Sunday, March 25, 2007

Funny story

Two brothers were notoriously immoral. They were synonymous with the vice that had overtaken their city. When one of them suddenly died, the surviving brother asked the local pastor to perform the funeral service. He offered him an enormous sum of money if, in his eulogy, he would refer to his deceased brother as a saint. After much pondering, the pastor agreed.

As the service came to an end, the pastor (in the thick of his description of the departed individual) said, “The man we have come to bury was a thief. In fact, he deserves every vile description the mind can muster. He was depraved, immoral, lewd, hateful, and the scum of the earth. But compared to his brother, he was a saint!”

Sinful or just sick?

The following quote is from Hobart Mowrer, "Sin, the Lesser of Two Evils," American Psychologist, 15 (1960): 301-304. Mowrer was an atheist, and he committed suicide in 1982 at the age of 75. He was a professor at Yale, Harvard, and president of the American Psychological Association.

"For several decades, we psychologists have looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus, and acclaimed our liberation from it as epic-making. But at length we have discovered that to be free, in this sense to have the excuse to being sick rather than being sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost.


This danger, I believe, is betokened by the widespread interest in existentialism which we are presently witnessing. In becoming a-moral, ethically neutral, and free we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood, and identity. And with neurotics themselves, we find ourselves asking, who am I, what is my deepest destiny, and what does living really mean?"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Note to self

From the note-to-self on a post-it note on my bathroom mirror:

"Now is the time to make the life choice. Stop worrying. Stop complaining. Just confidently enjoy what you can today, and trust Him to provide for the future. He makes all things beautiful in His time."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Numbered

Lord, teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."


--Ps. 90:12, 91:2

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Just finished reading: Sacred Marriage

I just finished reading Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? by Gary Thomas. I highly recommend it.

Fragile Vessels

A wise man once wrote that "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life." To live with dreams of what life could be and never see those dreams fulfilled creates emptiness and despair, because our lives are meant to be filled to overflowing with intimacy, romance, beauty, laughter, and joy.

Yet, many of us find ourselves ignoring our desires so we can ease the pain of our broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams. We tell ourselves the lie that it's all right for others to trample on what means the most to us. But if we're honest with ourselves, and if we truly have hope, we eventually admit the reason we protect our hearts so little is that we really don't think we're worth much at all. That admission is merely the first step to the healing and love that we desperately need.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Eating and drinking

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

On the other hand the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. It's speaking English that kills you.

Ways to amuse yourself and others in an elevator

  • When there's only one other person in the elevator, tap them on the shoulder and then pretend it wasn't you.
  • Push the buttons and pretend they give you a shock. Smile, and go back for more.
  • Ask if you can push the button for other people, but push the wrong ones.
  • Call the Psychic Hot line from your cell phone and ask if they know what floor you're on.
  • Hold the doors open and say you're waiting for your friend. After awhile, let the doors close and say to an empty spot "Hi Greg. Hows your day been?"
  • Drop a pen and wait until someone reaches to help pick it up, then scream, "Thats mine!"
  • Bring a camera and take pictures of everyone in the elevator.
  • Move your desk in to the elevator and whenever someone gets on, ask if they have an appointment.
  • Lay down a Twister mat and ask people if they'd like to play.
  • Leave a box in the corner, and when someone gets on ask them if they hear something ticking.
  • Pretend you are a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exits with the passengers.
  • Ask, "Did you feel that?
  • Stand really close to someone, sniffing them occasionally.
  • When the doors close announce to the others, "Its okay. don t panic, they open up again."
  • Swat at flies that don't exist.
  • Tell people that you can see their aura.
  • Call out, "Group hug!," then enforce it.
  • Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering "Shut up, all of you, just shut up!
  • Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside, ask, "Got enough air in there?
  • Stand silently and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off
  • Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce in horror, "You're one of THEM!" and back away slowly
  • Wear a puppet on your hand and use it to talk to the other passengers
  • Listen to the elevator walls with your stethoscope.
  • Stare, grinning at another passenger for a while, and then announce, "I have new socks on."
  • Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers, "This is my personal space!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tears

Tonight I stood in a hot shower for an hour and cried and cried and cried.

Sometimes when you're heart is ripped to shreds too much, one thing you're realize it does is takes away a part of your capacity to believe you have significant worth. And I don't just mean that it takes away worth, I mean it takes away the actual capacity to believe you have worth.

It's like when people have blood clots or something like that where their brain gets deprived of oxygen long enough, and a part of the brain literally dies, and can't be brought back to its normal usage ever again (at least not at this point of medical technology); the heart feels like it works similarly: after it's deprived of something for so long, it begins to feel that it never did and never will deserve that thing, that I'm just not worthy of it--so much so that even if the proof that I was worthy stared me in the face and shouted my worth at me, I might accept it for a minute or two, but in the next few moments, doubts would immediately creep back in, and I would think, "Yeah, but tomorrow will be different; tomorrow you'll think less of me and the day after you'll be gone."

We all go through that on differing levels of that in life, but there are senses in which certain situations take on an entirely different dynamic. It almost becomes an entity, and actual attacker, who shadows me everywhere and never leaves me alone, always whispering, "You're not worthy, you don't deserve love, you don't deserve affection, and you will always be alone."

I think that whole being deprived thing is why the second book I'm writing is so important to me: I need to feel like even if my soul isn't worth much to people, that perhaps at least my ability to be selflessly affectionate has some value, and even if it's not accepted in reality, that it's at least accepted on paper.
I'm trying, and I'd rather try and lose than not try at all.

And my writing my book, saying, "I affirm that I should be thinking about these subjects," and, "I deserve to someday enjoy them," and, "These things are what makes life right and beautiful and I'm pursuing them with all my heart,"--those kinds of affirmations that I make to myself are part of how I try.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Alanis

No Pressure Over Cappuccino by Alanis Morissette

And you're like a 90s Jesus
And you revel in your psychosis
How dare you

And you sample concepts like hors d'oeuvres
And you eat their questions for dessert
Is it just me or is it hot in here?

And you're like a 90s Kennedy
And you're really a million years old
You can't fool me

They'll throw opinions like rocks in riots
And they'll stumble around like hypocrites
Is it just me or is it dark in here?

Well you may never be or have a husband
You may never have or hold a child
You will learn to lose everything
We are temporary arrangements

And you're like a 90s Noah
And they laughed at you
As you packed all of your things

And they wonder why you're frustrated
And they wonder why you're so angry
And is it just me or are you fed up?

And may God bless you in your travels
In your conquests and queries

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dance with me

How I would love someone to dance with me tonight ...

If you can

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can get going without pep pills,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time.
If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than an poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no
prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics,

THEN, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog.


(source unknown)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Just finished reading: A Return to Modesty

I just finished reading A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue by Wendy Shalit. I highly recommend it. It is one of the best books I've read in a long time.

Quotes to ponder

"As long as I live my imagination of Paradise will retain something of my brother’s toy garden. And every day there were what we called ‘the Green Hills’; that is, the low line of the Castlereagh Hills which we saw from the nursery windows. They were not very far off but they were, to children, quite unattainable. They taught me longing—Sehnsucht …."
~~C.S. Lewis, Yearning for Joy


"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. . . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."
~~C.S. Lewis


"To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart."
~~A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

"Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God."
--Søren Kierkegaard

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Providence and requitement

There is so much inside the heart yearning to be free that providence is almost bound to bring to pass a time of restitution when all wrongs will be made right and love will be requited. The dreams that put a sparkle in the eyes of a child and hope in a young man or woman in looking to the future are reflections of the place where humanity began--in Paradise, a utopic garden where God and man walked side-by-side, where shame did not exist, and where love flourished. While Eden cannot be regained, in Christ there is the hope of a return to that state of life, but not just in heaven. In the context of a man and a woman, a day can arrive when the lovers face each other--perhaps disillusioned, with all masks removed--and there find that the love of God has renewed all things: that while hope deferred had made their hearts sick, their desire fulfilled has become a tree of life. Because of trust, they can relinquish their fears and simply plunge into love as if purposefully falling backwards off of a high cliff, dropping into love itself, and finding the paradox that what others have tried to do to their demise, these lovers do, and for the first time in their lives, truly live. That is the nourishing of the soul and the rapturous requiting of love.

Laudable exchange

"The Sea/ Laudable Exchange" by John Michael Talbot:

"Leave the things of time for the things of eternity
Choose the things of heaven o'er the goods of the earth
Obtain the hundred fold in the place of the one
And so possess a blessed and eternal life.

(Chorus):
What a laudable exchange!
What a great and praiseworthy blessing!
What a laudable exchange!

Because of this I have resolved to always progress from good to better;
To be faithful in His service, to always progress from virtue to virtue;
To obtain the hundred fold in the place of the one
And so possess a blessed and eternal life."

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Fearful

This stage is fearful. The spotlight seems to be on me, but the light is actually everywhere on the stage, so it's probably just my pride that makes me think it's on me. But I am on this stage alone. The curtains are halfway drawn, though, and there might be other actors behind them. I can't see the audience but they are there; they are as quiet as mice, except for a stray voice somewhere up front. They must be waiting for me to say my lines. I don't know them. Did I ever get them? I can't remember. I'm feeling rather dizzy, and I can't think straight. Others might be waiting for me to say my part, and then they will come up, but I don't know what to do. How did I even get here? What door did I come in? This is all so confusing.

The stage is the biggest I've ever seen in my life; I can't even see the back edge, though I'm pretty close to the front edge. The sides of backstage are far away, too, which makes it rather inconvenient for anyone to whisper me my lines. But then I might not have lines. Maybe I'm supposed to do something. Maybe I'm just supposed to walk somewhere or cry or laugh or sit down or lie down or pretend I'm eating or . . . oh, I can't remember. Did anyone ever give me my lines? I can't figure out my part, and I wish those curtains would close because I feel conspicuous and naked. Oh, my gosh, am I naked? Whew! I'm not. I have a strange outfit on, but they are clothes; that's a blessing.

I wonder how long I've stood up here and talked to myself. Hey, maybe that's what I'm supposed to do. Maybe my part is just to stand here. But that doesn't make a lot of sense. If it were my part, someone else would have come out and started talking to me or something by now. Maybe this isn't a stage. Maybe it's a big cage and I'm being teased like a rat. I wish I could see the audience. I bet they can all see me. I bet there are sixty trillion people out there. No, let me change that. I'm wrong about a lot of things, so if I guess at first that lots of people are out there, I'm probably wrong. I bet there's just one or two people out there. What would one or two people want with me, anyway? They must be judges or critics or something, writing away vigorously on their notepads all the little things that I'm doing wrong. Maybe they're in a good mood today, and they won't notice if I don't say my lines correctly. Lines? What lines? Why did I just say "lines?" I don't have lines, do I?

I am alone, that much I know. If I could just find someone to help me remember, I'd feel a lot more confident. But maybe if I find someone else and he doesn't remember either, then we look really bad. Oh, bother. I am tired. I want to sleep. Maybe that's my part. Maybe I'm supposed to go to sleep. No, that's a silly thought. I wish so much that I could figure out my part. I wish I weren't alone up here. I wish I knew what to do.

Whatever it takes

Lord, do whatever it takes to make me holy ... no matter what it costs me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Busy day

Busy day! I spent most of today putting up a railing for my grandmom, who's still in the hospital. And spent some time with my adorable cousins Jordan and Morgan, and their mom.

It's amazing how much longer a job takes to do when you have two little girls around asking if they can help, and offering to hammer every nail and pick up every tool for me! It's good practice for when it's my turn, I suppose.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Missions Conference

Tonight at church (www.cosnet.org), Steve Richardson spoke. He's the head of www.Pioneers.org and the son of Don Richardson, who wrote "Eternity in Their Hearts."

Awesome! He spoke on when the glory of the Lord fills the earth, when people will worship Jesus in every language. I got a chance to talk with him after the service, and he was so encouraging.

I signed up for some ministries in downtown Philadelphia over the next few weeks. I am really excited! I really want to be actively serving, and though I certainly consider my second book, which I'm working on really hard, to be a calling, I want to help others along the way as well. I think we're going to the Feltonville are this Saturday, and to Logan the next, and to the Overbrook area the last week of March.


Good stuff. It did my heart good to start moving in that direction again.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Good things

Good things everyone should do or at least consider:

1. Pants (trousers) first, then shoes.
2. Read Titus.
3. Respect anyone and anything Irish unless it's satanic or they are criminal, etc.
4. Love the sin, hate the sinner.
5. Buy soccer shoes.
6. Speak French.
7. Write your seven with a slash.
8. Lern houw two spel.
9. If you are one in a million, then there are 4,000 people just like you.
10. Never quote in a language you can't speak.
11. Write poetry
12. Sleep on your back.
14. Never skip #13.
15. Never knock on wood.
16. Wash your face every day.
17. Stop people and ask for their business cards.
18. Take pictures of everything.
19. Invest in a pair of comfortable shoes.
20. Don't eat the green stuff.
21. Don't make long, boring lists of things for your friends.
22. Sleep.
23. Color.
24. Sneeze.
25. Vote.
26. Listen.
27. Love God.
28. Always capitalize God's name and His pronouns.
29. Write to me.
30. Listen to Rich Mullins, Michael Card, and John Michael Talbot.
31. Watch the sunrise.
32. Bake cookies.
33. Drink hot cocoa with whipped cream.
34. Use crayons all your life.
35. Paint at least one room in your house pure, bright white.
36. Make your Christmas tree ornaments by hand, and make some to give as Christmas gifts to family.
37. Have a garden.
38. Write a real letter instead of an email from time to time.
39. Laugh and smile for any and all reason, or for no reason, just to make someone else smile.
40. Watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
41. Eat ice cream.
42. Go out late at night in the rain and dance in the streets.
43. Don't kick cats down the stairs (too much).
44. Find someone you love and stay with that person forever.
45. Read just for the pleasure of it.
46. Bake brownies.
47. Watch Veggie Tales.
48. Go to Art Museums and parks.
49. Collect something--stamps, teapots, paper money, dictionaries, candles, wine bottles, knives, lamps--anything. Just collect something so that you have something to work on that is fun and that you can look back on thirty years from now and remember where and how you picked this one or that one up on this trip or in that country, etc.
50. Take time to sit in the darkness alone and take a couple of deep breathes, be quiet so you can feel your own heart beating, and pray. Repeat often.
51. Keep praying.
52. Pet kittens and puppies.
53. Find someone who knows less than you--anyone at all--and tell them something you learned, something exciting, especially if it relates to the Bible.
54. Act silly.
55. Splurge on expensive desserts every once in a while.
56. Listen to Bach.
57. Learn to listen to people, even the boring ones.
58. Learn to take notes in church.
59. Keep a journal and go back and read what you wrote years ago.
60. Kiss with your eyes closed.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Legacy

Several years ago a team of New York state sociologists attempted to calculate the influence of a father life upon his family and future generations. The study included two men from the eighteenth century, Jonathan Edwards and Max Jukes.

Max Jukes rejected Christianity. He chose a life of unprincipled behavior and crime. Among his 1200 descendants were:

440 lives of outright debauchery
310 paupers and vagrants
190 public prostitutes
130 convicted criminals
100 alcoholics
60 habitual thieves
55 victims of impurity
7 murderers


The research team concluded that not one of Max Jukes known relatives ever made a significant contribution to society. This notorious family cost the state of New York $1,200,000.

Jonathan Edwards is regarded as one of the most brilliant an influential men of American history. He was a gifted pastor and exceptional theologian. Edwards’ preaching ignited the flame that led to the Great Awakening, and he later served as the president of Princeton College. Among his male descendants were:

300 clergymen, missionaries, or theology professors
120 college professors
60 doctors
60 authors
30 judges
14 college presidents
Numerous giants on American industry
3 U. S. congressmen
1 vice-president of the United States

Source: Steve Lawson, The Legacy, (Sisters, Multnomah Books, 1998), p.13.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Prayer

“O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen,
and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed
and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then in thy mercy, grant us safe lodging, and a holy rest,
and peace at the last.
Amen.”

Book of Common Prayer

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Just finished reading: The Sacred Romance

I just finished reading The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. I highly recommend it.