31 July 2015

Home to House – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

So today begins the change.  My house no longer feels as all like a home.  I am moving from my home of the last decade to a smaller place.  Almost everything is packed and I had to run out to get coffee (I do not always think ahead).  It has been difficult to turn this home back into a house.  There have been some beautiful times here with family and friends.

There have been some bitter times as well.  This move is not one I would of chosen but God knows what he is doing.   For the first time in twenty years I will be living alone.  This is not something I would ever choose.  It is not something at which I excel. 

As I make this transition I will be looking for Christ and joy in the journey.  I see so many things that look desolate as I look down the road but that does not mean that it is.  Even the wilderness has life and beauty in it if we search for it.

I will try not to miss a day in the posting of my journey.  Changes in connectivity may prove an issue.  I promise to keep you in mind Dear Reader as I tote, carry, and transition.  Walk with me if you well and let me know what you see along the way.  The Lord knows I could use the company and encouragement. 

In the Wilderness – Michael Card

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
To the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

In the wilderness we wander
In the wilderness we weep
In the wasteland of our wanting
Where the darkness seems so deep

We search for the beginning
For an exodus to hold
We find that those who follow Him
Must often walk alone

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
To the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

In the wilderness we're wondering
For a way to understand
In the wilderness there's not a way
For the ways become a man

And the man's become the exodus
The way to holy ground
Wandering in the wilderness
Is the best way to be found

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
In the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

Groaning and growing
Amidst the desert days
The windy winter wilderness
Can blow the self away

In the wilderness
In the wilderness
He calls His sons and daughters
To the wilderness

But He gives grace sufficient
To survive any test
And that's the painful purpose
Of the wilderness

And that's the painful promise
Of the wilderness

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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30 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – Closing Thoughts



Greetings Dear Reader,

Christ followers often test as paranoid on most large psychology tests.  We believe we have an unseen enemy.  We believe an invisible force is controlling things.  We believe we are always being watched. 

All these things are true.  We need to treat the beings we see well for the sake of doing that.  We also need to do it because there is a vast sea of others watching us.  God gave his best for us to have life.  He let his Son die.  The rest of sentient creation watches to see what we do with this. 

What this leaves me with is yet another reason to be kind to others.  It leaves me with another purpose to obey the commands to love God and love my fellow humans.  It keeps coming back to this.  If I am to love God properly I have to love all humans including strangers.

I have to remember that all this is for God’s purposes.  He is unfolding his universe in the way he wishes.  I get to play a part but it is the part I am assigned.  He even lets me have the choice on how I play it.  I have control only over my choices.  It is the choice to love others unconditionally that gets me into the right place. 

“Be careful how you treat strangers.  Some had entertained angels without knowing it.”  You see they long to look into why God would pay for the party with his dearest blood.  They count on us to help them understand.  After all even though it is not about us, God made about us by doing just that.


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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29 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – He Must Increase


 Greetings Dear Reader,

When John the cousin of Jesus compared his role to that of Jesus he made it clear.  He made it clear that he must decrease and that Jesus must increase.  Again the angels watch us to see which side of this we take.  We are required to put Jesus at the forefront. 

This does not mean in name only.  It means in action.  Everything thing we do that is good must be in effort to show Christ to others.  We do not feed the hungry just because they are hungry.  We feed them to increase awareness of Christ.   We do not care for the poor just because they are poor.  We care for them because it is Christ in us that is to care for them. 

It is reason of that there are people in need to meet those needs.  As a Christ follower I am to do so as my way of showing Christ to others.  It is Jesus is that it is about.  It Jesus who saves, nourishes, heals, and feeds.  It is in him that we live and move and have our being.

In light of that my actions are required to show Christ.  My actions are required to put him at the forefront.  I am to live out the Gospel in every act.  I must not use it for my own purposes.  I must not neglect it in any area of my life.  He must increase to the point where I am consumed.  It sounds obsessively radical but that is the way it works.  After all it is not about me.

Distressing Disguise – Michael Card

He is in the pain, He is in the need
He is in the poor, we are told to feed
Though He was rich, for us He became poor
How could He give so much, what was it for?

In His distressing disguise
He waits for us to surmise
That we rob our brothers by all that we own
And that's not the way He has shown

Every time a faithful servant serves
A brother that's in need
What happens at that moment is a miracle indeed
As they look to one another in an instant it is clear
Only Jesus is visible for they've both disappeared

He is in the hand that reaches out to give
He is in the touch that causes men to live
So speak with your life now as well as your tongue
Shelter the homeless, take care of the young

In His distressing disguise
He hopes that we'll realize
That when we take care of the poorest of them
We've really done it to Him

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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28 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – Control

Greetings Dear Reader,

We think we control our destiny.  We control our choices.  That in part leads to the unfolding of our destiny.  It is not, however, the focal point.  We focus on our rights, what we are owed, and what we want the world to look like. 

I have spent too much of my life trying to shape the world to be as I wished it.  When I stopped doing that living became much more enjoyable.  Beyond that I have realized how little I can control.   God has made is clear that everything is under his control.  It has become cliché to say it but he does have a plan.

As discussed over the last couple of days I am a single piece of the multidimensional chess game.  We all are.  The problem is that we all think we are the king or queen.  The billions of pieces are moved in harmony in a grand design.  The only purpose that we have been given for that design is to bring us back to good.

We think we are there but we are so far from it.  There are so many things that distort our view.  So many things we assume that we just do not know.   All the universe moves back toward what its Creator wishes it to become in his design.  This view is no longer popular but I still believe it. 

It may sound paranoid but others watch to see what I do with what I am given.  God already has the countermoves chosen to respond to my moves.  He wants me to choose good but has chosen moves to bring me to good no matter what I choose.  He promises to provide all we need to do what is right.

I must do what is right no matter how much it costs.  I must not try to control anything but my responses to the world.  Even the control of those must be given over to what God has asked of me.  I must predetermine that my responses are going to be loving and kind.  Sometimes this is so very difficult.  Then again if I obey all will unfold as it should because even though I am a valued part of the dance, it is not about me.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

27 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – Confusion of Categories

Greetings Dear Reader,

We are excellent at compartmentalization.  I have a friend who insists that his morals and values in his personal life have no bearing on his actions as work.  He claims that it is necessary to do his job to lie and cheat others.  He dismisses his actions and “just business”.  Please note that he is my friend.

It would be easy to compare my values and his and dismiss him.  That is not how it works.  It is, however, how we often operate.  We look at the failings of others and compare them to ours to feel better about our status with God.  Or we use them to show why our sin is not a bad as that of others.

The problem we create when we do this is simple.  We are judging by the wrong standards.  I do not get to compare my good to some other person’s bad.  That will only yield pride and condemnation.  I need to compare my standards to the immutable standards of God.  Only then will I truly see how much I need help.

I am not allowed to see my own good as a standard by which to measure others.  Neither am I allowed to see my sin as less condemning than the sin of others.   I spoke about abortion a few days ago and a beloved friend weighed in on the issue.  We disagree.  One of the things that I did not make clear is that I am not allowed to judge the individual who allows, commits, or agrees with abortion.

One of the places that Christ followers fail miserably is in separating condemnation of an act that is inherently evil with NOT condemning the individual that commits the act.  That is just not my place.  It is my place to provide alternatives to wrong by doing whatever it costs to do what is right.   What I must do is love and give.

It is the Father who will deal with his children not the siblings.  It is enough for me to work to follow in faith every day.  If we compare sin we exercise futility.  If I fail to love everyone I violate the great commands from God.  If I speak to anyone without love I am just creating noise that hinders the clear sweet call of Christ to everyone.

Christ followers need to shut up about social issues until they are willing to stop condemning people.  I must compare my sin to God’s standards.  Then and only then will I see clearly enough to know that I have no place to stand in condemning others.  If God loves me, with the strong coil I bear, then he loves everyone.  After all it is not about me.  It is about God and his love for us demonstrated by his giving us his Son to pay the price for the whole category of our sin.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

26 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – Player of Pawns

Greetings Dear Reader,

I have played chess since I was a young boy.  In my experience players hold two views of pawns.  Some view them as cannon fodder to be spent in achieving a grander design.  The other view is that every pawn is a precious piece of the puzzle that is forethought and victory.

People often view God as a player of pawns.  He is.  God, however, is the ultimate holder of the latter view of pawns.  He views the pawn as no less valuable than the king.  Jesus explained to us that there is no one above anyone else when it comes to the value of human life.

One of the objects of chess is forethought.  It teaches us to think as many moves ahead as possible with as many variances as possible.  Some people can do this to the point that they can imagine every possible outcome of the game.  If once successfully does this then all of their moves are based on the free choices of the opponent. 

This is the basis of how God deals with us and free will.  What appears to be predestination or a form of pawn playing is actually God responding to every choice we make.  He weaves the story of humans with the threads that they choose.

The vast multitudes of threads that we choose are already known to God.  His plays are responses based on that foreknowledge.  He chooses responses that lead toward his ultimate win.  His definition of win is getting the world back to “good”.  His motivation is love.

We do not get to choose how everything unfolds.  We do get to choose how we interact with the unfolding.  We see our moves as insular acts.  God sees every one of them as vital movements in the dance toward redemption.  He did sacrifice the King to save the pawns.  After all, even though it is for us, it is not about us.

The Dance – Kemper Crabb

All creation moves in a cosmic Dance
Before the Lord her King
And the rhythms, the reason, the rhyme
Of the dance pulses within everything
And the universe wheels and whirls like
A dervish in perfect seven-step time.
The Lord made the Dance,
He taught her the steps, and He
Causes the songs to shine.

We must dance, dance, dance
Dance in God's honor.
We must yield all of our steps unto the King
We must dance, dance, dance
Dance in God's honor.
Let His praises ring throughout the earth.

Adam and Eve danced in Eden's environs
early`in earth's morning air
They named all the animals musical names
Glorious potentiality shared.
But Lucifer sang out a serpentine song
And he offered death's dance as a token.
In pausing to listen, Adam missed his step
Earth's harmony in the dance broken.

We must dance, dance, dance
Dance in God's honor.
We must yield all of our steps unto the King
We must dance, dance, dance
Dance in God's honor.
Let His praises ring throughout the earth.

Jesus danced into the world.
Singing his heavenly song.
He taught the dance to those who would
Listen and learn as He moved along.
But the steps of His dance led to a cross
Where He died as the haters mocked on.
But he danced through death's arms
And over hell's gate and in three days
Danced forth from his tomb.

We must dance, dance, dance
Dance in God's honor.
We must yield all of our steps unto the King
We must dance, dance, dance
Dance in God's honor.
Let His praises ring throughout the earth.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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25 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – A Lover of Life

Greetings Dear Reader,

As the controversy around Planned Parenthood unfolds I am drawn back into the conversation about abortion by friends who know my faith and feelings.  I am not going to hear have a conversation about Planned Parenthood or abortion but what I say is relative to those things. 

What I have to do is consider life as a whole.  In the dance between Divine Sovereignty and free will there are some things that are to be un-violated guidelines.  It is one of the reminders that the world and all in it are not mine.  The earth does not belong to man.  This is true whether you believe in creation, evolution, or alien seeding (please notice that my tongue is firmly in my cheek on that last). 

My particular world view is that God created and owns it all.  He loves life and created us to live.  We invented and have applied killing with great fervor and success.  Through wars, genocide, and abortion we have destroyed millions of lives.  We treat human life as if it is an unlimited disposable commodity.   

In our arrogance we think that the lives of others do not matter.  Through abortion alone we have destroyed over 3.1 BILLION years of potential life in the United States.  That number is based on some very conservative math and only calculated since 1974 when abortion became “legal”.

We think we can legislate morality in either direction and that makes what we choose moral.  What we have evolved instead is a society with a multiple personality disorder.  I mean no disrespect to those who suffer from the actual malady.  My problem is that one face of our culture says that a child may be murdered in its mother’s womb based on her whim.  In some of the same states one can be charged with double homicide if one murders an expectant mother and both lives are lost. 

This is just a couple of the divergent personalities that our collective face shows to the world.  We have a diabetic epidemic in a nation where there are people still starving.  We demand our world view whilst trampling on the world views of others (whether you are liberal or conservative you are guilty of this so avoid the smuggary {I realize that smuggary is not a word but I am a writer so it is now.  Use it and enjoy it}). 

God is a lover of life.  His work in the world whether he is creating or redeeming is geared toward life.  As I develop my faith and following I must do the same.  We should avoid murdering others even if it might be only maybe wrong.  If there is any room for doubt we should err on the side of respect and value.  I am required to value, respect, and love all life.  After all, even if I am totally wrong in my beliefs living out this will give me a life full of yet another kind of love.  That alone would be worth the pursuit.  However, as I have said and will continue to say on this part of the journey:  It is not about us.

Bungle in the Jungle – Jethro Tull

Walking through forests of palm tree apartments ---
scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents
down by the waterhole --- drunk every Friday ---
eating their nuts --- saving their raisins for Sunday.
Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows ---
they're fast but they're lazy, and sleep in green meadows.

Let's bungle in the jungle --- well, that's all right by me.
I'm a tiger when I want love,
but I'm a snake if we disagree.

Just say a word and the boys will be right there:
with claws at your back to send a chill through the night air.
Is it so frightening to have me at your shoulder?
Thunder and lightning couldn't be bolder.
I'll write on your tombstone, ``I thank you for dinner.''
This game that we animals play is a winner.

Let's bungle in the jungle --- well, that's all right by me.
I'm a tiger when I want love,
but I'm a snake if we disagree.

The rivers are full of crocodile nasties
and He who made kittens put snakes in the grass.
He's a lover of life but a player of pawns ---
yes, the King on His sunset lies waiting for dawn
to light up His Jungle
as play is resumed.
The monkeys seem willing to strike up the tune.


Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

24 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – Strangers

Greetings Dear Reader,

A friend of mine who was, like me born and reared in the South visited my Midwest home for the first time.  As we walked down one of the streets dedicated to tourism and marketing he greeted people that passed.  He became increasingly frustrated by the lack of responses.

We grew up in a world where you said hi to each other as you passed.  The predisposition was to treat strangers well.  The culture was one of being polite.  Please understand that this culture also contains an undercurrent of passive aggressiveness that is mean and dangerous as well.

Still we are to treat strangers well.  One of the motivations is that we have at times been in the presence of angels without knowing it.  It seems that the command to love everyone would be motivation enough to be good to those we do not know.  It goes further than that. 

Everything is not about us.  Angels look at us to try and understand the Father more deeply.   They know he has allowed us to wound the Son for our own redemption.  They know the war that rages around us and the ungodliness in the world are all part of the great Passion Play that is our reclamation effort. 

So often we want our solitude and we attempt to just blend in with the background.  We are supposed to be good to each other.  This is to be active and purposeful.  Strangers are neighbors we have not yet met.  Since we are not alone it is not just the strangers that benefit from our kindness.

The watchers know what was paid so that we could be good to each other.  They understand the full cost and demand that we live up to it.  How we treat strangers matters to more than just the stranger.  Perhaps we should consider that when we stop and the gas station and are in a hurry.  It may be that the grocery clerk or the waitress deserves better attention than we give.  After all, it is not all about us and our impact matters.

Lost in Crowds – Ian Anderson

I get lost in crowds: if I can, I remain invisible
to the hungry mouths. I stay unapproachable.
I wear the landscape of the urban chameleon.
Scarred by attention. And quietly addicted to innocence.

So, who am I? Come on: ask me, I dare you.
So, who am I? Come on: question me, if you care to.
And why not try to interrogate this apparition?
I melt away to get lost in this quaint condition.

At starry parties where, amongst the rich and the famous
I’m stuck for words: or worse, I blather with the best of them.
I see their eyes glaze and they look for the drinks tray.
Something in the drift of my conversation bothers them.

So, who am I? Come on: ask me, I dare you.
So, who am I? Come on: question me, if you care to.
And why not try to interrogate this apparition?
I melt away to get lost in this quaint condition..

In scary airports, in concourses over-filled,
I am detached in serious observation.
As a passenger, I become un-tethered when
I get lost in clouds: at home with my own quiet company.

So, who am I? Come on: ask me, I dare you.
So, who am I? Come on: question me, if you care to.
And why not try to interrogate this apparition?
I melt away to get lost in this quaint condition.

Herald Tribune or USA Today.
Sauvignon Blanc or oaky Chardonnay.
Asleep for the movie.
Awake for the dawn
Dancing on England and hedgerows
Embossed on a carpet of green.
I descend and forgive me I mean to get lost in crowds.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

23 July 2015

Entertaining Angels – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

During Star Trek Six: The Undiscovered Country Kirk and McCoy are accused of murdering the Klingon Chancellor.  His daughter makes a comment about the arrogance of humans in talking about their rights.  As I recently re-watched this movie it struck a very deep chord in me.

One of our greatest errors is our arrogance.  We think we are the IT factor in our world.  We believe for the most part it is about us.  In some aspects we are correct.  For the most part, however, we are creations of a being whom we do not completely understand.  There are other creations that watch us and wonder about us. 

Before you think I have gone off the rails more so than usual please hear me out.  God made us for a purpose.  We are very important to him.  We, however, are not all that gets his attention and energy.  Things are playing out on  a universal stage and we have very little insight into how that is playing out.

We think we “know” when our best knowledge is a slightly educated guess.  We think we understand but how can that be when we so often leave out the designer from the design.  We think we are wise when we often act foolishly. 

I want to take a look at how we are viewed and how we should view those who watch us.  We are not alone in the world and whether we wish it or not we interact with other creations.  If you are already dismissing this because you do not believe it, perhaps I at least can entertain.  Walk with me Dear Reader.  Share your thoughts.  I promise to treat you well.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

22 July 2015

Setting Standards for Feelings – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

We feel.  That is what we do.  It is good that we feel.  The problem is that we have become a culture where what we feel is our operational truth.  That is a dangerous way to live.  It erodes at morals, values, and mores.  It pulls the threads that keep our society civil.

Worse, as a Christ follower my feelings are not to be my prime mover.  An attitude of love for others not a emotion of love is to guide me.  My family, friends, and enemies are all to receive an attitude of love from me no matter how I feel. 

Everything I feel must be filtered through truth and my obligation to love God and all humans.  I must ride herd on my negative feelings, glean the value they have, and then do away with them. 

My Grandfather used to say, “Do what is right no matter how much it hurts.”  I try to live by that but I fail.  I think that I would attenuate his statement.  I must do what is right no matter how I feel.  It easy to say and hard to live.  Most truths work living are.

If I am to be what I aspire to be then I must be honest about what I feel.  I must do what is right with my feelings.  I must think through what I feel before I respond to it.  I must rarely permit my feelings to produce a raw reaction.  In this I can follow knowing that I meter my heart to beat out love to everyone. 

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

21 July 2015

Setting Standards for Feelings – Emotional Storms

Greetings Dear Reader,

So often we think we have dealt with negative feelings.  We have thought through or talked through a situation.  We have forgiven the other person.  Then like a hot summer afternoon the storm pops back up stealing all of our composure.

These emotional storms if handled properly can be very beneficial.  They are opportunities to regulate our reactions and responses.  These instances test our resolve not to be ruled by out passions. 

Sometimes we have not truly forgiven.  We must assure that we do.  Sometimes the fault is our as we crave something we should not.  Sometimes we have not truly addressed out feelings on a matter and our emotional well is full.

There can be physiological reasons.  Whatever the case storms of emotion will come.  We must not let them dominate and we must let them pass.  We must feel the storm but never let it rule us.

Our senses require us to feel every moment.  We are supposed to live in the moment.  The storms that will erupt must not control me.  They must force me to confront my heart honestly.  They must not devour me.  I must turn to my faith to handle my feelings.  I can weather the storms but only if I do so in faith.  If I do then the lightning, wind, and rain can be very beautiful indeed.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

20 July 2015

Setting Standards for Feelings - Fear

Greetings Dear Reader,

Once again, like anger fear has its place.  Fear protects us from danger.  It triggers our fight of flight response.  It gives us that small warning to be careful.  It can save our lives. 

There is healthy and unhealthy fear.  Fear in the form of healthy respect is a good thing.  We rarely use the word in this way.  It is still important.  We must have a healthy respect for things that can harm us.  We must have a healthy respect for those who rule over us.  That is good fear and it is not the way we use the word any more.

So many things about fear are unhealthy.  We indulge our fear and give it control.  We act badly because of fear.  We mistreat others out of fear.  When fear controls us we do not act rationally and we lose power.  We do not act lovingly when we act out of fear.

It is natural and understandable to feel fear.  It is always wrong to allow the fear to be in charge.  Fear kills our reason when we give it control.  It feeds our greed.  It propels us to be selfish and unloving. 

If I am to properly follow Christ then I must not allow fear to control me.  I must face fear with the filter of my protection in Christ.  He has promised to meet my needs and care for me.  I cannot allow fear to keep from that.  I must hold out the standard that fear will not control me.  I will give it a proper place in my existence and will use it to see danger.  I will heed its warnings but think through my responses.

Fear has a place in the journey.  That place is not as the leader.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
(͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)



19 July 2015

Setting Standards for Feelings - Happiness

Greetings Dear Reader,

Happy is almost universally defined as a state of pleasure or contentment.  We are guaranteed the right to pursue it in our constitution.  We want to be happy.   It is not wrong to desire happiness. 

Whether or not one is happy, however, must not be the standard for our choices in life.  If I pursue only happiness then I will harm others out of selfishness and greed.  I can make choices that are irresponsible.  I can neglect my responsibilities to God, friends, and family by pursuing only happiness.

I have always thought that we get it backwards.  I think that happiness is a choice.  I think that if we learn to be content we find happiness.  If we find our pleasure in good things then we will be happy.  If we put our happiness first instead of seeking good and contentment then happiness will remain elusive.

I must not let whether something makes me happy determine how I treat others.  I must not let happiness determine my morals, values, attitudes, and actions.  Happiness will be the product of choosing to do what is right and finding contentment in that.  If I do not feel happy I must analyze my attitude.  I must determine if I am pursuing the right things and if I am content with what God has in front of me in the moment.

Happiness is a choice.  It is derived from choosing to follow in faith no matter what the situation.   Happiness is found in joy in whom I follow.  The joy is found in the journey of faith and following.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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18 July 2015

Setting Standards for Feelings - Desire

Greetings Dear Reader,

For years food was my enemy.  I thought nothing of eating much more than I needed.  I hid pain and discontent behind pizza and ice cream.  It cost me in energy, health, and social interaction.  My desire for food overrode my good judgment and obedience. 

Feeling desire is not wrong.  A well-made meal or rare delicacy is not wrong.   Once again the desire must be filtered through reason and self-control.  Everything we want is not bad.  Most things to excess are.  Living in a world that constantly wishes us to consume makes regulating desire a necessity.

Whether food, funds, or flesh we must not be driven by our desires.  Gluttony, greed, and lust are all desire gone wrong.  Food, money, and sex are not bad.  Pursuing them over Christ is.

We must have standards that set an example.  We must not consume more than we need while others go without.  We must not use each other to satisfy our wants.  If we are driven by our love for God and each other we must not let our desires come first.

I had a conversation with a friend just yesterday regarding this.   We need to allow our desires to come from our delight in God.  If we are driven by that then we will attune our desires to it.  We may fear that we will lack.  We  may think we will go without.

Christ made it clear that if we follow him we will lack nothing.  It comes down to faith again.  Do I really believe that I will have what I need?  Do I love God enough to find my sustenance in him?  If my standard for desire is God I will filter out the things that are not wholesome or healthy.  I will not use others.

I need to find all my hope in Christ.  In him I can live and move and have my being.  That is a desire worth having.

In Christ Alone – Performed by Stephen Nasby

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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17 July 2015

Second Thoughts – Finding Streams in the Desert

Greetings Dear Reader,

Sometimes I will end the day with thoughts that are important to get out.  Usually I just write them and put them in my journal folder.  I have chosen that on occasion I will share them with you Dear Reader.

As I turn my home back into a house I have to tackle areas where there are items rife with memories.  This week I delved into some things that could be an emotional mine field.  They were.  Things carry memories both painful and sublime. 

I worked through some boxes that held painful reminders of a lost marriage and some dead dreams.  Another box was water damaged and I almost tossed the entire thing instead of working through its contents.  In the moment it seemed less painful that venturing into the unknown turmoil of its contents.

Then that poke at the back of my head said to check it anyway.  Whenever I ignore that poke it turns out badly.  I steeled my heart and dove into the moldy abyss.  My sinuses immediately requested that I leave the box to its demise.  I stepped away, inhaled deeply, and dove in.

The reward was the discovery of things both painful and sublime.  Some things once precious to me had been claimed by the dampness.  I discarded them into the rubbish.  Some items were worth recovering.   I put them in a packing box.

Then at the bottom, when the mold assailed me the most I found treasure.  In the desert of my moving to solitude I found an oasis precious and beautiful.  In a sealed bag safe from the moisture was my Grandfather’s first edition copy of Streams in the Desert.  I keep a new copy of this same book on my desk as daily reminder of how I should follow Christ.      

This memento of man who loved me so deeply could not have come back to me at a better time. The courage I need to face the unknown must come from God.  The voice from the past of one who loved is a way in which I hear God’s voice.  It reminds me that I do not have to know what is ahead.  I simply have to have faith and follow.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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Setting Standards for Feelings – Anger has Rules

Greetings Dear Reader,

First I should be very clear that it is not wrong to be angry.  We will feel angry.  If we deny our anger or bottle it up it is dangerous.  Paul’s reference to anger in Ephesians is in the imperative.  “Be angry and do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

“Be angry” is not a choice it is a command.  There are things about which we must be angry.  “…and do not sin” is also the imperative.  We must not use anger as reason to sin.  The third imperative is that we must not let the anger live through the day.  This means we are to deal with our own feelings about a situation so that it does not impact us internally.

We seem to be very good at the first imperative.  We are very good at being angry.  I know people seem to be only angry all the time.  Anger becomes a very easy emotion to access.  It is an easy habit to form.

Where we fail is to then assess the anger we have accessed.  Unfolding before us once we feel anger is a set of binary choices.  There is little gray area in these choices even though we try to make it so.  As I work through anger I ask the first and hardest of all questions.

Is my anger justified?  My anger is not always justified.  Sometimes it is rooted in selfishness or greed.  This question must come first.  Figuring out why I am angry often leads to the choice of blame or forgiveness.  We are not allowed to cling to anger.  We are required to reason out a course of action if the anger is justified. 

I must be loving, kind, and forgiving.  I must express how I feel in a way that does not harm or disrespect.  I must always be the master of this most dangerous of feelings.  I must be honest about the feeling, the source, the justification, and the resolution.  I must do all this be day’s end so that I do not carry it over into the next.

Again dealing with this feeling has the overshadowing requirement to love my neighbor or enemy.  It requires me to love God through control and honesty.  Anger has rules.  If I am to follow Christ properly I must obey them.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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16 July 2015

Setting Standards for Feelings – I Feel

Greetings Dear Reader,

Before I delve too deeply into the negative part of this self-discovery some things about feelings must be addressed.  We feel.  If we deny that we feel we damage ourselves.  If we ignore some feelings we will not be able to fully understand things. 

Fear for example is a vital feeling.  We must listen to fear.  We must listen to and evaluate the things it triggers.  We have feelings for some very important reasons.  Those reasons are connected to our emotional health and sometimes our survival.

The error that we make is we give control to our feelings.  We allow anger, fear, or greed to control us.  This is very dangerous.  When our feelings control us we ignore sound reason and act. 

It comes down to the difference between responses and reactions.  It is often necessary to react.  Instinctive reactions built into our DNA are very important.  They can protect and save us.  When we interact with people on a social level we must be responsive and not reactionary. 

When we feel anger we must take a beat.  When we feel fear we must reason.  To move through life allowing our feelings to control us hinders our ability to be good to others.  In any situation when we let our feelings decide our course of action we need to assure that we have reasoned our way through the actions.

As I work through the proper place of feelings in my life the first thing I must assure is that they are not in control of me.  I must master them or they will be my undoing.  I must allow them to live but not allow them to rule.  That alone is a daily task requiring attention and balance.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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15 July 2015

Setting Standards for Feelings – Opening Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

It troubles me often when I see the level of disrespect for others that grows steadily in our world.  Many seem to have forgotten common courtesy and simple polite behavior.   I realize that some just do not care and that will always be the case.  What troubles me most is that feelings seem to become the wellspring of our actions rather than clear thought and reason.

Recently a dear friend shared with me that a coworker berated him for being too nice.  His reactions of kindness and gratitude made the coworker feel that he was insincere in his actions.  It seems that launching a tirade at someone for being nice requires a great deal of impatience and judgment. 

I often encounter situations where feelings become reality and people react to those feelings.  It becomes increasingly common to hear someone react to how they feel without thinking through the response.  The process of reasoning through how those feelings arise seems abandoned. 

This is done in the name of allowing our feelings to be expressed.  “I am just being honest about how I feel” has replaced sound reason about those feelings.  This destroys relationships.  It kills honest thought.  Our feelings are not to be our guide.  Allowing that can destroy a family or a nation. 

As I think through this I ponder the results of simply indulging my feelings.  I have done this in the past and it rarely turns out well.  Following Christ in this requires that I reason through my responses and rarely have reactions.  Walk with me if you wish Dear Reader whilst I try to refine my standards and be a better man.  I value your thoughts and questions.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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14 July 2015

Great Expectations – Closing Thoughts

Greetings Dear Reader,

God expects us to expect great things from him.  He has promised to do far beyond what we can imagine for those who love him.  He has promised that we do not understand the full scope of what he is about to do.

He also wants us to be very careful what we expect of others.  We should desire that others have every good thing that God has to offer.  We cannot make the world a perfect world through protests, laws, and division.  We cannot make all things good.  Only God can do that and he will when he is ready.

My responsibility is to do my best to live up to the expectations that the Father said the world could place on his children.  The expectations that Christ placed on his followers are great ones.  We are to love everyone at all times.  We are to do what is right no matter how much it hurts.  We are not allowed to compromise faith but we must be good to others.  We are not to coheres or force others to follow but we are to lead by such an example that they are compelled to do so.

The Father is working things out as he wishes.  He asks us to expect great things.  Jesus sais we would do greater things than him if we live by faith.  We miss out on those great things because our expectations are misaligned.  We place them on those who need Christ.  We need to place them on the Father and do as he has asked. 

That combination would require us to care for others no matter how much or little they believe.  We need to then expect Jesus to draw all mankind unto himself.  We need to expect the Father to work out his will that none should perish.  All I must do is follow and obey.  Then and only then can great expectations be realized. 

Your Higher Ways – Steven Curtis Chapman

If I could only fly, I'd go up and look down from the sky
So I could see the bigger picture
And Lord if I could sit with you at your feet for an hour or two
I'm sure I'd ask too many questions 'cause there's so much going on down here
That I must confess I just don't understand, I don't understand

And I have prayed, that at your feet my whole life has been laid
So I won't worry I won't be afraid
Cause My soul is resting on your higher ways

So let the road ahead become unclear
For I am yours so what have I to fear
If my soul is resting on your higher ways

Your higher ways teach me to trust you
Your higher ways are not like mine
Your higher ways are the ways of a father hiding his children in his love

So let it rain and if my eyes grow dim with tears of pain
This hope I have will not be washed away
Because this soul of mine is resting on your higher ways

Your higher ways teach me to trust you
Your higher ways are not like mine
Your higher ways are the ways of a father hiding his children in his love

Someday I will fly and maybe then you will take me aside and show me the bigger picture
But until I'm with you I'll be here with a heart that is true and a soul that's resting on your higher ways

Your higher ways
Resting on your higher ways

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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13 July 2015

Great Expectations – Projected Expectations

Greetings Dear Reader,

When we project the expectations of God onto others it is very detrimental to our ability to represent Christ well.  When we demand that others live by our morals and values we neglect their needs.  According to our own teachings we admit that they do not have all the necessary tools to do this.

The Ten Commandments are revealed to be a school master to show us that we are imperfect.  All of the New Testament writers directed their teachings toward those who had both the understanding of Jesus teachings and the influence of the Holy Spirit.   If we truly believe that those outside of our faith lack the necessary tools to follow our faith then we must not place unjust expectations on them.

The other danger is that these expectations lead to judgments that prevent us from obeying Christ’s commands to care for them.  We are required to see the needs of others and not judge them.  We are bound to be compassionate and kind.  Instead we require others to live up to standards that we struggle to meet. 

Our judgment becomes a pass to neglect.  This eats away at the essence of who we are to be as Christ followers.  We protest and judge instead of setting the example and serving.   We demand that society conform to our standards instead of seeing that the needs of others are met no matter what the cost to us.

If I project my morals and values onto others I ask them to live an impossible life.  My own faith informs me that those outside of Christ lack what is necessary to live the life I am commanded to live.  Expecting Christ-like behavior from those who do not follow Christ is foolish. 

The expectation is that I will be an example of love and compassion.  If I spend my energy doing that then I will not have time to judge and condemn others.  I have enough to do to maintain the right attitudes and actions in my life.  I think if all Christ followers concentrated on their own faith and following the impact would be much greater.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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12 July 2015

Great Expectations – Counterfeit Compassion

Greetings Dear Reader,

My Grandfather only had a few years to instruct me about the world before he went on to the next.  One of the things he commonly said was “You do what you believe.  The rest is just talk.”  When it comes to compassion there is an inherent expectation that words are not enough.

It is the Church, Christ followers who are supposed to set the example in compassion.  The people of Christ are supposed to live out compassion.  Christ was very clear about this.  There are enough of us that we should be able to do serious damage to the hunger, homelessness, and poverty crises in our world.  None of us should be satisfied as long as a neighbor lacks healthcare.

We give lip service to compassion but do we really live it out?  Do we spend more on designer coffee than we give to food pantries?  Do we limit our giving to organizations that have a real impact on social issues because they are not “Christian”? 

God’s great expectation as that we are known by our love and compassion.  His requirement of us is that we care for the very least in our society.  We can have all the programs and talk about compassion all we wish.  If we do not put hands and feet on it we are a counterfeit. 

The rest of the world is right to expect us to be impactful in these areas.  We should be leading the fight in curing the world’s ills.  We should battle over how much we can provide and not over who gets to provide it.  Our arguments should be over how to get people what they need whilst we are doing it.  Instead we delay effective measures to argue over power, politics, and posture. 

If I do not act in compassion for others I am not following Christ.  If I talk about compassion but show none then my compassion is counterfeit and my faith is not worth following. 

Compassion (Change the World) – Andrew Witt

Well I can't change the world
But I can live with open hands
I can't change the world
But I can give all that I can
And I can pray and I can love
And when all is said and done
I can't change the world
But I can change the world for one

Half a world away
Or just across the street
May my eyes be open to
Anyone in need

Well I can't change the world
But I can live with open hands
I can't change the world
But I can give all that I can
And I can pray and I can love
And when all is said and done
I can't change the world
But I can change the world for one
For one

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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11 July 2015

Great Expectations – A Pause to Respond – Part Three

Greetings Dear Reader,

Another aspect of the question I got from you Dear Reader was on the issue of social issues that run counter to the teachings in the Bible.  I will remind you that I view the Bible as the living Word of God.  I believe that it is relevant to all our culture and choices. 

I also think that we use it as a weapon more often than a tool.  We expect those who do not believe as we do to live by the standards in this book when we do not do that very well ourselves.  It is an unjust expectation.   We are also hypocritical about it.

None of this changes that the Bible has its own authority.  When it speaks on a social issue it speaks the truth.  That truth never gives us permission to judge and condemn those who violate the truth.   Let me choose something mostly innocuous as an example.

IF the Bible said there was something inherently wrong in eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches then it would be wrong to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (just so I weighed in, the whole thing about PBJ being racist is just stupid.  I will not let a sandwich determine how I feel).  That does not mean that if PBJ eaters feel neglect or down-trodden that we can say that PBJ is OK. 

More importantly it does not mean that we can judge, neglect, or mistreat PBJ eaters.  I am not allowed to migrate from the truth that PBJ eating is bad.  I am also required to show unconditional love to every PBJ eater out there.  I am required to help them if they have needs.  I must feed them if they are hungry, just not a PBJ.  I must see that they have health care with it being a “believe then receive” coercion. 

When the Bible comments on moral and social standards then those standards are resolute.  That never gives me leave to expect those who do not believe to act under those standards.  It does give me an example to set. It does show me areas where I must be kind and non-judgmental. 

If I place moral and social expectations on someone I damage my ability to show them love.  I damage my opportunity to be good to them.  If Christ followers focus on the things we do not want others to do we miss the opportunity to do the things they need.  Failing to meet the needs of others socially is indeed a violation of the Great Expectations placed on us by God.

Wishing you joy in the journey,

Aramis Thorn
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”

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