Cosmic Indifference.

Apollo 17, Earthrise over Moon

I was reading a case study in a secular psychology book the other day and was heartbroken. The therapist was trying to move his client to a perspective where she recognized not that the cosmos hated her but that the cosmos was just indifferent to her situation. In the thick hardship of her life, she perceived, albeit for a slight moment before moving onwards, that the cosmic powers had dealt her an unfair deck of cards. Continue reading

Moments that Linger: On Enduring Realities

DSC_4160_1_72_-_Sparrow_In_Flight

She met her husband in post-war Germany. She worked for the American government there, and he stayed on as well after his stent in the army. She didn’t talk much about her husband’s experience during the war: “I never really asked him about it much. Those were such dark days for us. Isn’t it funny how human beings can block out so much of our past. I guess I’ve blocked out a lot about the war. I don’t like to talk about it much. Still,” she explained, “he loved Patton. Of course everyone loved Patton, though.” Continue reading

Moments that Linger: An Attitude of Endurance

Airplane_(3423766012)

I don’t like to talk to people on airplanes, but the Lord blessed me with this one.

I’m not sure how our conversation got going, but when it did, the gracious and warm woman next to me began her story that spans almost 90 years. When it started, I wondered if she had some sort of speech impediment, but as she began to tell me about her trip, her family, and then her life, things began to come together like a jigsaw puzzle. Continue reading

Small and Loved

Blue

“When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

– Psalm 8:3-4

When I was an angst ridden teen, plagued by the daily grind of school, homework, and high school social status (of which I had none), there were few things that could calm me. One of these things happened on the deck of my house a few nights a week. Continue reading

The Adamic Spark: Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’

Foster Bible Pictures 0022-1

 

Darren Aronofsky’s movie ‘Noah’ has received an abundance of attention, so don’t worry: I’m not going to add my own review to the already grandiose pile of reviews out there.

I’m usually behind in watching movies, because to actually venture to see one would cost a significant amount of our already precious income. The gracious Redbox, however, smiled on me the other day and provided me with a chance to see this rendition of the Biblical narrative (or something that vaguely resembles the Biblical narrative). One line in the movie, though, gave my heart such joy that I had to write about it. Continue reading

“Stop It” Sanctification

WGHarding

Katherine Bigmans enters Dr. Switzer’s office with a problem.

Dr. Switzer: Tell me about the problem you wish to address. 

Katherine: Oh, okay. Well, I have this fear of being buried alive in a box. I just start thinking about being buried alive, and I begin to panic. 

After determining the issue is claustrophobia, Dr. Switzer issues his counsel. Continue reading

The Chosen One: Our Collective Hero Complex

Heroes tv series

Everyone loves a good movie or book about a hero. Lost (just finished the series), Star Wars, Hunger Games, The Matrix, Ender’s Game, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Last Airbender (horrible movie, great potential), and a host of other movies and books have presented us with something extremely similar: the concept of the chosen one. We can almost hear the desperate words in our sleep: “Only you can save us.” Continue reading

Seasoned Brothers

Cherokee Indian Reservation sign, NC

Cork and Bean: It’s a coffee shop and a wine bar, self-described as “a mountain social house,” and it’s where I am now. Here in Bryson City, North Carolina, things are moving slowly at this moment (and the coffee is good), but my mind is racing, making any amount of Hebrew studying or reading almost an impossibility.

This week has been an absolute wonderful time in Cherokee, NC serving as speaker and associate staff for an MTW (Mission to the World) missions week. Early mornings, work projects, seeing old friends, and being in the Word with God’s people is as refreshing as it is stretching, but after making an impromptu trip to Lowe’s for a good amount of supplies needed for some end-of-the-week work projects, the afternoon is free, as all of the teams have their half-day off. I don’t know quite what to do with myself. So here I am at the Cork and Bean, and I’m thankful.

“I don’t smoke,” he said as he looked over at me. “But if I wanted to break the barrier with him, that’s just what I had to do.” My elder brother explained this to me as we rode back the other night, sharing with me that certain good conversations here in this part of the country occur on the porch over a cigarette. I’m not advocating smoking, but I am advocating barrier breaking.

Last night I had the privilege to ride with the two other associate staffers here this week to visit a potential work site. The three of us, sandwiched in a pick-up truck, made our way over to Tsali Manor, an elderly community here in Cherokee, and when we arrived, I witnessed these men do what they do best: love people. These two associate staffers are my elder brothers, men farther down the Christian path than I am, and to witness their interactions with the elderly in this community was a simple pleasure. One of my brothers conversed with a woman about her garden, marveling at the beans snaking their way up her deck and sharing in the dismay that, despite both of their efforts, their respective tomato crops have failed to redden so far this season. The other talked with a gentlemen who was out walking a regiment set up by his doctor. The man, within the last year, had lost his wife. Time and again these men moved from neighbor to neighbor as we surveyed the potential sites. I was just along for the ride, a spectator to the seasoned love, sincerity, and humanity of these two saints. These men don’t smoke, but they are willing to light up just to have a conversation with someone who needs Jesus. That, dear friends, is gospel love.

This evening, one of the men left due to some minor complications in his health, and as a small group of us prayed for him in the office before he drove off, I became keenly aware that I really don’t know anything, that sometimes I just need to sit and watch those who have been traveling the Christian journey for so much longer. In reference to our civil authorities, but certainly to our elders as well, Paul tells us to “pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed,” (Romans 13:7). Honor and respect are owed to these men, men who have dedicated their lives to mastering deck building, visitations, gardening, Lowe’s runs, and cleaning bathrooms in order to reach others for the great name of Jesus. Friends, let’s just sit, learn, and be thankful for the gifts that God gives us: our seasoned brothers.

Nothing Off-Limits

Givinghandsandredpushpin

 

I just got off the phone with an old friend and drove over to Starbucks to keep my wife company as she works hard to deliver those necessary concoctions some of us count on for simple survival. These two examples, that of my friend and that of my wife, serve as constant reminders that when all you have is Christ, nothing is off-limits. There is nothing He can’t ask you to give up, nothing that He can’t demand of you, because if He is the ultimate treasure, there is nothing else worth holding on to.

My friend and his wife are moving to Uganda in August to be missionaries. They will be living in a concrete structure with some sort of tin roof and using a hole in the ground as a toilet. I don’t say that to be irreverent but to illustrate the point. Simple pleasures, friends, families, securities and comforts, these are just a few of the things my friend and his wife will be giving up. All in the name of Christ and for His Kingdom.

As you know, my wife works at Starbucks. It really is a thankless job filled with crazy customers, low pay, and monumental amounts of unnecessary stress. Why does my wife work this job? She is supporting me as I go to seminary. She loves Jesus in a tangible way, a way that sacrifices her own comfort for Him and His Kingdom. Granted, we are always looking for a job switch-something that doesn’t involve coffee and crazy people (alas! where can we run from the crazies?)- but the fact that she would take the job speaks oceans about her love for Jesus.

I find that I’m often unwilling to part with, often unwilling to undergo any amount of suffering, that will tear me away from my little gods, my little pleasures, “rights”, and comforts that characterize my Western existence. Are there any other people out there like me? I forget about Jesus. I have forgotten that all things will pass away, but He will remain. I have forgotten that as soon as I claimed the greatest Gift ever offered to mankind, I forfeited my perceived claim to all lesser gifts. Our forfeiture is no deceptively fine print at the bottom of our salvation covenant but a real recognition that no other gift, no other person, place, thing, or conception, is worth comparing to who we have: Christ.

It is a good evening to be reminded that our lives are to be lived with open hands, hands that proclaim, “Nothing is off-limits. You can have it all.” Paul was on to something: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (Phil. 3:8-9). It’s time we buckle up, suck it up, suffer well and remember that, because we have Jesus and will have Him for eternity, what can He not ask of us?