Monday, December 28, 2015

What I Want to Say

If the world could could hear my ever-running inner monologue, the things that actually make it out of my mouth would make a lot more sense.


What I Want to Say When I Turn in a Manuscript: "I put a lot into this. The work was difficult, but I'm really proud of the result. I hope you like it!"

What My Brain Is Saying: "Writing feels like pulling your own teeth, only you're using a pen and you're pulling them out of your brain. Also, your pen is a computer, so you're actually using a computer to pull teeth out of your brain."

What I Actually Say: "Here are some of my brain teeth. Let me know if you want to publish them."


What I Want to Say at Job Interviews: "While I don't have experience in this particular area, I have tons of interesting life experience. Teaching, traveling, and nannying really do prepare you for almost anything."

What My Brain Is Saying: "Once a boy in my homeroom class got sick. He didn't make it out of the classroom first, unfortunately. He jumped up, threw up all down himself, ran up the aisle, threw up in this poor girl's backpack, got to the front of the room, threw up down my legs, ran to the door, threw up in the doorway, and then turned around and said, 'I think I'm done.' To get out of the vomity classroom, we all had to jump over the puddle in the doorway, which was exciting because we had to clear not only the puddle but also the three steps down to ground level."

What I Actually Say: "I'm good at vomit puddles."


What I Want to Say When Asked Out by an Attractive Man: "You seem really great, and I'd like to get to know you, but I'm serious about relationships so please don't waste my time."

What My Brain Is Saying: "He's smart and handsome with a winning smile. You know who else was smart and handsome with a winning smile? Ted Bundy, that's who. That's why so many women went along with him when he offered them rides. Then he murdered them. So you just never know. Before you make any decisions, you really should check to see if this guy has his own entry on Murderpedia." 

What I Actually Say: "Please don't kill me."


If you've been privy to any of these communication malfunctions, I don't know whether to apologize or take a bow. 

Here's hoping that 2016 is the year in which my brain and my mouth finally sync up. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Weary World Rejoices

It's been a tough year for our planet. Each successive month offered fresh proof of man's total depravity.

We're happy to be alive, but that doesn't mean it's not hard to live here sometimes. Disappointments are frequent, pain is a constant, and the ongoing grind of evil wearies the soul. Because we are created in the image of a perfect God, our hearts yearn to experience that perfection. We chafe against everything that is wrong, bruised, and broken in our world -- including ourselves. 

Despite its fallen state, however, this world still reflects the God who made it; and though fractured, we can find a measure of comfort here. This is still the world of seascapes and sunsets; of warm friendships and sumptuous dinners; of starlight and firelight and songs.

As damaged as our planet is, it's still a place in which we can experience God's grace, and for that we are deeply thankful.

Imagine, however, being born into this world with not just a conceptual understanding of perfection but with an experiential one as well. Imagine personifying perfection and still having to live here, day in and day out, where everything is twisted. 

I'm talking, of course, about Jesus. The adjustment between heaven and earth must have been jarring. He knew what he was getting into, and yet he still came. He was "playing fair," as Dorothy Sayers puts it.
Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death.... He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.
Despite popular opinion, Jesus did not sacrifice heaven to make the world "a better place." He did not come to make our experience "better" in the common sense: he came to revolutionize us completely--not by fixing what's wrong around us, but by offering a way to fix what's wrong inside us.

Yes, the world is still broken, but because of Christ's work on the cross, we don't have to be. 

Though evil seems on the rise, and though the world's systems may seem hopelessly depraved, the promise of the gospel leaves none of us without hope.

Besides, none of this is final.

We're only midway through the third act of a four-act play, and not until the curtain falls on the last scene will all be resolved. 

The whole of the human drama, when laid out in this way, puts our current situation into perspective. We know why we're here (Act I: Creation), what brought us to this state (Act II: The Fall), why we're not actually as bad off as we could be (Act III: Redemption), and why we can rejoice despite the world's current state of social, moral, physical, and spiritual decay (Act IV: Restoration).

This is the hope in which the weary world rejoices. 

May the God of Peace fill you with joy as you anticipate the final act.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea existed no longer. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:
Look! God's dwelling is with men, 
and He will live with them. 
They will be his people, 
and God himself will be with them and be their God. 
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 
Death will exist no longer; 
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, 
because the previous things have passed away.
Then the One seated on the throne said, "Look! I am making everything new." ... and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will give them light (Revelation 21:1-5; 22:3-5, HCSB). 
* * * * *

A warm Merry Christmas to you!

Enjoy these previous Advent meditations:

Monday, December 14, 2015

The 12 Days of Dystopian Christmas

Photo courtesy of StarWars RP
Everybody sing with me!

On the twelfth day of Dystopian Christmas, my true love gave to me...


*12 Panem Districts*

*.....*.........11 Silo people.........*.....*

*................*.....10 robot armies.....*................*

*............9 fallout shelters............*

*............*.......*.........8 vigilantes..........*......*............*

*...*......................*7 dying oceans*......................*...*

*........6 euthanasias........*

*............*........5 mind-control drugs........*............*

....*............4 Browncoats............*....*

*..........*..........*..3 Guy Fawkes masks..*...........*..........*

*2 Soylent snacks*
and a
Big Brother
on a telescreen!


Special thanks to my friend Pam for the inadvertent inspiration.

I hope that the responsive web design allows everybody to see a Christmas Tree
and not a garbled mess.

Merry Christmas, everybody! Check back next week for a Christmas meditation.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The More You Know...

Photo courtesy of Logos and NBC.

The more I read, study, and learn about the Bible, the more I realize there is to know. Questions lead to answers that just lead to other questions. This experience could be why some Christians are tempted to give up and skim the surface, never really digging to uncover the deep things of God. "After all," they shrug, "I'll never understand it all."

They do themselves a disservice.

Of course we can never know everything about our God, Yahweh. He is infinite and we are finite. A professor of mine once likened trying to understand him to trying to pour an ocean into a shot glass. But just because we can't understand everything, that doesn't mean we shouldn't bother to understand some things.

First, there is definitely much that can be understood. The Gospel, at least, is perfectly plain: we are separated from God by our sin; Jesus came to earth as a human, lived a perfect life, died in our place, rose again, lives in heaven, and can save us from the penalty of that sin.

Second, the Spirit helps us understand truth--both the simple and the complex. Anything that is knowable and understandable to us this side of eternity can be accessed with his assistance. Although it still won't be everything, it's definitely more than we'd understand on our own. 

Third, the all-or-nothing attitude of the defeatist ultimately breaks down. Have you ever refused your share of dinner because you couldn't eat all the dinner? Have you ever failed to cash a paycheck because it didn't grant you all the money in the world? Have you ever enjoyed a cup of coffee less because it's only a coffee and not all the coffee?

Of course not (although that last one sounds plausible). 

You've eaten until your stomach is full, then walked away from the table with enough to get you through the day. You've cashed the check and used the money for your current needs. You've sipped the coffee, reveling in its therapeutic effects. It doesn't have to be all the dinner or all the money or all the coffee to help you. In the same way, we needn't have all the knowledge to benefit from knowing God. 

We need our daily serving--living paycheck to paycheck, savoring him one sip at a time. 
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth... And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:3-14).