Monday, July 27, 2009

The Grey Man

⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ ⁄ 

»It's brittle and it trembles as the wind is coming toward, and if you string it up it dries right out with time.
So raise your glass to that new dollar in the bank we're reaching for.
But the drink was sweeter before we had a dime.

But you're far away now and you've got troubles all your own just to spend your whole life shooting down.

»What do I know?

If you feel restless where you are, it may be easier to stay.
There area million other fools to make your bed.
And they'll be closing all the shades to keep you right there in that grave.
And I'll be knocking 'cause you never left my head.

But you're far away now and you've got troubles all your own just to spend your whole life counting down.

[What do I know?]

I have been listening to almost nothing but Copeland since before seeing them live last week. Pictures from the concert are here: I took these with my sisters Canon Rebel Xsi, and did the editing in Adobe Photoshop, much like the above image, which is, in addition to my sisters photography, just me going crazy with all these sweet brushes I found through this site



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Celebrating two decades of life, love and the pursuit of eternity.

Twenty Years.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
-- Jack London

{I borrowed this quote from Cimera's blog post: ashes. }

I feel like doing a "twenty things" post would be appropriate, but I don't have lots of time. If you comment, post a memory from our friendship. It would be good to remember some things. I am getting old now. Then I will post a "twenty things" post.

Thank you for the well wishes and cheer my dear, dear friends. Facebook is a wonderful thing eh?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Charles Spurgeon, Jesus and Me (the flag meets the upside down gospel)

This scares me to post. I do so with fear and risk that it will be misunderstood, and cause offense to many people.
But if this offends you, then think about why. If it challenges you, praise God! You have lost nothing by being stretched.
When I saw this design it offended me. In turn, when I got over the the grating, I was left stunned. I don't believe Jesus would design this. However our great symbol of American pride might not mean that much to him either. Probably because Jesus didn't and doesn't see the world like we do. He sees people from the inside of their hearts to the outer shell of their allegiances and skin colour.
You see, we have it all backwards.
Or, rather we have it upside-down.

In the days of Jesus we know that it was laid to the charge of our blessed and divine Master, that he was a stirrer of sedition, whereas he himself had refused to be a king, when his followers would have taken him by force to make him one, for he said, "My kingdom is not of this world;" yet was he crucified under the two false charges of sedition and blasphemy. The same thing occurred with the Apostles. Wherever they went to preach the gospel, the Jews who opposed them sought to stir up the refuse of the city to put an end to their ministry; and then, when a great tumult had been made by the Jews themselves, who had taken unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city in an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring him out to the people, then the Jews laid the tumult and the uproar at the door of the Apostles, saying, "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also."
- Charles H. Spurgeon from sermon No. 193

So if Jesus were to make his presence known here in 2009 would our world be turned upside down once again?
Look closely at the words on the Flag.
John 18:36
Matthew 6:24
Matthew 5:5
Luke 6:24
Matthew 5:3
Luke 6:25

To put it mildly, we don't seem to get these verses, when we call for war on our enemies, when we live a life for our own gain, accumulating wealth like it is ours, ignoring the poor, and looking with disdain on others because they cannot maintain a lifestyle like our own. These words point directly at me too, I am in full fear of my own situation as I meditate on these issues, and as I meditate I feel a mental gravity shift.
Don't mistake me, I appreciate the foundation of this country I call home, and the safety it provides, and the opportunity to live a prosperous life on earth. Being an American is certainly a privilege! Even these days with our economic downturn, we are the most prosperous and optimistic nation on earth. But how do we wiegh our allegiances to things of this world? John McCain's campaign motto from the relatively recent election was "Country First". I voted for him, but I think Jesus would have abstained given this obvious contradiction to the God-follower. Nations are not eternal, God is, and since we can know him through Jesus Christ:
God first.

Andrew Johnson, President after Abraham Lincoln's assassination said, “Let us look forward to the time when we can take the flag of our country and nail it below the Cross, and there let it wave as it waved in the olden times, and let us gather around it and inscribed for our motto: ‘Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever,’ and exclaim, ‘Christ first, our country next!’

Thomas Jefferson warns us from history of our shaky stance before God: God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Politics are an ugly thing to be divided over. So is religion. Jesus was surprisingly clear on how he felt about both of those topics many times. He of course, doesn't address governments, he addresses the individual political and religious expressions of the people listening. He turns both their thinking, and our present day attitudes about life on it's head.

And I am pretty sure that if Jesus spoke to our country and our religious leaders today they would be just as upside-down to modern human beings as when he was incarnated and controversial 2000 years ago.
In fact, I think he did.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

I can see Jesus implying things like "wealth, country, allegiance, heritage, prestige, position, importance in the eyes of others" in all those examples. He is using hate loosely, as I have heard many teachers explain it, mainly to make the statement that God must be so first in our allegiances that in contrast nothing else could even look like devotion in comparison. Family ties are generally seen as the greatest cultural bonds, and Jesus struck at the heart of even what seems like a good thing.
You see, Jesus is not about doing good things, or living a good life. He told a rightious young man who was relatively wealthy that he had one more step to make.

"You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Luke 18:22)

"If any man smite thee on the one cheek, turn unto him the other also." If these precepts were kept, would it not turn the world upside down? "It has been said by them of old time, love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy;" but Jesus Christ said, "Let love be unto all men." He commands us to love our enemies, and to pray for them who despitefully use us. He says, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him, and if he thirst give him drink, for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." This would indeed be turning the world upside down; for what would become of our war ships and our warriors, if at the port-holes where now we put our cannons, we should have sent out to some burning city of our enemies—for instance, to burning Sebastapol,—if we had sent to the houseless inhabitants, who had been driven from their homes, barrels of beef, and bundles of bread and clothes, to supply their wants. That would have been a reversal of all human policy, but yet it would have been just the carrying out of Christ's law, after all. So shall it be in the days that are to come, our enemies shall be loved, and our foemen shall be fed.
(Sermon 193 contd)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Simple Way

"Once, there was a small group of kids who decided to go to a park in the middle of the city, and dance and play, laugh and twirl. As they played in the park, they thought that maybe another child would pass by and see them. Maybe that child would think it looked fun and even decide to join them. Then maybe another one would. Then maybe a businessman would hear them from his skyscraper. Maybe he would look out the window. Maybe he would see them playing and lay down his papers and come down. Maybe they could teach him to dance. Then maybe another businessman would walk by, a nostalgic man, and he would take off his tie and toss aside his briefcase and dance and play. Maybe the whole city would join the dance. Maybe even the world. Maybe . . . Regardless, they decided to enjoy the dance."
~Shane Claiborne

I would start the dance.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Some days I imagine life is the sort of thing I can make right...

And then I am crushed. I know it is too painful an assessment to place upon those who are truly in pain.

Where is their God?

I see a myriad of choices coming in and shattering my already broken worldview.

I want to put an asterisk on those shirts that read "life is good"

Life is good.*

(*except when it is bad. In the case things life suddenly becomes "not good" we offer no refund for your experience, but you can always ship the shirt off to a third world country for some starving child to wear who can't even understand the irony. Enjoy!)

I will never wear one, even when I believe that life is and can be good. I have no desire to be one of 'those people".

Maybe I will go to school and graduate doing exactly what I want to be doing with ferver, I will be happy, but I will skip the shirt that proclaims so.

Maybe I will get married and be tempted to get one, maybe we will make love and I will be so caught up in her I wonder how I ever did life alone. I will burn the shirt, hoodie, hat, croc that bears it's brand if I am given it.

Maybe I will have a child, and I will love that child like she is my own. I will let her wear the shirt, until she is seven, and then she and I will talk about the real world, and how we are going to change it.

Maybe I will be old and senile and will be given the shirt to ease the pain of aging memories...

I will give the shirt to the drunk guy on the street, he will probably not care, but he will ask me for money. I will give him a 5 dollar bill and tell him I have walked with God. I will tell him why there is an asterisk on the shirt.

And then I will go home, after she does, so I can finally feel the pain of greatest loss and hope in death and protect her from having to feel that way for me. So I can be there for her last breath... maybe then life will make sense, as I let go of it so that I can see what lies behind it, so I can finally say that life was good.*

*will it?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where's my head?

I am staring. Pretty sure my palms are sweating. Am I in denial about what is happening right now? Perhaps I should sit down. Or is it better I stand up? I have no clue.

He is standing so I think I will sit. At his table.

“Get out of my face! You are a piece of s***! Get your f****** face away from my table now!” Food and spittle hit my face as this angry man stands over me leaning in, threatening me, incensed, hateful and fearful. He hates me. He has made that clear. But I bought him coffee, and I sat at his table to talk to him. I dared to challenge him.
And he is scared.

My voice, it sounds so powerless, and I wonder if it is a little cocky, to stand here and defy this man who is threatening to kill me for disrupting his mildly profitable tarot card reading. It is tense, and I am slightly shaken with astonishment.
But I am not scared, not like he is. Just nervous. And I am shaking. They say that excitement and nervousness often manifest themselves in the same way. If that is true, I could just be really excited.

“You don’t have the right or power to tell that girl’s future. What is it that gives you that right?”

There are still a few bystanders, leftover from the last reading observing the scene and sipping coffee. My sister Prayse and my friends, Sidra and Ryan sit at the table behind me. They are praying for me, and I am praying. Hard. Fast. Wisdom God, please show me why this is happening to me today... “ want to go into the alley to talk!” Bringing me back to his threats of death. He points to his little black book on the table and opens it to a page listen the names of Hell’s Angels associates. “Read my references, and get the f*** out of here...”

I looked into his face, covered mostly by a scraggly grey beard, and he is wearing a truckers cap. His eyes are darting and he is pacing, and seems to be staying a certain distance away from me as though I am diseased.

My friend puts her hand on my shoulder. "We should go", she says. I am sure she can feel how much I am shaking. She is right, what can I do? I challenged his beliefs, disrupted his readings, and the barista is kicking him out. I am not sure I have done the right thing, but there is no reasoning with him. He won't answer my questions.
"And I'd search for reason I'm awake
To hear this song march, blasphemy I'd take"

Goodness where have my thoughts gone. Pray. Pray for him. Pray for the people he has led astray. For those who watched in dismay, and for those who died inside tonight. Pray against the evil, and for those who are caught in the web of lies, the games, the traps, the fear.
I serve a mighty God who is alive, whose breath fills my lungs.

"No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
and their vindication is from Me"
-Isaiah 54:17

If you are a Christian, you might know this verse. It continues, not with this militaristic language, but a beautiful promise.

Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?

God promises that nothing will ultimately harm his servants, no matter how powerful the enemy. No matter how much control over their evil they think they are, they are undone.
"I believe in the duality of the universe, in the universality of the mind."
That was what the man told me, when I initially questioned his power. He is wrong, good and evil are not equal forces. Evil cannot trump what is written by God in the foundations of the earth. This man would read the stars? I know who made them.

Friends, stand boldly in Christ. Don't waste your thirst, seeking water from empty wells, buying cheap insights from tricksters.
I am tired. I am numb, and I am subtly moving forward in my understanding of God's love. We are to love those who hate us. Turn the other cheek. Yet in the presence of injustice, and false teaching we are to be bold, unafraid to stand up for what is right. This is the double edged sword of perfect love.

My friends were praying for me. We didn't stop even after we drove home.

And Ed, I hope my presentation of you was honest, and that you may find the truth somehow. I continue to pray for you daily.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Officially I am not a "blogger". Mainly because I cannot on a consistent basis make the time to come up with anecdotal phraseologies, and snide commentary on current events. if I could do that I would be a blog person, and I might actually feel worthy of having a blog/xanga/facebook notes/etc. or wherever you might be RSS reading this from... if I will indulge myself with the thought that someone out there cares enough to subscribe to my feed, besides my mom, who doesn't even know what an RSS feed is and would have to ask me to do it for her.
I am not a blog person. I like reading them, and when I can I enjoy writing down little things to keep mine alive. It is like forgetting to water a house plant until the last minute, all the time. After a while that poor plant is used to living at the edge of dehydration. It becomes a guilty weight around your neck, and you begin to think about the plant until you water it too much and the plant refuses to drink, and it goes all over the floor. It's happened, I know.

In this time since my last post I found the most meaningful way I could express my experiences was a blog. Not this one, another one. There are some seriously beautiful posts about life, and finding God's purpose, and compassion, all from the perspective of three guys who took a journey to Nepal. I am not saying my posts are seriously beautiful, but they are some of the most heartfelt things I have written, and Caleb and Patrick are exceptional writers.

I am mentioning this in case you haven't visited yet. Perhaps it will challenge and inspire you, as it challenged and inspired us. It certainly still is an experience I am learning from. Even after being home for several weeks and dealing with life day in and day out. For me it has been a difficult month. One of decisions, and illness and micro journeys that I am learning to cope with. In all of it, I am glad for the place of growth God has put me in. I am attending a class every week that is deepening my faith in some incredible ways. It is called "Perspectives", and the name is just the beginning of what the course is about.
It is a blessing to me to have an in depth study to build on the foundations of what I have already been learning in my travels and my walk with God. Perspectives is making me think, and question, and seek answers. I am glad I finally let my missions inclined friends talk me into it.

The name implies more than one perspective. Understanding God's purpose requires us to do more than find the answers we are most comfortable with from our own view, we must engage with other people, and learn to see through their eyes. We must ultimately be willing to see through God's perfect eyes, and to respond to him. I am learning this in baby steps right now.

So you are required by reading this to begin to examine your own heart towards missions. I am curious what you will find.