Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Thoughts

I have always loved C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

As a child, there was a little pigsty left over from Howard County's farming years that had become hidden and overrun with thorn bushes. The area was nestled behind an apple tree and pushed up against a newly erected chain link fence. The sty had been partly pulled down by mother nature, and wasn't easy to get to. In fact, I think you probably had to be under 10 years old to be able to squeeze through a small animal trail beneath some prickly undergrowth. If you could squeeze through the small tunnel underneath the stickerbushes you'd arrive in a small secure dome of imagination which was held together by the crumbling construct of the sty. I remember making it inside and feeling the soft powdery dirt that lined the floor of the place. The wooden beams were held together by old rusted pieces of metal, and termites had completely eaten through a lot of the roofing. As a result the ground was littered with fine leftover remnants of the soft wood, and the roof was half man-made and half mother nature. 

This was the place I called Narnia.

At the time I had only read the first couple of books, and I didn't understand all the Christian allegorical meaning behind all of the passages. All I knew was that the Narnia world sounded wonderful, and the imagery of kids escaping their parents into a secret land was perfect for my imagination. For many months I ruled the inside of this hidden sty as a King, and the myriad of my action figures we're the players in my kingdom.

As an adult, I have recently begun rereading the Narnia Books. And I agree with the sentiment that "Aslan grows bigger as I grow older" (from Prince Caspian). I recently finished reading the fourth book in the series, The Silver Chair. I've noticed so many things in the series that mean so much more to me now. In The Silver Chair, Aslan the Great Lion, sends two children from our world, Jill and Eustace, to find Narnia’s lost Prince Rilian. Their companion on the quest is the ever-serious Narnian Marshwiggle Puddleglum. The apex of The Silver Chair provides a very moving debate, one which I have found myself struggling with throughout my adult life and also as a topic amongst some of my closest friends. The debate comes to a head after the following set up:

After a long and dangerous journey, Puddleglum and the children have found the lost Prince and freed him from the enchantment that bound him to the Green Witch and her dark underground realm. Before they can escape, though, the Witch appears - determined stop them. She uses her powers to try and persuade the children that all the things they believe in - the sun, sky, their own world, the land of Narnia, and even Aslan - are nothing more than an old dream, a game of imagination, a children’s story - while her cold, lightless, joyless kingdom of Underland is the only real world. She laughs at them for only being able to vaguely describe the memory they were introduced to in their own world. She mocked..."you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun . . . you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion." 

In response, Puddleglum gives one of the best speeches in the book, and it was something I really responded to last night as I read it. I had been contemplating the world a couple millennia ago as Christ lay silent in the tomb and his disciples were on the run...hiding and afraid. I thought what many Christians probably think when they're being honest with themselves. Is it really possible? Was he real? Did this really happen? Did he defeat death and rise? Can I live my life according to this truth? What about all those 'free thinkers' who say I'm crazy, that anyone that believes in this stuff is living in a fantasy land. The witch was trying to convince me that my memory of truth was a mirage created by my false hopes.

Here's Puddleglum's response to the evil Queen of the underworld:

‘One word, Ma’am . . . All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst of things and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. . .Then all I can say is, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only real world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just four babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn’t any Narnia. So . . . we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think, but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.’ 

I'm with Puddleglum. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can, even if there isn’t any Narnia. But I have a strong inclination to know that it's real. Not Narnia of course, but what Narnia stands for in it's allegorical way. I'm going to be a follower of Christ, even when I have doubts about what happened on this day two thousand plus years ago. Because I've seen the reality of the resurrection even in my own life. I've been given opportunities that my decision making should have squelched out a long time ago. I've been rescued time and time again when I hide in the truth of that unseen reality. And why should I yearn for Christ's world so dearly (The Kingdom of Heaven aka Overland) if it doesn't exist? Why would my heart tell me otherwise?

In Easter service this morning, it was stated that 'the search for something more describes the arc of our human existence.' I think that's true. It's the reason I was thrilled about the Narnia series as a young was the reason I crawled through a fortress of thorns to seeking a safe haven for my imagination, and it's the reason we all wonder at times why we feel unsatisfied with the things of this world.  So the question that Jesus asked Mary Magdeline when she arrived at the empty tomb a couple thousand years ago should be posited to all of us today. Why are you crying and who are you looking for? The answer, as our pastor John Yates said all hangs on Easter. Christ can't be who we're looking for unless he dealt with death once and for all on Easter morning all those Sunday's ago. Easter is the day that the little escape tunnel through the undergrowth becomes a four lane highway to freedom. It means that we don't have to cry or search anymore.

For me, and for all of us, the answer is found in the risen Christ. I don't have to crawl through the undergrowth to find a magical escape. The Kingdom of Heaven is indeed at hand. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Well - Post Reason For God Study

Awesome night tonight at our party. We concluded the Reason for God study and had a great turnout for tonight's event. I guess if the study had been a total flop no one would have come. So I'm glad to see so many new faces in attendance. It was an awesome thing to host, I learned a lot about myself, but I'm ready for a little break. I feel like I'm ready to take a turn being spiritually fed.

I have been volunteering a lot lately. Singing, The Well leadership committee, facilities, reading at services...I'm ready to focus on myself a bit. I find that going strong with The Well for about 6 months, and then taking a 3 month break works well for me. By the time I'm done the down time, I'm ready to get to volunteering again.

Tonight reinforced how important it is to be in communion with other members of the body of Christ. It was really awesome. I was tired, and not overjoyed at going initially. But by the time I left I was on another high for the G-O-D. A younger guy in the group asked to go to lunch this week as he's considering law school in the future. It just feels good to connect.

Much Love

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week

So today was a better day as far as the spiritual warfare goes. It's interesting, I often think of the language used in the bible about scales falling from eyes. The imagery is so beautiful. When I'm not communing with Christ, I really am turned off to my spirituality. I really am blind to it for that period of time. When I'm not feeling that relationship with the living Christ, I feel nothing until the scales fall away.

So I understand why people become convinced that God doesn't exist. They must feel like I do, when I'm going through a period of spiritual desert, except they feel that way all the time. It'd be like trying to convince them that there's life in a rock. It's just not apparently there.

And then all of a sudden, usually because I return to my knees in a broken state, I feel Gods presence again. I'm back in communion with Christ and it's palpable. My prayers are answered, but more noticeably, I remember to pray. About everything. When I'm going through the dark moments, I don't even think to consider God when decision making. But once the scales fall away, I can't stop thinking of Him. And the joy returns.

It's been back for a couple days, and I'm excited about it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:My bed

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spritual Warfare

It's been a week since I've posted. I've been busy. My wife was out of town for 5 days conducting a jury trial and I became a single parent. Getting the little guy off to school and picking him up, getting breakfast and dinner prepared, plus household maintenance and work...well, by the end of the day I was exhausted.

Satan was all over it. He gleefully took advantage of my tiredness and busy schedule. He did everything in his power to keep me away from my relationship with Christ. Well, tomorrow that's going to end. It's Holy Week as of today and I want to make it special. I did a really haphazard job this lenten season when it came to building my relationship with Christ. I'm committing now to getting up early so I can get in the scripture and prayer. I'm volunteering at the RRM on Tuesday night. I'm reading at the Good Friday service at noon. I'm getting back into it and there's nothing that can stop me.

It feels good to be back.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I have a 4 year old son. He is an incredible person. I know most parents will say that about their kids, but this guy is different. Really. He's beyond anything that I can take credit for. He was just born a good person. We never went through a terrible two phase with him. He's always been loving, attentive and well behaved. Very odd considering the genetics he's working with.

I wanted to memorialize something that happened yesterday. It happened fast and lasted about 10 seconds. But it was awesome.

We pray a lot in this house. Before meals, at night, in the morning before work. It really has become a rhythm of life around here, and I'm so freaking happy it's that way. My son will often pray for me at night, or say his own prayers, but it's often a procrastination tool or something that we'll prompt.

Yesterday however, I was smoking my pipe on our front porch after church. I was flipping through my iphone. Noah sat next to me on the steps. He said, "It's a beautiful day Dad."

I said, "Yea buddy it is!" I continued to distractedly play with my phone until I noticed his head was down in his hands. I thought maybe something flew into his eye. I looked down at him and he lifted his head up and said 'Amen."

I said, "Hey, were you saying a prayer?" He said "Yea, it's such a beautiful day." I said, "What did you pray?" He said..."oh, just nuthin..." (Meaning he didn't really want to talk about it.) I said, "You know, Daddy says prayers too when I'm thankful or happy." He said..."Me too Dad."

And then the conversation quickly turned to ninjas or something. And the moment was over just like that!
Pretty wonderfully awesome. He turned four last month. I'm crazy in love with him.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rock Lyrics - Christian Meanings

OK, so this song doesn't directly hit on Christianity, or even God for that matter...but it reminds me of my mental state before I found my way to God. Chasing after the worldly things. And for that reason, it makes the list.

Crazy - By Gnarls Barkley

I remember when, I remember
I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions have an echo, in so much space

And when you're out there without care
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?

And I hope that you are
Having the time of your life
But think twice
That's my only advice

Come on now, who do you
Who do you, who do you, who do you think you are?
Ha ha ha, bless your soul
You really think you're in control?

Well, I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
I think you're crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart
To lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember
Is thinking, I want to be like them

Ever since I was little
Ever since I was little
It looked like fun
And it's no coincidence I've come
And I can die when I'm done

But maybe I'm crazy
Maybe you're crazy
Maybe we're crazy

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Location:Java Divine

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Keller Study

Great night talking about why God would allow some to suffer eternal torment. Chapter 5 of the book talks about Hell and makes it clear, (i think), that Hell is not a place that God imposes on us by violence... but rather is a place that we choose when we insist on our way.The following is a great sermon by Keller.

I'm also excited by the prospect of getting together this summer with a close knit core group of guys to stay strong in my faith. We did it last summer and it was really helpful. The summer months can kind of be a spiritual desert of sorts. It's a great time for a book study, and some small group accountability. Also a cool way to build relationships with fellow Christians.

I love the small group I've been with over the past couple months. Strong Christians that have me in my Bible in my spare time. Loving it.

Much Love.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When the Enemy Knocks

When the Enemy Knocks

I enjoyed this gentleman's post for a variety of reasons.

First of all, it is written with an honesty that I often aspire to, but rarely duplicate in this blog. I often worry that my postings won't be profound enough, or that they'll be horribly boring if I spend too much time on my everyday challenges and concerns.

Secondly, he is becoming a priest. I'm still in awe that people have the calling at such a young age. The thought of me even considering the Priesthood in my 20's would have been laughable to say the least.

Finally, his description of spiritual warfare is right on. Satan piles up as many cumulative little things when you're tired. He prays on exhaustion and worry. He tries to convince you that you're not good enough, that you are incapable of being successful. That you in fact don't reflect God's glory...perhaps even that there is no God.

Enjoy, Thought I'd share. Much Love.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Finding The Right Bible

It's taken me a while but I think I have finally found the answer.

I plan on purchasing the NIV/Message parallel bible. The Message is a loose free flow thought for thought style of read. It makes getting through some of the Old Testament stuff a pleasure. However, I think it loses some of the poetic language that we've grown accustomed to in the NKJV, and the NIV. I was perusing some if the parallel Bibles and I think it's the way to go. I love comparing translations. I used to always flip to Psalm 19 to see if I'd like the version. The first 5 verses are really tough to get across in english. The theme is the unspoken proof of God's existence in the universe. Some translations use the word 'speech' repeatedly in a way that is confusing. The HCSB repeats 'speech' because it adheres closely to a literal translation. But I don't like that. The NRSV and the NKJV handles the translation well, but changes the meaning slightly. The Message actually captures the thought perfectly, but uses completely different words.

So...I would recommend getting either the NKJV/Message, NIV/Message, or the HCSB/Message or NRSV/Message parralel Bibles. The NRSV, NKJV, and the Holman are the most readable and accurate translations that I've found. To match them up with the Message would give a rounded out experience. But I'm going NIV/Message most likely because...well...I just enjoy those versions the best. I've spent most of the past couple of years in the NIV and I'm pretty familiar with it. I find that the best translation of Paul's Epistles are found in the NRSV.

Here's a handy link to a nice chart from Zondervan. Check it. Much Love.