Monday, May 30, 2011


i said goodbye to a good friend yesterday...a guy from a small accountability group.  he’s been a weekly presence in my life for about 3 years now. he graduated with his degree from seminary and now he’s moving away. 
i always thought he was a good guy.  he IS a good  guy. 
and i’m a better man for having known him.
i’ve watched him grow in his faith; in his openness to other guys. we’ve intervened in each other’s lives at critical moments.  we’ve shed tears for each other. 
i cried when i hugged him goodbye; he cried back.  sunday turned notably dreary.
i thank God for letting our the paths of our lives coincide for the time they did. 
and yet, cursed be graduations.
cursed be moves. 
i will miss him.
may God hold you firmly in his gracious, merciful and relentless grip, my friend.

Monday, May 23, 2011

other pleasures

the pleasure of the sun on my skin
the pleasure of hard work and satisfaction of a job well done on the art show
the pleasure of being in the company of good friends
the pleasure of talking with a trusted friend on the phone and having my soul and spirit encouraged and fed
the pleasure of hunger being staved
the pleasure of eating leftover breakfast casserole, and the pleasure of remembering the brothers i enjoyed it with the first time
the pleasure of a hand on my shoulder during prayer
the pleasure of singing worship songs...loudly...very loudly
the pleasure of affirmation that my words penetrated someone’s soul and encouraged them
the pleasure of the warm and loving embrace of my wife
all very real. all very good. no shame.

a reflection on Isaiah 61-62

a friend once said to me “everywhere i go, i go too, and that ruins everything”. i am like this man; i tend not to like my own company.   
for whatever reason, i have always had a poor self image.  i struggle with many things, many sins, but it usually boils down to a struggle with just who i am, my very DNA, and who and how God has made me.  my default emotional position is “I may be a child of God, but he has only acquiesced to let me in to his family…he reluctantly allows me to be here…he graciously tolerates my presence…but when it all comes down to it, i’m peripheral, and he doesn’t really like me like you’d like a good friend. 
this is, of course, heresy…but like i said, this is my default emotional position…left unchecked, i’ll always return to this place. 
enter the grace ev free sermon on Isaiah 61-62:
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn, …to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  …
“You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate.  But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah, for the Lord will take delight in you and your land will be married. … as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
that the Lord God Almighty King of the Universe would actually delight in me…with all my stuff?  i will never outgrow my need to hear this.
when i cry out to God and ask “why have you made me this way?” it’s like the answer is “so you can show the world that my delight can be even in people like you.”
and now with a constant flow of input from people who keep my spirit in check, i’m growing, slowly changing, from being consumed with how bad i am, to being overwhelmed with how GOOD HE is. 
so hear this, you who are in any way like me; let this sink down into the marrow of your bones and educate your conscience: his delight is in me…and his delight is in you.