Friday, May 29, 2009

Dusk til Dawn

A mosaic of peach and pink scatter amongst the smog,
the brilliant ball of fire can no longer be seen,
it's rays leave a lambent glow,
that sparkles but for a moment.
Burning chemicals slowly mute to black.
The robin's aria has died away,
as the crickets interpose just in time for the third act.
The lights are out.
The curtain that rose hours ago,
has yet to fall.
Suspense escalates.
What is on the bill?
Will there be a comedy?
A tragedy?
A love story...
or will there again be horror?
I await the flood of misty light,
for my dreams to take stage,
sweeping me far away from here...

Some one has missed their cue.
There is no fade in,
no whimsical characters are born,
no more music softens my breath.
The air is dead... choking... silent....

Bored, my thoughts start spinning,
the hurricane of attention deficit is merciless.
The sun will not rise for hours,
what seems like days,
yet i remain knowing it will come.
I am the watchman on the last watch of the night,
as most nights.
I eagerly await the dawn,
confident of it's arrival.
Nearsighted, i loiter til daybreak,
thinking this will save me.
My light grasp has allowed The
by nature Pure Blood
trickle through my fingers.
I let it slip down the back of my hand,
slither beyond my wrist,
and cascade from my elbow.

My feeble mind has yet again forgotten,
a Love more faithful than the morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where is the Love pt 5

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3

Jesus tells us that love is the key to life. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself" - Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV).

The Bible tells us that God is love. He loved us so much that He sent His beloved son to die for us so we can have a relationship with Him.

Giving is important. Sacrifice is significant. But loving God and others needs to be the focus of our lives. And when we truly grasp this concept - everything else falls into place.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Possessive Pronoun Savior-> Humble Servant

With so much spiritual trial protruding into my life from so many different angles, i have been trying to focus solely on loving God and loving people (which is really where my focus should be ALL the time). I have failed miserably time and time again. Praise God that because of the Gospel i am free to make the mistake, repent, be forgiven, learn and move forward. Although lately, it seems i am learning the same lesson over and over again, each time God revealing another layer of the lesson.

As a new believer there have definitely been times when i wasn't aware of my sin. I knew i was a sinner but didn't see my sin. Now i know to get on my knees and pray when i seem sinless to myself or when i feel i have been sinned against with no fault of my own. Scott just recently blogged about some thoughts on knowing yourself from "one of the most insightful of Puritan theologians", John Owen.

  • "The man that understands the evil of his own heart, how vile it is, is the only useful, fruitful, and solid believing and obedient person. Others are fit only to delude themselves, to disquiet families, churches, and all relations whatever." (Works of John Owens, vol. 6)

Once we have a better understanding of who we are and who God is, we begin our own private journey to Troas. We are prideful people so the path to humility is a rugged, painful tearing from our flesh. Yet this pain is worth it as you compare it to what is to be gained in Christ. It is then that you have a clearer view of from what you have been saved. We have all been saved from the same depravity, but how much of that depravity are you aware of? As Luke says, "He who has been forgiven little loves little" (Luke 7:47).

  • If you have little experience of or confidence in the life changing power of God's grace, you will likely be ungracious in your demands of others. A critical spirit and negative expectations will dominate your relationships. Forgiveness and the desire to restore and build up others will be far from your mind. In general you will have little patience with the weaknesses of others, especially those close to you. When tensions arise, you will leap to your own defense while trying to pin the blame on others. You will tend to keep a safe distance from Christians whose lives reflect true love and holiness, lest they uncover your inner unworthiness. You might even go on the attack and find fault in them to soothe your conscience. This negative spirit generates further tensions and distrust, so as to invite others to strike back. In such an atmosphere, trusting and joyful relationships, creativity, and loving ministry cannot flourish (Forgive! As the LORD Forgave You, Patrick H. Morison pg 5).

This is something difficult for anyone to examine once accepting the Gospel. You are reluctant to admit that you doubt God's grace. Perhaps even more so for the career Christian and/or when those in your community see you as a 'holy' person strong in faith. It takes a humble and honest heart before God. Otherwise you will be subject to your pride. So examine your heart, seriously. Are you really certain Christ died for you? Could these observations by J.C. Ryle pertain to you?

  • They never come to a point of actually laying hold on Christ by faith, and becoming one with Christ by faith, and becoming one with Christ and Christ in them. They can say, He is a Savior, but not “my Savior” - a Redeemer but not, “my Redeemer” - a Priest, but not, “my Priest” - an Advocate, but not “my Advocate”: and so they live and die unforgiven! No wonder that Martin Luther said, “Many are lost because they cannot use possessive pronouns” (Ryle, Practical Religion, pg. 7).
With every finger we loosen on our pride, we take that much more hold to our Savior. This begins with loving God and loving others more than we love ourselves, thus becoming humble servants to OUR great and glorious God - The Father that loves us.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where is the Love pt 4

As Christians, we are called to pursue to be like Christ. So when an opportunity comes to help a brother or sister in Christ, do you drop everything and go? Or do you wait until it is convenient for you (which may possibly be too late)?
As Christians we are called to forsake worldliness. When it comes between helping an eternal soul and keeping your daily routine; which will you choose?
When the Son of Man comes in His Glory, will you be a sheep or a goat?

Matthew 25:31-46

31"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.

32"All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

34"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

38'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

39'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

40"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

41"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;

43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'

44"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

45"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

46"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

James 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


(A Puritan Prayer)

O Merciful God,
When I hear of disagreeable things amongst Christians,
it brings an additional weight and burden on my spirit;
I come to Thee in my distress and make lamentable complaint;
Teach me how to take reproofs from friends,
even though I think I do not deserve them;
Use them to make me tenderly afraid of sin,
more jealous over myself,
more concerned to keep heart and life unblameable;
Cause them to help me reflect on my want of spirituality,
to abhore myself,
to look upon myself as unworthy,
and make them beneficial to my soul.
May all Thy people know how little, mean, and vile I am,
that they may see that I am nothing,
less than nothing,
to be accounted nothing,
that so they may pray for me aright,
and have not the least dependence upon me.
It is sweet to be nothing and have nothing,
and to be fed with crumbs from Thy hands.
Blessed be Thy name for anything that life brings.
How do poor souls live that have not Thee,
or when helpless have no God to go to,
who feel not the constraining force of Thy love,
and the sweetness of communion?
O how admirably dost Thou captivate the soul,
making all desires and affections centre on Thee!
Give me such vivacity in religion,
that I may be able to take all reproofs from other men
as from Thy hands,
and glorify Thee for them
from a sense of Thy beneficent love
and of my need to have my pride destroyed.

The Valley of Vision (pg 82), Arthur Bennett

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jesus (and laughter) is the Best Medicine

About two months ago, i was finally diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Somatization (might need to change the title of the blog ;-)

It has taken me a while to come to grips with it as i was much more comfortable with brain surgery. Arnold-Chiari malformation is more or less cut (haha) and dried; whereas dealing with one's psyche is a whole other mess. For instance, how are your mind (thoughts), "heart", emotions, spirit, soul and body connected and/or disconnected? Where does one start and another begin? In my study so far, all i can say for sure is, only God knows!

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

ANYWAY, all that to say, i've been attending an adult day rehabilitation center and have met some amazing people.

Last week was a rough one for me. I was cranky and emotionally shut off. When i walked into the center Friday, i was greeted ever so excitedly, "There is my friend! Where have you been?! I come Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I haven't seen you! Are you going to have breakfast with me? You are my... uh... platonic friend."

Jonny* is a 63 year old man who laughs... All. The. Time. He says he is a Christan Scientist, he usually has a gift for you (a page out of the news paper- grocery sales) always has these amazing anecdotes and i thoroughly enjoy 'Jonny quotables'. If someone is having a bad day he will pray for that person, recite the Lord's Prayer or sing a very serious and off key rendition of, "Forward Christian Soldiers".

I sat with Jonny that day, talking and laughing with him. The foggy mist had lifted for a few hours and i was enjoying Christ. Jonny genuinely makes me laugh. Good comedians say funny things, great comedians say things funny. Jonny is a comic genius!

What's funny, Bugs Bunny?
Your body is like your car, it's yours but it's not you.
Are you reading my mind?
What will they think of next?
I feel so unnecessary.
You have the attention span of a gnat.
I don't want to be inappropriate now...

*Name changed for privacy

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where is the Love? pt 3

I have three friends who suffer from schizophrenia. Because i spend four hours a day with them, i have come to adore their different personalities. Once you see past the mental illness, you see a man, just like any other, longing to love and be loved - searching.

First is Morgan* who paces a lot, talking to himself. He took to me right away and sat down with me to read the Bible. On good days, he would excitedly read and explain the scriptures to me (mostly accurate). On bad days, he would claim to be Jesus.

Geff* would not read with me, but he read the few verses i had taped to the wall. One day he came to me with a smile on his face, "I read those Christian writings you put up."

Tyrone* is the most unstable of the three. Whenever he had a moment of violent tears or outrage, we read Psalms together.

Slowly, i found myself mothering these three, and caring for them became painful. Some days they would greet me with open arms and kind words; other days they would yell at me and tell me to go away. Some days they seemed to understand the Gospel and other days they did not.

One night in prayer i found myself petitioning, pleading for their salvation. The Spirit must have been guiding my words but i stopped Him mid-sentence, "Lord, will you please shower these men with your grace and mercy. If it is possible, Father in place of their salvation take m...

Wait a minute! I would trade eternity with Christ? I don't think so! I care about these guys but really, i need my Jesus." I so dimly forgot that,
"neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38, 39)

So what was that prayer all about? Later i recalled that Paul had prayed that prayer. I had the hardest time finding that passage, then was humbled to be told that if i had just kept reading, i would have found it.
In Romans 9:3 Paul says
"For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh."

What the heck! He just said one cannot be cut off from Christ!
After applying my Bible Study Methods, i realized that i had skipped over the word "wish" or "be willing to" in the NLT. Paul knew there was nothing to separate him from Christ. However, he loved the Israelites so much, and wanted to express to them that if it were possible to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ—to save them, Paul would. Now that is love.

There are plenty of people that i would willingly die and leave this world for (but then i go to Christ so who really gets the better end of that deal?), but to offer up my salvation... Paul really understood the love of Christ. The God man that suffered far more than any one on earth could; so that, we would be at peace with God because He loved us.

* Names changed for privacy

Monday, May 11, 2009

Where is the Love? pt 2

Being aware that you may have no idea what people are going through is important.

One morning, exhausted with dulled motor skills from pain and trial, i was standing in an isle with a couple guy friends. At a loss for words, i tapped one of the guys to warn him that someone was coming through carrying a large object. He moved then turned to me and said sternly, "Use your words."

Yesterday i got into a debate with a guy at church. I pressed him about the topic but then we agreed to disagree. A little later i was told he had just had a death in the family. EPIC FAIL!

Unfortunately people don't come with 'Fragile' signs. So...

1 Thessalonians 5:11:
11Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

Colossians 4:6: 6Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

Colossians 3:8: 8But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

Ephesians 5:19: 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Where is the Love?

Last Sunday evening i was blessed to be present for this communal rebuke. "We don't love people."

don't love people, not really. Sure, on a Sunday morning we hug and exchange mostly trivial conversations like, "how was your week". What about Sunday night? Tuesday afternoon? How much do we really care about how others are doing and how much of ourselves are we willing to sacrifice ministering to one who is cast down? How many times have we asked, "how have you been?" and feel imposed upon when someone answers honestly? A heart change is needed. As fallen people we have a proclivity to self-absorption. What happens to others is secondary. If our faith is in Christ The Messiah, and He is LORD of our life, we are called to count others more significant than ourselves. Christ DIED for us; thus, as little Christs we should be willing to take a (most likely metaphorical) bullet for one another. Christ DIED for us; the least we could do is love His people.

In my opinion, if you have trouble really loving people, i would call into question your love for God. Honestly. Who are you serving? When you accept Christ into your heart and He fills you with the Holy Spirit, you are forever changed. When you love God, you
want to please Him. When you love Christ you want to serve Him. When you are convicted the first time and are on your knees asking for forgiveness, not only is grace freely given but also given is the Holy Spirit as Comforter. The offended not only forgives but also gives an eternal gift?! How does that not change your perspective forever? How does that not make you want to give all that you are able back to Him and His people?

Being some one who has been in trial for the majority of her walk, i am especially ashamed of this particular stumble. Yet feeling shame in this way is assuming I'm perfect. I'm not perfect. Christ is, was and will always be - how awesome is it that He still loves us?! This is a time of sanctification, and the place to start is prayer. We must ask God to break us, circumcise our hearts to be more like His Son. And as God does that work in our hearts we must continue forward. We don't do nothing until we can perfectly love people (which doesn't happen this side of Eternity). It is almost guaranteed that we will say something stupid to some one in need. We should expect God to use our stupidity for good.

My most embarrassing was saying, "I'm sorry," to some one when i had previously expressed my aversion to the phrase.
Saying "I'm sorry," never helps and actually makes things more awkward and helps a person into self pity. Sometimes people will ask how things are going, wanting to help. This person wants to speak into the sufferer's life but if they aren't living life together, the advice is usually insulting/unsolicited/uneducated. If you only ask about some one's life when you bump into that person, the sufferer may feel like a burden that you don't
really want to deal with. If you go out of our way to love on some one, that person will feel less like a burden. The impression grows from, "Well, you are here so i guess i should talk to you," to, "i want to love you."

This is not something we have the capacity to accomplish ourselves. Yes, there is a definite need for heart change. While that is happening i have a few suggestions from my perspective. These thoughts are mainly geared toward those who are in trial but can be applied to anyone who may cross your path.

Prayer- right then and there, ask if you can pray with the person. Put a hand on them and pray for as long as it takes.

- a friendly rub on the shoulder or back, or a hug. This is huge! Especially if you don't know what to say or don't have the credibility to advise. I find that comforters want to say that one thing that will make everything better... they can't. Just let the person know you are there, present and loving.

Acknowledgment - instead of saying 'I'm sorry', say something like, "that must be tough". This is a good comment that 1)may open someone up to offer more information, and 2) affirms that what the person is going through is a legitimate trial (may not seem like great trial to everyone but it is important to that person and important to God). Then follow immediately with either, "what is God revealing to you about Himself through this" or (especially for a new believer) a reminder of God's promises (Romans 8, Hebrews 4, esp Hebrews 4:14-16, Philippians, etc.).

Cry - just cry with them. Romans 12:13 urges us to weep with those who weep. Don't be afraid of tears, yours or someone else's.

Service - prayer first and foremost, then practical service. Sometimes a person won't know what they need, so offer ideas based on what you know about the situation. Something i have always really appreciated about my bff, Beth is she scolds me when i over exert myself and takes things out of my hands. Sometimes she momentarily forgets and i go ahead and open a heavy door or lift something. She says, "why am i letting you do that?" as she is taking the object from me.
Sometimes a sufferer is too proud, or feels they may ask too much of someone or actually wont know what is needed. Sometimes we need to acknowledge the need and just do it.

Hang time- meeting with or calling throughout the week, not primarily to ask about trials, (though that will most likely come up) but to love on that person simply because they are a brother or sister in Christ. It is easy to wonder if people actually care or if they pity you if all conversation is centered around the trial. Plus, sometimes the sufferer is tired of talking about it and really needs a friendly distraction.

Check in
- Greg Harris, author of The Cup and the Glory, told this great story about how his editor cared for his family. A year after his twin daughters died at birth, Greg's editor sent him a card that simply said, "Doesn't Heaven look brighter now?"

Friday, May 8, 2009

Grateful for Teeth

I have been attending an Adult Rehabilitation Center for a little over two months. In developing relationships with and caring for these people, i have been thankful for things i had previously overlooked. For instance: friends, protective brothers and loving sisters in Christ, the ability to decipher fantasy from reality, clean clothes; and today, teeth. Today i am thankful for teeth.

More than a few people at the center do not have all their teeth, if any. One woman i absolutely adore (we'll call her Sebastiana) is small, very strong, senile, and has absolutely no teeth. Today she had a vice grip on me, wanting to take me with her to San Sebastian; i told her (in my broken Spanish), "After lunch."

So we sat to eat - her arm tightly linking mine. Sebastiana is given different food than everyone else because she can't chew and could choke. I looked over to see a bowl full of creamy beige stuff with spots of black stuff. The kitchen aide said it was, "porridge", but it didn't look like anything i had seen before. It could have resembled one of John Cusack's mother's concoctions on Better Off Dead.

At first Sebastiana ate very quickly, then stopped abruptly. One of the nurses came to assist Sebastiana in finishing her meal but the feisty old woman didn't want to finish and began wiping her tongue with a napkin. Again, my Spanish isn't all that great so all i really understood her say was, "No more... icky..."

I looked over at my roasted, boneless chicken breast, white rice and green salad. I had given thanks for the provision of food but forgot to thank God for teeth to eat it.

Praise God for all 32 of my crooked, silver filled, imperfect teeth. They are beautiful!
Now i'm off to brush and floss.

Until next time, some
Sebastiana-isms (as translated from Spanish):

"Fabio. I left him because he had no teeth."
"Ay, yi, yi!"
"A boy was selling huge tortillas at church."
"Bingo, bingo, bingo!"
"Let's go to San Sebastian."
Bésame, bésame mucho!"

Thursday, May 7, 2009

One Sweet Day

"We live by faith, not by sight"

2 Corinthians 5:7

Our sight guides us every day. If your sight wasn't leading the way, would you still know where you were, who was with you, and what you were doing?

Absolutely! You would have other senses until the Lord restored your sight. Those who have lost their sight have reported other senses becoming heightened over time. Think of living by faith and not by sight as a sharpening of your other senses.

Hearing lets you know the great works he has done in other's lives. Touch lets you hold your child and feel the love of our Creator. Smell lets you inhale the sweet outdoors, knowing the peace of God.

For we live by Faith, not by Sight. Until one sweet day.