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Archive for the ‘Good News; Jesus Christ’ Category

There is a Biblical verse for every moment in life, so it seems. Today, I wish a verse existed that began with “Here’s the scoop…”

Working at Oklahoma Christian University, we often quote Isaiah 40:31: But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not faint.

Other translations begin this verse with “They that wait upon The Lord…”.

As a family who believes and trusts in Him, waiting seems to be the better fit in this moment.

In a world plagued by the babel we brought upon ourselves at Babel, the interchangeable nature of words in translating our languages provides a beautiful mixture of meaning and metaphor as we try to make sense of our lives on this broken creation called The Earth.

As I made the early morning drive today from our temporary sleeping abode at my sister’s to the medical suite that has emerged at our Mom and Dad’s, a song by Switchfoot was playing on the radio:

Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he’s bent for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly, fly

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside …

Dreaming about Providence
And whether mice or men have second tries
Maybe we’ve been livin with our eyes half open
Maybe we’re bent and broken, broken

We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life, yeah

We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
We were meant to live for so much more…

We were meant to live …

The medical experts have told us, daily, there are less than 24 hours remaining, and they’ve proved it by the level of medical and comfort care resources provided. And 24 hours later, they have re-approved the same assessment for yet another 24, and we remain as both “those who trust”, and “they that wait”.

A night or two ago, in this ever rambling week, a conversation I had with one on a blanket on the floor became a conversation among many, and ultimately a prayer I found myself offering with and on behalf of us all. We asked God to allow us to let go of our agenda, our understanding, and to rely on His timing. I’ve never wished to be in a patriarchal place in life, and yet, here we are.

In his final lucid and not so lucid conscious moments almost a week ago, our Dad proclaimed to all present for me to be “Second in Command”, and I wonder now if there is not an analogy in even those late moment words.

God is in command. We are His children. We were meant to live for so much more.

We have not lost ourselves, or each other.

And so, we trust.

And we remain “they that wait”.

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I woke up this very early morning thinking about several weighty things.

In the midst of it all, wrists deep in a load of dishes in need of cleaning, a song came to mind. Little surprise in that. Fancy meeting you in the purple stew, indeed, to quote a phrase.

It very much falls in the category of “we don’t sing that one, anymore”. Little surprise in that, as well, and it’s sad.

Anyway, I could talk,about the song and why I think it came to mind, or I can simply share the thoughts of another who has already done so more eloquently than I likely could, or would. Most likely, I might be guilty of “not mentioning it” at all. See what you think.

Don’t mention it…

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Because, he can’t. The story won’t allow it, and we all know how the story ends.

That is the answer, but what is the question?

“WHY doesn’t the villian just kill the hero, aka, the protagonist, and get it over with?”

Just because.

He can’t.

The story doesn’t go like that.

I was watching (again) the first movie in the Iron Man series yesterday with my extended family. As the great deceiver in this story, the good guy turned bad character played by Jeff Bridges, appears to rip the heart out of hero Tony Stark, I was silently asking myself why the villain didn’t just kill him and get it over with.

Just because.

He can’t.

The Author of the story didn’t write it that way.

It may sound simple.

It may sound naive.

Watching the story play out like it often does causes us to feel anxiety, and even pain. But we know the good Guy wins in the end.

It is classic and timeless story telling. I would almost suggest it is imbedded in our DNA, which has been decaying since shortly after the dawn of time. And yet, it remains, and it holds true.

Don’t get me wrong. Watching chapters in the great story, which are lives merely appear to be, is not clean. It is not easy. It certainly is not without pain. Watching the tornados of last week is a case in point.

One only need to read Revelation chapters 12 and 13 to experience that yet again.

And yet, the aftermath of each conflict brings the good guys one step closer to victory.

Revelation.14:12-13: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

Amen. Lord, come quickly, Hallelujah. In the meantime, we will hold on, staying true to our parts in the story.
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Do you ever wonder?

“Why is this happening?”

You see things happening, and you feel powerless to stop them. Maybe you aren’t, or maybe you are.

You wonder what your mission really is, or why you even signed up to begin with.

Maybe you feel betrayed, or ignored, or forgotten.

You have issues with getting older, or with health in general, whether your own, or that of those around you.

You can’t even count on M (as in money, i.e., Ben Bernanke, or someone else) to always be there for you.

You feel like the sky is falling.

The good news is, its not. It’s just life, in good times, and in bad. The promise is there for us that we have more to look forward to, but not necessarily in the here, or the now. You just need to hold on. So do I.

I heard the following lyrics in the car the other day, and knew they were too good not to share:

Sometimes it’s hard to keep believing
In what you can’t see
That everything happens for a reason
Even the worst life brings
If you’re reaching for an answer
And you don’t know what to pray
Just open up the pages
Let His word be your strength

And hold on to the promises
Hold on to the promises
Jesus is alive so hold tight
Hold on to the promises

All things work for the good
Of those who love God
He holds back nothing that will heal you
Not even His own Son
His love is everlasting
His faithfulness unending
Oh, if God is for us who can be against us
So if you feel weak

Neither life, nor death
Could separate us
From the eternal love
Of our God who saves us
*

Maybe the sky is falling, after all. It’s OK. It was never really your home to begin with.

Just hold on…

🙂

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* Just Hold On lyrics by Sanctus Real

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The final horn sounded, the streamers fell from the ceiling, and the crowd spilled out of the arena and onto the street. As my son and I surveyed the situation and saw the wind, rain, and lightening, he said exactly what I was thinking: “Dad, we’d better run”. As we sprinted down the middle of a closed to traffic Reno Avenue, the thought suddenly hit me: “Didn’t we run down this exact same path only yesterday?”. Such was the end of Day 2 in the arena.

Day 3 ended with the afore posted about concert in another arena, this one holding a different crowd and a different product than the basketball we witnessed on Day 2. I guess an overpaid superstar is an overpaid superstar, whether they hold a basketball or a guitar, but I digress. There is probably a future topic of Idols, Icons, and Role Models in there somewhere, but that will wait for another day, maybe.

Day 1 “in the arena” was totally different, and that’s my intended point to all this. As pictured above, my three kids and I gathered with 560 of our closest friends to take part in a race. Part challenge, part social norm, and part memorial, this annual event brings out fellowship, fun, and fear for yours truly all at the same time. It is a sort of metaphor for life, maybe?

I didn’t intend for things to shake out the way they did last week. Therein lies another metaphor for life. We planned on running the race, and eventually planned on the concert, but attending the basketball game just fell our way at the last minute. As Little Frau bemusedly stated to me the morning of Day 4 that week, “you guys have gotten to do a lot of cool, fun stuff in just a very few days. I’m jealous!”. We didn’t plan it that way, it just happened, and my fatigue factor showed it. What began Sunday morning at 4:00 AM concluded Wednesday morning at 1:00 AM, and it was an exhausting run.

While this week has to date been much less scripted up front, it too has had its share of “event moments”. Announcements. Decisions. Comments. Revelations. Regrets. Retreats.. Such have been a part of the last 3 days in our bigger arena called life. And so it goes. To quote Billy Joel, both with that last phrase and with the next: “We didn’t start the fire. Its been always burning since the world’s been turning”.

As I ponder all of this before the dawn of another day, I’m reminded of another three days inside analogy, this one by Jesus comparing himself and what was coming to Jonah and what was past.

For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. Matthew 12:40

The difference here is that He did plan it that way. It didn’t just happen, even though He had a temporary fatigue factor to show for it. What all began likely on a Thursday morning concluded before the dawn on the following Sunday morning, and it started an exhilarating and rewarding run for us all, greater than 560 strong. Part challenge, part social norm, and part memorial. My son was right: we’d better run. The race is growing shorter by the minute.

One day, the final horn will sound, the streamers will fall from the sky, and the crowd will spill out of the arena. I’m ready.

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I get it, I think. Maybe I don’t get it. Am I talking about living the Life, or the movie Little Frau and I just watched? Yes.

Jazz doesn’t resolve. Or does it? Life doesn’t resolve, or does it? That is the point. That is the premise. Knowing that, and accepting it, creates confusion and discomfort, just like life.

I read the book many years ago that spawned the recent movie. “Essays on Christian Spirituality” was the subtitle, but these essays were nothing like I had ever experienced. The same could be said about the movie. It seemed random. It seemed pained. It seemed unresolved. Then, it all came together, and in a confessional booth, of all places. The last 10 minutes made it worthwhile, even if the first 90 minutes had also been OK.

Not everyone will get it. Maybe they will, truth be told, but not everyone will like it. Media reports already show that to be the case. “The Christian Movie Industry” is boycotting Blue Like Jazz. It makes them uncomfortable. It makes them angry. It offends them. It concerns them. I could say the same, maybe, but I could about life as well. I get it, I think.

I have been to Portland, Oregon, many times in fact. I’ve seen the people. I’ve overheard “lectures” in the hallowed halls of Powells Books, and have even run from such for cover, eldest daughters ears in tow. I’ve never set foot on the Reed campus, but I have seen enough to know the realm.

I have been to “church”, deep south/Bible Belt style, many times in fact. I’ve seen the people. I’ve overheard “lectures” in the hallowed halls and in some people’s books, and have even run from such for cover, saddened ears in tow. I’ve never set foot on the every church group campus, but I have seen enough to know the realm.

I have seen “Fireproof”. I have seen “Flywheel”, and “Courageous”, and other “Christian Industry” movies. Having grown up in the culture that often hides from the reality of sin and takes things for granted, I get the point, and I see the value. Cheesy though they may be, for those who understand the culture of “big church”, these movies can strike a chord and call one to live more intentionally.

The same can now be said of Blue Like Jazz. Is it offensive? It could be, but the same could be said of “Dirty Harry”, and “Midway”, and “Star Wars”, or “You’ve Got Mail”, and any number of other movies I watch and love. Does that negate the point, and eliminate the value?

A non Christian, or at least a non lifetime Bible Belter can watch “Courageous” and walk away shaking their head. A lifetime conservative Texan raised Christian (aka, “I don’t smoke, I don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls who do) might watch BLJ and walk away confused, but the last scene rides in to save the day. It resolves. It clicks. And, it all starts with an epiphany, a realization, a confession, and an apology.

Why does life happen like it does? Why do good people die? Why did 9-11 happen? Why am I here? The questions could go on and on. I sat thru a program earlier this week with the American Airlines pilot who was “bumped” from his flight assignment that would have seen him slain at the hands of Mohammed Atta and had him on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. And yet, he lives. I shook his hand. I am reading his book. And, I am learning a little about the guilt of being a “some time saint” and the duties of living as a “Borrowed Time Believer”. More on those thoughts in a later post.

Jazz doesn’t resolve, or does it? How about life? I think maybe it does, if we can just open our ears, and open our eyes. It all starts with a confession.

I get it, I think…

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“He’s like the brother I never had”. (AB)

An interesting thing happened after we moved into this neighborhood a few years back.   We met J, and now he is practically a part of the family.

J not only met us, he has come to meet the other J, that being Jesus, and we now experience the walk of faith together.

Philemon 1:7 says: Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

And the pic?   Well, these two guys  are so much alike, they could be brothers.   Come to think of it, they are.

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