Friday, July 27, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Lament For Connor
That ugly scar of fresh turned earth
Holds tight my broken son whose worth
The world will never know. And I
Turn stricken face to steely sky
And ask a question that will start
Fresh groaning from a broken heart .
Where were you, God, on that dark road
When violence took what I adored
And crushed him? Did You see her shock,
Her wailing, kissing bloody locks?
Did You stand by with folded arm
Or with Your finger cause this harm?
What did I do to make you mad?
If this is love I’ve more than had
Enough. How can I speak of You
To foes when this is what you do
To friends? I’m worn out now and just
Begun to walk the path I must.
Yet I have nowhere left to turn
For hope or joy. I cannot learn
Another voice than first I knew
And trusted. Were they true,
The promises you made to me?
Can I full trust what I can’t see?
I know that my Redeemer lives.
I know a Sovereign takes and gives.
I am a blind and broken man,
So I will hold on while I can
For now. Is grace enough to keep?
Until we see Your face, I weep.
I'm eternally grateful to my friend Tod for sharing his suffering. For those of us who know him, we know him to have a gift of insight and truth. That he continues to apply those gifts regardless of the circumstances of his life doesn't surprise me at all. He has been chosen from among us to be an exhibit of God's glory, and I mourn with him that it is in such dramatic fashion. Blessed are the people who have been chosen for lesser shows, and count it only God's grace if you are one them, created for the lesser trials and displays. Only give yourself over to the pain of others so that you can better know God's love and consolation through them, and they through you.
Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, and that it is for those who are weary and heavy laden. How easy it is to believe such a claim when all is light and airy around us, our outward circumstances providing us with ease. But finding his deeper meaning can only come with the shadow's descent, the dark clouds hovering, the very ground under feet pulled away.
Pray for my friend that, he find it. He will.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
I was invited by a fellow blogger (http://this-walk.blogspot.com) to be the next in a growing group of people being asked to make a list of 5 things they like about Jesus.
An impossible task...only 5 things...but here is my feeble attempt and reducing the irreducible.
That he reveals to me what God is like. I have found within me an unstoppable desire to know what the Cause of all things is like. In my humanity, I am deer-in-the-headlights afraid to know, but also drowning-in-the-ocean in need of knowing. And the second motivation always wins out over the first. I would stop and listen (and have) to anyone who audaciously claimed to know what God is like, helpless to at least consider their claims. But in Jesus, I have found someone who claims not just to know what he is like, but to be what he is like. This is either sheer arrogance or honest truth. For reasons way to many to list here, I have decided on the latter. I have found in Jesus both that I need not be afraid of God, and that fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. And I love that about Jesus. He reveals to me what God is like.
His uncompromising idealism. Ideals are what inspire people. People must react to ideals. There is something inherent about ideals that make people "want to believe" or "need to discredit". Jesus presents some simple ideals that transcend everything - all ideas, concepts, structures, or systems. Anything purely good about anything I have ever found or seen all stem from Christ's ideals (even if the thing it's contained in is anti-Christ). His ideals are different than any I have found, because they can be lived out regardless of the circumstances that human beings find themselves in. His ideals are matters of the heart. Ideals are the stuff of believers, and while they require the oftentimes-hard-to-find "belief" to be lived out, that belief is the sum total of what you need to discover that they are the fabric of abundant life itself. That's why Jesus said that "the work of God is this: to believe." Jesus is the most idealistic thinker and teacher ever known, and additionally, he lives out his ideals perfectly as a human to show that "idealistic" is not the opposite of "realistic". I love him for that.
His inexhaustible depth. - I can't seem to stop learning about Christ. I can't seem to plumb the limits of his teaching, his example, or his person. And it is pure joy because going deeper into Jesus' life is not simply an academic exercise for me. I get bored quickly when increasing in mere knowledge, but I get life when increasing in knowledge that transforms my character in ways that have real and practical effect in my life and the lives of those around me at a heart level. And learning about the heart, character, priorities, and mission of Christ does just that. "The Kingdom of God is within you," Jesus says. So the idea of "Kingdom growth" is the idea of me growing inwardly. It's effect, to be sure, is seen outwardly, but make no mistake...it was inward transformation that brought it about if it was real and permanent. "Abide in me," Jesus says. This is no static thing. There is no action you can take that would allow you to check this command off the list of things to do in a lifetime, moving on to the next. Abiding in Christ is the last decision you will ever sincerely make, because you will never finish. This is far from discouraging! On the contrary, I am ever-grateful! As I prepared for my first skydive, my instructor explained why he had jumped over 800 times so far in his life by saying, "I skydived, and it was the greatest thing I'd ever done. Let me ask you: If you could do the greatest thing you've ever done, AGAIN...would you? And what price would you be willing to pay?" Amen. Meeting and knowing Jesus Christ is the greatest thing I've ever done. So I love his inexhaustible depth because I get to do the greatest thing I've ever done again and again.
His unabashed, unashamed, courageous offer of intimacy. - Another one of those things I find myself helplessly needing is to "be known". I enjoy "knowing" (see my first item above), but I am also compelled to be fully known. Now, while I believe God created us this way from the very beginning, putting us in the garden with unhindered intimacy with Himself and with each other, I must admit to a combination of insecurities that drive me. I'm insecure about my motives. I want them to be pure and purified where they are not, but I know I can fool myself, so I want to be fully known so that I have accountability and witnesses, so to speak. I'm also insecure about my methods. I've been told that I have some creativity to me, but I don't want to do something because it's clever, rather because it's meaningful and effects things for good. Being fully known by others gives affirmation and input in how I go about making a difference in the world. There are other reasons, I'm sure. But whatever my reasons for wanting intimate community, Jesus Christ delivers it. And he does so in two unbelievable ways: (1) he instructs me in how to make and maintain intimate friendships among my fellow human beings. That being: share everything. Jesus said to his disciples, who started as his students and servants, "I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."). They are his friends, he says, because he has shared everything he has learned from God. That's how I make friends, too. But he doesn't stop with mere instructions on how to have intimacy among men, but (2) also among the Godhead. This is the crown of crowns in my heart! He offers to me the very intimacy that He and God share, and the friendship that my heart longs for, and doesn't dare believe available or possible. Jesus offers intimacy with God! Jesus prays, "I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me." I am undone! He fully knows me and my ability to manipulate myself into mistakenly thinking that I have some measure of goodness, he knows the double-sided, self-serving nature of my "good ideas" to benefit and love "the world" and he loves me still. No one satisfies my desire for intimacy like Jesus. I can not speak of my undying gratitude and love for Jesus because of this.
He shows me how to live the best possible life available to a human being...and gives it to me freely. What can I say? I wish I could say that my followership of Jesus was strictly motivated by my obligation to pay him back after what he has sacrificed for me. I wish I could say that my followership of Jesus was based on faith alone that I will have Heaven - unstoppable bliss - after this hard life is over. I wish I could say that my followership of Jesus was out of my pure and unselfish desire for those around me to know Jesus, up to and including my enemies. And while I can say that all three of those things are absolute motivations within my heart, there is another reason that I follow Jesus Christ that really feels somewhat selfish and self-serving and pertains to my current life in this present age and has little to do with his unmatchable sacrifice for my sins. And that is this: I can find no better way to live. There is not a life that is more satisfying, joy-full, or peace-producing available to me than the life of becoming more and more like him. There is nothing that feels safer or more dangerous...and I need a full measure of both for abundant life. If I want a life of passion, purpose, love, and abundance...I have no other alternative than the life of the Kingdom. The life of the cross. The life of Christ.
Show much to say, no words to adequately say it. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, God. Thank you.