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will you receive?

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Here is an unedited sunset picture that I took at the Oregon Coast. I didn’t make this view, God did. God shared it with me out of his abundance, I recorded it, and now I share it with you. His generosity abounds and he loves to provide for our needs out of that abundance.

“God is not worried that he is going to run out of something. God is beyond rich. He is overflowing with everything that is good and everything we need. He has so much that he will never run out of any of it. It is so very important to remember this when we are fretting over a perceived need. In such a time we may be tempted to think that maybe, just maybe, God is as stingy and small as we are. He is not. God loves to give. God loves to forgive. God loves to just gush forth with his goodness (John 4:14). Nothing so delights him as giving to anyone and everyone who will receive. “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” (John 3:16).  —Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack, p. 23

Did you catch that? "Nothing so delights him as giving to anyone and everyone who will receive."

So, the question is, . . . Will you receive?


good friday - when even the gods speak of God

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When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39, NLT)

 

 

 

SELF PORTRAIT

It doesn't interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

- David Whyte
from Fire in the Earth
©1992 Many Rivers Press


character you both admire and covet

IMG_5045So many books, so little time. I recently read a chapter titled, “Character”in The Aim of Life, by Philip Moxom, (p. 41). The book was published in 1894. It is an old book. According to the Smithsonian, all “true” diamonds are old—in the realm of hundreds of millions of years old. There is an amazing beauty and value in old things, and old books. I am glad I came across this gem by Moxom:

 

If you are to form such a character as in your best moments you both admire and covet, you will suffer yourself to be cowed by no circumstances, however menacing they may be; you will resist the slightest pressure either of fear or of selfishness; you will remember always that no evil can master you to which you do not submit. Your own choice determines, not whether you will be tempted or not, but whether or not you will be overcome by temptation; for the issue of the struggle turn not upon your individual strength alone, but upon your will reinforced by divine power. God is the ally of every soul that seeks wholly to be true.


a wonder

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A Warning to My Readers

by Wendell Berry

Do not think me gentle

because I speak in praise

of gentleness, or elegant

because I honor the grace

that keeps this world.  I am

a man crude as any,

gross of speech, intolerant,

stubborn, angry, full

of fits and furies.  That I

may have spoken well

at times is not natural.

A wonder is what it is.

(from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry)

*****

I like this poem.  It speaks of something that I find true in my own life. 

Gentle, elegant, well spoken words . . . from me? That is a wonder of wonders!  But, I am learning that it is so much more than that—it is God's grace. 

I know me and I know, along with Berry, that any good that resonates out of my words, work, art or effort is not the norm and definitely not natural.  Left to myself, I am a mess.  We all are.    

The only time wonder, goodness and grace are realized in my life is when God is in control.  And God, the one who is love, doesn’t take control of my life—I give God control.  The choice is mine.

God is ever loving, wooing and calling me to live a life that is a wonder and it is up to me to respond—to acknowledge, welcome, and obey God’s ways and presence in my life.  How can and does that happen in you and me?  

I think that Ephesians 4:30 (MSG) is a good start:

"Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit moving and breathing in you is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself."

I was made by God and in Him alone do I find my stride.  Any other path will leave me searching and out of sync.  God is not a condiment to be added to my bland, or at times, foul tasting life. Rather, God wants to be my all in all—as important and life giving as each and every breath I take.

As we, the created ones, allow the creator to move, live and have His being in our lives, we are used for good in the most unexpected ways.  When God is involved—our words, work, art and effort are transformed by grace, and then they make a difference in the lives of those around us.  

A life changed for good by me?  That is a wonder.


some poetry

DSCF0225Time is a coin   to have but not to hold

a silver moon sailing a cloudy sky

I was always too young

too young & then too old

as that moon sailed away

   - D.S. Martin, "Adrift" Poiema

***

I just finished reading the book, Poiema: Poems by D.S. Martin.  I usually devour the books I am reading, but not this one.  I savored it; page by page, poem by poem.  The above stanza is taken from one of Martin's poems about the subtle and relentless passing of time in our lives.  My journey through this book was time well spent.


His infinite purpose of love

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If we look at the Gospel story of the Passion as a whole and do not isolate the Cross from its context, one of the most impressive and revealing things in it is the air of strong deliberation and mastery which characterizes Jesus throughout those last days.  He is so manifestly not in the least a straw on the stream of events.  His enemies are not manipulating Him so much as He is manipulating them, not in any wrong way, but in the way in which God does lay hold of the wrath and sin of man and make them sub-serve His infinite purpose of love.  To the end He could have escaped the Cross by the simple expedient of going somewhere else; but He did not do so.  He deliberately directs His steps to it.  There is an atmosphere of mastery all about Him as He steadfastly sets His face towards Jerusalem.  Standing before the council, or before Pilate, there is no suggestion of fumbling or hesitancy.  Nor on the other hand is there any suggestion of a merely excited and fanatical confidence.  It is the other people who are excited, not He.  And it is always the excited people who are the weak people.  He says almost regally, “No man taketh my life from me; I lay it down of myself.”  He says—very plainly, quietly, with the direct steadiness of clear-sighted conviction—“Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man seated at the right hand of power.”  The hereafter refers to their seeing.  He Himself sees now.  He is conscious of being in a very real sense at the right hand of power now.  He is with God now; the victory is His now.   –H. H. Farmer

The cross of Christ didn’t just happen.  It wasn’t a tragic and unexpected ending to a good story.  It wasn’t a case of evil triumphing over good. 

It was God working out His infinite purpose of love.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus upon the crossour sins are completely forgiven, we are able to relate with a Holy God, we are cleansed of all of our sins, and we no longer need to live as slaves (in bondage) to sin.

Easter Sunday is just two weeks away.  As we walk the path to the empty tomb to joyfully announce, “He is not here, He is risen!” let us remember that out of love Jesus walked through it all on purpose—the garden, the denial, the trial, the beating, the flogging, the mocking, the shame, the sorrow, the abandonment and the cross—for you and for me.


a battle to be won

6898585366_c576170ed8_b“. . . these days, resistance looks more like Apollyon standing arrogantly astride Christian’s path; like the combined forces of the world, the flesh and the devil, pitted against my efforts to follow a call I’ve heard, a summons as wild and strange and full of longing as the cry of wild geese over a winter landscape. Resistance means there is probably something on the other side worth fighting for. Making art is waging war on all the inner demons and the outer distractions that would keep us silent and compliant in this world.”  ~Lanier Ivester

The battle rages.  The inner critics are caustic and the distractions alluring.  The embers of creativity recede under the strong draught of resistance. 

But silence, darkness and defeat are not imminent.

I have seen the fires of creativity burning brightly in a children’s home in India.  The children are without parents in a home lacking running water, electricity, computers, the Internet, bicycles, cell phones and TV, and yet beauty and art prevail.  In the midst of faith, hope and love—drawings, paintings, gardens, dancing, weavings, poems and songs radiate forth in illumination and victory. 

There is a war to be fought—within and without.  The resistance is great, but the calling to make art is greater.  We must fan into the flame the fires of creativity.  There is something on the other side worth fighting for. 

It is a battle to be won.


17,000

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“Time always moves in one direction.  It’s a rare opportunity that passes us twice, and we only pass the road not taken once.  We must decide and grab on to our best future, and if we miss it, we may live a long life, but we will never live a consequential life.  The carousel passes the golden ring but once.  Grab it, and the horses leave their circular death and become steeds of purpose that you may ride where you will.” –Calvin Miller

I just flipped the page on my calendar.

-March 2013-

It is still early in the calendar year, but I think in terms of the school year.  The arrival of March warns me that the school year will be over in a blink.

All the challenges, frustrations, excitement, worry and work of moving our entire school site to a new campus is but a memory.

Most of the year's big events that filled the pages of my datebook with ink and my mind with anticipation, planning and preparation are behind me.

My oldest child’s first year of college is nearly done and my youngest child’s last year of high school is about to begin. 

Wow . . .

Last night my wife and I went out on a date.

Today is my 17,000th day of life.

I just flipped the page on my calendar.


being remembered

DSC02897In my morning reading time I came across the poem, "Death the Leveller" by James Shirley. (see below)  Shirley was a playwright who lived in the 1600s.  He is known to have had a flair for the "dramatic," but in this poem his prose communicates a very real and sobering truth.

All of us--the great, the mighty, the rich, the poor, the just and the unjust--will someday die.

The Internet tells me that 56 "famous people" died in this past year of 2012.  I will miss Andy Griffith, Dick Clark and Ray Bradbury, to name a few, but there are others, that didn't make the list of 56, that I will miss much more.  They live on in the memories of my mind and heart.

The poet reminds us that in the end we will all inhabit the grave.  But this morning I am not thinking about dying, I am thinking about living.  My name will never be found via a Google search of "famous people who died," but it just might be remembered by my family, my friends, my coworkers and my neighbors.


Death the Leveller

The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crookèd scythe and spade.

Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill:
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still:
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds!
Upon Death's purple altar now
See where the victor-victim bleeds.
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.

James Shirley

a big choice

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"You do not choose to be born.  You do not choose your parents.  You do not choose the time period in which you live.  You do not choose the country of your birth.  You do not choose the circumstances of your upbringing.  In most cases, you do not choose to die.  You do not choose the time or conditions of your death. 

Despite all the realms of this choicelessness, we do choose how we will live."

                —Robert  D. Smith, 20,000 Days and Counting