Thursday, February 19, 2009

Visions in the Desert

I never post anymore. I don't know why. I think I've resorted to the notebook that goes everywhere with me. But here I go.

I feel like I am walking through a desert. Up ahead of me I see the most beautiful creation. So I stand at it and stare, afraid that if I pursue after it, I will find what I thought so beautiful to be nothing but a mirage. I stand and stare, afraid that if I do nothing, I will die in the desert. So I choose to run for it.

See you next year.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Love Triangle

Through many of the experiences of those I am in relationship with and through a bit of experience of my own, I have come to understand the difficult truth that many of the ideas that we grow up learning and adopting change throughout the course of our life as we mature and encounter new experiences. I have also noticed in my own life that when this cycle happens, it raises many questions. I see it as remodeling the mind, if you will. As things shift, that which once existed in a well-anchored form begins to weaken. Sometimes it doesn't require much alteration to firm up the foundation of the idea. But then there are those times when you have to strip down the entire idea and rebuild it using new materials that are more foundationally secure. On that note, with the idea (or reality, because at this point I am not sure it exists outside of God) of love, I am experiencing some big shifts. Now, we won't go into details, disclosing a ton of information that is unnecessary in communicating the point. The fact is that I feel like in many ways I have been misinformed, if not even mislead. So here is my confession. I was taught that it is good to be in a love triangle. It just so happens however, that my love triangle is incredibly dysfunctional. This is the story of how I have been mislead in my love triangle.

My old youth pastor used to give some of the most wonderfully inaccurate diagrams of love. I am sure that you all remember the triangle. God is at the top (angle a), and you and the love of your life are at the other adjacent corners (angles b and c). The diagram suggests the idea (or reality is some peoples minds, I guess) that if both lovers choose to seek God, they will indeed grow closer together. This is what I like to call the love triangle. That, my friends, is just not true, especially when you apply the subject of my post called "Truth from a Heretic." Can people not follow God and go in two completely different directions? It pisses me of that I was taught to reduce love to a mathematical equation. Those of you out there with any experience in the matter would agree that love is anything BUT a formula or theorem, right?

And what other teachers do we have out there who are telling us how love is supposed to be. Well, we have T.V., and we have movies like Romeo and Juliet, Meet Joe Black, The Notebook, Garden State, Sweet Home Alabama and many other wonderful feats of cinematography. We have romance novels that are coming out by the hundreds every year. We are bombarded with how love is "supposed" to be and not how it truly is to be manifested in our lives. No wonder we are struggling to focus on our own relationships and see the absolute beauty that exists in them. Bill Parish from Meet Joe Black says to his daughter:

"I want you to get swept away. I want you to levitate. I want you to sing with rapture and dance like a dervish. Be deliriously happy, or at least leave yourself open to be. I know it's a corn-ball thing, but love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. Cause the truth is honey, there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love....well you haven't even lived a life at all. But you have to try, because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived. Stay open. Who knows? Lightning could strike."

Although those desires may be real and true in each of us, does it really exist? I'm not saying it doesn't exist necessarily. But I do want to bring our attention to the expectations we are allowing to be set up through these avenues. Are we creating an expectation of love that is unrealistic? Are we taking that unrealistic expectation and making it the measuring stick by which we evaluate the success or failure of a relationship? But the scary reality is the possibility that the expectation that we have is all we know of love, and in removing it and starting from scratch with what love might really be we leave ourselves vulnerable to be utterly disappointed. Over the past few weeks, so many different people have willingly and unashamedly shared with me what they believe about how love should look. I guess you could say the action steps taken to manifest the love that is in the heart. So far, all philosophies and ideas of how love should look (even according to the scriptures) that I have heard from friends, family, acquaintances and lovers have made me want to vomit. They have been repulsive to me. I hear them speak so passionately about what they believe love should be and I leave feeling like there has to be more to this. Love has to create something more than this. If this is what love is, I'm not sure that I want any part in it.

So many annoyances are playing into the way that we view love. So lets just say that we want to view and experience love the way that the scriptures describe it. We read the scriptures, not to just read them, but to study them, learn them. And when we do, we read through the lens of what we are being told everywhere else, through our experiences and desires. So now everyone (okay, not everyone) has a different idea of what love looks like, leaving lovers resentful an unsatisfied all over the world. What do we take from all of this? I take that maybe it is something that is unable to be resolved. But does that mean we quit searching? What would life be like if we quit searching for meaning or understanding in the many areas of our life, love included? Lets wrestle. Lets fight. Lets get really angry and frustrated at each other because we don't understand. Because it doesn't make sense. And in that, may we all learn what it means to love, and to be loved in return. Thanks for giving my mess of a mind a chance.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Umm...Do You Work Here?

" you work here?"
- many a Borders Customer

Lately as a Borders employee, I have had many customers (some of them regulars) come into the store and ask me this question. This is a question that I have never been able to understand coming from most Borders customers. What is it that they don't get? And for some reason, this is a question that causes me to feel a strong desire to take my name tag and poke out the customers eyes. So for all of the faithful Borders customers out there who love to preface anything and everything they say to a Borders employee with the unnecessary and stupid phrase " you work here?" stay extremely far away from me lest your pathetic and worthless vision be in danger of my ruthless name tag.

For those of you out there who commonly use this ignorant phrase and are beginning to understand the unreasonableness of it, here are a few thoughts to support your new revelation:

- I walked up to you and asked you if there was anything that I could do to serve you. How many random people in a retail store have walked up to you and asked you if there is anything that they can do to serve you? I mean, if you are at a circus and you have lost your child, most people will just walk by you and not even bother to help you find your child, let alone a random saint in a bookstore help you find the new book #49 in Oprah's book club.

- I am wearing a 4"x4" name tag that not only has my name on it, but also strongly suggest the idea that I am a Borders employee there to meet your every need by having a rather large Borders logo on it. You may even notice the rather nice Borders insulated mug that I have in my left hand filled with berryblossom tea that also has a Borders logo that wraps from side to side.

- I have a walky-talky attached to my hip, an earpiece to my ear, and a microphone to my chest. I couldn't look more ridiculous unless I worked for Liberty Tax and had to wear that unbearable Uncle Sam costume as I stood out by the street with a giant arrow pointing towards some void over there.

- I'm standing behind a register.

My point is...of course I work here. So if you keep on asking me that same stupid question, I'm going to start walking around the store with my fly unzipped so that you won't want to even get close to me, let alone ask me if I can show you where "that new Oprah book" is.

"When the Roots Become the Fruits"

"Wake up, O sleeper
Rise from the dead
Christ will shine on you."

God spoke to me. He used a dandelion to do it. I was walking through Carroll Park in Long Beach. I was praying and singing over the neighborhood there. I feel as if God has given me a song for this neighborhood. The prayer (song) above is what kept repeating itself over and over again in my head. It was a strange feeling. Almost as if God was saying it through my heart. As if God was using my heart as his own. As I was singing this over the neighborhood, another scripture came to me from Isaiah that says:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you,
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as the day of Midian's defeat,
you have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior's boot used in battle,
and every garment rolled in blood,
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For unto us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called,
Of the increase of his government and peace,
there will be no end.
He will reign on Davids throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness,
from that time on and forever.

The ZEAL of the LORD ALMIGHTY will accomplish this.

So I picked up a dandelion and saw myself in it. I saw myself as a seed-bearing and dispersing creation. A creation that spreads seeds that birth new fruitful creations that spread seed. So I blew on it. I blew on the dandelion and watched the seeds parachute to the ground, blown about by the wind. But there really was nothing for the miniscule created creators to land on. There was really nothing for my little paratrooper embryo's to dig their roots into. The ground was dry. So dry it looked as if wherever you stepped turned to dust. This made me sad (in seeing my relation to the dandelion) to see that there was no way that I could make those seeds grow. I could not make them dig their roots deep into the ground and search out the nutritious, life-giving soil. So I realized that even my own seed-sowing heart doesn't have the capacity to make things grow, showing me that I am created in a way that demands a reliance on the "Great One."

Later that night it rained. It rained a lot, and the second it started raining my spirit inside of me welled up with joy. It seemed as if I could feel the soil soften. It seemed as if I could feel the seeds stretch, and grow, and dig firmly into the ground. It felt for a moment as if the Great One was completing the promise that he had made to me. I rejoiced in knowing and seeing that the Great One is about his kingdom that is talked about in the Isaiah passage. Let this be an encouragement to us all. Be faithful to plant the seeds that God has placed in you through the life of the Spirit. His words and truth do not end up void. May you live and move in the ZEAL of the Lord Almighty.

"When the roots become the fruits." - E. Trine
"Great One" - A. Totten

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The War

"sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

- Genesis 4:7

There is a war going on in my life right now. It is the war to know, to be aware. It is a war to understand the things of this world. It is a war to play a role in the free society that I exist in. It is a war to take the gospel to the front lines of the issues that exist in the culture that I live in. There have been so many obstacles in this war, including myself. It has been much easier to stand aside than to walk up to the front lines and stand waiting to get mowed down. So in the spirit of this war, a few questions have been germinating in my mind. What is my role in this world? Spiritual leaders, warriors of the faith, where have you gone?

Please understand, my frustrations are not pointed at any specific individuals necessarily, but rather in a system of thought, be it apathy or fear of the unknown, that I feel permeates the minds of an unfortunate majority. This idea comes out of some conversations that I have had lately with some people that I call "conversational deflectionists." That is, it seems as if they are always getting out of a hard conversation using any means possible. This is discouraging to me, because the conversations that I have with them are vital in preparation for the battle. At times, these conversations have brought me to a place of anger and frustration at those who have gone before me. They chalk it up to "same song, different verse." That's not good enough for me. I feel that it is statements like that which continue to promote apathy in my generation. I understand that war, politics, our current tax system, and the rest of the political society that we live in are not very fun things to talk about at times. I can also understand how it would be hard to perceive them as spiritual matters. However, if we choose to live in this free society, then we had better gird up to fight for what is right.

"I've come to the conclusion that roughly fifty percent of the adults in this country are simply too ignorant and functionally incompetent to be living in a free society"

- Neal Boortz

So to address my first question. What is my role in this world? To become educated. To understand as best that I can the way of the world and play the role that God has given me to influence it for the Kingdom. That is who I want to be and what I feel called to. I want to become a spiritual warrior and fight for that which I know to be true. I want to be a disciple, trained and prepared by those who have gone before me. So, men and women of the faith...rise up.

This leads me to my second question. Where have the spiritual leaders and warriors gone? Are you there? If you are, why is it that so many of you choose to not engage in the culture and society that we live in? There are people who are looking to you to fight. There are people looking to you as an example. Teach us the ways of the world, not that we might follow in them, but that we might learn how to live for the gospel in them. Teach us how to discern the voice of the Spirit on these matters which bombard our culture in the most manipulative of ways.

Achilles was a mighty warrior. He could not be struck down. He was the greatest fighter in his army. They would not go to battle without him. There were times when Achilles would stay behind with his mistresses because he didn't feel it was his war to fight. The lives of many men were lost because of his choice to not fight. That is how I see you sometimes, men of the faith. Not willing to fight. To tired. To afraid. Or maybe it's just not your battle. At the same time, lives are being lost. Mine is one of them.

Again, this is not a generalization. However, it is a charge to those living in apathy, whatever form it takes. Step outside for a moment and smell the possibility of something different. Play the role that you are called to as free citizens. Teach those around you.

As the scripture at the edge of this blog says, I see the sin crouching at my door, and I choose to master it, not hide from it and allow it to pass on to someone else.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Truth from a Heretic

What is right? What is wrong?

The answers to these two questions set the motion and direction for a large portion of the life that I live. I also feel that I am not alone in saying that there are many other humans out there who would agree with the idea that there is such a thing as inerrant right, and an inerrant wrong, that make up inerrant truth. The key word in the previous sentance is "humans." When we mate our humanity with what we believe is the inerrant truth, what is conceived is relative truth. When the inerrant truth enters our mind and is maintenanced by the tools and trinkets of our heart - our perspective, ideas, culture, and filters that are built by our experience - we create what turns out to be relative truth.

In the small amount of time that these thoughts have been rolling around in my brain I have come to realize the difficulty that this can create in relationships if it is allowed to. There is a mighty collision that can occur when two people with different perceptions of inerrant truth come together. Note that the inerrant truth that exists in the universe is what it is. Yet two people meet with their own humanistic manipulations of that exact truth based on their own unique experiences. This precise coordinate is where relational friction is created (I am not speaking to all relational difficulty, only that which relates to this specific context).

My hope and point in all of this is that the realization of what is created (when my humanity, smitten by the fall, comes in contact with inerrant truth) would be something to be used to the benifit of the relationships that I now have. Realizing the possibility of this idea being fact positions me to give grace abundantly. It positions me to realize that we all speak out of our own experiences that have created a filter in our minds that everything we read, see, and hear travels through. It reminds me that the perspectives that different individuals have or create based on the truth are valid because of their experience and how it relates to truth. It reminds me that we are on a journey together to find the truth that is buried in the depths of our hearts, and not rest until it is taken out of the grave we placed it in.

So by this idea I am encouraged. I want to give the same grace to others that God gives to me when I take the truth that he has spoken and turn it into heresy. May you as well give grace abundantly as the Lord has first given a never-ceasing grace to you, as you stumble and make your way through the journey and adventure to discover truth. And if the life of Christ dwells in the deepest parts of your soul, giving it life, may you move in the power that he so immensly supplies.

We journey together.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Superman Returns in Messiah Form

"You will be different. Sometimes, you'll feel like an outcast, but you will never be alone. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes as your life will be seen through mine. A son becomes the Father, and the Father becomes the son."

- Superman

I watched Superman Returns today, and until today I never had thought that Superman and Jesus had anything in common. But now I am aware. These words were the words to Superman from his Father that he later gave to his son. It was as if I was listening to the voice of Jesus as Superman spoke these words. When I heard this, a picture came into my mind of God sending Jesus to come down to earth and live amongst the broken, fully being human, and fully being God. I saw a picture of the Father speaking these words to his son, Jesus. Read the quote in that context. Then I heard Jesus speak them to me. As I heard this charge I became proud. The significance in this for me was sonship. Today I have clearly seen myself as a son of God.

In Ephesians 1:4-6, it says, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."

Today I rejoice in this. I will be different. Although I feel like an outcast, I will never be alone. I will make the Fathers strength my own. In our unity I will become more like him. And I will be with him in the "Fortress of Solitude" in my mind, and in my heart. I will meet him there.

This is what it meant for me. For references, watch the movie.