Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Brothers and friends.

'No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him--for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever--that he should live on eternally, that he should not undergo decay."

No man can redeem his brother; Christ redeemed His friends.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I've got Mr. Lewis accompanying me through the year, via The Business of Heaven, and three days into 2010, my mind is already withering in intimidation. This morning, I had this entry upon which to ponder:

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world; but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy...The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God...Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.

This entry was incredibly timely. My one-year anniversary of unemployment has passed without fanfare. I moved to Colorado 12 months ago with a five-digit figure in my bank account. How things change!

I have learned so much in this year about finances, particularly regarding the high position I have given them in my own heart. Surrendering that source of security has allowed God to reform my thinking and lifestyle in a myriad of ways, but if I am honest, I have to say that I still struggle--daily. Every morning, I wake to the pressing concerns of paying rent, putting gasoline in my car, and purchasing groceries. The worries gnaw at my mind throughout the day until I wrestle away from them each night.

I am so humbled to see the anxiety arising in my heart relentlessly every day. There have been times during these months when I have been so worried I have broken down into tears. In those moments, I ask myself, "But how big is your God?"

I find myself now in the in-between stage between a season of intentional unemployment and a time of entering the workforce once again, and I think this is especially difficult. I wait for phone calls from places where I have applied for positions and simultaneously search for other prospects. I have a few weeks before rent needs to be paid again. The pressure, at times, feels enormous.

I must constantly recall exactly what C.S. Lewis illuminates in the above excerpt: it is better that I be restless in this place. Only that sense of unsettling sustains my awareness of my true origin. The worry must be surrendered to the God who is good and able; the discomfort must be embraced as a mark of my heritage. I must remain restless.

I find myself right back at that passage I contemplated early in this adventure.

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matt. 6

Every practical fiber in my being wishes I had earned and saved and rationed as much as I could have during this last season. But the whispers in my spirit rejoice in the opportunity for a revelation of a compassionate Father who delights in the care of His beloved sons and daughters. The cost is nothing.

(Which is fantastic, because I could not have afforded much more than that.)

Monday, December 21, 2009


I'm making plans to waste my life on You.
"Breaking Down," John Mark McMillan

The above is currently one of my favorite lyrics. I like to listen to that song as soon as I get up to start my blood pumping and my heart beating toward eternity. There's not enough dignity to keep me away from You.

Recently, however, there has been a change in morning routine, one than I agonize over and lament and abhor. It brings me such grief because I know the cause: Christmas.

Christmas is an incredible season, as illustrated by the fact that my mother sent me candied almonds by post. I am munching the nuts happily (or merrily, as the case may be) as I type this entry. Even better, advent and the observation of the Incarnation bring the person of Jesus to the forefront of countless minds. There's a spring to the steps of the mobs of shoppers; exiting the grocery store, one is followed by cries of, "Merry Christmas!"

Living in this culture--the internship, accountability, discipleship culture--adds another dynamic to the season: Christmas break. Christmas break in theFurnace is different from Christmas break in school. In school, break is a welcome respite from intellectual overload and the bearing of burdensome packs, a time to reflect and celebrate, to see loved ones and rejoice in the great Lover. In theFurnace, break can easily become the altar on which we sacrifice momentum and discipline to engage in revelry.

After a whirlwind of prayer meetings, hours in the prayer room, and weekly accountability meetings, we find ourselves suddenly--if temporarily--stranded to navigate the spiritual waters on our own. The people we are paying to hold us to our daily commitments are out of town drinking eggnog, and we are left to ourselves. Too often, we disappoint.

I experienced roughly a month of sleeplessness and illness that only just ended before break began. In the week since sesmester's end, I have been dogged by an instinct I rarely face: to sleep and sleep and sleep. I crash for hours as my body attempts to recover from the strain it has been through of late, and when I awake, I power through the tasks I need to accomplish, only to crash once again.

God times have been sparse.

It dawned on me today, "I am setting myself up to go to my first accountability of the year and say, in typical fashion, 'I didn't do well on break.'"

That is unacceptable. Am I not on break to remember the massive King who chose inexpressable humility that I might know Him? He is worth more than this.

Though my holidays are sure to include cups of cocoa, snow angels (if this bipolar city sees any precipitation), and the consumption of many more candied almonds, I am still on mission. The call still stands. "Draw near to God."

How will you stay steady through the break?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Psalm 143

A Psalm of David.

Hear my prayer, O LORD,
Give ear to my supplications!
Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!
And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in dark places, like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart is appalled within me.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your doings;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
I stretch out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Selah.
Answer me quickly, O LORD, my spirit fails;
Do not hide Your face from me,
Or I will become like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul.
Deliver me, O LORD, from my enemies;
I take refuge in You.
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
And in Your lovingkindness, cut off my enemies
And destroy all those who afflict my soul,
For I am Your servant.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Deja Vu

Excerpt from a May 2008 journal entry:

"I went out from my native land with a searching heart, and I found God awaiting me there. He invited me to be released from gravity and dance among the stars, but I wanted to wrap Him up and take Him back home, where I was comfortable and the weights that held me down were all familiar."

Further up and further in!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I really enjoy God.

Is that a rather elementary statement to make? Perhaps.

He is just so delightful. It makes me so happy to see the way He is constantly interweaving the motions and conversations of life to communicate a larger point. It's great.

Everything that has been occurring in my sphere of late, all my paradigms that have been challenged, and every conversation I have held--the sum of my life is pointed toward the anxious need for maturity.

This begins in my day-to-day existence. I am experiencing what I can only articulate as a fundamental longing to be good. This "good" of which I speak is not simply a lack of outrageously wrong behaviour or thought. I want contribute to the rushing flow of time into which I am so often swept unaware. I want to be good.

This, for a time, concerned me. Is this desire basic self-interest? But no, He says. Goodness is one of My fruits. Kindness. Gentleness. Those are Mine.

And so I am slowly beginning to engage the messy process of straining forward as a person. I am learning to let the dead things and the rotten things be expelled from my flesh. It is not a pleasant process: For the sourness to be pushed out of me, it will necessarily be exposed both to myself and to those around me. I am wearied by the depth of my seemingly endless depravity. However, I perceive the life that is being breathed into my soul, though all I may feel in my body is the weightiness of my filth.

As these transformations and challenges are occuring at my foundations, I find that this movement is happening all around me. Tonight, I listened to my dear friends' exasperation at their own toleration of carnal things. I heard an urgency for abandonment in their words. This thing is living and dynamic.

I watched a friend's eyes fill with tears as she lamented the inactivity of the Church on behalf of the orphans in the world. "Our churches are filled with people who are perfectly capable of providing for a child," she said. "Why don't they? They go buy a new TV or computer instead. Why?"

These heart cries are not isolated. Together, they form the picture of the very activity of God. Romans 8:22 tells us that creation literally groans in waiting for the revelation of the Son of God. Revelation 19:7-8 exposes what will be necessary for this longing to be fulfilled: the Bride of Christ, His Church, must prepare Herself for His return. How will She do this? She must clothe herself in acts of righteousness, being found in linens spotless and bright.

This is the drive of the Spirit for the Church today. She must cease to be a child, gratifying her addiction to entertainment and her ties to materialism, and she must mature into responsibility for the world for which Christ longs to return.

Why, do you think, is the Church heralding the need to care for widows, orphans, and the poor? It is not because She is joining some social motion. No, the secular world is following the activity God is desperate to accomplish through His people. We are being driven to responsibility on this planet that we might be made a Bride ready for His coming.

What I realize is this: He is asking us to be simple people. People unconcerned with appearances and possessions, status and power, fame and prowess. People who don't particularly care about how they look or how they compare to the socially established standard. People who, instead, care deeply about caring for the well-being of the exploited. Who go without so that others may be provided for in the flesh and, having been sustained in physical life, may be presented with hope for eternity. Who are on mission at every moment, desperate to see the kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven that the King might return. Basic, unpretentious, satisfied, simple people.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

There that is.

This is the question I want to ask of every human being on the planet.

Well, one of them. Of course, I'd like to know their favourite thing about Jesus, and the story of what He has done in them, and lots of other glorious tales as well. But once all those things are settled, I am itching to ask one thing:

What are the five books you would recommend I read before I die? (And, why?)

So, do tell!

(An aside: As deeply as I appreciate your wittiness, let me clarify that I already have read and continue to read the Bible. It's as necessary as water. So, after the Bible, what are your top five literary pleasures?)