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Monday, March 27, 2006

some recent quotes that slay me...

"Moderation is the last refuge for the unimaginative." -Oscar Wilde

"Many know how to please, but know not when they have ceased to give pleasure." - Sir Arthur Helps

"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"He was like a cock who though the sun had risen to hear him crow." - George Eliot

"I am more afraid of an army of one hundred sheep led by a lion than an army of one hundred lions led by a sheep." - Charles Maurice

"The tradegy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss." - Thomas Carlyle

"It's but little good you'll do a-watering last year's crops." - George Eliot

Reading is something of a therapy for me, a cathartic experience that looses the spirit of Jason to fly. I find deep solace in the scribblings of the dead, especially. Presently, I write for the freedom of my own heart...but in so doing, I hope to stay alive even when I'm gone. I dream of my girls reading my ramblings and musings to their kids drinking deep of "their grandpa's" heart and talking of what it must have been like to be me. Maybe I'm just living a lie, but that is one thing that makes me want to "waste the time" logging my heart's journey. Maybe all my thoughts will be buried with me, and if so, I will be the better for putting my thoughts down into words if for nothing other than the sanity of my own soul...but you can't blame a young man for hoping that his family will care enough about him to wander back to his writings to find a center in their existance. It sounds foolish to think this way at my age.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

In between...

In between

I’m caught betwixt two spinning worlds
Clam’ring for attention
Sounding off their midnight chimes
Mixing sleep with tension.

Poetry is all I have
to settle this dispute
giving voice to feelings deep
that lie within me mute.

The boredom of this moment now
Compels me to decide
What it worse, “To go or stay?”
To dismount now or ride?

It’s seems like everybody else
Coasts along just fine
Living life without a hitch
Working five from nine.

I wish at times all noise would hush
And I could get some peace,
Sipping coffee by the fire
Warm within my fleece.

The simple life is such a draw
when all I feel is lost,
I wonder if there’s sweet relief
A crown beyond this cross.

I’m sure I’m making more of this
than what is really there
it’s probably a faze of life
ridden with despair.

But what if I’m supposed to feel
The way I do inside?
Wouldn’t it be worse to turn
my back, then run and hide?

My highs are high, my lows or low
I feel bad for my friends,
They have to tire of my thoughts
That lead me to dead ends.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not
a burden to the world,
there is no time for men like me,
who act just like a girl.

But what about the man of old
Who ached with longing heart
Asking not for pain to cease,
But living torn apart.

Pieces scattered to the world
Sowing words inside
The hearts of those who line the road
Desperate for a ride.

Upon the back of someone else
Who feels the things they do
Unafraid to shed to shell
Displaying residue.

I wonder if I weave these words
To validate my plight,
To give me strength to brave the day,
A solace in the night.

Or do I pen these thoughts in hopes
That they will plant the seeds
Of freedom in the heart of one
Who’s buried in the weeds.

Overwhelmed with sorrows chill
Overcome with doubt
Inundated with the thought
Of finally checking out.

What if these thoughts of “in between”
Dispel the morbid lie,
That “no one else can feel my pain,
I might as well just die.”

It seems to me that I’ve become
The scapegoat for my brother
The one who tells the secret things
That most won’t dare uncover.

It puts me in an awkward place
Since I’m supposed to be
The one who leads with confidence
And not fragility.

So here I stand without a clue
The signs point both directions
Poking fun at all my quirks
Seducing my affections.

There’s days when I could fall apart
And others where I’m fine,
But more than not I’m questioning
My calling all the time.

I know I wear my feelings on
The shirt sleeve that you see,
But that alternative is what
I’ve found to shelter me.

Keeping me from falling down
And never getting up,
If this reveals the will of God
Then I will drink this cup.

For now it’s best I’m in between
The worlds that summon me,
For here I find my heart astir
And that is all I need.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

a little less talk, alot more action...

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John,

You didn’t think we got to where we are
Simply because people prayed, did you?
Not on your life.
The early church didn’t just pray for God to move…
They did.

The book of Acts could have been the book of dreams, ideas or prayers,
But we wouldn’t be here talking about this stuff today, now would we?
Nope, they didn’t stop with last words and best wishes…
They acted so that we could read Acts, not the book of Sermons.

“Dear children,
Let us not only love with words or with tongue,
But with actions and with truth.”

Have you noticed that Jesus didn’t go around
Telling people that he would be praying for them?
That’s funny since that appears to be the most
common expression among church-goers.
“I’ll be praying for you.”

I wonder if Jesus saw that expression as a crutch
For those who didn’t want to inconvenience themselves
with action? Believe me when I say that Jesus, of all people,
knew the power of prayer.
So I’m not downplaying intercession.

But it is thought provoking to wonder
why Jesus didn’t utter that phrase as he ministered, isn’t it?
The only time I remember Jesus saying he prayed for someone
Was when he told Peter, “I have prayed for you.”

But never do we see Jesus and his disciples leaving a scene
Waving to the crowd and saying, “You’ll be in our prayers.”
They did something about the need.
They moved toward the mess.
They entered into the ugly.
They acted.

Words leave people wanting.
Tongues, though golden, tarnish with time.
Moving mouths don’t replace moving people.
They never have, they never will.
The call to action has never seen a more desperate hour.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Donald Miller...

So I went to Cornerstone university for chapel today and Donald Miller was the speaker. He is there for a couple of days giving several lectures on culture, Christianity and how the two are often times mutually exclusive. (at least that was the tree he was barking up today) I have to tell you that I was like a little boy in a comic shop anticipating seeing him in living color.

You know how you read books and picture the author speaking while your eyes are scanning the little black words? Well, I had an image of this Don guy in my head and when he mounted the little podium...I was underwhelmed.

He was a corpulent middle aged man. He waddled back and forth as he pontificated his theories and ideas. His face was nothing to look at really. His body language was awkward and simple. His voice was somewhat monotone, like the hum of a fan on a hot summer afternoon. His teeth were kind of buck and his smile made his eyes squint shut. His knees were whatever knees are called when they are the opposite of bow-legged. His shirt was disheveled and his pants overly baggy. He wasn't at all who I had in mind. Thank God.

The morning couldn't have been more beautiful for my inner man. He is a beautiful man with insight that brings freedom and imagination that stirs the soul to life. His words were fresh and ideas refreshing. I love that man. I love the way he thinks about God, people, culture, nature and personality. I'm leaving in a moment to see session #2 out of 4. I'm salivating right now at the very thought of drinking deep of his heart.

Anyone else out there dig this plump scholar?

Monday, March 20, 2006

sexual revelations...

I was sharing life with a guy this morning and somehow, we got on the topic of sexuality. He was teaching a class that evening on chastity and sexuality and how it relates to the culture in which we live. He said that a person's sex life oddly parallels how most people do they show up on any given day. As we explored these thoughts more, he mentioned that most people close their eyes during intimacy (kissing, foreplay, intercourse, orgasm, etc) and wondered why that is. I honestly hadn't ever thought about it. Alot of people have sex with the lights off, under the covers, with their eyes closed. He mentioned that people, though fascinated with nakedness, struggle to live that way. Nudist's in this present case have something to teach us about life. They are comfortable in their own skin and I'm sure it spills over into how they relate on an emotional and relational level as well. So many people do friendship with the lights off, under the covers, with their eyes closed. We would just as soon not make the other person uncomfortable with our looking at their nakedness or with them looking at ours. Just close your eyes and think about what you wish it could be like or look like or feel like.

But I wonder, what would it be like to turn the lights on, throw off the sheets and keep your eyes wide open. That's intimacy. This conversation lingers on inside my heart. Our lives are lived in the shadow of intimidation and insecurity and our hearts are taking a beating pining for original glory. Oh for the day when with open eyes we may behold and be beheld, no shades drawn, no darkness. I never thought sex revealed so much about the human heart.

that's what I get for going to a coffee shop...I should have stayed at the church office where I can answer questions the world's not asking.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I just had the weirdest thought...

A church burning...

Can you imagine this scene? A church comes to the rabid understanding that they are not a building and to sanctify themselves from the grave misconception that the church is a place filled with people investing themselves in facilities, etc, they rise up and invite the community to a "blessed bonfire" whereby the church burns the church down committing themselves to channel their energy, money, etc towards the world. Hmm? What do you suppose this would set into motion?

"these walls have become the all in all
the end to all compassion,
burn them down with loving fire
Your church begin to fashion."

just some out loud thinking....

I wish I was a kid again...

I met a guy for coffee who uttered these words. These seven words run around inside my head all the time. Like C.S. Lewis says, "I don't know if it's wishful thinking or thoughtful wishing", but whatever it is, there something to it. I long for the days when I didn't know so much. When I didn't know where the sun went at night. When I didn't know why the sound of birds accompanied the spring. When I didn't know how big the woods really were behind my house. When I didn't know how far away a star was or when I saw the Big Dipper for the first time (it formed itself in my mind as I connected the dots). When I didn't know what it was about a song that drew me in. When I didn't care about money and how the bills were going to be paid. When I explored in the barn hoping to unearth some great mystery. When I really believed that things were waiting to be discovered. When I didn't have any idea how many people were alive on this planet (it's grown almost 2 billion people since I was born in '74). When McDonalds was Heaven. When I didn't think about what people thought about me. When I thought sin was really bad and felt conviction over things like getting into the refrigerator and talking back to an adult. When my conscience was as sensative as my tastebuds and my innocense pure like the dew. When I didn't worry about tomorrow or fret about yesterday. When I didn't know about how much people hated each other. When I didn't need something spectacular to get a rush...simple did the trick. When I didn't know that all the beautiful places in the world were being commercialized. When I didn't have any idea how dirty politics were. When I thought the church had God's best interests in mind. When I didn't question God's presence because I believed what He said about Himself, "I will never leave you or forsake you." When I didn't need so much to feel satisfied. When I didn't wonder who my real friends were or where they were. When I didn't try so hard. When I slept through the night. OH, to sleep through the night again.

But I'm not a kid, I'm a grown up. I'm one of those people that seems to think survival is success. At least that's what I feel I'm supposed to believe. I think I'll just keep wishing I was a kid again and maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky enough to relive one of those beautiful realities. Like it says in Eccl. "with much knowledge comes much sorrow." I just wish I didn't know so much sometimes. They say knowledge is power. I'm not sure who "they" are, but I think they're up a "crick".

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

banishing the burn...

Have I lost my bloody mind?
I'm sure to some I have.
There are days I wonder, too,
if I've stepped off the path.

This has to be a common fear
among those who have wondered
of something different, something more
than lightning without thunder.

I have a notion there are more
who feel this burning passion,
to flee the life of empty words
and move on toward the action.

If ever I was satisfied
with playing by the rules,
the time has finally arrived
to join the other fools.

Who set aside the rationale
of gaurding reputation,
embracing risk as normalcy,
not fearing accusation.

The fool in me is sick of being
told to wait his turn,
for years I've closed the furnace door
banishing the burn.

But just like fools are known to do
he speaks out of his fire,
warning me to listen to
my heart's deepest desire.

With everyday that passes by
I'm more convinced than ever
that I'll be damned if I don't try
to live a God endeavor.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Community is the cure...

Marrow-seekers, surface now
come out of hopeless hiding
there is a place for your desire
in fact, I am inviting
the stirrings of your settled soul
to rouse themselves again
shaking off collected dust
that's gathered on your pen
that used to move along the page
with words ablaze with fire
restless for the former days
wanting to conspire
with others who are int'rested
in delving to the core
so fed up with shallow plots
that consciously ignore
the themes that resonate within
the heart that pants for life
these currents won't negotiate
and go down with no fight
it's no surprise it takes another
soul to break the curse
to whisper words of wakening
and with compassion nurse
the damaged heart with healing oil
back to vital health
beating with a rythm right
realizing the wealth
of having friends that notice things
that most will walk on by
distracted by the tangibles
that catch their carnal eye
these friends call out the "Lazarus"
that in the tomb lays still
dead for days and months and years
without the thing that fills
the empty shell with matchless worth
that gives the body meaning
that makes each movement beautiful
and keeps the world believing
that there exists beyond our sight
a God that's worth our time
who laughs and cries with all His might
and on our hearts doth shine
the glory of His very face
that we are called to bear
living out His happy life
instead of our despair
For buried under the debris
of deadlines and demands
there is a dreaming entity
that fully understands
the reaches of the infinite
the depth of the divine
the breadth of love so consummate
the taste of the sublime
It won't mistake the the fake for real
the replicas for true
it knows the place from wence it came
and nothing less will do
Again, I strain the need for friends
to beckon this life out
of caverns cold beneath the shell
that harbor pangs of doubt
that long have reigned and drowned the song
that once rang out so clear
heralding persisting clues
that God was ever near
He didn't dwell in courts above
or temples filled with people
He didn't house Himself in church
under the pointy steeple
His choice was to inhabit us
the feeble, frail and broken
His voice comes not through pulpiteers
His Word has plainly spoken
He speaks in tones that only those
who know their hearts can hear
and through the mouths of kindred souls
who carry the same fear
the fear that someday they will wake
to find they've wasted all
the difference their lives could've made
if they'd answered the call
that sounds within humanity
in those with ears to listen
opening themselves to find
the life that most are missin'
so I must greet each morning new
with hopes to find these souls
that know they want to start right now
to climb out of the hole
of lonely, empty, boring days
littered with confusion
to find the Kingdom of our God
is more than an illusion.

I know you're out there...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Am I becoming liberal?...

I'm shy to acknowledge that up to this point in my life, I have spent very little time with people who don't like me or look like me. I'm not so sure how this happens, but if you don't fight against the tide, this lifestyle by default sucks you in and duck tapes you into a happy little corner of Christianity. Like, Truman, I'm figuring out I'm in a false reality and I want out.

Last week, I spoke on Reaching out to the world. It was a call to take into consideration how queer (I use this term in the sense of odd) many of our Christian practices appear to a world unfamiliar with our beliefs and behaviors. After the service was over, a man came to the front and sat down on a chair next to me. I was praying for some friends I have that I want to extend love to, and I felt his hand on my shoulder. I tilted my head to see who was by my side. He started to share, "This message really got to me. I don't want to be one of those people that just come to church and leave unscathed. I want to get off my %ss and show the world love." Now if you're indocrinated anything like I have been, it's hard to hear what he's saying behind what he said. I immediately fixate on the swear word and internally question the merit of the rest of the sentence. But then I say to myself, "He is passionate about what he's sharing. He believes it." He just came to Christ this last year and he honestly doesn't know any better. I have to take a second look at my responses to swearing and God's responses to swearing. Don't you think?

A guy stopped into my office yesterday. He's 25, divorced, and recently engaged to a new girl. He's hard, bitter, and angry, but for some reason two weeks ago he asked if he could talk to me after the service. He shared about his fiance going out to a bar with her friends and then taking her old boyfriend home at 4:30am that morning. He said that he had given her a curfew of 12:oo and she disregarded it. He wanted my advice on what to do. Tell me where you would start giving advice? I stumbled through a couple sentences and finally landed on the topic of how to admit the things that you're guilty of before condemning the other person of what they're guilty of. At the end of the conversation I felt like a heel and I'm sure he felt bored. And what do you know, he's standing in my office cause he happened to be in the area. He started in with how bad his life has been the last several years and how he caught his wife cheating on him. He told me of his move to Florida and his bar hopping days filled with drunkeness, knife fights and womanizing. He told me of his militant fundamental religious background with a hard and harsh father who was sweet at church and a "bastard" at home. Again, I heard the word bastard and I hesitated inside for some's like there's a nerve it hits rendering me paralyzed momentarily until I recover. As I asked more questions and navigated my way to his heart and closer to the wounds that covered it, he began to swear more and more. Sh&%, D#mn, He**...I thought that was interesting...the closer you get to heart, the dirtier you can plan on getting in conversation. I told him that I thought their was a soft part of him that somehow got buried under coping mechanisms and survival modes. He noded his head. I think it's only a matter of time before he sheds the skin of survival and meets the real God...not the one he met in his childhood.

I then went to supper with a guy who just got saved about 5 months ago. He is just kicking his alchoholism and repairing fences in his family. He is on his second marriage and is trying to be a good father to someone elses children. As we talked over a seafood platter, he started sharing more about his background and the deep, dark places that represented his history. As he did, he graced the conversation with a couple choice words which you could tell came out without his knowing it. It was like second nature. As he was decribing the plight of his heart before he met Jesus, he said, "Before I came to know Jesus, I was fu*#ed up, really fu*&ed up. But God has just changed the way I look at myself and other people and it's getting better." I'll have to admit, I wasn't expecting him to have this language based on our previous conversations in the church narthex. But think about, how many real life conversations are had in the foyer at church?...not many, if any. Granted, he would preface his sentences with, "Pardon the expression" or "excuse the language", but you know this was how he had conversed for 40 years. You don't learn a new language over night, not matter whether Jesus has come in to take residence or not. Again, you come to Jesus and ask him to help you grow.

There is a crisis of belief going on inside me as I interact with almost daily conversations of this nature. I currently hang around some of the most passionate Christians I have ever met that aren't trying to cover up the fact that they are a work in progress. I wonder if that is the very thing that makes them's hard to be passionate when you're fake.

What is swearing anyhow? A culture list of words that we use to fill sentences with spice and to make a point or to add an exclamation point to our ideas. A bit of filler to communicate emotion when we're not quite sure what to say. A group of phrases originating from questionable moral places that have become commonplace expressions to attempt to relay emotion more than facts. They are at the core emotional words. Just like tears speak emotion, these words say something more than what they mean. I'm just thinking out loud here.

I continue to wonder how to translate this life I'm living. Somehow, I've never been so excited to wake up in the morning and also so full of questions as to whether I'm becoming liberal.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

unrelated storylines...

I was praying with my eldest last night before bed and, as is our custom, she started us out. Unfortunately, she's already figured out that prayer can be rote and routine, so she often times just prays for the same things in the same order. This time around she deviated from the script and it took me back. She started out as she always does, "Dear Jesus, thank you for the day, it was a good day and I hope you had a good day. Thank you for our family and our house and my room and my bed--this is where it took a turn--and for (food, water, shelter and space.) Thanks for our friends coming to visit and we love you God, Amen." Food, water, shelter and space? She rattled it off like it was no big deal. I asked her about it and she said, "I learned in class this week that that is what animals need to stay alive." What a trip! You never know where prayer may take you on any given evening.

So, this last weekend, I spoke on Sat. night and pretty much bit the noodle. My mind was so foggy the whole time I was speaking. There were literally times when I would forget what I just said and concurrently what I wanted to say next. At that point, your mouth keeps moving only because it would just feel strange for people to watch you staring at the back wall until something came to your lips. I feel like I let God down, he had something he wanted to say through me and I just bombed. I guess you could say that if I was a tool in God's hands, I malfunctioned. I hate when that happens. It just feels like I wasted a good many people's time. I hate wasting time, mine or anothers. Oh well, there's bound to be those days...