June 30, 2011

Goodbye, John

Sad morning to find out that my friend John Wilson had passed away on June 28th. I never got to share a meal and coffee or even shake his hand, but he was still my friend. We met online a few years back on the Aminus3 photoblog site that we were both active on at the time. Always willing to share his knowledge, he had a great impact on my landscape photography, and was a great encouragement to me. We had some good laughs playing tricks on Google's search engine to get his sites up to the top of the page, working it so well that we did it again when he returned to the west coast earlier this year (Google people, don't read that last sentence.)

June 28, 2011

Communion of a Different Type

Christians everywhere are familiar with the rite of Communion, the Lord's Supper. And while we enter that Communion with reverence and devotion, it seems to me that we have lost sight of the importance of what the disciples thought they were about to do, have a simple communal meal. While there is a renewed focus on sharing meals as a family, as a society, we've come to look at sharing meals with several friends as a special occasion sort of thing, and not an integral part of our lives.

June 26, 2011

Being Perfect? Nope, Being Perfectly Human

I've had a couple of people question me about this blog's title: "No one can be perfect! Only Jesus was perfect!, etc." The misunderstanding comes from two sides; misunderstanding the nature of Christ in relation to our own nature, and misunderstanding the meaning of the words "perfect" and "human", and how they modify each other.

June 24, 2011

Connection and Separation: Knowledge of Ourselves

Over the past couple of days, I've had the privilege of watching two old friends get re-connected. The joy in their voices and the easy flow of their conversation has been magical to see. It's as if there were never any lost time between these two ladies (and it is so strange to type 'ladies' when I want to type 'girls', as we were all just kids the last time we were all together.) Yet as I have been listening to them this morning in their strong connection, I have been feeling a huge sense of separation. As bad as that may sound to most people on a superficial level, it really isn't, because I know myself and my needs much better now than I have in the past.

I am an Introvert. An extreme Introvert, on any scale you wish to use to measure Introversion/Extroversion. My two friends are Extroverts, and about as far apart from me on the scale as they could be. And I believe there has been some confusion/disappointment/misunderstanding between one of those ladies and I this morning, as most people don't have a good understanding of Introversion, since we Introverts are vastly outnumbered by Extroverts. But where the big problem lies is not so much in the understand of what is and Introvert/Extrovert, but in our understanding of ourselves and our real needs. We simply can't appreciate and understand the needs of another until we understand our own needs.

June 21, 2011

All The Roots Grow Deeper When It's Dry...Sort of.

This horrible drought we're having in Texas this year made me think of an old David Wilcox song this morning. You can find the lyrics here.

Yes, that's what plants do, even when left alone without a landscaper or gardener to care for them. The catch is that a lot of plants, even large trees, will sicken and die when you get into a drought as bad as we've had here in Texas lately. Like what I've been doing for my tree's roots the past few months, we have to do some work for our souls during these long droughts, if we wish to bloom in the next rainy season.

June 17, 2011

The Least of These; The Least of Me

I've been a fan of the band Caedmon's Call since they recorded their first album back in the mid 90's. There's a line from the song "This World" off of their My Calm, Your Storm album that has always stuck with me when I look at myself: "And the least of these look like criminals to me, so I leave Christ on the street." That's a pretty powerful call to look at ourselves and set out to serve and help the suffering and needy. Countless people have written about this call to service, so there's no need for me to write much about that. Rather, since my writing is more about my internal life and struggle for faith, I'm going to change some words in that song lyric and look at it from a different direction.

I realize today that a lot of the struggle that I have had with my faith in my life has coincided with a struggle with my self-esteem and worth. After all, when you hate yourself, you already know that you're going to fail at "love your neighbor as you love yourself." I know a lot of preachers and teachers will say that all you have to do is believe in Jesus, and He'll take care of all that stuff. That simplicity doesn't fly with people like me who have this kind of internal struggle going on inside. If you've ever been to a meeting of one of the 12-step programs, you've likely heard the phrase, "God will do for us what we can't do for ourselves." If we stop there without exploring the corollary, "God will not do what we must do for ourselves", then it's just another simplistic platitude. "For the dream comes through much effort", as the writer of Ecclesiastes put it, so if we're going to achieve this dream of spiritual wholeness and maturity, then it follows that there will be internal work. Hard work, and maybe a lot if it.

June 16, 2011

24/7 Prayer Challenge - My Second Night

Yesterday, when I went up to the church for my hour in the prayer vigil, I got to speak to Mindy, one of the church's co-Pastors for a few moments before starting. This morning I got to meet and speak a bit more with her husband Robert, the other co-Pastor. I've got to start forcing myself to drink some extra coffee in the late hours of my Saturday night shift and get back up there on Sunday mornings. I believe there is some very good work going on and some new exciting things that I need to be a part of.

My prayers and experience this morning were very different this morning than yesterday. I opened my Bible to Proverbs for some inspiration and went immediately to the bookmarks I had in chapters 2 and 9.

June 15, 2011

24/7 Prayer Challenge

The church that I used to attend before my weekend work schedule interfered has been having a prayer challenge this week. The challenge is to have at least one person at the church, every hour of each day of the week, to engage in prayer. When my friend Lindy first mentioned this a week or two ago, I was non-committal, but when she asked again this week I was glad to accept. I knew this would be a good way to re-kindle my inner spiritual flame, and to reconnect with a group of believers, albeit in a somewhat eremitic manner.

June 13, 2011

Treasure and Worship

Shifting from one to the other, that's where it all started going downhill. You'll need to refer to the previous post to get some of the references I make here, but it's short and quick to read.

Last year, I wound up in a relationship that was better than any one I had been in before and better than I could have imagined. One thing that made it very loving for us was my decision early on to ask God to help me treasure her every day. The problem was that when you forget who you are, the work you've done, and that you're perfect at being human, it becomes easy to elevate others to a place that they shouldn't occupy in your life. She had become my object of worship.

June 12, 2011

Wake-Up Call

I've been processing some things over the past few days and had quite a moment of clarity as a result.

Fours years ago, I had an unrequited love knock me on my butt, so to speak. I was at what was probably the most healthy and whole point in my life, spiritually and emotionally. The problem wasn't so much getting knocked on my butt as it was my lazy refusal to get back up and go on with living my life. Fast forward through three years of isolation and depression, and I found myself with an even more amazing love, one that I couldn't have imagined. Things could have been beyond my wildest dreams, but the depression was still hanging on to me. Or so I thought.

June 11, 2011

Relationships and Sharpening Knives

Sounds pretty grim and serial killer-ish, huh? Really, it isn't. Bear with me while I take you through some seemingly unrelated information to get to my final point.

One of my favorite Bible verses is, "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17, NASB. We all get the gist of that verse, but I think a lot of people miss the most effective way to put it into practice in our daily lives. Why? Because most people have no idea how to properly sharpen and care for a knife.