Wednesday, September 30, 2009

carried through

many children have that special thing that serves as a pacifier of sorts. Linus from Peanuts© had his blanket. Andy from Toy Story© had Woody. when I was a child, I had this stuffed teddy bear who was dressed in a train engineer outfit... Blue stripped overalls. Red handkerchief. Train engineers hat. I called him Choo Choo Charlie.

One day, i was playing and decided "wouldn't it be cool if Choo Choo Charlie got into some sort of train accident? So i found in my sisters room some lipstick and i smeared it all over Choo Choo's face and arms - so as to resemble blood, i guess. (disturbing, I know). When i was done playing 'train accident' i discovered that said lipstick would not come off. His fur was permanently scarred. the bear was damaged goods.

But i didn't mind. despite his flaws, i loved that bear. over time it became even more flawed... ripped clothes, frayed fur, etc. by any stretch - it was broken; certainly less than perfect. but regardless, i still loved that bear. Why? because there was a bond. a connection. a shared comfort. i carried him proudly.

it was a part of me.

i think it's kind of the same with God. we have our cuts and bruises. some manufactured by us. some caused by others. but despite our flaws - our ripped souls and broken hearts - we are still loved by God. Why? because there is a bond. a connection. a shared comfort. God delights in us. believe that. we are his pride and joy.

and he carries us proudly.

When the water's too high
When the water's too high
I will carry you
I will carry you

When the night is too black
When the night is too black
I will carry you
I will carry you

Save Me O' God

Thursday, September 17, 2009

what a disciple looks like

A Disciple:

One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.
A follower of Jesus.
A pupil.

It is enough for the student to be like his teacher. [a]

Do not live according to the sinful nature. Live according the Spirit.
A mind controlled by the Spirit brings a full life of peace.
The Spirit is powerful. Follow Christ, truly follow Him. Follow Jesus closely. Close enough that His dust covers your clothes. That dust will be the outward sign to the world that you are truly His disciple. Live like him.
Do not be a slave to fear. Share in his sufferings in order that you may also share in his glory. Be empathetic. [b]

United with fellow disciples.
Take care of others.
Share. Give freely. [c]

Lend a hand to the poor and weak. But not do bring glory to ourselves and not only when it is convenient. Ask "how can I help?"
Take on the troubles of the troubled, just like your mentor and example, Jesus.
Be in harmony with one another. No personal agendas.
Get along with others.
Be alert for what's on the horizon.
Remember: the personable God is dependable, steady and warm. May He develop maturity in us. [d]

Preach. Proclaim. Share the Gospel, the Good News.
Through words and actions. Not one without the other. Ever.
The Lord will confirm His truth in you when you obey.
Do not be discouraged. [e] [f]

Conduct yourself in ways that are not contradictory to the Good News Jesus proclaimed.
Live like a follower. No pretending.
Do not fear those that oppose you. And you will face opposition. if you don't, you may not be following Jesus as closely as you think. Perhaps.
Your courage, strength and unity will show those who oppose you what they are up against.
There is more to this life than trusting in Him. Suffer for Him, also.
Did He not suffer for you? [g]

Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Love life.
Keep your words pure.
Pursue peace. [h]

Be eager to do good.
If you suffer for what you do, you are blessed.
Make Christ Lord in your heart. Be cautious with your heart. The temptations to fill it with other things will be prominent.
Give a reason, to those who ask, for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect.
Keep a clear conscience.
Remember: Christ died, once for all - for the righteous and the unrighteous so that all may be brought to God. Remember all of the truths of Christ: the living water. the blood sacrifice. the removal of our grime. the salvation He gives. The resurrection, as well. [i]

Your actions are your response to God's amazing grace.
That grace accepts us, assures us, sustains us and embraces us with divine love.
Radical grace prompts a radical response.

[a] = Matthew 10:24-25
[b] = Romans 8:5-25
[c] = Acts 4:32-37
[d] = Romans 15:1-5
[e] = Mark 16:19-20
[f] = James 2:14-26
[g] = Philippians 1:27-30
[h] = 1 Peter 3:8-12
[i] = 1 Peter 3:13-22

inspired by: A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Shawchuck & Job

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things that happen:

Stupid arguments. Lousy outcomes. Lack of preparation. Unmet expectation. Misunderstandings. Different perceptions. Numbness. Self doubt. Chasing After. Life unscripted. Sickness. Panic. Differing opinions. Wasted money. Lack of desire. Unbridled passion. Joy. Pain. Loss. Gain. Gentle breezes. Warm summer nights. Howling wind. Cold winter days. Reluctance. Perseverance. Physical exhaustion. Communication. Spontanious community. Pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. Wasted time. Television watched. Creativity. Relationships developed. Broken spirits. Lost art. Movement. Resistance. Silence. Peace. Grace.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Novacaine Baby!

i had a tooth pulled once. a wisdom tooth at that. the bad thing was that i had a cavity in said tooth but didn't get it filled. one day while eating a salad at the Golden Corral i chipped said tooth on a crouton. yes, a crouton. long story short, it needed extracted. the worst part of the extraction was the sounds of the dentist pulling and tugging and using some sort of weapon, a saw, i think, tpo get the tooth out. but honestly, i didn't feel a thing. Novocaine, baby! Despite all of the pain that my mouth was enduring, i didn't feel a thing. I was numb.

the other day a friend of mine blogged about the art of becoming comfortably numb.
Think about your life. The heating/air conditioning keep us from the cold/heat outside, not to mention having to chop wood for the fireplace. We watch TV or read books as a means of escape. Some of our greatest societal ills are the result of trying not to feel anything, or at least only what feels good: Alcohol, drugs or even caffeine, anyone?
i don't like to feel pain. not just physical pain. any kind. most people don't like it at all. and so we cope. sometimes in productive ways. sometimes in not so productive ways. whatever vice we use, it'll only mask the pain. like novacaine. it blocks the pain, but it doesn't take it away.

the other nite we received our latest Netflix movie: Revolutionary Road. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet star as Frank and April Wheeler, a young couple starting out their lives together, wanting desperately to be 'different' and to not end up like everybody else.

Before too long, years have past. Children were born and their suburban, mid-1950's lifestyle had not become as spectacular or special as they had hoped. Little by little, their lives began to fall apart, their goals and dreams put on hold, trapped inside a cavern of numbness that began to take away hope. When you take away hope, you take away life.

slowly, both Frank and April, in their own unique ways allowed the mundane to bring on atrophy to a once vibrant life, full of hope. Frank feels he is ending up like his old man, something he swore he'd never let happen. he takes the train to work at a job where he finds little enjoyment. His fears keep him from becoming anything other than what he is. April wants to live in Paris, France or somewhere 'special' but feels trapped in the 'burbs, wishing her life was different; it is evident that both crave something more. something deeper.

i couldn't help but see the parallels to today's world. Fear grips us. The numbness traps us. and our lives slowly wither away. We crave something more. We want to feel something deep inside. But our pain blockers end up stealing away our joy as well. How can we experience true joy if we don't have pain to compare it to? we just sit, comfortably. on the couch. watching television. eating ice cream. and all the while life passes us by. before we know it, we're 60 and what do we have to show for it?

trapped. wanting out, but not knowing what we need to do to get out. our muscles tired. our mind turned to mush. it's the novacaine principle and it can take over our lives.

This craving for something more has plagued man's heart from the beginning of time. Augustine wrote about it. We can want something more so bad, talking about it, planning how to get it but getting out there and searching for it takes a lot of effort. and it's all too easy for the years to pass on by without any of us finding that which truly fulfills.

i believe that there is one place where we can find that fulfillment. it starts with becoming a follower of Jesus. not by going to church or by learning the ABC's of the salvation that Jesus offers. Fulfillment is found when we have faith and trust in Christ alone. A follower is more than an attendee or casual observer. A follower is a disciple. Disciplined. Dirty from the dust of the Rabbi's sandals. Nothing casual about that. We have a lot of church goers who know all the right things to say - but being a follower is so much more than speaking. Words without action are merely wasted air - draining the energy of the person who speaks them.

Jesus said that he came to give us life and life to the full. Paul reminds us that (if we are true followers of Christ) we are new creations - the old is gone. The mundaine is put to rest. The numbness subsides. And as a follower - no Novocaine is desired. we want to see and feel pain. ours. others. the worlds. and we rejoice in suffering because we trust that it will produce character and hope.

And hope does not disappoint us. and because of hope - we obey. And after all, that is all Jesus really asks of us... it's not all about 'feeling good'... it's about obeying the Master, Jesus.