This is what I see daily on the lake below our balcony. It is so funny to watch these bobbing bottoms on the surface of the water and then see some of them dive own to grab their meal.
I studied the anatomy of those birds to understand how and why they play “butts up” with intent to share here. But in that process, it seemed way more fun to look at other animal butts and their unique designs and uses.
Why? Because we need some levity in these days.
Bums and their designs are serious business. There is nothing by accident about bottoms in the animal kingdom.
For example, consider the Skipper caterpillars. These guys have a defensive tool called “scat firing”. When they are attacked, they launch poop at the enemy at speeds of 1.3 meters per second. That poo deters it’s main predator, the paper wasp, who is attracted by the odor of the poo.
Butt seriously… wow!
Maybe you’ve heard of the sea cucumbers bum. I’ve held many, but after learning this, that will probably stop. When they are in attack mode, they contract their bodies and eject their internal organs out of their anuses onto predators, often entangling them them in toxic fluid strands. YUCK! No worries about their loss tho’, because within six to ten weeks the thrown organs will regenerate. Crazy right?
Here’s a weird one and he lives on you, on your face! He is the face mite – Demodex folliculorum. This guy doesn’t even have a butt. None. Not at all. He eats up your dead skin cells which then stays in his large gut cells. Then after his sixteen day life span, he dies and releases his waste onto our faces once he disintegrates. I’d bet you’re touching you face right now.
A favorite of mine has even earned the nick name “bum breather” – he is the Fitzroy River turtle. This turtle can stay underwater for up tp three weeks without having to take in air through nostrils like other turtles. Why? Because his cloaca/anus extracts 41% more Oxygen thus allowing longer underwater stays. He breathes through his bum.
How bout wombats? They live mostly underground and have an amazing security system at their door. Their backside. It is used to block its burrow to protect itself from predators. It’s bum is super tough, filled with cartilage which sorta makes it like an armored car. His powerful buttocks is used as a weapon and can smash the skull of it enemy into the walls or roof of its burrow. Violent, ouch.
Just one more, giraffes. I used to collect them, especially after having been in Kenya and seeing them in their natural habitat. Who doesn’t love them? Long necks, elegant stride, beautiful colors. But what about their butts? Giraffes twist themselves into what looks to us like uncomfortable positions when they are ready to sleep. They do this to use their bum as a pillow. Yuppers. They actually rest their head on their bottom to sleep their 30 minutes a day.
Butt seriously, folks.
Time and interest don’t permit me to speak of disappearing butts, filtering sand bums, propelling bottoms, or detaching bums. But they are there.
Think about it. Shake your head in wonder. Marvel at the design and purpose in each of these. Such a small, seemingly insignificant body part – the bum. Yet, miraculously engineered, assembled and installed in each living creature. (well almost all)
Spoiled foods can be beyond hope. A totaled car can be beyond hope. A fire’s destruction can be beyond hope.
But for people there is always hope. There is no situation so bad, no sin so grievous, no distress so deep that hope is inaccessible or change not possible.
Some of you may need to reread that last sentence. Go ahead. I know it is bold, but I also know it is accurate.
To support that statement and encourage you today, I want to take a deep dive into the bible king Manasseh, of Judah. You will find his story in 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21.
As we look at his life, notice his situation, sins and distress. Compare across to your life, draw comparisons and gather your takeaways.
Here we go.
Manasseh was the 14th king of Judah and the oldest son of Hezekiah, the previous king. He was born during the 15 years that God added to Hezekiah’s life. Hezekiah was a really good king who followed God’s ways. (that is why in his sickness he prayed and asked God’s help, to which he was granted 15 more years of life.)
Manasseh’s name means “one who forgets”. That’s important.
Manasseh reigned over Judah for 55 long years. In those years he totally undid, disgraced, rejected and demolished all the good that his dad had done in the kingdom. He was one who forgot the ways of his dad the ways of his upbringing.
Not only did he forget, he willfully, actively, passionately and nationally followed these evil practices. These practices were not only a regular part of his daily life, but he had them instituted as national norms in Judah. The entire nation followed these “detestable” practices.
From 1 Chronicles 33:3-10:
he rebuilt the high places his father had destroyed – these were sex and religion shrines scattered all over the nation. The sexual perversion involved here is astonishing and involved phallic statues in abundance.
he bowed down to the starry hosts – he worshipped cosmic powers and took orders from the constellations.
he built altars in the Lord’s temple – cosmic altars, altars to Baal and Asherah, altars to many secular gods.
he practiced child sacrifice – Molech was worshipped by offering children in the fire. He offered his own sons and perhaps even his grandsons in this ritual sacrifice.
he practiced witchcraft, sought omens, and consulted mediums – he gave full way to Satanic rituals, seances and the underworld.
“he did much evil in the eyes of the Lord” – bad dude!
the last straw, he had built and erected a statue to Asherah in the Lord’s temple – this sex goddess, was now worshipped in the Lord’s temple
Manasseh led the people astray – what he did privately was put into national practice and legislation
“they did more evil than the nations” – now that’s saying something, that’s alot of evil
One last sad note to Manasseh and the nations evil practices-
“The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.”
2 Chronicles 33:10
Not only was he one evil practicing, sex maniac, proud, idolatrous, killer, but when the Lord spoke to him, he ignored the Lord’s voice.
Manasseh is considered the most wicked king in Judah’s history. There was none worse. Ahab was the worst in Israel and Manasseh the worst in Judah. Now you can see why, right?
Tradition and scholars tell us that Manasseh is probably the one who had the prophet Isaiah cut in two. Now that’s no way to treat your Grandfather. Geesh.
His tyrannical reign lasted for over half century!
So Manasseh’s situation is pretty dire. He is in deep, needless to say. His sins are pretty insurmountable as well, cuz these are “big time sins”. So how is his distress? Let’s check it out.
First, we must continue the story.
The Bible tells us that because Manasseh and the people paid no attention to the Lord, (forgot the Lord and His ways), the Lord allowed the Assyrians to overthrow the city and capture the King. He was taken to Babylon as a prisoner, bound in shackles, and a hook in his nose. 2 Chronicles 33:11
Here is where we identify Manasseh’s distress.
“In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.” And he prayed to him.
2 Chronicles 33:12
While a prisoner of war, in prison, in a foreign land we see his distress. While he is powerless, alone, overwhelmed, outnumbered and empty his distress is evident.
What does he do in this state?
He sought God’s favor, humbled himself greatly and prayed.
Now that is a turn around!
Somehow, in his distress he remembered the spiritual training of his childhood. The training of his ancestors. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I’m sure Hezekiah was looking over the balcony of heaven finally cheering on his once evil son.
So we have the most vile, perverse, corrupt, person & political leader crying out to God. He needed his own experience with God, not his dad’s. He was calling out for it.
“God speaks to us in our pleasures but he shouts to us in our pains.”
God had been shouting to Manasseh but now Manasseh was shouting out to him.
How did God respond?
“And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.”
2 Chronicles 33:13
This is mindboggling to me.
After life long practices of gross and despicable sins, once Manasseh humbled himself and sincerely presented himself before the Lord – THE LORD WAS MOVED!
His humility, laying down his pride, and seeking God’s blessing and favor actually moved God to the action of restoring Manasseh to his kingdom.
In the Apocryphal book of “The Prayer of Manasses” he says, “I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea.”
There is always hope.
Our God is compassionate, loving, forgiving, just, strong, engaging, and ever present.
The story doesn’t end there tho’. Manasseh made a drastic and remarkable change when he returned to Jerusalem.
Side note- Do you think the citizens of the city were glad to see him return or scared for their lives? You see, personal repentance brings forgiveness but the influence of sin lingers and abides.
When he returned, he:
rebuilt the city wall & made it higher- reinforced the city defenses
stationed guards around the city
got rid of foreign gods
removed all the idols and altars in the temple
restored the altar of the Lord
His personal experience with God, “knowing that the Lord is God” motivated his change in behavior, word and deed. He took action nationally to undo what he had done. He took action personally. He had truly met God and was changed.
The amount of evil he had done was totally forgiven and covered because he humbled himself, sought the favor of the Lord and prayed to Him. His sins were forgiven, his distress was lifted and his situation changed.
God heard. God was moved. God responded to Manasseh’s humility and entreaty. God changed him. his situation, his sin, and his distress.
There is always hope.
If there is hope for Manasseh there is hope for all.
“No mortal man hath excuse to perish is despair. No one is justified in saying God will never forgive me.”
Let’s return to our opening – There is no situation so bad, no sin so grievous, no distress so deep that hope is inaccessible or change not possible.
There is always hope for those who in humility make their entreaty of the Lord.
I sat down wanting to consider all the factors, forces and functions happening in a one minute slice of my life.
A picture came into view in my minds eye. Looking beyond where I was sitting was a slice of time that looked like the rays of light that shine from a door slightly cracked open. In that moment of light, that slice of life – what factors were at work? What forces were in play? What functions were occurring?
Of the 1,440 minutes in my day, what was happening, from my view, in just one of them.
Starting with my body, then my position, and finally to what I could see and beyond, I looked into that small, lighted slice of time and began thinking, “What is happening in this slice of life?”
My brain began racing. Right here in my body, with just the things that can remember here’s what is happening:
there are 79 different organs working together keeping me alive
there are (some say) over 10,000 body parts working together
my heart is beating 60 plus times & pumping blood into my veins and through my body
I am breathing in Oxygen and my lungs are processing it throughout the body
while at the same time exhaling the hazardous gasses
my breakfast is being digested
nutrients from breakfast are supplying my body
wastes are being eliminated
my kidneys are filtering that waste
my eyes are processing millions of bits of visual data
my ears are hearing and registering the sounds around me
the other senses also are gathering and inputting information
all of it is happening because of the supercomputer brain
2400 times faster than the best computer, my brain, is capturing billions of electrical signals and sending them out and receiving others in
thoughts are being formed
hair, nails, skin, red blood cells and white blood cells are growing and multiplying
water loss and need is being tracked
air pressure and content is monitored for the health of my body
sores and injuries are healing
I have spit in my mouth, moisture in sinuses and eyes as needed
eyelashes are defending against unwanted entry
nose hairs doing the same
skin protecting and defending and regenerating as needed
DNA mutations are being healed
hormones and chemicals are balanced as needed
there are muscles working that I can’t name
my bones are supporting those muscles and much more
STOP. My brain hurts. I cannot keep up or write fast enough. I don’t know enough, understand enough. And still there is so much more happening in my body!!!!
This, my body, is just the first stop in my considering what happens in my one minute slice of life.
I have yet, to consider my positional surroundings nor my view beyond.
In that slice, there is still:
the plants and their processes
the seen animals and their workings and wonders
the unseen animals, insects and creatures and all their complexities
the air composition and pressure
the effects of gravity on all we see (or what would happen without it)
temperatures within our body and outside our body that are “perfect” for life
effects of light and the powers of electromagnetism
the nuclear forces at work in both strong and weak forces
beyond our atmospheres, where do I begin?
Again, I am simply overwhelmed by the vastness of the complexities of my world. I have forgotten much of the science but my heart explodes in wonder.
In just one slice of life, one 60 second glimpse from where I sit to beyond what I can see, I know of billions times billions of factors, forces, and functions at work. Overwhelmed is simply an understatement.
Now, if I were to take that one slice, multiply it by 60, then multiply that by 24… I now have before me a whole day to consider.
Additionally, these are static pictures. So let’s throw in people variables, and their interactions. Now add current local events and issues. Now multiply that by 19,495 because that is the number of cities in USA.
Oh yeh, what about the nations? America is not the only nation on the planet. There are 193 countries and two observer states. Oh my aching brain.
And while we’re at it, let’s not leave out the 7 main ecosystems and the interactions within each of those. How each part is playing a specific role in support of life.
Our finite brains are not able to comprehend the complexities, intricacies, and wisdom that shape each factor, force or function in our lives.
Sitting here, in my chair, viewing my little shaft of light, slice of life, I am unbelievably amazed by it all; from the squawking of the American coots outside my door, to the beating of my heart and closing of my eyelids.
My slice of life is beyond my understanding but not my appreciation.
I therefore choose to be grateful, awe struck and ever in wonder.
I also choose to trust, knowing that there is a greater, higher force and power at work, who is way beyond my figuring out.
Looking at my slice of life helped me to put things in perspective. I trust it has done the same for you.
These thoughts today are a follow-up to my recent video teaching, “Lessons from Elite Athletes”. If you haven’t seen it and would like to, here it is:
So, when was the last time you trained for something?
I sat down and made a list starting as far back as I could remember (back to elementary school) of things that I had “trained” for or in and came up with a list of 18 items.
Then I looked at the list and realized it could be broken into two different categories: athletic/body training and skills training in specific areas.
Try it, make a list of the things that you have trained for. Study it. What one stands out to you? Was it that great half marathon you ran? Was it those 30 pounds you lost? Was it surviving Basic Training? Was it competing in the SUP 10K, or scaling the mountain face?
Whatever it was, it showed you your ability to level up and advance.
So, what did it take to level up? What does a training mindset require?
a decision that it is needed – the mental commitment and conditioning to make it happen is the first and perhaps biggest battle
making the time to train – planning, preparation, reprioritizing
being consistent – without diligent consistency no new habits will be formed
pushing beyond comfort levels – “no pain, no gain”
I bet you would agree, you would never have leveled up and made it through your training without those four points firmly established and practiced.
We all have a choice as players in this game of life. Will we be bad players, good players or great players?
” Bad players don’t take much seriously. Good players take practice and games seriously. Great players take warm ups, nutrition, skill work, weight room, conditioning, stretching, film, practice and games seriously.”
Jon Beck – coach
Now, what about that same focus, fervor, determination and sacrifice in your spiritual training? Is it there?
Because way more important than training for an event is the race that we are in spiritually. And again, we are all in the game, the question is at what level. What is our commitment to leveling up spiritually?
The Christian life is a marathon, and we ought not be on the sidelines, but running diligently in the race as contenders for the win!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 tells us we should go into strict training and train to win.
Consider these winning motivating challenges from the “rule book” for the race- the Bible. Practice saying these out loud to yourself:
John 3:30 – he must become greater
Galatians 2:20-21 – I am crucified with Christ, it is no longer I that lives, but Christ in me
1 Corinthians 15:31 – I die daily
Galatians 5:24-25 – I have nailed the passions and desires to the cross
Colossians 3:10 – I put on the new man
2 Corinthians 5:17 – I am a new creature, the old is gone
1 Peter 2:24 – that I might die to sin and live for righteousness
Romans 13:14 – do not think how to gratify the desires of the flesh
Luke 14:27 – whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple
Luke 9:23 – whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and follow me
These statements put our body on notice that it is time for training, your body’s shout for satisfaction is no longer your priority.
Those statements also stir the Spirit within you to wake up and take charge. Remember, those two are always at war within us. So the decision of which to listen to and side with is paramount in our training.
To level up spiritually begins with the mindset and decision that it is needed. We can’t stay where we are and level up at the same time. We must decide to go for it and press in, work at it consistently and leave the comfort of serving self.
That decision being made, then we can prioritize and make time for what we need to do. Do we need to build up our prayer time? Study the word more? Praise more? Fellowship with other believers?
Those things are the basics.
Acts 2 tells us of the new church and their habits that allowed the church to level up and grow.
they continued in the apostles teaching – bible study
fellowship – with other believers
breaking of bread – communion
prayer – worship
These are what I call basic training for Christians. These four areas are the first level of Christian life – the basics. From here, believers are challenged to grow up, mature and level up.
This is where we go into strict training in an effort to grow and mature and be the ones who finish the race strong and win the prize. We are the ones who actually bear fruit and not just express words. We are striving to become like Jesus. He is our standard.
To level up, we not only increase time and quality in the four basic training areas, but we also move into other areas of spiritual maturity.
Here are some areas for us to mature in. These represent meat for those who are hungry for more than baby’s milk.
Serving others, fasting, personal evangelism, missions, giving, baptisms, spiritual giftings, solitude, healing, signs and wonders, casting out demons, preaching the gospel, making disciples.
These are the things that Jesus called his disciples to. These are areas the Holy Spirit is calling us to move into. Jesus said, “greater works than these shall you do”. That is a WOW statement right there, cuz He did amazing miracles!
When? Why not now? Why not you? Are you trained and ready?
THIS is the race that we are in. These are the areas that we are being called to level up to. This is why basic training is not enough. It is only the starting blocks of the race.
For some, perhaps basic training is enough.
But there is an army of believers rising up who are “forcefully advancing the kingdom”. They are not content with the basics. They see the Kingdom of God coming in power and authority and have chosen to be under that realm, sphere and influence. They have trained their senses to discern between good and bad, righteousness and evil, flesh and spirit.
They have learned to fast and pray and hear God’s voice, direction and plan. They have learned to follow the Spirit’s leading. They are expectant when speaking with people about the ways of the Lord. They carry His presence wherever they go and they are contending for miracles, signs and wonders – today, in our nation.
To be in that group, and be a great spiritual player, everything matters. Everything is training. “All things work together for good” in my life and help me to build spiritual muscle mass. I must stay consistent in my training. Even when I fail or trip, I will get back up and get myself back into training and the race.
I am determined and filled with diligence and discipline. I am committed to move out of my comfort zone with consistency, purpose, strength and accuracy.
I’m leveling up. I am advancing. I am beefing up my spiritual regiment. I am driving forward spiritually. I am thriving spiritually not barely existing.
We stand on the verge of worldwide revival. Our nation is ripe for His presence and power. It is coming. He is coming. Allow Him to put His super on your natural and rock your world, flow through you and change lives.
Evaluate your spiritual fitness. What do you need to do to be a part of what God is doing today?
It is time to level up.
God with God.
PS – Leave me a comment. I would love to heave from you.
The brain is the most powerful processing unit ever designed. Every second it receives information from the senses, chemical messages and other stimuli and it reaches a conclusion for us, automatically. It links data pieces to make a thought, decision, memory or picture of the world for us to understand.
It is the body’s command center for perception, thought formation, and memory creation.
Your grey matter is the most powerful computer ever designed, able to handle 10 to the 16th power amount of data per second! Consisting of 100 billion nerve cells and other neurons which could add up to 1 quadtrillion connections, each with the ability to combine and increase storage capacity.
Performing over 100,000 chemical reactions every second, and sending signals traveling along neurotransmitters at speeds of 268 mph, there are no two brains that are alike.
Whether you are awake or asleep, it is always working, making connections, processing information, creating chemical reactions, transporting signals to fill in gaps and complete mental processes.
During your sleeping hours, the brain is still active, controlling your body functions, and is engaged in activities necessary for your life to function as well as bringing you a better quality of life by helping us remember the things we learned the previous days.
It is the unconscious mind that tries to make connections with concepts you understand and work them into your actual learning. Even within your dreams are woven symbolic representations to connect concepts to your own individual understanding and experience.
Brain plasticity, which is your ability to adapt to input, is vital for your healthy functioning, too. Your brain not only helps you adapt to and in situations but it also removes waste products and unused data blocks, so that it can weave short term memories into long term memory banks. And , of course, your brain works to help your body and muscles grow.
Generating enough wattage to light a light bulb and provide a human 70,000 thoughts a day, this is a remarkably designed organ.
At only 3 pounds, a single, sand sized piece of brain tissue (eeww) contains 100,00 neurons and 1 billion synapses all communicating with each other!
AND, all brain cells are NOT alike. There are as many as 10,000 specific types of neurons. In fact, if all your neurons were lined up side by side they would stretch out 621.371 miles. But you wouldn’t be able to see them because they would still be invisible to the naked eye. (10 microns wide)
Your amazing, always working, powerful brain!
All this happens, keeping you alive and aware in your world without so much as a thought or worry from you.
Your brain functions powerfully, tending to you, your surroundings and all the stimuli that comes at you, striving to make connections and decisions on your behalf, allowing the quality of your life to be the very best that it can be.
Your amazing brain, it never stops working.
It is always processing on your behalf, always making connections for you. Whether you are awake or asleep it is always working, helping you to grow, remember, understand and be.
Isn’t that exactly what God, the Creator does?
Isn’t the brain a small picture of of the complexity and power of God and His care for you?
Go back and reread this post, as you do, think of all the descriptions of the brain and its complexities picturing Almighty God, and His complex, intricate love and care for you in your world.
” Is prayer your steering wheel or is it your spare tire?”
Corrie ten Boom
In these days I suppose that there is a good amount of prayer leaving people’s lips and I include you in that group. Our focus today, is to consider Corrie ten Boom’s question, is prayer your steering wheel or is it your spare tire?
Does your prayer steer where you go, the direction you turn, the course you’re on?
Or, do you turn to prayer when you have had a deflating experience, been punctured or are slowly leaking your life’s joy?
As we consider these thoughts, let’s go to a biblical example of steering wheel prayer – Job. The man who had it all, lost it all but wound up with double in the end.
His story is in the 42 chapters of the Bible book that bears his name.
In quick summary, this man lived in the near East, was extremely wealthy, had a large and happy family, was respected in the community and was considered blameless, upright and God-fearing. (he wasn’t an Israelite either.) Job 1
In a heavenly council meeting, God and Satan were discussing Job’s spiritual character, and Satan was given permission by God to mess with Job, ie: take away his flocks, herds, family, home, possessions and health. Job 1-2
What follows is 35 chapters of Job and his “friends” in dialogue back and forth; they accusing him of sinning against God, and he defending his innocence.
At their first sight of Job, they could hardly recognize him, for the disease that had raveged his body. The four of them sat in silence together, no one knowing what to say, or daring to say anything. This went on for 7 days! Talk about awkward silence??!!
Then the speeches begin. Each takes turn throwing out accusations, assertions, theories, defenses, and logic.
Then, in chapter 38 God shows up and “speaks out of the storm.”
For the next 5 chapters (38-42) God speaks to Job, and asks him questions like:
where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? 38:4
have you given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place? 38:12
where does darkness reside? 38:19
do you know the laws of heaven? 38:33
do you send lightening bolts on their way? 38:35
do you know when the mountain goats give birth? 39:1
does the hawk take flight by your wisdom? 39:26
will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? 40:2
do you have an arm like God’s? 40:9
can you pull leviathan with a fishook? 41:1
Job’s humble answer was, ” I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can the thwarted. My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you, therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2-6
THEN, the Lord spoke again to Job and told him he was angry with his 3 friends because they had not spoken the truth like he, Job had. 42:7
The friends were then told to make an offering and go to Job and have him pray for them. 42:8
We are told that the Lord accepted Job’s prayer and after that prayer, the Lord restored Job’s fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. Double the sheep, camels, pairs of oxen, and donkeys. He had another 10 children and this time his daughters received an inheritance among their brothers.
That was sorta a brief summary.
Was Job’s prayer his steering wheel or his spare tire?
He didn’t pray until the Lord gave him direction to pray for his friends. The Lord actually was steering Job’s prayer.
Although he had plenty of deflating, puncturing and slow leaks happen in his life, his prayer was never something he relied on as a fix it for those flattening experiences.
His prayer was definitely a steering wheel, inspired by God to bring restoration and double portion blessing.
Job’s prayer steered the direction of his life and that of his family and friends. Job’s prayer brought liberty and forgiveness to his friends and abundant blessing to his family.
Job’s prayer, steered by God, brought everything that Job needed.
Among the lessons to learn from Job, here are my big 5:
God controls everything
Bad things happen to good people
Friends get it both right and wrong
When God speaks He exposes our smallness
Praying God led prayers brings restoration and double portion
In closing, lets return to the premise. I believe that you are praying.
But what are you praying? Are you praying God led prayers? Are your prayers steered by God? Inspired by God? Motivated by God? Are your prayers steering your life, walk, direction?
For those praying God led prayers comes restoration, double portion blessing, health, and provision.
Will you let Jesus take the wheel? Will you allow him to direct your prayers? Will you let him steer?
If so, you will enter into a new realm of freedom, empowerment, discernment, joy and satisfaction.