Tuesday, December 29, 2009

newton's friendship, a good friendship

A few happy lines on friendship from John Newton's biography, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace, that I am currently reading:

"I love you; I love your company because I believe the Lord speaks through you to my heart, and therefore I wish to see you as often as I can," wrote Newton to his friend Willian Bull. Bull later characterized their friendship in equally affectionate terms, writing to Newton, "Sometime I think nobody loves me, and it makes me very low. But I know you do, and I am sure Jonathan did not love David more than I do you."

At the heart of the intimate friendship between Newton and Bull lay prayer, Bible reading, and theological discussion. It was also a caring relationship, for Bull could become depressed and melancholic in the depth of winter. Newton was skillful at jollying his friend out of these moods with teases, laughter, and long sessions of convivial pipe smoking. The flavor of these encounters was captured in some lines of doggerel written by Newton in anticipation of visiting Bull:

A theosophic pipe with brother B
Beneath the shadow of his favorite tree
And then how happy I! how cheerful he!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

impressed by grandmother

On Christmas Eve we hosted 150 people at the Oasis. The evening had several miraculous events. The church that was supposed to bring dinner brought sloppy joes enough for 30 people. The week before brought in enough donations of random food items that the staff was able to cook a turkey dinner with all the traditional sides for all to eat and be filled. We gave out presents to 137 people. One of the older gentlemen that sings in rich baritone told me, "there was a Beatles song 'look at all the lonely people...' these are the lonely people." Before returning to my parents house for the night I dropped of one of the guys that came at the woods behind K-Mart.

On Christmas Day we made a trip to West Seattle and then to Roy, WA. These stops came after picking up my grandmother in Puyallup. During our conversation she told me about meeting Jim Elliot while he was doing itinerant ministry with his Dad in Billings, Montana. "He was the serious sort don't always immediately show their joy...serious about everything. You could see it in his courtship. That girl of his was serious too, and smart... He was different. Jim was a man who would was willing to give anything up for God. That is what made him different. We don't have many missionaries like that anymore." Her dad, my great-grandfather, would frequently have private times of prayer with Jim's dad.

I have never seen a fairer December 26th. There is a place I like to go on my runs that overlooks the Bremerton Narrows and sits high enough to give a panoramic of the Olympic Mountains. I met an old widow who lived in the nearest condo to my prayer spot. She wore sweats that matched the flowers she watered. Her husband had died 6 years earlier and she told me that it got lonesome. So we talked for 20 minutes before I finished my run. These are the days you don't know what to do with your heart.

Halfway through John Newton's biography that I was given on Christmas Eve. The man so well know for writing of amazing grace badly needed it himself. I would like to understand mercy better.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

after bainbridge

Here is a clip from last nights concert:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYbjtQBhGjk

went to the play Peter Pan on Bainbridge Island for Stephanie's birthday today. Listened to a new Taylor Swift album that Stephanie was given. You can take this as a confession: I enjoyed her singing. Stunned by the thought again of how man was not made to be alone (ha! of course you get those thoughts from country music). I have tried to work marriage out of my theology many times. We often discuss needs of the heart with fluffy spiritual-isms, when God actually made man to not be alone. Loneliness should never be fought by spiritualization. Spiritualization can take two forms, both negative. The first is declaring Independence from humanity ("I can do it by myself"). The other is blaming God for not spiritually meeting the needs that He has created us for ("God must not be real, or I must not be spiritual, because I feel lonely"). This is like a man in a grocery store complaining of hunger. I am far from naive when it comes to the difficulty of relationships. But what are we to expect when love calls us to be "patient, kind, hoping, trusting, longsuffering, gentle....?" Oh "if our love were but more simple we would take Him at His word, and our lives would be all beauty in His beauty." This is more than romantic thinking. I believe God made us to live open lives--naked lives. But there is so much that we try to cover. You cannot imagine the number of times I have heard, "Oh, Daniel, if you only knew...." So we cover our shame with a tree branches and leave our consciences to somehow work themselves out. I tell you that they will not. There is good reason that we are instructed to apologize to a brother/sister before we take the communion (1 Corinthians 11). God wants us free from shameful ways. I would way rather have someone come and tell me something than have them eaten by inner turmoil. The message of the Bible repeats this message: God wants you free! "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom." You might say, "then why have I been bound for so long, Daniel?" I think we find ourselves shackled to joyless living because we have held onto things--hurts, doubts, skepticisms, behaviors, destruction relationship, habits--that mute the plain, straight, lovely message of the Holy Spirit that calls us to freedom and quiet moments on a mountaintop with someone you cherish, taking in the quiet scene and holding within an unhindered satisfaction in the One who made us for such things.

"Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find." - Proverbs 20:6

Saturday, December 19, 2009

for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn...

Practicing for the concert tonight with Nicole. 350+ showed up for the concert last night. The crowd was large enough that our staff of 15 was left to ask people not to hurt each other or buy/sell/use drugs in the overflow parking lot. We ask often: can God use even this? As longs as we are convinced that the answer is "yes" we will continue.

"the thrill of hope...."

Monday, December 14, 2009

two nights and two cities

It's 9:22pm and the Coffee Oasis just became quiet. I wish you could have stood with me tonight. There are many things that are hard understand when you sitting with people who have lost everything except for their pulse. Here are a few of the conversations I had today:

"Have you ever experienced warm death? You have never been homeless. I wish someone would just put me out of my misery. I am not suicidal, just in pain." She has been coming into the shelter regularly the last weeks that we have been open. They tell us the hard things because we care. Paul said that the apostles were people that were put upon public display because of their bold faith. I live and work with apostles. Everyday we hear what no one wants to hear because we take the time. They are not merely social workers. They have hearts that are soft and break.

...I was just called back to the carpetted side of the room. There is a mom with three kids ages 14, 7, and 6. Earlier the 14 year old was reading a book from school, but she told me that she is not much of a reader. She has the appearance of a very winsome girl for her age. Tonight she is sleeping on the floor of the Coffee Oasis. I apologize that I have nothing better. The large man from Guam smiled and told me that this was the best thing he could imagine. I feel like a father tonight. All my senses are heightened. You feel ready to defend and speak tenderly at the same time. There are two guys that have been disrespectful and causing me trouble. One mutters threats under his breath. I stayed in the back tonight longer than usual after lights out just so the kids would feel safe. I could see them looking around the room and resting their eyes on me looking for assurance that they are safe.

Earlier in the day I had an hour long talk with a 60 year old man who spent the last 30 year of his life addicted to dope. Both him and his girlfriend came to church on Sunday and he wanted to sit down and find out how he could volunteer. His eyes sparkled when he spoke about how much clearer his mind was now that he was clean, "there is a youthfulness. And you wouldn't believe it: I read my Bible and throughout the day God reminds of little things that I read."

The day began differently. By the request of one of the men that attended church yesterday I visited him and his girlfriend in Bremerton's hospice. Last Tuesday Lisa was given 2-7 days to live. She could not respond, and only fluttered her eyes when we prayed over her. There was indescribable peace in the room. When I talked with my dad about the situation later he told me, "D. has been learning a lot about love. He has been learning how to give it even when he is not receiving." As we prayed D. stroked the arm of his girlfriend telling her how beautiful she looked and how much he loved her. And there was peace.

I woke up this morning very refreshed. I needed preparing for this day.

Last night after a staff training in Port Orchard I ran to catch the ferry to Seattle to visit a friend whose parent had just arrived from Germany. The friend who went with me on the ferry asked me, "Daniel, what keeps you going?" (As many of you know, a cabin in the woods would suite me just fine:) "I know that I am loved," I told him. Galatians 2:20 is my joy, my life, my all.

In Seattle last night I flew up the elevator to the top of the Spaceneedle with a group of friends. Every 47 minutes the you spin 360, seeing miles in every direction. The ferries look like bathtub boats at that dizzying height. I am left to marvel at the difference between sipping hot butter rum, spinning atop the world with friend that I love and make me laugh, and sitting in a dark coffee shop praying over 12 people that have come here to be protected for one night. The only way I can marvel and not be overwhelmed is because I am loved. I knew today that I needed to be loved and not just love, I didn't have enough (ha! and I really enjoy love). I thought of the mountains and being with friends. To be honest I do not dream of working in these uncomfortable places. When I dream I think of flyfishing and campfires, throwing a football in the late spring, and large slices of watermelon. But the truth is that we do not live in a time of peace. There is a war for the hearts, minds, souls, and bodies of people and I cannot be passive. Love has bid me come...so I go....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

be near me

"Be near me
Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
and love me I pray."

These last lines of Away in the Manger sound like a prayer. You remember as you go, "and stay close by me, Jesus. Oh! And love me too...I need to feel Your love. I have been speaking so much lately and just need you near me. No one else. Just You, Jesus." Today Garret, Nate, Aaron B., and I drove to the National Forest outside of Quilcene and chopped down a Christmas tree. We hike down and and across a stream, up again and down again, across another stream and found the perfect tree. All was still and fresh.

One photo shot to take with you from the week was a scene on Monday night. Aaron B. and I had shelter duty on Monday night. In the last month we have seen 50 different individuals come in for shelter. The people that stay in the shelter come as different as baseball fans (you can never really tell a baseball fan, some are mean and drunk and others are sweet and fanatical like my grandma). On Monday we had a family of 7 come in to stay. A single mom and her six kids. The two youngest were twins. These two Aaron and I ended up swaddling and walking back and forth with until our shift was over at 10:30pm. There is another family, father and daughter, who stay at the shelter. Before sleeping they share a snack between themselves and whisper about the day. The little girl wakes up at 7 o'clock with the rest, but instead of wandering the streets she catches a bus to her middle school and spends the rest of the day fitting in seemlessly with the rest of the kids her age.

Just finished a Christmas party with 32 people cozy our little apartment.

"...and stay by my bed until morning is nigh..."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

with that sort of longing

"God wants us to long for Him with the longing that will become lovesickness...." - Tozer

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

to a mentor in endurance

Nate, Zack and I spent the evening writing Christmas cards that we had pre-made by Costco. The last card I wrote to Elisabeth Elliot. Here it is:

Dear Elisabeth Elliot,
I am sure that you receive a great deal of mail telling both of thankfulness and tragedy. Well, I to am thankful for your faithfulness--genuinely I am. The angels are still celebrating the wonder of God and the day He was born and in that assembly are men that you have loved and written about. Your writing has reminded me of that grand assembly who "endured" and "did not love their lives to much to lose them." We will be home soon too! I (the one in the rocking chair of the silly picture) am only 24 and pray to endure--to "live to the hilt!" It is the bravery of a God who would be born as a baby that compels, and it is only love that would go to that extent. Have a wonderful Christmas, Betty! I pray that God gives you much joy as you walk towards Home.
Sincerely, Daniel Frederick

Elisabeth Elliot has taught me several things clearly. Do not be satisfied with low expectations that are not built upon the faithfulness of God. Let me give you an example. In her books Mark of a Man, Shadow of the Almighty, Beyond Gates of Splendor and other I have seen a love and manliness that worships God. The world calls me to a cheap manhood. God calls me to know what I mean when I say, "I love you," both to God and to a girl. We should be prepared to have thrill, to seek, to protect, to worship, to war, to wait, and to endure. I am only a few pages from finishing the 500 page journal of Jim Elliot. He is a man I would have liked to hike a mountain alongside or read a good book beside or kneel in prayer with. One thing we must do to walk in that thrilling plan of God: give our whole lives without a speck reserved.

"We rest on Thee, our shield and our Defender,
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor
Victors, we rest with Thee through endless days."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December's 1st post-it notes

a snippet from my reading today in the autobiography of Ravi Zacharias, Walking from East to West: "I continue to miss Kip deeply. He became for me the kind of friend I'd always wanted. Kip was a fantastic conversationalist, and he and I and our wives shared a love for reading. We once took a trip together to the Grand Cayman Islands, and while our wives went snorkeling, Kip and I spent a whole day reading and talking, trading off reading passages from several books. I can't express the pleasure we had that day as we exchanged knowledge, wonder, beauty, and joy."

"Goodbye dan-danul!" Today was the first day Titus could pronounce my name.

Left Issaquah early in the morning to return to Bremerton for work. A great night before was spent with a few friends who are working with two different churches in Issaquah. I learned a lot by listening a lot. Some evening it seems much more natural to just be quiet. Mike is working at training men. E.M. Bounds say, "Men are God's method." If we are living shameless and strong gospel centered lives we need to be reproducing ourselves. It is necessary as the work continues to grow in Bremerton. And I would like to live thoroughly all the days that I am kept here.

Beautiful to hear the prayer of T. tonight. He joined us for prayer at our little gathering at my parent's house. He has lived with Pat and Erica for the last two weeks and is moving into a boat owned by another man in our church next week. Since he was in his teen years T. has lived homeless and restless, and now he is 48. He is gentle and full of thanksgiving. Whether it is him or Julianna praying in Spanish it is tremendous for me to go to these nights of prayer even when my body is tired and reluctant.

4 police officers killed in Lakewood, WA yesterday. I thought of it often today.

Christmas party at the Wie-derick apartment on the 12th and all are invited. We are snowshoeing into the wilderness that morning to cut a tree and will be decorating it that night. (the picture above is front photo on our "serious" Christmas card.)

Playing a concert with Luke Morton on Sunday in Issaquah. All are invited to that also. Starts at 3:45.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Doubting Thomas

A few clips from the last week:

"Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear." - Mother Teresa (the last years of her life Mother Teresa struggled with serious doubts. She viewed herself as relating with the suffering of Christ. I bought this week the song Doubting Thomas by Nickel Creek. I think what hurts and what we desire is the same thing: to be cared for. I want that too. We ask over and over again--to make sure--can I trust You, Lord? There are times that we have found trust very easy. There has been a time when it was pleasurable. We call those springtime and we call our despair the winter. One is bright with life and one is bleak, sapping, dull. What will bring us back to vitality? And we stand forcibly, painfully, resiliently still beside Thomas, "I will not believe unless...." What will bring us to belief again? Our older ages do not always give us better answers than the child. I was eager hearted as a child. But what does it mean like to "become like one of these" children? I think it means that we are more willing to love and be loved. Simple. It does not mean that we laugh with absurd naivete at the question when they come, but I think that we must trust in one who is loving. I am convinced that we often do not feel loved, not because we are not being loved, but because we do not know how to receive love. I can feel such obligation to expend myself, while forgetting that all of this can be done--even to the point of losing my own life--without love. Love! Let there be no fear or haze. God is love. A friend once told me as I labored over a philosophy paper about the nature of love that the answer was simple: God is love. We have grown older now and find that harder to understand, harder to believe. But love has not grown old, it has not changed. "O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee. I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow, may richer fuller be....")

"We have been trying to apply machine age methods to our relationship with God...Our thought habits are those of the scientist not of the worshipper. We are more likely to explain than to adore." - Tozer

"There never was a horse that couldn't be rode; there never was a man that couldn't be throwed." - Texas Bix Bender in Don't Squat With Yer Spurs On!

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." - Psalm 73

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

answer: let them in to your home

Coffee Oasis has been getting good press in the paper. A little clip from my meeting with the city and county yesterday (I was actually filling in for my father because he does not like schmoozing): http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/nov/17/advocates-call-for-a-safe-park-for-the-homeless/ . And another interview on the phone today about a large overnight gathering we are planning for homeless awareness Friday-Saturday. We have been meeting and talking non-stop. But there are still things that make you stop. Most of the time people are sleepers and talkers, dazed and moving. There is no moment like the moment that you finally and truly see. Like the shepherds watching their flocks in the fields at night when the angel came to them. "Behold I say to you...." And the rest is history. Beautiful history. Beautiful truth. The meeting I was speaking at yesterday had the goal of solving homelessness. The two best ideas that they came up with were safe places to park cars and legal tent cities. The last time I heard a car and a tent did not fall under the home category. I will tell you my idea. Let them into your home. Jesus said, "let the children come." Who is a child and who is your neighbor? Tonight the county bugle did not call for the emergency shelter so those that came seeking refuge from the cold were brought to home. My roommates are generous men and happily agreed to let two men stay at our apartment. We had pizza and talked late. Not like a slumber party. The stories we heard were to sad to be boyish fantasy and too real to be campfire tales. They are now sleeping in my living room. Full and thankful (I think). Now I will ask you honestly, what means more to a man: treating him with dignity or saying that he has dignity and doing nothing about it? G.K. Chesterton tells the story in his book "Orthodoxy" about the man of our age that goes from one meeting where he has taken pains to describe the special rights of humanity straight to another meeting of science where he tries to show in detail how humans are not different than roaming wild animals. We live in a society which is confused and without foundation. Wishing to believe in something substantial--to stand--but falling for through the gaping hole of courageous statements without absolute morality to defend them and a prayer for a better future with a belief that the universe is nothing but a large, silent, and dark chasm. There is hope in Jesus. He is the final Word. He created. And He came to redeem a people who will believe and stand upon the truth that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

shelters, hobbits, and brides

"It been a hard couple months..." "Then I got kicked out of there...then I got kicked out of there...sometimes you don't feel wanted." "Is this the men's shelter? Boy finally a stroke of luck in an unlucky day!" This is the men's shelter...and women's shelter....and....

Tonight I am staffing the Severe Weather Shelter at the Coffee Oasis. Last night the wind was blowing the rain sideways so it hit standing objects like a target. You could hear it from my side of the apartment pounding the wall as if it was slowly working its way through the wood and insulation. So today the call went out and we are open. Out of the three shelters in Kitsap County we are the only one that has been able to raise the staff needed to be open. As I type there are three sleeping soundly on the floor the game room in the back-end of the Oasis. When they came in we welcomed them and served them hot chocolate and told them that we are glad they came. We are. They have been told a lot of thing--called a lot of things. They have felt unwanted and tonight they are wanted. The two that came early watched the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on VHS. After the four hobbits have returned to the shire Frodo finished his uncle Bilbo's story, "There and Back Again." In the movie he finishes the book with these words: "There is a deep that is hard to understand, a wound that time does not heal." They have been deepened by the whole experience and do not rush back into the merry, green life of the shire. These are wounded people. It changes the way you see the world to hand three rough, gray wool blankets for three souls to sleep on blue camping pads on a thin brown rug in the back room of a coffee shop. At the part of the movie when King Aragorn tells the four hobbits, "you bow to no one," it made tears come to the eyes of one of the men. "I like that. I really like that," he told me. I believe that time alone cannot heal wounds. It can surround it with hard and stiff tissue, but it cannot heal. Have you ever seen an old veteran with a stiff wound? It is a plague in later years. I believe Jesus can heal those wounds. He can make new. There is also a deep in me that I find hard to express to any living soul. He knows that to. I am known. It is good to be known. There is much to fear if I am known by anyone that does not love me and will not endure with me. I believe Jesus does love me and will endure with me to the end. I believe Jesus is offering the same to you and these three sleeping in the next room. But he wants a true bride. He wants a bride in love with him. What other kind of bride would a bridegroom desire? Am I a pure bride?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

further up and further in

I did not prepare anything special for open mic at the Coffee Oasis tonight so I played my favorite Christmas song, "O Holy Night" ("Til' He appeared and the soul felt its worth!"), and read a portion of the last chapter of the last book of C.S. Lewis's series The Chronicles of Narnia. By now all the adventurers are gathered to their final home beyond the sea, the land of Aslan, where his rule is always understood and loved. It describes feelings such as exhaustion and fear impossible to experience or fear. It is a strange sensation to try to feel these limitation because they are no longer existent. The troop together--composed of Lady Polly, Lord Digory, Trinian, King Edmund, Queen Lucy, hounds, and several more--are racing and skipping and swimming further and further up the mountain and their cry is always the same, "further up and further in." It is want we want here. It should be no surprise when we find what we most deeply want is what we most deeply need also. We were meant to want more experience until we "know as we are known" (1 Corinthians 13). Until then we ache (Romans 8). Do not feel strange about your longing and do not try to fill it quickly or cheaply or easily. Set your eyes up and press in (Hebrews 12). "Further up and further in!"

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison...." - 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

discontinuing unbelief

"If I know something to be true, am I prepared to follow it even though it is contrary to what I want?" - Eric Liddell

"What peaceful hours I once enjoyed,
How set there memory still
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill." - William Cowper in Walking With God

Another day in Port Townsend. Not merely another day. Walked with Titus on my shoulders watching the infinite gallons of Puget Sound water swell, boom, spray, and repeat. Studied Romans. Predestination a little clearer reading through Romans without breaking. It is no less difficult for the philosophical challenge if allowed only to work within the modernist or postmodernist mind that places man on a chair in the middle. But if God is given his rightful place we understand things more quickly with ears perked, eyes bowed, on bended knee. Paul teaches predestination clearly, but continues to believe that nothing is considered lost to those that pray. Paul prays for people to "not continue in their unbelief" so they might "be grafted in" (Romans 11:23). And this concept works within the idea of God's election and choice. Dear soul, if you consider yourself lost and cut-off from fellowship, do not delay in that lonely place. I believe that those who seek Him will find Him no less satisfying. He will fulfill all His promises to you.

Listen to Ravi Zacharias speak on the issue of "Why Do I Not Feel My Faith?" (http://www.rzim.org/USA/Resources/Listen/JustThinking.aspx?archive=1&page=91). Appropriate companion to Romans.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Their Finest Hour

"Future generations may deem it noteworthy that the supreme question of whether we should fight on alone never found a place upon the War Cabinet agenda. It was taken for granted and as a matter of course by these men of all parties in the State, and we were much too busy to waste time upon such unreal, academic issues...The sense of duty dominates all else, and personal claims recede...no sense of Self entered into the minds of any of the very large number of gentleman I had to see...it caused pain to many honourable men...." - Winston Churchill in Their Finest Hour

How many of us are dominated by a sense of self that is debilitating to the claim of Christ upon our lives or the advancement of his kingdom in us and through us? Partly this is because there is so little urgency. Surely the word is not effected either negatively or positively if I spent another night in consideration, right? Wrong. Within a day or two the fast moving German forces would be atop Paris. Just another afternoon and your heart will be senseless and blind to divine light and wonderful conviction. When we feel only what we want to we abandon "the dangerous duty of delight," as one author called it. Do not be so foolish as to esteem yourself so much that the kingdom within you perishes and the kingdom around you loses a loved warrior. Fight! Not with blind swings for an unseen goal, but for the "joy set before endure."

Pleasant weekend in Port Townsend with the family. Trail runs along the cliffs, new brown belt at 25% off, playing trains with Titus, and reading books on a quiet afternoon. The parents and Stephanie are vacationing until Wednesday. Spoke at Lincoln Avenue Bible Church on the topic of youth and homelessness today. Short and too the point. Please pray for me and those that I love.

Monday, November 2, 2009

articles and thrills

Coffee Oasis got some press today:

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/nov/01/homeless-youth-service-expands-to-port-orchard/

reading for the internship today:

"We must know how a course of action fits into the over-all plan God has for our lives if it is to thrill our souls with a sense of destiny."

This is taken from Robert E. Coleman's fabulous little book titled Masterplan of Evangelism. Our actions should be calculated for fulfilling purose so they have eternal value--thrilling!

Friday, October 30, 2009

come home, hillbilly boy!

I just finished writing a the story/play for our halloween party. Here it is in full:

(for a follow-up to the evening. There was much spiritual warfare throughout the night. There was one time in the evening, after the play, that there were three groups ministering in prayer to different individuals. I had an opportunity to talk with each of these young people. One of the girls was trembling with inward pain. She would groan repeatedly, "I hurt so bad." She has secrets that she told me would keep me from loving her, even if I was a christian. I was firm, "I love you--we love you here. We will protect you." We cannot make such promises because we are strong, but because One who is strong dwells within. The night ended for me at 1 o'clock. The next day (the day that in which I am now writing) I went on a hike up to a favorite lookout in the area. On a clear blue day, the kind you wish for when taking a picnic, you can see all the way to Seattle. But Seattle is only a toy city in this view. Immediately in front is a valley down the edge of the cliff you are standing on that rises again onto a mirror mountain. It was a needed time to sit and pray. It is so good to "cast our cares" on the Father. Join me with whatever you have.)

Title: Come Home, Hillbilly Boy!


SCENE ONE:
The beauty of the farm -
Most stories begin “once upon a time,” but this could truly happen anytime. Did it happen at one time? Sure it did, and I will tell you that story. But what makes it a good story—like every good story—is that it could happen to me or you just the same.
I don’t know if your familiar with the area. This is the Appalachian Mountains, which stretch from the Great Smokey Mountains of South Carolina through the Catskill Mountains of New York and on North. The Appalachians are rugged and beautiful. It is not only the endless landscape of tree steepled mountains and loosed beasts that make these mountains rugged. The people do their own part to add to the unwelcoming legend that has grown here. If you got on your fastest horse and traveled due East from New York City you would eventually ride right up the mountains. Then once you start heading right on down the other side you would be sure to hit the Father’s farm. Of course it goes by a different name, but to separate it from all others farms we will give it that simple title. Set in a lush valley between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean—which if you paddled a boat across would set you down upon the desert sands of Africa—the Father’s farm was all that one might consider perfect as far as farming goes. I have been told you can hear whispers of His wheat harvest on the steamships that travel up and down the Mississippi and tales of the wild mustangs that are tamed there as far west as the gold rush towns of southern California. I would tell you more, but there is not enough time.

The characters -
The Father who lived on the farm had two boys. One Old and one Young—and for the sake of time that will also be their names. Old had graduated college by the time that the Young was graduating high school, and was planning on returning to the farm to continue the family legacy. There was opportunity for both of them there for the ranch, as we have mentioned before, cannot be measured by the eye for it spans over hills and across rivers; however, the younger son was not like the older. He didn’t want to go to college, work on the farm, and if we are going to be honest—like all true stories should be—he was not always excited to live in the same house with his family.

The discontent of the farm -
You might not find this difficulty unusual, but it must remembered that in farming and families it is sometimes hard to tell which one has been around longer—the bloodline or the dirt. The Father’s farm had been around for a long time. Some say, since even before the world began. So it was a big deal the Younger wanted to leave. He felt limited by the boundaries of the farm. The world was big and that meant that there must be something better out there. Poor reasoning, but mixed with earnest desire even the poorest reasoning affects the mind like a tonic.

Leaving home -
So one day, not long after the return of the Older from college, the Younger gathered the courage to approach the Father. Even this act might seem surprisingly undefiant, but above all the younger could not doubt that his Father was a loving man. He told the Father his desire to live in the world. “Over those mountains are places where building rise higher than trees and people ride machines like horse drawn carts,” the younger explained. The Father was not na├»ve to any of this. You see, the Father’s farm was a thriving place. Not only was there premium beef served in skyscraping restaurants from New York to New Delhi, but their crops supplied markets around the world with a rare quality of fruit. Knowing this the Father did not smile. He only replied, “Son I love you. I will not force you to remain. From what I have you may take. Only take what I have knowing that I love you.”

SCENE TWO:
The early beauty of the road -
The road seemed fresh to the younger son. New things usually do. In no time at all he saw new birds and trees that he had not seen on his side of the mountain. And for a while things seemed to blossom before him. The sun shone seemed to follow him over the mountain top. The road went on for quite some time and the younger grew tired. Being tired enough to sleep he dropped down beside a crossed street sign.

The meeting of a jovial friend -
What felt like only moments later he awoke to the bright whistle of another person coming down the road. The younger was what one would rightly call innocent. Never being outside the Father’s farm he thought of everyone as being connected by mutual kindness and respect. So he happily grabbed the oncoming fellow and gave him a hearty greeting. Without waiting for a response he told the other young man his whole history and his plans to see the world and of the ability he had to do just that, revealing all the wealth that was given to him by the Father. To this the new fellow then replied, “Ha! Well my friend you have met the right person. I am a sailor. I have seen the world (giving the Younger a slight wink and nudge with these words) and will be your guide. With what you have and what I know we will rule New York.” The Younger knew neither what the wink or nudge meant, but thought him very friendly so responded, “I don’t know New York, but I am done with the old, so let’s go my friend.”

The city -
The Younger had not completely picture New York wrongly. It was all he imagined, yet more. The light were brighter, building taller, and cars faster than he had described to all those back at the farm. Being sure of the rightness of his decision he settled down at once. Since he had always been taken care of before one of his concerns was managing his money. To his delight his new friend offered to help him with that and so he entrust all his inheritance to the capable hands of his first friend. The first of many I should say. In no time at all the Younger was a popular name in upscale New York. He learned that a “party” meant more than a barn and a fiddle. Here party meant people—lots of people—and twenty flavors of booze. At first it made him uncomfortable, especially the other things that came with this loud and fast environment. He had never kissed a girl before. Once he had winked at a girl the pretty redhead in the country church before, but it was nothing like this. As we said before, it was not comfortable at first, but with a little encouraging from his friend, “come on man, I thought you wanted to see the world. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge),” he finally slept with a girl who seemed to like him enough. She was really pretty and it was nice to get attention from her.

When our means end -
This went on for a quite a long time. The Father had given him a lot. Then one day the house was quiet. It was nice to finally have a quiet day so he thought nothing of it until the evening. By the evening the quiet was almost unbearable. It is hard to be alone when you have carried on for so long. He went out alone for the first time since he had entered the city (you know someone is familiar with a place when they just call it “the city”). The buildings did not seem tall anymore and the street lights seemed dull compared to the rays of sunlight that spanned across the silver lake back home. Home! It was so distant now, even hard to imagine. “Oh well,” He thought, “I would not be welcomed back anymore. Imagine telling Father what I have done. And Older brother always thought that he was better than me. Just think what he would say.” It was completely dark when he returned to the apartment without a yard that he now called home. His key didn’t work in the door, so he tried another. This evening does not allow for a complete retelling of the following events that would leave the Younger even more alone than before. You see, his friend (though it would be a disgrace to continue using that word for such a person) had indeed taken care of his money. He had paid the rent for exactly two months, with the rest he made the connections that he himself wanted and boarded a one way flight to Mexico.

Dejection -
To tell the truth the Younger looked quite silly sitting on the curb in his pajamas. He had not thought of changing when he went out for his evening walk and now that was all he had in the world. Being as resourceful as he could he rode the bus to the end of the free zone and then made it to the edge of town by hiding under the seats and then running off the bus. Despite his distance from innocence he still felt bad for doing such things. If you have ever walked further than from the bedroom to the kitchen in slippers you might find a little sympathy in your heart for our lonely boy. Dirt roads were made for pick-up trucks and boots, not the thin clothing and cloth shoes that this young man wore.

SCENE THREE:
A cruel master -
By watching the boy walk you might have thought all he had known was hardships. If his shoulders were not attached to his neck you would think they would have fallen to the ankles.
His hands remembered the work that he once knew so well so he headed back into farm country. Still on the waterless side of the mountains he found a pig farm and applied for a job. The master of the farm spoke in grunts and points. It is all you can expect from a man who lives alone with pigs.

Pigs of despondency and a hope beyond -
The man was not used to society or companionship—he too had been hurt by the world— so he made the boy sleep with the pigs and treated him little better than the animals that he fed. It might surprise you what the depressed heart can put up with. But there was something too familiar about the dirt to make him forget a memory that now seemed to be almost too distant to hold. It was a small thought, but a thought nonetheless. It was a moving picture of a loving man who owned a mansion. All his servants lived in the mansion with him and his table was never without food. One day it came to the young boy in a flurry of wonderful thoughts, that that man was his Father! His own father! “I know what I will do,” the boy spoke to himself, “I know that I am not worthy to be a son, because I did not listen to the loving words of my Father, but knowing his love I will ask for forgiveness and beg to be his servant. Oh how wonderfully he treats even his servants.” Fearing the wrath of the cruel master he currently worked for the Younger escaped in the middle of the night and upon finding the first road he headed due East back over the mountains.

SCENE FOUR:
A Father’s run -
Soon enough the boy began to see familiar things. The refreshed mind is an amazing thing. As he walked he remembered the names of trees and the songs of familiar birds. He rejoiced to be in this strange country that seemed so wrapped in love. How had he not understood this before? How could he think there was a better place in the whole universe? The place was so familiar now that he knew he was within shouting distance from the house. Then as if some unseen hand had grabbed the collar of his raggedy shirt he came to an abrupt stop. Could he really do this? Had he not taken advantage of the Father? He was not worthy and he knew that well. It seemed to be the greatest truth in the universe at that moment. He was not worthy to be loved. A terror filled his heart. Not a terror of the Father or this beautiful place, but a terror of all that he had done and become. He was not worthy and that was it. Numb and emotionless his body turned itself around and moved slowly back towards the dark trees and nothing. Then there was noise. A rustling and commotion, the sound of panting and running feet, and then an embrace. The Father had come!

The exchange -
It was the Father who finally turned the son around. “Ha! You do not think I would let you go again,” the Father spoke through bearded smile. The son, to overwhelmed, fell and could not lift his eyes or his hope for fear that it was not true. For hope is easy to lose and hard to regain. “Sir,” began the son, not daring to call him Father, “I am not worthy to be called your son. Please forgive me. Please, please just take me as your slave. I don’t even need to stay in your home, just let me stay in this beautiful place.”
“Son,” returned the Father, “I forgive you. Do you not remember what I told you when you left? From what I have you may take, because I love you. Be my son. That is what I want.”

A feast -
The Father and son returned to the farm arm in arm now being more aware of the beauty within than the beauty without. That night the whole farm feasted together like never before, because the son who was lost had been found.

There is more to be told. But I will leave that for another story.

But I will add this: There is a moral to be had from this story. The boy was lost. We can only be lost if there is such thing as being found—a place to be that once you are there you are found. Our hearts long for a home. They feel lost. The moral of the story is that there is a Father and you are a child. The moral of the story is “come home, hillbilly boy or girl!” Your spirit longs for it, but for a long time you have played in the city of sinful desire or sludged in the in trough of the pigs of depression and despair. “Go home, hillbilly boy or girl!” What awaits you is “foundess,” what waits is home. I do not pretend that all have memories of home for you are fond memories. Home may equal hurt for you. You have found pigs as companions even in the place you grew up. Perhaps you even grew up with the mean farmer as a father. Now that you have heard in this story of a good father and a warm home, I will tell you that it is true. You are loved and have been loved. God waits as a Father to welcome you home.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

go away

There is a sad reality with age: minutes shrink. I feel like I have less of them. Sometimes it takes a trip or a drive--a purposeful stretching of a moment--to elongate them again to pleasantly abide rather than hang-on and survive. There was no "in-betweens" today. You know what I mean, no between this and that to do little things. And it is not a problem of busyness. It is the problem of "The Busy." Perhaps you are lumped in that hurried group. Again and again I read in books how Martin Luther would not go a day without praying two to three hours. Proportionately the average christian spends more time telling people that they need to pray, rather than actually spending time in purposeful and violent intercessory prayer (a guess, not a statistic). "God use me." Here is my prayer. I don't want to use myself. I will exhaust me. God wants to refresh me. Jesus asked his disciples, "Come away with me for awhile." Only He knows how to fix and refresh our inner part. "As some of the poets have said, 'In Him we live and move and have our being'" (Acts 17).

Monday, October 26, 2009

His body a bridge

Much ado over the weekend, but I will leave the details to your intuitive prayer. One part of the weekend was Living Free classes at Destiny City Church in Tacoma, WA. We took 24+ to a three part class on living by the power of the Spirit, because of the victory Christ won for us. Another part of the weekend was starting "Sunday Lunch" at The Solid Rock Cafe in Port Orchard, WA (also known as Coffee Oasis III). 15 people showed up to eat chili and cornbread in a restraunt setting. We are partnering with New Life PO (and other churches soon!) to provide a meal every Sunday for those who are in need or homeless. The idea of being "in need" is so general. For some the need is no more than the ache for companionship or (most likely "and") to hear about Jesus who loved them and gave himself for them--an ever-satisfying water and food that they have not known or heard of (O but how many know and yet do not drink!). The majority of the people that came were homeless, but some also just wanted to share a meal. Please pray for these lunches as they take of and we look for more churches to fill the Sunday slots.

Great joy in the Spirit over the unblushing romance of God in Ephesians this morning. Hallelujah in the morning for the fog between the trees!

Here is a song a friend emailed me and I appreciated so much I thought it should be passed on (I recommend clicking on the youtube link and reading the lyrics as you listen to the song):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTwNkWPdHVw

I crewed on a fair golden ship that
Went down at the dawn of the world.
We mutinied and sentenced our captain to die,
‘Fore our sails had barely unfurled.

We sank shortly after our riot;
Wanton flame and our powder kegs met.
While I swam for my life there came voices aloft
-Joyful, unearthly, and dread -

Singing of a violent, tireless mystery:
That one would give his life to save his enemy.

Too bone-tired to keep my arms moving,
To swim or even grasp after straws.
The undertow drew me down into its cold
And infinite indigo jaws.

I heard singing of a violent, tireless mystery:
That one would give his life to save his enemy.

I thought I must be dead or dreaming,
When my captain - still battered, betrayed -
Pulled me up, laid me over the beam he’d clung to,
Breathed his last, and sank under the waves.

Your body is a bridge across an endless sea.
Your body is a bridge across an endless sea.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

11 o'clock waters

I watched the movie Bella tonight. It made me want to adopt. A quiet evening after a long day. Like the stillness that settles over 11 o'clock evening waters. We saw more homeless today than usual. Tent? Sleeping bag? "I just want to stay warm tonight..."

Friday, October 16, 2009

help for thanks

"It is better to lose your live than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not a book [Don't Waste Your Life] about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy." - J. Piper

(After making this post I spent the evening with a close friend that does not have the hope of Jesus. After rock climbing we spent the evening talking about poverty and compassion. After graduating from college with an engineering degree he began working a job that pays very well. People that get pay well are very aware that they are also being taxed well, and because they are being taxed well they feel that they are contributing. I told him that we cannot function on this capitalist view that money buys you an opinion on matters concerning the poor and hopeless. There are people that will never understand their poor neighbor because they do not have a correct view of material wealth. They have made it their salvation. "What can a man give in exchange for his soul?" If we learn anything from the story of the Good Samaritan it is that compassion equals taking the time to invest yourself and not merely resources. Reading John 3:16 we learn that God loved and gave. After we talked, I was able to read him the above passage from John Piper's book define the sharp edge of the line dividing our perspectives. In the end my dear friend, who I love, told me that he cannot think of giving up his weekends to expend himself for the needy. "Not all of us have a hope beyond this life...this life is all I have and I need to have fun." Could I judge him? How often that is the pleading tug of my own heart. Keith Green has a song "I find it hard to just ignore a billion starving people." The truth is that I find it too easy to ignore the starving. I grow accustomed to valuing my life and my heart and my pride. "He who tries to save his life in this world will lose it; he who loses his life for my [Jesus] sake will find it." Jesus present a new value system not as a means of guilt, but as a means of freedom. In Him we have the first-hand benefit of knowing the Creator and understanding how to be the created Imago Dei.)

By only looking I could probably only piece the story together half better than you. His mouth was only half full of teeth. His ripped 50 gallon black trash bag was filled until it was too heavy for his own arms to carry. Jacob and I met him at our table during out free meal at Salvation Army today. We know a good number of the attendees and it provides and opportunity to both reconnect and connect. This is the first time I had seen Donny. It is possible that we had met before, but the story is that Donny, now bald and baby-faced, had all his hair shaved off by his "girl" while he was sleeping. I told him the story of Samson. Donny is homeless. As we sat down Donny began to mumble barely audible words. The food at Sally's usually gives reason for mumbling even if it is free. As lunch let out at Sally's Jacob and I followed the exodus with Donny in tow, walking a few paces behind while I carried his awkward and heavy bag, filled with clothes and bread and apples. We had promised Donny that if he came back with us that we could replace his broken tent and give him warmer clothes for the onsetting winter. Like many who climb the stairs to our clothing closet, they come down with more than they expected. I don't know how to say "no." We have been given to very generously. My only question is how to encourage a thankful spirit. Out of the ten lepers that Jesus healed only one came back to say "thank you" and that was the one commended. The tent we live in will perish (2 Corinthians 5). How do we point beyond the excitement of finally having one warm night of sleep towards an eternity of safety. Continue to pray for wisdom and grace for us as we live open-handed and open-hearted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

blushed in blood

To shame our sins He blushed in blood;
He closed His eyes to show us God;
Let all the World fall down and know
That none but God such love can show.
- Bernard of Clairvaux

"Let him who cannot be alone beware of community....Let him who is not in community beware of being alone....Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a cure

After dropping my car off at Firestone for four new tires and an alignment Titus and my mother met me half way back to their house on Bledsoe Ave. Titus had a grumpy day. There are a few things that cure a grumpy day for a 1 1/2 year old boy. One is the Bosch bread mixer. He is fascinated by machines of all sizes from garbage trucks to bread mixers. He points and directs his carrier--being me--to the bread machine and hold on tightly, terrified to hear the roar that follows a slight flip of the on-off switch. Another thing that cures a grumpy day is being tossed around. He enjoys his uncles becoming a small-scale fair ride that twirls every which way, always landing him with his feet flat on the moving ground. Another cure for grumpiness is talking on the phone. Tonight Titus held the house phone and I called it on using my cell phone. Only he understood our conversation as we followed each other around the island counter at my parents house. Us poor adults with worries and cares can learn from these cures for grumpiness. Adult depression is often a form of childhood grumpiness with an added dose of personal responsibility, leading to despair. I believe God made things to excite us just like Titus is filled with terrific excitement at the whirl of the bread mixer. I am certain that we were meant to be tossed around by loving hands. To feel a playful nudge or be be jostled by a loving hug. And to talk. God made us hungry for communication. To hear and be heard. Remember that "God's ear is not too dull to hear...but your iniquities have separated you from your God" (Isaiah 59:2). God is your Father--a far better relationship than an uncle--and wants to add all these three elements to his and your relationship.

The whole day was not spent with Titus. Actually a very short time of the day was spent playing with my nephew with a blond mullet. After dinner I visited a friend at the Kitsap Mental Health Adult Inpatient Unit. I cannot tell the details of why he is in inpatient, but ask that you pray for him. I had an opportunity to pray with both him, his girlfriend (also visiting), and his roommate. His roommate was in KMH inpatient because he believed Jesus was angry with him and so he decided to jump off of the Manette bridge. Despite the fact that the Manette bridge is 80+ feet and that he could not swim God preserved his life and I was able to share with him the true Jesus. All of them will be coming in within the next week. Pray for God's healing and restoration of minds and souls.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

fantastic tales

Silverdale was wrapped in silvery fog this morning. Woke up a more coldy than I went to bed, but it feels little more than a desire to sit in a chair beside a fire-warmed hearth and read for a long evening. Tomorrow we officially become owners of the Solid Rock Cafe in Port Orchard. Pray for the details. Along with expanding locations we are expanding our staff. Pat Steele, Erica's husband, begins work tomorrow as our volunteer coordinator and liaison to local churches and businesses. Miracles abound, but none more fascinating than to see the work God continues to do in our hearts daily.

Here is a clip sent to me last week that you might enjoy taken from C.S. Lewis's fantastic tale The Silver Chair:
...The wood was so still that it was not difficult to decide where the sound was coming from. It grew clearer every moment and, sooner than she expected, she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass, running across the turf a stone's throw away from her. But although the sight of the water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn't rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason: just on this side of the stream lay the Lion. It lay with its head raised and its two fore-paws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square. She knew at once that it had seen her, for its eyes looked straight into hers for a moment and then turned away—as if it knew her quite well and didn't think much of her. "If I run away, it'll be after me in a moment," thought Jill. "And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth." Anyway, she couldn't have moved if she had tried, and she couldn't take her eyes off it. How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the Lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first. "If you're thirsty, you may drink." They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, "If you are thirsty, come and drink," and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realised that it was the Lion speaking. Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voice was not like a man's. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger, a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way. "Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion. "I'm dying of thirst," said Jill. "Then drink," said the Lion. "May I—could I—would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill. The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realised that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic. "Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if do come?" said Jill. "I make no promise," said the Lion. Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. "Do you eat girls?" she said. "I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it. "I daren't come and drink," said Jill. "Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion. "Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. I suppose I must go and look for another stream then." "There is no other stream," said the Lion...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

expansion!

Have you ever heard of Debbie Macomber? Here is a brief bio from her website: "Debbie Macomber, the author of BACK ON BLOSSOM STREET, SUSANNAH’S GARDEN, A GOOD YARN, THE SHOP ON BLOSSOM STREET, BETWEEN FRIENDS and the Cedar Cove series, is one of today’s leading voices in women’s fiction. A regular on every major bestseller list with more than 100 million copies of her books in print, the award-winning author celebrated a new career milestone in September 2007, when the latest in her Cedar Cove series, 74 SEASIDE AVENUE, scored #1 on the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, Publishers Weekly and Bookscan bestseller lists. Her popularity is worldwide with her books translated into twenty-three languages."

So why do I ask? Debbie Macomber is the owner of the building that the Solid Rock Cafe rents space from in Port Orchard. Last week the owners of the Solid Rock Cafe, located only a couple blocks from South Kitsap High School, called and asked if we were interested in buying their business. I will not offer many details, but ask for prayer. I set today aside for personal prayer concerning this expansion. Our ministry vision was to expand into Port Orchard in 2010, but sometimes God makes the mustard seed bloom early. After talking with the business owners and Debbie Macomber (yes, the Debbie Macomber) expansion is looking likely. Pray for wisdom for my Father and strength for the staff. Pray for my maturity. Pray that the word "Gospel" will not pass through my lips without me having conviction of the cost, promise, and reward.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

an open experience

"When Divine love slips into the inner spirit and takes over our habit patterns...there is no longer the tiring need to hide our inner selves from others." - Richard J. Foster

Clarity at teen night tonight. Pray for staff training tomorrow.

Frequent meditations on the experience of God and encouraged to include it more in declaring the promises of God in the full gospel. God does not just save us to have developed worldviews, but an intimate experience of HIMSELF. He offers HIMSELF. He takes our sin and gives us HIMSELF. Hudson Taylor and others have called it "the great exchange." It could also be called "the great fear." And Satan whispers the same temptation that he did to Jesus standing on the pinnacle of the temple, "will He catch you if you jump?" "Christian," he whispers, "will God be there when you are lonely." Prepare your response, "do not test the Lord." He has not changed, but how quickly we do! I talked with a sailor tonight for over a half-hour. He told me he was so experienced with sex that it has no pleasure anymore. He told me even that gets old. I told him that God redeems everything. He redeems it by offering HIMSELF. Our thoughts of pleasure do not reach what he can do with a new heart and an insatiable and high taste for Glory.

Frequent fantasies about flyfishing (ha!), but must burrow into work.

Monday, September 7, 2009

from home and dosewallips

Snagged four Cutthroat Trout Fly fishing the Dosewallips River. Enlivening. Wading through the whites of the sprinting stream to get closer to the perfect spot. Olympic Forest rain. 25+ head herd of elk. Even here I need to quiet my mind. If I don't stop and seek Him even there I will go the whole day without thinking. But when the mist settles over the river at 7 o'clock and the river valley is filled by the creeping avalanche of evening I am satisfied with the answers that He gives.

"Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below."
- Katharina Von Schlegel 1697-?

An old story was "brought home" last night. I went home to feast upon my mothers cooking, and was about to read to her from a Elisabeth Elliot's novel No Graven Image when a new member of the house walked into the kitchen. I greeted him and gave a short synopsis of the book and the author's story. I told him how Elisabeth ("Betts" as Jim would affectionately call her) went back to the tribe that had killed her husband and how God had worked in the hearts of the whole tribe. A contemplative look came over the man's face. "How can you forgive someone who killed someone that you loved?" He asked. "I have not had that happen," was my first response, "We are told, though, that God gave His saw His own Son die to forgive us who deserved that very same death. Our sins were the murderer. God does not tell us the story as a means of condemning us though. Christ was condemned instead. He tells us to let us know that forgiveness is available and that 'by His wounds we can be healed.'" I thought that I had given a pretty good answer. But there was more. "38 years ago," he continued, "a man kidnapped, raped, and murdered my sister and is now sitting in Walla Walla. His actions and the despair that followed made myself and my parents turn to alcoholism. I don't know how to forgive that. I was thinking about writing him a letter to tell him to seek forgiveness from God." We continued to talk until dinner was ready. Please pray for those that we talked to and for myself and the rest of the Oasis staff that see and hear. It is not that the answers we give our wrong, but sometimes I feel as though my mind and heart are not large enough.

"Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last."

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Uncle Tom's Cabin is one of the greatest books I have ever read.

remember, child

12:59am:

Kickin' it with kix cereal after teen night. Picked up a hitchhiker on the way home tonight who had a fabulous, long beard. He gave me an avocado!

Spent the last half-hour before leaving sitting in the empty shop with Curtis and Danny praying for ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters to be only satisfied with intimacy with God.

Ate at Salvation Army for lunch. The Major gave us an open invite to come often and interact with the others that come for a hot lunch.

In between music practice and teen night Jacob, Susannah and I had a Bible study at Megan's house. She is so eager to hear the word that she called because I was late. Thankfully she was merciful and forgave my terrible habit of lateness. Going through Mark (and the correlating parts in Matthew) I taught on the temptation of Jesus. I saw something new studying the temptations today. At the end of the baptism the Father speaks clearly, "You are my beloved Son." Satan's challenge was twice, "If you are the Son...." Forty days of fasting could have made the wonderful experience of the baptism seem distant, even unreal. What does only four days do to the experiences of intimacy that we have had with the Father? And then the deceiver taps, "are you really a child of God?" Are you? O but it was four days ago that you felt close! Why do I feel so distant now? Is it true? The scenario is little different than the setting in Eden and perhaps it will help you understand our first parents dilemma. The snake asked plainly, "did God really say?" Has God really told you that you can cast your cares on Him because He cares for you? Does that seem long ago? The promise has not changed, only you have. "But man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." How could we ever expect to live on bread alone when we are almost immedietly hungry again after eating. Jesus forcefully lived upon the satisfying and assuring word of the Father that does not change and by those same means can we survive, thrive and shine. He held to the words, "You are my Son; with you I am well pleased." Hold to the words, "you are my child......"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

telling of home and a future one

Just finished an evening prayer with my two roommates. I arrived several hours late for Zack's birthday dinner. Jacob, Erica, and I spent the afternoon in Seattle visiting the Orion Center (a multifaceted center for homeless youth). Please pray for my visit with the Homeless Liaison for the Central Kitsap school district tomorrow.

Here are a few excerpts from Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin:

"This, indeed, was home, --home--a word that George had never yet known a meaning for; and a belief in God, and trust in his providence began to encircle his heart, as, with a golden cloud of protection and confidence, dark, misanthropic, pining, atheistic doubts, and fierce despair, melted away before the light of a living Gospel, breathed in living faces, preached by a thousand unconscious acts of love and good will, which, like the cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple, shall never lose their reward."

"It is strange, then, that some tears fall on the pages of his Bible, as he lays it on the cotton-bale, and, with patient finger, threading his slow way from word to word, traces out its promises? Having learned late in life, Tom was but a slow reader, and passed on laboriously from verse to verse. Fortunate for him was it that the book he was intent on was one which slow reading cannot injure,--nay, one whose words, like ingots of gold, seem often to need to be weighed separately, that the mind may take in their priceless value. Let us follow him a moment, as, pointing to each word, and pronouncing each half aloud, he reads,
'let--not--your--heart--be--troubled. In--my--Father's--house--are--many--mansions--. I--go--to--prepare--a--place--for--you.'
Cicero, when he buried his darling and only daughter, had a heart as full of honest grief as poor Tom's,--perhaps no fuller, for both were only men;--but Cicero could pause over no such sublime words of hope, and look to no such future reunion; and if he had seen them, ten to one he would not have believed,--he must fill his head first with a thousand questions of authenticity of manuscript, and correctness of translation. But, to poor Tom, there it lay, just what he needed, so evidently true and divine that the possibility of a question never entered his simple head. It must be true; for, if not true, how could he live?
His Bible was thus marked through, from one end to the other, with a variety of styles and designations; so he could in a moment seize upon his favorite passages, without the labor of spelling out what lay between them;--and while it lay there before him, every passage breathing of some old home scene, and recalling some past enjoyment, his Bible seemed to him all of this life that remained, as well as the promise of a future one."

In speaking of the future one, please remember this Sunday in prayer as I preach on the last 2/3 of 1 Corinthians 15. "I tell you a mystery we will not all sleep, BUT we will all be changed." It is a sure things: we will be changed. Can we be ready? I am more stumped on how to preach this passage than I have been in a long while. Paul's first concern was that most live as thought there is no resurrection. Don't we act the same? I have said and heard, "O I long for heaven," while in reality there is little evidence that we believe in the forevermore. What would change if we lived with surety?

Monday, August 31, 2009

on behalf of the slave

Insightful excerpt from the letters of David Livingstone:
"The strangest disease I have seen in this country seems really to be broken-heartedness, and it attacks free men who have been captured and made slaves. Speaking with many who died from it, they ascribed their own pain to the heart, and placed the hand correctly on the spot, though many think that the organ stands high up under the breast-bone. Some slavers expressed surprise to me that they should die, seeing they had plenty to eat and no work....It seems to be really broken hearts of which they die."

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." - Luke 4:18-19

Speak and act on the behalf of the broken-hearted.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

why i enjoy good children's books

For those who know me (what a scary way to start a sentence!) I have have a few peculiar delights. One of those delights (the word "delights" reminds me of Aplets and Cotlets) is reading children's books. Not the modern kinds that try to dumb down life for a child to monosyllable onomatopoeia's. I like the charming depth of the old kind. Ha! You scoff, "Daniel, you always think older is better." Not true. I am thankful for indoor plumbing. I believe that a book makes a good companion. As much as I would like my children to spend time with other children that enjoy roaming in the wild and reading by a crackling fire I want them to enjoy the company of thoughtful literature that brightens the imagination and deepens the heart. Did I mention charming earlier? Yes, I did. I do not mean unrealistically fantastic or a means of escapism. What I mean is a taste of Eden's dew. You see, I believe God made the world quite a charming place, or as the Bible would simply say, "good." Yes, it is fallen too. That is only the second part of the story. The first part of the story is that it was made "good." The fall came in a far second and of that fact I need no reminder. Nearly every day last week I heard another story of broken relationships or bitterness of soul. So what do I mean? What charm is there to be had that is not mere fantasy? Let me tell you as I explain the book I picked up again this afternoon. The book titled Five Little Peppers: And How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. This is the first of the Little Pepper series published in 1881. It is the story of a mother ("Mamsie") who is raising five children on her own, the youngest perfectly named Phronsie. Told here: "But [Mamsie] met life too bravely to be beaten down now. So, with a stout heart and a cheery face, she had worked away day after day at making coats, and tailoring and mending of all descriptions. And she had seen with pride that couldn't be concealed her noisy, happy brood growing up around her, and filling her heart with comfort, and making the Little Brown House fairly ring with jollity and fun." You see, this story is doing something other than spinning a fancy tale, it is showing the beauty of truth. Truth which is not so complex that it has to be meeted out in philosophy textbooks, but is better illustrated in the hardworking mother with disheveled hair and a dirty apron. This story and 1 Corinthians 13 illustrate in the subtle brushstrokes of words how love is expressed. The way 1 Corinthians 13 leaves us is making the final claim that "these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." And I know, dear reader, that at this point I have lost many readers. Many, many would replace one of these three with pain or loneliness. A poem recently given to me by a friend left these lines after every verse: "Is life suffering and pain? / She said it made things easier to believe / Life is only suffering and pain." So what brings me to read with realism the chapters (with titles such as "Making Happiness for Mamsie," "The Cloud over the Little Brown House," "Sunshine again," or "Polly's Dismal Morning") of this classic children's book? Because there is a faith that is more solid than fear and hope more sure than despair and I am loved--O how truly I am loved. I realized again this last week as I led a Bible study on the Gospel of Mark at a new house where the girl had shrines in her room and was reading a book on how Jesus took advice from eastern gurus before his public ministry that the resurrection is a big claim. It is more fantastic than claiming that Mamsie brings joy to her "five little peppers", including Phronsie. I believe that God the Father so loved children that he sent His own Son to die. That is only the first part of the story. There is pain and loneliness even in this story. Those feelings are not lost in this story. "By His wounds you have been healed." He came to not to merely get close to your pain, but to take it away. He want to have your pain. He not only wants you to accept him as Almighty God, but as Loving Father. Oh isn't it charming? "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

Ha! So read good childrens books.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the hold

"I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ." - Philippians 3:12

Paul had been "laid hold of" and so he sought to "lay hold of". What are you pressing on for Christian? To lay hold of that for which you were laid hold of. By whom have you been laid hold? You were laid hold of by none other than Christ himself. "Because He loved me..." (Galatians 2:20) is the reason.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

aliens and strangers

Today I went back "home home" for a salmon dinner with my family. Do not take it as mere maternal bribery to bring the wayward son home; actually, the authentic Alaskan salmon was a treat provided by the Spanish-speaking girl from Guatemala who lives in one of the side rooms at my parents. She has grown quite attached to my mother. When I arrived there was a Spanish-speaking family, the Sanchez family, from our church already sitting in the living room, squeezed onto the left-most side of the couch. They had come to take Juliana to stay with them for the whole weekend. Or so was their intention. Juliana kindly told them that she would only stay one night because "Cindy [my mother] would miss her too much." Juliana is what some would call an "illegal immigrant." I will give you a face to remember the next time you hear about bi fences being built on our southern border. When Juliana traveled across the desert she went 5 days without food or water. This very week her uncle was just found laying face down in the same desert. The Sanchez Family has been working with the border authorities to see if there was any word on his whereabouts. They said that there are days when upwards of 50 immigrants are found dead in the deserts that have no natural division, but are claimed by two countries that don't have a care for the wandering soul that seek their own promised land. It is a lucrative business for the human traffickers that promise to guide the way. The pace is relentless and the standards inhumane. These are humans. But it is no matter to the human trafficker if some cannot handle the pace or take the successive days without food or water. They get their money either way--dead or alive. Pray and consider when you hear again about the border: who is my neighbor (Luke 10:25-37)?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

submission: the road less taken

I had lunch today with a friend who is a pastor in the Bremerton area. We ate at Taco Del Mar--mutual ground with filling food. If you have ever sat in a Taco Del Mar you can imagine the setting: fish with sunglasses, hanging surfboards, and a thatched-grass umbrella. We sat underneath the umbrella. He had performed a wedding that I went to last week and we talked about that for awhile. He did an excellent job. During the ceremony he told a story to illustrate the relationship of submission between a man and his wife. As the story goes, whenever his wife has had a string of stressful days with the kids he grabs her by the shoulders and looks her in the eyes (I added the shoulder part) and tells her to go shopping or buy her favorite drink at Starbucks. This, he said, is the righteous view of submission: allow me--submit--to love you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

water for body and soul

Saturday morning I left the attic of a few friends in Ocean Park, WA to run along the beach. Shoeless I iced my legs in the last reaches of the waves that roared threats of coming further. When one prays alongside the ocean no question can match the response offered by the illustrated testimony of nature. For God to show me faithfulness he only needs to direct my lifted heart towards the repeated pounding of the waves. For me to begin to guess the limits of the knowledge of God I need only to look as far as I can towards the western horizon. For enjoyment I only needed to touch the sand and have my mouth catch the first spray of salt water or feel the retreating tide steal the sand beneath my feet each time they land only to rise again and carry me down the shoreline.

Sunday my father spoke on the stories of Luke 15: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost child. In each there is one lost, one seeking, and a party. We are the first, God is the second (do you know that you are sought after?), and the third is when we understand the other two points. Two weeks ago my little sister responded and asked God to come into her heart. The moment came when she was at the Dunes Bible Camp (also in Ocean Park, WA) and she heard the lyrics to How Deep The Fathers Love, "it was my sin that held Him there / until it was accomplished / his dying breath has brought me life / I know that it is finished...." For the first time she saw that it was her sins that were there with Jesus at his death. Today Stephanie was baptized. As my Dad prepared to dip her beneath the water he found it hard to speak. There have been years of standing at the door waiting for her return. Our growing church family and many relative, who Stephanie had excitedly called when she returned from camp, joined us for the celebration. She is home! Celebrate with us.

Monday, July 27, 2009

here

The lights are off in my little apartment as I write. Less than a means of greenly conserving energy it is a means of reducing heat. The weather has been stifling in Bremerton these past days, more or less like what you, dear reader, have experienced today. It should remind us that we misrepresent perfection. In the winter we dwell on thoughts of lakeside fun and in the summer we think of wearing knitted clothing again. We long for another place. "Here is the difficulty. Surely, it is right here in the present is the difficulty," we naturally assume. Another place, a piece of bread, a warm embrace, that is what I need. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). If we struggle with unpreparedness it is only because we have struggled to take Jesus honestly. Those that stand before the judgment seat of God will not plead deafness, they will instead plead for special treatment, "if you had only said it such and such a way, then..." The words of Jesus are spoken for our peace. My sheep hear my voice. They are listeners. The voice of Jesus is a voice of concerned warning for our peace. Take heart! The words are spoken because the means of thriving survival are also offered in Him. "I have overcome the world." Be wrapped in Him.

Please pray with us in Bremerton. There are massive spiritual battles before us and we need your companionship in prayer.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

on the mind and in the heart

There are many things on my mind.

Compassion: Sharing tears with the brokenhearted. Something Jesus did often. My eyes are dry.

Faithfulness: A living amen to what is righteous and eternally pure even when I don't feel like it. A discarding of selfish impulse and a throbbing mind that is filled with "what ifs" and "me."

Purity: An uncompromised conscience and fresh heart. Eye to eye with Jesus on moral issues and hand in hand on moral actions and personal decisions. An open and honest vulnerability that He knows the desires of my heart and the thoughts of my mind.

Love: I want your joy. I am patient to see that fruit in your life and will not boast in my investment when it comes. I have also received this gift from Jesus. I hope for you and trust. Is there reason to trust? Ha! no, never if it we are the only common denominators. But we have one perfect in love and complete in power, Jesus Himself, who will not leave or forsake us. Love is far to dangerous of a journey for me to try alone. I rely heavily upon Him and long to be like the meek lamb who fought and defeated all the armies hell had to guard its grim gates.

Christian: One who is slow to speak, quick to listen and slow to anger. We need to more often think of the character of a Christian. Never are we told to be hasty to judge ourselves or others. It is God who judges. The soul who listens will be reproved and instructed on schedule. Instead be "sober minded." This sobriety does not makes us morose; rather, people who "hate what is evil and cling (fierce delight!) to what is good."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

some said it well

"O my Lord! my calling is becoming almost too high. In Thy compassionate love, too, I must follow and imitate and reproduce Thy life. In the compassion wherewith I see and help every bodily and spiritual misery, in the gentle, tender love wherewith every sinner feels that I long to bless men, must the world form some idea of Thy compassion. Most merciful One! forgive me that the world has seen so little of it in me. Most mighty Redeemer! let Thy compassion not only save me, but so take hold of me and dwell in me that compassion may be the very breath and joy of my life. May Thy compassion towards me be within me a living fountain of compassion towards others.
Lord Jesus, I know Thou canst only give this on one condition, that I let go my own life and my efforts to keep and sanctify that life, and suffer Thee to live in me, to be my life. Most merciful One, I yield myself to Thee! Thou hast a right to me, Thou alone. there is nothing more precious to me than Thy compassionate countenance; what can be more blessed than to be like Thee?
Lord, here I am. I have faith in Thee, that Thou Thyself wilt teach and fit me to obey Thy word: 'Thou shouldest have had compassion, even as I had compassion on thee.' In that faith I go out this very day to find in my intercourse with others the opportunity of showing how Thou hast loved me. In that faith it will become the great object of my life to win me to Thee. Amen"

- Andrew Murray

Friday, July 10, 2009

the narnian

more coming soon...
in the meantime a quote that I have chewed on much these past weeks.

The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis (HarperCollins, 2005), xxii-xxiii:

In most children but in relatively few adults, at least in our time, we may see this willingness to be delighted to the point of self-abandonment. This free and full gift of oneself to a story is what produces the state of enchantment. But why do we lose the desire--or if not the desire, the ability--to give ourselves in this way? Adolescence introduces the fear of being deceived, the fear of being caught believing what others have ceased believing in. To be naive, to be gullible--these are the humilitations of adolescence. Lewis seems never to have beenfully possessed by this fear.

. . .One could say, then, that Lewis remained in this particular sense childlike--that is, able always to receive pleasure from the kinds of stories that tend to give pleasure to children. . . . Surely Lewis himself would have said that when we can no longer be "wide open to the glory"--risking whatever immaturity thereby--we have not lost just our childlikeness but something near the core of our humanity. Those who will never be fooled can never be delighted, because without self-forgetfulness there can be no delight, and this is a great and grievous loss.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

chariots of fire

The odds are for the Christian. "oh!" but you say "surely we are despised and rejected, and lack the means to stand out in this humid land." and so elisha stood on the top of the wall surveying the gathered army of the Arameans. flee? is that what you plan to do? surely we have not been surrounded by such a formidable force that has required our lives. but surrounded we have been, and accused on every side. we have felt gathered against us a thousand accusers that tempt us to fear them rather than fear the living God. elisha's prayer was not for a change of scenery, but a revealing of reality. when elisha prayed for his servant to see and understand he beheld a multitude of flaming horses and chariots, a greater and more impressive army in stature and force. i think in our desperation we often feel as though we are waiting for a change in the reality of the situation. more often we need an eye opening understanding of the ever-present force of God--"He does not weary or grow faint" and "He is an ever-present help in time of trouble, therefore WE WILL NOT FEAR." does your heart find the basic truths of scripture distasteful? then you need an eye opening. do you scorn the commandments? then you are blind. perhaps we would find ourselves in more active and heroic spirituality--encountering the living God--if we picked up again the passionate and embrace charge of our childhood faith to trust and obey. i am tempted to call trust and obedience "simple," but they are not. they are cliffs that we scale and walk carefully, attentively, and purposefully upon. one long look and desire for the lower land will plummet us to our basic life of low expectation. God does not want low expectations of Him. "I am God and there is no other...I will be known among the nations." and the result is praise.

are you aware that there are chariots of fire?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Things Too Wonderful

Just returned from a nighttime kayak trip with Stephanie. We left at 8 o'clock and glided under the technicolor transformation of the evening sky. Several weeks ago a friend challenged me to think of my relationship with my sister as modeling for her what to look for in a boyfriend/future husband. She is growing into womanhood and is very interested in the issue. Our talk is no longer light and giggly, but rich and fun. O God, may she see that the most brilliant life is the one that burns with unquenchable love for you!

Pray for applications and upcoming decisions regarding the hiring of new staff members at the Coffee Oasis. We have received a massive grant from Kitsap County that will be funding 3 full time workers to pursue and engage homeless youth. Apart from those new positions we are hiring for a new lead barista, since Erica will be taking one of the new positions as Director of Case Management. Pray for me too as I head up the new Director of Street Hope position. In short, my position is to be a detective to track down the elusive homeless youth. Pray for success!

Wednesday I take on another year. If any reading this would like to join us at a cabin to celebrate the occasion you may request directions. The cabin is a sturdy A-frame built in the deep recesses of the Tahuya forest. Without electricity or running water, set beside a shallow, swimmable lake, you may think that you have entered a fairytale. The following day I will be heading out of town for a 4 day canoe/fly-fishing trip along the John Day river in central Oregon. Pray that the fish are looking forward to the time as much as I am!

Other matters of cheering and praise: Ray Gross and Jane Boothman are engaged! (so incredible! if there is one thing that awes and amazes me beyond everything I have seen it is relationships. When Steph and I pulled up to the boat launch today there was an elderly couple sitting in their sedan taking in the sights and smells of the salty Puget Sound. What sparks ignite in someone the desire to bind oneself to another every day for the rest of their life? Something wonderful to be sure, though I can only guess. What I do see is that God purposefully left a thing so passionate, magnificent and unexplainable as relationships to show man and woman that we are a people made for companionship and love. And Oh How He Loves!)

"If I had not been led to a clearer and fuller experience of what salvation is, I never could have gone through the work of the last few years. But, at the same time, one thing has continually been becoming clearer, that we cannot speak of unbroken fellowship with our Lord unless we give up ourselves, and that without ceasing, to a world lying in the wicked one, to save in the strength of our Lord what He gives our neighbor becomes an illusion or leads to fanaticism. It is this giving up of ourselves to the world to be its light and salt, to love it even when it hates us, that constitutes for all really consecrated souls the true battle of life. To find in labor our rest, and in fighting the sin around us in the power of Jesus our highest joy, to rejoice more in the happiness of others than our own, and so not to seek anything for ourselves, but everything for others, this, this is our holy calling." - Andrew Murray

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

a day looking forward to that day

The blessings of a brother as a roommate. I left home at 7:30am and returned at 8:45pm, neck cringing and head throbbing from long hours of people filled days (ha! indulge my foolish whimpering). Oh but Christ indulges us and walks with us when we throw ourselves at His feet and say, "Savior, You are beauty. Use me!" After work Blaine and I shared dinner with two Mormon missionaries for 2.5 hours. Sweet time of Christ exalting Bible Study. The Bible is massively liberating when it not yoked to any other system of man. Pray for these two men. I believe a true friendship was built between us and them; healthy friendship not based on the unstable expectations of compromise. The largest blessing of that time was to watch Blaine (who just two years ago I baptized at night in the Snake river in Pullman, WA) share an insightful look at the Trinity which he told me afterward that he felt God gave him for the moment. Basically, without the Trinity there is no salvation. It complements a lot of thinking I have been doing about the essential truths that invoke pure worship in us. The beginnings of understanding that cannot be done without. Often people want to question me about my theology. If you do not have this experience, then do not envy mine. I am not a mental brawler. I do not look for fights to pick with other brains and beliefs, though I do not shrink from standing my ground with the sword of truth in hand. Honestly, I enjoy the mountains and the silence of intimate prayer. It is the Lord who shoves me into society--a people that he loved and died for. He made it clear: if I want to be with Jesus and love Him, that is where he. We look forward to--even long for--the repose of heaven, but here there is sweat and blood and crosses and--yes!--joy unspeakable. Unspeakable because we are still waiting to see and sit and savour unhindered the glory of the God forever and ever and ever. After returning home I was blessed by my extraordinary roommate, ice cream, and music. Nearly every night we sit and play our guitars and pray. Amen!

O Lord, we long for your throne room of revealing light and omniscient worship. Here we remember and respond with lives of hope and devotion. In the times of our weakness our prayer remains the same, "Lord, only you are holy and we worship only by your blood."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

all mine eyes gaze upon Thee

"The bride eyes not her garment but her dear bridegroom's face...." - taken from Rutherford's Hymn

The message of the gospel is that we need no longer look down. Meet his eyes that look upon you. It answers your question in a way no apologia can. I have never heard someone who is sitting at Jesus feet with Mary ask whether or not he loved them. But those that have forgotten his presence are filled with questions.

"But I am a mess and look at all the work that remains undone!"

"Come to me you who are weary..."

Do not expect another response than this--the gospel.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

prediction or praise

Today was the first cloudy day in over a week, but it was not enough to cast a shadow on the plans of two adventurers. The path farther northwest was made available by the recent opening of the Hood Canal bridge and Nate and I took the opportunity to visit the Victorian-styled community of Port Townsend. After a few stops on the way to two roadside thrift stores, a bakery, and an antique furniture store (few things are as welcoming to a spine as a perfectly fitting rocking chair), we breezed through downtown and then headed to the abandoned WWII cement bunkers at Fort Warden. The hollow shells of the old sturdy fortresses turned a pair of guitars and voices into a men's choir accompanied by a stringed orchestra. As we left a threesome of middle schoolers told us that it was the most beautiful music they had ever heard. Ha! As I drove home and Nate slept I considered the difference between true praise and our best prediction. I would like my praise to come from a high estimation of myself. What I mean is that I would like to be established and offer a finished product to God. Rarely do I trust God with the beginning, middle and end. Praise begins by truly relying on the faithfulness of God. While perception often is that praise is the jubilant sound of a carefree and victorious soul , I think it more often comes in the person who has look deep within their heart and said, with eyes bowed and adoring, "I trust you, Lord." Prediction often steals such trust away. I would elaborate, but my computer battery is dying (you can call if you want to carry on the discussion). All I must say is that we must not stop praising. I picked up a book today (ah yes, going broke over books) titled Lincoln's Melancholy and put it on a stack after one chapter. A reminder if anything that God uses the frail of heart. My dad and I have often talked, since we share the ability to wander in the silence of the woods, that melancholy for us can be an excuse. Today's memory verse came from 1 Peter 1:13- "therefore, prepare your mind for action." The best way to prepare our minds is to magnify God early in the way we think through any issue. I know that for those serious thinkers there will be especially tall "sea billows" that blow. Establish now your view of scripture and the character of God and without hesitation trust at all cost when the stars are covered in the evening and the sky burns red in the morning. Anchor your soul.