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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Love


The Elementary Teacher wrote:
He came to my desk with a quivering lip,
"Have you a new sheet for me dear Teacher,
I've spoiled this one."
I took his sheet all spoiled and blotted
and gave him a new one all unspotted
and into his tired heart I cried,
"Start again my child..."

I went to the throne with a trembling heart
the day was done...
"Have you a new day for me, Dear Master,
I've spoiled this one."
He took my day all spoiled and blotted
and gave me a new one all unspotted
and into my tired heart He cried,
"Start over my child..."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who Will Answer?

From the canyons of the mind we wander on and stumble blind
Wade through the often tangled maze of starless nights and sunless days
Hoping for some kind of clue~a road to lead us to the truth
But who will answer?

...Is our hope in walnut shells worn 'round the neck with temple bells
Or deep within some cloistered walls where
hooded figures pray in shawls
Or high upon some dusty shelves or in the stars or in ourselves
Who will answer?

If the soul is darkened by a fear it cannot name
if the mind is baffled when the rules don't fit the game
Who will answer? Who will answer? Who will answer?
~ Ed Ames

Friday, August 27, 2010

Give Yourself a Hug


Do you love yourself? Better still: Do you love yourself unconditionally? It's one thing to be told love God and love others in this way...but what about yourself?

You know, if God accepts us, why can't we accept ourselves? Even the sinful part of ourselves? (Chew on that for a sec.) I'm not suggesting that we accept sin and run with it, but simply that we are a sinners and are going to sin. Can weforgive and love ourselves? (Again, chew!).

The reason I wrote this is simply because we spend so much time thumping ourselves on the head for failing - could we even begin to imagine letting that go? And if not, why not?

Eden


It would almost seem that God set us up for The Fall... He put the tree there with eye-pleasing fruit, right? He threw Satan to the Earth when he fell... and then He said, "Don't."

Consider that we tell a child "Don't touch!" Well, of course he/she will touch whatever it is he/she is not supposed to touch (a hot stove perhaps)? WHY? Because the child needs (?) the experience of touching whatever it is to realize why the "Don't" is present in the command.

Three things that volley us toward sin: The existence of an object (which doesn't even have to be desireable), a command to NOT - and finally, the thought promoted (stemming from a lie) that asks, "Why wouldn't I?" Object, Command, Lie.

Is this the ultimate reason for human suffering? Did God want us to experience the reason why NOT to sin, in order to understand why the opposite choice is the better? I smell a plot.

And to us tiny pleebs - it SEEMS very unfair, because as we all know, we suffer when we sin (and even when we do not).

So hey! Why did God make that tree again? I for one am going to need a 101 on this when I MAKE like a tree.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big Red Button

Isn't it strange that God has a switch (figuratively speaking) that He could push at any moment and stop the world in its tracks, but doesn't? He sees you....He sees me. He sees our suffering, disappointments, sadness, fears, turmoil...He sees the button....He sees your turmoil.....the button...your turmoil...and He doesn't push the button.

This is the big one for almost everyone. The analogy we use is our relationship with our own children - that is, we would NEVER allow them to suffer while we had the power to stop it. It is a hard pill to swallow. Yet the world of believers perpetually places faith in the God who won't stop the world! Why? Why why why do we?

For me most of the time, it comes down to options. What other choice do we have but to trust Him? He's all we've got! But that truth does not stop the wondering why about the button problem.

The desiring for the button to be pushed is not a deathwish by any of us, but simply a desire for this reality to stop being so stressful and difficult! How much do we have to learn before it's pushed? And there you have it. My rant for another day!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Mind is the Matter

What's the matter? The mind. It is in itself matter...grey matter - blood vessels and nerves and synapses and neurons - cells and oxygen. It is the most complicated piece of ingenuity in the entire universe. No wonder we struggle to help those whose minds are "made-up." When the thing gets wired, go ahead and take a shot at rewiring it. What complicates it is that it is made up of two sometimes conflicting pieces: The conscious mind and subconscious mind. Mine are at war.

The subconscious is the operating system - running the show in the background...the conscious is the RAM - the workspace where now realities are lived out and where thoughts and ideas, sights, smells, and experiences enter and feed into the subconscious mind. The loop-back from the sub-to-conscious mind is feelings - feelings are messages from the subconscious that tell you about you. The subconscious is about the business of keeping you honest with yourself. Proof?Shove stuff down and it won't last in the subconscious mind - it'll come out in some way - usually a feeling, and usually an inappropriate one.

The subconcious mind is a funny machine - it doesn't know the difference between reality and unreality - and will send signals to your conscious mind and your body to prepare for something that is not really there (i.e. think in the conscious mind of a lemon and you'll salivate and get that gritty feeling in your glands - think subconsciously that some danger is coming and you'll feel anxiety).

I guess the trick of it is to just rewire your subconscious and always have it think in truth and reality! Now... where to start....

The subconscious could use a cleaning - stuff that is stuck on needs to get shut off. And it's all about beliefs. If someone (ehem) could JUST get in there and begin to speak truth, the body would respond appropriately (it's been said, where the mind goes, so goes the man; or as scripture says, "as he thinketh in his heart, so is he").

I guess we just ask God to get to the heart of the grey matter. No drug, or forceful thought seems to change beliefs...God must do it. Yeah, so - why doesn't He? Right?

Monday, July 19, 2010

GOD on the Road

I read a bit of "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller today.. He mentioned that he saw God as a man who was walking toward him on a road. A picture immediately came into my mind - God and me in a desert - He's in a white gown, long brown hair - He's off in the distance - it is really, really hot - heat waves are bouncing off the ground (distorting God's outline)...He's walking toward me, but doesn't seem to get any closer... That image flashed in my mind in all of about 2 seconds flat.

The key to the image is the proportionate distance from my location to God's. It's far. He's far, He's fuzzy. That's me, now. I know it won't always feel this way...And I'm sure that God's desire is for us to see Him walking beside us, clear as a bell - close and in control.

Can we get there in our spiritual lives here? Would it even be good for us to feel like that all the time? Do we need periods where God is more a mirage than a reality? (Begrudgingly) Probably...

I believe Heaven will hold the reality of a close God-proximity. We are getting closer to that eternal reality - and it will bring the greatest relief the human experience has ever known. The opposite human eternity to me, would be a ton of people, on the road - with no God in sight. Ever. "Seek the Lord while he may be found."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

22 Things for You and I to Remember


              1. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit - not earned or achieved - no matter how much thought-energy we emit or produce.
              2. According to John, there is "no fear in love" (Greek here is terrified/full of dread). He also wrote that the one who fears is not perfected in love (it seems to me that perhaps in a sense, fear is the opposite of love...or, it is what is present when love is absent. When we do not love - we can cause those who we are not loving to be afraid; and likewise when we are not loved, fear is present).
              3. Satan is the father of fear (Adam and Eve hid because "they were afraid").
              4. Satan is happy when we are afraid ('nuff said).
              5. Fear stunts our spiritual maturity.
              6. Ultimately, God MUST be trusted.
              7. God possesses my freedom.
              8. We are not at home in this world of fear.
              9. Fear is the outcome of feeling unsafe (as well as unloved).
              10. We punish ourselves with fear (opposite of loving ourselves) when we feel guilt... Why are we guilty? We are guilty of hating those we love...so we punish ourselves.
              11. Every thought must be taken captive to the obedience of Christ (fear begins as a single thought).
              12. Fear is not what God intended for us in the beginning, and His intention now is to replace the fear with its "opposite."
              13. We must live in God's Word. We need constant-repetitive truth reminders.
              14. Perfect love casts out fear. Who is perfect love (the opposite of fear)? Jesus Christ...
              15. To live in fear is to live in the flesh - another reason living in fear is sin.
              16. Fear is a colossal waste of time.
              17. God is our FATHER. Whom (or what) shall we fear?
              18. We don't belong in this world of fear - we are here - but we don't belong here.
              19. Anxiety is to be CAST onto Jesus - for he cares for us.
              20. Fear involves punishment - we need to stop punishing ourselves...we are guilty, but the guilt has been removed.
              21. When we unplug ourselves from the Word and promises of God... prepare to fear (because we are unplugging ourselves from the truth of God's love).
              22. We are to "be anxious for nothing" but INSTEAD bring requests to God (in other words, fear puts focus on "me" - love puts focus on God/others).
              All the "musts" and "shoulds" are there with the understanding that it is God Himself that "must" help us and ultimately bring about peace in us, for us, through us...

              Thursday, June 17, 2010

              Heavenly Sarcasm

              There is a bit of sarcasm in a scripture I read recently - I didn't pick it up until I re-read it. It occurs in Isaiah 40. See if you can pick it up...

              "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

              See it? Two questions capture a side of God I have rarely seen in scripture. "Do you not know? Have you not heard?" He's sarcastic! Ha! The people of Israel are complaining and God shows a bit of sarcasm.

              Maybe it's the original language that lessens the effect of God's tone. How about, "Oh...guess you haven't heard." And, "Heh - yeah, you must not have gotten the memo?"

              We complain and God holds up the hand: "Wait wait wait wait! Who do you think I am? You are forgetting who it is you are relating to here! I'm not incapable nor can I be caught by surprise! I am THE EVERLASTING GOD, the creator of the ends of the earth!" (very, very loose paraphrase).

              If God were Tony Danza (Heaven forbid :) Israel would get the "AAA OOO...OOO AAA!" If He were Gary Coleman (God rest his little soul), He'd say, "Whatchu talkin' bout (fill in your name here). If He were Archie Bunker, He'd be saying, "Ah Jeeze, Edith" (silent "h"). If he were Homer He'd say, "Why you little..." Okay, maybe that's taking it too far.

              We need some sarcasm, I think. I don't believe God is a soft lil' kitty - we need Him to grab our attention, to call out our attitudes and beliefs here and there...and NOTHING does it like a little sarcasm. You just have to be listening for it.

              The sarcasm here grabs our attention in order that we might pay attention to what follows - that is, God's loving hand over top of our very dependant lives. The sarcasm? S'all good! ;)

              Friday, June 11, 2010

              Gramma

              Evelyn MacKinnon
              April 11, 1926 - June 5, 2010

              She will be missed...

              Thursday, June 3, 2010

              More Stuff I Know

              • Waking your sister up to tell her to close her eyes because you are changing clothes in the same room causes her to open her eyes.
              • Buckleys is disgusting, and it works.
              • Ping-Pong tables are not just for fun; they can squish your fingers almost off.
              • When stripped down from finishing a baptism, slide the lock on the women's bathroom door if you decide to "go".
              • Your brother can hit your face with leftover meat in the dark from across the room.
              • 15 year old girls are more experienced kissers than 13 year old boys.
              • Don't laugh in church when the "Old Man" choir sings, "When at the cross the Saviour MADE ME (W)HOLE."
              • If you want to get a laugh, tell your friends you won't throw snowballs at cars 'cause you're baptized.
              • Tenting in you yard is an invitation to wander your neighbourhood.
              • Sisters can kiss their boyfriend for 45 minutes if you time them. "On your mark..."
              • Never assume your father's not home when you go on a cursing tirade with your brother.
              • You can get out of dishes if you hide in the bathroom every night after supper (sorry sibs!).
              • Having your good friend hit your father's car with his grandfather's Grand Marquis is depressing.
              • Yelling, "OH S#!^" when falling off a waterslide in front of a church youth group is frowned upon (and funny).
              • Grandparents don't know kids like vanilla, not grapenut or orange pineapple ice cream.
              • Blue Angels are real and cool (just ask Shawn Schofield).
              • Suggesting your 5 year old son comes with you to knock a wasp nest down, then shouting, "Run" doesn't prevent him from getting stung.
              • Don't buy yourself an $80 watch on your wife's birthday.
              • Don't tell your wife on Christmas Eve that you got the family a dog.
              • Don't ask your brother to keep the squealing puppy Christmas morning when he's trying to open presents with his family (you'll "ruin my Christmas").
              • Don't buy a "nonreturnable" hamster, cage and food on Valentines Day when your wife asks you to get something small for the kids then drop it in the snow in sight of the cashier when trying to return it.
              • When your wife says, "I'll leave it to you to put a $700 canoe on line of credit," she means, "If you get it, I'll cry."
              • Don't pass a communion cup full of grape juice to a 90 year old man with Parkinson's Disease.
              • Don't assume leaving a pillow on the cement floor will catch your infant daughter when she falls off the chair...lucky for me though...
              • Leaving your son in a hot car for even 60 seconds can almost get you arrested.
              • Sliding out on the floor from behind the bed shouting, "Hazaaa" in the dark when your wife walks in the room is apparently not funny.
              • Buying a remote-controlled airplane "for the kids" and crashing it first time out can cause arguments.
              • You can't recover while singing a Steven Curtis Chapman song with a broken string and an out-of-tune guitar in front of 1200 people.
              • Apparently, telling a whole church congregation that their camp has gone "New Age" with the director sitting there is not Kosher.
              • Your kids can comfort you when you give their dog away.
              • Telling a 2 year old, "HOT" and pointing to the wood stove does not prevent burns and screaming.
              • Throwing a 12 hour old, loaded diaper down the stairs can cause a massive explosion of saturated pee crystals.
              • Laughing at a guy who got smashed in the teeth with a baseball after he just told the kids to get behind the fence is met with disgust.
              • Dogs can drop funny things in front of you from funny places.
              • You feel "rescued" when the guy you thought was dead under his car wakes up (as you stood wondering if you should dial 911 because they might think you "did it") .
              • Brothers can really mix-up their words: "Right Mark?...Did you hear that Rat, I just called you Mart!"
              • Older sisters and brothers throw WILD parties when parents are away - and salt water makes Derek puke who made others puke earlier.
              • Sniffing gasoline can make your cousin run through your front door.
              • Not wearing a tie when speaking to a church can cause 25 little old ladies to meet on the subject.
              • Watching your friend tell your band teacher to "Go to Hell" and then run off a platform into the bushes in D.C. is freakin' hysterical.
              • Watching your wife ask the Tim's cashier for a "Choc-o-lot" donut because you told her that's what the new kind was, is hilarious!
              • Seeing your friend order a promoted 25 cent hamburger "with cheese please" and not get why they charged him $1.50 is really funny.
              • Faking info for a Social Studies project ('cause you couldn't read words on an old tombstone in the dark) can get you in trouble when someone else chooses the same stone.
              • Laughing at a guy laughing at another guy in a work meeting with 35 people in the room can cause you emit certain sounds - thus perpetuating the laughter so you have to apologize to the department head.

              Tuesday, June 1, 2010

              Stuff I Know

              After almost 37 years of life, here's what I've learned:
              • Nothing here EVER stays the same.
              • Whatever you do, NEVER jump in the Frog Pond without adult supervision.
              • If you ever sneak a picture with your parent's Polaroid, burying the picture really helps.
              • Being kidnapped at age 5 is really scary.
              • Michael Jackson really was cool - attempted impersonation? (try as you might) ....not AS cool.
              • "Second session tickets now on sale" are exciting words when you are a rollerskating fan.
              • When some girl says to you at age 11: "You're a hunk," be ready for a possible punchline.
              • You'll never find the rumoured money tree, and Thought made some real stupid assumptions.
              • Yelling at bikers to "Get off the road" followed by screaming for your mother to "AHH look out Mom!" while she is driving can make the car come to an abrupt stop.
              • Cutting grass is like the definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.
              • Girls have some weird superpower.
              • Sometimes you can get away with stuff.
              • Flaking dandruff from your eyebrows in a room full of pre-teen peers does not get the expected laugh type.
              • Learning, "More than Words" on guitar is VERY smart for the short-term social life.
              • Gargamel just won't ever pull off his mission to "fry and pickle a few."
              • Don't try to cheat off Diane Scott's spelling test..."MRS. HARPER!!!!!."
              • Being a grade four-er and "going-out" with a grade sixer is pretty cool.
              • Skateboarding off a sidewalk at 13 without a firm stance will cause you pain at 36 years of age.
              • Don't open your mouth to tell your brother not to throw a dew worm at your face.
              • Sinning is really fun.
              • Purple is NOT blue.
              • Don't play house in stored travel trailers at Hambly's.
              • Never stand beside your brother when he calls a big guy a jerk; he'll blame you.
              • The first kiss is magic...right Michelle? Right?
              • Your dreams can come true - like, sitting in a high school class in your underwear.
              • Everyone should own at least one dog in their lifetime.
              • You'll never see 90% of your graduating class after graduation - so who cares what they think?
              • You can get a hole in your leg from a bicycle brake handle.
              • Milhouse is funny.
              • Watching your sister run out in front of a dump truck, then realize she did, and run back screaming is pretty funny.
              • NEVER get a colonoscopy or scope in your stomach whilst awake.
              • Don't play golf without sunscreen on your wedding day.
              • DON'T chase, chase, chase a girl. STOP it RIGHT NOW!
              • Shaking the bed when you're wife says she has morning sickness can make her hate you for a sec.
              • Buying your first house feels good. Paying for it for a lifetime SUCKS.
              • Hogwarts is a fun place to hang out.
              • Babies poop and pee and sleep a lot. Then they grow and interrupt things saying, "TAHDAHH!" then look shocked.
              • It wasn't Cable 10's fault when the "Greatest American Hero" got preempted.
              • Daughters have a superpower.
              • Fathers be good to your daughters.
              • Sons emulate their fathers.
              • Teach your son to fish - feed him for a lifetime (and you because he catches more fish).
              • Apparently, I'm not stuck.
              • Daughters ...what can I say? Once they get you, you're gotten.
              • "I am now going to spank you" is pretty much just stating the obvious.
              • When cleaning up a four-year- old's pee off the floor in a rage, you cool down FAST when they say, "I love you."
              • Being alone with three very small kids and having terrible stomach flu is the great test of life.
              • Girls talk a lot.
              • Boys like video games.
              • Sons can drive off wooden bridges during their first dirtbiking experience.
              • Working is like being in jail for several hours a day without any meals provided.
              • School sucks.
              • Marriage is really hard. Marriage is the best.
              • Music is the funnest thing EVER. Making music and conveying it is FUN.
              • You can never win an ECMA in the gospel category being from PEI (right Ninth Hour, Shirley and Jamie? :)
              • Never eat a poopsicle that's been dropped on the ground (and, nobody is funnier than Kenny Vail. Nobody...).
              • Watching 3 children be born is yucky, shocking and profound.
              • People can EASILY destroy each other with words and lies.
              • Food is about the neatest invention...there are others, too.
              • Campfires and Fudgee O's are a winning combination.
              • Life is too fragile and volatile.
              • Cats, dust and pollen are of Satan.
              • Dogs die...so do people...and they don't come back.
              • God is not always silent, and is usually quiet.
              • Not "Please God!", but "Please, God!"
              • For the love of God, risk SOMETHING.
                ...to be continued...

              Thursday, May 20, 2010

              Churchianity

              I recently watched a video on a friend's blog (Brian Metzger, link to his site at top right of this page). The video is a parody on church culture (here's the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isGrCmCFFmY).

              This was a timely video for me, because I'm a bit disgruntled with Churchianity - even 'comtemporvant' Churchianity (contemporary, relevant). Something is amiss. Even being a musician who at one time lead worship in all kinds of settings, I feel that "lights and big drums" is getting weird in the church context (even though I love lights and big drums). It can feel like we are at the movies - pay to be there (sorta), screen ahead, sound, lights, production - it's even 3D without the glasses! We just don't have that delicious popcorn and a bag of Nibs. We are like consumers, waiting for entertainment (Dance, Monkey! Dance!). Again, I'm guilty of this mentality, too.

              Church culture is getting canned: the worship leader must close his/her eyes often and throw in at least 5 "Yes, Lords" and a few "Father Gods" when leading. The preacher must homileticize a message - throw in some comedy - make us want to repent or cry, or cry repenting. The one offering the prayer must make announcements through the prayer ("God, thank you that Johnny is recovering today from a complication with his heart at the QEH - and thank you that he's due to be sent home this Wednesday!").

              As far as worship through music is concerned (sometimes I think that worship music is a verb before a noun), the closest I've felt to God in this type of worship recently was through a night of music with Steve Bell (Christian singer/songwriter) who lead worship through his music - one guitar, singing scripture...no "lights and big drums." He told stories (just like Jesus) and just seemed to have "brought Christ" with him. In two hours, he was able to establish relationship with 150 people and lead us into relationship with God.

              Now please don't suppose I think churches should close their doors! I do not. However, maybe God should be invited more often to lead in their worship (without the noise, without the "cannedness") ..lead interactions, lead prayer....and really, really lead it back to Himself. He may even take the broader church places She is uncomfortable with or does not want to go. Or maybe She would run in hysterics after Him. I dunno.

              Tuesday, May 11, 2010

              The Faith Behind Flannel Board Theology

              I've witnessed a steady trend since I hit my thirties. Many Christians who are my peers are in a state of perpetual doubt. For some reason, the older we get, the harder it is to not only believe God, but to believe in God. We are the "Thomas Generation."

              We all know that story of Thomas - the disciple of Jesus who was not present when Jesus appeared to the other 10. He spent days listening to the others speak of the wonder of knowing the Risen Jesus, how amazing it was when He spoke to them, how awesome the impact of His presence was on their lives, etc. Imagine his mental state: "Mmm...nice for them."

              Can you blame the guy? He probably spent those days in between hearing about Jesus and seeing Him, trying to muster up some excitement. I couldn't have done it. I like to see (in fact, that is how I learn: don't tell me, show me!).

              I'm sure every human being goes through bouts of doubt like Thomas. At times, we sit in church listening to how everyone around us seems to be enjoying the presence of Christ (or at least looking like they do). We try to muster up some excitement - be happy for those whose experience is palpable. "Mmm...nice for them." :)

              Why does it seem that the older we get, the harder faith becomes? Simple. We are in the world. We are surrounded by pain, immense suffering and strife. Faith is not easy-peasy. Spiritual matters are tough stuff. We are not dealing with flannel board theology anymore.

              When we were younger, it seemed easy that God saved Daniel from the lion's den. What we didn't know back then, is that God doesn't often save human life. He allows brutal/evil men and women to carry out unspeakable atrocities. He allows premature and accidental death. He allows disease. He allows abuse.

              On one hand, we hear how wonderful Jesus is, on the other, we witness horror. We are in the in-between place where Thomas was. He heard how wonderful Jesus IS and yet wondered if He even existed. Sound familiar?

              The "Just believe" and "Just have faith" isn't enough. What we've witnessed in this life is enough to snuff out our greatest attempt to believe in God and believe God. Faith HAS to be supernaturally born. Go ahead; try and muster your own excitement and belief!

              Most times, it seems like our prayers are more, "Carry me - give me faith!" rather than "Yay Jesus! I can't help but believe you!" We are Thomas - longing to see that which we've heard about.

              Jesus said to Thomas after being seen by him: "Blessed (happy) are those who do not see and yet believe." It really does come down to Jesus personally manifesting himself to individuals apart from sight. (Faith aside though, wouldn't more glimpses be something? How about his toothbrush - or one of his sandals perhaps?)

              This generation needs faith. Pray for us. Won't the day carry an element of surprise when Jesus says to us: "Here - see/feel the scars!?" For once I'll mean it when I say, "OMG!"

              Friday, May 7, 2010

              Myeen!

              Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? If you have, you'll most definitely remember those birds who, when they saw something they wanted would start chanting, "Myeen!" (Mine!).

              Our culture is sick with this mentality to the point where my generation is living as though we are retired, spending away tomorrow today...

              I am no exception to my generation; when I see a new electronic device or get into a new hobby, it's whole-hog. Give me the latest, newest thing going and give it to me now! It's Myeen! :)

              The thing is, I don't think God is against us having things (especially needed, useful things). His focus of concern is whether or not we are focusing on these things to the point where they become god and we end up worshiping created things instead of the Creator. I also believe all of our things should be given back to God in one way or another.

              God understands that we invest resources into this life and is okay with us being prepared both now and in the future. "Stewardship" (hate those lingo words) is important. However, God is FAR more concerned that we not only prepare for this life, but that we prepare for the next as well. We begin "preparation for disembarkation" (ah, the ferry days) by coming to believe that "a Power greater than ourselves" can "restore us to sanity."

              This point is illustrated by Jesus in a parable in Luke 12. He tells the story of a man who spent his whole life focusing on the here and now - gathering and building a kingdom of stuff for himself. Then God comes to him and speaks these words: 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" EEP.

              Death certainly levels the playing field doesn't it? It promptly puts things into proper perspective. There's nothing that will draw our attention toward the futility of stuff-gathering like a good look at the end. What else will cause anyone to take a good hard look at God?

              Knowledge of the future is one of those things that sets us apart from the animals, right? No squirrel sits on the forest floor, eating his acorn thinking, "Jeeze, when and how will I die?! I - am going - to - DIE!" Aren't we lucky? We get to do that ...it' s part of the whole, 'made in the image of God' thing. Yet, death (once heard it called the "Signal Blessing" because it causes us to catch a signal from God) can only be a blessing in the sense that it calls out futility and sharpens our attention on matters of importance (if there is any positive spin on death, that's the best attempt I've heard).

              Nothing can be held in the hand for very long, can it? What's myeen is really not myeen at all. And in the end, only one thing belongs to us - and the great thing is, He sees you and says, "Myeen!" Are you preparing for disembarkation? May we come to believe the Power greater than ourselves and be restored from this insanity.

              Monday, May 3, 2010

              Who I am NOT

              You may think this is a funny statement: I am not the lord. This ever-present, yet subconsciously kept truth is the origin of most of my fear.

              Ask yourself: where does most fear in our lives come from? It comes from not being in control. If I am the 'lord' and control as much as possible, my life to me has more balance because it's going my way. When things go out of my control, however, fear controls me because the inevitable truth that I am not in control emerges quickly into the conscious mind.

              "I am NOT the Lord" is my new mantra. I'm having to say this over and over again because realistically, I want to "lord" my own life and call the shots. That's why I have an extremely hard time trusting God. Good wisdom from my mother who said this to me the other day....great food for thought. I am NOT God - and am very weary of holding the reins of this puppy.

              An addendum to this post: I recently listened to a song I wrote back in 1999. It's called 'Torn' and has proven to be quite a prophetic theme of my existence. It goes a little something like this (and a one and a two and a....)

              Torn by this empty feeling
              I'm scared 'cause I'm not in control
              My haunted soul is so full of grief
              that I barely can lift up my eyes

              BRIDGE:
              Then you come shouting
              Your words are so loud that they break me
              Then you come whispering
              Your words are so soft that they mend me

              CHORUS:
              It feels like I'm trying to get my two hands on the wheel
              Life is so readily passing me by it's unreal
              There you are reaching out with your hand
              And I must admit that I don't understand why you love me

              Gripped by fear and illusion
              I don't feel free to believe
              The path I'm on is empty and dark
              I can't seem to find my way home

              Bridge/Chorus

              Thursday, April 22, 2010

              Big Dog, Big God

              This star portrayed above is the largest known star. "Canis Majoris" (Big Dog) is located in the Milky Way Galaxy. It is seven quadrillion times the size of earth and is 3 billion km's across (77,000 times the distance from the earth to the moon).

              How big is a quadrillion? A million seconds ago is 12 days in the past. A billion seconds ago is 32 years in the past. One Trillion seconds ago is 31 thousand years in the past. One quadrillion seconds ago was 222 million years ago (million, billion, trillion, quadrillion). In other words, If you counted the earth once per second for each time it would fit inside this star, it would take you 1.5 billion years to count to 7 quadrillion).

              Our own sun could fit inside this star 7 billion times (the dot to the left of Canis Majoris represents what would be the size of our sun in comparison). And if Canis Majoris was the Superdome and the Earth was a golf ball, the Superdome would be full of golfballs - 3000 times.

              How far is Canis Majoris from Earth? It is 4900 light years....You would need to travel 187,000 miles per second for 4,900 years to get to it (or, would need to travel 5.44 trillion miles a year for 4,900 years).

              How big is our own solar system compared to the size of our own galaxy? It would be the same as trying to locate a quarter (25 cents) on the entire North American continent. In the grand scheme, we are very, very microscopic. We are Horton's speck.

              Scripture says that God spread out the heavens like a tent and knows each star by name. In the grand scheme, God is titanic.

              (below is an actual picture of CM from Hubble)
              (thanks Louis Giglio for the info)

              The Risen One

              I was by a graveyard today. I saw several families having graveside services for loved ones who had died over the winter. There were funeral directors and priests walking amongst the stones, getting ready for the task they have completed hundreds if not thousands of times before. Death, the biggest blow to the human ego, was showing off its temporary grip on humanity.

              About five minutes later, I heard a song on my CD player by "Delirious." One line that jumped out was, "Jesus Christ the Risen One." It dawned on me that this title is what sets him apart from all of humanity. Who else can say they are the "Risen One?" He was not ONE of the risen, He is THE Risen One.

              Now, there were others in the New Testament who died and were brought back to life - however, they were the "resusitated ones." They had the unfortunate experience of having to die twice. Jesus, however, was the "firstborn from among the dead" (Colossians 1:18). Jesus was not resusitated, He was resurrected (His perishable phyiscal body was transformed into an imperishable spiritual body). His risen body could appear in a locked house without going through the door - and yet He could eat. The laws that govern our physical bodies no longer governed His.

              Scripture says that once He comes for His Church, and we are risen, we will become like Him. But for now, He holds the title as the Risen One. The days of graves and tears are numbered. He really is the only Hope we have.

              I now see graveyards as the stage for the biggest production in human history: the resurrection of the dead in Christ to eternal life. Would that not be the most amazing thing to witness?

              Monday, April 19, 2010

              Every Thought Thunk

              On our own (and independant from the Living God), we are in utter and absolute poverty. It is the recognition of this truth, however, that leads us to a place of blessing ("Blessed are the poor in spirit...for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."). We come to this blessing when we depend on Jesus for life and salvation, realizing He is the answer to our spiritual devastation.

              Yet, we often live in shame outside this great blessing because we begin believing that God is apalled at our human condition (that is, our spiritual bankruptcy). The enemy then amplifies our shame by whispering one of the greatest lies: "You are the exceptional sinner and are no longer acceptable." Our reaction to this belief (the lie) is to erect walls - denying ourselves the pleasure of being truly loved by our Father. We forget that He loves us in spite of our ongoing failures.

              The irony of this action is that these barriers are built against the One who has totally removed all barriers. Lies that are sown and take root can become great spiritual strongholds, which can keep us in great darkness. However, God is interested and determined to bring these strongholds down, which Paul says are "arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.." We are to use, "...the weapons of our warfare... not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]...mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds." Our weapon is the leading away of "every thought and purpose..captive into the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:3-6).

              Strongholds (lies which set themselves up against us truly knowing God) begin to be removed when "every thought and purpose [is lead] away captive into the obedience of Christ." It is God who must reach in, lead us to the healing cross of Jesus (where our shame was destroyed) ...He must captivate our very thoughts, and continually breathe the TRUTH into us that we are absolutely loved and cherished as we are. We, in our present condition, could not be loved any more than we are at this very moment. Nothing in all creation can change that. Not even the sin of today and tomorrow...

              Art O' Choke (Study on Anxiety)

              Here are some notes from a study I heard from Dr. Chuck Swindoll on Anxiety...hope this helps!

              Anxiety: root comes from word for "choking"...painful uneasiness of the mind as it works over impending fears... "to be divided...distracted."

              Anxiety: Prevailing thought is that you are losing control: you are not losing control because you never had it to begin with..Nothing happens to us unless God allows it to happen to us (His control).

              Scriptures:
              Ps. 46
              - Be still...or "cease striving!" and know that I am God;
              Jer. 6 - God invites His people on a path of rest - they say, "we will not walk in it";
              1 Peter 5:7 - cast all your anxieties...your "chokings";
              Phil 4:4ff - Peace of God which "surpasses all comprehension" will guard hearts minds in Christ Jesus...what is it that guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus?...the peace....;
              Matt. 13: 1-23 - Sower...anxieties of the world - the desire for more...- "CHOKE" the Word..We are an anxiety ridden society because we do not know how to rest. Find one place in the New Testament where Jesus worried....or....hurried....

              Matthew 11: 28-30
              "Come...to me.." not, "come to church." ...doesn’t say, "come to the doctor.."
              "all" ...everyone struggling...EVERYONE....you, me
              "weary"...those struggling to find the truth, the way to go on...relief...the exhausted...
              "heavy laden"...overextended...overcommitted...
              "give you" Not, "you’ll earn it..." or... "once you reach an understanding"....just, "give."
              "rest" also translated, "cease..stop."...also - "relief, refreshing - of the spirit"
              "yoke" - submission to something/someone - "yokes were called 'easy yokes'... "it just fits"(enter into...with Me...be yoked with Jesus)
              "learn from me" ...learn how he coped/what he did, His connectedness to the Father...to pray...learn to forgive...learn to live with great disappointment.
              "I am gentle/humble in heart"... easy to live with.. (God is easier to live with then most of us...He’s easier to please than our parents/spouses/etc.)
              "find rest for you souls" .

              Explaining 4 reasons why anxiety is "destructive"
              1. Anxiety highlights the human viewpoint and strangles the devine - we become fearful...
              2. It chokes our ability to distinguish between the incidental from the essential - we get distracted
              3. It twists so many worries around us so that we cannot relax - we become unfruitful...
              4. It siphons our energy and joy and makes us judgmental - we become negative...we are the worrying "animal" - unable to take in dying...

              I worry when I add, subtract, multiply and divide:

              • Add - add more things to an already full schedule...add your expectations to my agenda...add to what I already have to be...

              • Subtract - subtract God’s presence from my crisis -subtract his timing from my desires -subtract prayer from my day -subtract perspective from my difficulty

              • Multiply - multiply my problems by inserting my solutions too rapidly...by looking for a way out instead of the way through...multiply my fears with imagination

              • Divide - divide life into the secular and sacred...divide my day into thinking this is the Lord’s part and this is my own business

              Peace,
              Dean.

              Tuesday, April 13, 2010

              You Know What Thought Did...

              The following thoughts may seem disjointed, but hopefully you get the point...

              There is a haunting feeling that visits me on occassion (as it does for a lot of people I've talked to). It is the feeling that God is gone. He's 'high-tailed 'er out of here'. Sometimes, He just feels gone. I WANT to believe He's there, and I hope that He is - and it's ultimately faith that leads me to believe His presence.

              I cannot prove He's there, can I? As I said in a previous post, there are instances when I take a long look around and say, "You are there." My previous post says how I do see Him; this post says I sometimes do not...

              These lyrics from Jars of Clay say it best (lyrics are from "Silence" - you can play it in the player on the right-hand side):

              Did you leave me unbreakable?
              You leave me frozen?
              I've never felt so cold
              I thought you were silent
              And I thought you left me
              For the wreckage and the waste
              On an empty beach of faith
              Was it true?

              [chorus]
              Cuz I...I got a question
              I got a question
              Where are you?

              (Keep following me here)...As a kid, whenever I would say that I THOUGHT I did something (like, "I thought I put the milk away!"), my father would say, "You know what Thought did? He stuck a feather in the ground and thought a chicken would grow!" Just because I thought something didn't change reality (the milk was on the counter).

              Just like my kids have said through tears when they thought I left them somewhere (and what I want to say each time I CAN see God) is, "I thought you left me!"....Truth is, my thought about God's absence and presence is irrelevant. In His Sovereignty He is there. Whether my kids thought I was really gone or not was irrelevant - I was still there...But the feelings of panic were very real to them.

              As for now and today, I've got a question..."Where are You?" I WANT the follow-up statement to be quick: "I thought you left me!" The in-between place of wondering (like my children wondered) is a frightful place. So today, while in the dark, I'll ask......where are You? (Psalm 13). My panic does not change reality, but the feeling is very real.

              I know, I know...Facts to the front...faith in the facts...feelings to the rear! I didn't say it was easy :)

              Wednesday, April 7, 2010

              How Would You Answer?

              Maybe you've read the exchange between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-17 (maybe not!). Due to the sometimes weak translation of the Greek language into English, we miss the heart of this passage. When I studied Greek, this passage was highlighted as an example of how we lose meaning in translation.

              Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" What we don't see (because there is only one word for "love" in English and four "loves" in Greek), is that with each question asked by Jesus, He lessens the extent of the love... Two of the four Greek words for "love" are used in this passage as follows (very loose paraphrase):

              Jesus asks Peter, "Simon, Son of John, do you love me unconditionally (Greek is agape) more than these other disicples? Peter answers, "You know that I am fond of you (Greek is phileo)."

              Jesus asks Peter, "Simon, Son of John, do you love me unconditionally (drops the "more than these other disciples")? Peter answers, "Yes Lord, you know that I am fond of you."

              Jesus asks Peter, "Simon, Son of John, are you fond of me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time, and answers, "Lord, you know all things, you know I am fond of you."

              What do I make of this exchange? First, how could Peter ever answer that he loved Jesus unconditionally when he had denied that he knew him three times in one night? He could not answer yes to loving Jesus unconditionally, and he could not answer yes to loving him more than the other disciples.

              Isn't it interesting that Jesus brings the "love level" down each time? The second question drops the "love me more than these," as Jesus knew that Peter could not answer "Yes". The third question drops the unconditional love, and Jesus asks Peter if he is fond of him (brotherly love).

              Why would Peter be hurt? He was hurt because he was asked if he loved Jesus three times, yes; however, I believe he was also hurt because he caught the jist of WHY Jesus asked him the three love questions. Whether the questions were designed to eradicate the three denials, make up for them, or give Peter the opportunity to state his love, I believed the questions ultimately pointed out to Peter where he was really at after three years of being with Jesus - he didn't have the power and strength to Love the Lord like he was loved BY the Lord. Peter saw in the questioning that he had conditions attached to his love for Jesus.

              How do we love Jesus? How many times and in how many different ways would Jesus have to ask you and I? Could we say we love him unconditionally? Or are we really fond of him as far as our own comfort is concerned? It's not a conversation I would want to have right now - I could say I'm very fond of Him, but could I say I love Him unconditionally and more than other believers? ...uh, no.

              Thank God He loves me unconditionally (even without the condition that I love Him back in exactly the right way). Although He commands us to love him with everything, I must depend on the Spirit to empower me to love Him when I am weak...which seems to be daily...or minutely.

              Wednesday, March 31, 2010

              Who is Saved?

              Something that plagues my mind is the question of who on earth is saved... Who did Jesus save by his death, burial and resurrection? You may find this post controversial - but it's not meant to be so. This is meant for expression of questions only...

              There are some scriptures that seem conflicting to me regarding salvation (thus, the reason for this post): 1.) "...for God does not show favourtism" (Romans 2:11); and 2.) "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (referring to Jesus in Acts 4:12).

              How do they conflict? If human beings can only be saved through Christ, then much of the world who have not heard of Christ are lost. HOWEVER, according to the scripture in Romans, God does not show favourtism. Question: how is it fair (if God shows no favourtism) for someone who lives in a region where Christ was never preached that they'll not be saved? Just because I was born in North America, that means I have a GREATER CHANCE for salvation because the gospel has access to me here?

              What about the people who lived at the time of Jesus (after the resurrection) - they didn't have a snowball's chance to have any hope of Heaven - most would have died before the gospel ever reached their ears.

              So, when someone says to me, "100,000 people died yesterday in unreached parts of the world - they are now in Hell," does not sit well, because - God does not show favourtism. To me, God WOULD be showing favourtism to people who are born in areas where the gospel is within reach.

              So how do I reconcile this? Do I still believe we should go and preach? Yes. People need the Hope of Jesus now as much as when they die...but what about those dying without hearing? I just don't know if it's as cut-and-dried as the Church has presented it.

              According to Romans 2:14, those who do not have "gospel access" will be judged (not all condemned) under the law that governs their lives. The scripture reads,"Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law."

              Now consider Acts 17:26 - "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." That means, the people placed by God in areas where HE knew the gospel would not reach (or reach in time) MUST have access to God without calling on Jesus because as we've read, God shows no favourtism. That means, He gave us each equal opportunity for salvation... The next verse (27) reads, "God did this (placed them in specific times and in specific places) so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us." See that? He's not far from each one of us...

              The fact that God shows no favourtism, but that no one has access to God without Jesus, can be reconciled (to me) as follows: Someone who lives in a place (determined by God) that has no gospel access - yet still "reach(es) out for him," are surely judged under the law which they are unto themselves, but still can only access God (who shows no favourtism) through the blood of Jesus. I do believe that Jesus died, "..once for all," meaning, anyone who seeks God (as they understand Him) are still saved under Christ's blood, even if they've never heard his name. Ehem.

              Tuesday, March 30, 2010

              Why Jesus?

              I've spent a lot of time thinking and speaking about why I choose Jesus. We are instructed to "be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15). So, I've really searched to find this reason, meditated on it and have come to some conclusions. The following are questions I've asked myself, and have asked other people in order to give the reason for my Hope...

              I begin with one question: "Is there a god?" If I answer "No," then the spiritual game is over. If I answer "Yes," then the next question asked is, "Has this god revealed itself?" If I answer that the deity has not revealed itself, again - spiritual game over. However, if I answer that I believe a god has been revealed, the next question becomes, "Which god is the true god?"

              Before moving on, I'll answer the first question by saying "Yes, I believe there is a god." The reason I believe there is a god is that there is far too much design in creation for me to reject the opposite conclusion. Even the second law of thermodynamics (the Law of Entropy) which states that, "order must always decrease," is contrary to the Theory of Evolution... As they say, "it takes far more faith to believe evolution than in the existence of a god."

              My reasoning for believing in Intelligent Design? Take the example of a wrist-watch in pieces on the ground: if these parts were left for 1 million years, we know that there is no possible way that these parts would snap back together without someone putting their hand to the task. How much more design is there in all systems of the human body? And how could cells (even if they were grouped together) snap themselves into such order (even over billions of years)? How did a lung cell organize itself with a group of heart cells...what made the heart decide to grow four chambers...I could spend hours and hours on the observed order of the universe...

              The second question asks "Is a god revealed?" In other words, has it spoken to us? I would answer by saying, "Yes, I believe a god has spoken - first through creation."

              Now...do I believe that deity has spoken literally through both appearance and actual dialogue with humanity? Yes I do. Why? I believe this because of human nature. We have the understanding of "right and wrong." Something prods us to do right, and something compels us to do "wrong." I do not believe that we, through our own evolution, would have warring natures. Somewhere along the way, we have encountered someone else that gave our nature a jolt (a nature that lives for self - call it 'survival of the fittest' if you'd like). Without certainty, someone or thing has interjected with a higher reason (called "Love") that calls us outside of ourselves.

              We also have guilt associated with "wrong," which leads me to believe that this is the form of living we should move away from (there is no guilt associated with doing, "right"). Ask yourself why guilt exists if we've evolved... Now, the next question of which god is the true deity is the greatest question, isn't it? Most people in life believe that there is "something out there." The answer to this question HAS to begin with another question: Is there truth? Our postmodern world would answer that we all have our own truth, but two things that oppose each other cannot be true by definition. I cannot call a car red and have someone else say they believe it to be blue (vice versa). The car has a definite colour (no smartalec stuff about colourblindness). So, for this reasoning, I believe that if god has been revealed, it can only be in THE one way it has accomplished the revelation. Two revelations of differing gods creating the world with differing purposes cannot both be true.

              So which is it? Or, who is it? If there is a god, and it HAS been revealed, who is it? :) My answer is that I believe there is ONE god named Yaweh (God). He was, is, and is to come - has created the world according to His purpose and revealed Himself ultimately in the personhood of His Son, Jesus Christ. Now you ask: "Why did you choose Him?" It's actually an easy answer...

              I have examined many religions in my lifetime, and have come to the same conclusion: religion in and of itself does not work. Religions are swimming instructions for drowning men, instructing us how to stay afloat, giving us rules to follow to keep ourselves from drowning...and every single one teaches us that if we don't reach a potential or standard, we are ultimately rejected by the god (or standard) of the particular religion. In religion, humankind is doomed...

              Where I believe Christianity differs from religion is that, instead of throwing us rules to stay afloat, Jesus Christ offers a life preserver. It's a free gift offered to human beings who could never in an eternity swim long enough to gain any ground. That is why I choose Him. Christianity (outside of religion) makes sense. I've tried to stay afloat, swim hard so I can be acceptable...it just...doesn't....work.

              I put my faith squarely in the Son of God, "who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:2). What is your hope? (Watch the "My King" video in the right column...)

              Thursday, March 25, 2010

              Where is He?

              "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55:6).

              I've searched for God. I see Him now and again ;) At times, He's not been hard to find. I've found Him in books, music, films, nature, marriage (in love and forgiveness), birth (watched all 3 of my children being born), pain (in suffering, in the easing of it), death (in its mystery - I at least see the need for Him)...

              I've seen God in the size of our own galaxy (one of billions known)....to get across our galaxy, it would take 100,000 years travelling at 5.44 trillion miles/year (or 187,000 miles/second)...

              I've seen God in my relationship with my children: If He sees us as I see them, then I see how God can view us as being precious (still hard at times to believe, though).

              I've seen God in lightning, heard Him in the thunder, saw His purity in snow.... I've listened to Him in the rain, felt Him in the wind, watched Him in the crashing waves....

              Have you seen Him? I catch a glimpse now and again...

              Derailed

              We are complex - wells of infinite depth - and who can manage us? The more we dig down, the further we have to go.

              In the midst of this complexity, how can we at least arrange the pieces of our emotion and beliefs to understand how it is that we can live in peace in the turmoil down here? The answer lies...in a train.

              The trains of our lives are divided into three parts: the engine (front) the cargo (middle) and the caboose (end). WE decide which part of the train drives us. In each sections there can be only one of three possible components: facts, faith and feelings. We decide which component goes into which section.

              The way to live in peace is to have FACTS (God's truth) driving our lives as the engine. We then put FAITH behind the facts that God is present and in control. Our human FEELINGS are the parts that should reside at the back. Peace exists once the train is in proper order.

              However, this 'system' can become mixed up. Our feelings can overwhelm us and jump to the front and we begin to ignore what really is true in life and in God's Word. When we exprience something false, we may end up believing it because it feels true and our feelings get mixed up further, and this perpetuates the engine driving us (now our feelings).

              Anxiety will flee from us in moments we are reminded of the truth, put our faith in God, and throw our feelings to the rear.

              Change Your Clothes

              I was listening to a CD I haven't heard for years. I obviously listened to it a great deal, because I knew all the words. Funny, I don't recall listening to it that much, yet there it is in my head! The CD is called, "Revival in Belfast," featuring singer/songwriter Robin Mark. The lyrics or "Garments of Praise" are as follows:

              "Put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness - let the oil of gladness flow down from your throne...Put on the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness - your joy is my strength alone..."

              These lyrics are actually scripture from Isaiah 61:3. The idea of replacing the "spirit of heaviness" with "garments of praise" is extremely interesting. Could it be that the way to gain joy in life is to offer the "sacrifice of praise" and actually worship amidst pain and heaviness? Would putting on the "garments of praise" actually cause me to shrink back - have God become magnified and see my heaviness disipate?

              I believe now that John the Baptist's words, "He must increase, I must decrease" are the absolute key to life down here, and hereafter.

              Small Changes

              I am realizing that God does not usually change us with a big, explosive encounter (like Paul on the road to Damascus). I've waited for 36 years now. Sometimes I've picked up the Bible or a book and asked God to radically change my life (in one reading :) ...It's never happened.

              In my experience, and from speaking to many believers, it would seem for the most part, that God works slowly. Even in praying, "God, exchange out this heart for a new one," I think sometimes I expect Him to do it in one wave of His wand.

              But everyday, fibre by fibre, cell for cell, He's doing it. Sometimes it seems so slow, that no difference is noticed. The heart is made up of small cells, and we are comprised of small changes.

              Everything New

              When I watched the "Passion of the Christ," it did not cause me to crumble emotionally. I, like the rest of the crowd sat dumbfounded by the gore, but didn't get emotionally involved in the suffering of Christ. If "shock and awe" is an emotion, that best describes my reaction. I didn't connect with his pain. Who could?

              The popular moment of emotion for most was when Jesus fell on the Via Dolorosa and His mother flashed back to Him falling as a child. Her "little boy" was hurting again and she rushed to His side. This caught my attention, however, failed to provide for me the "gripping moment". It did come for me. Slightly after this memory had come and gone for Mary, after the audience had dried their tears, something hit me. In the midst of their brief encounter, a son says something uniquely profound to his mother: "Look! I'm making all things new!"

              Now, you may shake your head and say, "he's out of his mind," but that is the phrase that struck me where I sat and will be etched in my brain until I die.What makes that statement so profound for me? After all, that phrase does not appear in this story in scripture and as far as we know, never took place. But those words to me are the silent scream in this story - the underlying theme woven throughout the Christ's passion. Starting over was the Father's goal since Adam and Eve's fruitopial experience. The cross was the Father assuming responsibility for the sin of the world.

              Imagine God taking responsibility for murders, mutilations, hatred, greed, all forms of abuse, slander, torture, lies and corruption. He charged His Son "guilty" for our sin.When I hear the term, "..make all things new," I can't help but think of the things in life that I can't wait for us all to "ditch." For instance: no more sad, depressive, angry, obsessive, worrisome, corruptive thoughts; no more nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, coughs, sneezes, runny noses, ear aches, headaches, pulled muscles, sore throats, fatigue, insomnia, yawns, burns, cuts, scraps, bruises, heart attacks, strokes, Cancer, Diabetes, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, Schizophrenia, Anxiety Disorder, Paranoia... no glasses, cataracts, wheelchairs, crutches, canes, hearing aids, steel hips, walkers, prosthesis', ventilators, puffers, dialysis, x-rays, ultrasounds, tests, swabs, needles, pills.... no crying, fretting, worrying, moaning, groaning, cursing, raging, struggling...no debt or bills... cold, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, famines, floods, earthquakes... no fights, wars, bickering, whining, complaining, guns, bombs, gangs, dictators, bullies, drug addicts, alcoholics, robbers, sexual offenders, thieves...When God makes all things new...all we'll know is peace, strength, joy, happiness, love, acceptance, forgiveness, play, laughter, giggling, rest, fun, worship, contentment, satisfaction, safety, health and Him.

              Truth

              Have you ever noticed that feelings are quite complicated? When someone asks me, "how are you doing," I can now honestly say that I really, really have to think about it (or to put it bluntly, to be honest about it). If you've ever studied the science of guitar harmonics, you'll realize that one note on a scale is actually comprised of other notes that are "hidden" in the tone. It's quite amazing. In comparison, I believe the human psyche to be quite like the nature of musical notes. When one feeling is examined or drawn out, there are "hidden" feelings under that feeling. A feeling, if you will, is the sum of feelings - just as a note is the sum of other notes.

              If someone, for instance, tells you that he/she is depressed, there are likely many emotions that are contributing factors to the feeling of depression. Perhaps they also feel anxious or angry or guilty underneath the surface feeling of sadness. Essentially, we can erect defense mechanisms inside that forbid us for seeing the true feeling beneath another to "protect" ourselves.

              Scott Peck, the author of "The Road Less traveled," said that not dealing with the true feeling (denial) can lead to certain mental illness. Therefore, unresolved and neglected issues in our lives can cause us to feel anger, depression or anxiety. The critical issue then for a person to discover is not really the feeling, but rather the truth behind the feeling he/she withholds from the conscious mind - namely, reality. It is only when we deal with reality that we truly begin to understand how to love.

              We hate to be exposed by truth because it causes suffering. Yet, look at the end result of truth and denial: Truth brings pain, yes - yet it also yields healing in the hands of God. Denial causes pain, and in the end has no healing - it is a fruitless method of living.

              Jesus of Nazareth told his disciples that the "truth" would set them free when they knew it. What most people don't know, however, is that the "truth" Jesus referred to was Himself (as you might have noticed, the truth in life often gets us in trouble, it doesn't set us free). So we are dealing with a God who deals in truth.

              God the Father dealt with us in reality when He pointed out our sin in the Law (we began to understood that there IS One who is higher than ourselves). Jesus Christ dealt in reality as He bled sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Now, the Spirit calls us to reality in Christ. He calls us to it constantly. Have you ever noticed? He calls us to be authentic in our relationship with God; He calls us to be authentic with all relationships of the heart. He calls us to be authentic within ourselves (to thine own self...).

              I remember listening to Tony Compolo speak about how human beings are the sum of our presentations. We present a different person to our family than to our coworkers, our church family, our community. As soon as we change audiences, we know exactly who to put on. What would it be like to be the same person in all stages with all audiences? God make us true!

              The fact is, He's calling me to it. He's correcting us as we lay on his operating table. The problem with His table is that there is no anesthetic. It hurts. Yet there is a peace, knowing that it's all in His great design, and we fit into it somehow. Me. You. We are extremely loved and cherished. That God would take time to lead us in truth (even painful truth). God, continue to show us what lies beneath.