Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Low Man

I am the rich man.
I fear it.
I kneel on the warm side of my door.
I am the rich man.
I feel it,
In prostrate comfort on my bedroom floor.

In affluent dismay,
My prayer begins.
The low man lights the way.
Remember him?
He pleads from phantom cage
To let me in.
A holy light sustained
Yet flickers dim.

Entrapped in pleasures drowning desperate sounds,
I feel the distance.
Sparse excess I have dared go without.
A grasp at closeness.

How large a gift yet sacrifices slight.
A holy ember strains to flicker bright.

Draw him near or take me far,
From both within me, here we are;
That mindful place, that abstract home,
In low man's space we fear to roam.

Between prayer and prayer again
I am the rich man, now and then.
I cast a glance. The gold grows thin.
I bid the low man let me in.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Mind Blown

The best reactions to being a calico adoptive family happen to my wife when she's out without me. Today in Walmart she changed directions in an aisle only to find another woman in her face who asked, "This is gonna sound weird but can I blow your mind?"

"Uhhh...maybe," my wife answered trying to make the abrupt transition from grocery list to stranger danger with all five kids in tow.

The lady pulled out a large wad of twenties and appeared to debate how many to part with while evaluating Leah closely. A single twenty was offered with the advise that it was for ice cream or something else fun for the kids... "not cigarettes and alcohol." At this point the evidence indicates this lady didn't realize the kids were adopted so the impression was that my wife "gets around" and still doesn't have a man to help her through Walmart. Tough life.

Scripture says if someone's gift is giving let them give generously. So twenty bucks bought an awkward "thank you", a four pack of kids movies and some fancy school folders. Mind blowing? Uhhh, maybe. God has a good sense of humor that's hard to track with sometimes. But even when the joke happens in the canned tuna aisle, it's funny. If anybody needs a mind blowing twenty dollars, I can officially afford to pay it forward now.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


I'm tired of hearing about the church's ambition to grow. To be fair, I have to carefully balance my own perspective. We all like the "body of Christ" analogies and I think it has a lot to offer on this topic. If you have the mind for it, feel free to analogize just about everything that follows. I'm sure you'll see I'm only scratching the surface of this smelly sticker enough to see if its aroma makes your mouth water.

First, growth in general is good and good growth calls for rejoicing. It replaces dead cells and adds new ones where more strength is needed, whether for bones and muscles or immune and circulatory systems. It turns babies into youths into adults. It makes hair fun to cut and style and it makes finger and toe nails resilient tools. And all this good growth has one obvious thing in common, only God has true control over it. We can boost it with steroids or send it sideways with gluttony, but we are helpless when it refuses to happen and sometimes equally helpless when it just won't stop. That's the pattern for countless disorders.

If the world is teaching us anything right now, could it be that growth is not always good? Stock market bubbles. Cancer. Inner-city food deserts. Extremism. etc. Can we make the transition to concerning ourselves with the health of Christ's body rather than it's size? Not only do we have much more control over that but scripture aims us straight at it with the assurance that a healthy body grows (and stops growing) "as God causes it to grow" according to what's best for it. There are already books on this topic so I won't try fit one in the space of this post. But I would definitely encourage you to give it some thought before we're too spiritually obese for our part of the body to support itself. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

You're Adopted!

For anyone who's more than ten months behind the curve like I am, I have four five children now! The headcount always seems one off and being a family is officially challenging. Adding a four year old boy is not the same as adding a two year old girl, our previous addition. I know you all gasped with disbelief just now but it's true. He's the butterfly effect that has brought an exponential increase in energy, adventure and chaos to my wife's well oiled family machine. I say my wife's because, without her, chaos would already play a much larger role. I've long joked that I live in the magical house. So named because it cleans itself, refills the refrigerator, does the laundry and a dozen other routine chores all with reliable precision and very few demands. But the magic is a little glitchy lately.

Affairs of the heart are life's most challenging. In a Spirit led life, sometimes loving has to precede liking, caring has to precede affection and forgiving has to precede the other's repentance. That's especially true in a family, perhaps most of all in adoption. Let me say one thing before you decide this might not pertain to you; if you're God's child, you're adopted. God made it plain he has no natural born children. You came to Christ with baggage from another parent even if you "grew up" in the church. And God's "magical" house usually works on the heart before it works on the laundry. Welcome to the glitch, to priorities that don't square with keeping the status quo even if it was a well oiled machine.

From our recent list of hard-won but worthwhile rewards, I want to share this piece of clarity. Your emotions are not your heart. Your heart is the reason you persevere in spite of your emotions. I take that from the many times Israel narrowly survived God's wrath because of his patience. That distinction matters when you're feeling the pressure to keep working with a good heart while you're also feeling emotions that make you want to braid whips and flip tables. Christ can relate... and he was sinless. Take that to heart. Yes, we make the Spirit groan. But he keeps interceding for us till the work is finished. That's real family, groaning, persevering and highly rewardable in the Kingdom. Now, where's that boy?

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Tea Lights

My four-year-olds like to play a game with a bunch of fake tealight candles that light up and artificially flicker in a dim yellow orange. They take turns hiding and finding them throughout the house. They missed one tucked loosely between the cushions of the guest room sofa. On my way to bed, it caught my eye and mind alike with that cliche significance of an unexpected light in the dark, a last coal that comes to ephemeral life alone in the ash long after the fire, solitary headlights traveling high on a distant, mountain road, the moon surprising you as you pass the hill that let it rise without notice.

Is that you? Home is coming. Standing in the middle of an unsearchable reality with any sense of place in it is what makes philosophy and faith a measure of sanity. The animals have neither and we would certainly be judged insane to act like them. The coyotes howl and the river rumbles by in the dark. The sirens blare and the traffic hums along under the street lights. I've found God both places, nature ruled and ruling, at least on the surface. All rivers run to the ocean but it's never full. All roads lead to Rome but I've never been there. Come soon Lord. I feel strange here.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Gotcha Question

When Lauren Daigle recently "flunked" the gotcha question of whether homosexuality is sin, I was as disappointed with her evasive answer as any right wing zealot. We like quick, clear answers (and judgments) and we rain rocks on anyone who seems to have fallen out of line. But I talked to my Friend of Highest Regard who slowed me down a bit when he pointed to his own habit of evasive and vexing answers.

Let's start with the account of the woman caught in adultery, a close parallel to the homosexual sin question. The Pharisees asked the gotcha question, "The law says stone her. What do you say?" Christ - who in fact clarified that he was here to fulfill the law they were citing - responds by stooping to write on the ground before famously turning the moral question against the accusers, "Whichever of you is sinless throw the first stone." The extent of him calling out her sin was to privately release her with the instruction, "leave your life of sin." I'm left thinking a good trick answer would be, "Is Christ our judge?"

Sometimes, Jesus didn't even give a straight answer to close friends. In fear for his life and apparent doubt about how he had spent it, John the Baptist asked Jesus if he was the Messiah. Is there any more critical question to give a straight answer on? Jesus only answered that the evidence indicated he was, the same sort of maddening answer he gave Pilot for the question, "Are you king of the Jews?" Likewise, Christians the world over wish that, at least once, Jesus had said the words, "I am God." But we're limited to stating it as an obvious conclusion, I suspect by his own design.

Only in reference to Sodom did Christ more directly address homosexuality (one of Sodom's blatant offenses) and it wasn't to condemn it. It was to say even that's better than those who reject his kingdom. Boy, does that create some strange angles! Scriptures says I have enough sin of my own to worry about first. It also says Judge Jesus is currently exercising a lot of patience with the world before he lowers the final hammer. Besides that, I think me trying to judge Lauren's situation from the comfort of my anonymity is like a kid who thinks he's ready for the pros because he can dunk on a six foot rim. I'm not saying we shouldn't call sin, "sin". I'm just saying you might want to save your throwing arm for that stuffed animal at the carny booth.

Monday, December 3, 2018

I Thought You Were Smart

I love the look on a friends face when they first find out I'm a young earth creationist. Despite any prior regard for my intelligence, their recoil says, "Oh no! I didn't realize you hadn't evolved a brain yet!" To be fair, I know that we creationists can be quick to think less of those who disagree with us as well. It's a human trait that carries through all matters of faith, politics and life in general.

For either side (of any issue) it's reassuring to think of our opponents as idiots. That's much less intimidating than knowing someone intelligent disagrees with us. And what if we're wrong?! That's a favorite way for Christians to dodge the issue of validating their faith anyway, right? We ask, "What if I'm wrong?" insinuating a less grievous consequence than "What if you're wrong?" and you're hell fodder. It's an easy way out but it's one Christ and the apostles never took. Instead, their appeal was steadfastly attached to the validity of what they had seen and touched for themselves.

Still, no matter how reasonable our convictions about the unobservable past, they're still just faith. But faith is no small thing to Christ who simply said he was the truth and humbly offered what he expected us to accept as proof. In our time, anyone trying to answer the question of our origins is looking further back than we can see with our own eyes. Even Christ acknowledged the hurdle that creates. For that alone, I hope all sides exercise an extra measure of humility and truthfulness in deciding what ideas best align with the things we can see and touch for ourselves. And if you don't share my view on that, I can't respect your opinion, you pathetic little amoeba brain. To which you say, "Takes one to know one." I always knew we were equals.