Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunset Meditations


Tonight I sat down in the cafe to devour a quick cup of baked potato soup (awesome) and a cinnamon crunch bagel (sliced, toasted, and also awesome)...I picked a chair by the long wall of windows because I like to look outside at the sky and the traffic and the neon signs of the other dozen restaurants surrounding my own place of employment.

As I sat down and looked to the West, I was literally stunned by the sunset. It was not the traditional sunset where the entire sky blazes red and orange with shadow-purple clouds. It was not the cloudless sunset where the fading light burns and fades in perfect clarity.

This sunset was a wide cavern of light in a wall of dark clouds. Every part of the sky was overcast with a few cotton wisps hovering above the trees and a gray blanket blocking the dusk stars. Every part but one....

Blasting over and around a rolling thundercloud was the purest yellow light I have ever seen at sunset, as if the sun had polished the atmosphere and shone its perfect light through crisp, spotless air. Ladders of brilliance erupted in all directions. The edges of the cloud held the brilliance in its vapor like the flares in our eyelids when we stare at fluorescence.

I watched this incredible beauty for thirty minutes, and traced the sun's descent with awestruck eyes. As I ate and enjoyed the evidence of God's beauty, I watched the customers leaving the restaurant, willing them through some stupid attempt at telepathy to look up at the sky and behold the beauty. I wanted to bang on the glass, burst out the door, point with my hand and tell them how amazing and how beautiful and how cool and how unique was the sunset....

But no one looked. No one stopped to watch, no eyes turned to the light, no heads shook with wonder. Once, I grew excited as an early-twenties couple left and the young man pointed with his hand. I leaned forward, hoping he was pointing at the sun, hoping he was sharing this moment with someone he loved...but no. I sat back disappointed. A shiny new Jeep held their attention and they stared at it while walking to their own, undoubtedly less-cool vehicle.

I could not shake the tragedy of them missing out. I could not shake their ignorance. I could not shake their blindness to the light.

For some reason, I have always been mystified by the sky. I love it. Massive clouds, rain, lightning, tornadoes, sunrises, sunsets, the moon (my absolute, absolute favorite), stars, meteors, eclipses. I love all of it. Everything about the sky is incredible.

My creative, artistic personality has given me hell at times, but other times it lets me see heaven. Sometimes the passion and intensity and emotion within opens my eyes and draws my attention to things other people might miss completely.....

So I thanked God for who I am. I thanked Him for allowing me to see the sunset, for making me a person who finds beauty in the world, in nature, in real things. I do not find myself superior to the people who walk to their cars with bellies full and minds on bedtime. Not at all. But I am so glad I see more. I hope I never walk past beauty without appreciation and awe.

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Now. This is where my mind stopped until I started to write....then I felt a challenge. An analogy, a metaphor, a whatever-the-heck comparison.

The sunset is beautiful.

But God made the sunset. God fashioned the earth with a word. He ordered the sky with His hand. His creativity pulled everything beautiful from emptiness. Our Father is the Creator.

Oh! To feel the reality of my sonship with as much power as I felt the beauty of the fading light of a dying star. To have the urge to shout for those walking in darkness, their eyes filled with nothing, to behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. To have the desire to share the experience of my shameless, guiltless salvation in the name of Jesus Christ like I wanted to share the wonder of a single sunset.

Father, break my reality with your presence. Outshine your creation in my heart, overpower the desires in my life, overcome my weakness and fear so I may boldly, proudly, adamantly proclaim the worthiness and majesty of my Father to those who are missing out on the most beautiful thing in existence--Your Love.


JOB 26
“The departed spirits tremble
Under the waters and their inhabitants.
“Naked is Sheol before Him,
And Abaddon has no covering.
“He stretches out the north over empty space
And hangs the earth on nothing.
“He wraps up the waters in His clouds,
And the cloud does not burst under them.
“He obscures the face of the full moon
And spreads His cloud over it.
“He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters
At the boundary of light and darkness.
“The pillars of heaven tremble
And are amazed at His rebuke.
“He quieted the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.
“By His breath the heavens are cleared;
His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.
“Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”

PSALM 57:10
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.

PSALM 63:2-3
So I have looked upon you in your sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.

PSALM 96:1-6
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of people are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Shushi

Tonight I experienced something new and exciting.

Sushi.

I know. World traveler, college graduate, strange-job-extraordinaire, etc. who has never tried sushi?

It was true. Before tonight, the only exposure I had to sushi was a crumbled mess from a supermarket deli in which I ate the rice and scraped the random slimy ingredients to the plate.

A friend of mine (also world-traveler and college graduate) took me to a local sushi place called Fuji San. No idea what it means, but the word "fuji" will always remind me of Mt. Fujiyama photos, which in turn reminds me of Tom Cruise's movie "The Last Samurai", which then requires me to say the word in a very fast, very slurred Japanese accent.

Fujisan...

It's pretty fun to say, really, and it's an easy way to make everything sound Japanese.
Computersan. Tablesan. Dressersan.

....I feel like a lot of people do the same with Americans (Southern especially) and the word ya'll....I know after I lived in Canada, I made sure and said "eh" after everything.

I am tired, eh? There is a storm coming, eh? Looks like the end of the world, the sky all black and everything, eh? You got hit by a raindrop just now, eh? Sucks, eh? Right on your eye, eh?

Pretty annoying...eh?

ANYWAY.

Sushi.

What a bizarre experience. I enjoyed a Fujisan Special Roll (crabsticks, salmon, roe, sesame, eel sauce, and avocado). The taste was pretty incredible. All the different tastes and flavors came together in a way that was very pleasing to the ole palate. However, the texture was crazy. I really have no way to describe it because I have never eaten anything with the slimy, sticky, spongy texture of sushi.

I can honestly say, though, that I enjoyed it. Much of that had to with the company, but as far as a new culinary adventure, it was a complete success. I will have sushi again in the future, for sure, especially since I will get to use chopsticks again....best invention ever. However, how come they haven't evolved? I mean...in Western cultures we have the fork, spoon, knife, spatula, salad fork, soup spoon, tea spoon, etc. etc. until finally culminating in the highest mutation of the culinary tool genus: The Spork.

Come on, Orient. You're falling a bit behind....put your thinking caps on and let's get some creative tools attached to your bamboo sewing needles.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

crossroads and crazylove

I am reading a book right now. Correction. I am studying a book right now. I am digesting a book right now. I am absorbing a book right now.....

The book is called crazy love. It is written by Francis Chan.

I have a pretty short attention span and very high standards for this genre of literature...most of this results from the commercial manipulation of my faith. I have been in very few Christian bookstores and browsed very few church foyer tables where I did not feel a sourness in my stomach.

However, this hesitation toward commercial-Christian literature is starting to dissolve thanks to some quality recommendations from strong friends who are also pursuing the truth of Christianity and the prize of a genuine faith.

Chan's work came to me through many channels. Five friends and a sister encouraged me to "check out the book crazy love", and their recommendation was usually followed by some variation of the statement: "It's awesome."

And so far I would have to agree....though I am not sure that word sums up the experience completely.

I am in the middle of the book, and honestly, it is kicking my butt. I do not want to post a review or a summary...not yet...so I will not get into the specific reasons for my diagnosis of defeat, but Chan does not dance around his central issue, the central issue facing the Christian Church today.

We are not doing our job. As mirrors of God, the majority of us--95.674% of us--are cloudy and foggy at best. At worst we are not mirrors at all....

My mind still reels when I try to understand the perfectly coincidental timing of my studying this book. God has been testing me lately, as best I can discern anyway. Who am I to know the workings of the Creator? But I have felt Him pursuing me. I have seen His Spirit in my surroundings, heard His whisper in my searching. He has been drawing me closer to Him: through fire, through peace, through glory and shame. It truly has been remarkable to witness.

Enter the urgent message of the book.

Basically, in an incredibly powerful and Biblical manner, Chan urges his readers to truthfully examine the nature of their faith. Honestly and seriously consider the lengths we are willing to go for the God of the Universe and the Savior of our Lives and the Comforter of our Souls.

He blatantly and unashamedly proposes the idea that most Christians (especially and specifically in America) are stagnant, complacent, apathetic, habitual followers of tradition and social morality.

He throws accusations and challenges like arrows, and they would not hurt if they were not so well-targeted.

It is as if God has been working in me to this moment...testing and strengthening my faith and my spirit for this very encounter with His great purpose for my life. He has ordered my steps, and I find myself facing this new challenge, this all-or-nothing lifestyle designed to bring Him glory.

Why is it so hard to surrender? Why is it so difficult to let go? Why do my lips speak every phrase with ease, but struggle violently to even whisper, "not my will, but thine be done"?

My pride and my spirituality are taking a beating. My idea of a godly life is being redefined. My understanding of God's desire for me is changing dramatically. And I do not attest these things to Mr. Chan because his voice is secondary to the voice of God's Truth. Scriptures abound in the book, which is one of the reasons I have taken the truths presented to heart and not dismissed them as opinion. I fully believe that God is working through the words of his servant, and God's work sometimes hurts. The truth sometimes hurts. But He promised it would set.us.free.

I feel a crossroads approaching, if I have not already arrived, where I must make a conscious decision to move forward or succumb to insincerity and fear and allow myself to be taken downstream.

Give me strength, Father. I want to want a life of sacrifice. I desire to desire nothing else. My spirit and my flesh are both weak....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dust

Do the angels sing Amazing Grace
when they look upon your face?
Do the clouds glorify your name,
the sunsets give you the highest praise?

Do the planets turn and dance for you,
or the stars proclaim your perfect truth?
Will the rocks sing of your endless love
or the rain as it pours from skies above?

Do the waves roar when you draw near
the smallest sparrows tremble in fear?
Does the moon reflect your holy light
Or the morning sun your fire ignite?

Out of all Creation you chose me
to shine your light so they will see
The power of love, the depth of grace,
The healing power of your holy name.

Out of all history you have chosen me
to conquer the world so that it will see
the power of the light, the end of the dark,
your Amazing Grace, how great thou art.

You formed me in the dust with your hand
fashioned life from this grain of sand
You saved me from the dust with your death
offered life with your dying breath.

More than conquerors, more than clay.
More than sinners, more than saints.
More than mountains, oceans, valleys low.
More than the death our sins have sown.

Formed in the dust, finished on a cross
Everything I gain is counted loss
Filled with the promise fulfilled in your name
When we shall see you, oh glorious day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

:help my unbelief:

Faith….what is it?

Is it perseverance despite a lack of proof?

Is faith mere certainty?

Is it constant, unceasing security?

Is it belief?

If I believe something, do I have faith in that something?

This cannot seem to be the case because “even the demons believe”—and tremble in fear and awe and total recognition of their helplessness. So therefore, one would think that faith is not belief or emotional reaction.

It is not fear, guilt, shame, joy, happiness, comfort.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.”

What does it mean, then, to have strong faith?

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Abraham is one of our examples in Scripture.

He climbed the mountain, clinging to a hope that God would raise his son from the dead after his hand drove a knife through the young boy’s chest. Does this mean at no time on this trek did Abraham falter, cry out in the depth of his soul, look down on the valley and think of packing his tent and returning to Ur?

I don’t think so.

Abraham was an example of faith, but Abraham was a human example.

So what convinces us to continue? What turned Abraham toward the mountain again? In those moments when he struggled, when doubt whispered in his ear, what finally forced him to lead his son to slaughter?

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I think Abraham’s memory played a part in this perseverance.

I think he remembered two things: God’s promised future and his personal past.

Denying his faith in God meant denying all the miraculous things he had seen—all the evidence of grace and patience and faithfulness. Giving in to doubt meant returning to the environment of his ancestors—to the uncertainty, the pointless searching, the pagan rituals, the worship of material things. I think he remembered who he was outside the covenant—another rich citizen. However, persevering meant accepting his new role, who he was in the covenant—the ruler of an entire nation, the patriarch of the ocean sands and night stars, a friend of God Himself. I think in those moments, Abraham, through strength of mind and will, forced himself up the mountain…and it was counted to him as righteousness.

So maybe faith is a choice, a conscious decision to believe God regardless of how we feel at the moment of our doubt. Perhaps faith is choosing to sacrifice our independent intelligence that would seem to dissuade us from the supernatural experience of a new creation, and choosing to do this even in those moments when it may all seem like a waste of time—those dark minutes when everything seems so distant, so fantastical, so doubtful…

In fact, perhaps it is only through these times that faith is necessary. During the other times, when we “feel” like a child of God, how often do we question? How often do we doubt? How often, during a rousing worship service or a deep conversation with an intimate friend, do we need that quality of faith that carries us when there is no light of confidence in our soul?

When “God is working” in a tangible or even a definite, emotional way, there suddenly becomes this distance from true faith, because now our security and certainty is based on the satisfactory feeling, the sense of calm or comfort. Now, I do not believe these feelings are a bad thing. I absolutely believe that God excites, overjoys, encourages, quiets, soothes, etc our hearts and minds with the gifts of our emotions. These are not to be feared, but to be recognized as mediums with which He works, rather than guarantors of our condition.

This experience belonged to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration when there was a great amount of proof—both physical and emotional—that they were in the presence of the Almighty. Undoubtedly there was a mixture of emotions, which settled into peace of mind. This time did not require the action of faith because the evident reality of their belief was so incredibly present, so magnificently obvious and direct.

Perhaps think of it in this way…On a crisp, spring day, one might find it easy to be in a pleasant mood. The birds are chirping, a breeze is blowing, children are laughing in the park. The whole world seems excited and alive. In this event, barring some deep personal tragedy, one would not need a great strength of mind or emotional soundness to walk with an open chest and whistle a favorite tune. However, on a dreary winter morning when icy rain bites and gloomy clouds settle on the city like a steel wool blanket, one typically has to fight to repress feelings of depression, tiredness, and woe. In this event, we see the vital importance of conscious emotional focus and submission because in this event, it is needed to maintain our desired—or our optimal—state of being.

A town does not know the strength and efficiency of its fire department until flames threaten their homes and businesses. They do not recognize the need salvation when there is no present catastrophe, except for peace of mind should the unthinkable occur. Perhaps this is something we should consider in the realm of faith. I wonder how many times faith is discussed in the Bible in direct relation to some trial of mind, body, or soul. Job, Abraham, David, the saints of the church, are all mentioned in relation to faith, and all of them are in relation to their personal strength during suffering. Faith is not fire insurance, but assurance during the fire.

Just like the town does not recognize their need for a fire brigade when there are no fires, we live as if we do not need faith unless we are in some sort of trial. BUT just as the townsfolk would be incredibly foolish to not institute a fire department, we as humans are beyond this foolishness when we leave faith from our daily life. For if there is one thing the townsfolk and we Christians share, it is the realization that fires will come. They will consume the walls of emotional experience, intellectual defense, and any other tangible proof—save a foundation on the rock of faith. This is when we need our faith…yet how tragic is it that I dismiss this faith from my daily and weekly pursuits of emotional highs and the “peace beyond understanding”. How tragic is it that I look for God and search for Him in an effort to repair the problems and enhance the pleasures of my life and leave my faith in weakness and frailty. No wonder when the fire arrives I look up in anger and amazement rather than joy.

How does one strengthen faith? How does one acquire this action/virtue?

Virtues—faith, hope, trust, self-control, mercy, etc. are only increased when they are tested, only strengthened when they are used.

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Take self-control—a denial of some personal desire. The only way one can practice self-control is for one to deny something they desire. It is not self-control if you do not want it. If you refuse to enter an establishment of ill-repute because you are afraid someone will see your car in the parking lot—you are not practicing self control, but simple fear-based reasoning akin to a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. In fact, if I might be so bold, we rarely exemplify true self-control. We always seem to create some reason in our mind why we do not want something or cannot have something rather than just admitting our desire and deciding to deny it.

“I really want to buy this, but if I do, then I won’t be able to get those shoes or go to the movies.”

Not self control. A prioritization of desires.

How do we strengthen it?

Use it. Start with little things and work up, though, rather than leaping into a den of debauchery and saying I led you there to practice self control. Say no to a movie, say no to a purse, say no to a friend, say no to something. Deny yourself something you want, even if that something is not sinful, and you will see how terrible we are at self control. The first thing you will ask yourself is “Why?”

“Why should I not get this? I can afford it?”

After discussing poor examples of self control, I will include a genuine example which I believe will also answer the above question.

“I really want this job, but if I take this job, my children will not have the best chance at a positive future.”

“I really want this new cd, but I could use the money to buy dinner for a friend having a difficult time.”

This is self control. Refusal, not out of a different form of personal gain (reputation or alternate entertainment), but from a selfless desire to promote the well-being of another.

Self control and selflessness go hand-in-hand.

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....that part was free....

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I do not want to get too far off-track. The purpose of this example is to show how our virtues—those things in our life we might think we have—are often found lacking when we need them most, and this might be the result of their weakened state due to atrophy. The point still remains, and can even be applied to the previous example, we do not recognize our need for them until they are required of us.

Right now, my faith is needed.

Right now, my faith is required of me.

And right now, my faith is weak.

The time when I need those feelings of peace and comfort and trust, they are nowhere to be found—because they are fleeting, based on tangible events or emotional triggers—and because God has chosen, in His will, to not rain them down upon me. Now it’s just me and the darkness of doubt, and the only things that will save me are the faith I am questioning and the truths of Him and His Word that I am doubting.

Ironic and cruel, in a way.

But it’s not faith if there is overwhelming evidence. It’s not self-control if I refuse something I do not want. It’s not blind love if only directed at those easy to love.

So, I am on a mountainside, in the middle of an exhaustive climb, and right now I struggle with the promises of God and question the reality of His presence. I look back, wondering, fearing, thinking, despairing. My next motion will either increase my reliance on a power beyond myself or increase my own sense of control and my own power over my life.

And honestly, I do not want to go back to the way things were.

I remember my life before Him.

I remember my pain before His healing.

I remember my wandering before His guidance.

And I want nothing to do with it.

I would rather walk in blind faith, mocked by the perceived intelligence of my own flesh and the social acceptance of my culture, than return to a present without purpose and a future without hope.

So now I turn to the mountain and force my feet to walk. I still do not feel the sun on my back, but I force my bones to bend and my muscles to move, even as I am surrounded by doubt, and I cry out to a God I cannot see and cannot feel and ask Him to save a wretch like me.

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This will not be my last climb. This will not be my last trial. And these thoughts will not be my last on the strange topics of belief and faith and doubt. I do not claim all of the above to be truth, nor do I claim it to be a wholly accurate description of my personal doctrine. These are thoughts from a chaotic mind, thought during a chaotic time. I hope they are encouraging/revelatory. I hope you find comfort in them should you happen to be on a mountain. I hope you pray for me if you are in the sunlight. This time is an important one, and while some parts of this rant may seem to promote independence of action and thought, I am very much aware of my complete need for Him.

May the God of peace be with you. He is so much bigger than anything I could ever fear, and this time is necessary to bring me closer to Him.

Grace and peace.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Father of Lights


Blessed are you, God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ.
According to your great mercy, you have caused me to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for me, who, by your power, am being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this I rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, I have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of my faith--more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire--may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though I have not seen Him, I love Him. Though I do not now see Him, I believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of my faith, the salvation of my soul."


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I need to make an announcement.

God is incredible.

I know something similar is said by a thousand mouths in a thousand seconds in a thousand places, and perhaps we become too calloused to the truth. Perhaps because all of our worship songs sing it, all our Christian bookstores sell it, all our believer friends say it, the truth can be lost in repetition.

But God really is amazing, and I cannot even begin to express my thoughts regarding the majesty He has shown in this past year. My analytical mind wants to halt these words long enough to work out some kind of cohesive, in-depth research essay on the glory of God, so I can pinpoint every single event and connect them with every single emotion, but I am not going to wait for such a complete summation. I am going to sporadically write my thoughts without planning, without editing, without correcting, erasing, retyping. I want my words to flow, and I want my flawed, disconnected words to somehow bring praise to the One who has given me everything I could hope for and eternity beside.

My words will never be enough...the best thoughts my ignorant, simple, scattered brain can conjure will always fail to comprehend the greatness of His love, glory, mercy, compassion, patience, faithfulness. But that doesn't mean I don't try...that doesn't mean I don't stammer and stutter and whisper and shout and cry and laugh at the ideas of Him, at the nature of His Spirit, the sacrifice and love of His Son.

The love of God is greater far
than tongue or pen can ever tell,
It goes beyond the highest star
and reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair,
bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forever more endure
the saints and angels' song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the sky of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
though stretched from sky to sky.

This year has been so difficult...This year has brought me to lows I never thought existed, into valleys of great shadow and fear...This year has caused me to doubt the very ideas of life, God, the future, happiness...

This year has been so amazing...This year has showed me the truth of God, the faithfulness of God, the love of God, the patience of God...This year has brought me into a time of great joy and great blessing...This year has consumed me with a complete reliance on my Father.

Through fire, our faith is purified.
Through fire, God shows His glory.
For every battle, a victory.
For every tear, a comfort.

God is a God of victory. And though sorrow lasts for a night, a year of nights, joy comes in the morning of His presence, and just as He is faithful to lead us into times of suffering and trial, He is faithful to lift our heads and look at the future awaiting us.

This is my simple, flawed, incomplete declaration of His unspeakable love and faithfulness, and I cannot wait for the day when my imperfections are transformed into perfections, and I am able to finally praise Him in His complete presence.

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"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever Amen. "

"Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

"Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful."

"Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise."

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed."

"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith."

Now to you, who is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me blameless before the presence of your glory with great joy, to you, the one and only God, my Savior, through Jesus Christ my Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.
Amen.



Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Impressions of the City

I wrote the following thoughts down in a notebook at Sugar Cafe, a coffee shop in San Francisco full of beautiful people.
These are rambling and chaotic, disconnected and strange, but they stem from my observations of the crazy new climate I experienced.
I think the greatest thing about all of this thinking and writing was the connection I made about cities and the world at large....very illuminating for me.

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The city life is incredible.

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Everyone is an outsider. Everyone is isolated. Even in a group, you are isolated outsiders.
It is a place where the confident are sharks and the rest of us are clown fish, afraid to leave the confines of our coral apartments.
People put themselves on display, equate everyone else with what they wear and where they do what.
Location, location, location.
For an obsessive, hyper-conscious person such as myself, I would never survive.
I cannot help but be conscious of what I say, how I say it, what I wear, and how I wear it.

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Independence is everywhere.
It's a paradox, because there are so very many in this environment, yet there is so much loneliness. How is this possible?
It's not all bad.
People are friendly, but I feel like everyone has become so accustomed to being in a shell that there is never an attempt to move beyond work or current social groups.
I'm not sure.
I think most of it stems from a mis-identity with people, a cycle of wrongly-placed importance. Our society has placed in our minds such an emphasis on standing out, being noticed, being cool and hip and catching someone's attention, that it's almost like stepping out the door is an assessment, the presentation of a final draft we are not sure is complete.

A strong sense of social worth and belonging and purpose allows one to parade through streets and coffee shops with bravado and ease. This person is a final draft they are proud of, one they could see getting published, accepted as literature, enjoyed by the masses.

A weak sense of social worth, and the person is forced to place an incomplete manuscript in front of watchful eyes. A walking rough draft that may, at first glance, seem ready for critique, but in reality, it is full of holes--and the author knows it. This false confidence is often over-done, and it is then eclipsed by resulting shame and discontent.

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I cannot imagine being an active, productive, strong Christian without a central group of fellow believers at my disposal. A group that offers encouragement and affirmation in the midst of such an overwhelming call for independence and security.

Consider the specific case of a romantic relationship--one defined by a certain amount of intimacy--when all of the pressure for success is placed on the duo's shoulders. It's not wonder so many buckle under the weight. How can two people so very independent and confident and self-reliant come to a place of genuine need for the other? How can someone, the result of years of personal discipline and social indoctrination, arrive at a place of emotional dependency on another, a place of emotional trust in the other person? Could the difficulty of this be a reason why so many relationships are based on physical connection and intimacy, rather than emotional attachment? When it is very challenging and demanding for self-reliant people to rely on another emotionally, the only thing left to offer is physical connection, something we all know to be, in and of itself, neither challenging or demanding. It is the easiest connection. We don't even have to think. In fact, in some cases, thinking is a great way to ruin such shallow pursuits. Could this tendency toward physical attraction further emphasize the need for one to present one's self in the most attractive and reflective manner? Could this be why so many rough drafts try so very hard to look final? They fix the margins and change the fonts of the title page, but leave the substance untouched, because, after all, no one will bother to read that far...

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I do not mean to mock or malign city life at all, because, the more I write this--the more I realize these characteristics are not those of a metropolis. These are not traits of a collection of humanity, but of humanity itself. Everyone, in any social demographic, experiences these same truths every day. From the highrise apartments in NYC to the trailer parks in rural Missouri. We are all unique snowflakes, yes, but we are all snow, and the same white blanket of vices and virtues covers all humanity. We are all independent. We are all isolated. We are all wrapped up in our comfort zones and social cliques. We all feign confidence. We all demand perfection.

However, just as a scientist connects the dots easier with a larger number of guinea pigs, these traits of humanity are seen clearer when more of us are in one place. Competition increases with each athlete added to a contest, independence and ambition increase with each human added to a given location.

Because of this, as I mentioned earlier, being a passionate Christian within the physical and cultural limits of a major American metropolis would seem to be a very challenging thing. It would require a strong sense of identity in God--obtained through devoted prayer and regular study in His word and among His people. It is absolutely possible for a single Christian to survive and be a light in his or her social atmosphere, but it means obstacles and persecution, but obstacles and persecution demand focus on God and purify our faith.

I think the only point of this whole discussion was to work out my thoughts about the city environment, which are, in turn, thoughts on humanity at large. The implication of all this talk is the recognition of the existence of difficulty in a strong, faithful Christian life. We have to understand our battle and respond to it appropriately.

Independence vs Dependence.
This is a battle I fight daily.
I want to be self-reliant. I want to be an island. I want security. I want absolute certainty.
But independence is not the Christian life.
I am human. I am incomplete without a relationship to my Creator.
Even though every cell in my brain screams for independence and self-reliance, I know my body and soul were created for union with the Trinity of Glory.

Pride and humility wage a war inside me. Inside us.

I love you all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Road Within

This probably won't be one of my research-intensive posts.
It probably won't be deep or insightful.
And it definitely will not be 100% coherent.

I have been flying the friendly(ish) skies for the past many hours, eating cheap pretzels, breathing recycled air, watching brainless television.

Give me a break.

-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9-9

Many of you know I have just returned from a trip to San Francisco. The (chosen) few on my Facebook friends list have certainly seen random snapshots and synopses of said trip. You might ask, "Why the heck aren't you posting about your adventures?"

And I might answer, "Because. Those experiences--though shared to a certain extent through conversation and photographs--are my own. I ingested them, absorbed them, lived them. I don't want to become the person who publicizes every event or describes every encounter. I am a relatively private individual. If you see me, ask me. I'll tell you about some of the things I did, the sights I saw, the paths I walked. Sometimes, I don't take a camera on my adventures because I want to be focused on breathing the air, the new, exciting air, rather than lining the sky up for a great shot. So I do want to talk about San Francisco. I did have a great time. But you might not find a lot of specific, "I ate at this place and tasted this food and saw this girl and watched this commercial and rode in this taxi," type of posts on here. Just sayin.....or actually I'm NOT saying......ba!

Anyway.

Long answer from a long-winded guy.

Traveling is so incredibly important to me, and it is exponentially more important (and more rewarding) when the destination is new. Few things in this life are more dear to me than experiencing a new place, meeting a new friend, or living a new culture. So, needless to say, this trip was much-needed and much-much-appreciated.

As is the case with other great traveling adventures, this one has created a great amount of excitement and hesitancy in my heart and mind. I find that every time I travel and experience a new thing, a new way of life, I reach a crossroads constructed by the realization, the shocking revelation, that my life is one of many. My problems, my pleasures, my worries, my fears, my joys, my desires, my obstacles, my victories. All of these belong to one tiny person in one tiny city in one tiny state in one (not so) tiny country. I am not important. ((Thanks to those friends and family members who immediately furrow their brow in worry and debate whether or not to call and reassure my pensive mind that I am, indeed, important to them)). I do not mean this in a depressing or self-degrading manner. I simply mean that my life is insignificant in the scope of the world at large. The thirty square miles that house the majority of my daily and nightly activities is a needle in a haystack of needles in a field of needlegrass on a hillside of......you get the idea.

This is such an amazing and frightening reality because it tilts the scales in the opposite way of our default state of mind in which ME, the individual, is all-important.

And this IS the default mode for all of us. Like one of those stupid toys that pops back up every time you knock it to the ground, our pride returns without any help from the outside. All its power comes from within, and like a rush of adrenaline, our independent heart minimizes any images, experiences, and memories that might remind us that our world is not the only world, our coffee shop not the only coffee shop, our friends not the only friends, our anxiety not the only anxiety, our fear not the only fear, our failure not the only failure, our love not the only love.

Traveling counters this default state of mind. I am exposed to other people, other lives, other areas, that exist completely independent of my involvement. The Cedar Lodge in El Postal, California existed before me and it will exist after me. The cab driver on Bush and Leavenworth and the lady who shared the fare had a childhood without me, without each other, and they will both have the same separate future.

This realization presents a crossroads, as I mentioned before. It creates a great opportunity for change, for encouragement, for battle, but it also creates an opportunity for nothing at all. This moment I have, right now, can either make me a better person or a worse person. All of the new experiences, new adventures, new encounters of this past week can either be a series of blows to the stubborn toy of my pride and independence or a list of reasons why I should never expand my horizons again.

Because, and I'm probably losing most of you out of boredom and/or confusion, we WANT to feel like we matter. We want to feel like our problems our the only problems. It serves some kind of sick pity party, some kind of justification for folding our hand when we should have raised. We want to feel like our victories are the only victories because it makes us all the more accomplished and deserved.

So....what does all this crap mean? To me, this crap is a struggle against my tendency to convert my life into a hole from which there is no escape or observation beyond my walls of dirt. This is a discussion about my struggle against selfishness and independence and vanity.

And right now. I'm winning.

You see....a trip is not only going one place and coming back again. A trip, every trip, is going some place and never returning at all.

I am not the person I was when I left for San Francisco.

The trip I started then, continues now, and if I am smart, I will continue it tomorrow when I drive to the grocery store one mile from my driveway. If I am smart, I will see in my neighborhood the same truth I saw on the cable car streets of San Francisco. If I am smart, I will hear the same message in the Gulf winds that I heard in the concrete breeze:

It's not about me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Means to an End


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Do you think, in an effort to remain popular with our own members, that the American church has lessened the importance of overt ministry on our home soil?

I know this is probably too vague of a question and it is a terrible introduction, but these thoughts crashed into my insomniac mind last night, and I have not been able to shake them.

Let me attempt clarification.

For years I have heard that not all “Christians” had to be “missionaries”--meaning not all of us who claim the name of Christ have to travel to distant lands and preach the gospel.

“God needs Christian car mechanics. God needs Christian plumbers. God needs Christian school teachers. Etc. Etc.”

Some form of this phrase has been repeated throughout my childhood and adolescence, and I can appreciate the intention behind this distinction. However, I wonder if the same thing has happened in the mind of others that has happened in my own….

I began to see this truth as some sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card.

In all honesty, there was a time in my life when I was literally scared of giving my life fully to Christ because I was terrified of being called to the African savanna or the Amazon river basin.

I had it in my na├»ve head there were only two ways to serve God—the pulpit and the mission field.

I am thankful that my education, maturity, and experience have shown me that this is, in fact, not true. God does have children in a great many disciplines, working for Him in a great many ways.

Yet, I fear my adolescence-and-older mind may have twisted this truth into something it was never intended to be.

Too many times, we think the extent of this truth is to do our job well or put a Christian fish on the back of our work van. These are both fine things, one perhaps more so than the other, but they are both missing the point.

We are commanded and encouraged to work hard in whatever we do. Throughout Christ’s ministry and Paul’s letters, we see the importance of hard work and the necessity of living above reproach.

So yes, we should strive to be the best plumber, teacher, mechanic, we can possibly be, but this is only part of our call…and a lesser part at that.

We are Christians first and foremost. We are Christians before we are bakers, technicians, or doctors. This is our priority. This is our identity.

The others—our occupations—are secondary. They allow us to pay for our lives. They allow us to live in our society comfortably while we pursue our truest purpose—Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Throughout my transition between high school and college, I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I loved to write, and I was beginning to realize my gifts related to this love of communication. However, I also knew that twenty-one year old authors needed a form of steady income. Something to pay the bills while I toyed with the inner muse and explored my career as a writer.

I needed something to finance my passion.

Perhaps we need to expand this idea from the starving artists into each Christian life. Perhaps we need to step away from our occupation, our career path, and realize that it is only something to fund our passion for the Kingdom.

It is not our identity. It is a means to an end.

We are missionaries. I think any Christian would agree, but I wonder how many of us actually live like one.

When was the last time we were persecuted for our ministry? When was the last time we were forced to live entirely on faith in Him? When was the last time we sacrificed until it hurt? When was the last time we mentioned God in the workplace? When was the last time we used the resources afforded to us by our career to pursue the evangelism of our city?

It is so easy in our society to equate our purpose with our occupation, but we MUST realize that our purpose is an eternal one.

So where does this leave us?

How do we use our careers to further the Kingdom? How do we truly embrace the call of a missionary in something as simple as a dishwasher?

Ask God. Really ask Him.

I have a feeling He’ll tell us if we are sincere.

And as with so many other lessons we have to learn, the Scriptures contain an amazing example of someone to whom God revealed the answer to the questions above.

Paul.

Research him. Read his letters. He never stopped working, but he is not known for his tents. Sure, his tents were probably expertly made, but he was not a tent maker. He was an apostle who also made tents.

Who am I?

Am I a teacher? Or am I someone who pursues the expansion of the Kingdom with everything I have and just happens to be a teacher? Am I pursuing my passion with my resources? Or are my resources spent on trivial, simple, finite things?

Who are you?

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Acts 18:1-4

1After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, 3and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. 4And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 20:34-35

You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

9For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11For you know how, like a father with his children, 12we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”

2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

6Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No Retreat, No Regrets Part I

In the previous post, I talked about a certain form of self-deception. Preparation. How we tend to believe we are prepared in our hearts and heads for some impending experience or emotion, and how, too often, those preparations are lacking in some degree.

Another famous trick I/we tend to play upon our unsuspecting self is addressed by the infamous tagline, "No Regrets"....

Each of us have thought or spoken the cliche phrase at some point in our life, whether it was with a Sharpie in a high school yearbook that smells like fresh ink and hormones, or in our thoughts on the past while New Year's fireworks crowded the stars. I would also say that many of us believed it....or at least voiced it like we did--with a bravado that would have made politicians jealous.

"I don't have any regrets."

"I don't regret nothing."

"Regrets? What are those?"

((Some alteration of this phrase depending on your speech pattern and communication skill.))

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Before we continue. Let's attempt a definition.

Regret is an emotion most closely synonymous to guilt. Regret only exists when one's own actions are being considered.
  • For example, I cannot regret the punishment of an innocent man, when I had nothing to do with his trial. I can, however, regret my action of providing false evidence against that same man. A man I knew to be innocent.
  • I cannot regret the alienation faced by new students at schools across the country. I can, however, regret my own ridiculing actions against my freckled classmate in middle school.
Regret is based on our actions, yet it is also impacted by the consequences of those actions.
Positive consequences, or those which seem at least neutral, are easily accepted by our conscience, even if the actions which created them were disgusting. However, negative consequences following negative actions, create the sickening, nauseating feeling we label "regret".
  • If the innocent man is freed through some unforeseen act of Fate, I will sleep much better than I would if the judge had recommended the death sentence. My action, providing false evidence, is the same, but the consequence makes all the difference.
  • If the child I bullied in middle school grows up to be the head of a multi-billion dollar corporation, I will not regret my actions on a moral level. I may, in my terrific selfishness, regret them because they will ruin any chance at sharing in his success. However, if the offended child suffers through high school until a necktie ends his life in a dark closet, my regret will be very real and very deep, indeed.

One more thing about regret, and this will touch briefly on a point made at a later time, is that regret is very much like a parasite or a disease in that we can be carriers without exhibiting any of the symptoms. We may have the ingredients (Negative action + Negative consequence), but the actual regret remains dormant until sometime in the near or distant future. I may commit an act at age 7, but I may not feel regret for that act until age 54. This is because the possibility of regret is constantly changing with our personal maturity and development. And, compounding this fact, some consequences take years to reach their darkest fruition.
  • I may not hear about the innocent man's electrocution until I am an old man, far removed from the ethically-starved lawyer of my youth.
  • I may not discover the truth about "Freckle Face" until I graduate from college and return home and see the headline in a newsstand outside the Shell station.

((Another side of the coin which says our chances for regret are constantly evolving, deals with our maturing sense of ethics and morality. This is perhaps my weakest point, but I think there is some basis, especially when one considers the retrospection exhibited by many elderly people. The sunset of life can often be a time when the brightest colors and darkest shadows are all that remains. In this time, after lessons have been learned and morals discovered, one might glance back on the spectrum of events and feel regret over a scenario otherwise forgotten or dismissed as unimportant. A shadowed memory rather than a sunny remembrance. This regret is only possible because of the wisdom attained through experience, research, study, introspection, etc. Without this knowledge, there is no possibility for regret. Yet another support beam for the "Ignorance is Bliss" platform.))

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This is most definitely a working definition. I have undoubtedly left out important characteristics which some of you may recognize. I may even be completely wrong about my approach. If so, please post your remarks and corrections below, or give me a rhetorical backhand next time I see you. With love, of course. Be gentle for you tread on my dreams....or perhaps just my wandering thoughts....which are not quite as fragile.

I think we can all agree, regardless of your acceptance of my own definition, regret is one of the rare times when we look back on our personal past and pinpoint a decision, an action, a thought, and feel a negative emotion. Most of the time, we shift that negative emotion onto someone else or some other thing (blame, justification, etc), but regret. Ah, regret. We feel the sting....that is....if we allow Honesty to enter the courtroom and send Pride out like an unruly juror.

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Now that we have defined regret, there are no doubt a variety of arguments for and against regret as an acceptable or unacceptable response to our past.

Regret as Unacceptable: What's done is done. You cannot change the past. Why spend your time, energy, and emotion, fretting about things you cannot change?

Regret as Acceptable: Can we really think of an instance in our past, a mistake which we know directly caused another person pain, emotionally or physically, and not feel some amount of sorrow? Some amount of responsibility which we experience through guilt?

((on the surface, I find myself most closely associated with the second instance. It is true we must not cling to the past. We must not allow our mistakes to drag us down to the point where our present and future selves are useless. However, it is not possible for the human mind to purposefully forget an action or event. Our personal past is inscribed in our mind just as the historical past is inscribed on stone and paper. It is a common sentiment to learn from history in order to avoid making the same mistakes. An aspiring dictator would do well to study the failure of previous totalitarian rulers, just as I would do well to remember my own personal failures in order to become a better version of myself. I will end this rabbit trail by reminding the key factor is Moderation. Balance. An obsession with past faults only creates misery, while an absolution of the past creates a repetitive cycle of mistakes))

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I will not deal at length with which side I find myself supporting. As I said earlier, I lean toward the usefulness of an amount of regret and recognition of past errors. I know this because I struggle with regrets. I look back on my life and wish I had done things differently. Now. I will separate that confession into two camps.

1. The first camp deals with regret over actions committed which hurt someone.
2. The second camp deals with regret over actions which I feel ruined the personal attainment of positive things--happiness, relationships, success, accomplishments.

We have already discussed a definition of the first sort and included examples which may or may not have helped with understanding. It is ironic (and unplanned) that so much time was spent on the first, because it was my intention to limit this post to the second idea. My thoughts for this post originated in the boiling discomfort of the soul when one looks back at a period in time and fears that personal actions (or lack thereof) kept one from boarding a train bound for bliss and beauty.

I am sure I am not the only one to feel such a nauseating impulse:

A---> It is the feeling after meeting someone beautiful and regretting the stupid speech you gave on the mating habits of the North American tree sloth....I am NOT speaking from experience. It is a hyperbolic example to prove a point.

B---> It is the feeling after an interview when you remember one aspect of your personal character which never made it onto your resume.

C---> It is the feeling after leaving someone you love and wondering if you should have stayed.

I include the last example, not to create a morose, romantic sympathy in the reader, but to express the depth this emotion can reach. Sure, there are silly times, but there are also real times. Earth-shattering times. Future-destroying times. Times when you honestly do not know how you could have been so stupid, harsh, or selfish. Times when you see that moment in your mind's eye and wish before God and man to return and do it again.

This regret is not concerned with self-transformation but with self-correction. This regret is not concerned with learning from the past, but with redoing the past. And since we humans can redo our past about as well as an oak tree can reenter an acorn, this regret is pointless.

I find it odd that I struggle much more with this form of regret than with the other. I am not sure of the reasons for this, but I can assure you I aim to investigate the matter and bring the guilty character traits to justice.

......to be continued


((Any kind of investigation is useless outside of Scripture. The discovery, if I made one at all, would very likely shock and disturb, rather than challenge or encourage. I am struggling with tackling too many things at one time, but I really would like to include some thoughts from God about regret and where it fits with His plan for our thoughts and emotions.

If you have any thoughts of your own, or if you know of any places in the Bible that deal with regret, please let me know.))

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Preparation

What's the point.

Sometimes I think that preparation is another way of lying to yourself. A way of convincing yourself you are stronger than you really are. You are better. Over it. Safe. Secure.

But the problem with preparation is that it only lasts until the event occurs, until whatever it is you were preparing for happens, and then you find out, in fact, you were not at all prepared. You find out you were only telling yourself that so it didn't hurt, so it didn't loom in the distance like an iceberg waiting to sink the ship on which all your ideas of yourself and the world were sailing with optimism only ignorance can create.

I don't mean to sound too morose. Or despairing.

I guess I mean to sound realistic.

How many of us have made preparations and then watched them fall with a glance, a word, a breath.

Apply it to anything. Life in general. The future. For six years, I 'prepared' myself for a career, and a year and a half afterward I'm still working part time at a restaurant, up to my elbows in dirty dishes.

But it's not just confined to the physical life. You can prepare yourself emotionally for news you know is bound to come, but the REALITY of that event--the black and bloody existence--is what is truly difficult. Before reality, before the thing occurs, we are fighting a shadow. Naturally, we are going to feel prepared. Naturally, we are going to think we can overcome and awake on the other side a stronger person. We are creating the image in our head, we are playing chess with our self, and we win every time. Only a pessimist walks through life with the belief every conflict will be lost, every bad thing will break a heart.

So where does this leave us.

Do we prepare. Do we board up the mental windows and doors before the storm hits, or do we cower in the corner as the sky turns black and the wind grows from a whisper to a howl.

I think you know the answer. I think I know the answer.

We must prepare.

But we must not trust our preparations for salvation. We must dig the moats, raise the drawbridge, boil the oil, but we must realize these are not solutions. They will not keep all the arrows at bay. They will not deter every invader. We must look beyond our own defenses for survival. We must look beyond our ability to analyze, to predict, to decipher, because really, all of these are based simply on our best guess. We don't know what reality awaits. We do not know what follows behind the dark shadow in our mind.

Yet again, this is another part of my life experience where I am directed to God. Honestly, my frame of mind when I started this post was far from positive. My frame of mind was sad, frustrated, disappointed, embarrassed. I was writing blind, bleeding words onto the page, writing my thoughts like a runaway train. They led me here. To the realization that my human preparations are futile without the presence of Someone bigger than myself and bigger than reality.

I honestly do not know how I would approach the pointlessness of the human experience without my relationship to God, without my faith in His sovereignty. I think the hopelessness of my own actions in tragedy's cruel wake would be enough to drive me to severe depression.

I. Need. God.

We all do.

Everything is vain without Him.

So prepare. Build those walls. Guard your hearts. Get everything in order.

But remember preparations are only as good as the one who makes them.

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Psalm 20:7
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Psalm 9:10
And those who know your name put their trust in you,for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults,and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 44:6
For not in my bow do I trust,nor can my sword save me.


Psalm 118:8
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.


Proverbs 28:26
Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool,but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.


Isaiah 26:4
Trust in the LORD forever,for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.


Jeremiah 39:18
For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.





Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Brief Draft of a Lengthy Manifesto

I have given up trying to be consistent with the form of documentation known as—The Blog. I don’t know why some people find it easy to schedule a time in the morning, afternoon, or evening to update the “world” on their activities and thoughts, and yet I think of it rarely and with less than some eagerness. If I was to name a few reasons for my personal difficulty, I think the first would deal with my awareness of my own unimportance. Most of the time, I do not think I’m very important….and I don’t mean this in a “nobody loves me, everybody hates me” sense, I just mean that my voice does not seem that interesting to me. My actions, thoughts, desires, ideas, hopes, fears, observations, jokes, do not really intrigue me. I would much rather read the insight of another than offer my own. Which is ironic, really, considering my intention and passion toward writing in general. Perhaps I should work on this aspect of my psyche. Perhaps.

However, all of this being said, I am wondering if a series of events in my life may have somehow impacted my outlook on this forever. The events themselves are not necessarily unimportant, but including them here would only confuse a great many of you, and I am sure most of these said events will become known in time, whether through this or some other medium.

I owe a great amount of this change, this opening of my thoughts, to God and His constant devotion. Through a time of shadow, He has shown me how bright the Light of Heaven is able to shine. Through a time of suffering, He has offered me the power and healing of His wonderful faithfulness. Those occasions when I actually take time to gravely consider the level of His sacrifice and the extent of His love, I am in a state of unspeakable awe.

Those times, those minutes of absolute peace and complete hope, are impossible to express. Words and ideas will always fall short until the day when my perfect mind and body are prostrate before His throne. However, there are other things in my spirit, other thoughts and questions and doubts and trials and joys and blessings that I will be able to share, and for the first time, I am going to attempt to share with whomever.

While this entire post serves as an introduction, a sort of explanation of my thoughts toward the idea of authorship, I will reiterate here the sentiment which might have slipped through the lines. It is with great hesitation that I approach spiritual thoughts and discourse. I am not one to rant upon a moment’s notice. Some of my writing is spontaneous and ridiculous, even uninteresting and ignorant. But everything from my flawed mind, mouth, or hands that deals with ideas of God and His Kingdom is expressed with incredible humility. My heart’s desire is to reflect spiritual truth and edify my audience, not as an inspired author, but as a sinner who God saved with the blood of the Son and then marked with a passion for writing.

So. Whether you are reading something fictitious or real, something humorous or somber, something simple or profound, something brief or lengthy, should you happen to be on this blog or see my name attached to the piece in some other location, remember every good word, every ounce of truth, comes down from the Father of Lights. Everything else—the dents, scratches, and imperfections—is the unfortunate byproduct of my humanity.

God Bless, Restore, Enhance, Strengthen, and otherwise Transform your entire existence,

Matt