Tuesday, June 30, 2009
trip. At our half way point in Philipsburg, Montana, after an afternoon of prospecting, my buddy had a health scare that prompted need to return to Spokane. It was serious enough to warrant the termination of the planned excursion. Needless to say it was a tough call and my sons were bummed, especially Micah. I thought about continuing alone but we had planned to sleep in the rig, so there was no space for all the supplies, we had no large tent and in Yellowstone they require you to lock up all your gear in your rig. Plus, I wasn't sure it was safe for my travel partner to drive home alone. So it was a bust. But we enjoyed the day, minus the 8 hours in the truck...even though the views were amazing!
"I am in love. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition even some affection, but with Montana it is love." - John Steinbeck
After a day in the Big Sky State...I can see why people speak of Montana's wild beauty. There is something awesome about the wide open spaces with their azure skies, accentuated with billowy cotton balls. The sweet smelling grassland and soft wind blown meadows are painted with and rippling rivers that cut through jagged, rusty red stoned hillsides. The looming snow capped peaks in the distance stands as sentinels beckoning you to come deeper into the wild. I was mesmerized by the little of Montana that I experienced and I definitely plan on returning for a extended stay.
As we were traveling through Montana, we saw a cattle drive off the main road. Cowboys, horses and big Bovine, all being herded along in the beautiful countryside. It was quite a wild west archetypical scene to behold. It made me want to pull over, put on my cowboys hat, slap the 30-30 on my shoulder, stand on my rig and shout out "HIGH YAH...GIDDY UP!!!...or something like that.
These are the the types of Saphirres that come out of the mine. Christian and I found a white with slight blue tinge Sapphire that I am going to get set in a necklace for LeeElla.
It was funny how addicting this process was. It was the same rush that gambling gives...for $14 you get a bucket of dirt and then the search begins. You are just sure the next pail is going to have your once in a lifetime find in it. I could of spent my whole trip fund right there at that wash-trough. It was kinda scary....I could slightly feel a Gold Rush Fever setting in.
Lately I've felt like the journey wearied Homer in the Odyssey. Stones are flying and this ship is tossed here and there by the endless battering of circumstances and challenges. I've set a course and this vessel has been under a squall of internal and external tempests, that at times, appears to be busting me open.
It's one thing to aim at the man you desire to be, envision the journey you long to pursue and...actually getting there.
Life throws all kinds of things at you and how you choose to respond, unfolds the man you become by the grace of God. That process will take you to the dark marrow of manhood. It will break you open, test your mettle, expose your humanity. It's a pummeling process that teaches a man how to kneel...and how to stand.
These are the days of testing...you will wrestle with everything under the sun: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels and demons, the present, the future, powers, heights and depths...all will seek to "conquer us" (Romans 8:35-39); and in some seasons it seems as if you are wrestling with God himself:
"He has blocked my way so I cannot pass; he has shrouded my paths in darkness. He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree. His anger burns against me; he counts me among his enemies."-Job 19:8-11
I cling to the promise that in all these things...we will overwhelmingly conquer (Rom 8:37)...at times that seems fairly grandiose to claim...but it is a cold, hard verse, to either believe or reject. I'm struggling to embrace it in light of the challenges in my path.
This warrior poet's plea...
"Embolden this, my weakening hand,
frail heart or mind be armored,
Courage and faith fail me not,
in tempests or assaults.
Heed not, do I,
be it to mists, darkness, flame or thunder'
Flinch neither from pain, blood, sweat or toil.
Hold the ground before the mouths of leviathan
and stingers of Apollyon.
Ascend not to unbeckoned heights...where Icarus burns,
Or depths where prophets in sovereign bellies...churn.
Fidelity forever...let my future be sure;
In lions dens, or furnace fire,
on rooftops of gardened achievement,
or forbidden desire.
Eyes be clear, amidst tears and fall,
Clarion voice, celestial light's call,
Darkened charts, no sailors worry,
compassed course, faith's daring journey."
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
to discover the sacred fire,
in the sanctuary of his own belly,
to ignite the flame in his heart,
to fuel the blaze in the hearth,
to rekindle his ardor for the earth.
This is a early shot of a painting I am working on that embodies the imagery of Ezekiel 10:1-22, the four faced (man, ox, lion, eagle) beings. I am using this as an archetype image for some men's stuff I am working on and some Youth to Teen to Manhood rites of passage material I am writing. It's an attempt to formulate some rites of passage events and material to help the process of maturity in my own sons lives, and in our faith community. I desire to see the fathering/eldering role strengthened in our community. Having values, traditions and a meaningful passage process for developing young men and men who carry the passion for authentic manhood to be passed on. I know this area is fit with psychological and sociological pitfalls, theological overemphasis and down right bizarre chest beating, testosterone worship. But I also see a cultural drift that is at play that is producing more and more identity confusion, role ambiguity and life skill underdevelopment among young men.
I see more and more insecurity, fear, trepidation, inability to make life decisions, submerged masculinity, laziness, lack of creativity, meaningless goals, lack of life vision and the internal fire to create new realities. The glazed over disinterest, blah like yawn, the tv daze, the internet gaming escapism and all the vicarious entertainment self medicating that is going on.
There is a monotonous monogamy that is plaguing men and the languishing lusting that is replacing it is undermining marriages and its becoming more and more viral. Men are in a quagmire of numbing banalities that have softened the wall of manhood into a penetrable and porous familial gate. Manhood no longer stands erect as a cultural barrier to the erosion and corrosion of the image of God in man. Many men are clueless about where to go, how to get there and why they should even wake from their trojan stupor. Fatherlessness is rampant as men drift without a compass or purpose...and the encroaching pointlessness of manhood is excruciating....especially in the church.
As our leaders continue to parade an example of infidelity, corruption, deception, greed, power hungry self service and abusive disregard for life, the world and the future...the situation is ripe for a return to the ancient wisdom of generational passage.
In this work, we need images, stories, examples, patterns, guides, voices, lights and willing sages that will engage the hard work of soul formation. Men who will hold to their dependance on God, His word, cultural wisdom, life experiences, naked faith and the ever moving work of the Spirit. We need images that remind us, awaken us, move and haunt us. We need Bards and Poets to recapture the art of storytelling for transformation.
I'm using the Ox, Eagle, Lion and the Man, to form a literary archetype for the passing of wisdom. This becomes a trellis to build upon as we engage consciously and unconsciously in the act of raising sons to become men and helping men discover the purpose of manhood.
1. the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.
2. (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.
"Life is a storm. You will bask in the sunlight one moment - and be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when the storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout, 'Do your worst, for I will do mine!' Then the fates will know you as we know you - A MAN!"
- The Count of Monte Cristo
Monday, June 22, 2009
Neda Agha Soltani, 27 year old Philosophy student from Tehran, Iran. Her name 'Neda' means 'Voice or Calling'. God rest her soul.
God I pray for this nation, these people and their struggle.
Visit them with Mercy, grace, justice and liberty.
Let salvation bloom in the blood of sacrifice.
Tear...but heal, divide but mend,
Hear the blood crying from the ground,
Bring peace in the chaos,
Freedom through the horror.
Carry the parents, the family and friends,
and let the one who died with her eyes open...
be the voice that prevents our eyes from remaining shut.
With Father's Day past, I thought I would expound a little on my posts and sermon: "Failing Fathers: The Hope Of The Future". My basic desire was to show that parenting/fathering isn't always the fairy tale path that is often presented from most pulpits. I want to ease the load of guilt and religious browbeating that takes place on this subject. You cannot face scripture and literature square in the face and not see a mammoth amount of drama, tragedy, struggle and fight surrounding these roles. All of us adult males are usually wrestling "Fathers and Sons" within the same soul. For many men, that means they are in a lifelong personal exorcism, consciously or unconsciously; struggling to unearth and free themselves from the damaging entanglements of their fathers.
Even our President is sounding forth very personal messages about the subject:
"Someone once said that every man is trying to either live up to his father's expectations or make up for his father's mistakes..."I don't want to be the kind of father I had," the president is quoted as telling a friend in a new book about him. His half-sister, Maya, called his memoirs "part of the process of excavating his father." Obama now cajoles men to be better fathers — not the kind who must be unearthed in the soul." -Recent articles about President Obama and his speeches and writings about his childhood and fathering.
This earthly antagonism is graphically woven into the greek myths surrounding Kronos and Uranus:
"Kronos has arguably one of the most disturbing stories in Greek Mythology. With the demanding Uranus, or “God of the Universes” as his father, a young and bitter Kronos envied his father’s power. Urged on by his mother, Gaia, he cut off his Uranus’ testicles with a giant sickle. When Kronos later learned that he was destined to the same fate of his father, to be overtaken by his own son, he was naturally concerned. He decided to take matters into his own hands, and his own mouth. The plan was simple: he would eat all of his children. In the end, Kronos’s son Zeus escaped being eaten and gave his father a magic poison which made Kronos vomit/poop out all his children."
Here you see the archetypical battle between father and son. The fathers who "swallow" their sons and the young men who lash out, slicing at manhood, tearing at their progenitors with sometimes ferocious energy. It's a battle that has burned many homes down to smoldering ashes. It's an explosive divergence that never seems to just end when you leave, but becomes an interior civil war between generals who cannot die nor win.
This reality was summed up in a recent article I read on "Things every fathers should do with his sons". One commentators shared an honest reflection about the article when he said:
“It’s sad to admit, but my father never did ANY of these things with me. By the time I was in my teens I despised him, and everything he stood for. I vowed that if I ever had a son, I wouldn’t be like my father. I would be a good father.
Looking back over the list, I just realized something. I never did any of these things with my oldest son either.
My family… it’s like we were raised by wolves.”
This experience is shared by many sons and those sons become fathers and the cycle continues. It is rare to find many examples of true father-son relationships that are based in time and not in memory, which is most often idealized and far from the actual truth (a grace of God for the living).
The bible calls upon followers of Jesus to live out this personal gospel experienced restoration and work at being a force for good in this cultural and familial wasteland:
"A religion that is pure and stainless according to God the Father is this: to take care of the fatherless and widows who are suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27
24 million Americans today are growing up without a dad and almost half of kids under 18 not having a dad in the house this morning...you can see why God calls his people to extend love, grace and community to those without it. To disobey this deep call of God is to bring down thunder and lightning upon ourselves.
"When a young man feels unparented, he will try to burn your city down for you."
The evidence is all around us.
Thankfully in the New Testament we have a counterculture redemptive narrative that invaded the same cultural landscape that was producing these horrific myths of child eating fathers and castrating sons...it was the advent of the "SON".
In Christ's life, we have a redemption of the Father/Son reality. We see in the Godhead a perfect relationship that brings a unfolding salvation to all relationships that come under this Divine restoration. We see a Son content to listen to His Father, serve Him, glorify Him and never act apart from His will...even when it cross His own desires. We see a Father who is present, moving and working with His son, who is speaking words and acts of affirmation, empowerment and purpose. You see a new story, a better one...breaking like a long forgotten dawn on a darkened land.
It's a coming that redeems not only souls but relationships...more is saved than the immaterial realities for an afterlife...in Christ you see the curse broken and heaven and earth...creation and creator...restored and healed.
"He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." Malachi 4:6
It's a truth that is better than the truth of the myths that ache for the coming of Someone greater...thank God, in Christ, we have the hope for all things being made new...that is something to celebrate after this Father's Day.
Fatima Al-Mutairi: In August 2008, a Saudi Arabian sister, Fatima Al-Mutairi, was killed by her brother after sharing the gospel with her family.
Sons without Fathers: website for and about the issue of fatherlessness in America.
Time: how a Father and a son saw the same event differently: warning, tear jerker.
The Legend of the Firebird: A Russian tale packed full of good lessons to unpack
Inspiring kid: one legged baseball player.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
We had a Hotdog cart, a snow cone stand and a popcorn cart and pumped out free food for 5 hours.
We also offered a massive feast of BBQ ribs & chicken, potato and pasta salad, drinks and deserts.
The line for the food was long...lots of hungry folks from all over the neighborhood and city showed up for some good times.
This is "This'l" he was one of the many music providers for the day, all hosted by God's Block an Urban outreach music ministry.
It was quite a week of outreach, ministry and service....God has definitely got something good in the hood. Thanks to Mike Zorn of Point Man Ministries, for spear heading this event and for all the many volunteers that made this week a success for the Kingdom of God.
Friday, June 19, 2009
We are hosting our third annual Basketball Vacation Bible School Camp, a 4 day event organized by our Kid's ministry and a host of amazing volunteers. Each evening is a mix of...an all group worship kick off, Bball drills & skill development, rotating age specific stations with bible lessons that relate to the theme, halftime of goodies, a nurses station, memory verse prizes and it ends Saturday with a competition and awards celebration for the whole family. It really is an amazing event.
One of the things I enjoy is watching the interaction between the volunteers and the kids. Above is a little boy who lives in our neighborhood, his family is from Kazakhstan. I had a chance to talk to his father who was watching from the side...he spoke little english, but he was checking things out. As were many other parents that do not attend Jacob's Well. I think there is nothing more sincere and authentic as far as outreach goes...than serving, empowering, loving and laughing with children. Many families drop their kids off at the camp and we never see them come to our other church activities...but the influence, connection and support in providing good activities for their children...adds up. It becomes street cred around here.
These type of outreaches are a lot of work, and require committed help that will take a lot of time out of their busy lives...but the eternal investment and the immediate rewards are so rich. I find myself extremely proud of seeing Jesus shine through all these volunteers; their love, smiles, hugs, encouragement and joy, glorifies the Lord and makes this neighborhood...a better place to live.
Great job team...you're making a difference...one heart and a time.
The simple Jesus way: The love of God for man and the love of God
through man, has often sadly become:
...Domineering headship, sanitized and paranoid moral purity, singing songs, attending services,
tithing, duty, unflexable tradition, telling people you don't know,
stuff they don't know and warning them about a lake of torture if they
don't believe you.
It's about being better every day and making sure others know it and
then thrashing yourself for how far you still have to go to be good
It's guilt based activity, it's forced programs that you wouldn't
attend elsewhere but suffer through out of religious pressure, it's
isolation and cultural uppityness.
It's a lot of fantasy, pretending, game playing and false hope. It's
often angry dysfunction masked as preaching; it's unskilled people
practicing on vulnerable and trusting people.
It's cheaply earned knowledge passed on lazy minds, it's parental
abuse in the form of indoctrination; it's poorly educated
misapplication, intolerance masked as convictions.
It's greedy lazy sloths sucking off the good will of sincere but
stupid followers. It's sexism, ageism and ethnocentric bigotry played
as biblical requirments.
It's unhealed, untrained, untested lunacy that would be fined, fired
and arrested in most professional fields.
It's dangerous, difficult, deadly mental and spiritual sewage passed
as healthy drink...forced on people who are holding thier noses while
gagging to swallow, all while faking plastic smiles.
I pray the Lord will have a more beautiful expression of the gospel and His church in the days ahead...this generation needs it.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
"He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.' " -Jesus (Luke 5:36-39)
Religion is often the ugliest stick on the block and its most likely going to be wielded by the elders. This picture from the recent political uprisings and protests in Iran, perfectly captures the tension of the old and the new. Unless you have been a victim of the chaffing yoke of religious legalism, the suffocating fear based paranoia of tradition or the necropolis of pious formalities...you haven't truly tasted the liberating freedom of the gospel.
The English word "religion" is etymologically derived from the Latin word religo, meaning to "bind up." Religion binds people up in rules and regulations or in ritualistic patterns of devotion.
The barnacles of man-made religion or as Paul calls it in Colossians 2:23 "Self-Made Religion", can encrust a once sleek, adventurous, sea challenging vessel and turn it into an encrusted, dock-locked museum to a once dangerous, now retired, faith.
Many people end up fleeing these ghost ships that are mere haunts to the specters of bygone eras. These religious meetings become seances where bewitched dark gospel necromancers conjure the dead...but never empower the living. These modern idolaters build shrines to days gone by, but can't unleash a virile apostolic hoard upon the nations in need of templeless Christianity. Their ancestral power is woven with fear, they shackle the mind with childish apprehensions, godless anxieties and nepotistic emotional castrations that leave young dreamers impotent, paralyzed and chronically timid....skittish of their own God given passions and callings.
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. -Jesus (Matthew 23:13
Such false spirituality is really evil and it nailed Jesus to a bloody Roman cross. History has seen countless young emerging believers, potential saints, have their destinies aborted on the cold, morbid religionists table. The horror will only be revealed in the eternals to come. The dwarfed and disfigured faith that is perpetrated on unsuspecting minds and hearts is wicked. The spiritual retardation that has been the result of such cultic constraints and thin, cliff-noted gospels is a betrayal of the wild, world shaking evangelion that we are meant to cast like free seed to the wind.
Such gangrene should be hacked off, gouged out with cancer like seriousness. It will take bold men and women to stand against the viral spread of such strands of churchianity.
And like Luther of old, we must live offensively not just defensively:
"If you wish to use your freedom, do so in secret as Paul says, (Rom 14:22) "The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God" but take care not to use your freedom in the sight of the weak, On the other hand, use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despite the tyrants and the stubborn so that they also may learn that they are impious, that their laws are of no avail for righteousness and that they had no right to set them up...These...resist, do the very opposite and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error. In the presence of such men it is good to eat meat, break the fasts, and for the sake of the liberty of faith do other things which they regard as the greatest of sins. Of them we must say..."Let them alone, they are blind guides".
-Martin Luther in "Freedom of a Christian"
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."
-Paul (Galatians 5:1)
I leave you with a prophetic injunction to heed or ignore:
Lunge and Kick...Oh, loosed Stallion,
Shake your mane with gusts of liberty,
Rise up high into the open heavens,
Snort with the terror of joy,
Stomping hooves, rippling muscle,
Neigh fiercely in your wide-eyed confrontation,
Buck the saddle, the rein, the spur,
Leap like a thousand earth trembling waves,
Blaze an earth cloven trail behind your emancipation,
For the corralled masses,
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I'm formulating the path of my Father's Day message and its been deep work. I am working with the title "A Failing Father: the only hope for the future" based out of the story of Manoah, the father of Samson. I am meandering through various fields of thought on the subject of fathers, parenting, initiation and the mythopoetic idea present in greek mythology of the father eating the son. It's been a decent into places of the soul where caged demons and angels dwell.
Here is one of Robert Bly's poem's to stir the emotional waters: My Father's Wedding
Therefore, fathers will eat their sons among you, and sons will eat their fathers; for I will execute judgments on you and scatter all your remnant to every wind. -Ezekiel 5:10
The Father/Son relationship can be a volatile one, as the biblical stories honestly reveal and the tales of mythology or literature expound. The outworking of independence, ascension of youth and descending of age, the discovery of sexual fire and the attempts to learn the art of carrying the sacred ember in the rites of marriage are all woven together in this drama of parenting, family and fathering.
Reducing Father's Day to a nice little moment to celebrate the dads...is a horrid truncation of all that this epic journey thrusts upon manhood. The true life realities found in most homes are far more explosive than most preachers dare to share...we've not been wide-eyed oracles of apocalyptic dawns...but sentimental story tellers of dusk like sleepiness.
Becoming a father should scare the hell out of you...and awaken in your breast, the dreams of God.
ideas, opportunities, rememberances and outworking of kingdom life.
It's an office without walls, a softer pulpit, a counselors couch, my
revival altar and fishing hole.
It's my own coffee induced Urim and Thurrim.
Everyone needs these kind of spots, to remind yourself that you are
still human and...part of the Divine aromatic dance.
a regular visitor in these high desert regions, so when it falls, I
relish it. The sweet, pungent smell, soft dancing melodies, the way
everything appears to be yawning it in. It feels like grace does to
ones soul...a fresh forgetting.
Monday, June 15, 2009
We also watched "Brother Where Art Thou" the other night...a bit too much language but they enjoyed that one as well. So I'm on a winning spree right now.
Friday, June 12, 2009
My handling will be more In the spirit of Chesterton:
"There is a notion adrift everywhere that imagination, especially mystical imagination, is dangerous to man’s mental balance. Poets are commonly spoken of as psychologically unreliable; and generally there is a vague association between wreathing laurels in your hair and sticking straws in it. Facts and history utterly contradict this view. Most of the very great poets have been not only sane, but extremely business-like; and if Shakespeare ever really held horses, it was because he was much the safest man to hold them. Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom.
I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination. Artistic paternity is as wholesome as physical paternity. Moreover, it is worthy of remark that when a poet really was morbid it was commonly because he had some weak spot of rationality on his brain. Poe, for instance, really was morbid; not because he was poetical, but because he was specially analytical. Even chess was too poetical for him; he disliked chess because it was full of knights and castles, like a poem. He avowedly preferred the black discs of draughts, because they were more like the mere black dots on a diagram.
Perhaps the strongest case of all is this: that only one great English poet went mad, Cowper. And he was definitely driven mad by logic, by the ugly and alien logic of predestination. Poetry was not the disease, but the medicine; poetry partly kept him in health. He could sometimes forget the red and thirsty hell to which his hideous necessitarianism dragged him among the wide waters and the white flat lilies of the Ouse. He was damned by John Calvin; he was almost saved by John Gilpin. Everywhere we see that men do not go mad by dreaming. Critics are much madder than poets. Homer is complete and calm enough; it is his critics who tear him into extravagant tatters. Shakespeare is quite himself; it is only some of his critics who have discovered that he was somebody else. And though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw no creature so wild as one of his own commentators.
The general fact is simple. Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits." -G.K Chesterton - Orthodoxy.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
When ever I read this verse...I always think of Jackie. She isn't my daughter in law, or a daughter by birth...but she is a spiritual daughter in the faith. But I really couldn't tell the difference because in the heart...its all the same when you love someone.
I know everyone always gets emails and requests to pray for this or that issue...but can I please request some prayer for her and her little family, she is so very special to us and so many other people. A couple of days ago, Jackie had a seizure...and then another, another and another...it was an extremely horrifying day. Her husband, Spencer had to witness it all, care for her, ride in the ambulance and stand by her in the hospital as she endured a confusing assault on her brain and body. She has never had a seizure before.
She is currently at home on anti-seizure medication; she has been through a battery of tests and procedures...and tomorrow they meet with her lead neurologist for some follow up results and planning for the future. Please pray that it will be good news and that the Lord will grant peace and strength to face the day and the news. Pray for healing, for restoration and deliverance from this disorder. Pray for grace as they try to re-imagine life as it is confronting them. Pray for finances as they navigate the bills and the realities of possibly going from two incomes to one. Pray that God will be found in the emotional chaos and the uncertainty of the road ahead. Pray that He would reveal Himself in the situation, that His Presence would be known and His will would unfold with a deep abiding peace that dissolves fear, uproots terror and soothes anxiety. Pray that His love would embrace them in ways that only they could perceive.
In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don't do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or to write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us out of your contribution. Give us what you've got.
From "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
deep earth rumbles,
branch that gives way,
pang at the bite,
winds hot and sticky breath,
seconds after thunder,
footsteps in the hall,
envelope with unknown writing,
water soaking through panties,
lightening in the belly,
glance of the tiger,
arched and sweaty,
eager anticipation, mingled horror,
silence before the intake,
the stuttering cry, the wail.
Dusk choking dawn,
vine grappling tree,
gone is meandering stream,
come, is rushing torrent,
wolf is devouring the lamb
clouds on the horizon,
thoughts like frost
dark garden meetings,
kisses with beatings,
curses for meaning,
roosters are crowing
eyes lost their gleaming,
stolen touch...more fleeting,
moments without meanings,
eros wounded, slowly bleeding
oracles like sagging breasts,
blackened mind...past fires burned
lecterns sheets no longer tussled,
widowed is the weaver,
forgotten are the rapturous visitations,
eldering blindly into revelations
gathering storm, awaiting...
Friday, June 05, 2009
Songs that reflect a dearth of poetic sensibility, draw my ire. When the top 40 songs of today include "grunts and moans" and short stiletto phrases that sound like stuff copied from gas station stalls...I start to lose hope for this generation. But, everyone says that in their eras...I guess saying it...says more about me and my age. The older you get, you should become more attune to the sacredness of words. Dylan is a poet and prophet...but not in the biblical sense...but the human sense.
"Poets are not primarily trying to tell us, or get us, to do something." -Eugene Peterson
I've heard people complain that Dylan often doesn't make sense...but I think that observation is profoundly shallow. I think its sentiment is grounded in a misunderstanding of the true nature of parable, poetry and lyrical wisdom. We are lazy listeners, we want everything spelled out in 30 second commercials instead of doing the hard work of contemplation which true art requires. I think Dylan spells that out pretty good in this song:
"He came to be...because things needed saying..." -Probably Joan Baez
I couldn't agree more...and to today, its as needed as ever.
On Dylan's new cd, In the song "I feel a Change Coming on" he mentions Billy Joe Shaver. I found this quote of Shaver's in the April edition of Rolling Stone; I thought it was priceless. He nails the power of words and how Dylan used them.
"After I first heard him, I got upset because I couldn't figure out what else there was left to say...I decided not to listen to him again or I'd go home with my hat in my hand. So I threw all my Dylan tapes in the Brazos river." -Billy Joe Shaver
Here is a great song and guitar solo by Billy and his band: and here is a great story: and here is an amazing testimony to the power of honest sinner and saint music to touch a life...I pray we can live in such authenticity and boldness, among those who do not claim to follow Jesus.
One of the reasons I value Country music, Bluegrass, Gospel and the Blues...is that elders are still worth listening too in this genre. Somehow being a sinner and a saint is possible down South....there is still deep wisdom outside the city limits.
“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. -JRR Tolkien
I took this picture yesterday, as I was enjoying my lunch. The sky was so blue, the clouds were too soft and white to be real, it looked like a painting of Monet, just to beautiful to not take the time to capture and remember. It also reminded me of the above selection of Emerson's essay entitled "The Poet" that I am throughly enjoying but at predetermined and self restrained, slow nibble...because I just dont want it to end.
This picture also reminded me of this song: "Chasing Blue Sky"; one of my faves from this band.
Monday, June 01, 2009
Three buddies and I headed down to the Elk Public House and it happened to be the last night of Elk Fest. Now this is a rumpus affair that at first glance seems without being too overly dramatic, a Caligula inspired block party. Lots of loud music, mainly 20-30 year olds, lots of beer swilling, some bump'n and grind'n and some funky beats. It was a strange place for two lead pastors, a worship leader and a preacher man who is known for "Bringing the Thunder" to be found discussing the mysteries of the Eternals and the challenges of Terra Firma.
But there we were, kicking back at a table in the our local pub, barely able to hear each other pontificate about deep religious matters; like missional church planting, the challenges of generational ministry transfer, incarnating the gospel in an Act's 2 way with signs that would matter to the emerging generation, community service projects, Emerson's wisdom on the place of the poet in framing the future...etc. All the while surrounded by a host of urban tribal leaders with dreads, plugs and beards that would have made Thorin Oakenshield proud!
While wisps of post Sunday service pastoral wisdom rose from the ale strewn table, they mixed with the ear drum splitting bass of Chris Brown, the cackle of drunken college girls, sobs of a broken hearted, slightly intoxicated, unconsolable lover, giggles from pregnant hippies crunk'n in the aisle, the barking "F**K this and F**K that" of hormone charged male hounds seeking their next lay.
It was our own personal dance of Divine transcendence and cultural decadence meeting and staring at each other. I found myself caught in the outworking of freely enjoyed but disciplined grace and the obvious lunacy of immoderate piggishness running rampant.
Upon reflection I see the deep and cautionary, yet liberating wisdom of Martin Luther as preached in his deliciously pugnacious sermon on "Soberness and Moderation against Gluttony and Drunkenness". I hope you will read the whole sermon, but here are a few tasty morsels:
"For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven (cf. Gal. 5:19-21)" but..."It is possible to tolerate a little elevation, when a man takes a drink or two too much after working hard and when he is feeling low. This must be called a frolic. But to sit day and night, pouring it in and pouring it out again, is piggish... all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one's pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19-21]... If you are tired and downhearted, take a drink; but this does not mean being a pig and doing nothing but gorging and swilling... You should be moderate and sober; this means that we should not be drunken, though we may be exhilarated."...
"God does not forbid you to drink, as do the Turks; he permits you to drink wine and beer; he does not make a law of it. But do not make a pig of yourself; remain a human being. If you are a human being, then keep your human self-control....If you have been a pig, then stop being one. Augustine said: I have known many who were drunkards and then ceased being drunkards. But you are today just as you were yesterday and you go on thinking that it is not a sin."