Posted by: ianmcleod | July 23, 2008

From my novel, Cornfields of Steel

Part I

1859

 

I

Baltimore

 

With the piercing cry of a steam whistle, the William Mason came chugging into Baltimore’s Camden Station to the repetitious “Ding, Ding, Ding” of its burnished brass bell.  Hanging one-handed from the train’s rear-most coach was a primly uniformed conductor who dropped deftly onto the passenger platform as the big locomotive drew to a halt amidst the screech of protesting brakes and the hiss of escaping steam.  As the conductor took dutiful note of the time using a silver watch fob produced from within a waistcoat pocket, stewards raced to place box steps at the ends of each coach to facilitate the passengers’ exit.

One fellow, a nondescript entity clad in tired homespun, paused to allow a cooling draft to caress his perspiring cheek.  After three interminable hours simmering in the coach’s close atmosphere, Samuel Duncan felt grateful his initiation to train travel was over: initial excitement having abandoned him somewhere west of Ellicott Mills.

“Keep moving young fellow,” demanded the sweaty rotund man waiting behind him.  “I haven’t got all day.”  Descending the coach’s stairs with penitent promptitude, Samuel immediately lost his footing on the treacherous steps and only the fortuitous presence of a handrail prevented his falling ignominiously onto the platform below.  In the scramble to regain his feet, Samuel dropped his battered carpetbag, an item which contained all his worldly possessions: two checked muslin shirts, a pair of tow trousers, one set of drawers, half a dozen pairs of socks, a small pocket testament and a well-thumbed copy of The Talisman.

“Mind your step, son,” a dutiful steward advised, returning the bag with a polite tip of his hat and an amused smile.  “We wouldn’t want to see you injure yourself.”  Samuel grasped the carpetbag firmly by its wooden handle, thanked the man self-consciously and made his way towards the red brick station’s white triune cupolas.

To the rural eye, Camden Station presented itself as an uncomfortably close-packed mass of bustling humanity,  a provincial, dour, gray-looking lot, from which rose an all-pervading hum strongly suggestive of the drone of swarming insects.  Scores of touts accosted the new arrivals vociferously proclaiming the amenities of the city’s boardinghouses and busily passing out unwanted handbills.  An obnoxious host of produce vendors and newsies who added the hawking of fruits, vegetables and newssheets to the overall confusion accompanied them.

“Why, there you are, Samuel!” a young man suddenly cried from amidst the tumult.  “I see you have finally arrived.  I must say, you certainly took your time about it.  Henry and I have been waiting here an age.”  The voice’s owner emerged from the crowd, a boyish grin on an openly sanguine face.  Samuel dropped his bag in time to receive an engulfing embrace. 

“It’s good to see you again, David,” Samuel replied in a voice choked with emotion.

Drawing back to arm’s length, the cousins appraised one another with inquisitive eyes, marveling at the immense changes they now perceived.  In days past, Samuel, who was older by a year, had been the taller of the two.  But the young man standing before him now stood a full head higher than his own five foot seven inches.  David enjoyed a twenty to thirty pound weight advantage as well; and judging from the crushing strength of his embrace, it had little to do with avoirdupois.  Yet, the sandy haired youth retained the same laughing blue eyes and mischievous grin of childhood.

“Now, I am afraid we must hurry,” David told Samuel, ending the inspections.  “Emmy has placed me under the strictest instructions to hasten you home ‘the very instant you arrive.’  I should not like to disappoint her – I am quite certain you will remember how hellfire cross she can become when she is vexed.”  Samuel smiled affectionately.  He possessed the keenest recollection of Emily’s temper, as well as her more amiable traits.

“How is Emily?” he asked, moving to recover his carpetbag.  However, David aborted the move with an upheld hand.

“Henry!” he called authoritatively.  “Come along now and see to Cousin Samuel’s baggage.”  A lanky, middle-aged Negro with intelligent brown eyes stepped obediently forward and retrieved Samuel’s carpetbag from the floor.

“Yes, sir, Master David,” he answered in a mechanically respectful tone.  Then, turning to Samuel, he added, “Never you mind about this here bag, Master Samuel.  I’ll take good care of it for you.”

“Oh, Emmy is her old incorrigible self,” David finally answered Samuel, his voice free and easy once more as they began threading their way through the crowd.  “She has had the entire house in an uproar ever since she learned you were coming.  I have to tell you, she positively can not wait to see you again.”

“Well, I have to admit, I’m more than a bit anxious to see her myself.”  Though Samuel had always liked David well enough, it was memories of Emily that he cherished most.  Giving Samuel a covert glance, David’s eyes sparkled mischievously.

“Now, Samuel,” he said in a cautionary tone.  “I must warn you.  Something…well…something has happened since you last saw Emily.”

“What’s happened?” demanded Samuel, an icy fist of fear gripping his heart.  “Has she been ill?  Has she met with an accident?”

“No…no…nothing like that, it is just…well.”

“Tell me!”  Samuel grabbed David’s shoulder and pulled him to a halt just within the station’s exit.  “If something has happened to Emily, I want to know…I need to know.”

“Alright, Samuel,” David answered, giving an acquiescent sigh and reciprocating his cousin’s pained expression.  His voice lowered, burdened with distress.  “Listen, you know that I love my sister dearly; and I would never dare say anything dreadful about her.  However…the thing is, you have not seen her since she was a child and…well…she has changed.”

“It’s been a long time, David.  No doubt, she’s changed – we’ve all grown up.”

“Growing up is precisely what I am talking about or, at least, growing older,” David replied sorrowfully.  “This is really difficult to say, Emmy and I being twins.  Not identical twins, mind you,” he added hastily.  “However, there remains a tolerably pronounced likeness nonetheless.”

“David, stop rambling and just speak your mind.” 

“Alright, I will just say it plain.  Age has not been kind to Emmy; she has grown corpulent and frankly, less fair.  I only say this because I know you are expecting the slim little creature of our childhood.  However, if you – her favorite cousin – were to display any sense of shock upon setting eyes upon her, it would wound her terribly.  As her loving brother, I simply could not bear to see that happen.”

“David, I appreciate your concern.  But I assure you, I’d never do such a horrible thing, no matter how much she might have changed.  You of all people should realize that!”

“I am truly glad to hear it.”  David let a relieved smile spread across his face, clapped a hand upon Samuel’s shoulder and squeezed so hard that his cousin winced.  “I am truly glad to hear it.  I cannot tell you how relieved you have made me.

“Now, let us get you home.  If we hurry, we should be just in time for dinner.”

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Posted by: ianmcleod | July 19, 2008

Post-modern Feminism and its effects on the Church

First, let me apologize for the length of this blog.  However, I felt it necessary to convey the process of thought behind my conclusions as this is an admittedly controversial topic and will, no doubt, anger some of my readers.  While such a result is not the writer’s intention, it will likely prove unavoidable.  Nonetheless, here it goes.

From the founding of our nation until about the mid-nineteenth century, American women were regarded by society, if not strictly by law, as the property of first their fathers and then their husbands.  Business and politics were an exclusively male domain where women did not dare to tread.  “Educated” women attended finishing schools where they were trained how to be “proper” ladies and the teaching of the three R’s was curtailed, if not abandoned altogether.  The female sphere of influence was confined to the domestic arena and she governed there only at the sufferance of her husband.  Women were discouraged from entertaining “opinions,” particularly those contrary to their male guardians.  If they did so, they certainly never expressed them publicly.  Any woman who dared to do so risked being labeled as “unsexed” and the resultant social ostracization.  Furthermore, women forced by poverty or divorce to work outside the home were, at best, pitied, at worst, judged to be possessed of questionable morals.  Regrettably, there was little or no protection under the law for such women and they often suffered abuse.

About the 1850’s, the feminist movement arose to bring necessary awareness and change to our society, a century-long struggle too complex and diverse for me to repeat here.  Suffice it to say, what resulted was women’s suffrage, equal treatment under the law and a society where women were no longer perceived as secondary human beings.  (As an aside, feminism, like other nineteeth century reform movements i.e. abolitionism and temperance, found its genesis in the Second Great Awakening – the great revival movement that swept through America in the early 1800’s.)  The point of all this preamble is to demonstrate that the initial purpose of feminism was to elevate the status of women to a social and legal status with men.  So far, so good.

However, by the 1960’s most of the initial battles had been won, particularly on the legal front,  and a change of purpose began to occur within the feminist movement.  The new goal was no longer equality, but dominance.  And the method was role reversal.  Males were encouraged to explore their “feminine side,” to become passive and nurturing while females were prompted to be aggressive, competitive and even combative.  To quote a current feminist leader, “We’re feminists, we’re fierce, and we’re in your face!”  In the minds of late twentieth and early twenty-first century feminists, marriage and motherhood were passe, or worse, the subtly oppressive weapons of a misogynistic patriachy.  Career became foremost and family secondary as women sought fulfillment exclusively in professionalism rather than in family.  Divorce rates sored.  Promiscuity became rampant with the advent of “the pill” and the accompanying “sexual revolution” as women threw off “repressive Victorian mores” and “took control” of their bodies.  The result: endemic teenage pregnancy, STD epidemics, the destruction of the nuclear family and a society where lawyers and psychologists grow fat feeding off the collective refuse.

What was the church’s reaction to all this?  Today, Christians seemed to have become polarized into one of two camps.  The liberal wing that has embraced post-modern feminism as “progressive” and “liberating” and the conservative wing that has adopted a reactionary approach demanding women return to their roots, so to speak.  Fundamentalists, in rare agreement with post-modern feminists, have concluded that the old “barefoot and pregnant” cliche is a biblical model requiring all “good” Christian women to stay home, have babies, and then raise and home school said babies.  In their view, no compromise is allowed.  Another group, somewhat less intransigent, encourages their daughters to attend college and pursue a career (lest they fail to find husbands and remain perpetual burdens to their parents) only to abandon that career upon marriage in order to stay home, have babies…you get the point.  Again, no other valid alternatives are offered.  Personally, I don’t know how either group explains Priscilla, who was both married and a tent maker by trade (Acts 18:1-3), which, in first century Corinth, was a fairly lucrative occupation, Corinth being a crossroads city with a thriving marketplace.  I suppose Aquila failed to provide her with babies to raise and home school.  Query: did the consquent precedent lead to the moral degradation for which the Corinthian church is famous?  Once more, I digress.

Now, here is where I am really going to get into trouble.  For, this single Christian male, who feels a call to be married and is a member of a church of the “less intransigent” model, finds himself in a predicament.  Most of the single Christian women he knows are educated professionals, not an altogether distressing situation for a man who finds intelligence an attractive atribute in a female.  However, these women, while vocalizing a desire for marriage (which is subtly required of them by church leadership) act in an altogether disparate manner i.e. they remain distant, disinterested, unavailable, and, dare I say it, cold.  Such contradictory behavior cannot help but make one wonder if these ladies have been unduly influenced by the post-modern feminist and fundamentalist view of the marriage state and are secretly avoiding becoming “enslaved?”

Posted by: ianmcleod | July 7, 2008

Opportunity Lost?

Upon arriving at church this Sunday, I received official word my current care group was being disolved.  It was a decision that I felt was a correct one for a couple of reasons.  Our leader, being a full time pastor at the church, was unable to regularly spend time with group members outside of official meetings.  This understandable situation was particularly detrimental to the male members of the group as they lacked neccessary guidance from the male half of the leadership team.  Another rationale was that this now defunct group never developed the atmoshere of intimate Christian fellowship, which is the raison d’etre of care groups.   That is not to say there were not certain subgroups within the main gathering that seemed to enjoy such a relationship.  But certainly, there was never the general sense of acceptance and love that was so evident among another group whose one get-together I recently observed via a brief video clip.  In this clip, a young man, fairly new to the church, felt not only perfectly comfortable to propose marriage to his girlfriend in front of his care group, but actually desired them to share in this most intimately wonderful moment of his life.

Perhaps, to ask why this lack of care existed in my group is now moot, and it is not the intention of this rumination to explore the reason or reasons for its regrettable exsistance.  All I will say is that unconfessed sin is a likely candidate. 

Still, despite the lack of ‘care’ in this care group, I cannot help but feeling a sense of loss at knowing that that particular group of people will no longer be meeting together on a regular basis.  For I am haunted by the thought that the potentiality to develop some long-lasting friendships has been irretrievably lost, not only for myself, but for all my fellow former participants as well.  Furthermore, I wonder if true Christian fellowship is a mere mirage this side of heaven?

As some of my readers know, I am a very strong advocate of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura– Scripture Alone.  It is my fervent belief that Scripture is the inerrant Word of God and therefore, is all-sufficient for any and all Christians in any and all places and times.

So you will understand my sense of dismay when a recently proposed Bible study was once more abandoned in favor of yet another study of a theological book written by someone not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  This decision was justified to me by the claim that the chosen work made more sense because it came with a study guide, was more relevant to where certain people were in their current Christian walk, and because no one wanted to engage in a “what’s this mean to you” Bible study.  Needless to say, I felt like I had just gone down the rabbit hole with Alice and it took me some time to respond.  This happens to be a feeling I often get whenever I watch the news, which is why I no longer watch the news.  But I digress.  Anyway, allow me to tackle these three objections one at a time, starting with the last and proceeding backwards.

Of course, concern over a Bible study degenerating into a group of people all sharing what a particular passage means to them is perfectly legitimate.  Regrettably, asking the question What does this mean to me? has led to some pretty strange interpretations.  But this problem is not insurmountable.  One simply has to set down a simple ground rule:  the purpose of this study is to answer the following question – What does this mean?  In other words, what meaning did the author intend to express to the original audiance?  When you set out with that goal in mind, you’re cooking with gas.

I’ll answer the second objection with a question of my own.  How does any written or spoken word become more relevant to any Christian at any particular time in their spiritual walk than Scripture itself?  It doesn’t matter how doctrinally sound, erudite, or ancient the theologian may happen to be or have been.  Since their works, helpful as they might be, are not the equivalent of Scripture, their words can certainly never be more relevant than the Word of God itself.  And since no responsible theologian has ever made such a ludicrous claim for any of their writings, it is a sure sign of quackery when someone does.

Finally, it grieves my spirit that so many of my fellow Christians feel incompetent to study Scripture and are perfectly content to leave Biblical interpretation to the “experts.”  They seem to fear that a self-perceived lack of intellect will lead them astray if they dare to do more than read Scripture and memorize a few familiar passages.   If so, then they’ve forgotten that the true author of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, resides within them.  Furthermore, He is not only willing, but eager to reveal His meaning to them.  Its why He went through the trouble of having Scripture written in the first place – is it not?

In closing, let me make this last observation.  Brothers and sisters from oppressive cultures and countries never fail to impress we American Christians with their immense faith and holy living.  Might not one reason for their great spiritual success be that they cherish and religiously study the single worn and torn Bible kept hidden from the authorities and are never distracted by the plethora of study guides, commentaries, inspirational writings and prayer books that we in America have at our disposal?

Posted by: ianmcleod | April 26, 2008

The Boxer

In the clearing stands a boxer,

And a fighter by his trade,

And he carries the reminders

Of ev’ry glove that laid him down

Or cut him till he cried out

In his anger and his shame,

“I am leaving, I am leaving.”

But the fighter still remains.

 

Paul Simon

Posted by: ianmcleod | April 26, 2008

The Sound of Silence

“Fools,” said I, “you do not know,

Silence like a cancer grows.”

“Hear my words that I might teach you.

Take my arms that I might reach you.”

But my words like silent rain-drops fell,

And echoed in the wells of silence.

 

Paul Simon

Posted by: ianmcleod | April 22, 2008

The Path

The path is narrow,

trecherous,

crowded by brambles,

crowded by thorns.

It looks familiar,

as if I’ve travelled it before.

The brambles reach out,

entangling my feet.

The thorns stretch forth,

lacerating my hands,

my arms,

my face.

But still I go on.

 

The path turns left,

as it’s done before.

I trip over a root,

as I’ve done before.

And there,

coagulating in the dust,

a droplet of blood.

Who’s blood is this?

I wonder.

No answer.

So,

I go on as before.

 

The path turns left,

as it’s done before.

More brambles,

more thorns,

more blood on the path.

More than before.

Fresh red droplets,

commingling with those dropped before.

Whose blood is this?

I wonder,

just as before.

Yet still no answer,

Stumbling,

I go on as before.

 

The path turns left,

as it’s done before.

More brambles,

more thorns.

Here’s a root,

tripping me like before.

More blood in the dust,

much more than before.

Again I wonder,

Whose blood is this?

No answer.

Just like before.

Staggering,

I go on as before.

 

The path turns left,

as its done before.

It all looks familar,

as if I’ve travelled it before.

The brambles,

the thorns,

the root like before.

More blood in the dust,

far more than before.

Whose blood is this?

 

I am growing … tired.

Posted by: ianmcleod | October 22, 2007

Unconditional Surrender

     Sir: Yours of this date proposing Armistice, and appointment of Commissioners, to settle terms of Capitulation is just received.  No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.  I propose to move immediately upon your works.  I am Sir: very respectfully Your obt. servt., U.S. Grant,  Brig. Gen.

The above words were addressed to General Simon B. Buckner, Commander of Confederate forces garrisoning Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River on February 16th, 1862 by Union General Ulysses S. Grant.   While shocking to Buckner, who happened to be an old West Point comrade of Grant’s, this abrupt refusal to negotiate terms of capitulation propelled the future President of the United States to national prominence when they resulted in the capture of 12,000 Confederates.

Recently, an acquaintance gave me cause to reflect upon another unconditional surrender: one of far greater import than the seizure of a river fortress.  See, this acquaintance, I’ll call him Bob, professes a belief in God and even in a literal heaven and hell.  Naturally, as any rational thinking human being who believes in a literal heaven and hell, Bob would much rather spend his eternity in the former location than the latter.  So far, so good.  Even better, he professes a belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who lived, died and was resurrected to atone for the sins of man.  But Bob has one problem: while he desires the salvation Christ offers, Bob wants to receive it on his own terms.  Bob wants to escape the consequences of his sin, but sadly, he is not interested in fullfilling Jesus’ terms: unconditional surrender of his life to Christ.  To clarify, Bob desires a Savior, but not a Lord.

Now General Buckner, outnumbered, surrounded and running low on supplies, realized that his position was untenable and wanted to escape his dilemma.  But the only way he could be assured of leaving Fort Donelson alive was to surrender to Grant.  Bob’s position is even more hopeless than Buckner’s for the only way he can escape eternal death is by surrendering to Christ.  For Bob, like Buckner, is a rebel, albeit a rebel against God rather than the United States Government.  Thus, he is deserving of death.

However, Bob’s predicament, while far more precarious than Buckner’s, is actually far more desirous.  How so?  All Grant, as the victorious representative of the U.S. Government, was willing to offer his former friend in exchange for his surrender was life in a northern prison camp.  As the victor over sin and God’s representative, Christ’s offer to the rebellious Bob is a restored fellowship with God and eternal life in exchange for his surrender.

Now, had Buckner pridefully refused to surrender, Grant would have simply launched an overwhelming assault on Buckner’s works and taken them by force.  Grant’s victory was already assured by the weakened condition of Buckner’s command.  And ultimately, for Buckner, the result would have been the same: life as a prisoner of war.  But for Bob, the consequences of a conceited rejection of Christ’s terms are far more devastating.   Being already dead in sin, Bob cannot hope to even survive an antagonistic encounter with the risen Lord.

But despite his dire predicament, Bob steadfastly refuses to accept Christ’s terms. Why? Because Christ’s terms are unconditional surrender to His Lordship. And, Bob, being dead in his transgressions cannot bring himself to submit to Christ’s Lordship even at the cost of his own soul.

Posted by: ianmcleod | October 19, 2007

A Bit O’ Blarney

Archaeologists Announce Startling Discovery!

A fragment of papyrus of a hitherto unknown Hebrew document purportedly telling the story of an Irish lass’s visit to the court of King Solomon has been unearthed in a cave just outside Jerusalem.  Dated ca. 350-300 B.C. the fragment does not reveal the purpose of Miss Jenny’s visit.  However, historians speculate that unlike the Queen of Sheba, who came to Israel to investigate reports of King Solomon’s vast wisdom, this lass’s trip to Palestine was accidental, probably occuring ca. 960-950 B.C. when her boat was blown off the Irish coast in a gale.  After an unknown number of weeks at sea, the boat apparently passed into the Mediterranean and likely came ashore near Joppa.  The following is a translation of the fragment.

“King Solomon asked of his maid, ‘Whoest art thou, and from whence did ye come?’  Standing before the king with unadorn feet, the maid replied unto King Solomon, saying, ‘May the king live forever!  I am Jenny of Kilkenny of the land of Erin.’  And King Solomon was amazed by the maid’s speech and he marveled at her beauty, for there was none like her in all of Isreal.  Nor could the Kingdoms of Egypt and Babylon boast a maid as beautiful as Jenny.  And King Solomon commandethed, ‘Send forth every scribe and every wiseman of Israel and let them searchest throughout all of Israel for a lamb of the fairest fleece that I mayest compare it against my maid’s skin.  And every scribe and every wiseman of Israel went forth and searched all of Israel for a lamb of fairest fleece, just as King Solomon had commandeth.  But nowhere in all Israel could a lamb be found with fleece as fair as Jenny’s skin.  Then King Solomon commandethed, ‘Send to the keeper of the royal treasury and have him bring forth the most brilliant emerald in all the royal treasury of Israel that I mayest compare its brilliance against my maid’s eyes.’  So they sent for the keeper of the royal treasury just as King Solomon had commandeth, but none of the emeralds in the treasury of Israel could compare to Jenny’s eyes.  Then King Solomon commandethed the royal cup-bearer, ‘Lightest thou a fire and build it up and fan the flames until the fire burns fierce that I mayest compare the flame’s radiance against my maid’s fiery hair.’  So the royal cupbearer lit a fire and built it up and fanned it until it burnt fierce just as King Solomon had commandeth.  But even the radiance of the fiercest flame could not compare with Jenny’s hair.  Finally, seeing that there was no lamb throughout all Israel possessed of a fleece as fair as Jenny’s skin, nor any emerald in all the royal treasury as brilliant as Jenny’s eyes, nor any flame whose radiance could compareth to Jenny’s hair, King Solomon was amazed and spoke unto Jenny, saying, ‘There is no lamb in all of Isreal whose fleece is as fair as thine skin, nor is there any emerald in all the royal treasury of Isreal as brilliant as thine eyes, nor can my royal cup-bearer produce any flame as radiant as thine hair.  Therefore, beforest thou depart unto thine own land, askest thou me for anything in all of Israel and it shall be given unto you.  For thou hast found favor in mine sight.’  Now, Jenny of Kilkenny was a shrewd woman, and she answered King Solomon, saying, ‘May the king live forever!  If thy maid hast found favor in thine sight, then givest thou me the Ark of the Covenant.’  Now King Solomon was grieved by Jenny’s request and he rent his royal robes and he keened most pitifully and repent in ashes.  But since King Solomon had sayethed, ‘Thou hast found favor in mine sight,” the king was bound to grant Jenny’s request.  Therefore, when the time came for Jenny to depart unto her own land, King Solomon called for the high priest and had the Ark of the Covenant brought forth and gaveth it unto Jenny.  And as Jenny placethed the Ark of the Covenant aboard her vessel wrought of skins of the beasts of the field, King Solomon spoketh unto the high priest, saying, ‘She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me.  But the devil take the women for they never can be easy.’ And the high priest answered King Solomon soothingly, saying, ‘Whack-fa-la-da-dee-oh, there’s whiskey in the jar!'”

Should this amazing document prove authentic, historians admit that this sheds new light on the origin of the lyrics of “Whiskey in the Jar!” In fact, the idea that seanchai may have actually preserved a heretofore unknown Solomomic proverb in an Irish drinking song is truly remarkable.  Moreover, archeologists admit that they may have been searching for the long lost Ark of the Covenant in all the wrong places.  Soon, they may find themselves scouring the Emerald Isle for Jenny’s forgotten cairn, which just might conceal the Ark.  I suggest they start their search in County Kilkenny, Leinster Province.

Posted by: ianmcleod | October 9, 2007

God Speaks Through The Lips Of Mick Jagger!

Yes, you read that correctly.  And no, it is not a headline from the now defunct Weekly World News.  But, before you start composing your denunciations and praying for my blasphemous soul, please read and meditate on the following rumination.

“You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes,

You just might find,

You get what you need.”

These were the words playing from my car sterio Monday afternoon as I drove home from the repair shop.  (Yes, I admit it, I was listening to the local classic rock station.)  Yet, upon reflection, I realized these are really profound lyrics, full of spiritual meaning.  How, you ask?

First, let us define “want” and “need.”

Want – a state of desire.

Need – a requirement.

The theme of our recent Singles Retreat was “the Fight,” which referred to our ongoing, earthly battle with our own fleshly nature.  We learned that our flesh is corrupted by sin and seeks to rule our lives in every way.  Because it desires to rule, our flesh is an indwelling enemy, one which is in direct and constant conflict with our new nature in Christ.  And unlike a human enemy, the flesh never sleeps, never offers a cease fire and never pauses to consolidate its position. The flesh never admits defeat, it simply changes tactics.  Nor does it retreat, it merely redeploys.  Most disconcerting is the purpose of this perpetual warfare: the active pursuit of our own destruction.  But like an earthly army, our flesh has an insatiable apitite that demands attention.  So it is constantly screaming, “I want, I want, I want!”  Heeding this voice can bring only discontentment.

Unlike our flesh, God, as our Creator, intimately knows our every need.  Furthermore, He actually longs to meet those needs in the most perfect way.  Frankly, as Christians, God has already met our greatest need by redeeming us through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Yet, He desires to give us even more.  God knows that our wants do not always correspond to our needs; oftentimes, they actually conflict.  His answer to our fleshly cry of “I want!” is “You need!  And I alone will meet your every need.”  Therefore, true contentment only comes from heeding the voice of the Spirit of our Lord and Savior at the expense of our flesh.

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