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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.