Lessons to Learn & Live — Marriage Wisdom

For sev­er­al years I’ve run across anec­dotes and sto­ries of won­der­ful things to keep a mar­riage joy­ful. Every time I did the same thought crossed my mind, “I love this, this is won­der­ful, I must remem­ber to do this… or rather… I must nev­er for­get to do this.” That is of course if ever I am again in the posi­tion to remem­ber or nev­er for­get.

I’ve always thought that I’d remem­ber all these things, but of course no mat­ter how poignant or pro­found, my mem­o­ry is a ter­ri­ble place to try to store things.

Hence­forth I resolve to enu­mer­ate them here, for be ben­e­fit of my beloved should I again have a beloved, or for the ben­e­fit of your beloved if you hap­pen upon this diary of heart aids.

We’ll start with cat­e­gories and add things as I run across them again or anew. Below I’ll also be build­ing a list of things that dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies do to keep faith and rela­tion­ship strong.

For One’s Beloved

  1. Notes and Reminders of Love
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  2. Prayer
    •  
  3. Note to self: Reminders, atti­tude and action.
    • Would you rather be right? Or would you rather be mar­ried?” — Chap­lain Bart Lar­son
    • Mar­riage Isn’t for You(pdf)
    • What­ev­er you did when court­ing to por­tray your­self as ‘Good hus­band mate­r­i­al’, nev­er cease lest you become ‘Bad hus­band mate­r­i­al’. Don’t play­act the used car sales­man lest you stick her with a lemon.” — cmc
    • Be very good at find­ing good and with a gra­cious heart, be very faulty at find­ing fault.” — cmc
    • You’re nev­er too impor­tant to serve some­one else. Don’t live to get, live to give.” — Jar­rid Wil­son
    • Don’t be jud­gin’, if you strug­gle with being judge­men­tal. Do be jud­gin’, if you lack judge­ment.” — cmc
    • It’s ok to be ‘bor­ing’ if you’re lov­ing, stead­fast, sup­port­ive, build­ing, lead­ing in Christ, and faith­ful. In oth­er words, being a man of hon­or and val­ue and heart across the long haul is the new (and old) roman­tic. “The Real Truth about ‘Bor­ing’ Men — and the Women who Live with Them: Redefin­ing Bor­ing”(pdf)
    • To keep your mar­riage brim­ming, With love in the lov­ing cup, When­ev­er you’re wrong, admit it, When­ev­er you’re right, shut up.” — Ogden Nash, poet, 1902–1971
    • What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life — to strength­en each oth­er in all labour, to rest on each oth­er in all sor­row, to min­is­ter to each oth­er in all pain, to be one with each oth­er in silent unspeak­able mem­o­ries at the moment of the last part­ing?” — George Eliot
    • I would so do this for my beloved. What an awe­some guy. This Guy Trav­eled The Coun­try In A Pink Tutu Just To Make His Wife Laugh Dur­ing ChemoPin­trestpdf
    • Love is hard work. It is the hard­est work I know of, work from which you are nev­er enti­tled to take a vaca­tion.” — Ravi Zacharias
    • At the begin­ning, your love sup­ports your mar­riage. Lat­er on, your mar­riage sup­ports your love.” — Lar­ry Chris­tiansen
    • Top 10 Rela­tion­ship Killers — True Love Dates(pdf)

For One’s Fam­i­ly

  1. Affec­tion
    •  
  2. Whim­sey, Fan­ta­sy, & Imag­i­na­tion
  3. Prayer
    •  

Uncat­e­go­rized

Why your spouse may irritate you

As always I thank God for this man and his min­istry and for the insights and tal­ent of expres­sion he was giv­en. Had I but heard and heed­ed soon­er… per­haps… per­haps not. It is not as though God had not placed oth­ers in my life to prompt me to see that I refused to see.

Sarah doesn’t cause me to be the way I am. She -reveals- the way I am. There­fore if my response is unlov­ing it reveals an unre­solved sin prob­lem with­in me that can’t be blamed on her; and Sarah’s response is her respon­si­bil­i­ty, so if she response in a way that’s dis­re­spect­ful, that’s her issue.

Think of it this way. A speck of sand in the human eye first caus­es irri­ta­tion, right? And if not cared for, infec­tion and if still not cared for, loss of vision. Now that same speck of sand in an oys­ter caus­es irri­ta­tion then con­cre­tion and then pro­duces what?… a pearl. Now, did the sand cause the eye to lose vision? Did the sand cause the oys­ter to pro­duce a perl? No, the sand is an irri­tant that reveals the inner prop­er­ties of the human eye. The sand is an irri­tant that reveals the inner prop­er­ties of the oys­ter.

On the mar­i­tal bus ride, your spouse is an irri­tant.… . They’re irri­tat­ing you, but they’re reveal­ing your inner prop­er­ties. It’s as sim­ple as that.

The sun in the sky melts the but­ter but it hard­ens the clay. How does the sun know to hard­en the clay and melt the but­ter. It doesn’t. The sun is a heat that is reveal­ing the inner prop­er­ties of the the but­ter, reveal­ing the inner prop­er­ties of the clay. The tri­als that Jesus went through; Did they cause Him to be the Son of God or did they -reveal- Him to be the Son of God.

The tri­als you and I are going through reveal who we are.” ~ Dr. Emer­son Eggerichs

My name is also Ransom.”

The Con­clu­sion of Ransom’s Bat­tle with God and Self, Pere­landra, Ch 11

Clive Staples Lewis

What­ev­er hap­pened here would be of such a nature that earth-men would call it mytho­log­i­cal. All this he had thought before. Now he knew it. The Pres­ence in the dark­ness, nev­er before so for­mi­da­ble, was putting these truths into his hands, like ter­ri­ble jew­els.

The vol­u­ble self was almost thrown out of its argu­men­ta­tive stride—became for some sec­onds as the voice of a mere whim­per­ing child beg­ging to be let off, to be allowed to go home. Then it ral­lied. It explained pre­cise­ly where the absur­di­ty of a phys­i­cal bat­tle with the Un-man lay. It would be quite irrel­e­vant to the spir­i­tu­al issue. If the Lady were to be kept in obe­di­ence only by the forcible removal of the Tempter, what was the use of that? What would it prove? And if the temp­ta­tion were not a prov­ing or test­ing, why was it allowed to hap­pen at all? Did Maleldil sug­gest that our own world might have been saved if the ele­phant had acci­den­tal­ly trod­den on the ser­pent a moment before Eve was about to yield? Was it as easy and as un-moral as that? The thing was patent­ly absurd!

The ter­ri­ble silence went on. It became more and more like a face, a face not with­out sad­ness, that looks upon you while you are telling lies, and nev­er inter­rupts, but grad­u­al­ly you know that it knows, and fal­ter, and con­tra­dict your­self, and lapse into silence. The vol­u­ble self petered out in the end, Almost the Dark­ness said to Ran­som, “You know you are only wast­ing time.” Every minute it became clear­er to him that the par­al­lel he had tried to draw between Eden and Pere­landra was crude and imper­fect. What had hap­pened on Earth, when Maleldil was born a man at Beth­le­hem, had altered the uni­verse for ever. The new world of Pere­landra was not a mere rep­e­ti­tion of the old world Tel­lus. Maleldil nev­er repeat­ed Him­self. As the Lady had said, the same wave nev­er came twice. When Eve fell, God was not Man. He had not yet made men mem­bers of His body: since then He had, and through them hence­for­ward He would save and suf­fer. One of the pur­pos­es for which He had done all this was to save Pere­landra not through Him­self but through Him­self in Ran­som. If Ran­som refused, the plan, so far, mis­car­ried. For that point in the sto­ry, a sto­ry far more com­pli­cat­ed than he had con­ceived, it was he who had been select­ed. With a strange sense of “fallings from him, van­ish­ings,” he per­ceived that you might just as well call Pere­landra, not Tel­lus, the cen­tre. You might look upon the Pere­landri­an sto­ry as mere­ly an indi­rect con­se­quence of the Incar­na­tion on earth: or you might look on the Earth sto­ry as mere prepa­ra­tion for the new worlds of which Pere­landra was the first. The one was nei­ther more nor less true than the oth­er. Noth­ing was more or less impor­tant than any­thing else, noth­ing was a copy or mod­el of any­thing else.

At the same time he also per­ceived that his vol­u­ble self had begged the ques­tion. Up to this point the Lady had repelled her assailant. She was shak­en and weary, and there were some stains per­haps in her imag­i­na­tion, but she had stood. In that respect the sto­ry already dif­fered from any­thing that he cer­tain­ly knew about the moth­er of our own race. He did not know whether Eve had resist­ed at all, or if so, for how long. Still less did he know how the sto­ry would have end­ed if she had. If the “ser­pent” had been foiled, and returned the next day, and the next … what then? Would the tri­al have last­ed for ever? How would Maleldil have stopped it? Here on Pere­landra his own intu­ition had been not that no temp­ta­tion must occur but that “This can’t go on.” This stop­ping of a third-degree solic­i­ta­tion, already more than once refused, was a prob­lem to which the ter­res­tri­al Fall offered no clue—a new task, and for that new task a new char­ac­ter in the dra­ma, who appeared (most unfor­tu­nate­ly) to be him­self. In vain did his mind hark back, time after time, to the Book of Gen­e­sis, ask­ing “What would have hap­pened?” But to this it brought him back to the here and the now, and to the grow­ing cer­tain­ty of what was here and now demand­ed. Almost he felt that the words “would have hap­pened” were meaningless—mere invi­ta­tions to wan­der in what the Lady would have called an “along­side world” which had no real­i­ty. Only the actu­al was real: and every actu­al sit­u­a­tion was new. Here in Pere­landra the temp­ta­tion would be stopped by Ran­som, or if would not be stopped at all. The Voice—for it was almost with a Voice that he was now contending—seemed to cre­ate around this alter­na­tive an infi­nite vacan­cy. This chap­ter, this page, this very sen­tence, in the cos­mic sto­ry was utter­ly and eter­nal­ly itself; no oth­er pas­sage that had occurred or ever would occur could be sub­sti­tut­ed for it.

It is not for noth­ing that you are named Ran­som,” said the Voice.

And he knew that this was no fan­cy of his own. He knew it for a very curi­ous reason—because he had known for many years that his sur­name was derived not from ran­som but from Randolf’s son. It would nev­er have occurred to him thus to asso­ciate the two words. To con­nect the name Ran­som with the act of ran­som­ing would have been for him a mere pun. But even his vol­u­ble self did not now dare to sug­gest that the Voice was mak­ing a play upon words. All in a moment of time he per­ceived that what was, to human philol­o­gists, a mere acci­den­tal resem­blance of two sounds, was in truth no acci­dent. The whole dis­tinc­tion between things acci­den­tal and things designed, like the dis­tinc­tion between fact and myth, was pure­ly ter­res­tri­al. The pat­tern is so large that with­in the lit­tle frame of earth­ly expe­ri­ence there appear pieces of it between which we can see no con­nec­tion, and oth­er pieces between which we can. Hence we right­ly, for our use, dis­tin­guish the acci­den­tal from the essen­tial. But step out­side that frame and the dis­tinc­tion drops down into the void, flut­ter­ing use­less wings. He had been forced out of the frame, caught up into the larg­er pat­tern. He knew now why the old philoso­phers had said that there is no such thing as chance or for­tune beyond the Moon. Before his Moth­er had borne him, before his ances­tors had been called Ran­soms, before ran­som had been the name for a pay­ment that deliv­ers, before the world was made, all these things had so stood togeth­er in eter­ni­ty that the very sig­nif­i­cance of the pat­tern at this point lay in their com­ing togeth­er in just this fash­ion. And he bowed his head and groaned and repined against his fate—to be still a man and yet to be forced up into the meta­phys­i­cal world, to enact what phi­los­o­phy only thinks.

My name also is Ran­som,” said the Voice.

It was some time before the pur­port of this say­ing dawned upon him. He whom the oth­er worlds call Maleldil, was the world’s ran­som, his own ran­som, well he knew. But to what pur­pose was it said now? Before the answer came to him he felt its insuf­fer­able approach and held out his arms before him as if he could keep it from forc­ing open the door of his mind. But it came. So that was the real issue. If he now failed, this world also would here­after be redeemed. If he were not the ran­som, Anoth­er would be. Yet noth­ing was ever repeat­ed. Not a sec­ond cru­ci­fix­ion: perhaps—who knows—not even a sec­ond Incarnation…some act of even more appalling love, some glo­ry of yet deep­er humil­i­ty. For he had seen already how the pat­tern grows and how from each world it sprouts into the next through some oth­er dimen­sion. The small exter­nal evil which Satan had done in Mala­can­dra was only as a line: the deep­er evil he had done in Earth was as a square: if Venus fell, her evil would be a cube—her Redemp­tion beyond con­ceiv­ing. Yet redeemed she would be. He had long known that great issues hung on his choice; but as he now realised the true width of the fright­ful free­dom that was being put into his hands—a width to which all mere­ly spa­tial infin­i­ty seemed narrow—he felt like a man brought out under naked heav­en, on the edge of a precipice, into the teeth of a wind that came howl­ing from the role. He had pic­tured him­self, till now, stand­ing before the Lord, like Peter. But it was worse. He sat before Him like Pilate. It lay with him to save or to spill. His hands had been red­dened, as all men’s hands have been, in the slay­ing before the foun­da­tion of the world; now, if he chose, he would dip them again in the same blood. “Mer­cy,” he groaned; and then, “Lord, why not me?” But there was no answer.

The thing still seemed impos­si­ble. But grad­u­al­ly some­thing hap­pened to him which had hap­pened to him only twice before in his life. It had hap­pened once while he was try­ing to make up his mind to do a very dan­ger­ous job in the last war. It had hap­pened again while he was screw­ing his res­o­lu­tion to go and see a cer­tain man in Lon­don and make to him an exces­sive­ly embar­rass­ing con­fes­sion which jus­tice demand­ed. In both cas­es the thing had seemed a sheer impos­si­bil­i­ty: he had not thought but known that, being what he was, he was psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly inca­pable of doing it; and then, with­out any appar­ent move­ment of the will, as objec­tive and unemo­tion­al as the read­ing on a dial, there had arisen before him, with per­fect cer­ti­tude, the knowl­edge ‘about this time tomor­row you will have done the impos­si­ble’. The same thing hap­pened now. His fear, his shame, his love, all his argu­ments, were not altered in the least. The thing was nei­ther more nor less dread­ful than it had been before. The only dif­fer­ence was that he knew—almost as a his­tor­i­cal proposition—that it was going to be done. He might beg, weep, or rebel—might curse or adore—sing like a mar­tyr or blas­pheme like a dev­il. It made not the slight­est dif­fer­ence. The thing was going to be done. There was going to arrive, in the course of time, a moment at which he would have done it. The future act stood there, fixed and unal­ter­able as if he had already per­formed it. It was a mere irrel­e­vant detail that it hap­pened to occu­py the posi­tion we call future instead of that which we call past. The whole strug­gle was over, and yet there seemed to have been no moment of vic­to­ry. You might say, if you liked, that the pow­er of choice had been sim­ply set aside and an inflex­i­ble des­tiny sub­sti­tut­ed for it. On the oth­er hand, you might say that he had been deliv­ered from the rhetoric of his pas­sions and had emerged into unas­sail­able free­dom. Ran­som could not, for the life of him, see any dif­fer­ence between these two state­ments. Pre­des­ti­na­tion and free­dom were appar­ent­ly iden­ti­cal. He could no longer see any mean­ing in the many argu­ments he had heard on this sub­ject.

No soon­er had he dis­cov­ered that he would cer­tain­ly try to kill the Un-man tomor­row than the doing of it appeared to him a small­er mat­ter than he had sup­posed. He could hard­ly remem­ber why he had accused him­self of mega­lo­ma­nia when the idea first occurred to him. It was true that if he left it undone, Maleldil Him­self would do some greater thing instead. In that sense, he stood for Maleldil: but no more than Eve would have stood for Him by sim­ply not eat­ing the apple, or than any man stands for Him in doing any good action. As there was no com­par­i­son in per­son, so there was none in suffering—or only such com­par­i­son as may be between a man who burns his fin­ger putting out a spark and a fire­man who los­es his life in fight­ing a con­fla­gra­tion because that spark was not put out. He asked no longer ‘Why me?’ It might as well be he as anoth­er. It might as well be any oth­er choice as this. The fierce light which he had seen rest­ing on this moment of deci­sion rest­ed in real­i­ty on all.

I have cast your Ene­my into sleep,” said the Voice. “He will not wake till morn­ing. Get up. Walk twen­ty paces back into the wood; there sleep. Your sis­ter sleeps also.”

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, Pere­landra, Chap­ter 11, 1943 [Empha­sis mine]

Quot­ed here with­out per­mis­sion. As such I hope it may inspire to buy a copy and read it in its entire­ty. This text is copy­right: Smarmy Turtle­necked Trai­tor, The C.S. Lewis Co. Ltd. First Floor, Unit 4, Old Gen­er­a­tor House, Bourne Val­ley Road, Poole, Dorset, BH12 1DZ, Tel: 01202 765652, Fax: 01202 765665

I read this over the phone to me mum the on Sept 4th with much expla­na­tion to help her under­stand why I was lean­ing towards ‘Ran­som’ as a mid­dle-name when I final­ly legal­ly change my sur­name. I couldn’t get through it, with­out stop­ping sev­er­al times for sob­bing. This trig­gers in me many of the same strong feel­ings as does Reepichieep’s “Sweet! Sweet!” or the prompt­ing, “Fur­ther up! Fur­ther in!”. “My name is also Ran­som.” Every time I read it it hits me hard­er than the time before. There are a few oth­er for which the same has been true: God’s Chis­el, The Bird­cage, Erin Fede’s ver­sion of The Life­house “Every­thing” Dra­ma, and the orig­i­nal ver­sion.

I’ll not spoil it fur­ther by adding my own pon­der­ings oth­er than to say that my love for Lewis for his gift­ings grows con­tin­u­al­ly deep­er. He has “made me old­er” on so much that is tru­ly impor­tant. Each time I read him, whether fic­tion or non, I feel as though I am sit­ting at the feet of the wise old Don and drink­ing deeply of great draughts of nour­ish­ing and bol­ster­ing drink. In turn I am filled with grat­i­tude to God for His gift of this man who passed 10 years before I was giv­en life.

Internal dichotomy of dealing with Sin and receiving Solace: “You cannot have it both ways.”

ThePilgrim'sRegressBookcoverI missed this rather incred­i­ble por­tion the first time or two around.

John is close to the end of his Jour­ney; a jour­ney phys­i­cal, men­tal, and spir­i­tu­al. All the expe­ri­ences, refine­ments, inputs and guid­ance; good, bad, evil, sense­less, sound, are cul­mi­nat­ing into a true real­iza­tion of the nature and per­son of “The Land­lord” and his rela­tion­ship to Him. It final­ly takes just one more bit of input, a tiny cat­a­lyst of truth for it to crys­tal­lize into true, pro­found, and com­plete knowl­edge.

He had been will­ing to trust God to aid him when he cried out for help, but not to trust Him enough to sur­ren­der con­trol.

How like that we all are. We can­not have it both ways.

For a while he went on cau­tious­ly, but he was haunt­ed by a pic­ture in his mind of a place where the path would break off short when it was too dark for him to see, and he would step on air. This fear made him halt more and more fre­quent­ly to exam­ine his ground: and when he went on it was each time more slow­ly: till at last he came to a stand­still. There seemed to be noth­ing for it but to rest where he was. The night was warm, but he was both hun­gry and thirsty. And he sat down. It was quite dark now.

Then I dreamed that once more a Man came to him in the dark­ness and said, ‘You must pass the night where you are, but I have brought you a loaf and if you crawl along the ledge ten paces more you will find that a lit­tle fall of water comes down the cliff.’

Sir,’ said John. ‘I do not know your name and I can­not see your face, but I thank you. Will you not sit down and eat, your­self?’

I am full and not hun­gry,’ said the Man. ‘And I will pass on. But one word before I go. You can­not have it both ways.’

What do you mean, sir?’

Your life has been saved all this day by cry­ing out to some­thing which you call by many names, and you have said to your­self that you used metaphors.’

Was I wrong, sir?’

Per­haps not. But you must play fair. If its help is not a metaphor, nei­ther are its com­mands. If it can answer when you call, then it can speak with­out your ask­ing. If you can go to it, it can come to you.’

I think I see, sir. You mean that I am not my own man: in some sense I have a Land­lord after all?’

Even so. But what is it that dis­mays you? You heard from Wis­dom how the rules were yours and not yours. Did you not mean to keep them? And if so, can it scare you to know that there is one who will make you able to keep them?’

Well,’ said John, ‘I sup­pose you have found me out. Per­haps I did not ful­ly mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your fin­ger, sir. You know when you set about tak­ing it out your­self — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but some­how it is not very seri­ous busi­ness — well, I sup­pose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very dif­fer­ent thing to hold your hand out to a sur­geon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

The Man laughed. ‘I see you under­stand me very well,’ He said, ‘but the great thing is to get the thorn out.’. And then He went away.

— Clive Sta­ples Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress [empha­sis mine]

I sup­pose you have found me out. Per­haps I did not ful­ly mean to keep them — not all — or not all the time. And yet, in a way, I think I did. It is like a thorn in your fin­ger, sir. You know when you set about tak­ing it out your­self — you mean to get it out — you know it will hurt — and it does hurt — but some­how it is not very seri­ous busi­ness — well, I sup­pose, because you feel that you always could stop if it was very bad. Not that you intend to stop. But it is a very dif­fer­ent thing to hold your hand out to a sur­geon to be hurt as much as he thinks fit. And at his speed.’

I need to make this gel and cohere in my own life and fig­ure out how to move for­ward pos­i­tive­ly in such a way as to have it always affect my think­ing and doing. This applies to so many of my own per­son­al strug­gles. I am deter­mined to rely on my own gump­tion and under­stand­ing to over­come my vices and addic­tions because I don’t want to give over con­trol to the sur­geon. I want to retain the abil­i­ty to stop if I chose. I know friends in their same own lone­ly, lame­ly list­ing cor­a­cle in an end­less sea.

The por­tion If its help is not a metaphor, nei­ther are its com­mands., serves as absolute con­vic­tion of pros­per­i­ty gospel and the social gospel I’ve heard preached in post-mod­ern church­es. You can­not preach a won­der­ful hap­py warm-fuzzy God who wants you to have joy and peace and hap­pi­ness w/o also acknowl­edg­ing that this self­same God has also made require­ments of us. Imper­a­tives we can­not ignore. We can­not have it both ways.

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed to Face­book July 27, 2011 at 3:43pm

My Testimony

Begin­ning July 31, 2013 — Work in Progress.

Notes:

And it begins. It hit me this morn­ing that the only way to get this done was to start. Then I had a clever bit of insight which I repeat­ed in my head sev­er­al times to make cer­tain that I wouldn’t for­get it before get­ting to a com­put­er to write it down. I’ve for­got­ten what it was. Utter­ly.

And yes, some­thing that will only fill half a page will be some­thing that requires me to write out ran­dom thoughts as I have them and slow­ly grow the prod­uct. This is not prose… it is ran­dom ram­bling, out­pour­ing of heart that hope­ful­ly may be refined lat­er into some­thing of sig­nif­i­cance… because that’s my sto­ry… a process of refin­ing to become some­thing that may be of some significance…while slow­ly real­iz­ing that I have always been sig­nif­i­cant… to God.

One thing I do remem­ber was that the urge to write it out came to me while lis­ten­ing to a Liv­ing Waters pod­cast “Wel­come to the Most Annoy­ing Hour on Radio”. They were dis­cussing some British pas­tors who were big in the Emer­gent Church move­ment and break­ing down those pastor’s respons­es to inter­view ques­tions about what makes for a good ser­mon and such. The one thing that was the­mat­ic through­out was that the EC pas­tors were all about ‘me’. They were the sort to like the quote, “Preach the gospel always, if nec­es­sary, use words.” [From mem­o­ry, I’ll get it prop­er lat­er when I have more time]. Todd “Freak­ish­ly Tall” Freil real­ly turned the light of clear think­ing on this phrase and iden­ti­fy it as “Me” based… He was clear that it should be words, the gospel first, and then our lives to sup­port our words.

So… that made me won­der… A per­son­al tes­ti­mo­ny. Is that not a “Me” spread­ing of the gospel? I don’t know. I’m not going to pon­der it right now… I’m going to write out my tes­ti­mo­ny, and if at some point I firm up one way or the oth­er, I’ll either share or not share my tes­ti­mo­ny, or share my tes­ti­mo­ny only after I’ve shared the gospel… or some­thing…

I think my thought that I can­not remem­ber was some­thing to the effect of open­ing with a ques­tion such as, “Does this per­son­al tes­ti­mo­ny -have- to be some engag­ing tale of a life of unre­pen­tant sin and pain and then a come to Jesus moment (com­plete with date, time, loca­tion and what one was wear­ing at the time), and then a tale of a life changed, or would some­one find it just as hon­est and engag­ing to hear a sto­ry of a per­son who was blessed to be born into the faith… a per­son who epit­o­mizes Romans 3:23… a per­son who, is a sin­ner and has had the truth all along but has always warred between his sin-nature and the sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion of being in faith­ful rela­tion­ship with God? Is that not more tru­ly a tale that every­one can relate to… even those who don’t know God and will have, or do and have had a Come-to-Jesus expe­ri­ence? Do not those expe­ri­ences fall entire­ly with­in this venn dia­gram? I think I want my tes­ti­mo­ny to focus on a life being refined… of growth and back­slid­ing, of sin and repen­tance of a God who keeps tak­ing me back and a life that I believe is grow­ing in the right direc­tion… I am a stub­born arro­gant intractable guy who trusts in him­self and takes FOREVER to be shown some­thing and repeat­ed beat­ings about the head and neck to get my atten­tion and maybe whap a few new bits of truth in… and those bits often have to be whapped in sev­er­al times before they get absorbed with­in. If Philip­pi­ans 1:6 is my most per­son­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant verse, then wouldn’t that be the sto­ry of the truth of that verse? God’s sto­ry of love and patience and redemp­tion and grace was spread out over 66 books and gen­er­a­tions of Jews… my life is sim­ply a con­densed ver­sion of the same sto­ry… falling away, com­ing back on my knees, being tak­en in, grow­ing a bit, grow­ing com­pla­cent, get­ting dis­tract­ed, falling away or get­ting my think­ing out of whack, com­ing back, repent­ing, being tak­en in, being bro­ken, being grown, falling away.… I’m final­ly to the point where I think I may be -glad- that I don’t have a “Dread­ful­ly-dying, Application/acceptance of won­der-drug, heal­ing and health” sto­ry. I strug­gled with not hav­ing one and won­der­ing, “How can some­one who was blessed to be fed truth with his bot­tle pos­si­bly have a sto­ry that some­one who has nev­er been fed that truth is able to relate to and feel impact­ed?” I think I’ve just real­ized… what about all those peo­ple who are lost who aren’t going to have the Come-to-Jesus/Road to Damascus/Moment of Clar­i­ty… It seems there are more of them than the oth­er… what if my sto­ry is one that a raga­muf­fin who real­izes his bro­ken­ness and empti­ness and that he’s inca­pable of find­ing the right way on his own, hears the story/offer, pon­ders, and then, in a qui­et moment… not even sure exact­ly when, comes to Christ on his knees, bro­ken and con­trite and begs for­give­ness and sin­cere­ly repents… so aware of his deprav­i­ty that he almost can’t accept the gift that’s offered because he knows that jus­tice is for him to die and to him the moment is not about receiv­ing sal­va­tion, but final­ly come­ing to the end of him­self, drop­ping the self-lies and the excus­es, and hum­bling him­self before God… he would take the death if only he could know that, just before pun­ish­ment was met­ed out, that he had found for­give­ness and approval from his heav­en­ly father… he would die to have it… qui­et­ly… While Angels REJOICE in all the heav­ens that yet anoth­er pil­grim has come to the foot of the cross and laid down his bur­den… and for that, he is picked up off his face and embraced and brought into God’s fam­i­ly, into fel­low­ship, made clean, sanc­ti­fied, endowed with the promise of ever­last­ing life with his heav­en­ly father and the sanc­ti­fy­ing seal of and indwelling by the Holy Spir­it… all to con­tin­ue the jour­ney onward from the cross… a jour­ney that may only slow­ly begin to look dif­fer­ent as refin­ing begins.

For the first time I feel, “I can do this.” “I have some­thing worth­while to offer.” I always have, but I had to real­ize it. I’m stoked… but I’m also at the point of weep­ing after gush­ing out the pre­vi­ous into words. I need to get back to work… but I want to come back to this. Want to refine, define. But I also real­ly want to read A Pilgrim’s Progress and let Bun­yan again show me how incred­i­ble my sto­ry is… the sto­ry of every Chris­t­ian who ever was. Show me and once again put it on my heart not to take it for grant­ed, not to think that I’ve arrived, to trust God and not myself, to press onwards.

[End 20130731a]

Have you invited Jesus into your heart?

It’s recent­ly been the focus of David Platt and Ray Com­fort et. al., that we use the phrase, “Invite Jesus into your heart.”, and they sug­gest that the phrase and con­cept isn’t scrip­tur­al. It’s a great metaphor that helps under­stand­ing of the rela­tion­ship we begin when we repent with con­tri­tion and acknowl­edge Christ as Lord and sav­ior and accept the gift of sal­va­tion.

Legal­ism? Or some­thing to con­tem­plate when we choose our words when explain­ing the gospel? What bib­li­cal lan­guage would fill the role if it were to be retired?

Part of this con­cern is in response to a change in how we explain/spread the gospel in the “Evan­gel­i­cal” Chris­t­ian Church that’s occurred over the last half-cen­tu­ry or so that Ray and oth­ers believe has actu­al­ly result­ed in a great many false-con­verts who, instead of becom­ing Chris­tians with con­trite repen­tance and sin­cere giv­ing of Lord­ship to Jesus Christ, are instead becom­ing inoc­u­lat­ed against ever mak­ing such a conversion/repentance/confession of faith. I see direct links to this giv­ing rise to Pros­per­i­ty Gospel, Word of Faith teach­ing, and the Emer­gent Church move­ment where folks like Rob Bell of Mars Hill write books explain­ing that there real­ly is no such thing as Hell.

I’m not talk­ing about Hell­fire Preach­ing. Hell­fire Preach­ing will pro­duce Fear-Filled con­verts. Using God’s law will pro­duce Tear-Filled con­verts.” — Ray Com­fort “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” @43:47

Are our words real­ly so very impor­tant? I was uncon­vinced at first, but over the last month, I’ve real­ly begun to pon­der that ques­tion and become con­vinced that in try­ing to reach peo­ple and make Chris­tian­i­ty palat­able and ‘hip’, we’ve watered down the gospel to some­thing per­haps less strong than the prover­bial church punch/le­mon-aid.

This def­i­nite­ly qual­i­fies as pon­der­ings and won­der­ings as I don’t know where I stand entire­ly, let alone what to do about it once I do.

Homeless Ministry

I was priv­i­leged today to get to go out with my room­mate Dwight as he took sand­wich­es to give out the home­less folks in Colum­bia. As with most min­istry efforts, I expect I was more blessed than those we min­is­tered to.

End­ed up talk­ing with a guy for over half an hour. He told us up-front that was all over the God-thing. He want­ed to engage on spir­i­tu­al dis­cus­sion but he was all over the map before I fig­ured out where he want­ed to go. He want­ed to avoid going any­where while show­ing me that he had a huge breadth of knowl­edge.. Dinosaurs in the bible. Belief that Christ was an angel. Lots of dif­fer­ent odd bits from Jehovah’s Wit­ness­es, a bit of Mor­mon doc­trine, and a ver­i­ta­ble Smörgås­bord of oth­ers.

It made for inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion, and I told him so, but at the same time I tried to get him to think over the ques­tion of whether or not all these extra top­ics were as impor­tant as mak­ing sure you’ve got the core stuff squared away.

I real­ly don’t know if I had much of an impact. I expect what he’s been used to is get­ting peo­ple to bounce around from top­ic to top­ic. The top­ics are com­pelling. They’re intrigu­ing. They were cal­cu­lat­ed, I spec­u­late, to touch nerves no mat­ter where the per­son he engages is “com­ing from”, and engag­ing enough to keep things from get­ting into uncom­fort­able ter­ri­to­ry. I say cal­cu­lat­ed, but I can’t real­ly say that I believe that he’s ‘cal­cu­lat­ed’ some plan, but I think he has learned “what works” to get what he seems to want… dis­cus­sions on spir­i­tu­al mat­ters but noth­ing espe­cial­ly per­son­al or mean­ing­ful.

If any­thing we talked about has last­ing impact, I think it will be my response to a sto­ry he told us to explain why he avoid­ed spend­ing time with oth­er believ­ers and going to church. His mother’s ultra-charis­mat­ic Pen­te­costal wor­ship, along with some oth­er stuff poi­soned him against being in fel­low­ship with oth­er believ­ers. I sym­pa­thized, but per­haps not entire­ly in the way he expect­ed. I told him that it seemed regret­table that in addi­tion to hav­ing to go through the bad expe­ri­ences he went through before he was 8, it sound­ed like they’d also robbed him of being able to be in fel­low­ship for his entire life. I’m hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time putting things down in words. As bad­ly as I’m able to recall and explain it now a cou­ple of days lat­er, I’m still left with the feel­ing that it might have giv­en him pause to won­der if all the legit­i­mate ‘rea­sons’ he’d used his whole life were more excus­es and that maybe some­thing valu­able might have been tak­en from him. It may just be wish­ful think­ing on my part.

We made an appoint­ment with him for Sun­day after­noon to return with some cloth­ing items he need­ed. Dwight was unable to find him but did meet some oth­er folks who were in sim­i­lar need and was at least able to find a place for the cloth­ing to bless.

I look for­ward to future for­ays. Talk­ing to folks who are either men­tal­ly dys­func­tion­al, or high/drunk, or both, presents its own chal­lenges. It cer­tain­ly forces me to lean on Him more that I might oth­er­wise, in my lack of humil­i­ty, do. I rather like that.

A tale of two message-boards

Virginia Heffernan
I ran across an arti­cle that filled me with sor­row while at the same time giv­ing me a smidgen of hope.

Colum­nist Vir­ginia Hef­fer­nan has been in the conservative/Christian news for the past cou­ple of days. Her admis­sion of believ­ing in Cre­ation­ism and her han­dling of the expect­ed vit­ri­olic assault from the main­stream­ers is both con­fir­ma­tion of our fears of how hos­tile and intol­er­ant soci­ety is to faith and dif­fer­ing belief and encour­age­ment because one of us has coura­geous­ly stood up and spo­ken hon­est­ly and then coura­geous­ly stood up to their hate­filled response as well with char­ac­ter and back­bone.

Virginia’s arti­cle titled “Inside the Infi­deli­ty Club”, gives me much the same dual­i­ty of feel­ing.

I love mar­riage, fam­i­ly, and rela­tion­ship, and more specif­i­cal­ly God’s per­fect blue­print for them. See­ing what soci­ety has made them… the destruc­tion of the fam­i­ly, hearts, and lives is a top­ic nev­er far from my con­sid­er­a­tion. It’s so dif­fi­cult for me not to be filled with sor­row bor­der­ing on hope­less­ness as I per­ceive a con­tin­u­al and accel­er­at­ing decline, and find lit­tle to give hope of a return to san­i­ty and health. Virginia’s arti­cle took me into the deep­est regions of that dark val­ley as she describes a mes­sage-board for women who glee­ful­ly dis­cuss their extra­mar­i­tal affairs: hav­ing them, lov­ing them, jus­ti­fy­ing them, plan­ning them, recount­ing them, feel­ing enti­tled to them, encour­ag­ing one anoth­er to greater depths of betray­al, etc. She con­trasts it with a sec­ond mes­sage-board for women* who are try­ing to sur­vive being betrayed by their spouse.

My smidgen of hope is engen­dered by her choos­ing to explore/expose this dif­fi­cult sub­ject in a main­stream forum and wasn’t afraid to be hon­est and call the bad bad and speak truth regard­ing the ter­ri­bly self­ish immoral hate­ful behav­iors and the hor­ri­ble pain they cause oth­ers… to be hon­est and say that it’s unequiv­o­cal­ly wrong. Maybe that’s part of the answer to turn­ing stam­ped­ing herd that is rush­ing head­long for cliff’s edge… peo­ple stand­ing up and clear­ly say­ing, “This is wrong. It’s hate­ful, self­ish, imma­ture and despi­ca­ble. It’s wrong and there’s absolute­ly no jus­ti­fy­ing or ratio­nal­iz­ing it.” What a gift to those who have oper­at­ed under these lies so very long with the rest of the world cheer­ing them on to new depths of depraved inhu­man behav­ior.

She doesn’t stop there how­ev­er. She goes on to out­line efforts she intends to make to be cer­tain that she is pro­tect­ing and build­ing her own mar­riage… not things she sees that need fix­ing in her spouse, but extra efforts she her­self plans to make to grow her­self and her mar­riage. If any­thing, I sus­pect this final bit may be of even greater val­ue to those liv­ing the lie than even her speak­ing truth to the lie. I could see this find­ing chinks in hard­ened hearts and expos­ing self-decep­tions that might have stood unex­am­ined indef­i­nite­ly. The thing that seems to be most feared by per­sons of a moral-rel­a­tivist human­is­tic bent is self-exam­i­na­tion. Denied pre-knowl­edge on a much-sup­pressed hon­est lev­el, that they would -not- like what they would find, fills them with a ter­ror-dri­ven goal to avoid such an exer­cise at all cost. Per­haps her crit­i­cal self-exam­i­na­tion will be ignored just deter­mined­ly as the usu­al frontal-attack on their lifestyle, but I have hope to the con­trary.

Even if the results on the heart of one who reads and absorbs her per­son­al explo­ration is not imme­di­ate­ly and dras­ti­cal­ly felt, it may be that what Ravi Zachara­ias says is true of the appli­ca­tion of apolo­get­ics on a hard­ened spir­i­tu­al heart may also be true of her efforts on a hard­ened rela­tion­al heart. He states that apolo­get­ics can only take you so far and no fur­ther in many cas­es. He said that it is rare if not unheard-of to -argue- an athe­is­tic heart into belief in God. Over the years he’s been told by many for­mer-athe­ists that such argu­ments, while admit­ted­ly hav­ing some small influ­ence on their shift, were not the cause of or impe­tus behind the shift.

* No indi­ca­tion if there are sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties of dev­as­tat­ed men.

Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pastor in history

Bare­bones min­i­mum, yes?
Does the gospel need a $300,000 sound/lighting/video sys­tem to reach hearts?

Is the gospel rel­e­vant to the heart of some­one today, or must it be made rel­e­vant with pithy grit­ty angst, a rock-con­cert atmos­phere, and the Holy Spir­it rid­ing the back of the mega-church smoke machines?

I dis­cov­ered that I have a mail­box at church last week, or rather that the A/V Min­istry does. This is appar­ent­ly a fix­ture estab­lished for two rea­sons. The first is for the mem­ber [dear­ly loved] of the con­gre­ga­tion who reminds me near­ly every week that our 87dB wor­ship ser­vice is too loud and pro­hib­i­tive to wor­ship. I found a col­lec­tion of pho­to­copied jour­nal arti­cles and even jour­nals them­selves with bits cir­cled and notes paper-clipped to pages out­lin­ing the dan­gers of expo­sure to heavy sound pres­sure lev­els. *chuck­le* I feel bad because there were some con­tri­bu­tions that had sat there lan­guish­ing unread for a long while. The sec­ond pur­pose is to serve as a place to stick all the adverts and cat­a­logs from sound/lighting/video/production sup­pli­ers.

In perus­ing the pages of these full-col­or glossy tomes, I ran across tes­ti­mo­ni­als from church­es that had been helped by the catalog’s com­pa­ny. It was appar­ent that the answer to these ques­tions was indeed, ‘yes’. The pho­tos from these installs showed booths and stages that a pop-record­ing mega-artist and their sound-tech would feel quite at home with­in when per­form­ing.

I am a crea­ture of ADD extremes, flights of fan­cy, bursts of strong (some­times unwar­rant­ed, often­times inad­vis­able) emo­tion. I know this. God knows this. My friends and fam­i­ly bless me (Thank you. I love you. Thank you God) with an atti­tude sim­i­lar to that which we Mis­souri­ans express towards our capri­cious weath­er… “If you don’t like it, wait five min­utes.” That’s not to say that I’m an unteth­ered kite being blown by a storm with no emotional/intellectual anchor. Quite the con­trary… I just have a heart that rush­es on ahead and a mind that labors to catch it up and remind it that has again run away with­out a prayer con­sult, and left all the notes and lessons learned behind, sit­ting use­less­ly in a dis­card­ed back­pack. The teth­er and the anchor are there, there’s just a regret­table amount of slack in the line that usu­al­ly runs-out with a semi-painful ‘snap’.

I had a few hours of per­son­al cri­sis. Despair, dis­gust, sor­row. I just want­ed to turn in my mon­i­tor­ing phones along with my 2 weeks notice. This last­ed, for­tu­nate­ly, only a few hours, before rea­son reassert­ed itself and I was able to view my own goals to repair, expand, and oth­er­wise meet the mod­est ‘needs’ of our Sun­day ser­vice, with a peace­ful con­fi­dence that our answers to those ques­tions, if asked, would be a sim­ple, ‘no’, and if ever we stray into that men­tal­i­ty, we have only to reeval­u­ate and tell our­selves ‘no’.

It helped to have the clear words of Ravi Zacharais from a few days ear­li­er to remind me that the peo­ple that I turn to and trust for good teach­ing and insight into mat­ters of faith aren’t caught up in this trou­ble­some church mindset/trend:

The Lord’s affir­ma­tion of the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al tells me there’s a place for my body to be used right­ly… and there’s a place for my spir­i­tu­al depth… and when those two con­verge, you’ve found the beau­ty of wor­ship. You’ve found it. …and a church that thinks we can only wor­ship if we get our­selves all hyped-up in music is an extreme. It’s not going to work. What you win them with is what you win them to.

Here’s the bot­tom line I want to make for you: The ratio­nal­ist had an angle at truth. The Exis­ten­tial­ist had an angle at truth. The Empiri­cist had an angle at truth. The prob­lem was in tak­ing this sin­gle line, they blocked off all the oth­ers… and the church that only goes for the intel­lect is going to send out dry peo­ple… that only goes for emo­tion… is going to send peo­ple bounc­ing around with no mind. You’ve got to bring all of these real­i­ties and con­verge into a com­pos­ite whole. That’s what the Chris­t­ian ought to do best in this world.”

Ravi Zacharias, “Engag­ing Cul­tures with Con­ver­sa­tions that Count, part 2″ @15:39 Pre­vi­ous Arti­cle

David Platt described his real­iza­tion thus in his book “Rad­i­cal: Tak­ing Back Your Faith from the Amer­i­can Dream”

The youngest megachurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.”

While I would dis­pute that claim it was nonethe­less the label giv­en to me when I went to pas­tor a large, thriv­ing church in the Deep South — the Church at Brook Hills in Birm­ing­ham, Alaba­ma. From the first day I was immersed in strate­gies for mak­ing the church big­ger and bet­ter. Authors I respect great­ly would make state­ments such as, “Decide how big you want your church to be, and go for it, whether that’s five, ten, or twen­ty thou­sand mem­bers.” Soon my name was near the top of the list of pas­tors of the fastest-grow­ing U.S. church­es. There I was… liv­ing out the Amer­i­can church dream.

But I found myself becom­ing uneasy. For one thing, my mod­el in min­istry is a guy who spent the major­i­ty of his min­istry time with twelve men. A guy who, when he left this earth, had only about 120 peo­ple who were actu­al­ly stick­ing around and doing what he told them to do. More like a minichurch, real­ly. Jesus Christ — the youngest minichurch pas­tor in his­to­ry.

So how was I to rec­on­cile the fact that I was now pas­tor­ing thou­sands of peo­ple with the fact that my great­est exam­ple in min­istry was known for turn­ing away thou­sands of peo­ple? When­ev­er the crowd got big, he’d say some­thing such as “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Not exact­ly the sharpest church-growth tac­tic. I can almost pic­ture the looks on the dis­ci­ples’ faces. “No, not the drink-my-blood speech! We’ll nev­er get on the list of the fastest grow­ing move­ments if you keep ask­ing them to eat you.”

By the end of that speech, all the crowds had left, and only twelve men remained. Jesus appar­ent­ly wasn’t inter­est­ed in mar­ket­ing him­self to the mass­es. His invi­ta­tions to poten­tial fol­low­ers were clear­ly more cost­ly than the crowds were ready to accept and he seemed to be okay with that. He focused instead on the few who believed him when he said rad­i­cal things. And through their rad­i­cal obe­di­ence to him, he turned the course of his­to­ry in a new direc­tion.

Soon I real­ized I was on a col­li­sion course with an Amer­i­can church cul­ture where suc­cess is defined by big­ger crowds, big­ger bud­gets, and big­ger build­ings. I was now con­front­ed with a star­tling real­i­ty: Jesus actu­al­ly spurned the things that my church cul­ture said were the most impor­tant. So what was I to do?

I’m still trou­bled, but I think that’s a good thing. As Lewis says in Mere Chris­tian­i­ty, “We have cause to be uneasy.” and ” And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pret­ty plain that human­i­ty has been mak­ing some big mis­take. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quick­est way on.”. I want to stay uneasy. I don’t want to fall asleep. I want, at the very least, when I get excit­ed and think, “This would be so cool for our sound sys­tem.” to ever have a voice that reminds me to ask myself (and God), if the Gospel needs my tech, or even my tech­nique. Am I help­ing, or would I help more just by get­ting out of the way?

The sin­gle great­est cause of athe­ism in the world today is Chris­tians, who acknowl­edge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbe­liev­ing world sim­ply finds unbe­liev­able” — Bren­nan Man­ning

Happy Birthday — Flipsyde

From the heav­ens to the womb to the heav­ens again
From the endin’ to the endin’, nev­er got to begin
Maybe one day we could meet face to face
In a place with­out time and space, hap­py birth­day

This song real­ly touch­es me. It’s an incred­i­bly pow­er­ful and hon­est self-con­fes­sion to his unborn child about a choice he’s come to regret as so many do. He has the courage to express what so many feel yet nev­er share. If all these voic­es were to speak aloud they would deaf­en those spread­ing the non­sen­si­cal lies that few if any women and men suf­fer from hav­ing cho­sen to abort their baby. I praise God for this man’s courage and for giv­ing him a tal­ent that [here at least, I’m unfa­mil­iar with his oth­er work] he chose to redeem.

A Gem to Store in my Hearthoard

With great joy I now real­ize that I would much rather spend the remain­der of my life know­ing, desir­ing, hav­ing found, but nev­er hav­ing, than instead reach the the ter­mi­nus know­ing that for all my seek­ing, I nev­er found it, nev­er knew it, and yes, per­haps ques­tion­ing if I had done all that I could have done to find and if I had been faith­ful to myself and that which is truth.

Unbegun Symphony of Promise

Hand Dirt Seedling Gift Refrain:
They saw the har­vest inside me.
They saw what was not there to see.
Pur­pose which God embed­ded with­in;
Cre­at­ed with promise to be.
The seed the farmer reject­ed;
Hull and husk long fall­en and gone;
The sur­face pit­ted and bat­tered;
Dis­card­ed, deemed worth­less and done.

So small the seed hold­ing promise;
Which for lack of nur­ture and sun;
For rich soil nev­er embrac­ing;
Ger­mi­na­tion nev­er begun.

[Refrain]
Giv’n them­selves as His instru­ment;
Samar­i­tans on the stark lane,
Upon which lay, dis­card­ed ker­nel,
Hope­less. Wretched. Con­sumed by pain.

God’s sor­row-filled heart appar­ent;
The song He put there unsung.
Yearn­ing to see the seed plant­ed;
The pre­lude well writ­ten begun.

[Refrain]
Redeemed by hand of a stranger.
Exam­ined through lens of God’s love.
Found there what oth­ers were miss­ing,
Hid­den in quo­tid­i­an shell.

Warm embrace of earth enclos­ing;
Show­ered with unde­served love;
Radi­ant grace of accep­tance;
Infus­ing the core from above.

[Refrain]
Slow­ly the shell starts to soft­en;
New growth break­ing free from with­in.
The process now set into motion;
God’s sym­pho­ny of joy begins.

Secure roots of hope descend­ing;
Sup­port­ing as shoot starts to raise;
Bursts forth from cocoon­ing seedbed;
Lift­ing dicotyl arms in praise.

[Refrain]

This is writ­ten as a poor attempt to express bound­less grat­i­tude to my friends and fam­i­ly, the love and accep­tance of which, have tak­en me from the bro­ken, hope­less, joy­less, and rather feck­less man of recent past, to some­one who is begin­ning to embrace life and full of joy and the knowl­edge that God has a pur­pose for him.

A dear friend of mine, Allena Volk­say Yates, blessed me by putting this to a tune, which may be heard here.

Looking Back

Look­ing at him the way she used to look at me.
I knew that look was only for me.
Could only then be for me;
Could only ever be for me.
That look told me that I need nev­er doubt
and would nev­er need to seek or fear again.
The words under­scored and rein­forced the look.
The look is no longer turned upon me.
I look upon the emp­ty void, and I sor­row.

It’s good to be able to share this here on PoaM in the now and indeed, be able to Look Back and see the ter­ri­ble hurt I was expe­ri­enc­ing then, whilst being able to Look Now and see the heal­ing God has blessed me with, and hav­ing con­fi­dence as I Look For­ward that, even if there are more such sor­rows, there will be more such love, heal­ing and bless­ing.