Sunday, June 26, 2005


From the greek prefix eu- weaning well or good and angelion meaning message or news. The good news. The gospel, in Christian parlance. It has been a hard couple of weeks. The father of a close friend of mine passed away, and though he had been battling cancer and very weak for some time, death is not a simple thing to deal with. It is hard. It is wrong, and it ought not be that way.

I believe that death is the result of sin. That sin corrupted mankind, and while we retain the image of God put into us at creation, it is a warped, twisted image. We know good and evil, we have lost our innocence, we have defiled the name, gifts, and character of Almighty God. Death is in it's way a gift - to live forever as corrupted people... let's just say that zombies are just that - the walking dead. Rotting corpses not at peace, seeking only to corrupt others.

Today we discussed the Crucifixion at church (briefly interrupted by a 5.0 earthquake about 25-30 miles away). The unjust death of Jesus the Messiah. The chosen one of God. The one who took my punishment as the physical realization of the significance of the Passover Lamb. A sad thing. Jesus died for me. For me. Me. I deserve what was coming to me, he didn't. A man, not beautiful in appearance, but in love, in kindness, in character, and in all those things that really matter. The cross brings up tears of grief in my eyes.

But the cross is not the end. The good news goes beyond sacrifice. Jesus told his followers that he had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again. And so he did. Death was not the last word. The grave was not where it all ended. The darkest hour in all the world, darker than Original Sin. Darker than the fall of Lucifer. Darker than the murder of Abel, the flood of the earth, the exile in Egypt, the siege of Jerusalem. Darker than the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Atomic Bomb, and all the atrocities and evil of the world put together. God himself hung on a cross, taunted by his chosen people, and died. The darkest day turned into the brightest light. Jesus died... and we can call it Good Friday because he made good on his word to his disciples.

He rose from the grave, with a new type of life, and as he was raised, so we can be raised to. He was the firstfruits, an example of what was yet to come. Easter Sunday brings me a great many benefits. But really, they do not compare to the fact that Jesus did not stay dead. That causes me tears of joy. I almost had to pull of the road today thinking about this, because I was having trouble seeing. Mankind did the worst it could, and God allowed it. God is Lord over all, and death has no trump card on him.

And when he arose, Jesus did not storm into the temple and slap around the Pharisees that incited the crowds to call for his head. Jesus did not approach Pilate and demand the keys. He appeared to his followers as proof of who he was, and handed them the keys. Go and do likewise. Love. Teach. Serve. And do not fear. They hated me; they will hate you. Torture you, too. Kill you, even. But I've been there. I was beaten, tortured, hated, reviled and killed. But I live. Do not fear death, but trust me and follow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My New Job

No longer confined to the world of Sales Support, you see before you a man with renewed career aspirations. Or at least, a reasonable career path laid before him. Recruited through a chain of circumstances that are enough to make a fairly skeptical person think twice about the role of divine intervention in everyday life, I am now an Economist with the state of Nevada. The advice I have gotten so far from various sources... "Things are different at the State." I have thus far spent a half day in orientation, a half day getting my car towed home after some inattention on my part did minor damage in just the right spot and rendered my car unsafe to drive, and two days studying the process for assigning a wage level for companies that want to hire a noncitezen and need to give said person a wage that will not disrupt the U.S. labor market.

Federal regulations are as exciting as you might expect, but it is interesting enough in it's own way. This is just paperwork that needs to be processed, but surprisingly enough, there are other people that need these things processed. Real people, human people, with jobs and careers and lives of their own.

In the book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, the author laments the depersonalization of people in today's world, even in the church. People are resources, consumers, producers, and in other way reduced psychologically to data, to tools, to things that we need - not individuals. To lose sight of this, on the job, as you walk through your neighborhood, or as you go to church is to disregard that divine image placed in them by the Creator of us both. Perhaps one may say it is blasphemous - it takes the image, even the name of God - a sacred image and a soul valued by God beyond all the treasures of the world. Beyond the treasures of heaven.

Not resources.

Not consumers.

Not producers.

Not applicants.

Not "The Youth Group."

Not "Singles."



Formed in the womb by God Himself.

Worth the cross.

Worth God's life.

Worth yours.

Worth mine.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


I had the first nightmare I have had in recent memory last night. For the most part, my dreams when I remember them are rather mundane, treading neither the high nor low points of my emotion. I remember waking up this morning, some vivid scenes still in my mind's eye, and I was sick with fear.

But these were not the nightmares of my youth, with monsters and beings far beyond the realms or mortal man. I remember only one utterly unrealistic things - a ray gun of some sort that was used to wipe a memory clean.

The summary would be that for reasons unknown, somebody took a girl I have stronger than average feelings for, and locked her in a cave of some sort where she had no hope of escape. Then, he/she (I think this changed through the course of the dream) used the memory-wiping gun on themselves to forget all about it. I remember ranting in a yard about how he (by this time) had to remember where this was so I could save her, but the effects of the gun could not be undone.

The thing that stuck with me was that after she was locked in the cave, you could hear her pleading for help. "No! Please - you can't do this! Somebody help! Please!" This imagined sound froze my heart and turned my stomach, even after I woke. I am by nature a rather protective person, and it pains me when I am unable to protect or help those I know are hurting.

The only other really vivid memory I have involves trying to crush some Twinkies - yes, the cream-filled yellow Hostess cakes - in frustration and being unsuccessful in this throwing them against a wall, an image borrowed right out of a Simpsons episode. To this I ascribe no great meaning, except perhaps as a metaphor for futility. "Fool! No one can destroy a Twinkie!"

Futility. Helplessness. The feeling that someone I care about was trapped, hurt, dying, and I could do nothing to save her.

The irony is that I have often asked God to help me forget her - not isolating her and abandoning her as I am at and perhaps beyond the fringes of her worldviw - but surrenerng the feelings I have as I belive she would find them most unwelcome and I find unreciprocated affection quite inconvinient.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I am not a good man. I try to be good and to act good, but in my heart, in my flesh, I see the fallenness of my own self and my need for God. When I say this, sometimes it sounds like just a line... no, no, no, it's not me, it's God. And sometimes, God forgive me, it is. But it is rarely long before I have to step back, look inside, and be amazed that God could love one like me.

It is in this context that I approached the "you are the salt of the earth/the light of the world" package. It struck me that you are to let your light shine before men that they may "see your good works and praise your Father who is in heaven." It strikes me that, especially when one is discussing an oil lamp you put fire - light, heat - into the lamp much as God has put his image in us as humans and more specifically into those known as Christians. He has put his Spirit, often associated in Biblical imagery with oil, into Christians, for on our own we cannot keep that flame alive. We are a vessel - the combustion chamber where the Spirit of God gives life to the image of God in a way that all the world is to be able to see. We are the lamp - and God does not invigorate (lit. put life into) us that we may while it away privately, but he does it so that this light may be a guide and a beacon to the world.

Perhaps we in modern times forget about the connection between fire and light. Light for us is in a switch, a flourescent bulb, used or unused at leisure. Fire is alive, constant but always changing - predictable but not so. Fire spreads, heats, and lights. Fire sometimes feels magical, transfixing. The electric light may pump out much more light than an oil lamp, but it does so in the cold calculation of science, seperating the fire from the light by putting the fire in a power plant and connecting it to the light with electrical cabling.

Forgive the incoherrence - 5:40 is way early for me. But I had to share insight when it hit me. Mostly, because otherwise I'd forget much sooner.

-Edit 6:10am-

I almost forgot. "In the same way let your light shine before people, that they may see your good deeds and give honor to your Father who is in heaven." The light that is shining, the good deeds that we do - the greatest freedom is found in the fact that these deeds are not dredged up form our own inherent goodness. The light is not inherent to us - it is the fire and the oil that have been placed in us that cause them. We are the vessel, but the reason that people see our light but give honor to our Father is that the light in us comes from our Father in heaven. When they see that light, they see Him, not us.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Setting Ourselves Up For Self-Importance

"I wish they didn't call it that" she said. "As soon as they call it a 'singles group,' I don't want to go."

We were discussing young adult ministries in the Reno Sparks area, and I had seen in our church bulletin that one church is hosting "multi church single's Bible Studies." One is for 25-40 and the other is for 40+. The subject matter is currently "church leadership," an innocuous enough subject. But why go there? The existence of singles seems a mystery at my church, so it is nice to see someone trying. This is a small demographic, so a multi-church event makes sense - it helps you to achieve critical mass. But singles' ministries (so I hear) can easily feel like it is one thing - a shopping mall for other "acceptable" singles.

On the one hand, I need all the help I can get. Because while I can hold intellegent, funny, and meaningful conversations with a woman, as long as I am not interested in her. If I become interested, or fear that she may be interested in me, my tongue instantaneously swells to twenty times its rest size and I am rendered speechless. I am far more comfortable silently contemplating the night sky or a mountain lake than I am trying to talk to someone over the top of my unassailable fear of rejection.

On the other hand, I want to be able to be myself. I don't want to prance and preen trying to draw out the right person - I want to find someone I connect with. A loaded atmosphere is a place where I feel utterly out of place, and it is a place where only a very determined person could ever get to know me. Give me a small group having fun together any day.

On the third hand, something feels weird about using a Bible study as a place to hook up. If we are to be considering the sacred Scripture, we should have that focus, not something else. Which somewhat circuitously brings me to my thought for the day.

Do we construct groups - college groups, young adult groups, young married groups, whatever, with strict boundaries so that we may, however subconsciously, be able to think of ourselves as magnanimous and hospitable when we graciously reach out to those we arbitrarily excluded in the first place?

Do we form a young adults group for people out of college and consider it a great act of reaching out when we try to draw those outside the group in? Perhaps if we were not so exclusive in the first place, these people could already be welcome and we could go about the business of being a light to the world out there.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Spur of the moment thinking

From an e-mail I sent a friend trying to help spur some creative juices for an intro to something he is writing. He said I should make it available. I am doing that. Inspiration for the final thought came from something I read in a book (I think it was Reaching For the Invisible God) by Phillip Yancey. And I don't actually drink coffee. I think it a foul beverage, unfit for human consumption. My morning routine is a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats in 1% milk while reading a copy of the Wall Street Journal.

Why is God easy to forget? He's immense, filling and overflowing the Universe. He's powerful, speaking into existence not just the sun which comprises 99.9% of all of the mass in the solar system but a trillion such balls of burning gas, each one unique. His wrath shakes the foundations of the Earth and causes the heavens to flee. But I wake up in the morning, and need a cup of coffee, take a drive to work, think of all of the tasks I need to accomplish and partition God off to one corner of life, isolated from the rest. How do I let the truth of my body as a vessel for God's work on earth fill my cells which sweat and bleed and grow hungry or sore?


I went camping over Memorial Day weekend at the Boca Rest campground. This is a nice little campground, not very many trees, but not as heavily used as the more heavily wooded Stampede camps and it's generally pretty easy to get a site a literal stone's throw from the lake.

I continue to accumulate camping equipment every chance I get, so that I can go camping, using my own things, without having to borrow this, that, and the other from my parents. My recent aquisitions include a sleeping bag big enough to fit comfortably in, a foam pad to sleep on, a nice tent to sleep in (though this was used by the ladies this weekend, so I have yet to get a firsthand account of how comfortable it is at night - though I think I will like it, given that it seems very well ventilated, and I love to sleep outside), a tarp, a hammock, and some nylon rope.

It was a very enjoyable trip. Windy as I have ever seen it on Saturday, but I am pleased that my new tent endured the gale. We had a small crew, never more than 6 people, and this was very fine for me. We played more Risk than I had expected (2.9 full games, instead of the usual .8), but to sit in a tent on a lazy summer day with 3 friends conquering the world is a welcome unexpectedness.

There were no guitars for the last couple nights of the trip. This is unusual in a group where at no time did fewer than half of the people there know how to play the guitar. This was in my opinion a very nice thing. I love to go to a campsite and play the guitar around the fire and sing songs, and enjoy the evening. But in lieu of a traditional sing along, we got to spend more time talking. This was... quite nice. Whereas I am usually anxious to stop singing so as not to bother our campsite neighbors, I could have sat around and talked for hours more.

Then, to top it off, I got to go to bed and look out on the clearest sky I have seen in ages at night. A dark, clear night where the moon rises at 3am or so... Trust me. It doesn't get much better.

It was foggy, too. I have some nice pictures of it, and will be working on posting them to the Morgue File as I have the time. Can I say that knowing that people are using the images I post online for whatever reason makes me feel more like an artist? I was thrilled when my first picture passed 100 views.