Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"There are times when something comes into our lives which is charged with love in such a way that it seems to open the Eternal to us for a moment, or at least some of the Eternal Things, and the greatest of these is love.
It may be a small and intimate touch upon us or our affairs, light as the touch of the dawnwind on the leaves of the tree, something not to be captured and told to another in words. But we know that it is our Lord. And then perhaps the room where we are, with its furniture and books and flowers, seems less 'present' than His Presence, and the heart is drawn into that sweetness of which the old hymn sings: The love of Jesus, what it is / None but His loved ones know.
Or it is the dear human love about us that bathes us as in summer seas and rests us through and through. Can we ever cease to wonder at the love of our companions? And then suddenly we recognize our Lord in them. It is His love that they lavish upon us. O Love of God made manifest in Thy lovers, we worship Thee.
Or (not often, perhaps, for dimness seems to be more wholesome for us here, but sometimes, because our Lord is merciful) it is given to us to look up through the blue air and see the love of God. And yet, after all, how little we see! 'That ye may be able to comprehend what is the breadth and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge'--the words are too great for us. What do we comprehend, what do we know? Confounded and abased, we enter into the Rock and hid us in the dust before the glory of the Majesty of love---the love whose symbol is the cross.
And the question pierces then: What do I know of Calvary love?"
- Amy Carmichael, excerpt from the book If

Here I found an early morning refreshment. Twelve hours of driving, three hours of sleep, and a storm in the mind. Only the Lord can awake us with such strong peace. I love His encouragement, "Daniel, I, yes I, am your great reward." I love Him. There are many questions that we can ask of God, but few that we are serious enough to wait for. Lord, make us a serious people. A people serious enough to pursue your presence when it means walking a path alone, serious enough to tenderly love even when we don't exactly know how and it only seems silly or hard, and to hope when Jordan's shore and the promises of peace seems so far from our tipsy little boat. May our decision--the people we spend time with, the words that we speak, the purity of our heart, the life of our thoughts, direction of our eyes, and the way we treat others--bring pleasure to Your heart, O God. I am convinced that the Bride of Christ needs to stop thinking that our actions do not effect our relationship with God. They do! We so often wonder at our dispassionate heart when we have not had the courage to despise all else and run towards the infinitely true and valuable love of God. Pray, pray with me, for hearts of passion and purity. O that the two would be united with an aim for the experiencing of God's greatness in all things!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Love through me, Love of God,
Make me like Thy clear air
Through which unhindered, colors pass
As though it were not there.

Powers of the love of Good,
Depths of the heart Divine,
O Love that faileth not, break forth,
And flood this world of Thine. - Amy Carmichael

I enjoy Nicodemus every time I read about him. He was sincere, "how can a man be born when he is old?...can he?" His heart was not to proud, nor his ways to set, to find Jesus at night and relieve his wondering heart.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

His ways are higher than the critics

Here is a brief write-up I did for my seminary class. You might sense a critique of higher criticism of the Bible, which is its intention. Higher criticism, a movement popularized in the mid-20th Century and later repackaged by the postmoderns, asks the reader to find personal meaning in everything they receive, rather than understanding the original meaning intended by the author. It would be like reading fairytale of the 3 little pigs and detailing the psychological and emotional trauma caused by the houses of the first two being blown down. While you might laugh it is actually a very popular movement. I think it is because we pride ourselves in our own abilities, the depth of our own thinking, and do not want to submit or obey. Do you do everything that the Bible so clearly says? Ha! We are so stubborn. Let us be quick to listen, slow to speak, and swift to follow the way of God that He revealed to us in such loving detail. Oh let us stop being stubborn. Let us be changed and transformed. His words are true and His way is lovely. He desires to lead us to mountains of spice (Song of Solomon 8:14)!

Here is the small article:
I spoke to a pair of Mormon missionaries today for two hours. As the points stacked up against them and the evidence of history and the fact of Christ love bore down like an avalanche on their weak shelter they made one final plea, "don't you understand: it is the feeling of the Spirit that testifies within me that this is truth." There is revealed often in our best efforts a mistaken helplessness. In our modern culture we are asked to applaud people who admittedly do not having a grasp on life. You hear the praise begin, "at least they are being honest." I believe that to build relationships, to take people seriously, and to rejoice in truth we must understand what the author intends to say to us. This point is illustrated well on the comedy Dumb and Dumber when the protagonist is told that there is 1-in-a-1,000,000 chance that he will hook up with the girl, to which he responds, "so you're saying there's a chance." Point taken: there is certainly the ability to misinterpret and severely eschew the truth of a matter if the precise information intended by the speaker is not understood by the listener. It should also be pointed out that even the author who wishes their work to be ambiguous still has a certain intention that must be carried out for the piece to be successful--one must understand it to be meaningless, which further reveals then the intention, character, and worldview of the author. There is an old saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all," which could be extended to " and if you don't have anything meaningful to say, then don't bother speaking at all." If we are not communicating information we abide alone. We learn and understand people and situations by the communication of meaningful information; words are more than symbols, they are precise and descriptive with the purpose of transferring information that we have found useful enough to exert nerves and muscles to think and to speak. Likewise, there is a reason for horns in cars (i.e. "get out of the way or I will run you over."), and a proper understanding their use will save us from a world of hurt. Ultimately we find truth by receiving the meaning that is communicated to us. "The word became flesh and made its dwelling with me." The Bible talks in great detail of receiving the word. We must be hearers before we can be partakers, and partaker before we can be sharers. The Bible become joy to the person who is sliced and divided by the two-edged sword, which cuts away our preconceived notion of how things ought to be, revealing deeper parts of us than we even knew existed. We must be changed by the author--the Holy Spirit--if we are ever to understand the life-changing truth contained in the Bible.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the unchanging fact of life

I know that this Easter post is very post-Easter, but the fact is unchanging--He is alive! The weekend was blessed with on-sale strawberries and opportunities to share the life of Jesus with people. On Friday night we had a "Last Supper Dinner" for everyone who wandered through the swinging glass doors of the Oasis. The whole week had been spent intensively fliering for the event and we received a few newcomer and many old faces. The evening was a time of feasting around whitely clothed tables, perfumed by vanilla candles, and being waited upon by the Oasis staff. Between the main course and dessert I was able to share a brief message on the night that Jesus lived and died, and that we remember with feasting. A night that none understood. The truth is that very few ever knew what to do with Jesus. One women knew what to do and worshipped with tears and burial perfume, but for the most part people just watched. They watched as he stood on mountains and preached, watched as he comforted the sick and raised the dead, they saw him concerned for people, and also confronting evil in all its visible and invisible forms, and continued to watch from afar when he beckoned them closer. "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter," Jesus honestly said. So I talked about what the disciples had misundertsood. They had yet to understand the eternal mercy of God in the crushing of the cross and the worshipfullness of Jesus--"who being in very nature God." Please don't miss these things now: that with his death you can be killed, with his burial your sin and shame can be buried, and in newness and purity and clothed in blessed immortality you can be raised with him--with him! It cannot be done alone. We must become partakers in the events of that night, we cannot stand as strangers, we must be companions.

You hear stories that you do not expect when people have been loved with food and truth. Two were recently divorced. One was a woman who had been in an arranged marriage. She was a Sikh from India. She was quiet, but hungry to be heard. The other was a man who had lost everything, along with his mind (he claimed), when his wife had kicked him out and invited another man to live in their home. Another girl was trying to make it alone after being raised by parents who had sold her as a sex slave as a child. I continually thought, "Lord, we need the the reality of your cross tonight."

"Jesus hath now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross. He hath many who desire His consolation, few His tribulation; many who are willing to share His table, few His fasting. All are willing to rejoice with Him, few will endure anything for Him. Many follow Jesus into the breaking of bread, but few to drink the cup whereof He drank. Many glory in His miracles, few in the shame of His cross. To many it seems a hard speech, 'Deny thyself, take up thy cross, and follow Jesus.' But it will be much harder to hear that other word, 'Depart from me, ye cursed;' for only they who now hear and follow the word of the cross shall then have no fear of the word of condemnation. for the sign of the cross will be seen in the heaven when the Lord cometh to judgment, and all the servants of the cross, who in their lifetime have been conformed to Christ crucified, will then draw near to Christ their judge with great confidence. Why, then, dost thou fear to take up the cross which fitteth thee for the kingdom? In the cross is life, in the cross is salvation; the cross defends against all enemies; in the cross there is the infusion of all heavenly sweetness; in the cross is strength of mind, joy of spirit; the cross is the height of virtue and the perfection of sanctity. There is no happiness for the soul but in the cross. Take up, therefore, thy cross and follow Jesus, and thou shalt live forever....Know for certain thou oughtest to lead a dying life, for the more any man dieth unto himself, the more he liveth unto God. Surely, if there had been any better things, and more profitable to man's salvation, than bearing the cross, Christ would have showed it us by word and example. But now He calleth all who would follow Him plainly to do this one thing, daily to bear the cross."
- Thomas a Kempis

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

questions for answers

"I am a Taoist!" She said as she stood 5'8'' in daisy dukes and an old worn flannel. All I could tell up to that point was that she was a confident high schooler. She wanted truth, she said. Wonderful, I replied, me too. Her fathers Catholicism she viewed as feeble and pathetic and the Internet site that she found about Taoism was more like her. It allowed her to explore and consider every thought equal. She wanted to bargain with me. At least, she said, we can find common ground. I told her I didn't want that (with a smile). She was shocked. You don't want peace, I could see her eyes accuse. No, I replied before she could question, it is not that I don't want peace. You see, the reason why I don't want to settle with you for a mix and match compromise is because I know what brings peace. It is by seeking truth AND finding it, not just settling with a worldview of questions. She proudly told me that she could question everything. I told her to question anything she wanted, but I sought answers not just the ability to point and stare. She said that if Jesus dropped out of the sky she would believe in Him. I told her that it would be hard for me to believe if that happened. I am not going to lie, I am not an easy believer. Jesus did something in me that made me love Him. We often think too highly of our ability to believe truth if we ever saw it walking in front of our eyes. We forget that Jesus was scorned and shamed and mocked on the cross. She was enthralled and I was eager, both of us were reluctant. We talked about evolution and the existence of God. Pray for her. I gave her a worn New Testament that I carry in my back pocket. She handled it with care knowing that it had been loved. Pray that her heart to opened to listen, hear, and respond.