08 November 2007 - because of the way we have been embraced

"The best is perhaps what we understand the least." lewis
"Not trouble, not hard times... not backstabbing. . .None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us." the message

26 October 2007 - what i've been given

when the master left in matthew 25, he didn't leave specific instructions on what to do with the talents. the expectation was just that they would do _something_. the one chastisted didn't know his master's will not in a specific thing to do, but in that the master would want him to do anything with what was given rather than sit on it. even if it was a risk to expand his estate. the talents were given based on abilities, and even those given least had enough to be useable. oh to not be lazy when even my desires and passions can be translated as abilities. while sometimes we have to figure things out, other times we just have to act on what we already know.

25 October 2007 - hannah's prayer

listened to a keller sermon on hannah's prayer for family. she was miserable, and with reason. but she arose and transferred that to prayer as she poured out her soul before the Lord. And after she did so, she ate and was no longer sad. This was before her prayer was answered. her prayer was no longer one that would solve her problems, her need for heirs, but a surrendered cry that God would get glory. and there would have never been a samuel dedicated to the Lord if she had not been brought to that place. but she was, and would have 5 children for the gift she asked for, and gave to the Lord. before that she was able to pray... "those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven. . .The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and He lifts up. He raises up the poor out of the dust and lifts up the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with nobles and inherit the throne of glory. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, and He has set the world upon them."

24 October 2007 - renewal

"one day the water's gonna wash it away and on that day, nothing clever to say." mwY
written 2/98...

new, new, new
new
is that new?
new, new, new
new
a NEW CAR!
new, new, new
new car small
new
a new toy
new, new, new
New Year's Day!
new, new
newlywed
new
newborn
a new house
nice and clean
a new heart
a new day
new, new, new
someday everything
will be made new
new, new, new
new, new, new
new

23 October 2007 - where my possessions lie

have i ever felt so acutely that i am not made for this?
"On Jordan's stormy banks I stand
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land
Where my possessions lie. . .
I am bound, I am bound, I am bound for the Promised Land."

17 October 2007 - hope and its quintessence

"Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer" romans 12:12
hope is essential. without it our lives become mere points on a line. with it we can see beyond current desires and beyond human suffering. this hope is not based on our expected outcomes, but on a promise given. a promise of new life in the face of decay. not that its fruition should always come as we expect... only that it is grounded in that one event in history that made such hope possible, started when (using nouwen's words) "Christ entered death with nothing but bare hope." this confident hope should make us brave, and frees us to leave what it is safe and go where others are, because One already showed the way and came out on the other side.

16 October 2007 - on artistic expression

"I have--found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to beleive that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others. This has helped me to understand artists and poets who have dared to express the unique in themselves." nouwen quoting carl rogers in the context of what it looks like to be a leader while entering in the joys and pains of his fellow man, and thus enabling one to be an "artist who can bind together many people by his courage in giving expression to his most personal concern."

14 October 2007 - rescue

we each picked a song this week for worship. mine: "i need You Jesus to come to my rescue. where else can i go? there's no other name by which i am saved. capture me with grace. i will follow You . .this world has nothing for me."

9 October 2007 - childlike heart

caedmon's with a song on topics i think about a lot...relating to parenthood and otherwise. "the children are sleeping but they're running through my mind/the sun makes them happy/the music makes them unwind/my cup runneth over/and i worry about the stain/teach me to run to You/like they run to me for every little thing"
"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me [unless they are the offering of the heart]?" isaiah 1:11
"when i forget to drink from You i can feel the banks harden. Lord, make me like a stream to feed the garden." 'sacred', caedmon's call

8 October 2007 - the humble view of what i deserve vs. grace

"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" romans 11:35
"Who has a claim against Me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to Me." Job 41:11

5 October 2007 - o jealousy

heard a good sermon on the tenth commandment: do not covet. it is interesting how the need for many of the other commandments can spring from this one- stealing, adultery, even murder. jealousy too can spring from an inordinate desire for something that someone else has, like joseph's brothers. when we covet we invest the greater part of our heart happiness in something else... which can be idolatry when out of order. "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness..."

3 October 2007 - to whom much knowledge is given

"For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required." from Luke 12, where it is used in the context of knowledge, comparing the servant who knew his masters will versus he who did not know... with the implication being he who knows has no excuse to not being doing the master's will when he comes.
in matthew 13 it also speaks of knowledge- whoever has [spiritual knowledge] to him will more be given. it goes on to talk of sowing and soil. "as for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and grasps and comprehends it; he indeed bears fruit and yields...100 times...sixty times...thirty." but some did not have good soil, the cares of this world, pleasure, the deceitfulness of riches choked what was sown.

30 September 2007 - thirty

my parents gave me Operation World yesterday. so i finally have my own copy after all these years.
ever wonder why Jesus started His public ministry when He did? because it is not like He needed the time to figure it out, even as a boy He knew to be about His Father's business. I assume it was to bring things about in the fullness of time. I guess in some ways our attempts to follow Him at times may be more like His disciples who seemed to have had moments of clarity (at last!) after his death and resurrection- oh i get what He meant when He said this- and then followed hard after Him.

26 September 2007 - orchestrated collisions

"you kept a distance out of fear you'd break but what's good a single windchime, hanging quite all alone? the music our collisions would make is a sound that turns the road-that-leads-us-back-home into Home." mwY
a shady outline- at best is all joseph saw. he remembered his distant dream, but not until after it was fulfilled. abram kept trying to figure it out, and when he was filled in, he laughed, it was better after all than his imaginings. joseph's brothers were not there when he went to look for them, and he had to go further. joseph's brothers did not recognize him when they came and bowed down, and would have to go away and come back. joseph was already fruitful in the land of his suffering, already saving lives from the famine for two years before his brothers came, then benjamin, then jacob who saw the carts and believed.
"in a market dimly lit I come casually to pay you see my coins are counterfeit but accept them anyway"

25 September 2007 - when prayer is not enough

have you ever been hit by something exactly with what you've been grappling with? still learning what it means to pray. heard a sermon on philippians 4 that is quite helpful. you might know the one-- rejoice in the Lord always, i will say it again, rejoice! and don't be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer...with thanksgiving present your requests to God. and so forth. now i've also been thinking about the relation to prayer and desires. desires can be good, as they often lead to more prayer. for example the more we are burdened for some thing or place, it will drive us to prayer. and when we don't care that much it can be harder to pray, until we do and prayer starts the cycle again. but there is another cycle that can't be neglected- the joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances one. it is possible to overpray. if it is in a posture of not trusting or worrying still or not coming in faith with joy (see chap. 1). but thanksgiving is the antidote to worry. prayer needs to be balanced with thanksgiving and praise. because if it is really God's will that we are seeking we can all the more be glad He hears and knows already, and is in control. oh this does not mean we do not persist. we do, but in the knowledge that we are not heard because of our many words, but because we have a loving Father, and a Lord who is near.

24 September 2007 - knowing loving knowing

you can get to the same place from two different doors. i can be reluctant to tell someone something who doesn't care that much. or even if there is just no expression to indicate such. but even for love me- me there is no need for hesitation when coming to the One who knows me fully, and yet loves me. and how great that is. there are certain parts of a person that if you don't understand limit how much you can really know that person. some words translate weak from one language to another. and in such a desire to know. . .there is a sense that without sharing in the fellowship of suffering we miss something of Him.

23 September 2007 - while walking down the road

your business is life. . .and life is urgent. "as they were going along the road, a man said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever you go. And Jesus told him, Foxes have lurking holes and the birds of the air have roosts and nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. And He said to another, Become My disciple, side with My party, and accompany Me! But he replied, Lord, permit me first to go and bury (await the death of) my father. But Jesus said to him, Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and publish abroad throughout all regions the kingdom of God. . . No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God." from Luke 9

22 September 2007 - when answered prayer is not good

excerpts from psalm 106, "Then [Israel] believed His words [trusting in, relying on them]; they sang His praise. But they hastily forgot His works; they did not [earnestly] wait for His plans [to develop] regarding them, But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness and tempted and tried to restrain God [with their insistent desires] in the desert. And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls . . .Then they spurned and despised the pleasant and desirable land [Canaan]; they believed not His word [neither trusting in, relying on, nor holding to it]; But they murmured in their tents and hearkened not to the voice of the Lord."
israel saw God do great things, and it caused them to believe God's words. Yet when things didn't go how they wanted, perhaps like their ideal vision, and when they couldn't wait, they did not believe God, they rejected what was good and in front of them. oh to trust and wait for God to bring us to that goodness in the land of the living. it may not be the straight route, it may backtrack and be in front of a seemingly incrossable river with an enemy approaching, but He will do what He has said. His Word has not failed all this time from then until now, and it is not about to start with me. oh for grace to trust Him more. to not demand meat and cucumbers and melons and garlic when He gives manna from Heaven. oh they got meat alright. just like they would get a king. but they would suffer for it. "Deliver us, O Lord our God, ...that we may give thanks to Your holy name and glory in praising You"

21 September 2007 - healing to the nations

spoiler warning. if you haven't gotten to the end, the last book of the Bible is Revelation. i probably don't read it as often as other parts of the Bible probably because it is hard to know what to make of all of it. it is a very different book, but it does serve as the denoument of it all. and in the last chapter of the last book we see genesis (the first book and beginning of it all) reversed, specifically- no longer will there be any curse. this is mentioned right after the tree of life also reappears. it is the context in which it reappears that i have been thinking on. "on each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." note the fruitfulness of the tree flowing from the river that comes from the throne of God. and it is no longer just two people, but now whole cities and nations of people that will find the abundant delight originally intended.

19 September 2007 - more than this

back from seattle, and visited states 32 to 34. got in some reading on the plane, from an old book about world hunger that i got at a thrift store a while back that turns out was written by a former head of World Vision, a great orginization.
while already thinking about what it feels like to live in such a land of excess, heard this song by switchfoot, "when success is equated with excess, the ambition for excess wrecks us. . .this ain't my american dream. i want to live and die for bigger things. i'm tired of fighting for just me. this ain't my american dream."

08 September 2007 - ...not hidden from You

"if this were just a theology course, it would be easy
but it is a human life
lived and felt and experienced"
have i ever had a week like this... and now it is september 8th. glad God is merciful to me amidst my immaturity. and that He's not content to leave me here, but wants to take me deeper. "if my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will only satisfy a little lad." ee
and when that day came, joseph wept so loud that the egyptians heard him.

05 September 2007 - light in darkness

do you know about the plight of north korean orphans? amidst some research i was doing last week i read more about how hard it was for the ones that make it china to live there in hiding or to get to somewhere they can be free. while i had been aware of the situation, i had not known the details or scope before that. with that, and what i read about africa and elsewhere it can almost seem to big of a problem to do anything. but "Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness."
and this week came across a fitting sermon series on "livin' large". one quote, for now. winston churchill: "there comes a time in every person's life when they are given the unique opportunity to discover the purpose they were born. it is their moment of destiny. and
if they seize it, it is their finest hour."

04 September 2007 - Yours

"Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life." psalm 23:6- the Message. because this is true, this is my prayer again, although from a much different place. written 4/28/03:
I want to be YOURS
sated by Your presence
carried by Your Spirit
an extension of Your love.
I want to be Yours
all of the way, all of the day
satisfied, so satisfied
soaking You up, taking You in
I want to be Yours
breathing Your air
dreaming Your dreams
knowing Your love
forever
I want to be Yours
I want to be Yours

03 September 2007 - ordained praise

"from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger." psalm 8:2
this part of psalm 8 never stuck out to me until colombia where we did motions to this psalm with the kids. i guess in the past it was hard not to skip ahead to the psalmist's amazement of God's care for man in spite of his lowliness. God's greatness is seen not only in that, not only in the also mentioned heavens- the moon and the stars, but also through children. The power of God made known even through these in whom the grace of God can appear wonderfully. Jesus even brought up this passage to those religious adults rejecting him, and it stilled the enemy. always something new to discover!

01 September 2007 - that we should walk in them

and so september begins. enjoying the end of the summer while also looking forward to fall, my favorite season. for lunch i had foods i also ate in colombia, empanadas and plantains.
while ever introspective, i've been thinking even more than usual about how i ended up here and what that might mean with respect to future calling. in light of ephesians 2:10 this all makes a little more sense. "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." i've also been re-doing my dream job list once again, whose entries tend to go along with how i'm made. i have always been a big fan of doing something high on your list, but even more so the last couple of years. keeping in mind- limitations tend to hinder us more than God. meanwhile, i have been thinking paul's words in corinthians in a broader context... 'there are some who are ignorant of God-- i say this to your shame.' and keep going back to p. steve's words about being a blank page. it is hard to go deep, and dangerous to handle what is living and active. but i'm glad He has brought me along at a speed He knew I could manage.

30 August 2007 - and we don't even know its measure

got in to work early on romans8:28 day and read the news of the impending release. praise God- it was true! glimpsing answered prayers even in the 'humanitarian feelings' purported to motivate the freedom of the rest.
been doing lots of thinking of late. so perhaps i'll have more to write later, as i continue to process. for now i wanted to put just some of psalm 71, which i read last week. "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. . .My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure... Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, you who have done great things. Who, O God, is like you? Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up."


24 August 2007 - Your great love

got to do some reading on my most recent travels for the first time in a while. one common denominator in both books was the importance of God's glory. i think related to this is our ability to see the greatness of God's love for what it really is. as amy ca. says we are so prone to, "[live] in the shallows when he meant for us to dwell deep in the heart of eternal love." do our lives reflect a Love that could be written across the sky...oh that this love would be our song.

this 'hillsong' has been in my head today... "I love to see You glorified To see You lifted high I yearn to see all nations bow their knees. . .Forever I will sing of Your great love Forever I will sing of Your great love"

21 August 2007 - You alone

back from minnesota, the land still full of mello yello! thankful for bonus time with my neice and family.
psalm 16:2, my meditation of late... "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing."

13 August 2007 - read this out loud

psalm 126. "When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."

12 August 2007 - at just the right time

timely and good sermon sunday about God and His time. it was even about Peter's imprisonment. it's not that any of the prayers were unheard. they were praying from the start to the end, and it was not a short term thing... but deliverance came at just the right time. and Peter was able to sleep. He didn't even get what was happening until God had set him free. when it was time, God did quickly what man could not.
Sometimes the prolonged time is crucial to do good growing stuff in us, like hunger for the Word, heart for prayer... started from necessity, culminating in essential growth. the earlier a baby is born, the harder it is. because those 9 months are for a reason. oh to trust Him who works things out in the fullness of time.
"But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hands" from psalm 31

11 August 2007 - what to do with injustice

back from my road trip with friends. on the trip i happened to read job 24. which starts, "Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?" and goes on to detail appalling deeds ibnlt driving away the orphan's donkey and thrusting the needy from the path, as well as injustice- like those treading winepresses thirsting themselves, the groans of the dying rising from the city... job claimed it is more just to look for secret and future punishment of the wicked than the secret sin in him that his friends presumed. the chapter concludes talking about the end of the wicked. "He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone..." the great leveling plain. the wicked shall be miserable at last.
often life does not seem fair, to say the least. but it is fair precisely in the way that it is most unfair: grace. offered to all. whose length and degree will more than make up for this short short span of years. it is not that some of us are good enough to escape the evils of this world. but Someone was good enough to rescue us from that as our ultimate end. and in the end it was the rich man who wanted the life that Lazarus had.

01 August 2007 - crushed flowers bloom again

can't really write about anything else yet. known risks, known reward, but no less hard. wondering when i will have more compassion. . .flowers are beautiful. but it is when they are crushed that the scent really comes out. we are the aroma of Christ, to some the scent of death, to some the scent of life. and who is equal to such a task? but He leads us in triumphal procession. He is near to the brokenhearted. a glad train... where the worst thing that can happen is the best. the last enemy already beaten. in acts, persecution just grew the church. in death many seeds fill the ground. "The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble." proverbs 16:4 not a bird to the ground apart from the will of Father. it was God's will to crush Him. lest you think the ending grim i must speak of a far far far better place. reserved for us at an exorbitant cost to Someone else. from "The Sands of Time are Sinking". . .
"The summer morn I’ve sighed for -
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight
But dayspring is at hand...
O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above"

27 July 2007 - hard to swallow for now

it can be pretty dark after sunset. some things are hard to swallow. and i have throat ulcers from a virus i picked up on the trip. the implications of sin and death are ugly to behold. if they are so pervasive, if sickness permeates the whole man, if death so drains then what can be said of that which will swallow it up? surely life will shoot out the ends of our fingertips of our new bodies and victory will run unrestrained that day.
"On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth." from isaiah 25

24 July 2007 - sun-lit return

"But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him." imagine my surprise upon finding this passage directly before trip verses psalm 68:5-6. and what was i doing searching for verses about riding on the clouds? this verse so befit my return to the country last night. amidst a 14 hr travel day, on the last leg of the trip from the ATL i had a window-side view of an amazing sunset. showing God's glory... that which i can yet look full in the face, but at least have a picture of what is to come. grooving to music, reading on the plane- he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. and the desire of the righteous ends only in good. so many thoughts. as i returned back to philly and its many lights, a fitting end to a great trip. my Helper seeing me through to the end, showing His love.
"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty." Deut. 33:26

13 July 2007 - falling into the arms of love

and i'm off, please pray for the trip. this fono song has been on repeat often, ever since i heard it last month. "You can't jump in the arms of God... You can't jump, you have to fall" 'falling man'
chinese for lunch, "You will be traveling and coming into a fortune."

12 July 2007 - tangible goodness, this day

it still amazes me how perfect God's timing is. sometimes His goodness is so tangible you can't help but to smile. which is also good timing.
*************************************
i have searched in vain to find the background story that goes with the poem below. but in very short gist form, soldiers came to free some prisoners of war, but they wouldn't go with them, because they thought it was a ploy to inflict more harm on them. it was only when one of them sat huddled on the ground next to them, with them for a while, did they trust enough to know it was not a trick, but a dream come true.
written july, 2006

I had forgotten just how wonderful it was
such is the weight of tears
not to mention the effect of passing years
it wasn't really that it slipped my mind
but the present has power beyond the past
and the present is markedly different.
the first to love holds its own spot
perhaps why such alarms ring
when the privilege is forsaken
if it were an enemy, I could endure it
but it is you!
and sometimes there is no recovery

but sometimes, just sometimes
there is magic
when one is called into such love
can it be accepted?
how can the hands be trusted
when the greatest hold-- let go
and so you sit on the ground next to me
and so I pursue them
and so He made Himself nothing
to take us into the family
love. adoption. grace.

11 July 2007 - spiritual warfare

the good news is i have lots of room to grow... how easy it is for me to over prepare for one silly thing, and not be ready for what might await for where God is at work and the enemy doesn't like it.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Ephesians 6:18

10 July 2007 - where coconut comes from

you are very overdue for an IAWL reference, so here it is. There's a part at the beginning of the movie where George says to his future wife- Don't you know where coconut comes from?
in a sense he saw it not just for what it was, but what it took to get there. whether you think this is a tenuous connection or not, i think there are some things like that, events in our life birthed by prayer that viewed in that light are far from mundane. greater than an explorer going to a distant island to obtain fruit, prayer allows us to obtain blessings from heaven that come back down and change lives in front of our eyes.

9 July 2007 - knows my name!

i don't deserve this. a great get together with friends who prayed for me for my trip, so encouraged...
"I have a Father He calls me His own
He'll never leave me No matter where I go He knows my name
He knows my every thought He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call"

6 July 2007 - on my way home

it so befit me, traveling home, having all sorts of trouble. bike pedal falling off. losing a shoe, just to have to backtrack. from dark paths to light. tired. but i was on my way home. and i know it will be my story. it may not be pretty, but I know He will get me there, all the more running into His arms, flying around in joy.

5 July 2007 - on the furious love of parents

i've noticed some newer parents have both the hypersensitivity to their children's needs, yet also the willingness to let them fall when they fall. that is of course part of the growing process, and they are there to pick them up and comfort them. the reason i bring this up is because of my increased exposure to parents with young children due to my advancing age, i've been learning more. and it makes me wonder what it means that we are God's children. and not just us, but those out there in need. if i was in such trouble i know there would be no rest by my parents, that they would do what they can to deal with the problem. what would it be like if we could really do that, and have His love for His children?

4 July 2007 - these philly streets

i guess you could call this a change of pace. but still apropos. "These streets hold my deepest days, This hood taught me golden ways
Made me, truly this is what made me...
That's my past that made me hot. . .Can't forget about you." Nas

29 June 2007 - reminded

our bleak projections leave out God's grace.

28 June 2007 - so, practically?

it can often be said that nothing was done to help [ ] because we didn't know how to help. one of the reasons i like the book 'ministries of mercy' is that it is very practical in terms of brainstorming ways to serve those around us. so, how can we care for orphans, and others like them? here are a few ways, taken from a more detailed list at voiceoftheorphan.org.
* pray for them. the importance of this cannot be underestimated. as someone blessed with praying parents i want to learn how to pray for those who don't have anyone praying for them.
* go on a short term trip
* adopt!
* give sacrificially. there are many great organizations out there.
* build an orphanage
* sponsor an orphanage
* speak up for those who can't speak up for themselves
* start an orphans ministry at your church
* become a foster parent
* support those who support them
* be a mentor to vulnerable children here
* contact agencies/organizations to find practical ways to help
if you want more info on any of the above, let me know. the good news about big lists is while all those ways aren't for everyone, perhaps there is one that is particularly well-suited to your situation.

26 June 2007 - just better to give

thoughts from recent internet sermons... "Man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Stinginess isn't so much evil as it is foolishness. Generosity is the best investment strategy. In light of eternity, the best the other options yield is breaking even. Far better to use what is temporary and sow it towards what lasts forever. . . And aside from that, it is just better to give.

21 June 2007 - His love in us

and just how is God a Father to the fatherless? for one, psalm 146 says God upholds the fatherless. He is the strong Defender. but one of the ways this is true, is through us. it would be easier to ignore the millions of orphans worldwide, but that would not be 1 john 3 love that the Father God has given to many of His children to do show such love to those deeply on His heart. like those christians who during the plague were not afraid to care for those dying. perhaps they were not afraid of dying because they had already died. freed to love at a cost because they had been loved at a cost. it is with this love, that the world takes notice. the love that embodies the true meaning of compassion, and suffers with. as it goes, "He laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers".

19 June 2007 - opportunity may knock, but importunity really knocks

with regularity, Jesus prayed addressing God as Father. He also taught his disciples to pray- Our Father. . . And why is this possible? Because of the one time Jesus did not call the name Father, but rather- My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
in luke 11, the midnight friend, not only is prayer to our Father underscored, but that we should come with humble boldness. We are not some neighbor who has to brashly ask, but sons, daughters. . ."We prevail with men by importunity because they are displeased with it, but with God because he is pleased with it." M. Henry. not just Dad i'm sick, Dad i'm thirsty, but like the friend we must come in prayer for others too. what could be a more pleasing activity than to ask for grace to do good. knowing our Brother went before... ask of Me and I'll give the nations to you, as your inheritance.

18 June 2007 - blessed when i remember

much is made of happiness. although i too enjoy it, it pales in comparison to the more substantive thing i'll call blessedness. we pursue happiness, but as the movie says, maybe we never find it, or in the least it is prone not to last. switchfoot calls it a yuppie word. meanwhile it is possible to be sorrowful yet always rejoicing. this song (excerpted) by blindside i can relate to amidst the quest, "To be still and not run To be rocked to sleep in your light These days there is not much that will bring tears to my eyes But when I remember who I am and who you are When I remember...A cloud moves in, rain falls, thunder strikes And sunshine breaks through the clouds I can cry out of sorrow and joy Every drop of rain turns into a crystal in the sun So wash my eyes, my clothes, my skin, my bones, my
soul My feet, my love I'm not forgotten. . .When did I grow such a thick skin... Nobody moves me like you do."

17 June 2007 - doing His will... one step at a time

what a weekend! sarah kelly lyrics- "i surrender to Your will, to Your way, to Your plan, all i have and all i am, all i am. . ."
rarely do we know the full path that lays ahead of us. but we do know at least something we ought to do. "A single step taken, if we have his Word as a lamp for our feet, throws sufficient light for the next step." ee "so i will dream and i'll believe that what You promised soon I will see…"
"the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth. He will fulfill the desires of those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them." psalm 145:18-19

14 June 2007 - How great. . .

while looking for a well known life event stress level scale i discovered there was also one for children. while this is certainly hard to really quantify, particularly for all people everywhere, it is still interesting. the top three for adults were all related to losing (in some form) a spouse, meanwhile, the children's list didn't even have - parents leaving them, or both parents dying.
part of the lesson for this last thursday night before the summer activities start was- i kid you not- to have the kids act out like they were orphans, and then have them act out being adopted. i gladly went along with the book's lesson on romans 8, and adjusted it for my class. what would it be like if we were really able to picture our experience like this? adopted without ulterior motives by a richly generous Father that actually just wants to lavish good things and love upon His children. can you measure that? to truly describe it, i think you would run out of superlatives.

7 June 2007 - inheritance

the new testament is buzzing with talk about how we are children of God, that we have a Father, that we have been adopted. it is interesting to consider in those days, one of the main reasons for adoption was the inheritance. which explains why sometimes someone with no children would adopt a grown up son. the adopted son was not only given full rights as a son, but chosen to be the heir. and so it is with God, bestowing upon us a sonship that is ours not by nature, but by grace. and giving us an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade.

4 June 2007 - favoritos

"No te desampararé, ni te dejaré; de manera que podemos decir confiadamente: El Señor es mi ayudador; no temeré Lo que me pueda hacer el hombre." Hebreos 13:6
"Pues tengo por cierto que las aflicciones del tiempo presente no son comparables con la gloria venidera que en nosotros ha de manifestarse." Romanos 8:18
"Mas buscad el reino de Dios, y todas estas cosas os serán añadidas." San Lucas 12:31

01 June 2007 - apprehended

i see it with my kids. who can at times quickly say the right answer but not know why or what that means. in its advanced stages it is the fast arrival to a conclusion without grasping again the implications. "my eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold. . .what can be done for an old heart like mine?" it is the humble heart that is the hungry one. that can long to take more looks at Christ, and soften. there is a difference between knowing something. . .and being apprehended by the truth.

30 May 2007 - RLC

i've never experienced anything like this before. what if our inhibitions kept us from good things God had for us? it is one thing to have faith, another to have the experience of believing together. His desires run the deepest.
"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." Habukkuk 2:14

27 May 2007 - in the lacking

possibly. you know what possibly means- there is a chance. it is possible for prolonged seasons of lacking in our lives to show us the value of something else, or to learn lessons we might not have otherwise. aside from the obvious area which i will ignore, this has been true with our church not having a building. this does not make the lacking less hard though.
i recently read straight through a book about two people's experience of intentionally living as homeless in different american cities for a few months. for some reason it has been a while now since i've had a good read like this. the author, too, through his experiences has some things he will never look at the same way, or take for granted. the book also served as a good reminder of what it looks like to love people, and that it is hard to know where someone is coming from on first encounter.

26 May 2007 - learning how to fight

live vaccinations are scary. but if they weren't the only way to immunize i'm sure they wouldn't be used. some things we face in life are similar- we have to go through them to gain those antibodies that will come in quite useful later... even though the side effects may not be fun while they last.
at the end of judges 2 it talks about nations the Lord left to test Israel and see if they would obey God's commands. Not only did it help them see where there dependencies lied, God used it to teach warfare to those with no previous experience.
as it says in Job- 'but He knows the way that I take, and when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.'

22 May 2007 - grace my feet and faith my eyes

"before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." psalm 90:2

20 May 2007 - baby teeth

two snippets from my pastor paul sermon fest a few weeks back. . .how do you know the check cleared? because sunday morning the tomb was EMPTY. that proved to paul that the cross paid it all.
more 1Cor15. it's just like baby teeth. when you know what is coming in their place losing them cannot be viewed in the same way.

18 May 2007 - to buy the field

there was a man who found a treasure in a field, and he found it of such value that he was willing to sell everything he had to buy the field.
"Your Grace is enough Heaven reaching down to us Your Grace is enough for me"

17 May 2007 - the great encourager

who do you think was the second most influential person in the new testament? i think peter is a good choice. you might think paul. but actually barnabas should not be overlooked. the encourager who influenced many who themselves influenced others, including paving the way for paul's ministry. barnabas was ready for new people that came in to his life, not just content- he was even known for his encouragement. the ability to speak truth into other's lives should be valued.

16 May 2007 - motley crew

i continue to be awed by the work God is doing through res. life. blown away by more testimonies in even just the past couple of weeks. aside from not having a building we can use yet, whenever we are together i can't help but chuckle, we are such a motley crew. but that encourages me even more, because i know that is what the church is. the weak chosen to shame the strong. so that it might be clear it is God who is working. God has arranged the parts just as He wanted them to be. differing parts, but the parts seeming weaker are actually indispensable. and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

15 May 2007 - five

as i stood there singing praise, looking out at the red west philly sky i couldn't help but to think back to years before, to a similar moment back when there were sunday praise nights. many things in life can become richer beyond themselves because of what transpires outside of them. there is praise, and then deeper praise. there are soccer goals, and then there are goals where there is no question whether or not there will be celebration . . . this is similar to how the Bible takes about death being swallowed up in victory. keller mentions how what we swallow becomes part of us. and this is all part of the magic of how we will be coming in to something so wonderful that it will somehow make up for any atrocities. really, *that* good. and what could seem the worst fate turns into the best because the worst event was allowed to become the best.

13 May 2007 - double bonus

it was a good albeit funny unexpected day. i still need to learn from the boy scouts, or coast guard, or somebody. . .
sang this at service number two... "things in the past, things yet unseen, wishes and dreams that are yet to come true, all of my hopes, all of my plans, my heart and my hands are lifted to You, Lord I offer my life to You, everything I've been through, use it for Your glory"
sang this at both services: how great is our God, sing with me!

11 May 2007 - one for many

in 1793, when Philly was the second biggest city in the US, ten percent of the population died of yellow fever. it was unknown at that time how it was transmitted. over time, clues gradually began to emerge as research was done, but meanwhile more of the world faced similar devestation. it took people being willing to undergo testing through which scientists would ultimately understand how it spread and thus come up with a vaccine. . . a vaccine that would save many worldwide- but not the willing volunteers who soon died.

04 May 2007 - the beauty of friends. . .and of the Truth

f-i-v-e. it's already been said here, already proven true, but i can't help but repeat it five years from the day of the walk in central park with a trusted friend, where we went out to buy cups for his party, but i'm so thankful that he knew i needed a friend more than the party needed cups. i still don't understand, still don't know the future, but i do know... God _has_ worked things for the good. so thankful for friends that point you to the Truth, when you need it the most. this too, from another friend days before that..."But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life." isaiah 43:1-4

02 May 2007 - as a lion

so, i have had a poster of carlos valderamma in my room for quite some time. never would i have even imagined that one day i would visit the hometown of the soccer legend. but this summer i am going on a trip with tenth to an orphanage in santa marta, colombia! please pray for me and the team going.

29 April 2007 - open

mwY, fitting for this day, "Open wide my door, to whatever makes me love You more."

25 April 2007 - windows of opportunity

a recent realization when thinking about m. trips of my friends and perhaps my own is that often times the best time to go and be a blessing to a country or place is right after conflict or strife or other circumstances which create windows which will not necessarily last for long. which it is why it is important that people are ready to go. i've also been thinking about this with life in general, (in many ways, this is quite obvious, but sometimes i am just very slow.) that things are much more fluid and less static than they appear. which is why all the more we need to be attentive to what God is doing and responding to that, rather than just coming up with some plan of our own. as it says in the psalms- as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master. . .so our eyes look to the LORD our God.

23 April 2007 - just passing through

"Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. . .You...joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." from just before hebrews 11, where it goes on to speak of those who knew this world was not their home.
really loving is really living.

22 April 2007 - but these- where have they come from?

"Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband, says the Lord..." from Isaiah 54.
"Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure-store. Take my self, and I will be ever, only, all for thee."

19 April 2007 - and i'm learning to trust You

experienced both ends of the trust (wrt the future) spectrum in two weeks. from aforementioned to even if fears are realized...
"oh Lord, when I think of all You've done, my heart sings of Your love. . .So no matter what the cost, I will go for You. No matter what it takes, I'm Yours. Because You paid the price at Calvary, I give you my whole life, I'm Yours."
"No guilt in life, no fear in death This is power of Christ in me From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand 'Til He returns or calls me home Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand" in Christ alone II

16 April 2007 - and i will show you my faith by what i do

a man's life is always more forceful than his speech. we commend ourselves in every way. it is one thing to well wish, one thing to state a belief. it is quite another to help, to actually do something, quite another to live a belief.

15 April 2007 - the bravest One of all

amazed at how far He has taken me over the years, and how He gives courage i would never otherwise have. Jesus makes me brave. "‘Cause it’s been fear that ties me down to everything But it’s been love, Your love, that cuts the strings So long, status quo I think I just let go You make me want to be brave The way it always was Is no longer good enough You make me want to be brave." N. Nordeman

14 April 2007 - nothing

immortal until God's work for me is through. and it turns out it was me who still had to grow. God's mysterious wonderous ways even teaching lessons through this trip decision process. to learn what it means to take up my cross and follow Him. still encouraged that death isn't just defeated, but subjugated. out of death comes life. dying, we live on. and nothing in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

13 April 2007 - waiting at the cross

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich." 2 cor. 8:9
"...For the sake of knowing You, for the glory of Your name, To know the lasting joy, even sharing in Your pain..." 'Surrender'

10 April 2007 - like water to me

why has there been so much water on my face of late. . .you don't know if you've really learned something until it is tested. humbled by lessons still unlearned. He knows the beginning from the end, not me. "But You, O Lord, are enthroned forever; and the fame of Your name endures to all generations."

9 April 2007 - at a price

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest." proverbs 14:4 Having oxen might bring a requisite messy stable. But that is usually what it takes to reap a bountiful harvest.

8 April 2007 - the implications of resurrection

it just keeps coming up. resurrection, life. "Martha replied, 'I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time." You don't have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life." Jesus reply to Martha was amazing. so what are the implications of this resurrection He speaks of. . .it is of note, that not only did they try to kill Jesus, they tried to kill Lazarus too! (yeah, that'll work...) at sunrise service we heard of the contrast of stories- the discliples back to fishing again! but this time, post-resurrection, was different in many ways. For one, Peter dashing through the water towards Jesus. Jesus also talked about the implications before He would die. He spoke of the grain of wheat that must also die. "in the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you, let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal." john 12
and of course, 1 cor. 15. i read it aloud to my mom saturday night. mainly because of this portion: "And why do you think i keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? I look death in the face practically every day i live. Do you think I'd do this if I wasn't convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus hoping it wouldn't be the end of me? Not on your life! It's resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there's no resurrection, "We eat, we drink, the next day we die." and that's all there is to it."" Not safe, but good, right? and yet it is such a stuggle to appropriate truth newly learned and appreciated when it is so much easier just to live the eat and drink life that even others wouldn't seem to mind for me. we can be reckless in our love- but we have a reason. . .resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection.

7 April 2007 - enlarged in the waiting

"How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you." Psalm 31:19
how fitting it was personally to sing this Friday at church, "The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures; he will my shield and portion be as long as life endures." smiling big as that came up. also had a great time with my parents at wegman's this night, not only enjoyable in itself but also with feeling moments seeming so pregnant with possibility.
the guests of the bridegroom don't fast when he's there, but when he's gone, somehow correlated to when he will return. meanwhile the joyful anticipation deepens. . .from Romans 8- the message, "These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."

6 April 2007 - for freedom

one year ago today i was drinking banana soda for breakfast and eating jerk chicken beachside in montego bay. quite a contrast from today, but such is freedom in Christ. it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened by a yoke of slavery. enslaved by special days and months and seasons or faith expressing itself through love. Oh to always pursue the latter...

5 April 2007 - until

"You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I'll eat until we eat it together in the kingdom of God." luke 22, the message. isaiah 53: "He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. . .He took on his shoulders the sin of many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep." "until the day we drink it new... You came and gave your life for me. until, oh Lord, the house is restored, and the nations look towards its brightness again. . ."

4 April 2007 - forsaken: not forsaken

i don't have a clue as to what the mockery of Jesus before going to the cross must have felt like, beyond the mocking of a king in psalm 89. what gets me the most is the forsakenness. exemplified the chapter before, the only psalm ending in darkness. "Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me. . .you have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend." It is so amazing that He so knows what it is like to be rejected and forsaken in the deepest way because there are so many who have tasted abandonment or still taste it strong and need to know Jesus who promises never to leave or forsake.

3 April 2007 - on conviction

we can't expect other people to live our convictions. but we ourselves can strive to make the most of how fulfilling they can be.

2 April 2007 - lacking what the cross proves

convicted of my lack of trust. need to pray more with faith than out of desperation. "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. . .He's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all." "O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore." "If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything He wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?" the cross proves His trustworthiness. and in that trust, there is confidence.

1 April 2007 - a greater Joseph

excitedly listened to a keller series on the life of joseph, and got even more insight through it. the Bible tends to be inexhaustible like that. his brothers leaving him for dead- but oh, he didn't die. and then joseph loving them, letting them learn the lessons through extremes just as he had to learn the hard way. and judah who sold his own brother comes around and offers himself. and the pointing to a greater Joseph who would come and be stripped bare and betrayed. the Man sent ahead to save a people, and fulfill dreams to the glory of God.

27 March 2007 - You alone

cleaning can be hard. but praising is good. "The greatest love that anyone could ever know, it overcame the cross and grave to find my soul and till i see you face to face and grace amazing takes me home i'll trust in You. with all i am i'll live to see Your kingdom come, and in my heart i pray You'd let Your will be done, and till i see You face to face and grace amazing takes me home I'll trust in You. I will live to love You. I will live to bring You praise. I will live a child in awe of You. . .You alone are God of all You alone are worthy Lord, and with all i am my soul will bless Your name."

26 March 2007 - just keeping it real

a good friend of mine claims i am an optimist. but in my mind i am far from an optimist. i consider myself a realist. it almost doesn't matter how much water is in the glass as much as knowing there is a great God that holds it all in His hands and Himself was poured out so that great promises could be ours. "born to trouble surely, but destined for glory, no doubt."

25 March 2007 - delight in the Lord

most intentional Sabbath in quite some time, and no surprise, it was quite good. isaiah 58 has a lot of interesting things to say on the subject. the call to share your food with the hungry rather than just be busy, busy, busy at so called worship brings the promise of a full life in the emptiest of places. "If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don't use my holy day for your personal advantage, if you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God's holy day as a celebration, if you honor it by refusing 'business as usual' making money, running here and there- Then you'll be free to enjoy God!"

21 March 2007 - spring and journeying towards beauty

happened upon a sermon on the B side of a tape i ordered that had an interesting thought- you never marry the right person. even if you actually do know the person you don't know what the person is like married to you. which is why you should marry someone you want to go on a journey with. voyaging through the blemishes towards beauty. which resonates with 1 timothy's charge of doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful by doing it. and while we're there how interesting that we're saved through Childbearing- an activity itself plagued by the curse, but that would reverse Eve with the birth of the One that would bring salvation.

20 March 2007 - proof

watched part of a movie with my neighbor. raised some more helpful thoughts on trust. some things can't be proven. they can be more and more shown to be possibly true. or they can be proved false. since in this case you can never get to that proof ending notation anyway it is better to learn to trust sooner for the sake of the other person, while knowing at the same time there is only One that has been thus far and will be ultimately proved fully trustworthy.

18 March 2007 - grace of celebration

in the best book i have read on spiritual disciplines, "the life you've always wanted" by john ortberg, there is a chapter on celebration. while it comes pretty easily to me, it is still good to remember to make a habit of delighting in God's gifts and learning how to revel in Him. joy is a command that seems would seem far easier than most, but is one that can even be crowded out by things like busyness. which is why sabbaths are great- it's like practicing for Heaven. there's times where it easy to celebrate, when His grace is all too clear, and other times where it seems a daunting task. thankful for the moments that point to the day where the celebration will not end.

16 March 2007 - just do it

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says"! James 1. not only do we need to pray God's word, we need to do it. a sermon i heard (interestingly enough) pointed out that if you are bored at church or even from your own reading, perhaps it is because you are not using what you've been given. the meat is in the doing. and once we taste and remember how good it is to obey, we will be hungry for more, and blessed. "...But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."

14 March 2007 - to pray and not give up

perhaps my favorite parable is that of the persistent widow. how she must have dogged the steps of that judge. and perhaps even cried out as he tried to sleep on the roof of his house. pastor has really been pounding in good lessons on prayer. while some things are hard to know how to pray for, there are some things that we know we can go to God without hesitation, with faith, again and again. that others would come to know Him. that He would get glory in our lives, our days and all that fills them. and we do not come without hope to an unjust judge that cares nothing for man that disregards the plight of the widow. . .we have an Advocate, and we come to a loving Father. let us not be like kids who play the prank of ringing the doorbell and running away. lets knock- and keep on knocking. let's go to Him and ask Him-do what You have said!

7 March 2007 - blessings in sleep and prayer

it has been such a stuggle of late for me to not stay up late/get sleep. need to remember psalm 127. . .
Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil- for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep.

5 March 2007 - consider flowers

the philadelphia flower show is great. this year there was so many of my favorite flowers that it was delightful. seems only fitting on such occasion to quote from one of my favorite chapters. . ."and who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure to his stature or to the span of his life? And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thorougly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin. Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his magnificence was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith?"

4 March 2007 - railing against death

there's a cemetary i pass on my bike as i leave the city on the way to strawserland. now there is broken glass many places in the city, but the sidewalk next to the graveyard has more than anywhere else i know. and so every time i pass by (aside for fearing for my tires) i unavoidably think it is because people are railing against death.
one thing i love is that although i often rail against the curse and its effects, the song doesn't end there in the dark. it is different because God allowed Jesus to enter into the mess so that our greatest enemy could be defeated, even more- swallowed up. allowing us to sing on and respond to death even in the face of its potency.
climactic lyrics from a favorite song of late, 'imperishable'. "been out in the war too long. . .but one day i'll say death where is thy victory, one day i'll say grave where is thy sting. thanks be to God."

01 March 2007 - gsf

church takeaway: out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.
song of the day: though none go with me, still i will follow. though none go with me, still i will follow. though none go with me, still i will follow. no turning back. no turning back.

28 February 2007 - thanks be to God

i still remember those days long ago in english house rooftop where a praise session would erupt, and i would be there with my drumsticks
wailing away and when we would do this song i would go buckwild:
"we have overcome the world by the blood of the Lamb and loving not our own lives even unto death. . .Thanks be to God who leads us in His triumph. . .just as he defeated death we shall never die. no we shall never die."

27 February 2007 - for whom nothing human is alien

currently reading nouwen's apparent classic, the wounded healer. while it is different than i expected, it is still interesting. on a quality he describes as compassion, "compassion is born when we discover in the center of our own existence not only that God is God and man is man, but also that our neighbor is really our fellow man. Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that man feels resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty that the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends' eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate man nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying."

25 February 2007 - flower arranger

i have greater understanding of that five iron frenzy song, 'dandelions' when i heard pastor steve describe Jesus roles in our prayers. it's like the kid who picks flowers for his dad, mostly dandelions and the like with some real flowers thrown in. but then his mom takes them and throws out the weeds, and adds the most beautiful of orchids. you would not recognize your prayers when He gets through with them. because of Jesus the fragrance can be sweet. He cannot look upon sin, but we pray in Jesus name, the Son with whom He is well pleased. "you see flowers in these weeds"

24 February 2007 - the other side of proverbs 31

open your mouth for the dumb [those unable to speak for themselves] for the rights of all who are desolate and defenseless. open your mouth, judge righteously and administer justice for the poor and needy.

23 February 2007 - why are you angry

insightful small group discussion on anger. anger always entails a judge. and we can judge the situation rightly or wrongly. then there is our response. even if we judge rightly we can respond wrongly. are you angry about the right things? sometimes thinking how justified our anger was can mask our selfishness and pride and wrongdoing. sometimes i am not angry enough.
"in your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your heart and be silent." psalm 4:4

21 February 2007 - zeal and faith

one thing i never realized or better put, couldn't name, from the praying for Peter story in acts was the dichotomy. the people had great zeal... earnestly praying through the night. but they lacked great faith.
it is good to have both. as it says in hebrews 11. . .without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists- and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

18 February 2007 - school of prayer

sometimes prayer resembles the peacock: beautiful in appearance, but hardly able to get off the ground. other times prayer is like the bald eagle, perhaps only seen as beautiful because it is soaring in flight to the heavens. even the 'ugliest' prayer can be pleasing to God. if you really want to touch God forget about people. as matthew 6 implies, we are heard not because of our many words, but because we have a loving Father.
on an unrelated yet related note, praying before meals with people can sometimes be frustrating. i mean on one hand, i think it is great, Jesus even did it in the Bible. but like with anything, it loses something when you forget the purpose. sometimes i think i would prefer to pray after the meal (because then i am often _really_ thankful :) like i have to explain to my kids why [many] people pray with their eyes closed. don't just do something to do it. or you will think that's what prayer is. oh for loving dialogue rather than a shadow of it under compulsion.
"All for love a father gave. . .And how many times have you heard me pray Draw near to me Everything I need is You My beginning, my forever Everything I need is You"

16 February 2007 - their Defender is strong

"Do not... encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong" from proverbs. in mark 10 when the disciples were turning away those who were bringing their children to Jesus, He got angry. He then went even beyond the desires of the parents, "He took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." isaiah 40:11 come to life!
we too must receive the kingdom as kingdom of God as little children. so opposite the life of meaningless offerings and worship charades of isaiah 1. where it goes on to say, "Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

14 February 2007 - funny how nobody wants it

i have nothing but love for this day. while on the topic, recently read a really helpful keller outline on singleness (and marriage too). let's see if i can somehow condense a few highlights. the 1 Cor. 7 part about time being short is talking about the overlap of the ages and the implication of God's kingdom being here in a substantial but partial way. christianity was the first worldview that held up single adulthood as a viable way of life. marriage is thus de-idolized and this is seen by single christians whose hope is not in family or heirs, but in the church and the kingdom. and this can happen because marriage is only a partial help, not a panacea. lacking a deeply fulfilling love relationship with Christ effects married people as well as singles in different yet comparable ways. if only the church could see this more and fathom why Paul would speak so highly about singleness and so realistically about marriage...

11 February 2007 - we fall down, we get up

it was a good day saturday learning how to snowboard, even switchfoot. with all my falling down, couldn't help but to think of the proverb that is even espoused by a d.wade commercial- though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again. it is not the falling that is special (although i did have some quite unique spills!), everyone falls, but in getting right back up, even to last run of the day. how many times? as it says in my favorite snowboarding movie- as many as it takes. "forgetting what lies behind, setting our hearts on the prize. . .we're running the race to win, all the way to the end."

8 February 2007 - what is your dialect

thanksgiving should be my breath.

7 February 2007 - grace to meet needs

good to be back at the RL study. encouraged by pastor's take on someone questioning his multiple degrees relative to the education level of the community. maybe that's why he's there. who better to meet the already expressed needs of the neighborhood. good to hear as it has been something i had thought about too when considering the people i relate to the best. also another good study. grace tends not to come through the walls, but through people.

6 February 2007 - guaranteeing what's to come

i got $2 in the mail from someone who had been unsuccessfully trying to reach me for a paid survey saying to call them. i guess it was their way of saying they were serious about it. i mean isn't that why we have to put down deposits for so many things... to at least have some way to express our pledge in real terms wrt the remaining amount due. with Abram- how will i know? and God passed between the pieces. with us- how can we be sure of God's commitment to us? if He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all...will He not graciously give us all things? and then there's the Bible's use of a deposit- this encourages me so much. while we are in this tent we groan and are burdened! But God has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. the first installment of an inheritance that far surpasses them all.

2 February 2007 - jacob's hip (not the band)

in small group we talked about pride. while there are ways to combat it, like turning to God, seeing God, praying for others. . .if unabated, sometimes it takes going through hard times to deal with our pride. Nebuchadnezzar had to eat like an animal before he saw that it was God's grace and not what his hands had done, and even that was a gift from God. and i remember those days where i would just read huge chunks of the Bible at a time because i didn't know what else to do. that i needed Him then was _obvious_. and in church we heard of Jacob- after all his hands had tried to accomplish for himself, had to wrestle with God to learn the same lesson, he needed to find satisfaction in God's grace, over what he could do himself. His hip was touched, and forever he would be reminded of when he was broken. things like that can be a great help to us, as we strive to go forth humble yet confident. i may have a spring in my step these days, but i still walk with a limp. weak, but He is strong.

1 February 2007 - can't stop dreaming

how often do you think abram went out and looked at all the stars in the sky? "Count the stars- if indeed you can count them!" i dream all the time. abram didn't know how, just that God would do it. and the essence of what God did was far greater than isaac, who himself had to be surrendered again, but in those stars that even represent us as children of the promise. oh that i would have more kingdom dreams. that it would be just as easy to think about how God is going to work in lives, neighborhoods, cities, the world and its massive troubles. the good news is even though joseph's dreams had him in the center, God still used even them to change the world at his time. as that epic passage in isaiah 49 goes on, it states- those who hope in the Lord will not be disappointed. the whole snocone/paltry pretzel vs. greater, surer hopes bringing greater, surer joys thing. and sometimes it is in the lacking, through the rejection, that the greater redemption comes.

31 January 2007 - i hate lying

"A lying tongue hates those it hurts" proverbs 26:28. when Jesus was speaking of the devil He said, "When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." with people i think it is easier to build mistrust than trust because even someone you have known for a long time can prove to be not as you thought. that doesn't mean we don't try to trust others. . .so i guess it means we have to trust the trustworthy One _more_. Another great thing about our God, He's not a son of man that he should lie, nor a son of man to change his mind. And as we go on and each one of His never changing promises is shown to be true that trust of Him just builds more and more.

21 January 2007 - walk with me

on repeat today: "Walk with me quiet, walk with me slow. . .walk with me empty, walk with me strong. . .Tell me the story, where old is made new The promise of ages, and all things that are true When the shadows fall and the wrecking ball Swings and tears me through the heart Will you lead me, beside the still waters Where the oil, it runs over, and my cup over flows You restore my soul" Caedmon's Call
Quite an unexpected weekend in many ways. Returned home from treasured time with friends to a message that my grandpa had gone on to glory. Off to Colorado soon. My mom and her sisters could use your prayers.

18 January 2007 - heading south...or not. but maybe in the future

a friend passed along some RR sermons. one person asked a question that is often on my mind. . .how important is similar calling wrt your future spouse? The opinion given used this example: if someone is called to canada and the other person, alabama, that probably won't work out. but if one person is called to alabama, and the other mississippi, that might work out- they are both heading south. who knows. . .they might end up in louisiana.
meanwhile, JP was looking for someone willing to go wherever He calls.
it is all rather complicated, if you ask me.

16 January 2007 - to follow His lead

sometimes it is better to speak without talking. who didn't care what people thought more than Jesus? Why did certain people feel so threatened? they who thought the law needed to be followed a certain way. His food was to do the will of Him who sent Him. And He went by that. even if others didn't understand it didn't matter in the sense that- Father -knew. a man of passion, doing the right thing. Hanging out with those others would not be seen with. to live in a way that is- more than anything to please God is so hard. It is easy to try, it is easy to be busy with good things. . . but to really love people and enjoy doing His will over your own and what everyone else is doing takes a true punk.

15 January 2007 - manna that is not bread

history can be helpful when we learn from the past. But we cannot live in the past. In many ways humans adapt very quickly to new inputs on their lives. all of which brings us back yet again to deuteronomy 8 where the admonition is- you have to remember what you learned in the past, it is crucial with respect to handling the changes that are coming in your future.
The things we are to hope in the most are the the things promised. We should say- my hope is in your word all day long, not man. For _that_ is more sure than the morning the watchman waits for. "he fed you with manna. . .so you would learn that men and women don't live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God's mouth." a time is coming when your clothes will now wear out, be ready.
"make sure you don't become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God." the good times will still be good, but are dangerous unless we remember God. The key is having the humbled broken heart of love that remembers the manna in the wilderness, the kind of heart that trembles at the word that he had been eating out of necessity. . .to be people that go from we fast and you don't care to we fast and break the chains of injustice.

13 January 2007 - storehouses of prayer

it was a good week of prayer, varied and diverse. it is good to pray with other people, even just in the same place. even better when it is three nights in a row! we had our first unofficial meeting at the new church and God's Spirit was evident. The storehouses of prayer going up make me excited about the work God is going to do in that community. meanwhile, it is also good to just be alone with my Savior- He who knows me so well. Surrending yet again, while taking heart in the knowledge that come what may, He will get me Home.

12 January 2007 - this too shall pass

i've realized more and more that now i can more easily run away from trouble rather than turn and face it. i'll pray a little, but run more. while i understand why i am more prone to do this than in the long ago past, i don't want to settle for it. i'd rather do the right thing, and i'd rather pray more than a little. He has proven Himself faithful before. the blessed life isn't one that has less problems, but it is one that trusts God through them.

8 January 2007 - victory

it was a great night watching the florida gators win the college football national championship! on the way home in the car this song came on on 103.9 & i couldn't help but to turn it up and dance/drive. "Now its time to celebrate, all banners raised I Got The Victory, The Victory Because The Devil Is Defeated and God Be Praised I Got The Victory, The Victory . . .And Everything Works For My Good In The End I Got The Victory, The Victory" it is also quite a helpful and nice song to wake up to. One of my favorite photos from the Gators win

6 January 2007 - i love to tell the story

if i seem to harp on certain things, it is because i can't help it, it is part of my story. hearing encouraging stories at prayer meeting friday from other people, i realize it is still hard to understand what other people went through (each heart knows its own bitterness)... someone who had a life saving surgery feels that weight more than you ever will but its significance and effect on that person is still carried through their telling of the story. and so it is with me, still ever amazed at ways God's Word has been proved true in my life. recently listening to songs i wrote in the past reminds me even more of the ways God has been beyond faithful. In a sense a continuation of the story of the Bible. in our lives, it is valuable to keep telling the stories of the Lord's goodness we have tasted through it all. it encourages not only us but our fellow travelers on their way.
"I didn't die. I lived! And now I'm telling the world what God did. God tested me, he pushed me hard, but he didn't hand me over to Death. .. This is God's work. We rub our eyes—we can hardly believe it! This is the very day God acted— let's celebrate and be festive! . .You're my God, and I thank you. O my God, I lift high your praise. Thank God—he's so good. His love never quits!" from psalm 118, the message.

04 January 2007 - known by our excessive love

christians are people who love excessively. so good to be around, in that sense. but as we saw in Jesus' life, even though he had done nothing but love, He was killed. just because someone knows more things like the Bible than someone else, doesn't mean they correspondingly love more. yet love is the measure of our stature. i was reading the end of the psalms, the nothing but praise psalms, and it was talking about how everything God does is suffused with grace. i think sometimes my actions could be better described as suffused with bitterness. oh for love that keeps on going on irregardless of the response of the other person. to walk that long road of love with such grace that it must be taken notice of. as it goes on to say, "He's built a monument- His very own people!"

02 January 2007 - rubies of red by the handfull

"If You say go, we will go. If You say wait, we will wait. If You say step out on the water, and they say it can’t be done We’ll fix our eyes
on You and we will come" Vineyard
if i'm truly given to His will, i can't falter. His best is my best, and leads to joy, not dourness. some things can't be done. . .unless we look to You.
"...wouldn't it be nice, so nice to just be a heart on pilgrimage. even a sparrow knows where to rest. even deserts can sheen a verdant green..."

01 January 2007 - 2006: year that was

Pictures of redemption. . . the year was _full_ of them. Longings fulfilled. Several activities years in waiting. . .at last. And good coming from bad. All of this perhaps best exemplified by the redemptively symbolic picture on my fridge of me with friends from an April evening over Jamaican food. Even that which caused me harm- God intended for good, to accomplish what is now being done. Playing soccer barefoot at an orphanage with some wonderful children; a priceless moment from one of the highlights of the year, getting to go to Jamaica with my brother and others from VA. Being able to be a part of Resurrection Life Church, to see God work dramatically in lives, the joy of coming to know others in the community through various neighborhood events and Bible study, and realizing church is not a building. Drinking a mello yello to celebrate back at the house after being able to be there for the birth of my neice Evelyn, another example in so many ways of God making everything beautiful in its time. It was a year of joy, although I often had no circumstantial idea why, that assured me all the more that it was joy. It was also a year of deeper calling. That to live is Christ, and that cross brings life. God softening my heart to bigger things than I would have before imagined. Precious times in parks, walking Philly streets, or even on my bike. Certain prayers answered quick- prompting wow's in my prayer notebook. Many interesting times with new friends. The conflux. Learning well that I'm not all that. The return of the praise team. Of course, many travels, as I made the most of my vacation days in my quest to be like Dora. Leaving the country for the first time- not once, but twice, Jamaica and Canada. A great roadtrip to Michigan, also B'more, VA Beach, Buffalo, Colorado, NYC, DC, and NoVa. Leading the kids at church on my own for the first extended time and the related fun that brought. Nevermind winning a title. Also getting to join the Cannons, and a summer soccer championship run. February sports feats out of nowhere. Taking off to watch the World Cup and exciting NBA Finals. It was also the hardest year at work of my seven plus years. Learning much through the harangue. Favorite players getting traded. Procuring Mello amidst sadly fading prospects. My last good chances passing by with nothing but pain. Dealing with ailments, but getting remarkable treatment. Dealing with sin, but getting shown amazing grace. Studying a lot the first ten months of the year (I guess I have to mention in particular the penn bkstre, koja and west philly), the ecstasy of then being done, and a post-exam party. Many farewells of people leaving Philly and missing friends, but also visits from MI, CA, CT, NY, VA, Korea, England, and China! Finishing a great year of small group, where I was officially the least nerdiest. Dating, weddings, pregnancies, births, dedications, and baptisms (all different friends :) ). The year in food: brazilian bbq, korean pizza, the best wings ever, fudge in three locales, cherry craze, 5 guys, Sprite on Fire, maple cookies, Superman ice cream, Shiao Lan Kung, and of course Korean food (and the night I had both of the last 2!) and other usual suspects! The year in reading, most on my thoughts: D. Miller, B. Lupton, E. Elliot. Also of note: Phone outage, stomach virus, Carmelo Anthony, the sh mix and other music that helps me get there, Barbara, happening to see AI's last game in Philly as a sixer, helping people move, sports marathon day, accountability, sermons galore, lack of sleep, exploring Fairmount Park, thinking about the city, The Bizarre Bunch, buying a bike, heart motives, Easter train ride, thirtieth street station, Starbucks, doing the QRich of sorts, smiling, dancing in my apt, bounding around the office, the return of grade school. The year in funny: Catbarb. Sweet and sour bones. the shady black van. The button family. The longest kickball homer ever. The pickle incident. "Do you have any candles?" and of course amusing myself to no end. And I'll end with time with friends, because it shouldn't be missed. So thankful for time with dear friends! And thankful for another year of the gift of life.

31 December 2006 - denouement

endings should be like this. endings should end in praise. we have a great great God who will get us *there*. after life's mix of sad songs and dances of happy feet, our worship will finally be as it should.
"Here is our King, Here is our Love, Here is our God, Who's come to bring us back to Him, He is the One, He is Jesus"
"Praise Him you Heavens and all that's Above, Praise Him you Angels and Heavenly Hosts Let the whole earth praise Him. . .Great in Power, Great in Glory, Great in Mercy, King of Heaven, Great in Battle, Great in Wonder, Great in Zion, King over all the earth."

29 December 2006 - proverbial

Proverbs from my purple version of the Message, "Anyone who robs father and mother and says, 'So, what's wrong with that?' is worse than a pirate."
"The fear of human opinion disables; trusting God protects you from that."

25 December 2006 - moved in

merry Christmas!
from the Message: "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish."

24 December 2006 - joy vs. burden

"And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." Jesus
There seems to have always been two ways religious people approach doing things that are good, the burdensome way, or the joyful way. One of these ways is a lot better. Jesus offer to those burdened is to come to Him and receive His rest, to those tired to come and gain life, to those worn out to come and learn to walk in unforced grace, free and light. for His commands are not burdensome. this joy can be learned in the context of a real relationship, not in a formulaic way of doing things. Knowing concepts is useless, unless you understand the true expression of those ideas.

19 December 2006 - in search of gold

it's been a rough couple of weeks in the sporting world for me. the only reason it is not hard to believe allen iverson is no long a philadelphia 76er is the drawn out build up to today's huge but sad trade. his effect on this city has been palpable. the 2001 run to the finals is one of those moments that stays with you over the years. although i'm not sure what it was that d. fisher said as he chased down ai in the tunnel after game 5, i got to believe he said, you'll be back. and if there is any consolation in the trade itself, it is that he gets to go to denver of all places and team with carmelo and make a run towards the finals and once again prove wrong those to whom he is misunderstood. i've appreciated sports more the last few years for the way they provide life lessons alongside the entertainment. among other things, allen has long showed what it means do something with heart. how only the strong survive. fatigue is army clothes. and that what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger.

18 December 2006 - i wanna thirst no more

fitting refrain of late. . .
"i want to thirst no more, i want to hunger no more, i want to live like Jesus is my Lord. i want to thirst no more, i want to hunger no more, i w