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): . 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?" ( 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 sense of Self entered into the minds of any of the very large number of gentleman I had to 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:

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!