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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

shalom, baby


for awhile now i have been signing emails and notes with a blessing:
shalom

and yet, it occurs to me that the recipients of this benediction might think that i have converted to judaism or something... i mean, christians don't speak hebrew do they? (jokes)

i read something this morning by john wesley that characterizes shalom.

a right heart toward God and man implies happiness as well as holiness. for it is also 'peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.' what peace? the peace of God, which only God can give, and the world cannot take away. it is a supernatural sensation, a divine taste of 'the powers of the world to come' such as a person in his natural, unconverted state does not know.

it is a peace that banishes all doubt and painful uncertainty because the Spirit of God bears witness with the spirit of a christian that he or she is a child of God. it banishes tormenting fear: the fear of the wrath of God, the fear of hell, the fear of the devil, and in particular, the fear of death. the one who has the peace of God desires, as did the apostle paul, if it be the will of God, 'to depart and to be with Christ.'

the soul wants to be in the presence of the One it loves.

so, when i sign off with a shalom, this is what i am inviting from God on your behalf. hope that's okay.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

bombing the church for God's glory?


so i got this call from my friend mikhail, the painter... perhaps you remember- the one who spray-painted graffiti all over the back wall of the church? (http://northvus.blogspot.com/2005/10/was-only-joke.html)

i have thought a lot about that project in the couple months since its completion. wondering why, for example, my friend's work schedule made it impossible for us to be able to publically thank him for his work on our building. i mean, people have come up to me from out of nowhere saying how that mural has arrested their imaginations as they drive by in the mornings on their way to work. others have begun to refer to us as the church with the wall or the church with the graffiti, acknowledging and affirming the artwork (and the church- let's not dumb it down to mere aesthetics) and its place in the beautification and culture of our community. nice. even nicer to pass the glory on...

however, i think that i might have received a deterministic glimpse into how things sometimes work the other day.

his paint posse (strictly legit, they assure me!) is being reunited this week. one of the artists moved to calgary, but is in town for the week and the guys are all about a reunion concert of visual sorts... so they called our church, looking for something to paint.

does that seem weird to you?

it did for me briefly, but i'm learning to just ride the waves rather than analyse them. we talked and mikhail shared his vision: to plan and execute a mural by four painters on the forty-foot wall in our youth zone; and be completed, start to finish, this saturday.

i proceeded with caution:
"sounds amazing, but we aren't able to enter into another fund-raiser for this project, as we are working on a couple of missions projects already. in short, we just don't have the cash."

"no no- we would supply the materials... we just want a place to paint. i will talk to the guys and then present you with sketches- like before."

well, what are you supposed to say to something like this?
i found the right words:
"thank you."

that was one of those loaded statements that had a whole bunch of contextual stuff floating around in it. although i was talking to my friend, i knew God was listening and i was thanking him at the same time: for the gift that was imminent; for the opportunity to work with mikhail again; for the relationship that was now extending into his community of painters... so much thanksgiving.

perhaps having a public curtain call for mikhail would have been closure to a dialogue box that God the Holy Spirit intended to keep open. i don't know. all i know is that the good news of Jesus' message to all of us on earth- that we could be free to be all that we had it in us naturally (before the fall) to be by the grace of God- is now penetrating the network of friends that share a common gift with mikhail. these artists are released to celebrate the glory and diversity of God's creation simply by being given the opportunity to paint a thing of beauty.

i find it really marvelous that there does not necessarily need to be a personal relationship with the creator in order for the creation to celebrate his glory. just as a brightly feathered bird or a rugged mountain range celebrates God's glory simply by existing and doing whatever it does naturally as part of that existence, so do my friends the painters. God is the author of all good things, and this saturday a bunch of painters are going to be spray-painting a wall in our church basement in his honour, just because they need a place to paint and know a church down the street that seems to be into that sort of thing.


that 'mikhail' means gift of God is just some extra context.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

little moments

no, it's not a brad paisley song... sorry jolly, i know you love country ;) but i had a sweet little moment in my conversation with a bud named joe that i thought i'd share rather quickly. i was talking about my french, and how i'm no longer fluent in it... (if that's even how you spell it) and then i made the joke 'affluent' in french... (with the prefix that means 'not') ... well, anyhow, if you don't understand, sorry.

ANYWAYS, i found out afterwards (when i checked that word out in the dictionary... or more or less, dictionary.com) that the word means 'abundant; plentiful' ... this is a good word. i can use it in a sentence.

this last week, God has been affluent. Kris is so thankful

thanks for listening.
peace

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

yeah, me neither


new ideas do not come to me in a vacuum. in the words of neil young:
my heart needs relating, not solitude

that's the way it is and i'm fine with that.

however, it means that, if i am ever to write another post on this or any other blog, i have to do some reading. people's ideas inspire me. they launch me into a new place. they usher me into a new space... they bump my whole perspective over a couple of degrees and then invite me to see things from a new angle.

i only hope that occasionally my ideas take someone else somewhere else too- call it a payment of a cosmic debt.

anyway, the song Doesn't Remind Me by audioslave takes me somewhere every time i hear it. recently it provided a doorway for my son and i to have a pretty powerful spiritual conversation on spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues. the lyrics of the song are a rather interesting and mildly random list of experiences and connections that apparently (if you believe everything you hear people say or sing) doesn't remind the singer of anything in particular... he just likes them.

now, i'm not a poetry professor, but this may very well be (for me) one of the most thoughtful and experiencially loaded lyrics i've ever come across (with the exception of some of the u2 stuff and the occasional system of a down bit... and don't even get me started on dylan or cohen or morrison) so, just to get my brain going again, here is what i think the song means to me... or, more specifically, here is what i hear in these lyrics and why i think the song is about embracing precious things while nonchalantly wearing the proud facade of someone in charge of his or her own life.

I walk the streets of Japan till I get lost
escape, being alone and unknown in a crowd of strangers
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
major denial, each of these memories is a hyperlink into a lost experience or relationship or epoch and phase
With a graveyard tan n'carrying a cross
pale and burdened with other people's problems
It doesn't remind me of anything

I like studying faces in a parking lot
looking for familiarity or that betrayal of a stranger's inner self
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
I like travelling backwards in the fall
pining for all the great things of summer- the warmth, the freedom... immortalizing the holiday
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything

The things that I've loved, things that I've lost
Things I've held sacred that I've dropped

longing for an irretrievable past- acknowledging the value of things that once were
I won't lie no more you can bet
I don't want to learn what I'll need to forget
the abandonment of past convictions and the embrace of cynicism has left the writer weary and cautious

I like gypsy moths and radio talk
both common and in most ways ignorable and indicative of everyday life
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
I like gospel music and canned applause
warm, down-home imagery: fundamentalist naivete and pleasantville innocence and humour
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything

I like colorful clothing in the sun
again with the idyllic snapshot sunlit holiday posing
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
I like hammering nails, and speaking in tongues

being spiritually filled- with godlessness and then assurance of forgiveness
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything

Bend and shape me I love the way you are
Slow and sweetly like never before
Calm and sleeping- we won't stir up the past
So discreetly we won't look back
it is the past that sleeps calmly- like a child on a bad day, it's easier to love when it's sleeping

I like throwing my voice and breaking guitars
rock n roll youth- p.a. systems with bad monitors and alternative anxst in front of an adoring crowd of people who are easy to please because they don't have pop expectations
Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
I like playing in the sand what's mine is ours
all these memories are part of our collective past
If it doesn't remind me of anything
as long as the writer doesn't have to become more vulnerable than these symbols naturally foster...

i haven't read much about chris cornell, the writer of the song. i have a bunch of his albums from the soundgarden grunge days, as well as collaborations with pearl jam, alice in chains and alice cooper. however, i am tempted to read a bunch into these lyrics (and others he's written- check out jesus christ pose from the album badmotorfinger... heck, back then he even looked like the Jesus of traditional paintings) and conclude that there is some degree of 'christian memory.'

what i love about the song is that it doesn't remind me of anything either.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

room of rest


I had a powerful dream the other night...

I dreamt that I was in a public restroom. there was human waste all over the floors because toilets had overflowed and people had continued to just urinate and defecate on the floor… it was a couple inches deep with the yellow of longterm neglect. anyway, God the Holy Spirit was prompting me to pray there- to kneel down and pray. it was a disgusting and foul little room- all i could see was the filth, all i could smell was the fetid corruption of this place where that which was meant to be disposed of had instead been permitted to linger.

yet as I faithfully knelt down and closed my eyes, the room was illuminated with the very shekinah glory of God’s manifest presence- that bright light that we read of in scripture which embodies the vicinity of God.

in the presence of God, the sewage in which I knelt was of no consequence. the holiness of the moment was not besmirched by things that were in simple need of some disinfectant and a good mop. in place of the pungent heaviness of the air there was the fragrance of the presence of God.

even now, i ponder the multiple meanings of the symbols. i love that a vision from God can be both simple and profound- easy to recognize and identify, yet impossible to satisfactorily explain.