Sunday, November 30, 2008

good fires

"It is better to burn out than to rust out." - Henry F. Lyte

There have been many goings-on the last three days. I have been enjoying, perhaps even too much, the rest offered by the advent of the holiday season. Two of our guys are offering themselves for baptism. I love these guys. They bring great happiness to our Church--your Church (they can also catch a football pretty well!). Last night we had an Ordinary Guy movie night. Our few ordinary guys came and left changed. This last week I have also been visited by 10+ people from my previous homeland, Pullman. I love the enduring work of God. Please pray for SOMA and the new Black Horse Band as they all continue to minister at the Evangelical Free Church in Pullman.

For the next four weeks we will be having Sunday Classes at Coffee Oasis teaching on what it means to be a Church, what we believe, and the vision of The Refuge (the Church that meets at the shop). Pray for me as I study to teach next week. Please pray that my words will bring joy to those that hear. My heart is heavy with the knowledge that my words have at times been harmful rather than healing. I do not want my tongue to cause the spark that lights the blaze of doubt or bitterness in anyones heart. I beseech you to pray that I speak plainly and lovingly, even lovely, and highly of Him who is forever true.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

thankful for generations

"Well," my Grandfather thoughtfully began, "I was nearly engaged to an Adventist once." It was the beginning to a story. While abiding by our planned 20-minute interlude between dinner and dessert (two marvelous "d" words!) I, being prompted by my Grandmother, had asked my Grandfather a question. He went on, "We met at a skating rink. After a couple months of dating I realized that we believed very differently, and it was about that time I met your Grandmother." Every soul was intent as my Grandfather remembered. I am thankful to hear those memories. The years and the Parkinsons make every memory a prize to be won. They fall and rush from a limited vessel like the precious water from Bethleham's wells that David longed for in his exile. I find myself filled with faith during those times of hearing. Just as God has taken care, He will again and forevermore. I am thankful that he left that pretty little Adventist girl. I am thankful that that young Air Force officer, Albert Lauer (whom I owe my middle name to) met another girl, Janet Frohmader, a pretty young brunette heading off for a college degree. I am thankful that my Grandfather is a man of conviction. And I am thankful for the generations that feasted together today proving the worth of such conviction and the timeless faithfulness of God.

ps. pray for a man that I sat with on Wednesday. We sat for some time in a curtain drawn room singing hymns and praying. He struggles with deep depression and abiding discontentment with himself. I understand both of these struggles. One of the refrains God brought to mind to sing while I was there was, "When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. / On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

pps. I watched the movie "Get Smart" (the new one) 1.5 times last night and laughed pretty hard. A reminder how good it is to laugh.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

dam the river, Lord! dam the river!

“The best of all is God with us. When He is ready I am ready; I long to taste the joys of the heavenlies.” - E.M. Bounds

A beautiful day. Such a simple word--beautiful--but a true definition. At the coffee shop we see an endless flow of people. All sorts of people: odd, normal, spectacular. Please pray that God will throw his net out into this flow and pull in a big catch. I pray to be a better fisherman. I lack that killer instinct. I think there should be an instinct in every Christian to be a little reckless. To get in their and pull em' out. I can be pretty timid. Please pray that I will proclaim Christ with boldness (isn't it surprising that Paul asked for that same prayer?). I have been challenged reading on the lives and actions of George Whitefield and John Wesley. They still preach.

As trite as it sounds I also ask you to pray for quick healing for my left quadricept. I strained it again pretty bad playing football this Sunday. It is terribly hard to be out of the action. As surprising as it may sound, those times of sports are an excellent ways of showing guys love (even if it involves pushing them around). Oh that Christ may be preached in every way. I can be so plain and one-dimensional. "Here am I."

Monday, November 24, 2008

when the sun begins its course

"To meditate on the three Persons of the Godhead is to walk in thought through the garden eastward in Eden and to tread on holy ground." - Tozer

"One God! One Majesty!
There is no God but Thee!
Unbounded, unextended Unity!

Unfathomable Sea!
All life is out of Thee,
And Thy life is Thy blissful Unity." - Frederick Faber

"Batter my heart, three Person God." - Donne

I took an early morning to walk eastward in Eden. I was impressed this morning by how much of the Bible is about me. Or should I say, "concerns me." It is because God is; because God "loved me and gave Himself for me." Love is an exchange and God, above all others, has shown Himself to be unselfish in His romance. It is not a gospel about me though. Still, in a relationship there is a me and another. "I am my beloveds, and His desire is for me." We are not nothing, but persons that have senses and affections, tissue and bone, mind and intellect, spirit, deepness that will cry out to deepness. All of ourselves was meant to be united with all the beautiful, coherent, intertwining, and blessed unity of the Godhead. Though I often feel dumb and helpless with the way I am using my body God instructs us in the way things should be done. He speaks of my eyes and my hands, He looks at my mind and my heart, He offers how I should use my mouth and where to place my feet. When I read the Bible I hear the voice of God saying, "This is the good way, walk in it!"

Please pray for me as the week begins. I was very tired and tempted at the end of last week.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jesus--fully immersed

After a late night at the coffee shop I woke with the robins share the morning worms with my uncle (ha! some analogies work better than others). Every once in awhile my uncle and I will sit down and talk. I am grateful for his insight. Even on the drive home I thanked God for the particular insight that God gave him into my own life. We, you and I, spend much of our lives not knowing what exactly God is making us into. I think it keeps us humble. "Here am I, God. Just me. All I have is me to give. Send me, use me, I'll go" (Isaiah 6). I consider each decided step Jesus took into the Jordan river to be baptized by John. Jesus knew that this humbling moment would relate Him with the manhood, and the full sin--your sin and mine and everyone elses--that comes with that, forever. With each step He became wetter. Has any lamb walked so willfully through the blood toward the altar? With each step he felt the lapping water rise up against his human form. He knew what this meant. "Look the lamb of God (they pointed and starred) who has come to take the sin of the world." Then, supported by the rough touch of human hands, He bowed down into the water. He was now completely wet. The river wind made Him cold. "Not my will, but Yours be done."

"This is my Son," the Father beamed, "With Him I am well pleased."

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Friday, November 21, 2008

the eventide

"True religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear upon time." - A.W. Tozer

I apologize for the infrequency between posts this past week. I have made a commitment not work on my computer after 10pm. This commitment was made for several reason: those late hours can easily be wasted rather than cherished (they are usually best spent with a hot beverage, a good book, and a chair that makes prayer easy; though they are often spent with souls), I also do not always think clearly at those times (by that time my thoughts are a strong potions of passions mixed from the happenings of a long day), and I would like to get to bed earlier so as to "rise on the wings of dawn" the following day. Even now I am writing with only 10 minutes before work and cannot write long. Last night after a 4 hour meeting I walked out on a local pier and prayed, surrounded by a great expanse of dim city darkness. Either side of the large dock I looked over it was peering into a rippling reminder of God's constant faithfulness. He is even more constant than the tide. "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide / the darkness deep, O Lord, with me abide.../ swift to its close, ebbs out life's little day / earths joys grow dim its glories fade away... / O Lord, abide with me." I plunge with willful helplessness into that faithful tide of grace. God's plan is being revealed and I look forward to the blessings of a nearer walk with my Savior.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

past the the buzz and glow

Here is an article I wrote for the recent Hope in Christ Ministries Newsletter (pardon for the late night writing without extensive editing):

Sometimes it feels like we are in the business of “hoping against hope” (Romans 4:18). It is not only challenging to believe that some will be saved; it is often a challenge to believe that they will come at all. We cannot offer the flashy entertainment of an arcade or, like Peter and John in Acts, we don’t have the cash it would take to keep them interested; but, here is the secret, we as a staff trust that God has and is preparing a harvest. So I sat and waited. It was not like I was just waiting, I had an appointment. We were to meet at 2 o’clock. I made myself busy as the minute walked slowly around towards 3 o’clock and decided to opt for plan B: track em’ down. You see, if God was willing to leave heaven to track us down, then why shouldn’t I be willing to walk a few blocks up the street. The house where the boy lived is a frequent stop for the ministry staff as we make our afternoon rounds to minister to people. We are known by name there and are usually a welcoming distraction from the buzz and glow of the television that is a constant presence in the gloomy sitting room. The boy that I had come to see opened the door after a few knocks and invited me inside to the gloomy room, filled with the usual buzz and glow. It was a musty darkness. It was as though nothing had happened. He didn’t want to take the effort to feel, much less to care. He had already felt the emotion of defeat when he woke-up, and then came the paperwork, and the memory of yesterday’s failures, and the expectation of tomorrow’s failures. Who really would care if he left the couch at all today? Since Jesus and me did, the three of us sat down and talked about the worth of a soul—of his soul—to the one and only God of the universe. We wore new creases in our Bibles flipping from the Old Testament to the New, then back again, and again! “So what does it means to be saved? You know, for me to know that I am really saved?” He finally asked. “Well,” I began, “It means that you know and believe with your whole heart and soul and mind that Jesus—who is God and perfect—took your sins when He died, so that you can be pure and clean before God; and even more, so that you could be a son of God!” (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8) We talked on about how his title is would long “sinner,” but “son” through the work of the Holy Spirit in the new birth, as Jesus once explained to another on a dark and gloomy rooftop, with the buzz and glow of the city below (John 3). While we talked the darkness fled and the hum grew faint, as I am sure it did on that night long ago when Nicodemus sat with Jesus. God was all we wanted. So we kept on talking. We talked about baptism, letting the world know how good it was to be saved, living in truth and trusting the counsel of the Holy Spirit, and we ended our time in earnest prayer. O God, may we never forget the words that were spoken. May we never forget your final Word—Jesus. Thank and praise God with us for the ears that are finally being opened to hear the Gospel. “Raindrops of mercy are falling, but for the showers we plead.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The only time you will here me speak on the subject (or in someone else's words)

Sometimes you are divinely spoiled: heated seats on the drive to work.

I had to work-out at home today due to a strained quadricept from the game of football (please don't imagine me being tough though. It was two-had-touch and I was wide-open when I came up lame). What added to the pain of being lame was that the world was lovely today and I could not be outside running. While I was laboring inside to not think of the outside I stumbled across a special book. There was a page forcefully dog-eared, a bookmarked memory from someone else's effort to preserve a hallowed spot of prosaic wisdom forever. The chapter that was meant to be read again was underlined and marked-up with excited strokes, now fading, from a #2 pencil. Here are parts of the chapter:

"You and I have known, either personally or through their writings, some great single women and men whose lives were rich and fruitful because they understood a paradoxical spiritual principle: 'If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a well watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.' Here, I think lies the answer to the barrenness of a single life, or a life that might otherwise be selfish or lonely. It is the answer, I have found, to depression as well. You yourself will be given a light in exchange for pouring yourself out for the hungry; you yourself will get guidance, the satisfaction of your longing, and strength, when you 'pour yourself out,' when you make the satisfaction of somebody else's desire your own concern; you yourself will be a source of refreshment, a builder, a leader into healing and rest at a time when things around you seem to have crumbled....Amy Carmichael of India never married, though there are faint hints in her biography that she had had to make a choice and that it was an extremely painful thing for her to take up a cross which meant leaving a man forever. But her life was a watered garden, to the hundreds of Indian children who came under her care, and to the thousands who read her books....St. Ignatius of Loyola prayed, 'Teach us, Good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest; to give and not count the cost; to fight and not heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.'"


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

we are not donkeys for burden

There was a call last night that woke my parents up: "Will you take me to the hospital?"

Please pray.

It was a conversation I had this evening with someone I love very much: "yeah people screw up and hurt you, push you away from God, but that doesn't change God," I told her. It's true, God is love.

Please pray.

When Nehemiah saw the walls of Jerusalem in ruin he wept. I cannot remember the last time I lost myself and cried seeing a broken and ruined temple walking in front of my eyes. They were created for beauty and love, not this.

Please pray.

My life is hidden in Christ.

Give thanks with me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

to be more than a toy soldiers

I could quote you a number of authors if you wanted, but you would not know anything about me. If you wanted to hear my thoughts on any number of sermons or concerning the men that I respect I could list them for you in impressive fashion. I once talked to a fellow who followed Sir Mix-a-lot, the famed Bremerton rapper, through the aisles of a retail store. I have a quote for almost anything. There are key terms that I have logged away just to make me comfortable in many educated circles. Vanity, all vanity. Do you know what it is like to chase after the wind? I do. Many will come in that day and say, "Lord, Lord!", and the Lord will say, "You only read about me and talked about me." O heart, what is your true song? O life, what is your testimony? When will we be real. There must be something within the houses that are being built, and all rocks and gold will be burned away. Have you drank from the cherished water of another, but find yourself thirsty when you are alone. Can you feel rushing within you the fount of living water that Jesus offered the Samaritan woman. He offers it to you. You CAN live a life worthy of the calling--"Not by might nor by strength, but by My Spirit." I often feel that words take on a more authoritative tone when I am quoting dead puritans, even though the Spirit dwells within even me--"not a Spirit of timidity, but of POWER and LOVE and of a SOUND MIND." Perhaps there are deserts or nights or even heights that God has taken you through with His strong hand and has given you an intimate look at His character--you know what it is like to hold His hand--but there remains something that keeps us from praising and testifying. Most serious Christians have a fear of being too holy. It is not their non-christian friends that make them feel awkward. It is more the lonely, sideways silence of seriousness that slips in when God is brought into discourse among believers. I do not want to have to warm-up to talking about God. God needs no ice-breaker. God created you and all your senses of delight and emotions. He is the man of all seasons. He created the moon and the stars and the galaxies far beyond the reach or imagination of our largest zoom lenses or fantastic fictions. He created life and fun and falling leaves. "He formed the light and created darkness." Yes, darkness too. "Let EVERYTHING that has breath praise the Lord!" There is a need for full hearted Christians that are not given to parroting ideas. God wants men and women that live brilliantly--inspired by the Holy Spirit to do the works that He prepared for them. He is not putting out want-ads for argyle sweater wearing, pipe smoking, dark beer drinking, church historians, not even for the cool abercrombie, ripped-hatters (though He'll all who come humbly). He wants men and women who love Him with all their heart and soul and mind. There are some that would take issue with this and seek to clarify. There are those that string together lists of things that must be taught and learned before anyone can teach the scripture. I think that even the down syndrome man can tell the whole truth with speaking the name of Jesus and beaming a smile. Yes, there are many ways to preach it wrongly, but let us not hinder the many ways that there are to preach it right. Do not silence, rather encourage and instruct, those who "cannot help but tell all that God has done for them." Was it not the dirty smell of fish, the missing education, and the power of the Holy Spirit that stood out to the pharisees when they looked at the Apostles. Can you compare notes on how it feels to be ready to be burned at the stake? We all can stand with David's wife, Michal, and try to sensor his dancing, but we will never be a people who are remembered by our heart of God (gasp!). Honestly, I think I would feel uncomfortable around someone who was silly in love with Jesus. Oswald Chambers asked me a question one morning that burned into my heart: "Have you ever be carried away for Him?" God, here is my heart. Please do something with it. Something.... Let us give our lives, not just build our libraries!!! "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me...The I said, "Here I am...I have come to do your will, O God."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Voting Psalms 2 and An Ended Week

"Why are the nations in an uproar
and the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers take counsel together...
He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain...
Ask of me and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession...
Now therefor, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the Lord with reverence
and rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry,
and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him."
Thank you all who prayed for the time of worship and teaching on Sunday. Sometimes I can only express my feelings in ways that I have sung them before: "I need Thee, O I need Thee, every hour I need Thee. O bless me, Thou my Savior, I come to Thee." My hour of need was as brilliantly obvious as a harvest moon on a cloudless night. It is as though everyone could have pointed it out at once, completing my exposure, much like in the case of the emperors new clothes. As I expressed it to a friend, it is rare that I stand before a group of people and do not find myself to be the most needy for a message. I am often scared of trying to win men with words and then scared of my articulation being too bland. Then Jesus arises in my hearts, just as he towered from his wee boat over the tempting Galilean waves, and speaks clearly to me, "Be still." It is Him that it is all about. Both eloquence or elocution bow meaninglessly low in His presence. "Freedom is not for us and what we want. Freedom is to be a slave to to the Son." It was the message. A message that is freedom in believing. Freedom isn't preaching a good sermon, or voting for the right presidential candidate, or finally kickin' the habit; no, freedom is found in Jesus. You see Jesus isn't found in quitting your addictions or being enlightened from your present slumber. Jesus CANNOT be compared even to these important experience. His words only call out the love of those who cherish eternity in their hearts and will subject themselves no longer to the fantasies and temperaments of passing pleasures. Has it ever really dawned on you that God made you and knows what you really need. He does not want you to just keep walking and at some point He will come along and join you in-stride; no, Jesus wants you to be born again. "He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Friday Night:
Sometimes you know why a person did what they did (to put it plainly). It was his birthday and nobody knew. Well, that is not completely true. I think it would be true to say that nobody knew what was in his heart--just how much he wanted to be loved on that day. He had told a few people and his family knew; but, his family did not want to pick him up and the others forgot or had other things to do. So he came down early to the coffee shop, dressed in a dark brown-styled UPS uniform for Halloween. There are only a few people to mingle with, most are busy, too busy to stop or remember. It's not worth it. So he asks a girl if she has any she could sell. She tells. He lies. He hears himself over and over again...lying. "I am a waste." Broken he returns home. The birthday was a waste, I am a waste. Unable to obtain green chemical comfort, he takes too many sleeping pills and passes out on the couch. By the middle of teen night the pieces had puzzled themselves together and I was walking up to pull him off the couch and tell him how much he was loved--how happy I was that he was born and that it was his birthday. We read through John and I told him about new birth. He was fascinated that when people practice truth they want their deeds to be made known before men and God (paraphrase of John 3:21). Please pray for this young man. I don't know if he remembers that night.