom from moving the Mayfield, but saying that is not the same thing as saying Mom takes no action without permission.

I am thinking that Satan has at least as much autonomy as we do. Choice is a prerequisite for evil, as well as love.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Satanic Autonomy

I was told early in my Christian Walk( I've always thought that term was cheesy, wish we would get a new one.), that Satan did only what he was permitted to. A baptist pastor told me this, and I was reminded of it last Tuesday.

My Current Pastor has been showing up bi-monthly for a Q&A, though, to be sure very few questions are answered (we just get more and better ones!), However, He actually did allow me to pin him down- (He was possibly thrown off balance by my lightning-fast change of subject.) When I asked him if he believed in Satanic Autonomy. He answered No. This is not a rare stance, and I one that I held myself until recently... I don't know if he has taken that opinion out of his doctrinal library and placed it on the table for reexamination or not, but I certainly have.

I think constantly. Most of us do. Occaisionally, when reading, or just being aware of the stream of conciousness flowing through my brain, a thought/concept kinda "jumps" up a little... pops into bas-relief and I will either give it closer consideration or slam my open mind shut in discomfort. (There's a post there, I think.), But I think that these instances, and any thought, for that matter, have three possibly origins: Divine, Demonic, Or ME.

Anyway to get off the rabbit trail, I jumped to this common conclusion as well, after reading the Bible. The Passage in Job where Satan is told what he can do to ruin Job's life, a " you can go this far, but no farther" sort of thing is perhaps the most noted scriptural instance where a first read would let a man think that Satan is a puppet... another little blurb is when Simon Peter has blustered about how tight he is with Jesus, but the Light of the World responds by informing Rocky, that the shallowness of his loyalty will be exposed before the rooster crows. I think this is in Luke. Just prior to this, Jesus tells Peter that Satan asked to sift him "like wheat".

To me, this is deep stuff. I ponder this from the intellectual shallows of my 9th grade education, and I wonder if this/these passage are sufficient to support the doctrine of Satanic Dis-Autonomy (is that a word?). I don't think so. For reasons I will detail in my next post, I will explain why I no longer believe this is Chiseled in Stone, and that Satan may quite possibly be a free agent, acting on his own agenda. :D

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I have made it through

The first week of school, A little behind on my reading, but I feel, prepared for my first test monday. I have have some feelings of trepidation, over finance, and time management, the pressure of juggling a couple of days a week of work, my studies, the obligations of my guardianship over my invalid aunt, and relationships: romance with Debbie, building bridges with my family, and establishing/maintaining intimacy with members of my small group, and church community. I  believe relationships are the most important thing, and that we most closely resemble the image of the Living God when we interact in loving community, and that our power to do good is multiplied exponentially when we cooperate, The whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The question is, how to do the next right thing? Is it a question of seasons, and should some things simply be sacrificed, or curtailed for the next four years? These are hard decisions. And what of my love of photography, and my need to escape to the mountains, to recharge, and reach the quiet, lonely places to better hear the voice of my Father in Heaven?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 7

Day 7, originally uploaded by use2blost.
Aunt Judy - I have become her guardian since Dad died, and it frankly scares the hell out of me. I score pretty good brownie points with a peanut butter milkshake, and I have never been photographed in a wheelchair :D 
Day 7, the title refers to a flickr project - 365 days of a self portrait every day for a year. I think I made it to Day 8 before Dropping the Ball

Monday, August 11, 2008


after jumping through many hoops, I am once again enrolled in an accredited institution in the university system of the Great state of Georgia! I am hungry for a little blog action, and a night of browsing, lurking, and commenting would be wonderful, but my studies call, and its getting late. :D

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Jesus tell us in the gospels

that to divorce is a bad thing... in one paraphrase, however, he specifies an exception for an unfaithful spouse. This gets complicated, the verses are many, the applicable contexts that must be considered, are convoluted, and the modern denominational prejudice against divorcees, especially here in the south-  do nothing to promote clear thinking. I have a dear friend, respected and wise, who was probably a virgin on her wedding night (the lady is a proper christian widow approaching 80... I am not going to ask her to confirm this) Who expressed concern at where Debbie, my  girlfriend had spent the weekend. The conversation left me feeling embarrassed,  defensive, and uncomfortable, as well as mildly aggravated with gossip, though in this particular instance, gossip was not the source of my friend's information. My point, Is that it seems kinda silly, sometimes to be overly concerned with a biblical view on sexual purity, if your take is that, according to Jesus, all post-divorce sex is adultery. There is just not a little voice in my head saying "Don't have sex... keep the biblical boundaries of sexual purity" Unfortunately, I need some kind of hope other than a life of sexual abstinence until death (you can make a scriptural argument that this is God's Will for the divorcee, at least the baptists can, as well as Andy Stanley, one of my favorite communicators.) to motivate me. I really need to take some time and delve into this. Looking at my past, and the reality around me, I realize the enormous power God chose place in human sex. The Fire... it's ability for nurture or destruction is something I have a healthy respect for. I cannot find the willingness to seriously contemplate a lifetime without warmth, and if I shall be disobedient,  Why not now, after I have lost hope of Sex with Gods approval, than later, after having committed to remarriage against his will, though with the approval of the judgemental ?
"Faith may be described as an attitude of trust adopted in the face of our ignorance of God."- Jeremy Young.

Monday, August 4, 2008

2008 08 04_2790 the unknown bug

this little guy just showed up and posed 1st thing this mornin' I would love to know what it is... I don't think he's a dragonfly.

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