Sunday, December 05, 2010

Thus, I Give Up the Spear

"And he piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the rage and hate felt by his whole race. If his chest had been a cannon he would have shot his heart upon it."
-Moby Dick (paraphrased)

The army crested the hill, letting out a collective sigh of joy. After months upon months of journeying, their destination was finally in site. The trumpets began to blow, announcing their arrival to any and all within earshot. The standard bearers raised their banners higher, the great red and gold crosses flying high. The large siege equipment rumbled behind them, shaking the ground they walked on. Weariness left them as each gripped his sword and spear a little more tightly in anticipation. Jerusalem was now in site.

Often the obsessed focus on things that have little eternal significance. But by definition, obsession cannot easily release its grip on the point of focus. In the middle ages the church's focus on religious places and objects eventually led to the crusades -an armed invasion of Jerusalem and the surrounding Holy Lands. What was the purpose of this? It was rooted in a belief that objects and icons, places and things could bring you closer to God. Where did this belief come from? Certainly not from the one object in their possession of any worth...the Bible. Yet the obsession was real enough, so the armies marched on.

Churches today have similar tendencies, if less militaristic. Some focus on the emotion of the moment, longing for the next high and feeling altogether uncontent without it. But how much of life is spent on a cloud? When Peter, James and John wanted to stay on the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus said that the work was in the valley. They wanted to hang on to the emotion and spiritual high they had experienced. For too many churches, they have traded their knowledge and teaching of how to live a Christ filled life in the real world with the shallow teachings that make them feel good. The tough lessons of Jesus are thus avoided in this emotional form of Christianity.

Other Churches still latch on to material things. Others works. And the list goes on, but Jesus said to obsess over Himself. The rest follows. Obsessions lead to many things, and unless it's the Biblically prescribed form of obsession, the pathway always ends in destruction. Many, many years ago it took the form of the Crusades... none altogether successful even by their own reckoning. It is something to be mindful of as we live our lives and participate in our churches. We must watch for these things early, because as I've already stated, obsession is blinding, and once in the midst of it, it is hard to see anything else.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Grass is Always Green

Sometimes things can be a matter of perspective. The grass is always greener on the other side. But what about at night? Nothing will look green even in the best moonlight. It doesn't mean it's no longer green though...sometimes it's silver.

"Even in the darkest moments, you can always find something that'll make you smile." - Benjamin Sisko

We can complain about stumbling around at night and how things don't look the same as in the daylight, but sometimes we just need to look up at the stars to regain our perspective. Sometimes no stars can be seen, and it's in those moments we need to simply wait for the dawn. In the midst of the darkness we may think it'll never come, but it always will. Sometimes life is about the hope for things not yet come. Things promised and assured.

"When the dawn seemed forever lost, You showed me Your love in the light of the stars." - Dante's Prayer

Monday, November 15, 2010

Observing the Sun Through the Water

"... because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself." - Herman Melville

It seems to me that understanding can only be achieved by looking at two things to compare one versus the other. In this we find either similarities or contrasts. It is from this basic framework of understanding that we observe our world and learn. We have come a long way from the day Adam first opened his eyes, but we are prone to error in the way we see things. Too often we believe that we can, and do, exist in ourselves. But how is that possible? Everything must exist because something else created it and sustains it. Sometimes you have to look down to the molecular level, but this is true of all things.
But what of things spiritual? Not surprising, we make the same mistakes here. We know we are made in God's image, but we do not know God. We know we are sinful, but we think too often we do not need a Saviour. Or at least that is how we lives our lives too often. We forget that we cannot exist without God. We forget that our natural yearning to seek a god is built into us by nature of our creation. On one hand we seem to be too flippant when considering things spiritual. It is the chief driver of the world, but how many days do we give it no thought at all. We think we are observing something (the world) when we are really observing something else (the spiritual). Perhaps if we viewed ourselves in relation to our God and Creator our perspective would get a bit clearer. Perhaps we need to realize on a more daily basis that apart from God we could not exist at all.

"Methinks that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air." - Herman Melville

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Who Will Never Change Faces

There are many facets of life that undergo constant and steady change. It seems that every two years brings with it something never conceived of two years prior. Some change is good. Some isn't. It seems nothing is impervious to it though. From every small blade of grass to every large stone mountain. Thoughts and opinions, decisions and consequences, mistakes and corrections. Life is an endless tide of ebb and flow. When you're overwhelmed with cleaning up the flotsam and jetsam, you look up to unexpectedly find a clean tide washing it all away. What then can be relied upon?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

God never changes. He's the only one that can fully be relied upon in each and every circumstance. Unlike the grass, He is not able to be cut down. Unlike the mountains, He does not erode with time. Unlike people, his thoughts and opinions and attitudes do not change. He brings the seasons of change to our lives without changing Himself. It is He who we cling to like a rock in the storm. And it is that same Rock that we rest upon as we bask in the warmth of the sun.

And that is an encouraging thought.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Once More Unto the Breach

There is always another corner to turn. There is always another surprise waiting. No one can know what tomorrow will bring. But that's part of the fascination, isn't it?...not knowing? There are always new people to meet and another new place to explore. Life is full of newness as God unfolds time quietly in front of us. Discouragement happens, and like much of life we wonder how long the storm may last and whether if tomorrow there will be sun again. Yet somehow there always is. New circumstances, and even new ways of looking at the old in a new light.

What then do we do when we turn a corner and find a challange blocking our path? If it were a blessing we would embrace it. Ought we not do the same with a challange? Too often the challange seems impossible, insurmountable, or just plain hopeless. But God would not have brought us around this particular corner unless He had a reason. He knew the challange was waiting for us even before we could see it ahead, and He chose to lead us this way anyway, the same way He has lead us past countless blessings and other trials in the past. And has He not been a faithful Guide in the past?

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
- Hebrews 10:23

Yet somehow that all gets forgoten with this new road block before us. "This is different," we say. Or, "God will surely lead me down a detore". Perhaps. But should we really be looking for that detore before attempting to surmount the challange? Often detores do not simply lead us away from a particular challange, but away from past blessings as well. We forget that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Too often we look for the most effortless fix. But have we not also considered that a detore may lead to a more challanging trial still? There is always another corner to turn. There is always another surprise waiting. Why not embrace the challange before us now?

This is not done in our own strength, but through Christ. And sometimes he does lead us down detores, but the chief difference is that He leads us, and not we who run. Sometimes this means repeatedly going into each day as though we walk against an endless, pounding storm. But God will renew our strength. We need to simply remember who is our Guide, and who's hand leads us along life's journey. Let us not run from it, but learn how to embrace it.

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. - Count of Monte Cristo (film)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I tend to get reflective in the Autumn. It's the small things that seem to matter most in life. The memories of quiet times, happy times, moments of laughter and of good company. A smell perhaps or a sound. Even mistakes made that can be laughed about later. How often is it the grand schemes and plans that matter the most in the end? We get so caught up in planning our lives that we pass by or forget what truly matters. It helps to remember, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Simply reflecting on God's goodness and grace and blessing should be enough to quiet us.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Est Flebile

Once large and impressive cathedrals were built by the strong hands of many skilled workers. Designers conspired and workers built to provide the people a place to worship and to construct a structure that was worthy of the God they worshipped. Glasscutters constructed magnificent stained glass windows and the steeples of the buildings reached to the heavens above. Artwork was constructed and painted by some of the best artists the world has ever known. They poured their lives and skill into their work to bring honor to God.

Within the halls of these great cathedrals once rang the beautiful music of Latin song and chants, sung for the honor and glory of God above. The music was crafted for its needed skill in singing, often a capella. It echoed in the massive stone halls with a perfect pitch and strong sound, penetrating every dark corner. The feeling it left was comforting, relaxing, and reflective. Those singers sang out of thankfulness to God for such a salvation... not in seeking it.

What has become of you, o church of the Old World? You have taken the usefulness of tradition and built an empire upon it. Power and prestige have stolen your love for God and your ability to know Him. You look to yourself for your salvation, thinking in cleverness and piety you may pass an infinite abyss in your reach for Heaven. You raise Mary and the saints as equals with God, when there is yet one God. The cathedrals are nought but a shadow and reflection of their former glory. Was this what the Apostles taught when this church was established?

There is much of the Catholic church that is beautiful and awe inspiring. But it is a sad reflection of what once was. I think on the words and teaching of such as Martin Luther and wonder at the necessity of it. How did a church, once founded by Paul and Peter and John and so many Godly men, turn so far from the teaching of the very Bible they claim to treasure? But it is no different than the Pharisees of Jesus' day that had descended from the days of Moses. Tradition becomes greater than the Word of God. Saints stand as equals to Jesus. Working our way for salvation. All heresy to the writings of the Bible and the teachings of Apostles who founded the churches that spread throughout Europe.

Obviously much of the beauty was created while the church was steeped in this tradition, and I am well over a thousand years late in my observations of this. But it is truly a shame to consider and sobering to look at, as the beauty is a reminder of what once was, and a reminder of what could be for the rest of the Christian church. Let those cathedrals never fall, and always stand as a reminder to us... and a warning.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Something Better To Do

There's always lots to do when you own a home. But we are blessed with great family and friends who enjoy helping us. We've only lived in this house for three months, but already so much has been done. And not through little effort on our part. However, so much of it wouldn't have gotten done without the kind assistance of our family and friends. Everything from helping us move, to lending us equipment, to volunteering time, to electrical assistance, to helping plant new plants, to digging out weeds, to dragging brush, to cutting down trees, to hanging a heavy television, to stacking wood, to transporting furniture or appliances, to many gifts...and the list goes on.

It's truly appreciated and means a great deal to us. We feel blessed beyond measure as we know not everyone has such an array of people in their lives who are as generous. I, for one, enjoy helping people, but I haven't experienced this kind of help in my own life until recently. Not that people wouldn't have done things before, but because living in an apartment doesn't require work or assistance in the non-work. Living in a house gives you something better to do with your time. It keeps you busy; and that is a good thing at times. I'm just glad that people found it worthwhile to help us in our initial period of adjustment.

And I have no doubt that one day we will be given the opportunity to return the favors. Hopefully many times over.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Let Your Words Be Few

"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use." -Soren Kierkegaard

Too often we are too quick to speak. We ramble on about things we do not understand, or we speak of matters that we know nothing of. We say things we do not truly mean or intend. Or we say things that we do intend but ought not be spoken. We speak when we should be silent. The consequences of this are endless and altogether destructive and useful for little.

What if our words were fewer than they are? What if we stopped ourselves before speaking and thought about what we were going to say before we said it? What if we chose to not speak about things we didn't understand? What if we thought about the impact our words have on people before it was to late? What if our words were edifying?

"The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly." Proverbs 15:2

I think if we did this, it would go a long way in improving a great many things. Sometimes silence can be a very good thing.

"The wise speak only of what they know " - J.R.R. Tolkien

Saturday, September 18, 2010

...When All Other Lights Go Out

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Nelson Mandela

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Best Monkey In All the Land

Life at times can be a challenge. Obvious enough. But even while in the darkest moments you can always find something that can make you smile, it doesn't remove the difficulty itself. Yet, I will say that focusing on the positive things will go a long way in keeping one's spirits up. It is expected of us by God.

So what do we do when we find ourselves facing difficult times? I've been asking myself this every day lately. Is my life terribly hard? No. But I've discovered myself in a job that is not suited for me. It has all the aspects of what you might imagine from a job not suited for a person; stress, frustration, burn-out... And lately it's been getting worse by the day. For me, it's a job. But jobs consume the majority of our waking hours. So for me, it's a big deal.

"We're treated like a bunch of monkeys," a coworker commented the other day. It's true. How we're treated has gone down while our workload has gone up. It's not likely to change. In fact, we've been promised it'll continue to get worse. I'd love to move on to a new job tomorrow, but very often in life some things are just out of your control.

Or are they? Sure, I can't give myself a new job or change how management does things, but there are things in my control. My attitude for one (easier said than done sometimes!) and how I approach my job. I may be treated like a monkey... but I will try to be the very best monkey I can be. God expects my best regardless of the circumstances, because ultimately He's brought me to this point. So my response must be to be the best monkey and stand out because of it. © 2010. layout by Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness