Romans 5:6

Love, even if it hurts - Jesus Christ

Dec 30, 2009

Life = Christ

Life is like eating artichokes, you have got to go through so much to get so little.

Life... is like a grapefruit. It's orange and squishy, and has a few pips in it, and some folks have half a one for breakfast.

What is life like? You know what I mean. Is it like a box of chocolates? Is like a boulder, when you get it rolling, if you can get it rolling, you can’t stop it? Can we, like fruit pickers, pluck an image out of the great blue yonder and then define all of life by that one image. Unless that image is the sky that you are grabbing at, I say no. I have given it (life's definition) a lot of thought and I must conclude that life by its very definition has no definition; instead, it is a gift. Yet, by making that statement I am again relegating the definition of life to another object. But maybe this one parable is the true one that defines fully the concept of life.

Life is something that is given outside of your control. Even with contraceptives and abortion running around like rabid pack animals, life is still not in our control. Life is something you do not deserve. I must confess that I am looking at this situation through the binoculars of the existence of God and therefore must conclude that we did not deserve life and very well could have been left unmade. The fact that God desired to create us shows a type of understanding, pain and love I can never and will never understand.

I cannot push to the side or deny the way that this world portrays life. I know I should not be as surprised as I am but I must confess it is ridiculous. One of the definitions of ridiculous is having a frivolous attitude. The way that we allow public opinion to determine our values on life, death and the right to it is shocking. Even when God was pushed to define for us what life, true life, really means, he said it in a way that still crumbles my soul. "Life is Christ," and with that one statement more purpose, direction and peace flowed from the mouth of truth than all the words of wisdom, poetry, and science man has created.

Dec 29, 2009

Choose to smile

Have you ever felt like if the world was smiling, you wouldn't, just to spite them? I'm not saying that I am in such a pessimistic attitude; I'm just asking the question. Now I have been tempted to do just that, refuse to smile that is, and succumb to the constant negative. Recently I have heard of fellow ministers (both paid and not) and have noticed myself being bombarded by the oppressive influence of pessimism and hardship of the soul and mind. One perspective popular held to, is that this must mean we are doing something right, or else evil would be unwarranted. I somewhat agree with that and even acknowledge that suffering accompanies a closer relationship with God. Taking on the mantle of spiritual leadership opens us up to depression and hardship and we often forget to smile.

I was recently having a conversation with someone who was being very harsh with their criticism and remarks of both the leadership and direction of the church, and through his eyes I would have to agree with him. On my way out he said something to me that really stuck, "however bad they may be, I hope that you can keep up you enthusiasm." that made think of how I must come across to these people and how, as a whole, we ministers must always show a face of encouragement and general enthusiasm to the congregation. I did not expect the heavy weight that would be put on my emotional and spiritual back when I took this job. I have now adjusted and I not only accept but I also love the growth I have seen in myself because of it. I don’t think we must be charismatic, the world all ready has too much of that. However, we must remind ourselves to just smile. I challenge you to smile when you are with the church, when you are in elders/deacons meetings, when you are teaching/participating in small groups. Furthermore, when you do jump over the cliff and take the leap showing others that you choose to smile instead of cry, try mean it!

Dec 22, 2009

Redemption thoughts

Are we redeemable? If you were to point that question at God you would get a most resounding affirmative. I mean look at all God has done to redeem us from ourselves. He has done and is doing absolutely everything within his own limits (human choice that is) to bring man back into a saving, permanent, and healthy relationship with himself. God has gone so far as to send his son, knowing what we would do to him once he got here, to live among us frail humans and eventually give his life to pay the ransom for our own. The bible is full of amazing stories showing us at our worst and God making the best out of those situations. In the end, I still ask are we redeemable? I want to say no, truthfully, because of all we have done to each other. Our society is so self destructive, petty and to put it simply, dirty. I’m not making this statement standing far off looking at the earth with purer-than-thou vision. I am saying this standing chin deep in all my filth with no way to get out. In the end I am confronted with the same truth, it is not how we see ourselves but how God sees us. The amazing ways Jesus teaches us is manifested best through his teachings on love. Jesus asks us to love one another, not because of others love towards us, but because of God’s love towards us. Jesus does not leave the connecting tissue between us faulty humans unenforced; instead, he connects this truth with himself. Remembering all that Jesus did in the name of this love suffering, living, healing, dying, crying, walking, and hurting, he did this through the hands and feet of a purpose caused by God. All because of God’s love for his son which he so graciously shared with us. Praise God in the highest that he sees us through the eyes of compassion, redemption and love. I pray that we might do the same to each other. That we look through the eyes of a suffering servant to see the pure soul that God intended us to be. In the words of Mother Teresa we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.

Dec 16, 2009

Thoughts of one before God

Here is a shot at poetry

My soul dismays at the sight of righteousness

In terms of good and well, I stand in foul

In terms of life and vitality, I walk in fields of death

In terms of purpose and transparency, I exist on levels of decay

When standing face to face with the mint, I find the original unbearable

When called to be perfect, I crumble under pressure and rejection

When called to effect, I am disabled by the affect I have

After the structure of a warrior, I succumb to the element of a coward

Built to be redeemable, I am most to be disposed

Because when you recognize the facts, miracles, chances and opportunities

you are faced with the same reality, I am and always will be, man.

Dec 11, 2009

My torn and bleeding heart

I feel like my heart is tearing between long term ministry and the parents immediate view of the several years their children will spend in the "youth group". I want to provide a wide range of spiritually centered programs and events but I do not want to compromise my ministry with activities for the sake of keep kids there. I want to give my full focus to all aspects of every age group, but I feel myself turning into one enormous eye with no hands to work out what I see. I want to plan long down the road but I get snagged on branches in front of my feet. I want to create an environment where people are needed throughout their spiritual and physical growth within the kingdom of God. I feel like I'm about to explode with all the ideas, plans, visions and wants for the youth of this county let alone this small community of believers.
I knew going into this whole ministry 'thing' that it would be hard to convey the "big picture" to people and yet still keep their patience and attention through the years. I'm hurt by people's lack of vision and shortsighted view of the kingdom. I'm not angery at the church of my Christ nor am I frustrated per say with how things are going, maybe this post is in some way a plea for ideas and help.

Dec 10, 2009

The continuing, not so short, story of Thomas and Klara.

Thomas blinked rapidly from the glare coming from the gold locket he gave to Klara that morning. Somehow knowing exactly how much time had past Thomas quickly stood up, throwing crumbs, silverware and paper to the wind. Birds slowly began chirping as if annoyed with the disturbance being made of their otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon. Thomas knew that he was all ready late for the counsel meeting and Edgar would be waiting for him steaming as usual. "Honey I told you to wake me up in a half hour", Thomas tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice but failed. Klara was just stirring, also having fell asleep with him. What started out as a quiet pick nick in the meadow turned into a cat nap lasting for several hours. Thomas scanned his surroundings for threats and possibly anomalies. "Anomalies, who thinks like that? Capitan James T Kirk maybe, but surely not me, right?" Sense his recent encounter on key and the injection of the mites, Thomas was beginning to see everything like a computer. Everything was calculated and projected, discrepancies were dealt with and factored out. He knew the by now the mites have embedded themselves deep in his brain stem and spinal cord, speeding up reflexes, fine tuning his central nervous system and organizing his brain like some massive external hard drive. Allready he could feel the very "presence" of wireless signals, communications, cell phone, video and satellite feeds buzzed around his head like an annoying fly. Thomas slowly ran his hands through his rough shoulder length hair, smoothing out the knots growing in his neck. "I feel like I'm becoming a machine, I run when others call and I do what I'm told without question." The reason Thomas was so tired was because last night he had spent the whole evening with the king's counsel trying to adjust supply lines and the figure the amount of protection needed. Apparently pirates have been attacking spice ships jumping in and out before the hired protector vessels could even respond. It took several hours just trying to reassure the spice guild that the Guardian's would now assume their protection. "What is the point of all of this if I cannot enjoy being human? I mean I cant just give up on life just because of my duties." Urging Thomas to come back down to earth Klara rose on one elbow and moved a strand of hair away from Thomas' face. Klara girlishly planted a kiss on Thomas' cheek "I don't know what you do Mr. Mystery, but your with me right now. So right now I own you, but what I hope is that your mind might come along with it," Klara looked off into the mountains that rose high above the meadow. "I have told you about those mountains?" Klara had Thomas' full attention now, Thomas wished that he could command people's attention as easily as she could control his. "No I don't think you have ever told me," Thomas felt a sting of pain at the reminder that he could never tell her what exactly he did or who he was for fear of the knowledge destroying all they have made together.
"Once there were was bluster berry farmer," don't laugh this is a good story with a quick apology Klara continued," anyway, he loved his wife but she she could not conceive a child. every time a ship came into the city he would go and try and find a remedy from some far off part of the country to cure his wife. for years he would travel to and fro from city to city searching for a remedy. Finally there came a day when he traveled so far that he did not come back and for weeks the wife worried about her husband and sent letters to the cities searching for him. Finally, succumbed with intense grief, for she thought her husband had died on the long road to the city, she died. The next day the husband came home to find his love dead and he was tempted to end his own life just then. However, the farmer knew how much his wife loved life and with tears in his eyes the farmer buried her in his fields where her soul could give birth to Bluster berry plants year after year; and the farmer's field grew and grew until it took up most of the earth. When the farmer was old and gray and he was about to die, a young man asked him "what did you learn from all your years old man?" he answered, remembering all his hapy years with his wife, "I learned that you'll lose everything you have searching for something you've had the entire time." the old farmer died that night and the young man, being a son of a friend, buried him in the middle of his field. After many years a great mountain range grew out of the ground and gave shade to the fields of bluster berry farms. and the old farmer and his wife were reunited and all was well."

Trying to joke but failing miserably Thomas asked, "what are you trying to tell me?"
Holding up his chin Klara looked deep into his eyes, "You're going to lose me if you keep trying to make ways to keep me."
"Does she know?" thought Thomas, "thats impossible, I've been so good keeping this a secret from her." The side of Thomas that wanted to stay here and give up everything said, "your going to have to tell her someday, I mean come on, your about to be in a lottery to marry somebody else. Even if you don't marry this princess your going to leave this planet within 36 hours, what are you going to do then, send a card?"
"I love you Thomas," Klara said softly, she must have noticed the internal struggle going on inside of him.
"I love you too Klara." Thomas could feel the lid closing around his heart knowing the full impact of the promise he just made to her. He could hear the roar of disagreement rising from the counsel floor. Somewhere deep inside he realized that the Guardian King, the most powerful man on 15 planets, just proclaimed his undying love for a common woman and nobody back home will be happy about this. But on the outside he couldn't stop smiling.

Dec 9, 2009

Slow dance

We're goin down
and you can see it too
We're goin down
and you know that we're doomed
my dear
we're slow dancing in a burnin room
-John Mayer

I was listening to this song last night and it got me thinking as to what type of relationship we have with the world that wraps around us so tightly. In a class I was teaching on Wednesday a girl asked me how you can not be friends with the world. We had just been reading out of James where it says that if you have a friendship with the world then you have an enemy with God. It was hard for me to draw a line in the sand for her because even I have become so blurred in my perception of God and of the world. At first i wanted to tell her that the world cannot be the main influence in her life, then I wanted to tell her friendship with the world means to attach yourself to the world therefore you must have no attachment here. In the end I told her that the closer you get to God the harder it is going to be for you and the world to be friends. I feel like my own Christian walk is like slow dancing to fast music. I'm constantly off beat and stumbling over my own feet, do you know what I mean? Is it God that gives us the dance floor and the music we dance to given by the world? What is to truly be a friend to God and yet not be in a difficult relationship with the world I must live in today? I look at Abraham who was actually called a friend of God. I can imagine him showing up at God's birthday parties, having guy nights together, you know? Doing all the things friends do together. However, when I look at his life I see only one thing that clearly separates him from everybody else; he unquestionably, irrevocably, undeniably cast his lot with God instead of the world he lived in. From giving Lot the first choice of the land, to leaving Ur and Haran, to sacrificing his own son; Abraham's trust in God was not just seen in his prayers and words but also through his actions towards others outside his tent. Are you slow dancing in a burning room? do you want to take in every second of life while refusing to accept the truth that the room you’re in, that this world around us is quickly going to be destroyed? Just imagine what it would be like to be in heaven and see God smile at you and then in a smooth voice call you his friend.

Dec 4, 2009

Story of Jacob

“Master your son has heard of your illness and has hastened to visit you,” with a curt bow the servant exited the tent and walked across the dusty clearing and disappeared behind another tent.

“Good” replied the tired old man

Jacob had never felt so tired in his whole life. The last few days have been long haunting. Faintly he remembered the long journey he made from Beersheba to Paddan-Aram; however, he had the incentive of an angry brother to drive him quickly through the country. He remembered the confusion of the dream but the vivid imagery would forever be seared in his memory. The sound of the angel’s heavy breathing as they climbed the latter up and down and up and down again. The sight of heaven and the look of the ladder descending to earth, all so real and yet unreal at the same time. If only I knew the full meaning and depth behind the vow I made.

In a meadow, a world away, a much younger man was on his knees apparently out of breath and showing the marks and bruises of someone much older than himself. “God” the trembling lips were not confident or loud; instead the voice was sacred and tired. One would think that when talking to God you should stand and yell your request to God like he might be deaf in one ear or something. This man could not summon the strength to stand let alone look in the direction of heaven. “If…. if you help on this path that I am on and you deliver me safely to my destination, God?” Could he even make a request to God at this point? Would God listen to a deceiver a liar a sinner? Loneliness and despair invaded Jacob’s heart and began marching death and depression around his mind and heart. Invisible roots and vines began to ensnare and trap him, around and around weaving into his skin, his clothing, his eyes and mouth. “Please bring me back God, bring me back in peace.” Peace was not what he was feeling; peace was the exact opposite of what was in him. Fear of his brother finding him, and at any moment rushing from under the shade or those trees and killing him like some wounded animal. Could it be that bad, I do deserve whatever hatred he must have for me, I deserve to die here and now. I deserve to be forgotten for what I have done to my brother, my father. Almost in a whisper “Then you will be my LORD God and I,” could I actually uphold my end of this covenant? Then again I will most likely not see the morning, “I will be your man.” Peace. Nothing but quiet was the response. Even the birds and wind, with their silence, recognized the power and grace of the covenant that was struck just then. Jacob found no resistance when he lifted his head, no vines ensnaring him. Nothing was heard but the sound of heart beating against his chest; every thump..thump….thump was a reassurance that God not only listened but he accepted. It wasn’t till years later that Jacob realized that it was in God’s acceptance that the truly hard trials awaited.

Dec 1, 2009

Time as a Tornado

It's amazing that another year has pass and gone with the same speed as teenager riding a shopping cart down a hill in a Wal Mart parking lot. It is even more striking that this year, like no other year, has gone by like a tornado; changing everything about me and my relationship with everybody. I feel like Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt in the last scene of twister, where they are holding on to the pipe that happens to be anchored to the core of the earth while everything around them is destroyed. All of the elements in a tornado, when docile are unseen, unnoticed and not dangerous but when stirred they become violent and threatening. Time when it goes, goes often unnoticed but when you try and hold on gets violent and threatening. not because of its nature but because of your stance towards it; like a picture that in one position looks like a young girl and when you turn it upside down it becomes a picture of an old woman. this last year was my first year I have ever spent attached to another person in an intimate relationship, marriage. All I know thus far is that I know nothing about what it means to love as God loves me. My wife loves with an immense intensity, towards myself, our family and strangers. This gives me such a small glimpse of what God means to love others, not because of how they love you but because of how God loves you. Do we hold on to time like a lifeline from a sinking ship? Do we have a death grip on a cord that should ensure our safety, but in reality it ensures our destruction? I love what this last year has given me, my wife, my job, my ministry, and as I look forward, as we all look forward to this coming year; smile, for God loves you with an unbearable love. A love that is strong, merciful, compassionate, and full.