9 January 2008 - as clay in His hand
so at RLC we talked about this passage in Jeremiah where the potter is working on the wheels, "And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it." the week before our discussion on Gideon (called- mighty warrior!) led to talking about calls. and how sometimes the willfulness of man impedes, even stops. sometimes we are left to wonder if we connected the dots right. but the Jeremiah passage then proceeds with God asking- cannot I do with you as this potter? sometimes our way leads to being marred, broken, by us or by others. but then we are able to be reshaped into something that takes that up, green speckles and all, and becomes the best possible end product. doubts about what we could possibly be that would be good are erased when we see the Potter, that He is the one working. take me, mold me, use me, fill me, i give my life to the potter's hand.
08 January 2008 - can't stop praising
it's been good to start the year in prayer. oh for simple love. "i need You here, i need You here. . .I only want to be where You are"
"try to find the words to express the way You are, but the beauty of the Lord can not be described in just one lifetime. Look at the sun over the sea, look at Your grace that covers me...In the morning, I can't stop praising Your Name, in the evening I can't stop praising Your Name..."
it is good to ponder 'the goodness stored up', and praise Him, because it is too easy to find myself just waiting for it to come out rather than simply taking on good authority that it doesn't even fit in one storeroom.
01January 2008 - 2007, this could be long
did you ever consider that there is so much that happens in a year. and how can one really summarize it adequately. . .while surely leaving some things out, at least i can provide some of the moments that made 2007 what it was. in some ways, it was a continuation of things already in the works, yet strewn with inevitable roadblocks that belie worthwhile roads to enviable destinations. one so ordinary, having to grow through it. at times needing perspective, and having to let go of what i so doggedly cling to and hold on fiercely to what is better.
and who would have imagined what the year held? after much prayer, prep, spanish brush up, and song practicing, voyaged with others to an orphanage in colombia. among many other things, played soccer with children every day. a dispensation of love. thankful that things like smiles and tag surpass language. amazed at the change God can make in a person's life.
then dealing with health harangue. more trips to the dr than i can ever remember. not to mention ankle sprain, immunizations, failing memory as well as whatever else came with getting older.
after all these years, still learning what it means to pray. lessons, and actualization. praying for wisdom, praying for those on the field. times of really good prayer, followed by longer times of lack. but ending the year in prayer.
the prayer meeting in the yet unfinished church building to start the year was surely a sign of the good things to come as we continue to plant a church. seeing members of our i've-never-been-in-a-Bible-Study-quite-like-this be baptized! meanwhile, from a lock-in to the christmas program, cup stacking to light the night, more good times teaching kids as well.
at which point we are overdue to dispense with paragraphs. aside from south america, traveling to seattle, portland, toronto, montreal and the more normal stops of minny, colorado, ny, dc, va... and a fun trip to the beach. meal of the year had many candidates, but they include kimchi chigue, chicken with eggplant, korean food at a baekil, sausage stromboli and many of the meals while traveling which i will not enumerate. aside from the usual favorites, the year in food also held korean chicken, smoothies, mac&cheese, kimchi pancakes, ice cream dessert, jackfruit, postobon, guanabana, and the pig. work implosion, so many people leaving. but a new friend, and even a bike ride with the old.
ok one more paragraph. because you want free flow snippets, don't you... humbled by people praying for me that i'd never imagine. the clap. wonderful visits by many, many out of town friends. mello yello from the south, and minnysoda. slowly but surely- finally. learning how to snowboard. florida gators champs. bucks co. family birthdays. wireless internet (what?). running to walmart...then west philly (who does this?). clark park. bike rides west, and fairmount park. other things i like, moving help, nba, flower show, mwY, hillsongs, praise, good books, settlers and such thievery, keller sermons. exhaustion. heightened introspection. capogiro. golden boot. dramatic win over guatemalans. the w. philly comeback trifecta. goal celebrations. but more setbacks than titles. WNS. study buddies. 0. back to studying. cancellations galore. canoeing lake washington. rose garden. surely the most comprehensive botanical garden in n. america. the banana song. amazing sunset. turning 30, celebrating with korean, brazilian, and vietnamese food, philly family fun, generous gifts and far away greetings. thinking a lot about missions, missions conference, teams. two free zoo visits. french thursdays. the wonders of facebook. babysitting. hospital birth visit. my neighbor. tired october. the box. sleeping troubles. reunion friction. 2 funerals, 2 weddings. births and their implications. the support of friends. prayer dessert. change in sg. movies, including a free one. hanging out with people is good. friends- from lunches, to staying over, get togethers, discussions, a highlight as usual. crying, although more so in some months than others. niceness. sighing. spectrum of emotions. tangible goodness. and of course funny- the whole point of eating oatmeal in our house...is to glorify God. transparent doors are not always good. but banana puffs are. better than broken mailboxes. and finally children. who i more and more can't seem to avoid. not that i would. could i ever tire of children? what with hugs from my neice. holding my goddaughter. birthday fun with my godson. christmas vacation with all of the above. not to mention the other kids He has filled my life with, their hugs, play, and even prayers. my neice coming and waking me up. following her ever active now one year old legs all around. and who knows what adventures await these legs in the year ahead? trusting that He knows. and He didn't bring me this far just to leave me here.
31 December 2007 - joys that sting
and so another december comes to a close. here's another poem by lewis:
Oh doe not die, says Donne, for I shall hate
All women so. How false the sentence rings.
Women? But in a life made desolate
It is the joys once shared that have the stings.
To take the old walks alone, or not at all,
To order one pint where I ordered two,
To think of, and then not to make, the small
Time-honoured joke (senseless to all but you);
To laugh (oh, one'll laugh), to talk upon
Themes that we talked upon when you were there,
To make some poor pretence of going on,
Be kind to one's old friends, and seem to care,
While no one (O God) through the years will say
The simplest, common word in just your way.
30 December 2007 - seeing men or what we came for
also got another lewis book, Letters to Malcolm, Cheifly on Prayer. barely started, but good thoughts so far. On changes and 'entertainment' in a church service, "As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God."
26 December 2007 - currently reading: poems
got poems by cs lewis for christmas. what an exciting read. and surely i have barely scratched the surface. here is one for now...
All this flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.
Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:
I talk of love-- a scholar's parrot may talk Greek--
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.
Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.
I see the chasm. And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.
For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.
25 December 2007 - in the same way
"But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten." from The Message, John 1.
17 December 2007 - little by little every day
those times where it is evident that obedience is great it is easier to believe that the law is an expression of grace.
and now a poem from october...
the trees never stop their growing
and yet it goes on unnoticed
there's not a day you could point to
on which you could say- look, there it goes!
even when away a while, and then you return
could you measure change with the naked eye?
yet it stands, stately and massive
far too big to be planted by man
necessarily shedding dry leaves in season
to take back up others in due time
How smart it is; trees kept alive as such
I see no streams of water anywhere near
so it must be the rains, dull and gray
sporadic yet persistent, enabling such majestic beauty
16 December 2007 - sometimes wild animals made travel dangerous
"knowing all the while that it is so frustratingly like golf, in order to succeed you have to not care, except about relaxing. and who can relax when an elephant is in a cage."
"Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." twice in Isaiah
11 December 2007 - and my portion forever
some grief, also, is not understood by others and never comfortable. as cs lewis describes in his memoirs, "they look as if i were committing an indecency. they are longing for me to stop." we are more apt to understand one who greives a parent who died last week than another one from years and years ago. oh it may be understood but looked at askance. and how do we view others who long for things that they may never have? longing without a place to moor. in both cases is there not some sort of a -feeling sorry- for the person. and yet surely each person's experience is different. which can't be expected to be understood fully. "i wrote your name in the cement, and it's still there. . . but you are not here, and cement doesn't last forever anyway." so what do we read... that after the night of weeping, joy comes in the morning. that you who mourn, you shall be comforted. you longing for a father, He is waiting at the door. and this heart aching like a magnet will one day find its source.
10 December 2007 - the strength of my heart
"each heart knows its own bitterness and no one else can share its joy." proverbs 14:10
it seems so unfair. how some longing is accepted while other is seen as unvalid. how even the acceptable doesn't often line up. lack of understanding of others abounds, and why should outcome change anything? in this broken world, some longings are viewed as less legitimate than others, and some may actually be, but that is not the topic at hand. rather, if we live in a world where such feelings exist at all, surely they are to at least have a possibility of coming true. of all those movies that i don't like because they perpetuate mistruth, perhaps they abound so because of the partial truth they do contain. there is a turning to. a better coming. there is a sense in which even the most invalid longings are not as much invalid as much as misapplied. there is a reason it speaks of virgins waiting for a bridegroom. there is something worth having oil in the lamp for. the longing is natural and is what it is, but it does not have to be without hope.
"in our darkness a light shines... and though i've been mistaken on this or that point, that light is nevertheless God." 'O'porcupine', mwY
"thankful You're not just the strength of my heart and my portion for a day, but You're my portion forever." 'what jacob said', climb a tree
9 December 2007 - chronic
it is safe to say i have considered the so-called 'bleeding woman' (mentioned in 3 of the gospels) quite a bit in the past. but it is also safe to say i have never thought as much of how no one could heal her as i have recently. even if she had any sympathy from others at the beginning, surely the chronic relentlessness of her condition caused that to wane. "she had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse." aside from all the other double trouble she had, even just this would be really difficult. and yet somehow she still had the grace of faith to believe that if she just touched Jesus she would be healed. and how many people do we pass by with life ailments that would seem incurable. . .but there is one efficacious Healer to whom no wound is beyond repair, no matter how many years or how much worse it has progressed, One who can free from suffering, even when all other measures fail.
8 December 2007 - the look of freedom
more hillsongs. keep playing this this week. "would you believe me if i said that we are the ones who can make change in the world today?. . .would you believe me if i said, that you don't need to wait for the answers before you step out in faith?. . .all that I need, You are...the One that created me, Jesus, because of You, I'm free."
4 December 2007 - suffering for the wrong reasons
we finally finished 'the wounded healer'. the last chapter had some good and very applicable things, including more reasons why it would be better to be less busy, more hospitable in hn's sense of the word. which in this lonely world entails having our wounds healed to then get to that platform of common understanding. two quotes below.
"Perhaps the main task of the minister is to prevent people from suffering for the wrong reasons. Many people suffer because of the false supposition on which they have based their lives. That supposition is that there should be no fear or loneliness, no confusion or doubt. But these sufferings can only be dealt with creatively when they are understood as wounds integral to our human condition. Therefore ministry is a very confronting service. It does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal and broken, but also that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts."
"...the announcement of the wounded healer: "The master is coming-- not tomorrow, but today, not next year, but this year, not after all our misery is passed, but in the middle of it, not in another place but right here where we are standing."
29 November 2007 - loving my neighbor
i never anticipated the second greatest commandment as something that would need to be taken so literally. but as it says- better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away. i've often heard people say something like- it's okay to do this and that as long you're not stepped on, and this is usually said matter-of-factly. but what basis is there for this? it doesn't seem to true with the extra mile. it is by no means easy. but when were we ever called to easy things? what is harder than love? eye for an eye! was met with another equality- love your neighbor as yourself. which brings us to so how then do we really comfort someone. the ability to relate as someone in the same flesh can only go so far. i'm here, but i'm leaving. but there's One to know who never leaves.
27 November 2007 - partnership in the gospel
while i still think marriage is not the most likely of possible life scenarios, encouraged on other partnership fronts. i think about the man who adopted that wild race as his own. and Jesus' words about whoever does God's will is mother, sister, and brother. and how God's math is never like ours. that the family He provides can be here and there and sometimes a hundred seems almost too small.
26 November 2007 - days without number
from the book of jeremiah: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. how bitter it is… when you have no awe of Me. . .they followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves. does [a bride forget] her wedding ornaments? yet my people have forgotten Me, days without number.
25 November 2007 - lackluster
they still do not have any idea what is wrong with me. my mysterious condition lingers on.
"we went to Portugal and Spain and in her mind the entire time it rained!
a glass can only spill what it contains" mewithoutYou
21 November 2007 - an utter yielding of our best
it is easy to give away something you don't want, whether it is leftover food, something you were going to throw away anyway, perhaps something you have more than one of, or easily replaceable. but it is a whole different story when it is something you treasure.
King David in the Bible once said, "I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." Though the water his mighty men brought him from behind enemy lines was poured out before the Lord, they were willing to go to such lengths for even a cup of water.
"The fair new petals must fall... And the first step into the realm of giving is like a surrender-not manward but Godward: an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning: that is not worthy of the name for 'no polluted thing" can be offered. The life lost on the cross was not a sinful one- the treasure poured forth there was God-given, God blessed treasure, lawful and right to be kept: only that there was the life of the world at stake" by Lilias Trotter
i think such giving is only possible when we understand grace. i realized it is easier to give up what has already been lost. but when it is something that i have worked for, or seem to have earned, or really seem to need... or even what i long for but do not have that is entirely different. oh to flee from the casket of selfishness and run to the arms of love.
"Yesterday I lived for me And I was so alone as I could be Then I saw You and how You give Yourself away And I want to live for You today I'll give; I'll hold nothing back. I'll give and I'll hold nothing back" smalltown poets
19 November 2007 - what to do with what we have
the parable of the servants and their talents keeps coming at me from all sides. the 1 talent guy's motto: "i will keep myself safe." he was the one who didn't get to share in the master's happiness.
also it's been good to hear more talk on what loving others really looks like. seeking ways to serve and bless others is fun. despite the investment required.
16 November 2007 - song of the week
"...Show me how to love like You have loved me Break my heart for what is Yours Everything I am for Your kingdom's cause As I walk from earth into eternity" hillsong united
9 November 2007 - fear what
"They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" from Mark 4
sometimes we worry about things that don't even happen. groundless fears. and what does that accomplish. do we get any taller? the winds and the waves fear Him. and yet i fear the wind and the waves instead of Him. if you can't add a single hour to your life why worry about the rest. we are given an instead- seek His kingdom.
of course fears are not always groundless. paul even knew! hardship was coming and yet was able to say this in acts, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
it is Jesus that changes everything. He came walking on the waves saying- take courage! it is I, don't be afraid. "When the oceans rise and the thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm... I will be still and know You are God."
i can't cover this subject and not include the sinclair quote where he meditates on romans 8 through the dark valleys, "I cannot now imagine living the Christian life on any other basis than this. If the Father loves me so much that he did not spare his own Son but delivered him up to be crucified for me, no further guarantee is needed of his wholehearted and permanent commitment to me and to my blessing. Whatever happens to me must be seen in that light. Yes, my deepest fears may become realities. I may not be able to understand what God is doing in or to my life; he may seem to be hiding his face from me; my heart may be broken. But can I not trust the One who demonstrated his love for me? When I was helpless in my sin he sent Christ to die for me. If he has done that, will he not work all things together for my good?"