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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

o baby! and a new book

The news is officially public: my sister is having another baby! I am thrilled. Spent the evening walking through Barnes and Nobles trying to search out a few birthday presents for friends. The price of new books and my own inability to pick out gifts made it a long evening. In the end I stuck with a few classics and only one book for myself which I thankfully did not have to take out a loan to cover the bill. Stay tuned if any are interested, there may be a book club started up with a few old friends from Pullman. I suspect that it will be more of a time to gather and drink in shared memories along with perfectly steeped tea, but a book in hand can surely add a nice flavour. Hope in Christ Ministries is poised to receive a hefty grant from the state to fund more workers to pursue relationships with youth. Pray that we will find skilled and anointed workers that will work the field of Bremerton. The 90+ degree days in Bremerton are bringing more kids in the in afternoons so please double your prayers for the staff that are always "available."

In the evening I have had the opportunity to spent an hour each night on my deck reading and praying. It is time that I would not trade for ten thousands loud moments. My companions have been two new books: The Journals of Jim Elliot and a new book written by the most established academic atheist of the 20th century Antony Flew. Then a chapter of the Bible to lift my eyes beyond my railing and to appreciate the world beyond my mind. Then I breath and praise and think of lovely things--all made available by the One who loves me and gave Himself for me. I read a quote in the second book concerning the late philosopher Bertrand Russell, author of the book Why I Am Not a Christian, written by his daughter, Katharine Tait. She writes, "I could not even talk to him (Russell) about religion...I would have liked to convince my father that I had found what he had been looking for, the ineffable something he had longed for all his life. I would have liked to persuade him that the search for God does not have to be vain. But it was hopeless. He had known too many blind Christians, bleak moralists who sucked the joy from life and persecuted their opponents; he would never have been able to see the truth they were hiding...his life was a search for God....Somewhere at the back of my father's mind, at the bottom of his heart, in the depths of his soul, there was an empty space that had once been filled by God, and he never found anything else to put in it." She also commented that he "had a ghostlike feeling of not belonging, of having no home in this world." And Betrand personally wrote this, "nothing can penetrate the loneliness of the human heart except the highest intensity of the sort of love the religious teachers have preached." Open your mouths and do not close your hearts, dear Christians. Stopped running after the world and realize the hope that is within you.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at the right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." - Ephesians 1:17-23