Passages

Today I decided to pass on to others a ministry that I have given a lot of my heart, soul, mental and spiritual energy to over the past 4 years.

It is time.

This ministry has student officers now, they are organized and getting things prepared. I am not truly a student at that community college anymore, even though I still have an ID.

I have my doubts about how effective I have been after these four, almost five years and definitely about how well I have prepared these students. I only have them around two years, tops. Some are brand new. I don’t know what will happen.

“Faithful yet ineffective” may have to be good enough as an epitaph on my time there!

God surprises me all the time. I hope I am very pleasantly surprised by how well things work in this ministry without me (I hope that makes sense). We come and go. We have moments of triumph and regret, deft action and woeful mistakes. He, on the other hand, does all things well and works all things for good.

I am at peace. I have other ministry before me and still so, so much to learn, so much more love, grace and humility to gain, so much decreasing to do while He increases.

A little sad, but at peace. Thank you Lord!

(356)

Pray for peace people everywhere

In 2003 I was online and blogging my support for the Iraqi invasion. I thought it would be a lot easier than it turned out to be, that a lot less people on both sides would die, and I had absolutely zero expectation that America’s various wars on terror would still be going on seventeen years later.

In 2004 one of my friends died in Iraq, in the Battle of Faluja.

We now find ourselves in an escalating situation with Iran.

I don’t have confidence anymore in my ability to predict what is going to happen, and I am far more cynical, world-weary, de-partied, and regretful than I was seventeen years ago.

Lord, have mercy. Bring peace.

Come soon Lord Jesus. We have proven over and over again that we can’t fix our problems or ourselves. The innocent die and the guilty live.

Only You can fix us and fix this.

(364)

Happy New Year

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” – Revelation 19:9 ESV

Happy new year. I have been feasting these past few weeks. Feasting on family time, rest, and, well, feasts.

2019 was a trying year. I pray that those of you who have been lonely will feast on fellowship in 2020. May those of you who are depressed feast upon joy. If you have had a year of strife, may you feast on peace this upcoming year. For those frustrated and haunted by failure at work or ministry, may you feast upon effectiveness.

For those of you far away from God, may you feast on his love and salvation.

If you know him, there is a wedding feast in your future. And it will be the best thing, ever.

Happy new year!

(366)

Doings

I’ve been away for a while; went on a cruise with the family and extended family. It was great!

While on the cruise I read a new treasure I recently bought: The Hobbit facimile first edition. This is the original 1937 version with the original Riddles in the Dark and Tolkien artwork. I forgot how good that book is.

In other news, I’m going to seminary. I start my first class in a couple of weeks.

And, as always, I’m a sinner saved by grace.

Weight

I tend towards depression and anxiety, naturally. Not clinical levels of it, but enough to keep me awake at night sometimes. I’m not proud of this – I know with surety that it is a time-waster and a joy-stealer. And it doesn’t do a thing to help a person resolve the issue that is causing the depression and anxiety.

I’ve recently been hit with multiple circumstances that involve me waiting on other people to do what they need to do. This has stretched me and I’ve failed those tests of kindness multiple times.

So many people deal with so much more than I do in my relatively easy, comfortable life. But this is weighing on me today.

I don’t know how to end this post.

One-lane bridge

“At the one-lane bridge I leave the giants stranded at the riverside. Race back to the farm . . .” – Rush, Red Barchetta

I’ve loved that song since the first time I heard it. Heck, my tagline is a lyric from that song.

I love it because it tracks very well with a constant struggle in me; the quest for simplicity and for the solidity of tangible, non-digital life. Odd and ironic that I’m blogging about this, no?

I feel like God has put that longing in me; a longing for single mindedness and focus, to understand priorities from His point of view. It’s a  longing to work toward what’s truly important. That way lies joy.

I’m miles away. “I spin around with screeching tires…”

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:31‭-‬33 ESV

We’re good people™

There is a distressing phenomenon I’ve seen both in myself and other white evangelicals; I call it the “We’re Good People” syndrome.

The phrase “We’re Good People” is rarely spoken out loud, but here’s how this works:

Let’s say our tribal leaders – Congress, the President, pundits, opinion-makers – pass a terrible bill, sign a cruel EO, setup an awful policy, put forth a horrible opinion, or have a particularly bad moral failing. Conversely someone outside of our tribe points out an injustice or atrocity committed by our tribe, either currently or in the past.

The discussion that ensues has as its unspoken backplane the assertion that “We’re Good People”™

For example, supporting the administration’s policy of separating toddlers from their parents at the border doesn’t make us uncompassionate [Because We’re Good People].

Actively supporting, voting for, and even admiring rogues and scoundrels is fine [because We’re Good People].

Being insensitive to systemic racism is fine. We “know” why NFL players are kneeling during the anthem, and it’s not for the reason they claim: protesting police brutality against people of color. No, we know they really just hate the flag and our brave servicemen and women. We know this [Because We’re Good People].

Being white in a majority white country hasn’t given us any advantages, we say to ourselves. We’ve had to work for everything we’ve gotten and everyone has the same opportunities in America, right? This is true [Because We’re Good People].

See how it works?

It’s strange. As believers our theology warns us that outside of Christ we are not good people, and that even as believers we have to guard our hearts against the deception that lays there still and guard our minds and souls against the flesh which wars against our spirits. Of all people we should not fall for the We’re Good People lie.

I still don’t have this figured out, but I see it all the time. I’m learning to recognize propaganda when I hear it, and We’re Good People is a pernicious form of self-propaganda, a lazy form of (usually unspoken) argument, and an enemy of clarity.

Direction

In a follow-up to this post, I’ve picked a way.

I’m not 100% certain of the direction I’m headed with this. But I never am, really. That’s why it’s called faith. I’ll take steps and the Lord will correct me if I’m wrong, I trust.

Really, there is a lot of good that can come out of taking a step. Because not taking a step usually results in . . . nothing happening.

Somewhat related, I mentioned yesterday that one of our family members hit a setback. Took a wrong turn, really, and is now working through the results of that. But the great thing is, there is still a direction. There is still an open way before him. That’s an incredible encouragement.

Pressing on.

. . . forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. – Philippians 3:13–16 (ESV)

Hurting just a little bit

I’m hurting, but just a little bit.

These past two years have had their share of joy, but also lots of staring over the cliff. Most of the joy has been related to the fact that we didn’t go over.

The Lord has been our Savior, in every sense of the word. Really.

We had a setback today; it’s recoverable. I’m feeling the loss, but I worship the Restorer.

It still hurts.

Just a little bit.