Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Touch

I woke up this morning, and immediately I was hit with a thought. The thought was about how terrible a situation it is: we as sinful people and God, perfect and holy. This seems like a terrible nightmare, where everything is backwards and wrong. It seems lop-sided, like the girl who is with a guy that doesn't deserve her. I'll say it again, this is a terrible situation. To have a God who cannot be near sin. Who cannot, WILL not tolerate it or touch it. It is most despairing when all his children want is to be held by him, but he stands afar; not daring to get too close, as to become tainted. What an awful chasm stands between us and God.

We can see at times just how big God is. Why can't he touch us? Without his touch we feel all alone. We could go our entire life without sustenance, but with the loving touch of God we could last for eternity if he would only reach his hand out. Why is the news of Jesus so beautiful, amazing after hearing the story a thousand times?

BECAUSE HE GOES WHERE THE FATHER COULD NOT. He goes where the Father was restricted by his holiness. Jesus gives us the only thing we need: the touch to a leper who has never felt it before. Company to the downtrodden and outcast, who have long since given up on acceptance. But he reaches his hand out to us. He doesn't even wait, he comes to us to hold us. Jesus is impossible, but the Father gave us the impossible to do the impossible. The rest that Jesus offers is like no other: to be held by a creator and to know that he loves us. He leads us where we could not go on our own and to the feet of the Father we fall. Praise the Lord, alleluia.

Newton's Cradle, God's Voice

I don't know if you've ever had the experiences I've been having, but lately I feel as if God has been persistently trying to get my attention. Or perhaps to say it better, I feel as though God has been trying to reinforce some key ideas to me. Recently I've found in completely different setting the same teaching from the bible being taught, or a specific topic being discussed in separate circles that surround me. At first it seemed to me that I had to change my pattern, seek out another church to avoid such overlap. But today I felt that there was something I wasn't seeing the first time that prompted a second, or third look. When I finally concluded that it wasn't just sheer chance or a lack of variety content I began to feel God pushing towards something, propelling me to something.

The image of Newton's Cradle(the metal spheres on strings that swing back and forth as energy is transferred from one to the next sending the last sphere in an upward arc) has been stuck in my head all day. The spheres in the middle are what God wants me to hear, and I am the spheres on the ends. Once God sends out his message, I am sent flying: considering, praying, acting, and processing what He has for me. But where I've previously felt no attachment, moving on to something else, now I move back toward the same teaching and I collide violently with God. But you know what's funny: even though I slam into God's Word IT DOESN'T MOVE. But I am stopped in my path on the one end, like God is seeking to remove what is useless and unnecessary, and then he propels me once again on the other side. Growing what is good in me, keeping what will bear fruit.

So what has God been saying to me? What has been on my mind? What can I not escape?

- Community: I should have bruises and broken bones from how hard God has been trying to hammer this into my brain and my heart. Community is so much more complex and difficult than I had previously thought, and probably what many people have thought. Maybe this is obvious but it is not present just when we surround ourselves with like-minded Christians. It takes EVERY OUNCE OF ENERGY to thrive in community, to lay everything bear for all to see. To bend farther than you've ever had to, to sacrifice what you once held on so tightly to. Community fails almost instantly when there is any falsehood among any of its members, and that is why so many "communities" are drowning. The saddest part is that we have access to everything we need to experience real, true community. But we don't live by it, we move away from communities for another goal, another pursuit. I know God really wants me to think daily what my community looks like, and how I am strengthening or weakening that community.

- God's Love: I know for certain that God could put this on my heart for every day for the rest of my life and I still would not get it. This SCANDALOUS love, this unknowable love will always evade me in its entirety. But I know that like pastor Greg Boyd says that this love that "requires a supernatural revelation from God" to understand is a love that I must CONTINUALLY ask God to make known to me. Because the second I think I have a grasp on it, it out-does me. The minute I think I have God's packed in a neat little box, the seams of the box burst open. In fact understanding that I don't know it may be closer than I can get by trying to understand God's love. But just because I can't know or understand God's love fully, doesn't mean I can't EXPERIENCE God's love fully. God sent his son Jesus, and his Spirit after, so that we "may have life and have it to the full." So that we can see God for who he is, because we know that if "we have seen the Son, we have seen the Father." Even then our minds fail us. Our heart is what brings us to God. It DOESN'T say believe in your mind that Jesus is Lord, it says "if you confess with you mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your HEART that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

I could go on, and on, and on...but I think I should stop. Err, not stop. I can never stop, even if I wanted to. But I can cease writing tonight

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beautiful,Tangled Mess

I feel like life right now is a beautiful, tangled mess between me, God and a girl. But it resembles less a horrid knot of christmas lights, and more like two vines weaving together around a massive tree. I see it this way because the vines are growing more tangled together-but each alone, or even just the two together can grow no higher. They need the support, strength, and the direction of the tree to go any further. But in my mind I can't see the end to how far the vines grow. I cannot see whether or not the vines will continue to tangle up in each other or if they will at some point down the road take separate paths up the tree. But I do know that what is forming now is not merely a brief encounter of something amazing but I life-long bond that is forming. Again I cannot say for certain how it will play out. But everything points to forever. Forever together or forever friends, only God knows, but I do believe forever will be in there somewhere. And that is a wonderful feeling.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bad Timing

Well here I am again: the victim of bad timing
This is quickly becoming a cruel joke
Oh, you want to leave? Are you sure? How
Some piece of me thinks this came about the moment I decided to leave
In any case it's messing with me head

When am I going to be there?
When it becomes easy? or when I find someone worth the struggle?
It seems that you never know that before the struggle begins
And the craziest thing: I think I'm more afraid that this could be something amazing
Why in the world would I be afraid of that?
Who hopes for anything less than that?
This isn't exactly good for someone who can't ignore the questions "what if? what might have been?"
Nor is it good for someone who in the past has acted without regard for what it will do to their heart

I also wonder if there will ever be any perfect situation
I could end up waiting my whole life for that to come
But what is the converse of that: changing all your plans for something that is uncertain
-Neither extreme sounds very good, so what is the balance?

I feel dizzy, but I'm not indifferent or indecisive...but I very well may have no clue.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Not Someone Else, Me

At this time of year I've often reflected upon what You suffered. Sometimes seeking recreations and interpretations in cinema, other times in literature, or even just reading the accounts. But it has always been me looking from an outside perspective, going back thousands of years to those events. But tonight I was there.

It was not your close friend that greeted you with a kiss of betrayal, it was me. I traded You for a trivial sum: enough to warrant the deed, but not nearly enough to stop the hurt.

It was not the Roman guards, drunk enough to carry out the task of tearing your flesh. It was me. I became so drunk on the sins of the world that I did not even realize I was ripping my Lord to pieces.

It was not your confidant and mentee that denied You to save his own skin, that of course was me. Somehow all that You showed me and promised me faded in the wake of accusation and I chose to forget You and every wondrous sign you gave, every truthful word you spoke.

But what sickens me, what destroys me, and what stops me dead in my tracks is this: I see quite clearly that it was not some stranger from a foreign power who tacked you to that tree. IT WAS ME. I took your arm, I remember how you did not resist as I plunged the nail in. The pain from one blow was extreme, but I did not stop until your arm held fast. Surely you will fight to keep the other arm free. It lays there, complying in love. I pour my sins into the second nail, leaving no chance for your escape. Surely I've no more death in me to finish the job. But my sin wells within me anew and I amply pound your feet firmly to the support.

That day I robbed life from the one that gives life. But in that horrible nausea of the image of you I am comforted. The heap I lay in from the aftermath you restore. What was sure to condemn me forever has set me free. Still at times I wonder who you did it all for. Though I may never know why, let me always see, that you did it all for me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Buried Beneath a Thousand Pictures

I dug myself a big hole in 2009 with my new camera. I took an outrageous amount of pictures but seem to have been left with a dismal amount of pictures I like, or that are worth showing. But here are some from Christmas break. All shamelessly edited but I like the results. Also I've resolved never to shoot in RAW again. For all the effort, I didn't gain a noticeable advantage.

I must have taken 400 pictures of Rainier over the 7 days I was home. But since that view is from my parents house, it wasn't that hard to do. I was and still am enamored with that mountain.

Love this one. Dirty but I really like the dark frame the clouds above and the trees below give the mountain.

HDR shot, I tried to keep this one as modest as possible.

Another HDR pic, this one just got worse and worse as I tried to get it back to normal but when I gave up on it I realized I liked it. A lot.

Night shot of Butte, MT with the old mine scaffolding lit up in red. I didn't even plan on cars and semi trucks passing put it made for some cool shots.

Finally Butte gave me a reason to stop, even for 10 minutes instead of just driving through

Sunday, January 10, 2010

So This is the New Year

Ok. I'm working on 3 things this year:
reading one book every week
posting every week
using as few words as possible on my posts

For now, here are two thoughts.

"Family Time" - This is the small group my brother attends at Pepperdine. Incredible group. A model for wrestling in prayer and petitioning for each other. An infamous group, frequented by complete strangers but treated as brothers. In an hour's time I felt like I really had missed out on something going to a public(secular school,) yet was encouraged knowing my brother was a part of this group.

I just read Love Beyond Reason by John Ortberg to begin my goal of 52 books in 52 weeks.

I cried at every turn of the page.
I had to put it down several times and collect myself.

I'm quite sure that when I re-read it in the future I won't have the same response. But somehow it was precisely what I needed to hear at this moment. It broke me. Its words compel me. I do wish to pass it on to others, but I can't guarantee it will have the same effect. In any case, I've missed reading and cannot wait to devour much more this year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I lay silent and a word comes


I comply and more follows

breathe, because when you breathe, you breathe me

(confused)But all I'm doing is breathing. Still the simple reply insists


(agitated)But there is so much I need to say, so much I need to do to make things right


(exasperated)But, but...I can't handle it. It isn't enough just to breathe. How can you ask for so little from me? It isn't a choice to breathe or not to, it isn't up to me. What does this prove?


Though not complete, merely a word in amongst a multitude of pages, the answer comes.

To breathe is to realize that I am in you. But you cannot breathe me out. You can only stop breathing. You choose to breathe me in but now I am with you. Now you never have to fear. But if you do fear, you only have to breathe to feel the comfort I bring.
I am all you will ever need, so all you need to do is breathe.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heart-broken All Over Again

One of the most significant events of the summer for me was taking my high school friends to YL camp in Minnesota. It's funny how much I get ahead of myself with expectations. Leading up to camp I was already thinking about my month of summer staff that would follow the week with my own kids. I had no idea what I was in store for.
The assignment team at Castaway very well may have been the best I've ever seen. By best I do not necessarily mean the funniest program, or the most outgoing, magnanimous, people. But I do mean I believe that more time, effort, deep thought and preparation went into the speaker's talks, the cabin time set-up, and Life Signs than any other week I've experienced. I must admit I was not expecting near this much when I met the speaker: a paltry woman with a quiet voice. In my head I thought "how will kids be able to relate to her? Better yet how can she relate to kids?!"
Simply put, she was on top of her game. Every talk had the most concise use of multimedia, illustrating her message so well. It was most impressive when she would use videos and songs present in high school culture that reveal the truth of the fallen world we live in. After showing the music video for "Dead and Gone" with T.I. and Justin Timberlake she led the whole clubroom in singing the chorus from the song a capella. My jaw dropped. I'd heard the song many times and it never occurred to me, I missed it. "Oh, I've been traveling down this road too long//Just trying to find my way back home//The old me is dead and gone, dead and gone" Hearing 400 people singing that refrain is powerful.
More impressive that that was how she let the high schoolers interact in ways I've never seen before. Along with the usual questions following a talk, crayons and paper were provided. This allowed kids not drawn in by discussion to express their thoughts with art, writing significant phrases from the talk or just what they were feeling. It blew my mind to see the artistry, the deep thought that went into these works...from snot-nosed teenagers. I can see why Christ made it clear that the youth of this world are precious in his sight.
But what really hit a nerve, what really broke my heart was when they showed a Post Secret video and following the video provided index cards and pens for anyone who wanted to write an anonymous secret to do so. Somewhere between 150 and 200 kids wrote secrets. The assignment team said they got together after and read all of them and cried for close to an hour over these. At our next leader meeting they had a condensed version to show the leaders and I was just broken down right there and then. I can't speak for other leaders, but when kids don't tell me that they are hurting I often don't think that they are. But my goodness they are hurting. If ever I thought that high schoolers are doing ok, life isn't that bad for them...that illusion is gone. The next day Annie (the speaker) showed that same condensed version for the kids. With tears in her eyes and her voice trembling she said it so tenderly and honest: "I am so sorry. This was never supposed to be this way."
I never want to forget what I saw and felt that week. I need to remember that. But I can't stay in that place feeling helpless for them. I must react and ask God to help use that to spur me on.