The Fall

Death
Death

The days dim and shorten. The winds build and sharpen.

Death is everywhere about me as trees bid farewell to leaves that sheltered and fed them and grasses brown and say adieu to the mites who played about them.

Fields dim and then burn with radiant bursts of captured sunlight reflecting back in another fond farewell to the brilliant sky above.

There is everywhere a keening and weeping as vibrant nature shudders and gasps, falters and falls to her knees.

The hardy pine and weathered holly , the cheerful cardinal alone keep me company.

It is a good book and a deep drought of sharp air that open my mind to realms beyond the tightening round of the shrinking world.

Soon enough the hoary blanket will fall again and this great circle will complete once again.

Death to death, birth to birth, and in and out again we cycle through the ever new and ever ancient panes of our small lives here on this discord-bound globe, whirling over and overĀ  from old to new and from new to old, and on again.

The exit is not yet for me, my path is not yet worn deep enough. His plans are still before me. And yet, for a time, surrounded by the death of nature I wonder. Beyond this small but too big life is a forest yet unexplored, a nature not yet discovered. There a paths not yet trod and rivers never before drunk.

But it is not for me. Not yet.

Life into death and death into life goes the circle again, and I, still on this meager sphere have paths before me still to travel.

Nature turns, the death rattle in her throat, and whispers after me as I turn away. Her words are born away by cruel wind and a bitter sun jests with the nervous clouds above.

Death into life will come around again and the frosted earth will thaw in time.

I will wait.

Good Father

Fatherhood is manly
Fatherhood is manly

I’ve been surprised of late at the sources and volume of negative or, at best, ambivalent feelings towards fathers and fatherhood.

My wife is getting involved in the ladies ministry at our church and there was a coffee and tea get together Saturday morning. My wife was planning several errands for the morning and so I was left caring for young William. So long as we have milk pumped and bottled he is quite alright with me. More importantly, I’m willing and able and responsible, as I am his father.

I’m no superhero, nor do I have any special ability beyond the normal. I’m not much of an outlier in this respect, I believe.

Rather, I consider myself normal.

I’m a normal man who has taken responsibility for his family, his wife and their child.

I work to support them financially, bu my responsibility does not end at 5pm Friday.

I’m a father, not just a breadwinner. A father is so much more than a breadwinner.

I’m a diaper changer, a dish washer, a laundromat, a soft shoulder, a chauffeur, a burp rag, a comic, a stereo, a counselor, a pastor, a manager, a confidant, a firm hand. I am whatever necessary to ensure both the macro- and micro-progress of my family towards our goal of bringing more glory to God and achieving greater Godliness mutually and individually.

I am capable and willing.

I’m not expert or perfect.

For the men who don’t think themselves capable: grow a pair, man up, find your spine. You’re capable of what you choose to be.

For the mothers who haven’t tried letting go and letting dad: he’ll grow into whatever you lovingly and with support allow him become, including dad.

For detractors and cynics everywhere of every stripe: leave. You’re not wanted. Your words only condemn another generation to fatherless failure. Your ideas enslave millions more in the stifling mire of your small minds and minuscule dreams.

Mothers are not superior, and neither are fathers. Both are needed and necessary for normative growth in children. Both are prone to failure.

It is no secret, except to those remaining willfully ignorant and despicable for it, that mothers are as capable of abuse as fathers, and for societies failure to accept it, becoming frighteningly more common.

In fact, it is the union of the two fallible, failed, faltering parents, both the mother and father together, who are most capable of lifting each other beyond their individual limitations and shortcomings. Not to achieve perfection, but to achieve the greater potential of success in whatever goal they have chosen.

And isn’t that what we’re all striving for?

So father, free yourself of the false notion of your incurable frailty and seize the mantel of manhood and be a father.

And mother, relinquish the idea of fatherly failure and instead build up and encourage and then step back and allow the man in your husband to thrive as it fills out the form of fatherhood.

I Looked Outsite My Window West

Looking through the eastern window
Looking through the eastern window

I looked outside my window west, across the broad horizon.
My dreams and hopes from years gone by glowed golden in the light.
The setting sun of all my past fell surely to the lip of the hills, shedding the last light of the days of my youth on the things I valued then.

But looking out the other sill towards the glowing East, the light of breaking day, already growing steadily stronger as in repose I lay.
This newly born light, of the sun of new hopes and new dreams, rises strongly upward, bringing to my watering eyes in dazzling relief new dreams and new joys before unknown.
Toward this new light I rise to my feet, walking with strong step and sure, forgetting what was behind and pressing on I keep my aim true.
I am not without questions, and foreboding too, but when the dream and goal is sure as the wind, I know what I am to do.
To take hold of the wind and grip it tight as into it’s teeth I fly, I ride this beast, this roaring beast and follow it where it will.

So many Christians, so little Christianity

As I was walking on the campus of my north Florida college, something struck me. A thought that is. As on most college campuses, UNF is littered with signs advertising clubs and events. Living so close to UCD, it was common to see fraternity and sorority signs everywhere. However, at UNF, about 2/3 of the signs were advertising Christian meetings . . . Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), Christians on Campus, InterVarsity, Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) and a couple more that I cannot remember.

It is so awesome to go to school on a campus with such a focus on Christianity and God’s love. Any night of the week I can go to a meeting and start working on fitting in with a new group and getting to know new people. The signs are all over the place. I am without excuse if I cannot find a gathering of believer.

But I am a believer, I am obligated by the command of my savior to find a gathering of believers, but what about those who are not obligated? All the signs had one thing in common, they all yelled “Come and see what we do.” That is great, but doesn’t the Great Commission start with the word “Go”?

Occasionally our campus will be visited by “evangelists” who really do more damage than good for Christianity. These brave, or obstinate, souls are ridiculed by believer and nonbeliever alike, but aren’t they doing something. In the last year here, I have participated in about one of maybe 3-5 ministry and evangelistic oriented events on campus. However, all the event consisted of was passing out literature about the meeting times of the ministry . . . no mention of Jesus, or God loves you, or God has a plan for your life. In fact, when passing out the literature, the “come and see” mentality of Christianity was still prevalent. Everyone sat behind a table waiting for people to take information instead of initiating contact and conversation.

If we really cared about another’s eternal soul and the possibility that they could die for eternity in hell, would our actions, methods, and strategy change?

The picture here is a startling and actually very scary, although I live in a place saturasted with Christians, we refuse to extend our outreach opportunities beyond Christian events (Concerts, bible studies, etc) and very relevant, but very comfortable Christian ministries (feeding the hungry, passign out water but not saying “God loves you”, etc).

Let me illustrate my fear. The church I go to once had a person attending who made well over a couple million dollars a year. The church was old and needed a new focus. So the church turned into a community church which welcomed children and the poor as its primary members. The person of interest appraoched the pastor and told that pastor that the church would have to stop inviting the children and poor to the church or he would stop tything. He stopped tything. However, the ministry of the church remain (minus a couple thousand dollars granted). When the church turned from a “come and see” (look at our buildings and facilities, we have the best programs for your children) to a “go and do” (look at our community, we have the most needy community that we expect our members to be involved in) some Christians could not stand it.

Before you judge them though, look a little closer. I recently went to a church and look at their coffee bar. I have worked in the gourmet coffee business and love looking at coffee bars . . . but this church had a machine with a base price of over $6,000. Plus the decor in the room (to give it a modern coffee house feel) costs well over $5,000. The inventory they kept in order to run the coffee bar was about $2,000. I love coffee bars in churches, but that was $13,000 spent on what? Trying to improve the church so more people come? I thought that we were all in this together and it doesn’t matter where someone goes as long as they go to church . . . However, how could that have been used to help someone in need? Feed a homeless man? Pay the rent of a man who has been laid off? But no . . . it is sitting in a church and is used once a week . . . and is so necessary because 75 people (out of the 1,500) would leave if their church didn’t have a coffee bar (that sounds like a dedicated Christian to me).

One further example. As Christian theological seminary recently installed 3 chandeliers . . . that each cost $1,000,000. Why was that money spent? Was there not cheaper lighting that would have stilled looked nice and got the job done? What could some of that money have been used for? Missionary planes in Ecuador? Sanitation pumps in asia?

In summary . . . why have we stopped asking ourselves What Would Jesus Do? We create program to attracts people when he said “Go”. We saturate communities but cannot talk to our neighbor about Christ and mock those who are at least trying. Are we to good to let our churches live with less so that we can reach more? Remember, he only became righteously angry at the religious leaders of the day . . . is that us today?

Short Reflections On The Nature Of God

What is the nature of God?
What is the nature of God?

It can be said that it is easier to accurately define and completely understand the concept of infinite that to even begin to comprehend God. Something I have wondered about for quite some time is how did God decide what the 10 Commandments were to consist of? Did He arbitrarily decide that these 10 rules were the ones He’d support? Are they so practical because He said so? If so, even despite their correctness and practicality in practice, their necessesity in all productive human interaction, they’re still arbitrary, and it would seem that God is cheaper than He really is. But God is not arbitrary. Just as He gives purpose to everything and everyone, He Himself embodies purpose. For us it is His will that guides our purpose, for Him, there is no higher being to guide His purpose. He is self-contained, unneeding. Instead it is His nature that defines His purpose. God is truthful, therefore we ought not lie. God does not covet (though, arguably He has nothing to covet, all things belong to Him, and anything existing apart from Him is against His nature), therefore we ought not covet. The 10 Commandments are Gods best portrait of Himself in the form of His basic will for us. God’s attributes are to be our goals.

Nothing true can contradict the nature of God. This is the most powerful argument we have against falsehood in the church and among believers. If it is against the nature of God, it is not true. And the admonition that we dwell on whatever things are true takes on a whole new meaning.

God is jealous. He can bear no equals, whether percieved or actual. God does not accept any sin in any form, no matter the reason. Men can only see the outside, the physical manifestations, the actions. But God knows the hearts of all mankind, He judges intentions. This is both a relief and a burden. There are actions that are misunderstood and maligned, causing pain and suffering to the actors, but which stem faithfully from correct intentions. There are actions hailed as heroic, but which stem from motives unpure, capricious at best and malicious at worst. God is the Just Judge and He will determine the reward or punishment.

Voltaire said: “It took 12 men to start Christianity, and one will destroy it.” He was referring to himself. God replies: “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. (1 Peter 1:24-25 NASB)” And Voltaire died, and Christianity continues.

Why is the battle so fiercely arrayed against the Christian standing firm in their convictions, faith, and belief? Because we have the Word, Christ in us, and “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (Hebrews 4:12-13)”