Amazing Amazing

Always I’ve thought that happiness comes from circumstances, and joy-of course-from God. Joy is awesome to think about but not a reality, happiness is what we really want (shh.)
Not true!
Never have I felt such joy until now.
Little did I know that happiness follows joy that has found its’ root in Christ.

I would close my eyes to take it in but I’m driving.
It’s not the music that my stereo is retching out, it’s not the sun-striped hair on my head. It’s not the 2000 Nissan Frontier that is mine per use of hard earned cash, nor the lovely day that I’ve had.
Nope; it’s Jesus. Him, all Him.
This is what all that light burden and easy yoke stuff is about.
This is the joy that will either implode or explode. It will be shared with others or from me it will be withheld.
Say to the weary one, “Your God will surely come.”

What keeps the fear at bay?
Certainly not the pain in my neck and feet, the challenges that I face. Not friends or church or work or family.
It’s that Spirit settling down in me, like I’m being baptized all over again.
Amazing, amazing grace.
My arm finds its way out of the window, into the pressure of the wind rushing by. I wave at the trees, the clouds, and the people of my little city, just for the sensation of it.
A plea for joy that led to loving. Love that told me about grace. Grace that paves the way for peace. Peace that manifests itself in happiness.
Blessed am I!
Oh that my attempts to show people His love were half as poor & selfish. I wish to see my joy manifest itself righteously, as Jesus’ did.
By the power of the Spirit, it is possible. By the power of Jesus, love wins the war. By the power of the Father, everyday can be better than the last.

He did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped but humbled Himself by becoming a man

Personal Fave

The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
3 I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!

5 Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words,
lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

10 Do not slander a servant to his master,
lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.

11 There are those who curse their fathers
and do not bless their mothers.
12 There are those who are clean in their own eyes
but are not washed of their filth.
13 There are those—how lofty are their eyes,
how high their eyelids lift!
14 There are those whose teeth are swords,
whose fangs are knives,
to devour the poor from off the earth,
the needy from among mankind.

15 The leech has two daughters:
Give and Give.
Three things are never satisfied;
four never say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, the barren womb,
the land never satisfied with water,
and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

17 The eye that mocks a father
and scorns to obey a mother
will be picked out by the ravens of the valley
and eaten by the vultures.

18 Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a virgin.

20 This is the way of an adulteress:
she eats and wipes her mouth
and says, “I have done no wrong.”

21 Under three things the earth trembles;
under four it cannot bear up:
22 a slave when he becomes king,
and a fool when he is filled with food;
23 an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.

24 Four things on earth are small,
but they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the rock badgers are a people not mighty,
yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
27 the locusts have no king,
yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard you can take in your hands,
yet it is in kings’ palaces.

29 Three things are stately in their tread;
four are stately in their stride:
30 the lion, which is mightiest among beasts
and does not turn back before any;
31 the strutting rooster, the he-goat,
and a king whose army is with him.

32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth.
33 For pressing milk produces curds,
pressing the nose produces blood,
and pressing anger produces strife.

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.

(a.k.a. The Bible, Proverbs 30)

Camp Summer

The sweat
The thin layer of dirt
Gym shorts
T-shirts
Songs
Clapping.
Kids, kneeling, growing, learning.
Camp.
Not a cross-cultural mission trip,
(More like a visit to the neighbour’s)
But just as challenging.
Probably more effective.
Changing lives because that’s the business here.
Making life possible for the youthful oppressed.
Letting the Truth breathe.
Dunking kids & young adults
Into clear Holy Spirit water,
Comin’ to the fountain of life,
Believing thanks to the work God has begun in their hearts.
Feeding
Playing
Encouraging
Teaching
Encouraging,
Teaching.
For days this is our mission.
Ministry nothing-this is life,
Day in, day out.
Fighting to minimize thoughts of self,
To display the Gospel by love.
Kids. Young people. Next. Tomorrow. The lost. The unreached.
Now reached.
Darkness now penetrated by merciful light
Here
They can understand it.
This is the opportunity & God’s workers are making it happen
Year after year.
Livin’ right;
Great sacrifice for great purpose.

Fish Bowl

In two cultures I find myself a day to day observer. There is “A” where I make my money, there is “B” where I spend my money (and free time.) I am a fish out of water in both: uncomfortable, tortured by the screaming discrepancy.

A) West side. Big brick houses, private Utopias bursting with full-bellied babies. Laughing and playing on Ipads, eating fruits and vegetables. The mommys and daddys do their work and keep their lives pristine. They buy their kids a car at 16, a college experience at 18. Lawns are well-manicured, separating one family’s space from the neighbor’s. They are healthy; one generation looks no different from the last. Ray Bans. Religion. Restaurants. The ideal world in which to raise children.

B) Pockets of people in “project” housing. Hundreds of apartments with paper thin walls. A concrete maze winds through the community yard, littered with trash. Kids fly in and out of doors, living with Grandma and Great-Grandma and an uncle or two, never safe from gunshots, rape, or coarse language. There are no daddys. Mama is the rock but she was only a child when she got pregnant; she never had a chance to learn life for herself. They are surviving, one generation looks no different from the last. Potato chips. Pickles. Perverts. No place at all to raise a child.

If the traffic is light it will take twenty minutes to get from A to B. Yet no one ever does. To each, the reality of the other is unreal. People don’t actually live like that, they both say.
I bang my head against a glass wall, a fish seeking to break the barrier betwixt water and air, trying to alert one to the other. We have so much to learn from each other! I’m met with blank stares, emotionally detached well-wishes, sometimes disbelief, apparent apathy.
Quick to denounce what the government is doing, slow to confront the oppression.
The difference between my morning world and my afternoon world, separated only by a quarter tank of gas, is startling. Sometimes I forget it is real. I see how easily ignored that which we abhor can be.
How will we change this? How do I wrap up a blog post about issues I don’t know how to solve?
Today I am a learner. Tomorrow I hope to see things change. One has to come before the other so absorb all that you see, drive a little farther South than you normally do, spare some care, enact the change.

Giant Leap

The sun filets the blurred green countryside. I’m driving too fast. Sun-bleached hair whips my cheeks, coarse.
Pumping gas I realize that everyone sees the same me that they saw last summer; a kid lifeguard in that not-quite-full-fledged-adult stage. $32.98. I get a little discouraged as I hang up the nozzle. Have I gone nowhere since last year? Is the only difference between me now and me then the few thousand dollars in my bank account and the restored air conditioning unit in my truck? Is that all I have to show after the most challenging year of my (short) life?
I recall the thoughts of this morning: how heavy my wrongdoings now weigh on me, some more than others. I see how destructive my foolishness has been more clearly than ever before. I feel God’s displeasure when I make sinful mistakes. Ouch, for I slip so often.
Decide what to be and go be it.
That’s just it. You have to know Right to know wrong. The weight that I feel, the tears running down the window panes of my heart, those are of God, not the Devil. Recognizing those blunders is a step in the right direction. Maybe even a leap. I care; I care more than ever that what I do be glorifying to God. I believe I know a little better what pleases Him now than I did last summer.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him! 1 Corinthians 2:9
The chasm is wide between me and eternity. Happiness is far away, but it is closer. Closer than ever before!
The ache, the roughness of shame feels like a noose tightening on my neck, threatening me now. The good news? It only gets better as the noose gets tighter. God’s redemption becomes more dramatic, His love more radical. Messiah Jesus draws closer, I am made new.
Sometimes I wish that I was under the sun in Africa instead of Arkansas, or at a pool in Chicago instead of Chenal, but I would not change this story for that of another. It’s so exciting, it’s so amazing.
I don’t know about you but I am definitely staying tuned to see what happens.

“Go, and sin no more!”~Jesus