Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reflections on Psalm 22. I think we've all felt this way at some point.

I cry by day....but he doesn't answer;
and by night, but I have no rest.
YET, he is holy.
He is enthroned as a mighty King, a loving father, a meek lamb.
...But I am a worm and not a woman, a reproach of men and despised by the people.

Yet you, Lord God, MY God, you brought me forth from my mother's womb.  You made me trust at a time when I didn't even understand faith or life.  Upon you I was cast from birth; you have been my God since before I was born.

Be not far from me, Jesus, Father, Friend.
There are times when white hot fear melts my heart like wax.
We've all been attacked.  We've been taken captive and beaten while down low.
Hasten to my assistance, Lord.  Deliver.  Save.

You do not despise the affliction of the afflicted.
Restore praises in my mouth.
Let me tell how you have transformed me the glory of your name, my Salvation.
'Til death do I part
In this my case
I have only one plea:
Jesus Christ, he covers me

My soul's sin-sick nature,
for shame it reals,
clinging to death, hoping for life
weary from its self-inflicted strife

There is no flower,
no gently humming bee.
Dear God forgive me
I've forsaken me

Where is the absolute 
we all were told exists?
Where is love and life and right,
this supposed eternal bliss?

Where has your joy gone?
Your fellowship, your faith?
Where have my words fled to?
-Some muted and silent place

And still 'til death do I part,
in this my case,
I have only one plea:
Jesus Christ, he covers me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

"He Believes in Himself"

"The publisher said, 'that man will get on; he believes in himself.'  And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written Hanwell.  I said to him, 'Shall I tell you where the men are who believe in themselves?  For I can tell you.  I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar.  I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success.  I can guide you to the thrones of the Supermen.  The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums...'
....That publisher who thought that men would get on if they believe in themselves, those seekers after the Superman who are always looking for him in the looking-glass, the writers who talk about impressing their personalities instead of creating life for the world, all these people have really only an inch between them and this awful emptiness.  Then when this kindly world all round the man has been blackened out like a lie; when friends fade into ghosts, and the foundations of the world fail; then when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony.  The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his own brain; his mother's face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell.  But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, 'He believes in himself.'"
-G.K. Chesterton

As I read this, I was overwhelmed with the realization that not only do I see this to be extremely prevalent in my contemporaries but especially so in myself.  Certainly God created us as unique individuals, each with his own set of talents and dispositions, but Chesterton here is addressing a core issue in our humanity, the intense gravitational pull of Self and the tendency to believe that when all else fades away I still have my independence.  And it seems that independence isn't the only thing we hold so tightly to; no, that's only a fraction of it.  Rather it's our seeming need to be significant, to contribute something, to be special, or as Chesterton puts it to be the 'Superman.'  
There was only one Superman, and he was the most humble servant of all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

faith like a child

"Miss Joy, can we do the lawnmower dance?"...........  "Miss Joy, I need a band-aid."...........  "Um, Miss Joy, when are you gonna tell us who got the solos?"...............  "Is there a dance part, Miss Joy?"................  "Can we go on stage yet?"..................  "Miss Joy, I lost my safari bag."..............  "Can you tie my shoe?".........."Miss Joy, can we pray for Morgan?  She's sick."  

My kids.  They keep me on my toes.  This week I'm surrounded by over 60 beautiful children, ages 8 to 12.  Fantastic little singers; profound little thinkers.  They take over any room (and every near-by heart) with their energy, optimism and unadulterated promise.  It's during weeks like this when I love my job.  Too bad music and drama camp only comes once a year.  

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Great Hope ...a work in progress

My hope is Freedom:
-A space in which to live honestly, having been set free to live a life defined by love--a love that is determined by grace.

My hope is Significance:
-To play an important part in a great adventure.
-To be a key ingredient in someone else's recipe for fulfillment and joy.

My hope is a happy ending:
-To die someday filled with thanksgiving for the ways in which God was faithful.
-To look back and see love, forgiveness, and joy... real relationships.
-To leave a legacy that reflects God's glory and gives hope to those who follow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

This is Texas, aint no other state....

Love barbeque. Love boating. Love music. Love Austin.
Saturday's review:
Last night we feasted on oh-so-lovingingly-prepared barbequed brisket at a place called the Salt Lick. What's more, if the name of the place and the food weren't awesome enough, it was indoor/outdoor and there was music!  Our excitement was diminished a bit as the starving artist for the evening turned out to be more starving than artist.  Unfornutately for him and us, his musical skills left a good bit to be desired. We found ourselves longing for just one more harmonica note. Is three too much to ask for?

Upon wiping our mouths and sighing (like ya do), bellies full, we headed straight to Lake Austin and launched in the dark for an evening boating adventure which concluded with sleeping under the stars in a moonlit cove. It was fantastic! This morning we awoke to two fishermen catching a "biggun" nearby. We waited 'til the sun was up before heading out for the 'first tracks' of wake boarding. I got up on my first try. Take slolemn skiing, combine it with snowboarding, and you get wake boarding. Very fun, potentially very painful. The afternoon consisted of lounging on the boat in yet another cove, enjoying the sun, swimming and eating. No complaints.

Tonight I will experience the Austin nightlife which is teeming with the famed underground music of "these here parts." We will enjoy food, friends and 'The Gourds.' Hopefully this time the artists will have more to offer than two harmonica notes. I'm feeling optimistic.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Take a cracked vase and smash it on the floor.
It will shatter.
Take a brittle bone and try to bend it.
It will break.
Try to pour water into a shattered vase.
Try walking on a broken leg.

You'll have a mess.

The vase won't thank you for the broken pieces.
The leg won't thank you for the humiliation.

Is there any redemption here?
Any reconciliation between creator and creation?
Any hope?

It's as though I, a cracked vase, see a beautiful flower across the room, and I so badly want to give it a chance to use me, to fill me, to help me fulfill my purpose, and to provide for its beauty.
There's so much hope wrapped up in that one little flower.  It's a delicate prospect.  I don't want to kill it.
What if I can't hold enough water to keep the flower alive?
And it's petals wither and lose their color?
OR what if the florist sees fit to keep me on the shelf with no higher purpose than to serve as an example of what not to be, a broken vessel?
Am I a pot in the hands of an angry potter--a vase rejected by the florist and unfit for the flower?  
I refuse to believe this of my God and yet it's all I have believed about myself.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thoughts from Ezekiel 36:25-38

God's promise to the nation of Israel:
-To sprinkle clean water on them
-To cleanse their filthiness from idols
-To give them a new heart and a new spirit
-To remove their heart of stone
-To give a heart of flesh
-To put His Spirit within them
-To cause them to walk in His statutes

All this is about Israel's purity of devotion, heart, and spirit....summed up in just the heart, the core of who they were and who they were meant to be.  All this was B.C. and all this God did and does to prove his glory.  How much more does he promise us now that Christ has paid the cost?  'I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh...'  God desired to do that for a bunch of rebellious, thick-skulled people thousands of years ago who had not yet received the gift of Jesus' sacrifice; why not now?
It goes on to say that He longs to restore our lives to fullness for His name sake.  His Holy name.  
This tells us that:
1.  Our restoration of heart and purity of devotion is a key ingredient in God's glory by his design.
2.  God is a jealous God who's name and renown are paramount--not to be profaned.

From 'The Weight of Glory'

'...I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you--the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.....
.....we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy. But is there any reason to suppose that reality offers any satisfaction to it? "Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.".....'

-C.S. Lewis

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis. Have you ever felt a swell of longing, the object of which is so elusive that you can't put your finger on it. Perhaps you feel it when you see the sun setting beyond the mountains. Or maybe it wells up when you see a child smile or hear her laugh. It comes knocking at unexpected moments when I'm driving through aspen groves or listening to a choir sing.

Carl Sagan once said something to effect of (forgive my paraphrasing), "...We get the sense that we have fallen from a great height."

Even someone who doesn't believe in God is well aquainted with that feeling. I believe it is at the core of who God made us to be. It's part of what draws us to him. He knit into the fabric of our hearts the capacity to feel overwhelming desire in order to demonstrate his glory and cause us to believe in perfection, eternity, fellowship with Christ, as John Eldredge would say, "man fully alive" and "the restored heart." As C.S. Lewis would say, it's "Heaven."