Fighting Yoda

Normally I wouldn’t publicly argue with a fictional character. I usually reserve that for inside of my head or those really  fun late night conversations with friends, but today in the shower I was thinking about Yoda.

That came out weird.

I was thinking specifically about Yoda’s, “Do or do not, there is no try.” While I get that he’s pushing on Luke’s tendency to give up like a big whiney baby, using “I’ll try” as an excuse to fail in the future, I don’t really agree with Yoda’s method… Continue reading “Fighting Yoda”

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… Continue reading “Dream Out Loud”

Purposely Provocative

Generally, my desire is to encourage, bolster or soothe people. This is not because I just want people to like me, but because my own troubles stem from an internal chaos of which I long to be free.

Being provoked to passionate feeling is not the opposite of what I’m looking for. In fact, if the provocation is well done and hits in a place I really care about, it will lead me to a greater sense of focus. It banishes chaos equally as well as comfort, although since my ability to change the world seems quite limited, the action that wants to flow out of the focused passion is often frustrated at the door of reality.

These thoughts started with some movies I’ve seen recently which purposely inspired strong feelings about what is wrong with the world. There are many people who prefer soothing because they dislike feeling helpless more than they can’t stand that others really are powerless to truly horrible situations. Slavery, war, violence, addiction. Most of us feel (when we are faced with the real facts on these issues) that there is really nothing we can do to help… Continue reading “Purposely Provocative”

If God

I’m not doing well with words lately. Every time I’ve tried to speak it’s felt like pulling frozen taffy.

Yesterday morning I talked to a good friend of mine who is in Ireland. Somehow she said all of the things I’ve been trying (and failing) to say for the last few weeks. 

I’ve been asking God some big questions recently and while waiting to hear back from him, I’ve gotten trapped under a huge pile of words and emotions. It hasn’t been pretty. What I know about God speaking is that he usually does it quickly. Nevertheless, I have this sense of waiting on him.

There’s something of Romans 7-8 in all of my personal struggles. Usually, the first half of any hard time consists of me wrestling with myself and losing. At some point I remember the character of God and I’m encouraged to stop looking at myself and start looking at him. This is when I move into chapter 8 of Romans and I begin (again) to believe that he is good and that in my total weakness, he is strong and loving.

And Paul’s questions are the real thing, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

I also read yesterday, “The moment you realize that God wants good for you more than you want good for yourself, is the moment that you let go.” – Adam Smith

It’s not to say that everything will be easy, but there is real and solid peace involved in struggling with instead of against God. He is so good, so loving and so much bigger than everything we face… even when what we face is our own selves.

Paul’s Secret

During discussion group last night we went around in a circle talking about what we have learned from studying the New Testament. The students finished Revelation this week and will begin with Genesis on Monday.

It was so encouraging to hear the answers from the students because they are the reason that we, as staff, are here. I know that my part is a small one, but I’m grateful to have a part.

The staff shared, as well and I was glad to be last in the circle because I had no idea to say. I had some words floating around in my head and was also trying to listen to what others were sharing. It wasn’t until the person before me wrapped up that I grabbed ahold of the bones of a thought. Then the most unfortunate/wonderful thing happened. The truth I was trying to convey hit me as it was coming out of my mouth. Which, of course, means I cried.

Here is what I learned this last quarter:
Early on I was wrestling with the Apostle Paul… Continue reading “Paul’s Secret”

What God Says

I am inexorably attracted to people who know how much they are loved by God and they allow this knowledge to change them.

This Spring I will have been a Christian for twenty years. In that time I have met all kinds of believers; the bitter but tenacious, the happy naive, the fearfully upright, and the broken beggars who walk around amazed to be so beloved by the creator of the Universe.

“If we know how great is the love of Jesus for us we will never be afraid to go to Him in all our poverty, all our weakness, all our spiritual wretchedness and infirmity. Indeed, when we understand the true nature of His love for us, we will prefer to come to him poor and helpless. We can be glad of our helplessness when we really believe that His power is made perfect in our infirmity.” ~Thomas Merton

Honestly, I still spend much of my time with my forehead wrinkled up, carrying this weight of worry around with me. Every once in a while I look up and realize how truly ludicrous is this posture… Continue reading “What God Says”

Be Still My Soul

I just received a beautiful email from a friend. It read much more like a hand written letter and I’m tempted to copy and paste it into a document and print it on paper.

Besides sharing her struggles and joys, she ends her letter with a very simple statement which left me stunned for a moment while salty liquid rushed into my eyes.

“I pray for you, Peggy, that your faith would not fail.”

I sat up late last night trying to write a different blog post and then trying to write something for just myself to make sense of life right now. One metaphor that seemed fitting was that of being out in choppy water on a small pontoon. Just as I think I’m grasping what it means to be still inside, the scenery changes and I’m sliding toward a metal railing with pinwheel arms. Three things I forgot to do and seven things that need to be done right now, and several questions I’m not completely sure how to answer slam into me at the opposite end of the boat…. Continue reading “Be Still My Soul”

The Economy of Mercy

Each genre of literature that we pass through as we study the Bible enters a new mini-era of circumstances in my heart and mind. The spiritual lessons I learn correspond.
So you may imagine my being wary to enter into studying the prophets.

Most people love Isaiah. I don’t know why this is, I am one of them. For years Isaiah was the only book in the Bible I felt comfortable reading. I may find out next week why that is so (since we are studying it next week).

What do you think of the prophets?… Continue reading “The Economy of Mercy”

For Freedom

I have found an important clue to my life in the first 5 books of the Old Testament.

Let’s just ponder the Israelites. They spend 430 years in slavery in Egypt. They multiply while being oppressed. We’re not talking a little light name calling, we’re talking horrible physical labor with guards who have weapons to keep people in line. Then they are delivered from slavery by God through Moses and Aaron. The Hebrews at this time have all grown up in slavery in Egypt. They had likely heard stories about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, but they may have been like distant fairy tales that meant nothing in the reality of daily toil.

So here God is through Moses with PLAGUES. Pharaoh finds it easy enough to not believe, but this guy is king and thinks himself to be a god.
The Hebrews, on the other hand are just watching while all this crazy stuff happens. Then they are ejected from Egypt and on the road. THEN God parts the Red Sea in front of them (not a puddle), while simultaneously keeping the Egyptian army (who was chasing them by this time) from reaching them. Then He destroys their enemies by allowing the Sea to fold in on them.

All that, plus a lot more, and what do the people do? They complain…. Continue reading “For Freedom”

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?… Continue reading “We Want to See”

Birds Have Nests

The simple definition of sojourner is “a temporary resident”. To me the word conjures up so much more.

As we were reading Exodus, I was moved by the command in 23:9 which says “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”  God is talking to people of Israel who had spent the last 400 years as slaves in Egypt. They were clearly not treated like honored guests there, but driven hard. They were oppressed, to be sure.

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Anytime, too that either Exodus or Leviticus talks about a Sabbath rest of any kind, it mentions the sojourner or the “alien” among them… Make sure they also get to rest. Any guest should be treated like family. Conversely in Leviticus 25 it talks about what you should do when your own brother is too poor to own his home or even “maintain himself” (vs. 35), you are to treat him like a sojourner- you won’t make him work for you like a slave, but treat him as an honored guest.

There is God, being funny again. Treat strangers like brothers and brothers like strangers. It actually makes so much sense, right?.. Continue reading “Birds Have Nests”

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…. Continue reading “We Want to See Jesus”

Demolition

I remember years ago that I felt like I was being deconstructed. Lately it’s much more like aggressive demolition.

How do I explain that?

Here is the interesting juxtaposition happening… reading through New Testament letters- all of them eloquently hammering home the reality that Jesus is enough. Jesus is the final word on what God thinks of me. I cannot earn His love. I don’t have to. I have His love. Book after book, page after page, this point is being shouted….. Continue reading “Demolition”

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…. Continue reading “The Meaning of Life”

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…. Continue reading “Out of a silent planet”