27.2.05

A Call to Faithfulness

It is likely the Roman Empire as a whole, and the majority of the people in it, took absolutely no notice of the crucifixion of yet another trio of political revolutionaries. That one of them would, in name, spirit, and fact, far outlast the empire itself could scarcely have entered the mind of anyone but His most devout followers. Still less would this empire or its people have noticed the clamor of those same followers three days later, as they shouted “He is risen!!!” Yet, in 300 years, the emperor himself would bow before this crucified criminal.

It took years for the followers of this executed man to become big enough to even be a target for persecution by Rome, which was hardly a large matter if we remember how many other rebellions Rome crushed around this time, including the destruction of the Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Historically, this all seems very fast. And, indeed, it is. A group of people were formed, grew, took over and survived the greatest empire of the day, and continued on in various forms to become a major shaping influence in nothing less than the whole of western civilization. 2000 years later here we stand; and the Crucified man still stands in our midst, as real as He ever was.

In the midst of contemplating this glorious narrative, take a step back. Remember something. Incredible as this all seems, it is still very slow for you and I. Many of Christ’s followers didn’t live to see Christianity become even a major target or persecution. None lived to see it flourish. Those who did live to see it surpass Rome didn’t see the crystallization of doctrines which occurred over the course of seven ecumenical councils. And on it goes.

Back at the beginning now: Jesus lived in a different world than those around Him. He saw through eyes of love. He called those around him to a new way of life, toa new life, to Life itself. His call was a radical one; He knew it, and frequently told his followers, going so far as to use the most torturous imagery available in the day. Living as He did got Him killed, whether by Jews or Romans, for political reasons or theological. But His new way of life didn’t spread like wildfire, permeating the empire in days. Jesus was called, by God, to be faithful. He was, unto death on a cross. We are called to be faithful; unto whatever end God has for us. This call, to faithfulness and obedience, to be the light and salt, to bless the world and people around us, is the most important call given to us. Because all the truly important changes are to big for us. Certainly, God may bless us with accomplishments; success’s we can see, touch, and point to. But those are not what we are called to. We are to walk as Jesus walked. See the world in a light so different that we don’t live in the same one as everyone else. Living Life and offering it freely to those around us.

Don’t look for miracles; God will give you what you need. Don’t look for astounding success or complete turnarounds. You might see them, you might not. If you are being faithful and obedient it is very likely that you are contributing to successes and changes that are so important and so huge you can’t even imagine them. Not huge because you are going to change the world, but because God is; not important because we see them as such, but because God does. And all of this you will likely never see as long as you reside in this world.

17.2.05

My Supreme Arrogance

I recently read through James. I was struck by a particular section (4:13-17):

13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money." 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that." 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

I can tell you exactly why it struck me, and it wasn’t a profound thought, a deep realization, or a piece of some puzzle that clicked together in my head. No, it was simply this: I am, right now, in S. Korea, with my wife Kristina, teaching English for a year. Did you catch that? I was just such a person as these verses describe, and not just in my assumptions about the future. I was literally a person who said “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” We are here to save up money so I can go to seminary when we get back home to Canada. We planned with an uncertain date of departure, and an uncertain destination. These things work that way, you go when you get a job, and you go wherever the job is. I might as well have said it in the words of this verse.

Who are we that we make such plans? We are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. That is a lot of humility I lack right there, let me tell you. I can’t remember the last time I thought of myself in such terms. Let me go further; I have always believed I can do anything I want to. Truly, apart from God I am nothing, and I can do nothing. Truly, with Him I can do anything. Why then do I continually fail to think as these verses describe? ‘If the Lord wishes…’ Indeed, my whole life is set before me and if the Lord wishes…

I have long struggled with a middle section of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25-34, the “Do Not Worry” section. How am I not supposed to worry about tomorrow, and yet live responsibly as if I do have a long life in front of me? This paradox as been posed by many before me (my favorite being Bonhoeffer) but I have never understood. I still don’t, but I think that, maybe, these verses in James are a start.

If I were to really have the attitude of ‘If the Lord wishes…’ then perhaps I could come one step closer to living fully in the present, responsibly for the future, and without worrying. It is such a beautiful thing when you think about it. By prefacing your future by ‘If the Lord wishes…’ you acknowledge in whose hands the future rests, you acknowledge your own dependence on the Lord, both for now and the future, and you still acknowledge that you have a future. For how could one acknowledge ones dependence, remind oneself of the Lords control, and forget the Love God has for us, and the free will he has given us? A position of humility, honesty, realism, truer security than you can get anywhere else, exciting uncertainty, and responsibility.

Praise the Lord.

14.2.05

Simple Plan - Crazy

Tell me what's wrong with society
When everywhere I look, I see
Young girls dying to be on TV
They won't stop till they've reached their dreams

Diet pills, surgery
Photoshopped pictures in magazines
Telling them how they should be
It doesn't make sense to me

Is everybody going crazy?
Is anybody gonna save me?
Can anybody tell me what's going on?
Tell me what's going on?
If you open your eyes
You'll see that something is wrong

I guess things are not how they used to be
There's no more normal families
Parents act like enemies
Making kids feel like it's World War III

No one cares, no one's there
I guess we're all just too damn busy
And money's our first priority
It doesn't make sense to me

Is everybody going crazy?
Is anybody gonna save me?
Can anybody tell me what's going on?
Tell me what's going on?
If you open your eyes
You'll see that something is wrong

Is everybody going crazy?
Is everybody going crazy?

Tell me what's wrong with society
When everywhere I look I see
Rich guys driving big SUVs
While kids are starving in the streets

No one cares
No one likes to share
I guess life's unfair

Is everybody going crazy?
Is anybody gonna save me?
Can anybody tell me what's going on?
Tell me what's going on?
If you open your eyes
You'll see that something, something is wrong

13.2.05

Tootie Frootie the Turtle

Tootie Frootie the turtle was afraid of water. It happened that when he was very young he fell into a can of orange paint, which had never really come of, and that was the origin of his fear of water. Though a sea turtle, Tootie Frootie found that he could live happily at a pond, a little ways inland from where he had been born. He could enter the water to wading height, eat fish and minnows, and lived well.

This continued until one fateful day when the pond was developed for a luxury resort. Upon finding the strange orange sea turtle that lived in a pond, the hotel made Tootie Frootie their mascot. While not as satisfying as his pond life had been, Tootie Frootie was comfortable in his new role. He was well fed, and didn’t have to go in any water. Still, a life of captivity, no matter how good, was something he could only handle for so long.

So he embarked on a fast action, daring 3 year escape. During the course of his escape, the orange paint was washed off of him, so the hotel people didn’t recognize him anymore. Tootie Frootie returned to the sea, and found to his amazement, that he had missed it for so long he was no longer afraid of it. Having lived in captivity to his own fears and then to a large hotel, he returned to his true home.

10.2.05

Penny the Penguin

Penny the penguin was a penguin who could fly. Not very well mind you, but some. Through freak genetic mutations he had been born with larger wings than most penguins, and a lighter body. All of the other penguins made fun of Penny and laughed at him when he tried to fly. He was far from graceful, and it just wasn’t something penguins were supposed to do anyway. So, for a long time Penny didn’t fly.

One day, as the large penguin family was trekking across some ice, disaster struck. A strong current came from nowhere, tearing the ice apart, and three baby penguins were swept away from everyone else. The mothers tried to swim to them, but they couldn’t make it. Penny realized that the only way they could be saved was if he flew to them. And so he did. Or he tried. Unfortunately, because he had flown so little, he was even worse than normal, and he couldn’t make it either. The penguin family watched sadly as the babies quickly floated away.

Penny was very sad because of this, and vowed that it would never happen again. From then on, no matter what anyone said, Penny flew everyday. He got better and better, and though the particular event that started it all never repeated itself, one day as Penny was flying a long ways from his resting family he noticed three penguins traveling alone. They also noticed him. It was the three babies who had been swept away. They happily rejoined their family, and they became the first three penguins in Penny’s Flyers, a group formed in honor of Penny the flying penguin.

9.2.05

Animal Stories

My wife frequently gets headaches. Bad ones. A long time ago, when this blog was new, I posted a narrative about my wife on MAO's (read the post if you want to know. And she wasn't my wife back then either). Anyway, now that we are married, I make random attempts to help her avoid drug use to get through the headaches. Among other things, I make up stories to tell her.

First off, we make this together, in some way or another. Secondly, we both have odd senses of humor. For example: Kristina, who will, among other things, be a nearly perfect mother, likes dead baby jokes. So this is the first of, so far, four animal stories that I will be posting on here that have arisen from these attempts to avoid habitual... medicinal... drug use.


Alfie the Elephant Who Eats Little Children

Alfie was an elephant, in most ways like any other Elephant. The major difference was that he was purple, and that he ate little children. He lived in a zoo, housed carefully, just like any other elephant: Behind minimal fences and concrete structures that allowed people to closely view him.

One day, a child was standing too close to the elephant pen, and Alfie ate him. Naturally, the parents sued the zoo. The zoo’s lawyers quickly pointed out that the area was well signed with clear messages that children should NOT stand too close, or look at Alfie at all, if possible. The parents did their best to win the case, but they could not.

In the end they went back to the zoo to yell at Alfie, and they were eaten too. Alfie had developed a taste for all kinds of people.