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Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity

Those of us (who call ourselves Christians) with a bent toward the life of the mind sure love our philosophies, theologies, discussions, arguments, books, and favorite teachers...don’t we? I guess we can’t help it; it’s the way we’re made. But I'm wondering, do we truly allow each other our differences in all these things? Should we? I guess some think we shouldn’t. But it is right to more or less ignore differing views, or ignore those with differing views, or to battle or try to shout down those with differing views, or to get touchy, protective, defensive, distrustful, or too easily doubtful when our views are challenged? (“We” includes me, of course.)

Let’s face it, all any of us can do is try to make sense of things. Different ones of us read different things by different authors and come to different conclusions based on what we judge to be right in light of Scripture, convincing argument, and trust in our own judgment (or experience), or in the Holy Spirit to illuminate our judgment. But I wonder if we end up elevating those who, by their sheer brilliance, appear to have some special “prophetic interpretation” or gift of exposition that strikes a chord in us (so that we “latch on,” so to speak) higher than they ought to be. I wonder if it isn’t some aspect of our psyche or personality that often causes us to regard one thing as true and another false, or one thing more likely to be true than another, on issues of great complexity and/or dispute.

Why not acknowledge the questions? Why not allow them? Why not acknowledge that certain things may not be so sure as others may seem to think they are, or that we may want to think? Do we really need to have every matter of doctrine figured out? Upon what is our faith based? Complexity of doctrine? Or upon hope in the saving, guiding, and sustaining grace of God? Does it really need to be more complicated than that?

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to grapple with questions. (Grapple, not wrangle.) I love to grapple with questions. I am driven to grapple with questions. I can easily become over-dependent upon understanding things. But in my saner moments I realize that much of what I want to understand doesn’t really matter, except that it’s in me to grapple and there must be some purpose for it, though I’m not sure what it is. I realize that what matters is that my heart (whatever that is) is in an attitude of humility before God –- an attitude of acceptance, service, and homage to the gospel. What more can I do? All the rest is vanity, and a chasing after the wind.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

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Monday, November 28, 2005

natural light Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Seven sevens

I’ve been tagged by Jeremy Pierce for a 7 7s meme (not a 77s meme).

(The number seven bears significance in the Bible; not sure if that's got anything to do with this or not...)

The seven sevens are:

1. Seven things to do before I die
2. Seven things I cannot do
3. Seven things that attract me to [my spouse or significant other or best friend]
4. Seven things I say most often
5. Seven books (or series) I love
6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time)
7. Seven people I want to join in, too

My sevens (in no particular order):

To do before I die:

1. See more of the country/world; get back to some favorite spots
2. Do "missions" work
3. Solve all the things that puzzle me (!)
4. See reconciliation happen in certain relationships
5. Depend more on God and less on other stuff
6. Play some of the orchestral and solo trumpet repertoire I haven’t performed yet
7. See my kids grow up and have families

Things I can’t do:

1. Get through the Tomasi Trumpet Concerto
2. Approach people I don’t know
3. Stop thinking
4. Juggle
5. Play pool
6. Watch Buffalo Bills games
7. Eat sushi

About my husband:

1. Devoted and loyal
2. Brilliant musician
3. Has many of the same interests and goals as I
4. Smartest non-intellectual I know
5. Physically strong & active
6. Unpretentious
7. Draws me out (not deliberately, but by being who he is)

Books/series important to me:

1. Bible
2. Any reference book
3. A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
4. Books by Thomas Merton, Selected Poems especially
5. Anything by C. S. Lewis
6. Here I Stand (bio of Martin Luther)
7. Shadowland by Peter Straub

Movies I like:

(I haven’t actually seen enough movies, esp. recently, to answer this well but these are some I remember)

1. Chariots of Fire
2. The Name of the Rose
3. Out of Africa
4. anything with Steve Martin in it
5. The Mission
6. (haven’t seen A Beautiful Mind but everyone tells me I must)
7. Princess Bride

Things I say most often:

1. Shh…not so loud
2. Would you pick that up please?
3. What is it?
4. Oh no
5. Just a minute
6. Sure
7. Put your shoes on, it’s time to go

Seven people I‘d like to join in:

1. Dan Edelen
2. Jan Lynn
3. Macht
4. Catez
5. Charlie Lehardy
6. Sarah Flashing
7. Martin LaBar

Can you guess what this is?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

RR lantern

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

C. S. Lewis on sinning

I found the following quote in Mere Christianity and think that it speaks very well to the issue of sin, excuse/denial of sin and its opposite -- striving for sinless perfection. It is from the chapter on sexual morality but I think it applies equally to any area:

In the first place our warped natures, the devil who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so "natural," so "healthy," and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them....Now this, on any conceivable view, and quite apart from Christianity, must be nonsense...For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary; so the claim made by every desire, when it is strong, to be healthy and reasonable, counts for nothing. Every sane and civilised man must have some set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and permit others...

In the second place, many people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian [virtue] because they think (before trying) that it is impossible. But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility. Faced with an optional question in an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can. You may get some marks for a very imperfect answer: you will certainly get none for leaving the question is wonderful what you can do when you have to.

We may, indeed, be sure that perfect [virtue] -- like perfect charity -- will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God's help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us toward is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important [any virtue] may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend upon God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
Mere Christianity, pp. 78-79

One thing I would add to this is that, so often, a choice to sin or not may be viewed from a very short perspective; i.e., the only thing in front of the person is the thing they are looking at in the here and now. Then, however, it becomes a thing to battle rather than merely a challenge to hold on to a greater vision. In other words, it becomes like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew. What a price to pay! It is this short-sightedness and the resulting disarray in one's life as the far-reaching consequences of a momentary (or willful) lapse come into play that can propel one down a slope (the snowball effect, if you will) or else cause one to rationalize or otherwise deny (harden one's heart). It is such a view that may also cause one to feel oneself a naughty child before a stern and punishing God.

But if one can keep in view the true effects and cost of one's behaviors in a total picture/into-the-future kind of way, then one may also see that God is a God of the long haul and One not so concerned with sin-scorecards as with the (eternal) well-being of ourselves and those we affect.

Monday, November 21, 2005

'Toon time

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Thursday, November 17, 2005 © 2005 John Trever, Albuquerque Journal

Sunday, November 20, 2005

at the Chinese restaurant

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

What does blogging mean to you?

OK, let’s get personal.


I know that the value and purpose (or lack thereof) of blogging has been discussed already many times over. There’s been some helpful dialogue over what constitutes “blogging success.” There’s been discussion of “Why blog?” and “Why I blog.” Some of this discussion has included mention of personal benefits. But I’d like to look even more closely at the personal aspect of blogging – I’d like to know what blogging really means to the persons who blog and who read blogs.

I’m not asking this question for the sake of analysis, definition, or philosophical debate; I want know how blogging affects those who participate. We all know that blogging is many things: a ministry, a means of self-expression, a way to participate in dialogue, a means of connecting with other bloggers and readers, a way to share or solicit information, a place to practice writing and to test-drive ideas, etc. But what I’d like to know is, what is it, to you? Or, what does reading blogs mean to you?

If that’s too personal a question, I understand. I’m not sure I’d answer it myself :-) But to those who are game, thanks in advance for your response!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

On the fall of man...

Check out my latest post at Intellectuelle:

On the fall of man

(It's a cleverly disguised questioning of Calvinism... ;-) )

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Bits and pieces, 11/14/05

Hallowed Calvinists and Arminian Weenies?

(Yeah, so it’s almost Thanksgiving but I’m a little slow...) Dan Edelen notes, in The Clash of the Titans: Calvinists think we should participate in Halloween and Arminians think we shouldn’t. An interesting observation. What of it? He asks for input.

There are many more great posts at Cerulean Sanctum –- too many to mention except for a couple: Dan makes a thoughtful contribution to the charismatic/cessationist debate (more posts below the one linked), and also writes a challenging post on faith and whether we really have it or not. The discussion in the comments section gets a bit into Calvinism vs. Arminianism (again) and the question of whether our faith or lack thereof is up to us, or God.


The truth about evangelicalism

Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, is someone who finds exegetical problems in all four major Evangelical theologies -- Calvinism, Arminianism, Pentecostalism, and dispensationalism.

In an interview at, he is asked a question from a rather “tolerant” point of view:

The serious question is this: These four streams of evangelicalism have more or less learned to co-exist for decades now. Each one brings something unique to the table, so why stir up a theological hornet's nest?

Witherington responds:
That would suggest that what matters is not truth, what matters is, "Can't we all just get along?" And I would say that the Reformation fathers, especially Luther, would absolutely disagree with that attitude. This is all about truth with a capital T. Therefore, we need to work these things out and ask where in our own tradition we have shipped water.

There are many who would probably disagree with this today, or rather, would debate what Truth actually is. Some would accept a Truth in which the doctrine of social action ranks extremely high. Yes, “feeding sheep” and helping one another out – especially the least of us and the ones from whom we have no hope of any return – is of utmost importance, but even more important is the why, which cannot be correctly answered if it has no basis in Truth. I think that the way we treat one other, i.e., the way we treat the people we live and interact with, is as much a part of taking care of His people as is meeting needs outside of our immediate circles. Does God call us to be like Bob Pierce, who neglected his family in order to care for very needy children of the world? I don’t think so, and can’t imagine anyone else would either. It’s the people closest to us that can be the hardest to minister to, to truly love. As they say, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and besides, we can be hurt the worst by those we love the most, making it hard to truly love them.

We do need all the voices of evangelicalism, but not merely for the sake of having a cornucopia of ideas. We need to listen to them in the hopes that amongst all the bounty will be found truth, especially via challenge to falsehood.



On the wall at the gym where my son trains:

Character is who you are when no one is looking.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

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Lake Erie 2 Posted by Picasa

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Saturday, November 12, 2005


We can only possess what we experience
We can only possess what we experience
Truth, to be understood, must be lived
We can only possess what we experience

There is a difference – a qualitative difference –
Between what I know as a fact and what I know as truth
It stands as a great divide to separate my thinking
From when I’m thinking foolishly and when I’ve understood

The facts of theology can be altogether cold
Though true in every way, they alone can’t change me
Truth is creative, transforming and alive
It’s truth that keeps me humble, saved and set free (repeat)

We can only possess what we experience
We can only possess what we experience

Straight-up honesty, that my obligation
That’s the point when I obey the truth without hesitation
When faith gains consent of my stubborn will
And makes the irreversible commitment real
To the Jesus of my journey, to the Christ of crucifixion,
Resurrection and redemption, to the Father of mercy,
To the God of all comfort.
Then and only then, then and only then,
Then and only then truth begins its
Saving and illuminating work within my heart (repeat)
And not a moment sooner, not one moment sooner (repeat)


If there be no sympathy,
There can be no understanding
You must surrender to a truth to really understand it


Whoa, look at me, my opinion slipped out
And I’m under obligation without hesitation
To speak the truth in love, speak the truth in love.
Somebody said, “Opinion is the queen of the world.”
Well I believe this goes way beyond opinion
(I said) Crown this one king (come on), crown this one king (come on)
Crown this one king
Baby, where I come from that’s a bold, bold statement
But I ain’t no company man, I ain’t no company man, no I ain’t no company man,
I ain’t no company man.
(You can respect that, can’tcha?)


Charlie Peacock, copyright 1990

(Feel free to comment)

Friday, November 11, 2005

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Protestants rethinking contraception: inconsistency of thought

In A Hard Pill to Swallow (at Christianity Today online), Agnieszka Tennant writes about her change of mind regarding the birth-control pill. I can appreciate the transformation of her thought, but find her tangling-together of many separate issues itself hard to swallow. I also note an inconsistency of thought regarding “opennes to life” that, surprisingly, appears consistent among those who support the practice of natural family planning.

Of her use of the Pill, Tennant asks,
What did my daily habit say about my faith in the One who reduced himself first to a cell, then two, then 128, then 256 and more, then to a defenseless baby—and whose door is always open for helpless intruders like me? Could the little pill have stood for more than just a chance to get a fiscally responsible life before opening it up to stinky diapers? Could Mircette have changed not just the hormonal makeup of my cells, but also what cannot be seen under a microscope? Could it have served as one more safety lock on the door not just to my womb, but also to my figure, my marriage, my home, my career, my gym routine?
God is in these details.

Yes, God is in the details, but what exactly constitutes a detail, and why lump all of these “details” together as if they are of equal consideration? They’re not.

(Tennant’s suggestion that the Pill has an almost mystical influence is interesting; do certain wishes lead a woman to go on the Pill, or do its effects influence a woman’s wishes...or both?)

It’s one thing to eschew artificial contraception for reasons of bringing sex and conception as its natural consequence closer together, but it’s another to object to the Pill on the grounds that it may actually cause the demise of a fertilized ova due to inhospitable conditions in the womb. Serge at Imago Dei has written a detailed post examining this very issue in Can a Christian Family Ethically Use “The Pill”? In it, he certainly does not fit Tennant’s characterization that
...for every God-fearing, pro-life physician who opposes the pill, there seem to be at least three who embrace it. They point out that there isn't enough research and that we're merely talking about a potential tiny little abortion—and an involuntary one at that.
From what I’ve seen of his writing, Serge opposes abortion altogether, no matter the size or whether voluntary or not. Size and cause are not the issue; the issue is whether or not the womb could possibly be inhospitable, even 1/1000% of the time, to a fertilized ovum due to use of the Pill.

I believe that Tennant’s conclusion goes a little beyond the evidence (or lack thereof), though I greatly respect (and agree with) her wish to avoid any possibility of causing the demise of an embryo. Of her discomfort with this aspect of the Pill, Tennant says:
This sense of discomfort never evolved into an absolute dogma: I still wouldn't say that taking contraceptives is a sin. But I questioned the assumptions I found underneath my pill popping.

I wonder why she would say this if she truly believes that there’s a good chance that the Pill may cause an early abortion. The sixth commandment states, “You shall not murder.” If there is a chance that the Pill may cause the death of an embryo, then what would be the problem with calling its use a possible sin? Calling a spade a spade (or a sin a sin) is not the same as deciding everyone’s personal morality for them; each person alone is accountable to God for his/her own thoughts and actions.

I don’t support the ostensible hesitation to speak of what is right and wrong for the reason that it might “impinge” upon someone else, that I see among Christians. Rights and wrongs are obviously a part of life, and in order to be true to Christ, Christians must accept the Decalogue (as well as other instruction given in Scripture) as God-given. Distinction must be made among “absolute” right and wrong, “personal” right and wrong, and matters that are not clear. But there is a human propensity to try to obfuscate or deny what is clear, and Christians are no exception (I include myself in both the “human” and “Christian” categories). But to declare what is clearly right or wrong is not also to insist that everyone must make the right decisions about everything, because of course not even the most pious of Christians (which would not include me) can do this. Allowing one another space and individual accountability does not equate with shutting up about (or pussy-footing around) truth. Regarding the commandment not to commit adultery, we wouldn’t say, “Well, having sex with someone who isn’t your spouse is a sin, but I’m not going to call it a sin because to do so might offend your desire to decide for yourself”...would we? Or should we?

I understand that someone may wish to be humble and therefore only speak of what they themselves have learned, in the spirit of saying, “This is my personal story; I offer it to you for whatever benefit it may have for you,” and I appreciate that sentiment very much. However, most of the time when someone does this, it seems that in truth they hold quite firmly to opinions of right and wrong (in a more absolute sense) that still come out in what they say. In the case of Tennant’s article, she makes somewhat hyperbolic (and contradictory) statements in the midst of sharing her thoughts (such as the characterization of pro-life physicians quoted above; saying that [on the Pill] “I could have sex whenever I wanted, without fear that pregnancy would impose...” (The Pill is not 100% effective, as she states elsewhere in the article; surely she was aware of that while using it?), and “...I cheated on the Pill and everything it stood for” (this is not true, for she states, near the end of the article, that she and her husband are currently taking steps to prevent conception of a child).

Tennant speaks of matters of convenience regarding reasons people use birth control/contraception/family planning, and indeed these must be examined for legitimacy. I do not believe that all matters of wishing to limit one’s reproduction come under this category, however. Neither does the Catholic Church, which is why it allows natural family planning (which Tennant acknowledges, accepts, and practices). Strangely, she speaks both against and in favor of conception-control at the same time. First, she shares that after working on a piece by the Torodes, a couple who practice no family planning whatsoever,
...gradually, my reservations [about giving up the “security” of the Pill] gave way to fascination with the authors' reckless surrender.

Then Tennant explains that her decision to stop using the Pill was clinched by a talk with Amy Laura Hall. (I have posted commentary on another of Hall’s interviews.)

Why, she [Hall] asked, do we feel the need to perfectly time and fit children into our busy schedules? Is this a Christian instinct?

If not, then why do so many practice NFP, which obviously is done because some feel the need to “time” and “fit” children into their lives and families in some way? NFP certainly does not represent a “reckless surrender” of one’s reproductive capacities to God.

I do agree with Hall’s assessment of our culture and decry it as she does:
"Only in a small number of cultures do we have the idea that adults should do their work, worship, and entertainment without the presence of children," she says.

Our culture is certainly deficient in its welcome and support of children, and this is something that must be reckoned with in regards to culpability. As I said in the above-linked post, one can only fight City Hall so much. One must live within the culture one is a part of because we are all dependent on our culture for our well-being and livelihood in many ways, and to deny this is to deny reality. Many people do live “alternative lifestyles” very successfully but not everyone can do so in the same ways due to circumstances and situations beyond their control.

Here is the major inconsistency in Tennant’s position:

Since his church members have got this NFP thing together, my husband and I took the Catholic Couple-to-Couple League's training course. NFP is no longer our grandmothers' calendar roulette. It can be tricky to master, but when properly applied, it can be 99 percent effective. Let me define "effective." In addition to bringing husbands and wives closer, NFP is great for planning pregnancy (no, I don't say this facetiously) as well as for delaying it.

But you never know.

And in this not knowing, we remain open. Consistent life ethicist that she is, Hall taught me that being pro-life isn't only about opposing surgical abortion. It's about opening ourselves to the risk and mess and uncertainty that accompany any God-sent guest we allow into our lives. The least we can do is leave our doors unlocked. Like Rahab did for the spies. Like Mary did for Jesus.

Tennant herself acknowledges in the article that “breakthrough” ovulation occurs with use of the Pill, and other forms of artificial contraception have “failure rates” as well. So, to compare the effectiveness of NFP as a method of contraception favorably with the effectiveness of artificial contraception yet at the same time assert that NFP “allows for openness to life” while artificial contraception does not is to state a contradiction! NFP may allow for a small percentage more “openness” than artificial methods of contraception, but to state that one is “open to life” while avoiding sexual intercourse during periods of fertility is to state an untruth.

This is how Tennant puts it:
It's one thing to get off the pill and another to be actively trying to conceive. Leaving my door unlocked doesn't necessarily mean that I must stand in the street, asking passersby to come in, right? I believe in free will. And in a Christian's right to use condoms and/or natural family planning (NFP). For a time that my husband and I will determine, we feel free not to solicit visitors.

Sounds to me like she’s trying to have her cake and eat it too. Which is her prerogative, of course, and perhaps represents a step, in her mind, toward giving up a measure of control of her (and her husband’s) reproduction. But I question the actual hard-and-fast, quantifiable difference in “openness to life” using NFP as opposed to the Pill for those who have the same purposes in using either method, i.e., “family planning.” (Yes, use of NFP may lead to somewhat more “openness to life,” and it is true that a couple must be more actively deliberate about avoiding conception when practicing NFP than when relying on the Pill, but still, said couples’ purposes in using either method are essentially the same.)

Though proponents of NFP will deny that this is the thinking of most users of NFP, the fact is that what Tennant says of the Pill can also be said of NFP:
What [does using NFP] say about my faith in the One who reduced himself first to a cell, then two, then 128, then 256 and more, then to a defenseless baby—and whose door is always open for helpless intruders like me? Could [NFP stand] for more than just a chance to get a fiscally responsible life before opening it up to stinky diapers? Could [it change] what cannot be seen under a microscope? Could it [serve] as one more safety lock on the door not just to my womb, but also to my figure, my marriage, my home, my career, my gym routine? (emphasis added)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

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Is heavy thinking ruining your life?

This was the LOL I needed this morning:

Are you a problem thinker? at Stand to Reason.

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another and soon I was more than just a social thinker...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Crystal Saint

I wrote the original version of this poem a long time ago. It was inspired by a stained-glass window at the back of a parochial building that I passed on walks to and from my apartment. (Sorry no photo; depiction’s in the poem)

Ah, you crystal saint
Staring from your firmament so far removed –
Upon reaching this crippled Eden, your
Ecstasy has congealed to a lucid
Petrification locked in lead;
Holy brilliance
Lingering in a pool of kaleidoscopic

You gaze as I pass, baptizing my path
With lily-drops of refraction:
A patch of temperance, a splash of
Patience, that fathomless blue wisdom. But
Oh, what subtle secrets do those
Dark and sumptuous robes enfold? To
What traditions do those frozen gestures
Pay tribute?

The milky dove will tell, diving from where
Your flat niche converges with the sublime.
And I, bathed in dappled hope, will
Taste your many-colored
Wines and partake of your
Bread of comfort til
At dusk you withdraw in mute intensity
To splendor far beyond the lengthening
Shadows, leaving me alone upon
This faded earth
To pray.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

yellow leaves 5

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I tried to capture the slightly dizzying, exhilarating experience of standing under this tree watching the wind shake up the leaves.

(Which are gone now, two days later...a storm blew through and away went the leaves...)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

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Friday, November 04, 2005

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The Rhyme

by OJEL,* age 6

Once upon a time
I caught a rhyme.
So I took it to the sea
And it turned into a bee.
It stung me so I took it home
And put it in a box.
And it turned into an ox.
So I put it on a plane
And it turned into a train.
I got sick of it.

*my son

Thursday, November 03, 2005

yellow leaves 1 Posted by Picasa

Thank you, God, for life

Today marked the anniversary of my birth. Woop-de-doo. I really don’t care, except that the occasion has caused me to reflect, briefly, on my life. When I think of what I have been allowed to experience, and what I have learned, what I have learned about love, and the hope that I’ve come to know that was not always a part of my life, well, I fall on my face (figuratively, if not literally) before the Father.

But then I think of how utterly selfish and self-absorbed I still am, and how much I still have to learn, and I marvel that God is so extremely patient and wonderful that He might still use me for His purposes in spite of myself. I thank God for those who love me in spite of my faults and flaws. I thank God for those who have expressed appreciation for anything I’ve ever done, knowing full well that what they are really appreciating is God, for He is responsible for whatever good may come of me.

I thank Him for those who aren’t loving toward me, for they remind me that He calls me to love as He has loved me. (A lesson I am way too slow in learning – forgive me, Lord.)

I thank Him for blogging. I thank Him that He has brought the situations and circumstances of my life to a point at which blogging is a culmination of sorts. I pray that I would not abuse this gift, nor try to make it my own.

To my readers: thank you; I wish you great blessings. Keep me accountable, ‘K?

P.S. I almost didn't post this, because, well, I almost didn't. But what the hey.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

bird-of-paradise, CA Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Thanks to Bob Smietana, Features Editor for the Covenant Companion magazine, for clueing me in to, a blog for members of the Evangelical Covenant Church (of which I am one). A couple of posts there that caught my eye recently:

Who are we?

An administrator of the Covenant Blog asks, “What does it mean to be an Evangelical?” A very good question. What do you say?

Let’s be real

Gary Means at Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit has some Thoughts on Revealing Who We Are. I loved this post.

It's very common on that forum for a newcomer to apologize when they begin posting. They generally feel that they, and their post, are unworthy of consideration, or somehow wrong. They fear being perceived as whining, or being told that they are making a mountain out of a molehill, or that in sharing, they will be perceived as "unspiritual". The last thing they want is more judgement, and they DO NOT want more scriptures thrown at them. Sadly, the church has usually given them plenty of reason to fear all those things.

So then why does a newcomer press on, and post?

First, they are saying that they trust the people in the forum enough to risk revealing a bit of who they really are. They are giving the gift of trust. They also are saying that they value the company, opinions, and support of the people in the forum enough to risk reaching out to us.

Mr. Means considers this a gift, and rightly so. He goes on to say,
But it's also a gift to the person who shares. As we share who we really are (in any context), and are met with understanding and acceptance, this begins to dispel the lies that we are unworthy of love, or "that if others knew who I really am", they would reject me. We also know that we are NOT ALONE.
I think it's safe to say that we've all had bad experiences being open and vulnerable with other Christians. We have learned that it is not safe to be authentic in the Church. That is so NOT what God has in mind!!

We need to confess to one another (James 5:16), with proper discretion, and allow other Christians to exercise compassion, exhort us, and pray for us. We need to do this for others. We all need the give and take (give and give?) of true fellowship, and not just online.