Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Micah and the Silver

Recently in my readings, I met a guy named Micah (not the prophet). Micah is a really wise guy--well, wise by worldly standards. By God's standards he was pretty foolish. Micah's mom had 28 pounds of silver (13 kilograms), which Micah decided to steal to use no doubt for some creative business venture that would have doubled his profits in six weeks. But then Micah finds out that his mother has cursed the person who stole the silver. (I fully understand this reaction considering I sometimes desire to rain down curses on the people who steal my stapler off my desk at work.) Micah, not wanting to be cursed by his mom, confesses. Here's one of the loony parts of the story--Micah's mom then blesses her son and is so grateful that she commissions Micah to make an image overlaid with silver and gives it back to Micah. Now I'm all about parental forgiveness, Lord knows that I've needed it many times, but giving back what was stolen and having your son turn it into an idol doesn't go very far in teaching him any type of lesson for his bad behavior. Aesop would be ashamed of this mom for missing the chance to impart a moral at the end of the story.

The idol is crafted and becomes Micah's most valued household guide with its own shrine and priest and everything. In the end, the Danites (one of the tribes of Israel) stumble across Micah on their way to find a permanent settlement. They steal the idol and convince the priest to come with them and be a priest for a whole bunch of people rather than just one man. Ironic that what Micah originally stole was stolen from him along with his priest. That's one Aesop, zero Micah's mom, and -2 Micah. (You can check out the full story in Judges 17 & 18)

Now it would be the easy thing to say that the moral of the story is do not steal and that lesson is definitely in there, but I found Micah's story worth sharing for another reason. Micah and his mom choose to spend their silver on a very useless thing--an idol that can offer them no protection, cannot offer any sort of wisdom, cannot do anything besides maybe fall over and be stolen. (Both actions by the way require that some other force acts upon it; therefore, the idol truthfully cannot do anything on its own.) The idol is merely a possession that brought comfort to Micah--not that it could comfort Micah, but that Micah placed value in it and therefore found comfort.

It leads me to ponder how many useless things that I waste my silver on merely for comfort--the comfort found in owning and having material possessions surrounding you. Recently, with the help of the Lord, I conquered an addiction to buying DVDs. I literally had hundreds and watched about 20% of them (that number might be high, I may have chosen it to make me feel a little better about myself). Anytime I went to a place like Target, I was drawn to the DVD department. So many titles all under ten bucks. It can't hurt too much financially to buy a movie that "I really love" for less than ten bucks. Yes, but I have neighbors all over the world who are living on a $1 or $2 a day. And by the way, for $10 I could purchase a mosquito net and keep one of my neighbors from getting malaria. In fact, there are a lot of things that I could buy for $10 that would help one of my neighbors, locally and internationally.

I am struck as I think about Micah's story that the life Micah chose, the life I often choose, and the lives of majority of us in America look so radically different than the life that Jesus chose to live when He walked on earth. We like that Jesus hung out with the poor, and I know so many of us who do that very thing, following His example. But I think we like to skip over the fact that Jesus was poor. He didn't just feed the 5,000, he ate with them. Notice the disciples had to get the food from somebody else--they didn't have any food either. Jesus didn't own a home--He wasn't renting one either, but relying on the kindness of others. Jesus himself said that He had no place to lay His head. And when it came to the rich young ruler, Jesus told him there was only one thing that he lacked. (Can you imagine finding out there was only one thing that you lacked on the road to righteousness?! I bet the rich young ruler got pretty stinkin' excited at that statement, but wait for the whammy.) Jesus told him to go and sell everything he had and give it to the poor. (Matthew 19:16-30). Not the "one thing" he wanted to hear. Not the one thing that I really want to hear either, but I think that Jesus knows that material wealth gets in the way of a life lived out in the righteousness we are called to.

I'm still working out what this means for me and my journey. But I'm discovering that if I really desire to be a follower of Jesus, then things need to be merely things to me and self-denial really is a key to that kind of life ("deny yourself and pick up your cross" Luke 9:23-26). It's a hard lesson to learn in our consumeristic, self-ingratiating society, but I believe that it is absolutely essential to knowing and loving God as He desires to be known and loved.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Over the past few years I have developed a love for the comedic genius of Monty Python. I was first introduced to Monty Python and the Holy Grail in high school, but it has not been until "adulthood" that I have truly come to appreciate the irreverent, often poignant, comedy of Monty Python.

Last night I had the joy of seeing Spamalot, the hit Broadway Musical based on the original Holy Grail movie. Number one, I have never laughed that much or that hard while watching a musical. Number two, the cast was incredible. Number three, the sets fully captured much of Terry Gilliam's original artwork for the TV show and movies.

Here's the not so surprising part: I actually learned a valuable lesson from Spamalot. Due to a hilarious plot twist not in the original movie, King Arthur finds himself in need of a Jew. After giving up in his quest to find a Jew, Arthur finds out that his valued squire Patsy is a Jew. When Arthur asks why Patsy did not say something sooner, Patsy replies, "Well, it's hardly the thing you say to a well-armed Christian." For this he received uproarious applause and laughter. It was a very true statement both during the time of Arthur and our present age. And I couldn't help but wonder how many times the people in my life have avoided telling me something because "it's hardly the thing you say to a well-armed Christian."

My lesson from Spamalot: Learn to be a little more vulnerable, a little more transparent, a lot less judgmental, more willing to listen, less willing to talk, and maybe--just maybe--you'll discover the wealth of human life around you. Maybe if I'm not quite so well-armed, I might actually find that I can love my neighbor, be a friend, and spread a little more Jesus around. Maybe...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A week or two ago I picked up the new book on Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light is a compilation of letters and private writings of the "Saint of Calcutta." I have been awed by her awesome love for the Lord and her open willingness to abandon all in the world in order to be Christ's love to the poor and the cast-offs of the world. In the midst of her selflessness, God drew her more and more into Him, teaching her how He hurts for each and every person. The following letter she wrote to a priest who was experiencing a time of spiritual darkness in his own life:

Dear Co-worker of Christ,

You had said "Yes" to Jesus--and He has taken you at your word.--The Word of God became Man--Poor. Your word to God--became Jesus--Poor and so this terrible emptiness you experience. God cannot fill what is full.--He can fill only emptiness--deep poverty--and your "Yes" is the beginning of being or becoming empty. It is not how much we really "have" to give--but how empty we are--so that we can receive fully in our life and let Him live His life in us.

In you today--He wants to relive His complete submission to His Father--allow Him to do so. Does not matter what you feel--as long as He feels alright in you. Take away your eyes from your self and rejoice that you have nothing--that you are nothing--that you can do nothing. Give Jesus a big smile--each time your nothingness frightens you.

This is the poverty of Jesus. You and I must let Him live in us & through us in the world...

Keep giving Jesus to your people not by words but by your example--by your being in love with Jesus--by radiating His holiness and spreading His fragrance of love everywhere you go.

Just keep the Joy of Jesus as your strength.--Be happy and at peace.--Accept whatever He gives--and give whatever He takes with a big smile--You belong to Him--tell Him I am Yours & if you cut me to pieces every single piece will be only all Yours.

Let Jesus be the victim & the priest in you...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Lost Art of "Goodbye"

I've always been baffled when watching movies when the actor ends his/her phone conversation without the word "goodbye" or any variation of. The conspicuous absence of a formality in all these phone conversations bothered me a great deal, until that is, I discovered that I too was curtailing my conversations.

It began with business conversations. I allowed for enough information to pass between me and the other conversationalist to sufficiently cover the appropriate subject matter and then ended with a click of the receiver (or a flip of my cell phone). The appropriate compliments remained--"have a good day," "talk to you soon," etc.--but the norm finale was missing. I soon found that this reduction had found it's way into my personal conversations. I do think that I usually still say goodbye to my mother, but I find that more often than not I leave off.

What does this do to the other person? Are they offended? Do they even notice? Has "goodbye" become a triviality for them as well? The land line at work I cannot hang up as quickly as my cell phone. This occasionally means that I hear the other person's "goodbye" as my own receiver is heading to the cradle. At that point there is no stopping the momentum. I must continue in the downward movement, but it does leave me with an awkward moment withing myself wondering if my lack of farewell was rude and offended the other person.

Then there is the larger question of what this truncation means. Does the absence of a single word really save any significant amount of time. I suppose if the word takes about 1/2 a second to say and I hold about 20 conversations a day, then I gain 10 seconds each day. Obviously not a real time-saver. Is it a lack of consideration for my fellow human beings? Possibly. Possibly I grow calloused to the formality of human etiquette. Or maybe there is no meaning at all to it.

I cannot say that I have any great desire to pick up the habit again. But yet I do wonder, am I loosing something that makes me fundamentally human--a respect for other humans, an acquiescence to the humanity of others. Is the lost art of "goodbye" the tipping point, the outward expression of a much deeper change in myself and in our society?

I truly hope not.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Lesson in Pride:

I was out for my run, a habit that I am working on forming and making priority in my life. I knew that 9 o'clock at night was not the best time for a run, but it was the time that I had. The path was familiar, and I wanted to get a quick run in before it was too late.

Maybe it was just a lesson that running at that time of night with only the street lamps to light your way isn't the brightest of ideas, but the crag in the sidewalk certainly decided to teach me a lesson no matter the moral. My toe collided with it. I don't remember which foot. I assume the left because that is the direction I fell and rolled. I managed to fall in such a way as to do no worse damage than scraping the skin off my knee and elbow. I rolled into a sitting position and sat stunned.

I quickly realized that the only thing seriously injured was my pride. The girl walking behind who I had just passed hurried to ask if I was okay. I was, and I said so. I stood and begin to run/limp away in the direction of my apartment. It was a half concerned over the blood dripping down my leg/half embarrassed jaunt that got me home to where I could better inspect my wounds.

The thing is, I know how to run. And I knew my path. But I stumbled. Actually, I didn't just stumble, I pretty much catapulted myself into the ground. I stumbled because of a crag in the sidewalk I could not see in the poor light. It is likely, though I am rather clumsy, that with daylight I would not have fallen. And as I limped off, I know that God was saying to me "See. You need me."

So, God. See. I need You. Would you please keep reminding me of that over and over again?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A little over eight months ago, I read a book that severely altered the way I look at the world around me. The book, The Food Revolution by John Robbins, led to a significant lifestyle change for me.

You might recognize John Robbins name. His previous book, Diet for a New America led to the controversy that eventually resulted in Texas cattlemen suing Oprah for saying she would never eat another hamburger again. I haven't said that I will never eat another hamburger again. In fact, I hope to. But, it has been over eight months since I had a hamburger or any other meat product. Here's why:

I found out from Robbins and other research some startling truths about the meat industry and our over-consumption of meat. These truths are bigger than PETA and the various pathogens and carcinogens found in meat. The truth is that the meat industry has disastrous effects on our environment and world hunger.

Here's the facts:

Today more than one billion children do not have enough to eat. One child dies every three seconds from preventable diseases like diarrhea--diseases that are often the result of starvation. 80% of starving children live in countries that actually have food surpluses, but these children remain hungry because that food is used to feed animals. If everyone on the planet received 25% of their daily caloric intake from meat, there would only be enough food to feed 3.2 billion people. Drop it to 15%, and another billion could be fed. These figures leave 3-2 billion people without. It takes about 16lbs of grain to produce just one pound of edible flesh.

A major 2006 report by the United Nations summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry. Raising animals for food, the report said, is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale ….”

For me, I cannot reconcile the consumption of meat with my own moral values and my role as a human formed in the image of God. I hope that one day the meat industry will not wreak such havoc on world hunger or the environment. I look forward to the possibility of having greater access to free-range meats that are fed off the land they live on rather than acres of grain produced in deforested rain forest regions. But for now, I choose to not eat meat because I can't live with myself if I do.

For more information, check out any of these websites:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The past week I spent a lot of time, blogging, talking, and posting on Facebook about the Farm Bill. Why the Farm Bill? It seems like a rather random topic that doesn't really concern me being that I am not a farmer and that my closest connection to farming was a farm that my mother inherited and later sold--a farm I never visited.

Actually, you would be surprised how much the Farm Bill does have to do with you and me. Included in the Farm Bill our programs such as Food Stamps and school lunch programs. The Farm Bill affects how we trade in food with other countries. It also affects every piece of food on your dinner table, the market you purchased that food at, and the farmer who grew the food. The topic greatly affects me and greatly concerns me.

As I've studied and involved myself in the lobbying process for "real" reform to the bill, I've discovered how complex a thing it is and how much it is actually hurting our country. The Farm Bill--originally put into legislation during New Deal to protect the family farmer and help him get back on his feet after the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression--currently does little that it was designed to do. Majority of the subsidies it offers to farms go to big industry farms that are making thousands to millions of dollars in profit. The family farm sees little of these subsidies and subsequently, family farms cannot compete with industry farms. This means that one of the iconic pictures of American lore, the family farmer, can barely support his own family and is often deep in debt and impoverished.

Not only does the Farm Bill do little for our own farmers, it impoverishes farmers in countries world wide. The Farm Bill allows for American grown product to be sold on the world market below production costs (mostly due to subsidies). This means that local farmers in various markets across the globe cannot compete and subsequently cannot provide for their own families. Causing many farmers to live in extreme poverty--a dollar or less a day. We actually set aside annual funds in the federal budget for the fines billed to the US by the World Trade Organization to pay for this practice. With real reform to the bill, we could end this ludicrous practice that wastes money on a yearly basis.

The Fairness Amendment to the Farm Bill was not passed despite a great bi-partisan effort. The Farm Bill, however, as it stands was passed in the House. We now move the fight to the Senate, looking for "real" reform and standing up for farmers around the world.

As I fought along so many wise men and women lobbying for a change, I have often been reminded of the words of Henry David Thoreau:

[Speaking of those opposed to slavery] "They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and God-speed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man. But it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it...Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority" (Civil Disobedience).

For most of my life, I believe that I have been a "patron of virtue." I choose to no longer be such a patron. I do not call myself virtuous merely because I called my congressman's office a few times to petition him, but I feel that perhaps I might be on a path to being wise rather than leaving mercy to chance or wishing the good of the majority.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You have the opportunity! Make a difference now! Support real Farm Bill reform. Call your representatives by 12PM Eastern on Thursday, July 26th and ask them to support the Fairness Amendment.

For a quick overview of the Fairness Amendment, visit the site below:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Our Harry Potter Midnight Magic Party was a blast! We had around 1700 people in the store that night. It was pure craziness, but a lot of fun. I kept remembering valuable terminology from my PSP days, "controlled caos." Check out the pictures below.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

And now for a round of "Did you know?"...

Did you know that you can bruise the pad of your thumb? You can. I managed to bruise the pads of both thumbs last night playing Frisbee. The left is considerably worse than the right. They now only hurt when I apply a significant amount of pressure. Mostly I'm only experiencing a slightly numb feeling.

I counted bruises this morning. 25 in all. I believe that only two or three are from the Frisbee. Most are from moving. More to come on that subject later.

And that concludes today's, "Did you know?"

Monday, June 25, 2007

As I'm sitting here checking the latest feeds to come through on Google Reader, I came across the latest post to the ONE blog. The most amazing thing! Technology is consistently improving my life and probably yours if you are reading this blog. But you and me--we're in a margin of only 10% of the world's people whose lives are truly being improved by the technology revolution. The kicker is that the other 90% are the one's who could benefit most from new and improved technology. Here's someone who is trying to do something about that. Check out what Cooper-Hewitt is doing at http://other.cooperhewitt.org/
I was thinking back to what was probably over 10 years ago when MTV started their campaign to encourage people to vote. I'm joining that campaign. But don't just vote! Know that your vote means more than just the next four years for America. It impacts the next four years for people all over the world. Know the campaign issues. Know about poverty. Know that your vote and the issues you address with the candidates over the coming months could mean lives saved all over the world. Go to http://www.onevote08.org/ to find out how you can be involved.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

It's time for my monthly post! Yay, I know you are excited!

The past month has been full of exciting times. Here's the rundown:

1) I purchased tickets for my first opera, La Boheme. Then on the day of the opera, I came down with the stomach flu and had to miss it. I here from my friends that it was amazing.

2) I did get my money's worth out of the next set of tickets to see Aqualung perform at the Bluebird in Denver. If you are not familiar with Aqualung, check out their music at aqualung.net. An amazing concert with a slightly off opening band. Every member of Aqualung is incredibly talented. We were awed and amazed at their musicianship. The fact that they're British and have wonderful accents didn't hurt either.

3) I went to a screening for an Indie movie, Bella, due out in August. Several of the producers and the lead actor (proclaimed the Latin Brad Pitt, and yes, he was that attractive) were there. It was very interesting to here them express their heart about the movie and their passion behind why they made it. The movie won best picture at the Toronto Film Festival. I highly recommend that you go see it in August. I plan on seeing it again. The version we saw was rough cut, and I would really like to see the finished product. You can find out more about the movie here.

4) Barnes & Noble update: Last weekend we had Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Darth Vader, and four storm troopers in to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars. If you are not familiar with Kevin and Rebecca, they have written several of the Star Wars books and Kevin is a writer for the Dune series. Great people. We had a lot of fun that day. I also had Ted Dekker in to sign his latest novel, Skin. Previous to Skin, Ted's books were all classified as religious fiction. Skin marks his move into regular fiction. Interesting guy. I had a great talk with his publicist, and we will likely have Ted in for future signings. It was the largest signing I've done since coming to B&N.

Other than fantastical events, we are approaching the end of school, so I'm working with several different schools to spend the remainder of their budget. It's kept me pretty busy. We're also moving into our summer reading program. If you have elementary aged kids, stop by your local B&N and pick up a reading journal. When your child reads any eight books, fills out the journal, and takes it back to B&N, they can get a free book. This year we are partnering with the Magic Tree House Series. Your kiddo could also enter to win a signed copy of the next in the series due out in August.

And then there's Harry Potter. If you haven't heard, book 7 comes out in July. July 21st to be precise. When it's all over, if I never here the name Harry again, I will be a very happy woman.

That's the update. Have a great day!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

I have always said of myself that I do my part. I recycle. I don't turn my heat up too high or the AC down too low (a smaller carbon footprint, you know). I support a child through Compassion International. I tithe. I give out my spare change. I sign petitions. I vote. I support causes I believe in. And I just think that all in all I'm a good person.

But then I keep coming back to this idea, this realization, that I am completely and totally addicted to myself. I'm addicted to my book buying habit. I'm addicted to my television and my movie collection. I'm addicted to my cozy little apartment. I'm addicted to the convenience of my SUV and the fact that it can haul just about anything I want it to. I'm addicted to my Starbucks. I'm addicted to the convenience of life, and I simply just don't want my life to be inconvenient. And for all my causes and all my good works, I remain addicted to myself.

But the thing is that life is just a little bit inconvenient. I was reminded of that as I watched Hotel Rwanda tonight. Life is a little, actually very, inconvenient. It was inconvenient for the West that "acts of genocide" were committed in Rwanda, just as now it is inconvenient that similar acts are occurring in Sudan. It is inconvenient that millions are dying of starvation and AIDS. It is inconvenient that our own western cities have homeless, drug addicts, and impoverished people. It is inconvenient that are school systems are failing. It is inconvenient that I can't vote online but rather have to drive the few blocks to my neighborhood polling area. It is inconvenient that my produce is being genetically altered and pumped full of pesticides without me being fully aware of the dangers. It is inconvenient that our world is slowly diminishing thanks to the industrial era. It is simply inconvenient.

And because of my self addiction, I choose to live with those inconveniences. Sometimes it is more inconvenient for me to care about those inconveniences than it is for me to pray my little prayer, send my little well wishes, and pretend that my life is so very convenient.

But then there's the other thing. Despite my self addiction, despite the inconveniences, I also have to admit that we simply weren't created for this world. We were created for Eden. We were created for harmony and peace. We were created for perfect relationship with God. We were created for a world without inconvenience and addiction.

So maybe that gives me hope. Hope that there actually is something more than my addiction. Hope that there is actually something more to this world than inconvenience.

So am I a cynic, addicted to myself, addicted to convenience? Yes. But am I hopeful? Well, I want to be. After all, I recycle.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Most recent occurrence, I turned 25.

My day was completely relaxed. A nice lunch at Olive Garden with a few friends. Beautiful blue skies. Reading and more reading. Completely low key. Completely wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Thanks to all who shared birthday wishes. I hope to get back to each of you soon.

So now that I am 25, I must be considerably wiser. I must know something more than 24. Not sure that I do. I know that I am 25. I know that reading and hiking are the most enjoyable past times. I know that people are important and relationships with people even more important. I know that living healthy is about what you put into your body, how you exert your body, and the impact that body makes on the larger whole of our planet. I know that I can choose to give or choose to keep and that more often than not choosing to give is the more rewarding option. I know that I actually know nothing, or at least very little, and I know that is generally the status of most of humanity.

I'm 25, and I'm choosing to live my life. And maybe one of these days, I will figure out exactly what that means.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Today is a day of updating and uploading. I've finally updated the last three months worth of photos onto Flickr. And now I'm updating you on the last month, which has been mostly uneventful except for a wonderful three and a half days in Arlington, Texas with the Maxwells and Emily Wallace.

Jonah turned two, and I decided I couldn't miss out on the festivities since I was there for day one and birthday one. It was wonderful to see Steve, Alasha, Jonah, and Emily. We had a wonderful time together. Lots of quality talks and quality hang out time. I was very glad that I got to go down.

And then I turn around and my sister and Benjamin will be coming to visit in five days. I'm super-excited about seeing them since I haven't seen either since Thanksgiving. It will be great to spend some quality time with both.

Yea, for family and good friends!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Recently I have been thinking that many of you might be wondering how seminary is going. Well, I should tell you that it is not. Or perhaps I should say that I am sure Fuller Theological Seminary is running fine in the new winter quarter, but I am not running with it.

That's right, for the time being, I am not continuing in my seminary career. There are a multitude of reasons. I'll list a few below. Any who have further questions, please feel free to contact me.

  • Between my job at Barnes & Noble and seminary, I was working two full-time jobs. There was little to no time to rest, sleep, eat, or just let my brain go on autopilot for a while. I was exhausted by the end of the term. Exhausted right in time for the holiday season at work.
  • God's been pretty clear that part of His purposes for me right now are to rest and to heal. Two things that require a lot of time, and two things that I do not often allow myself to partake in. Between work and classes, there was no time for either.
  • God has also given me amazing relationships with wonderful people both at work and my new church home. For some time, those relationships have been for me the most important things in my life. Yet once again with work and classes, there was no time to put into those relationships.
  • Why not leave Barnes & Noble instead? Because many of the relationships that are so important are at Barnes & Noble. Because Barnes & Noble is my ministry--its the lives of other booksellers that I get to be involved in, day in and day out. It's the customers that I get to help and when I can encourage and uplift. It's the hundreds of lives that I get to be involved with on the everyday. The lives that I impact and that impact me.
Everyone at Fuller has been very gracious with me in this decision. I have also received a lot of encouragement in the decision from my family and a few key close friends. Eventually, the road may lead back to seminary. We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Latest thoughts on the subject of me not liking God:

My counselor is an awesome woman and a very wise woman. I've been seeing Edith for about seven months now, and I'm extremely grateful to have that relationship in my life. We've discussed my dislike and lack of understanding of God several times, but the most profound thoughts thus far came out of last Monday's session.

Edith asked if perhaps the God I disliked wasn't God at all. Was it possible that what I disliked was a false image of God created by the pain, the fallacy, the legalism? Could the God I dislike so much actually be an idol rather than the true God?

Yes, I believe it is possible. In fact, I see now that the false God is exactly what I hate. The true God I want to know, I want to love.

As I've thought (and yes, even prayed) about this concept, I've been reminded of a favorite childhood movie The Never Ending Story. It is a story of a fantasy land that is continually altered and recreated through the workings of human imagination. However, this land, Fantasia, is being swallowed up by "The Nothing" because humans are forgetting what it is to imagine. (I hate to spoil the ending if you haven't seen it, but my analogy lies there. Thus, if you would someday like to watch it, stop here.) In the end, it is the imagination of one human boy, Sebastian, that can save Fantasia from being completed swallowed by The Nothing. He saves the day by giving the Empress of Fantasia a new name, creating new seeds of wonder and imagination in the land by which all of Fantasia can be created anew.

Like Sebastian, I think that I need to give God a new name or perhaps restore an old name that has been decimated by punitive thinking and language. God and I need to start afresh with a completely new idea of who He is, allowing the old idea to be swallowed by The Nothing.

It's a journey....what do you think?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I am about to be brutally honest. So if you don't want to read that brutal truth, then I suggest you move on in your Internet surf.

I don't like God right now. I am struggling to reconcile God with a lot of what I know and have experienced in this meaningless world. God makes no sense to me, and so I don't like him.

What is the more brutal truth is that I know that God is okay with that. God is okay with the fact that I am not okay with him, and God is not pushing me or forcing me in anyway to be okay with him. I suppose that is proof of a graceful God.

God is simply sitting with me. He's reminding me that he loves me. He's encouraging me not to give up on him and assuring me that he has not given up on me. He calls me his love, his beautiful girl, his child. And he sits with me as I wrestle with him.

I'm not giving up on God even though I do not like him and cannot reconcile him to my experience. I'm not walking away; though, there have definitely been moments that I have wanted to. The truth is that I can't. I can't because I need there to be something bigger than me. I need there to be something worth hoping in. I need there to be something that loves me and loves this meaningless world.

So if you decided to read the brutal truth and you happen to like God, it would be good of you to pray for me. I think that I would like you to do that. I think that I want to like him again. And if you read the brutal truth and like me you don't really like God right now, I want you to know that it is okay. I think, I hope, that God can handle it. I think he's okay with you not liking him the same way that he's okay with me not liking him. And I think he loves us anyway and is looking forward to the day when we decide we like him again.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Yesterday was not the day that I planned on having. My day off. 9:30am, and I'm on my way to work-out, get a massage, and run a few errands. As I am driving up Academy Blvd, I notice tons of billowing smoke. My first thought: Barnes & Noble is on fire. Surely it can't be, Dave and I were just joking about that yesterday. Then I get to the top of the hill and slowly realize that it is not B&N, but an apartment building--the apartment building that is literally in the backyard of my church, Springs of Life.

Fire trucks and fire hoses were everywhere. Four towers cascaded water onto the burning building. I made a quick left and drove through side streets trying to get as close to the church and the burning building as possible. I wanted to know if the church was on fire, too. I wanted to know if I could do anything to help. I parked my car, asked the police at the barricade if the church was okay, learned that it was, and asked if I could walk in. I could.

There was water and people everywhere. It was cold, but not as cold as the past several days had been. We hit somewhere in the 20s yesterday. When I reached the building, I found displaced residents everywhere. The Red Cross had made camp in the basement, trying to make lists of residents and establish who was safe and who was not. The fire and police units had set up rehab in the sanctuary. And the church staff plus a few members were moving between the residents, the Red Cross, the fire and police crews, the media, and a host of other organizations.

I quickly learned what happened. The blaze began around midnight Tuesday morning. The folks who live in the ministry house awoke to screaming. Brett, James, Brian, and Alex came out to find out what was happening. They saw the building aflame. People jumping from windows, children being thrown to neighbors who had already made it out. One entire wing of the building was already engulfed in flame. The guys opened up the church building for people to get warm--many in pajamas and bare feet in negative degree temperatures. The fire units, Red Cross, and police would soon arrive, but as of 9:30am this morning, Wednesday, the fire is still burning.

It was an old building, built mostly out of wood, the outside finished in brick. When the roof collapsed, it basically turned the whole place into an oven, creating pockets of fire that the water could not get to. One fireman, who I had the opportunity to drive back to his fire station, told me it was the worst fire that he had seen in 21 years of fighting fires.

I stayed the rest of the day, answering phones, cleaning up messes here and there, directing people to where they needed to be, getting coffee for the fire and police units from Starbucks, trying to help field information from all of the different organizations, talking to firemen, police, Red Cross, and residents. I got to know the manager at Applebee's, who brought tons of food for the firemen, police, volunteers, and residents at least six times throughout the day. Chipotle, Red Robin, Souper Salad, Panera, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and a myriad of others also brought food at various points. Walmart brought blankets, socks, shoes, clothing, furniture, diapers, formula, etc. And so many people called all day long wanting to give. Eventually we had to stop excepting donations and started asking people to give monetary donations to the Red Cross. Apartment complexes and tons of local residents called to offer people places to stay. It was simply amazing.

By the end of the day I was very tired, though not nearly as tired as many around me. So after one last run to Starbucks for more coffee, I headed home to my bed--a place I was incredibly grateful that I could go. So one last cheer for the heroes of the day, many of whom will continue to fight the fight again today: the firefighters, the police, the Red Cross volunteers, the Salvation Army volunteers, the Staff and church members at Springs of Life, many restaurants and Good Samaritans, several local pastors who stayed the day to help, the Humane Society, and a host of other aid organizations. Thanks to all of you!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's cold!!!!!!!!! Yesterday's high 20 degrees. Yesterday's low 1 degree. Current temperature -2 degrees. Wind chill -16 degrees. High today 11 degrees.

Are you kidding me ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!