04 February 2014

Beautifully Complex

I recently read a book about marriage. An important topic regardless of being married, getting married, or staying single. What surprised me in reading the book was that it was essentially a book about relationships, relationships with God and with people. From the author’s perspective, marriage is a level of relational strength essentially unparalleled by any other relationship, with the exception of God. But even that relationship between creator and creation is different in that God is perfect and it should be easy to love what is perfect whereas marriage calls you to love someone who is imperfect. Now, we are probably all aware that within the bible we are asked to love our enemies, that love not being the warm and fuzzy feeling love as much as the decision of love. But, that, loving your enemies, should be easier in a lot of ways than fostering the love that must exist within a successful marriage. This is because within a marriage, the person gets to know all your flaws and failures, know your weaknesses as well as your strengths. They see and know very well your good, bad, and the ugly. They bring out the worst of you in a way that makes you deal with it, makes you confront it, makes you fess-up to the secrets that you thought would stay hidden in the darkness. That confrontation is made difficult by the fact that the person confronting you is loved by you, their opinion matters to you intensely. So, it’s easy to assume that they are rejecting you when they are in fact rejecting part of you. Worse still, I mentioned earlier that whoever you marry will be flawed, the person who you love may not be good at helping you confront issues in yourself and may get angry or negatively confrontational with you. This is only a few of the points that were made in the book. My goal was not to summarize all the points, but rather to point out that marriage is beautifully complex and difficult but provides a set of growth conditions that will maximize growth in some areas provided it’s seen that way. Rain can be either good or bad depending on the way it’s handled.

Love Me!

In one scene from the movie “Bruce Almighty,” in which an ordinary man was given a taste of what it is like to be God, Bruce the protagonist finds himself yelling at the women of his dreams, finds himself yelling “Love me.” He seems to be able to do absolutely anything that he wants to except the thing that would actually bring him to happiness, and that is be loved. I don’t think that it was intentionally as meaningful as turned out to be, but that relationship mirrors the relationship we have with God in a shamefully perfect way. God wants us to love him. No really, he wants us to love him. The God of all of this created us with the ability to choose to love him or choose not to. During the scene, Bruce jumps up on a table and actually stretches his arms out towards the woman of his dreams imploringly, yet she is unmoved by the gesture. The woman of Bruce’s dreams reaction is very often our own when it comes to God’s plea that we love him. One verse that I love because it shows God’s patience, but hate because it shows man’s own shame of pride is Isiah 65:2, which says: “I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices.” God really does spend days with his hands outstretched, all the while whispering and sometimes shouting to us. The last point that I think the scene makes it is looking at a man who wants a woman to love him. Bruce, though given the power of God, was still not God, and he wanted love for reasons that are selfish. He loved her in terms of how she made him feel about himself, how she made him happy and so on. When you look at the relationship between God and us, it’s not like that. God loves us because he decided to make us and love us, or that is as  much as I think we can understand it at the present time. He does not need us in the same sense that Bruce needed the woman. God’s love is a love that gives rather than one that receives. In this sense, it’s a more complete and perfect love, because it is not  motivated by self-actualization or fulfilment but out of a pure desire to share with us his wisdom and strength, to know and understand him, and thereby taste life in the fullness that he designed us to taste it in. That is, God’s love is perfect and perfects us.

This is certainly only a small and incomplete explanation of God’s love, but maybe it’s a point to begin to think from. What do you think? Does this lead your thoughts anywhere? Let me know.

24 December 2013

Beauty in Every Breath

It should go without saying, but things exist for a reason. There is a purpose to things. Most of the time, I don't think like this. The way I have usually looked at things was that they are in a disarray and that I need to do something in order to tame the chaos. However, that perspective is discrediting God's work. God did create this world and this universe, each star and galaxy. It all was created and it was very good. Later on people and Satan messed things up and separated the splendor of Earth and us from God. However, underneath the dirty layer of grime, God's true purpose is still there. In Romans chapter 8, Paul writes about how Earth is groaning in pain right now. It really is beautiful. I think that the beauty is still there, it's just difficult to see because it's not as glimmeringly brilliant as it once was and secondly so because we can't see as good as we could be for we fell away from God.
It's easy to feel and become distanced from God in a lot ways. It's easy to feel like an alien on a forigen planet away from God, but God made this planet. He made it. The oceans, He thought of that. Swimming fish, he thought of that. Trees, tall and green, he thought of that! I think we should get in the habit of letting God's creation remind us that God is not as far away as we may think. 
Also, looking at the things that God made probably tells us something about Him. Look at the stars at night and wonder what type of God would make something like that. Or the sunrise. Or take a close look at a snowflake. It's all magnificent in detail and beauty. There is beauty everywhere. Creation is like poetry about God's splendor and beauty and vastness and care if we just take the time to read it. It's everywhere. It may not be as very good as it once was, but it's there all the same. 
Just try to imagine what it will be like when things are made right. If this is what a corruption of God's creation looks like, how impossible great must it be when it is restored!

Power of Life and Death in Words Poem

Empty words cut like knives
Crushed hearts are now broken
Emptiness fills up lives 
Pain from cruel lips spoken

The power of a voice
The strength of simple words
There is always a choice 
Leaves us Blessed or cursed

02 November 2013

Poem of Loss

From feet to knees to face, then into tears
Knocked down by the moment, the news, the pain
Broken, missing heart pieces
Hollow, full of emptiness
Hurt, love taken away

Standing in the ashes
Brushing of the dust
Picking up the pieces
Rising from the rubble
Walking from the wreckage

Poem of Tomorrow

Standing alone in a lonely moment
Looking forward to a time when we meet
I secretly fight a thought but don’t show it
That I don't find you only defeat

I must move forward through this empty night
Pass through deep shadows and dark heart hollows
I’ll move towards you even without the light
Shoulder the weight through the highs and lows

I know that you are out in my future
Past the aloneness that I must go through
That someday I'll find my way I'm sure
Move on through  today until I find you

16 October 2013

Spirit of Power and Love and a Sound Mind

Sometimes even after memorizing a Bible verse years ago, I come to understand what it is saying or perhaps the wisdom of it. I believe that happened today when I was thinking about one of my favorite verses. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” In the past I always just thought of this verse as saying that I should be loving and fearless and disciplined because that is the spirit that God has given me. I essentially didn’t read anything from it. Today, however, I was thinking about it and realized there is more to it than that. What if there is a reason that we have been given a spirit for those three things specifically?
We have been given a spirit of power, that is the strength to do something not to be helpless or subject to control easily. We have also been given a spirit of love, God is love, and love is the ultimate goal of being a Christian. It is a way of being that puts us in alignment with God to do and be what we should be. And we have been given a spirit of self-control, which enables us to choose what to do at the right time, to be disciplined. All of these things can work together in a very meaningful and synergistic way.
First off, we have the strength to do something.. Second, we have the ability to control ourselves to do something. And last, we know what love is so we can use our power and internal will to bring about love.
That is only part of the verse! The depth of scripture is rich and nutritious.

Growing Towards the Light

I have had conversations with people outside of Christianity and found myself struck by the disconnect of their view of Christianity and mine from within it. They see everything as hypocrisy and evil, but from within I see that those things do exist because people are flawed and they bring their flaws with them to Christianity, but Christianity is not flawed itself but a place where flawed people go to accept God's grace and wisdom. However, within Christianity, I also see people living in a genuinely active state of growth and development in a positive direction. Just like a plant grows upwards towards the light, Christians too grow upwards towards light, but it is a process that takes time, and not all plants grow at the same pace. Some may have been stunted or not planted in the best soil and they may struggle to grow for years. But the point that I am making is that people within Christianity see it as a garden that is growing towards something good, but people outside see it as a compost pile or worse. The difference is not that Christians think they are perfect and those outside it view it as terribly flawed, but that both groups view it as people who are flawed--Christians just also recognize that we are all flawed and need God's grace and love to grow upwards towards His higher purpose for us.
I wondered how it could be that people can see the same thing so differently. I thought it was just a differing form of opinion towards Christianity, but from scripture I now see it differently. There is more to it than that, as is usually the case when it comes to things concerning God. There is simply infinite depth to be found and discovered.
Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly to God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile” 1 Cor. 3:18-19.
Here Paul reminds us that the wisdom of the world, or the way people apart from God, will think and reason very differently. They will think themselves very wise and crafty, yet compared to God’s wisdom, it is not wisdom at all. Just remember the next time that you are derided for thinking differently, take it as a compliment in a way. It means that you are not thinking like everyone else and you are growing towards something good.

29 September 2013

An Honest, Authentic Relationship

The relationships that we need are the relationships that we must risk losing in order to find. The context of that thought being that we desperately need relationships with people but the relationship must be authentic, that is the other person must really know who we are. But that means being really honest with people about who we are, and that is a huge risk because it means that they may reject you after they find out who you truly are. It's not so bad to be rejected for being a fake version of you, but to be rejected for being the fully honest you is torture. However, until a person really knows the reasons to reject us, we know that they have not truly accepted us either, so we won't get the nourishment that we need from those fake relationships. In short, in order to gain relationships, we have to let people see the broken parts of us as well as the good, it is only then that we can truly be accepted and develope the true relationship that is so essential to us.

As it turns out, God is the only one who truly sees us completely and loves us anyway. I think it is that knowledge that should give us the courage to risk being hurt by others. It is the acceptance of God that enables us to endure the rejection of others while we are growing and building relationships with broken people. People will always hurt each other, but God is always strong enough to heal that brokenness.

I should also say, that it takes time and work to reveal your true nature and character to someone. It would be a bad idea to simply tell people everything about you upon meeting. It would simply scare them away. In other words, being honest about who we are to others is a gradual process. We must know that we can trust and rely on someone before being entirely honest. This is why most people only have a few or one really close friend in life. Once a close and authentic relationship is developed that is just the beginning really. From there, the friendship must be maintained. It means continuing to be honest and unconcealed, always with the possibility that they reject us. So, it is simply impossible not to take risk and be in true, authentic relationship with another person. 

20 September 2013

Take a Chance on Me

I find myself full of fearfulness
Afraid the truth would make you run from this
And we find out  we’ve become strangers
Who feel no hurt or even anger

All I want is for you to hear me
To understand who I am clearly
For you to know both my best and worst
But always see the good in me first

So I want to take this chance with you
Make room in my heart to fall into
Hold on to hope, hang onto this chance
Even if it ends in a goodbye dance

Why would we waist a single moment
Choose to live in fear instead of own it
Will you let your heart free to be reckless
Jump and see if love is there to catch us


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