Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stephen Lawhead

So, last night Stephen Lawhead - one of my favorite fiction authors - came to SPU. I was working, but after seeing the posters I delayed my lunch break til 7pm and used it to go in and listen. He was reading from "Byzantium" which was the last book of his I read before the general ban on fiction I imposed on myself after being born again. (I've lifted it since then).
I was really hoping for a chance to ask how all the medieval history research affected his Faith-since I'm planning on studying ancient & medieval lit/history too. This, however, was not to be. In full security officer uniform, I was standing in the back of the room (which was just large enough to support the nerd population of SPU) with my hand held high during question time, but the moderator kept on ignoring me! There would be a pause, during which my hand would be the only one up, and he'd scan the room until someone else flickered a paw, and then he'd pounce on 'em. That happened about five times, so I finally gave up, my lunch was over anyway and I was back on patrol.
I wasn't as annoyed as I'd thought I would be though, it seemed like enough of a blessing to be there in the first place. And I could always email him my question.

It's odd seeing people one admires in person, I remember the day I got to visit Francis Schaeffer's grave (which meant much more to me than last night's entertainment) it was strange thinking that his body was below me, that he was a real person. I don't really know what I'm trying to say, but I'll leave it here because whatever it is, it's too complicated for a blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Last night I told 70+ college students to stop screaming and running in circles in the middle of campus at 12:30AM and go to bed. Then I Trespassed the nicest 300lb homeless guy I've ever met, who told me the name of his favorite imported soft drink and the circumference of Korea (neither of which I remember)

Monday, May 25, 2009

When I see trees and the sky it's easier for me to sing praise songs. Usually. Most of us christians acknowledge that It's a gift from God when we get to witness, taste, feel, experience something beautiful in creation. But it seems to me the way I've usually heard it growing up it's as if God happened to find something out there in the universe and thought you might like it, so he brought it - like a kid bringing flowers. The shortcoming with that take on the nature of God's "giving all good things for us to enjoy" is that it makes the gift totally separate from the giver, as if it's something totally other than Him that he wants you to enjoy. I think there's an element of that sort of giving in it, but it's more - you see, anything that IS enjoyable, that IS beautiful or pleasurable isn't just something God found, it's something he MADE! So whatever qualities we find pleasurable, beautiful, desireable in whatever goodness of creation we experience...those qualities come from the one who made that good thing, whatever it is, and in Him those qualities have a Fountainhead. That's why when I enjoy looking at the sky through the trees while singing praise, I'm conscious that all that I enjoy about the trees is part of the nature of the God I am singing to - that he gives a little bit of His own goodness through his creation and that's WHY I enjoy creation, because it's infused with the scent of the Goodness of my God.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Different Motives for Being Born Again.

Also, just the other day, Josiah and I were sitting on the couch after a Nerf Gunfight, and I noticed he was gazing very intently at the photo montage of himself as a baby. He turned to me and asked if he could be a baby again, I told him no, we only get one shot at that, but at the Resurrection we'll have all the good things about being a baby, like the newness and excitement of discovery. He kept looking at the picture and after a couple more seconds said, "I want to be a baby again". I asked him why, expecting some answer about the joys and carefree life of babyhood - but instead he turned to me and replied "Because I want to wear that shirt again. I really like that shirt. (pointing to the shirt he was wearing in the baby picture). I started laughing, and he explained to me that he used to really like his skateboard shirt, which he showed to me in the dirty laundry, but now he really likes "This shirt" (gesturing at the longsleeve camo shirt he was wearing) I told him I already knew he must really like that shirt because he's been wearing it three days in a row.
A Day in the Life of Me.

Today, I counted to 1,000 for Josiah. Well, now that I think of it, it was 1,020. I can't remember why we got on the subject, but he asked me how you counted to 1,000, and I told him it's like counting to 100 ten times. Then he asked me to show him. I started, expecting him to get bored at about two hundred, but no - he sat there watching me, sucking his thumb on and off, for the whole ten minutes or however long it took. Then I counted to 20, to make sure he knew that 1000 wasn't as high as I could count. Which doesn't really make sense, but it made him happy. For most of the time Jaelle was annoyed because the sound of me counting was interfering with her watching the "Planet Earth" DVD. But it ended when I hit about 700 so she went into the bedroom to look at books. (She can't read yet, but she'll just sit and look at books)
After counting to 1,020, Josiah wanted to gunfight. So we did, with these Nerf guns we got him for his birthday. He's a really good shot, he shot me just as much as I shot him - I guess I'm a larger target, but still, that's pretty good. But that's also what he spends most of his time doing, shooting. He got to be a really good shot with his little toy bow too.
Then Brandy came home, and after stuffing the kids with sandwiches and me watching a few gunfighting scenes from westerns or john woo movies with Josiah at his request. The last one was from a movie I've never seen in Chinese with Chow Yun Fat, and I got really into it but then it cut out at the crucial moment. Then the kids took a nap after getting me to pray for them, and Brandy and I sat down to watch the third disk of "Lost" with some cheesy bean dip, chips, and a couple glasses of wine, but not before Brandy sent off the application for the apartment in Queen Ann that we're going for. Then I took my one and a half hour nap, & Brandy was able to snuggle with me for the first five minutes which was nice. Then I woke up to go to work, listening to "Enter the Worship Circle" #2 and thinking again that I should really start picking up the guitar again. And also thinking and praying that I really want to feel what I'm singing and wondering why I don't always and in what areas my relationship to Jesus Christ and the Father is deficient - and wondering about the nature of faith and how C.S. Lewis said that what pleases God most is when a man feels utterly abandoned by God but keeps on believing and obeying, and how O. Chambers says (over and over again) that we aren't meant to live in the "mountaintop experience" but to live in the light of it in the valley, where we spend most of our time. Then I thought about that song I love by Derek Webb "Wedding Dress", and thought about the most recent music by him, how he's become a little too cool for me, all anti-war pro-gay and S-word saying. Then I wondered about Martin Luther and the lawfulness of saying such words, and Then I thought about that mini-sermon "Others May, You Cannot" thing and about my conversation with Nate Musson the other day.
And now, I'm at dispatch refreshing my memorization of Titus amidst incoming calls and manning the reception desk.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Brandy, my wonderful wife, is going to start blogging soon. Maybe. You can click on the link titled "The Ivy Tree" on the left to take you there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blessing and cursing

I was pressed and the vinegar came
and here I thought I was full of wine
and It was just a gentle pressure, too.
bitter, burning through the wound
It should have been wine.
When did I neglect this infection?
must have hoped it would go away
but today It was betrayed
when the words in my mouth
turned to brine
long before I turned the handle
to stop the flow
and for all I know
there's still pressure in there, somewhere
Vinedresser, undress my soul
and cut away that rotting growth
-no sweet fruit can come, I know,
Until only fresh water and wine
for and of my brothers flows.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moving, Apartments, Vacation, and Labor.

So, we're going house shopping tomorrow. It occurred to me that although I have my ideas of what I want and where I think it should be (house with a big living room, a yard, and an ocean view on Queen Ann Hill), But only God knows where the perfect place is for whatever it is he has planned for us is. If that makes sense to anyone.

So, Brandy & I (facilitated again by the wonderful sister who's agreed to watch our kids while we're out) are going to look at five places or so tomorrow and then find a coffeeshop to pray them over and see what the Lord says. It's crazy to think it's almost June now, we haven't even started boxing stuff up yet.

A couple of days ago now I got to go down to Winlock and help my grandma out at her house. She's trying to get it ready to sell, so all the t-posts and huge wood posts with concrete bases had to be pulled up out of the ground, sorted, and laid in the truck. So I got to do that for the better part of the day, then I got up on the roof and figured out a way to take down the TV-Antenna-on-a pole-contraption my great uncle had macguyvered to the roof with a 40' douglas fir trunk/pole. I ended up tying a rope around the rest of the tree-pole and lowering it down from the roof after sawing off the antenna. It was all a lot of fun really, and I got good and sore by the end of the second day.
And my grandma gave me a coleman stove out of the garage! Sweet! I've really been wanting one of those.

Then before that we took the kids to Kalaloch, a beach on the Olympic coast that my mom used to take us to when we were kids. I took a bunch of pictures of Brandy and the kids, got some great ones of Jaelle on the still-wet shore that makes it look like she's walking in the sky.
We all had a LOT of fun there, even if we froze during the night. (I couldn't feel my feet when I woke up, I had to rub them back to life) I got up in the morning and started a fire for Brandy (she told me she loves morning campfires) and she made me some really good egg/sausage scramble stuff over the campfire.
We've got to do that more often!

Oh, and I registered for fall-quarter classes @ SPU. Biology, Christian Formation, and Koine Greek. Registration/Orientation went great. I was the only one during Advising that was going for classics, so I had the Classics professor all to myself for questions and to figure out my schedule, so what normally is confusing, chaotic, and time-consuming took all of 20 minutes.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Water and the Blood

So I was reading in 1 John and came across the part in chap. 5 where he says "This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree." This part has always been one of those passages I read over and am impressed by, but don't really understand. And as I thought about it it reminded me of another passage - you know that part in John's account of the crucifixion, how he says that when Jesus' side was pierced with the spear, "water and blood poured out"? John seems to think it's a big deal, and I never quite understood why. I mean, blood and water are big symbols in Scripture, but still I wasn't sure why John seemed to think that it was so important that he would say "And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe..." He says it was to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus' bones wouldn't be broken, and that "they will look on Him whom they pierced" But it seemed to me that it was significant beyond this. So today I looked into it and I found something that was very interesting. I was thinking how Jesus' side was pierced, and that got me thinking, there's something else about a side that's very important, isn't there?... yes! Adam! To make sure, I checked the greek word for "Side" in John 19, which is "pleuron" and then checked the septuagint for Genesis 2 to make sure that it doesn't use some different greek work specifying a rib bone or something. But, although most translations read "rib" the word IS pleuron - the same as in Jesus' case at the crucifixion! When God was going to make Adam a companion suitable to him, what did he do? He took Eve, Adam's bride, out of his side, so that Adam could say in complete truth that "This is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone." It was almost as if Adam in a sense gave birth to his wife, out of His side, through an act of God. In the same way, Jesus' side was "opened up" and let flow that which made the birth of his Bride (the Church, you and I) possible. Jesus, in the giving of His blood for a new covenant and for forgiveness for us who would become His church, and the washing with water through the word to make us blameless for himself:
"This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

In meaning this is also connected to the sacraments of Baptism and The Lord's Supper, both of which are the only things of a symbolic nature he told those who would follow Him to do. Symbolic of us sharing in Jesus' death and resurrection, and of taking in His life "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me, and I in Him"..."Having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead."

It's also interesting to me that the early church fathers indicate that the significance of the water and blood coming from Jesus' side was indicative of "two baptisms" among other things. And they drank the Wine of the Lord's supper mixed with water.

So just as God through the living tissue from Adam's side produced a bride, So the new Adam, Jesus, gave out His own life to begin a new creation - and purchase a people for Himself, who would be zealous for good works. He gave birth to the church out of his side, a Bride that will be a fit companion for Him, just as woman is the glory of Man, so we will be the Glory of our Heavenly Bridegroom - "When He appears, we will be like Him, for we will see him as He is"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Encouragements and Exhortations

Due to the kindness of a friend from church who watched our herd of hobbits, Brandy and I were able to go out for an early Anniversary present almost a week ago now. We made it up to Seattle and enjoyed fish and chips up by the Ballard locks and walked through the garden near there. Then we went to a Tully's nearby and sat down to talk. It was especially good to have time to talk about our plans and hopes and thoughts. Before that day I really hadn't tried to organize them enough to present them in any sort of order, and here are a few.

I've had a sort of "drifting" feeling within the past months, of aimlessness - like I'm just existing. I've had doubts about the Lord's plans for us out here - maybe doubts isn't the right word, more like lack of interest. I've treated everything as it comes with indifference, like going to school, or my job, as a separate instance of life, not as a part of a greater unified plan.

Normally I hate planning, because it seems like things so rarely go to plan, and I don't like setting myself up for disappointment. But as I thought about it, I could definitely see the working hand of God in all that's happened with us over the past year. I am coming to believe that it's through my timidity in recognizing it AS the work of my Lord Jesus and the lax way I've talked about our circumstances and plans that have killed the zeal I should be burning with. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him". I had been asking God for specific things for the past three years:
#1. to send us somewhere, then receiving the word to Washington,
#2. I asked for a job, and believed I was being led specifically to the Job at SPU Security, and God not only brought us out here safely, but gave us a place to live, and out of many candidates gave me my current Job. When back in MN I looked at this job, I prayed about going back to school and in part applied with hope of getting tuition discounts.
#3. When I applied to go to SPU, I asked the Lord to give me a sign financially if I was to Go to school with his blessing. I got a full ride with grants and scholarships (didn't have to take out any loans) The amount I've been given to pay for school this year is almost exactly what it will take for a year @ SPU (almost 30K). If my Father hasn't done this, then who has? I could never have afforded this on my own. If it wasn't for my conviction that the Lord was taking us out here, I never would have thought to apply for the job @ SPU security, since they asked for someone with a B.A. in the listing, whereas I don't even have an A.A. .

God has given us a good church to go to here, with a pastor who is genuinely interested in us for the Lord's sake, and who takes the time to go through the "Men in Turn" leadership training with me and to keep me in the word and serving while waiting for God to move us up to the Seattle area. It's not many pastors who would be willing to give that time to someone they knew was only going to be in their congregation for a year. He also shelled out a chunk of cash to give me the resources for that program gratis, including the "Foundations for Pentecostal Theology" book and the Chuck Smith "Through the Bible" series. Because of his working with me I've memorized the first two chapters of Titus (which sadly enough is the first time I've ever memorized two consecutive chapters of scripture) and am now working on the 3rd. May God repay him for all he's done for my good!

Also, a couple nights ago I was kicking students out of OMH at about 2:30AM (it's the physics and mathematics building, so the students would stay there all night to do homework if they were allowed to). I started talking to one of the guys, and as we began talking he asked about my work, and I told him why I went to work here in part-to study classics to learn Greek and Latin and learn the background of scripture better. Then I pointed out that it didn't have any occupational value but was only for my own enjoyment (which is a lie, since I want to do it to Serve my God and His people, but I've said that so many times in an apologetic way as if I was ashamed for going to school for something not technical or "practical" to make money that I'd almost come to believe it) But this blessed kid says "Well, that sounds like it will open up lots of opportunities to minister and serve God" and I again pointed out that I meant unlike physics, which he studies, my degree will have next to no money value, and he replied, "Well, that's why I study physics, so I can support people like you!"

I shut my mouth, and for a second almost felt like crying. I'd convinced myself almost that no one values what I want in my heart and felt the call to - to teach and feed the Word of God to men, and to go to school to supplement this. And here this kid in one sentence made me ashamed of my shame and encouraged me to no end, to think that there are people who so value the word of God and the office of Overseer that they would work to support it! God forgive me. But what that kid said stuck with me, and I have felt its encouragement 'til now.

God help me to encourage others too, I've been reminded how much it's needed!

So I told all this to Brandy, and she told me she's been in the same funk of not feeling like we're doing anything, and like I was going to school just to go to school, and a feeling of unreality regarding us starting a church.

And the more I've been thinking about it, I know I've got to recover a passionate love for God, and a pursuit of Him, and an "Abiding in Him". That's where all these desires came from in the first place, and I can't recover passions created by the lifeblood of Jesus Christ without being plugged firmly into his Vine, and drinking in His life. All these dreams are just that without him, and will be impossible to pursue without Him in me to give me works, to will and to work his pleasure-with pleasure.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

time not tasted - is it wasted?
what if we're not meant to feel
each moment like a pouring rain?
what if seconds have meaning
even while I sleep
And when you present Me to me,
in person like yourself
will I be surprised
that I was fed
by minutes never felt?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Well, now the van has been resurrected, It had died on the way to church, but after last Saturday when it started up, I drove it home and changed the fuel filter, and it's still running! Thank God. Also I used some mix-weld compound to fix the muffler, so now it doesn't sound like a 4-wheeler Harley Davidson anymore.

I'm listening to a couple of MP3's of "Kallistos Ware" An eastern orthodox bishop who's a big voice for the "orthodox" church. I'm listening out of interest because I've known a lot of fellow evangelicals who've gone orthodox, and remember my dad almost did for a while.

Also finished "Baudolino" by Umberto Eco, it was interesting but sad. Made me excited to look into Byzantine History more.

May 16th I'm gonna go sign up for classes @ SPU, that's also Josiah's birthday, so I hope to get it done and get out of there quick and easy.

We found out that apparently our lease is a year and 28 days, not just a year as we'd thought, so we have to wait to move for another month or so now. I was looking forward to moving sooner, but Rom 8:28 is still in full effect, so I trust it's for good reason.
I've finished memorizing Titus chapters 1&2 as part of the "Men In Turn" group @ Calvary Chapel South. This is the first time I've memorized two consecutive chapters of Scripture, (not the first time I've tried) and I was really happily surprised how easy it was! I guess in part it's because it's an assignment that I've been given, and there's an expectation of an authority (A Pastor) that I'll have a certain amount memorized every two weeks. It's sad that my own desire isn't enough to get me to memorize this quickly, that I need accountability to get it done, but it seems like it's like that with everything. For the past month or so, I've been working out and running with a friend from work every Monday and Tuesday morning - which I very likely wouldn't be doing if I didn't have someone who expected me to be there. I guess that accountability is like a means by which, If we're really serious about any sort of discipline, we'll reinforce our decisions. I remember when I first truly was saved, God impressed on me that I couldn't just lay around and expect God to sanctify me on the sly, If I wanted my eyes to be right, I had to get rid of my Maxim magazines, if I wanted to break out of my introspection and love people, I had to force myself to talk to people. If I was going to testify to Jesus Christ, I had to set myself up, by doing things like scripturally themed art pieces for school assignments to have a chance to explain them.

Well, I'm at work, and my break's up, and I guess that's all the thinking time I have.