Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Take Five

"take five!"
the director calls
as our shoulders relax
and our posture sinks
from our characters
to our true selves
some sit for chit chat or pull out phones
to check the modern world for what they missed
during their time in Ancient Athens
others head out for a much-desired cigarette
mixing freezing breath and nicotine in the cold night air
and I look around and think
of how much You must love them
how much You long for companionship
with these colorful characters you've written into the story
this all started with a nudge from You
to pop the bubble and avoid becoming a candle in a lit room
and I daydream of all I could say in those five minutes
they think church is "my thing"
like a new haircut, or my favorite sweater this winter,
like a preferred mix at Starbucks
as if You are a prescription for only my ailments
how do I tell them You're not just my thing?
You're everything.
This ache as if looking at a beautiful sunset
and I turn to share it with someone I love
but I am alone
the beauty somehow lessened by their absence
suddenly aware
they're missing this.
because I remember the days before You found me
where the Bard's words seem to ring true
All the world was a stage
knowing when to be on and off,
a lot of waiting in the wings for the next cue,
trying on beauty and adventure
only two hours at a time
then removing the glimpse of joy and hint of purpose
along with fitted costumes and cake makeup
and all for fleeting 2 minute applause
and a smiling bow.
I ache for the day
they can see beyond the blinding stage lights
sitting in an open cell
a child lost in a store running away from his mother
or someone drowning next to a raft
and they just keep reassuring us
they're excellent swimmers
But eventually, even for Michael Phelps
fatigue will come like a thief in the night
and I wish I could speed up the process
like the dragged out pacing in a slow scene
some spontaneous epic Shakespearean soliloquy
"Once more to the breach!" with a hint of Braveheart bravado
that would save the day and point them all to You
but the last thing they need is more production
they need to grab a hold of something
as real as their names in the folded programs
perhaps they could somehow sense the double entendre
read between the memorized lines
hear my eagerness as I ask to hear their stories
like a magic flower spell that could open their eyes
to see how much we love them
so they can finally, truly
let their postures sink
from their characters to their true selves
and not just for a five minute break
but with You for all eternity
but I know the timing isn't right
so I come to You for stage directions
for our final bow is approaching
and I close my eyes
to welcome our conversations
as I learn to
trust in Your timing and
take five

"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." Romans 8:26-28

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot...
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain...
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. "

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2, 5, 7, 10-14

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sheets and Comforter

I hop into prayer
like mom and dad's bed
in a booming thunderstorm
with sheets of rain driving sideways in the wind
And I give this day to You
with its flood of uncertainties
wincing before each loud boom
for I cannot predict the timing
or the intensity of the mystery that shakes the windows
as if an ill-intending intruder pounding to come inside
But You just tuck me in the middle
and begin telling epic stories of David prayers
in the middle of his own storms
as You whisper beneath the comforter of morning orison
reminding me what I already knew
but needed to hear only You say
"No matter what happens. I'm here."

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress,
protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
Then I will hold my head high
I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
... the Lord will hold me close.
Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
...I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."
Psalm 27: 1, 3-6, 8, 10, 11, 13-14

"A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he become more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening." Soren Kierkegaard, Christian Discourses

"Faith is not when we abandon reality and avoid the cares of the world; faith is when we look reality square in the face. Accepting what is real, we recognize there is a deeper truth beneath that truth. There's a greater truth that transcends that truth--that God cares, that God has a plan. God cares about your life, your future, your fortune. God cares about your dreams. God made you with a purpose, on purpose, for a purpose, and God is with you." Mark Beeson "I Think We Might Lose Everything" sermon Jan. 24-25, 2009

"Jesus taught us to come like children to a father. Openness, honesty and trust mark the communication of children with their father...There is an intimacy between parents and children that has room for both seriousness and laughter...Jesus taught us to pray for daily bread. Have you ever noticed that children ask for lunch in utter confidence that it will be provided? They have no need to stash away today's sandwiches for fear there will be none tomorrow. As far as they are concerned, there is an endless supply of sandwiches." Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Tour

Worship causes memory loss,
like a sight-seeing trip on a charter bus
we fly through the beauty of the countryside
or crane our necks, wide-mouthed at the lights of the city
forgetting the carpet stains back in our living rooms
because we haven't stepped over them today
all we see is the Grand Canyon, the Rockies carving out the horizon
forgetting the arguments, tasks to do,
and new anxieties teetering in our minds like a tour of glasses,
but for those moments, for that hour,
all we know is we're sailing through the glory of You
and all we can do is sing, weep, dance, smile,
maybe raise a hand or two
in our little efforts to thank You.
Think of how much we'd miss if we only watched the driver
observing his mad skills behind the wheel
noting his fervent commitment to speed limits and traffic laws
asking about the bus itself and all it's gadgetry
thinking if only we had a bus of our own, think of all we could do...
it would break the poor drivers heart
because his job is to help us forget he's even there
and enjoy the ride.
And he loves his job.
All too often this is what we do in the modern church
when we try to fit our You-appointed worship leaders
in little rock star boxes complete with twisty ties
and cool outfits from the Buckle
And after a year and half of backstage passes
watching them pray, laugh, live, and plot each new destination
I know it would break their hearts.
Because they know there's only one
true Worship Leader
and they're just a guided tour.
And they love their jobs.
Thank You for choosing this amazing group of guys
who's talents would merit fame, fortune,
and their own private tour buses with hot tubs and mini-bars
but who choose to role up their sleaves and get behind the wheel
to cause memory loss so we can enjoy the ride,
who live souled out for you
carrying joy and authentic faith in their pockets
right next to the guitar picks and some clinking coins,
driving us into a forgetful beauty
that leaves us forever changed
by the glory of You.

"Go, praying. Go, expecting. Go, looking for God to do a new and living work in you . . . look forward to God acting and moving and teaching and wooing and winnning . . . Just as worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. . . Today God is call his church back to worship. It's as if God is saying 'I want the hearts of my people back!' And if we long to go where God is going and do what God is doing, we will move into deeper, more authentic worship. . . Genuine worship has only one Leader, Jesus Christ. When I speak of Jesus as the Leader of worship, I mean, first of all, that he is alive and present among his people. His voice can be heard in their hearts and his presence known...Christ is the leader of worship in the sense that he alone decides what human means will be used, if any. Individuals preach or prophesy or sing or pray as they are called forth by their Leader. In this way there is no room for the elevation of private reputations. Jesus alone is honored." 
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

"You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." Matt 4:10

"A quickening Presence pervades us, breaking down some part of the special privacy and isolation of our individual lives and blending our spirits within a superindividual Life and Power. An objective, dynamic Presence enfolds us all, nourishes our souls, speaks glad, unutterable comfort with us, and quickens us in depths that had before been slumbering." Thomas R. Kelly, The Eternal Promise

"Worship is a deliberate and disciplined adventure in reality." Willard Sperry, The Fellowship of the Saints

"Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." Col 3:15-17 (Msg)

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Gully: "There are as many ways to live as there are people in this world. And each one deserves a closer look." From the film Harriet the Spy (1996)

I think Rachel had a magnifying glass behind those pretty eyes
and the rest of us are just a little farsighted
"Every day was show and tell" Gene said
"And she never said no to an adventure."
And as I begin this new year with You
all my resolutions melt into a closer look at Rachel
the profound words in her Bible,
her Jesus joy dressed in silliness, her constant smile,
her reckless love for you doodled in the margins,
her uninhibited freedom to dance and run,
snapshots of lady bugs with cats bouncing on her back,
her "yes"s when I would have said "no"
out of my needless fear and made-up proprieties,
how she somehow lived for today and eternity all at once,
and like the endless truths of her leather-bound user's guide,
never skimming anything,
rather diving into life until her fingers got all pruny
and I can feel You whispering a new sense of responsibility
for this year and all the remaining marbles in my jar
this sticky humanity has one less delight
and it's time to step it up
and take the torch she is passing onto all of us
that looks a lot more like a magnifying glass
as we take a closer look at ourselves in the light of Your plans
and begin to redefine what it really means to be

"People nowadays take time far more seriously than eternity." Thomas Kelly

"Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry. For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them." John Ortberg, The Life You've Always Wanted

"Everyone thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing himself." Leo Tolstoy

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"How many people are radically and permanently repelled from The Way by Christians who are unfeeling, stiff, unapproachable, boringly lifeless, obsessive and dissatisfied? Yet such Christians are everywhere , and what they are missing is the wholesome liveliness springing from a balanced vitality with the freedom of God's loving rule." Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines

"Goals are discovered, not made. God delights on showing us exciting new alternatives for the future." Richard Foster, A Celebration of Discipline

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new." Revelation 21:3-4 (Msg)