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:


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.