Monday, January 31, 2011

My Face Hurts!

"A man's wisdom makes his face shine, and the hardness of his face is changed." - Teacher in Ecclesiastes

I was listening to NPR on the way to my office. I don't know why I listen to NPR, it just makes me feel stupid most of the time. One reason I listen is I've been duped by the false belief that if I listen long enough I'll start getting smarter through some sort of osmosis-like-radio-wave miracle. It hasn't happened yet. I'll let you know. Or perhaps my blog posts will become super-duper brilliant and you will know!

They were talking about opera this morning. I'm starting to suspect that NPR has a secret list of things that they talk about in order to make the commoner feel extra stupid. As they blabbed esoterically on about opera, one of the hosts said in a very matter of fact manner how we all have two faces - one we show to the world and one that really is us. I'm thinking, "Ouch, this isn't the kind of material they should share on a Monday morning."

Sadly, this (smarty-pants) radio host (meanie) has me pinned. Yesterday I cheerfully shared with two Sunday School classes what we're called to in ministry with Student Venture. And yesterday I was a ball of nerves, anxiety, comparison and fear. I definitely have two faces. Melissa can confirm it.

It's not that I'm a total hypocrite. I confess my hypocrisy hypocritically before every hypocritical message I share. God help me!

No don't get me wrong, I believe I can share cheerfully about God's call on me without hypocrisy. He has done and is doing something exciting in us and in our ministry with teens. But sometimes I really, really don't feel up to the task. Sometimes my face positively hurts from my personality disorder!

It's in these times that God reminds me that he's about the transformation in my life of giving me just one face. A face that shines the same light before men (to get biblical) that it shines before Melissa, my children and is reflected back to me in the mirror every morning.

That's why I love the Gospel. The gap between who we really are and what we show to the world isn't supposed to be there, it's supposed to disappear. We can be ourselves the more we let God's wisdom shape who we are. Our faces, as the verse above says, can move from being hard to actually shining!

There is hope for people like me on Mondays. The week I face isn't impossible. I don't have to put up all these pretensions to face the world. I can simply turn to God and ask him to take my anxiety, fear, comparison, and my host of hypocritical sins that I feel I must hide and grant me his face of peace, his face of Shalom.

Here I KNOW I don't know what I'm talking about. It is very mysterious. But the very grace that already payed for our fake faces, is now at work on us, giving us the reality of a new face. I wonder if this is what CS Lewis was talking about in "Till We Have Faces?" I bet it is... Yeah, I figured it out! On a Monday too!

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Brain Hurts Like Hell!

Do we follow a wrathful God?

Did God crucify his son?

Is God responsible for Hell?

These are just a few of the questions that popped up in a conversation I was having with a friend yesterday. Needless to say, I was struck dumb. But then my brain had some time to catch up and here are a few of my thoughts:

How do you explain God's wrath? He wiped out nations in the OT didn't he? He delivered up his son to the cross with full foreknowledge. His very first Covenant with Abraham involved butchering animals!

To our western modern minds if God doesn't seem evil, he certainly seems to dabble in it with his wrath. I want to take a close look at this suspicion in this short blog and see if I can take a swing at this issue. Forgive me as I may miss the mark completely! I'm wading into some mystery here. I welcome any comments and help you may have.

Let's start with the fall of Adam and Eve. They willfully tried to become like God. There's was a grasping mistrust in the love of God similar to our thoughts today. This mistrust has warped our view of God's good wrath as well. And it's warped my thinking so that many better minds who read this could help me. Help!

Adam and Eve brought the curse into this world. God cursed it, because He's good and they had rejected him. So is God responsible for evil? No. We are. Is he in control, yes. For he cursed creation. I don't believe he cursed like we curse, in some sort of spiteful "curse you" manner. He intervened like a man who sees a woman being beaten on the street. He saw his creation being abused by us since the only order that really is good is centered on him. We attempted to center it on us. So he withdrew some of his goodness that held things together. Obviously he left some of his goodness in that everything didn't go "BOOM!" But it was quite a curse for he is quite good!

Let's look at the cross. Who put Jesus on the cross? For that matter, who invented crucifixion? Humans did. We put him there physically, and we invented the device by which he died.
What did God do in the crucifixion? He was willing to have his son put to death, take on the curse of the fall and to withdraw his presence. The lack of God's presence, the presence without which there is no good, means all that is left is hell. Jesus felt the full rupture of broken relationship for us. He felt the full good wrath of God towards evil. He felt the anger God feels towards our evil.

The biblical pattern seems to be that God turns people over to their own evil desires. This is their punishment. And he turned Jesus over to the world's evil.

Now let's look at Hell. Is it God's invention? I know I'm on tricky ground here, but I don't think Hell is God's invention in that he was sitting around and was thinking, "I'd really like for people to burn in a lake of eternal fire." I believe it's our invention. His wrath is holy and good, he is angry and hates sin. So what does he do? He punishes by withdrawing his presence, protecting all that is good, and we are left with hell. The hell of our own making. His grace is that he puts boundaries on hell. Now I feel like I may be off here, God's wrath is active, but it seems to be active through scripture in order to protect his good creation.

So what does this leave us with? A good God who's interaction with evil is to destroy it. He feels great good wrath towards it. This may be a more helpful paradigm than thinking of God inventing hell, maliciously inventing a curse for mankind, and actively sacrificing his own son. I don't know and welcome your feedback.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Joel Osteen: the Perfect Neighbor

"Save yourself from this wicked and crooked generation." - Peter at Pentecost

I got to watch Joel Osteen being interviewed by CNN's new pundit Pierce Morgan. How Pierce ever got the job as Larry King's successor, I'll never know. From "America's Got Talent" to CNN, that's quite a switch!

Interviews and stuff like this are interesting to me, and I'm not exactly sure why. But I believe I got a glimpse into what just might be going on in me while I watch. As the interview went on and on and on (due to infinite commercials. One included a snake tempting an Eve character - I had to switch channels due to the sensuality. But oh the irony!), I kept waiting with pent-up excitement for Pierce to ask Joel and his wife a difficult question. He did ask a few and his wife, who seems like sort of an accessory to the Joel show, bailed him out of a few slightly difficult situations. Like calling homosexuality a sin for example.

As the interview went along I found myself genuinely liking Joel. He seems like a really nice guy: gentle, kind, shy and down to earth. He's the kind of guy I'd like to be my neighbor. He'd laugh at all my really sad puns, invite me over for coffee and perhaps even take me shopping for a new Bentley (that's low Philip). I know he'd read my blog and leave comments, which would greatly help my self-esteem (hint, hint).

I really like Joel. His wife oozed my sentiment: "I like my little Joely, he's got such a sweet smile and is sooo cuddly!" She didn't actually say this, but she would have if prompted.

"So what's wrong with the guy?" I'm thinking.

Let's break it down. What is his basic message? "Be true to yourself and follow your heart." Hmm. "God wants to bless you!" Hmm.

My pastor friend has given me what is called the "Gospel Grid." It's helpful in understanding the key components that make up our faith. You may be familiar with it. If not you're probably not saved (ha!). It goes like this: one vector represents God's holiness and goes up from the horizontal plain and another goes down and it's called our sin. The cross bridges the gap between the two vectors. (Are they "vectors?" If not you have to give me points for my mathematical style.)

The way the grid should work is that as we move along the horizontal plain from the time of "new birth" our view of God's holiness and our view of the depth of our own sin should grow in both directions, thus making the cross bigger and bigger until its huge! In my case the cross is huge at about 80 or 90! And if you wind up a spiritual guru like Joel, the cross should be all you can talk about.

Unfortunately Joel didn't talk about it at all. I may have missed it as I was switching around watching some of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (what a show by the way!). But the only time he even mentioned sin, was when Pierce asked him about homosexuality. Joel really couldn't avoid it, it'd get him into too much hot water with his constituency, but boy did he wish he could say it wasn't a sin. It was pretty evident.

So what's wrong with Joel? On the horizontal plain, not too much really. He's a much better guy than I am. On the horizontal plain he probably beats me hands down.

What's wrong with Joel is probably similar to what was wrong with Gandhi except that Gandhi at least would have been repulsed by all the riches. So maybe Gandhi would have beaten Joel in a match of morals. I don't know.

So I'll ask it again, what's wrong with Joel and Gandhi? I'll go ahead and say it: their audacious and inexcusable pride before a living God. They believe and believed that they could and can bridge the gap to God.

I think the same thing all the time. I reduce the Good News to practically nothing when I think, "I'm a pretty good guy, God forgives me and why wouldn't he want to bless me?"

I forget that I am in a "wicked and crooked generation." I am "wicked" in that I defy God's law and want nothing to do with him. I am "crooked" in that everything that I believe and have been brought up to believe about morality is backwards.

I think good morality is about me being good. It's not. It's about me being perfect. Only one God is perfect. Only one God can save. And we are desperately wicked. Our deepest suspicions of our depth of brokenness and sin are never deep enough.

My thinking has been so hijacked by me and the world around me that it's been a long hard road to a realization that I am in fact "wicked." But with this growing realization, I'm beginning to see that I am in fact "righteous" through the Cross. Ironically it's a really encouraging place to be, for here and only here is there real hope.

If you're like me, and have a hard time seeing what's wrong with such nice guys like Joel. Just take it on faith, there's a lot wrong. Heck there's a lot wrong with you and me. You might say there's a "hell-load" of stuff wrong (for didn't Jesus experience Hell/God's full wrath on the cross?), we just need the Spirit's eyes to see it. He's who prompted Peter to say this at Pentecost.

May we "save ourselves from this wicked and crooked generation." Cling to that cross. Cling tight...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Oh God My Robot..."

I just finished reading the story of Jephthah and his Rash Vow in Judges, where he makes a deal with God that he'd offer God whatever came out of his house in sacrifice if God would grant him victory over the "something-ites."

This story has me thinking, "How often do I make deals with God?"

"Oh God My Robot, grant that I might be able to get out of bed this day and I will do my best to not hate my fellow humans who have me under the covers in petrified fear in the first place."

"Oh God My Robot, grant that I might feel very good today, and I will do my best to have my devotions, write on my blog, make support raising phone calls today, brush my teeth, and try not to hate people."

"Oh God My Robot, grant that I might vanquish all of my foes of fear, resentment and worry, and I will quit doing all the fun stuff I like to do."

I believe that anytime I make deals with God, I do so from a position of gross misunderstanding of his revealed truth about himself. He is no Robot. He is no deal-maker. The only deal he made was a Covenant. And that wasn't a deal as we think of them. It was a one-way promise of steadfast love way beyond our puny comprehension. Or rather, it was two ways and he figured out how to keep both. How's that for our mysterious God?

God is a mystery. And anytime I reduce him to a simple wish or request granter I treat him like a robot.

It's funny, when I became a believer for the first time (I've prayed the sinner's prayer thousands of times since - because I believe I can save me - but really I only need have prayed once), my parents in the height of irony now that I think of it, gave me a robot. From their perspective they were giving me a gift to mark the occasion in my 4 year old brain. It really worked, and I'd recommend this to other parents, but the choice of a robot is funny.

It's funny now that I think about it for the first time, for perhaps it was prophetic of the God I would come to believe in as I grew older and thus more selfish. On an aside: I do believe in original sin, but I also believe in me, and "I" as I have grown up have done stuff that makes original sin blush. Somehow, I don't think that I was as sinful then as I am now.

But my belief in God as "Oh God My Robot" did begin relatively early. As I grew, I sought to put him on the bookshelf of my life and go on my business about me.

That's why I'm thankful for stories like Jephthah's Rash Vow. It was "rash" and in a very Ancient Hebrew Narrator sort of way. In fact it's so subtle they don't even say it's rash, they just say it's a vow. But it's begging to be uncovered. For it was an absurd vow! It was ludicrous! It went against everything God was for and about!

First off, God didn't need Jephthah, Jephthah needed God, and may I add a serious overhaul of his perspectives on God. Let's put on our pocket protectors and nerdy hats, and serious coffee breath for a moment: in my ESV Joshua commentary (Thanks Dad! My Dad helped write the bible!), it says that Jephthah's language in his vow implies that he may not have simply had animals in mind but said, in the original Hebrew, "whoever" might come out to meet him. In his vow he included the possibility of human sacrifice!

Umm, Jephthah, God is sort of against human sacrifice last time I checked. Even my Oh God My Robot could tell you that!

But then I do the same thing: sort of willfully fitting God into my categories, categories that fit neatly around my agenda. I do all kinds of damage. I don't sacrifice people. But I do sacrifice people.

Those around me hurt when I simply relate to Oh God My Robot, rather than God my loving father and LORD - you see it, all caps, that's very biblical!

I think I sometimes believe that since God gave his very own Son for me, we've entered into a one-way relationship in which he meets all of my desires all of the time. It's a horrific misunderstanding.

God gave me his son, not so I would do the further damage of viewing him as Oh God My Robot who would bequeath to me anything I want (I used "bequeath." I have a rich vocabulary, so why can't I win at Scrabble or Boggle? Will someone please answer this mystery?)

He wants his gift to reshape my heart, to take the blindfolds off my eyes and enable me to walk, skip and jump within His love. And to sing with "undumbed" lips (or not sing depending on whether I'm in the shower or not) about his never-ending, never-failing, always and forever steadfast love.

For the time being, I'm blessed with a God who condescends (in every loving meaning of the word) to my habitual address of "Oh God My Robot." But the more he's teaching me to relate to Him as "Oh God My Lover/Lord/Rescuer/Friend/Brother" the more life becomes less about me, and for that I am blessed. And for that, I have the hope that I won't sacrifice those I love, to the God of me.

Here's to NOT sacrificing people today!

"I said DON'T sacrifice Buddy. Aw man, will somebody please put Buddy out! Timmy, why are you smiling? How many times have I told you not to light Buddy? I know, he does have a terrifically funny scream and he bursts into a beautiful ball of flame, but it's not funny for him, alas."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Brain's Spaghetti Junction

I don't know why I'm writing this morning. It's raining outside, cold and just plain miserable. Sure, I'm in a coffee shop, all cozy and warm, listening to the weird new age music and the subtle clinking of cups and conversations, as well as the lady clicking away on her keyboard behind me. She must be a prolific writer. Jerk!

It's just that at times like these, when I feel I don't have much to write about that I'm finding out that my mind is simply a spaghetti junction of thoughts. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think I have anything that profound to say, it just helps me to straighten out a few of the highways - send a few vehicles out in the right direction, so I write in order to get there.

Life is a funny thing. Last night I was pondering it with Melissa and we were talking about God's gift of sleep, where we are finally forced to surrender completely to his control. No longer are we under the allusion that we are little gods when we sleep.

Sometimes I wish I could sleep all the time. It's a taste of the peace and shalom that, as a believer, I think I'm supposed to have all the time. As I looked into a few posts back, there's something really exciting about the reality of God in the believer's life. Understatement.

The fact that we do everything "in Christ." With his presence active in the middle of our lives. His life "templing" within us is pretty amazing. Sometimes it makes me feel a little schizophrenic. Whose thoughts are whose, how do I pray and whatnot?! And at others it gives me great peace and courage.

The times when I feel most depressed are when I don't believe in this core truth: that Jesus is within me. For when I do, his peace and riches are mine, and I really don't "need" anything else. It's a rare and restful place to be. One which I covet to experience more often.

Yesterday I was sharing with some friends who are bold enough to admit they are as needy as me, how I swing from pride to fear and back from fear to pride. It's like life is giving me "underdogs" and I'm going "Wheee!" happy in my little world of unhappiness.

Rarely do I ever find my true center. The reality based in reality that "I am way worse than I can imagine and way more loved than I'd ever dare hope." But when I do, wow, it makes a difference. All of the sudden I have freedom, freedom to be me, freedom to live, breath, turn off my brain and simply rest. It's a wonderful place! With the Psalmist I think of the broad place of beauty that God has cleared before me.

So today, if you're like me, at once prideful and fearful, swinging like crazy, unable to slow down with a spaghetti junction of freeways running through your head - thought-cars slamming into each other, flipping over guardrails and bursting into huge balls of flame, my prayer is that you'd find Christ within. The one who ushers us crazy humans into peace. The one brings true quiet. And the one who really loves you. He loves you.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I am a mad man. A mad man in the furious grip of a living God.

Am I just being dramatic? Perhaps. If I was a girl, I’d be a drama queen! As a guy I’m just really weird. But the more I learn about myself the more I learn that I actually am justifiably insane. While not certifiably insane (the jury’s probably still out on that one), one could easily look at my case and come to the just conclusion that I live in a made-up reality.

My reality is dominated by fear, delusion, perception, suspicion, anxiety and busyness. Often all this leads to me being paralyzed in a restless blob of confusion and worry. My world is dominated by the great evil of comparison.

For example, if you are good at something, I will compare myself with you and come out feeling like the world’s worst wretch. If you are bad at something, I will compare myself with you and come out feeling like the world’s best winner. I’m a comparing machine. I can do it with my eyes closed.

I don’t even have to know you to compare myself with you. In fact that may even hamper my ability to sum you up in a few simple perceptions (or lack thereof) and calculate were I fall in the game of life in relation to you. This reminds of the “Me-Monster” that lurks within.

As a comedian once put it “What’s wrong with the human condition that we constantly have to compare ourselves to others. We sit and wait for someone to tell their story so that we can tell our’s to top them. We are just waiting for them to finish so we can pounce and show them up. We listen: ‘You, you, you, blah, blah, blah… NOW ME! WAMMO! You’re way down here, I’m way up here! Can you see the difference?!!’”

With Paul I echo the sentiment, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

The world I live in my head is nowhere near the world my body inhabits. I’ve shared my comparison problem with lots of people and I’ve gotten two really helpful thoughts (just so you know, the rest were way beneath me). One is never to compare your reality with your perception of someone else’s, you’ll always lose. The other is that the only valid comparison is you as the way you were and you as the way you are now. Thank God for mentors who are so above me!

I live in a cut-throat culture. Your loss is my gain. My gain is your loss. If you take a piece of the American pie, I’ll rip it out of your greedy hands and shove it into my gaping mouth as quick as possible. Plus if it’s pecan pie, which I am in love with, I will beat you to keep you from even soiling it with your greedy hands. All pecan pies everywhere should be MINE!

A friend of mine shared that in a recent survey asking students whether they would rather take a failing grade that was above their peers or a passing grade that was bellow them, something like 80% said they’d take the failing grade.

All of this is yet another reason that the Gospel and Kingdom of God shakes things up for us humans. In it we meet a God who quit the competition, handicapped himself in the incarnation and lost his life so that we might win. “He became poor that we might become rich.”

That’s the reason I’m in the "furious" grip of God. I may be totally mad, wacko, and out of touch with the most basic perceptions of reality, but my God is in touch. He knows what my reality is. My reality is that I’m his and nothing can touch me. Sure I let a ton of stuff get me down. But God doesn’t. He loves me with a furious love. A love that cannot be quenched. A love that enters into the darkest storms in my soul and says, “Peace, be still.” He’s working on me, shaping me so that I can re-enter reality and become “happy, useful and whole.” I’m not there yet, but I get tastes. And they are sweet!

If you’re mad like me. Take your insanity to God. He’s got a little insanity himself, headed in the directions of love, peace and shalom. And he’ll show you a better kind of madness. So here’s to being crazy, mad and insane in God’s kingdom, it’s the only way to be, one way or another.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Dude and dudettes! This is my 5oth blog! So I want to celebrate. And what better way to celebrate than to write down some random thoughts that nobody in their right mind will ever read? Actually, I read my stuff all the time, totally overlooking grammar, syntax and spelling issues (I find my mess-ups endearing). It's sort of narcissistic, but hey we all need a little narcissism in our day. It makes us feel beautiful and reminds us that we really are the center of the cosmos.

That's why I'm so excited about having reached 5o blog posts. It validates what I'm doing. Soon publishers will be knocking on my door. They'll line up, begging for a chance to have a piece of me. And while I will generously hear their pleas, listening with polite interest, I will sadly announce that because of my rising fame, I'm going to publish my own work independently. "After all," I will remind them, "it is about me!"

That's the danger of blogging: seeing your writing in any sort of organized fashion, may lead you to believe that you must be heard for you are profound, deep and relevant. The truth that I'm learning is that I am simply one among many, and by "many" I mean 6.5 billion peeps. I've got nothing to add that hasn't been said already in one form or another. "Blah, blah, blah," Philip writes.

But some things need to be said again and again. Like how mysterious our God is. How wild his passionate love for us is. How he is a sure anchor for our souls. How the Gospel speaks and speaks and speaks. How it's always "Good" and always "New" in any and every situation we find ourselves in. I guess that's why it's called the Good News!

And there's things about me that are begging to be let out. Things that I can only work out if I write about them. Thoughts, fears, struggles, and joys that writing seems to purify and reveal. Some of you might not think of yourselves as writers. Some of you may sit down in front of the computer and express your life story in "I woke up and brushed my teeth. The END." But I really doubt it. I've never met anyone who's story wasn't interesting, and whose fears, struggles, hopes, joys and thoughts didn't help me in my journey.

So some of you may not like writing. I understand. It wasn't until I was given the freedom to really write some lame stuff, that I began to enjoy it. Plus, my Mom and Dad enjoy my lame stuff, for which I have to give them a hand for being encouraging beyond reason. They rejoice in my thoughts. Maybe because they know me and they are thoroughly surprised that I think!

It's funny, I can't wait to see what my kids will write about. If they choose to notice that peanut butter is made out of peanuts and are fascinated by it's qualities, I'll be thrilled! Why? Because those kids are my kids. What they write and do is precious to me.

And of course this leads me to how God must view us. If he "rejoices over us with singing" and "dances over us," my guess is that he goes absolutely nuts when we attempt to create and reflect his beauty. It's a cool and encouraging thought.

And speaking of encouraging, it's sunny outside, I've had some really good coffee, it's Friday and I've reached 50 entries. If you struggle with melancholy like I do, times like this are times to celebrate, times to revel in and times to relish, because I think they might give us just a hint of what the real celebration will be one day when we little creators meet our Big Creator. Just imagine the projects we'll take on together, imagine the curiosities overturned, the laughter and the bottomless depth of satisfaction of working in line, in tune and in concert with God. I hope you get a taste of this reality now!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our Lives, God's Home

"...the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved..." - Paul

How often do we focus on the fact that we are "being saved"? That Jesus' work continues on in us and through us. And thankfully, it goes on in spite of us!

I know I tend to think of Jesus simply having saved me from my sins. But our faith is more robust than that isn't it? Jesus has now taken up residence within us! My guess is he hasn't set up his Blue-Ray player and is busy watching re-runs of Dukes of Hazard. My guess is he's wanting to do stuff!

So here comes the mystery of our "being saved." NT Wright has done some shuffling of categories in regards to justification and sanctification, and I find his thoughts, while not authoritative, helpful. For, if I understand him correctly, he says that God's work in Justification, giving us Christ's righteousness, is an ongoing process. This seems to echo the verse above and the verse that encourages us "to work out our salvation with fear and trembling."

God's justifying work in us is dynamic! It spreads out into every area of our lives. It brings righteousness, right God-life, into all of our mess. And it spreads God-life into the lives and situations of others.

I find this really encouraging. Whether you call it sanctification or consider it the working out of God's justification, I believe that the Good News, which can't ever get any better, gets better and better for us experiencially as we receive the grace of "working it out" in our various lives and struggles. How's that for a riddle?!

The fact that we are currently covered by Christ's righteousness out-trumps the idea that Jesus only died for our sins way back when. Jesus' reality is our present reality. It's the only real thing for us.

This has all sorts of ramifications. We can be profoundly encouraged that we are always "in Christ." Whether we're out sinning or doing the good works he called us to, we're in Christ. Whether our lives feel like a complete sham or feel great, we're in Christ. Whether we feel like we're on top of the world or we feel like we are the refuse of the earth, we're in Christ.

Jesus' reality strips us of both pride and shame. We find ourselves as not worthy, but worthy in him. We have nothing to boast of besides him, and all of our shame is wrapped up in him.

It's taken me years to understand this. I'm motivated by both pride and shame, they're the way of the world. "The Way," Jesus' way, goes the opposite direction. As someone said "I am no longer the terd at the center of the universe."

It's from the ways of the world and self that we are being saved. Our home in the world. We are being saved from lies about self, God and others. And we are being brought back into the real world.

So here's to Aslan's country, God's reality. Let's not just be visitors with nametags that read "saved," but daily find our home in Christ. May we cling to this hope. For this hope is the realest thing about us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


"This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life." - Psalm 119

Abandonment. The word strikes all sorts of negative chords in my heart. Fear, anxiety, insecurity, restlessness, hopelessness, anger and deep, deep sadness. And yet for me and for many other Christians we live with a fear of abandonment by our God.

Why is this? What makes us so insecure in the reality of God's trustworthiness and promise? My guess is that as we begin to see more and more of who we are, we begin to see the audacity of thinking that we could be wed to God. I believe this is perfectly natural.

A friend of mine echoed this sentiment the other night when he said, "For the longest time I lived under the fear that God would abandon me, and it was a horrible burden to carry." He's right, it's too much for any of us to carry. If our hope is set on Christ, to make that hope precarious by believing that our merit gives or takes away anything, makes us profoundly insecure and unhappy.

I do this all the time. I have a really hard time believing that God accepts me, warts and all. And I know the right Christianeze, that God sees Christ's righteousness when he looks at me. But it's one thing to understand and another entirely to experience.

It's popular to talk about "leaning" or "pressing" into the Gospel these days. To these helpful terms I would add the idea of putting our full weight on what God says about us. As we do this, and we step out onto the shaky looking bridge of the Gospel, we find that it does in fact bear our weight (thank you Dan Gilchrist).

God's promise is sure. But what is his promise? That he will make all things new. That we will have life in Him. That everything will be made right. His re-creation of His universe began in the incarnation, reached his climax on the cross, and will culminate in his final return.

This is all well and good. But in the hum-drum of my everyday I really find it hard to believe. What difference does it make? I still seem as sinful as ever, even though I have seen growth. I still believe in my independance and resources, even though all the evidence points towards the futility of doing this. I still am angry, bitter, manipulative, selfish and self-absorbed even though I follow a God who as a human was perfectly in line with what it means to be holy and gave his life away.

I guess each day I've got to remind myself that first off, God will never abandon me. Second I've got to believe in the "even though"s I described above. And third I've got ask God to help me put my full weight on the Gospel alone.

Jesus plus anything is nothing. I've got to remember this. For it brings real joy, real freedom and confident happiness in my Rescuer, Friend, Father-God. And I believe it's the answer to our all to human fear of abandonment. For when we try God's bridge of the Gospel, it always holds.

As I heard expressed at a funeral, when we reach heaven's gate we will finally fully believe the truth that God's life for us includes us. We will express in incredulity "Me too!" and have the rest of eternity to ponder the love that chose not to abandon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Having a Case of the "MUNDAYS"?

I love writing. Especially on Mondays. Maybe I'm trying to avoid work, or I simply have an intellectual itch I need to scratch. But a lot of yucky stuff hits the fan on Mondays for me and I can't think of a better way to clean it all up than to write.
Once I get words down in black and white, I can begin to make sense of my internal life. If you're like me, you may wonder around muttering to yourself something that my aunt over-heard my uncle saying to himself, "So many thoughts running through my head." I bet she caught him on a Monday.

Mondays are ominous for the western man/woman, maybe even more ominous for the western man-woman (ha). They represent all the stuff that's got to get done in order to earn more stuff. The idea being that if we pile up enough material stuff, the other less tangible stuff, like troubling emotions, won't be able to climb over the piles we've made. It's definitely a rat race for most of us. Even for missionaries.

Mondays always remind me of a line in the movie Office Space, where an annoying lady in the office says to the poor stressed out protagonist, "Aw, it looks like somebody is having a case of the MUNDAYS." Later in the movie, he relates this to his buddy who works construction, asking if anyone has ever said something like this to him. His response is classic, "Na dude, hell no, I'd reckon somebody would get there ass kicked for saying something like that man" (Pardon my French. Ever notice how adept construction workers are at French?). Thus the picture of cooperate cubicle America is complete.

My guess is that a mixture of worry, fear and boredom fill the cubicles of this big country. That's why I believe the show The Office has been such a hit. It parodies all the stuff that just makes our stomachs tighten up at the inhumanity and ludicrous lives we live in these strange little offices.

Right now, I'm really blessed. I don't have to sit in a conventional office. I even get to blog! But I'm currently raising support to leave Chattanooga and slip into "cubicle world." As a support staff member with Student Venture, my guess is I'll be thumping my head on the desk with the best of them before my first week is over. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to get to our headquarters in Orlando and begin my job in earnest: writing about the Gospel for young people, but I have a picture of a cubicle in my mind that I just can't shake. There's something inhuman about them.

I've related before how much I love the outdoors. Recently I've been getting up early enough to see the sunrise. Or at least see part of it. It's a magnificently refreshing thing, especially on Mondays. The reason for me that it's so refreshing is that I'm reminded of the fact that I'm simply a creature in creation under a creator. In those moments I'm reminded of my place, and most of the worries that accompany Mondays fade into oblivion like the darkness being chased away by the light.

God's light and truth encourages us not to worry. The most common command for us creatures in the Bible is to fear not. And here we live in a culture that thrives on fear. And this robs us of what it means to be truly human.

I hope that today you are reminded that there's a deeper reality than your MUNDAY and you can smirk at all the memos, to-do lists and restlessness that may rule your office. If you accept the real reality that your Creator reigns, you can happily accept you are but a small creature, special in his eyes and commanded not to worry. Or in my case to take your truckload of worries to him.

I hope this helps somebody. I worry it won't...

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Totally Stoked" on the Bible

"Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!" - Psalm 119

Do you feel like a sojourner? What is a "sojourner?" Alright, I just Googled it and it means "a temporary resident." Isn't Google fantastic!

I feel like a sojourner sometimes. The CS Lewis quote that says something sort of like "If you find in yourself a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the truth may be that you were made for another world" really rings true with me.

I feel an ache for another home all the time. Not all of the time but a lot! Sometimes I greedily plow through a day digging for anything that will give me escape or pleasure. Other times I'm reminded of how futile self-centered living is and seek to serve God and others. But in whatever frame of mind I'm in, there's always something at the back of my mind whispering "This is not all."

I love the verse above because it recognizes that life, true life is to be found in God's word. As we are temporary dwellers on this earth, where will we find meaning? I believe that we all have it on our bookshelves and nightstands. We have the Bible!

Rarely do I get as super-stoked (you are so relevant Philip!) as I should be to actually own God's entire testimony to man. But think about it, we actually do. As my brother once said in a youth-talk, we have 2,497 pages of story expressing God's great passion for us! At least according to my ESV Study Bible. My dad used to own a mini-bible that contained the entire bible in 2 inches cubed. You had to read it with a magnifying glass. It was really really cool until we lost it of course. I think the ants stole it.

But I believe, as do many Christians that the Bible contains it all. That with the Holy Spirit's help, we can find meaning, guidance, peace, hope, answers, truth, and ultimately life in this not-so-simple book. It's pretty amazing and something I think about often.

I find myself also wondering how I can find it so boring! I think I find it boring sometimes because I take so little time to figure out the context and how I should actually read the scripture I'm in. Try taking up The Lord of The Rings, opening to some random page and reading away. Your eyes will be glazing over in no time, unless you're a total nerd like me and pretty much have the story memorized. On a side note I was playing Scrabble yesterday and was really disappointed to find out that "Orc" is not an actual word. Not only did it cost me points, but it shattered another little piece of my world.

I love reading my Bible these days. Not because I never get bored, I still do. But because I'm beginning to see how it all holds together. I have a weird daily reading plan in which I read something out of the Hebrew Law, Prophets and Writings, (Psalms and Proverbs too) and then something out of the Synoptics, John, Acts and the Epistles. It's nothing to fancy, but I inevitably find something to chew on and blog about.

It normally takes me about 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half to get through my reading. And I find that with my current life situation, of being full-time support raising missionary, I don't mind having extended devotions. If you've never used the Bible to get out of work, what's wrong with you?! It's the best excuse ever!

Anyhow, you can't really read the Bible for long, asking for God's will to do what you read, without finding yourself putting your hand back on the plow. That's the weird thing about reading it, it actually changes things! Well sometimes I resist. "Viva la Resistance!" is often my "hermeneutic" [which is a fancy term for "interpretive grid" (which is a fancy philosophical term for something)].

But often God's word breaks through and starts working on my heart. The Gospel is so infinitely attractive, compelling and attractive. How cool would it be if people in the church began to actually read this book again, realizing as the Psalmist does how important it is to "live and keep God's word." I believe that with as many strategies and earnest tear straining pleas I see on the TV for revival, especially when I'm watching TBN or "The Billy (wants your money to pay for those really dope spiny things on the wheels of his new Bentley) Network, all hosts should really say is "How about reading your Bible?"

Maybe its too simple of an answer, and I know that I'm just preaching (which I shouldn't be since I don't have an MDiv) to a choir (which, since I know most of you, may or may not sound so good depending on whether Joan is reading) because if you actually read my blog, you probably read your Bible. But maybe you're like I often am and you're not enjoying it. And maybe all this rambling will encourage you to again. Or maybe I just wrote such a boring blog entry that you'll be driven to reading your Bible. Either way I win.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Recently I've been encouraged to take a long hard look in THE MIRROR. I typically like looking in mirrors, flexing my muscles or making faces and what-not. But God has me in a process where I've been asked to look in the real mirror, God's mirror of truth which reveals the true Philip.

I'm reminded of the book, "Till We Have Faces," in which the entire book involves the main character's struggle with looking for and finding her real identity. I was going to insert a cool quote here, but I couldn't find it. Sorry. Read the book or ask Melissa as she wrote her undergrad thesis on the book. On a side note, I wrote mine on the reveered chairman Mao Tse Tung, as I felt I had a lot in common with him. The more I stand in front of THE MIRROR, the more I realize this to be the case.

In front of this mirror I see myself squirm and wriggle, it's so uncomfortable. I make excuses, blame others and do anything but accept the reality of my own moral messiness. For some reason, God's appointed this time in my life to be one of reflection and truth, a period in which I actually see some of who I am and what I've become. Thanks a lot God!

I guess I am thankful. For God is doing something in me that I can't tell you much about because I don't know what exactly it is. I know it involves transformation and making me more like his son, but he's the one doing it, so I don't know what the future holds.

That's hard, not knowing. I want to know that he'll remove all my little character defects and make me a useful kingdom servant. But God doesn't seem to work like that. He seems to take us through a process rather than an instant transformation. And as he's not dealing with "little character defects," this process is a divine mercy.

The fact that I can even look in the mirror, is because I've been given a face, the face of God's own son. His perfect right standing before God is my own. But God isn't done with me there. He wants me to look, from this position of strength, at some of my glaring sin. Thankfully he's being gentle. He knows that I couldn't handle seeing all of me at once.

So what am I writing about? And why am I sharing this with you? I'm not really sure. I've had two cups of coffee this afternoon and it has me feeling a little woozy and reflective. It has me in this weird conversation. I feel that I have something profound to say, which must be the caffeine speaking, and I feel nauseous, which is also the caffeine speaking. Caffeine, what a weird friend you are!

Am I writing to say something profound? Am I writing to encourage you? Are some of you being asked to stand in front of THE MIRROR too? Are some of you going through the excruciating but ultimately freeing and beautiful process of character transformation? Are you being asked to do things that go against every natural fiber of your being, simply because they are good and you are bad?

If any of these questions are yours, I think you're on the journey towards God in Christ. My guess is most if not all of you are faced with similar questions. And they're difficult. If you're like me you'd rather just take Christ's righteousness and coast through the rest of life pursuing self. Perhaps your reception of Christ is often like mine - a simple selfish act.

Selfish or not, I believe that Christ wants to transform you. He wants you to one day stand before THE MIRROR and just rejoice in what you see. To see what he's made of you. To see the real you as you were made to be.

We all hope we'll be fixed, healed and remade. For we all know or suspect there is something about us that is deeply wrong. This is one of the hopes of the Gospel. And the truth of the Gospel is that God's already doing it!

I hope we can find joy in the process and pain of this transformation and a hope that facing the truth about ourselves is the only way to a deeper experience of God.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Everybody's Future: Death

Tribulation. The word makes me "tribble" or, er, tremble. I have a friend who is familiar with the word. He faces it every day. By simply claiming association with Christ, his welfare may be in danger. I find this convicting and somewhat confusing.

After all, I live in the Bible Belt! Here to be a Christian is the norm. When I sit here in Starbucks I hear people talking about Jesus all the time, casually, with no shoulder-checking or hushed tones. Their talk is casual.

Just yesterday I heard two ladies talking about their tattoos interspersed with their relationship with Jesus. Needless to say I had to move. Their conversation made me feel to uncomfortable.
I have nothing against tattoos but, as I was writing my "Magnus Opus" yesterday, I needed to be able to focus (By the way, I have no idea what a Magnus Opus is and as usual I'm too lazy to google it.).

But perhaps you've heard about what's going on in Nigeria, where Christians are slaughtered. And maybe you don't want to admit it, but it has you uncomfortable and questioning if you have the sort of faith that could stand up in that sort of trial.

My default when there is potential bodily harm in my immanent future is to prepare by running to the basement and curl up in a ball. Or if I'm outside and threatened by one of nature's many menaces, a raccoon perhaps, to outrun whoever I'm with, trusting that the beast will enjoy my friend with less effort.

Would the faith I have and profess stand up under severe trial? I believe it would. But I certainly have my doubts. We live in a land of comfort and ease and our form of Christianity is not much different.

So am I just to embrace the status quo or is there something I could be doing now to prepare me for a robust faith. What sort of spiritual push-ups and pull-ups should I be doing?

I think I'm on to something when I ask God to help me die to myself and live for him. Little mini-deaths throughout my day not only draw me closer to God and real life, but they teach me of a faith that is bigger, a faith that could face the big D. I know I wouldn't be able to face death or persecution alone, just as I find it impossible to die to myself without God's empowerment.

But as I was reminded yesterday "with God all things are possible." And recently I've had this line from "Chariot's of Fire" bouncing around in my head: "what the world needs now is muscular Christians." Christians who in their weakness reveal God's great power and reality. Christians who hold onto their lives loosely because they are seeking another kingdom. Christians who aren't selfish and in fact are fed up with their selfishness and are leaning on God to live selflessly in every area of their lives.

This sort of faith requires an immanent God. A God who is truly with his people. A God who is with me. I pray that he would rescue me from my own habitual pursuit of self and help me be about things of real importance - like taking out the trash without grumbling. For it's these sort of mini-deaths that will prepare us for the Grim Reaper when he comes.

Grim Reaper, "HI PHILIP, IT'S TIME."

"Already? I'm only 75!"


"Oh. Well have you ever had a Big Mac? You have! You have to agree that it was worth it then."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Pack Heat

"... but she, out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on." - Jesus

First off, sorry about the picture. It's a gold-mine for social commentary. But that's not what I'm using it for today. If you own a belt buckle like this, you just might be a red-neck.
What I'm going to write about is how I'm in the scary business of asking people for money. It can be sort of painful, sometimes, maybe, sort-of. I'm really not that generous of a person myself, especially when I think of my time, my resources, and the "me monster" that lives within.

I've been told that I'm presenting people with an opportunity to give to ministry, something for which they will be blessed. And I agree. But my problem remains, I still have to ask said people for money. The words of "Will you give hand me your wallet for a sec?" have to come out of my mouth. Actually I find this isn't the best tack to take, most of the time anyway.

I, like many of you, often wish I could just have a "regular" job. My job has me feeling a little unstable. And as unstable as I am already, it's like playing with black powder - something my cousin experienced is a little more explosive than he thought. Even though I like "things going boom real big," I'll take his word for it for now, crazy cuz'.

"Do we have any takers for total dependency? Nobody. Really?!" The fact is right now I'm probably supposed to be calling people to drum up support and partnerships. But I just don't feel like it. I rarely do. I've met a few mad people who enjoy support raising, and I have to chalk their condition up to a severe chemical imbalance.

Perhaps their mom raised them on Starbuck's Coffee and Spree Candy. Whatever got them into the condition they're in, I pity them for I know that they can't really be enjoying what they're doing. One day all their pent-up strangeness will turn on them, and they'll be sorry for ever enjoying support raising. And I'll be watching.

Now I want you to know that I'm writing with my tongue thoroughly embedded in my cheek (I might have a cold sore. Ever notice how they taste like metal?). I actually do have many fun and enjoyable times in raising support. Many people are generous beyond their means, as in the verse above, but I also meet many people like me.

I don't know where all of this rambling is leading. "Where's it leading self?" Self, "I don't know, I'll drop subconscious a note." Subconscious, "Don't waste your time, I'm really busy..."

One thing I've been thinking about "the asking for money thing" is how it really puts me in a position of trust. I've got to trust that God will bring fruit from my efforts and that when I ask people they won't chase me down in order to threaten me with various and sundry unpleasant potential science projects (Using "sundry" in a sentence is source of great pride for me. I shall repent in many various and sundry ways.)

I know I'm not the first missionary to think of "packing heat" to my support appointments. Guns have the weirdest effect. Whenever you see somebody point a gun at someone else, the individual being pointed at pretty much always does whatever the dude with the gun wants. It's amazing! They do stuff even if they don't want to! Sometimes they do things they really really don't want to do, like give away their last Skittle. It's a fascinating sociological mystery that I'm sure someone in a lab coat will get to the bottom of someday.

But a gun, appropriately used, perhaps subtly laid beside my coffee cup, would enliven my discussions and get people talking in the directions I like. Whatever direction I like in fact. I find that if I wanted to talk about my old hobby of collecting "My Little Ponies" with my brother (yes Taylor, it's you), whoever I am talking to would gush on about "My Little Ponies"- how cute they are, how wonderful, how amazing with their glittering manes and tails and on and on. It's a curious reaction that I'm "imagining" (in case you're wondering).

But God doesn't hold a gun to us, does he? And here we see someone giving way above their means, in fact giving all they have. If any of you feel guilt ridden by the story, I'm with you, and if you want me to relieve you of a portion of your guilt I will gladly send you my giving info. And I won't even use a gun. Just kidding!!! About sending my giving info of course. Or the gun. I dunno.

Now in the past, I've made it a rule not to talk much about support-raising, or at least cast it in any sort of negative light. But what kind of lovey-dovey reality do I live in? Do I live where every thing is just fancy-pancy all the time and I prance around with sparkly ponies and chase rainbows. No. Hmm. No, that's my brother, Taylor.

I hope you all can detect the sarcasm, or language of the devil (as my Grandmother calls it), in this entry. I thought that you may enjoy getting inside the head of a fully-supported missionary for a little while. Especially one as goofy as me (On a side note to a side note: send me a comment if you loathe Goofy as much as I do.).

And I thought I'd have something positive to share from this story of the widow. I actually do, I'm getting to it, I just wanted to gripe or "be creative" for a bit. Sorry about that. The story of the widow teaches me that Jesus watches me, and that I have the potential to really bring him a lot of pleasure when I give much out of the little I have.

For me right now it's being stretched to ask people to partner with me in ministry and to do so without letting all my stinky thinking and pride getting in the way. And for this I am grateful. And really grateful for all the terrific folks I've met along the way - all those that I haven't had to pull a gun on.

What is it that stretches you? Does your job have you working with people (my condolences). Or perhaps you are on a fixed income or are currently in a financially unstable situation. Whatever your situation, I think this story is an encouragement, for it reminds us that Jesus is watching over us little ones and appreciates our sacrifices be they big or small.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Good News for Grumps

"... you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy." - Jesus to Peter and Co.

The way of the cross is not very attractive or exciting is it? When Jesus is preparing his disciples he warns them of the sorrow they will feel, the bitter bereavement of their dear friend and teacher. Of course he knew it didn't end there.

I get stuck in the present all the time. Or the past. Or the fear of the future. I can't seem to see the forest for the dang trees that keep poking me in the eyes. Life doesn't fit into my itinerary. If only it would get with my program. No matter how hard I try, it simply doesn't.

So more often than not, I walk around grumpy. I don't think of myself as an Eor, but I can certainly relate.

That's why it is so encouraging to hear that I don't hold the good cards in the poker game of life. God does, and yes I just "metophorized" God playing poker. I feel so hip and edgy!

But in the simple verse above I know that God is saying something to us today that really applies to our troubles and sorrows. Jesus knew that his great trouble, or excruciating ordeal on the cross, would bring about the world's only joy. I believe we need to think on that. There are so many implications.

One implication is that as we find sorrows, death and miseries honing in on us in the game of life, we can have the same confidence that Christ had. Our suffering will produce eternal joy not only for us but for the world. And not just for our enemies who mock. The Bible says their scoffing mouths will be silenced.

I don't know how God does it. It has something to do with Resurrection - the grand reversal of sinful reality and renewal of all that is good. "Explain that Phil." "No thanks!"

I have a lot of friends right now that are in the hole. And the walls around them are so high they can barely see the light of hope peeking in from the top. Many have brought their suffering on themselves. Many have been gravely persecuted. Many are simply at a loss when looking at their real selves. They cry for rescue with hoarse voices that are bitter and tired of crying.

But who am I to share about these folks? Honestly, my life is pretty cushy. I don't know real suffering on a daily basis. But I do know some of suffering, and to know that there's a purpose and to hear Jesus say, "A glorious purpose" to our suffering is very, very encouraging. Our real suffering (real bad) will bring about real joy (real good)!

Then this begs the question, "How should we approach our suffering?" I think we should enter into ours' and other's with bedrock hope in God. With full assurance that the Gospel is really good for our really hurting world. And that while we don't have the answers, our God does.

If you're facing a trial, don't take trite answers as your hope. Take the real person/God of Jesus as your hope. Not in the sense that this trial will draw you closer to Christ in some sort of lovey-dovey way but in reality. And you can know the mysterious reality that suffering, well-suffered with Jesus, brings about the joy of the world.

Regardless whether this suffering is brought on by your own sin, others or is simply "happenstance," you can have full confidence in this God of ours' who works rescue, joy and healing out of the darkest corners of our world. May we be known as people who suffer well, for we know our God well.

Also know that now that I've written this, I'll be a little jumpy for the next few days. I may be looking for big zaps from the sky. So don't say "Boo" when you see this grumbling Eor around. Be kind.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Colours

"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day." - Solomon (maybe)
PM: I can barely see. The spot where the sun was is now just a faint orange glow on the horizon. But I keep digging. I've got to get this done before I go inside. Otherwise I won't be able to jump my bike in the morning (Yes, jumping my bike again!). First I craft the lip of my jump, making sure to use the last of the light, as this takes the most fine tuning. I slap dirt on the lip, rhythmically slapping it with my flat spade. "Slap, slap, slap." It's a cool sound. Finally I begin to see the glossy sheen that tells me that the dirt is well packed and will hold. Now to get some dirt on the landing before I can't see anything...

AM: The cool light pours through the woods, every minute getting warmer. It reminds me of the start of a fire - someone blowing ash off of hot coals. I can feel the solar energy, like the light is soaking into my skin and ever deeper into my tissue. I look to my right. There is my favorite scene: the sun light hitting my evergreens. It produces a colour so vibrant, it makes me suspect my senses.

God does this every day: AM, PM, AM, PM. Over and over again the sun rises and the sun sets. And yet as a creature, it never ceases to amaze me. Something about it is beyond words. It heals me and reminds me of the One who holds the reigns of this reckless world around me. It reminds me of a place more peaceful, a land that will someday be your's and mine. A place without the corruption of self, busyness, deadlines, headaches and stress. It speaks of Shalom. It speaks of Immanuel. "God with us."

So what's getting me up so early? Freezing temperatures. If I don't get out early, I can't jump my bike (a fate worse than death), since the ground is a slippery, slimy, muddy mess the rest of the day. Trying to jump on that sort of surface is begging for a mouthful of mud spat out and quickly chased by inappropriate verbage. So I try to avoid it. Early AM jumping is the best as my dirt is packed and frozen and my bike rolls and flies high like I'm on concrete (Yes, I try not to crash!) And what I've found is a growing love of God's sunrises, especially when his rays hit my evergreens (or his, err?). Something in that moment feeds my soul.

It reminds me that the night I just experienced in which I was unconscious, really pretty much at the mercy of the world around me, without any ability to control, manipulate or exert my power continues to be my "given" state. What do I have to do with sunrises?! Nothing. I simply sit and gape, and if it's real early, drool. This speaks to me both of my creatureliness and of the bounty of God - my "ant-ness" before God and his creations. Small do I feel. Tiny and minuscule but part of it. Yes part of it! The sun is hitting me.

That's why I love the verse above. It speaks of righteousness. It speaks of the right being realized, something I see when the early morning sun breaks the rules of colour on my evergreens. It's amazing, and it burns brighter and brighter to a climax in full dawn!

For me this verse speaks of my greatest hope being realized. That I would burn brighter and brighter until full dawn. It speaks of sanctification being realized. Being saved and progressively being saved. It whispers of mystery and the great secret.

Someday I will shine. Someday I will be a creature that, if you looked at now, your knees would tremble and you may fall on your face (As my uncle used to say, "No brag, just fact."). Someday I will see my God, face to face. He will shine on me and I will shine. All will be right, right through every fiber of my being.

For now, I'm trying to be satisfied with his light gently warming this cold soul. I need much trust and faith that what this verse speaks of IS actually happening. It's so lofty, but it happens every AM. And it may just be the truest thing about me and you. May we shine together!