A moment, please

6 12 2010

A student wrote me an email the other day asking if I was alright. I wrote back, saying that I was fine, but I was a bit down because of the generally lousy day I was having, a day on which one bad thing seemed to happen after another, with scant regard for the havoc being wreaked by each. The truth of the matter is, since that email, I’ve been reading through some of what I’ve written in the past, and I’ve been understanding afresh, as though by some sort of divine revelation, that our voices are unique, and God-given.

This may seem so commonplace as to be redundant, but it’s as though I’m looking at the whole issue with new eyes.

It’s true that some days are better than others, and it’s not always the case that I can say life has been better since I became a Christian and started teaching at a Christian school (although there was an intermission of around 6 years between the two events). Some days are better than others, but in the moment, whatever the moment may be, I have joy – in the students, in the content we’re going through, or in some aspect of conversation that is engaged in, or even overheard… it’s how we understand that there is purpose to all this. The unmanageable mess that the tangle of Everything may be could be the thing that helps us to comprehend that in spite of the grades we strive for, the friends we have, the recognition we gain, or the things we like, we are not, and cannot, be perfect.

I think anyone who says their life has miraculously become “perfect” after coming to a salvation decision for themselves is either lying, or deluded.

Life doesn’t happen that way, no matter how much we pretty-pretty-please-please-let-it-all-be-perfect want it to be. I’ve been finding encouragement in Hebrews 10:14, and the different tenses: we have been made perfect, but we’re still being made holy.

Life is tough-as-nails, and we get all kinds of junk thrown at us on a daily, hourly, constantly, basis. Anne Lamott writes, which I have quoted in my Facebook profile because I found it so relatable, and so profound, that

Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.

This is something to cling to, when all hope seems lost, and questions remain unanswered.

No matter how hard things seem to be, there is hope. There is hope in the tears, in the furrowed brows, in the hands clasped tight in prayer, and the urgent whispers of the soul. At the times when all seems lost, may we understand always, and above all things, that we have hope, and that, at the end of the time we have been allotted, all things will be made a l r i g h t.



This morning’s God moment

22 08 2010

Okay. A little bit of too-much-information: while sitting on the toilet and reading All The Hits So Far But Don’t Expect Too Much by Bradley Hathaway this morning, I came across The Hug Poem again, and this time, more than any other, I was profoundly moved. I don’t think the touches that Jesus gave in order to heal were in any way diminished by the fact that the Bible doesn’t say they were hugs; I think He would have given hugs, and really good ones at that. I think the power of Jesus’ touch was in the sheer fact that He touched at all; we think of the very rich, recoiling from the outstretched hand of the very poor.

I was touched in a big way while reading that because I’ve been really conscious of the new back piece I got on August 13, and I don’t want to be touched in case it’s ruined or something. That’s what it was like at yesterday’s Solid Rock meeting – even though I was really excited about seeing the youth again after 3 weeks away, I was hesitant about hugging people. The physical touch does say so much more than just words though, and I found myself being enveloped by the girls I hadn’t seen in the last month, and as we caught each other up on our various activities over the summer, I was struck afresh at their joy for life, in spite of what they’re going through. They may not even know it themselves, but their very beauty is in the soul that the Creator placed in their being, and as it shines from their eyes, one can’t help but be captured by the love, and creativity, of God.

So may you, as you live each day stressed out or rushing around or doing chores or studying or whatever else you do, find little reasons, old reasons, new reasons, and surprising reasons, to love God and love what He has created. Because it is good, even when we don’t understand it.

When you have time, the poetry collection I wrote about is found here.

Something to think about?

Speaking about love

26 07 2008

At Solid Rock tonight, the talk was about love, and what we do with it. The video was probably the best part of it, because I am so inarticulate. I wish I could really speak sometimes, because that would really help gets points across more effectively. I’m not the most succinct of writers, or speakers, and this really affects what I’m trying to get across. I guess there are times when I’m on a roll and the points are coming out fine, but it’s one thing to write lengthy missives, because people can stop reading at any time, but it’s quite a different thing altogether when it’s what’s being said, and it drags on and on and on… I think that’s something of what God was trying to teach to me when we were at the fundraiser, and one part of it went on too long, and I was complaining… one of those things we see in others so easily and neglect to see in ourselves… I can’t help but marvel at just how to the point and how rightthe Bible is sometimes – how could Jesus have known exactly what to say, and when to say it?? When Jesus talks about removing the plank from our own eye before talking about the speck of dust in someone else’s… man, that is something powerful and convicting. I only wish I had remembered that lesson before complaining that week. Here’s something I found on one of the blogs I subscribe to – it made me think:

So to finish what I was thinking about a couple of nights ago, I’ve been having some good conversations, along the lines of what God wants us to do when we’re with people, and fellowshipping and stuff. It’s what’s real, when we’re hanging out with people, and having fun, and chatting, and laughing, and talking about real things that we’re stressed about, or happy about, or whatever, it really just fulfils part of what God wants of us. I think that’s what faith is, because it’s what we’re doing to grow, and even if we’re not explicitly trying to grow in our faith, that’s what happens anyway. What else can happen when you’re talking with people you love talking with, and you’re talking about where you are in life, and your hopes, and dreams, and fears and excitements about the future? And what’s beautiful about that is that although some of what we were talking about raised more questions than anything, it made everyone think – about their faith, about what it means to love, and especially about what we should do with the knowledge that we have now, about certain things.

Because I think that’s really important, that we just hearing about stuff, or even learning it, doesn’t matter for crap unless something is done about it. But if I had to think about what exactly I would do with the knowledge, I think I’d go a bit nutty because of the magnitude of it. Rather, I have to think about the awareness of the issue that’s in question, and go from there. Because once I become aware of something, man alive, I become really aware of it.

Oh and this is a picture of the noodle place we went to when we were in China. I could not stop staring at the guy who was making the noodles, because he was just so skilled at it, and the fact that he seemed so much in his element, like he was really enjoying what he was doing, really just blessed me.

This is so much fun (a continuation of what I’ve been thinking about)

23 07 2008

Just found this website that is so much fun. It makes a word cloud of a big batch of words from your blog or whatever and  makes it look something like this:But what I was talking about yesterday was about love, and how we work with it, because our awareness of what is right, and what we need to do makes something change in our lives.

What am I talking about?

What I’m talking about is how we work our lives to reflect our knowledge of the Creator’s intention… His glory… His imagination. I’ve been talking about this with a friend, and just about how we know we’re loved by God, like I was writing about before, because of how all purpose is fulfilled when we love. But I think it’s more than that, and the conversation I’ve been having with him is that it’s not enough to just be aware of the love; something else must be done, too. That’s why this week at Solid Rock I’ll be talking about love, and about how it makes a difference in our lives.

We don’t just get impacted by the love that God shows us; we need to do something with it so it doesn’t just stay in us, or stagnate in us. So John 13:1-17 will be the focus.

It’s certainly not as though I am

30 06 2008

I’ve been thinking about the title of that book – I Am Not But I Know I Am– by Louie Giglio. Since I read through it a while ago, the title has been the one thing that has consistently come back to me.

Whatever it is I think I am, I’m not. I may not be worth anything on my own, but the immense thing is that I know the I AM of the Bible.

I heard a song this morning called Take Away by Mainstay. The lyrics are below:

Rid me of the notion that I ever had any rights
Cleanse me of the motives that come in such a clever disguise
Ruin my agenda, holy as it never was

It’s all from Your hand
and there’s nothing that’s mine
and all that You give
You’re free to take away

I’m just trying to hold on, clinging to the dream inside
I was only selfish, and you were only part of my life

Every breath, every word
There isn’t one thing I deserve
And all that I am is Yours

Justin Anderson from Mainstay explains the song like this: “I think that somewhere, deep down, every person believes that they deserve something. America has taught us that we have inalienable rights, and that we are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In a civic sense, I could not agree more. The problem is, this principle has slowly and subversively eeked its way into our perception of our relationship to God. The gospel message is quickly becoming that we are basically good, and that Jesus will help us through the tough times and be our friend. However, the reality that the bible presents is that mankind has fallen into sin, and on an individual and corporate level deserves death and separation from God. We have NO rights before God. There is nothing we can lay claim to. That is what makes the gospel so good – we deserve nothing but wrath and hell, and in Christ we get right-standing with God and undeserved favor. With this basic premise in place, our understanding of our health and prosperity quickly changes from entitlement to humble thanks. If we deserve nothing but wrath, then not only is forgiveness an amazing grace to praise God for, but every breath and every moment away from hell is grace as well. Every thing we have is from God, and He is sovereign and good to take away whatever He wants from us, whenever He wants to. This understanding takes the focus off of man, makes us grateful for every breath and keeps us humbly trusting God with no feelings of entitlement – only gratitude.” This explanation was taken from this site. The song is amazing and you must listen to it.

What it feels like is like this image I found online that kind of describes it, a bit.

Because once love is found, everything else is abandoned. Jesus said it like this:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Why else do we chase after those things, those people, we love, the way we do? Yes, these things can be bad, but when they’re good, they’re very good. The chase is a thrill, and the everyday pursuit is a constant joy; it’s beautiful. It’ll change lives. It’s revolutionary.

Lacking inspiration tonight

22 05 2008

I feel obligated to post something… anything… and I don’t feel like searching for the lyrics of another song, or posting another video, or looking for another witty anecdote. Tonight, it’s just me.

I heard some news from a friend tonight, and I’m really happy for her. Perhaps it’s that life is truly quite difficult, and sometimes it’s hard to keep your head up, metaphorically speaking. But at other times, the fear and the anxiety crowd in on you, and it’s hard to keep your eyes focused ahead, as opposed to darting this way and that. My attention wavers very easily, and I’m distracted by the breeze that gently lifts the curtains, and the sound of the occasional car outside my window. The sound of the keys as I type these words out beat out a regular rhythm, which I am unfamiliar with, and the cicadas outside remind me every minute that it’s s-s-s-s-s-summer.

But as I’m surfing the vast space of the Internet that both connects and alienates, I come across an article about fasting for 40 days, and recall my own mental processes when I did it last year, and this year, for Lent. In the past, I have ‘done’ fasts, always with prayer and deep thought, but I’m starting to think about why I did them. They were for praying, and I found that I focused much better on what or who I was praying for, but what I have realised as well is that partly it was also for self-control and pride… it was much easier to sustain the fasting when I knew people knew about it.

It’s getting me thinking hard about what I’m doing with my life right now, and what I need to be doing.

Water into wine

27 04 2008

The sermon this morning was on the transformation of water into the finest wine those present had ever tasted. The guests at that particular wedding banquet had no idea what had taken place ‘behind the scenes,’ and praised the host for bringing out the best wine towards the end of the party. The passage that was preached this morning was John 2:1-11, and I couldn’t help but burst out, “I get it!” when Pastor Dale spoke about Jesus’ mother telling Him about the shortage of wine, and Him replying that it wasn’t His time yet. The beauty of the parallel is in how the wine that was being consumed at the banquet is the wine that we symbolically refer to as Jesus’ blood. Communion – the act of partaking in ‘His body and blood’ – is the reenactment of that declaration of faith, the mother declaring to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” And of course it is stone jars which were used for ceremonial washing and the significance of that, because we are washed clean with His sacrifice, and these vessels hold the… blood.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like the taste of wine. Sure, I can appreciate the richness of a glass of good quality wine, and I can smell the difference between a cheap and mature bottle, but the nuances of the wine-tasting surpasses me by far. But even I can see the power and import of Jesus’ actions, His miracle of turning water into wine. It is this transforming, revolutionary grace that makes us who we will become.