Monday, December 11, 2006
Another important awareness for me this season has come as a result of reading a compilation book of old, classic stories of Christmas. Authors such as O. Henry, Hans Christian Andersen, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Lousia May Alcott and Charles Dickens -- and, course, Luke of the Gospels-- share their sentiment and observations of the meaning of Christmas in the form of story.
The common theme that has jumped out at me this year is that of 'the unexpected visitor'. So much of Christmas story -- including THE STORY -- tells about the visitor that no one expects and most do not even see, but the few who do are rewarded with knowing that they have been visited by the Presence of an Eternal God -- the very God of Christmas. I don't want to miss the opportunities this year to recognize unexpected visitors.
For that reason, I'm going to put my blogging hobby on hiatus until after Christmas. This, by far, has been one of my favorite new experiences in 2006. Thanks to all my blogging buddies for joining in with me. Maybe this mini-sabbatical will provide the inspiration to post a 'best of' type blog before 2007...who knows?
(I know that burningalive still has a question posted for me. It's a pretty big question, buddy! I'll be thinking of an answer -- maybe you'll have one for me before I come back?)
Merry Christmas to all!!
"You must remember this, for it is as true, as true as that I see you and you see me. It is not revealed by the light of lamps or candles, and it does not depend upon sun and moon; but that which is needful is that we have such eyes as can see God's glory." (Selma Lagerlof, "The Holy Night")
- how much fun it was to take a room full of hundreds of people and feel like we were all sitting around the piano together?
- watching every age group of people in the room -- from elementary to college age to senior citizen -- laugh together and enjoy the same music (for once!)
- watching extremely gifted musicians be free to express their glory in a way that drew people in
- singing favorite carols traditionally
Yep, the day ranks right up there with my favorite corporate worship moments of all time -- from the singing to the laughing to the shouting out page numbers -- it was all worship.
P.S. -- just before the first service, as Brian and Tammy were getting ready to go on stage and we were listening to Neil, Janet and Scott play 'O Tannenbaum' and just basking in the gorgeousness of the music, I told them, "I feel like God just smiles on us all the time." I said this because even this seemingly 'unimportant' service -- one that was easy and fun and barely 'programmed', survived a pretty vicious battle against sin, flesh and the Enemy to take place. I was reminded that by revealing the joy and happiness of God yesterday, as well as the beautiful glory of His children, we were perhaps waging an even more serious war against the enemy than we realized. We have been blessed -- We are blessed -- We will be blessed.
I receive daily readings from John Eldredge. This is one of my favorites...an excerpt from Waking the Dead. (burningalive, this might be one part of the answer to your question of me, learning to be identified from our glory -- rather than our wounds and sin....it's what i think i started to hear you say in your most recent post)
Looking for a Glory We Know We Were Meant to Have
The poet Yeats wrote,
If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be rightFrom mirror after mirror
No vanity’s displayed:
I’m looking for the face I hadBefore the world was made.
(“Before the World Was Made” from the poem “A Woman Young and Old”)
Yes, that’s it. When we take a second glance in the mirror, when you pause to look again at a photograph, we are looking for a glory you know you were meant to have, if only because you know you long to have it. You remember faintly that you were once more than what you have become. Your story didn’t start with sin, and thank God, it does not end with sin. It ends with glory restored: “Those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30).
And “in the meantime,” you have been transformed, and you are being transformed. You’ve been given a new heart. Now God is restoring your glory. He is bringing you fully alive. Because the glory of God is you fully alive.
“Well, then, if this is all true, why don’t I see it?” Precisely. Exactly. Now we are reaching my point. The fact that you do not see your good heart and your glory is only proof of how effective the assault has been. We don’t see ourselves clearly.
(Waking the Dead , 78–79)
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Today is Brian's day off and he and my son (also home sick) and I watched Hotel Rwanda.
What do you do with that story?
Friday, December 01, 2006
I'm also awake because of recent conversations with a friend who told things to me that were very unpleasant to hear. In fact, it might be similar to what I imagine the sensation would be of having my heart carved out with a cold silver spoon. OR -- as David says in Psalm
41...'Even my best friend, the one I always told everything - he ate meals at my house all the time!— has bitten my hand.' (although, ironically, the eating meals at my house all the time part is untrue and was appearantly part of the problem)
THEN -- I sit down at the computer and re-read the lovely post I wrote yesterday all about The Poser and Abba's love for his children and his gentlness with us in our 'as-is' condition and I wish I could find a Psalm about being bitten on other parts of my anatomy.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Posers, Fakers & Wannabes (Unmasking the Real You) by Brennan Manning
I have read about five of Brennan Manning's books in the last three years and have been deeply touched by every one of them. Every other book I've read of his preaches the simple, simple truth that God loves us in our 'as-is' condition and that when we embrace that fact we will be able to be gentle with ourselves which allows us to live lives of love for the world around us.
The only quirk that some readers might not enjoy is his enjoyment of using words that no English-speaking person I know ever uses. This book is actually put out by NavPress for the college-aged market. Jim Hancock, a former youth pastor, joined with Manning to take his book Abba's Child and translate portions of it using more of the language of pop culture.
In Abba's Child, Manning explains that the chapter he wrote titled "The Imposter" got more attention than all the others combined. With Jim Hancock's help The Imposter became The Poser. In Manning's words,
forget that everything I am is grace. Everything. Even the grace to
grasp grace is grace. Instead of being stunned by the extravagance of God's
love, many days I just expect it. In place of heartfelt gratitude for the
sheer, unearned abundance of God's gifts, I'm often gripped by an arrogant
satisfaction in my accomplishments and the false security of spiritual superiority.
identity as Abba's beloved child. The [Poser] tries to convince me
that, no matter what God says, Abba's Child is a false identity, completely
out of my reach. The [Poser] wants me to believe my only hope is to forsake
my true self and become...'everybody else'.
Posers, Fakers & Wannabes... offers a great balance of biblical narrative, modern-day story and practical advice on how to identify the Poser and the Pharisee in us AND what to do after that. In the book introduction, Manning gives an overview of how he has dealt with The Poser in his own life.
If it weren't me, I would say it was a fascinating struggle. My
greatest difficulty in recent years has been bringing...The Poser into the presence of Jesus instead of trying to whip him into shape on my own. But it is me, and there's nothing fascinating about it. I want to beat The Poser into submission. I want to win this war with myself. Bitter irony. Instead of surrendering my self-centeredness to Christ, I try to beat it to death. Then I get discouraged and decide my alleged spiritual life is just self-deception and fantasy.
Finally, I appreciate that the author does not stop short of leading the reader to embrace the grace of God for herself only, but instructs that truly embracing the grace and love of God allows us to move beyond herself and extend that grace to the world around her. This, to me, is true religion...
May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted,
may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the
powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who
is Father, Son, and Spirit. And today on planet Earth, may you experience the
wonder and beauty of yourself as Abba's child and temple of the Holy Spirit
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I know you probably want the story. Maybe I should have Brian post it himself since he is a contributor on this site. What do you all think???
Sunday, November 26, 2006
The rest of the evening was spent at the fabulous locations of Target (when you're out of chewing gum and shaving gel, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?) and Outback and the movie theatre. Being out of town and sans children made us feel so adventurous, we didn't think twice about going to a move that started at 10pm. You'd think that the screenwriting masterpiece, Casino Royale, would have been enough to keep me captivated through all 2 and a half hours. If not the writing, than at least new Bond-guy Daniel Craig's well-carved pecs?
I fell asleep barely 15 minutes into the movie. Every once in a while -- you know, on the rare occasion of a loud gunshot or engine roar -- I would stir from my sleep and find another comfortable way to use Brian's shoulder as a headrest. The poor guy thought I brought in the fleece blanket to cuddle, but instead it served as a fabulous cushion against the hard seat armrest between us. What finally brought me out of my sleep was the annoying, non-stop giggling from the two women next to us. Having never watched a James Bond flick, I thought maybe I was missing some great comedic dialogue. I groggily murmured into my husband's ear, "Are you supposed to laugh at a Bond film?"
He laughed, too ... at me!
After this wildly romantic evening out, I can say that 16 years is very, very, very sweet. I wouldn't trade it -- even if it meant missing out on some very painful marriage moments. I am maybe, just maybe, beginning to realize how valuable this whole husband/wife relationship thing is and I feel graced that God did not disqualify us from each other because of our own immaturity and sin. (and I realize this is making me sound a little bit like an old sage ... not the image I wish to portray!!)
So the rest of the weekend was spent with a houseful of siblings and cousins and all the noise and loss of hot water you might expect in the deal. We did some Christmas shopping at the Franklin Mills outlet mall and I discovered another favorite store...Fossil! Of course, my introduction to the fun-watches-and-groovy-clothing store included outlet prices so I don't know if I'd be so enamored in another setting. But, check it out for yourself!
Hope you all enjoyed your own "interval of relief from all things stressful or trying" this holiday weekend. Now, on to CHRISTMAS...yippeee!!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I am thankful for...
Good friends -- I would name a few, but would run out of space
Good living -- Not extravagant, but very good
Good Family -- No Great Family
And a Heavenly Father who makes it His responsibility to watch out for all of this as well as touch my life with love, discipline, grace, healing, and freedom
"No truth, no matter how profound, will find its way into a heart that is absent
of gratitude." (Erwin McManus)
I offer my Thanksgiving 2006 Thankful List
- my cozy, happy home (they are starting to burn down the condemned houses in Conklin...I feel nauseous every time I drive out of town)
- my amazingly kind and hard-working husband -- who also gives the world's best foot rubs AND burned a CD of the John Mayer trio for me for our 16th anniversary (which is tomorrow!)
- my four growing-up kids who remind me all the time how imperfect, and yet loved, I am
- my extended family who have recently produced the most adorable nieces and nephews I could hope for
- my new brown corduroy pants that look great and still will allow me to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast today (only if I leave the belt home, though)
- my new job doing what I love at a place that I love with people I love
- my DVR (materialistic I know, but I am thankful for it)
- my church, as imperfect as it is, that is committed to risking all that status-quo offers in order to come against the gates of hell in this valley
- friends who provide a safe place to land when life gets bizarre
- my blogging buddies
- my author 'mentors' -- Brennan Manning, John Eldredge, Madeline L'Engle, Dan Allender, Kevin Leman, John Ortberg, Andy Stanley, Donald Miller... (to name a few!)
- my Abba who just blows my mind most of the time...for reasons like this...
"Your ordinary self is exactly where God wants to work extraordinary
miracles. The inconspicuous nobody who shivers when it's cold and sweats when it's hot, who wakes up so many days feeling not-at-all-ready to face the world, who can barely get dressed and show up on time and at the right place, who has to read the paragraph three times to understand it, who feels lonely and hopeless, isolated, crowded, horny, left out, and taken in all at once -- YOU are the one God loves! Deal with it. (Brennan Manning)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
1 Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart in
the council of the upright and in the assembly.
2 Great are the works of the LORD;they are pondered by all who
delight in them.
3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are steadfast for ever and ever,
done in faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He provided redemption for his people;
he ordained his covenant forever—
holy and awesome is his name.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good
understanding.To him belongs eternal
Saturday, November 18, 2006
*any organization or ministry that has to have a link on the sidebar of their webpage that says something like "here's what we DO agree with" will not have much influence on my thinking
I think in blogger-speak I'm in the mood to post a rant, but am not sure I have the energy to do justice to the topic. Here's the comment from burningalive:
Hey this is kind of off topic but could you check something out for me when you have a second? I was looking up stuff on Erwin McManus and one of the sites was this one www.lighthousetrailsresearch.comwhich said all sorts of confusing and disturbing things, not just about him but also Rick Warren and others. Check it out and tell me what you think. I'm certainly leaning torwards not buying what there saying, I was just going to but Erwin McManus's new book and I know you quote him sometimes so I wondered what your opinion was. Here's another link that goes directly to the Erwin stuff http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/erwinmcmanus.htm
It took me a few days to get to checking out this link, but I had a feeling what I'd be in for. A couple of weeks ago, I was googling "Bill Hybels" for some reason that I can't remember now and I stumbled onto a website for a church in Texas that has taken on themselves the mission of protecting the rest of Christianity from churches that use anything but the King James Version and hymnbooks instead of 'multi-media presentations'. I had a feeling this website would have a similar tone.
So, burningalive, here's what I've decided for myself:
*any orgnization or ministry that uses an angry or inflammatory or spiritually arrogant tone to prove their point will not have much influence on my thinking
*any organization or ministry that builds its foundation and mission on discrediting another organization or ministry's salvation testimony will not have much influence on my thinking
*any organization that uses the word "Lighthouse" in its' name will not have much influence on my thinking
Now, I'd like to know...
is this post cranky enough to qualify as a 'rant'??
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
God calls us every one to come out of hiding. God calls us back back from wherever we went running for our lives, calls us back home. God is the love-crazed father at the window, waiting for a lost boy to come to his senses, gazing down the road for a sign of his return, now running to meet and embrace and more-than-half-carry his kid the last mile so they can start all over, as if nothing bad ever happened between them, as if the party he intends to throw that very night is the celebration of his child's birth.
It's always been this way. Adam and Eve were ashamed when they disobeyed God, so they hid themselves. And one way or another, they've been role models ever since. Why? Because we hate being seen for what we truly are, which has almost nothing to do with being as bad as we could possibly be and almost everything to do with failing to be all we could be and should be -- what we aspire and maybe even pretend to be.
We know the truth -- or at least much of the truth -- about ourselves, and it's not all that pretty. Our way of dealing with the ugliness is mainly misdirection: Hey, look how ugly that guy is! Look at all the things I don't do! Our solution is faking it, taking cover when we lose our nerve -- hiding out. Which is no solution at all.
Simon Tugwell wrote:
We hide what we know or feel ourselves to be (which we assume to be unacceptable and unloveable) behind some kind of appearance which we hope will be more pleasing. We hide behind pretty faces which we put on for the benefit of our public. And in time we may even come to forget that we are hiding, and think that our assumed pretty face is what we really look like.
--from Brennan Manning's book, "Posers, Fakers, and Wannabes (Unmasking the Real You)"
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
So, my funny story?
My funny story starts with a guilty confession. I am a fan of Rachael Ray. I am a fan of her hyperactive morning talk show, too. I tape the show every day and then when I have some time during the week I watch them all (i fast forward through all the commercials and all the segments i don't care about) Last week I got online to order tickets for my birthday month and while I was browsing around on the site, I found a place where they listed topics for upcoming shows and invited viewers to send in their own stories about the topics. One of the topics listed was "Do You Want a Proposal Do-Over?"
Someday, if you'd like I can tell you the story of Brian's proposal (hint: it involves 7-up, pretzels and a gas pump) It's a funny story. I'm glad I married him. I wouldn't want it any other way, but I wouldn't mind a do-over on the proposal. So I sent my whole story.
A few days later, we were all sitting around the family room and the phone rang. Alex grabbed the phone and said, "Mom, it's the Rachael Ray show!" They wanted to check on my story and get a few more details. I was laughing so much and was so nervous that I could hardly talk. The other funny part was that I hadn't told Brian about sending the email and he couldn't figure out why the Rachael Ray show called and I was running down the hall to hide in the bedroom while talking with the guy from the show.
Anyway, the guy told me that my story would be set aside for the producers to see and they'd call me back. So, who knows?!?
that's my funny story.
more details later...
Monday, October 23, 2006
The leadership at UCCC has been teaching a series titled, "Broken", about our sexual and relational wounding and brokenness.
Again I say...Intense.
They had asked the Creative Arts team -- which I serve as Director -- to provide several dramatic and visual elements for the series. In conjunction, we are holding our first-ever art show which happens to be ...NEXT WEEKEND!! (Yikes!) Today, I'm posting the prospectus about the theme.
I have just been immersed in this theme for several weeks (in reality -- the whole year) because I have also been co-leading a small group in CrossCurrent -- the program that the Broken series is adapted from. I have never in my life been exposed to so many stories of brokenness and yet been so full of hope for people. If you know me at all, you know that this is an absolute transformation in my life. I am thankful.
At the same time, God has exposed more of my own brokenness than ever before in my journey with Him...and still I am full of hope ( exhausted, maybe, but full of hope).
Here are my thoughts about living in the tension of brokenness and hope.
Art Show 2006 PROSPECTUS: "Broken"
A CALL FOR ENTRIES
"Broken things are worthless in the world, but broken things God can not resist." -- McDonald
It is not an accident that the theme chosen for the Art Show can be viewed from several
different angles. Hold this concept up to the light and, like a kaleidoscope, turn it round and
round. The colors and shapes of the fragments will fascinate you.
Broken, the word, can be used from a place of grief, as in 'my heart is broken.' Or it can be
used to express gospel humility, as in 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.' (NASB, Psalm 51:16-18)
It can describe failure in our lives: 'my marriage is broken,' or freedom from prison or slavery:
'This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.' (The Message, Isaiah 58:6)
Broken can also describe the physical damage of an object -- your son's favorite toy or your
checking account. Turn the lens again and we see broken used in one of the Bible's most
compelling narratives of surrender and worship, 'While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.' (NASB, Mark 14:2-4)
In the context of the CrossCurrent sermon series, the word broken defines the relational
and sexual sins and wounds that have made up the patterns of our lives. We have been
damaged physically, emotionally and spiritually by the sin in us and around us. As the imago
dei, the image of God, we are not what God intended us to be. We are broken.
But there is hope. Great hope.
'With the cross before us, we are reminded that life has broken through all the deadly loves
of the old self. We live out of the new and true self. The cross reminds us that we are
greater than the sum total of our brokenness.' -- Andrew Comiskey, author of CrossCurrent
Broken does not lose its meaning for us once we receive Christ's gift of healing and
Turn the lens again, adjust the light, and you see, 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a
broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.' (NASB, Psalm 51:17)
'One of our central core-values at Union Center is 'brokenness.' This is not referencing the
damage of our lives, which may be plentiful, but rather an attitude of teachability, humility
and obedience to the Spirit.' -- Dr. John Hawco, senior pastor at Union Center
In this light, broken describes the beauty of a life that is characterized by compassion,
forgiveness, humility and surrender.
'The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self
within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self which justifies itself,
wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory at last bows its head to
God's will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards
its own glory -- that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all.' -- Roy Hession, The Calvary Road
And, in this light, all the fragments and all the colors of the kaleidoscope draw our eyes to
our Savior -- the God-man who was broken for us. 'The Master, Jesus, on the night of his
betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.' After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: 'This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.' -- (The Message, 1 Corinthians 11:23)
Practically, we want to invite you to pray over this theme. Study the word from different
angles, holding it up to the light of your personal experience. Get on www.biblegateway.com and do a word search -- see how God treats this concept in the Scriptures. Talk to a friend, explore a new medium, look through your portfolio in a fresh way. There is no specific requirement for the artists except that one of the pieces be submitted under the theme Broken, and that you provide a statement of how that artwork reflects the theme.
Above all, I encourage you to speak truth through your art. Avoid the temptation to draw
and paint and sculpt something 'Christian' or 'churchy.' Jesus became man and walked
through the stuff of earth without ever losing His deity. In the same way, He is able to take
the stuff of your artwork and reveal Himself through it.
I am praying for you. I am asking God to encourage us and guide us and protect us as we
take this risk of revealing the imago dei in each one of us. Most of all, I am asking Him to
bring great fame to His name through our obedience and vulnerability.
Ever your biggest fan,
Friday, October 13, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
You Are a Piece of Work
Have you ever encountered the phenomenon called the Christian bookstore? Jesus is everywhere. He is on witty coffee mugs, flashlight pens, Thomas Kincaid calendars and Testamints. Devotionals and political material are available for mom, dad and even the kids. It reminds me of Psalm 119 when David asked where he could flee from God’s presence. Is the merchandise in our local family Christian store the Church’s best attempt at revealing God these days?
The ancient city of Ephesus in Asia Minor took a similar approach in presenting their goddess Artemis. Ephesus, like the United States, was a melting pot where the East met the West, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Artemis was a conglomeration of ancient goddesses. Her roles included protector of small animals, eternally virginal mother goddess and other such illustrious matriarchal titles. Like the God of the pop-Christian bookstore, Artemis offered something for everyone.
A whole month was devoted to her, called the Artemisia, during which a million worshippers would make the pilgrimage to Ephesus. The Ephesian silversmiths were famous for making the best representations of Artemis. During the festivities, these silver statues would be taken from Artemis’s temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and paraded through the city while crowds shouted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
I can identify with the Ephesians, who made statues to worship, as well as the Christian bookstores that try to market a savior. My labors as an evangelist have been marked by afternoons handing out tracts to San Francisco tourists, “winning friends and influencing people for Christ” by handing out free soda, and even (don’t tell anyone!) performing in dramas narrated by Carmen songs. All this, I thought, added up to being a contagious Christian. But, to be honest, I saw very little spiritual transformations result from these activities.
Paul had a different idea for the Ephesian Christians than the frenzied marketing of their faith. He wrote, ““You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he appointed for you to do” (Ephesians 2:10). The word workmanship comes from the Greek "poema," where we get our words poem and artwork. In one sentence Paul turned conventional thinking on its head, telling a city famous for making art of deities that God wanted to make artwork of them.
But it turns out (and I bet my Ephesian brothers would agree with me) that it’s much harder to submit to God shaping His image in me than it is to shape my image into Him. Maybe this is why God gives us a choice to accept or reject him as the artist. It isn’t easy. God’s holiness sheds light on all our fear, anger, loneliness and lies. We begin to stand out and become different and unique, recognized by the scars of our past and birthmarks we can’t scrub off. And He prefers doing this in the context of community? That’s scary! I imagine all the Church might look like Jackson Pollock’s studio. Paint and passion spilled all over the rooms. And hope for beauty.
In community, we learn a frightening but empowering truth—that the great tragedy of rejecting God as your sculptor isn’t just what you lose, but what we miss out on seeing through you. In his poem W.H. Auden wrote:
God may reduce you to tears
On Judgment Day
As He recites by heart
The poems you would have written
Had your life been good.
There’s no science to being putty in God’s hands, but a great painting (like a great life or a dynamic community) can’t be rushed. It requires many coats and shades of paint, and at several points in the process the art looks ready for the trashcan. But then, another set of finishing touches and all of a sudden it is breathtaking. We have to be able to endure those moments of feeling garbage-worthy, knowing our Creator to use every layer of paint to make the end result all the more beautiful. It just takes time.
Friday, September 29, 2006
1. after school today there were 6 teenage boys filling my house; playing video games, cleaning out the kitchen cupboard and jumping on the trampoline
2. I overheard my daughter from downstairs screaming and banging on the bedroom door of her older sister, "Turn down your music...I'm ON THE PHONE!"
3. I have two kids leaning over my shoulder right now forcing me off the computer....
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
what a loaded chapter! I think for the longest time, I've really overlooked the first part about children and just assumed that as long as I wasn't a child-abuser or pedophile than I didn't need to spend too much time there.
I was wrong. By now, this does not surprise me.
I don't know for sure yet how verses 1-9 apply to me, but I have a strong feeling that it will somehow be connected to these words about the passage from Eugene Kennedy ...
"A child, above all, is unselfconscious, incapable of artifice, and capable, then, of grasping the attitudes and motivations of others with a clarity that is astounding.
The Kingdom belongs to the people who aren't trying to look good or impress anybody, including themselves... God smiles on those people who are not aware of themselves and are not full of plots about how to seize the world's attention. The first citizens of the Kingdom Jesus preaches are the lovers who give themselves without studied awareness to their spouses, children, students, and friends.
These wonderful people reveal God freshly in every generous and unplanned impulse of their hearts....The Kingdom belongs to those, as artless as children, who love others simply and directly, without thinking about anything but them."
Have you ever spent time trying to remember back -- waaayyy back-- before the accumulation of wounds and sins (committed by yourself and others) piled up like too many layers of paint over your self??
I have. And this is what I recall.
I was a child who took delight in loving other people. I saw nothing foolish in giving myself to people for the basic reason of seeing them smile...making them happy. I was happy and I loved the things around me -- my bedroom, my toys, my Grandma's macaroni salad at family picnics -- so why shouldn't everyone else share in that joy, too??
I know boundaries have to be learned. That God didn't intend for us to grow up with no discernment and protection. But I'm thinking about my little girl-heart. That heart of giving for the joy of giving and loving for the joy of loving and smiling for the joy of smiling...that is what I picture now when I'm thinking about Jesus' words.
I believe Jesus can take me back to that heart-place again -- the place where I know I am not alone and unprotected, but loved and cared for. I think that heart place feels like the unknown child sitting on Jesus' knee in verse 2. The teacher Jesus sought out the best visual possible to illustrate his point.
He has my attention.
Now on to my favorite topic of conflict resolution...joy, joy, joy.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Basically, four staff people from Granger Community Church gave the how-to's and why-to's of blogging. I was surprised at how few people in the room not only did not have a blog, but did not read blogs. I mean I know it is a relatively new way to communicate, but it surprised me that I was already addicted to something so cutting edge! : )
A couple of tidbits...
personal guidelines from Kem Meyer, Director of Communications:
*don't apologize for late blogging (did you hear that burningalive?!?)
*don't overlink (there's only three in this post so far...am I doing OK?)
*it is possible to go too far in vulnerability
....from Tony Morgan, Pastor of Administrative Services:
*avoid 'showing too much skin' (the vulnerability thing again because blogs are personal, but not private)
*post daily in order to build an audience (but I guess, don't apologize if you don't?!?)
*avoid blog "flirting" - revealing too much, too often (not sure of the difference between this and number 1...maybe I was confused, but I do remember that this is where he brought his wife up on the stage and they engaged in a full-body embrace to demonstrate the point!)
*reveal idiosyncrasies (ex. Tony apparently has a hotel soap fetish that he likes to discuss)
*build people up to encourage...Don't use the blog to attack
*build a personal brand in order to build an audience
*keep audiences -- both primary and secondary -- in mind when pushing hot buttons (apparently Tony recently used his blog to comment on how unoriginal he feels Christian worship music has become...)
anyway...I also learned a whole bunch of techno-geek stuff about RSS feeds and different blog services and how to study how often and what time of day people visit my blog (Google Analytics...) right now I could probably just ask you guys -- burningalive, healingrain, jhaas and anonymous...when do you visit and how often? : )
So -- cool stuff -- who knows where blogging will lead us next?!? Maybe I'll convince Brian to start posting -- finally!
Have a great day--
ps. I forgot to say that I went to this breakout with Michelle and we had a lot of fun giggling over everything together (btw...I WISH I could link her name to something, but she does not yet have a blog, although I keep pestering her to do so!) OH! I also sat in front of Nancy Beach, one of my personal church heroes...I passed her a note in class...
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Using the privilege of being married to the Executive Administrator at UCCC to its best advantage, I tagged along with Brian and several of the new staff to the Innovative Church Conference in Granger, Indiana. Now, this was by far NOT my first-ever church conference, but it was my first time to Granger Community Church. Honestly, my goal in going was not to learn more about this church, but to spend some quality time with the new staff and my husband and get a chance to eat out a couple of times!
The 12 hour ride to the conference and the 10 hour ride back (we made our bladders behave and saved 2 hours on the way home!), I was given the gift of listening to each person's Story...the history of them -- the good, bad and the ugly. I feel like a bigger person now. My view of God is larger and my hope for our community has grown after hearing the creative and merciful ways He rescued each person and is painting out the purpose for their lives. Beautiful.
Now, no conference will ever duplicate the "first time". I told my friend Michelle that the first Willow Creek Arts conference I attended I was basically reduced to a puddle on the floor because I couldn't stop crying. In the very first session of that first conference -- in fact the very first song of the very first session of that first conference I began to bawl because I was watching kids singing and dancing their hearts out on stage and there was JOY on their faces. They represented my biggest dream as a child...the one that just sort of faded away with all the disappointments and mundane-ness of life.
So...even though I can never duplicate that first experience, the most valuable take-away from every church conference I have attended since has been the refreshment and enlargement of my PERSPECTIVE.
This is a key learning for me. Otherwise, it is possible to attend one too many church conferences. One can become disillusioned and discouraged and just plain, old 'dissed' by all the noise and energy and well-known speakers and unknown faces and -- the fabulous video mixing boards -- of these mega-churches. BUT -- if I can accomplish these two goals, I'll keep coming back again and again - - STORY & PERSPECTIVE.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
this is the message of my wounds from my very earliest memories .... the name given me by the foul and slithering enemies that schemed against me in my exuberant youth...
...this is the message that God has been transforming into 'loved and cared for' as I continue to bore into the core of Him and I continue to let Him make the rules in my relationships with other people...
...alone and unprotected wakes me up in the dark stillness of night with sadness and fear and scary pictures in my head....
...loved and cared for is what pulls off the covers of me and moves me from my breathless sleep to cry heart tears of pain and anger and hurt to my Abba...
...in between the darkness of dreams and the light of his voice, i invite Him into those curled up corners of my soul... to bring His gentle truth caresses ...the ones that whisper secrets to me about who He is and who I am....
....loved and cared for, i uncurl and stretch out and breathe fully again....
...my good dream is that alone and unprotected will become courageous and dangerous to the enemy and his forces and his lies (and all those traitors who have joined his side)....
....loved and cared for is rejected by my skulking flesh who would prefer to be entitled to a state of victimhood....
....loved and cared for is accused and mocked by my enemy who wishes to take me to a place of self-pity and self-protection which is the doorway to despair and death...
...alone and unprotected is my enemy and is only truth about the name he has chosen for himself...it is not the real me...
....loved and cared for is my eternal name .... it is stamped on my forehead and on his hands and in his eyes and, i'm sure, magic-markered on my heavenly nametag...
ps. if i'm reading Psalm 95 even closely to correctly, then my strong Abba also promises to put all of my enemies back into their place and to bring justice where abuse has been given me...in his time and in his way and in his mercy (merciful Daddy, please go kick their butts!!)
Friday, September 08, 2006
I can not sleep this morning so I’m sitting in front of a fan at my computer (4:30am being the only time I can get the computer from the children these days!) I have just started reading through some old journals and found this poem and quote I recorded from C.S. Lewis’ book, Surprised by Joy.
I think the connection to our conversations yesterday is fairly obvious….
"All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through;
I want God, you, all friends merely to serve my turn.
Peace, reassurance, pleasure are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love – a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek –
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin."
"The overwhelming majority of time I spend thinking abut myself, pleasing myself, reassuring myself, and when I am done there is nothing to spare for the needy. Six billion people live in this world, and I can only muster thoughts for one. Me."
"…I imagined life outside of narcissism. I wondered how beautiful it might be to think of others as more important than myself. I wondered at how peaceful it might be not to be pestered by that childish voice that wants for pleasure and attention. I wondered what it would be like not to live in a house of mirrors everywhere I go reminded of myself."
"I don’t like being reminded about how self-absorbed I was. I wanted to be over this, done with this. I didn’t want to live in a broken world or a broken me. I wasn’t trying to weasel out of anything, I just wasn’t in the mood to be on earth that night. (I get like that sometimes when it rains, or when I see certain sad movies.)"
Thursday, September 07, 2006
this is one of my favorite quotes from the summer...I got it from QuoteWorld.org as my quote of the day on August 31...
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
alright, I underestimated the amount of time I'd have this first day of school to blog -- what with the cookies to bake for the kids' homecoming (i'm not lying...i really do make cookies at least once a year!) and the quiet house to enjoy and the DESPERATELY NEEDED time with God to spend -- ummm...don't be mad, but I still don't have much to say.
Here's what I do have...
a collage of photos to celebrate the 'denoument' (don't even know if I'm using that word in the correct grammatic form -- ask Dan Allendar) of summer:
tubing and boating on Cayuga Lake
lots and lots and lots (did I say 'lots'?) of flood clean up...
a little bit of hiking (here we're at Buttermilk Falls)
a gorgeous and relaxing beach vacation in Delaware...
time with family around the campfire...
a new recipe that is delicious (have you ever had yellow tomatoes?
neither had I!)
...tea parties and slumber parties...
hours and hours and hours (did I say hours?) of vocal recording...
...and saying goodbye to good friends...
...and now back to school (our first year with a highschooler...yikes!)
So, dear blogging friends, it's been a long, full and -- at times -- somewhat cruel summer (think Banarama!) I am so ready for Fall and I'll be back soon.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Have you ever noticed that this time of year kind has the same exhausted feel of a dimming Sunday evening after a busy, hectic weekend?
Have you ever noticed how beautiful the late summer wildflowers are? I will never tire of Queen Anne's lace or yarrow orblack-eyed susans or goldenrod. (in fact, this is how Brian and I were able to afford most of our decor for our wedding reception 15+ years ago....at the end of August we picked bunches of the wildflowers and hung them to dry until November!)
Have you ever noticed how much our bodies actually need routine and don't need so much ice cream??
these are my ponderings on the last day of August...
talk to you soon!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
so, for right now, this is all i got...i imagine one of these days soon (probably September 6 at 9am, right after i drop my daughters off to their classrooms) i'll get bowled over by a truckload of thoughts and feelings and God will meet me in some wonderful way and i'll have so much to say after that, you all will be sick of me!
until then, the verse that God gave me for this crazy, difficult summer...
"Give your attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." -- Matthew 6:34
...and this quote...
"The fly that clings to honey hinders its flight, and the soul that allows itself attachment to spiritual sweetness hinders its own liberty..." -- St. John of the Cross
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
"God-ordained visions are always too big for us to handle."
( consider the source!)
"Few things provide our faith with a more thorough workout than a divinely-ordered vision. Faith is simply an expression of confidence in the person and character of God. Embracing and owning a vision is in itself an act of faith. Pursuing a divine vision is really an act of worship. It is a declaration of our confidence in God. It is a proclamation of how important we believe his agenda to be. And God is honored."
Thursday, August 10, 2006
God is continuing His faithfulness to me in my helpless and ususally- flesh-laden pursuit of Him. I am grateful.
Over vacation I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I have never read this classic and one of my goals this summer is to catch up on some classic writings. (Thankfully, B&N sells them cheap!) I won't go on a rant about how my growing-up "Christian" education completely ignored the classic works in literature, art and even theology, BUT...I'm finding that I approach classics with a bias that I must have picked up in those moldable childhood days. I have kind of approached these classics the same way I approach ab-crunches. I know they are good for me but I don't expect to enjoy them!
That is the attitude I took on when I opened up the novel. I prepped myself internally, "OK, Tam, you can do this. Go ahead and start reading. If it gets too depressing you have my permission to close the book without feeling like an intellectual failure."
Imagine my surprise as I fell in love with the character of Jane Eyre. Imagine my surprise as I found myself caught up in the plotline that has since the days of Bronte been hashed and re-hashed by both skilled author and poor imitator alike. Imagine my surprise as I fell in love with the gruff and macho Mr. Rochester and tried to reason with Jane as she made the moral decision to walk away from the relationship instead of marry him. Imagine my surprise when I read Jane's dilemma to do what is right instead of following her feelings -- and seemingly her dreams -- and my absolute shock that some of the most powerful biblical truth I've read all summer came from the pages of a nineteenth-century work of fiction. The passage Jane speaks to herself about resisting temptation is powerful...I am tempted to have my entire family memorize it. I know that it would serve me well as I face more temptation than I ever expected as an adult, mother and wife.
May I share this with you? I've included the whole scene for those of you who want to take in all the whole romance of it, but for the rest of you I've bolded and colored the most profound paragraphs...you can scroll down to find them.
"Jane, you understand what I want of you? Just this promise -- 'I will be yours, Mr. Rochester.' "
"Mr. Rochester, I will not be yours."
Another long silence.
"Jane!" recommenced he, with a gentleness that broke me down with grief, and turned me stone-cold with ominous terror -- for this still voice was the pant of a lion rising -- "Jane, do you meant to go one way in the world, and to let me go another?"
"Jane (bending toward and embracing me), do you mean it now?"
"And now?" softly kissing my forehead and cheek.
"I do--"extricating myself from restraint rapidly and completely.
"Oh, Jane, this is bitter! This -- this is wicked. It would not be wicked to love me."
"It would to obey you."
A wild look raised his brows -- crossed his features; he rose, but he forebore yet. I laid my hand on the back of a chair for support; I shook, I feared -- but I resolved.
"One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life when you are gone. All happiness will be torn away with you. What then is left? For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs; as well might you refer me to some corpse in yonder church-yard. What shall I do, Jane? Where turn for a companion, and for some hope?"
"Do as I do; trust in God and yourself. Believe in Heaven. Hope to meet again there."
"Then you will not yield?"
"Then you condemn me to live wretched, and to die accursed?" His voice rose.
"I advise you to live sinless; and I wish you to die tranquil."
"Then you snatch love and innocence from me? You fling me back on lust for a passion -- vice for an occupation?"
"Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you that I grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure -- you as well as I; do so. You will forget me before I forget you."
"You make me a liar by such language; you sully my honor. I declared I could not change!you tell me to my face I shall change soon. And what a distortion in your judgement, what a perversity in your ideas, is proved by your conduct? Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair than the breach? for you have neither relatives nor acquaintances whom you need fear to offend by living with me."
This was true; and while he spoke my very conscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as feeling and that clamored wildly. "Oh, comply!" it said. "Think of his misery, think of his danger, look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong nature, consider the recklessness following on despair; soothe him, save him, love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?"
Still indomitable was the reply, "I care for myself.The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained, I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God, sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad-- as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation; they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth? They have a worth, so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it now; it is because I am insane, quite insane, with my veins running fire, and my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by; there I plant my foot."
I did. Mr. Rochester, reading my countenance, saw I had done so. His fury was wrought to the highest; he must yield t it for a moment, whatever followed; he crossed the floor and seized my arm, and grasped my waist. He seemed to devour me with his flaming glance; physically, I felt at the moment powerless as stubble exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace; mentally. I still possessed my soul, and with it the certainty of ultimate safety. The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter -- often an unconscious, but still a truthful, interpreter--in the eye. My eye rose to his, and while I looked in his fierce face, I gave an involuntary sigh; his grip was painful, and my overtasked strength almost exhausted.
"Never," said he, as he ground his teeth, "never was anything at once so frail and so indomitable. A mere reed she feels in my hand! (and he shook me with the force of his hold). I could bend her with my finger and thumb, and what good would it do if I bent, if I uptore, if I crushed her? Consider that eye; consider the resolute, wild, free thing looking out of it, defying me, with more than courage, with a stern triumph. Whatever I do with its cage, I cannot get at it, the savage, beautiful creature! If I tear, if I rend the slight prison, my outrage will only let the captive loose. Conqueror I might be of the house, but the inmate would escape to heaven before I could call myself possessor of its clay dwelling-place. And it is you, spirit, with will and energy, and virtue and purity, that I want; not alone your brittle frame. Of yourself, you could come, with soft flight, and nestle against my heart, if you would; seized against your will, you will elude the grasp like an essence; you will vanish ere I inhale your fragrance. Oh! come, Jane, come!"
As he said this, he released me from his clutch, and only looked at me. The look was far worse to resist than the frantic strain; only an idiot, however, would have succumbed now. I had dared and baffled his fury, I must elude his sorrow; I retired to the door.
"You are going, Jane?"
"I am going, sir."
"You are leaving me?"
"You will not come? You will not be my comforter, my rescuer? My deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, are all nothing to you?"
What unutterable pathos was in his voice! How hard it was to reiterate firmly, "I am going!"
"Withdraw, then, I consent; but remember, you leave me here in anguish. Go up to your own room; think over all I have said, and, Jane, cast a glance on my sufferings; think of me."
He turned away, he threw himself on his face on the sofa. "Oh, Jane! my hope, my love, my life!" broke in anguish from his lips. Then came a deep, strong sob.
I had already gained the door, but, reader, I walked back -- walked back as determinedly as I had retreated. I knelt down by him, I turned his face from the cushion to me; I kissed his cheek, I smoothed his hair with my hand.
"God bless you, my dear master," I said. "God keep you from harm and wrong, direct you, solace you, reward you well for your past kindness to me."
"Little Jane's love would have been my best reward," he answered; "without it, my heart is broken. But Jane will give me her love; yes, nobly, generously."
Up the blood rushed to his face; forth flashed the fire from his eyes, erect he sprung, he held his arms out, but I evadd the embrace, and at once quitted the room.
"Farewell!" was the cry of my heart, as I left him. Despair added, "Farewell, forever!"
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Monday, July 17, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
i have no other words....
ps. i realize for those of you who do not live nearby that i haven't made clear that my home is DRY...we are so thankful!
Friday, July 07, 2006
flood waters brown and thick with garbage and waste
numb and sweaty faces of people whose
lives are piled in rotting mounds on muddy grass
very few tears
(maybe there is no liquid left to cry)
Friday, June 23, 2006
I have been anti-pet and especially anti-dog FOREVER! But with the kids getting older and my unwillingness to produce-on-command a baby brother or sister for them, the clamoring for a dog had increased. At Christmas Brian and I had come close enough to purchasing one that we had selected a couple from shelter websites. At the last minute we got decided we didn't have enough money to do it. The whole process of the-perfect-canine selection was led by Brian's memory of his beloved childhood mutt, Duke. Every dog we looked at had to pass that test.
This past weekend, by pure 'coincedence' our neighbor friend who had moved away came back for a visit with his cute, little, well-behaved jack russell terrier and asked us if we wanted her. I reluctantly said, "Yes, we'll make this week a trial run while you are in town and see if everything you say about her stellar character and proper hygiene habits is actually true." (I didn't really say all of that, but it's what I was thinking!)
Within one evening, we were all in love with her. I'm not kidding. I mean I have this warm affection when I think about her and I'm planning a 7x7 photo album dedicated to photos of her. I even found myself comparing her cute ears with a friend's dog. Crazy, huh??
I absolutely believe that God dropped this little, well-behaved creature into our laps 'cuz He loves us AND 'cuz (if I haven't mentioned) this summer may be one of the hardest ever in our lives. Brian has just a crazy number of important initiatives at work that are both physically AND emotionally challenging. I love that he can come home and sit on the couch with this dog who is so like his childhood pet.
Did I mention the new pup's name?? Duchess.
(is that an ironic God or what??)
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I know that I have often wondered what in the world this verse means. On a few occasions I would be in the middle of a super-frustrating conversation or conflict with someone and this verse would pop into my head. The translation for me became something like, "Oh, what's the use? This person is hopeless! I'm not going to throw my pearls down in front of this pig anymore!" : ) I'm not entirely sure that is the translation Jesus intended, but it might be closer than I imagined.
I am strangely encouraged by the thoughts that Eugene Kennedy offers about this verse: (pp 69,70)
"Perhaps...these words describe -- the strange, often muddled and uncertain background for even our deepest experiences. There are differences in our human transactions and we cannot blink them away, there are moments that are right and others that are wrong, there are shifts subtle as the turn of the wind, in the persons, places, and times of our lives. The world people count on rumbles and may split open even for lovers. Risk attends our best moments -- one of the cruelest of truths -- and there is no easy balance for anyone who would take life and other persons seriously.
It is almost too easy to lose one's balance, to do or say the thing that is out of place, to offend when one wishes to soothe, to miss the moment for reaching another and to purchase estrangement instead of joy. Yes, the human situation is filled with good things trampled underfoot, with our souls torn to shreds by misunderstandings that should never have occurred, with the pearls of the spirit scattered beneath the blind and unknowing scavengers of existence. Life can be filled with out-of-place things, with events hurting and separating people in an almost random way.
We are the bearers of this desolating power, the agents of indifference that is not intended, of forgetfulness that is not willed, speakers of the careless, rocklike words that smash the windows of others' souls. It is power to be pondered, and it is well symbolized in a scripture verse that cannot be quite toned down or talked away. "
I am currently in a sitution of hurt that results from risk taken in relationship. God is showing me what I own in the misunderstandings that have grown almost rampant in this relationship. The Holy Spirit also seems insistent -- in a loving, but challenging way -- that I face the wounds and face the other party in the relationship and take away the secrecy of the hurts that have been both given and received between us. It is a new journey for me and I am scared, but somehow know that this is integral in me becoming more like Christ -- and in turn, more like myself.
In my opinion, using Kennedy's words, the 'blind and unknowing scavengers of existence' are the persistent enemies of my soul -- the world, the flesh and the devil. By pressing into reconciliation it appears that I am disarming those enemies -- or, in Jesus' words, retrieving my pearls from the stomping hooves of my enemy.
God, help me.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
here's what Rick Reilly had to say:
"Once, at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, I was amazed at the way thousands of Swedish fans roared one chant again and again in perfect unison. I went up to a Swede and asked, "What is it you're yelling?...And this young, blond guy goes...'this cheer says, 'We are from Sweden, we have traveled very far, and we are drunk!' Since then, I've always gotten the translation. At another international event, upon seeing Slovakian fans jumping up and down and ringing bells, I asked one of them what their cheer meant. And she said, "This is to say, 'He who is not jumping is not Slovak!"
i think maybe our worship leaders need to have a similar chant to yell out when people are standing with zombie-like expressions on their faces watching the worship team singing their hearts out. you'd think that at least a smile would be in order when singing lyrics like "Hallelujah, your love makes me sing!", am i right??
Can anyone translate, 'He who is not smiling is not getting it' into Slovak for me??
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
"...we may wish to turn away, preferring sentimental versions of Jesus looking like a moonstruck shepherd or of an historical Jesus sealed off in a dry recess of time long gone. Jesus is a strong but not harsh presence who knows what he sees as he looks into our eyes. It is not a moment to tremble or to throw ourselves on the ground, pawing the earth for mercy. This is a very different kind of experience because we are invited through it to place ourselves in relationship to Jesus, who demands that we find more of life by going more deeply into it."
-- Eugene Kennedy, The Choice To Be Human: Jesus Alive in the Gospel of Matthew
there are many, many days that i wish i could actually SEE the physical eyes of the physical Jesus -- would they be bright and sparkly, dark and brooding, intensely focused, dreamy??? (i doubt dreamy!) i try to imagine through His WORD the sensation of His eyes looking straight into mine. it's hard to breathe in and then back out again while i am thinking thoughts like this.
one day when i was asking God why he couldn't show me the literal face of Jesus, i felt like he told me to think about the faces -- the eyes -- of His children -- the ones whom I love and who love me -- and picture Jesus through them. that worked at that time...now i am feeling more and more like it's too hard to see Jesus through any human being because we're all so messed up and selfish. the look of Jesus through my brother is clouded.
i am reminded of a Psalm that I love that talks about God setting me right and giving me the ability to look Him straight in the eye. i long -- and i truly mean long in the sense of a physical ache -- for that moment -- the moment in time when i am able to stand before my Creator and look him straight in the face and rest my head on his shoulder.
until then, i imagine that he wishes to make me right with my brother and give me the courage and 'eternal' kind of love that allows me to look him straight in the eye.
'Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth grow strangely dim...."
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Just listen.... (today in verses 17-26)
(commentary from Eugene Kennedy in The Choice to be Human...)
*regarding the way Christ links the law of the OT to His Word in the NT:
"And Jesus' words strike home forcefully; what indeed does it mean to be modern, either religiously or in any other way? Is the past just an attic we visit once in a while to discover its antiques, a panorama purged of its pain by the softening lens of nostalgia? For many, being modern means being separated from every root and anchor of time, committing themselves to everything that is novel in order to brak free from the long shadows of times gone by?" (p. 40)
"The old law is not all to be crossed out or regretted; it is a journey to be completed in and through the life of Jesus." (p. 40)
"What, then, is he talking about when he exalts the law? Jesus is clearing our heads [i love that phrase!] of easy religious visions, shattering in his time the crystal maze of regulations constructed by the scribes as God's wishes for the lives of men and women. These laws [the ones he got in trouble with the Pharisees for breaking like plucking corn or curing the sick on the Sabbath] are not the Law, Jesus says, and they can only mislead you. The law is lessened by those who believe that it can be spun into a glistening web of details [another phrase i love!]; God's will for us does not lead us into a delicate structure through which we must pass on tiptoe, holding our breath lest it collapse and engulf us. [just pause a moment and think about that one!]
Jesus gives a sign, a strong and masculine symbol, in breaking these regulations himself. He is one with His words as he tells us that the law abides but that it has nothing to do with the tiny details of living; the living law is richer and deeper and reaches into a person's heart. That is the Law of which Jesus is the fulfillment, and in it living expectations it asks far more of us than the multiplied regulations drawn with a fine stylus by the squinting and cramped-spirited scribes. [can't you just picture them?!?]
Jesus invites people to live rather than to try to trap a life in a master plan of regulations. The latter is as perennial a temptation as the human race has ever known and it returns in every generation to offer us its spurious promises of security [so take that, post-modern thinker!]
There is no end of preachers with detailed plans for our salvation, blind guides making us blind to both the wonder and the challenge of a life based on the utterly simple law of love. This is the power that Jesus proclaims, the power of the Spirit that does not grow old, the power of love that fuses the ages into one because it is strong enough to defy both time and death. (p.41)
Jesus is not raising an army of dreamers or romantics to follow him; he is not raising an army at all. [ouch...that one was convicting!] ...Life proceeds from the inside out, it is the discovery and the prize of those who commit themselves to the special discipline of responding with respect and reverence to God's universe and people. (pp. 41,42)
"...salvation belongs not to bookkeepers of the Spirit but to those who love by the power of the Spirit. We break the bonds of time when we break the bonds of the dead regulations that kill rather than enlarge life. We do not find ourselves when we try desperately to save ourselves by pointing to how good we are, but rather when we forget ourselves in the kind of loving that opens us to eternal life." (p. 42)
YIKES! My prayer is that I will be open to that kind of eternal life loving ... i am in desperate need to internalize that. I am desperate to see the true WORD in the man Jesus and to live as He did -- with His mind and His heart and His behavior.
(more from Matthew 5 later)