12.31.2009

Psalm 13

How Long, O LORD?
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him,"
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

I like Shane and Shane's version, here.

12.30.2009

Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us
and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,

Selah.

that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.

Selah

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Maybe I'll do this often, like a journal.

More meaningful statuses from facebook in the past year.

Taken = (the theatrical trailer) + [liam neelson (killing roomfuls of people at a time) + (driving backwards and recklessly through Paris)]

has realized she may be a full-blown cynic and doesn't know how to shake it. Where did it start? How does it end? I hope the answer is God.

/When Satan tempts me to despair/and tells me of the guilt within/upward I look and see Him there/Who made an end to all my sin/Because the sinless Savior died/my sinful soul is counted free/For God, the Just, is satisfied/to look on him and pardon me.

dances to the music during the end credits of kids movies with little brothers, and laughs when her mom shakes her head and comments, "you are never going to grow up, are you?"

draws, packs, plays, sings, bakes, sits, skips, loves, reads, writes, hopes, prays, dances, and thinks about what there is to miss, but more-so, what there is to gain.

has mercer all to herself tonight.

graduates from college today; [insert something cheesy about goodbyes being backwards hellos and ends being new beginnings, of love and love lost, and hope for a beautiful future.]

just got back from kindergarten graduation and wonders what percentage of kindergarten graduates already have employment for the fall.

draws figure eights with her index finger on the countertop while she tries to figure out the best way to tell you what she wants to say.

dreams that she lives in color, but always ends up painting her day in black and white.

has a heavy heart. It's amazing how music can bring back so many memories--both good and bad--all while encouraging us to live, hope and dream.

is achingly aware of time, and has yet to come to terms with the understanding that ignoring the clock wont stop it. Thanks for the love, friendship, and memories, my sweet Mercer family.

is thankful for friends that aren't afraid to ask the hard questions, even when there is a strong possibility we won't find the answer ourselves.

is posting a vague status to tell you how she feels about that in general.

would like your input on the following statement, and if you can direct her to more reading on it: "women reflect a part of the character of God that men alone cannot."

wonders at how much cold stone reflects her heart, and how no human hand--even hers--can ever heal that.

is trying to remember that today is Eden, the Exodus, the Exile, Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost. Hope has come and hope is here, even if the chocolate easter bunnies are now on sale.

Here is hope and love, the promise of new life and Truth that conquers our fears and failings. Here is the yearning for something better on Good Friday, and the understanding that Resurrection Sunday is everyday in our hearts. Praise God!

thinks today is a great day to breathe the air in deep and let the sun dance on your shoulders.

may be a bad influence, but would love nothing more than to slow down time and spend it all just like tonight: with little brothers dancing on her coffee table

doesn't do grammar and mechanics very well. Just think of it as artistic licence. She also can't spell, and had to look up how to spell licence.

would, very much so, like to have your love.

would like...well, she doesn't know what she would like. But it's not that.

the proper way to toast bread: it is NOT done by putting the bread in the oven on broil, playing guitar, & then letting the smoke detector signal doneness...

wonders what type of world thinks it's acting justly when torturing men is banned, but torturing unborn children is encouraged. Who are we to choose who dies?

has "a dream that one day...the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope." thanks for casting a vision, rev.

Status Updates.

Beth Hyde
just made some indian food for dinner with Melissa Hyde. We're thinking of opening a restaraunt called Second to Naan. Or maybe we'll bring it to a naan-denominational church. And if you ask what's in it, you'll have to sign a naan-disclosure agreement.

would like to vault over the couch in the living room, but knows the mother won't approve. QUICK! WHILE SHE ISN'T LOOKING!

knows the square peg doesn't fit in the round hole, but still does everything in her power to fight the way things are.

You're an idiot if you make fun of Hellen Keller. "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." - Hellen Keller

: armadillo, kemps, kumquat, kemps, stops, holy guacamole, butternut squash, stops...no lie, sam taylor and i rocked that hardcore. :)

going for a morning run is always so much more fun when you get to see real live turtles and pass flowers that smell like grape lollipops.

the distinction between the secular and the spiritual is a false dichotomy. #nccd

"there's a disturbing trend, boss. The last 3 days, my screensaver has kicked on at 4min57sec, not 5min."-daddy re:life as a gov't employee

everyone wants to feel like they play an important role go the world's story. Why, then, do we insist on living such small, selfish lives?

is so tired of feeling like she is making up answers and trying really hard to make herself believe they are truth.

the dreams flit around my head like lightning bugs; wishing there was a way to catch them in mason jars.

the funny christopher QotD: "if a kid likes soup, you can just leave a soup trail to wherever you want them to go!" HAHA! SOUP!

[atheists & charlatans, communists & lesbians, & even old pat roberson, oh God, he loves us all.] the michael gungor band http://ow.ly/ju9h

sharing in the joy that comes from the gospel: http://ow.ly/ihee; thankful baptism isn't a point of drudgery, but of hope and celebration!

is finding the line b/w condemning comfort & the crushed spirit of a cynic is quite blurred when you're trying to explain life w/o grace.

thinks of duke nukem or the terminator when she thinks of angels. Not fairies or waifs or beefy babies. Darn you, Renaissance!

wondering what it means to live in the world and not of it, while living like i belong to the world to take care of it. [finished ishmael]

"Remember how much I wanted an all red billiard room with a giant stuffed camel..." watching The Jerk, amazed at the young Martin & Peters!
All because I was looking for this!
needs to figure out how to recenter, relearn, or just flippin' start over...faith, family, friends...I need help! Any suggestions?

Stephanie L. Webb Not a clue...but let me know when you figure it out. My attempt is moving to another country...haha
Hannah Rose Marney You need to hang out with me more.
Samantha Beck Support group!
Philip Benjamin Reese Gummi Bears.
Gordon Johnston Trust yourself. Hand others along as you have been handed along. Read 1 John. Also Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek) and Peanuts.
Whatsoever things are good, think on these things. Find one beauty every day, recognize it, and write it down. No abstractions and nothing "virtual" -- a concrete, sensory beauty witnessed in the real world.. Sing with your spirit. Also sing with your mind. Breathe like a Buddhist. Learn what to leave out. Laugh at yourself. Don't waste your failures. Watch "Annie Hall." (It saved me fifteen years.)
Diana Long Personal Relationship with Jesus. Helping and being there for Others. Remembering to care for Yourself. Oh, I see - that's how you get TRUE JOY! Taste and see that the Lord is GOOD! Get yourself to a full gospel, Bible believing church. Ground yourself in the Word of God and surround yourself with fellow Believers - then you will grow in the right direction.
Jay B Bargeron Take a long walk by yourself, where you will be unlikely to encounter others. Use this time on the walk to think and sort things through. Another suggestion is to start a private journal. My final suggestion: out of all these suggestions your friends have posted, do only one at a time!
Amber Powell girl, i could write a book on this! ♥
Rachel Hopkins Garza Let something go. Even if you think there is nothing you can release. Make it happen and it will make a world of difference.
Melissa Thompson Hey Gordon-- that was great (it's me phylis, i mean melissa!) Beth-- surround your self with people who can positivetly influence you and good music helps too!
Beth Fulton "The soul is like a wild animal - tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek." (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, p. 8, read it!)
p.s. looks to me like you got a lotta people that care about you ;-)
Beth Hyde Thank you for the wisdom, friends! [and thank you for allowing me to call you 'friend'!] and for those of you who said anything remotely close to, "hang out with people", you are now on my speed dial.

12.23.2009

December 23, 2009

we were in a downtown community, and there was a parade going on! it was sponsored by Disney, and everything was free.

i was walking up and down the street, visiting vendors, and i come upon a stage set up for a band.

the Key, a band from Mercer, gets up and plays. and then Mac Powell, the lead singer from Third Day sings a song that was really familiar to me, and that I told myself in my dream that I should learn how to sing, but I can't figure it out. And then, I get up on stage with--i think--the New City band, and we rock it. And it was awesome.

and then the community turned into a house, and I went upstairs, and there were wrought iron fixtures and stuff, and i was climbing all over them, and...that's all i remember.

12.19.2009

david

i was reading the Bible today: a few psalms from yesterday that i didn't finish, and the part of the history of Israel where God tells David that one of his sons will make a temple for God.

and i wonder about how Israelites viewed david. and how he was translated to a messiah figure.

they sure exalted him to a pretty prominent position in their hearts, memorizing psalms about him and his struggles, about how God favored him, and about how God would bring rightness to the world through his lineage.

it makes me think of Bono or Mac Powell or any number of "Christian" artists.

maybe even Amy Grant, whose "unforgivable sin" plunged her from musical fame ten years back.

why hasn't she been forgiven, and yet, David has, and we base so much of our faith on him?

we are always looking for idols or people to live up to, because we are too lazy, busy, or cowardly to live big and live our dreams ourselves.

was it the people's realization that we are always looking for something bigger than ourselves that caused the outward turn towards believing that God had a Messiah for us? the knowledge that our hearts yearn for completion and God's favor?

curious.

12.17.2009

procrastination

something in this called to me.

http://thewaysheseesitintexas.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/psychology-of-a-failure/

my parents were never druggies and always gave me plenty of attention, but i wonder how i got to be who i am...in some ways, i am amazed at the similarities between my heart and this girl's.

Dreams

occasionally, like many people, i have some crazy dream, and i remember it after i wake up. sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are sad, sometimes they are just really weird.

i figured it might be fun to log them. so i think i may on this blog. it could be dlog blog. :) get it? a dream log blog? haha. anyways.

starting off last night's dream...

ACT 1

I am in a school. It might be my highschool. If so, I'm on the front hall, but there are lockers. There aren't usually lockers. And there is a bathroom. With a window in it, facing the hall, without blinds (i know! crappy planning on their part)...i really have to pee, so i ignore that fact and go anyway, and then there is a guy looking in the window. i get pissed off (haha, no pun intended, but that was a funny one) and i go tell him off. (i think he's the guy in the STOMPFEST flier i'm working on...the one i need a good picture of and Cara hasn't provided me one yet) I don't remember how that one ends.

ACT 2

I am back in the bathroom. (maybe i should have gone before falling asleep?) i'm not using it, but i think the purpose is to transition me from my school, to a room in some sort of hotel/condo/apartment complex to which this bathroom belongs. there is a couch in the room i walk into. wooden floors, a desk, it's all very nice. there is also a back deck and huuuuuuge windows lining the back wall. pretty. there is an old man smoking a cigar on the couch. i have no clue who he is.

something something, my uncle is there, we meet some people, exchange video games, and talk about all the meaningless things you talk about in dreams.

and then before i know it, uncle jeff is telling us we need to leave. now.

apparently, in an attempt to reinvent himself, he is setting fire to the building using a cigar. and he timed it just right so...blah blah blah.

(for some reason, we didn't tell him to put out the cigar. DON'T MAKE FUN! THIS IS MY SILLY DREAM!)

and we jump in a car and drive away, fast! but not before waiting outside for what seems like forever...i think we were waiting for my mom.

anyway. we're in the car and we speeeeed down the road, which looks like we're going west on walnut street in downtown macon...and i tell him that if he is trying to lose some one, we should hit the interstate. at which point the roads become hallways in a really big house and we are evading these women who look like they are looking for someone (presumably us).

and then my mom shows up with a bag of batteries and tells me i need to replace all the batteries in the house with these already-used batteries because they were linked to uncle jeff and noone would think to look at our toys and appliances for evidence.

so all of them go off somewhere (i think the little boys had joined us by now, and much like in real life, would not sit still) and i am holding a bag of batteries.

and one of the women comes in the room and says, "hey, look at that bag of batteries!" and i'm like, "yea, what of it? i have [magically appearing] unused batteries and a whole collection of rubber stamps in the bag, too!"

and she's like, "hmmmmmm suspicious" and i break down and i'm like, "ah, i'm so sorry, i'm so so sorry, it was my uncle jeff and he's over there and i don't know what's going on, it was like this crazy attempt to fix life and waaaah..."

and the lady is like, "it's no big deal, we found the cigar before it caught too many things on fire. your uncle is just going to have to pay for the damage."

and then i woke up.

hahahaha.

Psalm 15

Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?
A Psalm of David.

O LORD,who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;

who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;

in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;

who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.

12.16.2009

"Seven Blunders of the World"

1. Wealth without work

2. Pleasure without conscience

3. Knowledge without character

4. Commerce without morality

5. Science without humanity

6. Worship without sacrifice

7. Politics without principle


—Mahatma Gandhi

12.14.2009

entertaining

yesterday, after church, a woman came up to me and told me that i was very entertaining to watch.

and my heart stopped.

it was totally conflicted with how to respond.

i can't really say "thank God", because she totally wasn't saying it helped her worship; just that it was fun to watch.

and saying, "thank you", would imply that, yes, i am up there to entertain you.

and then i couldn't help but second-guess what i do on sunday mornings and why i am up there.

part of me does like to entertain. i am a people pleaser, and i love seeing people smile and hearing them laugh...how much of that is translated into when i play on a stage in front of 100+ people?

and i want to say, "nothing".

i hope i can.

i don't play or sing or dance to entertain, ever.

i do it because my heart feels it, and i want other peoples' hearts to feel it, too.

and my heart feels it because i want to be close to this big God. the things that we sing about, the drive, the emotions, the calling and the draw, it's all real. and i don't understand it. i don't know what it means, but my heart beats to express it.

and all i want is to help people feel the same way.

but i wonder if my freedom in this context is distracting. i wonder if i should re-evaluate how i lead worship.

because i know that my heart is a liar,
and sometimes i don't really know why i do what i do.

but i want God to be made known.

because bethhyde is just a punk kid, and her memory will not last but a few more years.

but God?

He's big, with big plans.

12.13.2009

spiritual

today, as i was in bed, telling myself to get up,

somewhere in between being awake and asleep,

i was reminded that all of my pulling away
has been
because i don't like how "being spiritual" makes me feel.

it makes me feel good.

reading the Bible,
having good things to say,
doing things right.

so i stopped all that.

and now i feel awful.

but i don't want to pick up "being spiritual" again in that manner.

i want something life changing
new
fresh
hard to handle
unwavering
undeniably real
and unregrettably radical.

i don't want to just live how i live and sprinkle a little Jesus on it.

i want the whole thing.

12.12.2009

braindump

i was flipping through some sheets of paper looking for chords to some songs that we will be playing at new city this weekend, and i found a letter that i started to write my mom a year ago. since coming to college, she felt like my beliefs and ideals had changed drastically and that she didn't know who i was or what i believe, and that i needed to write her a letter. so i attempted to, and apparently never finished and subsequently never gave it to her. i have been in a throw-away-anything-that-you-don't-need kick, so i wanted to toss those pages, but i also wanted to chronicle those thoughts, which you may have seen on here in one way or another.

as always, your thoughts and opinions are important to me; i definitely don't have everything ironed out and seek to learn more. :) so, hurrr.

Dear Mom,

You wanted a letter about what I think and what I believe. This year has been really hard on me. I feel like I've been pulled in all sorts of directions. I think a lot of it is actually depression, but whatever. I've been pulled around, and while in some areas I feel perhaps I've taken two steps back, I know that it is for the better and one day I'll be able to help other people through my struggles with religion, politics, and cultural standing in the eyes of others. Without further ado:

Religion

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of everything every religion and every person has ever hoped for. He is completion, joy, restoration and hope. Oh! and Truth and Love. Right now, I cannot say that people are going to Hell physically, but that without Christ, we have no choice but to follow our weird passions and ideas--and those are inherently evil (the absence of God) and we can't help but to succumb to a helpless life --> hell on earth. Hell in our hearts. There are many "Christian" who live with Hell in their hearts. J.C. said in john 17: "this is eternal life: that you know God and that you know that one whom he has sent." Knowing God through the understanding provided by Jesus Christ allows us to live love, life, joy and home. Every religion is like a reflection in a broken mirror. They have aspects of God, but cannot fully identify His bigness. Even Judaism and Christianity have stuff missing--God is too big for our Holy Book or traditions; HOWEVER, I believe the Jude0-Christian faith is the most complete out of all the world religions as I mentioned earlier, because Jesus is the completion of everything God ever promised. Muslims who are truly seeking God run into Jesus. The only thing bad about Islam is the emphasis on personal works and duty and submission (okay, that comment was short-sighted. there is a bit that i think is wrong or weird with Islam...) but I think it is wrong and straight up weird that as Christians, we pick sides and say, "Oh my God, you believe in Allah, you're going to Hell," when we are/were on that same path. I feel like we have a fear and anger and disgust directed to their Culture. And I think that wasn't instilled by God, but by our government, which trickled down through church leadership that encourages it's people to vote on 2 key matters rather than an all-encompassing platforms, which leads me to talk about politics!

Politics

As I just mentioned, people take sides. It's what we do. It's how we're wired. One group is good. One group is bad. It's why we have sports. I rooted for this boxer and he won--yeaa!! People get more concerned about winning than about what's at stake.

Whoever yells the longest and loudest and brainwashes the most people into thinking he'll lead this country into goodness and awesomeness and favor--with man and with God--wins. But that depends on perspective. There is no way we can know who "we" are "putting into office". We don't know their true character.

Ummm. Don't get me wrong. I love America. I love the people who think they're doing a good thing over there. I just think we can do so much more. We need to stand up against the idea that one man and his close companions can provide us the "change" that we need to have a well-run country. We need to have an active part in the inner runnings of the U.S. as we can incite change within ourselves. I think that when we step up and are active in our lives and in the lives of others, it isn't going to matter if abortions or gay marriages are legal. People fully cognizant of the love and grace of God through the encouragement and tutelage of their brothers and sisters will understand the fullness and extent of God's love--and that doesn't mean unrestricted freedom, but rather pure love and freedom rooted in Romans 15.

Freedom rooted in pure love.

This may sound well put together [like I know what I'm talking about and I will stick to it always], but there is a lot I'm still working and struggling through.
And that was it. All I wrote. Wow, that was a lot to type.

12.11.2009

Get Me Right

by Dashboard Confessional

I made my slow way home
Limping on broken bones
Out of the thickest pine
Across the county lines
On to your wooden stairs
I know you can repair
I know you've seen the light
I know you'll get me right

Right
Right
Right

I own a sinners heart
I know the rain falls hard
I know the currency
I know the things you'll need
I hope he hears my prayers
I see you cut your hair
I know the saving type
I know you'll get me right

Right
Right
Right

But, Jesus I've fallen
I don't mind the rain if
I meet my maker
I'll meet my maker clean

But, Jesus the truth is
I've struggled so hard to believe
I'll meet my maker
I'll need my maker

To cure of my doubting blood
And drain me of the sins I love
And take from me my disbelief
I know it should come easily
But it remains inside of me
It battles and devours me
It cuddles up the side of me
And whispers it convinces me I'm

Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right
Right

(Youtube Vid)

12.06.2009

i am tired of fighting.

i wish it wasn't so easy to forget who i am and who i can be.

i wish this world didn't offer these things that are so tempting.

i wish that i didn't want to experience everything and that just hearing someone tell me what is right would make me want to do it.

i wish that it was easier to feel like i fit in with people who love God.

i wish that it wasn't such a struggle to choose between fleeting pleasures and a big God.

i wish that God was more tangible and that it wasn't so hard to make myself pursue Him.




i may be tired,

but

i hope that i never give up and stop fighting.

i have made concessions.

i regret losing ground.

i want to be a picture of Love and redemption, peace and joy.

but today i feel tired.

i want Jesus.

i want to know what that means.

12.05.2009

goes together better than a horse and carriage.

in an age of pre-nups and 24-hr marriages, what is marriage supposed to look like?

or love, for that matter?

we have this vague sort of "the one" pipe dream that permeates our culture, coupled with a yearning for instant gratification and a growing trend in selfish tendencies (think Christmas = consumerism, how abortion is a big enough issue that we have to vote on it, and the sheer number of those who are poor and homeless, not only because they may selfishly seek to fulfill their addictions, but because there is no God-centered help from them on the other side, just Christmas shoppers paying them a dollar to get out of their face...).

how does this affect love and marriage?

what is love? when you love someone, what does that look like?

all sorts of things, right?

hours of text messages or talking on the phone. little notes in lunchboxes or on car windows. gifts and dates. completing favors. cooking dinner. gushing about them to friends and family. pictures together. inside jokes. finding you are mimicking them even when you don't mean to. planned trips. impromptu trips. deep conversations about what you like and dislike and what they like and dislike. learning about them. about their faith. about their life and why they are who they are. about their dreams. dreaming for them, especially when they feel like they can't do it themselves. changing a godforsaken soiled diaper or the puked-up sheets in the middle of the night. sharing your favorite things with them. delighting in their favorite things that they share with you. learning new things together. winning games. losing games. being right. being wrong.

all that warm fuzzy stuff.

but we all know that after a while, that warm fuzzy stuff isn't enough to carry a relationship by itself, because we get busy or distracted, or irritated by the things we once found cute, or maybe we become insecure in the relationship and push everyone away because we can't handle the thought of losing someone on their terms and not ours.

so what carries us?

if love is so big, surely that means we only just defined part of it in our list, above.

love is the hard things, too.

love is giving up what we want most because it will be better for other people. it is telling them "no" when you know their actions will hurt themselves or others in the long run. sometimes it is telling them "no" when all you really want to do is say "yes". love is refusing to pour another drink or buy them a pack of cigarettes, and sometimes it is forgoing that piece of cake because their health matters more. it is meeting their needs and putting them above yours. it is refusing comfort in order to teach them--and to learn yourself--how to live a better life. it is accepting that they will never be just like you, and they will never meet all of your expectations, and sometimes they will hurt your feelings.

and sometimes it will hurt like hell.

and sometimes you will just be disinterested.

but something holds you together.

something bound you at the heart.

it is love.

"If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." (1 Cor 13, the Message)

i desire to love fully. to love God fully, to love others fully, and to one day love a lover fully.

to be characterized by love, and to be known and make God known as Love.

to be inseparable from Him and He from me.

to be one.

better than a horse and carriage.

12.04.2009

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff? by Shane Claiborne

To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it's that you can have great answers and still be mean... and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our "Gospel" is the message that Jesus came "not [for] the healthy... but the sick." And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God's Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven." On earth.

One of Jesus' most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan... you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I'm sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine... but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: "The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you." And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about "dirty theology" — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man's eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, "I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you." If those of us who believe in God do not believe God's grace is big enough to save the whole world... well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,

Shane


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Psalm 19

The Law of the LORD Is Perfect

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
6Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward
.

12 Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

12.01.2009

David and Jonathan

i feel wicked.

just plain rotten.

for so many reasons.

i have a paper due tomorrow,
and homework,
and another project due next week,
and i am sick,
and we just got done traveling,
and i was talking with a friend tonight,
and a whole bunch of things came up there, too.

mostly about not knowing how long or to what end my friendships will last,
that i have decided that am waiting, indefinitely, for a man who might never come or even exist,
that i don't have many close friends at all, (and if that reflects poorly on my ability to let my guard down and fully connect with other people)
and that love is fun, but i don't understand it.

abigal.
nabal.
david.
jonathan.

i could tell you all sorts of things that are running through my head.

wondering if i will ever sort through any of it.

and i am cut to the heart
because God wants to be seen through all of it
and i realize that
my pain is because i look at it so small
and i feel like i am owed
friendship
love
emotional, spiritual, and physical affection

which i am not owed any of these things.
i am not guaranteed them.

God in His love promises
His friendship,
His love, and
His affection.

and the pursuit of anything less than that is sin and idolatry,
chasing after addictions,
and grasping at the wind.