Monday, December 21, 2015

Don't Be Afraid


Fear is the path 
to the dark side.

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Psalm 37:8

Thursday, December 17, 2015

It's Dark


The darkness stretched across the face of the Earth. It boasted of its strength, ominous and convincing. The people could not bear to look at it. They had ignored its approach in the same fearful manner, but it came anyway, and now that it was there they tried in vain to continue in denial. But the darkness would not remain subtle and would no longer allow anyone, friend or foe, to merely get by and feign ignorance. It demanded observance. Allegiance was optional. To stand in fear was enough.

It claimed lands. It raised flags. It told lies that no one could discern because they had long before disregarded the truth. 

The people hid themselves in caves and reasoning, but the darkness found them out and taunted them. They sought hope from other people, strong men from other worlds who seemed to hold some kind of power, any power. They entreated wise men and prophets and those who would tell them what the next day would bring, an elderly woman, long passed, whose words were old even before she died, a man who counted numbers, a woman who dreamed and said, "This is the way, walk in it." But if any truth emerged from these sources, though it rarely did, they discarded it quickly. These were people uncomfortable with the truth. And the darkness used that to enslave them.

They would have remained shackled, chained to deception, unable to see, and hopeless, had not a savior come. When the light broke through and revealed what they had been fooled by they could hardly believe it. Small lies. Tiny, imperceptible verges from the truth. Momentary delusions. It wasn't a giant's victory that had triumphed over them, but many small compromises made day by day and slowly over time until they were confused and lost in unfamiliar terrain. And when the realization came, they could not believe how close it had been all along. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Vampire


I am dead thirsty. I lap up the life of others, never quenching nor satisfying that longing within me for more. I am a vampire, always in quest of. I am enslaved by desperate pursuit. Ravenous and manic, I seek you. I come for you because I need the life in your veins. I need.

I can’t count my victims. Too many are they.

I see my next meal, a strange man on a vacant road. I approach slowly to stalk him. He is a lighted figure in a fold of darkness, as if he holds the sun within himself. His silhouette stands out against the evening. His mere existence is an annoyance to me. He neither cowers nor defies as I approach. He meets me eye-to-eye. It is infuriating.

His face is weathered, beaten and bruised, but serene. His hands scarred, horrific torment have they endured or given. Perhaps I have met a monster like me. I size him up. I can take him. The blood on his hands looks like it has been there for an eternity, though it has the stench of freshness.

He appears to know me. At the very least, he knows what I am about to do. And he doesn’t seem to mind. I attack with precision, injecting my fangs and drawing the blood. Slowly, deliberately, deliciously I drink in the depth of life from his neck. Almost instantly I realize this lifeblood is different. A surge, more like a punch, hits me head-on somehow. I reel, a bit, but return to the drink, drawing in its warm fulfillment. But again, it strikes me. It reaches me, deep within and takes me.

My limbs, my muscles, my entire being staggers and halts like a rushing freight train suddenly stopped by unseen hands. The cells of my body rebel, turning against me, and begin to transform. They are becoming something else.

As if I have no control over my being, they twist and coil without my direction or input. I am being remade. I find myself eagerly accepting this new thing, hungering and thirsting for it with all the desperation of my previous pursuit. Everything within me cries out. Astonished, I feel a presence seeping into me, filling my hunger. I am bloated with it, round and plump with this life. My thirst, palpable and parched, is satiated as if with a flood. I am overwhelmed.

I look into the eyes of my victim, a suddenly strong and invincible presence. His eyes are the color of me. His hands and arms around me, as though I were the prey, he does not look away. And in that moment I realize the blood on his hands is his own. This cannot be. A mythical creature, this; I do not believe in Jesus.

When he spoke he said my name as if he'd known it forever. I can’t tell you what that did to me. But I can tell you I will never thirst again, not ever.

I wrote this in 2008. It appeared then on a now closed site, Gather.com.

How Many?




A few years ago I was part of an American church that hosted a group of visitors from a church in Liverpool, England. They asked us how many churches there are in the world.

How many? I paused. Probably a lot, right?

How many churches are there?

The answer was simple. One.

Of course! Each believer is a member.

Are you?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Red




"God gave us memory so we might have roses in December."


J.M. Barrie


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Conspiracy


Do not call conspiracy all that 
this people calls conspiracy, 
and do not fear what they fear, 
nor be in dread. 
But the LORD of hosts, 
Him you shall honor as holy.

Isaiah 8:12-13a

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Devotional


God 
loves me 
and 
will 
work 
through 
me to do 
good 
to 
other 
people.


This is from a devotional I read this morning. 
Encouraging words! 
I hope it encourages you too.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Jesus in Syria


Matthew 4:23-25

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 

So his fame spread throughout all Syria, 

and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons,  epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him...


The history of this area is remarkable. 
Modern events seem so mismatched from that time long ago, 
not so long ago really. How did we get here? 


Monday, October 19, 2015

Great Light



The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, 

Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.

Matthew 4:15-16


Thursday, October 8, 2015

No One


No one is established by wickedness,
but the root of the righteous will never be moved.

PROVERBS 12:3

A New Heart


A new heart will I give you
and a new spirit will I put within you, 
and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh 
and give you a heart of flesh. 
And I will put my Spirit within you.

 Ezekiel 36:26–27

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Aaron's Blessing


The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you 
and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you 
and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Love


Love is merciful;
Love is kind.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Streams

May the Lord lift you up
And speak to you
May He make his face to shine upon you
And give you peace,
Streams in the desert,
To refresh you,
And a voice to guide you.

This way, go this way,
And may He lead you home.










See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Isaiah 40:4-5


Every valley shall be raised up,
     every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
     the rugged places a plain,
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
     and all mankind together will see it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Who's There?

 

 
I've had views from all these places. 
It's amazing how small our world is now. 
I imagine someone sitting with their coffee, 
clicking on a blog, 
maybe reading
or
just pausing for a bit.
 
Who are you?
 
What brought you here?
I hope the verses, sayings, and
personal reflections brighten your day.
 
Welcome.
 
USA
Poland
India
UK
Canada
Netherlands
Slovakia
Australia
Belgium
Malaysia
Portugal
 
 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

See Me




See me.


Simple words, but full of breath and life and reason to be. I am not invisible. Here I am! You see me. 

There's an episode of Star Trek where Seven, the former Borg drone, is working with the dangerous Omega molecule. But it could explode at any moment, tear apart sub-space, and render warp travel impossible throughout the quadrant! For Trekkies that means all kinds of bad things. But...Omega is perfection to the Borg. It appeals to them as some sort of possibility, just out of reach, that there can be something, no matter how small and brief, that is without flaw. We learn that they tried to stabilize it at some point and destroyed 29 cubes (their ships) in the process. However, they managed to force stability and glimpse it for a fraction of a second. Seven hopes to try again. 

What drove the Borg to pursue this, knowing how dangerous it was? What was the payoff? Captain Janeway says some of the Starfleet scientists theorized that Omega was present at the big bang (gasp!) but she does not see it the way Seven does. Seven needs something from Omega. She tries to convince the Captain to let her try, to no avail. It is simply too risky. So she hopes to make it happen anyway. 

The whole crew is working to destroy the elements that will make up Omega. Seven is desperately working to both see it and then blow it to smithereens before it can explode and kill everyone. Just a second, that's all I need, it seems she's hoping. Just a glimpse. Please

She is unable to stabilize the molecule but, just when we think all is lost, it becomes stable on its own. It just forms and holds its shape longer than any scientific effort had been able to manage previously. And it looks at Seven. She stares into it and has the distinct impression that it is looking back at her. She is seen!

Star Trek sometimes talks about God. Or tries to. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy encounter the sun worshipers in the original series and, despite being accomplished scientists and anthropologists, totally miss that they are son worshipers until Uhura points it out. It was kind of clumsy with everyone wishing they could watch Christianity unfold again on a new planet. But still. 

Deep Space Nine leaned spiritually with the emissary and the Bajoran prophets/wormhole aliens. But Bajor's prophets had a hard time communicating with the people they hoped to lead. Or crush. I am not sure what they were doing since the Bajorans seemed to be on their own a lot. Although, they did vanquish the Dominion's forces in the wormhole when Sisko bullied them with, "You want to be gods? Then be gods!" And they did free Sisko from his depression by pointing out that he chose to exist in his worst memory. 

And Voyager. As far as I can remember, this is the most spiritual of the episodes. It even ends with Seven and Janeway in the holodeck, Seven gazing at a crucifix on the wall of the DaVinci hologram's workshop.

Star Trek tells us about ourselves by looking at us with alien eyes. How they see us tells us what is important in humanity, what makes us who we are. There's this part of me that would love to go out there, traveling through the vastness of space, no longer an odd person but a member of a group of aliens, outsiders, Borg! All the while, pointing out the obvious. Look, a molecule...God! Look, people, reaching out...creation, life!

Always, everywhere I look, God is there, being, making, showing. Some people look for science alone to explain this. To me they are the same, God and science. I am drawn to this, this thing that is looking back at me. Like Seven, seen.

The Omega Directive is season 4, episode 21 of Star Trek: Voyager

Monday, August 24, 2015

Psalm 94:18-19


 

When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
 

Simcha and the Seed


 

Simcha tended his garden with great care, gingerly cultivating the important things: forgiveness, joy, the kind of grace that leans in and speaks directly to the heart. Rescue grew on a tree by the river, with branches that swept shade over the delicate plants blooming nearby. Simcha watered and pruned all things green and pulled out life-stealing weeds. He sang as he worked because a cheerful heart brings life. He succeeded in his effort and with his garden Simcha fed many souls.

In the evenings the elderly man would kneel in the dirt and bring in the harvest, making heaping mountains of redemption with the fruit of the land. And he'd drag it, carry it, and convince it to follow him to the open markets of his village. From there it would make its way to the backs of pack animals, the bottoms of carriages, and into the holds of great ships about to go out to sea. In this way Simcha's garden was carried to the whole world.

When he traveled to new places he was amazed to see some of his offerings had been transplanted into gardens of their own. Great sweeping vines and graceful trees lined deserts, reaching in to transform the barren landscapes into lush vineyards. He was joyful, exceeding so, at the sight.

"All this," he said, awe-struck, "from just one seed planted in rough dirt under a glaring sun."

It had been a withered, undignified seed. Simcha could not have imagined how it would sprout and bloom, never mind grow into so many varieties. It had only come from his heart. He'd pulled it out himself, with more strength than he knew he had. What he thought was the decaying remnant of pride, maybe selfishness or some other destructive attribute, turned out to be something else entirely. In its atrophied state and buried deeply in good, healthy soil, it became life. Life took root and became blooms of every kind everywhere the light shone and some places it didn't. His effort had been worth it.

That throwaway seed had turned out to be vital. But it wasn't easy to remove. He felt like he'd climbed a mountain to get to the point where he could pull it out. His days were spent reaching and grasping, squinting for a view of the top, hanging there just long enough to realize he needed help. If he needed help, was he really in the right place? But each time help came, with a breeze or a glimpse of hope to lift him up. Each time he encountered resistance Simcha learned to persevere. After a while, it didn't take as long to recover his strength, not nearly as long as it had before. His arms and legs became strong. He had the ability to climb.

And just when he thought he needed to rely on that ability and newly acquired strength, a gust of air, a breath, lifted Simcha from his effort and carried him higher and higher. In a flash, the desperate climber was at the top of the mountain. He'd been lifted. Not by his own hand, but by something he couldn't see, something that was not dependent on Simcha himself.

In his hand was the seed. His pride, withered and defeated. It seemed he should bury it as deeply as he could, somewhere with the unflinching and direct desert sunlight. Someplace that would kill it, so he would never have to deal with it again. He had no idea what would happen once he buried it. After that, he began to look at withered things with a little more expectation.
 
 
Simcha is part of a series published online.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Song


By day the Lord commands
His steadfast love,
And at night his song is with me,
A prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:8


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Hope



The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, 
beyond the Jordan, 

Galilee of the Gentiles—

the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

Matthew 4:15-16

Friday, August 7, 2015

Green



They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green...

Psalm 92:14


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Screwtape


“It is funny how mortals 
always picture us as 
putting things 
into their minds: 
in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” 

The Screwtape Letters
C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Blessed


Blessed are those who 
hunger and thirst 
for righteousness, 
for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

Thursday, July 2, 2015

STAY


Stay close
to
your 
Maker.


There's No Thief Like Fear


The news. 
A relentless onslaught of fear. 
Propaganda. 
Always the worst, most hopeless, 
terror-inducing perspective possible. 

Despair chains the listener. 

Fear is a force of evil. 
No good comes from it. 
Fear is not of God. 
He doesn't teach with it, lead with it, 
guide with it, or warn with it.

Fear not. 

Turn away from it. 

Despise it. 

God is good. 

Look up!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

121



I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; 

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, 

He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; 

the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in 

from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121:1-8