Wednesday, December 31, 2008


You don't have to get hit with a brick to know that it hurts. This is empathy. But until you are hit with that brick you don't know how it hurts. This is true connection with the reality of a painful situation.

I've had this dream a couple of times now. I'm in a persecuted nation. I'm in a group who greatly fears those who oppose them. We experience an attack. We stand before our opponents. I ask about my friend Victor who they have taken. (In real life I have no friends named Victor. Furthermore I think I only know of one Victor.) They threaten me. I run away.

I run to the same house every time. It's a white bungalo that doesn't fit in the country (unknown) or the culture (unknown) that I'm in. I don't know who that family is, but I seek refuge there each time I run. Last night when I had this dream I didn't even knock before I entered and ran down to their guest bedroom and hid under/beside the bed; in the dark; waiting.

I woke up with my heart pounding. I struggled to place myself thinking that I was still on the floor beside the bed in my dream. It was horrible. I felt such real fear, even though I immediately understood my safety. I had been hit by a brick and along with that suddenly understood the severity of what people suffer through every day as they fight for their right to faith.

In America our knowledge of reality rarely breeches the boundaries of our own. We know what we see, experience, live. But that's not all there is. Even within our churches we pray for things as though we know them, but the shallowness of our prayer suggests we clearly don't. That's harsh. Excuse me.

Last night I didn't experience the truth of their reality, but I got a glimpse of it. I immediately understood why we thank God for freedom to gather and speak in his name. I understood the priviledge to attend an institution established in his name. I now understand one more thing about my reality in light of the greater picture.

I don't know why I have this dream. But it persists. And so I will pray. I will not take lightly the urges from others to do the same for the situations that aren't our own overseas. I will not take lightly the fact that I am free; spiritually and politically. Beyond this, right now, I find little else. And though I may not be going to join them, I will join them here in prayer.

Please join with me in joining with them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Musings of a fourteen year old . . .

I began dialoguing about a week ago with one of my friends.
She's just like me. She thinks like me, she talkes like me, we struggle with the same things.
But she's fourteen; yet has the intellect of a much older person.
Here are some of her thoughts.

"It is like trying to imagine a new colour - we can't imagine there being one. We've seen all there is to see. Some would say it is impossible. We have all the possible combinations of the primaries. No other colours exist. But if we saw another colour, it would be just as obvious that we were wrong. If we'd never seen blue, we would think it couldn't be. Everything seems to be like that. Defined. Absolute. In a box. "This is how it is supposed to be." Music, love, peace, joy, life, death, God, faith, knowledge, dreams, words, purpose. Everything. And there are never any exceptions. I think what I was trying to ask is, what if there WAS an exception? What if someone or something just didn't or couldn't follow the rules? Would we think them insane? Would we arrest them? Would our world have room for another colour?"

It poses a good question; and others along with it. What would we do? Where would we stand? Are we to satisfied and defined? Is there room for anything else?

Thank you Hannah.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cartesian Roots.

We all come from them. Our societal upbringing has made it so. It is as though we were bathed in its understanding from the minute we came out of the womb.
I just spent the entire day working through the concepts of knowledge and reality that can be found through a study of Chesterton's orthodoxy. I myself studied these concepts a little over a year ago. Now, as I go back through them at a completely different stage of life, I am affected in an entirely different way.

We talked about how the modern man boils down his reality to what he can understand. He has tried to understand it all but discovered he could not. So he simply rid himself of everything he could not rationalize. We discovered this process leads to an insane simplicity; an unhealthy and untrue simplicity.

Then we went on to the connections of this with other thoughts; specifically that of humility and mysticism. We discovered that it takes humility to step outside of your nicely constructed frame and look at a reality which may not directly be yours. At the same time, in order to understand a reality which is not your own, we discovered, you need a healthy appreciation of the unknown. You need a healthy balance of understanding what is and the possibility of what could be.

After the eighth time we went over this, I discovered a contradiction for myself. Comparably, the existentialist view we have of life is a direct antithesis to what we were created for. I think I discovered this a few months ago, but the phrasing of this is so important. The existentialist view states ". . . the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts" ( This is the materialist's view. This is living within a self-contained box that we control. We discovered that not only does this lead to insanity, but also to incredibly hardened hearts. When you take away any question, any doubt, any grey, you take away all freedom. Thus, I've never met an sane existenialist.

When we try to have all the answers, when we try to be the center of everything, we get hurt. We give up relying on anything greater than ourselves, so we need to be strong. We need to be stronger than everything else that may come up against us. This leads to hardened hearts. This leads to bitterness and anger and envy and strife. This is not what we are called to.

What we are called to is to have softened hearts. We are called to not have the answers but to allow Christ to rule in our lives in a way that gives peace and allows us to live with the grey. When we put our faith in the unfailable Christ, we are given a foundation that can never fail. When we stand upon that foundation, therefore, we have the freedom to question and doubt and live. Mysticism therefore is a call to softened hearts.

We all come from them. But they don't have to define us. Our world is the direct antithesis of what we are called to as followers of Christ. What choices are we going to make then, to live apart from that?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Goes before the fall . . .

A wise friend of mine and I were talking the other day about her Grad School studies. She's in the process of writing her Thesis and in her studies found an interesting thought (or fact) that related closely to the realities of my life.

She found that the greatest struggle for performers today is character. Because of the politics, ethics and competition, envy, pride and jealousy are seemingly natural reactions to what is going on around them. But for the Christian performer this causes a problem. These struggles are in no way less real because that believer has Jesus. As a fallen race these reactions really are natural. Fighting against them is what is not. So what is the believer to do when faced with these issues. Believe that that gift is from God? Yes. Believe that God is sovereign over the opportunities of your performance? Yes. But try as we might, sometimes we need a little more than this.

As I was thinking about this and repenting of sin in my own life, I discovered that another level of integrity needs to be found that we may continually live above reproach and love as God would have us love in the midst of politics, ethical issues and competition.

Handily, as I was realizing this, I was also reading in the book of James.

In chapter three he speaks of a certain "wisdom from above." Elusive? Yes. Let me expand.

Sometimes we think we're smarter than we are. We develop an arrogance in our hearts that tells us that we are it. When this isn't fulfilled then, pride, jealously, envy, all occur.

James writes that this wisdom, the wisdom of our own hearts is not from above. It is the wisdom of the earth. You don't have to be a genius to realize that the earthly population isn't very wise. Yet, we continually live as though we have the answers; as though we are the answer.

James goes on to write that "where jealously and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing" (3.16). Chaos and panic ensue when we are trying to live for ourselves and provide ourselves with the wisdom to live rightly. This may be the answer to all of our problems.

The answer is for us to live not pridefully, or with jealousy raging in our hearts but instead purely, in peace, gentlely, reasonably, mercifully and without hypocrisy (3.17).

Pat answer? Maybe. Truth? Yes.

I had to make amends with a few people last week for the pride and envy toward them that I was living with. Since then, I have been able to look at them not in envy, but in love knowing that God is sovereign and he created them in love as much as he created me in love.

This is the wisdom from above. This will never cause us to fall.

Pride however . . .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Christmas Song.

Here's what I love about Christmas.

As a college student Christmas always comes early. We try and wait till at least after remembrance day. Or if our roomates aren't feeling it, the 15th. For me, the Christmas music comes out straight after halloween.

We decorate, we sing, we dring hot drinks. It's happy; one might even consider it peaceful.

But the time of year doesn't really speak to peace in our hearts and minds. I was confused by the conept of 'miracle month' when I arrived here in my first year. At my old college, the profs had handily worked things around each other's schedules. We were small enough to do so. Come the middle of November, though, I fully understood that it was going to take a miracle to get me through those weeks.

This was the time that I trained my body to fully function on 3-4 hours of sleep. We avoid everything we need to do. We get sad. We get dramatic. We sleep or find alternate modes of avoidance.

Life is the worst it can be. Supposedly.

Yet . . . when we return to our rooms at ten pm after spending the previous five hours in the Library, we see the wreath hanging on our door and the lights from the tree on our desk and the hope we once had fills us again. It's going to be okay.

It's going to be okay because love came to earth to save us from the plights we had gotten ourselves into. Jesus Christ came to save us. And though it happened in the past and we still have to 'suffer' through our assignments now, he came; he lived; he loved; he died; he saved.

It's going to be okay.

As followers of him, the beauty of his coming and of his life, overrides everything we see as impossible in the day to day. Through all of stress and frustration and lack of sleep, he came.

And it's going to be okay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Peace Talks.

Once when I was in high school, I was sad. Once doesn't really say a whole lot as I was sad most of the time. The point was that I walked out of a building in town to a dark winter sky and perfect snowflakes falling so I could see them in the light of the street lamp. I stood there and watched them fall for a few minutes and thought to myself, this is peace.
The perfection of the moment; the stillness; the silence. But peace never lasts does it?
As I was standing there the phone rang inside and broke it all. It broke my peace.
I was thinking about this tonight as I walked in that same atmosphere of silent, still, and dark perfection and I thought to myself, why doesn't peace last? Why does that impervious phone ring and break everything for me?
The dictionary has a lot of definitions for peace. One of the significant ones that I found, however, defined it as stillness and silence. And when we translate that to our hearts, minds and souls, it means that we need stillness and silence in our hearts, minds and souls.
But peace is so fleeting; it just doesn't seem to stay. But in all reality, it was meant to.
A relationship with Christ enables us to have continuous peace that lasts. Peace was meant to last . . . but somehow it doesn't.
I think this has to do a lot with our societal need for tension. If we're not in constant state of stress something must be wrong, as opposed to the other way around. We need to find a way to break this cycle. We need to find a way to make peace real; something that is relevant; something that doesn't consist of just a high.
I don't have any answers here. I just want to send these cosmic questions out into the void. Maybe the answers will find their way to my heart.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Grace Note . . . Part II

Another metaphor came to mind.
You know the metaphor it's raining cats and dogs + the metaphor money grows on trees.
You get it's raining money. Grace is kind of like free money in my mind.
If it was raining money would you take some? Not even just some . . . would you take all you could?

Yeah, I think you would.

Grace Note . . .

A lot of people struggle with the concept of grace. Especially the grace of God.
They can't handle the fact that God would just freely give and freely forgive.
They can't handle the fact that they don't have to give anything in return. Which is partially understandable I think. We thank people for their good acts with good acts of our own. This is the truth of our day.
I'm not going to argue for or against this misunderstanding, which I do believe it is, above all else. But I was hit with an interesting metaphor yesterday as I heard a song that I had heard many times.
Grace Like Rain, that song we sing all the time, has a catchy melody and an interesting little twist on the song Amazing Grace. However, I never put together the real emphasis of the comparison of grace to rain.
I love rain; it kind of makes my life. Unfortunately living in Saskatchewan where we clearly prefer dry, I haven't had much experience in the concept. The experience I have had, however, has been incredible. I love to just stand out in the rain and get absolutely soaked. So that my clothes feel about a thousand pounds and I look like something that could be compared to a drowned rat.
Todd Agnew, or whoever wrote that song, may or may not have had that experience too, but he nonetheless makes the comparison. Grace like rain falls down on me . . . can you imagine standing out in a grace storm? (as in rain storm, just in case you didn't get it).
This is the reality of the Grace of God . . . this is what we refuse to understand. If you're standing in the middle of a field during a rain storm, there's probably not going to be a lot of shelter for you to shield yourself against the grace . . . I mean rain. All you can do is love it and allow yourself to get covered in it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I hope this doesn't sound too morbid...

There's always rain isn't there...

So...we all know about those times in our lives that we wish would just work themselves out. They never seem to do they? We try to not dwell on them because we know that He's got them, but somehow, they make us someone we don't want to be; someone we shouldn't become. Continually frustrated, we eventually begin to wonder if it would just be easier if we just left...altogether left. We just want to go home to Jesus. This would be so much easier wouldn't it? Wouldn't it be easier to just avoid and sit in the safety of the perfection of heaven? Yeah, I think it would be...

These are the thoughts I had as I woke up this morning and remembered how I was feeling as I went to bed at nine-thirty last night. I asked Him to take me home. I asked Him to have mercy and take all of these frustrations away by taking me away. And then I remembered what a friend told me once during a time when he was having these exact same thoughts.

He told me that though it would be easier to escape just by going home, we can still sit in the safety of the perfection of Christ. It is easier with Christ and the best part is that we don't have to go home to get that ease. It's here waiting for us.

It always rains. Gilbert Keith Chesterton once said that we shouldn't hate the rain, for without the rain there would be no rainbow. This is a wonderfully true statement, but the rain still hurts while its here. So while it's here, my aim is to simply sit under the ever protecting wing of Christ my savior and stay as dry as I possibly can.

Then I can sit and look for my rainbow.

Good-bye Summer.....

There’re two concepts that I have heard and ‘practiced’ for quite some time but never really understood in a way that affected anything that I did. These two concepts are purity and surrender. You know that concept of purity; it comes to your mind and as a good Christian who’s grown up in the church and youth group you immediately think of sexual purity. Yet as I think about it now, that is not at all the definition of purity that comes to my mind.

We think to the Old Testament and we think about the sacrificial lambs. They were to be pure, spotless lambs sacrificed to take away our sins and create in us purity that God would see as good and acceptable. They had to be pure so that we could be pure. Moving into the New Testament, Jesus became that lamb sacrificed to make us pure. He had to perfect so we could be made perfect in him. Holiness is another word that goes along with this. Holy is something which is perfect and pure beyond compare. Think back to Isaiah when he was allowed to enter into the Temple into the Holy of holies; the perfect of perfects. The seraphs which flew above him said to one another “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6.3 NASB). They stated it three times. The Lord is perfect, perfect, perfect; pure, pure, pure; holy, holy, holy. Blayne Banting always uses this awesome cliché that goes, “Repetition is God’s Highlighter . . .” It has never been more true than in this circumstance. God isn’t just perfect; He’s perfect x3.

Tonight I went to Surrender. Mostly because someone asked me if I was going and I stated I generally do not go and then was convicted of that. The guy who was leading it focused on the name that we have chosen to give that gathering of people in God’s name and stated to us that it was truly time to surrender. As we sang songs about God’s love and our need to surrender to it in order to experience everything he has for us, I was convicted that if I wanted to surrender, I was going to need to become pure. That’s kind of a big jump . . . let me explain.

There are parts of this world that I really like. Parts like the OC. I love[d] that show. It’s so funny and awesomely lame and even right now, though it’s been gone for only an hour and a half, I miss it. This show was keeping me impure. For one thing, though it’s not as dirty as I made it up to be in my mind when I wasn’t allowed to watch it in High School, there are aspects of it that as a child of God who should have a mind and heart worthy of God, or at least aim to have, I didn’t need to be watching. Also, it was keeping me from spending time with Him and even really thinking about Him. Time that I had originally set aside to talk to Him or read His word, I would avoid just so I could find out what happens next with Seth and Summer (No matter if I never watch it again, I will always have a connection with Seth Cohen, I hold to that). As I worked myself up to justify watching it, I knew this was not what was asked of me, but it was none the less what I was giving into. And no matter how many times He asked me, I refused to give it up.

On the way home from church today, I asked God to help me to want only what he wants and nothing more. This was a continuation of that conversation I believe. What he wants is not for me to avoid him for the OC. What he wants is for me to not get frustrated over the things that he’s working out. What he wants is for us to be close; for us to know each other and for me to have a clear dependence on him and his strength and his knowledge and power that I clearly don’t have.

This is what is pure. This is called surrender. I miss the OC, but I will not pass up the opportunity to live the life that someone so creatively planned all the way out for me to live. Who does that anyway? I can’t and won’t look past the fact that someone would care enough to create a really big adventure for me to go on.

Those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books just popped into my mind. The wonderful thing is that we have a way to get to the best ending possible. We just have to be willing to give up the choices that we think will get us there and make the ones that we’re called to.