Audience Participation

This morning I sat down to “hang out” with God. I barely opened my Bible where there’s a flyer marking some random book,  saw the title of a book and was suddenly flooded with revelation that sent me writing feverishly in my journal and flipping back and forth between books of the Bible, recording, processing, crying.

You probably already know the things I’m about to share, but let me tell you anyway.

The book fell open to Joshua.

First of all, as background I’ve been chewing a lot lately on the idea of holiness. I used to have the view that because it was obviously too hard to be really holy, God didn’t expect perfect obedience from me. He loves me, after all, and isn’t some cosmic police officer. But I’ll be honest- I have often swung between “striving” to please God then giving up exhausted, and falling upon grace. There was a real sense of my unworthiness and God’s goodness and the mystery of his acceptance, but I have never really understood that non-legalistic holiness existed.

Back to Joshua. If you haven’t read it, I’ll give you a little sum up. The Israelites wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years. On the brink of The Promised Land, Moses gives an epic speech and then croaks, handing the leadership over to Josh…

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Dream Out Loud

I float in and out of thinking, distraction, sleep, bad dreams and mundane activity.

I’ve formed this weird habit of not talking to people about stuff. Talking to friends about the things I’m wrestling with is like having nice hand rails for a rickety, floating bridge. Not talking sends me adrift, or maybe I just hang out on one rotting rung because I can’t see the way forward. Questions echo in my mind without reply. And then suddenly I’m confessing my sins to the checker at Haggen after she asks, “Did you find everything alright?”

The world seems to be moving more quickly now and I feel like I have to butt in to have conversation, or it’s selfish, or too intense. Maybe that’s why we all have blogs, so we can confess without really asking anyone if they’re willing to listen. Then it gets harder to believe anyone actually is.

Note to self: talk to my friends about stuff…

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Growing Young

I know Rich Mullins was not your typical kind of hero. From what I understand, he was a  very flawed and broken man. Nevertheless, the music and the words that God gave him have impacted me in a bigger way than I had realized until seeing  a movie about his life. He taught me two very important things about following Jesus.

His message resonated so quickly and deeply that I didn’t even know it was him that God was using to teach me. While this is about the influence of a musician, it’s mostly about the faithfulness of God to walk so near to me.

Lesson 1: Honesty

“These days I need more than just a line about Jesus.
I need to see his love, these days.”

I grew up going to a Southern Baptist church. What I learned as a kid was that the best Christians looked good and shiny on the outside. They had two parents, and plenty of money, they dressed up for church and they never said bad words. I saw nowhere to express my confusion and pain over life (not to mention I was poor with divorced parents and started swearing in elementary school)…

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Existential Absence

Raise your hand if you want to talk about loneliness!

No?

Me neither. In fact, until this morning I would have responded to the topic with a smile and shrug. “I’m not dealing with that issue right now.” For a few weeks now I’ve had that thought several times, to my own surprise. Who doesn’t feel lonely sometimes?

Apparently not me. Cool.

Then this morning, as I was beginning to question this unexpected sturdiness, I opened up the book I’m reading, The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen. In the chapter, Ministry by a Lonely Minister he talks about loneliness as a gift, he looks back at loneliness and says, “The truth is so disconcerting and painful that we are more prone to play games with your fantasies than to face the truth of our existence.” He also throws out a few things we do to avoid loneliness and, reading this, I realized I haven’t been craving people because I’ve been keeping myself so busy. Work, books, movies… even cooking and cleaning keep me distracted…

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We Want to See

I‘m reading this book called We Want to See Jesus by Roy and Revel Hession. It’s one of those old little paper-backs with everything so richly worded and meaningful that, though it is this tiny sliver of a book, it is packed full of good stuff.

He’s talking about how, as followers of God we often look for ways to serve or ways to be better people above looking for God Himself. But that no matter how much we serve, if we are not seeking God first, our efforts will merely be selfish and prideful striving.

But how do we want God? My normal way is to have a few days a month when I am just longing for Him specifically. The rest of the time I either just want to want Him or it doesn’t even occur to me to want Him

CS Lewis, in The Problem of Pain said, “It is natural to wish that God designed for us a less glorious and arduous destiny… It is a burden of glory, not only beyond our deserts, but also, except in rare moments of grace, beyond our desiring.”

And then Hession says, “Left to themselves, men arrive at a false knowledge of God, a knowledge that only begets fear and bondage, and which repels men rather than draw them to Him.”

What do we do?…

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We Want to See Jesus

First week of the second quarter done!  The main low for the week was that it was possibly more work than we’ve had thus far (is that true?) studying the book of John, but my brain’s inability to engage and work quickly was disappointing to the extreme.
This last year I have learned a lot about how to push myself beyond what I think (thought) I can do but this last week really threw me. So I worked steadily and did not give up, but I also did not finish charting the whole book.

That’s a little sad considering that the book of John is so amazing but here is the high for the week.

God kept showing up. What I saw most clearly in this book is Jesus Himself. I saw him exhausted as he sits by a well in Samaria. When the woman shows up, a sparkle enters his eyes as he knows he will get to reveal himself a bit to her. Then the disciples show up, confused that he’s talking to a Samaritan woman and when she leaves to go tell the people in her village Jesus is awash with excitement- exhaustion forgotten, hunger extinguished- he joyfully anticipates all the people who are about to show up and encounter their Lord….

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After the Storm

I did not end up having very much time alone during the break to read, but yesterday and today the perfect thing happened. I realized how much I needed to purposefully get alone and I found the perfect book to end this Week of Worry. A few weeks ago a guy came to teach in one of the schools here. I hadn’t met him, but there was quite a buzz about his presence here as he is well known and well loved by many. As a result of what I heard and then a story he told one night in a big group meeting, I was quite interested in his books.

What I picked up to read yesterday was his personal account of being imprisoned in Iran in 1997 for 9 weeks. This is not even close to the same as my current situation, but what was similar, which is impacting me right now, is God’s character throughout this man’s story. While he tells the story from his own eyes with humble honesty, what stands out is this mutual and deep love between him and God. What it is like to walk with God is so palpable and transparent and so completely my experience that it was almost as if I came to a friend and told them how I was struggling with worry and they told me their own story to remind me of the truth….

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His, Mine and Ours

In light of my last post, how things look when I try to do everything myself, I want to think through something we talked about in class the other day…

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1:3-9)

It may sound like he’s saying that you have to create these qualities within yourself, but the word supplement is the same word he uses in verse 11 when it says  “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
HIS divine power has granted us everything we need….

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The Meaning of Life

Continuing with thoughts from Perelandra… here is something I’ve been meaning to share for a few weeks. The way I have been spending my time has not lent itself much to reading and with school coming I must make time to read, but probably not this great book.

As you may know, Ransom spent the first book of the “space trilogy” on a planet called Malacandra- which we know as Mars. It is his and our introduction to  life on other planets. While he is there, he becomes close with a particular “tribe” of beings. He learns their language and their ways which serve to be part of the reason he is commissioned to take another trip in the second book….

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Out of a silent planet

I‘ve been trying to read books. A little success was made this last week.

I picked up  Perelandra by CS Lewis. It’s the second of  the “space trilogy”. In all fairness, I have read this book several times, so it’s less of an exercise and more of a favorite world to visit. What I love so much about this book, though, is not the interesting world, but the depth of insight Lewis shows concerning the mind of the main female character.

The main male character, Ransom, is sent to the planet of Perelandra with the job of saving its perfect and innocent first inhabitants from the dark serpent sent to corrupt them. Ransom is just a man.

This suddenly reminds me of what I did last Thursday night. I went with a group of friends to down town Colorado Springs to see if God had anything he wanted to say to people there through us.  Back in the days of Bible college this would have been Evangelism time but this was much less about putting notches on the soul conversion chart and more about revealing God’s character and His heart for whoever needed to hear….

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