Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Moved Again

If you're still here I left you quite awhile ago. If you wanna catch up click here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The First Time?

I have been reading my first fiction book in a very long time. It actually may be the first one ever. I read my share of Cliff Notes on fiction books in high school but I'm not certain I ever read one from cover to cover. It has been refreshing and I have really enjoyed it. It is a story of a man's life that had dreams of becoming a pastor but ended up becoming a barber, grave digger, and church custodian. The writer, Wendell Berry, is an amazing story teller and shares a sense of humor that consistently surprises me. The theological undertones are flooded throughout the book. The following excerpt from the book seemed to ring so true in my heart, if not in my life. (I didn't allow the purgatory reference to be a stumbling block.)

"If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line--starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King's Highway past appropriately named dangers, toils, and snares, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not how I have done it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often I have received better than I deserved. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led--make of that what you will."

Wendell Berry in: Jayber Crow pg 133

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's A Gift, Not A Wound

First off, yes I have been having an identity crisis with my blog title, but I think I have settled for awhile now.

Today was my day for solitude. I am beginning to discover, and believe to be true, that without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. If we truly believe that God not only exists but also is actively present and working in our lives, we need to set aside time and space to give God our undivided attention. Jesus says, "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret...".

In thinking about solitude, and the need for it, a couple of other words have kept coming to my mind. Aloneness and loneliness. As I continued to think on and about the differences and similarities of the words, I came to the conclusion that we are all alone. We all experience aloneness. It is a natural fact that no one else is just like me and no one else is just like you. We are unique. No one else feels or experiences the world the way I do. I am alone.

Now, how do we deal with our aloneness? Many people deal with it through loneliness. That simply means they experience aloneness as a wound, or something that hurts them and makes them miserable. Sometimes they are crying out hoping that someone else can help them and often others seem to run away not knowing what to say or do. When we are lonely we can also become clingy and that creates fear of being smothered or suffocated in others. This could include friends, spouses, family or just about anyone who has frequent interaction with us. Loneliness is one of the greatest sources of suffering today. I believe it is one of the greatest diseases of our time. I have been there and I experienced it as a dark spiral towards depression and despair. It seems to suck you in and it is very difficult to escape.

But, as followers of Christ, we are called to convert that loneliness to solitude. We must experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift. A gift given to us by God, so in our aloneness we can discover how deeply we are loved by him.

I believe it is where and when we are most alone, most unique, and most ourselves that God is closest to us. This is where we experience God as our loving Father who knows us better than we know ourselves.

If we accept our aloneness in this way, then out of our solitude we can reach out to others. We can come together in community because we don't cling to one another out of loneliness. If I find God in my solitude, and you find God in your solitude, then the same God can call us together and we can be friends. We can form a community, sustain a marriage, develop a friendship. We can be together without smothering and clinging to each other.

Embrace your aloneness, flee from loneliness, and accept the gift of solitude.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why am I Wasting My Time?

Life has seemed as if it is flying by lately. There are so many things that I want to do, and it seems as if I am doing none of them. I have grown weary of seemingly wasting my time on the meaningless or not managing my time well enough to do the things I really want to do. I want to take charge and be a good steward of the time God has given me, and designate times for certain things to be done. That being said, my wife and I sat down this weekend and wrote down some goals. We had six categories- personal, marriage, children, friendship, ministry, and financial.

One of my personal goals is to spend 1 hour in solitude and silence per week. I haven't been doing this at all, so I wanted to make sure it wasn't a crazy, unattainable, or unrealistic goal.

Today was the first day. I took my Bible, pen, and notepad and headed to my hide away. I wanted to just shut up and listen. I wanted to hear God speak through His Word, through His Spirit.

In my mind it seemed unfruitful, and impractical. Why should I spend an hour in silence and solitude when I seemingly do nothing but think of people that I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read, how I want the basement room to look, and thousands of other senseless and silly things that grab my mind for a moment?

The answer is: because God is greater than my mind and my heart and what is really happening is not measurable by terms of human success and failure. What I must do first of all is be faithful. If I believe the greatest commandment is to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, then I should be able to spend at least 1 hour a week with nobody else but God. (1 hour a day for that matter!) The question as to whether it is helpful, useful, practical, or fruitful is completely irrelevant, since the only reason to love is love itself. Everything else is secondary.

In my heart however, I believe that sitting in the presence of God for 1 hour day after day, week after week, month after month, in total confusion and with all kinds of distractions will radically change my life. The Father, who loves me so much that he sent his only Son not to condemn me but to save me, does not leave me waiting in the dark too long. I might think that each hour is useless, but after 30 or 60 or 90 such useless hours, I will gradually realize I was not as alone as I thought. All along there was a very small, gentle voice speaking to me far beyond my noisy place. So I will continue to be faithful, confident, and trust in the Lord.

Friday, December 31, 2010


For some time now I have been meditating on the story of the prodigal son. It is a story on returning. I realize, and can certainly relate to, the importance of returning over and over again. My life drifts away from God. I have to return. My heart moves away from my first love. I have to return. My mind wanders to ungodly thoughts. I have to return. Returning is a lifelong struggle.

For the first time it struck me that the wayward son had purely selfish motives. He said to himself, "How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father." He didn't return because he had a renewed love for his father. No, he returned simply to survive. He had finally discovered that the way he had chosen was leading him to death. Returning to his father was necessary to staying alive. He realized that he had sinned, but he only came to that realization because his sin had brought him to the brink of death.

I love the fact that the father didn't require any higher or purer motivation. His love was so total and unconditional that he simply welcomed his son home.

This is such an encouraging thought. God doesn't require a pure heart before embracing us. Even if we return only because following our own desires failed to bring happiness, God will take us back. Even if we return because living for Him brings more peace than living like a viking, God will take us back. Even if we return because our sins did not offer as much satisfaction as we had hoped, God will take us back. Even if we return because we couldn't make it on our own, God will take us back. God's love does not require any explanation as to why we are returning. God is glad to see us home and wants to bless us, just for being home.

God has shown his grace to me as the son. I pray he shows his grace to me to be the father as well.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Name For A New Season

See 1 Kings 19

I am not praying to die as Elijah did but I am running for solitude and rest. I have seen God do mighty things in, through and around me, but it has been a season of stress, busyness, and misplaced desires lately. I have struggled, stumbled, and have become so easily frustrated and discouraged. Genuine edification and encouragement seems to have disappeared and thoughts of failure, lack of purpose, and just an overwhelming lack of desire to further pursue ministry opportunities have taken root. So I have run. Running just to try to outrun the darkness that is chasing me. So now I rest...under the broom tree. Not in hopes of dying but in the hopes of encountering an angel of the Lord to bring me some fresh, warm bread and a cool refreshing jar of water. I need a fresh feeding to strengthen my spirit and my soul. But more importantly, I prayerfully anticipate that I will need this added strength for the journey that The Lord has planned for me. A journey that is too much for me alone. I feel alone now, in the middle of a desert wasteland, the very symbol of a wasted life. Yet I believe God will gently nourish me and lead me to a place where I can get some much needed instruction. I long to be led to a sacred place of God's self-disclosure. I want to meet Him in a new place, in a new way, for a new purpose. Like Moses in Exodus 3, Paul in Galatians 1:15-17, and Elijah here in 1 Kings 19.