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Thursday, February 23, 2006

so fight back


recently, i logged this (partial) comment on curious servant's blog... it is a paraphrasing of a bunch of john eldredge/ neil t. anderson ideas:

i resist the 'devil behind every bush' approach to the calamity of fallen planet earth. we empower him by turning his lies into heart-breaking truth.

you see, the thing that gets me punching at the darkness is that we continually enter into agreement with his accusations- living them out in the lives that Jesus died to redeem. if people come to the place of acknowledging spiritual strongholds in their hearts which are there because they have been permitted through acts of their free will, then the next step is accepting the freedom and release of God made possible by his grace as accepted by the same free will that entered into unholy agreement in the first place.

'the devil made me do it?' baloney.
we chose to listen to him.

the devil gets really pissed when we stop agreeing with his basic premise that we are not worthy by accepting Jesus' sacrifice for us as indicative of our inherent worth in the only eyes that ultimately matter.

***
i'm not going to do another post on satan. my current understanding of him has not changed- no point giving him more air time.

no, this one has to do with a weird documentary of a porn star that i viewed one night.

not really the type of thing that i ever find myself sitting in front of. my wife enjoys biography but i just can't be bothered. give me seinfeld or simpsons any day... not some real person's editted-for-sensationalist-television, personal-made-public pain. and yet when we recently signed up for a digital cable package that allowed us to have a bunch of extra channels that we would probably never subscribe to, i found myself watching more tv... however, i was not walking on the wild side- this was airing on the 'documentary channel.'

(i put documentary channel in brackets because as i have reviewed the listings, it appears as though there might be one or two themes that are documented more often than others... kinda like the history channel seems to be more appropriately titled the 'holocaust channel.')

but tragedy draws a crowd, and i found myself sitting there taking it all in as this girl's tale splashed across the screen, leaving high-water marks and traces of residual sewage. i won't go into the sordid details, i'll just try to say where this all took me.

it was a quest for identity, plainly oversimplified. although the things that this girl did earned her some short-term notoriety in the mid 1990's as the next whore of babylon, the scandalous press coverage and cable interviews eventually abated while the superlatives stalled, leaving a tragic figure completely bereft of both human dignity and fallen infamy- in short: she was once again a nobody in search of a name that didn't scream 'has-been porn queen' or worse.

yep, there was something worse than being the former miss pornoplanet (no, i made that one up) or whatever- there was the awful truth that eventually her loving parents were going to find out.

you see, although she had travelled around granting interviews and posing for various electronic eyes, launching a line of x-rated t-shirts and lecturing on sexual mores at universities across america, and pushing the envelope of morality and sexual identity in general wherever she went, around home she was still the sweet and loving daughter of two aged and ailing immigrant parents who were kept safely locked away from the shocking truth about their little girl.

however, as we all know, you can't get away with living a lie- eventually there are just too many things to remember and too many inconsistencies hide. although she had left the 'industry' in attempts to reenter the sociological mainstream as an undergraduate university student, there was still money to be made off of her by someone who was very interested in protecting an investment of sorts. in her case, the bell tolling was the simple ringer of the humble household telephone, as a loving mother picked up the receiver to hear the voice of the pornographer on the line.

heartbroken and humiliated, the girl confessed to her mother, and the two of them devised a plot whereby they would keep this truth from the father, who was very ill. then, with nothing left to lose, she returned to life on the other side of the green door.

this kind of thing happens all the time, i guess. i was just visiting with a friend who suffers from a cocaine addiction who is back off the wagon and back on the psych ward. his children are frustrated with him, he is frustrated with himself... the voices in the darkness whisper lies which he has no strength to resist.

that's where God's people come in. although it seems that everyone has given up on him, God hasn't. God's not-giving-up is expressed in many ways: one is through his people. it is these tangible voices that put faces and names to the words spoken in scripture. we are to be God's hands and feet and voice- his physical presence in this world of heartache- his light in this valley of the shadow.

when the people around us are falling, doubled over from being kicked in the identity crotch by all of hell, it is the role of the people of God to speak his words of peace, love, hope and strength to those who have ears yet cannot hear anything but the lies that are designed to destroy through despair, any clear picture of the inherent worth of a fallen man or woman in the grip of sin. we need to remind people of who they really are, because they are in danger of entering into lasting agreement with those in the spiritual realm who are damned already and who delight in the pain of those for whom Jesus died.

the war is not against the weak or the broken. they are collateral damage.
the war is against God through humanity.
all hell uses people's pain to stab at the heart of God.
it not only destroys our picture of who we are in the eyes of God, but it renders us helpless to hear the voice of Jesus, calling to us from the cross to cast our burden upon him, that we would be free.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(romans 8.31-39)

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Friday, February 17, 2006

twisted metal and broken glass


i'm the one who walks upon the wire
i'm the one who works without a net
i'm the one who dances through the fire
i'm the one with nothing to forget

i'm the one who keeps the pie-plates spinning
i'm the one who knew it all along
i'm the one who gambles with his winnings
i'm the one who is yet to be proven wrong

the eye in the sky advises you to find another route home
avoid the twisted metal and broken glass
a crowd has gathered
debris is scattered for miles along the way
one by one people, shudder as they pass

i'm the one who insults in order to flatter
i'm the one who knows how to beat the odds
i'm the one who believes in mind over matter
i'm the one who has no time for your little gods

the eye in the sky advises you to find another route home
avoid the twisted metal and broken glass
a crowd has gathered
debris is scattered for miles along the way
one by one people, shudder as they pass

the eye in the sky advises you to find another route home
how long you'll have to wait is hard to say
the crews are working into the night
to clear away the wreckage
of a car that hit itself going the other way
***
so sometimes we get so full of ourselves, so entrenched in our own ethnocentric thinking that we run into our inconsistency and our pride head-on.

there are three groups present at the scene of a crash: those in it, those observing it and those trying to help. i wonder if the roles are quite so easy to identify among those in relationship with a person who crashes.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

bored brat


well, most of the time i try to behave when i'm bored.









however, the other day i was at a conference that was going nowhere. i probably didn't come with the right attitude because there was a seminary class that i had wanted to take at the same time, and had been denied the opportunity because i was required to attend this event. so i probably had that here we are now, entertain us smell about me. whatever... nevermind.

in any event, there were a number of people at my table who were even less engaged by the keynote speaker than i was. however, about twenty minutes into the address, a guy began circulating around the tables applying his classroom management techniques with the 'pardon me, but can we listen please!?' admonishment thing. he looked straight at me and fired.

i don't like being scolded... i pout when i'm scolded. i sat there quietly scribbling down options. the whole episode just drove me again to the idea that people will become for you whatever you treat them as. if you treat them as adults, they will for the most part, endeavor to act that way.

so here's me being juvenile, but quiet:

you know you're bored when:
you start playing with your own zipper
you start picturing people in the underwear of the opposite gender
you try to fart just to liven things up a little
you start making up basketball plays- even though you don't play b-ball
you go around scolding people at other tables for not listening
you start trying to invent new knots with your shoelaces
you start trying to move things with your mind
you stop trying to stay awake and start trying to fall asleep with eyes open
you write out the lyrics to PINK FLOYD- THE WALL in its entirety
you start trying to see people's auras
you phone the presenter's office on your cell and provide a play-by-play commentary on voicemail
you start wiggling your ears, timing how long it takes to be noticed
you start playing the hyperventilation blackout game at your table
you try to will the speaker into saying something really embarrassing
you talk yourself into staying by reminding yourself that lunch is provided
you begin to keep track of the things you are doing because you're bored
having gathered the numbers ahead of time, you start calling the cell phone owners present in the room to see which ones left their phones on.
you applaud loudly when it's over because it's over

yeah, i know, grow up.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

haiku


in one of the lives i lead, i teach art to fourteen year-olds.

sometimes that is a bit trying- mostly because young people tend to put forth a minimal effort towards most things... particularly aesthetic disciplines- but most days it's a lot of fun. to be entrusted with the inspiration of younger lives like these is humbling if you let yourself think about it. this is the future, being built before your very eyes. the attention you pay in terms of time spent mentoring this future, defines your place in the larger scheme of things.

i suppose that this could be said of the approach we take to any of the relationships of which we are a part.

whatever the case, the only thing in this job comparable to seeing a kid's light go on in some way for the first time is when one of those lights already shining on its own catches your eye. one of the most unlikely places to see the sparks left behind, still glowing with just a hint of their original brilliance, is the graffiti left on desks.

however, today i found one. it was a haiku of sorts- someone's moment in time frozen for posterity- a portal to another relational dimension in the form of a piece of dialogue that had begun elsewhere and continues on elsewhere even still. i decided to leave it on the desk for a couple days... like a temporary post on a blog. written in pencil was:

i just have one last question- will it be my heart or will it be hers?

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Friday, February 03, 2006

identity

who am i?

better to ask

'whose am i?'

the answer is of eternal significance.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

gifted


i'm a pretty gifted guy...

before you conclude that we are embarking upon an ego-trip, let me clarify: gifts come in many shapes and sizes and i have been entrusted with a five-headed one.

the principal of my kids' school (who had been my co-op back when i was interning as a teacher) called me up with a simple request: the school was having a fund-raising evening and had signed an acapella band to play the gig- would my band play as an opening act to make for a bigger event?

we tossed the idea around and, because we hadn't done a show for awhile, decided to accept the engagement, knowing full well that this was a freebie.

so last night, having logged a bunch of hours practicing; having gotten two vehicles loading gear stuck in the snow outside of the school; having set up and soundchecked in a tiny public school gymnasium; having rushed out to grab some quick mcdonald's burgers before heading back to play for a small community crowd of seventy-two people, my friends played a show for free before tearing everything down and loading it back into the vans leaving no trace, taking no prisoners.

all this so that my kids' school could make a couple hundred bucks for some basketball uniforms or something. the guys had nothing to gain from this other than a chance to play together again.

yep, i am an extremely gifted guy, for the gift of their friendship has been entrusted to me, and once again i am humbled by it.

(for the mathematicians in the crowd, a guitarist and a soundman are not pictured- theirs make up the missing two heads... don't blame me- the bassist's wife didn't have a wide enough shot to get us all in)