!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> rachman-unprecedented: September 2006


So what is this going to be? A little bit of everything I think. Maybe that's it. What I'm thinking. What I'm believing. I hope what I'm knowing. And why would anyone care what I think I know? There's no reason in the world that you should. But then why are you here? Cuz you have to be somewhere I suppose. I've never been here before. I may not be back. I might get too busy to care; time is short. That's fine. Nobody can deal with it all at once. There is a lot to deal with.

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Location: The Great Plains, United States

I try not to take myself too seriously, but I know I have far too much. So I'm trying to learn how to laugh again, as I had forgotted for a while there. Also I'm relearning to enjoy life; you know, like when we were kids. The biggest challenge ahead is learning how to love God with all my heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. This one is not really that hard when you know the truth. But along with it comes learning to love others as I love myself, and that one is, as they say, "a horse of a whole different color." I think I need to learn to love myself a little more, but the problem may be that I know all these facts about me. Sometimes the facts are simply wrong or they are just stuck in the past. I'm trying to get my facts to line up with the truth. As someone once asked a great man, "what is truth?" If he had only known.

rachman's weblog

Friday, September 29, 2006

Praise God, It's Friday!

My destiny is just beyond my sight;

It bursts forth from the background as I speak.

It calls me from outside my vantage, thus

I must keep moving forward and reach it.

I dare not sit back and fold my arms, for

I now have to advance onward or die.

~ photo by Dave, thoughts by rachman

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Who Romances Whom?

In Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz, there is an excellent little chapter on grace. (If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it. It's a quick read and great fun to boot.) In the book he compares some of the concepts from the Bible to stories we have probably read (or at least we saw the movie.) Mr. Miller compares our "dream" of Christ's love for His bride, that's all of us in the church, as reading like Romeo and Juliet. Two equals in a passionate embrace. And in fact that's what Song of Solomon in the Bible is all about. Christ romancing us as it were, and we just take it all in like a blushing bride.

Mr. Miller feels that the reality of our relationship, at least in the beginning, is a little more like Lucentio's pursuit of Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew. Remember the groom (Christ) goes about endearing the belligerent and shrewish bride (all of us who are trying to be "holy" on our own) with kindness, patience, and love while the bride does not so readily accept his advances. It's much as Romans 2:4 (CEV) says, "You surely don't think much of God's wonderful goodness or of his patience and willingness to put up with you. Don't you know that the reason God is good to you is because he wants you to turn to him?" God's willingness to put up with us is part of what His grace is all about.

When we accept God's love for us, we are accepting that Grace, and accepting the fact that we can't change ourselves and we can't make it on our own. We have to stop thinking that we can make ourselves right in God's eyes. We have to let God's love do the work. We have to accept that love and when we do, we begin to fall in love with God. When we fall in love, then we start wanting to romance Him. Which is what God wants. After all the bridegroom likes to be romanced as well.

~ star crossed lovers , and rachman

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Catch Me if You Can

Matthew 28:19 (NLT) says, "Therefore, go (and make disciples of all the nations...)" This is called the great commission and was the last command given to us, in the book of Matthew by Jesus, or God, the Son. In other words, Just before Jesus left this planet, His instructions to us were these: "Go forward," or "Get busy." Too many of us come into a relationship with God and then sit down in the church and never do another thing.

This is not meant to put condemnation on anyone. No, really! We all have to grow and find out what God is calling us to do. The twelve disciples had been training for three years and then Jesus told them to not do anything, but wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit got there (Luke 24:49). But once He got there the church grew from one hundred and twenty souls to three thousand in one day. The Holy Spirit is here now; quit waiting around.

Followers of Christ, myself included, must learn to start moving forward and not continue to "wait on the Lord." As a side note: waiting on the Lord means to serve, as in wait tables, etc. Not sitting back with our arms folded, thinking, "when is God going to do something." God works with those who are moving forward, not sitting still. I'm still learning this one "my own self."

Ephesians 5:1 (NLT) says, "Follow God's example in everything you do, because you are his dear children." God wants us to follow him, both literally and figuratively. It is like a parent and child. A father wants a son to follow in his footsteps. God wants us to follow in His. He moved first: He died on a cross and rose from the grave for us. Now we have to move: we accept Him as savior and receive His salvation. He continues to move and waits for us to make the next move through out our lives. This is one of the ways He leads us. (Notice that God doesn't push us; He leads and draws us. Like a lover. God can be all things to us. A lover? Yes. A father? Yes. What do you need? )

God wants us to work with Him and participate in the things He is doing in the world. This was the original plan from the beginning. "To walk in the garden with us in cool of the day" and discuss the things every parent and child or every loving couple discusses in the evenings. "What did we do today," and "what will we do tomorrow" and isn't it good just to be together. We have missed out on a lot.

How could anyone keep up with God? It's true that He is always ahead of us, but He is always waiting for us to take the next step. To get a little closer. He plays the original game of "Catch me if you can!" He wants us to try. I don't think He will ever let us completely catch up, but image how far we will go if we try. God has let it happen at least once before. Look at Enoch.

Hebrews 11:5 (NLT) say, "It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying--'suddenly he disappeared because God took him.' But before he was taken up, he was approved as pleasing to God." God took Enoch to heaven without Enoch having to die because he was pleasing to God. Wow, that's what I would call catching up to God.

~ rachman

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Marriage of True Minds

I was going through some things on my computer this morning and came across this bit of poetry. I know that many people have lost, or usually have never found, the love of poetry; so perhaps that is why I wanted to post it. There is not a lot of poetry that I love, but the reason is because it takes time to appreciate poetry and I don't often take the time. This piece is one of the few for which I have taken the time. And the reason this one received special attention is probably because it was once whispered to me in the dark of a summer's night. It seems like yesterday; it seems like a hundred years ago. (Sigh!) Sweet memories! I may do this more often.

Shakespeare's CXVI (116) Sonnet:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

~ rachman

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thankful Thursday!

Thankful Thursday: I got this phrase from a blog I visited recently. Now I can’t remember who it is or was. One of those I came across after linking on someone’s profile after checking out someone’s comment on someone’s blog that I had come across after following up a link on some else’s blog or something like that. (And I wonder why I can’t get anything done around here.) Anyway if I’m stealing someone’s idea, well, I’m sorry. Just let me know and I will have a Tremendous Tuesday next time:

* I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, and it is paid for till the end of the month.
* I’m thankful that it has not been as hot as it was a month ago, and that it is not getting cold yet.
* I’m thankful that I have a car to get me to and from, both work and church, and I’m thankful that a better car is in my future.
* I’m thankful for beans cooking in the crock-pot in the kitchen, and for the steak later on this year.
* I’m thankful that my health is good and that it will get even better as I can afford better food choices.
* I’m thankful for the clothes on my back, and for the new clothes, which will fit my trimmer physique.
* I’m thankful that I have lost (most) of the extra weight I was carrying around with me.
* I’m thankful for the job that I have which is giving me a vacation this week and pays (most) of the bills.
* I’m thankful for the job that is just ahead. Don’t know what it is yet, but I’m looking while on vacation. (Okay, I took a break today!)
* I’m thankful for this top-of-the-line computer (well, it was eight years ago), and I’m thankful for the top-of-the-line computer in my future.

There is more to be thankful for I’m sure, but perhaps another time. A side note or two: If you see my sister in Shenzhen, China, tell her, "Happy Birthday," for me on the 23rd.

Also September 24th through October 23rd is the Muslim celebration of Ramadan. I know that militant Muslims grab world headlines these days, but my friend Mohamed Fadly, a young fellow from Egypt, reminded me that not all Muslims are the same. No more than all Catholics or all Mennonites or all Baptists or all Pentecostals or all anyone else, are all the same. The point is Ramadan is a time when Muslims are especially open to spiritual things and want to hear from God. If Christians would pray for their Muslim co-worker or their Muslim neighbor, as well as for the Muslims around the world, then many Muslims would receive dreams, visions, and revelations of the one true God. Think about it. How about loving our enemies for a change; then God could do a work for eternity in all our lives.

~ rachman


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Positive Confessions

"Sometimes it seems like I'm paying for the mistakes I made in the past. Maybe that's why I am having such a hard time of it." I have been thinking that and it has been affecting my ability to make a living this last year or so. I've felt trapped in a dead end job and thought that there was nothing I could do about it.

I was reminded today through my little devotional that I read in the mornings, about this verse: Isaiah 43:25 (NLT) "I--yes, I alone (God, alone)--am the one who blots out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again."

God said He blotted out my sins, and He didn't even do it for my sake. He did it for His own sake. Wow! God loves us so much that He provided a way out of our sins. Why? So He would not have to suffer by seeing His creation in hell! And how did He keep Himself from suffering. By going to hell for us. He didn't "sweep the sins under the rug," but He paid for them Himself.

Of course as a Christian, I knew this, but I had forgotten that this means the mistakes I've made even after becoming a Christian. 1 John 1:9 (NLT) says, "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong." I know this verse and have been following it, but I was forgetting that being cleansed from every wrong, meant I no longer have to suffer the penalty. I don't go to hell later and I don't have to have such a hard time of it now. God will never think of my sins again. Then why am I thinking of my sins all the time. Because I am listening to the voice of the enemy instead of the Spirit of God.

If you have confessed your sins to God (repentance) and confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior (salvation,) then confess God's word inorder to silence the voice of the enemy (learning to walk in the spirit or the ways of God).

Confession: When I repented, my Father God in Heaven blotted out my sins. He doesn't remember them, so I don't remember them either and I no longer bring them up.

~ thoughts from a morning devotional

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Facts vs. Truth

Facts are what we see in the world; truth is what the word of God says. Some people believe that the two words, "fact" and "truth," mean the same thing; but in reality they can be as different as the mountain and the reflection. (Perhaps an even better example, by my way of thinking at least, is to be as different as the "picture" is from Dorian Gray.)

For example if one turns to Jesus as her Lord and Savior, then the Word of God says she is a child of God, though to the world she may still look like the "street walker" she once was. If yet another one has turned from his sin and made Jesus his Lord, then the Word of God says he is a new creation, though to the world he may still look like the emaciated "crackhead" he once was.

You see this is truth: when we turn from sin and turn to God, then the spiritual change is instant and accomplished by God for us. But these are the facts: even after turning from sin and turning to God, the physical and psychological transformation will probably not be as easy or instant, but they will be possible.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." ~ Matthew 19:26 (NLT)



~ rachman


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Best of Life is the Rest of Life!

This picture came from the blog called PostSecret. If you haven't checked it out yet, it's time you did. I don't necessarily like all the cards or secrets I see, but I guess that's the point. Each one represents one person's secret feelings, emotions, actions, desires, or whatever. I don't know what is so secretive about the one above, but I identified with it immediately. A lot of people probably do. As I stated when I started blogging, time is short.

Today was my birthday and it went pretty well, but now at the end of it, I'm reminded that I haven't done everything I need to do in this life. This can be problematic for many people, I'm sure, but then I'm only responsible for what I've done, or not.

I'm not really feeling bad about the situation, as someone always likes to say on the birthday card from the coworkers, having a birthday is better than the alternative. (At least in the natural.) I know that to be absent from this world would be the best thing that could happen to me. But I wonder, no, make that, I know that I haven't done all that I need to do in this life. But time is short. Biblically speaking I should have another 70 years, but I can't help but think that by the "signs of the times" I, or we, only have a few years left. Okay, maybe a decade or two. I need to do some thinking, and some praying, but mostly I need to do some "doing." So I guess I had better get busy. "The best of your life is the rest of your life."
~ rachman

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

That first summer after moving back in with Mother was pretty rough for a lot of reasons. For one thing, I was used to living by myself by now and I had become pretty carefree. Before becoming a Christian I had been a little too carefree, but that was a thing of the past. Still I was free to come and go as I liked and keep the hours I liked. Be as loud as I liked or as quiet (read that as moody.) As well as be as lazy or messy as I liked, though I really wasn't a particularly messy person.

On another level I was used to central air in my apartment; Mother's house had two window units and this was Texas in July. I know it could be worse (I grew up in that house, so I dealt with it once), but it only takes a few summers with central air to convince you not to go back. The third, but by no means final, obstacle I remember dealing with, was the boxes. There were boxes everywhere. I had just condensed two households into one. True I was a single man, but I had already collected most of the basic furniture and accoutrements we latch onto. I worked in a clothing store so there was plenty of that. And the books. Oh my, there were books. I love books, so there were lots of books. My books were my children and God had blessed my quiver.

On top of the fact that I had pretty well pampered myself for the last several years, I still had to get used to the little oddities that Mother had developed since living alone. I slowly began to realized how much Mother had come through over the last few years since Daddy had passed on.

When my father died, I knew that Mother was going through a bit of a trial, but I had not known how much of one. Mother came from a good southern family of 13 children, when she married Daddy and very promptly had her first of three children. Daddy was from a smaller clan of only 9 children, but with a never ending line of nieces and nephews and cousins to help raise, Mother was never really lonely, or at least not alone, I suspect. I had been the only kid at home since about the age of eight. After getting out on my own and learning to live as such, I had somewhat come to terms with the idea of being alone and the occasional feelings of loneliness. If I ever really felt it, I just got out of the house. It didn't always have to be with other people. Sometimes just long walks in the outdoors was all I needed. And of course when I became a Christian I spent time with God, and there were times when that couldn't be beat.

Ah, there I go talking about myself again. Back to mom. After a lifetime of family, she had never really been alone until she was widowed after years of marriage. Going through books of hers, later on, which dealt with depression, I realized how rough it must have been on her. Like any grieving widow I suppose, but I had never known it. She had always been good ole' strong Mom. I even admit now that I, being a selfish bastard, had not had much pity for her. I remember thinking, "Well, Mother, at least you had love once; I have always been alone. Get used to it." I do feel pretty heartless now, but everyone's hell is different.

Aside from being the grieving widow, being older and alone, she had become quite fearful. Again it was only after moving back that I saw this. When I first broached the subject of moving back in with her, I thought that she would object; but instead she seemed to brighten at the prospect. Once I was there and was trying to settle in over the next few months, I saw some of the reasons she relished the idea of not being by herself anymore. She had always been conscious of locking doors and windows, but now she would even prop chairs up against doors, like you see in the movies, and she would not open the windows for fear of intruders. This was in the heat of summer, remember. Her house was an old one, by our standards out here in the heartland, that still used a skeleton key for some of the locks. I also admit that this was an older part of town very close to some areas where even I would hesitate to walk alone at night. It took awhile, but I convinced her that she was not alone, she was safe; and to be sure, I had the old doors and locks replaced. I think she gradually began to feel less fearful.
other thoughts another time ~ rachman

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Five Characteristics Needed for the Days Ahead!

Courage~~~~ the days may be frightening to some.

Wisdom~~~~ the days may leave some wondering which way to go.

Strength~~~~~ the days may take all that some have to endure.

Kindness~~~~the days may cause some to see only cruelty.

Compassion~~ the days may fill some with confusion and bewilderment.

~ lessons learnt after Hurricane Katrina

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hope, Are You There?

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.~Romans 5:5 (NIV)

Hope springs eternal, or so "they" say. Most people know that it can be lost, hope can be lost, that is, at least momentarily if not longer. For me, "momentarily" lasted about six and a half years or...oh, let's say seven years. (My goodness, that's Biblical.) It started when I noticed my, somewhat elderly Mother, who had been widowed and had now lived alone for the last eight years, was having a hard time getting certain things done. Paying bills and balancing her check book for example. It was not the lack of money, though she was not wealthy; it was just the mechanics of reconciling the figures and so forth. I knew I needed to start helping her take care of some of her affairs, but I didn't know how she would take this. She and Daddy had always been reluctant, as I think most people of her generation are, to share their financial matters with anyone, including us kids. However, she seemed more than ready to let me take over in these matters. I had just recently started driving her every where she needed to go. (I was thankful that the usual list of weekly errands consisted of only three places: sunday church, the grocery store, and the hair appointment.) To get her to stop driving herself, because of her failing eye sight, I had said that I needed to borrow her car, while mine was out of commission, and that I would take her to do her errands in the mean time. (While my car was getting a little old, it was still running; but I justified the lie because I was a coward about confronting her with the problem.) In addition to the bill paying and so forth, her memory seemed to be going a bit. For example she worked in the church nursery, with the three-year old's Sunday School class, and had done so for forty years. She finally gave it up because she said she just couldn't remember the names of those little faces anymore.
One saturday night I came home from work and there was a message on my machine from a neighbor of Mother's. It basically said that I needed to come check on my mom. The neighbor sounded a little distraught, but didn't explain anything on the answer machine. So I changed clothes and made the short five-mile drive to see what was up. When Mother answered the door, I was shocked. My usually cool and collected mom was agitated, incoherent, and had "wild" looking eyes. She had grass in her hair and on her clothes. It was hard to figure out what she was telling me or what had gone on. (It's hard now to remember what I did learn or how I got the information. I was told later that I should write everything down, but at the time I didn't feel that I had the emotional energy to do so. For me at least, "acting" on something and writing about it, don't really go together. It is one or the other.) I know I called the neighbor from across the street to get what information I could from her and pieced it together with what Mother could tell me. Basically Mother must have fallen in the backyard, though we don't know why, and called out for help. When help did come, they helped her up, but she refused to go to the hospital in the ambulance. Some people will wonder at that, but they will just have to understand Mother. She's always been very strong, very independent, very private, and I guess you would have to say very stubborn. Going to doctors was not something she did willingly. Since she could walk, they got her inside her house, (they had to get the door off the hinges to do it,) and then the neighbors called me. After I finally got her to some medical care, the doctors didn't believe that a stroke or a heart attack had caused the fall. She doesn't have thinning bones and nothing was broken. She did hit her head in the fall, but all the tests showed no problems there. She must have just stumbled on the uneven brick pavement leading from the house, but how long she was outside after the fall, or how long she had called out, we don't know.
I have grown up watching different members of my family taking care of the older family members. My great-grandmother was 99 years old when she died at home (actually the home of her son and daughter-in-law.) My grandmother died at home, where she had been cared for by my aunt. My grandfather and my other two grandparents (maternal side) all died in the hospital, but had been watched over by various aunts and uncles and by my own parents as well. Mother had encouraged her parents to move into the house across the street from where we lived, in order to watch over them there. I remember some of the anxieties that Mother went through caring for her parents. So now it seems only natural and "right" that I care for Mother at home. (I have two sisters, but one is living overseas and the other one is 600 miles away.) It did take me a little while to decide the proper course of action. When I asked God what I needed to do, I got nothing. To my knowledge God never did tell me to go live with Mother and watch over her, but He never told me not to. I think we get some of our guidance from what God doesn't say as well as what He does say. I do know that Jesus made arrangements for His mother before He left this earth, so I knew I had to take some kind of action. But what? The thought of moving back home to my mother's house repulsed me. I'm single and now I'm going home to mom. What a loser! But if I take her into my house, as opposed to going "home" to her house, well that seems okay. My ego could handle that. I start checking into real estate for what we will need. Now I'm not completely unaware of what I'm thinking about doing, as I used to sell real estate. I'm thinking we just need a place with two bedrooms and two baths basically, but I'm not financially able to do it. I start asking God again what I need to do. I tell Him what my needs are. A house with two baths and two bedrooms, no stairs. (My apartment is on the second floor and Mother can't do stairs.) And of course it has to be something that I can afford. Now God speaks to me. He tells me that I already have those things in the house where Mother still lives and I grew up. So I swallow my pride, put some things in storage, and move back home with my mom.
More thoughts later on...
~ rachman

Friday, September 01, 2006

Who's In Charge Here?

George Carlin used to tell a joke about being a kid and asking his priest this question: If God can do anything, then can God make a rock so big and heavy that even God can't lift it? This is the kind of question that a lot of people may wonder about, even if they don't ask it. It's the less painful version of one of the following questions: If God is all powerful then why does He let people (more specifically, me or those I love) experience so much pain, suffering, and loss? If God is all powerful then why do so many children die from hunger or contaminated water supplies? If God is all powerful then why does He allow so much death and destruction at the hands of terrorists or the so called "acts of God," such as tsunamis and hurricanes? This issue was touched on in the previous post entitled, "Is God Limited?" Just a quick answer to these questions. God is not in charge here!

Okay, maybe I should explain that statement a bit. Hebrews 6:18 (NLT) tells us, "...God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore...we can hold on to his promise with confidence." What I want to bring out is the fact that we can depend on God's word as being the truth. He can not lie. Once God says something, there is no going back. So God cannot do anything that He said He would not do. Genesis 1:26 (NLT) says, "Then God said, 'Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life...'" God put us in charge. What? Yes, reread that verse. We were put in charge. God is not responsible for the tragedy in this life.

(For you English majors out there, I don't use the word "tragedy" lightly.) The definition of "tragedy" is, "a literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances." That is exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden. (Hang on and I will try to explain, because whether we take this story as allegory or fact, it doesn't change a thing.) Adam, or the main character of our story is brought to ruin and suffers extreme sorrow, as a consequence of his tragic flaw, his moral weakness, or more specifically, his inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances. If you don't know the story, very simply an enemy came to Adam and twisted the words of God. Adam chose to listen to the words of a stranger and thereby committed high treason. Adam had authority over the stranger, it was Adam's garden remember; but instead he put his trust in the stranger, making the stranger his god. Adam gave up what authority he had and became the slave of the enemy. God was not in charge of this world and now neither were we. That authority was given up to the enemy. We suffer because of it. Now we still live in a beautiful world which God created, but in the hands of the enemy it is coming apart around us. John 10:10 (NLT) says, "The thief's (or enemy's) purpose is to steal and kill and destroy." The enemy has used us to kill others and ourselves and to gradually destroy our own world, because of our inability to cope with the unfavorable circumstances that have come upon us.

If we stop there, as most people do in practice, then we are indeed without hope. We might as well live as the animals around us. "Eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we die." However (thank, God, for those conjunctions), while we may be a slave to someone or something, we still do have free choice.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!"

God wants us to choose life, He wants us to really live, but He will not force it upon us. If He once said that we could choose, then He will not take that choice away. We once chose the enemy and we can now choose God today. No one can stop us from coming to God if we choose to come. God will not force us to choose Him, but neither can the enemy stop us from making that choice. We are still the masters of our own choices and decisions. We make the decisions even if the decision may hurt us. Yes, God cares that we are hurting. That is why He gave us the Word of God. To teach us to choose life and not death. However God will not interfere with our life if we don't want Him there. He can't move in our life unless we let Him. He wants to come into our life and teach us how to live, but it's up to us to say, "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"

~ rachman