Monday, November 26, 2007

Gnats and Camels

Do I swallow a camel and strain a gnat?
Is the life that I live one so flat
That I cannot know fullness, not in this state
Of rule keeping, a fool reaping
Rewards far from great
A hungry soul with an empty plate,
With a sure fate of
Always falling short and never aware
That there is more to life than choking a swear
Or some other deed that meets the need
Of making me think
I have no sin to bear, no reason to tear
My garments in shame
No blame to defame my well guarded name,
Or is there?
Is something wrong with my aim?

Do I swallow a camel and strain out a gnat?
I think I am at least quite guilty of that
Making sure I do right and always win the fight
Of avoiding some sin, staying clean within
Not wanting to wander blind in the night.

But I am blind and by more than I knew
Until I heard Jesus word about the absurd of
Gnat straining and camel swallowing
Or religion in the suburbs
Where we - and I mean I –
Avoid the more important things
Like justice, compassion and the beauty mercy brings
To the lives of those on the edge,
Hidden behind the hedge
We build around our lives, our churches, our souls

As we pledge to honor the One,
God’s Son, and do what He’s done
Even as we live lives that assume
We are the only ones worthy of our best.

But Jesus dived into the mess,
Always wanting to bless those on the edge
Not just the rest of us who are the mainstream,
Whatever that means
He wants us to rest from our service
To ourselves and dive in with him.

It all matters to him- what I say, what I do,
Where I spend and with who
What I allow in my mind and find the time
To bind to my heart is
A concern to the one who inspires this rhyme.
But more important still, his words not mine,
Is the direction of my will
To those for whom his heart does beat,
And the ones whose needs he desires me to meet
And move my feet to treat with all that is sweet
In the goodness of compassion,
Justice and mercy complete.

Straining gnats is right and something that’s good,
But straining camels better still -
If I don’t know, well, I should
For how can I say that I follow Jesus way
If I intentionally stray
From where His feet go to those we know
As the least of these
But not least to Him.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Standing, Leaving, Being

Standing here in this crowd with one lifted hand
Music plays, eyes shut, I’m kind of into the band
But something’s not right
As good as this is
Something’s not right

Kneeling and praying I pour out my heart
Receiving forgiveness, now another new start
But something’s not right
As good as this is
Something’s not right

Time has passed I’ve been here before
You seem to remember my face
From the very first door you opened a step into grace
How can I find it and only shrink in my vision?
How can I bind it to a heart that avoids collision
With a world that needs grace in human form?
Can I be grace in human form?

Contradiction is where they say I can find you
Enough at least to finally see my way through
To where something is right
As hard as this is
To where something is right

Leaving here and all the crowd taking both hands
Music fades eyes are open to discover a new land
By being what’s right
More than what’s good
By being what’s right.

Being what I follow. Being all I follow. Being who I follow.

Monday, July 23, 2007

About God

God is eternal. The term "old" does not apply
to the One who is the maker of earth, space, sky
and the whole of creation, not nature as some say
thinking that all that is came about the natural way
but what is natural in a world formed by God's hand,
ex nihilo as the Latin goes, so that you may know
and understanding grows to show
that nature is not its own author,
nor yours nor mine and the bottom line
arrives just in time to shine a truth sublime
that we are created and not natural,
so now we know.
God is a child where the wild
and the mild are reconciled
in joy and God never grows old
or tired of what he has made
from the trees giving shade to the flowers that fade
or each and every blade of grass in the all
the fields of dreams that parade through the mind
of his children who like their Father,
refuse to grow old, yet grow.
We grow old through our sin,
are then so unlike him in the dim
places we crawl to hide the damage
of the fall of our souls within
until we discover grace,
restoring us to the place of no trace
making us free to be a person reconciled,
undefiled and unbeguiled by the
face of deception that calls us nature's product
and not the created child
we are from the breath of the Holy,
and the never aging eternal.
Could it be that God is younger than we,
too blind to see that in childlike joy
is God-like wisdom for you and me?
I believe it in my soul.

Good and Evil, Part 2

Good is dumb so evil will thrive
while those who love good keep the dark foe alive
not in the shadows, the margins, in places hidden
but in plain view where nothing's forbidden to play,
dark rules the day, having his way, creating the fray
that good cannot seem to grasp or even talk to.
Some called "good" called him the sinner's friend
and to the end they planned for him to descend to the
shadows below where they did not know
he was already sent to go to find them.
Yes he was good and he also understood
what he wishes we would
make an effort to know about the others
in our world – that he loves them too.
But dumb cannot see, know, understand, befriend
It can only repeat, preach, attack, defend.
Good is good but it could be better by a twidge
a Mom-word I use
just to rhyme with the bridge
that good must build if it is to be
a bringer or hope too; not just a dope who
doesn't know how to cope through
the culture of our day and say "This way" to ones we
know how to walk with, talk with
and be a friend that is true.
Wise up good. Only the good friend of a sinner
can come out the winner in the battle with evil.
Everyone else loses. What else you got to do?

Good and Evil, Part 1

Evil is winning because good is too dumb
First blush it rings true but then I think for some
reason it is too easy to say this
but is there something I may miss
especially if I don't play this
out in my head 'til I get some clarity
on why it may seem true
but may ultimately leave you
and me without any hope that is real
and unable to feel
what is good and is bright, a soul delight,
to end the night of despair
not for all but for some,
and what's dumb is not good

Evil may seem to be winning
benefiting the sinning
while the world is spinning,
burning, imploding, while the underpinning of good
is lost, corrupt and without meaning

But a wise bringer of hope has taken the stage
while those who fail to notice
continue to rage against the
dying machine of folly;
and page after page after page is turned
with words unlearned, earning the inevitable wage

Go ahead and say good is the loser
but she is also the chooser of life
until the One who is good
comes like he said he would, in love

And evil even if it wins for a season
is empty and one whose ultimate fate
is without reason or beauty, art or truth
It cannot create

Evil will lose because loss is all it knows
and good wins so wake up and face it
Never fail to embrace it
He offers a chance please don't waste it
It is so good just to taste it
So good! Always good! Only good!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fat Liver

So I had a blood test done last year that suggested I might have excessive fatty content in my liver. When I asked the doc what caused it, he said it was usually related to weight. Translation: I'm too fat!

Having an extra layer of fat might be a good thing if I were a walrus living on a sheet of ice. But here in the land of melting asphalt, not so much. At least there are no Eskimos living in my neighborhood who might harpoon me for the blubber to light their lamps and cook their food.

Anyway, I am working on becoming a bit less walrus-like and it seems to be paying off. My fat levels are normal again and I am down a few pounds. Just to be safe however, I have cancelled my vacation to the polar basin this fall.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Bones of Jesus


The Bones of Jesus Have Been Discoverd! Really?

Well James Cameron says so. He has looked at the scientifially refuted evidence and determined that he, the great director of such artictic classics as The Terminator, knows better than the archeologists who worked on the site for the sake of science. Except for the one archeologist who figured out that this story had a Hollywood cool factor to it and decided to invent a line of reasoning that would lead to a sexier, more marketable and profitable conlusion - the bones of Jesus, his wife and son have been found! Yawn.

Okay, so I'm being a bit cynical. But seriously - don't drink the kool-aid on this one. In the archeological world, this is 27 year old news. And until the wave of the DiVinci Code and the Gospel of Judas rode in, no one cared about this curious but meaningless discovery behind a Jerusalem apratment house. It doesn't come close to showing a connection to the historical Jesus - or so every other archeologist working at the site has said.

Now that won't stop those who neeeeeeeed for it to be true from claiming it is. The debates have already started in the blog-o-sphere full of the predicatble name calling ("fundamentalist Bible thumping idiots" and "perverted left-wing God haters" - you know that kind of thing that is so winsome and engaging).

Oh well, the more fractured and intellectually immature our culture gets, the more we'll see of this kind of thing. In the mean time, if you want to check out a website that asks some really good questions concerning the tomb of Jesus, click this link to y-zine.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nigeria

I've been blogging a while, but never really out in the open as myself - except on myspace and that doesn't really count. The picture is of me with a child at an orphanage in the town of Otukpo, Nigeria in November of last year.

We got there right in the middle of bath time - the oprhanage, not Nigeria. As far as I know there is no national bath time there like my parents used to tell me there was in the US. Anyway, it was bath time. You could tell because there were washtubs of soapy water outside, naked kids running around on the porch and a rooster up in the trees. Apparently roosters are so desperate to avoid a bath in Nigeria that they will actually climb trees to escape the experience. Think I'm kidding? Check out the pic. A real life tree climbing rooster!

Emily went with me and we both had a wonderful time. It was a little scary getting out of Nigeria, though. We ran into a protest that included many angry young men with clubs blocking the road in and out of town with fallen trees. After being stuck for about 45 minutes, one protestor actually talked the others into letting us pass. Since they let us go, they decided to let all of the other cars go as well. But by now the road was jammed since people traveling in both directions had taken up every lane. So you had cars spread across four lanes staring at each other in gridlock.

At this point, the protestors put down their clubs and became traffic directors. They were very good at it leading me to believe this was not the first time that a protest had ended this way. It was honetly like that:

"We will tolerate such treatment form the government no more! We demand our pension payments! Our families starve while the government officials dine on the fat of the oil companies! We will never give up! We will bring chaos to this land! . . . Oooo! My stomach is rumbling. Time for dinner . . . Okay, thanks for coming to our riot. You may all go now. Please follow the directions of the young men who were just moments ago beating on your vehicles. Thank you and drive safely."

I'm not making this up. It was the craziest thing I've ever seen.

If I go back, I hope that I can spend more time working with kids, or working on a project to create a better living environment. This time my job was to preach three different times - once at a revival, once at a pastors conference and once for a Sunday morning church service. It was a great experience and worth the trip, but there was a lot of unproductive down time. And if you know me, I love me myself some down time. So I can't believe I'm really about to say this, but . . . sometimes you can have too much down time. That still sounds soooooo wrong.