a better life?

8 06 2009

i know i’ve been such an inconsistent blogger lately.  my apologies.  trying to get back on track now.

at church yesterday, pastor jamie used this excerpt from larry crabb’s book the pressure’s off.  it was incredibly profound for me and i wanted to share it.

you’ve cheapened the requirements of holiness by assuming you can do enough right things to bring about a “better life.” sometimes that works. sometimes it doesn’t. you therefore live with uncertainty and pressure, and you demand to know the way to live that will make your life work as you want.
you maneuver; you do not trust.
you negotiate; you do not worship.
you analyze and interpret to gain control over what happens; you do not depend.
you seek the “better life of God’s blessings today” over the “better hope of God’s presence.

i came away from that with many thoughts, most of which i am still processing.  what thoughts do you have after reading that?


he knows what hurts within us

6 05 2008

“what made Jesus of nazereth the greatest lover in history is that he really knew then and he really knows now what hurts people… the loves and hates, hopes and fears, the joys and sadnesses of each of us…Jesus knows what hurts us. not only knows but, knowing, seeks us out – whatever our kind of poverty or pain, however we weep, wherever we feel unloved.

if you read the gospels carefully, you find how fine-tuned Jesus is to our loneliness, our frustration, our emptiness, our cynicism, as well he is to our joys and to our consolations; that he really know what hurts the human heart.

it shows up all throughout his public ministry on earth: with a sinful woman, the home of simon the pharisee, the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, with the adulterous woman in danger of stoning, with the thrice-denying peter, with the 23 year-old john in the upper room, with the widow weeping on the road to calvary, … it shows up in all those passages which describe Jesus as ‘having compassion’.

the greek verb ‘splagxniðzomai’ is used 12 times in the 4 gospels and is usually translated into english as ‘he was moved with compassion’. however, because of the poverty of our english vocabulary we really don’t capture the etymological meaning of splagxniðzomai, and depending on which translation of the bible you may use, it may say ‘he was moved with pity’, ‘he felt sorry for them’, or ‘his heart went out for them’, but they all miss the deep emotional flavor of this greek verb, … which is derived from another greek term meaning ‘bowels’, ‘intreals’ and ‘intestines’… the deepest parts of a person from which the strongest emotions such as love and hatred arise.

when you read in the gospels that Jesus was moved with compassion, it was saying that his gut was wrenched, his heart torn open, and the most vulnerable part of his being laid bare. and Jesus says to us, don’t ever be so foolish as to measure my compassion for you in terms of your compassion for one another.

when we speak of Jesus, as Emmanuel, as God with us, we are saying the greatest lover in history really knows what hurts us. There is absolutely nothing that Jesus does not understand about the pain that hangs like a darkening cloud over our lives.

if you are crying out and longing for a hand to touch you, an arm to embrace you, lips to kiss you… longing for someone who is not afraid of your cynicism, your skepticism, your indifference, your shallow faith, your inconsistent discipleship, … there comes a sacred man who says, ‘it’s ok. i understand, i am here, i am with you, i am for you, and your pain reverberates in the depth of my own being.”

—– brennan manning (excerpt from “he knows what hurts within us”)

radically beloved

1 05 2008

“… the heart of it is this: to make the Lord and his immense love for you constitutive of your personal worth. define yourself radically as one beloved of God. God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth. accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.” … excerpt from abba’s child

abba\'s child
i’ve owned this book for a little over a year and a half now, but have yet to get through the fourth chapter. it goes deep and must be digested in portions. brennan manning is an amazing author, and this book is powerful. i usually get into it only to put it down a short time later and walk away limping. but i have picked it back up again and am starting from the beginning… i’m ready to take it deeper. go deep… get this book.

the sorrow of God

30 04 2008

one night a friend asked his handicapped son, “daniel, when you see Jesus looking at you, what do you see in his eyes?”

after a pause, the boy replied, “his eyes are filled with tears, dad.”

“why, dan?”

an even longer pause. “because he is sad.”

“and why is he sad?”

daniel stared at the floor. when at last he looked up, his eyes glistened with tears. “because I’m afraid.”
the sorrow of God lies in our fear of him, our fear of life, and our fear of ourselves. he anguishes over our self-absorbtion and self-sufficiency. richard foster wrote, “today, the heart of God is an open wound of love. he aches over our distance and preoccupation. he mourns that we do not draw near to him. he grieves that we have forgotten him. he weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. he longs for our presence.”

God’s sorrow lies in our refusal to approach him when we have sinned and failed. a “slip” for an alchoholic is a terrifying experience. the obsession of the mind and body with booze returns with the wild fury of a sudden storm in springtime. when the person sobers up, he or she is devastated. when I relapsed, i had two options: yield once again to guilt, fear and depression; or rush into the arms of my heavenly father — choose to live as a victim of my disease; or choose to trust in abba’s immutable love.”

…. excerpt from “abba’s child” by brennan manning

we are made of love…

30 04 2008

“Needle & Thread” (by Sleeping At Last)

When the world welcomes us in,
We’re closer to Heaven than we’ll ever know.
They say this place has changed,
But strip away all of the technology
And you will see
That we all are hunters,
Hunting for something that will make us okay.

Here we lay alone in hospital beds,
Tracing life in our heads;
But all that is left
Is that this was our entrance and now it’s our exit,
As we find our way home.

All the blood and all the sweat
That we invested to be loved
Follows us into our end,
Where we begin to understand

That we are made of love,
And all the beauty stemming from it.
We are made of love,
And every fracture caused by the lack of it.

“You were a million years of work,”
Said God and His angels, with needle and thread.
They kissed your head and said,
“You’re a good kid and you make us proud.
So just give your best and the rest will come,
And we’ll see you soon.”

All the blood and all the sweat
That we invested to be loved
Follows us into our end,
Where we begin to understand

That maybe Hollywood was right:
When the credits have rolled and the tears have dried,
The answers that we have been dying to find
Are all pieced together and, somehow,
Made perfectly mine.

We are made of love,
And all the beauty stemming from it.
We are made of love,
And every fracture caused by the lack of love

the great tragedy

25 04 2008

the great tragedy is not mainly believers in Jesus continuing to commit acts of sin. the tragedy is that satan uses the guilt of these failures to strip you of every radical dream you ever had, or might have, and in its place give you a happy, safe, secure, american life of superficial pleasures until you die in your lakeside rocking chair, wrinkled and useless, leaving a big fat inheritance to your middle-aged children to confirm them in their worldliness. that’s the main tragedy. – john piper

two basic loves

25 04 2008

“there can only be two basic loves,” wrote Augustine, “the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.” the fundamental option arises from the core of our being and incarnates itself in the specific choices of daily existence – either for the shadow self ruled by egocentric desires or for the true self hidden with Christ in God.”

excerpt from Abba’s Child, by Brennan Manning.