23 November 2008
"Lord undo me, put away my flesh and bone..."
I have not understood the many facets of prayer, though I have seen its power shaping me to the Father's will. I have feared to pray for brokenness, knowing that I would soon find myself deeply confronted (once again) by my own weakness and sin. I have both refused to pray, knowing His answering would hurt, and prayed with every fiber of me yearning for His presence in the humbling.
I cannot tell you that if you pray, your mother will be healed or your cousin saved.
But I do know that the God I serve is mighty to save. And I know that prayer is a part of your recognition of being in the presence of this Mighty One.
"The eighteenth-century Hasidic Jews had more sense, and more belief. One Hasidic slaughterer, whose work required invoking the Lord, bade a tearful farewell to his wife and children every morning before he set out for the slaughterhouse. He felt, every morning, that he would never see any of them again. For every day, as he himself stood with is knife in his hand, the words of his prayer carried him into danger. After he called on God, God might notice and destroy him before he had time to utter the rest, "Have mercy."
Another Hasid, a rabbi, refused to promise a friend to visit him the next day: "How can you ask me to make such a promise? This evening I must pray and recite 'Hear, O Israel.' When I say theese words, my soul goes out to the utmost rim of life...Perhaps I shall not die this time either, but how can I now promise to do something at a time after the prayer?"
-Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
28 October 2008
the pieces of glass jagged as
your morning routine when
we have no milk.
I lay table-top my confessions,
colorful mosaics, dull mishaps
next to yours—
no glass-cutter in sight the edges
are rubbed, fitted, never perfect
But neither are mornings without milk.
head, familiarity with this
sacrifice not dulling the sobriety
of his face. This life spilt for
his offspring’s seven days of sin,
if indeed they’d sinned.
And the crimson melded with the altar.
Job’s servants came a’runnin’
yelling of the gory raid, and the slave
did report the death of all
Job’s knees did bend,
crackling with age, as he fell.
His crimson, beating heart did cease
for half a beat, the breath
of a young man left him
for a breath of humid, choked weeping.
The dust around his prostrate body
turned grey with sorrow, acting
as the humble veil of man’s dishonor.
Shook, Job’s hands, with anguish,
as he tore his robes.
The knife was still embedded in the sacrifice.
“Then Job arose…and worshiped” (Job 1:20)
Fiddler on the Roof-they sing the mournful rhythm sunrise, sunset. sunrise, sunset. An inhalation, an exhalation. A breath, a moment, a day. The circle of the planet sailing forth without Your blessing. Ten days did something to me. My friend, sallied forth from primal recess are the instincts base and strong. Temptation is not to be pushed aside -it is to be knifed in the heart. Sometimes I confuse this with my heart itself. I have laid it on the table, only to have pieces of my heart strewn instead of this or that temptation. But I think my heart returns.
27 October 2008
Summon the night to bow down to day
When ignorance is bliss
Save me from myself" Jars of Clay, Fade to Grey
The second line here is my favorite. I don't like people to know what I'm thinking, often. With this thought in mind, I often find the (literal) darkness comforting, because there I don't have to fake things. I can cry out to God in, as one may say, "brutal honesty." But in despair, in the discomfort I have of letting people really know me-- "Summon the night to bow down to day". A glorious thought. A glorious thought indeed.
I'm going to try to write a poem soon. I need to.
08 October 2008
01 September 2008
24 August 2008
08 August 2008
Is it better to recognize my condition?
Or wold it have been better to "go silently into that good night?"
Why dead and why silently In our weariness, do we dare give the devil a foothold?
He who prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour?
We feel the part of weary victors returning from a foreign war. We shut the war out of our minds--it does not engage our entire soul here. We are blind, we are blind!
We fight not against flesh and blood, "but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:12) Do we dare think that whatever weaknesses were discovered across the ocean will not be exploited at home?! How much more so! We are comfortable--how ever little we'd like to admit it. We are weary, let us not fall into laziness. We are weak-the devil can only afford to hit us in our weakness--for too soon have we forgotten that our Saviour says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:10)
Kurt says, "This is the longest shortest trip I've been on" and "the week is as eternity, the days a breath"
05 August 2008
29 July 2008
23 July 2008
Been working on memorizing Psalm 86. It seems very very applicable.
21 July 2008
03 July 2008
29 June 2008
24 June 2008
Some Irresistible Thoughts
“I come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). These words of Jesus hound me with bafflement, though at a point not too long ago, their meaning was a little more settled in my mind. The casual glance over this text would have led to a deeper contemplation—usually yielding the general salve of “this is true because living for Christ satisfies you.” Did it never bother me that “living for Christ” was such a nondescript charge of the church for her people? Oh, this phrase shook me up enough to prompt more thought—but most of this resulting contemplation stopped at the following considerations about the dynamics of a full life: “living for Christ is being an example for Christ where you are at right now” and “according to Scripture, my intimacy with Christ should be fulfilling, but ‘fulfilling’ sounds exciting, and I’m not sure excitement is welcome in the church beyond the occasional ‘Amen, pastor!’” Employing Shane Claiborne’s book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical, I have found words to prod my convictions’ formation and the reworking of such statements as the examples given above.
The first statement reaches not far enough. Why stop at living for Christ at the place in which you presently find yourself? Claiborne says “We live in a world that has lost its imagination” (132) and no wonder, for even the Christians cause not a stir—the stereotypical Christian owns a few Bibles, goes “dressed-up” to a church on Sunday, and may cringe when a co-worker cusses during the week. Where is the Christian who gives bread to the poor, much less “when he gives bread to the beggars…gets on his knees and asks forgiveness from them”?(164). The breaking of the Christian stereotype with acts of tangible grace may be the most imaginative, Truth-filled experience this dead world has seen. For when, foreign to the constrains of fallen humanity, an incomputable action such as love takes place, it could be possible that “a…land of people who had forgotten how to feel” (89) could be taught.
Introducing feeling to the world-gone-numb requires people who know how to feel, in this case, Christians who know how to feel—a people passionate, a people ignited with a full life, a people not afraid of going beyond the accepted “Amen, pastor!” One of the phrases Claiborne uses in his book is “reckless, unguarded worship,” (44) and it presented a new dimension to Christ-following. Christians don’t necessarily need to sing solely from a hymnal, but worship can be imaginative, unguarded, yes even reckless? As reckless (by the world’s standards) as giving away one’s possessions? As reckless as asking forgiveness from beggars? Truly such questions should at least provoke thought among society’s religious, and at most should revolutionize the thought- and action-life of those who “…believe in a God of scandalous grace” (207).
Because of the difficult issues discussed in The Irresistible Revolution, it is a book that should be read at different points in one’s life, to see a progression in one’s thinking. Yet when reading, one should strive, not to align one’s thoughts to those of Claiborne, but of Scripture—which indeed will take much research and meditation on one’s own. However, I am confident that the results of newly formed or stronger convictions will be worth the effort expended.
A type of post-script:
Along this line of thought lies the phrase in The Irresistible Revolution that most unsettled me and upset my worldview. Quoting a pastor’s words as an example of incorrect teaching, Claiborne says, “‘Now this doesn’t mean you have to go sell your rollerblades and golf clubs’” (102-103). I too have had reassurances such as this—and been relieved that I am not commanded to dispose of my comforts. So now I can cease my worry, for no harm comes to those possessions of mine, Jesus only meant that He requires the right heart attitude of us and of the rich young ruler of the Gospel. (Luke 18:22 “When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.") There indeed lies value in the correct heart disposition, and the heart that sighs in relief when told that not every material possession is demanded may not have the right focus. But what is the fulfillment of this command to man of the Gospels? Is this command to be the same for each Christian? The Pharisees gave much money to the temple, yes, even to the poor, yet insisted on an explanation when Jesus sat with the unclean. “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. “But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matthew 9:11-13). And if this compassion is best done through the sale of rollerblades and golf clubs, may they be willingly offered. (However, the question remains—should all that we possess be offered up before we see that these items are needed? Should there be a general move toward distributing all that we own to the poor, for we know the poor are plenty? These questions must be wrestled with at a future time).
22 June 2008
Don’t do this. Instead just begin with Acts 2 where the Bible actually portrays what speaking in tongues looks like and use that as a grid for understanding the other New Testament references. Stott makes a big deal over the fact that the Greek words for “Tongue” and “Interpret” are the same throughout the New Testament. So though there are some functional differences between Pentecost and 1 Corinthians 13-14, we’re really talking about the same gift. A New Testament tongue is always either the organ/body part or a known language and the word for “interpret” is always in concert with known languages (Stott).
I’m not saying that by first reading Acts 2 and then reading Paul in 1 Corinthians 13-14 that these debates magically disappear. But at least Acts gives you some sure footing. You choose - do you want to start with TBN, Benney Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Joyce Meyers? Do you want to start with personal anecdotes like the late night spooky stories you swapped with dorm buddies around microwave popcorn by a desk lamp? Or with the Lord’s inspired story from Acts? I choose Acts.
This forms a couple of presuppositions. First of all, I understand that the gift of tongues for the early church was a revelatory gift. A gift designed by God to communicate truth to his church during the Apostalic age as the Bible was being written. In this way, it makes sense for me to read 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 to say that this gift was going to fade out when the Apostles did. When 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “they will cease” (literally “[tongues] will cease themselves”), I conclude they did, and that they did before the “perfect” comes (1 Cor. 13:10). This is how it seems to play out in the storyline of Acts and why this gift is found only in one of Paul’s letters which happens to be the earliest epistle written in the New Testament.
So, not only do I see that it “ceased” with the Apostolic age but I also believe the gift served a distinct purpose for that distinct period. It was a significant a sign. Every time this gift happened, it was a sign of cursing on Israel for rejecting Jesus and of blessing to the church for accepting Jesus. Paul makes this very clear when he cites Isaiah 28:11-12 in his argument in 1 Corinthians 14:19-22. Pentecost marks a dramatic shift in God’s kingdom program – the church was now born! God’s glory was manifested as a pillar of fire for Israel and now was manifested as “tongues of fire” hovering over his new people. The church - a multi-language, multi-nation, multi-culture people - was suddenly seeing, experiencing, and speaking “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). One last challenge for understanding tongues from 1 Corinthians 13-14 is to remember that Paul’s main point was not to coach the early church to speak in tongues. He was rebuking Corinth for not being a loving church (1 Cor. 13:1-13). Paul was telling them to stop showing off which was turning believers and unbelievers away from truth. Understanding Paul’s intent puts many of his sarcastic and instructive points from chapter 14 in context.
21 June 2008
16 June 2008
When the soft silver
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.
by Carl Sandburg
15 June 2008
Is time the longest distance between opposites as well? oye. perhaps not. that gets complex or unintelligible.
But opposites in pictures can speak louder than...alot.
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn't need anymore of that sound.
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can't
hold it in, at least go by yourself across
of rocks and water to the place where
the falls are flinging out their white sheets
jubilation and water fun and you can
stand there, under it, and roar all you
drip with despair all afternoon and still,
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.
22 May 2008
Obituary for Common Sense
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened Common Senseâ€™s condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer paracetamol, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; police forces became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally died, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
He is survived by three stepbrothers: I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
22 April 2008
08 April 2008
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 07, 2008 is:
luftmensch • \LOOFT-mensh (the "OO" is as in "foot")\ • noun
: an impractical contemplative person having no definite business or income
I worry that my nephew, who has several advanced degrees but no practical skills, will be a luftmensch all his life.
Did you know?
Are you someone who always seems to have your head in the clouds? Do you have trouble getting down to the lowly business of earning a living? If so, you may deserve to be labeled a "luftmensch." That airy appellation is an adaptation of the Yiddish "luftmentsh," which breaks down into "luft" (a Germanic root meaning "air" that is also related to the English words "loft" and "lofty") plus "mentsh," meaning "human being." "Luftmensch" was first introduced to English prose in 1907, when Israel Zangwill wrote, "The word 'Luftmensch' flew into Barstein's mind. Nehemiah was not an earth-man. . .. He was an air-man, floating on facile wings."
02 April 2008
29 March 2008
The Four Loves, "There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken ... The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.