Saturday, September 27, 2008

he said, he said

I've been reading a couple of great books lately: "The Reason for God" by Tim Keller, and "Just Courage" by Gary Haugen.

Below are some of the words that have most stuck w/me.

"When a Russian cosmonaut returned from space and reported that he had not found God, C.S. Lewis responded that this was like Hamlet going into the attic of his castle looking for Shakespeare. If there is a God, he wouldn't be another object in the universe that could be put in a lab and analyzed with empirical methods." - Tim Keller

As quoted by Tim Keller, from scientist Francis Collins: "We have this very solid conclusion that the universe had an origin, the Big Bang. Fifteen billion years ago, the universe began with an unimaginably bright flash of energy from an infinitesimally small point. That implies that before that, there was nothing... And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it..."

"...while hunger doesn't prove that the particular meal desired will be procured, doesn't the appetite for food in us mean that food exists?... Doesn't the unfulfillable longing evoked by beauty qualify as an innate desire?... Isn't that at least a clue that this 'something' that we want exists? This unfulfillable longing, then, qualifies as a deep, innate human desire, and that makes it a major clue that God is there." - Tim Keller

"What is not fair is to do what so many evolutionary scientists are doing now. They are applying the scalpel of their skepticism to what our minds tell us about God but not to what our minds are telling us about evolutionary science itself... It comes down to this: If, as the evolutionary scientists say, what our brains tell us about morality, love and beauty is not real - if it is merely a set of chemical reactions designed to pass on our genetic code - then so is what *their* brains tell them about the world. Then why should we trust them?" - Tim Keller

"Building our lives on something besides God not only hurts us if we don't get the desires of our hearts, but also if we do." - Tim Keller

"So, according to the Bible, the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things." - Tim Keller

"...our own rescue is God's plan for rescuing the world he loves." - Gary Haugen

"In taking on the forces of aggressive evil, we have found a place where we desperately need our Father's help, and where he is delighted to provide it. This is not a resignation of my gifts or passions or training, but a deployment of those endowments to a place beyond safety, beyond my ability to control the outcome and beyond my own power to succeed. It's a place where God is desperately needed and a work in which he delights to engage - for it is his own work." - Gary Haugen

"Consequently, while a word (and God) waits, groaning, for the people of God to bring hope, love, service and divine rescue, so many Western Christians miss their anointed work of truly glorious rescue because they are oblivious to the dramatic, urgent need, or they are paralyzed by hopeless despair." - Gary Haugen

"Mother Teresa said that she couldn't image doing her work for more than thirty minutes without prayer. Do you and I have work that we can't imagine doing for thirty minutes without prayer? If not, perhaps we need a new life's work. Or perhaps we need to an old life's work in a new way." - Gary Haugen

Monday, September 15, 2008

In memory

Thursday was a sad day here at home. My cat, Frankie, who's been with me for about 10 years, died that afternoon.

I knew that losing her would be hard, but I'm surprised just how hard it's been. Thursday night I couldn't even sleep in my room, because she wasn't there. And since Thursday there have been random, unexpected moments of unbelievable sadness.

I got Frankie from a girl in my first bible study, back in 1998. She was about a year old (maybe a little older) when she first came home with me, and she's been my constant companion ever since. We've moved to lots of different places in the last 10 years and she adjusted well to all of them. The next new place always felt like home because she was with me.

Since she's died, I've found myself wishing that I could find some evidence in the Bible that God's creation of "a new Heaven and a new Earth" includes animals... especially pets. It's funny, the things we try to do to comfort ourselves.

Frankie was a talker. She meowed about everything. It's how I was greeted everytime I came home, how she told me she was hungry, bored, or in need of attention. She slept, literally, *on* me, every night; either on my back or my stomach depending on which way I was laying. And every morning I was greeted with an affectionate "head bump", enthusiastic purring, and of course, meows.

When I sat at my desk, she sat in my lap. When I sat on the couch, she sat on the back of the couch, resting her front paws and head on my shoulder. If I sat in bed reading, she always tried to climb on top of whatever I was reading and sit on my lap. Always. In 10 years she never understood (or never cared) that sitting on a book meant she was going to get moved and possibly kicked off the bed. I think probably she just didn't care. She always wanted to be close. That was all that mattered to her.

When she was young, she was really playful (as most young cats are), but expensive cat toys never amused her. A simple string, paper bag or balled up piece of paper provided hours of entertainment. Store bought stuff was practically ignored.

As she got older, she played less but explored as much as ever. Though she was hesitant about new places, it never stopped her from checking out every nook and cranny she could get to.

She loved to sit in open windows and, like every cat, loved to nap in the sun.

I don't know where to go from here except to say that I can't believe she's gone. 11 or 12 is a good, old age for a cat, so I've known for a while that our time together was running short. Still... I wasn't ready to lose such a loyal and loving companion.

She will be so greatly missed, and I'm sure there many tears yet to be shed.
Rest in peace my dear, sweet friend. I love you.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

could you BE more out of touch?

I had to pause in my day of research to share this crazy cartoon guy with you. You can find him on the DEA's website, aimed at teens and pre-teens, about the dangers of using inhalants (sniffing glue, etc.)

Soooo..... someone at the DEA thinks teens and pre-teens will think this guy is cool.

The title of the web page is "What's Up with Inhalants?"

though, I guess I shouldn't complain too much.
It's because of bad content like this that I have a job. Maybe I should send some writing and web design samples to the DEA.

oh yea, they also have a group (supposedly) of teenagers who help w/the site's content and, I'm sorry to say, are called the Prevention Posses. (that's not a typo... "Posses" is plural)

people people people....

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hang on to yourself

Yesterday I met w/one of the leaders from the Wayne State "chapter" of Campus Crusades (Cru for short). Bryn is an awesome girl and though we've only hung out a couple of times, I've walked away on both occasions feeling inspired and excited about the work God is doing through His Church.

Yesterday's conversation centered mostly on what it means to "be yourself" and follow Jesus at the same time. We Christians talk a lot about the importance of denying ourselves, of self-sacrifice, etc, etc. But I think we've gotten a wrong idea of what that means.

Yes, we should be people of service and sacrifice, but so many Christians I know have - in the name of sacrifice - turned away from things that bring them joy and excitement. Mind you I'm not talking about sinful or self-destructive things, I'm talking about good, healthy enjoyable things.

I'll use my own life as an example.

One of my favorite things to do is go rock-climbing. I did it a lot years ago but not at all now. I also love the theatre. I used to volunteer in the local community theatre, and I had a blast. Neither of these things is currently part of my life. And why not? Because I've "sacrificed" them in the name of following Jesus. I've determined that there are better, more productive things I can do with my time and that I shouldn't "waste my time" with such trivial things as theatre production when there's a whole world out there that needs "saving".

Here's the problem though... as I've stepped away from the things that bring me joy, I've also stepped away from people who don't know Jesus. And at the same time, I spend untold hours trying to think of "creative ways" to "rub shoulders" with non-Christians. As a result, very few of my friends are non-Christians - and I don't like that.

I wonder where we've gotten the idea that "dying to self" means sacrificing the good things that not only bring us joy but that enable us to live life with people outside our little Christian bubble? If I'm honest with myself (and maybe if you're honest with yourself) it hints at pride and self-righteousness... "Look at how committed I am to following Jesus! I don't do any of the things I truly love doing anymore because all my time and energy is focused on reaching the lost."

Psalm 139 says that each one of us was knit together, by God. It's an interesting word - "knit". If you've ever watched someone knit, or if you knit, you know how deliberate it has to be if the knitter is making something specific. You have to count stitches and... well... other stuff that I don't know how to explain because I'm not a knitter, but I've seen it done.

We were knit together - put together deliberately. And not just our physical being, but our spiritual being as well; our personalities, joys, passions, interests... all of that was done on purpose.

So maybe God's given me a love for rock climbing and the theatre because there are people living in those worlds whom He wants to reach out to through me. And maybe, by self-righteously "denying myself", I'm hindering His ability to work through me because I'm not available to the people groups He created me to be available for.

Maybe we make the Great Commission more complicated than it really is. It's hard, don't get me wrong, but maybe - rather than being hard and complicated - it's hard and simple. We're called to make disciples of all nations... that's hard. But maybe we're called to do it w/in the context of the "nations" to which we have a natural affinity.

That would be pretty simple. For me, it would mean making disciples of "nations" of rock climbers, theatre enthusiasts, and at-risk teenagers; because those are the nations for which I seem to have a God-given interest and passion. I wouldn't have to contemplate where to go or what to do to build friendships with people who don't have a relationship with Jesus. I would naturally find myself in relationship with all kinds of people, which - no offense to fellow Christians - would also make life much more interesting and probably unpredictable.

So here is my charge to my fellow Christians - know that you have the freedom to be yourself. Hobbies and interests in things outside of "church stuff" are (provided they're not destructive) good, and God-given. They're meant to be used for His glory and for the benefit of those who don't yet know Him. So let Him use them. Let Him use you w/in the context of your interests and passions, to reach a lost and dying world. Let's make the Great Commission simple again.

To quote David Bowie ('cause... why wouldn't I...)
C'mon, c'mon, we've really got a good thing going
Well c'mon, c'mon.
If you think we're gonna make it, you better hang on to yourself

and now... if you'll excuse me... I'm going to watch some college football. :)

Friday, September 05, 2008

I need...

I need words as wide as sky.
And I need a language large as this longing inside.
And I need a voice bigger than mine.
I need a song to sing You that I've yet to find.

I need You.
I need You.
I need You.
I need You.
To be here now.
To be here now.
To hear me now.
To hear me now.

-I Need Words, by David Crowder Band