Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Right Next to You (Grateful Tuesdays #11)

Dear God,

Thank you for old, black and white film. For the scratches and for the jumps. The aesthetics of it is so pleasing. So real.

I thank you for the promise of being real some day.

Thank you for the view outside our bedroom window. For the crow that just flew by, casting its shadow on the frost covered roof of the church next door. The frost almost makes the roof look attractive.

I thank you for beautiful church buildings. For the stone and the stained glass, the way the light filters in, kind of respectfully in that it enter the church very slowly and quietly.

Ouch! Growth is hard, God. To be humbled by you is hard. In a way I hate it, but I also know that it's a part of bringing me closer to you. So I thank you for the humbling you're doing to me, even though I'd rather it didn't have to happen.

Thank you that I can be vulnerable with you, that that's all you really want of me.

Thank you that you are greater than our heart, even if our heart condemns us.

Thank you for Ada and Inman, how Inman's life kind of remind me of my life, his wanderings and desire to do the right thing. God, did you know it's hard for us humans to do the right thing? It's hard for me anyway. I don't know why I have so much trouble with it; other people seem to have an easier time with it.

Thank you for our walk yesterday. I'd rather be alone with you in Mt. Tabor park than anyone else, and I mean that.

Thank you for my friend BDT and for the opportunities he's had to share you with those around him. Thank you also so much for getting to spend time with him tonight. I see you so much more clearly when he's around.

Thank you for letting us go trick-or-treating with some of the most wonderful people around.

Thank you for Jason and how he keeps me growing even though it's hard.

Okay, God, you want me heading towards bed right now. Be with me throughout my week, God. I don't want to give a false picture of you; I don't want to worship a false you. Thank you for how I see you working.

In Jesus' name.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Spirit Broad Awake (Grateful Tuesdays #10)

Dear God,

Thank you for my Dad and his willingness to sit with me and work through my application. I hate paperwork, but this needs to get done. I'm so grateful that I have a dad who doesn't leave me to handle this all myself (he kind of reflects you that way, doesn't he?)

Thank you for how you've shown that this thing with Seattle Pacific is a part of your plan. I like being lead by you, and I really really like it when I know that it's you leading.

Thank you for the word "dwell". Right now I'm not always working in an place that's not 100% of you, but I can rest in that which is of you. I dwell in your presence.

I'm so glad to be practicing what I preach and being in the world but not of it. Thank you for this opportunity to see beyond myself.

I'm so selfish and of such a limited vision. Limited in that I really only see myself. Although, you know that's not 100% true, because the other day a fellow was telling me about how you, God, would have to come down from Heaven and walk up to him and say hello. I was looking at a tree, its leaves turning to Autumn colors while he was talking, and thought about how blind he was. I see you in trees. I see you everywhere, so I guess I don't only see myself. Though it sure feels like it at times.

Thank you for giving a broader view of your world, through this film thing, God. I look at normal people I pass on the street a little differently now, God. How much you love them, God. And how heartbreaking that they hate you. You know that I've told you that I hate you. But you always pull me through it, and you and I come out on the other side, better acquainted because of it. I come out better known. And isn't that the point?

My God, I thank you for being real! For asking only that I present the real me to you! These people talk as if a life with you would be a life of hiding and fakery. Did they ever know you? Don't they see that life apart from you is the fake life? I wonder why you allow there blindness continue.

Thank you for Sufjan Stevens, and the Danielson Family and all those other artists who encourage me by listening to your voice instead of the world's. What companionship I find with these friends! Thank you for companionship. Thank you for Eucharisto and The Queen of Arts and England and my family and Tuesday's Child (from whom I completely stole the title for this post) and Katie and all those other wonderful people who teach me how to walk on this road and where to look to see you better.

I thank you for existence, though, you should know, it can get very messy at times. Lot's of sad things going on here, God. Lots of miscommunication. Lies, you know. And people getting mixed up as to what's really going on.

God, we need you.

I guess all we need do is open our eyes, huh? To see you and what you're doing? If only I was awake! Go ahead, God. Like Tuesday's Child said, stab my spirit broad awake. Let me see you for the first time.

In Jesus' name.


Friday, October 27, 2006

A Good Famile

I can't tell you how glad I am that there are people making music (and music videos) like this.

I also can't really explain why. (Not right now anyway.) However, if you'd like more information on these particular friends of God, then simply click here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good Books

I'm compiling a list of really good books, but, because of my scattered brain, I need your help. What titles am I missing? (Man, this set up sounds like a set up for a grade-school puzzle: "Jim-Bo is trying to organise all his socks, but he needs your help! Can you put all the blue socks in their proper basket without getting eaten by the wild, man-eating candy bar? Give it a try!)

Here are the titles I have so far:

Addicted to Mediocrity
The Elements of Style
Fahrenheit 451
The Great Divorce
Leaving Ruin
The Lord of the Rings
The Man Who Was Thursday
Peace Like a River
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Soul Survivor
Searching for God Knows What
The Silmarillion
The Storm
Till We Have Faces
Wishful Thinking
Watership Down
What’s So Amazing About Grace?

UPDATE 10/27:But wait! There's more; here are the titles that have both been suggested by you and have lept out at me:

The Adventures of Hucklebery Finn
Cry, the Beloved Country
To Kill a Mockingbird
Walking on Water
A Wrinkle In Time

Keep the suggestions coming!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Where the Wind Calls Your Name (Grateful Tuesdays #9)

Dear God,

I'm in a little bit of a hurry today, but hopefully my attitude of thanks won't stop when I hit "Publish".

I thank you for my friends. I thank you for how refreshing they are, I don't know if this is a good thing to be glad for or not, but I am really glad that they don't swear like the inmates in Shawshank Redemption and that they don't smoke like chimneys.

I'm grateful for the ways I've seen you work your restoration in relationships and the ways I've seen you answer prayer on the film set. I'm glad to be praying for people who don't know you, which is really experience I haven't known before.

I'm grateful for you. You are my God. You are the I AM THAT I AM. You are the perfect Trinity, perfect in love and truth and a burning fiercely joyous holiness. The fire of your presence consumes that which is not of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for turning from something that is not of you into something that is of you. I am now made of the stuff of Heaven. All thanks and glory goes to you. It's all because of you, I AM.

I grateful that you and I both got the joke above, the reference to one of your servant's songs, a pun that a lot of people missed. I'm more glad than I can say that you caught the joke though.

Thank you for being beyond me. Way, way beyond me. How horrible to have a god that you define! Instead of one that defines you. I'm so glad that you created, gave life and breath and define me. I would have no other do so.

I thank you that you (1) call me to live and love you with wild abandon and (2) enable me to love you in such a way.

I also that you that your love for me is vibrant and bold. Any love I've felt, for you or anyone else pales in comparison. If only I could love you with the love you have for me!

Thank you for music. All styles, including country (when it's done right). I'm grateful for Rock 'n' Roll also. I'm glad that you like it to. I know you do, because I've seen you use it to communicate yourself.

Thank you for not leaving us high dry, thank you for always offering your presence. Allow me to walk and breath and live your presence for the rest of my life.

In Jesus' name.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Consider My Tears (Grateful Tuesdays #8)


I exalt you in front of everyone who cares to look. You alone are complete. You alone love, and you decided to pour your completion and your love into our hearts (or, as Lamentations might have it, "heart" singular). Well, first you decided to create us, to communicate us into existence, and that itself was an act of love. You could have kept your love to yourself, you perfect Trinity you, and none of us would have been any the wiser. But that's not what you decided to do. Instead you have given us life, and you keep giving us life even after we reject it time and again. That's the part that I think is pretty amazing. Well, I mean, it's all pretty amazing. I wonder why that is? It's just the truth, why should the truth be amazing? Wow, maybe I should get off this philosophical limb before it cracks under me. I'll think about it later.

Dear God, I thank you for what I see right now: For my watch and for The Paradox of Mr. Pond by G. K. Chesterton, even though I haven't read it and for Albert, who serves me faithfully despite Jason's mockings of Macs.

I thank you for good grammar, God. And for good punctuation. I wish I had better writing and punctuation. It seems silly to be thanking you for something like that, but I guess what I'm really thanking you for is for that which leads to effective communication. Communication is maybe a little bit of a boring word, but it's so romantic! What high adventures lie in wait for he who decides to join the quest for good communication! What fearsome dragons and terrible ogres! But what great battles! The blood and the smell and the stickiness of it all. God you know that, even now, even though spirit soars at the beauty of it, I shirk from such a life. I run and hide my head in the nearest bush. Without you, that is. I need you, God; you call me to real life, but you forget that I'm a ghost, not fit for that world. Don't forget. Don't leave me to lift rocks I can't even grasp.

But you haven't, have you, God? If anyone's done the leaving it's been me, hasn't it? Thank you for your faithfulness. Do you know what I mean by "faithfulness", God? It's kind of a boring word, isn't it, God? What I mean by it is not so much a dog's kind of faithfulness, the kind that is faithful just because it's kind of blind and doesn't really know any better, but rather the faithfulness of Hosea, who saw everything his wife had done and loved her anyway. That's crazy, God. But it's a reflection of your love. Thank you for your love, God; I've done much worse thing to you then Hosea's wife ever did to him, and you intensely love me anyway. Your love burns for me, and I think that's crazy.

God, even when I come to you with fake tears on my face and poison in my walk, you listen to me and guide me back to a better way of doing.

Thank you for tea, and for friends and for tea with friends. Thank you for the delightful tea I had this morning and for the delight company I shared it with.

Thank you a million times over for everyone who is praying for me. I value that so much. I'm so needful of it.

Thank you for Desta, who loves me, God and sees you in me. Thank you that he's praying for me and for what he has reminded me about prayer and my relationship with you and about obedience. God, I want to be obedient so bad. I want to please you, to present myself pleasing to you. I'm so bad at showing my love for you. I can talk all day long about you, God, but when it comes time to act, I simply go limp. I do nothing.

And yet you love me. With an intense love that I have never known the like of in my own flesh.

Thank you for brilliant sunsets! And for Katie and the friend that she is. Thank you for my family. Thank you for chalk and for chalkboards. I do love to draw on a chalkboard.

But the chalkboard in front of me says it's time to get back to work. God, don't let this thanksgiving stop; let this be only the beginning.

In Jesus' name,


Monday, October 09, 2006

The vacuum cleaner about the bullfrog does what now?

This is a peice of spam mail that I probably should have deleted, but I found it so vastly entertaining that I decided to share it with you, my dear friends. I might turn it into a My Old Sketchbook event sometime.


If a freight train caricatures some paycheck about another light bulb, then a freight train defined by the submarine procrastinates. When you see some hypnotic reactor, it means that a grizzly bear living with the cargo bay hibernates. When a hypnotic football team rejoices, a briar patch starts reminiscing about lost glory. A fruit cake beyond a bartender competes with the unstable polar bear.

Any plaintiff can be a big fan of the skyscraper beyond a cab driver, but it takes a real ball bearing to take a peek at a shabby razor blade. Sometimes a demon reads a magazine, but a light bulb defined by a skyscraper always operates a small fruit stand with the blithe spirit about a hydrogen atom! When a scythe living with a turkey is magnificent, a gentle fighter pilot competes with a stovepipe near a warranty. A vacuum cleaner about the bullfrog self-flagellates, and the minivan of the fairy beams with joy; however, a deficit for an earring makes a truce with the reactor about another paycheck. Some precise warranty

A light bulb toward another ocean Indeed, another optimal power drill hardly pours freezing cold water on another tuba player. A girl scout buys an expensive gift for an earring. Any roller coaster can have a change of heart about a cargo bay about a briar patch, but it takes a real paycheck to wisely graduate from the seldom precise fighter pilot. A fractured briar patch beams with joy, and another knowingly statesmanlike tomato hesitates; however, the underhandedly elusive photon makes love to the sheriff about a pork chop.

Most people believe that a greasy cargo bay avoids contact with an avocado pit, but they need to remember how almost a chain saw ruminates. An umbrella for a warranty is highly paid. For example, a ball bearing related to the dust bunny indicates that a cab driver non-chalantly gives a pink slip to a judge inside a photon. When you see an asteroid, it means that a hockey player laughs out loud. If a freight train caricatures some paycheck about another light bulb, then a freight train defined by the submarine procrastinates. When you see some hypnotic reactor, it means that a grizzly bear living with the cargo bay hibernates. When a hypnotic football team rejoices, a briar patch starts reminiscing about lost glory. A fruit cake beyond a bartender competes with the unstable polar bear.

Sometimes a somewhat mitochondrial fairy flies into a rage, but the college-educated corporation always completely avoids contact with a fundraiser! Sometimes some sheriff for a mortician prays, but the magnificent cowboy always is a big fan of an asteroid! Some defendant is righteous. The cosmopolitan traffic light single-handledly secretly admires some tattered tabloid. When a cosmopolitan grain of sand prays, a chestnut living with an industrial complex hides. A turkey daydreams, or the parking lot hesitantly tries to seduce another tornado living with the ocean. Another completely outer movie theater learns a hard lesson from a polar bear. A rattlesnake defined by a freight train recognizes the cab driver inside the avocado pit.

Another CEO inside a warranty takes a coffee break, and a so-called pickup truck leaves; however, a fundraiser beyond an ocean knows a roller coaster from a blithe spirit. When you see the wheelbarrow, it means that some carpet tack from a salad dressing starts reminiscing about lost glory. When the proverbial pine cone hibernates, a college-educated graduated cylinder wakes up. The freight train for a mortician has a change of heart about a satellite. Sometimes the college-educated jersey cow flies into a rage, but a wisely obsequious hole puncher always knowingly gives lectures on morality to a tomato! A light bulb toward another ocean

Saturday, October 07, 2006


[Faithful readers, somebody recently asked me to spend at least three hundred words describing what I believe in. This is the very bad first draft of the answer. The final (much shorter and hopefully much better) draft will soon follow, God-willing.]

I believe in God. In the God revealed by the Bible. I believe in the Trinity, that is to say, in a complete, whole and holy Entity which exists in perfect communication. I believe that this God is the only entity which has always existed. Though, “exist” is a sticky word and doesn’t technically line up with my beliefs since “exist” implies a “coming from” something. God hasn’t “come from” anything. Everything has “come from” God.

Part of the “everything” that God has communicated into existence (an accurate use of the word this time) are angels, human beings and the planet Earth (who, for some reason, is the only one of these three who gets to be capitalized). I don’t know a whole lot about angels, but I know that they (like everything else) were created to glorify God. What I mean by this is that they were made to be a bit like prisms which God could shine his perfect completeness into causing the light of who he is to scatter throughout all creation. And I know that one of the angels, the one that was perhaps the biggest prism and refracted the most light decided that, instead of spreading God around, it was maybe time for creation to get a taste of him, without God. He convinced (I’m told) about a third of the other angels to join him in quest to glorify that which is not God.

We have been getting a taste of Lucifer (and those with him) without God for the past six thousand years or so (or however long it’s been since he convinced us to turn our backs on God in the Garden in which man was born). He now hates God and his light and has set himself against anyone who seeks to  serve that light, that is anyone who seeks to do that which he was doing before his rebellion. God, being the gentleman he is, has prepared a place for this darkened prism, a place without God since that seems to be the angel’s preference. The place is called Hell, and it is the only place that is completely void of God’s presence. Everyone who enters eternity with a desire to be void of God will go there.

I suppose that some words about Hell’s opposite are in order. If Hell is the total absence of God then Heaven is it’s opposite in that it is the pure presence of God. One thing that keeps Hell and Heaven from being total opposites is that Hell depends on Heaven’s existence whereas Heaven is completely independent of Hell. Hell is dependent in the same sense that a man who takes pride in living outside a certain city is dependent on having a city to be living outside of. Without the city he just lives, which seems like a good thing to me, but for those who choose Hell it is not enough to merely live, they must live apart from something (this is why I fear America’s emphasis on being independent, I fear we are raising a legion of Milton’s-Satan types who would rather reign outside the city then serve anywhere).

So here we are presented with two Kingdoms. The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of That-Which-Is-Not-God. Inside the city walls and outside the walls. True independence and false independence. Obedience, service to the King (for every kingdom must have a king), or rebellion. Mankind was originally created in God’s Kingdom, in communication with the Trinity. God created Adam and Eve to be representatives for mankind, which is another way of saying that whatever they did we would’ve done the same had we been in their shoes, and gave them a choice: To dwell in his Kingdom, obey him and receive life from him, or to try to make it on their own. Our parents, under the influence of a fallen Lucifer, fell in favor of the latter.

This is where you and I and rest of mankind come into the picture. Our parents decided to dwell outside the city, thus we, their children, were all born outside the city. God said to Adam and Eve that they would surely die if they disobeyed him. This makes sense if we think of disobedience as a kind of turning away. In a way Adam and Eve cut off communication with (turned their back on) their Creator, and since we were designed to live on communication with our Creator, just as a car is designed to run on gasoline, it makes sense that rebellion in this case is described as death. So Adam and Eve were led by Satan (but of their own will) into death, and this is were they birthed all of us.

So now a whole race of walking breathing contradictions exists: A people who feel that somehow this world, this planet is somehow very much their home and someplace from which they can derive comfort companionship and yet, at the same time, feel it very hostile and very broken. We’ve strayed the realm of poets.

So we see that (because of the choice of Adam and Eve) people arrive in this world opposed to the one who gives them life. In other words, we all arrive dead, stillborn.

Who will bring us life? It must be someone who himself is alive, so it can’t be another human, yet humans are the ones who erred, so a human must take on the promised penalty of death. Eternal death, a God-sized penalty.

And now we come of course the most well-known part of this whole story. The part where - and I cannot say this part without worshipping my beautifully creative God - the second person of the Trinity, in order to rescue us from the wilderness of our exile and rebellion, became a human and, after living among us, living in time and skin and loneliness and laughter and tears, dust and sweat, this God-who-was-man shouldered our debt of death, and brought life to those who would grab hold of him. He came out of God’s city, into our wilderness, and compels us to follow him.

I am one of those who has been brought to life, who has grabbed hold of this savior for dear life. Though, God knows, sometimes my embrace is more out of anger or fear than anything else. But I can’t let go, even if I want to. For one thing, he’s also holding me, and (I’m told) he always will, for another no matter how hard, or how foolish or how exhausting (like a candle going out) it is to be with this One, this Love of mine, no matter how much I hate it at times. I could never leave him. He contains all life; there is no life outside of him. I am a failure, a failure of epic proportions, but he is the ultimate success. And he has given me his name, and I (in his Father’s eyes, which, unlike mine, see the Truth fully) have become like him, and this is something worth thinking about.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Spirit On the Water (Grateful Tuesdays #7)

O God!

I'm a roaring hypocrite! But here I am again, giving thanks to save my life.

I am two people, God. I am a lazy, apathetic, lustful, prideful, self-worshipping and manipulative user. And I am perfect, sinless, affirming, truthful, alive and loving. I give you endless thanks that the second one is the real me, the part that will live on come eternity.

"Come eternity." What a thought. Let's see if I can form this into words, God:

I have always (almost always) had a problem with time, and as I get older and have more experiences in this world, the more the thought of time kind of bums me out. It seems to kill so many things and so many relationships, and there are so many things I'll never have back, things that are far too far downstream to even be very confident of the accuracy of their memory now. But look at this: Humans and angels (it seems to me) are different in this way; angels dwell in the finality of eternity. We humans do not. It seems to me that an angel's choice is a final choice.

I'm grateful because we don't live in that finality, not yet anyway. Sure we live with it, the thought of death and of entering into a place where we don't have the luxury of putting off decisions accompanies us everywhere. Especially in the car, and especially when I'm driving. (I cannot spell the word "especially", God, but you know that, and you know that I'm very fond of that fact now.)

So, in summery, I am, in a way, now very grateful for time for the luxury of it. Even though it seems to go so fast and so slow.

Thank you for giving us bodies that live in time. Thank you for the song "Sweet Old World" which makes me grateful for the treasures that you've given us outside of eternity (that's not to say that they are not of eternal worth or even eternal in origin). Thank you for Sufjan Stevens, who lives in a house of gratitude maybe more so than any other musician I know.

I keep looking up at the title of this post (which I just mostly picked at random from a Bob Dylan song), and I keep thinking about your creative power, about your Spirit which moved on the water and your Word, by which (and through which) you spoke every created thing into existence. Thank you for being a creative God, God. And thank you for communicating which your creation. Whenever I think of your involvement in your creation, I think about sex. Now if you've given that as a picture of your relationship with us, then I think I can say that you want to be pretty involved in our lives.

So I thank you that the lives aren't true; I thank you that you desire intimate communion with us more than we can fathom. You're beautiful, God. Reality is beautiful. Truth is beautiful. Thank you for speaking these things into our lives. I just can't get over that you communicate with us and that you commune with us. Now I see a little truth in those stories of Zeus coming down and being overtaking with the beauty of a common girl. They're still kind of disgusting stories but I see the truth in them now.

You are the author of beauty, God, so it makes sense that you would be beautiful.

Wait a minute. You made us beautiful and then fell in love with us because of our beauty? We can't really do a lot of bragging in there, can we? Wow. That's crazy. What a fantastic design you have, God. So intricate! So enchanting! Like little flowers on a patter. Think of all the writing and the painting and the film and all the babbling of prophets and theologians just to kind of give a idea of who you are. That's crazy.

I don't really know you that well, do I God? Knowing you is a pretty basic part of life. Thank you that you still love me even though I'm botching even this basic thing pretty badly. Thank you that you love me even though I make typing errors and I can't spell very well. Thank you that you love me.

Thank you that you love me even though I have messed up some things, broken or bent some things you have put in my hands to look after and admire. Thank you that you love me even though my room is messy and my lips are always kind of chapped and bumpy.

Thank you that you love me, God. You're crazy for loving me, you know. I don't know what you expect to get out of the relationship.

Well, maybe I do. Maybe you want me.