Friday, July 30, 2010


Just have to endure/survive one more day and then we're off to the beach. Several guitars will be going with the family. While preparing for vacation always seems oddly stressful the beach seems to help me find my chill better than any other place on this planet. Hopefully that will lead to some new music. That's the plan, anyway.

Usually when I plan something it goes horribly awry, though. Maybe I should just plan to have a prolonged period of writer's block and frustration. With my luck, though, that would be the one thing I could plan and execute perfectly.

We'll see what happens. Sigh. Deep breaths. I can almost feel the ocean breeze. Just a few more hours to go.

God have mercy on me a sinner

Luke 18:9-14 (TNIV) -

9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."


Matthew 18:21-35 (TNIV) -

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive a brother or sister from your heart."

My thoughts -

I am, unfortunately, far too like the servant who needed but didn't extend mercy. God help me to give as well as receive mercy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

All be one?

John 17:20-23 (TNIV) -

20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

My thoughts -

In John 17 Jesus prays to God for his disciples, and then he goes beyond that and prays, starting in verse 20, for "those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."

Not being a Biblical scholar maybe I'm missing something here but it seems to me that Jesus is praying for all Christians to be as together as Jesus and the Father are. How close to that are we? How can we get there? Can we? Should we? These are questions I don't know how to answer.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just one?

Luke 17:11-19 (TNIV) -

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

14 When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

My thoughts -

We have all been healed. We have all been cleansed. God has extended grace to each of us. Have we returned to give God praise?

I know I beg and beg and when I receive what I have begged for often the exchange is over. I got what I needed and moved on. It's not that I didn't appreciate God's work in my life, I just took it for granted and moved on.

But when was the last time I just took a moment and said "thanks"? More to work on, I guess. And guess what, I'll need God's help for that as well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

God and money

Luke 16:13-31 (TNIV) -

13 "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight.

16 "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and people are forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

18 "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

27 "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

29 "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

30 " 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

My thoughts -

I struggle with "the rich". In many ways I look down on those who I consider to be "rich". They have too much. They use too much selfishly. Their resources create a bubble that insulates them from real need in the community. I do this failing to see often how rich I am.

I have a house and two cars. I have a decent job. I spend some of my income on entertainment. Let's face it, I own a lot of guitars. We travel some. Heck, I'm going on vacation next week. There's an awful lot I've got, too.

Often I want to think that I am not like the rich man in the story here. But if Lazarus came and begged to me what would I give him? What could I give him? Would I look him in the eye and tell him that there are people who live far more comfortably than me he ought to be able to get more out of? Would I tell him things are tight and I just can't spare anything right now while saving money to take my family to a Bengals game?

How many people are laying at our gates begging for scraps from our table and yet we don't notice as we go about our comfortable lives?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Thinking and writing

I'm laying down right now to get out if the heat and rest a bit. I was wiped out by a virus most of last week and though I feel much better my energy level hasn't quite recovered to where I'd like it to be.

So as I'm laying here I'm thinking. And I'm actually thinking about thinking. Specifically the process I usually use to solve some kind of an issue, be it spiritual, existential, logistical or whatever. Anyway, it occurred to me that whatever solutions I may think I've come up with, they almost always happen when I'm NOT consciously considering the issue at hand.

Consciously it seems that I am an idiot. I can consciously consider a problem for hours on end and whatever I come up with will be completely unsatisfactory and/or completely worthless. Then the phone will ring, or one of my kids will need something, or some noise or something will distract me and BAM, I have my solution.

I write pretty much the same way. I want to be disciplined so I'll give myself blocks of time to use for writing. I'll sit down with my guitar and work up a progression. I'll consider whatever mood the progression might evoke and then try to write lyrics for it. I'll have a specific theme in mind. I'll force myself to concentrate on the task at hand and stay hard at work until I have a song, good or bad doesn't matter, but a song from beginning to end verses choruses and bridge (if necessary) completed.

And often I find that what I just wrote sounds like it was written by someone who was forced to write it. It's crap. It's formulaic. It's uninspired and uninspiring. And sometimes I get so dejected by this process that I actually burn the paper I wrote the song on just to eliminate it from this world.

There are songs I've written, however, that I am quite proud of. I've stopped a rehearsal before because a riff just wouldn't leave my head. I've pulled a car off to the side of the road before because a lyric just jumped out of nowhere and had to be written down right then and there or be lost forever. I've even called my wife and dictated lyrics to her because pen and paper were not available. The songs that have seemingly come out of nowhere; the ones that I never tried to write; the ones that came at, actually, quite inconvenient times; those songs were pretty much all keepers.

I don't know if there's a way to combine discipline with inspiration. I don't know how to intentionally tap into whatever or wherever it is that these ideas come from.

Maybe some day...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Commanded love

John 15:9-17 (TNIV) -

9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

My thoughts -

We sure love our freedom, don't we? We want to be self-sufficient, self-made, and self-directed people. We don't want to be told what to do. That's just not who we are.

In this passage Jesus keeps talking about commands. Now people who follow commands aren't necessarily free, right? I mean, a request is one thing, but a command? Well, the very word implies a lack of choice in the matter. And then he flips the script a bit and says that if we follow his commands we are not his servants but his friends. Why? Because we know his business.

Well sign me up for that! What do I have to do? Love others as Jesus has loved me.


There's a lot of sacrifice there. Didn't he subvert his own will in order to reconcile us with God? Didn't he die for us? How am I supposed to love others like that?

If I keep asking God to help me, if I keep praying to be able to do God's will, then I suppose that anything is possible. On my own there's no chance. But with God all things are possible.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A message from my 8 year old daughter

I found this on my desk as I was cleaning today. I have corrected spelling but have otherwise not altered it. I'm pretty sure this girl's going to be an environmentalist.

"We need to start being more green. Not just like picking up litter. We need to start not making big plastic packaging and making stuff half way around the world just because it's cheaper.

"We need to learn from our mistakes, not just keep going and doing the same thing over again or stop doing it but start doing stuff like it.

"We need to look deeper into our problems. For example: Littering is a problem. If you look deeper you'll see that if we made less or none there would still be less. All of our trash, no matter how much we pick up, it will be litter.

"Another problem is the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. What bothers me is that it happened because of what we want. We want big cars. We want to go places in expensive, big automobiles that use a lot of gas. That's why the oil spill happened. We need to do things like only get cars the size you need, plan ahead and get the groceries and other supplies in one trip. Try to walk more.

"Try to help get more Earth-friendly plus listen to kids. You may learn something. "

That's my girl!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vine/Garden mixed metaphor

John 15:1-4 (TNIV) -

1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

My thoughts -

I'm a proud person. I know what I do well and I place a lot of value in that. I generally have a pretty high opinion of myself. Often I feel like that which I do well I do alone. I'm a pretty good person, and I am very aware of this.

I am also in dire need of "pruning". Yes, I am aware of what I do well, but I also know my own demons. I know the things that trouble me about myself and I know how powerless I am against them. I need help.

When I start feeling like I can handle all of the stress, the troubles, and the temptations in this life alone I fall. Hard. Yes, I'm doing OK right now. Better than I have in a long, long time. But without constant dependence on God I find myself miles from where I would like to be.

Seeds don't just grow into produce on their own. They are cultivated. They are watered. The weeds that would suck up important nutrients and sunlight are pulled. There's a lot of work in getting a seed from point A to food. I get so proud of myself when I, the metaphorical seed, produce something worth eating that I often forget that this was not something I did myself.

Mixing metaphors back to the one Jesus used here, when I forget that I did not do all of the work but was mainly the beneficiary of God's grace I become detached from the vine and unable to produce fruit.

Thankfully grace is there to graft me back on. Thankfully grace is there to cultivate me. To water me. To weed around me. I just need to remember that none of those things are things I can do on my own.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Morning reading

Luke 15 (TNIV) -

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

8 "Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

11 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.

13 "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.' 20 So he got up and went to his father.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

28 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

31 " 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

My thoughts -

Do we celebrate when the lost turn to Jesus or do we carry old resentments with us? Do we celebrate others receiving grace or are we still too busy trying to earn God's love?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Morning reading

Matthew 15:21-28 (TNIV)

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly."

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

25 The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

26 He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to the dogs."

27 "Yes it is, Lord," she said. "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."

28 Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

My thoughts -

It is interesting to compare this woman's approach to Jesus to that of the Pharisees earlier. The Pharisees approach Jesus to correct, trap, and condemn him. He has nothing they think they need. They want Jesus to be more like them.

The woman approaches Jesus knowing that she needs him. She knows that she needs Jesus to intervene, she knows that she is not worthy, and she has faith that he will help her even though she does not deserve it.

Grace is a gift. We approach God humbly knowing we're not worthy. In fact, often that realization is the only thing that leads us to try.

If I were self sufficient I wouldn't need Jesus. If I could do this on my own I wouldn't ask. If I were worthy it wouldn't be necessary.

But here I am again, like a dog begging for scraps from the table. Lord help me!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Morning reading

Matthew 15:1-20 (TNIV) -

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"

3 Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.' 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is 'devoted to God,' 6 they are not to 'honor their father or mother' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 " 'These people honor me with their lips,

but their hearts are far from me.

9 They worship me in vain;

their teachings are merely human rules.' "

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11 What goes into your mouth does not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth, that is what defiles you."

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?"

13 He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."

15 Peter said, "Explain the parable to us."

16 "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them. 17 "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile you. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile you; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile you."

My thoughts -

It's much easier for us to see things in others that we don't like than it is for us to examine our own behavior and traditions to see how they affect others and how they adhere to God's will. The Pharisees complained to Jesus about his disciples and wow did they ever get a verbal smack down.

Our hearts are not always clean. Our motives are not always pure. We all have our own agendas and we like to win. We need Jesus to help us examine and purify our hearts.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The lake

We're leaving in the morning to head to the lake. My family has a reunion every other year there. Normally about this time in the process is where I'd start getting really stoked about seeing my cousins, especially Michael.

Unfortunately this will be our first year without him. He died in a car wreck a few months ago. I'm not processing that really well right now.

On the one hand a part of me is still really excited about the trip. But what I usually get pumped up about isn't available. It's going to be a weird year.

I guess life goes on even if we're not sure we want it to. I'm going to miss you, Buckle.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Morning reading

John 14 (TNIV) -

1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. 2 My Father's house has plenty of room; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going."

5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

8 Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

15 "If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. Anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

23 Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me."Come now; let us leave.

My thoughts -

Sorry about this being a little longer than usual. There's a lot here but I didn't want to break any of it up.

The jest I get from this is actually pretty simple. We need to trust God. We love Jesus by keeping his commands. We can't do that on our own but we have the Holy Spirit to help. When we do trust God and keep Jesus's commands we find peace.

That's not so hard, is it?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Morning reading

Luke 14:25-33 (TNIV) -

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even life itself—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, 'This person began to build and wasn't able to finish.'

31 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won't he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

My thoughts -

This is a tough message. I'm not sure I can afford the "cost" of following Christ.

I want to be comfortable. I want to be happy. I want to be loved. I want to fit in. I want to be surrounded by family and friends all the time. I want to be secure in this life.

Faith is the ability to give all of that up. Faith trusts God to take care of us in spite of what we may lose. Faith understands that the things in this life, however attached to them we may be, are fleeting and only God is eternal. Faith gives up temporary comfort for eternal peace.

What it seems like we may lose in this little calculus Jesus uses we gain eternally much, much more. I don't hate my family, I love them. But I also have faith and trust God beyond even my family. I can't care for them nor can they care for me nearly as well as God can care for all of us. I don't hate my life, I love it, and yet I understand that it is temporary. I will die. My loved ones will die. We don't get to keep this place or each other. I trust God both in this life and whatever is to come.

The next project

Just a little update here:

I'm getting kind of excited about writing again and have decided that the next project I do (hopefully to be started in the next couple of months) is going to be a more acoustic one dealing with my own depression, existential issues, and faith and doubt. I've got a few songs that I haven't really worked up completely yet that fit in well and several more in the works. Here's a couple of sample lyrics to give you the basic idea:

Down Again

It used to be so easy
You used to be so near
I used to be so certain
Everything so clear
I used to drink the water
You turned into wine
I used to seek after
Everything divine

And in your kiss such bliss
I never noticed it
I never noticed when
I stopped letting you in

It used to come so easy
But not anymore
If doubt is such a hindrance
To be abhorred
Then why is it so easy
And believing so hard
When you aren't speaking

But when it hit, such bliss
I never noticed it
I never noticed when
I stopped letting you in

I can't dream
If I can't sleep
And I can't fall down on my knees
I can't breathe
I can't weep
I can't lay down at your feet

I can't dream
If I can't sleep
And I can't fall down on my knees
I can't breathe I can't weep
I can't fall before you now
I can't stand to let you down again

Faith can move a mountain
And help the blind to see
I know that it can counter
A little inquiry

Does it exist, this bliss?
I've never noticed it
I never noticed when
I stopped letting you in

Washed Away

The demons of regret
That never turned into remorse
The demons of your past
Are washed away

The demons of the second chance
And of the third and of the fourth
The demons of the wayward glance
Are washed away

They're washed away

The demons that you can't forget
That kick you when you're down
The demons of “I blew my chance”
Are washed away

The demons of the parting blow
Of the pride and of the shame
The demons of the all time low
Are washed away

They're washed away

The demons of the one night stands
And all the nights away from home
The demons of the next
Are washed away

The demons of debauchery
And the butts and bottles on the floor
The demons of lament
Are washed away

They're washed away


Every day a marathon
Every year a sprint
Time has lost perspective
Wonder where it went

Chasing dreams to make my own
Pushing cubes into round holes
The rats are racing off the road
And leaving pot holes

Another day another dream
Drifts away from memory
Awake to find eternity
Is wasted on the young

Chasing rabbits down their holes
It's time to see how far this goes
And like a flower in a vase
There are no roots to save us

Every chance for destiny
Drowns in mediocrity
The chips were cashed in long ago
Time to pay the tab

To throw good fortune after bad
Cannot rekindle what we had
While time could mend your broken dreams
It also breaks them

We just wrote the opening line
But that's the thing with time
While you're not watching where it goes
It's gone

Every day a marathon
Every year a sprint
Time has lost perspective
Wonder where it went

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Morning reading

Matthew 14:1-14 (TNIV) -

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2 and he said to his attendants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him."

3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 4 for John had been saying to him: "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet.

6 On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much 7 that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." 9 The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10 and had John beheaded in the prison. 11 His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12 John's disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

My thoughts -

First, a lesson to be learned from Herod: Never let your emotions, your mouth, and your pride get the best of you. Herod got a little too taken with a dancer, made a promise he didn't realize the significance of, and refused to go back on it for fear of what others would think. We do the same thing all of the time. Usually that doesn't lead to a beheading, but still...

Second, a lesson to be learned from Jesus: Grief is powerful. Even Jesus sought solitude when grieving the loss of John here. Solitude, however, was not happening. People got word of where Jesus was headed and a large crowd followed him. If it were me I would have been pissed. Jesus was not. Verse 14 says that Jesus "had compassion on them and healed their sick". Grief is powerful. Frustration and anger are very natural responses to this situation. Jesus responded not with frustration and anger, but with compassion. That's something I think we can all learn from.