Monday, October 31, 2011

By All Means, Guard Your Heart, but From What Exactly?

This will probably be awkward, but oh well.  I am going to do a little role playing here, and pretend my name is Ted Snupindiztel.  Don't mock my name, we Snupinditzels are a proud people with lineage that goes all the way back to King Von Snupinditzel of Germany.  If you're wondering, yes, the name was changed when my ancestors came over to America, to make it easy to say.  Good thinking, eh?  Anyhow...

We are going to play a very old, popular game.  I am going to paste a verse...

Proverbs 4:23 ESV
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

The game is, to look at this verse, disregard the context of the paragraph surrounding, and the greater context of the Bible as a whole, and make it say what you want it to.

Most people will recognize the essence of this verse and think, "Isn't this the 'guard your heart' verse"?  It is.  Funny, it looks a bit different in the English Standard Version, doesn't it?  Well, that is a part of the game as well.  If you don't like what one translation says, find another that sounds closer to what you are looking for.  Here...

Proverbs 4:23 NIV
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

That is better.  The word guard is better.  Not that I know ancient Greek.  Simply, the word guard fits the way I have heard it used before, which is in the context of dating, and falling in love.  You know what though?  I just can't help myself.  I have been called to understand the whole Bible, so, I want to understand greater this wonderful verse on dating.  Here goes...

Proverbs 4:18-27
18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. 
19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.  
20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 
21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.  
22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.  
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.  
24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. 
25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.  
26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.  
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. 

(scratched head)  I don't understand.  This doesn't seem to be about dating at all.  All of the verses are warning against evil, sin, or turning away from righteousness.  Not a single one tells me that I shouldn't date someone.  I have been hiding behind this verse for years, pushing possible suitors away, and for what?  Is being heart broken a sin?  There's got to be some guide as to what is evil.  I think I remember something in Corinthians 6.  (flips to Corinthians 6)

Corinthians 6:9-10
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

(Puzzled look on face)  Sexually immoral, drunkard... This list of sins, list of what is evil, and nothing about my heart getting hurt by dating someone.  Come to think of it. Why is it sinful to be hurt by someone before marriage but not after?  They are always telling us marriage is hard, that we will hurt each other.  Am I to guard my heart from my spouse?  Come to think of it, why is it only limited to possible suitors?  I get hurt by friends, by my family, by coworkers, and no one has told me to stop loving them, to guard my heart from them.  Why not?  Why has everyone chosen to single out dating as the only relationship this applies to?  I kept myself from opening up to that girl in high school all because my youth pastor told me to guard my heart!  I told her I was dating Jesus!  I am not even sure what that even means!  What is going on here?

Let me read it again...

Proverbs 4:18-27
18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.  
19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.  
20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 
21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.  
22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.  
24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. 
25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 
26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.  
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.  

NO!  NOT ONE THING ABOUT DATING!  It is very clear that this is about "keeping", "guarding" my heart from sin, and has nothing to do with walling up my heart against others.  Now that I think about, aren't we commanded to love others?  Doesn't that mean opening myself up to hurt?  It does.  I know it.  Why in the world would so many people make me believe this verse meant something it does not?

What is a verse about love?  Oh yeah, 1 Corinthians 13!  (Flips the pages)

1 Corinthians 13:4-13
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  
6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.  
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.  
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  

Love endures all things?  Even hurt?  Even heartache? It bears all things?  It isn't just easy and simple?  How was I ever supposed to love wholly if I was being told to guard my heart against a part of what love is supposed to bear, to endure?  Love does not insist on my own way?  What?  I thought dating was all about being really proud and choosy and snobby, sifting through the dross of humanity to find my little princess.  I thought it was okay to treat those pursuing me, or those I am pursuing differently than all others.  The mantle of meekness of humility, of patience, or love, were all waived for this one season.

Now that I think about it, isn't dating supposed to be a preparation for marriage, to see if the one I am dating is the one I am supposed to marry?  Well, you surely don't always get your way in marriage, so why would I demand getting my way in dating?  What makes me think I am not the dross of humanity, and in fact the knight in shining armor?  If people knew my thoughts, they wouldn't speak to me ever again.   

Okay, this is obviously ridiculously over the top.  No one talks like this, nor should they.  It wasn't really a true monologue.  It is a very simple, silly, but I think effective tool used to help us (yes, doing this helped me clarify the very thoughts I was writing about) to clarify our understanding of this abused concept.  This verse has been quoted so many times next to dating, it is crazy.  I go to constantly, and I love their articles.  Yet, when it comes to dating, every article throws this verse out as a means of keeping Christian singles wary of dating, for fear of running the risk of getting hurt.

Guard your heart.  Guard your heart.  Guard your heart.  Yet, I have yet to hear it used in any other context besides that of sin, which then begs the question... are you equating getting hurt in love with sin?  If so, you are wrong.  It is a guarantee that hurt will accompany love.  I have never heard anyone tell someone else to guard their heart against their parents, because they could get hurt.  In fact, we would be challenged to love them with patience, to bear with them.  

Now, I am not espousing being stupid, and just throwing your heart around recklessly.  Dating CAN lead to sin.  But, dating as a thing, is amoral.  It can bring you closer to God (sometimes the ones that hurt actually do this more than the pleasant ones, do they not?), or they can tear you away from God.  If your dating relationship is not bringing you closer to God, but tearing you away, then run.  However, tearing away doesn't mean not perfect.  Your dating relationship will not be perfect, as neither you or the other are perfect.  You will be tempted sexually.  You will tempted to idolize.  You will be tempted in many ways.  You will indeed fall into some of those temptations.  The question is not, "Do I ever struggle in sin with this person," but "ON THE WHOLE, does this person bring me closer to God, do they stir my heart's affection for Him and His people?  Am I being sanctified (which more often than not comes about through pain)?"   If you can't overcome your lust, get married or run.  Marriage is indeed the greatest tool of sanctification I have known.  Two broken people bind themselves together, not in perfection, but in brokenness, that you might sharpen each other like iron. 

If you don't find someone attractive, then don't date them.  Usually it is less black and white than that.  Usually, we are attracted to them, but not sure if they are the one we want to commit to.  It's more like percentile than pass/fail.  That's okay.  You don't have to marry anyone.  Not ever.  

My challenge to you, if you are single and long to be married (which is 99 percent of single people), and are not called to singleness (I want to talk about this some other time, as it is very interesting) is to just be honest, with yourself, and with others who spout this verse when talking about dating.  Don't manipulate scripture to hide.  It is never an okay thing to do.  Not ever.  The truth of scripture is to always be discovered and learned, not made.  There are no exceptions, no "white lies" when it comes to the manipulation of scripture.  Good intentions don't make manipulating scripture okay.  Don't like what scripture says?  Tough.  I wish I could fly, but gravity is still there.

If you like someone, don't hide.  Be bold.  Yes, you may get hurt.  In fact, it is guaranteed you'll get hurt.  Even if you end up married, with a long wonderful marriage, you will still go through hurt.  Getting hurt because you loved someone and it didn't work out is not a sin.  Don't believe me?  Great.  Read the Bible yourself.  That's even better.  If getting hurt is a sin, then you need to cut all ties, not just dating ones, and prepare to be very, very lonely and miserable.  

Keep your heart FROM SIN.  Guard your heart FROM SIN.  But, open your heart, buffered by discernment that comes from a knowledge of the truth of scripture though the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Bright Eyes of Thankfulness

Colossians 3:15 
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

So many lies.  So many ways to change how we see.  For most of my life I have given myself entirely over to the lie that I have been jilted by God.  He has had in for me.  He lies in wait for my demise.  He yearns for my destruction at worst, at best, He longs for me to cower in fear as He strips my life of all the things that would make me happy, giving some sort of path of "joy", which is really just semantic.  His "joy", is just that, His.  I am but to be crushed.  The farther I am decimated by the weight of Him the more sanctified, right I become.

Sad to say it, but, as I have grown and listened to others, this seems to be a common thought, a common feeling.  How wild is it that the enemy can twist as he does, not the bad things, but the best.  He takes friends, pleasure, sex, romance, family, our health, provision, beauty, and even God Himself, and he twists them into something bad in our minds and hearts.  As we are already programmed to believe these things, it would seem the enemy were to have the upper hand.

This is where the truth, where the gospel, come shining through.  What is impossible to men, like being able to change our hearts, is possible in Christ, in His redemption, in the irresistible work of the Holy Spirit.  Through the lens of the gospel we are able to examine those lies and ask ourselves the tough questions we cowered from, our heads in the sand.

"Who exactly do we think we are?
"Why do we think we are good?  Because we haven't killed someone?  What is the standard?"
"Without God, is not our righteousness, our goodness just an illusion?  Is it not then an emotional response to an illogical, absurd craving we have?"
"Why do we feel that we can do better?  Look at the record.  How well have you done at making yourself happy?  At bringing yourself joy?  Purpose?  Who has hurt you more than you have?"

Thankfulness overcomes many ills.  Withe gospel in our hearts in mind, thankfulness is possible.  With thankfulness in our hearts, we will se the world differently.  Where we once saw God failing us by allowing our health to deteriorate, we will now see that the very fact that we ever got to breathe was a gift, that we have no right to begrudge what needn't have been given.  Where we once saw that God had taken a love one away from us, either through death, or the changing tides of life, we will now be thankful that we ever knew their name, that to have even seen their face was a gift in the utmost.  We no longer will cling to what was never really ours, and be thankful for everything that now is despite the fact that the truth about what we deserve would see us holding eternal torment and separation from God.  Thankfulness, will take that anger that has been burning in chest toward God, and with it, light a fire of another kind, one of joy, delight, and intimacy.

May it be so in our hearts.  May we ever be thankful to ever have seen the light of day, to have ever been given the gift of having our names cross each others lips.  May we always know in our hearts, and not just in heads, that we have no right to you, Father, that we would be broken down by everlasting joy that leads to submission, and indeed the glorification of You.  You are why we live.  May nothing deviate us from the path.  May we take part in your glory.  Withhold no blessing from us, that we would know all good things we are capable of knowing in this life.  Do not withhold your hand from us, Lord.  Bless us with a heavy hand, that both comforts and corrects.  Thank you for your son, Jesus, and for the sacrifice of His life and death and resurrection.  May it be so.  Amen.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Regret and Hope

There are so many things that, when I look back upon, hurt my heart.  I think about terrible things I have said, or had said to me.  I have fallen out with friends, broken peoples hearts, been cowardly when I should have been brave. 
In the movie, “A Beautiful Mind,” the main character, Nash, played by Russell Crowe, has just one the Nobel Prize.  It is the apex of the movie, and it is heart warming, as we have seen Nash’s journey through the torment that is schizophrenia.  Hallucinations have tortured him throughout the story, challenging his every notion about what is real.  When a friend asks if his hallucinations are still there, he looks around, and we see that they are.  He looks back at his friend and says, “They are my past, Martin.  Everybody is haunted by their past.”  Then he smiles, takes the hand of his bride, and walks on.
I have always loved that scene for many reasons, one of which is that we see the paradox of regret and hope.  Hope and regret can (and should) both be a part of us.  
Yet, we as Christians can sometimes take the sovereignty of God, and try to wipe away our past with it.  Try mentioning a past regret to a brother or sister in Christ, and you will almost certainly get some kind of response saying something like, “Don’t think about that.  It was God’s will.  All things work for the good.  Move on,” as if what has happened in the past doesn’t matter. 
Did David not weep for his sins throughout the Psalms?  Did Peter not weep at his betrayal?  Do you think that Paul tossed aside what he did before Jesus opened his eyes? 
It is in the face of regret that we have the brightest hope.  Without regret, we would never learn.  It is regret and shame of one of my most public sins, being caught talking bad about someone, face to face, that has taught to check my heart and watch my mouth.  That residual sting, paired with the redemption and forgiveness given, gives me strength to move forward.
I think that both are necessary.  Without hope in the forgiveness of your sins, of your redemption, satan will cripple you with guilt and fear.  Yet, without regret, satan will have you forget, and you will continue down the same path over and over, all because you think that, because God is in control, that makes what has happened okay.
God’s sovereignty does not undo shame, guilt, regret, and sin.  It takes all of those things and makes it work for His glory, and the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose.   The greatest means of glorification that we have for God is to love Him.  Well, love and regret go hand in hand.  I regret every wrong I have ever committed against those I love.  Every single wrong.  Even though I know God will use it for His glory, I still regret it.  It is a paradox for sure, but a fairly simple one.  How can you not regret hurting those you love?  If you don’t, I would volley that you don’t really love them. 
It is my belief that we all know this, but are constantly looking for a way to just feel better, sometimes not realizing that, in the long run, those actions will hurt us, much like the person who tries to block others off from their heart, only to find it eventually shrivel and atrophy, as the heart was meant to be given.  The same goes with regret.  We can try to cut it off, excuse it, say that because God is going to use that regrettable action for good, that there is no need for regret, but peace will be false, and short-lived, for love cannot grow while constricted by lies.  You cannot look into the face of someone you hold dear, think of the wrong you have done them, cut out regret, and be okay.  Such emotional pruning always leads to darkness.
Instead, we match it with hope.  With hope there to counter regret (not destroy it), we learn from our past, and move courageously and joyfully into the future.

Lyric of the Day
By: Coldplay
From: Mylo Xyloto

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
And dreamed of 
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
And the bullets catch in her teeth
Life goes on, it gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear a waterfall
In the night the stormy night
she'll close her eyes
In the night the stormy night
away she'll fly

And dream of
 Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la la la la la
And so lying underneath the stormy skies
She'd say oh oh oh oh oh
I know the sun must set to rise

This could be
 Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

 This could be
 Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Us Against the World

Us Against the World
from Mylo Xyloto
by: Coldplay

Oh morning come bursting, the clouds, they move
Lift off this blindfold, let me see again
And bring back the water, that your ships rode in
In my heart you left a hole

The tightrope that I'm walking just sways and ties
The devil as he's talking with those angel's eyes
And I just want to be there when the lightning strikes
And the saints go marching in

And sing slow-ow-ow-ow it down

Through chaos as it swirls
It's just us against the world
[ Lyrics from: ]
Like a river to a raindrop, I lost a friend

My drunken as a Daniel in a lion's den
And tonight I know it all has to begin again
So whatever you do, don't let go

And if we could float away
Fly up to the surface and just start again
And lift off before trouble
Just erodes us in the rain (x3)

Sing slow-ow-ow-ow it down
Oh Slow-ow-ow-ow it down

Through chaos as it swirls
It's just us against the world
Through chaos as it swirls
It's us against the world

Monday, October 24, 2011

Deer Hunting, and the Resurrection of Jesus.

Hunting teaches you things you won't learn elsewhere, like what the world sounds like when you take your influence out of it.  It is far quieter than imagined. 

You also learn a lot about the reality of death.  Everyone is a part of death.  Most, however, are so indirectly.  Our demand for leather and meat leads to the death of billions of animals every year, but it all happens elsewhere, and by another's hands.  We exterminate even more bugs.  All of this leaves us disconnected with a very key truth about our fallen world.  Death is always something far away.  Even when we do see it, we see a facade.  We see the body of a loved one preserved and made up.  They are presented to us as almost live.  When done well, a corpse simply looks asleep. 

Saturday evening I killed a buck.  Moments after I took its life, I lay my hands upon its body as a lifted up a prayer of thanksgiving, never wanting to become callous, or unaware of the fact that, while it is acceptable, hunting is a result of the fall.  Warmth still radiated from the deer's body.  The skin was loose.  The muscles tender.  Every limb moved freely.  The blood from the tiny hole in its shoulder was bright red and flowing easily. 

The following morning, my father and I went about processing the deer so that it could be taken home and eaten.  Rigor Mortis had set in, setting the deer's limbs stiff like a statue.  The blood was no longer red and flowing, but black and coagulated.  The muscles had become hard.  Those are some of the easier elements to discuss.  I will save you from any further detail.

The point is not to disgust, but to simply bring about a truer realization.  One day that body moved with the vibrancy of life, thought, and emotion (yes, I believe animals emote, why wouldn't I?).  The next, that body held nothing. 

That night at church, Isaac, our pastor of worship began to pray, and in his prayer, he talked about the reality of Christ's death.  In that moment, I was struck in the heart by the finality of Christ's death.  He was not a shell.  He had a heart, lungs, and blood that flowed through his veins!  His body dealt with bacteria, viruses, germs.  His teeth were subject to decay.  When he died, the muscle of his heart ceased.  His blood eventually coagulated, just like that deer's.  His body became stiff with rigor mortis.  His muscles hardened. 

I have never understood the miracle of the resurrection like I did yesterday, having just seen the full effect of death.  That the Holy Spirit used deer hunting to reveal to my heart such a truth makes me chuckle with humble astonishment. 

I know that most of you will never hunt anything, and that is more than okay.  Simply, my hope is that you will not be so disconnected from the truth that you miss out on this revelation.  It has been truly and deeply heart changing.  I feel so much closer to my Lord Jesus this day than I did at this time yesterday.

Father, may our hearts be softened and molded to know and love you in the way that you desire.  May we give up our idols.  Give us the wisdom to discern, and the courage to fight the lies and temptations set before us by satan.  Your will be done, Father.  Show us our gifts that you have given us, and give us the ability to put them into effect.  You are surely why we live.  May we all know that.  Teach us to submit to your word.  Thank for the life, death, and resurrection of your son, our brother, Jesus Christ.  You are the sum of all things wonderful and good.  Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The War Against Eyebrows.

Most of my posts are serious, and of the theological nature, but sometimes a bit of lightheartedness and good humor are welcome

Don't think that I am blind to the tawdriness that is us... men.  I see most of our general shortcomings, I would think.  We dress funny.  We forget, or don't care to keep our ears and nose hairs from becoming overgrown forests.  Most of us are a walking examples of bad taste and hygiene, saved only by the loving care of a dutiful woman ready to play ken doll.  When it comes to appearance, effort, and taste, woman dominate.  It's not even a competition.  If good taste were people, women would be China, and men Luxembourg.  

However, women are not without a few chinks in their nearly perfectly matching, timelessly hand crafted Italian armor they got on sale at Ross for ten dollars when it used to be four hundred.  There are two huge chinks I have noticed, but I am hear to address only one... the war against eyebrows. 

Over the last several weeks I have subbed a lot.  Middle school, elementary, special ed., you name it.  During that time, I finalized the notion that something has gone terribly wrong.  Almost every woman I have been around has nearly plucked their eyebrows into oblivion.  Where there was once two natural looking, facial-expression-intensifying, beautiful eyebrows are now four hairs that somehow missed the plucker's voracious eye. 

It makes me wonder who has given modern women the impression that having normal to thick eyebrows is bad.  Personally, I prefer them to the thin ones any day.  Eyebrows really do accentuate expression, and frame the eye's beauty. 

I understand having thick eyebrows.  My heritage is predominantly Scots-Irish.  Meaning, if left au naturale, I could shave my head and the hair from my eyebrows could function as an effective comb-over.  I really do get it.
But, if you don't want an overgrown yard, you don't wack the grass down to it's roots, exposing the dirt below.  You find the balance.  The same goes with eyebrows.

So, put the tweezers and wax down, go look at a picture of the beautiful Brook Shields, and see that eyebrows need not be wiped of the face of... well... your face.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The String

The first time I heard this was when I saw the movie, and it moved me then.  I reread it last night, and it amazes me.  It's an excerpt from Jane Eyre, when Mr. Rochester, under the impression that Jane holds no feelings for him, has told Jane that he is to wed, and Jane must leave.

"It is a long way to Ireland, Jane, and I am sorry to send my little friend on such weary travels: but if I can't do better, how is it to be helped?  Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?"

I could risk no sort of answer by this time: my heart was full.

"Because," he said, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you - especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.  And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communication will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.  As for you, you'd forget me."

One page over:

"I tell you I must go!"  I retorted, roused to something like passion.  "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you?  Do you think I am an automaton? - a machine without feelings?  and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?  Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think wrong!  And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me as it is now for me to leave you.  I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, or even of mortal flesh: - it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal,  - as we are!"

"As we are!" repeated Mr. Rochester.

Another page over...

"But Jane - I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to marry."

I was silent: I thought he mocked me.

"Come, Jane, - come hither."

"Your bride stands between us."

He rose, and with a stride reached me.

"My bride is here," he said, again drawing me to him, "because my equal is here, and my likeness.  Jane, will you marry me?"

Lastly, as Jane is struggling to believe he is earnest, and has yet to respond to his proposal...

"Jane, accept me quickly.  Say Edward - give me my name - Edward - I will marry you."
"Are you earnest?  Do you truly love me> - Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife?"
"I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it."
"Then, sir, I will marry you."
"Edward - my little wife!"
"Dear Edward!"
"Come to me - come to me now," said he: and added in his deepest tone, speaking un my ear as his cheek was laid on mine, "Make my happiness - and I will make yours."

This is how my heart sees and speaks, but peer pressure keeps such words from leaving my mouth.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Loving Others

For all my abilities and desire to communicate well, I feel I royally goofed my last post.  After rereading it several times, I am left with the sensation that my words did not match my intent.  I fear I sounded arrogant, self-righteous, pious, blech.  My desire was just to share some thoughts on a topis that has come up for years.
  So, forgive me for my last post.  Please give my words the utmost grace.

Here is a truly frustrating human phenomenon.  I will get so caught up in wanting to serve that I forget about other people, and begin thinking about MY need to serve.  (slaps self in face)  How twisted is that?  Pretty bad.  I end up, time and again, solely focused on myself.  Even in this post, I am tempted, not to think about others, but myself, my desire to help.   So it is.  Well, God has been faithful to slowly but surely redeem me in this area.  He has been faithful to remind me of the plight of others, to rekindle the flames of ministry.  Why do they ever dwindle?  (It's rhetorical.  I know the answer, and yes, I have a mirror.)

My prayer rally is that we would GENUINELY LOVE OTHERS, in both deed and heart.  On that, I will meditate day and night.

Side note, I am really excited about the possibility of getting to come down to Wurstfest.  I have been yearning for a bit of hometown New Braunfels, and could surely use some time there. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No Busy Signal

I don't rightly know what to make of it, this part of my life.  I have never been busy.  Every now and then, when presented with the business of other people's lives, I wonder if I am doing things right.  Am I lazy?  No.  What then?

Honestly, I can't wholly answer.  In the end, I just value time.  Everybody has their love languages.  There are physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time.   Supposedly, though everyone of course loves all of those, everyone has one or two dominant languages.  For me, the number one language, by far, is quality time.

I love being around my friends and family, and except for instances here and there, I will find a way to be with them.  Also, it hurts me intensely when others are too busy for me.  It is a great struggle for me to let go of that.  In an instant, I understand.  However, when I have pursued someone's company, and they tell me that they want to hang out, but are too busy, here is what I hear, "You amuse me, but you are not important.  My job, church position, whatever, is more important than you." 

Sometimes, I know this can be to my detriment.  I covet time to think and create in my mind, and sometimes I struggle to get involved when I should.  It has taken far too long to really dig into the ministries at church.  Only in this last week have a started to really take root.  That is pretty weak.

I don't really know where I am going with this.  It is simply a mental answering of the question that has come into my head, "Why does everyone else cherish being busy so much?"  Several times within the last month I have been confronted with people who have seemed to condescend to me because they were far busier than me.  Or people have simply been too busy to find any time to spend with me.

I know.  This has not been a very Biblical post like usual, but, it is personal.  I want to have a humble heart about it.  I fear that I myself sounded condescending in my response.  That is not my intent.  I know that I have struggles in the area of time on my own.  These are just some thoughts that have been stewing in my mind and heart.  Please give my words the utmost grace, and do not take them poorly.  Perhaps I don't sacrifice my time enough?  Perhaps that is something I need to be open to giving up more.  I will surely pray hard about it.  I will take it to the Lord.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Metal in the Sky

The human heart is surely broken.  One of its biggest problems is that it takes things for granted, and nothing is off limits.  If we could fly like super man, it would be amazing... at first.  In time, you would, if lucky, recognize that you have been flying around for the last few years now without enjoying it. 

Fortunately, this is just something we are prone to do, but it can be fought victoriously, at least by and large.  Every now and then, when I am looking up into the Dallas sky, and I see all those distant black tees, perfectly straight vapor trails in tow, I just stop, and take it in.  I think, "I am looking at a huge piece of metal fly through the air!  What would Newton think if he could see this?  Or George Washington?  Or Moses?  I get in another hunk of metal that, by using thousands of tiny little explosions every second, is capable of zooming me about at seventy miles an hour.  It is a wonder.  It is fun.  It may not be as exciting as when I was fifteen, but it not be totally taken for granted either.  Much joy has been renewed in mundane acts through such reminders. 

I realized today that I have done this with my writing.  I have been beating myself to a pulp for not being as far along on the rewrite of Light Blue as I had wished.  It has been months since I have found any real joy in writing.  Well, God is ever faithful, and today He ministered to my heart by reminding me that I have actually written a novel.  Yes, I need to rewrite it, but that doesn't discount that I wrote a whole book, and that it was good.  It made people cry, feel emotions, empathize, think, all of the things that I yearn to do.  Yet, I have taken no joy in it.  I have believed yet another lie.  Shocker, I know. 

Well, today was on of the first days I have been able to really enjoy what God ha done through me.  I have let it sink in that the work of my mind and hands has evoked much emotion and thought, which is what I desire to do.  Slowly but surely, the passion has been creeping back in.  God is restoring my heart for this novel.  He is clearing my vision a little at a time.  I don't know why this trial is necessary, but I don't need to.  All glory be to Him.  He is all I desire.  All else that brings pleasure is great, but merely a lens, a piece of Him that He has allowed, built for me and you to enjoy. 

I would love to heat your thoughts, so please write a comment.  I pray for you every time I remember you, and it is with thanksgiving in my heart. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

With People

Talking to someone about their career, and the conversation came around to working under people.  We both talked about the pain and frustration that usually comes from working underneath others.  When we parted ways, I was left thinking about the future, and my own career.  A twinge of fear and frustration hit me as I let it sink in that I would most likely be under people.  My mind sprang into action, already imagining future situations that could occur, future demands from future bosses.

The truth is though this is true.  Even if you are top dog, there will be frustration.  Essentially, you are just guaranteed to be hurt by people, and that is okay.  It's okay whenever I stop looking only others frustrating me, and realizing that I have, do, and will frustrate others, no matter my intent.  I am a mess too.  I am a part of it, and so are you, and everyone else.  We all have our blind spots.  When it comes to dating and love, I am always quick to impart the wisdom, "better to have loved and lost..."  and that is true.  Same goes with work.  It is better to have worked and lost, to have put yourself out there.  Just like with dating and love, if you think you can just not be a part, that you can protect yourself, you are only fooling yourself.  You are actually guaranteeing pain and failure.  Such it is with work.  Yes, it's a mess, but it is worth it, maybe not every moment, but ultimately.

Please pray that God would open up the doors for a career, that He would open my heart and mind to whatever it is that He has, that I would be ready to work hard, and serve readily.  This I will pray for you also.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Had a great week guiding hunts out at the ranch.  The hunts were very successful.  The ranch looked good.  We got to knock down and score a whole bunch of the deer, one of which ended up being bigger than we had estimated, which is exciting.  I know I might as well speak Chinese, but this is the first year that we have had any deer break the three hundred mark in scoring, and this year we have had three do it.  Layman's terms, that is a big deal.

Also, I have been continuously in prayer about the future, and God continues to answer.  So, I am going to continue writing, as that is my main passion.  However, that will have to remain a side gig until/unless the Lord makes the way for me to do that full time.  Until/if that day comes, I still yearn to have a career.  It has been made abundantly clear, time and again, that I long to do ministry.  It is an itch I can't scratch.  It burns.  I can't let it go.

I have been beating myself up pretty good about not already having a career.  The Holy Spirit has been faithful to remind me that my life has not been common.  Ten years of depression have to be factored in when I think back.  This has been huge in helping me find some peace, and not feel like a moron.  So, I move forward, and I want to know what i want, and fight for it.  So, I want to ministry.  Do I need to go back and finish seminary?  I don't know.  I really don't.  I know that as I pray and meditate on everything, that I don't want to be a lead pastor.  My heart really is burdened for high schoolers and collegians.   Please keep this in your prayers. 

It really is a new era.  I feel the charge of new life.  It is exciting to see what God has ahead for you and me.  My prayer is that we would know Him outright, that we would not allow anything to steal from what is our greatest joy... Him.  May our hearts be ever aligned to His.  Amen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So, I am sitting here out in a cool breeze looking out over a beautiful, tree lined field at the 5F Ranch, typing this on my mom's iPhone. I m watching an armadillo search the field for food a couple hundred yards away. The breeze is cool and strong. It is a good moment. Still, my heart is tinged with longing. I long for more heart, more affection, more friends, more of Him. It never stops.

It reminds me of something I have been thinking about lately, and that is the truth about satisfaction and God. All my life, I have been told that I would find no satisfaction apart from God, that I could find it in Him. So, what do think has been the outcome of the fact that I have not yet reached satisfaction, nor have I found any one else who is satisfied in this life? I have done what most others have, doubt God. Maybe not His existence, but His promise, which, is pretty much the same as doubting His existence. You have probably had something similar occur. Well, the problem isn't God, it is us. God is the only wellspring of satisfaction. Our hearts are simply incapable of holding it right now. Heaven will see our hearts made true. Nothing will blind us then. Until then though, Jesus is our only HOPE for satisfaction. In that there is no let down.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Layers of Pleasure

Much has been going on in my heart as of late.  As I have been writing about much lately, is that of overcoming your emotions.  What is interesting to me is to see how my heart has dealt with pleasure.  In the midst of depression, it was pain that tore me from God.  Lately it has been pleasure.  Lust, greed, and laziness have been tearing at me.  It has been odd.  I am so used to battling pain, that it has been a new experience, but one that I cherish.  The Holy Spirit has been so so faithful in all of this, to teach me from it, and protect me from giving into temptation.

One thing that I have learned is that pleasure is layered.  What I mean is that we are very complex beings.  Until a few days ago, my heart was being pestered with false promises.  I could feel my heart being lustful, being greedy, being lazy.  All of those things have pleasure in them.  They all stroke a short term desire.  They all focus on myself.  They all call me to just, "feel good."  However, it has been a miserable experience.  The Holy Spirit was ministering to me in this trial.  Dueling natures.
On one level, I was being called to give into pleasure, but I knew that it was false.  I knew it because I have felt greater pleasures, the pleasure of true love, of sacrifice, of service.  They are the truest and most deep.  All of those shallow pleasures are just that, shallow.  They leave you immediately wanting more, they tickle your dissatisfaction.  Love, true love anyhow, not only satisfies, but it never ends.  The pleasure just keeps going and going forever.  Those shallow pleasures can't be had at the same time as the deeper ones.  I am not talking about being tempted, but giving into it.  You cannot be lustful and grow in true love.  That is like being up and down at the same time.  A round square, if you will.

Another thing that I have seen is that pleasure is far more devious a liar than pain.  Despite the enormous amount of pain that is addressed in the Bible, we are still tempted to pout, to rebuff, to reject God on the basis of our pain.  How could God do this to us?  Right?  I am all too familiar with this.  Yet, it has been a call back to my youth before depression to feel the draw of pleasure.  It is far more pervasive and tricky to see.  We think, "This can't be bad.  It feels good." 
So many people reject God, not on the basis of objective reason, but out of a simple desire to do your own thing.  Tim Keller, in a sermon I listened to awhile ago talked about how many great atheist thinkers were honest in attributing their decision to not believe in God hinging largely upon their desire to fornicate.  I understand this.  As a teenager with raging hormones, my heart wanted so badly to get rid of God so that I could assuage the blazing lust I had.  Thank God.  He was ever faithful in keeping me pure in that time.  He never let me go, always ministered to my heart, always drew me on to the greater things.  He wanted the best for me.  He wanted true pleasure, true happiness.  He had more of Himself for me.  It hurts me to think about how many believe the lies that have tempted us all.
One of the biggest pieces of wisdom that God has imparted upon me is this.  Don't assume.  If I think giving into some sin will make me happy, look at those who have given into it outright, and ask yourself, are they better off?  Do you really want to be them?  I can see those whom have given into greed, or lust, or laziness, and I shudder.  Not one of them do I envy, do I yearn to be.  The proof is in the pudding.  So odd that our new nature makes us miserable when we are being drawn by the wrong things.  Praise God for his allowing my purification and sanctification.  He is surely good.

So, my heart burns to share the gospel of Christ.  My prayer has been for love, and only true love, the kind that sacrifices, serves, and looks outward to others, and not in towards self.  God has been ever faithful.

May God never let us go.  May He have mercy on us, and withhold no blessing, pleasurable or not.  May we have the wisdom and courage to persevere in this face of all forms of temptation and trial.  May we serve much, love greatly, sacrifice whatever is asked.  May our hearts learn to grow in affection for all of God's people.  May our actions flow from our heart's affections.  May we always praise God's name, no matter what we face.  May we overcome what we feel when needed, and pursue the greater calling.  God is surely, surely good.  Amen.