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Saturday, December 31, 2005

when churches met in homes...

It's strange really. I've been giving a fair bit of thought to the days when they had no idea what a pulpit or a pew were. If you would have mentioned these words you would have gotten the same reaction God got from Moses when he told him to build an ark because rain was in the forecast. When people invited someone to church, they were essentially asking them over to their house or the house of a friend. Imagine inviting someone to "House" (not the television show mind you, brilliant though it is) instead of inviting them to "Church".

Imagine this...
"At this sort of church, you knock before you come in. Someone greets you at the door and you're invited in. Pleased to make your acquaintance, the host would then ask if they could take your coat for you. As they gathered your families coats, you watched as they took them into the side room and piled them on the bed with everyone elses. You then did what anyone does when they're in someone's home...you took off your shoes. This signified an acceptance of the invitation to relax. No one takes off their shoes in church these days. As you moved toward the kitchen, you rounded the corner to find pockets of people mingling with food in hand. The counter was stacked with all kinds of delicious foods and deserts. Someone handed you a plate and told you to "get your fill" and before you knew it you were talking with your mouth full trying to answer someone's question about where you live. There's something about eating that disarms you. Before you know it you're sharing about your father's illness and they're offering their prayers and encouragements. You haven't even told your friends some of the details that these humble folk drew out of you.

From the living room, you hear an obnoxious voice trying to get people's attention. He seems to be making some jokes while attempting to corral the bodies that were spread out all over the house, even the bathroom. As people made their way to the living room, there weren't enough chairs for everyone, so people found a square foot of space and plopped down on the floor with unwavering joy. Some offered thier seats, but most refused the polite gesture. Some even commented that they would rather sit on the floor, something about stretching out. It took what seemed like forever to calm people down, but they didn't seem rushed to get things started, in fact, the pastor said that things were already started. I thought that was strange since we hadn't begun the service yet. But the longer I sat there I realized that you didn't ever quite know when things started or stopped, it just fluidly moved from one thing to the next without so much as a word of transition.

The time started with a story from a lady who lost her husband last year. She started to cry and as I looked around, men and womean were crying with her. Someone handed her a box of tissues and everyone laughed. She said something like, "I'm just glad I can be myself around you guys!" I didn't even know her and I started to feel my eyes fill with tears, but I held them back for fear that someone would think it strange for the new guy to cry. Then the wierdest thing happened. This woman turned to the guy holding onto a guitar and asked him if he could play a song. He happily agreed and as he started to play, people started to sing along with him. I didn't know the words, but I was blown away with the sound of hearing everyone singing this song about God being with you through the good and bad life dishes out. I don't remember the verses but they sang the chorus over and over and it went something like, "Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed is his name." (in fact, I was singing it in the shower that next morning)

From there, they sang a few songs and then watched a movie clip from my favorite movie, "Patch Adams". It was the scene where he was making that sick little girl laugh by dressing up and acting out ridiculous characters. After we watched it, the pastor asked if anyone felt anything about that clip. I was awaiting awkward silence, but instead, people started sharing what impressions that scene had made on them. You won't believe this, I even did. I share that I have always wanted to affect people's lives in that way. It wasn't alot, but I was floored that I even opened my mouth. I'm normally shy in new settings. But something about his placed made me feel "at home".

Then the pastor opened up the Bible and shared a verse about "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." He sat on this stool in the middle of the room and talked with animation and humility and humor and relevence. I understood what he was talking about which was a shift from my prior church experiences. But it wasn't even what he was saying, it was that I was sitting on a couch and we were talking about God in such a personal and casual setting that at times I wondered if this could be called "a church" because it was just too different from church to be called such a thing.

As I was drifting into these internal arguments about the semantics of church vs. home vs. worship vs. gathering vs. conversation vs. sermon, the pastor said something that I'll never forget. He said, "This home is not the church, nor any building erected adorned with steeple, for it says in Acts 17, God doesn't dwell in places built by human hands..." then he said something about God giving men life and breath and "everything else". The pastor laughed when he said "everything else" and made two or three jokes about the author who wrote this piece of literature and what he was probably thinking. I don't remember what he said, but I remember people laughing hysterically as he used what he called his "sanctified imagination". I never have heard of that term before...but I kinda liked it.

I could go on and on about that two hours of time that felt like forever, but not the kind of forever it felt like in the other church I went to when I was growing up. That kind of forever meant that you don't think it will ever end. The kind of forever I'm talking about is the kind that you never want to end. We ended with a reading from some old desert father from the early 1600's. As this lady read it, I sat their suspended in time. It was beautiful...and I'm not even artistic. It made you want to write more, want more, be more. We ended the living room time journaling on this simple 3x5 card. The statement we had to finish was, "If I could take what I've experienced today into my week I would..." I thought that was a great idea because I rarely thought about church in those terms before...when it ended, it all ended. I didn't give it a second thought. But the pastor said that we are the church...that church doesn't end, it just moves about. He said it's always afoot. I don't know what that means, but I'm sure it means something cool, cause that pastor was cool. I didn't feel like he was preachy even when he was preaching. It didn't feel churchy even thought it was church.

I left that church, I mean house or whatever you want to call it, never wanting to leave. Sometime I'll tell you what I really loved about it."
I was sitting in Barnes and Noble today wondering why I love Act 2 so much. As I let my mind wander...I think I know why now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

something sublime at Panera...

Sublime

I’m sitting in this leather chair
Passing by some time
Hoping that I stumble onto
Something that’s sublime.

I’m looking for a stab of joy
to penetrate the norm,
making me alive and spry
Instead of true to form.

Isn’t that what we all want,
Our pulse to speed a bit,
Encountering a touch of weird
Something that doesn’t fit.

A dash of something quite bizarre
A spoonful of the strange,
A touch of some quaint oddity
Out on the open range.

Where are the goose bumps on my arms?
Where is the tingling spine?
Where are the eyes that well with tears
When life’s not more than fine?

I have to think I’m justified
in wanting something more
or maybe I’m a trying boy
who needs to be ignored.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Watching Grampa...

I'm home for Christmas. I'm typing this in my old bedroom. Pictures cover the walls dating back to my childhood. My baseball cards are still in the closet. It still has the distinct smell of my childhood.

My grandfather lives here now. He just turned 90 years old in October. We were talking yesterday and he mentioned a few of the things that he's seen in his lifetime. He's told me some of these events before, but this time I felt drawn in. He was born in 1915...he's closing in on a full century of living.

Here's a few things that happened in 1915:
Frank Sinatra was born.
Thomas Merton was also born.
Booker T Washington died.
The 10,000,000th model T Ford was assembled.
Alexander Graham Bell in NY called Thomas Watson in SF
Red Sox Babe Ruth pitching debut & 1st HR, loses to Yanks 4-3 in 15


It's hard to believe that my Grandfather has outlived Merton and Sinatra. It's hard to believe he was alive through WWI and WW2. It's hard to believe he lived through the depression in New York City.

My grandpa is almost blind now. His mind is sharp, but his body is deteriorating. 90 years of life down here has left behind brittle bones, wrinkled skin and no teeth. My Gramma died two years ago, so did my Grampa, but his body refusesdie with him. He stares off into empty space taken with memories of what used to be. He talks oft of times gone by and the wonder years of youthful ambition. He has so many stories of bravery and adventure. He is a strong man who has lived well...I'm proud to be his grandson.

He won't be around very much longer. I don't think his body can live without his heart too many more years. He is a shell of who he was, yet I'm drawn to spend time with him. At his departure, I will lose my personal connection to the early 1900's and with it and piece of my story that can only be told by my Grandpa himself.

90 years old. 1915. What a story. I'm glad he's still here to tell about it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A daughter day...

Today is my day off. I spent some time this morning with my daughters wrestling, reading and writing. That's right, writing. I decided I would hoist the laptop up onto my lap and let them make up stories while I type them out. It was awesome. They each made up about three stories, but one story they combined efforts and wrote about Chicken Little. I thought I would let you in on the rough draft before we send it off for printing and binding...

The Story of Chicken Little (as told by Kami and Aly)

"Once upon a time there was a little chicken name chicken little. (I love that!) His dad said, “Son, I’m going to scream like a little girl in two minutes!” They had a little house and him’s (Aly talk's like Smeagol at times) friends waked up and they were doing a dance and he loved it. His dad thought that it wasn’t real, but it was…they really were Indians or whatever they’re called. They liked a little thing called an Alien and they were scared. He didn’t know that he had a friend behind him. Him’s dad didn’t know, but in the end he did know and they hugged. The dad, at the end, was really nice and believed him and hugged him. Chicken little kissed a girl and she was jumping around like crazy and she didn’t know that the Aliens were still there. But then they knew why and they killed them. The End."

I would read back to them what they wrote and we would just laugh and laugh together. It was an awesome moment with my daughters. I want to teach them to be creative...to dream. After I made them some lunch, they went down for a nap and I decided to write about the morning. So here's a taste...

Little girls

My lap is warm with little girls
Perched upon my knee,
Leaning toward the book in hand
Poised with playful glee.

Listening to every word
Coming from the page,
Dreaming just like girls would
At that delightful age.

As I look into their eyes
Sparkling with laughter,
I can’t help but wonder what
My heart is truly after.

What is really worth my time
when all is said and done?
After all my victories
What will I have won?

Sitting here with little girls
Makes you double take,
Asking what is really true
And what’s a huge mistake.

Am I really making much
Of things that mean so little?
Spending time achieving but
Forgetting how to giggle.

So sitting here upon this couch
I’m going to rearrange
All the things I’ve lost with time
That really need to change.

Back into the things they were
When I was just a lad
Sitting in my living room
Reading with my dad.

I love being a father almost as much as I love being a husband. My daughters teach me so much. They uncover so much that has been buried under the debris of adulthood. I owe them so much for resurrecting my jaded heart.

"In about a minute I'm going to scream like a little girl." - The Dad in Chicken little

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

should I let my hair down...

I'm 31 years of age. To some, I'm still a ripe chap. To others, full of the rot of old age. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to look up to as far as trends are concerned. One conundrum perplexing me as of late is the issue of my hair. For years, I've thought very little about my hair style choosing to stick with what's worked for me. It's the short cut combed forward with a little spike thing going on in the front. It was made popular back in the late 90's and I've been trapped hopelessly since the 20th century. (sounds like it was decades ago.) The last two days I've been wondering whether I should grow my hair out like so many are doing these days.

But if I choose this way of life, I must pay the price of looking gritty for months on end. I would revisit the oily, disheveled Jr. High season of my life...the eye-soar in between look that I would just as soon blot out of my hairy history.

I don't know what to do...let it go or chop it off.

"Lord, show me what to do with these locks of love!!"

Monday, December 19, 2005

hiding Culture and Scripture in our hearts...

Memorizing Culture, not just Scripture.

“Thy world have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against them.”

What good is it to interpret Scripture if you misinterpret culture? You have the right words set in the wrong world. Background, context, storyline, timeline, characters and culture matter as much as the words penned to explain them. You can’t have rich theology without rich history.

We live in a Christian society that rewards incompetence and illiteracy. We market positive, family-friendly phrases. “Call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved.” There you have it, the one stop shopping network. It is accessible, memorable, and pleasurable. “I’ll take it! Now how much do I owe you?” This cheap theology gets distributed in bulk. Most of the time, people don’t care what something really means, they just want to suck on a pacifier.

But equally as important as what God said is where he said it and to whom he said it. You can’t accurately represent someone if you don’t take those facts and facets into consideration. You can’t airbrush your own backdrop and handpick your own characters. No one has that freedom when it comes to the Bible. If you’re looking for a fictitious novel that invites your imaginative tampering, then hit the bookstore and find a New York Times bestseller. But leave the Scripture to speak for itself; it needs no facelift, it needs no editor. If you desire something more, go further in, not further out.

Even the word interpretation gives us too much room to make the improvements we deem necessary. “They won’t understand unless I rework this and reword that.” Language is lost. Settings are sterilized. Rome is traded for Raleigh. Jerusalem looks like Jacksonville. Palestine feels every bit like Pennsylvania. Aramaic turns into American. The Middle East takes on a Mid Western feel. What we call interpretation many times is nothing less than bible butchering. Words lose their meaning when they are ripped out of context and sold to the highest bidder.

Too often we have befriended the text and offended the context. We have made much of Scripture and very little of culture. We have embraced the modern and replaced the ancient. In our search for a truth that’s timeless, we have settled for a truth that’s worthless. The one-size-fits-all approach to studying the Scriptures leaves a good many wanting. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense; it makes too much sense. It’s not that it doesn’t connect, it’s that it connects too well. It’s not that it is too difficult, it’s that it’s not as difficult as it should be. Convenience never leads us to the truth and almost always to corruption. Yes, our faith has found a resting place, but it is just that rest that is starting to unnerve me. I think the hymn would be better phrased, “My faith has found a restlessness.”

So as we attempt to build bridges from The Middle East to the East Coast, let us not forget that we do our fellow man no favor by memorizing Scripture and trivializing culture. When we avoid culture, we start cults.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pride and Prejudice...

Last night, my wife and I went out on a date which is a sort of weekly marital sacriment we honor religiously. That night is sacred to me. I don't know how couples last without a weekly get away. This night we decided we wanted to see the movie "Pride and Prejudice". I didn't know what to expect, all I knew was that I was in the mood to be transported to another time and another place for a couple hours with my "bride by my side". I could not have known the kind of experience I was about to indulge in.

This movie was nothing short of spellbinding. It was a Romance that gave romance back it's original glory. The palatial balls, the dancing, the courting, the exchanging of glances, the propriety, the chivalry, the stately gentlemen, the femenine curtsy, the pursuit, the mystery, the proposals, the sisterly secrets under the covers, the tongue-tied male trying to express his affection in words, the blushing, the dresses, the castles, the European landscapte, the idyllic conversations down by the river, the aged trees sprawling ever so wide as if to stretch while yawning, the midnight meeting in the rain with soaked hair and haggard clothes, the horse drawn carriages, the large brick homes on acres of plantation, the five course meals, the giddy anticipation followed by the devestating letdown, the wondering of intention or interest, the playing hard to get, the tilted head in embarrassment, the sheepish grin at the invitation to dance, the gallantry and courtesy of the man...I could go on and on.

Notice I didn't say kissing, sex, sensuality or seduction. These had no part of the movie at all and yet it was the richest display of romance I've ever encountered. The only kiss was given in the final scene of the movie and it was passionately tender (rather than animalistic and barbaric). It just showed that romance has very little to do with sex. You have to look no further than our sex saturated culture, which bypasses the inconvenience of romance and moves directly into an impersonal exchange of body fluid, to see that sex and romance are no longer one in the same. It's unfortunate.

And the language. Oh the language. It was unbelievable. I'm not talking about swearing...there was none of that. I'm talking about a day when words were appreciated and honored. The way they described base things left you drooling with delight. I must have turned to Heidi 15 times and said, "Can you believe that?" They spoke with such eloquence and precision. They used proper English and communicated with passionate pronunciation. I was filled with rapture time and time again as I listened to their dialogue and dreamed of having a vocabulary that actually expressed what I felt. I never realized that most of what I say falls so short of what I wanted to say simply because I don't possess the words to share what I'm picturing in my heaed. I'm illiterate. Our culture is illiterate. We have no idea the blessing that we're missing out on. We value crass, lewd, raw verbage and have the audacity to call it relevant communication. The more broken up and slang-ridden it is the more of an audience we will carry. Again, it's unfortunate.

Over and over, I was gripped with how much we've lost. We've lost simplicity, romance, language, architecture, nature, femeninity, masculinity and all for the sake of industry, transportation, expediency, convenience, modernity, efficiency, technology, and reality television. We suffer from the utilitarian complex which values productivity over principle. We are machines cranking out product and losing our souls in the process. Oh my God, deliver us!

I want the former. I'm telling you I feel like I would trade in the industrial revolution if I could but taste the delicacies of what we've lost as a culture, as a society. I want to be a helpless romantic if it means returning to my roots and grafting back into the trunk of my heritage. I know, I sit here on this computur enjoying the very thing I'm vehemently cursing...but I would trade it, I tell you, for a portal back in time to when everything still dripped with dignity. The kind of dignity that treated life as a precious thing and time as a fleeting possession intended to be used wisely.

You have to see this movie...it's moving.

Shots...

I just took my youngest to get a shot. Usually Heidi does this (I find something to do to busy myself that day). It is excruciating. I held her on my lap and gave her a tight bear hug so that she couldn't squirm. She just sat there letting me act as a straitjacket. As the nurse wiped some alchohol on her thigh and brandished the needle that would penetrate my daughters baby-fat laden thigh, I winced and clenched my teeth. I covered Taylor's eyes so that she wouldn't see this unnatural practice. The nano-second that minature spear stabbed into her flesh she gasped and let out a cry that gradually morphed into fit of weeping.

I quickly put her pacifier in ther mouth and led her to the sucker bin. The minute she laid eyes on a shining red sucker her woes vanished and she was again my innocent little daughter who believed that no one would ever deliberately inflict pain on her for any reason.

Now we're heading over to Aly's Christmas party at school. this should be good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Merry Christmas, In God we Trust, and other mirages...

I'm a pastor. It seems like I recieve more mass emails, political literature and religious propoganda due to that fact. Can I be honest for a moment? I am sick and tired of the belly aching and the ax grinding and the hair splitting over issues like "Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays". In my opinion, issues like this that the religious right deem to be the most potent and urgent are nothing more than "treadmills". They make you feel like you're moving, but you're really not. I wonder how many Christians exercise all their spiritual energy on the treadmills of pet issues like fighting for "In God we Trust" on the dollar bills or the "Ten Commandments" in the court yards of our country or "Prayer in Public Schools" because they somehow attach their closeness to God with these slogans, maxims or holidays. I see so many getting their underwear in a bunch over stuff like this, but they don't clothe themselves with Christ and act generously and graciously to their fellowman. We fight and we angrily send out emails to rouse the troups into rabid action to defend God, and we forget that many of these causes are not God's idea in the first place. I don't remember God telling anyone to put the Ten Commandments in the city square or to make sure you pray before class or at graduation or to celebrate "Christmas" with trees and lights and gifts and carols. These are man's ideas over the years and these ideas were great, but they aren't the priority. When they become the end, they become at dead end in my opinion.

I know people fighting for KJV, but hate homosexuals.
I know people picketing against abortion that beat up their wifes.
I know people who witness to complete strangers and don't play with their kids.
I know people who sign petitions while spreading rumors.
I know people who think being a Republican puts you on God's side.
I know people who partner with the Christian Coalition, yet live with a grumpy and graceless heart.

I read a passage just a couple days ago that went something like this (Romans 13:8ish) "Don't let any debt remain outstanding but the continued debt of your love for your fellowman...Clothe yourself with Christ, so that you don't fulfill the desires of the flesh." It's not word for word, but it's close. "Clothe yourself with Christ." I wonder if I do that. I wonder if our Christian cultures fascination with perverbial soap boxes isn't just a cover up for alienation from God.

If you're more interested in fighting Target or lobbying for "Merry Christmas" than clothing yourself with Christ and loving your fellowman, you're disobeying the law. Because in that same passage it says that loving your neighbor as yourself is the fulfillment of the whole law. If we would work harder at clothing ourselves with Christ and loving our fellowman, we won't have to rely on little trite phrases, or spiffy one-liners, or text on our currency to validate our spiritual walk. These are mirages. These are masquarades. They make you feel like you're moving when you're really not.

If you want to fight for something, fight to get Christ on in the morning and keep him on throughout the day. Don't entertain the thought unclothing him from yourself and doing what comes naturally. I think it will only lead to squabbles over things that I'm not sure mean a whole heck of alot to begin with.

I love saying Merry Christmas...but I'd rather show someone love. (it's harder)
I love the Ten Commandments...but they are summed up in loving your neighbor as yourself.
I love "In God we Trust"...but I'd rather trust him than fight for it on my dollar bill. (it's harder)
I love "One nation, under God"...but I'd rather clothe myself under him and keep clothed all day long.
I love "Prayer in Schools"...but honestly, prayer was never meant to be a public display to begin with...(read the Sermon on the Mount)

I love all of these things...but I'm trying not to get sidetracked with their expression in our culture missing the point along the way...and with all these emails and non-profit mailings...I'm having a hard time.

Sometimes I'm embarrassed to be a Christian.

Monday, December 12, 2005

high highs and low lows...

Who deliberately takes the initiative to ask someone to point out his or her gaping weaknesses? Idiots like me. Two days ago I asked my wife (who is painfully honest) to tell me some of my blind spots...my flaws...my disappointing features. She shook her head at first and said..."no, no...this isn't fair." But I continued to goad her and eventually she gave in and laid down the smack.

Her first "observation" was that I had "high highs and low lows". (I forgot to tell you that I was writing these down for future reference.) I proceeded to jot that down like it didn't faze me one I-oh-dah. She stammered through about three more before she laid down her sword and started to bind up my wounds. Like minds have a tendency to do, mine labored over that first one incessantly turning it inside out and evaluating it's every angle.

I had to conclude that my wife was spot on. I am a basketcase at times. Ascending to the highest peaks and descending to the lowest valleys. I feel things deeply...so deeply that I cannot convey the level of pathos aroused in given situations. Sometimes it paralyzes me, sometimes it energizes me, sometimes I laugh uncontrolably, sometimes I sob like a little school girl. I get quite, I can get loud. I can't stand not being around people (I'm social), I love to be alone (I'm a hermit). I overthink things...I sometimes don't think before I do something. Some days I feel like I want to conquer the world, other days I feel like locking myself in the house, pulling down the shades and letting my body slowly decay into the fabric of my couch.

But I was talking with Heidi last night about this. We had a wonderful discussion about God, life and the ebbs and flows of the story we live in. I mentioned to her that I'd been processing this "high highs/low lows" theory and she just laughed. I then explained to her that I would have it no other way...

I see a disease that has sticken a good many people that seems far worse in my opinion. It has it's draws for sure. It's promise of a balanced and level-headed life is convincing. But though the path seems more pleasant, it brings little pleasure.

It is the person with "High lows and Low highs". The one who has figured out a way to stay off the mountain and out of the valley. (lest you feel like I'm bashing this person...there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel drawn to assume this posture.) This person doesn't feel things deeply...they move along on cruise control occasionally hitting the acceleratior or the brake petal if something unusual occurs. But for the most part, 55mph works just fine for them.

But cruise control doesn't appeal to me. I want to suck the marrow out of the high high...and I want to sieze the moment of the low low. And I want to relish every second in between. The mirage of the level-headed, even-keeled, mellow yellow steady Eddie is just that...a mirage. I want to laugh hard and cry harder. I want to leave church spent and to go to church hungry. I want to get ticked off when something bombs and I want to zone when I need a respite in the middle of the battle. I want to be superdaddy with my girls and I want to let them see me fall apart. I want my wife to know the whole of me...warts and all...(or as one so aptly put it) farts and all. I want to stay restless and to sleep like a baby.

How, you ask, do I plan on doing this unthinkable task. I haven't a clue.

But this I know, the only thing worse than being a failure is succeeding at that which doesn't amount to anything. I want to fail if it means keeping my heart alive and in tact.

I have high high and low lows...I'm sorry. Does anyone want to join me?

My wife said she does.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

post-Narnia depression...

For two years I've been anticipating this movie...two years. And like most things in life, I've found the expectancy more exciting than the experience. Dont' get me wrong, there were times during the movie when I was on the edge of my seat pinching myself to make sure I wasn't caught in a cruel dream. Especially towards the beginning of the movie when the train was gliding across the countryside and they were on their way to the mysterious mansion. I loved the old artifacts and the details carved into the doorways and banisters. I loved the remote halls and the empty rooms. I loved the hide and seek. I particularly enjoyed the first time Lucy stumbled into Narnia through the wardrobe. Her eyes aglow, her smile innocent, her heart suspended. And then there was my favorite part of the movie, her encounter with Mr. Tumnus. I love the handshake, their talk around the fire sipping tea, the way they shared their histories with each other, the dancing fire...that place was just spellbinding.

As the movie went on, I found myself less drawn in. I was watching, instead of experiencing. And as I made my way to the exit after the movie had come to a end, I thought about the thrill of the journey leading up to the movie. I'm finding the journey to be more enjoyable than the destination over and over again in my life. It's more about traveling than arriving. More about wanting than having. As C.S. Lewis himself says, "Our best havings are wantings." I think that may be one of my most favorite quotes of his. It's so true.

I love Narnia...the Narnia in my head and heart. It's a world that fascinates me to the core. I'm so glad it came to the big screen...but a screen could never do justice to a world so wonderful...never.

Here's to Deep Magic...

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe and ME...

I have been looking forward to this moving my whole life long. Even before I read these books and knew that C.S. stood for Clive Staples. I can't tell you how I've anticipated this night. It's like a two year Christmas Eve's night. I have been checking out the development of this movie since I heard about two years ago. I panted after new little excerpts that would be disclosed along the way...any little pictures of the production, any articles on who was selected for what roles, any interviews with cast or crew, any sound bites of soundtracks or commercials, any teasers or trailers, any links leading to other sites that had links to other sites that had links to yet another site. This world of Narnia has spread abroad inside my heart.

And the night has finally come for me to go and partake of this experience. I've read the books countless times, I know that it will not compare to my imagination, but I care not. I'm just eager for my faith to become sight. The unseen to become seen. The dream to come true. I can't wait to hear the swelling orchestra accompanying powerful scenes of battle or suspence, I can't wait to see the sweeping camera shots of the most gorgeous land on the planet, New Zealand. I can't wait to see the Wardrobe open and the snow covered evergreens on the other side surrounding the lampost. I can't wait to hear Aslan roar and to see the White Witch fall. I can't wait to see goat boy, Mr. Tumnus. I can't wait to see the animals talk, just like I've always dreamed of animals doing and I hope heaven realizes. I can't wait to see the children fight and emerged the kings and queens...sons of Adam...daughters of Eve.

I'm a giddy little school boy today. Pent up with passion, tears, yearnings, laughter, hope, dreams that are dying to come forth tonight. I can't wait...and yet I must.

Good things come to those who wait.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

language...

It's not a secret...I love words. Some would even say I have an unhealthy preoccupation with them. I love to go to Barnes and Noble to just look up words. I own a book called "Word Smart"...823 words anyone who claims to be human should know. I read it religiously before I go to bed at night. I love synonyms the best...better ways of saying the same ol' things.

Just recently I stumbled across a word that I love. Feckless. It means useless. It has immediately become a part of my vocabulary (and usually a new word takes some repetition). This one locked in almost the moment I came across it. I think the reason why it plants into my mind so quickly is because it is a word that I hope is never uttered when someone describes my small and short life.

I came from a small town. I went to a small church. I went to a small Christian school. I have a humble beginning and I hope to have a humble ending. But one thing that I don't want to be small is my influence. I wake every morning dreaming of changing the world...the whole thing. I wonder if God is preparing me for something huge...something that would make me soil my undergarments if I could but catch a glimpse of it. I dream about being a part of something great. My ambition is boundless. It is reckless.

Reckless...

Feckless...

I hope God is reading this right now...

God, I want to split open with a pining that wearies me. I want to press on to take hold of that for which you took hold of me. I want to stretch out for the prize of the high calling. I want to have an uncontrollable and uncontainable and unquenchable passion that burns hot and bright. I want never lose my imagination...to dream dreams as big as you are. To fix my eyes on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. To consider my life worth nothing to me if only I may complete the task of testifying to the gospel of Your grace. These things have always driven me on...may they drive me still. God, listen to me, I don't want to be feckless...it scares me to even think about that possibility. Take my life and unleash yourself through every fiber of my being. I place myself at your disposal. I love every minute of loving you. Animate me.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sunken Ships...

Our hearts are like sunken ships waiting to be discovered at the bottom of the ocean floor. Most don't care to take or make time to venture down below the surface in search for the mystery that lies within. It's very often dark down there, corroded, a figment of what it used to be. And yet it is pregnant with sunken treasure waiting to be discovered and brought to the surface if only someone will plunge deep and stay down there long enough to mine it's contents. I don't know what sinks the heart along the way, but where the ship goes, so goes the treasure. Today, I met with a person who plummeted the depths with me and I with him. We swam through each other's hearts and found the treasures buried deep within.

This has to be what it means to be alive.

Friday, December 02, 2005

My wife says I have restless legs syndrome...

Who knew? Heidi has always gotten on me for bouncing my legs when I'm sitting down...especially if I'm in a pew with a bunch of other church folk. She says it's annoying. I can't help it...my legs have a mind of their own. Whenever I do this, she grabs my leg and squeezes real tight like she's trying to tell me something. I like it when she grabs my leg. Sometimes I do it just so that she'll grab my leg.

I pace when I'm on the phone. Sometimes I toss and turn in bed cause I can't figure out where to put my legs so that they feel at ease. Other than that...they're just legs. Ordinary legs that need to move about without being labeled. Just leave my legs alone. Let them be.

He's got legs, and he knows how to move 'em...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'm changing...

last night Heidi and I went to a concert for our anniversary. Joe gave us some tickets and it seemed like a great change of pace. Oh, I forgot to tell you, it was a Steven Curtis and Mercy Me Christmas concert.

When we got there, the arena was half full and the ambiance was less than moving. As the concert got underway, I realized that something had shifted inside of me since the last concert I went to. I'm not sure what, but I didn't seem drawn into what they were trying to create. It seemed awkward at some points and kinda cool at other parts. Mercy Me was great and some of their creative additions to traditional Christmas jingles were sweet. But even in their concert, I just couldn't settle into a place of contentment. Just when I would get sucked into the music, the song would stop and people would offer up a sub-par applause leaving the band on stage timid and tongue-tied. No one laughed at jokes hardly at all. It was odd.

By the time Steven Curtis got up there, I was gone. I like him, too. He's a quality artist with commendable character and a respectable track record. But he seemed aloof at times...maybe I was just aloof. Heidi leaned over to me and said, "I don't mind if you want to leave early." Interpreted..."let's go." We stayed for another song and I had reached my concert threshhold. It wasn't about lame music or poor performance...my attention span had maxed out.

I'm finding myself less attracted to large crowds and noisy clamor. Induced clapping, canned jokes, and spiffy showmanship. I'm not against it, but it lacks the ingredient that I'm dying to encounter more. Closeness. Everything is far away.

I don't want to live far away any more. I say that knowing that something inside me will head that direction if I don't stop it now. If I let history repeat itself, I will fall into the trance many succumb to that leaves them alive without a life. I want closeness...with Heidi, with God, with my girls, with my sheep, with my world. I don't want to sit in the stands, I don't want to see from afar, I don't want to give cohersed, rehearsed claps anymore. I want to draw nigh, sit still and absorb the nuances. The nuances matter to me more now.

I'm changing...it's not about the concert...that just gave an opportunity for my heart to emote some of its musings. Thank God for SCC and Mercy Me...they are touching lives. But I think the things that will touch my life from here on out with not be so much accompanied with smoke and lights and stages...I think they will be the simple, plain, ordinary movements and moments, conversations and considerations, desires and disturbances of the normal human day. I need closeness, nearness, hereness, nowness, youness and meness sharing unheralded details that will never make it to a stage, book or movie screen.

I just thought about it...I am officially an old fart.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

my 9 year anniversary....

tonight...I'm leaving everything behind and running away with my wife. We're going out on a hot date to commemorate our 9th year of marriage. Time flies when you're having fun. Here's to marrying the hottest girl on the planet and waking up every morning next to her beautiful body. I'm the luckiest man alive.

restless legs syndrome...

I'm a softy. I'm sympathetic to even pathetic situations. I'm moved with compassion over seemingly insignificant scenerios. My heart goes out to almost anyone who is wrestling with turmoil or trouble.

But restless legs syndrome? Come on. No kidding...I just saw the commercial on T.V. and they were talking about taking medication and consulting your doctor about this physical condition. Granted, I haven't done research, so I don't have a leg to stand on in my argument, but I have a hard time believing there is such a thing. What is the next syndrome going to be?

itchy nose syndrome
lazy butt syndrome
disheveled hair syndrome
figgity fingers syndrome
droopy eyelids syndrome
sweaty feet sydrome
cracked lips syndrome
growing hips syndrome
sleepy seeds syndrome
chapped thighs syndrome
ansy calf muscles syndrome
giddy cheeks syndrome
drooling spittle syndrome
overactive tongue syndrome
erratic blinking syndrome
selective hearing syndrome
incessant droning on and on syndrome
chattering teeth syndrome
congested ear wax syndrome
unwanted hair syndrome
irresistible fingernails syndrome

I could sit here all day long and drum up human idiosyncrasies that are unfortunate. But I'm not sure medicating these things is the solution. Maybe it's just me, but I'm sick of being a part of a culture that is so childish as to shift blame to crazy medical conditions that are nothing more than wild goose chases and easter egg hunts.

Maybe people have "restless legs". Maybe it's connected to something neurotic in nature. And maybe I'm insensitive. And maybe, just maybe we're all a bunch of space cadets.

If you have restless legs...I apologize.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

sweet coffee...

I'm sitting here at Voyage's coffee shop. I like being here.

I just met with Dan...I like him.

I just talked to Jim Bowen. He's a good guy.

And now...Bobby Brown came on the radia..."It's my perogative."

And I just danced around the coffee shop.

And now I have to leave.

I like coffee shops.

bye.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Just another manic monday...

not really. I just thought about that old song sung by a girl that sounds like she's a teeny bopper coming down off a weekend high. I wonder what it is about mondays that often feels so gloomy. Maybe it's the time to reflect on the weekend gone by and to ask yourself if you spent it well. Just taking time to ask those simple questions puts you in a rare catagory of humanity.

On this Monday...I don't feel manic, that's for sure. Just contemplative. I feel like sitting on a porch swing and asking myself tons of questions.

I wish for more friends to share my questions with. One great facet about life as of late is the closeness I feel with my wife. We've been praying together and talking together more about life...its hidden caverns, its twists and turns, its ups and downs, its goods and bads. Boy, that's been good to have. Friendship with your wife is unrivaled. I wish as a couple we had friends that we could sit up and talk with until the early morning hours.

I wish frienship was more of a priority in our culture. Weeks and months fly by with little to no deep contact with other couples. I'm not talking about individual friendship at this point...I'm talking about couple to couple frienships. Those are rare.

I wish for them today.

Monday, November 21, 2005

chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Nat King Cole...I just spent some time with him this morning. Just for the record...he didn't die...he lives on through his matchless music. I dropped the girls off at school this morning and on my way to work his voice moved through my antenna, into my reciever, through the wiring, out the speakers and into my ears. I hope I do something in my life that outlives me. Honor belongs to the man who is dead but never dies. I've been giving a fair bit of thought to that whole line of logic.

I love the Christmas season because something transcendant happens inside of me that I can't explain. I know very few things that bring me so much wonder as the sounds of Christmas music and the festive decorations that abound everywhere you turn your eye. It is only intensified with the Chronicles of Narnia movie set to hit the theaters on Dec. 9th. I saw that trailer at the movies not too long ago...I just about wept like a little girl. This season just brings some unexplainable joy to my heart...and the joy is found in the impossibility of explanation.

I wish more ineffable stuff happened in my life. But alas, almost everything has a logical explanation. Even as a pastor I'm amazed with how little I brush up against the supernatural. Most of what happens around me and in me is pretty much the lump sum of my effort+time+talent+spiffiness+a spoonful of personality= fruit of ministry. I rarely feel wowed by something, taken back, speechless, breathless, amazed, wonderstruck.

That is why I love this season...it awakens, beckons. It defies definition. It resists a simple recipe. It escapes explanation. It rebels against reason. It tugs at your heart in the lonely hours. It nudges places inside that haven't been touched before. It stirs stagnant waters that once were alive with anticipation. It arrests affection that hasn't been captured by anything for no telling how long. That's why I love Nat King, Bing Crosby, even Amy Grant (if you can believe that) this time of year...because it isn't about them...they only spinkle the pixy dust over the air waves casting a spell on my heart that leaves me spellbound. Everything around me feels enchanted. Things that laid still move. Things that were silent speak. Things that were once cold become strangely warm. I like that.

I really like that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

spent...

this is a day where I feel I have nothing left...but then I have to go to small group. I want to go to small group...because I love that more than anything else Christianity has to offer. But I feel like I'm a limp noodle, dangling from the fork of a toodler learning to feed himself. I took a blow today...I big one. It was right after an early morning meeting, followed by a late morning meeting. I was informed of something that took the wind out of my sails...I was adrift. This afternoon I have forced myself to accomplish the tasks at hand...but heartlessly at best. My eyelids are 45 pounds a piece. My blatter is full. My butt is sore.

Monday, November 14, 2005

a penchant for the woods...

inklings. This little nagging voice or nudge or stirring within that comes without reason or reasons. Odd as this may sound, I've been driving along and feeling drawn to the woods. I peek into various plots of land and I can't help but feeling like I should stop and explore. I wonder if there are hidden trails untrodden by human foot for decades, centuries maybe. I wonder what trees have recently fallen and the artistic placement of their unique frames. I wonder if there are any trickling streams tucked away like hidden treasures found only by the persistant dreamers who go off the beaten path in search of adventure. Do you ever wonder what has yet to be discovered? I'm not talking about electricity or flying or telephones, I'm just talking about little simple things all around us that are just far enough off the beaten path that they are left untampered with. Some trees are deformed, yet somehow recover from an early wound and turn into a work of art. Some trees grow sideways, once blown over by a windstorm only to put down roots and make the best of the leaning. You can walk up these trees without using your hands...they are still alive, yet they bear the marks of a crisis that left them jaded. Some trees grow tall and slender with limbs accessible only to fowl or acrobatic squirells. Some trees spread wide with low-lying limbs inviting the ground-bound to live a little. Some trees have done their time and witnessed centuries of life...they have watched generations come and go. They have watched our world progress, transgress and digress. They have weathered ice storms, wind storms, rains storms, and hail storms...and are alive to tell about it. They have somehow evaded the sawyer needing timber for cabinets and the woodsman needing logs for the fireplace. They are giants...and they are glorious.

This last week my eyes are drawn to the woods. Sometimes dark, sometimes filled with dimensions created by shadows and colors, sometimes green with life, sometimes covered with fallen leaves. I want to stop my car and run through them, dance through them. I want to stop and talk to the woods...to honor their silence and their secrets. I wish they could talk back...I want to ask them what they are groaning for. For some reason, its seems that they would be perfect teachers.

I love the rolling hills and the rocky crags. I love the old stone walls covered in moss speaking of an age long ago. I love the wild vegetation...the blackberry bushes, the cherry trees, the mulberry trees. I can't get enough of the smell...the rich oxygen that fills my lungs. I breathe the air of the trees to survive, they breathe my air to survive. We work in harmony to enrich each other in this web of life. We need each other strangely enough. Why did God do that?

I could go on and on...this inkling pulls me in. Most of the time I drive on by and take my place in the great circus of life filled with dealines and duties. But occassionaly I will stop and pay attention to the longings of my soul. It's telling me something about life, about God, about me.

The Woods. What a great name for a church.

Jason

Friday, November 11, 2005

time with tater...

We dropped the older sisters off to school. As I closed the sliding door on the van, I could see her eyes light up with a joy that only comes with exclusive attention. She knew that two distractions were just disposed of...narcissism hates competition. As I moved around the van and mounted the passenger seat, I turned my head to see that she was secured safely in her car seat. She smirked as if to say, "I own you." I smiled as if to say, "I know."

This is the morning when Heidi is off cleaning houses and Taylor and I have two and a half solid hours by ourselves until we have to pick up Aly from Preschool. On this day, we decided to frequent the local McDonald's for a quick Breakfast burrito and some time in Ronald's playland. Tater (Taylor) was restless with delight. We sang songs together on the way over until I heard that squeel that only occurs when she sees the Golden Arches as we come around the bend on Main St.

As we walked into McDonalds hand in hand, everyone literally parted like the Red Sea and voiced comments like, "She is simply adorable!" and "What a cutie!" and "Daddy's little princess!" I'm serious, these people don't know the complex they are feeding. I literally have to abuse this child to get the scales to even out after these moments that can only be discribed as psuedo-worship. And the thing that kills me is the way she waves at these people like Princess Diana. She soaks it up like it's her job.

We got into the Playland and I took off her coat (straightjacket) and shoes. She climbed the spiralling stairs that lead to the tunnels of wonder. Who knows what kids do up there? All I know is that every step up the stairs she yelled at me and said, "Daddy, see me?" When I would look away for a second, she was yell until I caught her eye. Like I said, exlusive attention.

Man, I wish I could go on. We finished there and went home. We wrestled, played kickball, ate ice cream, played with babies, watched kiddy television, played hide and seek, and sat on the couch together snuggling. (she doesn't always do that...that was a treat!)

I love tater. Thanks for spending time with me, princess.

Jason

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I almost got into a fight...

Last Saturday I went into the local grocery store and made a conscious decision to encounter people with a friendly face and a caring word. Our church has been addressing social issues that we as Christians need to engage. I've been struck by my need to expand my heart to places where I'm not as comfortable. In an effort to nudge goodness into humanity, I talked to the cashier lady. Instead of saying a simple "hi", I asked her how her day was going. She said, "Fine". Usually I would stop there fumbling around in my wallet for my credit card and looking off into the distance like I was contemplating something profound. Instead, I opened my mouth and what came out next just embarrassed the dickens out of me, "I suppose you meet alot of people in this job." She looked at me like a was a space cadet. I wanted to rephrase the question, but it was too late and I didn't know what I would have said to bail myself out anyhow. She responded with a "Yeah, I guess so." trying not so speak what was probably going through her head, "You think, stupid? I'm a cashier...people come through here all day long...got any other thought provoking comments?" I mumbled something about the rain outside at that point and she seemed to warm up to me a little. I think she felt sorry for me.

As I picked up my bag and wished her a wonderful evening, I saw a man that had attended our church a few times standing over by the fountain drink machines. I dediced to walk out of my way to say hi to him. I talked with him a few weeks earlier and he spilled his horrific story on me after Sunday morning church. I felt like I had invested enough time in him to come up behind him and touch his shoulder with a hearty, "Hey man." Apparently not.

He turned around and with a burst of adrenaline pushed me away. I flew back four or five steps, caught my balance and regained composure. I thought he was joking, so I went back over to him and said, "What's up?" He looked at me and said, "What are you doing?" I responded, "Just wanted to come over and say hi and see how you were doing." He retaliated, "Well you don't do that?" I answered, "Do what?" "Touch someone from behind like that...you could have a knife or a gun or something." I was holding a grocery bag with hamburger buns and crackers...a deadly weapon indeed. I tried to calm him down, but he continued to rip into me. A couple times I saw his fist clench and I felt like he was going to hit me. I eventually said goodbye and went on my way.

My body had that fight or flight thing going on inside. I tried to take church to heart and it about got me into a brawl. Loving people is harder than I thought it would be. Did you know that alot of people are so hurt they don't know how to let people love them? To a guy like me who grew up in relative paradise as a child...this is news to me. You would think everyone would lap up love, epescially those who have recieved very little, but it's not always the case. I learned that at the grocery store.

How do I get myself into these situations. My life is like a freak show. I'm not going to give up loving people...it's the hope of the world we're talking about here.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What have we become...

what have we become?

Cute Christianity

Was John the Baptist Polite and Political,
Sociable and Civilized,
Domesticated and Docile,
Cautious and Conservative,
Stable and Steady,
Predictable and Proper,
Consistent and Constant,
Reputable and Respectable,
Composed and Calm,
Secure and Sound,
Balanced and Behaved,
Poised and Posh,
Diplomatic and Decent,
Tame and Timid,
Refined and Reserved,
Subdued and Serious,
Collected and Confident,
Nice and Neat,
Clean and Careful,
Trustworthy and Teachable,
Cultured and Cultivated,
Moderate and Modest,
Reasonable and Rational,
Sensible and Sound,
Logical and Level-headed,
Sophisticated and Stylish,
Pleasing and Pleasant,
Conventional and Convincing,
Appropriate and Amiable,
Friendly and Fitting,
Traditional and Timely,
Orderly and Organized,
Methodical and Meticulous,
Smooth and Suave,
Concise and Cute,
Intelligent and Inviting,
Universal and Uniform,
Upstanding and Upright,
Separated and Safe,
Corporate and Commercial,
Suspicious and Segregated,
Professional and Proficient,
Groomed and Gregarious?

Then why has religion turned us into this?
We have been bred into banal beings of boredom…
A colorless, savorless, lifeless, loveless collection of Christians
Who have traded godliness for loveliness.
We need more John the Baptists and less Johnny Appleseeds.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I had an affair...

Have you ever been seduced? I mean really enticed by someone asking you to leave what you love the most to embrace your fantasy.

As far as I know, there is only one time when I felt like I was being played by someone, tested, tempted. It was after a time when I spoke at a college gathering. There were people waiting to talk to me after I was done and so I listened and shared and laughed and asked questions until finally there was only one left. She was a college student who was struggling with her relationship with her boyfriend and threw out the statement, "I just wish he was more like you...passionate and in love with Jesus." Something inside me just shriveled into a prune. I immediately looked around and the place was empty...I was on a campus an hour from home in an empty room with a beautiful girl telling me her relational woes and sizing up her boyfriend to my heart for God. I was only half listening to her as my mind started to race to possible scenarios. "Should I just turn and run? Should I close up this conversation with prayer and jet? What if she comes toward me to hug me when we're done talking? Is she coming on to me? Why is she sharing with me her disappointment with her boyfriend? Where did everyone go...does she know we're alone...did she plan to be last in line on purpose? Where's my wife and why didn't I bring her with me." She was talking as my mind went crazy...I heard, "Blah blah blah feeling bad blah blah heart for God...blah blah stressed out...blah blah...what would you do...blah blah blah..." I think my face was white with fear. If she was seducing me, she had to see that I was shutting down. If she wasn't, she had to wonder why I suddenly glazed over and became cold in the middle of her sob story. Either way, I felt like a sitting duck.

Fast forward to last week...it happened again. There is only one woman in my life...that's the way I like it. But in the parking lot I was propositioned to trade my beauty for something younger, more zesty, and in much better shape (sorry babe). I can't lie, I had been feeling like my defenses were getting weaker over the past year, but I didn't know how vulnerable I really was until the opportunity presented itself. That's the trouble, most guys don't know how strong they are until they're tested. They have a false sense of pride and then, bam, they fall prey to the overwhelming temptation before they knew what hit them. Here's the deal I love my girl more than most men. She is faithful and over the years we've become soul mates. But the last couple years, I've let my eyes bounce around to others. At first, you feel guilty and convicted, but then you get accustomed to lusting and it doesn't seem as repulsive. Slowly, my conscience was disinigrating and I was becoming dangerously familiar with fantasizing about what I didn't have. And that's where it starts...wanting what you don't have. Once that sets in, what you have doesn't seem as appealing.

As I stood in the parking lot and heard those words every guy wonders if they'll ever hear, I buckled. "Do you want me?" I looked at what I had, and in a moment of irrational weakness I gave in. And with one decision I left behind the one that had given of herself to make me who I am today. I could picture her face when she learned of my betrayal. I didn't know what I was going to tell her. I wanted to go back to her, but part of me had tasted what I had been daydreaming about for years...and I was strangely drawn back for more. I knew affairs happened, I just never knew they could happen to someone with my character and background. I'm loyal. I'm strong. I'm faithful. And in one moment, I traded what I had for what I wanted.

Don't get me wrong, I still love her, but she's been replaced by a younger model. Miss Acura has been swapped for Miss Mazda. She served me well for several years, but when the offere came, I couldn't resist. She still hasn't forgiven me. She sits at home in my driveway watching me drive away each day and weeps at the all the memories we've shared coming to an end. I sometimes can almost see a tear falling from her left headlight as I back out of the driveway and head into my day.

I still feel guilty for the affair. But sometimes you just gotta do what feels good.

I was given a car last week in the church parking lot...God is good.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

walk in the woods...

A couple days ago, my whole family took a walk in the woods. The trees are ripe with color and the woods have that incomparable autumn fragrance. That aroma takes me back to memories of childhood unlike any other. I don't know what it is, but this season unlocks the dreaming gland. I find myself dreaming at night and daydreaming during the day. It makes me feel like I'm a part of something big. Like I'm in a movie and my next move could save the world. I don't know what it is.

Heidi and I walked these trails in the woods with our three chillins' and enjoyed watching them play, laugh, run, and wonder. The trees were alive with vibrant color. We stumbled across an old cabin. We rested on an old bench. We even went off the beaten path and walked spontaniously through uncharted territory. It felt wonderful.

I think we're going to do it again soon. I need to feel that my life is a part of something bigger than me...and the woods seem to be one of the only places that assures me of that reality.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

wrap it up...

tonight we leave for Columbus one last time to finish vocals and the electic guitar tracks. We were down there a few weeks ago and recording five more songs, three of which we sung by Bethany Dillon. We got everything laid down other than my vocals, Heidi's vocals and the electric guitar parts. I can't wait for this to be done...it's coming along so well. I think everyone will think it was worth the wait.

I can't believe it...after all these years, I will have finally completed my first studio project with 10 of my favorite songs that God has planted in my heart. The guys that I've recorded with have been awesome to work with and the amount that we've accomplished in such a short amount of time is nothing short of miraculous.

I just wrote a new song last week called, "Humanity" that we might try to slip into the end of the cd...(you know, like a hidden track since that's the cool thing to do these days...ha.) We'll see. Heidi sings it and just rocks it out.

I just need prayers. I don't know how God wants to use this...but we will soon see as the mixing and mastering comes to a close and the cd hits the streets. I hope these songs bring glory to the God who birthed them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I went hunting...

ok, for those that know me, I'm not the hunting type. Sure, I love the woods, but I've never caught the hunting fever. I used to serve as a dog for my friend Art when we went rabbit hunting. I would climb my athletic carcass on top of brush piles and jump until Thumper came out of hiding just in time to be ushered into glory by my buddy's 12 gauge...rabbit glory that is. Other than that, I've done very little hands on hunting...until two days ago. I hunt...I'm a hunter.

Early on Tuesday morning I moved my body of the matress to exercise my dominion over the beasts of the field. Honestly, I was still half asleep, but it didn't take long before I was wide awake with adrenaline pumping blood through my veins at an accelarated velocity. The habitat where the hunting would convene was ripe with fresh signs of life. Fresh droppings were everwhere...almost steaming in the cool air. I saw a hunter pick them up one time to find out how recent they were expelled from the huntee. I thought better of it though I was fascinated by their uniformity. You could almost smell the wildlife in the air. I wondered if they were even watching me from a distance. I could tell I was in their world.

My heart started to pound a bit as I prepared my weapon. For some reason I still get scared of triggers. It's like I don't trust myself or something. After my weapon was loaded (I like using the word loaded...it sounds more primal), I positioned myself in the blind. I knew where the majority of the activity was taking place among these creatures; I had studied there patterns closely. It's funny...animals think they are smart, but when your a hunted by a college graduate...you don't have a fighting chance.

I waited until I heard the sound that put the fear of God in my fingers. I could hear the movement, but couldn't see the creature just yet. I had heard of this rush before, but you can't know the heart pounding thrill until you're in the fat middle of this moment. Just then, before I even knew what happened, the trigger went off and was standing there wondering what to do next. I was stunned. By now, the pounding in my head and heart was so loud, I thought I would scare off the rest of the pack.

I calmed myself down and then moved toward the sound off rustling and shuffling. It sounded like a downed critter break dancing in a pile of leaves. I knew that I had at least maimed the beast. I didn't know whether to smile or wince as I rounded the bend. I took a deep breath and to my amazement the creature was laying still on it's side. Twitching with it's stomach heaving up and down like he was on life support. This is the point where you freeze in fear.

Should I touch him? Should I let him be for a while? Should I bash its head to put it out of its misery? She I say the Lord's Prayer over his cooling body? Should I talk to it to see if it responds to sound? I did what any warm blooded homosapien would do in such a predicament...I blew in its ear. When I did, he jerked and spun around looking right at me as if to say, "So you're the one who did this to me." Instantly, I was filled with grief. The kind of grief that you feel at the funeral of a stranger...disturbing, but not deep. I backed away trying to communicate nonverbally to the poor creature. In my mind I was saying, "This is just how it had to be, you understand don't you?" His eyes swore at me. I turned away and looked for a sackcloth and some ashes.

Finally he gave up the ghost. I was sure I heard him whisper in his dying breath, "Father, forgive him, he did not know what he was doing." How did he know? I'm sure my novice tendencies were written all over my flush white face.

I moved toward my kill and touched it. The stiffness was already settling in. I hunted. I killed. I emerged a stronger, more able man.

Such were the exploits of my hunt...I stood on the neck of my prey and said, "In the world of men and mice, mice will always perish."

The world has one less mouse. Don't mess with me. I hunt. I'm a hunter.

Monday, October 17, 2005

and the leaves laughed...

oh, the leaves. I live in Michigan. What a place to be after Ohio St. beat up on Mich. St. Sweet mercy! But this is the place to be if you want to enjoy the Autumn metamorphosis. It is splendor beyond compare. It actually is the time of year that I don't much yearn for heaven. I like it here. Is that wrong? I like driving under a canapy of color arching over the country road. I love the smell of my yard after a fresh cut. I love watching my daughters jump into the pile of leaves I just raked into a heap. I love eating wild apples that have just fallen from the tree. I love seeing the deer roaming about on the farmland. I love the sunrise making the low-lying fog glow like a hovering spirit. I love the gleam of the full moon casting shadows across my lawn as I take the garbage out. I love the crickets and peepers bursting into song as the dusk becomes increasingly darker. I love the sound of geese migrating north for the winter. I love the smell of my daughters clothes after they spend time outside playing...the smell of the outdoors on clothing is priceless. I love the tireswing that hangs from my Ash tree waiting to be climbed upon and twirled. I love the laughter of my daughters when I'm chasing them in this new game I made up called "Prison Break" (yes, I love that series on ABC). I love writing a new song after nearly a year of writer's block. I love seeing tears fall from people's eyes when I'm telling stories of homeless folk at the mission downtown. I love giving hugs to harrassed souls needing a spoonfull of friendship with a dash of hope thrown in for good measure. I love taking a deep breath early in the morning and actually tasting the air. I love walking in the yard and marveling that I own my own plot of land on this beautiful earth...how I long to care for it well. I love chasing this pesky groundhog that refuses to give up digging a burrow under my landscaping along the garage...(he's dead meat...I'm so mad at him, I might eat that rodent when I catch him just to take his rebellious flesh into my own bossom so as to let my digestive system break him down bit by bit until he's nothing but dung being flushed down my toilet. Wow, I just realized I've got serious issues.) I love making people laugh. I love creating life where there appears to be none. I love seeing the lights at the friday night football game light up the sky. I love watching leaves float down the river. I love looking up at the stars and just letting my mind go to to the infinite vastness of universe. I love life.

And though there are days when I would just as soon get hit my a semi, I quite enjoy waking up in the morning knowing I've got another shot at bring deeper, fuller redemption to this place. This morning, as I took my daughters to school, I smiled at the dawn of a new day...and the leaves laughed.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Homeless shelter experience...

Today I went to a homeless shelter called Guiding Light in downtown Grand Rapids. It was enlightening to say the least...disturbing to say the most. The place was filled with human beings living moment to moment on the next hand out or charity. We got a tour of the place and the program these guys go through to detox, and then to rehabilitate. It was so awesome to see the time and effort that has gone into shaping a program for guys who need a second, third, fourth, etc. chance at education, occupation and salvation.

A fight almost broke out while we were there because some guy grabbed another guys shoes and put them on. Oh man, they were about to throw right there in the lobby. Security gaurds came from all sides and attempted to talk sense into the drunk guy who stole this nice man's only pair of shoes. I think they finally convinced him to take them off, give them back and wait for someone to hit the charity closet for a pair of size tens. Over shoes. A fight over shoes. Old crusty, dirt-covered black leather shoes. I thought about all the shoes in my closet. And then I decided not to think about that anymore.

I ate with a guy who is in the program there trying to break free from cocaine and start afresh. You could tell he really wanted to do something with his life. He talked about a dream he had of starting a music revival in Elkart, IN where 50,000 people come from everywhere to get into the music. He was passionate about this dream.

While we were eating, the lunchroom turned into a chapel service somewhere between my bite of caserole and cold carrots. Papa Stokes got up to the pulpit and started preaching to about a 100 homeless people saying halleluia and other sundry religious words that sound appropriate only in that setting...a chapel, with a pulpit and a preacher. We sang amazing grace...you can tell that song was written for that setting...everyone chimed in. I was sitting next to a homeless young man who had cerebral palsy which left his left side withered and bent. His teeth were rotting out of his gums, but did he ever sing that song. It didn't sound like the song, but I could tell he was singing it beautifully in his own heart. He smiled as he sung, "When we've been there ten thousand years..." I smiled, too.

Papa Stokes then stepped up and let his wife, Mama Stokes (this is what they called each other though they were obviously married.) She started lighting that place up with that black gospel feel. It was amazing.

We left and a part of me stayed there. I don't know how to leave those environments anymore. I just don't. My body leaves, but my heart lingers wondering how so much could be happening in the world without my presence or involvement. It's so overwhelming to think that there are over 6,000,000,000 people on this planet and God knows every one of them by heart. I love that about God.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Sat. night service...

Well...the day has finally arrived. Tomorrow we launch our Sat. night service. I'm sort of in charge of coordinating the details of it and seeing to it that we have something with a little structure and a little substance. I will be speaking each Sat. night which is a change from what I've been accustomed to up here in the the grand ole state of Michigan. I'm looking forward to more Word-time...that fuels me.

This next series we are talking extensively about social issues such as poverty, the fatherless, disease, religiosity, racism, and just humanity in general and God's head over heals love for all those weighted down under these various oppressive burdens. I don't know the half of what it's like to live under these circumstances, so I need God to show me His heart for these people.

I'm nervous inside. Tonight we have a meeting with the core team who is helping get this new service off the ground. It's odd, I've been at this ministry thing for over 9 years now and I'm still as pit-stomached as I've ever been taking the lead in these types of things. I wonder sometimes if I'm in over my head. It's like everyone else sees me as this confident and articulate leader and inside I'm shivering like a leaf wondering what on earth I think I'm doing. But somehow, every time, or almost every time, God fills this earthen vessel and shows his all-surpassing power. But for now, I feel like I'm going to soil myself. Heart pounding. Stomach cinching. Brain racking.

This is what it feels like to be in the adventure. To go forward without the gaurantee of anything but God's presence. Somehow, I'm ok with that tonight. Here's to life with a pit in your stomach. I've given up expecting it to ever go away.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

courage...

...so yesterday was a day where I met with people all day long from 8:30 - 5:30pm non-stop. To put it bluntly, I was spent. I made a call to my wife after the last meeting and told her I was coming home. Though my body was without life, I told her, "When I come home, I will be a good dad and husband and bring energy to our family." I wanted the accountability to be strong even though I felt weak.

I got home and was helping around the house with some damage control when the pizza finally arrived via delivery. We gathered around the table and I asked who wanted to pray for the food. Both Kami and Aly raised their hands and so I said, "Both of you can pray." Of course, what I meant was they could both pray one following the other. Before I could say another word of direction, they both started to pray simultaneously almost word for word what the other was saying for the first half of the prayer, "Dear Jesus, thank you for the day and that you for the food and thank you for our family..." and then from there is where I started to hold back the tears of laughter. Kami started to pray for random things and Aly in attempts to keep in step with her repeated each of the words Kami was saying a half second behind her. She mumbled and muttered all the things Kami was saying until the final, "amen." Heidi and I laughed...you had to be there.

Then, the girls went into the living room and I shared with Heidi how absolutely exhausted I felt and why. We sympathized with each other, and then I moved to the living room. I felt like I wanted to crash on the couch, but I knew that I should interact with the kids. They had given Heidi fits that day, so I wanted to free her from their life-draining attitudes for just a wee bit. I walked into the living room and said, "Girls, listen to me. I'm only going to say this once to you better pay attention..." They turned toward me and were waiting for the wrecking ball to drop. I continued on, "...tonight we are going to...HAVE FUN, DANCE AND WRESTLE UNTIL WE DROP! THAT'S FINAL!" At first the girls couldn't seem to make sense of the big, bad voice mixing with fun and dancing and that sort of thing...but their eyes finally showed that they got was I had done and they all jumped over on me and we wrestled for a bit. It was fun.

I was spent...but God gave me courage to push through the fatigue and into my family. May He grant me more in the days to come...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


This is a day where this picture makes sense. I feel like a little boy in a big world standing on the edge of life. It's sometimes more than my insides can take. I want to show everybody that I'm capable, but sometimes I don't care to prove anything to anyone. I just want to crash and get it over with. So much of my energy is spent holding myself together. Sometime I just want to crumble into as many pieces as I already feel like I'm in. So I stand here, the little boy trying to be the big man standing on the edge of life wondering whether the next step I take will be the death of me....there's only one way to find out. Move forward...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

recording #2...

that's right...

this weekend I head to Columbus, OH for the second half of the recording experience with my beautiful wife. Dan McKay will be flying down from Chicago to meet us there. My brother-in-law, Cliff, and another buddy of mine, Dan Sidd, will be flying in from Minnesota as well. We haven't had as much time this go around to practice the songs making me a little nervous about our preparedness. We practiced last night and I'm happy with how things are progressing in such a short amount of time.

These are the next five songs that have been selected via drawing straws:
1. Shine
2. All for Love
3. The Story
4. Word of Fire
5. Come and Crucify

The first five songs that have already been recorded are:
1. You are More
2. Free Indeed
3. Pursue Me (or as some have said, "Puruse Me")
4. Awesome Love
5. Psalm 29

It should make for a well rounded album with different time signatures, keys, styles and content. I'm excited to wrap this thing up and get the mixing and mastering underway. I can't predict when the album will be completed, but I'm just excited that I'm finally getting the chance to do this. It's a dream come true.

My throat is sore, but my heart is soaring.

Monday, September 26, 2005

is it blogworthy...

it's funny. I've found that this online journal deal can turn into something it wasn't ever intended to be. I've seen myself starting to write only when I feel I have something noteworthy or eventful to share. I don't write if I don't have enough time to refine my words and tell a story that has some appeal to it.

The danger in this is that most of my life isn't outrageously eventful. It's small stuff. Little details. Living the simple moments of a day in relalive obscurity. Most of what I do isn't going to be written down for generations to come to study and model. I drive alot. I talk to people. I plan stuff. I teach some. I lead some worship occasionally. I play with my daughters. I spend time with my wife. I come home and watch T.V. at night sometimes. I read a good book. I write a note. I surf a website. I go to bed. I take a nap. I take the garbage out. I put the garbage can back in the garage. I build a campfire. I mow the lawn. I wake up early for coffee with a friend. I gather with the Impact community for a vision chat. I take the girls to the playground. I clean junk up around the house. I take a shower. I pop a stress zit on my forehead. I go to a garage sale. I watch the girls while Heidi cleans. I write a song. I build a bridge with a stranger. I try to be nice to people. I talk on the phone with someone. I worry moments away. I have sleepless nights. I watch Poker. I get the mail. I stop at red lights. I run an errand. I carry the weight of an awkward relationship. I absorb criticism. I troubleshoot situations. I try to be funny. I play the conversationalist. I go to the bathroom. I clean my cluttered desk. I break a sting on my guitar. I go to the youth group. I meet someone for lunch. I watch OSU. I watch NFL. I watch Prison Break. I read C.S. Lewis. I read Rob Bell's book Velvet Elvis. I buy some new music by Switchfoot. I meet with the Tech Team. I set my alarm clock. I learn some new vocabulary words like Grandiloquent. I make a reminder phone call to someone. I make decisions. I listen to people share their stories. I wage war against my flesh. I wage war a little more. I wrestle with futility and inadaquecy. I feel proud at the same time. I get humiliated. I wonder where God is sometimes.

yeah...alot of stuff...I don't know how much of it's blogworthy. But it's my life just the same. I like my life. Even if it's not worth reading about. So I guess I'm making a decision to write on this blog even when it's not engaging, entertaining, or enlightening, because most of my life isn't any of those things. It's the simple life of a person trying to live out the gospel...a tall order indeed.

Monday, September 19, 2005

inspiration...

Do you ever feel like you're in need of inspiration. Something. Anything. Just a shaft of light to break through the clouds of familiarity. Just a word from God that speaks freshness into a fragile faith. Just a conversation that flows without creative communication to stilt it up. I hate being a conversationalist in conversations...it leaves me wanting.

I just want to read a book that stirs me to the core. I want to see a movie that chases me down and pins me to the ground. (the movies released of late have been dismal) I want to taste and see that the Lord is good instead of what I've been accustomed to tasting as of late. I can't wait for fall...I want to see the mirth of each stroke of God's paintbrush.

I hate it, but I feel like I get used to things. Even the best of things like rich friendship, an awesome family, rippling brooks and gorgeous sunrises. I experience them, and yawn. What's wrong with me? I want to be inspired. But it seems like the more I try to get inspired, the less inspiring things become.

I've experienced so many wonderful things this week...but it's Monday morning...and it feels like most of that has leaked out of my system and I'm left limp and lifeless. I feel like I'm crawling into this day right now. What's my deal?

I read in the Psalm 77:2 - "...my soul refused to be comforted." Wow. Sometimes I feel that way. I feel like no matter what happens, my soul struggles to let it work its course. I hate feeling this way.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The immortals that we are...

Am I my brother’s keeper?
A more foolish question has never been asked.
There is hardly a thing more worth keeping,
more worth looking after.

Have you ever looked into someone’s eyes and seen eternity?
Just for a moment you’re carried to another place
Where there are endless days of undying life.
An inkling of immortality.

Have you ever come to the end of a conversation that seemed to never end?
Like a stray dog it follows you home
And stabs you with feelings of joy unspeakable.
Otherworldly words echo undiminished within.

Sons and daughters of Timelessness.
The offspring of Forever.
The seedlings of Infinity.
The image of Him who is beyond our imagination.

When people are seen as “godlings”,
You listen passionately
You share respectfully
You love boundlessly.

Under this law, every moment is everlasting.
Every word is eloquent,
Every sighting, elegant,
Every touch, ethereal.

People are precious.
Walking wonders; talking treasures.
Living, breathing miracles
Wrapped in perishable flesh.

A creature of humble beginnings
Living a story that never ends.
This fellowship of immortals
Roams the earth seeking to be sought.

Temper my senses; awaken my spirit.
Tomorrow, I want to chat with one of these beings
And share in our everlasting life.This could be good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

My two year old...

Let me set the stage a little. My two year old, Taylor, is named after my favorite kind of guitar. She has blue eyes that can only be described as magical. She smiles incessantly. She loves to talk in little short phrases with a lisp that will make you tilt your head and say, "Awhhhh". She has a mullet, not a gaudy mullet, but a mullet nonetheless. Aly had a mullet, too, but it was the kind of mullet that marred the family name. I had to shave her head like Samson three times. It was like the back of her head was fertilized. Taylor, on the other hand, has a mullet that not only grows on her, it grows on you, too. The more you're around this mullet, the more you want one, not matter whether you chew tabacco or not. This little girl gives mullets a good name.

But this email is not about mullets. It's about something that my two year old does that takes me to the other side. Any chance I get to go to the other side, I seize it.

When she is eating something like candy, an apple or cheese for example, occasionally I will ask if I can have some. She will immediately take the particular item and lift it towards my mouth to feed it to me. I will take a small bite and before I can utter a word of thanks, she quickly says, "Tank U." It happens all the time. She thanks me for letting her share. I don't know if she understands the protocal of manners, but I hope she never does. At first, I was trying to correct her. "No, Taylor, you say 'You're welcome.'" What am I doing? What would it look like if we lived in a world where people thanked you for letting them serve you? Someone shovels your driveway and comes to the door when they're done and says, "Thank you." Someone stops to help you change your tire and before you can say it they mutter, "Thank you." Someone comes to the hospital to visit you and before they leave they say, "Thank you."

And you are left saying, "You're welcome.", which in this case will always be the shorter end of the stick. It's caused me to think of how many times I feel like others should thank me for all that I do to help them. What holy hogwash! I wonder how many blessings I've missed because I think serving is a way of getting thanked. The best thing anyone could ever give us is the opportunity to help them. "It is more blessed to give than to recieve." or putting it another way, "Tank U."

Sometimes I wonder who's closer to the kingdom, Mr. Ministry Man or the little girl who is currently pulling on my pant leg?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Art Alive...

I'm watching the kids this morning...along with two other kids from our community. We went outside to swing on the tire swing, throw apples at each other, and make believe. Spending time with children is fascinating. Downright spellbinding. Right now as I type this bit of content, the two youngest of the clan are talking baby talk to each other as they play house. They aren't saying anything I understand, but they mysteriously understand each other. Slurred speech and cute little lisps and gurgled vowels and tongue-tied utterances. Their voice inflection changes and they have strategic pauses to communicate pathos in the midst of the communicative chaos. One is talking on something that is serving as a phone of sorts. She sounds like receptionist that just had a stroke. They are nodding their heads and handing each other toys like their transaction has huge ramifications. Oh boy, one just yelled at the other chiding her for her lack of attention. Emotions are flaring. Oh look, they just worked through conflict resolution and are back at it with full strength.

They have just started to play with dolls. Well, to me they're plastic dolls, to them, full fledged little human beings needing tender love and care. They are wrapping them in blankets and patting their backs as if they are going to belch out pent up air bubbles. One just yelled at the other because she stole her blanket, I think we have the motherly instinct coming out at age two...fascinating.

I don't have much time, so I best cut to the chase. We were upstairs a little bit ago and I witnessed something astounding. We were watching Noggin, which is a children's cartoon network. It has shows like Connie the Cow and Maggie and the Ferocious Beast and Blue's Clues and Sesame Street. I like it. It's clean, wholesome and simple. One of the shows that comes on in between cartoons is called, "Art Alive". When it comes on, no matter where the kids are in the house, they all run to see this 2 minute segment that arrests every fiber of imagination in their little souls. Today, Aly saw that it was about to start and she yelled, "Hey everyone, Art Alive is on. You have to see this!"

This is a two minute deal that shows a little child drawing stick figures and houses and trees and birds, etc....and then the second half of the show animates these child-like rederings into a brief story. I don't know excactly what captures the kids attention in this show, but I think it has to do something with art and the fact that it's alive. I guess it's amazing to me that at such an early age art means something to them, and more intriguing is the fact that we all want things to come alive. We inherently have a trigger inside that values artistic expression and the coming to life of dead, inanimate things.

Art alive...a simple show...a profound reality.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My tail bone...

Our bodies are made up of hundreds of bones all working hard to pull their weight. Each of them work feverishly to make our lives productive and useful, but on occassion one of them stops dead in its tracks and says, "I'm going on strike." Such is the case with my rebellious tail bone.

The tail bone is located down there below the small of your back and just above the sphincter region. It it usually tucked away in obscurity making no bones about needing affirmation or recognition. It is perfectly fine living where the sun don't shine. But on this day, for whatever reason, it wanted to let me know that if it wants it can single-handedly ruin my life.

I rolled out of bed this morning and before I could say, "Jack be nimble"...I was kneeling on the floor crying "Uncle". I slowly straightened my body only to have the muscles contract around my tail bone sending me to the floor begging for mercy. It is the kind of pain the makes you breathe in real deep and hold your breath until the pain subsides. I found myself holding my breath alot this morning.

Here's a news flash for ya, every muscle in your body is hooked to your sphincter muscle, every single one. If you smile, it constricts. If you straighten your leg, it tightens. If you cough, it kills. If you laugh, you feel like fainting in pain. If you slap someone high five, your tail bone is gripped by your sphincter and held like a boa constricter until you want to weep like a little girl. Your sphinter muscle is the hub of all other muscles. I didn't know this, until today.

I'm currently sitting on a pillow. I've taken pain medication. I've crawled in my office. I've grimmaced in pain getting in and out of my car. I've shed a tear once when I jerked my body a certain way and it sent a shock through my whole body. I can't believe how one bone, one simpel bone can immobalize and paralyze you. My quality of life today has been functioning at 15% and I'm being optimistic.

No bones about it, the tail bone is the king bone of the body. Have you said thank you to your tail bone lately?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

For my wife...

I wrote this for my wife...I can't get enough of her.

Sleeping Beauty

I looked inside your eyes today
And way beyond the blue,
A sleeping beauty rested there,
radiant like the dew.

Enchanted by an ageless spell
Your glory lies there still,
Waiting for the kiss of love
To break the curse’s chill.

It takes a strong affection
To wake you from your slumber,
For years I’ve kept it to myself
And left your heart to wonder.

I see you lying cold inside
Waiting to be seen,
Wanting to be rescued by
The knight inside your dreams.

The shining armor that you see
Stands between our hearts,
Trapping me inside this steel
Trembling in the dark.

I want to come and rescue you
To free you with my love,
To give the kiss that sets you free
And whispers, “You’re enough.”

On the surface I look just like
The hero that you need,
But underneath I’m hiding too,
Wanting to be freed.

Freed to say what’s on my heart
Instead of shutting down,
Freed to offer you the kiss
That lets you see your crown.

For far too long I’ve let you hide
Your beauty sleeps inside,
But as your knight I’ve come to fight
To bring you back to life.

You’re beautiful.

Friday, August 26, 2005

what wrecks you...

What can't you stand? What makes your blood boil or your heart melt? What makes your eyes tear or your stomach knot? What breaks through every detour sign and roadblock you've constructed around your life and collides with the "bridge under construction" that is your heart? What keeps you up through the watches of the night pestering you with questions that refuse simple answers? What is your strongest desire, the kind the arrests all your energy and tires you when it is finished toying with your soul? What leaves you in pieces picking up what's left of your little world view? What collides with your core inviting you to engage without promising a safe return? What images are burned into your memory that awaken a fear and a fuel all at the same time? What is your calling? When will it matter to you that you don't know? Why is the last question something that our soul will not let us get away with not answering?

I'm finding something out...what wrecks me, I mean really cuts me to the quick, that's usually the very thing that wrecks God's heart. So many are asking themselves what to do with their lives when they need look no further than the pit in their stomach. This pit leads to purpose. When you feel an abiding ache for a certain facet of life, it's not an accidental preoccupation, it's more than likely a fire in your bones to equip you to engage with the impossible.

The impossible odds are every before us. They are taunting us like Philistines across the valley. They are daring us to take a shot at acting on our ache. They are intimidating us with statistics of futility and history books filled with others who have tried and failed. They are reminding us of how foolish it is to dream that things could be any different than they are. They are encouraging us to take our place in the line of people waiting for the rapture and praying for prince charming to come and rescue us from this present hour. They are laughing hysterically at the absurdity of a single person challenging the notion that "it is what it is". And we shrink back and resume our humble existence. Live and let live.

But just suppose people believed this one maxim, "Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." - Paul the Apostle. Dream about the simplicity of this proposal. Every act of good pushes back the bad. When we act on what wrecks us, we may not be able to get an interview with Larry King, but we affect change on a planet in need of an expansion of goodness. Every word laced with goodness, every thought purified with goodness, every act motivated by goodness...this is what pushes back the darkness.

Maybe, just maybe, those stirrings of the spirit are prompted by One who felt them first and invites us to take our place in the symphony of souls playing the music of goodness in a world overcome with evil. "Open up the doors and let the music play, let the streets resound with singing. Songs that bring your hope and songs that bring your joy, dancers who dance upon injustice." -Martin Smith. A song written by a man that must have felt something of what pounds in my own breast on this, my day off.

There are no days off for the one who serves a being Who never slumbers or sleeps.