Tuesday, December 06, 2005

recurring theme

there's this thing that goes on in my head. i can't remember when it started; and i don't know how to explain it exactly. it applies to countless circumstances, and i've never attempted to tell anyone because it has no words.

have you ever noticed how it's really difficult to talk about something you don't have a word for?

but i'll try anyways. it is sort of just a concept that appears in my mind. and every time it appears, it causes me to wonder and furrow my eyebrows and worship God. immediately.

i feel stupid even now explaining it because i just can't.


it's an image of yuck vs. God. usually my yuck, but not always. sometimes it's just an unowned yuck. it's an image of absolute purity vs. impurity, i guess.

yeah, that explanation applies, but it's so much more than that. i just can't capture it in words. i drew a picture of it on my computer once. so i'll just post that.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Picasso

Casual sex is like a paintbrush in the beak of a dodo bird.

Paintbrushes were created to express and put into being an artist’s mind. A paintbrush in the beak of a dodo bird, however, would be a bummer.

I picture the bird pogo-ing around in ecstatic delight of its discovery of the paintbrush and then using it as a q-tip or a shovel.

The whole scenario makes me pity the dumb bird who has no idea what a paintbrush is really for.



Friday, November 18, 2005

I still live.

This is a link that began a cycle of thought for me. Because of it, I began to ask the Lord about His thoughts on vanity, beauty and appearance, and especially, my vanity, beauty and appearance. See, many women have this powerful tool, a weapon even, that we are so used to using that we are often unaware that we are even using it.

It feels really nice to be adored. And there is a longing within us girls to be loved. And often, being wanted feels like being loved. And often without knowing it, and sometimes with full knowledge, we pursue being wanted - maternally, sensually, sometimes desperately. Sometimes, we use the tools we possess to manipulate subtly. They are not always obvious, but they are powerful and can be destructive.

Proverbs gave me a clear picture of a yucky part of myself this morning. It was a blow from the Lord, and those always hit profoundly close to home. Too close for comfort.

Starting at 7:6. a compilation of a few versions.
“For I looked out through the wood-work at the window of my house. And I saw among the empty-headed and empty-hearted a young man without wisdom and understanding. He passed through the street near her corner and took the path to her house. It was dusk, the evening coming on, the darkness thickening into night. See, a woman comes to meet him. She is dressed like a woman who sells the use of her body, and with a heart that wants to fool and trap someone (NIV says she is "with crafty intent"; Amplified Bible says she's sly and cunning of heart; KJV says she's a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil [which is Old French for subtle] of heart). She is boisterous and rebellious; her feet do not remain at home; she is now in the streets, now in the squares where people gather. She lies in wait at every corner. So she catches him and kisses him. With a hard face she says to him...Come, let us take our fill of love until morning. Let us make ourselves happy with love. Soon she has him eating out of her hand, bewitched by her honeyed speech. All at once he follows her, like a bull going to be killed, like a wild animal goes into a trap, until an arrow cuts through him. Like a bird that hurries into the net, little knowing that it will cost him his life.”

Holy mackerel. Talk about destructive. No, I don’t sit on the street corners just waiting for some na├»ve youngin to come around so I can be wanted. It’s much more subtle than that and also more unconscious than that. It’s not a blatant intent to kill, destroy and devour, but it is not less destructive because of its subtlety.

So, there are two separate kingdoms fighting for control inside of me. There is my kingdom. One whose king I am who seeks to uplift my own glory (vainglory nonetheless), and whose streetcorners are wrought with cunning hearts and crafty subtlety. One that destroys itself. My kingdom uses my beauty to manipulate and captivate for my own glory. Beauty there, in the pursuit of uplifting myself longs to be seen; and though it is beautiful, cannot be pure.
And there is the Lord’s kingdom. One whose king the Lord is who seeks to uplift His glory in me as His unique creation (that is an image of Himself nonetheless), and whose streetcorners are wrought with gifts that fulfill the best interest of those who walk in it. One that is complete. One whose beauty is not less glorious, less attractive, or less stunning. Beauty in that kingdom is not used as a manipulative tool, but is the result of gloriousness. Beauty there, in the pursuit of uplifting the Lord, cannot be impure.

So the two kingdoms are fighting against each other. Beauty longs to be seen in purity. It longs to not be used as a tool. It longs to be seen in truth, but as long as these two kingdoms fight inside of me, I can’t handle the truth very well. I’m really good at distorting my own beauty so it is no longer a mode of “shewing forth” the Lord’s glory, but a manipulative tool designed to chisel an idol out of myself.

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ live sin me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me.”

And so, the blow: I still live. And my kingdom still lives. And my heart is divided. And longs for rest from war. It longs for peace and truth, when all things will be unveiled. Who will save me from this body of death?
More reading: 2 Cor. 3, Romans 6-8

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Another paper for Christian Tradition

Freedom
The theme of Exodus is one that echoes throughout the entire Bible. It is one in which God releases His people Israel from the grip of slavery. In reading it, I am amazed at the facet of God that displays His gutsiness. He is no faint-hearted care-bear figure who flitters around in pastel colors or frolics in the clouds. He is a passionate, indomitable being whose word is all-powerful and whose plan is extraordinary.
God demonstrates this to us often in Exodus. He appears to Moses on Mount Horeb in the form of a blazing, burning bush. He transforms a simple staff into a hissing serpent. He rains down fire from heaven, and He dominates the Egyptian enemy army in the Red Sea, all in the pursuit of His first love – the hearts of the Israelite people. He longed to free them from the physical burden of slavery, but also from the spiritual bondage that their hearts were captive to. Slavery comes in many different forms – spiritual and physical - and even today, He is willing to do the same freeing work in our hearts.
The story of my own freedom from captivity starts long before my time. It begins when three little girls, the eldest of whom was my mother, sought to be loved and valued in a broken home. Fear gripped her heart as she scrambled to round up whatever would bring momentary peace. Shame and guilt formed the bars to her prison of never measuring up, and harsh memories formed the pictures on her cell walls. She grew up without the luxuries of a richly warm, loving and complete family. She did not know what such a family scenario would look like, but years later, when she married and started her own family, she longed to give her own children a better future than what her past handed to her; and maybe even more than that longing, there was a time when her heart cried out for spiritual truth.
She searched for it in all the wrong places before coming to know the Lord Jesus as her redeemer and friend. She found hope in Him. He accepted her. He renewed her. He gave her a fresh start and promised healing. As Psalm 103 says, he forgave all her sins, redeemed her life from the pit and renewed her youth like the eagle’s.
Her faith and commitment to the Lord Jesus made her surrender her parenting to Him. She had had no one in her past to look to for advice on parenting rightly; no one had shown her how to do it. She, many times, was terrified of continuing the cycle of bondage that her parents passed on to her. Yet, as she trusted God, He provided for her. He did it in obscure ways -- James Dobson would come on the radio with just the right topic at just the right moment or other events would occur that were too perfect to pass off as coincidences. The Lord Himself taught her how to be a good mom. She, in turn, taught us kids about Him. She showed me how to love and honor Him. She was also, and is now, a prayer warrior for our family, melting away the obstacles that loom over us in our spiritual journeys.
Because of my mom’s story, I have a story of freedom. I know what it is like to come home after school to a complete family. I know what it is like to be loved by my parents. I am free there!
The sequence of events that has led to my freedom is mind-boggling to me, because the sequence of nature is so often quite the opposite. Children wallow in the consequences of their parents’ bad decisions, and they learn there. They always learn. Then, when they get older, they know nothing besides mud. Their parents placed them there years ago just as their parents placed them there before that. They all grow up in it, and they all live in it generation after generation. But, because of the Lord Jesus’ work, I have not inherited that slavery from my mom! Instead of being given the heavy burden of fear and shame, I was given life and love!
He does that amazing work everyday in the lives of those He seeks to save. “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel.” (Psalm 103:6-7)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Some things that I have learned

God meets us where we're at. He doesn't expect us to clean up before we approach Him. He simply takes us as we are and then exchanges what we have for what He has (for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost).

When He meets us, He speaks our language. He doesn't just speak English or Korean or Spanish or Chinese. He speaks the semantics of my heart. He gives just enough for me to understand, and often, just enough for me to wonder if it was really Him or just coincidence. He waits for faith.

God is in the business of accomplishing the impossible. He softens rock hard hearts, creates something from nothing and teaches us to love. He often moves mountains that are invisible to us. We often wonder why He's not doing anything.

God is in pursuit of me. He is a warrior on a mission to save His future bride. He conquers enigmas as if they were no enigma at all. He cuts through the enemy like soft butter and a hot knife. He lays down His life and even gives it. He is righteous and loving and perfect. Yet, after everything, His greatest feat is quite possibly getting us to turn our heads and see Him.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

a paper for christian tradition

Manifestation of God’s Sovereignty in Genesis

Who is God? There are many facets to God’s character – surely even more than we can ever comprehend. He is both fierce and merciful. He is both invisible and tangible. He is loving and He is sovereign. This God manifests different parts of himself to us throughout our lives. In the same way, He manifests Himself to us when we read the Bible, and specifically when we read Genesis. As we read it, one underlying theme is the finality of God’s sovereignty. No matter what happens in our ongoing journey with Him, God is ultimately powerful and has the first and final say in what goes on. Still, mankind always finds himself struggling with Him.
Jacob was one of the first men with whom God made His covenant, yet his own name revealed his greatest fault. Jacob means “he grasps the heal”, “supplanter” and “schemer”. Throughout his entire life, he had been just that - a trickster. He took advantage of his brother in order to steal his birthright. He disguised himself as his brother in order to receive the blessing of the firstborn from his father. Jacob always seemed to craftily sneak away with luxuries that were not rightfully his. In Genesis 32:24-32, Jacob had an amazing encounter. God appeared to Jacob in the form of an angel and physically fought with him. In the fight, He dealt with Jacob in the very manner that Jacob had acted out his entire life. He cheated. When Jacob was winning the struggle fair and square, the angel touched Jacob on the thigh and miraculously threw it out of joint.
Then, God asked him a direct question. “What is your name?” In essence, God asked him a much deeper question. “Who are you? Who have you been?”
“Jacob,” he humbly confesses. Hosea 12 gives us a vivid picture of this point of the story. It says, “He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor.” God brought him to his knees and showed him the reality of his position before God. As Jacob repented, God renewed His love for him by granting him a new name – Israel, which means “he struggles with God”. Then God blessed him.
So often, God uses the experiences in my life to bring me to the same point that He brought Jacob to so long ago. He acts as a mirror and shows me the painful truth of how I have come short of His demands. He even asks me questions just as He asked to Jacob and to other characters throughout Genesis. “Where have you come from and where are you going?” (16:8) “What is your name?” (32:27) “The Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” (3:9b) He quietly whispers. Sometimes it even seems as though He blatantly yells, but whenever He asks me those questions, I can be sure that it is not because He is seeking information. His purpose is greater. It is for my benefit, that I might see Him or myself more clearly. It is always, ultimately, for His glory. He drives me to my knees in realization. He makes me cry out, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (39:9)
It never ceases to amaze me that the Lord, the God of the universe, speaks to me in my own language. He manifests Himself to me in ways that I can understand. He is not like the professor that is so erudite that he or she cannot relate to those who know nothing of the particular subject. He is the teacher who is supremely wise, and can meet me where I am at. He can meet me in the very midst of the struggle like He met Jacob. He does not expect me to clean myself up before He meets me. He simply takes me as I am and then does His own cleansing work. Then He mercifully gives me a new name redeeming me from the pit that I have been wallowing in.
I am in the middle of a struggle with God right now in my life. He longs to bring me to the next level in my walk with Him, and is saying to my heart, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) I have agreed to go with Him; but the place where He is leading me is a more difficult land, and there are more difficult truths here. He is revealing to me different facets of Himself that are hard to swallow. God is supremely loving and merciful, but He is also a sovereign Judge -- the Judge of a world where babies die. Children have parents who hand them failure on a platter. Families fight. Freak accidents tear fathers away from their children. But even in the midst of this, to truly know God is to love Him. And so, in order to let me fall more in love with Him, He leads me to a wall of sorrow and sets me in front of it. He makes me speechless. And then He waits. He waits for me to accept His ways and say, “God is sovereign, and that is all.” Sometimes there is nothing else.

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (4:7)
“I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” (17:1b)
“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (16:13)
“The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (6:5)
“I cannot do it,…but God will…” (41:16)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Erica

Chaos held the group of three-year-olds in its hand that day when I walked into P3 for work study. I had my work cut out for me; naptime was just around the corner.
As we prepared for naptime, I noticed that Erica was especially wound up, and, as usual, all the other kids closed their eyes in surrender to their archenemy Sleep while she was still wide-eyed.

The room was completely transformed from when I first walked in. The lights were off, there was soft music playing, and all were fast asleep...except Erica. I leaned over her and stroked her face with my fingertips. My thoughts drifted as I studied her eyes.
This girl will experience pain. She will probably collapse under the weight of it at some point. This little one will feel worthless. She will feel inadequate. Unlovable. Incomplete. Injured.
My heart broke.
"Erica, Jesus loves you," I whispered. "Jesus is God's son, and He made you before You were born. He knows what you will look like and what you're going to be like when you grow up. He knows everything about you, and He loves you. He thinks you're valuable." I paused to reposition. I wanted to communicate Jesus' love to her right then, in some attempt to relay it to her for a time when she'd need it - for the moment long from now when her world crashes down on her and makes no sense, for the moment when no one is on her side. "Do you want to sit in my lap?"
"Yes," came her soft answer. I scooped her and her blanket up in my arms and rocked. Her eyes grew heavier. Her body grew limper; and as I watched this little girl fall asleep, I sat mezmerized. How beautiful she was! That little life, right there in my arms. A tear slipped off my nose onto her blanket.
"Lord, let her know Your love. Let her experience it. Hold this little girl in your arms and penetrate Your truths into her heart."