Monday, October 31, 2011

can't hide beneath my sheets.

snowed here over the weekend. a joyous time of ignoring the impending frostbite in our soggy socks and our numb fingers. first snowfall, first snowfights, in costumes and all. mine was yoshi. great ironies. God laughs. the plumber and his princess are all over facebook today. you've blocked me and even ignore me when i ask you why. why, alyosha, do you feel the need to hide from me? to what end? if you are trying to spare me the details of how happy your life is without me, how can you possibly expect that to work when we share all these friends? it's not your happiness that harasses me, it's your exclusion. your silence keeps me ruminating. do you not care or do you just hate me? if you are punishing me, it hurts, it's working, please stop.

it was 27 degrees saturday so i had to dig out all my winter gear. a scarf nearly windswept off the roof. raccoon hat and blue weatherproof gloves, fluffy fleece sweater and the black arm warmers i insisted you wear. and jacket pockets, still full of paper snowflakes for you, when you least expect it from a cirque so lame that the super salty buttered popcorn was the happiest part, aside from you of course. pen refills. guilt-stained flannel sheets and tearful down comforters. bright eyes and full hearts. these were the things i put away in march as your affections melted. i havent had to see them since then, but winter decided to crash our happy halloween here. and memories of you, how you visited me at my very worst, they came crashing through too...

friend, what happened to you? you were never one to turn your back on someone in need, a blind eye to hurt and responsibility, or to resign to the "irreconcilable." am i to blame, did i injure you beyond recognition? you've pushed me out and brought her in, a replacement in your life. a replacement among our friends. you've made it impossible for me to belong. you who always welcomed me home before now prolong my exile. you can stay, i guess. i will go. you can keep them too.

or maybe, at the end of today, i guess i have stayed, and you have left. life moves on, you move on. everyone moves except the paralyzed.

o Lord, heal. say to me, arise, go, tell.
i'm singin the same lines all over again,
so renew Your song in me.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

i keep going back

i search for shelter near the mines we swept
i guess forgiveness hasn't happened yet
there are no words that i can say to you
to turn this careless sky from black to blue

// jars of clay

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

True Sense

Isaiah is probably my favorite book of the Bible. Many mornings spent steeping in its sunrise glory and praying for that hope in Chapter 60 to rise and dawn in my life. In our lives. For Christ, the hope of glory, to come through.

"... and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind."

Today 65:17 filled me with hope and pause. A side effect of heaven is that the new, the real, the true, will so outshine the shadows... But these words for the first time gave way to deep, deep peace about the flashbacks and vivid rememories I've been so fearful of lately.

For years I've counted on being able to think myself into the right corner. God is bringing his grace to reside somewhere deeper in my being than the intellect and deeper than biochemistry, but that pruning has been so painful. I'm verging on crazy at moments.

But it clicked today, that in the new, healed order, there will be no flashbacks. All I will see is the only thing that has been Real all along. Everything else... just shadows of its substance. A dim reflection. So I wait by faith, live by faith. Not by sight, my earthly perception of real and non-real (however reliable that perceiving may be or however mentally stable)--not even by the mind's eye and its crazy ways of seeing. Seen things are transient.

To put stock in worldly sights as though it were real/permanent. Now that would be truly crazy.

One sunrise closer to that day, when we shall see with unveiled faces.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More Holiday Talk with Ellen Lin

Back for more, after our lovely conversation about Labor Day. We could make this a quarterly thing. And Thanksgiving is the always the fourth Thursday of November, apparently.

Ellen: hey what day is thanksgiving?
 me: thursday
 Ellen: but which one?
 me: 11/24
  the last thurs of november always.
  or is it the thursday of the last full week in november
  i forget
 Ellen: hah i have no idea
  but i think that sounds right!
10:36 PM me: why do you ask
  do you need me to google things for you again
 Ellen: hahaahha i hate you
10:37 PM i love googleeee :D

Friday, October 21, 2011

October is so in between.

try to remember the kind of September
when life was slow and oh-so-mellow.
try to remember the kind of September
when grass was green and grain was yellow.
try to remember the kind of September
when you were a tender and callow fellow.
try to remember, and if you remember,
then follow...

there is a curious paradox that no one can explain
who understands the secrets of the reaping of the grain?
who understands why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain
or why we must all die a bit before we grow again?

deep in December, it's nice to remember
although you know the snow will follow.
deep in December, it's nice to remember
without a hurt the heart is hollow.
deep in December, it's nice to remember
the fire of September that made us mellow.
deep in December, our hearts should remember
...and follow
// The Fantasticks.

Hound of Heaven

They were You
They were You
They were You

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When she is cast off.

Sweetest Day. A year ago he didn't know it existed. Now he doesn't care that I exist.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
too good and too true
that You'd take my shame
and wear my weakness
so i could bear Your Name
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
El Roi, my sweetest and best
You saw me standing in the face of my need
a soul that only You can redeem
For the LORD has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD, your Redeemer.
(Isaiah 54:4-8 ESV)

Exile is not a forever place. The restoration--including emotional--that God promises (Isaiah 40:1) is real, and very near. Especially in the wilderness, Kun reminded me this week. That place from where you would run after free water. The favor of God is of far more worth than the favor or man. How do we experience the favor of God though? Is it not largely through life in His family, in the community of faith? How do you endure the disfavor with faith and hope, rather than with disaffected resignedness?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Will you let a thorn in your flesh prick your heart?

Psalm 73:21
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward You.

2 Corinthians 12:7
So to keep me from becoming conceited...
a thorn was given me in the flesh keep me from becoming conceited.

How will I choose to see the hard providences in life, you know, those gifts I would rather return? Asaph in Psalm 73 and Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 lay out some options. As always these include the cynic's way and the scenic route. A nice wordplay from the musical The Fantasticks with Chris, Eugene, Iris the other night.

Embittered and conceited?
The weight of sin is blinding, it defaults to seeing by the eyes of flesh and blood, which can never see or inherit the Kingdom of God... To do so would be like allowing optical illusions to override what's really going on... Do you think that trapeze artist can actually fly? Are this life, this world, and their seasons permanent? Is that levitating magician really slicing up his assistant? Do the wicked really prosper scot-free? Foolish.
Or content for the sake of Christ?
With true vision learn to sing Asaph's song, "Truly God is good..." and with pure hearts, see the Father and the perfection of His gifts.
be Thou my vision Jesus...
one day nothing will distort Your image
and i'll see You face to face--
a truly beautiful and utterly beautifying sight.
one day there will be no other light but You, O bright Heaven's Sun,
and everything will be in its real form, whole and pure and true--
including my still deceitful heart that offers only half of itself in worship.
even today help me to see You in part,
and see everything by the light of Your presence.
let earthy gold grow dim, give me faith to live by,
give me Yourself; i can't trust my eyes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Illusion & Temptation - The McGurk Effect

Is seeing believing? Is it an advantage? Why did Jesus say to the crowd seeking to fill their bellies, "You have seen me and yet do not believe," and to Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed"?

It seems easy enough to differentiate what we see from what we hear.
The McGurk Effect is a linguistics phenomenon from articulatory phonetics
that shows how visual input overrides other sensory information.
"Our sense of vision takes over... allowing us to maintain a coherent view of the world."

To live by faith and not by sight?

At evening service last night, Scott preached on the temptation of Jesus and highlighted the nature of temptation. The Tempter frames the dialogue in such a paradigm that makes you believe the best option is to give in -- it appears that your options are narrower than they are (Scott Strickman). As though you could freely choose and rightly choose before being chosen, any more than a tiger would opt for a bowl of porridge over a hunk of meat (Kathy Keller).

Following John the Baptizer's announcement that the Kingdom was at hand because its King had arrived, was a crucial time to undermine the word of God. He countered the voice from heaven saying "This is My Son..." with earthly reason "If you are really the son..." and with visual temptations of visible kingdoms. The Tempter speaks again and again his same refrain, "Did God actually say...?" And sinners choose again and again what they see, what is delightful to the eyes.

God dignifies us with our true identity.

This season in my temptation to despair, the Lord repeatedly draws near to dignify me with my true identity. Even when my own rebellion has laid me low, He says, "You are My people, I am your God." You are not a reject or damaged goods, that's not your identity, you're a child of God, a daughter of the King--so be that, in faith (Michael Hwang).

And believe in the words of your Maker, though now you know in part. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Peter 1.8). Soon you shall see Him face to face.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On Hindsight.

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something."

(Steve Jobs, 12 June 2005 Commencement address to Stanford)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

SEAsia Trip Report & Moving Forward

Shared this morning for a rushed six minutes at the 10:30am service. I intro'ed and Ali did slides outlining organizational progress and goals, and why we should and how we could concern ourselves as a church to better support our missionary in Sabah.

From EPC Missions Committee we hope that moving forward, our church can more fully enter the story in Sabah rather than just hear and tell it, so that our engagement in this trip would bear the fruit for the kingdom that the investment of resources, time, and heart made by the church in our travels should.

Grant us discernment and new hearts to invest wisely in the kingdom, not just engage in spiritual tourism.